Tag Archives: Second Son

A day of rest

Yup, we all have them and to be honest, not because it is Sunday, but because I wanted to contemplate that I had finished my 1500th story on Saturday, to be honest, I never thought I would get that far. So today I relaxed and considered things, at some point I ate 2 dozen King Mackerels and I also at 3 dozen people (playing Man Eater on PS4), a game that was a lot more fun than I expected it to be, and lets be fair, who wouldn’t want to be a shark, I wanted to be one since June 20th 1975, I don’t think the Steven Spielberg had that in mind when he made the movie, but we all have triggers and the VIC-20 brought out a few dark sides in me too. The game is fin, I have put aside Jedi, Fallen order for a week at present, it is not a reflection on the Jedi game, because it looks good and I enjoy the game, it is to show just how much fun Man Eater is. There is a growing sense that games like JFO are losing ground. It is not their fault, they did nothing wrong. It seems that with the stronger systems the option growing in players that we are all seeking a more sandbox approach. Dying Light, Alien: Isolation, Gotham Knight, Shadow of War, all games that are doing better because of the open game approach, even if it merely seems to be the case. Now with the PS5 (and the Microsoft alternative) we see the drive to open gaming. Still, we need to be careful what we embrace, because it is a dangerous step. Even as some embrace Second Son, a Superpunch creation, the game lost out as it was too linear, a game that had the setting to be legendary, because slightly better than average, not because of the graphics, not because of the story, but the execution needed work, the fact that I was able to complete the game in a little over a day in hard mode is in support of that view. It gave me the idea to come up with Infamous: Adulthood, a game that continues on Second Son, sets it in a much larger stage of Seattle (as that was where the previous game was). I took a different avenue (because that is how I roll), I like deployability, a game is not something that you play once, but there must be a drive to do that, taking a page from another design, I set the game map to a 900% of the previous one, so if the map was 3 miles each side, it would not be 9 miles each side. From 3 by 3 to 9 by 9 is quite the change. But the map is merely the first part. The idea is to continue a generation later (because the game was nicely set), Delsin Rowe is now an older man, he met a girl Dyani and she was a conduit too, she had the same ability that Delsin had and ended up with different powers they settled and had a family. This is the first tier choice, you can choose boy or Girl, the boy will be named Reggie, the girl will be named Betty, yet the powers with which they get (only two) will be set to a stage, the first power will be one of one of 4 random the boy gets it from the father the girl from the mother, the second power is 75% from the gender parent 25% from the other one. So here is the first reason to replay the game, you get different and new powers. The story will set the stage where the player gets the other 2 powers. To this stage the story doesn’t change, yet how to go about it does. I wanted to add the stage that the other two powers will be depending on whether the person has a good or an evil karma, so the offensive power of fire is for Evil, the power of water will be for good (just a thought, fire is not evil, the flames told me so themselves), The second one is in the air, I wanted to set a larger stage again. To avoid the linearity of the game, I wanted change, so we still might want some linearity to make things easier, but I wanted to avoid that cleaning a region gives you enough power to upgrade to the max from the beginning. To this effect we see a new stage, the good cannot destroy CCTV, as such the police can be a much larger stage to deal with. The evil choice gets additional criminals attacking them, whilst the police attacks them too, The storyline will be a larger challenge, I needed to consider missions that can be adjusted for the powers available. An idea is that as the powered are free, some are criminals, some are not and others are living in silence hiding their abilities. As such missions for 4 additional powers needed to be created. (2 good, 2 evil), optionally one will be neutral, but that is the stage. I had the idea of creating a storyline that is slightly more dripped in ambiguity than previously considered. So when considering the powers, we need 4 for Dyani and 4 that are optionally gained. I came up with Fire, Water, Acid, Air, Paper, Glass (the last two were mentioned in Second Son), and beyond the elemental is time, telekineses and projection. There might be more, but there is no stage to set it yet. The danger is that in Second Son the first power was cool, it can across as creative and it had limitations, Laser (second power) was too strong, basically when I had it, I only used that one for most of the game, so I wanted to make sure that each power had a serious setback, making relying on one power a bad idea. There is the idea to add powers like Flight or teleportation, but the powers that were in the game and climbing to the top was not overly negative. Then there are the positive parts, the spray can option was awesome, it was original, and looked great, but I do not want repetition, I considered that both good and evil had options, so the idea of the paper power allows the player to set posters to illuminate issues, yet if the person does not get that power, we need an alternative in Smoke (charcoal image), Laser (Draw), Video (override transmission) and Concrete (sculpt). In addition there is the need to create passive abilities, even as we see the stage where we use one power, or the other power, we could be actively using one power, whilst the other power passively works too, it is a harder stage, but it feels more real for the player. For the same reason where we didn’t get to use the concrete power, I want to make sure that the stage of all powers is there and an application of practical use too. 

