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Dead Space Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by austintrees

Dead Space - Reviewed By Parallaxed Game

Is this just a RE4 clone set in space or a new contender for the genre?

 

For a new IP, EA has definitely tried to make Dead Space a lasting franchise. Before the release, 6 animated web comics were released for free download, and upon release an animated movie was released for $15. EA placed some sizeable bets on Dead Space in the hope that this would stick, and they would be able to sell you more than just a $60 game, but also sell you on any other medium that would further drive your interests enough to open your wallets even more. While I wasn’t quite sure why they didn’t have a special edition of the game with the animated movie and web comic in the package, I have taken the time to watch both before sitting down to play this game.

 

Pitch and Perception:

The way Dead Space was pitched through trailers and interviews was that this game is going to be scary as hell and the HUD will exist in a non-traditional way. This was done by attaching the normal HUD items to either the engineer’s suit or by projecting a hologram in front of the main character Isaac’s face. This all works incredibly well for keeping you in the moment, why, because unlike RE4, you can’t just pause the game while being attacked to organize your herbs to make a strong health potion or switch weapons. The game isn’t paused when in the menus, so beware when looking at the map screen to see where the nearest save point is.

 

First Impressions:

There are a lot of little touches throughout the game to shows the amount of care was put in by the developers EA Redwood Shores. One of the ways is that when moving around in the menu, Isaac’s head will look at the selected item. Another is that there are noticeable design styles to the Ishimura, the Valor, and the Colony while still looking like they are from the same universe. As a whole product, Dead Space has a very tightly knit style and this makes it stand out in the way that you can look at some games and know which series it is from, much like Halo, BioShock, Gears of War, and Half-Life.

 

Night Lights:

Is this game scary? Yes and no. The background noises and lighting from the environment really add to the tension that you will feel when playing. From the scrapes and moans heard from the vents and through the walls to the flashing lights casting your shadow up beside you on the wall, there are many times when both of these elements will creep you out as you walk around with your weapon ready to fire at anything that moves. More often than not you can see your enemies as plain as day and from a great enough distance to loose some of that fear. The designs of the ships and the colony are only shown in their destroyed form; flickering hazard lights, crazy writing on the walls, busted up equipment, and blood and bodies everywhere. But it ultimately doesn’t look like and environment that people would live and work on for years at a time. It would have been nice to see the Ishimura, the Valor, or the Colony in perfect working condition through a video or a flashback, where we could see what it was like to work in this environment before everything hit the fan.

 

Touchy Feely:

How are the controls of Dead Space compared to Resident Evil 4? The simple answer is better. For the most part, Dead Space controls great. The game allowed me to play this just as if I was trapped on the Ishimura myself, and by that I mean ALWAYS having my gun up and ready so that not a single Necromorph can make a lunchable out of my face, because I kinda need that. The developers made the controls pretty fluid, for example, when in the menu the game is not paused, if a Necromorph appears while im looking at the map I can just hit the aim weapon button to instantly switch from map to gun up in that rude Necro’s face. Also, while walking around over ammo and health packs you can pick the items up while still having your gun out, which is great when your in the later chapters with low health and one of the monsters drops a medium health pack and there are still more of them coming.

There are a few problems with the controls of Dead Space; aiming while in the zero-g environments, the 2 turret sections, and the 4 or 5 times that something is pulling you closer to it so that it may consume you like a crème filled Twinkie. The problems I ran in to while in zero-g where the platforming bits and aiming. Most levels you’re in smaller locations, but in most of the zero-g segments you’re in wide open rooms, and when your on one wall aiming to another wall there are problems with the maximum angle that Isaac can aim at. Along with a bit of orientation issues from being on the wall and trying to locate an enemy you saw before jumping to your current location.

There are 2 moments in the game where you man a massive turret, while this isn’t a bad diversion, the controls feel a little off and the weapon overheats fairly fast. They could have been a happier memory from the game if the controls felt right and if what you were shooting was visible sooner so you are given more time to line up your shots.

And one of the more irritating problems in the game, the areas where a monster tentacle grabs you and you are required to shoot its glowing joint until it explodes and sets you free. While this could be a great tension builder, it fails by shifting the camera so that the aiming is harder to tell what your pointed at, and the fact that you can only shoot when the tentacle decides to take a 2 second rest before pulling you another 10 feet. This camera issue also shows up in the final boss fight in certain sections if the tentacle grabs you, but the camera in this section is actually much worse do to the fact the camera is 50 feet away from Isaac and at an odd angle. Either make it so I can shoot while it is constantly pulling me in, or make it so that Isaac grabs on to something in the environment and needs to shoot the joint before the tentacle is able to make him lose his grip or the item he’s holding on to breaks. 

