Alto’s Odyssey

Alto’s Odyssey is a nice mobile game available on both Android and iOS. It is the finalist of 2019 Independent Game Festival under excellence of visual art and excellence of audio.

The game is about an endless sandboarding adventure. The background is a beautiful and ever-changing natural landscape. The player has to jump to cross the obstacles and cliffs along the way. It is designed to be enjoyed by returning player and newcomers alike.

The next adventure awaits

Link to the game: http://www.altosodyssey.com

Lens 1: Essential Experience

The essential experience of Odyssey is to expand and build upon the feelings of being alone to an adventure in nature. Besides, it also encourages the player to step out of their comfort zone to explore the beyond of the world. This kind of experience is achieved by the fluid physics-based actions of the sandboarding, procedurally changed backgrounds, dynamic lighting and weather effects, and the beautiful background audio.

 

Lens 2 & 3: Suprise & Fun

Odyssey surprises player along the way with various natural phenomena and wildlife. The player has to jump. During the jump, the player can enjoy the fluid physics-based action in the air. Besides, the player can also control the body to land fluidly and successfully.

Lens 4: Curiosity

Odyssey offers the player with a small screen into a much bigger world, through the endless sandhill and procedurally changed backgrounds. The game tries and boils down the essence of immersion. It wants to offer a place where the player can escape.

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

Along the way, the player can collect coins for a higher point. The coins are placed creatively to encourage the players to jump and control the body accordingly. Sometimes it also leads players to a second way to do sandboarding rather than on the sandhill.

Mechanics:

The procedure of Odyssey is quite simple. As the player is on an endless sandboarding adventure, player just need to tap to jump over the obstacles or cliff and hold to control the body before landing. There will be several goals for player to accomplish at each level. The game is over when the player fail to jump over the obstacle or cliff. With the collected coins, the player can buy some special packages to help recover from the death or delay the timer and so on. The game is easy to learn but difficult to master.

Aesthetics:

Odyssey has built a beautiful polygon wild world. The world is expanding endlessly through a small window. Environments is changing accordingly. The background audio matches the action of player, which helps the player to be immersed inside the wild world and control the actions better. It has received critical acclaim as a “piece of interactive art”.

Story:

Odyssey is mainly about adventure. While the world is expanding procedurally through the small window, the player is encouraged to explore and continue this endless adventure.

Technology:

Odessey is designed in Unity 3D, and then taps into Metal 2 for iOS. The game is now available on both Android and iOS. Besides, the game is well achieved with a silky 60 frame-per-second. Metal 2 allows much more access to the GPU compared with OpenGL. During the game, the view never stutters or shakes.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Image result for witcher 3 screenshot

After completing The Witcher 3 I felt a deep loss. I truly became its protagonist Geralt of Rivia; and by the time a legendary career of slaying monsters had come to an end, it was as if a chapter of my own life had ended as well.

A Witcher is a genetically modified professional monster killer. The game follows Geralt on his various quests and contracts, and the friends (and many foes) encountered on the way.

Official gameplay:

Official website: https://thewitcher.com/en/witcher3

The Lens of Surprise:

Geralt is only compensated for contracts on specific monsters, however, other monsters are uninclined to leave you alone as you explore or transit through the open world. Some of your greatest bouts will start running into a dark swamp ill-prepared and low on health. Contracts themselves can often be much more complicated than initially presented. A degree of adaptability and creativity is needed to be successful in quests.

As per typical in role-playing games, characters accumulate new skills and hone existing ones with time. Geralt’s are physical and combat oriented at first, however more magical and mysterious as the game progresses.

The story is also filled with twists and turns. We begin the game looking for an ashen-haired girl who is later revealed to be Geralt’s long lost adopted daughter Ciri – an incredibly powerful young Witcher.

The Lens of Fun:

An obvious source of entertainment is the freedom of choice we posses within the game, furthermore – being able to see the consequences of said choices manifest in plot changes, Geralt’s relationships and available contracts.

Isolated situations are also uniquely thrilling. Awesome fight progressions and visceral combat options make for an intoxicating interactive experience. The exhilaration of facing danger and ordinarily impossible feats is achieved perfectly.

The Lens of Unification:

The world (The Continent) is fictitious, yet the setting greatly resembles a Dark-Age-like time period. Playing as Geralt in this environment is a cohesive and holistic experience. His clothing and weaponry are thematically accurate and even supporting and background characters have nuanced attires and dialects depending on where you are in The Continent. Whether it be on an island in Skellige or in a quaint tavern in Novigrad, your surroundings are detailed and consistent.

The lore in the world is also very detailed, this becomes apparent as you venture to farther lands and collect a wealth of information on the places, people and creatures you encounter. This attention to detail in both the visual non-visual realms of game design create a foundation for the exciting but, importantly, convincing narrative.

The Lens of the Player:

This game is more than entertainment. The enchanting element is its ability to make its players feel powerful and important. Many look to manufactured fantasies when reality is mundane or disappointing. The more believable the fantasy, the greater the escape.

In The Witcher 3, you are Geralt: a powerful and confident man, known the world over for your bravery, strength and success. You are held in high regard by your peers who reside with you in the great castle Kaer Morhen.

