Dark Souls 3 DLC Review

How was Ashes of Ariandel?

Pretty good. Has a neat opening where you fight a bunch of spear chucking enemies and flame breathing enemies, then you can fall into a wide area where there’s a ton of wolves that track you for really long distances and aggro the pack. Plus there’s trees that can breath ice at you or send tons of little fire bullets at you and try to blend in with fake identical trees. There’s a gnarly tree section where you gotta go down tree branches like it’s the great hollow and fight giant ice crabs at the bottom. There’s another section off to the side where you fight larger humanoid enemies with some dogs and there’s an archer up on a tower that shoots down at you with dragonslayer arrows that embed in the ground and explode a short while afterwards.

They use multiple enemies very effectively across the whole DLC, usually giving one of them some type of unique ranged attack, like the swarm of fire bullets, or the enemy that could generate earthquakes at a long distance. Continue reading

Designing Open Worlds

What would you consider to be “good” open world game design and “bad” open world game design?

Okay, so what are the benefits of open worlds? The benefits are, you have this huge amount of content available at one time, much like a metroidvania, except instead of the levels being hallways, it’s one big continuous space. This means that players can approach any given area from a variety of angles, and they are capable of engaging with any of the content open to them across the entire world instead of engaging with the content in a set sequence. Progression is defined by event flags instead of through the areas open to the player, or the player’s progress through specific areas.

Drawback: Big continuous spaces are bad level design. There need to be walls, pillars, and other barriers that . And because every point is connected to every other point, you can usually go around any sort of roadblocks in your way. In MGSV this meant you could run around the outskirts of almost every encampment and not engage in the core stealth gameplay. A lot of afghanistan had big pillar cliffs organizing the map into giant “hallways” as a result. Far Cry 3 blood dragon had a fair amount of success enclosing every camp in giant walls, limiting the entry points so the inside could have real level design. Continue reading

Comparing Old Games to New Games

Is it wrong to compare the gameplay of something old with the gameplay of something new?

Personally, I don’t think so. I think a lot of old games hold up. There’s very different design principles at work between older and newer games. Older games tended to be more about the relative positions and movement patterns of objects, where newer ones are more about animation states. We’ve lost some stuff from old games, and games nowadays have more mechanics at the expense of not making each individual mechanic as deep as it could be. Plus 3d free cameras that orbit the character impose a lot of baggage on games.

Most people think it’s unfair to compare old games to new ones on the grounds that over time there’s technological progression that gives newer games better tools. We learn from old mistakes and hopefully don’t repeat them, instead indulging in a bevy of new mistakes that we refuse to learn from. Continue reading

Megaman Prime

How would you design a Megaman game with the gameplay of a Metroid Prime game?

That’s such a mindfuck. Like, Metroid made some degree of sense in its transition to Prime. The exploration and powerup aspect translated really well. Megaman by contrast is basically about jumping to specific heights and shooting. Megaman games through their enemy and level design basically require you to aim your weapon at enemies that you need to move around because you can’t aim up or diagonal, so you need to get on the same horizontal line as them through movement. Megaman as an FPS would probably be like Doom with a jump button and no auto-aim up or down. It would probably have fairly linear levels focusing on combined enemy and platforming challenges. Maybe be a bit like action doom? (I didn’t play action doom, I only saw a video of it once). Continue reading

Should All Games Allow Pausing?

Do you think pausing in souls games or nioh without having access to items makes the games easier or removes the “tension”. I mean you can’t pause in souls because they were designed around online and not because it was a design decision I assume.

I think that being able to pause in any capacity does give you a release valve for certain situations. I’ve certainly felt a desire to pause to cool off during certain boss battles in Souls and Nioh. Not having the ability to take a breather or reduce the tension of the situation can be a mental factor. It’s not a strong one admittedly, and this is a huge hit in user experience that I can’t deny Continue reading

Balancing Team Games

When it comes to comp FPS multiplayer. How would approach balancing? looking at games like destiny and overwatch balance seems impossible with patches to fix things which may cause other problems and so on.

Okay, balancing a game like Destiny is probably impossible. It has random loot drops if I’m not mistaken, the complexity is way too high.

Overwatch seems more workable. I’m admittedly not an expert on the game, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Basically, Overwatch has a ton of character types that seem fairly useless, like all the snipers, turrets, and Mei. They’ve never been good, they probably never will be good, given the format of the game. They’ve been consistently bottom tier since the game came out. They’re strong at one thing, but have weak versatility, and are generally not objective oriented. Continue reading

Designing for Multiple Enemies

What’s the best way to make interesting bosses, or enemy encounters where you fight more than one boss, or enemy at the same time?

Well, I’m not gonna say this is the best, but some things to consider are the ways different enemies divide up space. Like in Nier Automata, some enemies have lasers that cut across a part of the battlefield, some shoot huge clusters of bullets that need to be shot through or moved around, some get up close and flail their arms to keep out a constant hitbox, making them actually exploitable to get perfect dodges.

The key thing is making sure the enemies overlap in different ways. The most common example of this ever is a ranged enemy plus a melee enemy, or a rushdown enemy plus a slower enemy with wide hitboxes. Continue reading

Deep Defense

What are some games that encourage a defensive playstyle with a lot of depth?

Tough question. I mean, technically a lot of deep games encourage a defensive playstyle already, like street fighter before V, competitive Pokemon, Starcraft, arguably Smash Bros, etc. Go is probably a safe answer since a lot of it is building shapes that sort of cause your opponent’s shapes to collapse in on themselves rather than playing aggressively. Pretty sure Age of Empires counts since structures have incredibly high health compared to Starcraft, but I don’t really play that game. Tower defense seems like an obvious place to look for something in this ballpark.

The trouble is that defense seems to kind of be the default that people settle into. Defense is low risk low reward play, and most games offer that to some extent. It becomes cheese when you can eliminate risk but still make progression towards victory. Players need to be incited to play aggressively, because their instinct is usually to find safe surefire ways of winning. Continue reading

Games Before Their Time

What are some games that would have been better if not for technical limitations?

Hard to say, most games don’t overscope that much. It’s easier to look at how games evolved as technology got better to allow for them. Like, before a certain technological point, certain genres of game simply weren’t possible. For example, there weren’t any twin stick shooters on the N64 or any system before it. I think it’s almost always possible to make a good game within the technological limitations you’re operating under, but making a specific type of game might not be possible. And I think if the game was made before the right tech existed, then it’s just too bad for that particular game. Continue reading