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Thursday, 1 October 2015

Assignment 1: Researching Video Games

Genre Name
Genre Description
Genre Example
FPS stands for first person shooter, a game that is played from the perspective of the characters eyes. In general the idea of the game is to kill enemies, usually soldiers of some kind, and this can be done either offline against AI controlled enemies, or online against other players. When playing FPS games the view is generally of you holding a type of weapon.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is an example of an FPS game. It uses the IW 4.0 engine designed specifically for the CoD series.

The plot involves ultra nationalist Russians taking control of the Russian federation, and performing acts of terrorism in Europe and the US.

Although the general focus of the game is on the multiplayer aspect of the game, the campaign contains linear, fast paced missions that must be completed in order to advance the main storyline. The multiplayer has a large amount of game modes to choose from, ranging from the traditional Team Deathmatch, to games such as Search and Destroy, and   Domination.

In general this is a game with a great multiplayer aspect, but is mediocre with its single player campaign, a trend for the majority of shooters.

Another example of a FPS would be Battlefield 4. The plot involves an elite team of soldiers foiling an admiral’s attempt to take over China through a coup d’état.

It is very similar to Call of Duty as many of the games in this genre share the same features and ideas. It contains a strong multiplayer aspect, but is let down by a poor story that is short and shallow, thus following a general trend for shooters.

Survival Horror
The Survival Horror genre’s main focus is that of trying to create fear and tension whilst trying to stay alive in conditions where the player is made to feel less powerful   than the other enemies in the game. These games tend to make use of stereotypical horror tropes such as dark mazes or surprise attacks by enemies. The fact that the player is generally under equipped or has a lack of equipment, the genre focuses more on puzzle solving and evasion, although some games incorporate combat into their games through first or third person shooter aspects. 

An example of a Survival Horror game would be Resident Evil 4.

The story of Resident Evil 4 follows the U.S. government special agent Leon S. Kennedy, who is sent on a mission to rescue Ashley Graham, the U.S. President's daughter who has been kidnapped by a sinister cult. Traveling to a remote rural area of Europe, Leon fights hordes of violent villagers and mutated monsters, and reunites with the mysterious spy Ada Wong. The game pioneered and popularized the "over the shoulder "third-person view perspective in video games. 

A further example of a survival horror game would be that of Outlast. The game follows a reporter who is investigating a remote psychiatric hospital. This is very different to Resident Evil 4 as it is in a first person view, and you have no weapons to defend yourself, thus relying on hiding and running away. This helps to emphasise the genre of survival horror as it makes you feel helpless and unable to defend yourself, which helps build up that feeling of fear within the game.
RPG stands for Role-Playing game, and involves the player taking control of a character, or characters, in a fictional land. They focus mostly on story and narrative elements and developing your character throughout the game through some kind of levelling system.

Skyrim is an example of a Role Playing game where the player takes creates and takes control of their own character, and then developments them throughout the game to make them stronger by completing quests and defeating enemies.

Skyrim’s main story revolves around the player character and their effort to defeat Alduin the World-Eater, a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world.

Skyrim’s gameplay gives the player access to an expansive open-world where they can do whatever they wish to do, allowing them to role-play fully in whatever role they want to play. Due to the fact that the main quest can be ignored after the first section, it allows players a lot of freedom within the game. The open world consists of dungeons, large cities and small villages and large wilderness expanses.

A different type of role playing game would be that of Pokémon X and Y. In Pokémon you don’t create a specific character that you level up, you instead catch and collect different types of Pokémon in order to either collect them all, or to become the very best trainer in the land, thus adding to the role playing aspect. Furthermore, these Pokémon you catch can level up, adding that the aspect of RPG’s that involve developing and becoming stronger.

Puzzle games are exactly as they sound, they involve the player to solve puzzles, which usually allows them to move onto the next level, which is a similar puzzle, just with a small increase in difficulty. Puzzle games can test many skills when solving them, such as logic or pattern recognition.

 Candy Crush Saga is a match three puzzle game where players must match three or more candies of the same colour in order to remove them, and gain points needed in order to move onto the next level of the game. When matching more than three candies in a row special candies are formed which allow the player to removes more candies when they can match the special candies in a row with regular candies of the same colour.

 Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy is a second example of a puzzle game. Throughout the game the player must complete a variety of different puzzles in order to advance the storyline and complete the game. In the game you take control Hershel Layton and his assistants Emmy and Luke to visit Professor Sycamore who claims he has discovered a living mummy. You must solve puzzles to help people and gain information about the story and to move onwards there are checks to make sure you have completed enough puzzles.

