UX Lab Quest, Part 06

As I begin the week, a new class begins that will limit the amount of hours I can put into the lab.  I must add however that it is my last official class at Full Sail, so in that respect it’s rather exciting.  In lab news, mission 5 is due sometime today.  This may actually be the first deliverable that won’t go deep into the night, though it also looks like it won’t be done until 8 or 9. Not that I’m complaining; that’s much better than finishing at 3:00 PM or staying up all night.

Then again, I’ve been wrong before…

I feel like I just jinxed our team.  In any event, mission 5 involves a WW I plane called the Curtiss Jenny, performing barnstorming.  That is, putting on a show for an audience by flying through barns and performing aerial stunts.  It’s probably the most taxing mission as far as flight skill that we’ve produced, and will test anyone who tries it.  As usual, the curriculum produced was tough, but manageable.  I can’t help but feel like my father would do better at this than myself, as he’s honestly the most knowledgeable man I know.

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Game Industry Quest, Part 06

I wanted to get an early start on blogging this week, as the next two weeks will likely be filled with little sleep.  There’s simply too much work to be done on my end.  Besides, the news item I wanted to talk about appeared yesterday.

On December 20, 2011, my life will change in some way, shape, or form.  That’s because Star Wars: The Old Republic will be released in North America.  Interestingly enough, that’s the day I should be graduating from the Master’s program I’m in unless I mess something up, a possibility that I’m hoping will be minimized over the coming weeks.

I mentioned in previous posts that I’ve stayed away from the lure of MMO’s.  I’ve stayed away from World of Warcraft, Eve Online, DC Universe Online, etc.  Yet my faith in Bioware to make a great game has compelled me to take the final plunge into the eternal abyss that is the MMO RPG.

My only hope is that my body and soul emerge unscathed and relatively intact.  I don’t want to be that person that lives off fast food, never sees the sunlight, and basically hibernates at home.  That would be…disastrous.

Something related to gaming that I’ve been meaning to mention is the announcement by Razer, a company that specialized in gaming input devices like mice and keyboards.  Anyways, they’ve announced that they would be releasing a gaming laptop called the Razer Blade.

The Razer Blade

I've never said this about a laptop before, but in my opinion this thing looks sexy as hell.

Everything about the laptop can be found at the link I posted, but being lightweight (under 7 pounds), portable (less than an inch thick), and having an innovative touchscreen interface makes me…happy somehow.  The price tag is rather much ($2,700.00 USD), but then again, the laptop I received for school has given me consistent headaches, and I wouldn’t mind saving up for what looks to me like a beautiful piece of hardware.

I figure I’d end with an anecdote that shows what a bonehead I can be at times.  I accidentally had Gears of War 3 shipped to my parents home instead of my apartment.  I don’t want to believe I made such a mistake, and yet there it is.  I’m not keen on having it shipped here, as it’s big and bulky (read: expensive to ship) being the Epic edition of the game, filled with gratuitous schwag that somehow tickles my inner geek.

Hopefully, I can keep such bonehead maneuvers out of my schoolwork over the next few weeks, and build some momentum towards accomplishing something worthwhile.

UX Lab Quest, Part 05

The end of last week resulted in the delivery of Mission 4 (due last Thursday).  Technically, it was around six hours late (delivered Friday ), as an all-nighter was required to finish the mission.  It was interesting to see the sunrise while driving home, only to return to the UX lab approximately 90 minutes later to open the lab early to ensure any artists that wish to come in early may do so.  I ended up leaving around noon for a weekend of more schoolwork.

I had mentioned in my part 5 of my game industry quest blog that I haven’t even cracked open Deus Ex, and will probably not play Gears of War 3 when it arrives.  I was thinking for the good of my sanity that just starting Deus Ex: Human Revolution would be good, and probably actually increase my productivity in the long run.

I received some feedback on my mission 4 curriculum Powerpoint from the program director of education media design & technology here at Full Sail University, who had kindly agreed to donate some time to looking over my work and providing feedback.  I’ll likely incorporate her feedback in future versions of the curriculum Powerpoint, like the mission 5 one I’m working on now.  If I finish it early, I’ll likely retroactively work on previous curriculum mission Powerpoints.

Game Industry Quest, Part 05

My time for games has been extremely limited as of late.  Case in point, I own Deux Ex: Human Revolution.  However, I have yet to play the game.  School work has kept me extraordinarily busy.  Even with Star Fox 64 3D, I haven’t completed the game.  I’ve played through four missions, and that’s been pretty much it.  The life of a graduate student, I suppose.  C’est la vie.

With that said, the impending release of Gears of War 3 has myself and many other gamers very excited.

Gears of War 3 Promotional Art

Will the trilogy end here? Perhaps Marcus Fenix's story will, but I'm guessing the Gears franchise will not. Just a hunch...

I have the sneaking suspicion that tomorrow’s productivity will be somewhat low among my peers.  Unfortunately for myself, the actual game should arrive tomorrow only to be put on the shelf right next to Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

I had wanted to play through the Gears of War and Gears of War 2 to refresh my memory on both the gameplay and the story, but that unfortunately did not happen as implied by the first sentence of this blog post.  Something about aliens, running between cover (aka stop and pop), and beautiful visuals.

