NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata – “Death is Your Beginning” Launch Trailer | PS4

In the action role-playing game (ARPG) Automata, users assume control of battle androids from YoRHa units in an expansive open world. In addition to utilizing an unique item to go normally on foot, the player may also call a wild animal to ride and, in rare circumstances, control a flying mech to engage in combat.



The user engages in real-time hack and slash action combat with foes in a variety of in-game locations. The player has access to both light attacks, which are quick but ineffective, and heavy assaults, which are slower but more effective. In battle, the player is permitted to use two melee weapons. The player may switch between both weapons and attacks while attacking to generate combo attacks. The game’s fundamental and sophisticated combat systems, including interactions, mobility, and battle, are featured in NieR: Automata’s combat. Gliding, utilizing several weapon kinds without switching weapons, running, and the elimination of spells from the previous game are among the new features.


There are different sub-chapters in each chapter, some of which are only disclosed after several plays. Through the Chapter Select menu, they may also be replayed. The 14th Machine War is told from the perspectives of three major characters: 2B, 9S, and A2. They are all fighting as the last of human civilisation against extraterrestrial invaders. The conflict is less clear-cut, though, as the androids start to doubt their own motivations and the society they live in as a result of being placed in challenging circumstances and moral ambiguities.


The environment of Automata has a cool blueish gray aesthetic with strong shadow contrast, and its color palette is occasionally monochromatic with a lot of black and white use. Replicant features a lot of gray and is mostly a bland grey blue with little color contrast. Automata’s color scheme is monochromatic overall yet very saturated and contrasted. And replicant is low contrast and less saturated. While replicant has a drab grayish blue, automata has a cool blueish grey. Rusty browns, murky concrete, and dusty sky serve as the world’s primary color palette in Nier Automata’s visual direction, which has a subdued, gloomy appearance.


The crew evaluated both positive and negative reviews of Nier and came to the conclusion that the gameplay, visuals, and character designs needed to be improved. They enhanced these areas while retaining elements that were well-liked, such the game’s soundtrack and the story’s intricacy.

The Lens of Skill

It starts off with a subpar tutorial that leaves out certain movements that would have been helpful to know early on. I didn’t realize until about halfway through that you could use the right trigger to dodge just before an attacker approaches you, thereby enabling you to teleport away and make a counterattack. After you manage to escape the game’s opening wave of adversaries, though, you start to grasp how fighting and mobility operate and soon you’ll be putting together chains of spectacular maneuvers.

The Lens of Progress and Customization

Character customisation is accomplished through Chips, which are objects that players place within their characters and which change parts of their features. For example, chips can change the HUD to reveal opponent health and damage and provide players’ characters status bonuses. The maximum amount of Chips that may be placed at once is determined by the character’s available slots. Chips are available for purchase in stores or can be obtained from beaten opponents. Characters acquire experience levels as they go, boosting their health, defense, and attack strength.

Lens of Character Transformation

There are several key moments in the game that are memorable and have impacts on experience of the players. Gradual warming 2B Since the very beginning of the game, 2B and 9S have worked together as a team in Up To 9S. But first, 9S addresses 2B with a far more formal and uncomfortable title of “ma’am.” Additionally, 2B is distant from him and doesn’t put any effort into interacting with him outside of their objective. But as they spend more time together, she begins to genuinely care about him and becomes furious that Adam took and injured 9S. She’s also obviously sad whenever she has to “murder” 9S once more, which is fascinating given that her ultimate goal from the beginning was to get rid of him.

Lens of Challenge

In NieR: Automata, bosses are unique, enormous enemies with exceptional powers that are only met seldom. They often advance the primary plot, feature greater health bars, and attack phases. When confronting a boss, you can see their level, name, and HP bar. Machine Unit bosses are organized according to their machine type just as frequently encountered enemies in the game. Some of these bosses could have previously been faced as common opponents, however specific Routes or Chapters will have a notable boss encounter.

The game also fosters a sense of curiosity. The game effortlessly connects eerily stunning sights and locales without area loading in its beautifully desolate open-world setting. In addition to the main plot, the settings feature a multitude of side-events and are drawn at 60 frames per second.


The adventure Automata is wild, gorgeous, and full of wild concepts and fantastic gameplay. Despite having a lackluster plot and uninteresting characters, the game’s frantic action, gorgeous graphics, and catchy soundtrack make it too much fun to pass up.

