Play Journal: October 2014 sans Playpublik

by Thom Kiraly

In my previous journal entry, I covered my big play event of the past month: Playpublik 2014. Other stuff did happened, though, and some of it was exciting. Most of it probably wasn’t, but we all need some sort of pain to hang on to, I guess (not sure what I mean by that).
Anyway, October saw our game design group really start prototyping, as well as testing other people’s games. I’ve also played open world games for an assignment in school.

Before we start, though, I want to show you a cool toy/book I got from Playpublik:

MOBILE/HANDHELD
Super Hexagon – blablablabla Super Hexagon bla [intentional gibberish ].

Eliss – When testing another group’s prototype, I drew inspiration from Eliss in suggesting a way to get around a problem common touchscreen problem: thumbs blocking part of the screen and making it hard to discover sneaky enemies. Eliss’ solution is elegant. Before spawning a new circle, a larger circle appears and starts zooming in on the position of the spawn point. This gives the player a chance to react before it’s too late. It looks like the suggestion was well received and worked well enough to stick around for at least the next prototype.

Realistic Summer Sport Simulator – Someone mentioned the masterpiece in reference to our game prototype and I felt it would be irresponsible not to show it. Swimming is the most ridiculous, but pole vaulting is the greatest challenge. I still haven’t managed to vault even once.

141029 - Gummy bear

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS – It’s been years since I played smash bros and playing it on a 3DS proved to be a different experience. First of all, I played it single player and as far as I can recall that pretty much never happened back when I played it on the N64. I was 12 years old and spent many afternoons with the same group of friends (the same people I started playing RPGs with), playing either Smash Bros., Golden Eye, or Mariokart.
The small screen was a problem as I felt I couldn’t really tell if I was doing what I thought I was.

Can’t Stop – Board game ported to iOS. One of the few two-player games I have on the iPhone. Decent enough, but I really feel that not actually rolling dice is a big drawback. Tactility is really one of board games’ strong suits and much of that is lost on a tiny handheld device.

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PC
Batman: Arkham Origins – Utterly boring. I can’t be bothered to waste more time on this.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl – SoC is one of those games I’ve started a couple of times, but never really spent much time in. This time around, I’m playing a bit more evil than I usually do. The first time I had the option to help someone, I instead opted to shoot the person in the head and loot the corpse.

Starwhal: Just the Tip – Since my group is aiming for a local multiplayer game, I thought it would be a good idea to try some of my favorites and get them closer to my own headspace regarding local multiplayer arena games. This one is always a laugh. Played an orange starwhal wearing a spartan helmet.

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Super Pole Riders – Also part of my LMP schooling put together for make benefit glorious group of game design. I tried playing it with split controllers for the first time. I hadn’t really considered that the disadvantage playing with your off hand presents. I played with my left and didn’t accomplish much. Luckily, my partner quickly picked up on the principles of the game and secured a victory for us.

Hokra – Played the Rio level. Some weird stuff going on there. Next mission: getting people hooked on these games and start practicing. Maybe with the help of Indie Curcuit?

141027 - ITU

Prototypes for the Game Design course – 1P, 2P, 2 vs 2, 4P chain linked; we’ve tried it all. We are definitely on to something, though we’re still figuring out what it is.
Our game design group also teamed up with another and tested their smartphone game. It’s a two-player “coopetitive” shoot em up where players have to watch each other’s back to get a good high score. It looks like it will turn out great and, for a first playable prototype, it was enjoyable enough.

Sheep Happens – Programmed by one of my game design group members, this is one of many games called Sheep Happens. It was pretty decent for an old project created at some sort of summer camp. Interesting use of asymmetrical gameplay, where one player tries to do one thing and the other tries to prevent that from happening, but through other means.

TABLETOP
Doomtown: Reloaded – I’ve got this friend who keeps introducing me to new card games and I really thought this one had something to it. Made me want to try Deadlands (how come I still haven’t played Deadlands?)
Retsami – Instead of sitting around exhausted, doing that facebook thing we sometimes do, I put on some tea and consulted V on what board game we should play. Retsami was our mutual decision and I’m always happy to play it. It has this wonderfully crafted and tightly controlled space of possible moves; it’s just big enough to not feel constraining, but not so large as to induce analysis paralysis. At any given time there’s a decision between somewhere around three good moves. The implications of every move is rather easy to figure out, but predicting the strategy of your opponent is not always trivial. This, together with Splits, is my favorite 1-on-1 filler games I own.

141029 - Frankengummy

LIVE/PHYSICAL

Peekaboo – My tiniest has really stepped up his peekaboo game by starting to shove his face into a bed or pillow before looking back up, laughing hysterically. I can’t remember the not so tiny one being this into playing peekaboo. That one, the big one, on the other hand, is all about toy cars and running around.

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