[A0074324L] DotA – Defense of the Ancients

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMzpLnQtVuE – Dota 2 trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmTRpTyYHIE – Completed Game, World Final.

DotA is one of the most famous games nowadays. It was created and developed in 2003 but millions of people still play it every day now. In a 2008 article of video game industry website Gamasutra, the article’s author claimed that “DotA is likely the most popular and most-discussed free, non-supported game mod in the world”. So what is DotA and why is it so popular? DotA stands for “Defense of the Ancients” and is a multiplayer online battle arena mod created and developed by Icefrog for Warcraft III. It was only a map of Warcraft III but now Valve Corporation makes it into a stand-alone game, DotA 2. The game is a battle between 2 teams (5 players per team), the objective is to attack and destroy the opponent’s Ancient. The Ancient is heavily guarded by structures and creeps spawn every 30 seconds. The players control a powerful hero chosen by them. There are 3 types of hero: Strength, Agility and Intelligence. As in role-playing games, players level up their heroes throughout the game and use gold earned to buy equipment to upgrade their hero. Now, what makes it so popular among game players around the world?

  • Competition:
    • It’s a player versus player game.
    • Playing against AI is boring. Not because AI cannot be good but it only reacts according to what it was coded. Player’s creativity makes the differences.
    • DotA is a fair measurement of players’ skill since you cannot know what your opponent will do in certain situation; even novices can catch the experts off guard and defeat them.
    • People always want to win when playing against other players, which is a huge motivation for them to think and react better than they usually do.
  • Skill: 
    • Online games nowadays are all about money; the more you pay, the better you will be. Skills only take a small part. In my opinion, I don’t like it. Why money always matter? Skill is what makes a good player.
    • DotA is a fair game of skill. DotA players have good awareness, fast reaction as well as good strategy.
    • So far, there are 110 heroes to choose from and each hero has 4 skills and 6 item slots. Therefore there are many combinations for a game, which require player to think and react accordingly.
    • Since the outcome cannot be unforeseen, there is no skill that dominant. All skill is needed to be a good player and they can be improved by practices. Practice makes perfect.
  • Chance:
    • This feature is what makes players feel up and down many times.
    •  For example: there is a hero called Faceless Void and one of his skills gives him 10%/15%/20%/25% chance (according to level) of completely dodge any coming attack. This means that he can dodge 1 attack out of 4. But those are just number. There many videos online show void backtrack for nearly 10 consecutive times.
    • The chance is truly random. For a Void player, he could feel really happy but for his opponent, they could feel really bad. However because it is random, people trying to kill Void never give up and Void also not afraid to jump into battle. You don’t know which side luck is on.
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_AOCcio5CA – Void backtrack x10
  • Character Transformation:
    • Any hero can grow strong. It depends on player’s skill and game situation.
    • The main transformation is by buying items. You can earn money in game to buy new items. So depend on how well you earn the money, your hero will transform slow or fast.
    • Players can buy any items that they feel suitable for the current game situation but one wrong items build can make you and your team loses.
    • you can surprise and interest people by buying different items, but don’t lose because of it. Losing is not interesting at all.
    • there is 5 players per team game so you can communicate with other player to create different team transformation suitable for the game.
  • Cooperation:
    • a competitive game but you play it 4 teammates.
    • help you push up your teamwork and communication. Communication between players in DotA is really important since it’s a team battle, people watch each other’s back.
    • Each player play different role. Some heroes are strong in the beginning; some are strong at the end of the game. So players have to support each other’s throughout the game.
    • usually you can play with your friends or you can cooperate with other players around the world.

Candy Crush Saga


Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle game set in a candy land where player have to match 3 candies or more to remove them and score points.

1. Elemental Tetrad
The game has all four of the basic elements. However, aesthetics and story plays more an important role in this game, as the mechanics of the game are simple and similar to the other puzzle games.

a) Aesthetics

The game looks interesting and the candy like theme makes it pleasant to look at. The background song sounds like a fairytale song, which matches well with the theme. In addition, the sound of making a move or crushing the candies adds to the realism of the game.

b) Mechanics

The basic mechanics of the game basically to match candies to remove them and score points. A special combination of 4 or 5 candies will create special sweets, which will then able to help to crush more candies when combined with other sweets.

A level can only be completed after achieving an expected score to gain a star and complete the challenge at every level.

The mechanics of the game are similar to any other match-3 puzzle, which allows player to learn the game easily.

c) Story

The game has a storyline for every stage, which makes the game more interesting to play. In addition, the story is being described as an animation and allows the player to interact with it. In every episode, when a few levels have been reached, there are new stories coming up and new goals that need to be achieved. An example of a story would be that by completing level 1 to 20, the candy maker is able to wake up and make the candies.

d) Technology

The game can be played either or the computer, offline or online, mobile and tablet.

