“A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian jungle, and subsequently a storm ravages half of Europe.” – analysis of Until Dawn

Do your actions really matter?

1. Game description:

Until Dawn is an interactive drama survival horror, where every decision affects the plot.
Player follows the story of eight teenagers who have to survive on Blackwood Mountain until they are rescued at dawn. 

1.1 Plot:
During a party at her lodge on Blackwood Mountain, two sisters die due to a prank. A year later, the rest of the guests are invited to the same lodge. As the night progresses, they are terrorised by a masked man. Is this another prank or real threat? Is there anything else waiting for them in the mountain cabin?

1.2 Technology:
Game was developed by Supermassive Games using Decima engine. It is a PS4 exclusive.

1.3 Game trailer, gameplay and game website:
Website: https://www.supermassivegames.com/games/until-dawn
Game trailer:

Official Release Date Trailer

Gameplay:

Full game walkthrough

2. Lenses:

Lens #39: The lens of Meaningful Choices
The whole game mechanism is based on butterfly effect1, where a small change in one state can result in a larger difference in another one. Each player choice in game is meaningful and directly affects the story and our possible future choices – relations between characters can become stronger, weaker or, due to our actions, characters can die.

  • There are 22 critical choices in game
  • Certain choices may unlock new sequences of events (leading to unforeseen consequences)

Lens #78: The lens of Story
The story of the game is well designed and complex – with each choice, the events within the game can change dramatically. Storyline is non-linear – with each new game, player might get a different outcomes and discover new information important to the plot. Information given to the player are subjective – each character perceives the events differently.

  • There are 3 main endings (all alive, all dead, some alive) with 256 unique variations (28 based on the number of characters)
  • There are 10 chapters in game with intermissions between chapters to analyse player’s personality based on his game
  • A game script is nearly 10,000 pages2 long.

Lens #41: The lens of Skill vs Chance
The game has almost no luck-based components. The gameplay is decided purely on player’s skills within quick time events, decisions made in the story and player’s will to explore (there are hidden totems, which reveal possible future events). Only player’s decision-making skills, intuition, reflexes and curiosity are the factors that will decide on the characters’ fate.

  • There are 30 totems to be found in Until Dawn – 6 totems out of each category (death, danger, loss, guidance and fortune)
  • Some decisions are timed

Lens #47: The lens of Punishment
Until Dawn uses a strict auto-save system – whenever a decision is made, game is saved to prevent players from reloading the game state before the decision was made. If the character dies, we cannot bring them back to life. The only way to undo our previous choices or mistakes is to restart the game and continue with a new, fresh start.3

Lens #87: The lens of Character Traits
Until Dawn story is mostly about character development and how certain events influence our relations and our personality. Each of 8 characters in game are different personalities with unique their views and beliefs. Every decision in game is influenced by the character we are currently playing. Although, throughout the game, our choices shape the reality and affect our relations and cause character development. Player can also view the personality of each character and his or her relationships with others within in-game menu.4

Articles and references:

  1. Boeing, G. (2016) “Visual Analysis of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems: Chaos, Fractals, Self-Similarity and the Limits of Prediction” (On butterfly effect)
  2. Klepek, Patrick (22 September 2015), “How Until Dawn Ended Up with nearly 10000 page script” Kotaku
  3. Bell, Larryn (30 August 2015) “Until Dawn Walkthrough and Guide” Prima Games
  4. Takahashi, Dean (26 August 2015) “10 tips for surviving the night in Until Dawn”

Game Analysis: Minecraft

Minecraft is a sandbox video game. Players live in a blocky, procedurally generated 3D world.

“Prepare for an adventure of limitless possibilities as you build, mine, battle mobs, and explore the ever-changing Minecraft landscape.”

https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/about-minecraft

Lens of Freedom

Since Minecraft is a sandbox game that has no specific goals to accomplish, you have a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game! For example, you could play to kill monsters, build cities, raise pets, automate things, explore dungeons, socialize with friends, etc.

For new players, this amount of freedom might be overwhelming. Luckily, the developers added a way to “win” the game: defeat a boss called the ender dragon, giving new players a goal to work towards.

I recall having to scour the world for resources, crafting tools and weapons to make myself stronger. At night, monsters come out to attack me, therefore I built walls to keep monsters out of my base! I had to spelunk in order to find ores to upgrade my tools and weapons, which was quite scary because the caves are very dark ☹. I also had to visit two other dimensions, the nether and the end, before fighting the ender dragon.