But those complications are few and far between for the most part. While playing the game I didn’t find my self having to think around the control scheme, so I didn’t notice how tight the controls were. Then I popped in GTA4 one night to mess around and I was constantly aware of the controls. I was frequently reminded that I was playing a game and needed to think about the controls and deal with the weird collision detection problems. After 30 minutes, I quit the game and popped in Dead Space, and that’s when I realized how finished the game controls are. Now I know that an open world game is harder to program for the consideration of the amount of possibilities for gameplay, but the amount of polish for the common control and gameplay in Dead Space are spot on.

 

The Right Tools:

There are 7 weapons that are found in Dead Space. They are the plasma cutter, line gun, pulse rifle, contact beam, ripper, force gun, & the flamethrower. They collectively form a great selection of weapon types that find inspiration from games, movies, mixed with a little Ratchet and Clank inventiveness. Each of these weapons has its uses and limitations, but they all have been tweaked for Dead Space’s focus on dismemberment. Instead of the standard focus from most shooters of aim for the head, Dead Space wants you to cut off their limbs. A few games in the past have touted that you can shoot the gun out of someone’s hand and they will drop their weapons, but there is rarely a point to doing this, since most games don’t reward you for sparing an enemies life. 

The way they accomplish this feat is by forcing it on you. Take the plasma cutter, it fires from 3 beams and the alternate fire rotates the angle of the beams from horizontal to vertical, so the cutter is aligned best for cutting of a particular limb. You can shoot someone in the neck and knock their head off, but they just keep coming. So you need to blow off 2 to 4 limbs so that you use less ammo than if you were making body shots.

You also have two ways that you can melee attack a monster or dead body on the floor, a stomp and a slap. The slap is a near worthless swatting motion that is so high and weak its damn near worthless and the stomp is Isaac’s size 20 boot pounding on the ground like a sludge hammer. The stomp is also a worthless melee attack, but it is very useful against creatures on the ground, dead bodies and item crates. I used the stomp on every single dead human body I found after one of them was transformed in to a Necromorph in front of me, and that problem didn’t show up again.

 

More Tools:

Besides using your weapons to save the day, you are given two more tools, Kinesis and Stasis. Kinesis is used to pick up objects, like explosive canisters and large objects, so that you can throw them at your enemies, or solve a simple puzzle/obstacle. And Stasis gives you the ability to slow down an object or enemy, which makes this my favorite weapon to use in the game. You can upgrade the Kinesis to reach farther and the Stasis to last longer and have more energy. Oh, and by the way, if you want to reload you stasis meter then press pause and hit triangle, square, triangle, triangle, square, triangle. This made the game very fun for me to play, but it will affect the fear you get from playing without the code.

There are a few areas in the game when there is no oxygen and you have a limited amount of time before your suit runs out. Most of these areas are not long so it’s not a big problem, but its just one of those annoyances when it becomes a problem. There is usually a refill station or two in the longer areas, but to relieve this irritation, pause the game then press square, square, triangle, triangle, triangle and your meter is full. Trust me, the 2 cheat codes will make the game more enjoyable for the easily scared. If you don’t like them because you’re masochistic then don’t use them.

 

Upgrades:

Along the way you will find the occasional Power Node, which you will use at certain stations around the world to upgrade your equipment and weapons. While it sounds simple, they took the FFX route of having empty spaces that require a rare power node, which you can also buy for 10,000 credits, or use the one time codes to get 7 free. There are set points that you need to lay a node in first so you can get to the next, and you are limited to the areas next to a previously laid node for upgrading. You’ll get a trophy/achievement for upgrading all of your weapons to the max, which will require you to get through the story multiple times.

 

Know Thy Enemy:

While all of the standard enemies and bosses look cool and different from the others, there are four enemies that feel like they ran out of time. They are the black super versions of the Slasher, the Lurker, the Scorpion, and the Brute. The only differences in these versions are that they are more difficult, and they just went for a romp in some black paint. The models look the same as the standard versions. While this isn’t a big complaint, there are a few monsters that look nothing like the others that you only see 2 or 3 times in the game. I just wished that these super versions were modified to have more attacks and look different, or just don’t bother doing it at all.

