Archive for March, 2013

Game Addiction

Posted: March 29, 2013 in Games Design 2
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Game addiction can be a terrible thing. Especially for students. You find that you have some work that has a very close deadline, you have to get it done, but instead as soon as you sit down, you somehow end up playing games for hours on end. Then you look at the clock and find that it’s time for bed and you think that you can do the work the following day after a good nights sleep because you will have gained a fresh perspective towards the work right? WRONG!!

Game addiction is something that can sneak up on a person without them even realizing it, and each different person can experience addiction in a different way. Agitation, loss of sleep, lack of wanting to eat, increased time in the game and so on and so forth. Each person can fall into game addiction for different reasons, but more often than not it will come down to the simple need or want to escape their normal lives for a number of hours and immerse themselves in an entirely different world where they feel like they can make a difference and feel like they can achieve something, whereas in the real world, they may feel like they are underachieving or failing in their lives. Students are often the main body of victims to game addiction, but children and adults that are in high stress situations may also find themselves falling into the warm and loving arms of a game, becoming their character and wanting to stay there for longer and longer periods of time.

Gaming addiction has been analysed by psychologists the world over, to see if it is actually a form of mental illness, with the participant being unable to throw off their lust for losing themselves in the virtual world. There have been cases of gamers the world over becoming addicted to a particular game and they have been found, either days or weeks later, dead because they have neglected the essentials, such as eating, drinking and sleeping. More often than not, these victims of “game addiction” will have become so enthralled by the game that they are playing that they find that they do not want to eat, they do not want to sleep and they simply cannot force themselves away from the computer for enough time to get themselves something to drink, so malnutrition will often claim these gamers. Here are some examples of gamers that have died over the years due to this so called “Game Addiction”

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/18/taiwanese-gamer-dies-diablo-iii_n_1682600.html

This first article is very recent. A gamer died after a 40 hour gaming marathon on the highly popular game Diablo 3.

“A gamer in Taiwan has died after a marathon 40-hour session playing Diablo III.

The role-playing game has won plaudits for its refreshing take on the traditional ‘kill monsters, find loot, escape dungeons’ formula.

But it has also proven remarkably addictive – especially towards the end of the game, where a major investment in repetitive questing is needed to build your character’s strength to the point where you can defeat the great Diablo himself.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4137782.stm

In this article, a man in South Korea died after playing for 50 hours with very few breaks.

“The 28-year-old man collapsed after playing the game Starcraft at an internet cafe in the city of Taegu, according to South Korean authorities.

The man had not slept properly, and had eaten very little during his marathon session, said police.”

Of course there are many other sides to game addiction outside of people dying because they just want to sit and play instead of taking breaks to recuperate. Gamers can become agitated and maybe even aggressive if they have their games either taken away or are forced by others to come off them so that they can have a break. There have been several stories over the years of gamers that have been denied their favourite games and have resorted to violence in order to get back on them.

http://gamepolitics.com/2013/03/13/14-year-old-shoots-parents-blames-video-games#.UVWHmhzIa3k

In this article, we read about a 14 year old boy that shot both of his parents because they took away his privilege of being able to play on games.

A 14-year-old in Washington state has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting both of his parents in the head after they restricted him from electronic devices – including playing video games.

There are of course arguments that video games are not the cause of violence and that it is down to the individual themselves:

http://gamepolitics.com/2013/02/25/former-fbi-profiler-video-games-do-not-cause-violence#.UVWJIRzIa3k

The site that has been linked above is an article based on an interview with a former FBI profiler that says that video games are not the source of violence in people today.

It’s my experience that video games do not cause violence,” O’Toole told CBS News.”However, it is one of the risk variables when we do a threat assessment for the risk to act out violently.

It’s important that I point out that as a threat assessment and as a former FBI profiler, we don’t see these as the cause violence,” she added.”We see them as sources of fueling ideation that’s already there.

