Jitesh's Domain

Game Designer. Producer. Gamer.


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Currently Playing – The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine

The Game

I’m pretty sure by now, most of the readers have already played Witcher 3… or at least have heard about this gem. I finished the main game about 2 years ago and clocked in ~100 hours! For me, this game is without a doubt, one of the finest RPGs of this generation. It just does so many things right.

This post isn’t about what makes the game great, it is about how the game provides multitude of game settings that players can make use of to further intensify the entire game experience by making it more immersive (personalize to your liking). Some of you might know about this, as the game is a little old now… to me though, after trying some settings that I’ve mentioned down below, I can vouch for the increased ‘fun’ the whole thing brings.

How I used to play?

I directly delved into the game by making minimal adjustments to the game settings (apart from visuals and audio) and finished the main game in ‘Blood and Broken Bones’ difficulty. It was an excellent experience.

This is how I played the game (~100+hours):

Witcher3_SettingsON

Take a note of the contents in the RED BOX.

The game itself is exceptionally beautiful, with lots of details in terms of the way interactions work, the way in which the world feels real with some truly well designed geography (with noticeable locations, terrains and points of interests).

Now, with no changes made to the game settings and keeping them at default, this is how it (over)populates the HUD. Unfortunately, I noticed the problem after countless hours of gameplay. Not really a problem per se, more of an hindrance. Everything inside the RED BOX is meant to simplify exploration and ease the players into the game. Give better, detailed directions to what, where, when and so on. In short, easing by hand-holding. Once we start playing the game this way, naturally we progress quicker and feel great about it. However, after paying close attention, we realize that by playing this way, our eyes are mostly focused at the RED BOX. Especially, glued to the glorious, beautiful, rotating, mini-map. This is when, we stop ‘truly playing the game’ to ‘surfing the game’ because of the minutiae brought about by the mini-map. In short, eyes glued at the wrong place… a tiny place in relation to the entire rest of the screen that is filled with intricate details… real details which are begging for your close touch and exploration.

This is how I play the game NOW (~10+hours and counting):

Witcher3_SettingsOFF

Trust me, with this way, my experience with the game and immersion it brings about has increased by a lot! To me at least. This is something that I would seriously recommend you all try too. I started with this personalized setting with the expansion ‘Blood and Wine’.

Toggle the following ‘Off’:

Witcher3_MenuSettings1

Do not forget, we can open the main World map whenever we want to see the destination objective marker, explore and find our own way and traverse like a real ‘Witcher’. Let’s just not look at the shortest way to reach there with dotted lines on your mini-map with the exact distance of footsteps it’ll take you! Try it out and see the experience being enriched.

Along with this, I also found 2 more settings that can really add a little more twist and increase the sense of danger. This can be a little subjective, but worth a try 😉 Turn ‘Off’ Boss and Enemy Health Bars. Yes, sounds scary as frak! I can’t really recall right now, but few other games also have the setting for turning off HP bars. So, try this out here… a Witcher, after all doesn’t really know how much HP the opponents have (unless witcher-vision provides the touch) 😉 role-play!

Witcher_Boss

In short, I encourage every player to try and personalize and find settings that suit you best. Turning Off the mini-map is highly recommended as I personally found that it truly enriches the experience. Everything else, well tweak and play around with them, see if it works for you or not.

This is the beauty of a true player-friendly PC game. Tweaks and tips to dig deep and escape!

 

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Clash Royale – PART I

I’m pretty sure most of you have already started playing Clash Royale by now. Even if you aren’t one of the Royale players, you might very well be aware of the game. Clash Royale is Supercell’s next gem for mobile devices.

I’ve been playing this game on a daily basis since it launched in India. I wanted to jot down and do a few write-ups focusing on design.

The first design overview I felt like covering is the gameplay concept map. Please note:

  • This concept map focuses only on gameplay elements
  • It does not teach you how to play the game
  • Shows the inter-relationships of different elements

Now, I am not explaining what each element (especially the ones taken from the game) stand for. Obviously, if you have been playing the game, you’ll be aware of the intricacies. In case you haven’t tried the game out, this’ll help you understand (a little) the concept of gameplay in Clash Royale (inter-dependencies, skills needed, synergy and complexity).

Clash_Royale_Gameplay_ConceptMap_v4

It is informative to look at the game, realize its scope and go through its various concepts. Do check it out, it’ll be fun to discuss more on this (especially if you have already been playing the game).

Keep checking here for further updates, I’ll most likely do more write-ups by focusing on different features. They may not necessarily be in sequence and will most likely be a little independent of each other.

Do shoot your feedback and rants. It’s always fun ;]

 

 

 


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Google – Best Games of 2015

Chhota Bheem Throne of Bali

Around 2 months back we worked on a brand new game using Chhota Bheem IP – Throne of Bali. This is a 2D side-scroller with scripted levels where you get to play as Chhota Bheem.

It is a simplistic casual title, where levels keep getting tougher and tougher. Today, in the game there are 20 levels.

Best Games of 2015

Earlier this month, Google Playstore showcased some of the best games of 2015 that everyone should play. It names Chhota Bheem Throne of Bali as one of the best on playstore in 2015! It is such a joyous moment for me and the whole team at Nazara who worked on this title.

CBTB_Best2015

I want everyone to try out this game and keep sending us feedback. We are constantly in the process of improving the game.