Fun is an ultimately superficial lens, achieved by the most trivial games. The degree of control you have over your life in The Witcher compared to (for argument’s sake) the lack of control you have over your own is an irresistible trade. In the game, a player can be seen and heard as they intend; Pursue travel and career risk and romantic relationships with very literally, just the press of a button.

The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad:

The Witcher 3 exemplifies the axioms of good game design. We are drawn into the game by hyper-realistic character and world aesthetics, a thematically complete universe of which we are the centre. A captivating and malleable story with seamless gameplay maintains our emotional investment in the game.

The game was created with the REDengine 3, CD Projekt Red’s game engine specifically designed for nonlinear open world role-playing video games. The engine runs on top of both 32 and 64-bit Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Image result for witcher 3 wallpaper

Deus Ex

The cover art of the game Deus Ex

Introduction

The original Deus Ex released in the year 2000 surprised the first-person shooter world by combining complex role-playing elements with the smooth combat afforded by Unreal Engine at the time. It, along with the Elder Scrolls series went on to define the role-playing first person genre and destroyed the notion that fantasy or science fiction games had to be straight or “on rails” like many games at the time. The game went on to spawn multiple sequels which were mostly successful.

Gameplay – The player engages some enemy soldiers. Note the UI elements. The element in the upper left represents player health, which compartmentalizes damage done the body, At the bottom is the quick inventory and ammo counter. On the right are various augmentations(skills) that can be activated.

Analysis of Game Elements Through Lenses

Story

Deus Ex is set in a dystopian future where science has allowed humans to modify physical aspects of themselves – through augmentations. The story follows JC Denton who is a member of an international peacekeeping force called UNATCO who is tasked to neutralise terrorists that are attempting to steal medicine meant to treat an ongoing plague that has infected thousands.

However, things are not as they seem. Throughout the story, the player can uncover the dark sinister truth not only behind the plague but also about who really controls the world. The story is easy to follow with the game’s AI characters ready to fill the player in on more details should they choose to ask the appropriate questions and an information vault mechanic that keeps track of various story elements the player has discovered. This is combined with the intricate, branching, emotion rich drama sequences filled with betrayal, deceit but also catharsis, camaraderie and a sense of accomplishment after completing each plot thread and seeing them coalesce into the games different endings. I’d say this fills the Lens of Expected Value and Meaningful Choice.

The setting, characters and conflict are completely believable elements to exist in the conflict of their time with most story threads leading to resolutions that satisfy the player.

Aesthethics

Deus Ex was visually unappealing for the time. The Elder Scrolls series among other games had better graphics, however the game made up for the lack in fidelity with other aspects.

Firstly, the environments were true to life and realistic. The game takes the player on an international trip with locations such as the poor districts of New York, the ostentatious streets of Hong Kong, the lavish estates of Paris. Each environment is huge for the time and no space is wasted. Each corner may have a different kind of secret or story bead to follow. A dark alley might reveal a vendor, fun challenge or lead to a sewer laboratory where a clandestine government agency is experimenting on homeless people for nefarious purposes. Lens 2: Surprise and Lens 4: Curiosity can be said to be satisfied here.

Secondly, the audio. All the dialog sequences in the game are voiced well and audio cues such as footsteps, gun sounds, doors opening etc, were the best at the time. Being a role-playing game this element is critical to develop the mood and emotions that a player might feel to the environment or develop a connection to the game’s many characters.

Thirdly, the UI. The UI might feel cluttered and janky today with it being fixed in resolution (thus the higher the res you run your game on the smaller it becomes) but for the time it felt appropriate that a super-augmented police agent would have a UI that presents everything at his disposal in little boxes at the edge of his screen. Perhaps it was the influence of science fiction of the time such as Robocop.

Lastly, the mechanics. The game allowed a player to progress in different ways not just in the story but in combat sequences as well. Different skills and augmentations allowed players to approach conflict and resolve them in unique ways, whether it be a stealthy takedown or avoidance of enemies, guns-blazing invincible super soldier-like romping, remote hacking of computer systems and robots that do your job for you or dialog. Yes, dialog is THE most important mechanic of this game. Often conflict can be resolved or made significantly easier if you walk around and talk. That bum on the street may just know of a secret passage into that heavily guarded enemy hideout…(Lens 6: Problem Solving)

Combined, these basic elements lend to a very engrossing and replayable game, with each playthrough teaching players new areas or tricks they may have missed out if they played differently. The only part of the tetrad missing is technology. It can be argued that the decision to base the game on Unreal was a good decision as it has been ported to almost any device that can run the Unreal engine such as consoles and mobile phones.

I hope other appreciate this game as I did back in my childhood.

 

PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) Game Reviews

Introduction

PUBG is an online multiplayer battle royale game. In this game, up to a hundred players will be placed into a resources randomly generated map which the players can choose the spot to scavenge. The players will need to scavenge for weapons and equipment including different types of gun, broadsword, grenades, medical kit and so on to kill others and/or heal themselves. Apart from the attack from players, the available safe area of the game’s map will decreases in size over time in order to force the players encounters. This game also has different play modes according to the attended team size including single, duo, squad whereas the last player or teams standing wins the round
Here is a link of a youtube video showing some moments in the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6h-p4mW5Ks

Experience

I used to play this game, especially last year vacation, I could spend a day on playing this game with my brother and friends but I have not played for several months. In general, I really enjoy this game since it has brought lots of funs for me.

