Whole squads will attack me at once. It's the kind of merciless, deadly play that leads to two things: cheap, sneaky tactics (I'm quite the master of sniping stalkers from various positions), and reload screens. Unfortunately, when I load back into the Zone, often my mission objectives have changed. More often than not, the various enemy and friendly squads nearby have disappeared or relocated. Unless I quick save in the middle of a firefight, it is entirely possible that a battle I heard across the swamps no longer exists. This happened every time I quick-loaded a game, or loaded an older save. The game is completely incapable of recording what was taking place in the Zone at the save game point. There might as well not be a quicksave (or regular save) option. Checkpoints would be just as helpful for recording ingame activity and minute-to-minute occurrences.This makes the punishment for death more than just a tax on my time. There's nothing more galling than getting this close to successfully helping my squad take a key point, on orders, only to reload and have that objective disappear. In Clear Sky, your superiors will only pay you in items and money if you attack designated targets on the map. It's pointless to attack enemy emplacements at random. I won't get paid for my troubles, and I'll probably die.
It's incredibly frustrating to realize that I can't actually treat these stalkers as enemies, or take objectives as I please. It's even more frustrating to realize that unless I'm extremely careful, I'll lose all of my progress (or money, or my squad) thanks to a simple glitch.Clear Sky is a broken game, like its predecessor. It also never fully commits to its tower defense pretensions, which is a shame. The RPG mechanics of the Stalker games (where your guns are your stats), the unforgiving and frightening Zone, and the basics of tower defense make for surprisingly entertaining play when combined. It's unclear whether GSC Gameworld will reintroduce the faction warfare mechanic to the recently announced Stalker sequel. These elements were completely excised for Pripyat, the series' third outing, and it was the better Stalker game (if not a better tower defense game) for it. I sincerely hope someone pursues this line of design. The mix of RPG, open-world shooter, and tower defense is one that doesn't really exist right now, outside of Clear Sky.
Because games will never be Art if theyre just movies or novels we play on a computer. Games wont be recognizes as Art unless they are Art because they are games. Braid is Art as a game because of how it lets players experience permutations of time, not because its a metaphor for the atomic bomb. Treating story and gameplay as separate will result in unsatisfied gamers and games that are odds with themselves.[Andrew Vanden Bossche is a freelance writer and student. He has a blog called Mammon Machine, which discusses videogames and videogames, and can be reached at [email protected]].
The Independent Game Developers Association announced today that industry figureheads John Romero and Will Wright will host the organization's first annual IGDA Foundation charity dinner in San Francisco.
The dinner will feature an on-stage discussion between the two notable industry verterans, and will raise money for several charitable projects related to the industry.Will Wright, known for his work on The Sims and Spore, will host alongside the well-known Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM designer and coder John Romero to discuss their work in the industry and contribute to Romero's own Romero Archives, a project dedicated to preserving the processes and history of game design.Romero has participated in other such discussions with industry figures such as Sid Meier, Bob Bates, Don Daglow, and Noah Falstein.Proceeds from the charity dinner will go towards several projects supported by the IGDA, including the Romero Archives, the Eric Dybsand Memorial Scholarship for AI Development, the Accessibility SIG Gamers with Disabilities Project and more.The event will take place on November 5 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott, with general admission tickets available for $150, with discounts for IGDA members, at the IGDA website..
Prior to BioWare Austin, Rebouche worked at Junction Point as a designer on Epic Mickey, and while neither studio has instituted a policy of internal game jams yet, Rebouche said his participation in external jams have convinced him that this is the way to go. "I'm really here to make a simple proposition and not much more than that," he said. In his view, game studios should be doing game jams during "soft periods" -- before holiday breaks, between projects, and the like. He believes these jams can increase creativity, team cohesiveness, and job satisfaction.To help define the term "game jam" at his presentation, Rebouche showed Kyle Gabler's (World of Goo) keynote from the 2009 Global Game Jam. "This is a very valuable team-based exercise," said Rebouche, and not just because it will help the team, but because it can also help the business.
Not only have some "titans of indie gaming" such as World of Goo and Crayon Physics Deluxe come out of game-jame-style rapid prototyping, but if you know you have a major project coming up, you should set a theme related to that project and jam on it, he said. "Ideally a theme should be a leadership directive," said Rebouche. For example, "If you're working on a game that's about aliens coming to earth, you might want to work on a game on the theme of 'oppression,'" he said. Rebouche also said game jams should also "encourage role-switching." In a major modern studio, "the disciplines get very separated, and they tend to lose sight of how hard people [in other disciplines] work, sometimes."Switching roles "can teach you a lot about the complexities [others] deal with on a daily basis," he said. "If you can understand what stresses people are under in their daily lives, you can better understand who they are as a human being and how to work with them." Of course, on major projects, developers are working on very small pieces of the overall game for many years in a row, and thus lose a sense of their place in the context of the project, particularly at lower levels."People tend to get bogged down on projects," Rebouche said. "You can lose the sense of what you're doing -- lose the love," he said.
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