The boss fight was very intense because I had to make a lot of preparations before fighting it. It deals a lot of damage therefore I needed the best equipment to fight it. Also, the constant fear of dying and losing everything makes it even more frightening. Eventually, I defeated the boss, which was relieving and gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. However, it did not feel like the end, as there is still so much to do and explore!

Lens of Friendship

Minecraft also has multiplayer support, allowing me to play with my friends over the internet! This is my favorite feature because I love to play with my friends. There is a chat box which allows me to talk to them no matter how far away they are in the game.

Multiplayer also makes the gameplay very diverse because everybody is different and prefer doing different things, such as building, exploring, fighting, mining, etc. I love to build, so it is even more fun to build with my friends! It is also fun to go occasionally on adventures together. It is interesting to watch my friends doing things I’m not very good at and learning from them. I can ask my friends for help, for example to go spelunking together which makes it less scary! In fact, only with my friend’s cooperation, we defeated the ender dragon together.

There are also public Minecraft servers which anybody can join and play! There are many things you can do, such as looking at other people’s creations, play mini-games and make friends!

Lens of Story

One aspect of Minecraft that seems to be lacking is the story. Some people might find it difficult to play a game with a lack of character depth and story, as there is nothing else compelling enough to play the game. There are some things in the game that don’t make sense or are out of place, such as what is the ender dragon and why should I defeat it? However, the developers have been putting in effort to give some life to Minecraft, by creating another game called Minecraft: Story Mode.

“In Minecraft: Story Mode, players control Jesse, who sets out on a journey with his or her friends to find The Order of the Stone—four adventurers who slayed an Ender Dragon—in order to save their world.”

Lens of Technology

There are two main versions of Minecraft. Minecraft is written in Java, while Minecraft: Bedrock Edition is written in C++. Java was used for quick initial development of the game, while C++ was used for its performance benefits.

Minecraft is a video game particularly known for its adaptability for modifications, additional content for the game, known as “mods”. However, the Java edition actually does not have an official modding API, even though they announced they were making one since 2012. On a positive note, in 2016, Mojang announced their official support of mods for Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, where they are known as “add-ons”.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Description

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the latest game developed by FromSoftware, which is famously known for their difficult Dark Souls series. The game is set in the Sengoku period in Japan, and follows a shinobi known as Wolf as he attempts to take revenge on a samurai clan who attacked him and kidnapped his lord.

Links

Steam Store page – https://store.steampowered.com/app/814380/Sekiro_Shadows_Die_Twice/

Lens 7: The Elemental Tetrad

Sekiro is a very modern game that utilizes cutting edge technology in video games. Such technology provides very pleasing aesthetics and satisfying mechanics for the players to view and explore.

The mechanics are tight and tolerant to player errors. The animation transitions are smooth and provide a good aesthetic. The story is good and sets up an interesting world for the player to explore.

The harmony between aesthetics, story, mechanics and technology helps to reinforce each other and provide a cohesive and enjoyable experience to the player.

Lens 31: The Lens of Challenge

As per tradition, FromSoftware does not give the players any option to adjust the difficulty of the game. Critics will always argue for easy mode, but from the game design perspective, the challenge is the gameplay. It should be normal for a player to die repeatedly to an enemy numerous time. The player should then figure out that a head-on attack is not the best strategy, and should leverage on the game’s “sneak attack” mechanic to cut the boss health bar by half, making the boss fight much more easier.

The player character about to stealth attack the enemy

Lens 26: The Lens of Rules

To continue on from the previous lens, part of the challenge is to figure out the rules of the games. Despite the complexity of the game, Sekiro runs on a strict set of rules. For example, if the player performs a perfect parry, the player will never be staggered by the enemy attacks. These rules are fun for novice players to discover, and entertaining for the more advanced players to repeatedly exploit.

Lens 68: The Lens of the Hero’s Journey

Maybe part of what makes Sekiro a great game is also in its story. FromSoftware’s storytelling has always been indirect, told through the world around the main character, and perhaps that was what made it great. In Sekiro, Wolf’s story is akin to Vogler’s Synopsis of the Hero’s Journey. Wolf heeds the call to adventure (2), and is immediately struck down by the second boss encounter of the game (8). Wolf recovers and gains a prosthetic limb, which offers extra options to combat (9). Finally, Wolf embarks on a journey full of perils in order to save his lord (10-12).