Reasons I love this game

  • the fun of cooperating with my friends, being able to communicate and cooperate with my friends make us feel relax and pleasure
  • it is more about the experience than the results. good skill is not everything, although ‘have the chicken dinner’ will make us quite excited, we still get a lot of laughs from any kinds of stupid mistake we made
  • the vivid environment including settings, scene, sounds make us immerse in the nervous and irritative situation.

Reasons I quit this game

  • Break of fairness – increasing plugs make the game less attractive to me
  • not able to run at my laptop – my laptop configuration is not good enough to run this game smoothly, therefore each time I have to go to the internet bar which is really inconvenient and costly although being able to sit together with team member will enhance the coordination and enjoyment.
  • aesthetic fatigue – after a long time intensive period of playing this game, I fell somehow boring about this game which means I rarely get the feeling of excitement from the game any longer
  • The most important one – my friends quit this game, the meaning of this game for me is to play with my friend as a team, once my team has dissolved I also lose the interest of playing this game.

Lenses

Lens #43 – Cooperate

  • this game allows the player to compete as a group which needs the cooperation between friends.
  • the group could be formed randomly or specified by players.
  • the technology of remote voice communication built inside the game will allow the player to play with people from anywhere which is really convenient.

Lens #44 – Competition

  • as there is cooperation, there is also competition
  • within each match, there is competition among the player within this round
    • the setting of HP and safety area will force the player to encounter
    • outside the match, there is also ranking which is the competition among the whole players of the game
      • world Competition
      • ranking board with lots of data
  • there are people who are nor care about the ranking but there is also, and often, the majority of the players who really care about their ranking.

Lens #79 – Freedom

  • As a result of not having a story or background, a high degree of freedom is provided
  • there are no specific rules that require the player to finish a certain task or find a clue except one general goal – survive and win the game
  • actually, even the general goal is not compulsory, people may have different activities with different purpose. (for example, people may do not chase the champion but to having fun with friends )
  • this is one of the key reasons that I enjoy this game.

Lens #37 – Fairness

  • people can only spend money buying the outfit which will not affect the combat power
    • everyone is offered with the equal position of each match at the beginning
      the resources are generated randomly, the landing position is decided by the player
    • the safety area is generated after calculation but no one knows before it shows in the map
    • every player start the game without anything
  • people could report plugins and the game will punish the related accounts if it is real
  • Logically, it is really fair with the setting of offering an equal position however the problem in real life is the management of plugins is insufficient and the large amounts of plugins can ruin the game

Elemental Tetrad Summary

  • Story
    • no story setting like background or characters
    • focuses more on the interaction including competition and cooperation between players
  • Mechanism
    • common goal: kill the competitor and survive to the last to win the game
    • there are no specific rules instead it gives the player a great extent of freedom by
      • providing the various weapons, vehicles, equipment
      • the settings based on the real world, such as
        • people will lose HP if they jump from a high position, the points deducted increase with the height
        • people can swim in the sea/river but they need to take a breath
          the speed of moving will varies with the different vehicle used
  • Aesthetics
    • in general: realism rather than fantasy
    • mimic the real world to construct a lifelike environment so that the user can better immerse themselves in the game
      • different weathers have the corresponding effect
      • different maps, landforms
  • Technology
    • The 3D replay tools
      • allow players to zoom around the map after a match, tracking their own character, following enemies’ movements,
    • the voice communication tools

Dynamix

Video source: Full score (OMEGA) record for Dynamix Lv13 song

Player: Eugene Kua

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Shh6rAa_YQM

 

Introduction

Dynamix, the hardcore mobile music game is the first publishing game made by C4Cat. Dynamix introduces a new style of the music game. Its triple-dropping track design provides a more rhythmic and varying play style. Players can feel like composing the song during the game play. The first release version of Dynamix includes more than 20 Hong Kong original songs.

–Dynamix Wiki,

https://dynamixc4cat.fandom.com/wiki/Main_Page

Dynamix, a typical music game, like many other games of its kind, has been found especially “challenging” and “fun” for music game fans. This article will bring you to this “Dynamic” game Dynamix and show you why players are crazy about the game through game design lenses.

Screenshot of Dynamix—-of course, this is the only FULL SCORE I obtained–although only in level 1…

1 The Lens of Emotion & 94 The Lens of Atmosphere

As a music game, the designer wants its user to feel intense nervousness as well as excitement and looking at these video recordings from the players, who were holding their breath for 2 min until they got the full score, we know Dynamix has done it.

There is no doubt that for most of the music games, the rhythm and pace are important for creating this atmosphere with tension. The choice of songs in Dynamix facilitates its excitement. Although there are some moody slow songs, these songs are all presented in Electronic styles so that the periodical percussions and obvious artificial sound effect are attention-demanding thus exciting.

Most of the songs, like Rave-olution, use rapid speed to create an intense and exciting atmosphere. 

Even for slow songs with strings, they use multiple parts to emphasize the rhythms.

 31 The Lens of Actions

The basic actions in this game are quite simple, namely, click (for the blue strokes representing single short notes), sweep (for the red lines with an end dot representing arpeggios) and long press (for the yellow bars representing long notes).