2. Curiosity

The game consists of 215 levels of which for every 20 levels or lesser, there is an episode. An example would be only by completing level 1 to level 20, player are able to wake up the candy maker to make the candy and go on to the next stage. The episodes in the game have aroused the curiosity of the player in wanting to know what is there in the next stage. Personally, I keep playing the game because I would like to know what’s going to happen next. Arousing the curiosity of the player could make them keep playing and getting addict to the game.

3. Flow

Since the game has so many levels, the game has varieties of mode with different challenges that is moves & score, jelly, ingredients, time limited and candy order. It keeps the game fun with the varieties of mode. However, as a player, it could be confusing. It is not yet the next episode but there are so many modes during that single episode. As a player, I ended up forgetting what is the goal of that level whether to get the expected scores or collect the ingredient. The flow is somehow lost which eventually make the player not able to complete the level goal.

4. Feedback

The game explains the instruction for every level, which allow the player to know what are the objective of the game. There are also hints provided during the play therefore the player won’t be stuck. Having this feedback to the player will make the game easier and fun to play as there is not a need to keep reading the instruction to play the game. However, with the feedback pop up too fast, it could annoy the player. As a player in the game, I feel that the hints sometimes distract me while playing the game and make me felt unsatisfied towards the game.

5. Meaningful Choice

The player has to decide the movement of candy to make them disappear. It is important that he make the correct position or else the level could not be solve as the subsequent moves will depend on the previous moves. There are hints given in the game but that does not mean the hint is the best solution. Therefore the player has to make the decision. The choices in the game make the game more fun as it allows the player to think twice before making any moves.

Soul Calibur V

SoulCalibur website : http://soulcalibur.com/en_US#/home
Gameplay video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsXJYmLTDKU

The SoulCalibur franchise has been one that I have been following since young and provided me hours of great enjoyment and entertainment. Soul Calibur is a 3D fighting game, by developer Namco, which first started off as ‘Soul Edge’ in 1996 on PlayStation and Arcades. SoulCalibur exhibits a variety of original characters in a beautifully designed medieval environment and is accompanied by well-orchestrated original sound track which adds in to the heroic feel that the game has. But what appealed to me the most is that unlike most of big name fighting games, SoulCalibur heavily features the use of a wide array of weapons as its fighting mechanism. Today the series is at its 8th instalment with ‘SoulCalibur V’ released in 2012 and it will be the game I will analyse for this assignment.

The lens of skill

SoulCalibur V is all about real skills which physical, mental and social skills.

The physical skills requires the user’s dexterity and reflexes to both input commands and react to the opponent’s attack. While simple attacks can usually be performed by pressing one button and a direction, long combos and special attacks are much more demanding in terms of physical skills. They require pressing a series of buttons of two or more buttons simultaneously in a strict timing. Critical hit are usually performed with the notoriously hard to input command involving a double quarter circle on the direction pad and pressing 3 buttons at the same time. Of course, this command can be more easily performed by using the analogue stick and shoulder buttons of the PS3 controller, but the player still needs to time his input to his opponent move. Whether a critical hit will be effective or misses is often a frame-by-frame matter.

The player must also memorise each move of his character in order to vary his attacks and make him less predictable. Combos can be learned and practiced in the Practice mode of the game and players can achieve a reasonable level of mastery in quite a short period of time. However, to truly excel in the game, knowing his own character is not enough. One must also learn the moves of the opponent’s character and know how to react to them. Knowledge about the length, speed, direction and range of a combo as well as the vulnerability interval of each attack give an edge to the player.

The strategic and tactical aspect is perhaps the thing I enjoy the most in a battle. It involves social skills like reading the opponent, trying to feint him and counter his attacks. The game takes a whole new dimension when skilled players are trying to outsmart each other, using their character’s own set of skills and attribute. The game emphasizes a lot on space and situation awareness. The player always has to gauge his opponent’s range and speed while avoiding certain areas on the fight ring which would expose oneself to a ringout, automatically losing the round.

The lens of competition

Competition is present throughout almost all of the game modes. I usually spend most of the time playing the offline versus mode against friends, trying to beat the other and finding out who is the most skilled. The gameplay provide a lot of tension and winning a match can be particularly satisfying. The online versus mode also enables players from all other the world to compete against each other and the online ranking system try to achieve a fair ground for players to compete against opponents of the same level. The difficulty level can be adjusted for the game’s other offline game mode, thus enabling novices t0 meaningfully compete against the game AI.

The lens of beauty

SoulCalibur graphics are gorgeous. The characters are beautifully designed, with each having their different costumes and weapons reflecting their own personality. This makes the characters more believable and helps the player relate to the more easily, thus making them more fun to play with. From the magnificently crafted stages to the good voice acting and the epic-heroic sound tracks, all is done just right to provide a compelling environment. Story telling is also quite well done using cinematographic scenes, and keeps the player interested enough in the storyline of the game. The soundtrack is also a delight, with very well-orchestrated heroic-epic music which makes the game this much better.  

