Dungeon Fighter Online

Introduction/Description

Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO) is a multiplayer PC beat ‘em up game developed and publish by Neople, a South Korean subsidiary of Nexon. Gameplay consists of players traversing through dungeons, which are made of rooms containing monsters, clearing rooms of monster before finally defeating the boss of said dungeon.

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Mechanics

  • Players are able to move their characters in similar fashion to classic 2D side-scrolling arcade beat ‘em up games. They can move left, right, up, down as well as jump.
  • Players have a health and mana bar to the left and right respectively. Health is lost when the player is hit by enemy attacks and will not be able to control their character when it hits 0 (dead). Mana is consumed by the player to use skills; the player will not be able to use a skill if they do not have enough mana.
  • Skills are special attacks which the players can use to help them defeat enemies. They can be used either by assigning them to a hotkey bar, which allows players to use that skill by pressing the assigned button, or by entering the skill’s command manually.
  • Players can choose to play as any of the 12-base characters, each with its own classes and set of skills to help clear dungeons.
  • Players can also equip their characters with equipment such as weapons and armour to strengthen their characters and allow them to progress through dungeons.

Story

  • Each of the characters have their own origin story of their past and motivations.
  • The story is told through text and cutscenes, with the player progressing through a set of ‘scenario dungeons’ to progress through the story. The story is linear, although there are a few choices to be made by the player in the story, they do not cause any major branching or changes in the story.

Aesthetics

  • Being like classic beat em’ up games, DFO uses 2D sprites for the characters giving a similar feel to older games in this genre.
  • Faster paced music is used for the game as players are mainly fighting enemies in dungeons, giving players adrenaline.

Technology

  • Fast and stable networking which allows players to play with others through the internet.

Lenses

Lens 2/5 – Surprise & Endogenous Value

  • The highest grade of equipment is obtained through specific dungeons or ‘hell mode’ dungeons. However, the player will not obtain an equipment every time, instead there is a chance for the equipment to appear. The equipment that appears is also random and may also not be usable for the character being played. Overall, this gives an element of surprise for the play. *Although the surprise does provide some enjoyment for players in character progression, the rate of equipment appearing is very low and the randomness of obtaining them can sometimes leave players feeling frustrated as they are unable to progress because of luck which is not in their control.
  • The equipment that appears in these dungeons offer the most benefit for the player, providing the best bonuses for their character. This give the equipment endogenous value for the player being the best equipment that they can obtain to strengthen their characters with.

Lens 32 – Meaningful choices

  • Classes in the game are mainly classified under 3 types: Damage dealer, Support and Synergy. Damage dealer classes focus on dealing damage to the enemy but do not have any supporting skills such as providing bonuses to the party of players. Support classes provide various benefits to the party such as healing, bonuses to the party’s attack or demerits for the enemy. However, they do not deal much damage. Synergy classes provide bonuses for the party but not as much as the support class and can deal damage but not as much as the Damage dealer class.
  • The choice of class given to the player is meaningful as they can choose how they want to play, and it affects their gameplay experience. If a player prefers to be the one to damage the enemies, they can choose a damage dealer class. If they prefer to keep the party alive through healing, they can choose a support class.

Lens 37 – Cooperation

  • Being an online multiplayer game, players can communicate with each other, group up and go through dungeons together. With the different classes available, players can have class combinations or skills that may synergize with each other, making the group of players stronger than if they were on their own.
  • The game has sets of dungeons which together form a ‘raid’ that requires players to work together in order to clear. This encourages cooperation between players as they work together towards a common goal.

Sample game play:

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Game:

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Description of game:

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (ACO) is a single-player action-adventure roleplaying video game developed by Ubisoft Quebec. The game is set in during the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens in 431 BCE. Players get to play either a male or female mercenary seeking to reunite their family and along the way get embroiled in a cultist plot that would shake the entire Grecian world.

Lens #9: Elemental Tetrad

Aesthetics:

ACO faithfully replicates the architecture, environment, weapons and clothing of the era while reinventing some designs to appeal to the ‘supernatural’ aspect of the story. The natural environment of the game is expansive and immersive, with the flora and fauna varying depending on the location. For example, farther south of the map, the environment is more desert-like and the architecture likewise looks more worn down compared to the islands farther up north. Extensive research over architecture and clothing was carried out in order to make a convincing and detailed classical Greece. The characters themselves are all highly detailed and realistically modelled to the point where even the color of their veins are distinct.

Story:

The main story follows a Spartan mercenary that was thrown off a mountain as a child and forcibly separated from their family because of a conspiracy. The child escapes to an island and grows up under the care of a local swindler. The child grows up to become a mercenary and is tasked to assassinate their father. Along the way they uncover an entire plot to control the entirety of Greece and the same plot that separated their family in the first place. As the mercenary embarks to reunite their family they take on the extra responsibilty to take down the group behind the conspiracy. The stakes become higher as they find out how influential this group is.

Mechanics:

The game contains role-play elements such as dialogue options which affect certain endings and interactions. However, most options only give the illusion of choice. Other role-play elements include skill trees, character customization, combat system and the new ‘War System’. The War System allows players to fight on behalf either Sparta or Athens, alongside soldiers on the battlefield and help the states secure territory. The bounty system from the previous game is carried over to this game. Players have the option of taking on bounty contracts and if they gain enough notoriety, through criminal activities, they will be pursued by bounty hunters. Naval combat is also carried over from the previous game.

