Archive for August, 2008



14
Aug
08

Too Human Author Gameplay Tips

Ten tips from the man who wrote the book, David Knight:

Combo Meter Growth

Combo Meter Growth

1. Combo meter growth is based on hitting and killing enemies. But you can gain higher combo growth by killing enemies in the air, performing consecutive slide attacks, killing light polarities with a fierce attacks,or killing dark polarities with finishers. Increasing combo levels results in bonus experience, dramatically faster slide speeds, increased slide distance, bonus slide damage, and increased rate of fire for your guns. Combo levels also are required to initiate ruiner attacks and battle cries.
Continue reading ‘Too Human Author Gameplay Tips’

12
Aug
08

Tom Clancy Thriller? No, it’s the news

While the world’s attention was focused on the sensational Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing, Russian tanks were rolling into the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The Russians claimed they were protecting the ethnic Russians living in South Ossetia, a region in northern Georgia, from Georgian forces who had moved in to punish separatist forces. Let’s go back a bit to see how this all came to a head. When Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the people in South Ossetia shortly after tried to become independent from Georgia. Fighting erupted and finally Georgia and Russia signed a peace treaty where South Ossetia remained part of Georgia, but Russian peacekeeping troops remained. Russia also issued Russian passports to the people of South Ossetia, essentially making them Russian citizens.

 

What set off the recent conflict is that Georgia launched a surprise operation last week to restore its control in South Ossetia. This was all Russia needed to launch a full scale invasion with their forces that just happened to be at the border. In addition to driving the Georgian forces out of South Ossetia, Russian troops advanced into clear Georgian territory to capture the town of Gori which is located in the middle of the country along the main east-west highway. Furthermore, Russia captured Georgian military bases and sank a Georgian naval vessel. Russian aircraft bombed the Georgian capitol of Tbillsi attacking not only military targets, but also civilians.

 

From my point of view (I have a degree in history and military history as well as teach high school history), Russia was just waiting for an opportunity to move into Georgia. This former republic has become very friendly with the west and the US is working with it to include it in NATO. Russia, which is becoming an economic power due to its oil reserves, has taken a back seat since the end of Communism and under the leadership of Putin, who by the way is no longer president, but still pulls the strings, has tried to regain its status are a world power with which to be reckoned. Other former Soviet republics are also leaning to the west. It appears that Georgia may be Russia’s example to the rest. Russian foreign policy has often been heavy-handed, especially when dealing with smaller countries. Now it looks like Putin is taking a page out of Al Capone’s tactics from 1920’s Chicago.

 

As for Tom Clancy, it is interesting that part of the premise of the upcoming game, Tom Clancy’s EndWar is that Russia, gaining power by exporting oil after trouble in the Middle East, starts World War III in order to regain its supremacy in Europe. However, with the US busy in Iraq and Afghanistan, will the west be able to support Georgia? Or will they let it fall to Russia just like France and Britain let Czechoslovakia fall to Hitler’s Germany (which also began as protection for ethnic Germans)? Time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11
Aug
08

the secret life of a strategy guide writer / 11

Last time: I played ball with the resident cool cats at Naughty Dog. This time, I enter the maze known as Electronic Arts’ Redwood City Campus.

Part 11: Arts for Arts’ Sake

I’ve been there to work on The Godfather and Crysis, and I’ve had a whale of a time on both occasions. During the 1990s, when I was working at the hilariously awful incite Video Gaming magazine, we watched (in-between bouts of deathmatch Kingpin) as a series of university-sized buildings rose skywards near the 101 Freeway just south of San Francisco. We knew EA was planning something big, but didn’t realize just how enormous the place actually turned out to be. Fast-forward six years, and I’m attempting to find my strategy guide contact. Three reception rooms later, I’m in the main foyer of one of the buildings. The one with the 20-foot wide projector screen broadcasting E.A. T.V. to the assembled sharp-suited dudes who are here to make billions, the executive’s kids here to play Madden before anyone else, and Coolio. He’s always there: In spirit, if not congealed form.

Amid the blaring awesomeness, dozens of flat-screens showing off games from the last six months, and more projection screens showing pre-production art from different video games (a rather nifty way to re-use assets), I was given an exciting swipe-card that opened just enough security doors, and escorted to meet the teams. The floors of the building itself are set out like a cubicle metropolis, but open plan enough to prevent screaming. You’re always close to an executive office, conference room, Starbucks machine. Starbucks coffee house, basketball court, football field, contemplation pool… it’s a wonder anyone leaves. Naturally, I made a wrong turn and locked myself in a maintenance corridor, eerily like the one in the Mirror’s Edge demo. Lacking the ability to see red sections of concrete, I feebly tried to phone my way out. Two hours later, security dragged me back to normality.

