UX Lab Quest, Part 16

Welcome to the penultimate blog regarding the UX lab.  My time in the UX lab is coming to an end.  Sadly, I won’t be graduating on time due to thesis defense ineligibility.  As nothing is perfect, there are certain aspects of the thesis process that I think can be better, but I myself also made a couple of errors going about it.  Perhaps the biggest error I made was overestimating my ability to do / complete new research while the internship was ongoing.  I would go home after having put in a full day of work, and being so exhausted, doze off while doing my research.

C’est la vie…hence the title of this blog: then again, I’ve been wrong again.

Still, I think I can pull of January graduation, so one month off isn’t too bad.  My internship ends next week, so I’ll have plenty of time to focus 100% of my energies towards the thesis.  And at least the foundation is pretty good, I just need to somehow take it to another level.

As for the lab, last month we had two producers leave, and this month we have another two in myself and Brian.  Change is inevitable.  Resistance is futile.

For this week, I finally completed the curriculum for mission 10.  I had to create additional diagrams and additional instructions, as the success of the mission depends on the student being able to do the math successfully.  In a nutshell, the player is given two coordinates in the form of two vectors.  The player must calculate both distance and angle (to approximate direction) to identify where to drop paratroopers.  Fun times.  As my time here comes to an end, some of my responsibilities have already shifted / transitioned to new producers, making the process as painless and smooth as possible.  Again, fun times.

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Game Industry Quest, Part 16

Post-Thanksgiving, I’ve actually had time to play games, which almost feels strange after spending so much time refraining from them.  I look at my massive backlog at the moment: Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Uncharted 3, Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War 3, and many more that are slipping my mind at the moment.  Simply due to timing, the game of choice has been Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Despite all the issues that have come to light regarding the game, it’s still a terrific, fun game that hits that Elder Scrolls itch.

As per tradition starting with Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, I play with an Orc named Hulk.  Generally, he smashes things and has an adventurous spirit, accepting any quest given to him.

Last night, I was in a mood to try new things, so I created a new character.  A Nord sword-and-shield guy who I intend to also train in archery, and some slight conjuration for glowing bound weapons.  Fun times just to see how fun this kind of build can be.  I can already say that blocking with a two-handed weapon (which Hulk does) vs. blocking with a shield really feels different, as does running around with light armor vs. heavy armor.

That’s not to say things are perfect.  In fact, I discovered a sad thing about the game that has occurred since Morrowind that I had hoped had changed.  Unfortunately, multiple characters all save in the exact same file.  Even auto saves will be rewritten depending on which character you play with, though I’m sure you can turn auto save off in the options menu.

Skyrim Orc

Hey you! Get out of my save file!

Skyrim Nord

I SAY THEE NAY! There's only room for one Skyrim character here! VERILY, I SAY THEE...NEVER!

Now, one can argue that this is one reason to keep multiple saves, which is is something I’ve done since playing old Sierra games.  That’s really not the point.  It’s just in my honest opinion bad design to have multiple characters save to the same place.  It makes things clunky, and really discourages playing with multiple characters.

I can forgive the many glitches that plague the game.  In my mind, games have grown to the level of complexity where glitches are unavoidable.  That’s not to say Bethesda should not be incorporating strong quality assurance testing into the production of their games.  It’s just that in a game this vast and massive in scope, gamers will find things that others will miss.  However, with all this said, is it too much to ask to have multiple characters in their own separate universes via separate folders?  Perhaps…then again, I’ve been wrong before.

Game Industry Quest, Part 15

I’m actually surprised that there’s no high profile releases for the week.  In my opinion, this Fall has seen the video game market saturated with tons of great, fun games that for the thrifty, make it very tough to decide what to spend money on.  With money being so tight in this economy, it can admittedly be hard for many families and hardcore gamers to decide where to invest their money in their entertainment.

I’ve bought many, many games this past Fall, with many that I simply have not played due to time.  It’s making me think that perhaps I should have held off on many of the games I got.  After all, with no time to play, why invest?

Then again, there’s another part of me that thinks that as a future video game producer, with some occasional design aspirations as well, I should be playing these games.  Think about it in terms of design: why did they place these enemies in this area?  Why is the platforming designed in this manner?  Is everything feel balanced when playing?  There is a double-sided sword trying to analyze games in this manner though; accuracy depends largely on personal biases.  Franchises you love, you’ll be biased towards, and others that your dislike, you may not be entirely fair and balanced in the opinion of the gameplay.  It’s an interesting conundrum, and it would be beneficial for everyone to work towards developing as balanced a view as possible in everything that’s done.