The boss battle is a concept that has existed for almost as long as video games themselves. It’s such an old trope in video games that I believe many designers have lost sight of what their actual purpose was when they were first introduced, and what that means in the context of modern game design.
To begin with, let’s examine a classic: The Legend Of Zelda.
|The first boss of the NES classic|
No writeup from yesterday since I didn’t actually go to the show. Stayed in to do some school work.
But today! Today, was the last day of GDC, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. My day was filled with panels designed for students to help them break into the industry. And boy did it ever help.
The first talk I attended was advice on building a good portfolio for visual arts. There was a lot of good tips and good advice that could be applied to job interviews in general. The sample work they showed from various students’ portfolios was all really impressive. Too impressive. By the end of the panel, I had lost all hope of ever becoming a visual artist. These guys are just way too good at what they do, and they’ve been drawing their entire lives. I don’t have the raw experience to compete with them. So it was all a very intimidating and belittling experience. But it also proved to guide me towards the light.
Today was the first day that the Expo Floor opened up at GDC. It was way more crowded than it had been on Monday or Tuesday. But when I finally stepped through the doors and into the light, I saw why.
Decidedly less lectures today. Lots more hands on type activities and a little more faffing about on my part. Spent the entire day at part two of the game design workshop. But before I talk about that, I wanna show and tell some of the neat little things I’e experienced at GDC so far.
After I signed in on Sunday, I received a bag full of what I’ll generously call “swag.” Most of it was garbage trash, but inside it was a single blue square. On the back of the square was a note informing me that it was a pixel, and I needed to put the pixel in its designated place on a mural at GDC. Everyone attending GDC got a pixel, and we’re all going to put them together to create on giant mural. It’s actually a fun and neat idea, I thought.
|The work-in-progress mural|
Only thing on my schedule for monday and tuesday of GDC is the Game Design Workshop, which goes from 10:00-6:00 on both days. Here’s a rundown of what we did and talked about on monday.
|Hideo Kojima, my hero, took a picture very similar to this and posted it on his Twitter. *squeeeeeeaaaaaal*|
Not a whole heck of a lot to report today. Set out today with my suitcase in hand, and one short flight and a taxi ride later I’m checked into a beautiful hotel in San Francisco.
|For one week, I live like a messy king|
In narrative driven video games, there tend to be two major schools of thought. On one side you have the “old-school” style of thinking in which stories are presented linearly, much like a book or a movie would be. More recently though, we’ve seen many games from western developers featuring non-linear stories. What this means is that the player can have a significant impact on when and how certain events play out in the game.
The most notable example of this style of story telling is BioWare’s Mass Effect series. In those games, players create a character (male or female), choose their appearance, and embark out into a rich sci-fi universe. Not only do players choose the appearance of their character, but they also choose how their character behaves. Every time you interact with another character in Mass Effect, you choose what the character you made will say, and what you say can and will have a profound impact on the game. Players who choose their words carefully can avoid certain conflicts altogether, while a more aggressive style might earn a few more enemies than other players. Sometimes, your actions can even determine whether or not major characters will die.
|An example of the dialogue system in Mass Effect.|
I guess this will be a new “series” I run in this blog, where I take a close look at a particular game and dissect it. My aim is to break down all the elements of a good game and figure out why exactly it’s good. Hopefully it will be an educational process for both myself and the reader! The first game I want to put under the microscope is a new title from Namco that came out for the downloadable services on Xbox 360 and PS3, Pacman Championship Edition Deluxe.