The lens of the avatar

Character creation or customisation is definitely one of the features that I enjoyed the most in the game. It allows the player to create a new characters based on the default fighting style, by selecting from an array of different body types, outfits and equipment. SoulCalibur V’s character creation system is an expansion of its prequel, where the user is given more customisable options. This creates a connection between the player and the created character or avatar. I actually did spend a lot of time creating new characters and I can more often than not, project myself into this avatar. As such, playing with this avatar becomes more engaging and also adds variety to the characters we encounter in the game, especially in the online mode where people across the world can fight as their own avatar. This gives the impression of playing against other people and not just an AI controlled default character in the game.

The lens of the character web

The SoulCalibur’s story has bas been spanning over more than 16 years now and a lot of the characters have been introduced in the series. Each of them has different relationship with other characters that seasoned players are familiar with. The series often introduce new characters which add on to the intricate relationships. In order for players to keep up with the relationship among characters, a character web has been presented, allowing seasoned and new players alike to get a better understanding.



Website: http://limbogame.org/

Trailer : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1vexQzA9Vk

Summary : LIMBO is a horroresque puzzle game where the protagonist of the game, a little bob-haired boy (whose name is never mentioned), tries to find his way out of a wasteland by running through deathtraps and gigantic spiders.

#26: The Lens of Rules

Within minutes of the playing the game, the player will realise:

  • Death is not an issue
  • Jumping from a high height is deadly
  • Watch where you walk


Through trial and error, the player will come to realise that the rules of the game is narrows down to two things; obey the laws of physics and keep trying.

 #34 : The Lens of Skill vs. Chance

To jump or not to jump? There’s plenty of risk taking in this game as the puzzles is designed in such a precise way that you can survive, just barely, if you take the leap of faith at the right moment. If you don’t survive, it’s okay you can always revive at the start of the puzzle and try again. The skill of the player lies in detecting the risk and deciding whether they want to take the risk or to look for another method to solve the problem at hand.

#42: The Lens of Simplicity / Complexity

The goal of the game is simple; survive the wasteland. However, it can be too simple as the player will often be found reiterating the same sequence of actions, mainly running, solving a puzzle and avoiding death. Beyond the challenges presented by the puzzles in the game there are no game mechanics such as plot or economy to keep a player captivated. Thus a player who is not easily intrigued by the explorative puzzles may become bored quickly.

#45: The Lens of Imagination

A black cube is a box. Eight spindly black extrusions connected by a round black blob in the middle is a giant spider. The graphics in LIMBO is made up of white, black and shades of gray. The protagonist, sprites and objects in the game are portrayed as silhouettes so this ramps up the power of the player’s imagination as they encounter silhouettes that are too eerily reminiscent of creatures and devices found in nightmares and horror films.

#48: The Lens of Accessibility

At the beginning of the game, there is no introduction or instruction on how to play the game. Just the protagonist on the screen and a player with a controller. Through trial-and-error, the player will realise that the boy can run and jump around on screen at will– until he walks over a bear trap and is snapped to death. But no worries, as the boy will revive in front of the trap, and the player will now realise that the protagonist is supposed to avoid the trap by jumping over it.

This is similarly so with the different puzzle mechanics in the game. Much of the game mechanics can be assumed through real world comparisons; a see-saw will swing higher and higher if you work with the momentum and a signboard hanging on a loose screw will fall if you put too much weight on it. If something surprisingly fatal happens, you can always learn to overcome it on the next try as death is never an issue.


by    Chua Chong Yun


XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Option 1

Game: XCOM: Enemy Unknown (2012)

Website: http://www.xcom.com/enemyunknown/
Gameplay: http://youtu.be/1VP4YmExQAE

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based tactical role-playing strategy game where the player is the commander of an elite military organization named XCOM, protecting Earth against an alien invasion. The player directs his or her soldiers in turn-based combat missions against alien enemies around the world. Apart from the combat, the player also directs the organization’s research and engineering divisions in creating new technologies and improving XCOM’s base of operations, and manages the organization’s finances

No.2 The Lens of Surprise
– The fog-of-war in the turn-based combat results in surprising enemy encounters as enemies are only   revealed when the player’s solder is within visible range of the enemy.
– New types of enemies are introduced during combat when the player first encounters them. New or unexpected enemy appearances can result in unit losses or mission failures if the unknown enemy is not handled properly.
– The story line also has a twist at the end in terms of why the aliens invaded Earth.

The usage of a simple fog-of-war is a good design as it creates many surprising encounters and creates unpredictability during a standard turn-based combat. The element of surprise from hidden enemies also results in the player having to adjust and adapt their strategies accordingly. Although some of the maps are notably repeated, the element of surprise creates intense and unique combats each time. The element of surprise from hidden enemies also results in the player having to adjust and adapt their strategies accordingly.

No.4 The Lens of Curiosity
– The story line creates curiosity by creating and open-ended and continuous analysis of why the technologically more advanced alien beings would want to invade Earth as player clears the missions.
– Each alien type has a compelling back story and is revealed after defeating them and doing a mandatory autopsy ‘research’ on them. Each alien type autopsy also reveals more upgrades for the player.