Next time: I inspect Jade Raymond’s tree house.

10
Aug
08

Ubisoft trip wrap-up

So we made the return trip home from Montreal with minimal delays…at least until we hit Vegas on an unusual rainy day. But we’re back now and poring over our notes and assets in attempt to figure out how we’re going to approach this guide. Far Cry 2 is shaping up nicely and is easily one of the best looking games I’ve seen on the 360 or PS3. Plus it addresses many of the issues I’ve had with shooter genre. But I would stop short of calling Far Cry 2 a simple shooter. It’s so much more than that.

Not long ago I was writing a guide for a tactical shooter and determining the best path to a hilltop objective. While glancing at the in-game map I saw that there was a narrow twisting road leading up the hill; an area that was certainly packed with enemies. Instead of taking that path, I looked for other ways to reach the objective. But there were none. In one area my attempt to flank was impeded by an overturned row boat. And we all know badass military types can’t hop/climb/crawl over such contrived obstacles. So I was forced to take the narrow road up the hill and was hardly surprised when ambushed by scores of enemy troops. This sort of fixed-path design seemed really old fashioned, not unlike the maze-like games (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nuke Em 3D) from a decade ago. Even recent bestsellers like Call of Duty 4 suffer from this “one path in, one path out” rail-shooter style of level design.

For this reason, Far Cry 2’s open world design feels much more like a GTA game than a standard shooter. You’re capable of taking on missions at your own pace. And instead of giving you a confined maze to run and gun through, the designers have provided an entire African country to explore. When you get a mission, it’s completely up to you how to get to the objective area. Want to drive a jeep? How about piloting a river boat? Once you reach the objective, you can accomplish your goal in a number of ways, attacking from 360 degrees. You can hold back and clear out the objective area with a sniper rifle or mortar, rush in with guns blazing, set distracting wild fires with molotovs, or you can sneak in with silent weapons, carving up unsuspecting hostiles with a machete. This type of design inspires immense creativity and replayability, allowing the player to customize their tactics based on their preferred style of play, weapon availability, time of day, current weather conditions, NPC behavior, and numerous other factors.

On our last day at the studio Jason Arsenault showed me the game’s multiplayer map editor, shipping with all versions. This powerful tool allows any user to create and upload their own map by easily molding mountains, raising the water level, “painting” the terrain with vegetation, and hand placing a wide variety of structures and objects. Of course, making a well-balanced and fun map won’t be easy, so the uploaded content will be rated by the community, helping the best maps rise to the top. This is a very exciting prospect, practically ensuring a perpetual fresh batch of multiplayer maps within days of launch.

Well that’s enough for now. I need to get back to playing the game. There’s something I need to blow up. More Far Cry 2 info incoming in the days/weeks ahead.

08
Aug
08

Warhammer Online Destiny Quiz

Will you align yourself with The Witch King of the Dark Elves, the powerful greenskin tribe of Orcs and Goblins, or the Council of Wisdom? Is it your destiny to Conquer the World?

Are you one of those people that have a really hard time picking your race when you start a new MMO? We’re here to help. Check our the new Warhammer Online Race Quiz to see your destiny.

07
Aug
08

‘Tis the season

The dreaded “Busy Season” is upon us.

I watched it ooze across the office like mold in a steambath full of old bread, only less pleasant. It begins with our licensing manager. When you see him buzzing as though he’s had way too many quad-shot espressos and with eyes like those of a deer about to discover just what “MACK” means then you can tell he’s signing up titles like a fiend.

Titles that will soon hit our schedule. From there it’s a few trickles of projects that get spread to the various teams. These are usually guides for games so popular your grandmother has heard of them. If we’re lucky we get them early so we have as much time as possible to panic.

Then the floodgates open and we are inundated with the Holiday Titles. Games that will be crashing onto store shelves in time for the Thanksgiving shopping season and, failing that, the pre-Xmas buying month.

It’s a madhouse. In a weirdly quiet way. It’s not like the scenes you see of crazy news rooms with guys in disheveled clothes, cigarrettes dangling, running between desks waving crumpled sheets of paper screaming “Stop the presses!” while phones ring and radios blare. Instead it’s a slow psychic implosion.