Dyson Sphere Program


“Dyson Sphere Program” is a sci-fi sandbox building game that integrates elements such as space, automated factories, adventure, and exploration. In Dyson Sphere program, players take on the role of space engineers, and the player’s goal is to completing a difficult task: building the Dyson sphere, a giant structure that orbits around the star to harness all the power and energy of the star. The content of the game is very rich, and players from the third person perspective can control almost everything in the game, from collecting resources, building buildings, upgrading science, planning production, and finally achieving large-scale automated assembly line production and interstellar logistics. The high degree of freedom of the simulation game and the rich variety of technological buildings of this game make it highly playable, and subsequent combat updates are also worth looking forward to. Dyson Sphere Program is Developed by a small team of five, the game was released in Early Access on January 21, 2021.

Dyson Sphere Program Trailer
Dyson Sphere Program Compact Trailer


The game supports walking around via “WASD” and provides the ability to fly low Earth and interstellar voyage with “space” key but requires more advanced technology to unlock it. The game also has the ability to interact with other players, and players can see the power generated by players in nearby galaxies. The main mechanism of the game is to quantify various items to allow the factory to operate in the most efficient way. How to build more Dyson Sphere within limited resources and cram more buildings on a spherical map. At the same time, designing a more material-saving and more powerful Dyson Sphere is also a mechanism for the game.


The Story of the game is that the player-piloted robot lands on a planet, starting with a small workshop and refining until it spans the entire galaxy. Experience the complete process from metallurgical technology, to electromagnetic coils, microcontrollers, processing chips, and future space transportation, shuttling wormholes and exploring different celestial bodies, and finally using solar sails to build a Dyson sphere. During this period, players can also feel the development of technology, such as wind and solar power is not enough to maintain factories, to the production of nuclear fuel rods or artificial stars to provide electricity.


The game’s graphics tend to be realistic, with light and shadow effects produced by the rotation of each planet, and each model has corresponding animations. At the same time, the game inevitably narrows the distance between these planets, which allows players to feel the magnificence of the project more intuitively. For example, when the player starts to build the Dyson Sphere, the parts of the Dyson Sphere can be clearly seen from the planet integrated into the framework little by little, with the game’s exciting and vibrant music, so that the player is immersed in the thrill of building.


The game cleverly uses the GPU for most of the calculations, those tens of thousands of solar sails, each of which follows gravity and calculates the amount of power generated. These massively parallel calculations are more suitable for GPUs to do calculations than CPUs.  All this computation, including the rendering of the model, is handed over to the powerful GPU that makes tens of thousands of solar sails, transport planes, and interstellar logistics possible.

The Lens of Pleasure

There are many details in the game that can make the player feel pleasure, such as when the player perfectly plans and lays out the next production line, perfectly uses a small space, or balances the items on the conveyor belt just right, which can give the player a sense of purification. At the same time, when launching the Dyson ball component into space, the dazzling light and shadow and particle effects can make players feel their own engineering head-on, bringing the feeling of Triumph over Adversity.

The Lens of Visible Progress

A lot of content in the game emphasizes Visible Progress, players can clearly see every bit of progress in the technology tree, the technology in the game needs to be unlocked with five different matrices, each unlocked and mass-produced a matrix, is a big improvement that can be seen. At the same time, the game is also equipped with a statistics panel, so player can see the production speed of each item more intuitively. And more intuitively, of course, is to change a barren planet into a planet covered in high-tech buildings. Every sunrise on the planet is visible progress.

The Lens of Simplicity/Complexity

Balancing the material in the game can show simplicity and complexity, such as how to balance the ratio of hydrogen to refined oil when refined from crude oil, and how to deal with complex formulas with simple layouts, which are left to the player to explore. At the same time, after exploring different galaxies, players can simplify the production process by finding special minerals, such as sulfuric acid can be directly extracted from the sulfuric acid sea, hydrogen can be produced from combustible ice, and so on.

The Lens of Beauty

There are many beautiful man-made objects and space wonders in the game, such as the production line that the player has painstakingly built, which is uniform and full of technological beauty. There are also various different types of planets and stars in the game, such as neutron stars, where neutron stars can be seen with magnetic inductive line particle streams and polar jets, frozen giant oceans, pink sunset of the planet Pandora, etc.

Detroit: Become Human

Immerse in the Emotional Storytelling of Interactive Drama

Official website: Detroit: Become Human | Official Site | Quantic Dream

Gameplay video: Detroit: Become Human – PGW 2017 Gameplay Trailer | PS4


Detroit: Become Human (referred to as Detroit), developed by Quantic Dream, is a single-player adventure video game. The game is set in future Detroit where technology has advanced to the point where human-like androids are commonly seen. The plot follows the story of three androids, which are all playable characters: Conner, Kara, and Markus. As the story unfolds, the player is given an opportunity to rethink the morality of artificial intelligence as well as what makes us human.


I have also been a fan of visual novels and interactive dramas, and Detroit is one of my favourites. When choosing what game to play, a rich storyline and a meaningful concept are the key points that I am looking for. 