To set that stage we need to create a sort of infrastructure, just like a normal real city, we have regions, the police has a city and area setup, but so do criminals and they are not the same, in addition, we see the approach of others (not trying to give away too much) and they to have their own maps and infrastructure. Setting a city in such a stage makes a linear approach much harder and optionally not possible. A setting where a region can be ‘cleaned’ but not until all 4 powers are there, and in some way, the stage needs to be that some issues cannot be solved (not the right power) and as such, the only thing that the player can do is limit damage, a stage we often forget. Yes, we all understand that there is a line we walk on when we play a game, but what happens, when that line is intersecting and the player gets the option to turn left or right? Sandbox games tend to have a much better realisation to make that happen and I believe that in next generation systems a push towards sandbox approach will give the player a much better and more entertaining approach to solving the puzzle giving them. Even as we all push towards the a game like Prototype and the need to drive a tank over the masses to get the 65,536 kills, but long before you get to the 40K cadaver mark, the grinding set in and the fun diminishes. That is the other side of sandbox gaming. When a game stops being linear there are more issues to consider, more options for glitches and an optional bug or two, so there is more to consider and isolation in programming tends to be a non-option. Isolation has benefits, but there is a much larger stage of other issues hitting the environment, there is more to consider programming and that is where the rails tend to come off. This is not a good thing, but I focus on the creativity, not on the technical stag of the game, I can create, I suck at programming (beyond standard stations of it), as such the re is a stage where my idea of creation will surpass programming, but that is good, when you skate on the fringe of technology magic is created, Go back in time and see the games that truly broke the mould, they all surpassed what was imagined to be possible at the time (Minecraft with the obvious exception), we all see what is possible and a game will expand the mind when it is in a stage where it seems impossible. Guns of the Patriots and the Last of us are the examples that set the stage of the PlayStation 3,  MGS4: Guns of the patriot did so in the beginning of the console and set unparalleled borders with several critics giving the game a 100% rating, and the Last of Us repeating the same setting at the end of the PlayStation 3 lifecycle receiving even more 100% ratings. That was not because it was cool, it was because the game was as close to a game that should not even exist on that console, to surpass the boundaries of what was possible, soon we will get a similar setting on sandbox games, creating the near impossible making the player skate on the edge of what is possible in gaming and it is a hard sell, even as we see “Within seven days of its release, The Last of Us sold over 1.3 million units”, it ended up selling 17,000,000 units. There is a reason why Ubisoft is at present with the consideration of ‘At best unremarkable, at worst unplayable, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is 2019′s worst game’ (source: Washington Post), It all starts with creativity and imagination, then we get proper programming and testing, as I personally see it Ubisoft failed 4 times over, as such it is important to set the bar of creativity as high as possible, a stage too often underestimated. So whilst Ubisoft still seemingly hides behind “There are five AC Valhalla editions available”, with the optional extra “Each one of the Valhalla editions offers a different pack of bonuses and additional perks on top of the base game”. We need to remind the makers that we need one game and an optional collectors edition that could have art, noise (soundtrack) and doohickey (statue), I am not opposed to a season pass, yet in my personal view it is that some of the makers see this as an excuse to deliver a 85% game and charge additional for the 15%, whilst I see it that the season pass would be a setting to add to the game giving us 115% of gaming. In this I need to reflect on the Desperado 3 limited edition, it is awesome (I do not have it), I got the game when I could and I love it, but the collectors edition ($80 more) gives a music box, with the five playable figurines interchangeable, an art book, the soundtrack and postcards. It looked really cool. Some will love it, some will not care, and I get that, but in what universe should we diminish playing quality? I also get that some will give out skins as a premium for some preorder and I am fine with that, yet they should become available for all and games like Gotham Knight offered just that down the line as free downloads. It seems to me that these game marketeers are all about creating hypes aiming towards what they call “For the most loyal and fanatic fans of the franchise”, whilst they have no issue charging well above 300%, all whilst they are currently in a stage where they have not proven that they can deliver a game that is worth 100% of the charges of a normal game, Breakpoint took care of that rather nicely. Metacritic gives Ubisoft a present an average career score of 69%, and we do need to distinguish that AC Odyssey is set to a mere 60%, Breakpoint got a mere 58%, so am I wrong? I believe not, although Ubisoft could have avoided a lot of issues by properly testing the games before release. Different games, different ratings, but the stage is set with the creativity of the person thinking up the game. Getting another Second Son game is not the worst plan, but it needs to deal with linearity, it was the biggest drawback in the game. I think that overall that is not a bad setting to have, The game is said to have sold over a million copies which is good, yet when we set this against the two legendary games, one selling 17 million copies, I believe that there is room to wow the people, I am not underestimating the realm that MGS had already created, but the Last of Us was a totally new IP, I believe that a near perfection driven SuckerPunch has more to offer and I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the PS5 era, if Ghost of Tsushima is anything to go by, I say that we haven’t seen anything yet. So let the PS5 and the good times come. And in the mean time, I will focus my creativity a bit more.

There are limits to a day of rest, the walls at present look good enough to eat. 

 

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Story about a game!

This all started with a video blog. It can be found at Gamespot and it is given by Danny O’Dwyer in a segment called ‘the point’ (at http://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-is-marketing-killing-the-wonder-of-games/2300-6420070/).

