A WEEK IN GAMING FROM 7.16.13-7.19.13

Sunday, July 21, 2013

By: Jamaal Ryan

Let’s take a looking at a week in gaming from 7/16/13 through 7/19/13

Learning Together By Playing Together (7/16)

As many of us know, above all the vitriol about gaming’s “negative” effects on children, video games have demonstrated positive turnouts from improving proficiency from multitasking, to sharpened reflexes, to quick decision making. For those of us who play cooperatively, there is a level of collaboration expected. Games like Portal 2’s multiplayer highlights this practice.

While this phenomenon wasn’t the priority of North Carolina State University’s experiment, looking to see “how educational gaming tasks were at teaching computer science concepts”, this led them to the idea of creating cooperative experiences that encourages the participation of two players.

The study was conducted in a middle school in Raleigh NC where students paired up to play the university’s video game appropriately titles Engage. One player took on the role as the “driver”, or the one actively playing the game; the other was named the “navigator”, who accompanied the drivers but wasn’t directly playing the game.

The results non-surprisingly showed that the drivers were more engaged than the navigators. However this led the researchers into the idea of designing games that encouraged the navigators to participate more, perhaps construct objectives and tasks that required the involvement of the navigator. This would allow for more collaboration, teaching students how to communicate in said tasks.

Games like Mario Galaxy where player two picked up star bits and shot them at enemies, or the Wii U version of Rayman Legends where the player who holds the tablet can manipulate the environment to assist on player one’s progress are built on this style of cooperative play.

This this type of cooperative game design was incorporated in classroom education, we could see a breakthrough in school teaching tactics.

The Feel Good Playstation Launch Platformer (7/17)

Mark Cerny, lead architect of the Playstation 4 hardware, couldn’t pull himself away from software development having had worked on Sony’s historical franchises such as Crash Bandicoot. Speaking of Crash, that game is very much seen in the PS4’s new game Mark is the creative lead of, Knack.

Among the shooters and other games touting realistic concept direction, Knack is a light hearted, very ‘E for Everyone’ platformer. It holds a colorful anime style, partly thanks to the collaboration with Sony’s Japan studio. The biggest draw is Knack himself, who’s made up seemingly hundreds of relics from a lost society.
Knack is being pitched as the perfect secondary purchase. For every Killzone, Battlefield and Call of Duty, 

Knack seeks to be that other game in your collection. Its gameplay is just as approachable is its visuals, with simple platformer mechanics and button prompts to pull of special maneuvers and attacks. Knack’s fragmented makeup allows him to alter his size, absorb parts into his physical body, and fuse elemental attributes to augment his abilities.

Knack is also taking advantage of the system’s social capabilities. Players can explore treasure rooms where they can discover parts in their game that are generated by other players which can be assembled to construct special items.

Knack’s simplicity is hopefully a canvas for the Playstation 4’s hardware capabilities. That would make sense since it’s headed by the man who knows the system best.
Look for Knack day & date with the Playstation 4. 

Quality Video Game Films? (7/18)

Did you see Street Fighter: Legend of Chung Li? You did? Sorry man, but you fucked up. Well here’s some news, hopefully in 5 years time, video game movie adaptations won’t suck as much as that steaming pile.

At last week’s comic-con, video game movie producers and writers sat on a panel for ‘Video Games to Movies: Is the Golden Age Upon Us?’. The speakers believe that video game films are finally getting over the hump that many have struggled to climb for well over a decade. Today’s games are far richer as a narrative product. This gives film makers a lot more to work with instead of having to work with polygonal assembled characters, some environments and signature move sets.

But not only are games maturing, gamers, specifically those that are making films, are maturing and growing in number as well. More and more gamers are sitting in the director’s, producer’s and writer’s chairs. This allows them to bring a better understanding of the medium on screen instead of some 80’s inspired quick profit maker looking to sign a popular license onto the big screen. To accompany some of these film makers, game studios are also working directly on film adaptations to richen the movie’s authenticity.

But film challenges are still abound. Many modern games enable players to make decisions that shapen their lead characters. To make a movie with, say, Adam Jenson from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the writers will have to script a Jenson that aligns with players with different experiences. Looking at this aspect, it would be a nightmare illustrating a Commander Sheppard in a Mass Effect film. (Here’s how to solve that problem: don’t use Commander Sheppard.)

With upcoming films such as Dead Space, Assassins Creed, Need for Speed, and the aforementioned Dues Ex, movie producers claim that video game films will live up to the quality that we demand in five years.

Dragon Age Inquisition: Bioware Refining the Conversation (7/19)

Outside of being built upon Frostbite 3, very little has been heard about Dragon Age: Inquisition; but last week, we got some tid bits on what Bioware is improving upon.

Lead writer Patrick Weekes stated that the team is looking into add more variables that influences dialogue in DAI beyond that of previous decisions made. Character stats was mentioned, but more interesting, and frankly more seemingly appropriate, are how the presence of different characters might skew the conversation.

We’ve seen Bioware experiment with this in the franchise before with side conversations among characters on your travels, but looking at how they may influence the flow of interactions with other characters is exciting, and may make you think of who you allow to accompany you whenever you engage other NPCs. Dragon Age, as is more of Bioware’s titles, can be a very political and socially conflicting game. It may be important to pick and choose those that would support you in your actions as well as maintaining a healthy relationship with your companions.

It was also mentioned that Inquisition will add more environments to the game world, no doubt a welcomed change especially for those who felt painfully restricted into only traveling within the walls of the kingdom of Kirkwall.

We know little of any other improvements of elements that we’ll find in Inquisition. Dragon Age 2 in a lot of way was a vast improvement over Origins, though it was held back by a few strange and distracting ideas. Hopefully Inquisition will be the culmination of both Origins and Dragon Age 2, making it the definitive game of the franchise.

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