Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Boardgames and Videogames, Part 1

There is considerable overlap between boardgames and videogames (both PC and console), though it may not always be apparent. And moving forward, I think we will see even more of such overlap.

Some of the classic videogame franchises that we see now had their beginnings as boardgames. This is no more apparent than the Civilization series of PC games, which was inspired by the 1980 boardgame, Civilization. Spawning 4 sequels, the PC game even made the transition back into modern boardgames in the form of Sid Meier's Civilization: The Boardgame, released in 2002.

Another game that made an impact on videogames is the Battletech series. Originally published by FASA, the boardgame had players facing each other off through the control of squads (or in Battletech terminology, lances) of heavily armed metal behemoths. And Battletech: The Crescent Hawk's Inception was the first in a line of PC and videogames over the course of 17 years. In addition, these games (especially the Mechwarrior series) have also helped in creating an entire genre of videogames. Today, the boardgame still enjoys a healthy following, having just released a revitalised ruleset. Other spinoff games include a collectible card game, and a collectible miniatures game.

These 2 games were not the only ones to make the transition onto the electronic format: Full Metal Planete (Infogrames, 1990); 5th Fleet (Avalon Hill, 1995); Wooden Ships and Iron Men (Avalon Hill, 1996); Europa Universalis (Strategy First, 2000). An in-depth search will reveal even more of these games.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Car

Holden : Barina : 2008 : 1.6L : 4-Door Sedan

Friday, May 02, 2008

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

I've been watching Audrea play the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for about a week now. She's been sneaking in playtime when she should have been studying for her CPA paper. But who am I to stop her? If she had used that time to do anything less constructive (such as chores or bathing or eating), I might have objected more. But she was playing video games, and I can fully understand.

I felt as though the designers have tried to shoehorn Wii motion controls to the game, and it feels really gimmicky. I don't find those motion controls adding anything of substance to the game, and it really bugs me.

So far, I've only seen the Wiimote (and nunchuck) being used to swing a sword or to aim. And when you're not doing either one of those things, there's no discernible difference to a regular controller: You'd still use the left thumbstick to walk, and face buttons to open up menus. And as a result of trying to implement motion controls into this game, there are two things that really annoy me.

1) Imprecise controls
Waving the Wiimote about swings your sword, and that works in most situations. Unless you want to do something specific, such as a stab. The player is supposed to simulate the motion with the Wiimote, but more often than not, the on-screen result is not what you intended. You'd be stab-stab-stabbing at the TV screen, but the motion just doesn't register accurately. Her character only just learnt how to shield bash using the nunchuck, and she hasn't been able to perfect that move yet because of the controls. And not only does the game not register her motions accurately, the timing is a bit off too; there's a slight delay in the reaction time. And what this makes for is frustrating gameplay. It all lacks a certain sense of finesse.

2) On-screen cursor
The Wiimote works really well as a pointing/aiming device, and it was brilliantly implemented in Metroid 3. It works alright here, when you actually do need it (i.e. aiming your bow & arrow, or boomerang). But when you aren't using it, there's this fairy cursor that flutters around the damn screen. And since you aren't aiming for most part of the game, that accursed thing just lingers on-screen, and annoying the piss out of me. I guess you could try and hide it at the corner of the TV screen by pointing your Wiimote elsewhere, but there's always a part of that fluttering cursor showing. And I hate that. It's a distraction and an annoyance, like a little flicker at the corner of your eye you can't get rid of.

To me, the motion controls just doesn't feel integral to the game. It might sound cool to have players physically swing about as though they were really doing so with a sword. But that doesn't not always translate well in implementation. There was more than once I felt that a button push might have presented a much more elegant solution.