So are video games really the cause of violence in people today? I think personally that it is down to the individual and how seriously they take the game. If they are an individual with a history of violence, then maybe for the benefit of the doubt, they should be kept away from violent video games because you never know what angers them or sets off their violent tendencies. Alternatively, if they are children and their parents want to keep them away from violent games, then good. However, if the parents are going to allow their children to play these games, then they should at least keep an eye on them and stop them if any aggression is shown when they aren’t on them. It is down to the individual to be responsible for themselves and for parents to be responsible for their children when it comes to games.

Research Notes – Games

Posted: March 14, 2013 in Games Design 2
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Ok then so because I am working on an RPG that has several different elements within it such as the world within a world that the characters can travel between. I have been researching and looking at different games that come along with elements that will be present within my own game. These are the games that I have come up with so far.

DMC: Devil May Cry

I chose to use this game within my research even though it is not an RPG game per say, it is a hack and slash action game more than anything. The main element of this game that I wanted to look at though was the world within a world element that was mentioned above and in my proposal. In the Devil May Cry game there is the human world that is inhabited by humans and demons, the demons taking on human forms and any other form that they can so that they can tighten their grip on the world. However several characters such as Dante and his brother Vergil, can either be dragged into or travel too a world called Limbo, which is the demon infested world. The player will see demons as they really are within this world and anything that happens within Limbo will have an influence on the world of humans.

I want this type of system present within my own game, with the characters being able to travel between the modern fantasy world of a present day world complete with technology and modern buildings, then whenever they move into the other world, they will be presented with a more typical fantasy setting, with humans turning into their true forms of either elves, dwarves, vampires and many other races that will be present within the game. The player will also have to complete quests in this other world along with the quests that they can complete within the modern world, each one affecting the outcome of the game and shaping both worlds in the process.

Browser Based RPGs

There has been a recent expansion in the domain of browser based RP games. Games such as Ogame (WWW.ogame.org) and Ikariam (WWW.ikariam.org) are some of the few that have been breaking ground in recent years.

Browser based RPGs have slowly expanded over the years, there are several that are under one company that releases them, based in Germany. The web URL is:

http://us.gameforge.com/home/index

This German company offers a series of games that both work within the browser. The player creates an account, then activates their account through an email that is sent to the email address that they registered with and click on the activation link within that email. Once they click on that, the game will open with them logged in and their account will have been activated. They can then go on to build up their resource and energy generators, conduct research and build fleets or armies and play against other players, competing in a ranking system and they can even set up alliances so that groups of players can work together to progress through the ranks.

Ogame

In the screenshot above is the homepage for the browser game Ogame (web link of which is http://www.ogame.org) There is a short trailer for the game, along with the log in area and a registering area along with a tab that allows the viewer to go directly to GameForge, which owns the game. The homepage has progressed over recent years, with new funding from the company, the game received a new look and has slowly expanded, drawing in new and experienced players with the steady release of new servers or “universes” for them to play on. Each universe has a unique mechanic in it, either it has double, quadruple or higher speed, different fleeting options or other small changes that affect the game in that particular universe.

The player can purchase buffs, or “commanders” so that they gain some kind of bonus, such as a build queue or extra fleet slots or even extra resource production. These buffs can only be purchased through Dark Matter, which can only be purchased through a cash payment on the website.

Free to Play:

Most RPGs come with their own “free to play” version these days, like Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings online. This is so that new players can play the game with a level cap (usually level 20) so that they can send their feelers out within the game, see whether they like it or not and work through some of the easier quests, before deciding whether they want to invest their time and money into it. This helps people who don’t have a lot of money play a game without having to invest anything into it other than their time, while giving them something that they can readily play and enjoy. Of course with the level cap the player cannot enjoy all of the experiences that the paid membership offers, but they can squeeze enough enjoyment out of it just by playing the basic account, even once they hit the level cap, they can keep on playing, completing quests and travelling through the world that the game is set in and they can have a fantastic atmospheric experience while travelling, questing, going through dungeons and taking part in combat. It offers players a sense of escapism, for a period of time, the player can travel through this other world and leave reality behind and just immerse themselves within this new world and they can be their character.

Free to play MMORPGs are good because even though they offer only the most basic format for an account for the player, it offers them a taster of what they could have if they upgraded to a premium account. Usually when they upgrade, paying with a cash sum, the player will be given several “upgrades” to their account, such as extra character slots and access to more areas within the game and the shop area.

