Monday, June 7, 2010

Games I'm Playing

The runup to E3 at work has been busy. I've been getting back to putting in an hour a night on my lunar-lander-on-a-disc, though. Not a whole lot of progress to report. There are now landing targets distributed over the planet surface which detect when the rocket lands close to them.

I recently purchased a PlayStation 3 and have been catching up with some of the games on that platform.

Uncharted 2 is very, very pretty. I find the relentless shooting a bit monotonous, but they have done an excellent job of mixing storytelling and gameplay.

I'm replaying Super Mario Galaxy with my four-year-old. It's reasonably fun.

PixelJunk Shooter is a solid little game that I'd recommend to almost anyone. Its looks belie its technical sophistication. It's one of two games I played recently to compare and contrast with my lunar lander project. Shooter sets a high bar and is making me rethink some things. For instance, they use a grappling hook to rescue astronauts, instead of landing next to them as is traditional in this type of game. The result is that the game flow moves much more quickly.

My wife's been playing Picross 3D obsessively since it came out. I finally got some time with it last night; it is really, really fun. Picross 3D uses a rather heavy-handed tutorial system to teach you the game; after playing Everett Kaser's logic games, which always stay out of your way but provide excellent hinting, it's a bit hard to take. Otherwise it's great.

Gravity Crash is the other game I played for inspiration in my lunar lander game. Unfortunately I just didn't find this one very fun at all. It feels like a total ripoff of Gravitron 2, and one of the problems they share is a tendency to add energy to the ship when colliding with the terrain. The result is that one collision can quickly spiral into being completely out of control, bouncing this way and that until the ship explodes. It suffers especially when compared directly with PixelJunk Shooter.

Flower is a nice, short little game. My four-year-old can play it fairly well. I do wish there was an option to steer with an analog stick instead of with accelerometers. About half the time you feel like the wind soaring over a field of flowers (as intended), and it is exhilarating and beautiful. The other half of the time you feel like you're trying to turn a semi truck around in an alley.

1 comment:

Jotaf said...

Hey man, I just tried out the new version, it's pretty cool! Having an objective, simple as it may be, really makes it feel much more gamey and much less prototypey.

I think it would be even more satisfying if you saw some stranded astronauts walking towards the ship (or getting picked up by a grappling hook, as you mentioned, or climbing up a rope-ladder). A crashed ship (and some other scattered ship parts maybe), just making part of the scenery, would also add to the immersion :)

About improving the camera, maybe I'm simplifying a bit, but I would interpolate nicely (to prevent sudden transitions) between 2 camera modes:
1) when any of the powered/unpowered trajectories hit a rock in less than, say, 10 seconds, center/zoom the camera on those points and the ship (make sure they're visible).
2) when the collisions are more than 10 seconds away, or don't exist, center on the ship and provide a good default zoom level.

Just making some suggestions; the amount of progress you made in this prototype is amazing :)