Talking is at library volume instead of our usual system of shouting across the top of the cube walls. Keyboard keys being struck is the most prevelant noise. Phone calls are muted and low. Everyone walks softly and approaches co-workers as you would approach a wild creature that you suspect may not have eaten in a week. You can hand them a memo or a page to look at but it’s no sure thing you’ll pull back a complete arm.

This is when it gets hairy. Crises are rife and are clubbed into submission or simply run over on the way to the finish line, either way they are overcome quickly. Subtlty is a rare commodity.

The reward for all this is that when the holidays roll around there’s very little to do. The big games are out already and we had to be done two weeks before they hit stores. It’s then that the talk gets louder and the jaws unclench. But until then…

05
Aug
08

Update from Ubi

We’ve kept busy here in Montreal over the last two days. Yesterday we got the grand tour of the Far Cry 2 team’s office space and began peppering the team with questions. Among the team members we met was Alexandre Amancio, the game’s art director. He told us about the team’s trip to Kenya last summer and even showed us some pictures he took. The photos were used as reference material, ensuring each of the game’s environments has an authentic appearance. And it really paid off. Some of the screens he showed us from the game were nearly indistinguishable from the reference photos, instantly illustrating the creativity of the artists and the power of the game’s robust Dunia engine. We also met with Kevin Shortt, the game’s story writer. I was shocked at the amount of back story written for the game. Each major (and minor) character is completely fleshed out with highly detailed biographies. They’ve even created a blog “written” by one of the game’s characters providing numerous enticing insights.

Today Gaetan Richard (one of the producers) showed us the game’s multiplayer component, and I was quite impressed…something that doesn’t happen too often given the glut of multiplayer shooters. The multiplayer maps benefit from the game’s dynamic weather and time system. So if you want to play a specific map at noon with a slight wind, no problem. Or perhaps you want to tackle the same map at night during a rain storm? If a match runs long, you’ll even notice the sun moving across the sky, casting dynamic shadows. So it’s possible to begin a match at dusk and end at night. Customizing the weather and time of day gives each map variant a completely different look and feel. But more importantly, it can impact tactics. For example, when playing at night, it’s best to use weapons that emit no muzzle flash to remain stealthy. Or if the sun is setting you can use it to your advantage by keeping it to your back; your enemies will have a tough time seeing you through the sun’s glare! Oh, and the multiplayer mode features a persistence system with plenty of achievable ranks and worthwhile rewards, ensuring that addictive “one more round” sensation we’ve become accustomed to.

Writing the guide for this enormously complex game is going to be a huge task. But we’re putting together some very exciting assets that are absolutely essential to get the most out of the game.

04
Aug
08

Jay Oh Bee

“You,” I hear people tell me, “have a cool job.”

I can’t deny it, though my natural second-hand-Catholic-guilt training made it hard to accept for a long time. But despite the feeling that I should apologize for it for some reason there’s no refuting the fact that my job is rad.

It isn’t changing the world, I’m not making historically lasting impressions on the fabric of my country’s history, but I’m also not selling poison or justifying financial ruin of others for my own personal enrichment. And I like the place I work at, the people I work with, and mostly enjoy going everyday. So I feel like I’m ahead of the game.

But. (There’s always a but). But, for those of you about to kill yourselves with jealousy I gotta say it is still a capital-jay Job. For every sweet new game I get to play before the general public even knows it exists there are about 1500 e-mails I have to write to poke, prod, cajole, beg, demand, and inform. I have to fill out paperwork, make phone calls, and other office-y type busywork that fills up countless hours that I feel I don’t have to spare.

I know, I know: Wah, wah, wah. Poor me. But let it just stand, on record, that cool or not, sometimes the strategy guide world is work.

04
Aug
08

Madden NFL 09 Defensive Tips

Available August 12th

One word: blitz!  Here are some defensive tips from the Madden NFL 09 Prima Official Game Guide:

  • There are two common blitz techniques used in Madden NFL 09. One is to overload one side of the offensive line with multiple pass rushers. The idea behind this scheme is to send more defenders in on a blitz than what the offensive line can block.

Continue reading ‘Madden NFL 09 Defensive Tips’

04
Aug
08

Madden NFL 09 Offensive Tips

Available August 12th

Available August 12th

Because it’s better than throwing that Hail Mary on fourth and goal, check out these Offensive Tips from the Madden NfL 09 Official Game Guide:

When running outside, let your run blockers set up their blocks before using the Sprint button. You don’t want to outrun your blockers on plays like sweeps, tosses and counters.

Continue reading ‘Madden NFL 09 Offensive Tips’




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