The story line paired very nicely with the revelation of the analysis as the player completes more mission and defeats more aliens. The autopsy design also generates curiosity and the drive to meet and kill more aliens as each alien has its own special autopsy and analysis result. This curiosity pushes the player to keep on playing the next mission, collecting alien specimen and researching new technologies.

41 The Lens of Punishment
Soldiers that are injured during combat requires recovery time before they can be used for the next combat.
– Soldiers that die in combat are permanently dead. They leave behind only their equipment.
– Failing or ignoring missions will result in a decrease in the amount of resources given to the player.

The punishment in the game might create a domino effect resulting from a single mission loss. If the player loses all his best soldiers in a combat, he also loses the mission. With no high level soldiers available, player will have to go into combat with the lower level soldiers. This causes a more difficult battle and result in an even higher chance of loss. Loss of missions also results in a decrease in resources given to the player. This might result in an irrecoverable loss which stemmed from a single mission loss.

Should have a slightly tweaked system that allows a better chance of recovery.

No. 49 The Lens of Visible Progress
– Higher level aliens look bulkier, more armored and carry a bigger weapon.
– Higher level soldiers do not physically look different. Only the rank beside them changes.
– Armor and weapons look much more advanced as the story progresses.
– Alien space ships become much bigger as the story progresses.

Even though the soldier’s physical appearance does not change as he levels up, the rank placed beside its name during and outside of combat is very obvious and can easily tell which soldier is of higher level. You can tell how far you are progressing in the game as the alien space ships encountered will become bigger with each mission completed.

No.51 The Lens of The Pyramid
After defeating all the basic types of the aliens, the game slowly introduces the upgraded versions of similar types of aliens.
– The final mission re-introduces all the different types of missions according to how powerful they are and the backstory to where the alien came from (different from the autopsy backstory)
– Each mission becomes gradually more difficult by having different combinations of aliens. It allows players to find out how to defeat a particular combination before adding more to it. Higher level missions can only be completed flawlessly only if the strategies introduced at the lower levels are applied accordingly.

The introduction of the different types and levels of aliens is very well-balanced. The design of the tactics learned at the lower level being reapplied at the higher levels is very well designed and balanced and done very implicitly. Players will automatically think of the strategies used previously and apply it during the higher levels. This makes the game intuitive to play and not frustrating for the players as they encounter tougher aliens.


DOTA (Defense of the Ancients)

Dota is a multiplayer online battle arena mod for the video game Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Dota pits two teams of players against each other: the Sentinel and the Scourge; normally it is a 5v5 game. The objective of the scenario is for each team to destroy the opponents’ Ancients.

Each player controls one hero; there are more than one hundred heroes for player to choose, each with different skills and abilities. Most heroes have 4 skills. Players can gain experience points from killing enemies and neutral units. When player accumulate enough experience, he gains a level. Leveling up improves the hero’s HP and damage, and give hero a skill point to enhance one skill.


Teamwork is the soul of Dota. There are 4 primary roles in Dota: carry, ganker, supporter, and initiator. Each role has different job. Without carry, it’s hard to fight with the enemies at later stage; without ganker, the carry of the enemy will grow up fast; without supporter, a team won’t have the essentials such like carrier, ward; without initiator, team battle may become messy. All of roles are important, and that’s why there is synergy when the players work together. Inside the game players can communicate to each other by typing, but friends or teams usually use network chatting software because sometime there is no time for players to type. Dota should has its own voice chatting system.


Dota gives a fair measurement of player skill, which is well reflected in the ladders. The ranking is stable. For a senior player, his rank would be almost the same unless he improves his skill. Almost every player wants to win in a Dota game and winning in a Dota game can be something people can be proud of. Like most competitive games, winning makes people feel good because the struggle becomes the triumph. There are many famous Dota players around the world, which have a lot of fans. Normally, a novice cannot defeat an expert. Winning largely depend on experience and skill. I agree with this kind of setting.


Fairness manifests very well in Dota. In general, the map is symmetric. The computer controlled units of both sides have the same attributes. For the heroes, formal games use captain mode. The two captains will ban and pick the heroes in turns. There is no imbalanced hero in Dota, and every hero has shortage. Dota did well on this aspect.


Dota has a combat-oriented money system. In addition to a small periodic income, players can get gold by killing hostile units. If a guard tower is destroyed, every enemy hero will get considerable revenue. Money is not always growing, because death will be punished. And in order to let the enemies earns less, players can deny their allies if there is no hope to rescue them. There are plenty of items for player to buy, which may be too complex for novice.

Meaningful choice:

Players have to make decisions very often in a Dota game. Players need to choose how to allocate their skill points when they reach every level. For example, if the enemies are very aggressive, players often add a survival skill, such like Blink and Invisible. Also, players need to decide when to buy which equipment. Usually, if the enemies dominates a game, players tend to buy cheaper items once the gold is enough because dying can take away some of the gold. Another important decision is deciding to attack or retreat, players must have an overall consideration including the time, terrain, HP, skill cooling down of the both side and so on. There is no dominant strategies in Dota, all the choices must base on the current circumstance. Usually a small decision can have a huge impact on the final result.

