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Elaboration ’bout Overwatch cohesiveness

So what is it about this whole “cohesive world” thing that I get so excited about with Overwatch? To answer that I need to explain why I consider Overwatch to be a cohesive world whilst I scoff at the mere notion of calling LOL or DOTA2 cohesive worlds.

What makes my glue cohesive?

DOTA2 is a world filled with heroes from many walks of life, it is a magical world reminiscent of a high fantasy landscape. There are wizards and warriors and spiders and maniacs with dendrophobia. DOTA2, or just DOTA, is a mod of Warcraft 3, which is why DOTAs’ heroes looks like they could have been Blizzard made. Someone thought of a cool mod/custom map to make and poof, we had DOTA. It did get some cohesiveness just from the fact that the assets used to build it had a innate cohesiveness with each other. But it is mostly a “superficial” cohesiveness. It is true that some heroes have connections with each other outside the one you create in-game during a match, but often it is very loose. Also, regarding the fact that the heroes comes from many walks of life, it is a mess. We have a Greek god, manifestations of high concepts/cosmic energies, a spider that want everyone to leave her kids alone, wizards, warriors etc. etc. It is a big mish-mash of colors and ideas. Here is where I say that we see that the glue isn’t strong enough, everyone is so different and their narrative power levels are super unbalanced. Also, no one seems to have a reason for fighting in during the match, why would they fight for either the Radiant or the Dire? (To be fair, this last complaint is overly nitpicky, since the game would suffer if you could only use some heroes with either team or if some heroes couldn’t be used in the same team. Gameplay should in these kinds of games always come first)

So I picked out 3 reasons why I think DOTA2’s glue isn’t as sticky as it should be.

  1. The games world wasn’t thought out from the beginning and is just a throw together.
  2. The “lore”, the info about the heroes, isn’t connected, some of it is but most isn’t.
  3. How can the more humble heroes stand up against literal gods? The power differences aren’t explained.

LOL also suffer from these points, although in a lesser extent. LOL’s world isn’t in the same way a party mix, since the world the fighting takes place in is thought out. The story of LOL, if I don’t remember wrong, is that lords in a kingdom is struggling for control off the throne, which is done by summoning champions from different worlds to fight and represent them in a alternate dimension. This little bit of story gives a “logical” explanation to why the heroes are so different, and why they are fighting. Thought to be honest, I think this is a lazy way to explain everything and it feels more like an excuse than a actual reason, but it works, which they should get some credit for.

The power differences still aren’t explained though.

Sticky, gluey Overwatch.

Overwatch doesn’t have these problems, since their lore is cohesive from the get go (and it is better and more interesting than LOL’s lore). The world of Overwatch is our own but a alternate version of it. In the Overwatch world, technology has come a long way, so long a way that it almost destroyed mankind. Mankind created self supplying factories that started spewing out death robots. This is called the Omnic crisis, and it is very important for the Overwatch universe, since it explains everything! (Not everything but many of the things)

To fight of the machine onslaught humanity created counter measures, and people from all walks of life had to take up the fight against the machines, or else they would perish. This explains why we have a former professional athlete running around with a lazor spewing gun, this explains why we have two psychotic killers equipped weapons made of scraps. Because they were just like everyone else in this world effected by the Omnic crisis.

Why do the heroes have such awesome, superhuman abilities, because it is only technology, just the very advanced sort.

How can they fight on an even playing field, because no one is a god, they are all just humans (except Zenyatta and Bastion) and they have been fighting the same kind of things. And they are all connected due to the fact that they are all earthlings, and they have all experienced the Omnic crisis.

What does this world consistency mean?

The good thing about a consistent/cohesive (maybe I should have used consistent instead of cohesive) is that if done right, nothing in it will feel out of place. Overwatch have a talking gorilla that have lived on the moon, but it doesn’t feel out of place nor random, it feels like something that truly belongs to this world (will get to that in another post). What it also means is that the game and the world can evolve alongside each other. When a new hero is introduced in Overwatch, we will learn more about this world and this characters relation to the other heroes. When a new hero is introduced in LOL, we learn about that hero.