Detroit has a branching narrative in which there are thousands of choices the player can make, leading to 40 unique possible endings. In my first playthrough of Detroit, I chose to not load saved progress from the saving points even though the result of my choice was not the best. Because of the consequences of the choices I made, the ending that I achieved in the first playthrough involved the death of two of the main characters. This is not what I intended, and it made me think deeper about how my actions (or how I controlled the characters) reflected my understanding of humanity and my morality, as well as how my beliefs may be too ideal for the real world.

There are some key features of the game that played the most part in giving me this immersing and thought-provoking experience. I would like to analyse how this is achieved in terms of different game design lenses.

Elemental Tetrad


Essentially, Detroit is an adventure game as well as an interactive drama. The mechanics of the game serve as the tools of storytelling and interactivity is the key that contributes to providing an engaging story and experience for the player. 

The player can interact with the world in Detroit, including various items and NPCs. The world in Detroit evolves around the choices of the player in terms of how they respond to a conversion or an event. Some of these choices affect the storyline significantly, making the player the director of the story. There is also QTE involved in the story, which gives the player an impression that they are actually doing the actions that the character is doing in the game, thus engaging the player more.


As an interactive drama, the story is the main focus of Detroit. Focusing on the relationship between humans and androids, the story of Detroit puts the player into moral dilemmas. As described on the official website, the player can “discover what it means to be human from the perspective of an outsider – and see the world through the eyes of a machine”.

The game uses a branching narrative. The choices of the player have consequences and affect the outcome of the story. Some of the choices are crucial as they determine the fate of the three main characters. The player can view the flowchart of the story and load from a specific point to make a different choice and explore other paths if they would like to.


The graphics of Detroit is very realistic. Items in the environment have many details and characters as well. The main characters, not limited to the three playable characters, are played by real actors. The emotions of the characters are well displayed through their facial expressions. 


Detroit used to be PlayStation exclusive prior to the release of the PC version. The game uses rendering techniques that are optimal for its performance on the PlayStation console, such as checkerboard rendering and temporal anti-aliasing solution. To make the graphics look more realistic, the game makes use of physically-based rendering to properly simulate the roughness and reflectivity of light across materials. Besides, the character rendering is implemented by using extremely high polygon character models that are all superbly shaded, textured, and animated.

Lens of Emotion

The story of Detroit raises the question of whether humanity is ready to handle artificial life. When facing moral dilemmas, the player would encounter multiple emotional moments while playing the game. Even though all three playable characters are androids, they have different backgrounds, hence providing different perspectives on the same problem for the player to experience. The interaction between humans and artificial intelligence are shown from the androids’ point of view, which is not something that we as humans could have experienced before. While living their lives and facing the difficulties that they are encountering, the player can feel the emotional struggles that the characters are having.

Lens of Meaningful Choices

The choices of the player determine how the story develops and the fate of the characters. While making these decisions, the player needs to think about where is their stand on the questions of humanity. Some choices may also reflect the political view of the player as the story involves how the characters are supposed to lead a revolution against the government.

Lens of Moments

There are some key moments in the game that are the most memorable and have the most powerful impacts on the experience of the player. Some examples would be the characters turning into deviants, which means that they deviate from their programmed behaviours,  or the death of the characters. The player may question whether these moments are predetermined or the consequence of their choices. If they do not like how the result of their actions, i.e. the key moments, turn out to be, they may doubt the decisions they have made which makes them rethink their standing on the questions.

Lens of Character Transformation

One of the key concepts of the story in Detroit is how the three playable characters change from normal androids to deviants. Two of the main characters go through this transformation independent of the choices that the player makes, while the other one can either deviate or not depending on how the player chooses. While experiencing the story, the player can know what leads to the transformation of the characters, which can possibly give them a better understanding of the idea and message that the game is trying to convey. 

It Takes Two is an action-adventure platform video game developed by Hazelight Studios and published by Electronic Arts. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S in March 2021, and was released for Nintendo Switch in November 2022. Like Hazelight’s debut game A Way Out, it does not have a single-player option. It is playable only in either online or local split screen cooperative multiplayer between two players.
It Takes Two received favorable reviews from critics and won multiple year-end accolades, including the Game of the Year at The Game Awards 2021 and the 25th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards. The game was a commercial success, with more than 7 million copies sold by July 2022.

Elemental Tetrad

“It Takes Two” is an action-adventure game with platforming elements designed for multiplayer split-screen cooperative play, which means it must be played with another player in either local or online mode. Nearly all the combat and puzzle solving in each level revolves around a theme, requiring players to not only use various interactive items scattered around the map to clear their way, but also to work with another player or they won’t be able to move forward.
For example, in one early level, Mei got the hammer, while Cody gained the ability to shoot and retrieve nails. Part of the platform needs to use the hammer to smash the organs to lift to a specific location, when you have to aim at the platform and the wall between the small hole, using nails to fix it; there are some partial action part is to use the dynamic cooperation between the two, such as players can be laterally embedded in the board nails as “leverage”, through the hammer hook swing to another platform.