The strategy video game genre focuses on planning ahead and tactical thinking in order to win the game. There is an emphasis on challenges that may be strategic, tactical or sometimes even logistical. Strategy games are generally categorized into four sub types, whether that be real time or turn based, and whether the games focus is on that on strategy or tactics.

Civilization V is an example of a strategy game, more specifically a turn-based strategy game.  In Civilization V, the player leads a civilization from prehistoric times into the future on a procedurally generated map, achieving one of a number of different victory conditions through research, exploration, diplomacy, expansion, economic development, government and military conquest. The game is based on an entirely new game engine with hexagonal tiles instead of the square tiles of earlier games in the series.

Players must manage units such as soldiers and workers, and decide which buildings to build on their turns in order to create a powerful nation capable of defeating the other players, AI or human, through the different winning conditions.

The Settlers: Heritage of Kings is an example of the other type of strategy games as it is a real time strategy game. The story involves Dario, a young prince who must regain his dead father’s throne from the hands of the evil Mordred, whilst working to reunite the lands in order to be strong enough to face Mordred’s armies. The gameplay involves creating a strong settlement whilst amassing an army and defeating rival nations. However, due to the fact that this game is a real type strategy game you don’t have to luxury of sitting around and planning out your next idea as your rival nations will also be becoming stronger so you have to be planning ahead of time and keeping an eye on your enemies as they could attack at any time.
A sports game is game that allows the player to experience and simulate a real world sport without actually playing it. Some games emphasize playing the sport, whilst other games of the sport genre focus on the management side of the game.

In the game FIFA 15 you simulate playing the game of football through different modes. The most popular mode on this game is that of Ultimate Team where players can build teams from players they have brought on a marketplace on gained in packs in order to create their team, which they can then take online to face off against other players teams. Other modes include the player career mode where you create your own player and control him when playing, taking him from youth prospect all the way through to the best player in the world.

NBA 2K15 is another example of a sports game. Similarly to FIFA 15 the game depicts a sport, except this game is about basketball instead of football. There are many modes in this game which include a “my career” mode, where you make yourself in the game, and play through as yourself, going through all the decisions that a real player might have to make. There is also a simple offline mode where you can take control   of a team and play as them, making adjustments to the team and the way they play. You also have the option to play against other players in the various online modes to give a real sense of competition to the game.

The fighting genre in video games involves the playing control an on-screen character and facing off in close combat against one other character, which could be AI based or controlled by another human. These matches usually are fought in an arena of some kind are usually several matches long. Players must use aspects of the game such as blocking, counter attacking and the use of chaining moves together in order to defeat your opponent. In the majority of fighting games the player is allowed to enter special button combinations in order to execute a powerful special attack.

Mortal Kombat X is an example of a fighting game in which two players, or one player and an AI opponent, engage in combat using a variety of different characters and character specific moves in order to defeat their opponent. Fighters are able to interact with the environment,   bouncing off areas to reposition themselves or using parts of the environment as weapons. In addition, each fighter has three different variations, each featuring a different set of moves they can use during the fight: for example, the character Scorpion features a Ninjutsu variation in which he wields dual swords, a Hellfire variation which relies more on fiery special moves, and an Inferno variation which allows him to summon hell spawn minions to aid him in the fight.

There are many types of fighting games that follow the same kind of format and features, one of which would be Tekken 6. Some things that Tekken 6 does differently is that it implements a rage meter, meaning that your character does more damage if his or her health drops below a certain threshold. In general though, it follows the same tropes as most other fighting games, using button sequences to make combos to defeat another player or an AI player.

In the adventure genre of video games the player takes control of the main protagonist in a game which is driven by storytelling and puzzle solving. The majority of adventure games are heavily designed for single player use as encompassing heavy storytelling within a multiplayer setting can be difficult. They can come in different forms such as Graphic adventures and interactive fiction, among others.

Telltale’s the walking dead is an episodic interactive adventure game in which the player controls the protagonist, Lee, throughout the story, making decisions that affect the whole story. The story focuses on Lee, a university professor and convicted murderer, who rescues and the cares for a young girl named Clementine.

The Walking Dead does not emphasize puzzle solving, but instead focuses on story and character development. The story is affected by both the dialogue choices of the player and their actions during quick time events, which can often lead to, for example, certain characters being killed, and an adverse change in the disposition of a certain character or characters towards Lee. The choices made by the player carry over from episode to episode. Choices were tracked by Telltale, and used to influence their writing in later episodes.