Hallelujah.

Bioshock Infinite. This is a mind-blowing FPS that strongly interweave narrative and A.I. together in this shooter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSDDE3ICLhA This link provides an in-depth behind the scenes which are skippable to get a gauge on what features are available.

It might seem like this game is a tiringly long escort mission. But the way that this game provides the lens of experience seeks to redefine this genre. The AI can help and stay out of the way seamlessly, which is surprisingly refreshing for escort missions. For example, the AI can help find ammo or toss us health packs during different stages of the battle, which is helpful and provide a sense of relief in the middle of the battle. This makes me appreciate the AI more rather than find it to be a burden. Furthermore, one can also observe that the AI also interacts with the environment when I am idling. This further immerses me in the experience of being in the world and making the AI more humane, which is a sign of a masterful complex AI.

It also provides the lens of surprise and fun. The game is designed with a lot of twists and turns in its narrative, and it carefully builds it up this way and set it up. Therefore, for the uninitiated, it might be worth to check out this game without getting spoiled.

The game also indulges in the lens of curiosity. Being a very imaginative and creative world led by the game’s creative director, it brings much curiosity into the life and culture of living in a different world. The premise is based on a city in the skies, and its colourful nature and hidden political themes bring a lot of depth to the game and make me want to explore more. The answers provided by the narrative rewards our curiosity and make me appreciate the story better,

Combat dynamics brought by environment

This game fulfills the lens of elemental tetrad best by fulfilling almost all requirements. It has a compelling story that is matched with wonderful aesthetics (being cartoony-styled is timeless). The technology is high as well and it explores various fun mechanics of battling in a city in the sky while being futuristic as well. The game mechanics might be a bit straightforward as a shooter, but the rest of the elements more than makeup for this game.

Analysis — BABA IS YOU

Link: https://hempuli.com/baba/

Description:

As described in its official website, Baba Is You is a puzzle game where the rules players have to follow are present as physical objects in the game world.

Baba Is You mainly has two kinds of objects which are text object and real object. The text can be a name, a logic word or a property word. The rules in the game are formalised using three texts. For example, in the sentence BABA IS YOU, [BABA] is a name text which refers to the main character, [IS] is a logic word which means having the property, and [YOU] means the referenced object has the property “controlled by player”. A rule can also be stated as “something is something” or “something has something”.

The winning condition:

The winning condition, of course, is also stated using text objects in the game. Basically, we need to let the place where exists the object, which has the property YOU, also exists an object, which has the property WIN, i.e., YOU IS WIN.

What I’m doing and my feelings:

As a player, I just randomly try different combination of words in the beginning stages. Those tutorial stages are quite friendly. I not only can clear the stage with a limited number of attempts but also get the basic ideas of the game. In the following stages, the difficulty of the game increase quite smoothly. The following stages continually introduce new logic and property words which makes the gameplay very interesting.

Elemental tetrad:

  1. Mechanics : The game is a 2D single-player game with dynamic rules. The rules are determined by how the words objects are arranged.
  2. Story: The game doesn’t really have a story.
  3. Aesthetics: The graphics and music are quite comfortable and dreamlike.
  4. Technology: The basic rules are from Sokoban, but the dynamic rule in the game is very creative.

Lenses:

  1. Essential Experience: The players get pleasure by solving the puzzles.
  2. Surprise, fun: There is a large number of possible combination of words which enables players to have many possible rules. There are a lot of them surprising and fun.
  3. Curiosity: This game inspires players to discover new rules.
  4. Problem Solving: This is a puzzle game.
  5. Holographic Design: All the elements of the game are consistent.
  6. Unification Theme: Every thing in the game reinforce the theme – solve the puzzle by manipulate the rules.

Dead Cells: Analysis through Lenses

Dead Cells is a roguelike, Castlevania-inspired action-platformer, allowing you to explore a sprawling, ever-changing castle… assuming you’re able to fight your way past its keepers. To beat the game you’ll have to master 2D souls-like combat with the ever present threat of permadeath looming. No checkpoints. Kill, die, learn, repeat.

From the dead cells wiki

Elemental Tetrad:

Mechanics:

Dead Cells’ core mechanics are simple, move around the level and kill enemies, while dodging or parrying enemy attacks. The diversity of level layouts, environmental hazards, enemy types and equipment combinations make full use of the core mechanics to create a large variety of challenges and situations for the player to overcome. 

