May 13, 2013
The final game my friend and I played was Light Wars. This was a game highly influenced by Geometry Wars and it wasn’t afraid to show it. It was the same concept, an arena-based shooter where players fended of loads and loads of enemies. The major difference, and perhaps the only one, in comparison to Geometry Wars was the weapon used. When firing, an energy beam extended from the player and bounced around for a few seconds before disappearing. When I played, I used this like a windshield wiper, cleaning the stage of the enemies.
Everyone was pressed for time at this point as the designers were given the order to begin tearing down their stations. I was fortunate enough to have gotten to play Light Wars for a few more rounds. Like Geometry Wars, it was an addicting score attack game. I also didn’t get any contact information for the designer behind it and unfortunately, I didn’t even catch his name.
May 13, 2013
The next to last game my friend and I played was Cannon Golf. It was probably my favorite game of the show as I really dug the learning curve and the responsiveness of the balls. Attempting to make it to the hole in as few strokes as possible was the name of the game and this was made difficult by the various obstacles on each stage. However, at players’ disposal were three different types of balls; a normal one, one with inverse gravity, and a third that would stick to surfaces.
I remember discussing with Kevin Meier, one of the game’s designers, the efforts he went through to have the balls react realistically when hitting walls. From what I could tell, his work was a success. The only thing I noticed was that sometimes, when my ball looked like it was in the hole, the game wouldn’t recognize this and I’d have to take an additional stroke or two so that was always a bummer. Still, I dug the succinct stages and the puzzle-like nature of the game and it held my interest for the entirety of the demo.
May 12, 2013
Now try not to get confused here, but the next game my friend and I played was Shotgun Wizard. Previously we had played a game called Gun Mage so the fact that there were two games with drastically similar names was something of a comedy, like Dead Space and Killzone. Even the developers were joking around with each other. These were two dissimilar games however.
Controlling the eponymous shotgun wizard, players were confined to a side-scrolling room that was continually bombarded by skateboarders, babies on balloons, and bouncer-size men. The shotgun used had three types of magical ammunition that players could switch between on the fly. In fact, it was encouraged through the game’s scoring system. Getting kills by alternating ammunition increased the score multiplier. Not utilizing this tactic would result in lackluster scores.
Shotgun Wizard was a score attack game and my only gripe was with its controls. Movement was done with S and D or the arrow keys, looking was the result of moving the mouse left or right, jumping was W or the up arrow, ammunition switching was the E key, and shooting was done with a left mouse click. I never got the hang of moving left and right and also having to look left or right, so when it got hectic (and believe me, it did) I cratered quickly. Still, with enough practice, it was fun trying to outdo my best score.
May 11, 2013
Having actually completed Gun Mage, my friend and I moved onto Pet Duck, another game that I was able to see through to the end. Pet Duck was a lighthearted top-down action game which saw the player searching through maze-like stages in search of their pet duck. The player character was equipped with a gun but I found it inefficient – I wound up playing the game doing my best to evade enemy fire and I found enjoyment through that.
There were about five stages and humorously, when the player found the duck in all but the final stage, it turned out to be a decoy. The text explaining this had me grinning each time. The most impressive aspect of the game was the soundtrack. It was an epic summer-blockbuster sort of theme that totally didn’t match the game. But, it was just one more contextual thing that made the game humorous. Pet Duck wound up winning the game showcase so congrats are in order for End to Begin Games.
This past weekend saw The University of Tulsa hosting the Heartland Gaming Expo 2013. Per the website, the goal of the event was to showcase the creation and development of video games in the central region of the United States, primarily Oklahoma. There were a few different events and it was free and open to the public Saturday and Sunday. My friend and I went Sunday morning and hung out for a few hours, playing the games that were present and chatting with their designers.
It was pretty desolate when we went on Sunday morning as many of the participants were taking part in the eighteen hour hack-a-thon that began Saturday evening. From what we gathered from some of the designers, many others just didn’t show up Sunday – which isn’t surprising as there didn’t seem to be much publicity for the event. Besides my friend and I, there were only five or so other spectators. There were about fifteen designers present though and it seemed like everyone was enjoying each other’s company.
The first game I played was Project Land Mineded. It was a first-person shooter focusing on arena-based multiplayer. It was designed with the Unreal Development Kit and was undoubtedly the most technologically-proficient game present. The game was a fast-paced, twitchy sort of deathmatch game through and through but it had an interesting hook. The sole weapon was a rocket launcher and after firing a rocket, it ricocheted a time or two before losing momentum and becoming a stationary mine. Before too long, the arena was ridiculously littered with mines, meaning evading them was nigh-on impossible.
Project Land Mineded was designed by a Norman, OK high school student – Marty Rand. What’s perhaps most impressive about the game is that it was designed using nothing but free software such as GIMP and UDK. The game’s technological proweress made a little more sense when he elaborated that he’s been programming for a long time, specifically robotic programming. He said he’d like to continue on in the game design realm and I think he has a bright future. Project Land Mineded was a blast and I can imagine with a little tweaking, it could be a commercially available product.
July 29, 2012
Exerting a lot of effort into doing something and having that project pay off is so rewarding. I finished up my business ethics course last week and over the duration of eight weeks, I did a lot of research and writing and came away with a greater awareness of the foundations of ethical philosophies and they can be applied to the business world. I’m sad to say that it was the final course my professor would be teaching at my school. She motivated me to give more than what was required this semester and in general, I enjoyed her personality.
With that course done, I have a few weeks of downtime before the fall semester begins. With the Leonard 2012 Video Game Olympics underway, I have plenty to do with that extra time. My friend and I played through about a dozen more NES games since last week and the competition has remained super close; I believe he leads by two wins.
Outside of those two activities, last week for me was comprised mainly of work. I’m in a new position, helping out in the accounting department of the grocery store I work for and I’ve been training to take it over next week when the current accountant is going on vacation. I oversee a lot – dealing with a little bit of everything for six stores – and it’s a lot to do, but I’ll manage.
I did enjoy my Saturday though having attended the drag races with my dad. That’s been his lifelong hobby and growing up around drag cars and car culture has been so cool. It’s been years since I’ve been to a drag strip but the sounds and smells are something you’ll never forget.
July 11, 2012
To coincide with the London 2012 Olympics and to give my friend and I a proper reason to play through massive amounts of video games, all the while competing, I devised the Leonard 2012 Video Game Olympics. We’ll attempt to play through every video game in our combined collections, as long as there’s a fairly easy way of competing. Competitive multiplayer games are a no-brainer, as are video games including scores. I’m including every video game in the results, even though we may not play them. It’ll be a convenient way of cataloging my collection.
The first round revolved around the Atari 2600. One of the pioneers of the video game industry, it brought video games into homes in a big, big way. I have 21 games for the system and perhaps because of their simplicity, they were either good or bad. I’ll probably discuss them in further detail soon, but standouts were Asteroids, Combat, Dragster, Galaxian, Vanguard, Video Pinball, and Yars’ Revenge.
Of the 21 games for the Atari 2600, 15 of them were applicable to the event. I lead the medal count with 8 compared to my friend’s 7, while he leads the high score count with 8 compared to my 7. Essentially, the first round was a wash. up next is the Intellivision, if I can figure out a way to get it working.
If anyone has any ideas for games to include or possible prizes, lemme know. This event will take a very long time, but it’ll be a fun way to experience the evolution of the industry, game design, and advances in technology and thinking. Plus, it’ll just be fun.