Technology:

ACO was made with AnvilNext 2.0 for the Xbox, PC, PS4 and the Switch. The same engine was used since 2014 on their eighth game (Assassin’s Creed Unity) and thus graphics and performance remained somewhat the same.

Lens #72: Lens of Projection

The game provides players with opportunities to induce their projections onto the game. ACO acts as a historical playground for players that are interested in classical Greece and captures the players’ imagination with it’s detail, accuracy (to an extent) and promise of interesting characters. Players would get to interact and work alongside famous figures such as Leonidas, Hippocrates, Pythagoras and Socrates. Players get to meet and brawl with mythical legends such as Medusa, the Cyclops and the Minotaur.

Image result for medusa assassins creed odyssey

Lens #42: Heads and Hands

The entire game caters to a wide scope of players; those that are not experienced with games to those that want a challenge. Right from the beginning, players get to chose the type of experience they want, one that reduces the amount of combat and grinding to focus on the story and one that provides a more balanced gameplay. Furthermore, if combat is too easy or difficult, players can increase or decrease the difficulty as they see fit. Furthermore there are multiple playstyles for players to pick if they are not as dextrous with their fingers or not. No penalty is imposed on players for whatever they pick.

Sections of the game require players to decipher riddles, letters and messages and use them to find their targets or continue the quest. Those that find it difficult to decode or aren’t interested in that aspect, can easily chose to skip that section of the game.

There are attempts made by the game to add more puzzle solving to balance out the large amount of combat in the game. There are maze-like tombs for players to explore and uncover treasure. However, due to their ease, are very boring and repetitive.

Lens #68: Moments

There are key moments in the game set to evoke strong emotions or come up with big revelations. Major character deaths and character introductions are spaced apart but remain relevant through storytelling to create impactful moments. Key moments have obviously gone through more processing aesthetically to make them powerful. For example, during one character introduction scene, dramatic music plays in the background as the player and the newly introduced character fight in tandem like in an action movie. Such a scene marks the relevance and importance of the character to the player and makes a large impression on them.

Lens #55: Visible Progress

Progress is measured by the how much the player has completed the various questlines. Each quest has a recommended level for the player to aim for before continuing. The quests in the Odyssey category are related to the main story and the status/progress of the main story is indicated by the icons under ‘Your Odyssey’.Image result for ac odyssey quest screen

Klei: Don’t Starve Together

After the success of Don’t Starve, Klei Entertainment developed a multiplayer version of the game, Don’t Starve Together, officially released in 2016. The resource gathering survival-based game features players placed in a cartoon-drawn wilderness world where players aim to do the very thing the title says: Don’t starve.

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Don’t Starve Together on Steam

Story: Unlike the original game, Don’t Starve Together does not explicitly feature a novel on it’s own, but for the most part, it can safely be assumed to have a similar plot to the base game. A magical nightmare throne capable of trapping people indefinitely in a dimension known as The Constant subjects the characters to a constant fight for their life, forcing them to die again and again but never truly killing them.

Mechanics: Players start out with virtually nothing and aim to survive against overwhelming odds in a world where health, sanity and hunger need to be managed on top of the race for resources, harsh climates and dangerous monsters. By gathering resources to construct tools, players can progressively become better equipped for survival and face new challenges.

Aesthetics: The Don’t Starve series is unique with its cartoon-style 2D graphics in a 3D world. While it does not feature sleek 3D models with shiny surfaces that modern AAA-titles tend to have, Don’t Starve (Together) is able to compensate with their cute animations and great design.

Technology: Don’t Starve Together starts players off with primitive tools such as axes and spears, but through progression, players are able to unlock access to magical tools and weapons such as the Ice Staff/Weather Pain.

Lens of Punishment (#41): Don’t Starve Together can be seen in a way as hardcore Minecraft, as deaths are much more punishing and monsters are capable of inflicting greater levels of damage, not just on the player, but their base (E.g Beargar) and hence progression as well. When a player takes too much damage in Don’t Starve Together, they are now forced to play safely or commit time to regaining health, or risk dying and being put out of the game for a significant amount of time, along with becoming a burden to fellow teammates, who now have to revive the fallen player.

Lens of Visible Progress (#49): Progression is highly visible in the game, determined by the state of the player’s camp and the gear that they have equipped. As players gather resources and unlock new technology in the game, they are granted the satisfaction of upgrading their tools and ability to survive with greater ease as well as combat stronger foes.

Lens of Freedom (#71): Don’t Starve Together’s sole objective is to survive, by any means necessary. The game was designed as an open-world game, where players are given the choice to pursue personal goals for further progression. One could choose to explore the whole map for the best location to settle down, or quickly get a base up and running so as to proceed with other challenges.

Lens of Feedback (#57): While Don’t Starve Together is largely unforgiving, there is a fair amount of feedback in the game itself that aims to help the player. For example, the player character issues warnings when there is an imminent Hound attack. The crafting menu highlights in green what items the player can craft with the materials they currently have. Examine options also assist the player when they discover a new structure or item. It is clear that while Don’t Starve Together is built for endless replayability and skill in survival, it provides adequate feedback to the player for learning the game without having to refer to external sources.

Lens of Time (#39): One of the toughest challenges in Don’t Starve is managing time in the game. As it is heavily based on resource collection, players are encouraged to prioritise and choose to pursue goals that they deem most important at that point in time. Every in-game day feels like a rush to achieve objectives, but at the same time, the presence of seasons provides some leeway for players to manage their long-term plans. Spring/Autumn are deemed as friendly seasons with plentiful harvest while Summer/Winter are harsh seasons, having temperature as an additional hazard. Don’t Starve Together is beautifully balanced with its periods of worry and relaxation despite it’s unforgiving nature.