The original Tomb raider game is an example of an action-adventure game. In the game the protagonist, Lara Croft, is controlled by the player as she is looking for 3 powerful artefacts. The game is presented as a third person game, with the camera always directly behind her, or over her shoulder. The objective of the game is to take Lara through a series of tombs and other locations, with the emphasis on solving puzzles and making difficult jumps rather than gunplay, with it being rare that she will have an encounter with another human, with most of the gunplay in the game being used to defeat animals and other creatures.
A text game or text-based game is a video game that uses text characters instead of bitmap or vector graphics. Text-based games were a popular form of interactive fiction in the 1980s.

Zork is set in "the ruins of an ancient empire lying far underground". The player is a nameless adventurer "who is venturing into this dangerous land in search of wealth and adventure". The goal is to return from the "Great Underground Empire" alive with the treasures, ultimately inheriting the title of Dungeon Master. The dungeons are stocked with many novel creatures, objects and locations, among them grues, zorkmids, and Flood Control Dam #3—all of which are referenced by subsequent Infocom text adventures.

Another example of a text based game would be the video game representation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where it mirrors a portion of the series, mainly the events that occur within the first book. In the game the player has to defeat puzzles by typing in commands such as “north” in order to move north etc. Most of the commands within the game will advance the games counter, with some puzzles needing to be completed before the counter reaches a fixed number, else it may result in a failure and needing to restart from a saved state.

A platform game is a genre of video game that involves the player guiding a character over jumps between suspended platforms or over obstacles, or sometimes both, in order to progress through the game. The player is generally able to control the character whilst they’re jumping, which allows them to complete these jumping puzzles. The element of these games which unifies them is the ability to jump, therefore games that have an automated jump feature such as the Legend of Zelda series, fall out of this category.

Super Mario 3D Land is a platform game which utilizes jumping onto platforms in order to complete the level. However, unlike previous Mario games in uses both 2D side scrolling and 3D roaming in order to create more diverse puzzles, thanks to the 3DS’ 3D mechanics. Similar to previous Mario games, the plot involves Mario trying to save Princess Peach after she has been kidnapped by Bowser again.  

1001 spikes is another example of a platform game in which the player must reach the end of each level by avoiding the traps and dangers within the game, which include spike traps and falling rocks. The plot of the game involves two siblings trying to retrieve their father’s legacy by following a map he left them to some forgotten ruins in South America.

Positive and Negative Aspects of Video Games

Positive Aspects of Video Games
Negative Aspects of Video Games
Benefits- Despite the amount of articles in the news that say that video games and video gamers have negative impacts on the rest of society, the truth is that there are a lot of benefits to playing video games. Playing video games can help improve people’s hand-eye coordination and reactions, and drivers have even cited that the reasons that they have managed to avoid head on collisions with other drivers due to their improved reactions from playing video games. Other benefits include perception, memory, attention and decision-making.

Excess playing time-There are many negative effects that can come from playing an excessive amount of video games, with some being physical effects, whilst others being mental effects and even effects that don’t affect you but effect those around you. One physical symptom associated with excess playing of video games is carpal tunnel syndrome which occurs when the main nerve between the forearm and the hand is squeezed, which can occur when playing a lot of computer games, or holding a console for too long. An example of the hugely negative effects of excessive playing of video games is that a three-month-old South Korean girl starved to death after her parents repeatedly left her alone for 12-hour stretches to rendezvous at a local Internet cafe, where they were nurturing a virtual child through a computer game known as “Prius Online.”

Impact on ‘Mainstream’ application development- Games and gaming technology is constantly developing, therefore there is always a demand for more advanced hardware and gadgets in order to gain access to these new developments. An example of this is the recently announced HoloLens by Microsoft and Valve in order to allow people to play games in a virtual reality, which allows the games to come to life all around them, instead of just being on a screen. Add this to the increasing number of 3D televisions on display nowadays and it is proof that there is a mainstream impact by gaming.
Social Isolation- An immediate consequence of playing video games is that it can lead to less social interaction with other people due to the fact that they’re playing video games instead. This can occur especially in children as they want to spend less time out with their friends, and would rather rush back home in order to continue playing a game that they had started. In the long term this can affect their abilities to socialize, and have a lack of social skills later in life.

Competitive Games- Competitive gaming is positive experience for many. Due to the advances of technology it allows people to compete all the time on video games. Being able to communicate cooperate with them allows people to make friends with people they might never have met before. Furthermore, friendly competition helps to bring out the best in each other as each person is trying to outdo the other and perform better. It helps to boost social skills and help to create a group of liked minded friends and associates. However, it is worth noting that within a small number of people competitive gaming can have a negative effect on some people, leading to increased aggression due to not being able to complete certain puzzles or being outperformed by another player can lose people to lose their tempers and act aggressively or even violently. Gamers playing competitive games also showed increased heart rate during and after gameplay. This shows that they are effected by the game and it effects them both psychologically and physically.

