Monday, November 3, 2008

Allow Me to Rant a Bit

To preface my life is still crazy but I don't want to talk about it. In stead I am going to talk a little bit about a bunch of games I have watched recently. I use the term watch because I didn't actually play them but glanced over at my roommate while he played them and I was doing homework or reading to keep my brain from melting. Regardless I saw a lot of little things that people already probably knew about these games (including myself) but I felt the need to point them out a little. The games being Fallout 3, Dead Space, and Fable 2.

Let's start with Fable 2. I didn't really enjoy playing Fable 1 but it was a good game, fairly innovative with a lot of cool features, and a style (artistic and otherwise) that fit the name "Fable" far better than most people really noticed. The second is still a good game but much less interesting to me. This is because sequels bother me in the first place. They need enough new content to really drive me through and with Fable 2 my hope was that it would give me the drive to play it that Fable 1 failed to. This is not the case. The style remains strong giving an amazing fairy-tale feel to the game. The story (from this little taste I have had) is a bit more interesting. The game-play is a bit smoother. But overall it feels like they tweaked the first game a little and released it again. I will say this though. I tend to struggle with western style RPGs because I have no attachment to the character and they tend to be sandbox games, which are interesting but again have no drive to get me through them. I personally tend to get more attached to a character that has their own story and Fable 2 does that well. The game does a good job of eliciting emotion something I haven't seen from a Western RPG in a while (probably because I don't play through a lot of them).

Next on the list, Fallout 3. Another sequel so I am again a bit underwhelmed by it. It is also another sandbox game, though I will say it gives a decent amount of direction to the player... at least in the beginning. Since I have only really seen the beginning and tidbits of game-play I can't comment as much on the experience as I would like to but I have to say the character creation process in this game does a really good job of holding immersion into the world, at least compared to other character creation processes. You get to see your character grow up and you even see their birth so it is like you aren't just pulling this character from thin air but rather seeing the moments that make them who they are when you start playing the game. It is a very clever solution to the problem of keeping immersion. The game-play itself impressed me less. It has the same feel of Oblivion with some sugar coating and then it is deep fried in the world of Fallout. This crates an interesting mix, not unlike deep fried candy bars, but it isn't much more that simply interesting. It doesn't do enough differently to stand out in my mind. It is delicious and good but the game is somewhat heterogeneous, two parts that would have been better melded together rather than rolled in one another. It is still delicious just not as delicious as a whole new recipe would have been.

Dead last is Dead Space (ha, get it?). This one stands out a lot more than the other two. I spoke briefly of immersion before and Dead Space does this very well something it must do well to be a horror game I would argue. The only reason this game got on my radar was that my roommate would jump a bit every now and again and I would hear a bunch of gunfire then silence. That right there shows a good game-play experience. It has incredible dramatic structure on a microscopic level. Every action in the game has it's own little climax and resolution and when a number of them are stung together it gives the game a very interesting feel. The only problem I can see with this is it might get exhausting later in the game, seeing the same pattern again and again (which I haven't seen so i can't comment on). But back to the immersion thing. It was a bit hard to catch this at first and I thought originally that it had a bad immersion factor because my roommate would explain exactly how he was NOT falling into the game world. I thought about it a little more and I realized what he failed to say was that he forced himself not to be immersed so as not to fall into the game's TRAP. He was staying removed from the game on purpose to avoid messing up his last clean pair of pants. Even when he was slightly remove he would still manage to get pulled in enough to jump and say a brief "Jesus, Mary, n' Joseph!" while blowing off the gross limbs of something that grabbed him while he was saving the game. The minimalistic interface does wonders for the immersion and the real-time inventory is the perfect way to get players to do what they should never do in a horror/action game which is stand still. Overall, it is a very clever and well designed experience. I can't wait to see my roommate when the end of the game comes along.

Anyway, thanks for reading, sorry for ranting if you don't like rants but I though I needed to talk a little about the games outside my crazy work world.


Monday, October 27, 2008

C is for Crazy that's good enough for me

I am really bad at doing this... Thank you for bugging me about posting I really need to make it a habit like weekly would be best (though I don't know how much new information will be popping up. Anyway, here goes.

So life is still crazy, I say that casually these days. Like "Oh yea life is still crazy... nothin' new" but that is kinda how I have been feeling. But when I really sit down and think about it my life is crazy and not just crazy like a lot of stuff going on I mean crazy like a lot of awesome stuff is going on. For example, We have a deliverable for the UNFPA project in 2 days. Like people from the UNFPA will be reading this document... That is huge. I never though I would be in a situation where my work would be judged by the same people that work to reduce poverty work wide on a daily basis. That is crazy. I am pretty excited about it though. I am nervous because I feel like no one in the world knows how to make this game, let me say that again no one knows how to make this game. I have to make it. Crazy. I am still working on Information Literacy and it is freaking me out but we won't get into details on THAT. Lets just say it is something I needed and it was my first real taste of production outside of class. In class I am learning a ton in my level design class, I am loving level design by the way. It is this awesome place where I can feel artistic and create artistic spaces while still focusing on things like balance fun design etc. it is a good hybrid and it is one of those classes that has me learning how to learn. I need to learn and use some Kismet by Thursday and that is crazy too but awesome I can't wait to sit down and work on it. My Advanced Seminar class I feel like has been on the back burner. I am working on a design in that class that I love, I love it but it doesn't feel like a priority for some reason (crazy). It is this awesome little game about how communication works, how it strengthens us and how we need connections to make it anywhere in life. My other idea I had for that class that I absolutely love but won't have time to work on until later is an electronic game for the blind. It focuses on alternate feedback but I haven't put any real time into it. My other classes are nothing work loads comparatively I treat them as time that I don't have to work on other stuff and THAT is crazy. That is the majority of stuff in my work/professional life but as a side note my personal life isn't any less confusing.