At its core, Dead Cells is a rogue-like. Players are expected to be defeated often, each time starting anew, but with more knowledge of the game and access to persistent upgrades that helps the player progress further through the game. At every corner lurks a new mechanic for the player to master, the game never feels dull.

Story:

The story in Dead Cells is rather light, the player plays as the Beheaded, whose goal is to travel through the levels to hunt the King. The player is not given any prologue or direction at the beginning of the game. Pieces of story and lore are drip fed to the player as they progress through the game, via short cutscenes from interacting with points of interests, or when the player defeats a major boss.

Aesthetics:

The game features grim 2D pixel art graphics and grungy level and enemy design that accurately signals to the user: this game won’t be sunshine and rainbows. 

Technology:

While this game is available on both PC and consoles, it is clear that the game is meant to be played with a controller. 

Lens of Problem Solving: 

A key component of performing well in the game is designing the right build (combination of equipment and skills). Newer players will often find their runs ending very soon due to a lack of damage output or survivability. Seeking out equipment and selecting skills that synergise with each other is a key problem that players will need to solve in order to beat the game, especially at higher difficulties. This game demonstrates good game design, by balancing the skills and equipment such that there are many viable builds. This encourages players who beat the game using a specific build to try out different builds, which lead to refreshing new experiences.

The Lens of Fun:

The core gameplay loop is simple – traverse each level and kill enemies along the way. Killing enemies is not a simple activity of mashing buttons, certain enemies have a special attack to watch out for and the player must dodge or parry at the right time to avoid taking damage. The controls were very well polished, which is essential for an action platformer title. The graphical and aural feedback were well polished as well, the enemies would explode with a satisfying sound when killed, and send bits of enemies flying across the floor. Important gameplay events such as boss fights and leveling up were accompanied with sound effects that gave the player a feeling of strength.

The Lens of Surprise:

The game employs a procedural level generation technique that randomizes the layout of the levels each time. No two runs will be the same. Players will be blessed with good RNG in some runs and encounter tough levels in other runs. 

The Lens of Curiosity:

The game has a minor story component, provided as points of interest scattered across the levels. Interacting with them rewards the player with interesting lore and tidbits about the world they are in. However, the story/lore is not very compelling and almost feels as if it were added as an afterthought and does not contribute very much to the appeal of the game.

Fortunately, the game is still able to intrigue the player’s curiosity. The game features a non-linear level progression, allowing players to explore different biomes on the way to the final boss. The different biomes feature different enemy types as well as a variety of environmental hazards. Furthermore, the game features a large variety of equipment, categorized into melee and ranged weapons, shields, traps, turrets, grenades and powers. Each piece of equipment has a unique effect that synergizes well with certain builds. The player starts out with only the most basic of equipment unlocked. The others are unlocked through a variety of means, including exploration of the game (think secret areas), feats/challenges, killing bosses, random drops etc. Personally, I found this to be the best quality of the game. During my first dozen or so runs, I would experiment with different combinations of equipment, and be excited to test out a newly unlocked equipment.

The Lens of Endogenous Value:

The pickups in the game all provide endogenous value – gold is used to purchase or upgrade equipment, cells are used to unlock new equipment and enhance drop rates of better equipment. Equipment drops are always a welcome sight, as they are scaled to the level and are usually superior to the equipment from a previous level. It is rare that a player will find collecting items to be pointless or a waste of time.

Preferences for VR/AR HMD

For VR HMD I prefer to choose the Oculus Quest all-in-one VR gaming headset. This one sells $399 on Amazon.

Advantages:

Screen:

Oculus Quest uses a monocular 1600 x 1400 OLED screen, although there is a sense of pixels, the pixel sense is not obvious, and it can be ignored when playing games because games are not required much for 3D graphics.

Lens:

Oculus Quest uses a Fresnel lens which advantage is that it provides clear experience for surroundings and there is almost no dispersion in the center or the surroundings, while blur and distortion will appear around ordinary lenses.

Controller:

There are two ways to use Oculus Quest. One is suitable for standing or sitting in place. It will let you set up a virtual wall with a diameter range of more than one meter. A blue grid will appear around you in the game. When you do not exceed this area It will not be displayed when it is exceeded, it will be warned after it is exceeded, and an external screen will be displayed, but the colors are processed. Another way is to use touch to mark a moving range. This range can be relatively large, such as two or three meters in diameter. You can draw a range around the wall around the room. As long as your body does not exceed this area, no warning will appear.

