Sunday, 23 October 2011

Time Flies When You're...

... Working Really Hard.

So we're four weeks into the course at Brunel, already.  It's going great so far, and so in no particular order:

My journey in has got considerably more successful - I've discovered that there's a bus that goes almost directly to the university from almost directly outside my door.  This is quite a bonus and although it often gets me in very early it means that I have time to muse over things before we start and generally feel ready for the day, as well as sitting chatting with other people before we begin our class with some pretty good coffee!

On Wednesdays we have a design class which is deals with the practical elements and strategies of games design, it's a great class full of opinions and exercises.  Thursdays we have a theory class followed by a theory / business class.  It's allayed some of my fears so far with disucssion, note-taking and discussion of what the theory means in the 'real world' which is great.

On top of that we have at least three pieces of essential reading per week, which is normally a book and 2 papers or some variation of that.  There's a list of secondary reading too, which I would love to get to more of, but might realistically be something to look up more of later.  I'm learning to use MMF (multimedia fusion) which is a piece of software to help you deisgn games as well. 

That's before we get to 'assignment work' - so it's quite busy and taking a lot of time, but at the same time it's quite fulfilling and I am enjoying it a great deal,  I am massively looking forward to hearing some of the guest speakers and now looking forward to working in a team with some of the other students on the course on some of our assignments, we have a good year I think, and although it's going to be over all too soon I'm trying to take every opportunity on it that I can.

Here's hoping.

My Draft Essay 1 on which I've made 'a few' edits!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I forsee a Dark day in my Crystal Ball.

See what I did there?

Apparently there is a Dark Crystal RPG in the making and unnoticed by me there are already some Dark Crystal books / Graphic novels out there.

I can't claim any credit for discovering this so here's some links:

Graphic Novel
The Film

That's it for now, but one to watch :)

Friday, 7 October 2011

More of what I'm playing

Bit of an update on the ‘playing now’ front.  It’s a busy time both in the office and starting university but I am still definitely trying to keep up with some game playing.  In a blast from the past and admittedly because it was free for a weekend or more, I downloaded Portal (the original game) and have started that – so far it’s a very similar game, with slightly less shine, which is to be expected, but it’s quite a lot of fun.  The humour of the game is still present and I am enjoying the puzzles of the rooms.  

I have (in a rash move maybe) rented X-MenDestiny.  This game rather passed me by in the trailers and hype – perhaps it didn’t get much, or perhaps I was just very focussed on looking forward to Star Wars, but I didn’t really know about it until I stumbled across it on an interview.  I liked the old x-men games (I still remember the old cabinet game) and like a bit of super hero action.  So far I have to say I am rather enjoying it – you get to pick one of three new characters and choose your power sets and choose what you advance as you go along.  It’s billed as a roleplaying super hero game.  I think that might be a bit rich in all honesty, as it is unashamedly linear with some side quests depending on who you side with (The Brotherhood of Mutants or the X-Men), however it’s quite a lot of fun, and some reasonably mindless violence with a bit of story and comic-book angst thrown in.  The characters are well animated with quite a few funky moves and there’s a real sense that you are the hero in it.  You also happen across various ‘famous’ characters from the series who are nicely acted and who fight you or alongside you quite regularly.  There’s something clever about this game, in that you are playing your own hero (well, one of their three) but you pick up X-genes which give you some attributes of the famous comic book characters (so for example you pick up Toad’s utility gene and you can leap around like he does), which is a nice touch and means you can be ‘a bit like your favourite character’ but still be playing your own character.  I am liking it enough so far to wish I had bought it I think, and it will warrant another play through, simply because of the choices you have (at least that’s the feeling I have currently).  All in all this feels like quite a clever merging of genres – jury’s out as to how well it will hold up.  So far: impressed.

The iPhone holds my attention in the elevator with Temple Run.  It’s a little game where you, as an avatart that looks a bit like Indiana Jones or that chap from The Mummy run from some shadowy creatures that run after you, you can’t stop so you have to tilt the iphone and swipe your finger to leap over obstacles and turn corners all the while collecting coins and trying to get further and score more points.  I suspect there isn’t an ‘end’ but the regular achievements and fast pace of the game makes it very playable.  Something else I like about Temple Run is that although you die frequently (inevitably) it’s very quick to restart the game and have another go (seconds only) It’s lots of fun, simple and addictive.

And so I wend my way toward SpaceMarine.  I come from a mostly roleplaying background and have played some Warhammer 40K tabletop games as well.  I have a fond place for the 40k background, indeed I might even play some Dark Heresy soon.  I wanted to like this game an awful lot.  But, I didn’t.  Warning: Spoilers ahead.  They’ve worked hard on it, to a point, you look cool, the fight mechanic is good, and you switch seamlessly from bolter gun to chainsword, slicing and dicing all the way.  There is a clever mechanic where you only get healed from killing stuff, and more by ‘executing’ (finishing move-esque) things. The story (which is conveyed through cutscenes only) is pretty simple:  Go to planet.  Kill some things there.  Stop the bad stuff happening.  Discover some chaos.  Kill it.  And that’s it.   The story is really really stock 40K.  Which would be fine, if this were an intro to the universe and it made all of that make sense, but they don’t really.   They do a great job of portraying the universe and don’t explain the background at all (seemingly aiming it at people who know the setting really well) and then tell a really basic story with no imagination to it.  The game feels like it is prime material for Downloadable Content but I’m not sure that I want to bank on that.  The multiplayer game is quite fun, it’s a bit of a COD clone, but it doesn’t suffer from a million people knowing the maps better than I do!  It’s not very imaginative (in the way that Assassins Creed was) but it’s quite fun and you can be chaos space marines, and everyone loves that!  All in all I would say that it was a very disappointing game.