Jitesh's Domain

Game Designer. Producer. Gamer.


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Senselessness for the soul.

It has been a really long time since my last website update. I was thinking over and over and wanted to spark Senseless Stories section. This post isn’t going to be a big one. More of an announcement really.

I finally sat down, busted grey matter in hand with my keyboard. Some senselessness should do good, right? Isn’t it what the world desires? Needs even? What’s the point in learning only from matter that makes sense. Why not otherwise? Everyone is entitled to waste their time! One way or another… it must happen and should happen to every single soul on this planet.

Without further whatnot, I forcefully invite you to just go ahead and read one of the first senseless pulp from my side – A Random Encounter?

Feel free to comment and shout.

 

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Flappy Jam!

It was around 2 weeks back when me and many of my colleagues started playing this little game called “Flappy Bird” on iOS. We were having fun with the game trying to beat score. We all kind of played it for few hours then moved on to some other game on iOS.
Just few days later, we came across news on the internet mentioning the game’s sudden rise on the AppStore. We were all like… what?! I’m pretty sure many of you must’ve already experience the game recently on your iPad/ iPhone and some of you might’ve even played it months back when it was originally released! In my opinion, the sudden rise of this game was mainly due to virality and word-of-mouth tactics. It worked. It actually worked wonders for the developer. The game started making tons of monies. Which is both a good and a bad thing.

Few things about Flappy Bird:

  • It presents a classic game appeal
  • Addictive, fun game meant to be played in quick bursts
  • Inspired by retro/ other classics
  • Absolutely no gameplay variation
  • No enhancements in core mechanics as the player progresses
  • No variation in level design

The game still raked hundreds of thousands of dollars. It clearly goes on to show how marketing, virality can work wonders + climb of simplicity.

Due to its sudden rise, the developer gained huge amount of fame and negative press at the same time. Negativity mainly emerged due to aforementioned reasons. I’m sure you’ll find the news about what all happened in detail on various news sites. Eventually, the developer could not take all the press and hatred and decided to remove the app from the AppStore.

Then, soon there was this event that popped up –> Flappy Jam! Hundreds of developers came forth in support and for passion’s sake!

Today is the last day of submission at –> http://itch.io/jam/flappyjam
And… here is my entry (Inspired by Space Invaders) 🙂

http://uns33n.itch.io/dont-invade-my-flappy-space

http://www.kongregate.com/games/JiteshP1/dont-invade-my-flappy-space

Screen_2 Screen_1 Screen_3

Do check out my game and other developers’ efforts too! Share, leave feedback and have fun ;]


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Beyond: Two Souls – Analysis

Cover Art

Cover Art

Design Analysis

I present to my readers a brief analysis of game design in Beyond: Two Souls. This is going to be pretty much a high-level view of the game. In near future, I might dig deeper and provide underlying low details.

Skills

To understand how a game plays out and the challenge provided, it is important to know what player skills are being challenged by a particular game. Beyond: Two Souls demands the following skills from its audience:

  • Observation: Testing player’s ability to read signs and other cues, be it visual or aural.
    • This is one of the main skills challenged as the player is asked to respond by providing inputs based on the cues the game presents.
    • Mainly challenged during:
      • Fight – Observe the sign of the attack, its direction and appropriately provide the input
      • Exploration – Looking out for clues (usually game provides a very strong hint about the situation), secrets and hidden rewards. Challenged heavily when playing as Aiden (the Entity). Playing as Ellen, this is also challenged when looking for cover positions and scouting enemies.
      • Dialogue – Observing the situation and choosing the right/ desired dialog option to converse with non-playing characters
  • Precision: Testing player’s ability to provide inputs to lead where she wants to go
    • This skill is largely challenged while playing as Aiden as it gives a full 360 degrees freedom to explore and roam about.
      • Fight – there is always just one precise input challenged
  • Measurement: Testing player’s ability to provide measured input on controls to a degree of tension
    • Challenged mainly while playing as Aiden.
      • Powers – Interacting with objects in the world – to throw/ use them with a measured degree of power (playing as Aiden)
      • Simple interactions – Playing as Ellen there is some slight challenge is providing simple measured inputs to open door/ closing letter etc.
  • Timing: Testing player’s ability to provide input at the right time
    • Finally, one of the most important skill challenged by this game is Timing. Beyond: Two Souls (much like its predecessor) is heavily based on Quick-Time Events.
      • Fight – The game introduces an upgraded fighting system (appended to its usual QTEs) – wherein player must anticipate and act by providing inputs at the right time. Usually, the window of opportunity given to the player in most of the situations is high. This allows even the slow (low physical-skill) players to act by first carefully observing the sign and then giving the right attack based on timing.
      • Stealth – Playing as Ellen, player can sometimes use stealth and knock-down/ kill enemies from behind/ aerial move by giving input at the appropriate time. Not very highly challenged.
      • Dialogue – Throughout the game, player (playing as Ellen) must converse with other non-playing characters by choosing a dialogue option and providing the input in time. The window to respond to a dialog or to converse is usually very high.