Based on these simple actions, players can implement a few strategies for higher scores. For example, with two hands, it is simple for players to implement symmetric clicks on the two sides of the screens. Other strategies like the perfect time for the long press, the sweeping for red notes, etc..

Symmetrical notes are easier for double hand actions.

This game also balances the spread out of notes in the layout so that the fingers can stretch while playing. When players interact with the game controllers (usually bars or buttons that simulate the piano keys), they enjoy watching and feeling their fingers dancing on the keyboard (just as we programmers like a mechanical keyboard XD). Stretching out fingers provides a strong gameplay experience of beautiful actions.

34 The Lens of Skills & 38 The Lens of Challenges

Dynamix does a good job in balancing between the challenges and the skills. This is achieved by careful design of the level system. Apart from some minor setting of modes (bleed, narrow, accel, mirror and auto), the challenge is controlled by levels (from 1 to 15, and for each song, there are easy, normal and hard levels).

By providing all three difficulty levels for each song, the game has offered players an equal chance of enjoying the same song. And by exposing to the easy level of the songs, the player becomes comfortable with the tunes and notes, when they can take a challenge and advance to the next level.

One of the most unique designs for Dynamix, which differentiate this game with other musical games like Deemo and Osu! Is the interesting behaviour of the notes flow.

The two red arrows denote the moving direction of different tokens. The sudden change in note directions, apparently does not cater to the native flow in your brain. This brings huge challenges to players to concentrate and stay alert and observe their surroundings. On the other side, in order to encourage the players to improve their skills of observing without too much depression, the system has provided “Blinking” signals in the next coming directions a few seconds in advance.

This line will blink if there will be new notes coming down.

Balancing between the skills and challenges has made this game gain a lot of reputy from old music game players who are trying to seek for the hardest ad challenge their proficiency.

71 The Lens of Beauty

Lastly, Dynamix has also benefitted from its original, modern but yet cultural oriented artwork and music. The consistent design has made the game beautiful to play with or even treat as an artwork.

Modern and sci-fi pictures

Well designed Anime-style characters

The depiction of the old Hong Kong Street (as the producer C4CAT is based in Hong Kong)

 

 

 

 

MONSTER HUNTER WORLD

Monster Hunter World(MHW) is an action adventure game published by CAPCOM.  As the latest installment in the “monster hunter” series, it provides players with fantastic video graphics and smooth operation.  Player takes the role of a hunter and is tasked to defeat various kinds of powerful monsters with fourteen kinds of weapons.  Player is able to hunt either alone or in a team containing up to 4 players.

screenshot:

Link:http://www.monsterhunterworld.com/

Mechanics

The game includes over 5 maps with totally different styles.  Different monsters with various habits live in these areas.

Players are allowed to move in all directions in the environment.  Players are able to create their own characters customizing the exterior and voice.  There are fourteen kinds of weapons each of which has over fifteen development branches with multiple depths.  Players can use various skills according to the weapons they choose.  They should use these skills to cast damage on monsters and evade attack at the same time.  Based on the scale of the group(1-4people), the monster has corresponding HP to balance the difficulty.

Story

Since a long time ago, an event called Elder Crossing have confused people.  Five fleets have been sent out to explore and find why Elder Dragons migrate to the new continent.  The player takes the role of a senior hunter tasked to provide support to the exploration of the new continent.  In the new world, the player will fight to safeguard the outpost and keep the balance of ecosystems.

MHW is a brand-new trial of CAPCOM which brings energy to the prestigious series.  The story takes place in a new continent making it separate from previous plots.  The independence enables the author to add various contents to the story including cooperation with other games.  However, story itself is linear and is only a little part of the game.  It works like a guidance on the operation and ecosystems.

Aesthetics

The exquisite creatures and clothing hint that the game has a strong Japanese style.  Excellent work of voice actors and records producers greatly adds to the immersion and realism of the game.  All the elements in the environment are carefully designed.  Creatures all have vivid animation and their unique habits.  Weapons are finely curved that each of them is a work of art.  Latest graphic technology enables the game to realize designers’ work as much as possible, making it really shocked to play with.

Technology

To create vivid monsters, human actors were asked to act out some of the various monster actions. Then the company used motion capture to develop monster animation.

The game is published on all platforms(PC, PS4, XBOX).  With the help of newly-developed MT Framework engine, it provides a minimum of thirty frames per second which guarantees basic experience of all players.  For hard-core players, additional options are provided to bring them ultra graphic experience.

Lens 5 Fun

Players have access to different weapons freely and are able to co-ordinate their own equipment.  The learning process of a new weapon is a great fun.  Attempts to defeat powerful monsters with different weapons and suits in different ways are even more joyful.  The game just encourages you to find your own way of hunting.

Though there are many kinds of monsters, it is still far from enough.  The action modes of monsters are limited.  Skilled players are so familiar with them that they will soon feel bored.

Lens 34 Skill

For the fact that it is an ARPG game, it allows players to freely use all kinds of skills.  This kind of freedom allows players to explore their own ways of hunting but also makes it challenging to master a particular kind of weapon.  When a player is quite familiar with one weapon, he will soon find necessity of mastering usage of multiple weapons because it is easier to defeat some monsters using particular weapon.  Some skilled players pursue a quick-as-possible mission completion.  This kind of race against time requires incredibly high proficiency which can only be got from lots of practice.