The bosses themselves have many of the same problems that RE4’s bosses had, they are easier than being attacked by 3 or more standard monsters. The slugs tentacles need to be shot off, and the Leviathan and the Hivemind are both taken down by shooting their tentacles and then their mouth balls, yep, there yellow glowing mouth balls. The biggest difficulty you will find in the game is fighting a large number of Necromorphs and the times you run in to a brute, just like RE4’s villagers and dual chainsaw guy from the mercenary mode.

At least one of the bosses comes close to being a terrifying threat, and that is the regenerator. Why I think this boss succeeds partially is because it has the same movement freedom as the average Necromorphs you’ll come across, and it also strikes fear into you heart by making you worry if you have the ammo to deal with this thing right now. Where it fails is that after you know how to deal with the boss, it just becomes an irritating chore when it shows up. This is because it regenerates, go figure, so after stopping it for a moment and then watching it change from a giant beef McNugget back to the Über-Necromorph multiple times, it looses its effect on my need to make number two on the couch. This would have worked better if there was a way to destroy it that was just more difficult than cutting off limbs. In a way it feels like an ass-backwards escort mission. By this I mean that you’re required to drag your buddy along until you find the “I’ve Had Enough of This” switch to get rid of him for good.

 

Shiny Objects:

There are a few small distractions in Dead Space, a shooting range, zero-g basketball, and the turrets I mentioned earlier. Let’s start with the basketball, it’s an interesting idea, but it’s not fun. You’re in a tube and a basket ball is shot out in to the center of the room, you need to get the ball back on to one of the four “hoops”. But, if you jump in to one of the glowing platforms that are spread out around the tube you will get a multiplier with a max score of 8. This game is like playing Blitzball from Final Fantasy X, and by that I mean confusing to why they even bothered to put it in the game. The game’s set up would be a more complicated version of an Arcade Basketball Unit. So it’s not like this could be a sport with teams and viewers like Blitzball.

I’ve already gone over the turret sections, so how was the shooting range? Well, when I first saw it in the level, I was kinda confused. But, I actually liked it. You can use any weapon that you are carrying on you at the time and are given unlimited ammo with a reward for completing each level of difficulty. The only problems I had with it was that the ramping difficulty was a little slow considering the limited amount of levels, and the fact that once you make it to the end and restart it, you aren’t given infinite ammo. One thing about the level your in with the shooting range, the room next door is loaded to the gills with locked up weapons and ammo that are just there for the hopes that Rambo is coming to save the day. That is just a cock tease, the one time you see the ability to have enough ammo for the rest of the game, or even the chance to stock up and you can’t touch a single round.

 

Story Time:

Having watched both the animated comic and movie just before playing the game, there were more than a handful of occasions where I knew why something was the way it was, but the game doesn’t really do much along the lines of letting you know why certain elements from the game are important. I was surprised that Dead Space’s story ended up as well as it did, but considering that Dead Space had a pretty weak start and leaves a lot of the interesting elements out, the fact that it actually remembers it wanted to tell you a story might have made it better than it would had seemed if it had been delivered correctly throughout.

So what does the game leave out or just gloss over? Well, the animated comic showed how the marker affected people with hallucinations causing them to write cryptic messages on the wall, the background behind the games religious zealots, and the disaster that unfolds from the time the marker was found to the Necromorphs destroying the colony. And the animated movie focuses on what happens when the marker gets to the Ishimura, the struggle to survive against the Necromorphs, and the fact that the Necromorphs are repelled away from the marker. The game overall doesn’t tell a story well, but I still walked away with a positive outlook towards the story, and hope to see it explored later on in the franchise.

 

Complete Immersion:

This game visually was about making it look real by having the HUD implemented in to the game world. Unfortunately, that’s as far as they went to work around modern gaming conventions. For a game with such great sound, they still rely on using music to let you know that the tension is high or that the room is now clear. They could have done more along the way of having it so that as the tension got higher, the background noise of the broken down Ishimura could be drowned out by the sound of Isaac’s racing heart beat only to be broken by the increase volume of the Necromorphs Screams. The story mentions the hallucinations that the crew members have because of the marker, yet Isaac never hallucinates seeing a ghostly Necromorph lunge at him through his HUD or maybe just distorting the world as Isaac’s health and nerves are being tested, his few hallucinations are so simple that they can’t in anyway be detected as fake.

