Sunday, May 27, 2007

My Favorite Game (Theory of Fun)

From my previous article about the theory of fun, I said that in my opinion, fun is something that brings a person enjoyment right? Well, today we’re going to be discussing about what brings ME the most enjoyment. No, not just about anything that gives me the most enjoyment, but rather, the Video Game that I enjoy the most and my answer to that is: The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, perhaps the greatest game of all time.

The Legend of Zelda as a series

Being a big LOZ fan, I’ve tried EVERY single LOZ game that ever existed (except The Twilight Princess and Wind Waker). I’ve generally enjoyed the whole series, from the 8-bit original Legend of Zelda, to the Gameboy Advance Minish Cap and finally the full-3d Ocarina of Time (which in my opinion is the best out of the entire series til date). I can honestly say that the LOZ series is perhaps one of the best game series out there; having an average rating of 8 – 9 on and other respected gaming communities.

Legend of Zelda – The Ocarina of Time in general

Generally, LOZ – OOT was released twice, first as just LOZ – OOT and then later featuring new monsters and re-designed dungeons as LOZ – OOT: Master Quest. The game features the LOZ franchise’s main character, Link, who becomes the hero of time in this game, with the objective of obtaining the tri-force and stopping the forces of the evil Ganondorf. With many foes and puzzle-filled dungeons hindering your progress, LOZ – OOT promises a spankin’ good time.

Game-Play in LOZ – OOT

LOZ – OOT, falls under the category of Action Adventure RPG, and is as the genre hints, a hybrid game of the three categories, other similar hybrid games include “Fable: The Lost Chapters/Fable” and “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”. However none of the other games got it quite as right as how LOZ – OOT got it. Featuring a hack and slash battle system with a smart locking on system and a first person mode when firing projectiles, the game set the standard of 3D Action combat. LOZ – OOT also incorporated a unique platform experience, fully utilizing the 3D Space provided in dungeons and maps. Apart from running on large flat planes, Link is also able to scale walls, climb ladders, and even fly, with the help of a friendly owl in the game. Large scale rendering was also made possible in this game, despite the hardware limitations on its console device, the Nintendo 64.

Story-Line in LOZ – OOT

One of the best things about this game and what really sets it apart from the other games at the time is the deep and rich plot that goes on. Unlike its counter parts like Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart. This game actually had a very impressive and progressive story. As you play the game, you start developing emotions for Link and what he goes through, and become (subconsciously) attached to him. Link starts off as a simple Forest Boy of the Kokiri people, he later discovers he is really not Kokiri at all, and is rather a mainlander, a.k.a. Hylian, he later travels and collects 3 guardian crystals to seal the promised land and restore order. However, things go out of hand, and Link has to enlist the help of 8 sages to bring peace back to Hyrule. As you play the game, you see Link progress from a simple country boy to the hero of time he was destined to be. You also find out the origins of other key characters in the game, as well as a shocking surprise towards the end.

What makes LOZ – OOT such a great game?

Well, I have to hand it to Nintendo for producing such a master piece, of my 13 years of gaming; I have NEVER seen a game that was better than this. Hell, I’ve beaten the game 5 times and I wouldn’t mind going for another round. The story and game-play just gels so well together, and with many secrets yet to be found, every time I play this game I get a totally different experience.

MMOG – A game designer’s view of the genre

Howdy ho! Welcome to yet another exciting article here at my POGD blog! Today, we’ll be discussing about the magical world of MMO games, and MMORPGs (being the most popular kind of MMO game) in general. We will be going through the following points in today’s discussion:

- What’s an MMO and what defines an MMO
- General Structure and Design of MMORPGs
- Why MMORPGs are so addictive
- Problems in MMORPGs and suggested solutions
- Conclusion

What’s an MMO and what defines an MMO

I’m pretty sure you, the reader, already know what an MMO is. But as a quick refresher, her e’s a quick definition of an MMO, courtesy of

A Massively Multiplayer Online Game (also called MMOG or MMO) is a computer game which is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. By necessity, they are played on the Internet, and feature at least one persistent world. Some argue that small player-count games, with 200 and fewer players, are also part of the genre; the persistent world is probably the only "hard" requirement.

MMOGs can enable players to cooperate and compete with each other on a grand scale, and sometimes to interact meaningfully with people around the world. They include a variety of gameplay types, representing many video game genres. Many MMOGs require players to invest large amounts of their time into the game. Most MMOGs require a monthly subscription fee, but some can be played for free.”

Woah. That is one heck of a definition, but honestly, in layman terms, an MMO is really, as it name suggests, just a Massively Multiplayer Online game. It has to be online, played via a connection to the internet, and with a large player base, capable of playing the game simultaneously with one another, in a persistent world.