 

 
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Another high street example would be The Shambles in York. This old style street is one of the most popular places to visit while within the city, shops that cater to all needs, from clothes to chocolate and everything in between, it is always busy and pushing is often the only way a person can make it from one end of the street to the other. As can be seen in the image below, there are always crowds and it can become difficult to gain access to the shops that you wish to go into.

The old style shops are a welcome change from modern stores, with their old style windows and small doorways, coupled with the energized atmosphere of the street and its cobbled pathways, makes for an interesting experience while walking down this historic street.

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In terms of game play, this street could very easily find a use within an era type game; possibly around the Victorian era. The player could wander through the streets of old style York, recreated through The Shambles. Or they could start off in The Shambles and move through a portal of some kind, which would take them to modern day York, allowing the player to then blend in with the modern day crowds or travel back into Victorian era York and venture through it, completing tasks in either time. It could also suit the need of a street in a fantasy type game, similar to Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter game series, with the character travelling through the street, collecting supplies before moving on to another stage in the game.

Window shopping and stepping into the shops themselves is always interesting, there are plenty of things to look at and it is never completely the same after several trips, something always changes so there is always something new to see and smell or hear.

The street seems to have been unaffected too heavily by the recent change in the economic state of the country, even though high streets in most other cities are seeing shops close and a decline in the state of the street as a whole, The Shambles appears to be as popular as ever and there are next to no shops closed at all, any that are soon find themselves replaced and refurbished with another tenant, selling something new that adds to the scene of The Shambles and draws in the crowds.

I think that the future of The Shambles is fairly easy to predict. It will continue to be a place of popularity with shoppers in York and it will continue to draw in crowds of people that are from outside of the city, travelling just so that they can have the unique experience of the old style shops and cobblestone pathways. E-commerce expansion and Recession seem to have completely missed this busy little street, which I think is fantastic because it is an amazing place to visit within the city and it should continue to be popular. I for one make sure that The Shambles is the first place I visit whenever I travel to York.

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High street 001 High street 002

So what does make a High Street? Let’s look at Whitefriargate in Hull as an example.

It is a street that consists of a mixture of shops that appeal to a wide age range, from kids to adults and elderly people. Shops that stock games, clothes, shoes, food, DVD’s, merchandise and much much more.

Whitefriargate has always been the high street of Hull, drawing in hundreds, maybe thousands of people in each week throughout the years, especially in the 90’s and early 2000’s, each week parents would take their children into the city center and walk down the street, gazing in the shop windows. The streets were clean and packed all the time, it was usually a push and shove job just to work your way down from end to another, all of the shop space was taken up and there was always something going on, some event in one store or another, things were going good for the place. If one shop shut down, the space was soon filled with a new investor intent on making their mark in the Hull high street.

As the patrons head towards the mid section of the street, they will come across a street turn off into a house section near the HSBC bank, this will then lead them through to the college and Queens Gardens, which is a small park area where people can sit and rest or play games or feed the ducks if there are some on the pond there. If the patrons keep moving past the bank however, they soon come up towards an older part of the city, they can turn off the main street and head up towards the old Trinity Church and a small market area that is surrounded with shops and a small museum.

 

Church 5

However, in recent times, the street has seen a sharp decline, E-commerce and the Recession have hit Hulls high street pretty hard. Shops constantly open and then close instantly, litter can be found everywhere, no events are held except for when there is a holiday of some kind and the only form of outdoor entertainment for the public are the buskers that stand in front of the abandoned stores trying to make some money. The more disused shop spaces have become littered with graffiti and dirt, falling into a state of disrepair, their windows dirty from lack of attention. When it was at its peak, Whitefriargate had a positively charged atmosphere and shoppers were happy to walk down and take their time browsing. Unfortunately as the times have changed, so has the atmosphere. Now whenever you walk down the street, you feel that it is lack luster, a shadow of its former self, instead of feeling an excited and highly charged atmosphere, it feels empty, like a part of the street is missing, and the number of patrons at any time are a clear reflection of it. Where there used to be crowds, there are now small groups, patrons standing around outside of one store or another for minutes at a time before shuffling off to other locations, instead of hanging around and having a good time.