Lens 44 Cooperation

Due to the time limit and death limit, players need to cooperate with each other to defeat the monsters.  The weapon a player chooses partly decides the role of him in a team.  All the players have to take advantages of their weapons including making great damage, healing others and pinning down the monsters.  It also calls for team work when it comes to items usage and environmental traps.

The inner social system is so weak that it is even impossible to reach a particular player.  The poor chatting system makes it hard for players to communicate with each other and leads to high mission failure rate.

Lens 84 The world

Everyone is eager to exploring in a fantastic dream world.  MHW provides a fanciful world with various dreamful living things to players.  Players are able to explore the world freely in all the three directions.  The world is carefully built and rich in details.  By now, the world contains over five areas with totally different styles and ecosystems.(There will be more areas in the future.)  Players can interactive with animals and encounters interesting random events across the world.

 

Legend of Sword and Fairy 6

Legend of Sword and Fairy 6 is the eighth work among Legend and Sword and Fairy Series, and is also the 20th anniversary of the Fairy Sword. It tells the story of a secret history discovered by characters’ adventure when they looking for something lost. It is a role-playing adventure game with fighting system and plot. Each character has its own feature and secret, that encourages players to explore more.

 

Lens #7: The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

MECHANICS

It uses dual system mode that players can choose either instance combat system mode or round combat system mode, and designs a variety of systems to increase the playability.

There are three different levels of difficulty in the game for players to choose: simple, normal, and difficult. It is impossible to choose the difficult level at the first time before all major missions are finished. At the same time, the game also provides the “difficulty down” function: players who feel excessive pressure in the game can downgrade the difficulty of the game, but once the difficulty is lowered, it will not be able to recover, and can not challenge the difficult difficulty of the BOSS.

STORY

 
The story is based on Chinese ancient legend. When the Shennong God was born, the world was accompanied by Jiuquan. Jiuquan’s various abilities are the source of the world. In the ancient time, there was a war among three races: Human, God and Orc, ended up with Beast losing. Chiyou introduced the orc into the devil world, and the three realms were separated. After the war, Shennong and Jiuquan disappeared. As time passed, the legend of Jiuquan was gradually forgotten. Two main characters, in order to find something lost, came to the ancient city of the Western Regions. The secret will be revealed again during this adventure.

AESTHETICS

The scenes are vast and the players can enjoy all kinds of customs in the game, such as the mysterious flying city, the border scenery of the exotic people and the sunset scene of the west wind, or the fantasy field of deep sea and the sky. In addition, the production team added a whether system that can change day and night to the scene. In the game, scenes and characters will change over time. When the character stays at a certain place, it will obviously feel the sun’s rise and fall, and the time will slowly pass. The clouds in the sky have passed and changed, and the whole world in the game has become more real. In addition to day and night changes, there are also more weather performances: rain, lightning, sand, leaves, mist and so on.

The dubbing team is professional and top-level. Players will hear the most popular star of the domestic dubbing.

TECHNOLOGY

Legend of Sword and Fairy 6 is published on the steam platform. It utilizes the stereoscopic 3D effects to heighten immersion in its world. It also interspersed with 2D animation and 3D CG.

  • CPU: Intel core2 Duo 3.0Ghz
  • RAM: 4G
  • Operating System: Windows XP / win7 32bits / win7 64bits / Win8 32bits / Win8 64bits (Chinese version)
  • Harware: 16G

Lens #1: Essential Experience

This game is beyond life, because the story and background in it as well as the skills of the characters, are not realistic, therefore normal people cannot experience. It provides players a different experience that allow players to immerse with the adventure, feeling themselves experience all those things. It is like a movie, or a book, in all is an new experience for players.

 

Lens #2: Surprise

This game has a variety of small games and mission events throughout the game world, such as new puzzles and institutions that require the skills unique to each protagonist to match the map. After help them and finish small task successfully, there will be unexpected surprises. As this in-game exploration is more free than the previous generations, players will find more hidden characters and events in the game, and may encounter various hidden “picking items”

Lens #4: Curiosity

In this game, there is a system called Spirit System, through which the player can choose different training directions for the character, so that it has more powerful ability and the character characteristics are more vivid. Each character has its own unique three souls. The growth attributes of the three souls are different. The value of each node is different. The player will be able to select different soul nodes to light up according to the prompts. There are some properties to be activated hidden in each soul. When enough nodes are activated, the hidden property nodes will be automatically opened, bringing more different training directions. Players will stay curious about what characteristics they finally make for the character.

Lens #6: Problem Solving

Each of the six protagonists has a unique “scene skill.” There are a lot of well-conceived organs in the game that players need to make good use of the six-player scene skills to pass. Yue JinZhao has used the “Flying Sword”, which can let him leap some obstacles or reach some places that can’t be reached. Yue Qi has the ability to “move things by mind” which can move the controllable items to anywhere you need. By analogy, other people’s scene skills are also so convenient and interesting. Players should try to use these skills to solve the problems. If Players cannot think of the solution to pass the current stage, they can try changing character.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is a online multiplayer battle royale game published and developed by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of Bluehole. The game was inspired by a Japanese film Battle Royale, and has sold over 50 million copies worldwide within a year of its release. With over 400 million players across 5 platforms, PUBG is one of the most played video games.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Steam Logo.jpg

Website: https://www.pubg.com/

Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7zR0oJTOqU

 

Lens 7: Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics:

The main objective of the game is to be the last surviving player/team in the game. Up to 100 players, 50 duos (teams of 2 players), or 25 squads (teams of 4 players), are battling each other in the game. Players can choose to actively seek out and eliminate enemy players, or simply hide and avoid being killed while other players are battling each other.