Now maybe that is a more complex thing they couldn’t do justice in the first game, but there are other standard game issues that pop up. After opening certain doors when the Necromorphs are already in the room, you can stand out side the doorway and pick them off. And I don’t mean one shot kill either, I mean that they will run up to the door but not pass threw. The once unlocked doors that become locked after returning to earlier areas, keeping you from checking to see if previously locked storage bins and doors are now unlocked. Finally, one of the survivors you run in to is a little shit, always causing problems for you by helping the Necromorphs. But you can’t kill him, because he apparently holds a remote control to all door locks. Even though he is always hidden behind glass, I just think one of my weapons should be able to put a hole in considering the Necromorphs are made of flesh, and they bust threw it quite easily. An example of how this could have been handled can be found in Metal Gear Solid 3. Early on you have a small window where you can shoot the boss “The End” and kill him skipping his boss fight completely. If you kill this prick then he won’t create the regenerator and you get to skip a boss fight.

 

Replay & Rewards:

Once you’ve beaten the game you are rewarded with 10 power nodes for upgrading your equipment, 50,000 credits for buying items from the store, Backstory logs which only a select few will care about, and a Military suit which kinda looks like a clone trooper if he existed in the Dead Space universe. Unfortunately, if you planned on playing a second time through on the newly unlocked Impossible difficulty, well tough luck cause your gonna need to start a fresh save for that. That’s right, no upgrades, no armor, no money, no nothing, well they do want it to be Impossible don’t they.

There is one thing I expected from beating the game, more “Extras” content. When you first turn on the game there is an option called “Extras”. Open it up and you will find a video of art assets, but that’s it, One Extra. So when I beat the game I went to see if there was a Mercenary Mode a la RE4, nope. Nothing was added for beating the game, so why is it called “Extras” when there is only one item. Well, my thoughts are that since EA has released downloadable weapon skins, armor, and some weapon upgrades available for purchase, that they might be planning some downloadable modes for a fee of course.

 

Bottom Line:

Dead Space is a Great game, the controls, pacing, art, environment, story (including the comic and cartoon), weapons, & enemies, everything is top notch. I can’t wait to see what they can do with a sequel and hopefully at least 2 full years to do it in. Despite all the little nit-picks, I only have 2 real gripes with this game. 1) To many “game” problems in a game that presents its self in a new way. And 2) No mode that just throws you in to an environment and then sends in enemies until you are ripped to shreds, introducing new boss like monsters exclusive to this mode. I know that last one is only because Resident Evil 4 had a similar bonus mode, but this game is more along what I think RE4 should have felt like. If you are looking for a shooter with an environment almost as good as BioShock and horror elements like Resident Evil, then I would definitely recommend picking this up, as it’s a sure bet that you will find Dead Space an enjoyable experience.

 

– Austin Trees
parallaxed.game@gmail.com

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Interview with Dylan Cuthbert of Q-Games

Posted in Interviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2008 by austintrees

Questions for yesterday:

Parallaxed Game: In an interview with PS3 Fanboy from GDC 08, you mentioned that when pitching the PixelJunk series to Sony at GDC 07 you had 10 or 20 cards with your prototypes. You said that you weren’t going to make them all, but that you wanted to make as many as you could. Could you maybe tell us one of the ideas from the cards that you axed, and why you axed it?

Dylan Cuthbert: Even our old ideas might make a re-appearance at some point so unfortunately I can’t really go into detail about past axed ideas. Some of them were taken to full prototype though, and then we assessed the prototype to not have enough “oomph” or depth to take it to a full product.

 

PG: Was there ever a moment in your career where you thought to your self, “well, I guess I got to get a ‘real’ job if this doesn’t pan out soon”?

DC: Actually, never. Sometimes there’s some political nonsense that makes me want to just walk away from the games industry entirely, but then the games themselves, the creativity and ideas always bring me back. Games are such a blank canvas when used right, they are the most powerful form of expression that exists I think.

 

PG: Now that time has passed since Racers, Monsters, & Eden have come out; do you have any regrets that you would fix if you would have noticed it from the beginning?