During the night, the scene changes entirely, although sometimes you wouldn’t think so. The stores all close and the street clears out, but further down the road, the night clubs and pubs open up and patrons will often shuffle on down the street, dressed up in their night time best to go and have a good time. More often than not, those same patrons will then come back up the street several hours later and brand it with litter that they can’t be bothered to put into bins, or they may even leave a reminder that they were there either out in the open street or close to a store entrance, leaving little presents for the owners to find in the morning when they show up for work. It shines a poor

light on the one glorious street, but time change and so do locations and Hull is no different. Cleaners do their best to keep the street clean, but over the weekend, especially during the night, it is almost impossible, walking down, the patrons can spot where a takeaway has been abandoned because the owner didn’t feel up to finishing it and couldn’t be bothered to find a bin and bottles of booze can be found stuffed in the corners of store entrances.
Picture 009It is a shame to see such a promising street go downhill in the way that Whitefriargate has done in recent years, and with the growing E-commerce on the internet, where more and more transactions are taking place because it is easier for patrons to have items sent directly to their home, it may be a problem that the street cannot come back from, stores are having to move their businesses online in order to keep up with the growing and ever expanding market and physical stores are becoming more and more redundant. I hope for the sake of the city that Whitefriargate does see a revival in popularity some day soon, but with the current economical climate and the steady expansion of E-commerce, it could be waiting for quite some time.From a gaming aspect, the street could very well fit in with several game genres, it is wide enough to be tied in with a city based action game, with the player having to control their character and fighting their way from one end to another in order to escape from some monster or enemy. The stores themselves could be used in a game so


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that the player can stock up on supplies if they are in a survival type game. There are a couple of fire escapes down the sides of some buildings, these could be used as an escape route if the player needs to make a hasty escape from within one of the buildings, similarly, they could run along several of the flatter rooftops if they had to head upwards instead of down to street level. The street also has several off shoots down into different streets and areas of the city so there could be several chase scenes or sequences that could take place within the game, with the player character having to fight enemies whilst trying to reach a certain destination.

High street 005

GUI:

The user interface for Skyrim is quite simple, the player uses a control pad to interact with the game, if they want to move the character and look around, they will use the corresponding analog stick on the control pad and the character on screen will move in the direction that the player presses. There are two views within Skyrim, First Person and Third Person; the player can change between the two simply by pressing down on the left analog stick of their control pad to change the view to their preferred one. The player can interact with NPC’s (Non-Playable Characters) by walking up to them and then pressing the button that has been assigned to them for interaction, normally the A button on the Xbox 360 pad and the X button on the PS3 pad. This opens up an interaction with the NPC, the player can then trade or gain information from the character that may be important to the game, or they may learn something useful for later on, some characters will even seek the player characters help and send them on a quest to retrieve an item or find someone that can then help them out at a later stage in the game.

The player can bring up the characters hands for combat by pressing either of the trigger buttons on the pad, and then use the triggers again to attack animals and enemies when they are in combat, they can use the triggers to either swing swords, fire arrows from bows or they can cast spells. The player can also combine weapons, so they can have a one handed sword and a spell so that they can change up their fighting style.

When the player encounters an animal in the game, they can either attack it or leave it alone, if they encounter a hostile then they are attacked automatically in a real time battle system where the player has to react to the hostiles movements and attacks instead of entering a separate battle sequence. Parts of homes and the wild are interactive as well, the player can enter homes and steal items and they can travel and pick up plants that they can then use to make potions or sell to traders.

HUD

The HUD within the game is quite simplistic, so the player isn’t sat looking at a lot of bars and inventory boxes. There is a health bar, which is represented by the red bar at the bottom of the screen in the centre, mana which is represented by the blue bar on the bottom right of the screen and stamina bar which is the green bar on the bottom left of the screen. There is a compass bar at the top of the screen that shows the direction that the player character is travelling in, along with any markers that have been placed, so that the player knows which direction they need to travel in order to reach the marker. The game will also bring up a bar that shows an enemy’s health when they appear in the cross hairs of the player character, letting the player know how much health the enemy has.