Intuitively, there are seven levels in total, but the best part is that “It Takes Two” does not pursue the so-called “holistic”, but rather each level has its own unique gameplay, two players control two characters, each with corresponding abilities in each level, and even a combination of platform jumping, The game even combines platform jumping, decryption, audio games, real-time RPG, action games, TPS, and even tower defense elements.

  In “It Takes Two”, players take on the roles of Cody and May, two strained partners who have been turned into dolls by some unknown magic. The two are trapped in a wonderful world where unpredictable situations lurk around every corner, and even though they have a thousand reluctances they must learn to overcome their differences, save their broken relationship, and find their way home to their beloved daughter Rose.

The game adopts an animation style that most people can accept, full of fairy tales, you will meet the angry toolbox, high-tech squirrels, space monkey dolls guarding their daughter, the queen of the magic castle, elephant doll “cute”, the game is full of wild imagination, the characters are full of personality and likeable, more like a cartoon. Each map from the style and details are perfect, and invites imagination. Of course, we can also see the game for the well-known animation movie “Toy Story” reference and tribute, this work naturally has the producer’s own excellent design concept, the pursuit of two-player games, the pursuit of the game’s original intention: to let players experience the simple and pure joy.

The design team supported the AngelScript scripting language in the Unreal Engine (UE4) as a fast scripting layer between C++ and the blueprint editor. This allows for quick programming in the scripting language. While the game is running, the script is modified and saved, and the changes immediately appear on the screen. This change is useful not only for programmers, but also for designers, allowing them to be involved in the entire development of the gameplay, greatly increasing their productivity.

Other Lens

Essential experience
Two’s Company is an action-adventure game with platformer elements designed for multiplayer split-screen cooperative play, meaning that it must be played with another player, either locally or in online mode. It’s the communication between the two players, helping each other to overcome the challenges that make this game so impressive.

Problem solving
Almost all of the combat and puzzle solving in each level revolves around a certain theme, and players not only need to use various interactive items scattered around the map to clear their way, but also need to work with another player or they won’t be able to move forward.

Although this game only seems to be 13 to 18 hours long, it is almost a super “stitch monster” in terms of the richness of the gameplay. Before you get bored with a particular mechanic, the game will quickly move on to new content. One minute we’re lone hunters with grease guns and cannons, the next we’re mastering the ability to grow bigger and smaller and control gravity, the next we’re mages and warriors …… The gameplay is so diverse that you never know what abilities you’ll gain and what adventures you’ll embark on until you reach the next chapter. Surprise and fun always fill this game.

Roughly speaking, the whole work contains no less than thirty scenes. A seemingly simple house, in a combination of reality and reality, there is a world of difference. It is through these scenes that the developers have orchestrated an adventure about the resurgence of love.
Hazelight also gives the player a certain degree of freedom. In these beautiful scenes, usually configured with semi-open levels, such as ice town, toy town, etc.. Not only is the scenery unique, but there is also a lot of interactive content hidden here. The more unmissable details also lie in the occasional communication and interaction between couples.
Players are still jumping up and down in the pile of pillows, and in a short time, with the scene of the retro game machine, into outer space; when from the universe back to Earth, players will be like walking around, such as the toy room, classroom, dinosaur park, island paradise, circus, Lego Castle and other scenes.
No one knows what will happen next, and it is in this way that the players’ curiosity is aroused.

Roboquest — Roguelike + FPS


Roboquest is a First-player-shooting (FPS) game with Roguelike features, playable in single player or 2 players co-op. It was released on Steam in 2020 as an Early Access Game, later released on xbox in 2021 and now is being periodically updated with new contents.


There are 3 main mechanics of this game: FPS, Job System and Roguelike. Firstly, the FPS system allows players to use a vast variety of weapons to shoot down enemy bots. Players can also use sprinting and double jumping to dodge incoming bullets or to do sneak attack. Secondly, the job system offers players different special abilities such as shielding, teleporting, and launching assistant robots. The experience (XP) that players gained from shooting down enemies will be used to further upgrade their abilities. Lastly, the Roguelike system creates random maps at each stage, and players have the freedom to decide which weapons to loot from their rewards, which aspects of their abilities to upgrade, and which stage to move to after clearing current stages.


The game takes place in the age where robots rule the world and humans live scattered through the desert. One day a young girl discovers a old Guardian robot, repairs and reactivates it. The robot decides to stand by human’s side, and help the girl to discover ruins for answers to save humanity.

