Pikmin 3 and Doing It Wrong

Recently, I started playing Pikmin 3. Having never played any of the games in the series before, it caught me off guard in a number of ways. For instance, I didn’t expect the little critters to melt my heart with their sheer cuteness. I also found that watching those same adorable creatures die in assorted ways was rather traumatic. Most surprising to me was how hardcore its gameplay mechanics were. Dig past its cuddly exterior and this is a game that can mercilessly rip out your still-beating heart from your chest.

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The Thing That Drives Me Nuts About Lugi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

Ever since I got it as a birthday present a few months back, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon has been a part of my morning routine. Though the game isn’t terribly long, it’s taken me forever to work through it. The frustrating part of it all is that it really doesn’t have to be this way.

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Game Design Talk: Being Exposed in Stealth-Based Games

Not too long ago, I played Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay for the first time. I was really digging its first-person stealth action in theory, but the experience fell apart for me very quickly. I got to a point early on where Riddick had to fight his enemies in a head-on manner and it just did not work out well for me. Even when I lowered the difficulty to easy, I kept getting smoked by the computer. It seemed like when I was forced to defend myself in a non-stealthy way, Riddick was seemingly useless.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at stealth games. But I think there’s something to be said about the way stealth is implemented in games, particularly when a player has to fight outside the context of stealth.

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Check Out My Editorial Piece “May The Lesser Man Win” Now on Splitkick.com

Up now on Splitkick is my first editorial piece for them entitled “May the Lesser Man Win: Parallels Between Boxing’s Latest Debacle and Modern-Day Fighting Game Design“. The idea for the piece has been floating around in my head for awhile, but the recent bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley ultimately was the catalyst for me pulling those ideas into a fully-formed piece. If an op-ed piece about the role of field-leveling mechanics in fighting games is something of interest to you, definitely head over to Splitkick to check it out!

This is also my first piece as a Staff Writer, which Splitkick announced officially in their one-year anniversary celebration post. Thanks to everyone on the Splitkick team for embracing me as one of their own. It’s been a pleasure working with Splitkick and I’m looking forward our future endeavours!

Game Design Talk: The Broken New Auto Block and Auto Tech Gems in Street Fighter X Tekken

Not too long ago, Capcom released a series of new gems for use with Street Fighter X Tekken. Though I’ve grown into being a gem-hater over the last few months, the original set of gems had little impact on the overall outcome of a match. However, I found out the hard way that the new set of auto block and auto tech gems are a much bigger deal. Why are they such a problem?

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Game Design Talk: Video Games With Slow Starts

I’m currently in the process of playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Zelda games have been the subject of much debate in terms of game design, but today I’d like to focus on one particular aspect of the game. The first 90 minutes to two hours of that game are slow. Painfully slow. As a Zelda fan, I’m willing to ‘tough it out’ through the intro piece of the game for the sweet, meaty filling, but it shouldn’t ever have to be this way for any game.

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Game Design Talk: Making Fun Games For the Shallow and Deep Ends of the Pool

A few days ago, I was listening to the most recent episode of the Weekend Confirmed podcast that featured David Jaffe, the original designer behind God of War and Twisted Metal. One topic they talked about in particular caught my ear, and it was a discussion about making games fun for different skill levels. The analogy they used was a pool, where the shallow end of the pool was the place for entry-level players and the deep end for the hardcore crowd.

Making a game that is rewarding to all skill levels is hard.

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Game Design Talk: Facing The Scummiest Skylanders Scenario Imaginable

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure is a pretty good game on its own. My brother and I played through it with only four toys, and we had a pretty good time with it. Say what you will about the evil and genius marketing ploy of tying the purchase of toys as in-game characters into the mix, but the overall package is fairly solid and enjoyable.

However, it’s not perfect. Particularly when your lack of toys impedes your progress through the game. My brother and I experienced the scummiest of these moments during the final boss fight.

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Game Design Talk – Is Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Too Big?

There is nothing about the Skyrim experience that you can describe as “small”. Everything from the size of the world, to the number of quests, to the number of ways to play that game are too large to quantify. Because of how much stuff there is to do in the game, I’m fairly certain that the majority of Skyrim players will never finish the main quest, let alone experience everything that game has to offer.

In spite of its girth, it amazes me how great Skyrim is on almost every front. With that said, could Skyrim have been an overall better game if it wasn’t so grand?

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Game Design Talk: Do You Need Context in Your Video Games?

Having recently completed Vanquish, the game got me thinking about the context behind any given video game. What I mean by context in this sense, is the context behind your actions within a game. For instance, the story of a Super Mario game might be paper thin, but the context for actions is clear: you’re trying to save Princess Peach. Oftentimes, people will use the word ‘story’ in place of ‘context’, but I think context is a better fitting word in this sense.

The context behind Vanquish is awful for a number of reasons, yet I really enjoyed playing that game strictly because I loved the gameplay mechanics that drove the experience. I simply chose to tune out the convoluted story, poor dialogue and bad voice acting.

Though I’ve sort of talked about this topic in the past, I wanted to open this up for discussion. Do you need context in your video games in order to enjoy them?

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