Specialized Interaction: Okami And Castlevania

Originally posted at The Christian Write.

Previously I went into detail about specialized interactive items and elements, such as Link’s ocarina from Ocarina of Time and the various mini games in the Bioshock series, and when it would be appropriate to implement them in a game. Now I’d like to take a look at successful – and not so successful – implementation in greater detail using Capcom’s Okami and Konami’s Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow for examples. (Incidentally, I have zero idea if there’s an industry-standard name for these elements, so if anyone knows please clue me in.)

Both games used a specialized interactive item mechanic that amounted to the player drawing shapes on the screen. However, the inputs were not equal in their execution. Both Okami and Dawn of Sorrow were high quality games that were very well received by audiences, but their respective innovative item mechanics could not have been more different in reception. In short, painting with Okami’s Celestial Brush was successful, while drawing the magic seals was a “failure”, subjectively speaking. So why did Okami succeed while Dawn of Sorrow failed?

Let’s take a look at the Celestial Brush from Okami first.

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When To Add Specialized Interactive Game Elements

 GayGamer vet Christian takes a deeper look at gaming mechanics and shares some of his thoughts about interactive design in part one of a two part piece. Originally posted at The Christian Write

One of the goals of a good video game is to immerse the player in the world that s/he is playing in, to feel connected to the events on-screen, and as if the world is not only real but one that they have their own unique impact on. This was harder to do in the older days when the technology was new and interaction was limited to pressing one or two buttons, but as consoles and computers have become more and more powerful the capabilities for immersion have grown. The Oculus Rift as well as Sony’s Project Morpheus immediately come to mind by providing enhanced visual immersion, but before quality stereoscopic technology video games tried other methods to get the player more absorbed into the world.

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IeSF Hearthstone Tournament: No Girls Allowed, Blizzard Says Otherwise

E3, and Nintendo in particular, provided an uplifting experience this year when I started to see how many games were utilizing female protagonists. Lady gamers make up half the gaming audience, after all, so it was encouraging to see devs start adding that representation into their titles. Then I heard about Finland’s Assembly Summer 2014 and promptly headdesked so hard I may have suffered mild dain bramage. You see, Assembly hosts International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) tournaments, the winners of which will move on to this year’s international finals in Baku, Azerbaijan. IeSF, for whatever reason, has decided that there will be no women’s division for the Hearthstone competition, so therefore women can’t compete. Like, at all. Continue reading

E3 2014: Ubisoft and the Lack of Lady Assassins

Assassin’s Creed: Unity was one of those games that I didn’t have any interest in when I first saw it, but cared more and more as the week went on and I got to see the ideas and mechanics explained and demonstrated more fully. It’s now become the first Assassin’s Creed game I’ve ever actually looked forward to. I was interested enough that I let the fact that all four of the playable characters were white males slide right by me without comment. Yes, I’m owning my white male privilege; or something. Others, however, did not miss that issue and brought up the question as to why there was a lack of female character options for the game. So why is that so? Creating a female character would have been too hard.

Cue headdesk.

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E3 2014: Gauntlet Goes Back to its Roots

When I was little, one of my absolute favorite games both in the arcade and at home was Gauntlet. Four people playing at once was just groundbreaking at the time, and the four characters being utterly distinct was fascinating… it meant a rush to be the goddamned elf so that you actually stood a chance of grabbing items and treasure before anyone else. The poor sucker who got stuck as the warrior got nothing except by the grace of his or her teammates.

Fast forward to the late 90s/early 00s for Gauntlet: Dark Legacy to continue the arcade chaos with full 3D graphics, vibrant character and monster designs, interesting expansions on the four original classes, and the buffest wizards outside of a Boris Vallejo painting.

Then the series…languished a bit with false starts and lackluster gritty reboots. The latest to try and tackle the button-mashing mayhem was Warner Bros. and I got to get my hands on the pre-alpha demo at E3. And you know, I think it’s actually gonna be really good! I hope.

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