Players are able to pick up healing items to regenerate health during the game, and can operate vehicles, on both land and water, to move around the map. Random supplies will also drop from a passing plane in a crate, free for any player to claim. Random areas will also be bombed from time to time.

Image result for parachuting pubg

Story:

Players are parachuted onto an island to scavenge for weapons and supplies to survive the battle, with the objective to be the last remaining player/team. After certain timed stages, the playable area in the map shrinks, and any player outside the playable area will take damage incrementally. Players have to stay in the safe zone (playable area) to ensure survival.

Aesthetics:

The maps are vast, and players can enjoy exploring every area in the map (if time permits). Due to the different terrains in different maps (lush grasslands, barren dry deserts, snowy plains, urban landscapes), players have to adjust their game-play according to the environment they are playing in.

There are also weather changes in the map that can affect the game-play heavily. Night-vision goggles can also be picked up to enable players to see in the night. Aditionally, elements like fog and thunderstorms can mask the sight and hearing of players.

Technology:

PUBG is available to play on Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Android, iOS, and PlayStation 4. You might require a PC or mobile device with slightly higher end specifications for PUBG to enjoy the best graphics that the game can provide.

 

Lens 27: Skill

At first glance, one might think that the only skill needed in PUBG is aiming. However, the game enables players to make use of other different skill-sets to ensure survival.

For example, a familiarity of the map gives a player a huge advantage, as you will know where to find the most weapons and supplies, where to hide to gain the upper-hand on your enemies, and what path to take to best advance into the safe zone.

Additionally, the skill to dodge enemies shooting at you requires experience and practice. The time taken to recognize the direction from where your enemy is firing at you is crucial, and can decide whether you live or die. The skill to quickly decide where to aim/hide takes lots of practice to hone.

Sometimes, the skill to commandeer your vehicle effectively can also win you the fight, or even the game. Being able to drive at high speeds while avoiding buildings and trees, and running over enemies, can prove useful if you are lacking in the other skill areas.

Image result for pubg vehicle

 

Lens 32: Meaningful Choices

When the game starts, players can choose where in the map they want to start by aiming their character’s flight path towards the desired area. Players have to make the choice of whether they want to go to an area known to have an abundance of supplies, fighting off other players who choose to do the same, or to go to a more secluded and hence safer area of the map to start their game.

There are many different weapons in different weapon classes in the game. You can choose from snipers, assault rifles, machine guns, sub-machine guns, shotguns, and a crossbow. Each player can only hold 2 of these types of guns, with 1 handgun and 1 melee weapon. Knowing which weapon to hold at which stage of the game can increase your chances of surviving any enemy encounters.

Choosing your hiding spot in the game can also be crucial to surviving, especially in the final stages of the game, when the safe zone gets very small. Conquering the correct high ground can keep you safe, and give you an excellent vantage point to spot enemies and take them down.

 

Lens 37: Co-operation

Most players find that playing in a squad (team of 4 players) is the best way to experience the game. In a squad, cooperation is key, and knowing how to allocate the limited supplies among each player in the team will help your team go far in the game. Sharing weapons and healing items is essential to ensure survival.

It is also important to know how to engage enemies as a team. Watching each others’ backs, and communicating effectively the position of enemy players, will help your team to avoid and take out enemies easily.

PUBG has the feature to communicate with your teammates via the in-game microphone and speaker. Being able to constantly engage in active communication with your teammates adds a new element of fun to the game too.

Image result for pubg squad

 

Lens 66: Obstacle

The main obstacle in the game is every other player. At the start of the game, players are usually busy finding weapons and supplies. However, as the game progresses, the level of difficulty usually gets higher as you can expect surviving players to be better skilled at the game. The game-play gets more intense, as players are more careful as they traverse the terrain, looking to take out enemy players while avoiding death themselves.

The other obstacle is the safe zone. As the game progresses, the safe zone gets smaller. Staying outside the safe zone means losing health incrementally to the blue zone closing in, and if you do not rush to get into the safe zone, you might be eliminated. As the game enters its final stages, staying outside the safe zone deals more damage to the player, and players must avoid both enemy players and the blue zone creeping in.

 

Conclusion:

There are many aspects of the game that a player can try to master. Other than the skill elements of the game, players can also try out-of-the-box strategies to increase their chances of survival. You can even take out better-skilled enemies with the element of surprise on your side.

Even though the standard game-play does not change much over time, different new maps can change minute details of how one approaches the game, and keeping  the game fun and exciting for players.

Overcooked!

Link to Overcooked! Launch Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZK7veYPEJQ

Introduction

Overcooked! is a frantic couch co-op indie game from 2016, that challenges up to 4 players to work together, performing cooking tasks to prepare the meals and complete food orders. Players find themselves in the game’s campaign with 28 different kitchens and a final boss level. There is also a competitive multiplayer option where we can play against our friends.

