Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Baltimore Pratt Library's 10 most memorable reads - So Say the Waiters



"This is a shameless plug for a Baltimore writer, but I honestly had more fun reading this book than almost anything else this year. It's a page-turning exploration of loneliness in the age of social media (yes, really), a character-driven drama full of unexpected twists and a cyberpunk-ish look at life in certain circles of Baltimore." -- Emmett Buckley, librarian, fiction Department, Central Library"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' Playstation 4 commercial a missed opportunity

As much as I like this commercial, I think Sony really missed an amazing opportunity. Think about the subtle and maybe not so subtle power it would have had if they chose two women instead of two men. This would have been the ad that everyone other than gamers would have talked about. It would have appealed to not only hardcore gamers (Sony's key audience), but to minority players. Women are routinely verbally attacked when playing online multi-player games. I've witnessed it myself. If Sony chose to give a nod to this marginalized audience, think about the appeal this ad would have had. Male players would be thrilled to see female players featured. Female players would have been surprised and empowered. Maybe it's time for Microsoft to do a counter ad with badass women having their own perfect day?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r15rbr4nf_U


Ryse, Son of Rome would have benefited from this

With a melee game that is so concerned with armor and hand-to-hand combat, don't you think Ryse, Son of Rome would have benefited from this combat system? Imagine weakening woe's armor with targeted strikes instead of one boring and redundant shield thrust.


Name: The Aim Select Posture (ASP) Menu

Justin Sirois copyright 2013
_________________________________________________________
Breakdown for handheld melee weapons

Single posture handheld weapons provide a limited range of attack.

Watch any film with a sword fight and you won’t see two people holding their weapons with two hands the entire time. And you definitely won’t see them swinging the same two or three swings over and over. Watch a third person game created in the past ten years and you’ll see what I just described – a stiff and limited posture for holding handheld weapons.

Although this mechanic has worked for a while, there is room for improvement. The Aim Select Posture (ASP) Menu is the solution.

What ASP does for melee weapons.

The Aim Select Posture menu (ASP) adds a dynamic dimension to third-person games by giving the player eight additional options to hold their weapon. Depending on the scenario and environment, a player will choose the best aiming posture to gain an advantage over their enemy.

By holding down the right button the game pauses and a circular menu appears, much like Red Dead Redemption’s weapon select menu (refer to diagram). This menu lets the player select eight different postures / angles for holding a sword, dagger, axe, or mace in one hand. Depending on the posture selected, the third-person camera angle pans slightly out and over the shoulder, giving the player an advantage.

Some postures include:
  • Right handed, over the head for striking the head for more damage or over shields or knocking off helmets
  • Right handed, over the right shoulder for striking exposed necks for beheading
  • Right handed, from the side for striking exposed arms, either damaging or dismembering
  • Right handed hip height for concealment or damaging / dismembering exposed legs / chopping tentacles 
  • Right handed below waist for jabbing to keep enemies at bay or striking exposed areas


 A balanced approach

Armored and non-armored enemies dictate varying game play:
Enemies with different types of armor will make ASP selecting crucial for making critical strikes. Smarter enemies will switch their own postures during battle to keep the player on his toes. Helmets, breastplates, shields, chainmail, and other armor types will make the game play infinitely variable, as players will have to study their enemy’s weaknesses.


Unarmored enemies including beasts will be vulnerable in different ways. Striking quicker, more agile enemies in the legs will be key to fending off large groups. Hacking tentacles might make an enemies bleed out making head strikes unnecessary. Jabbing certain flying enemies might be more efficient.

And of course, hacking through a horde of unarmored enemies after some tedious posture switching battles will be rewarding.

Switch it up:
Different types of enemies will engage the player at once. Knowing what type of weapon be it a quick, dagger or a slower broadsword, will make fighting more effective. Temporarily disabling certain enemies with low (leg) attacks, letting a player engage a heavier armed 2nd enemy will add strategy to the fight.


An important feature might be a regular strike button, one that just slashes. This button would not only deliver a medium "generic" attack, it would return the posture to a regular stance. When the play wants to select a specific poster, they will access the ASP menu. 

Level design will be infinitely variable as different waves of enemies (armor classes) engage the player. 

Critical strikes:
Powerful, over-the-head strikes will be harder and harder to accomplish throughout the game. Whittling down an enemies armor and health will expose their appendages for critical strikes. The harder the enemy, the more whittling, but that final head shot (decapitated, split in two, or crushed) will be the most rewarding points during game play.


Focus Mechanic:
A simple push of a button would slow down time and zoom in on an enemy, much like Fallout 3's "select fire" mechanic. This would give the player time to evaluate the enemy's armor and understand where to strike. The player can re-evaluate the damage the enemy has taken at any time during the fight. 

Weak vs. powerful strikes:
Like other games, there could be a weak strike and a more powerful (slow) strike button (A and X button). Coupled with the 8 varieties of ASP posturing, the variables double. Maybe an over-the-head powerful strike is slower than a weak over-the-head strike, but if you nail it, the power is devastating. Heads explode, not sever. Similarly, if a player is in a low posture for leg slashing and uses a weak strike, maybe it is much faster than a powerful leg strike. The possibilities are nearly limitless when applying these strikes to enemy armor classes and types of skins, scales, or fur.

Fun with armor:
Think about the possibilities with knocking off an enemy's armor. A critical strike to the head might knock off a helmet. It rolls away, but another enemy picks it up and wears it as he attacks you. Imagine knocking  a large weapon or shield out of a large enemy's hand only to have a smaller enemy try to use the same weapon or shield. It slows them down and makes them almost easier to kill. 


A free hand:
When using the ASP, the character’s free hand will be useful. When surrounded, a free hand can shove (using the B button) one enemy when the player turns to strike another. Picking up and throwing severed limbs or decapitated heads (that you’ve just cut off) could distract enemies and beasts. Knowing that a certain beasts prefers human flesh, you can lob a human arm into a group of beasts and attack them from behind. Lobbing a severed head of a human at an unsuspecting human enemy might scare them, making them drop a weapon or shield.

Agility:
ASP will give player added agility and speed when a one-handed weapon is selected.

Concealment:
The ASP will allow players to conceal a dagger or small weapon by their side to stealthy close encounters.  Posturing from the hip will make the character turn slightly to conceal the weapon. This might be handy for around-town encounters or when trying to trick an enemy. 


Incentives and rewards
Throughout the game, players will gain experience that will help steady one-handed striking. Players will choose a weapon class they want to develop first, making them more proficient in small, medium, or large weapons. Switching between weapon classes within battle will be key which will make the game play varied and ever-changing.

Players will adapt
The benefits of different postures will quickly become obvious to the player. Players will adapt their own style according to their favorite weapons.


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++