F-Zero GX analysis: Multiplayer game mechanics

f-zero mute city

F-zero GX was one of my personal favorites during the Gamecube generation. Its sense of speed, focus on skill and ability to (almost) always create thrilling races made me and my brother play it for years on end. It perhaps isn’t strange it was a major inspiration for the Wheelchair Racer project during my second year at university.

This article is a translation of an analysis written during my third year at university. As part of a “game theory and play mechanics” course, the analysis mostly covered the mechanics of the game. Also, it was written in Swedish. As such, I couldn’t use it as-was on this blog.

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On Making a Tutorial

tutorial-dash-evade source Five years ago, I wrote a post here basically complaining about game tutorials. Having spent the last year on Cloudbuilt alone, and spending the slight dev time I had on its tutorial level (I had a handful of other things to do), I believe it’s time to explain myself to my 5-year-younger self.

In other words, consider this a “making of a tutorial level”.

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Life-note: Going to GDC, looking for meetings

In addition to my intended post this week, I wanted to throw in an important note.

And if you actually got that, we should totally meet. I have no idea what the Tank or Healer is, but I am probably both those guys?

LFM DPS to GDC! Got key!

I will be going to San Fransisco (which, as a note, is literally half a world away) to talk about, show and play Cloudbuilt. So, let’s babble a bit to justify this as a “Life Note”. It’s the first time to the Americas, I’ve been looking forward to going to GDC for years now and… yeah. It’ll be great.

But I don’t run a blog to talk about my life (I’ll save that for my retirement, if the world cares… hah, who am I kidding, this is the Internet!), and I don’t post this just to express happiness. I want to reach out for finding meetings. I would love chatting with press, of course: Being a small indie studio, making news is our best option. We make news only by having a cool game. And do we have a cool game! Which of course is super-subjective, and I of anybody have some kind of self-interest to claim so; but, honestly, having played the game for months I still find it fun to try new challenges and revised levels. But, hey, don’t take my word for it (especially in these days of preview controversy); let’s meet up and have you play!

We’re working on a new trailer, which is likely to be a lot better than that half-a-year-old-from-Alpha thing you’ve seen so far. We’ve also made – and let me finish this sentence – collage level using bits and pieces of actual levels without spoiling the fun of those actual levels. So… game! Play! Yay!

On Pre-orders

Rawr!
In the wake of the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines, the debate about previews re-surfaced. Total Halibut made a 20-minite case for why previews are anti-consumer and generally hurts the industry. Jim Sterling of the Jimquisition made a very verbal case, as well, calling profilic developers “liars”. A colleague linked the latter, whereon I decided to write a post about it. Not having thought as much about this topic in advance as I did for last week’s Violence in Video Games, I had to do some research. And I found this is kind of a thorny topic, but one well worth investigating.

After these two videos, surely we can claim lock-in previewing a bad game on false premises is a problem. Let’s begin by finding the source of  and, rather than focus on what the gaming press or consumers can do to solve it, which Halibut and Jim seems to have done so well, let’s focus on what the games business can do itself.

Disclaimer: All opinions in this article are my own, and not necessarily those of Coilworks as a whole. I may have a voice, but I’m just one voice. I will not dictate what we think, but will hold open discussions with the the team as a whole.

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On Violence in Video Games

Last year, a debate took place regarding the level of Violence in Video Games. In May, The E3 press briefings in general got Nathan Grayson on RPS to react, and The last of Us in particular managed to get Kris Graft on Gamasutra to react with  “If you were an average Joe who strolled into one of these E3 press conferences, and saw hundreds of people hoot and holler when a guy’s face gets blown off in high-resolution detail, you might think you walked into an ancient Roman coliseum.” Towards the end of the year (or, rather, this January) Leigh Alexander, also on Gamasutra, wrote a more nuanced article about when it might actually be good sometimes.

So you could think all has been said, especially since these people are a lot better with words than I am. However, violence in video games has been a topic I’ve been thinking about for years, and I wouldn’t like the debate just pass by without speaking my mind.

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Revision to the blog

This is kind of embarrassing.

I started this blog back in… 2007, I think, in an attempt to post once every week and show the world how much I knew in time to have been running for a bit when I would need to find a job.

It didn’t really turn out that way.

The last post is from early 2011 – in other words, I haven’t written anything for a whole year! So I’m not even near one post per week. However, I have no wish to try – I’ve been doing a lot of useful things since then. I made myself a job, as CEO (and producer and designer) at the start-up Coilworks. For a 2011 summary, you could just as well read the Coilworks 2011 retrospective. There are some episodes I’m not adding there, which I may or may not wish to write about in the future.

However, leaving this blog behind wouldn’t be that smart of me. Now I’ve got several brands to build (my own, my company’s and the company’s game’s), so that mean I should use this more rather than less. It also mean I should have what I use cause some effect.

For starters, I’ve recently made my facebook feed public for followers. I usually post links to all manner of things that interests me (games, tech, science, politics, thinkers), and although some private stuff can go through, I’ll try to minimize it. My twitter and youtube activity can also be seen through that feed.

This also means I my regular days could be interesting to people. What does a CEO/producer/designer of a small but ambitious start-up do for a day? My 2007 self would probably love to know, so I’m thinking of doing something by-weekly about it. That way, we can focus on the more exiting things and ignore the dull (shuffling papers and such).

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep writing reflections, but those will take more time (something that’s been kind of scarce, and sure will be). I’d like to write a documentary about playing Mass Effect from the first scene of the trilogy to the last in “one life allowed”-mode and without the “easy-way-out”-choices (“charm” and “intimidate”). I’d like to write an analysis of dialogue system design and their implications by comparing several modern conversation-RPG:s. I’d like to write a lot more, all stored in a digital post-it on my desktop, so I hope I’ll get time for it.

To round up, let’s just say that the maxim “the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know” applies – My 2007 self might’ve thought he knew a lot, but my 2012 self know there’s still loads to still learn (although that 2007-self had a few nice views).

// Johannes (of 2012)