Image result for overcooked!

Lens 7 – The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

Story

The campaign story Overcooked! has is simple and subtle. The chefs (players) are initially challenged to feeding a giant spaghetti and meatball monster during an apocalypse. However, the players failed to please the monster. The Onion King then decides to pull the cooks into a time portal back to the year 1993 to improve their cooking skills. The cooks have to go through the training process of cooking in many different kitchens with different environment circumstances and serving different types of food.

Mechanics

Players play the game as cooks and have to fulfill food orders in a given set of time. They accomplish this by carrying out a series of cooking tasks such as chopping vegetables, boiling pasta and washing dishes.
The goal is to earn as much money as possible before the time goes up.
The players are ranked on a 3-star system based on how many coins they got.

Aesthetics

Overcooked! adopted a 3D low poly cartoon style with colourful visuals. It also has a clean and intuitive user Interface and icon layovers. Overcooked aesthetics revolves around a kitchen and cooking activities. The sounds in Overcooked! also contributes to the appeal of the game. Hearing the chopping of food on a chopping board, the fire alarm ringing in the background when the kitchen is on fire makes the players feel like they’re in an actual kitchen. Both the visuals and the music contributes to its appeal towards a large audience base.

Technology

Overcooked! is made with Unity and was released on several platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. It supports controllers and keyboard controls. However, it only supports local multiplayer mode and not online multiplayer mode (online multiplayer mode was subsequently released on the sequel Overcooked! 2).

Lens 2 – The Lens of Surprise

In Overcooked!, there are many kitchen maps that we can play in, and each of them are unique in it’s own way. Each kitchen would usually have different food orders to complete too! The dishes includes soups, pizzas, sushi and many more! When I first played the game, each map that I get is a refreshing surprise to me. There are different obstacles in a kitchen and we have to come up with different strategies for each map. For example, the map may only allow one person to cross a path at a time, or a portion of the ground disappears during a different time intervals. The element of surprises that Overcooked! has to offer lies in each of the maps and the interesting ways us players could overcome it.

Image result for overcooked!

Lens 37 – The Lens of Cooperation

The essential experience in Overcooked! lies in cooking and communicating with your friends. As the map designs were created to emphasize the need to work together with your friends. This local co-op game will have you shouting out the orders, telling other cooks (your friends) what to do and informing them what they’re doing. The more the players progress in the game the harder the game gets without cooperating and communicating effectively with your friends in game and in real life. Besides the maps, the nature of the game where players have to conduct a series of steps before a food order can be sent out contributes to this lens. As this series of steps can be done by any of the cooks, having an order assembled by several cooks compared to a single cook would mean that orders would be sent out more efficiently.

For example, in the scenario given below, players have to cooperate and always make sure there is at least 1 chef at the left and the right side of the split map in order to complete orders efficiently.

Image result for overcooked!

Lens 6 – The Lens of Problem solving activity

Overcooked! manages to infuse problems very well in the environment. This leaves the players coming up with many different strategies to tackle the problem given to them. Some players are able to adapt well to the problems that they face immediately, however some would not. In addition, as Overcooked! ranks the players based on a 3-star system (and subsequently a 4-star system), this encourages and boost the players to perfect their problem solving strategies just to get that high rank. As the maps are fixed in each of the kitchens, players are able to analyze what went wrong in the previous game and do better in the next round.

Image result for overcooked!

Lens 55 – The Lens of Visible Progress

Overcooked! keeps track of your progress and is compiled visually onto a map. The players are able to see which maps they have completed and how well they completed it (based on star ratings). Players can also unlock different chef skins as they progress through the game.

Image result for overcooked! level map

 

Dark Souls 3

Description

It is hard to describe the feelings for playing Dark Souls 3. On the one hand, Dark Souls 3 is famous for its high difficulty so it is quite normal for a player to fail before the same enemy for tens of times. The aesthetic design and the music sound both try to create a suppressed atmosphere. On the other hand, a player can get great satisfaction by defeating dangerous enemys, or revealing the story of this world.

Dark Souls 3 is an ARPG (Action Role Playing Game), and it is the final part of the Trilogy of Souls. The story happened in a fictional universe being broken. The players act as an normal one in this end of the world situation, and the player’s move will lead the world to abyss … or another endless cycle. When talking about Dark Souls 3, the high and unchangeable difficulty is always the center topic. In this game, players have to use sword or magic to fight against malicious dangerous enemies, and a simple mistake will lead the character in the game to death. It is also for its great difficulty, a new term “Souls-like-games” is created to describe such hard-core games.

In this passage, we will discuss Dark Souls 3 in the following 5 lens, which helps Dark Souls 3 to take a stand in the world’s game history. The following points is listed with importance sequence(from high to low), yet in this passage, we will discuss this 5 points in a logical sequence:
* The lens of Needs
* The lens of Obstacle
* The lens of Story Machine
* The lens of Elemental Tetrad
* The lens of Competition vs Cooperation

Lens #7 The lens of Elemental Tetrad

Let us start from the Elemental Tetard so we can get a close view of this game. The story background of this game is set to be the end of a world. The world is at the edge of broken: deadly disease spreads among people, undeads walking on the street, and the one who was supposed to protect this world refused to fulfill his duty. In this story, the protagonist was a “unkindled ash”, which means he (or she) will not die, nor really alive: a curse just like Deadpool. The protagonist, once dead meaninglessly, was recalled from death to put the world back to the right path. The way to rescue the world is to take back the powerful “Cinders” by force, to fuel the source of this world: the Initial Fire, yet the “Cinders” are much more powerful then a “Unkindled Ash”.