General Structure and Design of MMORPGs

So now that you know what an MMO, an MMORPG is simply the RPG version of an MMO game. These games are formally called: “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game”. In an MMORPG, it is normal for players to control a single avatar, depicting the player him/herself. The basic structure of avatars in MMORPGs follows the standard RPG system, which was originally derived from board games such as Dungeons and Dragons.

Avatars, in MMORPGs are often equipped with various stats, and in most cases are gauged by level. Level indicates how strong a player is and what kind of opponents he may face. Depending on the player’s level, stats and equipment, the player is able to defeat his/her opponents, who also share similar statistics.

Another common feature in MMORPGs is the presence of some kind of player class/ranking system. Players are usually given the option to choose a player class, which in turn, provides them with special, unique abilities. Classes also play an important role in determining the players attack power depending on the player’s statistics.

It is also normal for combat to be present in MMORPGs. Combat takes into account the player’s statistics and generates various results depending on the player’s other statistics, such as level and class. One instance would be if a player of the Warrior class had a high strength statistic, he would probably have a high attack count. The same cannot be said for a player of the Magician class, for the Magician class would have to depend greatly on intelligence and wisdom to cast magical spells at his/her opponents.

Another game design norm of the average MMORPG would be the quest systems and NPCs. In every MMORPG, there will surely be NPCs, whether they are simply shopkeepers or maybe even monsters, NPCs play a key role in the development of players. NPCs also make up for the overall game-play of MMORPGs, because if there was an instance where nobody was playing the game in a particular area, the NPCs would be available for any prospecting player who decides to drop by and have a go at the area. In other words, he wouldn’t be bored stiff because there was no one else around, since the NPCs would be providing him with quests and items. Questing in MMORPGs is vital. Quests are usually short missions and stories that a player can partake in, they generally give high amounts of experience, and are vital for the player’s continued growth. One unique design pattern of Quests in MMORPGs is that the quests are repeatable. It would make little sense to only allow one player to do a single quest, because the level designers would need to keep coming up with new content for every player. This is unrealistic on the long run, because if the player base gets too big, level designers would be overwhelmed with work.

Why MMORPGs are so addictive

Well now, this is one tough question to answer. Taking into mind game designs and the principles of game design, here are my reasons (as observed from the article of MMOG Motivation):

Firstly, the community contributes to any MMORPGs addictiveness. The community can either be the best part or the worst part of any MMORPG. Because of this community (from all over the world) people are exposed to new faces and different types of people around the clock. You wouldn’t have to wait for your friends to come online before being able to play the game, but instead just going online to play it with complete strangers, with no strings attached at all. Of course this can lead to various problems when players begin to abuse the fact that the other parties playing the game can in no way find out their true identity. Such people usually exist only to spoil the game’s experience for other players and are often isolated from the main player community.

Secondly, MMORPGs propose the idea of a never-ending story. Quests and story-lines in MMORPGs are often brief and short, however due to the abundance of quests and mini-stories in MMORPGs, players get to play for hours and hours, and continue on new more exciting stories. Games like: World of Warcraft have even included chain quests, where a story might even continue over a few quests and ultimately be resolved with a powerful boss in a dungeon (otherwise known as an instance).

Finally, MMORPGs have endless possibilities. If the game is well maintained with a good content provider, an MMORPG could literally last forever, with new content added and old content removed, players will ultimately have new unique experiences, and the game becomes highly replay-able.

Problems in MMORPGs and suggested solutions

No game design can be absolutely perfect in my opinion (though some come very close to it), and like any other game genre, MMORPGs do have their problems. Here are some of the problems MMORPGs face, and some solutions, suggested by yours truly:

Firstly, the very thing that makes MMORPGs great can also cause an MMORPG’s downfall that is the community. The community is what keeps an MMORPG going and if the community turns sour, very drastic things could happen. Take for example the popular online game: Ultima Online. Being one of the first MMORPGs to be made popular, Ultima Online boasted an array of new systems and playability, including Player Versus Player and Back Stabbing moves. Because of the game’s initial un-moderated state, Ultima Online became a dreadful game for beginners, where once a new player stepped out of the boundaries of a town, another player would leap from a nearby bush and kill the player. In fact PvP was such a big problem in Ultima Online that Origin Systems (Creators of the Ultima Series) had to start new non-PvP servers for new players. One solution to this problem, is to simply restrict the zones in which PvP can occur, I believe that PvP should never occur in newbie starting points, and that there should be level caps on the PvP of any MMORPG. Players with too high a difference in level should not be able to attack each other, for the fight would be biased to the stronger player. Another smart move would be to have a dueling system, where players can choose whether they want to duel another player. That way, the opponents approval would be required before a fight can begin.