I am not saying that LOL or DOTA2 are bad games because their worlds aren’t as consistent as Overwatch’s , because both of are wonderful games and they can do things story wise/narratively that Overwatch can’t, but as I wrote in the last post, I want to see what Blizzard will do with this.

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Sumtjin ’bout Overwatch

This game is super nice and in some aspects all I wished for. Not only because it is very fun to play and looks amazing (even with my crappy graphics card). No, it is because it is cohesive, so incredibly cohesive. One glance and you can see that there is a unified vision behind its presentation.

As some of you who reads this might know, I have complained about DOTA 2 and LOL not having a cohesive style. Not that their art style is a scrambled mess, cause it isn’t, both their art styles and visual presentation are very cohesive. But the worlds they present aren’t. DOTA 2 just began as a mod of Warcraft 3 and later on they decided to create a story to it so it isn’t weird that they have everything from Greek gods, to internet trolls. LOL opts to use the little more cohesive world idea of having the heroes/champions being pulled from different dimensions to fight. Which to me is a bit cheap, but I can buy in to, it also allows the creators to make whatever they want, so kudos to them for that.

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However, with Overwatch I am seeing for almost the first time a Hero/Champion based game with a cohesive world vision that bleeds in to all the facets of the game. (Yes I am sure some other games have done this before (Tannhäuser for example) but I use this as an example because it’s big, popular and won’t be discontinued any time soon).

Why this excites me is because I am really looking forward to see what Blizzard will do with it. Will it they further the metaplot of the world later on? Maybe rework some of the old Heroes or give them new skins that reflect the story?

The story progression will probably mostly be delivered through comics and CG-trailers as they have up to this point, but even in game we get snippets of information about the cast. Will they down the road ad more “fluff/lore”-voice lines to heroes? I have no idea what Blizzard will do with this new amazing IP so I’m just giddy to be along for the ride.

Pic found here.

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Semi Random Blurt #04

It isn’t the size that matters, it’s the quality.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system let’s get serious. I’ve been thinking about the critique some games have gotten from the fact that their avarege play/completion time is short. Games that come to mind are “The Order 1886”, which was ridiculed for its 5 houres of play time. But I don’t really see the problem here. Why would should a game get a lower score just from being short? Well they don’t is the answere (I think at least (might be wrong)).

As I remember it, back in the middel of the 00s, many of the big action and FPS games that came out were often under 10 houres long. Most could be completed the same day you bought them. But as I also remember it, no one really seemed to point out this fact or care. So why did “everyone” go bananas when “The Order 1886” was only 5 hours? One of the reasons could be the price, that a game being sold for full price should at least be X hours long. But I don’t really think time has ever been the issue, it is rather the lack of enjoyment that is the problem. Had “The Order 1886″‘s 5 hours been mindblowingly good, no one would have cared, instead it would have been raised to the sky like Simba and been hailed as a beacon of light, that quality is always more important then quantity. However, we got neither and therfore everyone got pissed.

Rafiki_presenta_Simba

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Dota rant thingy

So a friend showed me this: http://i.imgur.com/xOH6lrj.gifv

I think this gear piece exists in the game (though I am not 100% sure) and it makes me… dissapointed. Showing cleavage in games or other media is not a necessarily a problem or something that bothers. But why this dissapoints me is because I am sure this piece of gear (and maybe the whole set) is just made for titilage (is that a real word?). Luna wears a full body spandex normaly, so that she gets a sleek form. Yes, that spandex showes of some of her curves, but I would not say they enhance them nor do they put a focus on them. In fact, it is hard to see much of luna, except her faboulus hair, shield and her proud mount Nova. You do see her face in the HUD when you click her but other than that you never see her body during a match.