In some games, the touch controller will become its own hands. It is quite unexpected that the controller can almost represent various gestures of people, including raising the thumb can be perceived, and feedback in the game. Some picking movements can be done easily, even with a slight hallucination that which is your own hand.

Game:

Oculus Quest is the most suitable one for playing games, and can even be directly positioned as a game console. It has a perfect game experience for playing Rhythm Space that the music and lightsaber are perfectly matched with the vibration feedback. Some roller coasters and horror games are suitable for people to play when there are many people as they can activate the atmosphere and bring joy to relatives and friends.

Disadvantages:

The angle of view of Oculus Quest is about 100 degrees which is worse than Vive. Fresnel has a disadvantage that is its clear central area is small, and it is necessary to carefully adjust the interpupillary distance and up and down position so that the eye is located in the central area of the lens, otherwise, it will be very unclear. Therefore, VR devices with Fresnel lenses without interpupillary distance adjustment may not be suitable for some people. The battery is not durable and can last for only about two hours or more. The effect of the built-in headphones is average, with 3.5mm ports on both sides, but the cable is easy to interfere with after connecting the headphones. Due to the limitations of resolution and FOV, Oculus Quest is not very suitable for watching videoes.

In general, Quest is still the main game but not suitable for watching videoes. It is the main product of Oculus at present. Because PC VR is too expensive to get started, many people ’s home PCs have not been updated for many years. If the price of a complete set is too high, it will block mainstream users. Quest this all-in-one machine should be the main development direction, at least in the mainstream public domain. The wireless of VR is inevitable. After the popularization of 5G in the future, an all-in-one machine such as quest can put a lot of processing pressure on the cloud server. This wireless is also the most effective for resource utilization. And wireless like PC VR, just remove the cable, still need to set a high-performance PC at home, this PC is only working when you play VR games, the rest of the time this PC It is in a state of idleness and waste. This method has performance advantages in a certain period of time, but it is destined to be difficult to radiate to mainstream users. To make VR as popular as smartphones, Quest is taking an inevitable path.

For AR/MR I prefer HoloLens 2.

Compared with the parameters of the first generation, it can be seen that the field of view of the Hololens 2 has more than doubled compared to the first generation, and the resolution has increased from 720p to 2k, and the sharpness has been greatly improved. The holographic scene brought to users is more vivid, more realistic, and more immersive.

And Hololens 2 has a better understanding of the environment and support for gesture interaction. This means that when we use it, it will be more convenient to operate.

Prior to this, the Hololens generation has always been criticized that the device is heavy, and it will compress the bridge of the nose when used, and it cannot be worn for a long time. The second generation has added a new function-a sunshade can be lifted up, and cushions are designed on the front and back of the head, which greatly improves the wearing comfort, which is not only very convenient to wear but also solves the problem of pressing the bridge of the nose.

Hololens2 enjoys a two-year commitment to quality assurance and obviously has improved in after-sales service.

In summary, the second generation has comprehensively improved in terms of performance, comfort, and cost performance.

A woman wearing hololens glass and feels it experience

Songbird Symphony

Game Summary

Website: https://joysteak.com/
Demo: https://joysteak.itch.io/songbird-symphony-v02
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3vmzG3kKbY

Songbird Symphony is a 2D platformer with a rhythmic twist.
Follow an orphaned chick, “Birb”, in his heart-warming journey of discovery, as he sets off to find his true origins. Follow this cheerful little bouncing bird who revels in singing, and guide him through this magical journey of stunning pixel art and gorgeous animation that shapes itself to your musical interactions!Chirp to activate platforms, and sing to the residents of the forest, learning new notes to aid you in captivating rhythm battles against the creatures of this sprawling, enchanting world.

Features

Aesthetics

One might say the biggest draw of this game is its aesthetics. Its beautiful, colorful and cute pixel graphics with adorable characters draw many players in to try the game.

Not only are the visual aesthetics excellent, the game also comes with its own original soundtrack, handcrafted to go hand in hand with the pixel art. The superimposed lyrics are rather meaningful and helps blend the soundtrack into the story.

Story

Songbird Symphony has a heartwarming story which definitely engages the audience’s mood in one way or another.

