The praise that Bioshock has received from other critics is – after having played through the game – definitely well earned. Even though I'm usually not exactly a very good FPS player, I managed to get through the whole game. And it definitely was worth it. The world building in Bioshock is excellent, be its embedment into the historical background, or the rich story that shines through at every corner, or finally the beautifully captured art deco architecture, which simply is a joy to explore and walk through.
Gameplay itself is reasonably varied as well. While some parts leave the player wondering whether they were just added to draw out game length1, the "magic" abilities one receives over time offer enough variation and allow the player to change his tactics over time.
Later in the game, some near-failure states are added: at one point, one continually looses maximum health, forcing the player to react faster. At another, the player isn't able to choose his currently activated plasmid. Not only is the game randomly cycling between the equipped plasmids, but between others as well, allowing the player to test out previously unavailable plasmids – and requiring him to change his tactics to deal with splicers every minute or so.
With Bioshock having distinct horror elements as well, sound plays an important element as well.
Even though they might leave this impression, all parts are able to tell some part of the background story, allowing the player to dive deeper into the world. ↩
Savage is an interesting sounding blend of RTS with a commander that has the overview over the game, while warriors have the first person view and might follow the commander's orders.
With the creation of a new game play genre, RTSS (Real Time Strategy Shooter), Savage expertly redefines the first-person shooter and real-time strategy genres by combining elements of both into one cohesive experience. As the commander in RTS mode, you will tackle resource management, develop a robust tech tree, plan your assault and lead real human players into battle. As a warrior in action mode, you will master many unique weapons, powerful units, and siege vehicles to fight a fast paced battle.
Cantr II is a text-based MMORPG intended to simulate a society, while still having some roleplaying aspects. Apparently, it is currently down, though.
Super Meat Boy – is supposed to have tight level design that continually adds new elements, just like World of Goo did.
Speedball for Amiga by the Bitmap Brothers was famous for its graphics and its violence (you could push your opponent!). It will be re-released for the iPhone (apparently? Maybe I misheard).
See what I did there? ↩
Yes, I might not have been very happy about the recent gender workshop at art school, but this has more to do with me getting fed up with the usual "let's-integrate-everyone-just-some-people-more-than-others" that it implies. It is not exactly something that is exclusive to the gender discussion, but can be seen in the LGBT camp as well.
I have, however, nothing against strong female figures in gaming.
Shaylyn Hamm wrote a thorough thesis about the topic, which is published on Game Career Guide.
Throughout the diaspora of modern games, female characters are not rare. There are many games with females as main playable characters as well as supporting roles, yet it is not uncommon for female audiences to find these characters unlikable and difficult to relate to. They are often hyper-sexualized, with generic, young faces and outfits that are more revealing of their bodies than a personality. These female characters are stark contrasts to the aesthetic goals of the male characters which encompass a much larger range of body types, costumes, and facial features.
After comparing existing female heroines, and concluding that they are most of the time rather bland and uninteresting, with the notable exception of Alyx from Half Life 2, she goes so far as to redesign the Medic and the Heavy of Team Fortress 2 as female characters – with a lot of success.
Part of a good game may always be how the AI enemies react. An article on AIGameDev goes behind the scenes of Thief and looks what makes it tick.
[A] sensory system is a pipeline for managing information about events that occur in the game. If you implement this right, it shouldn’t be limited to any of the human senses. You can easily fake any kind of sensation by pushing information into the pipeline at the right place.
Meaning: you are not limited to the human senses, you can make up any data and feed it into the system.
Sometimes though, you need to make the system dumber than it actually is:
“Most interesting is the snippet that restrains the AI’s ability to see the player until seen by the player, which is purely for coordinating the player’s entertainment.”
As a matter of fact, the game's difficulty level can be adjusted by making the NPCs more predictable in their reactions and/or stating their current state clearly.
But then again: Is this really necessary? Can't we assume grown up players that have learned to deal with missing information and ambiguity?
Unfortunately, as a second article about Halo 3's AI system shows, have gamers a tendency to
attribute the easy parts to poor AI and the hard parts to evil level designers.
The Halo 3 paper has another 40 tricks how to make the player believe that there are intelligent agents acting.