Game link: www.playdota.com


Angry Birds Star Wars (Option 1)

1. Lens of Problem Solving (6)

The game requires players to hit all the pigs in every stage with the minimum number of birds, with a specified maximum number of birds.

Players may have different skill levels which may cause novices at judging the expected target to experience difficulties in passing each stage.

Each type of bird is given a different special ability that can help get through certain obstacles. The order of the bird is also pre-determined that require players to solve them in a limited number of ways. The terrain changes so that new obstacles are introduced that require players to use different strategies to overcome, such as meteorites that block the path, lasers that knock the birds from their path, etc.

2. Lens of Flow (18)

The game has clear goals where player have to hit all the pigs with the specified number of birds or they would be considered to fail the stage and forced to restart. High scores are notified to the players so players know that they have to get a high score.

The goals of the players are the same goal Rovio intended. There is no other way to clear a stage until all the pigs are hit. While players can choose to give up the goal of obtaining a high score, this goal is not essential.

Bonus stages can be unlocked by hitting special eggs placed in some stages. To hit these eggs, players may overuse birds so that they do not have enough to hit all the pigs, hence having to restart. However, the number of these eggs is minimal at the cost of not being tied into the game goal, since there is no significant advantage to clearing these bonus stages.

The challenges presented to the players are in different forms for different ‘worlds’, such as laser, meteorites, or gravity. However, they are not necessarily increasing difficult.

Once players learn to control the direction and speed of the birds from the catapult, the only skill required is the time of executing the special ability. These skills do not take many tries to learn, hence there is little improvement after the first few stages. To get a perfect score however, precise execution is required, which encourages players who are goal-centric to work on improving their skill.

3. Lens of Skills vs. Chance (34)

Players are judged initially by skill for those stages that are relatively straightforward, but as stages become more complicated, players need to take risks to get perfect scores.

This dependency on chance reinforces the idea that the game is more casual than serious.

The game is balanced between requiring skill and strategy to hit the pigs at the right instance to clear a stage, but also requiring risk taking to minimize the number of birds used, hence obtaining a higher score.

4. Lens of Parallelism (50)

Players are required to solve each stage before proceeding to the next. This creates bottlenecks. Players can play bonus stages but them while helping to eliminate these bottlenecks but also cause the player to be distracted from the main goal.

Parallel challenges such as bonus stages have the same gameplay; hence there is a lack of diversity and challenges.

Since the game does not become increasing become more challenging, making progress on parallel challenges has minimal impact on solving the main play. However, since the main play and the parallel challenges have similar gameplay, it may help to improve the player’s skill.

5. Lens of Control (53)

When players use the interface, it does what they expected in that players pull back on the catapult and expect to see the birds fly. It may not fly exactly according to the player’s expectation due to challenges of the game including ‘gravity’ that alters the path of the bird.

The interface is easy to master; players just need to touch to pull and release.

Players have a strong influence over the outcome of the game since the birds fly in the direction according to their plan, even with obstacles such as gravity, once they expect the gravitational pull, they can adjust the speed and direction of the bird.

Since players are in control of the birds, hence players feel powerful. While players can be made more powerful, this will reduce the challenge of the game, hence a balance needs to be struck.

Game’s web site: http://www.rovio.com/

Game YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY29T3Sqz30

Age of Empires Online

Option 1 – 5 lenses: Story, Head and Hands, Beauty, Competition vs Cooperation, Fairness


Age of Empires Online (abbreviated AoEO), is a history-based real-time strategy (RTS) computer game based upon the gameplay of the Age of Empires series. The game centres around developing the ancient civilizations such as Egyptian, Celtic, Greek and many more. The main gameplay revolves around the player being able to develop a civilization from its birth to its peak and fall. To assure victory, the player must gather resources to spend on new units, buildings and more advanced technology. Resources must also be preserved, as no new resources become available as the game progresses. A major component of the game is the advancement through four ages with each advancement bringing new technologies, weapons, and units. Quests are the main Player Vs Environment (PvE) aspect of the game, completing objectives and defeating AI player.


Age of Empire Online has an interesting theme of ancient civilizations which invades each other and battle for territories. Although there is no concrete storyline, the historical aspects helps to define the scene design and development of the game such as costume and architecture.  The non-existence of a storyboard is justifiable as the main objective of the game is to build cities, armies and defeat all enemies. The story is also highly extendable as already done by the developers; more civilizations could be added and there are 6 as of now. The game map is also based on the world map locating these civilizations in the geographical area.

Unlike RPG games, there is little story line and it can get dull when doing quests endlessly on single player mode.

Head and Hands

This is a strategy game and the player definitely will need to make some intellectual and logical decisions in building up his army. He needs to manage the resources, plan a series of actions to have a stable economy and advance his troops. He will need to be mindful of the objectives of the quests and prioritize.