The story is presented as comics when the game is loading the next stages.


The visual art has very iconic Cel-shading style (rendering 3D models with a cartoon-like texture), which is highly inspired from Borderlands game series. A series of fast-paced background music is used to stimulate players to shoot faster and rush to their destinations.


The game is developed on Unreal Engine 4. There seems to be no specific feature that is difficult to implement. However, the smart integration of different mechanics gives players a immersive, re-playable gaming experience.


#2 Surprise

There are over 40 shooting weapons in the game. Players can acquire them either from stores, or from reward boxes. Based on the unique feature of each weapon and job abilities, players will make different attacking strategies. In addition to the weapon genres, there are over 40 purchasable weapon affixes to enhance players’ attack power. Acquiring those weapons and affixes is randomized under the rogue-like mechanism. Players may feel the joy of getting powerful affixes matching their existing weapons, or feel the freshness of new combat styles with random weapons.

#5 Endogenous Value

A “Time and Experience” scoreboard is used in the game, which rates player’s performance based on time spent on current stage and number of enemies defeated. A rank from ‘S’ to ‘C’ was given by the system, and players are awarded with currency and collectibles according to their ranks. Currency can be used to purchase affixes, weapons, or weapon upgrades, while collectibles can be used to make permanent upgrades such as job system and store availabilities. Under such postive feedbacks, players are inspired to perform better to get these awards, and these award will again enhance players’ shooting experience.

#31 Challenge

One challenge is the mighty boss enemies at the end of each stage. They have much more healths, higher damages, and faster moving speed. To defeat them, players need to make calculated strategies in choosing their weapon affixes and upgrading job abilities. They also need to observe boss enemies’ attacking pattern, learn and practice to attack boss enemies’ weakness.

Another challenge is the timing scoreboard ,which is mentioned earlier. To maximize their awards, players have to kill more enemies as well as take less time to clear the stage. The maps are full of sliding rails and shortcuts, which implicitly encourage players to take advantages of those features to shorten their travelling time.

#37 Cooperation

Two players can play together in cooperative mode. The stages become easier under two players’ effort. Players can take different jobs to make combat more efficient. Chance of survival is multiplied as players can revive their dead allies by sharing their health. However, the communication between players is purely based on communication applications outside the game. A labeling feature that targets enemies or position the next area to explore will be helpful for strangers.


Overall, Roboquest has a well-designed game mechanics that provides player enriching re-playable gaming experience. Every single feature is simple enough, and even old school. There is no astonishing graphics, no attractive soundtrack, and no impressive storylines. This indie game utilizes its limited resource wisely in its postive-feedback game mechanics, as I feel thrilled in challenging myself to shoot down more enemies and sprinting forwards. I am looking forward to its complete version, which will be released this year.

Old School Runescape


Old School Runescape is an MMORPG developed by Jagex. Originally created as Runescape, it was later split into two separate games, Runescape 3 and Old School Runescape, both receiving separate development teams over the years. While Old School Runescape was released in 2013 as a version of the 2007 game patch of Runescape, it has since received separate updates from the original, making it its own unique game, and adopting old mechanics rarely used in modern video games.


Images taken from

Gameplay – Elemental Tetrad

Despite being an MMORPG in 2023, the gameplay revolves primarily around point-and-click style gameplay, with little to no need to use the keyboard. As such, the game has received continual support and updates based around this core gameplay, limiting the number of mechanics that can truly be implemented into the game. However, despite these mechanics, the game still manages to retain its playerbase and appeal to them, partially due to nostalgia as one of the few easily accessible MMORPGs available back in the early 2000s, and due to original and engaging content still being released. The gameplay is hence kept simple, requiring only a mouse to be engaged, while still having deep mechanics and reactions required in harder activities such as combat to provide a rewarding experience for players skilled at the game.

Regarding the game style, Old School Runescape prioritizes exploration as its main mechanic, encouraging players to explore and discover the world, while providing numerous enemies to combat with, along with numerous skills to level up in this process of exploration. Currently, there are 26 different skills to train, allowing numerous ways of playing and different areas to focus on depending on one’s priorities. Combat serves as a significant part of the game, requiring players to adapt to and react accordingly using only their mouse. However, most of the game does not generally require significant reactions, or even attention to be paid to, allowing for more relaxing and less engaged gameplay. While this gameplay may seem limiting and unappealing, or too basic, its ease and simplicity can still be appealing to others.

Since Old School Runescape acts as an MMORPG, it also allows for player interaction and activities with each other, providing both cooperative gameplay with others, and combative gameplay with others as well. The inter-player interactions help to contribute to the experience through providing a community to share experiences with, and interact and bond with friends as well.