[REMARK – Even though the game challenges player on the mentioned physical and mental skills, the game is no-where close to being hard. The timing never feels stressed, and so on. Compared to Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy, this game is very light in terms of challenging the player. Extreme linearity doesn’t help the game either.]

Narrative

The narrative in Beyond: Two Souls is not presented in a regular fashion. The game shifts and jumps the player to different time in Ellen’s life. Player gets a chance to play Ellen as a:

  • Kid
  • Teenager
  • Adult

Throughout the narrative player is challenged on all of the aforementi0ned skills. The narrative does a good job of putting together various clues, revealing information and paces the game accordingly. Game presents gradual character growth, coupled with bonding between Ellen and Aiden (how it grows stronger throughout her life) and usual relationship problems as part of a real world scenario.

[REMARK – As much as I appreciate the narrative direction and slight feeling of character growth, it is again no where close to Heavy Rain. There are hardly any huge plot twists or hard-to-solve mysteries. Narrative is however very close to a Hollywood-cinematic movie experience (apart from the jumps in time-line).]

Visual & Audio

Visually the game has lots of motion-captured sequences, varied settings, themes and highly realized character models. Player is taken form tiny confines of office/ room to the expanse of Mexico.

Aurally, the voice over are present for every characters with high-performance sound-fx and appropriate music. Visually and aurally, the game provides right signs and feedback to the player.

[REMARK – When it comes to direction in this game, there are many scenes that come extremely close to a movie! The train chase and fight, bike riding and forest are memorable and visually breathtaking. Ellen Page gives a great performance and the other characters do a fine job too. As fine as the visuals and audio are, the fact to keep in mind is that the game is more a movie and less of a game. That is not a confusing statement.]

Gameplay Duration

It took me around 15 hours to finish the game in “Easy” setting. I believe the only other option is “Very Easy”. Of course, they are framed differently.

Overall, this game is more of a movie and less of a game (I must mention this again). Given the fact that Quantic Dream was supposed to evolve its gameplay + narration with Beyond: Two Souls compared to its previous offerings, I fully agree that it has not evolved in any way. The only evolution I observed was in the fighting system, where player is now required to sense the direction of attack and act-appropriately. However, as great as it sounds, it doesn’t really fare very well. It makes more sense to go back to defined and strict timing-QTE events.

Would I recommend this game? Well, if you like Ellen Page, movies, drama, story and you are a-okay with minimal gamplay from time to time… then YES! Good enough for a single play-through. Not a challenging game in any way, play it more for its story and direction.

That does it for the high-level and I must soon try and see all the endings …erm… the movie has to offer ;]


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Currently Playing – Papers, Please

After hearing a lot about this tiny little game called “Papers, Please” making waves across the world, I finally decided to pick up a copy on steam during the Christmas sale! I started playing the game with a brief idea about the plot already in my head (articles from net).

Papers, Please

Papers, Please

Just when I started the game, the first thing that captured my attention was its streamlined, retro title-logo and soundtrack. The beautiful feeling of paper coming out of typewriter just got me. I started to fall in love. But, I knew its not a funny little game, this is serious. The matter the game covers is serious.

I checked into options, made sure everything is as I would like to have (perks of PC) and started my adventure as a petty Government official. The game’s charm took my by surprise as I went from one Day to the next and tried to verify people’s passports and documents. I was amazed to find such a nicely made progression. To cut this matter short (as I am bound to put my review for this game soon), my first play-through ended on Day 6 :[ yes, all my character’s family members got R.I.Ped. It took just 1 hour. I made several wrong choices and some bad decisions. My next play-through went a little better with Day 26 and 3 hours record!