On the other hand, he will need to have nimble fingers to command all the troops, villagers and maintain all the infrastructures. That will require a fair combination of mouse clicks and keyboard hotkeys/shortcuts. The player needs to be mindful of the gameplay and also physically act on his judgments.


Unlike the earlier series of Age of Empires PC games, the graphics of AoEO is less realistic and cartoon style. The colors are much brighter and the interesting or even flashy to some. Although some game enthusiasts maybe skeptical about it being less realistic, the graphics are nonetheless high quality in style of animated HD movies.  It may be more appealing to larger crowds of casual gamers. Taking note that mobile games are gaining popularity and most mobile games also have cartoon style or cute graphics. It also introduces the game to those who are less accustomed to strategy games.

Lack of realism sometime may lead to beauty such as use of bright and contrasting colors. Design and color of terrains and water are of pastel colors which can give pretty, clean and happy feeling. Being cartoon style, models are made to emphasize the special features and not realism which makes the objects look beautiful.

Competition VS Cooperation

Being a strategy game where the aim is for player to defeat the opponent, be it the AI or other player(s), there is a lot of game modes to explore. In fact Age of Empire is a fairly successful PC game which leads to the development of this multiplayer online version which aims to increase the interactions between players. Much of the time in the beginning, player completes quests to gain level and soon after, players can opt for Player vs Player (PvP) matches and the game even has system to establish matches for random players. Cooperation comes in form of alliance wars where different groups of players battle against each other as well as cooperating with friends to complete cooperative quests which are generally more challenging.


This game is an online game which is free to play for 3 of the civilizations. The concept of online game is to increase the total players and popularity of the game. There is little profit based on the download of the game itself. However, players can purchase premium contents of the game such as special items and booster packs to customize their PvE (Player vs Environment) gameplay experience.

Player could also buy tech points to upgrade their technology tree, better gears which could give unfair advantage over other players during PvP matches. However, it still depends on the player himself on how he manages and wins the game. PvP arena at times set up matches between 2 players with large level difference which is positively unfair.


Monster Hunter in the Lens

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is a 2008 video game in the Monster Hunter franchise for PlayStation Portable: (Trailer). The title of the game tells players exactly what they are going to spend all their time doing. Basically answering the key question of what is this game about.

The LENS of CURIOSITY seeks to prompt players with questions. “I’m hunting monsters? Seriously”

Questions inevitably surface in players minds. More so as they get familiar with the game: Monster’s weaknesses, attack patterns, movements, carving drops and most importantly how to bring them down. Combined with vast variety of options in the form of monsters, terrain, equipment, carves, weapon styles and challenges. There is no lacking in probable questions.

There are literally hundreds of items for player’s disposal, including eleven weapon-types, with attack powers and buffs. Hence, players get to ponder on the how(s) and what(s) to achieving combinations to complement their individualistic and personalized styles. The game motivates curiosity such that it never gets boring, even after thousands of hours of game play.

Analyzing the game play of this game is described by the LENS of SKILL.

Monster hunter sits in the middle of being a “casual game” and a “hardcore game”; it is easy to play, yet difficult to master. The level of strategy involved is as deep as the combined imaginations of up to four simultaneous players. All made possible with its controls. The steep skill curve makes the balance in the LENS of SKILL questionable.

Unlike most role playing games, this game is nothing about numbers; players should be able to venture cold into any hunt with only the weakest weapon in the game and yet slay everything in his/her path. That is the level of skill achievable; timing, precision and movement. The more one plays the better he/she gets.

However contesting players for such proficiency at an early stage in the game experience could be a disincentive. A player unable to handle the learning curve quickly dismisses the game. It can be just too difficult or laborious to achieve. But anything that falls short of in virtuoso skill can be subtly convinced or gloriously feigned through cooperation with peers.

Discussing synergy among peers as mentioned in the LENS of COOPERATION.

The prime factor where monster hunters earn its fans is indisputably, when players try their hands on the multiplayer gameplay. Via the PlayStation Portable’s Ad-Hoc functionality, players are enabled to experience the social gaming phenomenon, unlike the MMORPG Games, and adventure in up to a party of four for a thrilling and savaging multiplayer hunting party.

Monster hunter fully capitalizes on the amazing potential of local multiplayer, and succeeded in thoroughly exploiting it; Perfect communications setting, where players are in the immediate vicinity yelling and laughing at one another, friends and strangers bonded by the display of skill and reliance.

In single mode, the player is allowed 3 deaths before the quest is over. In co-op mode, the total number of deaths between players is three then everyone’s quest is over. Such a challenge promotes cohesiveness; Players knocking heads, wrecking brains, devising a strategy to slay the monster. Team play is the key to hunting down those ferocious beasts. Monster Hunter miraculously manages never to feel lonely or fruitless. But isn’t the game appearing to be overly repetitive?

