Trying to understand how games work

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Tomorrow Nintendo’s new console the Wii U launches in the UK.

It very much seems like the console to have, retailers in the US are already selling out.

I myself am going to wait a little bit before getting one, as I want to see whether the console is going to continue being supported by third-parties into the future. Or maybe if Nintendo themselves bring out some great games, as they have always been very reliable to make incredibly fun games.

Are you going to get one? Why not tell us how excited you are on the Facebook page?

I had a lot of fun going down to film Teesports at the Tees Valley Chinese Community Centre. Everyone was great and helpful.

Here’s the video. Slight apologies that all the fighting game footage s from Tekken,  I assure you there were other games at the tournament.

The new Devil May Cry reboot has been a bit controversial for making some pretty big changes. Now the demo is out there and people can get a real feeling for whether the game is going to feel good or not. It’s certainly going to be very divisive.

I for one really enjoyed playing it, but I’m saying this as someone who could probably be considered as a sort of casual player of previous Devil May Cry games. I’ve never really been into the story of the games, really dislike the music, but I’ve always found fighting demons in each game incredibly fun.

Oddly enough, I’m very interested to where the story goes with the new one, because it’s being handled by developer Ninja Theory, who did a terrific job telling a great story in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. This seems a very different take on what is Devil May Cry, and I for one can’t wait to see how they take existing concepts and apply them in new directions.

I’ve been finding combat very exciting, and already feel a good wealth of options with being able to switch between light, medium and heavy fighting styles by holding down the triggers on the controller.

There’s also two kinds of grappling arm, which can either pull you to things or pull things to you, and I feel that allows for some very interesting manoeuvres when fighting demons. For example, I found fighting flying enemies to be quite fun, as I could grapple towards them and hit them up close with the sword, but also could keep grappling back onto them if I fall a bit, essentially staying in mid-air and not touching the ground at all.

I’m very interested to see how people respond to this, but I’m certain that there are people out there that won’t like it at all, and that’s fine, because it’s certainly different to the games they played beforehand. Honestly I think it retains enough of what it is to be considered part of the franchise, and can’t wait to get my hands on it when the game is out proper in January.

Got some skill to show at fighting games? Here’s a place to show it. And win prizes.

Taking place on Saturday 24th November at the Tees Valley Chinese Community Centre.

The games at the tournament will be Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3, King of Fighters XIII, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

Places have been filling up fast, so if you’re interested, check here for more details.

Prices are £8 for a single tournament, and £2 to enter any extra games. Spectating is free.

Admittedly fighting games are quite new to me, but as something competitive I find a good match can be very exciting to watch.

I’ll be there myself, hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

Michael Sharp is a Teesside University student who created his own game, Rebound.

What is Rebound for those who don’t know?
Rebound is a 2D game inspired by ‘Pong’ and ‘Breakout’ games from the Atari 2600 era of games, it was created for a competition that required each game to have aspects of Random or Procedural generation in the game mechanics.

The game itself consists of a ball, a ‘player’ paddle and an enemy AI paddle, each player is trying to keep the ball from passing their side, to add to the complexity the world is scattered with crates which influence various aspects of the game, such as the player/enemies score, the speed of the ball, the distribution of crates on the playing field and the art and sounds of the playing field; the player must ‘play the field’ to win against the AI player, they do that by scoring past the AI and by hitting the right crates and avoiding the wrong ones.

Do you feel randomised elements add an interesting element to a game?
Yes, definitely. By adding random elements to games (in the case of Rebound, the distribution of crates keeps changing, the appearance of the playing field also keeps changing), the game is exciting to play again and again, it presents a new and different challenge to the gamer every time.

How did you go about making the game?
I wrote the game in the C++ programming language, using a neat little library called SFML (short for Simple Fast Media Library), I’ve been programming for about 7 years now, so it was just a matter of plotting out the game mechanics, defining each ‘zone’ in the game and writing the code to put it all together.

I also needed to exercise a little bit of initiative when it came to creating the art and sound assets, the art was hand drawn by myself using a graphics tablet and the sound effects were create in a neat little tool called SFXR.

How do you feel personally about the game? Is there anything you might do a little differently next time?
I feel that given the time I had to complete the game, I did a decent job, but if I were to expand on the game further, I would have made the crate generation system less random and more procedural, it would have been really cool to generate patterns of crates around the playing field instead of just placing them randomly.

I would also be very keen on using a different set of libraries to build the game, getting the game to work on Mac, Linux and Windows was a bit of a chore, if I used a different set of libraries in perhaps another language, I may have been able to avoid building the game for each individual platform, reducing development time.

Anything you’re able to tease? Or am I approaching on dangerous secretive ground?
Well, while I am usually rather coy about my future projects, I will say that I am looking into better ways of developing games, I’m very keen on getting my games out to as many people as possible, so I’m looking into how I can deploy my next game to mobile devices as well as the PC.

As for my actual next game, I’m still mulling that over, but I am rather partial to strategy and city-building games, so I might explore that space some time soon, maybe not for my next project, but maybe the one after that!

Michael has his own blog here, Rebound can be downloaded from here.

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