But speaking of communication, a little while ago I had a pretty good opportunity make new connections and practice my communication skills. The opening of the EMC was just last Tuesday (feels like a year ago) and I met many awesome people from all kinds of different professions who all had interest in what we were doing. The governor of Vermont was even there. What was really cool was I got to talk to Jason Della Rocca - Executive Director of the IGDA among other folks from 'the biz' in Montreal. A2M is sounding cooler by the second and they will definitely be on my list of companies to look at/apply to. We got to talk to people from EA, Microsoft, and America's Army as well (crazy). It was an awesome experience and built my confident in what I am doing at the EMC even more. Now I just have to make sure that confidence transforms that C in crazy to C is for Career and THAT is good enough for me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Just the Start

So, this is the beginning of my 4th and final year here at Champlain. It will certainly be an interesting one by the looks of it. I am taking 5 classes 3 of which of which will require somewhere in the area of 10 hours a week including class time. I am doing 40 hours of community service this semester (not sure where yet but if you have suggestions I'm open to them). Plus 2 projects for the EMC both requiring somewhere in the range of 10 hours a week. I am totally excited for all of it but I feel like my social needs are going to take a bit of a hit because of this. Level Design is going to be an incredible class where I will get to learn a little bit more about a ton of different engines (my first class is tomorrow). Senior Team Project is exciting because it will give me a chance to really push myself with my partner and make something that is finally something I would actually want to show a potential employer. Finally Advanced Seminar will be exciting because I get to explore some of the crazier ideas I have had for game concepts and get more experience with rapid prototyping. Some of my ideas for that one are a game that is meant to be played by feel or that is designed specifically for the blind (this one I am pumped about but will probably be the most challenging) and another idea I had that was inspired by Orson Scott Card's books Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide, I love his Sci-Fi theories on the soul and connections and wanted to play with those ideas in a mechanic. So to say the least I am feeling the pressure already.

Aside from all of that, the Emergent Media Center (EMC) projects I have been working on have taken a bit of a break for this week but it is very much needed. Last week was my trip to Africa for the UNFPA project and my mind has been swirling ever since the day we landed. We saw so many things and learned so much it is hard to put into words. It was a very draining trip emotionally, physically, mentally, etc. So I am grateful to have this week to try and collect my thoughts (many of which are scrawled randomly in a journal). The Information Literacy project I haven't heard much of (because of my trip) and I have a feeling that it will be a struggle to get a finished product on time. Everything is there it just needs to be put together and that seems to be out of my hands for now (though I am trying my best to do what I can still). I will be working on both throughout the semester and hopefully I can keep posting my thoughts on the projects as they progress.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm in South Africa

So this is so strange. When I first started college I never thought I would end up in Africa let alone making a game dealing with issues such as domestic violence. I think this experience speaks for itself and I am having a hard time figuring out how to put it in words, especially tonight knowing that tomorrow we will be going to an elementary school and we are apparently expected to dance for them...

The rest of the day I am excited for though

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's like a 10 ton truck...

Yep. There is a LOT of stuff going on for me right now. Some good, some not so good, some stressful, some more stressful. But it is all very exciting. I am trying to keep up with my blog (I really need to make this habit) but there is just so much going on. I just got my new computer running (built it myself and very proud of it). So I just got back online in my free time. This upcoming school semester I am excited for but a lot of what I am doing is going to be stuff I hope to put in my portfolio so I want it to look nice and feel right (which it never quite will but I hope to get it close). I have 3 main ideas for prototypes I hope to work on during school. My senior project is what I am most worried about. I don't know what the class involves but working with my partner Kyle R. (a good friend since freshman year) will be good. All I know is that it is an important project and will probably end up being a bit portfolio piece (if I don't turn out something crappy). But what is weighing on my mind the most right now is the UNFPA project. I am going to South Africa in 3 days to do research. It is a bit mind blowing and happened super fast. I am looking forward to it but I am also scared. Either way it will be a good experience. I think that is all for now but I think I might go into more detail later on my ideas for prototypes. But I need to rest for now.

Friday, August 15, 2008


So I suppose I should probably mention who I am and what I do. Well I graduated from Salem High School in New Hampshire in 2005 and that is really when all of this started. I began going to Champlain College in Burlington Vermont. I am now going into my fourth year in the Electronic Game and Interactive Development as a Designer. I am currently working on 2 game projects right now and in my last year here I will be working on my Senior project as well as other design courses involving level design and prototyping. I honestly am not sure where I am going after this year. I am not even sure what it is I want to do. All I know is that I love writing and design theory so hopefully I can find something to combine the two. Anyway, that is sort of the reason I finally decided to start this blog. I want to keep writing even if it is not entirely relevant to my profession. I also want to keep my brain thinking about Design theories. I hope to share my design processes a little here and to share my concepts and some of my writing (as well as empty my head of strange personal thoughts so if those put you off just ignore them). I will soon go into detail on the projects I am working on but this is mostly to give this place a foot hold and get me in the habit of using it. Again thanks for reading.

First Post

Hey people,
So this is my blog. I haven't ever been much of a blogger. I when I was younger I tried a few different web journal style things but I never had much to write about. But I figure now that I am coming up on professional life (scary) I might have a little bit more to write about. So this is a place for my thoughts to reside. I hope to use it to share ideas and get feed back on them as well as hopefully connect to a few people who I find interesting and vice versa. But this is just an introduction so I think I will leave it short and simple. Looking forward to actually using a blog.

Thanks for reading!