Lens of Skill (#27): In order to do well in Don’t Starve, one has to master the core mechanics of the game. Learning how to manage one’s inventory, kiting to avoid taking too much damage as well as efficiency in time management can heavily influence the success of the player throughout the game. In Don’t Starve, players are meant to learn by playing, dying and repeat.

Lens of Competition vs Cooperation (#38): All the previous lenses apply to Don’t Starve Together as they do to the original base game, but here is one that is special to the former. With more mouths to feed and more hands to work with, Don’t Starve Together had to be designed and rebalanced for teamwork, to accommodate multiple players working together to survive while maintaining the challenge that is core to the game. One of the more significant changes is the modification to monster health, with most mobs having their health doubled and in some cases tripled as compared to the original game. Nonetheless, the multiplayer experience grants the opportunity for experienced players to guide newer players through the ruthless environment that is The Constant while allowing all to have fun.

Although the title implies a focus on cooperation, Klei has incorporated the choice for a competitive environment in the form of Player-vs-Player mode. This brings the original game of Don’t Starve to another level, as players are now issued a whole new challenge, with actual competition for resources and threats that no longer attack in patterns like the computer-controlled monsters that players are used to.

Conclusion: All in all, Klei’s willingness to listen to popular demand has resulted in the release of Don’t Starve Together, an amazing game built off an already brilliant one that highlights the great design decisions associated with modifications for multiplayer.

Dota Auto Chess

Introduction

Dota 2 is a well-known Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game developed and published by Valve Corporation. Dota Auto Chess is a Dota 2 custom game mode designed by China-based Drodo Studio, which published on Jan 4, 2019. By Jan 13, it broke 100k concurrent users and over 672k subscribed users.

Gameplay revolves around drafting “pieces” from a pool of heroes against other players and pitting them against one another in a round robin format. There are 30-second rounds in between each “skirmish” that takes place in the game which determines a winner between each player or creep. Players then rack up gold after each round which then can be used to purchase more pieces, upgrade their “chess level” or just let accumulate. Chess level in the game determines how many pieces you can have on the board as well as potential to obtain even stronger pieces. Whoever wins the most rounds and has the most lives after all the skirmishes, wins the game.

 

Website: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1613886175

Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0qSNbONW9o

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Story: 

Life stories and abilities of different heroes are provided in Dota 2. All parameter settings in Auto Chess are based on those background information known by Dota players, which will greatly help Dota players to begin with. However, new players who are not familiar with Dota world line can still master this game very quickly. All players need to remember is that heroes are your chess pieces and they will battle automatically on the chessboard.

Aesthetic:

The map is designed to be simple and clear in order to keep users’ concentration and engagement. All hero pieces are characters in Dota 2,  so it inherits most of the aesthetic design of Dota 2 directly: a set of principles that help keep each hero immediately and uniquely identifiable from above during gameplay. More information can be found here:

https://support.steampowered.com/kb/9334-YDXV-8590/dota-2-workshop-character-art-guide

Mechanics:

The objective of this game is to be the last remaining player of eight. Each round, players will purchase pieces to place on the chessboard and will fight against creeps that generate on the battlefield. As player’s units die, they deduct player’s HP until this player is knocked out. Most importantly, Dota Auto Chess offers a ton of depth (race, class, check and balance, even luck) and strategy wildly differing from the mainline Dota 2 gameplay.

Technology: 

Since Auto Chess has to be launched in Dota 2, its technology requirements are the same as Dota 2:

  • A Radeon HD 2600 Pro graphics card with a Core 2 Duo E7400 2.80GHz or Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5600+ processor to reach the recommended specs,
  • Achieving high graphics setting on 1080p.
  • RAM requirements are at least a 4 GB memory.
  • Minimum RAM requirements are 2 GB system memory.
  • A GPU capable of running DirectX 9.

Lenses and Comments

Lens #4: Surprise

Very few chess pieces are very powerful, usually come along with ability of area of effect (AOE) or Crowd Control. Besides, heroes can be upgraded by combine 3 identical pieces. Level up their star rating and in turn, make them more powerful. If a player gets these powerful pieces fortunately, the probability of win will increase a lot.

Upgrade heroes to make them stronger

Lens #39: Meaningful Choices

A player can retain at most 10 heroes on the chessboard. Heroes who have the same species or classes will gain strong combos. Thus, how to combine existing pieces into combos and how to restrain lineups of others will play an important role to this game.

Auto Chess Species/Class combo

Lens #46: Reward & Lens #53: Balance

Gold is the only resource in this game, it can be used to buy heroes, refresh current draw, upgrade “chess level” to place more heroes, and simply accumulate to earn 10% of interest at the beginning of each round. Players will get bonus golds if they achieve a winning streak, and get compensated for losing streak with bonus golds as well. This mechanism will guarantee the balance between players.

Interestingly, some players found that it is much easier to keep losing instead of keep winning to get bonus golds. So they choose to lose several games on purpose at the beginning, then save money until they have enough economic advantages to buy strong chess pieces all at once. The strategy of “turn the table” is one of the reasons that attracts so many people.

