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Archive for the ‘game design’ tag

Thoughts on Cheats and Walkthroughs

Posted on 5th May 2010 at 10:33 by Joe Martin with 78 comments

Joe Martin
I don’t often cheat in games, but nor is it something that’s completely unknown. It’s usually just a last resort, because I’ve hit a brick wall or I can’t find a way out of a level and need to look at a walkthrough to get a bit of direction. I should point out that I never cheat in online games because, well, what’s the point? I’ve also only ever cheated in one game that I was reviewing – an adventure game where I got stuck for three hours on an early puzzle and which sent me back to the developer asking for help.

Outside of the review process, I honestly don’t usually see a big problem with cheating in games as a whole as long as it exists within certain parameters. In my opinion for example, you should never just sit down and cheat straight away – you should try and play the game properly first because you need a proper sense of risk to feel the reward. At the same time though, if you reach a point in a game where the fun is being bled out of it then why wouldn’t you use an exploit to get around it?

There’s always going to be a fraction of gamers that disagree with that last point and who think that games should be incredibly challenging, but I’ve had the enjoyment sucked out of far too many titles that way to possibly agree with them. Some of my absolute favourite games have been almost totally ruined by moments of excessive difficulty. I’ll confess that the last boss in Beyond Good and Evil sent me scrabbling for a cheat list after the eighth try and, when it turned out there wasn’t one, I was very put off. The game was saved from my hatred purely by the fact that I knew it was the last boss and that I wouldn’t have to repeat the experience. If the game had threatened to go on beyond that point or if the experience up to that point hadn’t been so brilliant then I’m pretty sure I would have just thrown it away. I’ve done it with other games.

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Thoughts on Difficulty Settings

Posted on 22nd Apr 2010 at 10:42 by Joe Martin with 72 comments

Joe Martin
I may as well start off by saying that I don’t usually like my games to be too difficult and that, if I’m sitting down to play a game for my own enjoyment, I’ll almost never, ever put it on Hard difficulty. In fact, I’m more likely to play it on Easy.

There’s a lot of people who’ll baulk at that; the type of people who label themselves as ‘hardcore’ gamers with an inflated sense of pride and dismiss the majority of titles as ‘baby-games’, most likely. Despite what they think though, I think my reasons for opting for a lesser difficulty are pretty good ones.

It comes down to a matter of taste and what you’re looking for – and what I usually look for in the games I play at home is a good story and the chance to have some fun. Sticking the game on maximum difficulty is something that’s more likely to get in the way of that than facilitate it and the worst fear I have with any new game is that I’ll play it on Hard, love the story, reach an impassable boss and then get stuck. In that situation I’d be more likely to put the game down and move on than to replay on a lower skill setting – and I’d hate to miss out on a tale I’d otherwise enjoy.

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Cheating in Game Design

Posted on 16th Mar 2009 at 11:09 by Cliff Harris with 16 comments

Cliff Harris
One day, the cheapest laptop will have a quantum graphics computer that can render pixel perfect photorealistic images at 70 frames per second with infinite complexity.

Until that happens, games programmers will do bodges, cheats and sneaky optimisations that you probably don't notice.

I remember a comedy sketch from years ago that ridiculed the kids puppet show Stingray for having a character in a high-tech wheelchair-style device that he slid around on. The joke was that this made him easier to film as a puppet, because it was always the walking that looked rubbish. Game developers do the same thing all the time.

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