Birb travels through the forest, exploring and learning new notes from other birds to help him in his quest to find his parents.

Gameplay

While exploring in the magical world of Songbird Symphony, we come across platforming puzzles that we have to solve to progress further. The player also engages in rhythm battles with other birds to either learn new notes or gain progress in their quest.

Songbird Symphony is a platformer with no death but instead focuses on adventure and solving not-so-hard puzzles. Even the rhythmic element was designed specifically to not have a lose condition.

Technology

Songbird symphony is developed in Unity, is very lightweight and has been released on multiple platforms.

Lens #81: The Lens of Character Transformation

  • Birb’s character
    • Starts of as a weak little chick thinking he is a peacock but just different
    • Finds out that Uncle Pea, the peacock, is not actually his parent and becomes extremely emotional
    • Figures out that he is a songbird
    • Becomes empowered by his mother after knowing what had happened to his mother which caused him to be initially abandoned
  • Owl’s character
    • Begins as a mentor to birb
    • Turns out to be the antagonist which wants all songbirds dead
  • The magpies
    • Is the initial obstacle in Birb’s quest to help Owl
    • Turns out to be helping Birb’s mother in attempting to stop Owl’s plans

Lens #68: The Lens of the Hero’s Journey

Birb’s story is certainly one of a Hero’s journey. Starting as an outcast from the peacocks, he journeys through the magical world and slowly figures out his origins, helping other birds along the way. Eventually, he rises up to take out the big bad Owl who caused his initial plight.

Lens #48: The Lens of Accessibility

The game was designed to have accessibility in mind.
Firstly, all the rhythmic elements in the game do not have a fail state, allowing the player to not frustrate over not being able to ace a level in order to progress.
Secondly, all platforming puzzle elements are of increasing difficulty where a puzzle always builds upon previous knowledge.
Lastly, the puzzles are designed not to be difficult as to encourage the player to focus on the story and adventure part of the story.

Lens #49: The Lens of Visible Progress

The player gains more notes as they progress through the game. These notes also increases the difficulty of the rhythmic element of the game. Additionally, optional objects appear throughout the platforming elements of the game in the form of feathers. Players can see that their collection of feathers slowly increase while they progress through the game, each giving the player a small bit of lore into this magical world.

Lens #58: The Lens of Juiciness

The game employs juice as one of its main ways to maintain player engagement. For example, in some sections of the game, the player is required to sync out key presses with the rhythm. The game rewards the player with ripples on the screen and on some occasions, screen shake. This is only one of the myriad of ways the developers of this wonderful game have juiced up the game.

VR/MR review

Mixed Reality

The Hololens 2 allows user to experience what it is like to live in a space where reality and virtuality amalgamate. The Hololens is designed to fit over the user’s spectacle which is something conventional VR/MR headset do not really cater to. The design of the Hololens, in my opinion, is extremely well-done. It looks sleek and expensive, it’s aesthetic is something that one would associate with futuristic technology. It is designed to feel light and comfortable such that it can be worn over long period of time. This feature is essential as it is targeted at enterprises and businesses would look for tools that provide such wearability. One that attracts me the most about the Hololens is the use of the eye tracking and hand tracking. The Hololens does not use controllers to track the movements of the user’s hand. But rather the movement of both the user’s eyes and hands is tracked by the special lens. This feature is extremely unique in the VR/MR market and can serve many functions. As well as provide more user freedom when using it. It makes the navigation more intuitive and the experience more immersive as the user explores the world created by the Hololens. The user can use his hands to interact with virtual 3D objects. This provides the perfect way of teaching someone through an immersive experience. The Hololens aspires to render more complicated 3D objects in the future. I do see this tool being employed in the near-future by businesses in their practices

Virtual reality

7 years ago, Oculus VR is a pioneer in consumer grade virtual reality. They introduced to the world the Oculus Rift which revolutionised many domains in the world. They then introduced their improved version of the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Quest. This is the first wireless VR headset that could fully manipulate the virtual world and provide three degree of freedom (or as commonly known as 3 DOF). The user could fully move in the virtual world as he would in reality. He could crotch, walk or spin in the VR world. And this provides a fully immersive experience for the user. However, instead of a powerful graphic card, the Oculus quest uses a SnapDragon 835 processor which is merely a cellphone CPU. This limits severely the graphic quality provided by this headset. However, the wireless ability of this headset more than makes up for it. 