DC: Well, the cool thing about PSN is that we can not only look at things in retrospect but we can also fix them if we want to. The recent Monsters patch is an example of this. For Racers I wish we had encouraged people to play the Random Mode/Random Track single race mode more, as in that mode you can play the game all night when you have a few friends around, it’s so addicting.

 

PG: Was there something in the original Monsters and Eden design documents that was cut from the final product because it would have made the game easier or too complicated to control?

DC: For Monsters we had originally had far more instantly usable weapons than the mines that eventually in, but we cut down the special items to Dash (player related upgrade), the Mines (attack related upgraded), and the special tower (tower related upgrade). At one point we had a little R2D2 like droid thing running around after you that would jump up and take out the enemies. It made the game a little too action oriented.

 

PG: Monsters had special levels to unlock items that added another layer to the gameplay. Did you ever think about doing the same with Eden? (maybe a longer thread, ability to swing off rocks, stronger thread, etc)

DC: With Eden the game is all about the unique controls, so we didn’t want to unlock new abilities as it would change the game irreversibly (either that or we would have had to have added menu options to let you disable them to revert back to the original play style). We obviously considered it though.

 

PG: From the previous 3 titles in the PixelJunk series, what level from each stood out as you favorites level & what about that level made it your favorite?

DC: Garden 7 in Eden, and Racer Gardens in Monsters, which is based on the PixelJunk Racer track “Redwood Lakes” (which is based loosely on the Redwood Shores Oracle buildings area in Silicon Valley).

Questions for today:

PG: How many trophies do you currently have in Eden?

DC: At some point I’ve had them all, but across a few different accounts while testing the game. Right now I have a fair amount on my home account, but LBP is taking up my home game playing time recently. ?

 

PG: Do you have any favorite indie/web game that you play when you find yourself in a rut?

DC: No, not really. I don’t really like web games that much, they don’t have enough depth with their controls (probably because they are played on the PC with variable frame rates). I tend to enjoy RTS games, so I play Command&Conquer Generals: Zero Hour a lot here at work with people, because we modded it to remove the stupendous inflation problem it had. Since we did that we have been playing it every lunchtime for about five years.

 

PG: What is the best and the worst thing about being the boss of a game company?

DC: The best thing is that anything you say HAS to go. The worst thing is everyone coming to you for all the answers to everything. ?

 

PG: What kind of feedback do you get from your fans and what are some of the most unexpected things that you’ve read or seen?

DC: One fan not being able to clear Easy 1 on Monsters was very surprising to me. We get lots of feedback, mails daily from users, 99.9% positive too! I do attempt to reply to most of them personally too. I suppose if we ever make a million seller that’ll be difficult to fulfill though.

 

PG: How do you select the music for PixelJunk games? Do you already listen to music from that artist, or do you go out looking for something? Also, once the music is selected, does this ever effect the art style or gameplay so that they fit together better?

DC: It’s a combination of events – some people in the office might already know the artist, or if they don’t they know someone who does. We then listen to prior work they have done and play it alongside the images or prototypes of the games we are making to see if it fits. In the case of Eden however, we brought in Baiyon early on and worked with him on the full visual audio package. For Monsters, Otograph adapted their style to fit the lighter melodic nature of the game.

Questions for tomorrow:

PG: You have mentioned that there are 6 games in the first series of PixelJunk, and that 1-4 is called Dungeons. How far along is Dungeons and when can we expect to see it revealed? Are you waiting for GDC 09?

DC: We can’t talk about any of the future titles yet, we might not even show anything at GDC09, who knows! The next title isn’t necessary based on the Dungeons prototype work as we develop several ideas simultaneously, finally going with the idea that has the most momentum.

 

PG: You have mentioned before that for PixelJunk series 2, you would begin to use 3d graphics, you also mentioned that you want to start it as soon as you can. Why are you so egger to move on past series 1 before the first 6 games come out?

DC: Why not? Basically I’d like to make any game that I can think up, PixelJunk series 1 is primarily 2d so if I wake up with an idea for a 3d game I’d like to have series 2 set up and running so we can try out ideas with that. Maybe series 3 will be 4D? ? Our schedules are very flexible so there is no confirmed order to the releases yet.

 

PG: Eden’s ability to use custom soundtracks was locked out to those who have finished the game. This was because the music was so important to the creation and the playing of the game. So I was wondering, what are your thoughts on making a PixelJunk game where the gameplay and music were in sync, like with Vib Ribbon, Rez, and Everyday Shooter?