When it comes to inventory, the character presses the back button on the control pad, which will pause any action that is taking place on the screen and bring up the map, inventory, magic and level up options, the player can then go into these options to either change their inventory, check where they are in the land on the map, switch out their spells or level up their character and improve their abilities with skill points if they have any that can be spent.

Megan is a rogue Elemental. When she heard that the Dark Elves had aligned themselves with the Dragon Kin and that the High Elves had sought and worked out an alliance with her people, she was furious. Even though she is young, being an Elemental meant that her mind developed quickly, giving her a mind that was more developed and mature than many others of her age. She had heard that the High Elves were not the kindest of races, that they believed they were the police of Dunkora, keeping the other races in line, so when the Elementals entered into the alliance, she saw that as a betrayal of the Elemental ways of peace and headed off to join the Dark Elves.

She was soon picked up by a patrol that had entered into the Elemental realm known as the Flash Plains. She surrendered to the patrol and requested an audience with the patrols leader. When she was granted it, she spoke quickly, outlining that she wanted to be part of the Dark Elf ranks and that she was a hybrid. She was quickly whisked away to Serena, who probed her mind for any trace of weakness or agenda. Finding none, Megan was elevated to student of Serena, learning many new magicks that were prohibited under Elemental law.

Megan soon picked up these new powers with a flourish and became a member of Serena’s inner circle. Even though she was now in a position of power, she was kept at arm’s length, only ever being given an assignment whenever someone could go with her. Several of these were in the Human World, Megan leading the way through the portals that she and the other hybrids could see, completing the Human World assignment and then moving back into Dunkora.

She learnt of the party created by the High Elf Hunter Phoenix and swiftly made plans to dispose of these individuals before they became a problem. Taking a small band of warriors herself, she engaged the High Elf and his followers, thinking that these people would be push overs and that they would be eliminated quickly. She was wrong however, her band was slaughtered and she fled before she followed the same fate. She had failed. Now she plans of the day when she will be able to take them head on once more, bringing their lives to an end once and for all. In the mean time she works away tirelessly for Serena, helping further the Dark Elf plans for world domination in Dunkora and in the Human World. She despises the Human World, thinking them beneath her and she cannot wait for the day when they invade that world, bringing them under the rule of the Dark Elves and her Mistress.

The older brother of Amy Gallichan, Nick is the more level headed of the brother/sister combination. He wasn’t happy when the Dragon Kin elders aligned the clan with the Dark Elves; he had heard tales of what they did to those that they captured and how they could turn on the allies at a moment’s notice. He eventually warmed to them though and he happily threw himself into the fray whenever his brethren were needed on the battlefield. Shifting into his dragon form, he would take to the skies and lay down fire that would consume anyone that opposed the Dark Elf forces.

Being a hybrid, he ventured into the Human World when he was told too, or he would cross over there when he wanted to take a break from the fighting. He found that the peaceful life there irritated him if he spent long periods of time there, but he enjoyed the few hours he would spend there, blending in with the humans, drinking and eating, walking around without a care in the world.

He hated the High Elves with a passion; they had repelled the expansion of the Dragon Kin realm several times, limiting them to the Mountains in which they currently resided. He wanted to make them pay for the blood that they had spilt over the centuries, those of his kind that should have been alive today if it weren’t for those meddling Elves. He would have his moment of glory and the time would come when he could set the realm of Thankora alight with his fire. He dreamed that he would sit atop the High Elf citadel, listening to the screams of the Elves as they screamed and died at the hands of his Kin and their allies.

He fears that his little sister is going to get herself into trouble, he wasn’t surprised to learn that she had been handed over as a helper to the Dark Elves as she was too dangerous to keep around in the Mountains, but he knew that she would eventually be caught out or killed if she didn’t slow down and think things through. He wanted to help her, but even with his heightened power, he had no influence over her mind and he couldn’t directly control her.

He plans on eventually overthrowing the Dark Elf leader and freeing his people from the alliance that they have been forced into. He will stop at nothing to see the High Elves and their allies the Elementals destroyed, and he will not stop until he sees the Dragon Kin the rules of all of the lands of Dunkora.