Players experience an unconventional form of progress, discussed in the LENS of VISIBLE PROGRESS.

Players repeat tasks, over and over, honing their skills and upgrading their equipment. Mission structures higher skill rated missions, reusing repeated locations but with stronger or different patterns of more monsters. Monsters possess varied, albeit predictable, AI patterns that are still interesting enough to entertain. And one would ask, “Does it ever end?”

The player’s character is constantly changing: constantly scavenging and crafting new items, trinkets, pieces of clothes or armor; weapons get shinier and sharper, but most importantly players get better at playing the game. Because skill is in question, there is always the ability to improve, as players tackle quests they discover new and amazingly different approaches.

The experience is, to say the very least, far more psychologically fulfilling than in other forms of progression: Players progress as a hunter more so than progress in the game. The repetition, often unwanted in games, isn’t a problem no matter the number of times, players always relish the monster’s falling moment, screaming its last cry.

“Can this really be fun?” In the LENS of FUN, it is asked.

Monster Hunter has essentially no complex story line  other than a clichéd explanation of the player’s origin. But considering the nature of the game that flows hence forth, it’s well sufficient. In a game that otherwise features no “end goal”, many feel achieved and full of iconic moments playing the game.

Hunting yields surprising options; in other games killing monsters is all too common, but here, players get to chop tails and break horns or capturing for rewards. But to do so requires timing and precision which makes the action of doing so fill the players with overwhelming joyous sensations.

The fun is exemplified more so when players do their hunts in groups. Cracking monster heads and chopping off tails with coordinated group tactics. No matter being a novice nor expert, the surprises from hunting together highlights monster hunter’s fun factor, especially those laughable moments when your peers make comedic mistakes at a costly blow.

The crux of the game is so well-grounded in a hunter’s common sense that the fun in the game is felt in the experience.

Guild Wars 2 Analysis

CS3247 Assignment 1: Option 1 – Analysis of Guild Wars 2


The Lens of Challenge

  1. Easy to attaining maximum character level due to relative flat leveling experience curve.
  2. Difficult to craft legendary weapon due to expensive materials and materials that can only be gained through tough achievements.
  3. Reward at the end of a tough terrain and puzzle-liked jumping task.
  4. Maintaining top server position in server versus server war.
  5. Recognition for having 100% world map explored.
  6. Different difficulties of achievements, from easy resource gathering to difficult jumping task.
  7. Easy to reach max level for all crafting skill with gold.


The Lens of Skill

  1. Supports movement using WASD keys for finer maneuver during critical situations.
  2. Dodge system for all characters to evade incoming attack, limited by stamina system.
    1. Requires players to have fast reaction time.
    2. Requires players to make on spot decision in order to fully utilize their number of dodges.
    3. Can be trained to become part of muscle memory.
  3. Balance player versus player system where players can choose on default characters and equipment.
    1. Players have to fully understand all characters to give them an edge in the fight.
    2. Good decision making and fine motor skills are required to correctly out one’s actions.
  4. Good tactics, commanders, siege and defense equipment operation are needed to be successful in massive server versus server war.
    1. Such experience can be gained during the course of war.
  5. Jumping tasks require good gauge of distance, fine motor skill, observant and patience to succeed.
    1. These skills require considerable effort and are difficult to nurture.


The Lens of Economy

  1. Open and transparent market system shared by all servers, where players can view items posted by others
    1. Can be accessed at any place in game.
    2. Trading flourish due to ease of selling and buying items.
    3. Little chance for price manipulation due to large supply of items.
    4. Reduces frustration due to selling an item too cheaply or buying overpriced item.
  2. Multiple game currencies for different purposes.
    1. Gold – The general currency used for trading.

i.      Can be gained through monster drops and questing.

  1. Vis – The secondary currency used in game to buy some crucial items that are Vis exclusive.

i.      Can only be gained through real time dynamic events.

ii.      Non-tradable, forces players to obtain some items through their own effort.

  1. Gems – Can be bought through real cash.

i.      Allows trading between gold and gems through the principle of demand and supply.

ii.      Helps to discourage real money trading.

iii.      Most cash items are for cosmetic purpose or can be gathered through drops.

iv.      Cash items that provide unfair advantage are too expensive to be abused.

  1. Tokens – Rewards for completing dungeon instances.

i.      Used to trade for dungeon specific equipment which is used for cosmetic purpose.

  1. Crafting leveling skills as a major component of gameplay.
    1. Low level drops are always in demand due to low level crafters.
    2. Used by game developer to prevent price crashing of any items, by making them as ingredient for new items.
    3. Allows new players to sell drops for decent profit to fund for their equipment.
    4. Decent equipment comes at affordable price due to excess supply from crafting.
  2. Limited number of item stacking on an item slot to stop player from amassing too much of the item at any point of time.
    1. Further prevent price manipulation due to item hogging.
  3. Anti-inflation measures placed on gold to make the game more new player friendly.
    1. High tax, 10% for listing and 5% for being sold, placed on items listed in the market.
    2. Some crafting materials are only available through non-playable characters.
    3. Huge amount of gold is required for siege and defense equipment in Server versus Server war.