That’s about it for the day. More Papers, Please post to come soon! Keep watching the page!


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GPU’s in my life. 17 years+

Pentium MMX 166MHz. Matrox Manipulation Extensions. MultiMedia Extensions. What have you. Neither is correct though. That’s another story and is completely out of the scope here. This article is about GPUs. Yes. The meat. The bones. The love. Raw processing power in drawing tris/s and accelerating games by lowering burden on CPUs.

My first foray into gaming like a crazy addict on PC started with my first purchase (above). Of course, I ain’t counting playing games for countless hours on classic x86 (286, 386, 486 and Pentium Class 1) in my school/ cousin’s/ friend’s place. My personal relationship with computers started in my home with Pentium 166 MHz MMX. During that time, 1996 I did not have a dedicated 3D-accelerator (so it was called then). What was available for me was on-board Cirrus Logic (if I remember it correctly). It had a mightly 1MB of memory size. Yes. That is 0.1% of Video RAM that is currently installed in my PC.

For me, getting into graphics accelerators started when Quake II arrived. I was having super-fun playing the game in software mode. But, then I came across OpenGL setting for the game. Well, that was it. I turned it on and somehow got it working in Quake II. Immediately, the graphics smoothed out, green filter all over the screen and the game portrayed a fun ride with approx 2-5 FPS (or I think so). That was it. I had to buy myself a new graphics card. That’s when I started researching and knowing more about accelerators available in market.

Let’s begin with my first purchase. It was the year of enlightenment, 1998.

Disclaimer: All the years associated with GPUs in my blog is “Year of purchase

1. Diamond Viper V330 [1998]

RIVA 128 GPU

This card immediately boosted my performance in games from almost-nothingness to spectacular (by standards of ’98). Major boost was with the increase in memory size to 4MB.

2. Asus AGP-V7700 Nvidia GeForce GTS 32MB [2000]

GeForce2 GTS 32MB 2

The major selling point of this card was Transform & Lighting (T&L). It was all woohoo at the moment. I absolutely loved this graphics card. Particularly, this card blew Giants: Citizen Kabuto. One of the first games that used this card to the limit.

3. Sapphire ATI Radeon 9600 SE [2003]

To this day, I still consider this card to be a filler. Getting this was more of a mistake. I was supposed to get 9600, SE was a real low when it came to performance. Very unsatisfactory. Mainly, as it had a measly 64-bit memory bus. It just couldn’t handle games of that generation well.

4. Nvidia GeForce 6600 GT [2005]

Nvidia Geforce 6600GT GPU 2009-01-27

After the love that was GeForce 2 GTS, 6600 GT blew me again. This is one of the most famous cards of the decade. I am pretty sure countless PC gamers had an affair with this video card by Nvidia. Effective memory clock frequency of 1000 MHz! DDR all the way! Yeah!

5. Sapphire ATI Radeon x1950 Pro [2007]

x1950 Pro

x1950 Pro

This was another of my favorite GPU. It faithfully allowed hordes of games to run smoothly at pretty high settings. Plus, it boasted a killer 44.2GB/s memory bandwidth. Yes!

6. Palit AMD Radeon 4870 Dual Sonic Edition [2009]

Palit 4870 Dual Sonic Ed. 1024MB

Palit 4870 Dual Sonic Ed. 1024MB

It has been 4.5 years now since I bought this card. I must say, this has been one of the best performer. Ever. Even after 4 years, this card performs admirably in current gen games like Metro: Last Light and Far Cry 3. Most games are still playable at 1080p. Love it. Guess, I’ll wait for awhile before I upgrade next. The time has not yet come. 4870 still rocks and has enough juice to satisfy me. At least for a while. 

6. Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280x Dual-X OC Edition [2013]

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280x Dual-X OC (UEFI)

Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280x Dual-X OC (UEFI)

And… I finally gave in to this marvelous new GPU from AMD. R9 280x is a notch above everyone in competition and very close to mighty Nvidia Geforce GTX 770! For the price, this is certainly one of the best value. 3D performance in current-gen games is mindblowing! Not sure how this might handle 4K resolutions… but that is for next year!