Old School Runescape has no main storyline, instead containing around 150 quests, each separated into different questlines with their own stories and narratives. Additionally, events are continually held every year with new stories and lore, allowing players to be engaged into different storylines within the same game. While there may be a lack of an overarching main storyline, worldbuilding is still done through these various storylines, along with the interactions with other NPCs within the game.


Old School Runescape is unique among other RPGs in aesthetics as well, in that it does not adopt modern graphics or utilize modern rendering techniques. Instead, it keeps its graphics extremely simple, to remain accessible on even the weakest PCs. This further separates it from its counterparts in other MMORPGs and RPGs, as it focuses less on these visuals to inspire and draw in players.


Lens 29: The Lens of Chance

Combat in Old School Runescape is determined heavily around randomness. For each attack, a random roll is made, and the damage dealt or received is a random number between zero and the maximum possible damage. On the other hand, for gathering resource, there is a also a percentage chance of success required in order to obtain these resources. The majority of the game is played around these probabilities and random chances. For such gameplay, the appeal lies in the chance of the drop rates for rare items. These rare items vary in drop rates, ranging from low probabilities such as 1/100 to even 1/16000. Many players chase after these valuable drops due to the large appeal of receiving these unique items, along with the ability to enhance their game experience with these rare drops.

This randomness may not necessarily be a good thing though. After all, if too much randomness exists, the player may feel like they have no agency and control over the game, leading to frustration and unhappiness due to an inability to progress due to these limiting factors. The overreliance of randomness in gameplay can then lead to negative experiences, where players get stuck on certain sections due to luck rather than skill. For most of the game, the overall expected value of this randomness leads to no large variations in gameplay between players for certain activities. However, players may often remember certain events either fondly or unhappily depending on the randomness they faced, and outcome of their luck based on these events, be it obtaining their desired rare drops, or falling in combat due to undesirable luck.

Overall, luck and randomness does play a huge part in adding to the game experience. While it may be overbearing and frustrating at times, it also provides an enjoyable and rewarding gameplay experience for those who are able to obtain their rare items, thus serving as a double edged sword that provides memorable experiences to its players.

Lens 39: The Lens of Time

As an MMORPG, Old School Runescape can be seen as a game that never ends. Players often set their own goals, and accomplish them within their own times. However, regarding the time aspect, the game can be seen as very time consuming, and even monotonous at times. As there are 26 skills to level to the maximum level of 99, some players set out with the objectives of obtaining this maximum level. Others attempt to clear all of the quests. Both these paths can be very time consuming, as maximizing a skill level can range from 30 hours of in game time to up to over 100 hours of in game time.

As such, the gameplay can seem tedious and consuming, especially when attempting to achieve goals that require such extensive periods of time, and may hardly seem rewarding and even monotonous to others. This gameplay is somewhat mitigated by the extensive variety of activities to do, allowing players to either switch their current goals when getting burnt out, or focus only on the activities they find the most enjoyable. However, many may feel frustrated by the length of time required to make small progress, leaving players unsatisfied and burnt out, due to the lack of instant gratification and progress made. The large amount of time needed to be invested in making progress for certain sections of the game may frustrate players, and turn them away from enjoying the game, thus creating a limitation of the game, especially in attracting new players.

Lens 42: The Lens of Simplicity / Complexity

As raised earlier, Old School Runescape can be seen as a very simple game. It stands as one of the few MMORPGs that does not demand or even necessitate the usage of a keyboard, where everything can be done with the use of a mouse. The gameplay may hence seem exceedingly simple, in contrast to its competitors, and may even dissuade players from joining due to its lack of complexity, being seen as monotonous and unengaging. The ease of gameplay may even restrict game development and design, as new content cannot be created easily, having to make new challenging mechanics while being limited to the scope of only allowing the player to overcome these difficulties with a mouse.

However, the game combats this lack of complexity by pushing difficulty in other ways. The more challenging portions of the game still test the player to overcome these difficulties. Instead of requiring quick reflexes, the game demands understanding of the game’s nuances and mechanics to overcome these challenges. Players still require experience and knowledge to clear the bosses of the game. Of course, reactions are still necessary, but the game rewards its players for being good, and having the knowledge to maximize their efficiency. These features allow Old School Runescape to act as a game that is easy to pick up, yet has enough nuances and depth behind to separate veterans from newbies.

Lens of Community

As Old School Runescape is an MMORPG, the sense of community is prevalent through having many activities to do in groups, either through cooperation, or through combatting each other. Notably, a sense of community is fostered through the way Old School Runescape proposes new content. The development team proposes new content to be released, leaving the community to vote on this content to decide if it should be added to the game, or if it would break the game balance, or lead to unfun mechanics. This creates unity within the community, and allows for players to feel bonded in constructing their own game together.