Analysis of Don’t Starve

Don’t Starve is a survival game where the player aims to survive as many days as they can by managing three conditions: Hunger, Health and Sanity. The player is able to choose from several characters, who each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Game play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9-Wjz_Gn-8
Game’s website: https://www.klei.com/games/dont-starve

Lens #7: The Lens of the Elemental Tetrad

Mechanics

  • Rules: If the hunger bar or the health bar reaches 0, the character will die and unless the character had activated a resurrection item, the player must restart the game from Day 1.
    Apart from maintaining the health and hunger bar, there are many other dangers that the player needs to avoid or be prepared for in order to survive.
  • Player actions: Players are able to craft items from a menu and collect items from the map in order to prepare themselves.
  • Goals: The primary goal of the game is to set the highest personal record for the number of days survived. There are also several other goals, like exploring the entire map and solving the puzzles scattered around the map.

Story

  • Back story: Maxwell, the ‘king’ of the The Constant (the playable world), has dragged the player into his world and has forced them to survive within it.
  • The story is not told throughout the game. The player knows the back story and will only know the next part of the story if they manage to complete the game. Hence, players are kept in suspense as they try to survive and complete the game to find out what has happened to their character.

Aesthetics

  • The game has a whimsical, dark look.
  • The animals, environment and music of the game becomes creepier as the Sanity of the character drops.
  • At night, the game heightens the player’s fear of darkness throughout suspenseful music and complete darkness.
The representation of rabbits when sanity is high (left) and when sanity is low (right).
The screen goes completely dark at night. The character is equipped with a torch in this picture.

Technology

  • The character can be controlled fully through mouse and/or keyboard inputs.

Overall, I believe that the game has managed to use each aspect of the Elemental Tetrad to build upon one another and improve the player experience. The technology of the game is simple, which reflects upon the simple goal of the game. The story and aesthetics build suspense and desire for the player to complete the goal of the game. The mechanics and aesthetics works together to strengthen the player’s fear. For example, the rule of the game is that if the player does not find a light source at night in a certain amount of time, a monster that cannot be killed will be spawned and the character will likely die. The light sources that the players must equip will also run out over time. This creates suspense and a real consequence which, paired with the atmospheric tension, heightens the fear that the player experiences when night comes.

Lens #4: The Lens of Curiosity

The player is able to develop many different strategies for each challenge and character in order to survive the game. After each iteration of the game, the player will often wonder how they can tweak their current strategy to survive longer and be more efficient in the next game. Leaving out a tutorial also makes the player more curious as to what comes beyond the current day. The map also has many mysterious items which hint towards a puzzle waiting to be solved.

Lens #31: The Lens of Challenge

The game does not provide a tutorial on how to survive in the world. The player has to experiment and probably die several times in order to gain some experience and survive past the first month. The environment of the game is also constantly changing over time, bringing new challenges to the player. For example, the game has 4 seasons that they cycle through. In Winter, the main challenge is in staying warm and surviving the winter boss. In each iteration of the game, the map also changes. Hence, the game is ever changing and the players will have to figure out how to survive in each iteration. The player also has to figure out by themselves how they can progress forward from the current map. This challenge inspires the players to continue playing and break their own record.

Lens #41: The Lens of Punishment

The game often punishes the players if they do irrational actions. For example, if the player randomly attacks animals or monsters, they will often find themselves dead and having to restart the game. If the player carelessly uses their torch to burn an item near their camp, their entire camp will go up in flames and all the items built will turn to ashes, resetting the progress that they have made. This constant punishment manifests a sense of caution and tension in every action that the player makes. This tension adds to the suspenseful element of the game and makes the game feel thrilling.

Lens #49: The Lens of Visible Progress

The game has a ‘Morgue’ tab that keeps note of the amount of days survived for each iteration of the game. The player will be motivated to continue playing and break their record as they can see the improvement in the number of days survived. The progress of the game can also be observed from the player’s ‘camp’, (the place where they have built most of their items), as the players can see their camp growing and looking more organised as time passes. The number of days that they have survived in this iteration can also be seen easily from the screen, giving the player satisfaction and motivating them to continue playing. All these factors allow the players to see how much they have improved over time and encourages them to continue playing and improving to beat their record and complete the game.

The player is able to view their progress from the current state of their camp, and from the current day counter on the top right of the screen.