Lens #79: Freedom

Players can choose any hero type and place it onto chessboard, and adjust the lineup on 8×8 chessboard as he likes. Freedom guarantees creativity. There are still many players all over the world thinking of new strategies and new combo combinations among different species and classes. As more and more versions are updated, new heroes and new combos will show up, which guarantees that the possibilities of battle arrays will never come to an end, and there could never be a “best strategy” for this game.

 

Subnautica

 

The crash-landed Aurora

Introduction

Subnautica by Unknown Worlds Entertainment is a first-person, open-world survival-adventure game whereby most of its gameplay takes place in the ocean of an alien planet. The player is encouraged to explore and interact with the entities and objects found in multiple underwater biomes in order to secure the means of survival and learn more about the unknown waters he/she is surrounded by. Click here for gameplay trailer (warning: video starts with rather loud explosion).

Lens #7 – Elemental Tetrad

Cyclops, submarine for deep-sea exploration

Story

It is currently the late 22nd century and humans have begun extensive space exploration to colonize alien planets. The “Aurora”, a spacecraft constructed by the trans-gov Alterra was shot down while passing near Planet 4546B on a mission and crash-landed onto the planet’s watery surface. The player takes on the role of Ryley Robinson, a survivor of the crash, as he explores his surroundings and searches for possible survivors and a way to escape the planet. He uncovers the history of the sentient inhabitants of the planet, both alien and human, which gives clues to why the “Aurora” was shot down and how to prevent the same thing from happening if he wishes to leave Planet 4546B.

Mechanics

The player’s survival depends on 4 main gauges: Health, Food, Water, Oxygen. The Food and Water gauges deplete over time and can be restored by consuming certain items. Health may be lost due to attacks by hostile entities and can be restored by using First Aid Kits. The capacity of the Oxygen gauge can be increased by equipping gear. Oxygen decreases gradually while the player is submerged and is replenished by resurfacing or by boarding a vehicle or functional habitat. Complete depletion of any of these gauges eventually leads to the death of the player, upon which the player will drop all items from a non-secured inventory and respawn at the last known safe-house.

Generally, the player has 360° freedom of movement underwater, allowing for extensive exploration to be carried out. Materials can be gathered, by picking them up or by hunting creatures inhabiting the ocean, which can be used in crafting equipment, vehicles and items to widen the range of actions the player can do. The player is may choose to develop a seabase which can provide perks in the way of upgrades, resource finding, ensuring survival or just purely for aesthetics.

A Reefback’s size compared to a Seamoth vehicle

Aesthetics

Subnautica’s graphics is excellent in the way that the design of the creatures themselves let the player intuitively infer if it is a predator or not, and that the fauna’s size ranges from small critters to humongous leviathans. As the player progresses deeper into the unknown, creatures start to look more foreboding and dangerous, much like how most people would perceive such creatures of the deep, amplifying the instinctual trepidation people have of the unknown. Paired with the sounds and cries made by these entities, an immersive experience is created which evokes emotion of awe, mystery, tension and fear in the player. The use of lighting is kept to a good balance and the depths of caverns out of reach of sunlight is sufficiently lit which allows the player to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere while not being frustrated at being unable to see.

Technology

Subnautica is developed in Unity and is available to play on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It may require a PC with slightly higher end specifications for optimal gameplay with best graphics.

Lens #3 – Fun

The player has a survival PDA which contains an AI that talks to the player when certain events occur. While it does sometimes give a dialogue or hint which is essential for survival, it can also give somewhat witty and humorous responses. One such line quoted from Subnautica when the player successfully leaves Planet 4546B, “Welcome home to Alterra. Permission to land will be granted once you have settled your outstanding balance of: 1,000,000,000,000 credits.” These small snippets of humor coming in now and then, sometimes at unexpected and inappropriate moments, keep the player entertained and breaks the monotone of seriousness at much needed times.

Lens #25 – Goals

The ultimate goal of Subnautica is for the player to escape from Planet 4546B. The player is constantly reminded of this goal both visually and audibly. The burning wreck of the “Aurora” visible on the horizon and the audio log files discovered serve as anchors to keep the player conscious of the desire to leave the planet. Even without following the story mission prompts, the player will inevitably come across key pieces of information and hints which aid them in their escape from the planet while exploring. Every milestone reached towards the final goal is rewarding on its own as it unlocks more avenues of exploration and surprises for the player. Knowing what happened in every part of the story from start to completion gives the player a sense of satisfaction and a goal to work towards to.

Lens #32 – Meaningful Choices

The player is free to choose how to play Subnautica and what kind of experience he is looking for. Choosing the type of equipment and upgrades to use, whether to run or to fight and so on. Even if the player decides to use resources to create a base which is aesthetically pleasing but largely useless otherwise, it is possible to disassemble the base to get back 100% of the resources used with the only loss being time itself. This allows the player have the freedom to do what they find fun without it having strong repercussions on the gameplay when progressing through the story later on.

Lens #70 – Story

Apart from Subnautica being one of the few games which happen almost entirely underwater, another aspect which gets people hooked in the gameplay is its story. The story itself serves as the foundation of Subnautica. It subtly explains many things about the game while being believable for the players. For example, because it is the late 22nd century and technology is extremely advanced, the player is able to create so many things from raw materials with just a tool called a fabricator. For interested players, data can be obtained while playing which goes in-depth to explain the design of lifeforms by including evolutionary factors relating to the environment they are found in.