So why even create gear to make her more sexual? You will not be abel to see it, unless you zoom in. Why make a character that is not sexy, sexy? It feels like that diminishes Luna from the proud and capabel warrior to some randome “cookie-cutter-femal-fantasy-warrior-used-for-advertisment-character”. And if someone really thinks Luna needs a sexy-set, can they not at least make it look uniqe instead of makeing her look like just another sexy-fantasy-warrior.

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Fire Emblem: Awakening (the dating sim)

I have been playing Fire Emblem: Awakening for awhile (still have not finished it). It is a fun strategy game, with interesting characters that you grow to love… and love is the word I have been focusing on lately while playing it.

During battles you can have two characters team up while fighting, to make their attacks stronger and also bolster their defenses. The more two characters team up, the more fond they will become of each other. Each time the “fondness level” between two characters reaches a ceratin point, the support bonus they get from teaming up with each other increases and you as the player is treated with a short dialouge interaction between the two characters. If one character is a female and one is a male you can make them fall in love, which will result in marriage and things.

This game is no longer about a struggle to decide the fate of the world when I play it, it is about me being a puppet master trying to create the perfect couples and seeing love fill the air.

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Another thing about Tannhäuser and MOBAs

Lately I have been playing a lot of Dota 2 and also discussing MOBAs in general. Even though I love Dota 2 with its colorful heroes and fun gameplay I do find it lacking in some aspects. Which I think many MOBAs are lacking in, which is “world building/lore consistency”.

To be honest, I do not think MOBAs need a strong “world”, what they need is characters that are easy to understand and fun to play. But the reason that I have been thinking about this is because I and some friends are intrested in how to present narrative and worlds. Which you can do through the characters. In Dota 2, which is the MOBA I am most familiar with, the world created through the characters lore is nonsensical and a patch work. Almost every hero’s lore is only about themselvs and a completely new place which we have never heard of, which is never mentioned again later. The quality and amount of lore is also very uneven with some being very good and interseting while some is just bad.

So the world is very dodgy and we do not get a sense of what might exist outside of the “arena”. But what they do well is fleshing out the heros personality. Though some of them are very one dimensional, they are still very easy to recognize and most are a little humorous. What is also interesting is how some of the characters have special responses when they face certain heroes or have them as allies. This creates a conection between some characters and hints that there might exist something outside the “arena” it helps with creating a world and also makes the characters more interesting.

In Tannhäuser, which has at least a few similarities with MOBAs, the world building is top notch, in my opinion. So why is it good, well to begin with, we get a sense of what the world is like just be the premise of the game. WW1 never ended, it is still going. Each major faction has turned to alternative sources for power to finaly shift the balance in their favor and win the war. Just by the premise we know that the world is our world, earth. In almost every characters lore you get information about the world, the characters relationship with other characters. We even get information about characters that you cannot play which are only part of the lore. The lore is consistent. Dota 2 have lore that creates relationships, for example Bristelback’s lore, it says he has a beff with the character Tusk. But it has one problem, it does not actually state it is Tusk he has a beef with. And in Tusk’s lore, even though a similiar event is mentioned as the one in Bristelback’s, Tusk’s lore does not mention or even hint about Bristelback. So in theory, their lore could be disconected.

What Tannhäuser also does well is that the characters feel cohesive. The factions in the game differ a bit, but within each faction the characters feel like the steem from the same place, and no faction is so widly different from the other that they feel alien when compared. In Dota 2, though it is some kind of fantasy world, there are characters that feel like oddballs. Venomancer, a man turned into a super poison thingy-majingy from exposur to extremly deadly poison. To me, that sounds like a comic book villain, not something that belongs in a battle between “good” and “evil”. Most characters does not even have a reason to be in the fight, just by reading the lore.

As I said in the beginning. MOBAs do not need lore, world building or fleshed out characters, since MOBAs are not about that. But if it wants to have it, it needs to be built with that in thought from the beginning and be cohesive and consequent.

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