The aesthetic design of the game try to bring a “ending world” to the players. The visual effects of this game can be described as “magnificent”: the valley under snow and aurora, Gothic high wall and castle, and the ashy church “Firelink Shrine”. The Gothic buildings in this world is suppressing and the sound effect is also sorrowful. Together, the surroundings in this game provides a experience of dark, loneness, fear and despair.

The player has full control of where to go or what to do. You can explore the world as you want: if you can survive from the monsters and the countless traps. You can fight with a melee weapon, or use magic to clear your way. The battle system is mainly based on the usage of shield and dodge, just like fights in middle age. You can go through the journey of taking back the “Cinders” and linking the “Fire”, but NPCs have little lines and there is no mission log or mission guide. The story of the world is hide behind these several lines and the information from the objects you collected from the world, and you have to dig into these clues to complete the puzzle of the story.

The technology this game uses is not advanced. From Software uses YEBIS2 engine to improve the expressive force, yet compared with other RPGs in 2016, the picture of this game can only reach the level of “barely scraped through the line”.

To sum up, this game is not advanced in technology, but by combing the aesthetic design and the “minimum guide principle”, this game successfully created an atmosphere of depression.

 Lens #73 The lens of Story Machine

The very beginning of an RPG is its story. Different form main stream RPGs, there is little background stories provided and no mission guide at all. The story of Dark Souls 3 is hidden under the NPCs’ lines, the description of objects, and the landscape of this falling world. A player must pay attention to all information he can get from the game so that he can figure out what had happened and what is going on in this world. Dark Souls 3 does not give players full freedom to write their own story, although there are different results in different missions and there are 4 different endings. Instead, what Dark Souls provides is the freedom to dig out and interpret this story. From the fragments of information, players can try to interpret the story in their own ways. “There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes.”, you can still see discussions about the story of Dark Souls 3 in many forums and be astonished by the way how others think of this story. In short, intentionally hiding information and the massive using of metaphors make player not only the audience, but also the re-creators of this story.

 

# Lens #74 The lens of Obstacle

As said above, Dark Souls is famous for its high difficulty. Dangerous enemies and traps are designed out of malice. At any corner there could be an undead holding weapon waiting for reckless players. What looks like a treasure box is in fact a treasure box mob. Besides, there is no difficulty tune in this game, no matter you are new to act-games or you are experienced, Dark Souls provide you with the same malice.

 

*Pic: Refund trigger: Gundyr. Many players was defeated by Gundyr, the first boss in this game tens of times, and then apply for refunding via STEAM.*

However, players can overcome this by accumulating their experience. From dying and dying again players can get to know the action method of the enemy, or get to know where could be traps. The level of a character does not mean everything, what really matters is the skill and experience of the player. For instance, top players can defeat all the bosses with the initial character in 2 hours. For players who struck at certain place for a long time, sometimes there are cheat ways to do it, such as terrain kill.

# Lens #45 The lens of Competition vs Cooperation

Dark Souls leaves the choice “competition or cooperation” to players. Players can get help from “Warrior of Sunlight” when they are fighting with enemies, or get invaded by other players. The game provides many different roles, and a player can switch to other roles easily. Roles include helping others against mobs, invade other’s world for reward, helping others to defend invasion, automatically call for help when being invaded. Players then choose their roles based on their play styles, (and also the reward they want).
Another special system is the “mark” system. Any player can leave a mark on the map. The contents of these marks could be information about a hidden path, or warnings such like “enemy behind the door”, or simple words like “Long may the sunshine”. Players can get rewarded if their mark is prised by other players, but they can also set up fake marks to lead other players to traps: it all depends on players.

# Lens #22 The lens of Needs; Conclusion

The last but the most important, and that is why Dark Souls can take a stand in game history, is that Dar Souls 3 fulfills one’s need of self-actualization.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is the highest level of one’s need. When a player managed to overcome a boss by failing and practicing once and once again, he will feel that he succeed in self-overcoming and releasing his potentials, which is a critical part in self-actualization.

When it come to an end of this passage, I would like to end the essay by the answer by Rian Zakaron under the Quora question: “Why is Dark Souls 3 so satisfying?”
  • You are an undead/unkindled, a being that is usually regarded as worthless and weak.
  •  No one you meet ever seems to have faith in you, and you die, over and over again. You continue to lose all of your souls, all the while you try to grasp onto the last bit of humanity in you that remains.
  • You cannot truly die, and when that last bit of hope escapes you, you will turn into a hollow; a mindless and aggressive creature that is doomed to walk the earth for all eternity.
  • Yet somehow… You persist.
  • Weak as you are, the curse made you unable to truly die, and your persistence made you the most fearsome foe in existence.
  • This is why Dark Souls is so satisfying.

This is what Dark Souls made of: suffering, satisfying, and finally self-actualizationing.

Copyright (c) 2019 Wang Huaqiang