He hit an interesting snare with the topic of over marketing and I agree. When I started to think this through, I also got to the point that it is not all about the marketing side of that caper, but another side to the ‘lack of wonder’ as he put it in gaming. He was talking to someone from an upcoming game called ‘No man’s sky‘, the man is a Minecraft fan, which pretty much had my attention from the very beginning.

You see, gaming has become too much about getting to the end of the track with an added need to get achievements. Too many games are a chase. Minecraft is all about just having fun. It is virtual LEGO at its very finest; this awakens the creators in us, which is always a great thing. The issue ‘missed’ (which might be the wrong term) is that one side in the lack of gaming wonder (as I see it) is an off-set between freedom and storyline. It is the combination that has always drawn me to gaming, which makes me a sucker for any decent RPG.

Minecraft does not have any story, but it counters this with an amazing amount of freedom and exploration. I am not stating that Minecraft needs a story, but as we get the freedom to explore, discover and do whatever we feel like, the impact of a story is less of a factor. As freedom moves away (like towards a Call of Duty or a Ghost Recon), the story becomes more and more important. Some get it right (the Mass Effect series and The Last of Us), where the story drives us, whilst we get a limited amount of freedom to do whatever we like, or we get added parameters (challenges), many get it decent (Far Cry & Tomb Raider) not to mention, Metal Gear Solid: Guns of the Patriot, which is still one of the best games of its kind, even a whole console generation later. Some lose out a little as I personally see it (Call of Duty & Halo), but these games counter it with another extra, which I will get back to shortly. Against these games are the open games like Oblivion, Fallout, Fallout New Vegas and Skyrim, where there is a decent story, yet the additional openness of the game makes a massive impact.

There are a few that lose massive points, because they got the story kind of right, but then the game-play, linearity and the lack of insight suddenly made what could be a massive hit, but got to be no better than mediocre as I see it. In this category we see games like Thief and Second Son (Infamous3).

Second Son is the strongest in that regard, as I see it; the game was over-hyped and over marketed. The game starts really nice, then after a while the designer gets sloppy. The evidence as I see it? Consider that you cleaned the first Island and as your smoke powers grew, you got decently into the story, at some point you get the 3rd power (video), instead of reopening the first island, adding additional challenges and added missions, perhaps even adding more laser and speed missions (2nd power), maximising the power of video, you continue on the linear path to the conclusion of the game. In addition, instead of actually giving added powers to the concrete power by adding challenges for cleaning the city or removing the concrete power out of the soldiers, the game pretty much ends and the concrete power actually becomes kind of ‘lame’, the one power you coveted the most is the one power you can happily do without.

It is that lack that is also killing the wonder in games and gaming. It is a sloppy side.

I mentioned Halo and Call of Duty. These games survive on the challenge of multi-player and that is fine, but I think that these gamers could get a boost of gaming if the story was something you could get through, or even explore a little, instead of run through to the end. Perhaps that is not what they want, which is fair enough, but the reception that Far Cry 3 got (including from me), gives a little strength to the view I personally have. I admit that not all gamers will agree here. In addition, I will reopen the talks on multi-player. Most gamers who are into this side, love (and demand) a good multi-player side to the game. I have never been a Halo fan, but I hear good things about it, some games have a massive downturn in multi-player gaming. In that regard, it is Assassin’s Creed and Tomb Raider that are the worst of them. You see, I believe that things either are balanced or they get an edge, having neither is a bad thing. With these two games, I have tried several times and when you start as a level 1 person, getting stacked against level 50 people, only to get stuck in a bottle neck with opposing you mini guns, one shot killing bows and people with 2-3 bonus skills, you know that the makers missed out and soon thereafter most will have had enough. In opposition I would like to mention God of War, which had an amazing multi-player mode. I was really impressed. You go 4 against 4 and you might have a weapons edge, or not, the fact that it is about the group achievement, you still get some points and soon thereafter you become an equal and even an asset in the multi-player version. A game like that invites multi-player and entices players to get out and do it multi style, which is how it should be. The last one to mention here is Mass Effect 3, which I consider to be the greatest multi-player game of all time. You go in groups of four, you go against a decent AI (at times an overwhelming one) and you go into maps you might have already seen. The options to improve the skills of the characters, the weapons, and armour by playing and buying upgrades is just too much fun. It is the most addictive multi-player form I have ever experienced. I met some of the best players ever. At one point I reached the top 2% of the multi-players, considering that there are over 1.2 million Mass Effect 3 players is just an AWESOME feeling! In all that time, the multi-player remained true to the story (given is that it is just to kill enemies, how wrong can you go) and true to the atmosphere of the game. In Mass Effect 3, it was NEVER about the multi-player, which makes it all even better.

I feel that gaming could move up a notch, not because of the nextgen in consoles, but because the developers will pay better and more attention to the story they hand out.

Even though we all still enjoy a game of Galaga at times, a game that was never about the story and all about zapping the baddies.Most of us will always love to have at least one game like that. I got Scribble Shooter and it is great fun! It is about the other 24 games we buy and we must consider that the next 5-8 years of all franchises will be about the IP (Intellectual Property), making a better story part of the mix will only bind us stronger to the game of our choice, which is one thing the developer will love.

In the end we the gamer win and through this so will the developer!

 

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