The escape rocket

 

Overall, playing Subnautica on PC has been a really enjoyable and immersive experience. The storyline and all the additional data available to players to explore freely left me with a feeling of fulfillment upon completion of the game. This fascinating world has an element of elegance which naturally draws people in and has without doubt, become one of my top favorite games to play.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

 

Description

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is a third person shooter, hack-n-slash video game that was developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Relic Entertainment. The game was released in North America and Europe in 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine offers players a choice of playing the game in a single player story mode or its online team multiplayer mode.

Space Marine’s official website: https://www.spacemarine.com/

Setting

The game takes place in the 41st millennium, about 38,000 years into the future, where most of humanity has united itself under the rule of the Emperor of Mankind and conquered countless of planets across the galaxy. The player will play as a Space Marine – a hulking, genetically-engineered superhuman soldier. Donned with one of the best armours humanity has to offer, the player and other fellow Space Marines are charged in defending humanity and its territories from the hostile alien forces and traitorous humans that defected from the empire in favour and worship of daemonic entities.

The Lens of Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics

In this game, the player can choose to play as Space Marines or Chaos Space Marines, evil corrupted versions for their former counterparts, to fight other players or the player can choose to play with other Space Marine players as a same team against AI-controlled teams of Orks and Chaos Space Marines (similar to that of the single player mode). In either mode, the players will be put through multiple stages in which they must slay the opposing team and capture various objectives. The players will have access to an assortment of various weaponry and equipment that will greatly augment the Space Marine’s tactical combat prowess. This arsenal of war gears allows the Space Marine to be tailored to the player’s favoured playstyle and adapt to various situations accordingly. The players can either choose to engage the enemies in close combat, shoot the latter from afar with guns, or even do a combination both. Although the players are unable to jump or crouch normally like what most first-person shooter games offer, they can perform a dodge roll which allows the Space Marine to evade certain types of projectiles or melee attacks.

Aesthetic

Being set many years into the future, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is mainly portrayed in a dark industrial, science fiction setting with heavy aesthetical influences from the Lovecraftian genre. Characters in this game are usually armed with at least a form of weapon or protection, filled with scars, wear and tear or surgical marks. In addition to that, gory injuries and deaths are also repeatedly shown throughout the game – to depict the state of constant warfare and the brutality of it the game is set in.

Story

In the single player campaign mode, the player gets to play as Captain Titus, a Space Marine of the Ultramarines, a hardened war veteran of countless battles and skirmishes. Leading a company of Ultramarines, Captain Titus is tasked to liberate an Imperial Forge World, a planet dedicated in manufacturing of various machines and devices for humanity, from the alien Orks and the forces of Chaos.

Although the story of this game is linear and pre-scripted, it is packed with interesting twists and unexpected betrayals. With that aforementioned, this mode serves more as a tutorial for users to get familiar with the gameplay mechanics and game’s lore and setting at the cost of its replayability – which is more than compensated for by its multiplayer mode.

Technology

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is developed using Phoenix Engine, an internal game engine developed by Relic Entertainment. While this particular game engine is made specifically for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, it has been particularly noted that the game exhibited very similar traits to the games made by Unreal Engine 3. Thus, it could be said that there was not much innovation in this game due to the lack of ground-breaking techniques in developing Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine.

However, despite it not utilizing any advanced or unique technology for its game development, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine still managed to appeal to its target audiences through its rich lore and aesthetics as well as its flexible gameplay mechanics.

 

The Lens of Surprise – #2

  • A great number of varied weapons and perks with their own unique attributes
  • Various equipment that alters the vitality, firepower and maneuverability of players, allowing them to surprise each other with unexpected possibilities of combat
  • Pseudo-Randomized spawning locations and enemy types for players
  • Drawbacks of weapons and enemy types that cause self-harm to each other from time to time

The Lens of Dynamic State – #22

  • Not every weapon/equipment/perk are unlocked at the start.
  • Perks and some equipment are only unlocked after attaining certain achievements or challenges
  • Weapons, cosmetics and most equipment can be unlocked by attaining certain levels – levels are gained by attaining a set amount of experience points
  • Each time the player completes a certain stage or round, users can gain experience points
  • Therefore, if players fail to win a certain stage or round, as long they complete it, their effort would not be in vain as they can still gain experience points which will help them in unlocking more weapons

The Lens of Challenge #31

  • This game requires you to utilize your quick reflexes in evading the enemy attacks, especially that of stronger foes – this forces the players to master the game’s controls and enemy attack timing
  • Limited ammunition and as well as the different type of enemies forces the players to balance their ranged and melee gameplay style between each other
  • Weapons and equipment all have their own different strengths and drawbacks forces the players to master the timing of their attacks and positioning in order to not place themselves in a highly disadvantageous situation
  • A variety of enemy types with various types of traits and resistance also forces the players to adopt different playstyles or weapons and equipment in order to better adapt themselves in tackling the former

The Lens of Cooperation #37

  • This game highly encourages communication between each other by the presence of voice and text chat between the team
  • Although players can equip themselves with different weapons and equipment, they are fixed to the that particular equipment and weapons they picked for that particular stage
  • Therefore, players are incentivized to communicate with each other in order to synergize and specializing their roles to better chance in winning the stage (like having one player with heavy long-range firepower and the other player being more melee oriented to drive away enemies that stray or spawn too close to the former)
  • Players who are skillful enough in the game can complete the earlier stages of the game without much help from each other or communication – however without some form of cooperation or appropriate synergy of roles, it will almost be impossible to win the later stages of the round

 

Darkest Dungeon

Darkest Dungeon is developed by Red Hook where the player manages a roster of characters, called Heroes to conquer and cleanse dungeons. However, it is not a rosy adventure: the game is designed to constantly exploit the player’s carelessness and severely punish him for it. In Darkest Dungeon, Heroes do not wear shiny armours who triumph over their enemies; they are survivors who have witnessed the true horrors.