The Lens of Freedom

  1. Different approaches to play the game, most of which alone could result in maximum character level.
    1. Grinding – Relative flat level experience curve.

i.      Grinding becomes less boring due to more visible changes in character ability.

ii.      Equipped with decent equipment, character could kill monster at its level range with relative ease.

iii.      Dynamic level adjustment to character’s level when it enters a region below its range.

iv.      Lower level maps are no longer more efficient at character leveling.

v.      Game population becomes more evenly spread to all maps

  1. Questing – Interesting storyline where character is one of the two main heroes preventing an evil dragon race from corrupting the land.

i.      Different deviation of starting and mid storyline, depending on how players set their characters and their interactions during the quest.

ii.      A lot of replay value for players who want to try out different possible deviation of the storyline.

  1. Real time dynamic events – Group activities that can be done repeatedly.

i.      Can only be done when they are frequently activated at a fixed interval.

ii.      Activation notification sent to characters within its radius.

iii.      Good reward encourages strangers to gather together to complete the event.

iv.      Good range of activities, which include resource gathering, escorting, defend an area, invade an area, etc.

  1. Dungeon instances – Small group of 5 with an average of less than an hour completion time.

i.      Allows players to choose different paths to complete the same dungeon.

  1. Exploration – Experience is gained when a region of map is explored.

i.      Some difficult to access places allow a fun and challenging exploration experience.

ii.      Extra monetary reward given out at a map completion so that explorer does not suffer financially.

iii.      Mini quests that have no impact on main storyline and are part of the exploration experience.

  1. Achievement – Predefined activities that character has to complete daily, monthly, or in its lifetime.

i.      Recorded in character’s profile and a point system allow players’ effort to be recognized.

  1. Resource gathering – Different resources are spread randomly throughout all maps.

i.      Limit of each resource point is character bounded.

ii.      Therefore players who prefer resource gathering are not restricted by competition to the resource.

  1. Server versus server war – 24/7 War, with weekly reset and ranking update.

i.      Players could log in any time and enter the war, provided the players limit for their server is not reached.

ii.      Reward given when an objective is achieved.

  1. Extensive range of character customization, giving each character its unique identity.
    1. Appearance customization is similar to that of the creation of Sims in The Sims game franchise by Maxis.
    2. Each character class can wield a number of different types of weapon types.

i.      Allows different playing styles even with same character class.

  1. Most character classes can wield two different sets of weapon at the same time

i.      Players can now better adapt to different combat situations.

ii.      Abilities activated when swapping weapon encourages players to utilize dual wielding system.

  1. Equipment can be mounted with other equipment skins while retaining their stats.

i.      Players no longer have to make a compromise between looks and weapon ability.

  1. Good transport system and few restrictions on character movement.
    1. A number of teleport points evenly spread out on a map.
    2. For a small fee, players can teleport straight to a specific explored region on any map.
    3. The fee is scaled according to the character level.

i.      Low level and poor players can still enjoy the convenience of transport system at a lower cost.

  1. Good jumping feature allows players to access weird place on map like roof top and hill top.
  2. Water is no longer a physical boundary as players can dive deep into the sea to explore.
  3. Customizable chat system support creation of different chat tabs to cater to players’ needs.
    1. Players can pick which kind of chat to appear in their tab.
    2. Multiple tabs allow players to switch chat effortlessly according to their activities.
  4. Freedom to change community.
    1. Multiple guilds feature allows players to conveniently switch main guild without the need to leave other.
    2. Players can switch servers once a week to find their ideal servers.


The Lens of Community

  1. Real time dynamic events create opportunities for strangers to gather together and forge new friendship.
  2. Profound guild system support for guilds’ operation.
    1. Guild leveling feature as a common goal which members work together in.
    2. Member ranking feature creates an orderly hierarchy with different level of power access to different ranks.
    3. Guild bank allows members to share their wealth with other members and for the operation of the guild.
    4. Multiple guilds feature creates a platform for like-minded people to gather together for different situations.
  3. 24/7 Three-sided server versus server war.
    1. Forces guilds within the same server to cooperate together to have constant military presence throughout the week.
    2. Although war is a number game, difficult objectives still requires cooperation from a large number of people.
    3. Instead of wandering aimlessly in battlefield, commander tag feature to direct players to battle front.
    4. Diplomacy at work to prevent the onslaught of two other servers and the loss of guilds to other servers.
  4. Cross server communication.
    1. Players can chat in game with one another even though they are on different servers.
    2. Guest system to be introduced soon, which allows players to visit servers that they have friends in.
    3. Foster and maintain friendship with anyone that plays the game.
  5. Both real time and non-real time events organized during festive holidays for players to indulge in the festivals together.


Guild Wars 2 Official Website: https://www.guildwars2.com/en-gb/

24/7 Massive server versus server war gameplay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk06sCaB0l4