August 13th, 2009 — 360, comics
A while back, Michael Abbott posted an excellent post about the status of sports games, which I agree with. [I posted some of my own experiences in support of his points.] If you’ve seen me on Xbox Live, you’ve probably seen me playing NCAA 2010. I have a couple of online dynasties that I play with my brother. And we’ve been experimenting with the new teambuilder feature, that allows you [as you might guess] to build and customize a team from scratch.
And to follow up on Michael’s post, we are taking the customization in a fun direction, doing things outside of the game.
You see, we decided to combine comics and gaming to start developing teams based on superheroes. The idea is to take the traits of the character and apply it to different aspects of the team–player attributes, playbook, school attributes.
For example, a team built around Ben Grim/The Thing might look like this:
- The Thing QB has a 99 throwing power rating but probably a low throwing accuracy, of say 55 or 66.
- Everyone on the team has boosted Strength stats: Strength, stamina, Injury, break tackle, stiff arm, Run & Pass Block Strength, Kick Power, Trucking, Block Shedding, Hit Power, Tackle.
- All of the speed attributes are much lower than normal (which would depend on the attribute–a basic speed of 40 for a RB might be unusable, although an interesting test when pared with the high strength values).
- Intelligence-related stats would be 50, 60 or so.
- The defense would be a 5-2 or 4-3, and the offense would be a more run-oriented team with some short to middle passes.
But here’s we started having fun–characterizing how the team is played:
- The same Ben Grimm team would take a lot of chances because Grimm is an emotionally, fly-off-the-cuff character. That team would go for it on 4th a lot more often.
- You’d always play to win, not to tie. For example, that team would go for 2 point conversions outside of the normal.
- It would blitz a lot, too.
- It probably would run up the middle more often than not. Very few screens and no trick plays.
We started going even further with these out-of-game characteristics:
- With Doctor Doom’s Doombot team, the Doom player gets to pick some aspect of the opponent’s coaching or gameplan and remove it [as an agreement since it can't really be enforced]. For example, he could say that you have to start your backup QB and demote your starter to 3rd string. Or he could say that you can’t call any inside runs.
- But the Doom team has a weakness for monologuing, which means that once a quarter, the Doom team has to take too long to call an offensive play. The Doom player picks when [early or late in the quarter].
No, this probably won’t appeal to college football fans. But we’re captivated with this new ability to play the game in a different way. And the game’s RPG aspects now seem to be more open and obvious than before. We’re no longer playing a strategy game and focused on numbers. We’re now developing game personas and playing roles.
July 9th, 2009 — comics
In my little spare time, I’ve been playing with Kodu, creating a simple game centered around healing sick creatures and removing a pollutant causing the sickness.
Kodu communities are sprouting up. Unfortunately, the tutorials included with Kodu aren’t that useful–I think you can learn more by looking at the ‘code’ for the other included games. This forum is decently active with a couple of very good threads about tricks, creative coding, and tips for a good game world. There’s a kodu wiki, but it’s light on information. The Gamefaqs forum has also picked up in posts.
If you’re interested in sharing Kodu games, read this.
Without a doubt, this is a limited game making app. Yet, it’s very accessible, and with a little creativity, you can do a bit. I’m using it as an opportunity to teach some basic programming principles to my kids and helping them to plan and think through problems with a limited set of tools. In that respect, making the game is actually more interesting than the game output.
In some respects, Kodu is like a robust level editor–it’s for small games, something you can create and play quickly. I’ve done more of trying to create this or that small part of a game. Some people are creating some interesting bits. When you contrast Kodu with Microsoft’s online game maker Popfly, you quickly see what Kodu is. In Kodu, you have template characters where you can’t upload new graphics or sounds. You can’t dive into deep customization of a character or scene, like in Popfly [which is itself a limited game maker]. With Kodu, when you drop in a character, you don’t have to work about animating it when it moves, assigning health points. Kodu isn’t just for kids, but it’s so much more approachable for young kids than Popfly.
Also, it appears that the Kodu team will release an update. But nothing is definite.
July 1st, 2009 — 360
Okay, all you game maker types, kodu is now available for download as a community game on Xbox Live. For a mere 400 points [US$5], you can create that great American game using Kodu intriguing icon-based development tool. You can purchase online, if you log into your account at the above link.
I will definitely grab it. Unfortunately, game sharing is cumbersome:
- Gamers sharing must be on each other’s friend list.
- Both gamers must be online at the same time.
- Both gamers must have Kodu running.
And you thought Wii friend codes were a pain. [Seriously, this cumbersome sharing process could stifle significant game sharing, as the creator has to share with each gamer. It's a shame that, when I start Kodu, I can't see any Kodu games created by friend and then download from there.]
If anyone has games to share, please feel free to add me to your friend list. My gamertag is on the right column.
February 11th, 2009 — ds games
Several months ago, I tried an earlier version of DS Game Maker. It was good, but just getting through the installation was a pain. A couple of nights ago, I splurged and bought a license to view the whole feature set. And man, I was greatly impressed. Version 2.4 seems much easier to use [because of familiarity?] than v1.0.
I made a cruddy little non-game, and I spent far, far more time working the graphics than adding the controls to move the sprite and add collision effects. There are a few nits with the app; for example, I wished that I could copy and paste actions that were frequently reused. [Perhaps this is my ignorance of programming . . . I almost wished I could create a function with different actions, such as playing a sound, change a variable, and move a sprite, and then call that function each time rather all the individual actions.] Yet, this is a very good tool for creating homebrew, although you should have some basic idea of programming.
James has a great tool in DS Game Maker. You will have to make use of the forums on the DS Game Maker website to get help, but there are good posts there already, as well as this nice sprite overview. If not, James and others are pretty responsive. And version 3.0 is in development, so this app bears watching.
I’m now wishing I had an idea for a little DS game. Even so, I’m having a hard time putting DS Game Maker down.