Lens #7: Elemental Tetrad

Aesthetics

Darkest Dungeon is heavily inspired by the Lovecraftian genre for its aesthetics and writing style, with slight gory depictions thrown into the mix. The art style uses 2D Sprites with a stylised heavy outline, with the white of the eyes rarely drawn and gives each character a sense of weariness, hopelessness, and mystery. They exude grim, desperation, but also conviction; perhaps the three things needed when death is always around the corner.

Mechanics

This review excludes mechanics exclusive to DLCs and focuses on the basic version of the game.

Undeniably, Darkest Dungeon mechanics is arguably its main selling point. It is a well-designed, complex and interlinked mechanics that work together to create a vivid experience of an unforgiving adventure.

Gruesome and Permanent Implications

At its core, Darkest Dungeon is a turn-based strategy, dungeon crawler game. It is about making the best out of the worst. As stated in the disclaimer of the game: `Quests will fail or must be abandoned. Heroes will die. And when they die, they stay dead.` Essentially, actions are permanent. Characters are designed to be, at a moment of carelessness, wiped out by the enemy. The game punishes you for every mistake you make. This causes every decision taken to be significant and keeps the player to be on the edge.

Stress

Darkest Dungeon introduces stress bar(white bar), in addition to the usual health bar. Stress is, as the name suggests, the amount of stress the character is going through. Characters can gain stress through a myriad of causes such as triggering traps, witnessing horrors, get affected by specific enemies’ abilities, or even by being in a prolonged fight. Here is the deal with stress level: characters will experience instant deathregardless of health or buffsonce the character hits the maximum level of stress. In addition to putting another layer of strategy of avoiding stress(especially since there are very few abilities that counter stress), this mechanic keeps enforcing the idea of how gruesome an adventure can be.

Personality of Each Character

Each character is unique in Darkest Dungeon. In addition to the usual lineup of information: name, equipment, and class, the game introduce QuirksQuirks are buffs/debuffs that can affect the character both inside and outside adventures. It can be as basic as +5 DODGE to being Kleptomaniac (chance to steal loot from the player). While it serves as game mechanics, these traits are personal to each character. Traits give them their own identity and enable the player to be more emotionally invested with them. With the permanent death system in place, this makes losing them in the dungeon hurts even more.    

Story

The story begins with one of our predecessors grew bored of living lavishly and decided to spend his fortune away to study the unknown and excavate countless dungeons buried away under his estate. In doing so, he mistakenly released monsters and horrors from within. Workers going insane, missing and countless encounters with abominationsit was only time before the estate is overrun by the vile creatures. In his hopelessness, he sends a plea to the player to clean this mess and reclaim the former glory of the estate before it is too late.

But that is not all. Bits and pieces of information are scattered across the dungeons as journals left behind by unfortunate adventurers who were unable to make it out. Collecting these journals is as hard as it gets since players must sacrifice inventory slots that can be filled with life-saving supplies or precious loots.

Technology

Darkest Dungeon runs on Windows 7+ with the minimum requirements as follows: 2 GB RAM, Open GL 3.2+ Compliant, and has at least 2 GB available space.

Website: https://www.darkestdungeon.com/

Darkest Dungeon Official Early Access Release Trailer:

League of Legends

League of Legends(LOL) is a fast-paced, competitive online game, Two teams of five powerful champions, each with a unique design and playstyle, battle head-to-head across multiple battlefields and game modes. With an ever-expanding roster of champions, frequent updates and a thriving tournament scene, League of Legends offers endless replayability for players of every skill level.

Official website: https://play.na.leagueoflegends.com/en_US

Here is a video showing the basics of the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IMnqEga6tc

 

Elemental tetrad

Mechanics:

  • Various game modes:
    • LOL provides various game modes, including Classic 5v5, rank 5v5, all random all mid(ARAM), and many other limited modes only served for certain periods. The various modes cater for different types of players. Rank is for competitive players, ARAM is for fun and variety.
  • Champions:
    • Three champions are free to play, and there are 10 other free Champions each week. One need to earn money to permanently unlock a champion
    • Champions can be classified by many criteria: skills, positions
    • Every Champions can carried with addtional base abilities and skills, which can have many combinations and influence the game a lot
    • skills are classifed into: passive, active. Active skills can be classified into ground-targeted(which can influence many units) and unit targeted.
  • Map:
    • Maps are divided into various regions: lanes, jungles, dragon area. which gives different interactions with enviroments
    • vision is limited for a team. minions, towers, wardens can provide vision, which causes “vision battle”(battle for visions)
    • There various resources can be retrieved from different region, which  provide champions exp and money to level up and buy stuff.

Aesthetics:

  • Champions are designed with details and catered for most people’s aesthetics.
  • Apart from that, each champion has various skins(a different character theme different from the default). For each skin, animations of move, attack, skills and dance are different.
  • Maps is detailed decorated also. And there are special decorations for special events.
  • New songs are written every year for the championship. This year is pretty good!!

Story:

  •  Each champion have attractive background  stories. The whole background stories are giant like a history of some kingdoms.
  • Though the story line is not quite related to each match. But champions will have special interactions if they have some stories.