Cost-On the surface of it, video gaming is already an expensive hobby to pursue, with the cost of buying a console alone can cost £100’s to buy. Add that to having to buy games to play along with that can leave people spending a huge amount of money on video gaming. However, the cost is even greater than that as just in monetary terms you also have the option to buy things within games, sometimes needed to progress through the level, not to mention monthly subscriptions in order to play certain games, and time costs put into playing video games. In South Korea, for example, they have implemented the ‘Shutdown Law’ which stops players under the age of 16 from excessing games after midnight.
Fun- For most people, especially casual gamers, they play for fun and enjoyment, whether that be just completing a game, or trying to collect everything in a game. Due to the fact that fun is subjective however, people enjoy video games for a multitude of reasons, and everything that goes through a gamers head is that they just want experience fun within the game.
Separation from reality- Due to the affects that playing video games can have on peoples social skills, especially in children, it can lead to blurring of the lines between the real world and video game worlds. The time spent on video games can really affect the scope in which these people can interact with other people, leading them to believe that the real world is more like a video game world, and therefore act and behave the way that they would normally inside a video game. An example of this is shown by the fact that younger children who have access to playing or watching games act more aggressively in the class room and act out more graphic scenes from the games that they have either seen or played.
Educational Value- Research into video games has shown that by playing them those people have experienced an increase in basic language skills, English skills, maths skills and social skills. They have also been used to help disabled or severely handicapped people be able to communicate successfully. However, education within gaming is all about how it is used and whether it is used correctly. Video games have also been used to train children with attention deficit disorder to improve their thinking skills. The impact of games within education can only improve, yet only if they are used in the correct way.
Peer Pressure- Something that is more relevant in teenage gamers than any other demographic of video gamer who need to own the latest equipment, be in the newest console or game. This is driven by peer pressure as many people will want to have the best things, else they might be seen in a negative light by their friends. This puts pressure on either the parents, or the teenager themselves to spend a lot of money on these new games and/or consoles. Furthermore, being able to afford the latest gear shows their peers that they are successful and have money available to spend, putting pressure on those who maybe aren’t as fortunate.
Thinking and strategy skills- Scientists from Queen Mary University of London and University College London recruited 72 female volunteers. Two groups were required to play StarCraft, which is a faced paced strategy game, and another third were asked to play The Sims, a life simulation game. All the volunteers were given psychological tests before and after playing the games, and the scientists discovered that the volunteers that played StarCraft were “quicker and more accurate in performing cognitive flexibility tasks. This shows then playing video games can help boost a person’s thinking and strategy skills.
High Score Listings- In earlier games, high scores were used to make people feel superior about their performance in a video game. However, it could also cause people to become obsessed about being the best and having the highest score. It was documented in the real-life documentary film King of Kong: A fistful of Quarters (, which highlights the emotional struggles of players competing to get the high score within the game. People always like to compare they’re results within any walk of life, and videos gaming is no different. High score listings also act as a positive thing however as they let people come up with new ways to improve themselves and their performance, which can lead to strong problem solving skills later in life.
Sound- The use of sound in video games helps to create immersion within the game, making it seem more realistic, and helps to draw the player into the world. Sound is also used to help reinforce the feeling of when a gamer has done positively or negatively within the game, with upbeat music for completing a level, or sad, depressing music for a death or failure of some kind. This can help players become better at the game as it lets them know what not to do within the game, or lets them know that they’re doing something right. Sound is usual used to help increase the emotional experience of the game, and thus create a better experience for the gamer.

Expectations- As technology has advanced within games, as have the expectations within the games. 3D technology allows for better and more realistic looking games, which is what people expect within games nowadays. In games like the FIFA series in which a game is released every year, players expect an increase in graphics, audio and gameplay every year. This shows that players expect more in terms of gameplay as well as advances in technology before the release of new consoles and games. The impact that this has is a positive one as this drives the industry and creates jobs on a global scale.  

Levelling- Within games, levelling is a smart concept by games designers as it allows them to award people based on their achievements. Players become more immersed in the game play when they have both long and short challenges to complete in the game, whether that be collect all of a certain item with a game, or to complete a quest. These challenges allow the player to feel more immersed within the game, like they are taking to role of the main character.