Based on how things have gone school-wise, I actually anticipate the same thing happening for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; that is, the game arriving at my doorstep, only to be put on the shelf to collect dust.  My backlog of games grows.  Strangely enough, among my peers I seem to be the only person that actually has a backlog of games.  I find this odd because I’m wondering where people find all the time to play all these games.  Personally, I enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Back to Gears of War 3, according to VGChartz, as of 9/19/2011, American pre-orders have reached 1.9 million.  That’s mind-boggling to say the least.  This brings to mind a discussion a professor of mine had earlier in the year.  Had he made the point that while Sony has quality shooters, they don’t have that killer shooter that’s really sparked people’s imaginations.  On the Microsoft front, they have two franchises in Halo and Gears of War that have accomplished just that.  I remember that conversation vividly, and more or less have come to agree with him.  Halo: Reach has sold a total 8.6 million worldwide sales.  For comparison, Resistance 3 total worldwide sales hover under 300k.  It’s true that it hasn’t been out for long as of this date (it just came out in early September), but that’s more or less the point of contention.  Killzone 3 has sold around 1.8 million in total worldwide sales.  Gears of War 3 has already eclipsed that number with preorders alone. To be clear, I am not saying there are no quality shooters with strong gameplay on Sony’s console.  What I am saying is that they don’t have the exclusive killer shooter (Call of Duty is multi-platform) that is both a critical and commercial success on the level of a Halo or a Gears of War game.  At least none that comes to mind at the moment.  Then again, I’ve been wrong before…

And on that front, with so much schoolwork on my plate (actually, it’s more like a platter), I should return to that.  Until next time; same game questing time, same game question channel.

UX Lab Quest, Part 04

This week is pretty busy as we collectively prepare mission 4.  Unfortunately, this mission was originally designed by a producer who has graduated two weeks ago.  The mission he submitted to us is being currently evaluated.  The full deliverable is due this coming Thursday.

Among my responsibilities is to produce the curriculum Powerpoint.  Unfortunately, I’m finding things are taking more time than usual.  Even though I’m more or less using the same format, trying to hit different educational standards and think of different things to do is growing more challenging.  It would be easy to use the exact same curriculum every mission, but I’m fairly certain that’s not the point of this curriculum development.

Also, I’ll probably devote some additional time into trying to learn Scenario Builder.  Previous attempts have failed for various reasons unknown to me.  However, if successful, this could potentially make mission creation easier for all involved.  Though with that said, a more intensive look won’t be feasible until my thesis is in stronger shape.  To that effect, I intend to actually put in the required hours and no more over the next 2-3 weeks while I do more research and try to get my thesis to an acceptable quality.

Game Industry Quest, Part 04

I find myself in a bit of a conundrum, in that I would prefer to write my game industry blog posts closer to the end of the week so that anything “newsworthy” (I use the term loosely), I could potentially comment on.  With the beginning of the week, it’s tough to comment on anything.

I would have liked to have written a mini-review of sorts for Star Fox 64 3D.  However, truth be told, I’ve been so busy with school work, especially thesis research, that whatever gaming time I have has been reduced to tiny spurts.  I only played three missions in Star Fox 64 3D, and thus, feel inadequately prepared to review the title.

That’s not to say I can’t make a few comments about my initial impressions.  The new textures and upgraded resolution stand out on the Nintendo 3DS’s mobile screen.  Everything looks vibrant and alive, the music is as good as I remember.  The voice acting is an interesting case, in that either it’s been edited heavily or completely re-recorded, because everyone sounds different to me.  The differences are minute, but present to my ears.  Then again, maybe I’m imagining things.

There are two available control schemes, one that mimics the original N64, and the other that takes advantage of the 3DS’s built-in gyroscope.  I admittedly only stuck to the original N64 controls, and didn’t bother with the 3DS control scheme.  Speaking of controls, this is where I lament a bit.  Unfortunately, the analog nub just doesn’t replicate the analog stick.  Bluntly put, pushing or pulling the nub is not the same as pushing or pulling a stick.

Finally, the 3D effect looks great in my opinion, and works real well for what is essentially a third-person space rail-shooter.  In fact, it could be the strongest game to take advantage of the 3D effect.  Surprisingly, the optional cockpit view appears to have been taken out.  Or at least I haven’t figured out how to go to that view.

Since I’m on the subject of the 3DS, I should probably comment on the peripheral leaked last week.  Apparently, it adds a second analog nub when attached to the base 3DS.  It hasn’t garnered a positive result from many.  As for myself, having not played with it, it’s tough to judge objectively.  What I wonder is how much it will retail for, and if it will offer any other additional functionality beyond an additional analog nub.  That is covers the power button and volume slider makes me wonder though…

The Nintedo 3DS Add-On

So, how does one turn the system on, and adjust the volume or slider?

Increased battery life would be awesome.

Game Industry Quest, Part 03

The end of the week will truly be a pleasant run through memory lane, as Star Fox 64 3D is released.

Star Fox 64 3D for Nintendo 3DS

A spacecraft rail shooter with no equal, in my honest opinion.

This may be sacrilegious for some, but for my money, the original version was my favorite game on the Nintendo 64, trumping every so slightly Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.  The gameplay was incredibly fun.  Furthermore, Nintendo was successful in creating an epic feel and presentation, without cut beautiful cut scenes and excessive dialogue.  There’s something to be said about keeping things simple.  Like many things in life, it always comes down to execution, which is always paramount.

Not to say this game is flawless, as nothing in life is perfect.  For example, I wished Slippy Toad was a more competent pilot, as I constantly had to save him from the enemy.  Also, there was occasional frame rate issues when a lot of things were going on at once.  With that said, I’m hoping this remake will address the latter issue, and just increase the texture resolution of all the art assets.

One reason I believe it’ll be more enjoyable is that the game is not many hours long.  Right now, with my time to play games so limited from school and thesis work (thesising, as I like to call it; yes I made up a word), I’ve admittedly not even acquired the master sword in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.  In contrast, Star Fox 64 3D could be completed in 45-90 minutes, if memory serves me correctly.

Do a barrel roll!