DC: I’m a bit wary of music games. I don’t mind a little bit of interaction but to have the game driven by the music makes the game a lot harder to design in a precise way.

 

PG: When the PS3 EyeToy came out there were a couple of PSN titles and a few retail titles announced, yet most future development appears to be only EyePet. Do you see the EyeToy as something that you would like to include in a future title, or is it not something you see as useful to enhancing your games?

DC: Not right now, no. Little Big Planet has shown what kind of potential the eyetoy has though.

 

PG: Misconceptions often effect most games, movies, and albums, because someone sees or hears about the product and forms an idea about it. If the idea isn’t modified to what the product truly is then that person tends to have an “ohhhh” effect. This more often than not is a negative effect on their feelings towards the final product. If you could make a statement to prevent this from happening about PixelJunk Dungeons, what would it be? (e.g.: Racers isn’t a racing game as much as it is a puzzle game, Monsters requires more thinking than building, and Eden is much more difficult than an “organic Mario”)

DC: Heheh, no comment on Dungeons or future PixelJunk titles yet. Btw, I disagree that Eden is more difficult than Mario – it all depends which Mario you are talking about, and I am talking about SMB3.

 

PG: There are two images I found on the web that are taken from a Japanese magazine that are labeled 1-4. One of them looks like a snow covered mountain with specks in a few different rows. (http://www.vertigogaming.net/pixeljunk_2a.jpg) The second looks to be a side view of an underground tunnel with bodies of “water” that look like you would move the water to progress through the level. (http://www.vertigogaming.net/pixeljunk_3a.jpg) can you comment on these “screens” or “concepts”?

DC: Those are simply pictures from the initial prototype “cards” we knocked up. On the reverse side is written the game design spec for each game. Some of those games will make it, some won’t. The numbering is fairly irrelevant at the moment though.

 

PG: You created a music visualizer of the world for the PS3 based on your pitch for the opening on the PS3 which is the one I use when playing music. My question is, can we ever expect to see a PixelJunk visualizer theme for the PS3?

DC: Right now there are no plans for a PixelJunk visualizer, it takes a lot to persuade Sony to put stuff in their ROM.

 

PG: Have you thought of making a PixelJunk title for WiiWare since you can have controls that are currently different from anything that the PS3 or 360 can give you from a design perspective, or is PixelJunk an exclusive title to Sony?

DC: In the future there is always the possibility but right now there are no plans to take PixelJunk to another platform. I am interested to see if WiiWare takes off but right now I’m not sure the types of users buying Wiis are also the types to buy experimental independent games.

 

PG: Is your next Nintendo project going to be for the handhelds, the console, or WiiWare and how far are you in development?

DC: I can’t comment on our Nintendo-related projects, they are all top secret.

Other questions:

PG: Screw, Marry, Kill: Racers, Monsters, & Eden?

DC: I’d have to become a mormon to fulfill this answer.

 

PG: If a fan of yours ever happens to run in to you at an event with a bar, and wants to send you a drink, what kind of drink should they send?

DC: Japanese beer, preferably draft, or a good red.

 

PG: If Sony and Media Molecule approached you to make a level for LittleBigPlanet, would you make a PixelJunk level or would you try something new? (Sackboy would look great with a Monsters mask)

DC: I think making a whole level would consume a little too much time, but you never know, a Monsters mask sackboy might be in the works as it would look pretty nifty.

 

PG: You have mentioned in an interview with IGN Insider that if not making games or designing desserts, that you would really like to write novels. So will any of the future PixelJunk titles have a focus on a story? Or would you prefer to leave that for a different series?

DC: Hardcore sci-fi. I’ve always been interested in writing sci-fi and wrote short stories before I found I could program.

 

PG: If you could work on any IP (from games, movies, books, comics, etc), what IP would you want to work on and would it be a download game or a full retail game?

DC: I’d prefer not to work on existing IP. At a stretch if I really had to, I would like to work on something based on the Culture universe created by Iain Banks. It would have to have the scope of a full price packaged game.

 

PG: From playing all 3 PixelJunk games, I would guess that you really like your games to be hard as balls. What are some of your favorite hard games? (feel free to include games you’ve worked on.)

DC: I like to make games that are a challenge. I’d prefer it if players didn’t simply ace through a game without really lifting a finger or thinking about it. I try to make PixelJunk games give back more than you give in, but you do have to put the effort in at first. If every game feels the same as every other game what’s the point?