Technology:

  • It doesn’t require special technologies, modern computers with windows OS can run it

Lens 4: Curiosity

  • The champions’ skills are designed without limitations on usage. Players are trying to reveal different uasge during the match. The most common one is “R flash”, which is a combination of the ultimate of a champion and flash skills to make undesirable outcome of normal ultimate
  • PVP mode is unlocked only after lv5. Rank mode is unlocked only after lv30, And more modes are keep developed. This cause players’ curiosity to level up and try different things.
  • Champions are also unlocked with enough money. players are to find how the champion is like after many game experience.

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

  1. LOL can improve your physical response. This is a game that has a lot of details which means that you will have to sharpen your senses (especially your sight) if you want to be successful in it. You must be able to click on the right place at the right time and that requires a great amount of precision.
  2. LOL also train your cooperation and communication skills, it needs a team to highly cooperate especially for team fight. The neotiation of the strategy also needs good communication skills.
  3. Sports spirit: the match is never ended until the time the base is down. There was a team couterattack the opponents with only 50-health base. So nothing is impossible, LOL also teaches you never give up.
  4. Strategic thoughts: As the game rule is very important, there are many ways you can win the game.Thus, it highly depends on how you plan the game and what strategy you are playing to win this game. You are like the commander in a war.To win, you must have a deep view of the battle and a sharp mind.
  5. Selecting units, browsing the map, using spells…all these things can improve your multi-tasking abilities and ultimately they will keep your brain alert and functioning properly. Improved multitasking can help you finish your everyday activity more easily.

Fantasy Life

Fantasy Life is a role-playing adventure game where you take up Life Classes, complete various townsfolk’s requests and perhaps even save the world. There are up to 12 different vocations with each having their own special set of quests and stories. The players can switch between the Life Classes as and when they like, experiencing the game in their own unique ways.

Visit Official Website

Lens #7: The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics

The mechanics of having multiple classes’ where each has skills that may aid in the progression of another are well-balanced in Fantasy Life. In turn, it encourages players to experiment and experience a wide range of vocations on their play through.

For example, you may craft a set of armor as a Blacksmith for when you head out to fight as a Paladin. You can gather meat ingredients from your battles as a Paladin or fish for seafood as an Angler. Then, from the ingredients you’ve gathered, create dishes as a Cook.

Story

The game has a main linear story focusing on the theme of community and kindness. It also acts as a mechanism to slowly unlock more content such as places to visit, yet finishing the main story does not necessarily put an end to the game due to the sub-stories in each Life Classes and other side quests. The abundance of stories is one of what keeps player clocking hours of game play.

Aesthetics

Characters in Fantasy Life can be customized from dozens of hairstyles, eye shapes and even voices to let players really make the character their own. The somewhat cute design choice for the game graphics gives a “feel good” vibe that can appeal to both genders, while the size difference between the player and higher level bosses evoke a sense of thrill and intensity. The latter experience is further enhanced through the use of fast-paced background music.

Technology

Fantasy Life is published on the Nintendo 3DS platform. It utilizes the stereoscopic 3D effects to heighten immersion in its world as well as tapped on Nintendo 3DS’s StreetPass functionality for players to exchange gifts with others they met on the street, cultivating a sense of community. These experiences are only achievable through the Nintendo 3DS console.

Putting All Together

Viewing the above 4 elements together, it can be seen that they overall contribute to the setting and concept of positivity, community and excitement of discovery.

Lens #4: The Lens of Curiosity

One of another drive for players to clock hundred of hours into the game is curiosity. Each Life Class has multiple rankings and ranking up unlocks new moves and quests. Sometimes, they can even unlock new in-game characters to join their party and embark on the adventure together.

These potential achievements have players pose questions like “What challenges will I receive next?” or “What skills does this NPC have? How do they fight?”, pushing them to set their own goals and eventually reach the highest rank possible.

Lens #18: The Lens of Flow

Fantasy Life does a good job in keeping the players in the flow channel. The core mechanics are not difficult to learn and certainly not hard to master. Instead, the difficulty comes from the quality of the weapons and gear the player has acquired in their game.

They’d start off with basic tools that does an average job at crafting or fighting which gives a good challenge. Then, they’ll eventually earn better tools that makes all current activities easier. But progression also leads to discovering new places and monsters to yet again challenge their existing tools. The repeating cycle of increasing challenge and reward gives a satisfying journey from the start to the end.

Lens #25: The Lens of Goals

The marketing line for Fantasy Life by Nintendo is the ability to “play it your way” and they have certainly been able to achieve that.

Even though the game strongly hints players to switch between Life Classes throughout their game play, they can still enjoy the game should they do otherwise. This freedom of choice is not by chance but a deliberate game design decision evident from how attainable self-made goals by the player base are. For example, players can choose to take up crafting and not gathering Life Classes while still enjoy the game as materials that can be gathered by the latter are purchasable in-game — they just need to earn enough dosh (the in-game currency).

Lens #37: The Lens of Cooperation

Fantasy Life supports both local and online multiplayer with each giving a slightly different experience.

Local multiplayer can induce active communication between players during tough fights as players — especially those cooperating with different Life Classes — need to act on what they do best. For example, a Wizard may need to communicate for the team to gather around before casting its healing spell since it has a limited range of effect.