Task Three-Game Sketch

This is a game sketch that I created in paint in order to illustrate a game concept for a game i thought of called 'The son of the Sea God'. For starters I thought that this game would look good in a photo realistic style, but I soon changed my mind to have it be in a cel shaded style, due to the fact that the game would be a lot more expensive to create as a photo realistic game. Within the sketch you can see the first level of the game and the last level. The first level is set in a village, where you, as the protagonist, live. In the image the village is full of life and trees in order to represent the peaceful area that it is set in, however the village is under attack, with the houses on fire giving a stark contrast to the peacefulness of the trees. I did this to emphasize the change within the protagonists life and how it was before the attack and then after the attack. To the right of the village sketch you can see the drawing of the main character. In the image the character is wearing blue to emphasize the connection between the player and the sea, although in the game the character will be customisable in order for the player to create their own player and feel a deeper connection and feel more immersed in the game. On the right half of the level you can see the final level of the game, which contrasts to the first level and shows how the game has changed you as a character. The final level is set in a volcanic area, which is where you see the main boss of the game. I used fire as the main theme for the enemies in the game as it gives the player a slight advantage in the game, and makes it feel like you are the only one who can stop the enemies and save people, thus immersing the player within the game, This game would be a 3D RPG where you can choose how you play the game in terms of combat styles, such as becoming a mage, warrior, archer or whatever. The game would be in a third person view, and the player would be able to level up as they gain experience from defeating enemies or completing quests. I would like the player to have a feeling of freedom when playing the game and not feel stuck in the just following the main quest so there would also be side quests to be done.

Task 4-Backstory and Concept

In the time of Emperor Alexius Kole, the lands of Norcrest (Chaotic evil) and Silverspell (Lawful good) are at war with each other, and in the middle of these two warring nations in the land of Roseiron, the centre of the neutral territory. Up until now the land of Roseiron had been left out of the war, as per the agreement struck by the leaders of the lands and the Emperor years ago, as the land of the Roseiron holds the world’s most important landmark, the Tree of Kaedrith. The Tree of Kaedrith regulates all life in the world, and is the reason for all life in the lands. In order to keep this agreement fair, the Land of Norcrest was given the Salve of Earth, a sacred medicine that could be used to revive the tree if it was ever damaged or destroyed, a mysterious blessing from the God of the Earth. The Land of Silverspell was given the Spirits Sceptre, the only object in the world that could destroy the Tree of Kaedrith. With this, there was balance and harmony between the Lands for centuries, until one day the Land of Norcrest declared war on Silverspell out of the blue, and began laying waste to their lands, however due to the Tree of Kaedrith’s power the forces of Chaos could not do much damage. One day though, that all changed as the Spirits Sceptre was stolen from Silverspell, and was brought to the land of Roseiron to destroy the Tree of Kaedrith. With the tree destroyed and the only way to save it in the hands of the Chaos forces, they became unstoppable, and it was all the land of Silverspell could do to not be decimated. This is where your story begins. You awaken on your eighteenth birthday to your village of Aellyn, the centre of the Roseiron and the protectors of the Tree of Kaedrith, being burnt to the ground by a dark wizard, a soldier of the Chaos forces wielding the Spirits Sceptre and burning his way through the village towards the Tree of Kaedrith. Without thinking you grab a weapon from the ground and charge the man. He turns towards you and laughs, then sends a bolt of fire straight towards you. Suddenly, a blue glow envelopes you and absorbs the brunt of the impact, but still sends you flying backwards into a pile of rubble, knocking you unconscious. The last thing you hear is the demonic laughing of the wizard, who screams “I am Fevero, Destroyer of the Tree of Kaedrith”.   

As you control your character, let's call him John, you will have to control him through an open world environment, becoming stronger and completing quests so you can move on to more difficult areas within the world and complete dungeons in order to be able to reach the final level of the game. Throughout the game John will be able to find and equip himself with stronger weapons and armour, or learn new spells depending on how you are playing the game. This will allow him to defeat the strongest enemies in the game and be able to make his way further through the harder lands in the game. There would be an assortment of enemies for John to fight, including werewolves and vampires, general dangerous animals such as bears and wolves, but also fantastical creatures such as griffons and centaurs, among other things. Defeating this creatures will allow John to level up his abilities, giving him access to different skills and generally becoming stronger as a result. Some skills you could learn include doing more damage with a certain type of weapon, having abilities that will do double damage or even skills that let you become invisible. Once you are strong enough you will be able to take on the final level and the boss and complete the game. Once you have beat the game you would still be able to explore the world to complete side quests and become the strongest your character can be,

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