 

PG: What games have you had the chance to play off of PSN, XBLA, & WiiWare, and what did you feel was worth mentioning as a great game or a game that tries something new worth checking out?

DC: Braid had some really good game mechanics although I found the atmosphere of the game a little dry and serious somehow (still an excellent game mind you). I enjoyed Everyday Shooter quite a bit too, but right now I’m not seeing anything on PSN/XBLA that I want to play so I have got stuck into making levels for LBP in my spare time.

 

PG: Have you had the chance to play either of the previous titles on the PS2 from Vanillaware, Odin Sphere and/or GrimGrimoire?

DC: I have only seen these games and haven’t really had a chance to play them – they don’t strike me as the type of games I like for some reason. I think this is just a personal taste thing.

 

PG: I’ve searched online to see if there were any PixelJunk related shirts or other merchandise out there and turned up nothing, is that something that you would be interested in doing? If so what would be the first thing you would want to have released? (shirts, messenger bags, hats, toys, etc)

DC: We have T-shirts made up internally but there is no merchandise as of yet. It’s something that we might be interested in doing in the future but not just yet.

Final Questions

PG: What is something you learned along your way that would be helpful to people who look to get in to gaming? (something you can’t learn from school)

DC: Never give up – good games come from lavishing attention to detail on everything. Don’t ever think that something is “good enough”. If it is “good enough” it can be made even better, don’t stop making something better even if you think it is the best it could possible be.

 

PG: If you were given the opportunity to create a full price retail game with unlimited budget, team, and time; with the goal to reinvent an existing genre or try something completely new to gaming, what genre would you look to freshen up? Or would you try something new, and what would your focus be (control, story, ai, etc)? What about that genre do you feel are the biggest blemishes that need to be cleaned up or forgotten?

DC: I wouldn’t mind taking another look at the Captain Blasto genre (3d platform shooting with a 3rd person camera and surreal graphics). I’m sure a lot more can still be done with the ideas we had for that the game.

 

PG: What do you feel is the biggest problem right now for the gaming industry?

DC: Gamer complacency. It’s not their fault of course, but there are so many games out there, that it is impossible for them to try them all, so they swarm in droves for the big titles without giving some really good quality smaller titles a second look. PixelJunk is a great collection of games that cost a pittance and we still only sell to a fraction of the PS3 installed user base.

 

PG: If you had a power what would it be? And what would you use it for?

DC: A super power? Why, the ability to see through women’s clothing, of course! Seriously though, it would be to be able to fly, who doesn’t want to be able to fly, eh?

 

PG: Is there anything you would like to pimp? (either your own or something you enjoy and think people should check out)

DC: The Eden and Monsters soundtracks on PSN! C’mon people, get in there and buy them, they are only 3 bucks a piece and for the PSN store it is a historic first to have game soundtracks available, we need to encourage the powers-that-be to do more of this.

 

 

I would like to thank Dylan for taking the time to complete this interview. And as a big fan of LittleBigPlanet, I would like to see a PixelJunk Monsters Costume… it might look something like this.

PixelJunk Monsters costume for LittleBigPlanet?

PixelJunk Monsters costume for LittleBigPlanet?

 

– Austin Trees
parallaxed.game@gmail.com

Hybrid Gaming: Resistance 2

Posted in Hybrid Gaming, Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by austintrees

Resistance multiplayer meets MMO raids.

While I wasn’t a fan of the first Resistance due to the health system and the weapons having more bark than bite, I have been enjoying the Resistance 2 multiplayer beta. While the standard game types and environments aren’t really pulling me in, the cooperative mode that has been a breath of fresh air in the FPS genre.

The co-op mode has you on a team of 8 people with the option to choose from 3 different types of classes, Soldier, Medic, or Special Ops. While this is pretty much a simplified version of what can be found in Team Fortress 2, what makes co-op mode stand out is the structure of the battles being similar to a MMO raid or RPG dungeon crawler.

The level starts out with you being attacked by the standard bad guys and a few carrying shields, after a few swarms of these enemies you will run into a boss character. Bosses range from a giant beast to a four legged robot, but what separates them other than their size is a health bar that lets you know that you know your going need a few thousand rounds of ammo to drop this foe. While there wasn’t much of a fear of failure in the beta, it was a new experience for me in a FPS. If they increase the difficulty of the bosses (not just their health) and have a good amount of unlocks, then there is a good chance that this would be my favorite mode in the final game.