On the other hand, similar on-demand communication is harder to achieve through online multiplayer due to its limited chatting capabilities. Players are indeed able to chat through text communication, however this mode of communication seems impractical during intensive combat. Besides text chat, players can bind their D-pad keys to emote actions but the limit of up to 4 actions can feel rather restrictive when human communication is a complex phenomenon.

Images in this article are properties of Nintendo and used for nonprofit educational purposes only.

Subnautica

Subnautica by Unknown Worlds Entertainment

Introduction

Subnautica is a first-person, open-world, survival-adventure game set in the alien planet 4546B, with a vast ocean full of flora and fauna for the player to explore, among other mysterious things. The player is quite literally thrown into an underwater world of unknown as soon as the game starts and is left with two things: a damaged lifepod, and a lot of questions. Throughout the campaign, the player collects resources to survive, craft, explore, and uncover the mysteries that the alien world has to offer.

Lens 7: Elemental Tetrad

Aesthetics

Subnautica’s world, despite having fictional organisms that don’t resemble ones found in real life, is a highly believable and convincing underwater world. The starting area of Subnautica, the Safe Shallows, mimics an ocean the way we know it as, by having a diverse ecosystem ranging from corals, harmless fishes for human consumption, and predatory fishes that retaliate when threatened.

Figure 1: Fauna of Safe Shallows. Left to Right: Stalker, Peeper, and Gasopod.

However, venturing further and deeper from the Safe Shallows, things get weirder, more dangerous, and further away from the player’s expectations of a safe ocean, like how players would imagine the deep oceans to be. This is how the developers of Subnautica use a player’s preconceived notions and expectations of an “ocean” and “deep waters” to build a believable world that players fully immerse themselves in.

Figure 2: Dangerous Fauna found in deeper biomes. Left to Right: Crabsnake, and Ampeel

Mechanics

Subnautica is all about exploration and adventure. Scripted events that occur throughout the game often prompt the player to go to a specific location that is often deeper and further from the safe zone, or to find a location that is in an area that the player has yet to venture into. For example, distress calls sent to the player’s radio will often send specific coordinates that show up on the player’s Heads-Up Display (HUD), and is a simple task that gives the player a sense of direction in an otherwise open-ended world, and along the way the player will discover new creatures, resources, and biomes.

Story

The player takes on the character of Ryley Robinson, the lone survivor of the Aurora crash, and his objective is to escape Planet 4546B and back to Earth. However, as he explores the planet, he begins to uncover the history behind Planet 4546B, the inhabitants that came before, both human and alien. He tries to escape the planet via the Sunbeam, a passing cargo ship, but it was shot down by an alien facility, which Ryley will then have to find a way to deactivate.

The story of Subnautica is both linear and emergent, which plays into its open-world. Set plot points such as the Aurora’s explosion and the Sunbeam’s evacuation efforts will always happen, and they serve to push the narrative forward while the player explores the world. While the game offers scripted events in the form of distress calls, the player can opt not to go to them and still complete the game.

Technology

Subnautica is playable in VR, with headsets such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, with the input of keyboard and mouse or a game controller. The game is also made in Unreal Engine 4.

Lens 18: Flow

Subnautica constantly challenges the player to venture into deeper waters, usually with harsher terrain and more aggressive creatures, in order to progress with the game. Players might find it too hard to enter a dangerous, and essential biome like the Lava Castle for the Kyanite resource, however a player can always return to base, build himself a Prawn Suit (which should be available at this point), and have a sturdy vehicle to navigate the Lava Castle in, and collect Kyanite in the safety of the suit. In this way, Subnautica effectively turns challenges that can be solved in more interesting ways, which usually involve exploration and crafting.
Figure 3: The unforgiving Lava zone biome

Lens 4: Curiosity

Half of Subnautica’s experience is curiosity. The other is the player’s resolution of said curiosity. Often while exploring, players will meet a temporary obstacle that they can’t overcome with their current equipment, and will naturally feel curious about what’s behind it, like a door that requires a Laser Cutter to get through, or a biome too deep for his Seamoth to venture deeper without appropriate Depth Upgrades. To reinforce this form of gameplay, rewards often lie beyond said obstacles, and hence lead players to actively solve newfound obstacles.
Figure 4: A sealed door being opened by a Laser Cutter

Lens 5: Endogenous Value

While the end goal is made clear to the player at the start of the game in Subnautica, working towards getting off the planet is not the endogenous value of the game. Ironically, exploration of the planet itself is endogenous to the game’s value, so much so that I felt a bittersweet feeling after managing to escape the planet full of diverse and interesting biomes, with lots still left to do.

The feeling of novelty every time the player picks up a new raw material, encounters a new creature, enters a new biome, and experience a new part of the narrative, is the experience that Subnautica offers to its players. The novelty keeps players wanting more from Planet 4546B to explore, and I believe that this is the most important part of Subnautica.

Lens 9: Unification Theme

Every single gameplay mechanic Subnautica has to offer points towards exploration. A prime example is its survival aspect, which features thirst and hunger meters. When a player gets hungry or thirsty while exploring and does not have food and water reserves in his limited inventory, he is forced to stop exploring, and return to his base for food and water. The survival mechanic clearly inhibits one’s ability to explore in Subnautica. However, by forcing the player back to base, which often has a bigger inventory of resources gathered from the past and a Fabricator which can craft more items, Subnautica gets the player to revisit what he can and cannot craft, so that the player either gets a hint as to what he needs to look out for and where to go, or unlocks an entirely new area for exploration made possible with new equipment, for his next venture.