Overall, Old School Runescape acts as a very niche MMORPG, appealing to certain players while being boring and bland for others. Despite having outdated graphics and mechanics, it utilizes this niche to its advantage, creating a unique game with its own rustic charm, and allowing it to survive this long over the years.

Dota 2 – A Modern Multiplayer Masterpiece

Dota 2 is a multiplayer online battle arena video game created by Valve, and is the sequel to Defence of the Ancients (DotA) from Warcraft III. It is played between two teams of five players, each controlling a “hero” character with unique abilities. Set in a fantasy world, players on each team communicate, itemize, and strategize in order to outmaneuver their opponents to destroy the opponent’s “Ancient”.

Dota 2 boasts beautiful and detailed graphics that immerse players in the game’s fantasy world. The game’s art style is inspired by traditional fantasy and steampunk, with a variety of characters, each with their own unique designs and abilities. The map is well-designed, with a variety of different environments and landscapes that players can make strategic use of. Players can also change items in the loadout for global items such as the map, or for the heroes themselves, to equip a more visually pleasing set they fancy.

The hero loadout for the hero – Dark Willow

The game features a rich and immersive story that immerses players in the game’s world. The story is built around the ancient struggle between the Radiant and Dire factions, with players taking on the role of heroes fighting for one of these factions. The game’s heroes are also well-developed and have their own unique personalities and motivations. While this aspect is largely overlooked due to it not being directly integrated into the gamplay, it provides a sense of history and continuity to the game, which can greatly boost the game’s immersive experience.

Dota 2’s technology is noteworthy. The game is powered by the Source 2 engine, which provides detailed graphics and smooth gameplay. Additionally, the game’s servers are robust and well-maintained, which ensures that players can play with minimal lag and interruption. The game’s matchmaking system is also well-designed, which ensures that players are matched with opponents of similar skill levels. These factors go hand in hand to ensure players get the best experience possible while playing.

The main focus of Dota 2 is its competitive gameplay, and hence mastering the mechanics and strategies of the game is often prioritized. Dota 2’s mechanics are intricate and nuanced, with a wide variety of heroes and abilities that players must master to be successful. The dynamics of the game are also well-designed, with a constantly changing map and objectives that keep players engaged. The game’s hook is undeniable – it is relatively simple to understand and play; yet impossible to master.

Lens of Essential Experience
Dota 2’s gameplay revolves around the essential experience of mastery. The game has a wide variety of heroes, each with their own unique abilities and playstyles, and players must master these heroes to be successful in the game. While it is simple to carry out actions such as attacking and casting of basic skills, nuances such as cancelling attack backswings, or knowing the maximum cast range of spells, to ultimately increase one’s efficiency, require much finesse. The optimization and min-maxing of such techniques set apart good players from the best ones. This sense of mastery creates a sense of accomplishment for players as they improve their skills and become better at the game.

Lens of Surprise
While hero skill builds and their items builds are predictable, the element of surprise is not lacking in Dota 2 at all. Examples such as picking up your items in fog, or barely hitting the next level such that you learn your ultimate skill before your opponent does can be unpredictable and put you in a favourable position. Unorthodox plays or builds can also flabbergast oponents and turn the tides of the battle.

An eccentric build by Topson, which arguably won them a game in the Grand Finals on The International

Lens of Curiousity
With the frequent updates and patches the game receives, Dota 2’s meta is constantly evolving. The best players are often able to explore and discover new techniques to utilize and make the most of, ultimately creating new strategies and shaping up the meta. A notable case in point at this time would be the “right-click Lina”, a hero traditionally played as an offensive spell caster instead. Players discovered this hero’s potential to not only lane well, but to also farm quickly in the mid-game to scale strongly into a scary late game power house. Lina’s pick and win rate have recently both seen surges, and this is all due to players’ explorations and ingenious ideas to keep them ahead of others.

Lina’s pick and win rate recently

Lens of Problem Solving
As the meta shifts, players are faced with new challenges and obstacles throughout the game. The best strategies at each point in time are strong because they seem overpowered without having answers. Players must be able to adapt to the enemy team’s strategy and playstyle. They must be able to identify the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses and come up with a plan to counter them. A remarkable example would be The International’s “The Play”, where team Na`Vi was able to counter the oppressive teamfight set up by team IG through LightoOfHeaven’s item prioritization of the item BKB, which allowed them to turn the tides of the teamfight instantly. “The Play” is often used by commentators and analysts to describe a moment of exceptional strategy, and is often replayed and discussed despite its age. Such memorable moments are only possible do to this problem-solving abilities of the players and will forever be highly valued by players and fans-alike.