I thought of making some interesting analysis (high level) on specifications of all these cards that I owned.

Just shows how the chipsets have evolved since 17 years (or more closely 13 years). Presented here in graph format. I’ve considered some of the major criteria that defines a GPU at a high level. Let’s begin!

Transistor Count

Increase in the count of Transistors on chip

Increase in the count of Transistors on chip

Memory Size

Increase in (raw) Memory Size (technology not taken into account here)

Increase in (raw) Memory Size (technology not taken into account here)

Memory Bus

Memory Bus size

Memory Bus size

Memory Bandwidth

Rise in Memory bandwidth through the years

Rise in Memory bandwidth through the years

Core Clock

Increase in Core processing clock frequency

Increase in Core processing clock frequency

Memory Clock

Increase in Memory clock frequency

Increase in Memory clock frequency

Fabrication

Decrease in the Fabrication process

Decrease in the Fabrication process

 

That’s about it folks. For now. Might post some mid-level details soon.


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Currently Playing – The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

The name intrigued me. Van Helsing. Adventures? Incredible Adventures? That too for $15? Well, I bought this game to experience and relive classic ARPGs like Diablo. I mean the first one. The one which I consider is better than two and way ahead of 3.

Adventuring Party? Marvelous reference!

I haven’t played a lot of this game yet. I’m just level 8 and my companion, Lady Katarina is 7. She’s like my pet Ghost. I mean like the pet you have in Torchlight II.

Dolby flame surround.

Dolby flame surround.

Characters in this game are very likable and display a peculiar sense of humor. Okay, I wanted to write more about this game… but guess I’ll do that next time. Soon. I’ll go back to hacking, slashing and having some more fun while the rain drops outside. Good times.

 

 


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Warhammer 40K: Dark Eldar Army

One of my favorite races to play as in Warhammer is Eldar! Love their nimbleness and split second powers!

Presenting my Warhammer 40K Dark Eldar army.

While not being quite as filled with conversions as my other armies, I did enjoy painting this army quite a bit. I’m not a very good painter, but a simple layered drybrush technique served me quite well with this army. I’m particularly happy with how the Incubi capes came out.

As for conversions, I had fun coming up with some substitutes for what was available at the time. Remember this guy?

Dark%20Eldar%20Talos%20Boxed%20Set

While a nutty model, it just wasn’t my style. Instead of using the stock model, my kabal had a captured Hive Tyrant and Wraithlord under their command.

The Hive Tyrant used the old-old metal kit. I added some mechanical bits and guns to make it seem like the Dark Eldar had it under control somehow, and also to represent the Talos’ guns. I remember reading a passage in the old codex where Dark…

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Chris Hadfield – Space Oddity

Isn’t this one of the most beautiful thing ever?!

Richer Ramblings

Chris HadfieldSpace Oddity.

Commander Chris Hadfield has taken a decent song by David Bowie, and transformed it into something magical. The song is a perfect fit for Chris Hadfield aboard the ISS, almost as if it were written for him all those years ago. The lyrics compliment the environment and the emotion of being aboard the ISS fantastically. The scenes accompanying the song enhance the wonder; Chris Hadfield is far above the world, he is sitting and floating in a tin can, and he is heading home to planet Earth.

For a little extra behind the scenes information about how the song came to be, check out The Emmbasy. Emm Gryner, who helped create the song, used to perform in Bowie’s band, and she helped bring this song to life.

Over at The Guardian, they have a collection of Chris Hadfield’s best tweets, photos…

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A new Short Review – Planescape: Torment

Symbol of Torment - by foolecho - deviantart

Symbol of Torment – by foolecho – deviantart

My short review of Planescape: Torment is posted! Finally! Yeah –> Enlighten me!

Feel free to comment, shoot feedback and talk in rules of three.

Let me share some super-exciting details about some of the voice-actors cast in this game:

  • The Nameless OneMichael T. Weiss –> check out The Pretender (Jarod)
  • NordomDan Castellaneta –> check out The Simpsons (Homer Simpson ++)
  • Dak’konMitch Pileggi –> check out The X-Files (Skinner)

Apart from the aforementioned, I’ll name some of the others as (just for fun):

  • Q
  • Naomi Hunter
  • Morning Train
  • Raphael
  • Legacy of Kain

Cheers.