Christmas Update

After the announcement by Google, the team themselves took the initiative to work extra and come up with a thrilling Christmas update! We are finally live and everyone should give in to the festive season and play the game, share it with your friends and keep spreading the word :]

CBTB_Christmas

Do download, update your game and spread wishes with your friends and family this Christmas and New Year!


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WORKSHOP – FAST AND FURIOUS 7

NASSCOM NGDC2015 DESIGN WORKSHOP

FAST AND FURIOUS 7

I had an immense pleasure of organizing this year’s Design Workshop at Nasscom’s Game Developer Conference held at Mahratta Chamber Of Commerce Industries & Agriculture (MCCIA) Towers.

The idea and topic was pretty simple – understand and learn to deliver a game pitch in less than 7 mins. The basis of presentation technique was PechaKucha (chit-chat in Japanese).

A part of my preparation was to come up with interesting topics for participants.

I started creating topics…

Preparation - creation of mindboggling topics ;]

Preparation – creation of mindboggling topics ;]

Once I demonstrated the PechaKucha technique to participants, they were asked to be comfortable, form power groups (which were made to ensure friends don’t stick together and teams feel balanced).

The topic – a mandate on which participants had to create their game pitch consisted of 2 parts:

  • A subject/ core matter
  • Game Genre
Preparation - Cards in disarray!

Preparation – Cards in disarray!

The stacks were then made, successfully (before the workshop began, at my home):

Cards tied in RED –> Core/ Subject matter

Cards tied in YELLOW –> Game Genre

Power Cards... are READY!

Power Cards… are READY!

At the workshop, once my presentation was over and groups were formed, I asked one member from each group to draw cards from the stacks I had made. Interesting topics are created when randomness comes into play ;]

For eg: A group picked cards that gave them FOOD as Core Subject and SURVIVAL HORROR as game genre!

The rules were laid out:

  • use laptop
  • use internet connection
  • minimal text
  • Images, images and images!
  • 20 sec per slide rule
  • Max slides 20 (due to time restriction – I didn’t enforce 20 slides as MUST – it was a max limit for this workshop)
Fast and Furious 7 :: PechaKucha!

Fast and Furious 7 :: PechaKucha!

Here are some pictures from the workshop:

It's on!

It’s on!

Getting to know team and discussion within was paramount!

Getting to know team and discussion within was paramount!

A team brainstorming on their game pitch

A team brainstorming on their game pitch

Team getting their slides ready!

Team getting their slides ready!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

Team game pitch kickoff!

With Prashant!

With Prashant!

I apologize for some really shaken pictures! :]

My badge this year.

My badge this year.

I had an awesome time conducting the workshop, discussing terrific ideas with everyone who participated. If you are in the picture, you participated or were a part of the team – do share 🙂


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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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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.


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Currently Playing – Super Hexagon

Finally! It gives me immense pleasure to say that I have beaten the final level of Super Hexagon!!!

My best timing

My best timing

 

And, mind you all… this was no easy task. I have clocked approximately 50 hours in the game! Of course, this doesn’t mean that others do not possess higher scores than mine! There are thousands of better players 😉

I do have a secret to finishing the game. Brace for the truth. At least, the truth as I see it. Idea is, to be as calm and patient as possible while playing Super Hexagon. Experiencing uber-trip with mindnumbing frenetic-action is a given while playing the game. However, what is actually needed is “mind devoid of thoughts”. Remember what Morpheus was talking about? Well, guess it was all for something like this.

It goes without saying… this game is genius design by Terry Cavanagh. Hats off to him! The whole feeling of gameplay is supported by an extremely addictive soundtrack done by Chipzel.

 


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The Witcher 2 – 15 symptons of love and addiction

I thought of posting some of the random stuff I wrote about games here and there : ]

I’ll begin with Witcher 2 (the following points were posted  on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 2:11pm at Facebook)

The Witcher 2 – A fine Action-RPG with great story, setting, gameplay and progression. This game is exceptional on PC to this date. I’ve been thinking of playing the Enhanced edition… since it’s been so long since I finished this game. I know I’ll get back to it. Soon. Hopefully.

Anyway, for all hardcore fans of Witcher 2, read on!

  • When you walk by a garden your hands involuntarily venture to grab some flowers! Celandine x2
  • You gift your girlfriend a celandine and hope she uses its alchemical properties by harvesting Rebisand mixing it with chicken for dinner!
  • There can never be such a thing as “Too much sex”.
  • You stop believing in taking sides and your life’s motto is “Neutrality + Sex”.
  • You get depressed at the feeling that the world and people around you are not ubersampled!    
  • Stealing from anyone’s house in front of owners is not a crime.
  • When you encounter a cockroach in your bathroom, you instinctively do a quick roll and try stabbing it from behind with your shiny silver needle!

Geralt wandering in the streets of Flotsam

 

  • You believe your water bottle contains Swallow which can be drank only when you meditate!
  • You feel your locket vibrates like the Medallion in presence of a lizard nearby!
  • You start applying Almond Oils to your kitchen knife in hopes of making it more vicious!
  • You resolve your petty arguments with friends and strangers using Arm wrestling or fistfighting!
  • The only poker you are aware of is Dice Poker! 
  • You believe life’s story can be covered in 3 Chapters in addition to punishing beginning and short ending.
  • You think new local areas in your town get unlocked in the form of free DLCs. 
  • You assume life to have alternate endings.