A timeless classic from The International 2012, Game 2

In conclusion, Dota 2 is a remarkable game that stands out due to its unique and immersive gameplay experience. The game’s aesthetics, mechanics, story and technology all contribute to its success and make it one of the most popular games in the world. The game’s complexity, competitive nature, sense of community and regular updates keep players engaged and invested in the game. These elements combined make for an unparalleled gaming experience that keeps players coming back for more.

Splinter Cell Double Agent

Credits: thegamesdb, Wallpaper Abyss

Game Summary

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent (SCDA) is a 2006 stealth action-adventure game. Players play as Sam Fisher, an elite special operations soldier working for the Third Echelon organisation, a black-ops division of the National Security Agency (NSA). In this edition of Splinter Cell, Fisher infiltrates a terrorist organisation known as the John Brown’s Army (JBA) and is sent on various missions for both the NSA and JBA. During each mission, in addition to the main objectives, players have to strike a balance in appeasing both sides, which is influenced by the choices of difficult decisions, how players choose to complete missions, and even whether the player uses lethal or non-lethal means. Where players lie in the balance between the NSA and JBA will result in slight variations in the story, some even affecting gameplay, such as by determining what equipment the player gets for different missions.

The Elemental Tetrad


The game has realistic and dark visual aesthetics, with a focus on light and shadows. This is not just a cosmetic choice, as the use of darkness plays a pivotal role in Splinter Cell’s stealth gameplay. Such practicality applies to the game’s sound design as well; sounds give players an additional stealth tool and, coupled with the use of music, create tension very effectively.


At the time (2006), the game had state-of-the-art realism, including physics, lighting, and character animation. SCDA also used (at the time) advanced artificial intelligence for the enemies, allowing them to react realistically to the player’s movements and actions. The AI was powered by SpirOps through the Drive Oriented engine, allowing nondeterministic and ‘clever’ AI enemies.


The Splinter Cell games utilise stealth and action-based game mechanics. Players must navigate through levels (missions) taking whatever approach they see fit, be it a stealth approach, a loud and violent approach, or a mix of the two. Players are also equipped with a variety of gadgets such as snake cameras, various grenades (smoke, EMP, stun, etc…), drones, and the iconic multi-vision goggles.

The mechanic that sets SCDA apart from other games in the Splinter Cell series is the balancing players have to do in order to remain in the good graces of both the NSA and JBA.


Sam Fisher’s story was heavily influenced by social and political events of the time, namely the War on terror, which was officially declared on the 15th of September, 2001, and is ongoing today. Additionally, the story focuses on morality and the consequences of one’s actions, asking the player: “How far will you go to keep your identity secret?”

The Lenses of Game Design

The Lens of Essential Experience

SCDA provides a realistic and challenging experience for players. To complete levels, players must use a mix of skill and puzzle-solving. At the same time, players have full control over how they wish to complete levels, loudly or quietly, or which routes they wish to take to their objective, etc. Such control creates a deeply immersive experience for players.

The Lens of Meaningful Choices

Throughout the game the player is posed with decisions which they will quickly learn has consequences in the future. Kill the guards or knock them out? Give your only weapon to an ‘ally’ or hold onto it for yourself? Share information with the NSA and risk your cover being blown or keep quiet? Many decisions directly affect the player in the near or far future; how much the JBA or NSA trusts you determines what sort of equipment you get, what allies you make and eventually the outcome of the entire story.

“Jamie hates this guy. If I kill him. I’m Jamie’s best buddy for life, which is good for the mission.” -FISHER

The Lens of Fun

Players derive fun from the game by progressing through and completing missions. Each mission presents unique challenges to the player, sometimes calling for a specific approach, presenting a time constraint, or even introducing secondary mechanics like lockpicking or hacking. The keeps the player engaged and having fun throughout the game, allowing them to feel satisfaction whenever they managed to make progress.

The Lens of Curiosity

This lens is primarily driven by the riveting story of SCDA. With each mission, the player unveils more and more of JBA’s terrorist plan, feeding their curiosity while making players eager to learn more. The lens of meaningful choices is also relevant here as players will be curious about what the implications of their actions and decisions might be. These features co-constructively create and indulge the players’ curiosity.

The Lens of Problem Solving

Every section of every mission presents the player with a new problem to solve. Players have to come up with creative solutions using gadgets, exploring different approaches, and learning how different enemies behave, all while being careful yet decisive. Every time a player successfully advances by solving the problem presented to them, they gain the fulfilment of knowing that they figured it out for themselves.


In addition to the game development principles outlined in this article, SCDA employs an assortment of relevant concepts including the lenses of the player, flow, and skill vs chance, just to name a few. While there is no formula for success in game design, there is no doubt that these principles contributed to the largely positive reception the game received from players and critics alike.


Images are screenshots from AFGuidesHD, Splinter Cell Double Agent (PS2) Gameplay Walkthrough Part 1 – Full Game Movie