Ultimately co-op mode is just one of the many that Resistance 2 features, so it probably won’t be as fleshed out as it could be if this was made in to a full game. Which brings up the point, why hasn’t anyone made a FPS MMO before now? Both the MMO and the FPS are two very popular genres, yet they haven’t crossed paths yet. Considering a lot of developers are trying the hands at MMOs and most flopping after a year due to the “Me Too” mentality, why not take Call of Duty 4’s ranking, perks, and unlock system and expand it to fit the needs of a MMO.

Now, I know that there have been games announced in the FPS MMO category, a few of which that have been rumored, and the recent gamasutra story on the cancelled Halo MMO from Ensemble Studios. But it has been a while since anyone has heard from Huxley, and Sony hasn’t shown anything on there 3rd person shooter The Agency since early summer, lets hope that they take a look to CoD4 for inspiration and hope that they take their time to do it right. Also, hope that they focus on keeping it playing more skill based like a FPS and not an elaborate interface for a dice roll damage system in order to get and keep the Halo, CoD4, Resistance, & Gears of War fans to make that commitment and keep up with that unfortunate monthly fee instead of canceling their subscription.

– Austin Trees
parallaxed.game@gmail.com

Welcome to the Parallaxed Game blog.

Posted in Site Related News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2008 by austintrees

My name is Austin Trees, and I have been playing games for most of my life. There are problems I’ve seen come and go in the gaming industry, but one thing has only gotten worse as time has gone on. That is the need to complain about anything and everything that you don’t understand or like. Whether it is about a title no longer being exclusive, or what platform is best, people tend to react to most topics with a very polarized attitude. We as gamers need to change our out look and not react to news or reviews with such a “Me Versus You” attitude so that the newcomers feel like this is a group that they don’t need to shy away from, and that’s why I’m starting “Parallaxed Game – Depth in layers”.

Parallax scrolling was used in 2d games to show depth in the environment by having multiple levels that a texture is displayed on, each level moves at a different speed for the illusion of depth. I hope to bring a well rounded perspective to every story, review, preview, and interview. I have no training as a writer other than high school English classes, so I won’t be using a vocabulary to alienate the readers of this blog, but I will not have a standard that will encourage the same language that is found in a multiplayer match of halo 3.

The gaming industry as a whole is making more money than the movie industry. Yet we are still seen as the underdog. This fact can be contributed to the young age of the industry, the negative news stories about sex and violence related to games and gamers, and the barrier to entry. That barrier is one of the less talked about problems that the industry faces. Most of the people who bought a PS2 paid less than $150, the DS costs $130, and the Wii… well the Wii is another story coming in at $250. That is the equivalent of having to buy a club membership card to your local movie chain, just so you are able to pay for the ticket. So the fact that we are a growing industry is an amazing feat.

All three console makers are looking to bring in the “non-gamer”, some are doing this more successfully than others, but they all want sales like the PS2, DS, and Wii. In order to create a community based on people who play more than just the latest Madden, WiiSports, Rock Band, Nintendogs, Brain Age, or World of Warcraft, we need to be able to act like normal functioning individuals, rather than just the stereotypical gamer who never leaves the house or the one who shoots up a school.

Feel free to criticize me, I will look towards the comments I receive to make sure I’m staying honest to my goal, and that goal is to try and approach this industry from a different perspective, so that maybe people will come to expect different coverage. I’m not the first person out there to try this, but I hope that I am able to help in the changing of gaming press.

When it comes to reviews, I will not grade a game with a number or a letter, I will grade it based on a seven word review scale. Those words from best to worse are:  Amazing, Great, Good, Average, Okay, Bad, & Horrible. The reason I have chosen to go with a word review scale is because when you talk to your friends about a game, you don’t tell them that the game is a 3.9 or a B+ do you? I will tell someone a game is okay, great or horrible. I will only focus my reviews on what a developer is focusing their time on so that they stand out from the crowd and how they are showing the game to the consumers. Why review the story of a game when it was obviously written on a bar napkin.

So I would like to thank you for checking out Parallaxed Game – Depth in Layers, and I hope that you find blog to be refreshing and entertaining.

 

– Austin Trees
parallaxed.game@gmail.com