Another flaw in game design is the level difference. For example if a player joins a game where everyone is of a high level. He will generally not have any companions to complete the lower level quests and may in turn leave the game altogether. This can be said for any subsequent newbie joining the game. And this will drastically affect the community size of the game. Therefore to spread players out over worlds more efficiently, I believe that MMORPGs should recommend servers to players, that way due to computational calculations, servers can have an equal amount of new and experienced players. Another solution to this problem, is to provide a rich solo-experience for players, with lots of NPCs and quests, the new player can continue playing the game, even if he is doing it on his own.


As flawless as MMORPGs might initially seem, they are not quite so. However, I believe that MMORPGs are here to stay and that one day, all games will be MMO or at least multiplayer in one way or another. I’ve got to run now, so join me again for another funky article in the near future at Bryo’s POGD!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

History of Video Games

Howdy folks! Here’s another article from me, regarding the history of video games. Today we’ll be covering some of the key questions that were asked in the tutorial!

1. What are the significant milestones in the history of electronic game development?
2. Who are the pioneers in game development, and how did they contribute to the industry?
3. How did the game industry evolve from coin-operated electromechanical and mainframe computer games of the 60's to today's console, personal computer, online and mobile industries?
4. What factors contributed to the video game slump of the early '80s?
5. Why did certain game companies and game titles succeed during game development history - and why did some fail miserably?

Milestones in the video game industry

The video gaming industry is a fairly new one, beginning only in the last 50 - 60 years or so. In fact, the video gaming industry did not begin as video games, but rather, mechanical coin-operated games in America, and then later, Japan.

Mechanical coin operated games (1950s – 1960s)

These originally began in America, and started as simple arcade pinball machines. They started becoming popular in during the 1950s during the American economy boom after World-War II. Some key companies at this time included:

Bally Manufacturing

A successful pinball machine company set up in America for the last 70 years, considered one of the forefathers of video games. It later moved into the Health Care and Gambling industries.

Williams Manufacturing

Another successful pinball machine company set up in America. It was originally founded by Harry E. Williams. In the 1970s Williams Manufacturing branched into Arcade Coin Operated Video Games, where it succeeded for a number of years. It has since declined and was later bought by Midway Games

Midway Games

One of the pioneers of the game industry Midway started as a pinball company and later from a merger with Bally Manufacturing became: Bally Midway. Midway has continued since by producing Arcade Games and has founded many of the popular old school games such as: Mace: The Dark Age, Mortal Kombat and Crusin’ USA.

These would later be brought to Japan due to the strong American military presence in Japan. Many independent companies in Japan soon rose and began making mechanical coin based games.

The first electronic games (1960s – 1970s)

The first electronic games would not come about until the 1970s. It was then when electronic games were first made. University students were the first to start creating games on their large mainframe computers. This was the period when university students began defining the basic genres of game-play. Of course, it was also during this period where the first console device was made. It was called the Cathode-Ray Tube Amusement Device, patented by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. However, this machine was not readily available to the public and was not typically competing in the game industry at that time. One of the more popular games developed on that console would be: Tennis for two, by William Higinbotham.

The Rise of Video Games (1972)

It was 1972 when the video game industry was borne. This was when the video game industry became a recognized industry, with 3 distinguished divisions, namely market games, computer games and arcade games. Spacewar! was the first commercial and widely known game ever created.


Spacewar was conceived by the Tech Model Railroad Club, which consisted of Steve Russell, Wayne Witanen, and J. Martin Graetz. The trio created Spacewar for the newly released DEC PDP-1 computer that was made to replace the previous mainframe computer set. Spacewar! was later added as a demo for PDP computers that were on sale, and became one of the most influential video games in the industry.

Not long after Spacewar! was released, two students from Stanford University managed to hook the Spacewar! game to a computer with a monitor and coin slot. This was later adapted by Nolan Bushnell, in a clone called Computer Space. Hence the first arcade machine was borne. However because of the complicated controls and bad game design, it was not a success. However Bushnell, undaunted by his failure, preserved and together with Ted Dabney formed Atari Corporation, which was to be one of the greatest contributors to the game industry.

It was also during this period when the Magnavox Odyssey was invented by Ralph Baer. The Odyssey was the first home entertainment system, and succeeded rather spectacularly. It featured a cartridge system which housed various video games such as chase and paddle games. However, due to the impression that the Odyssey was only capable of running on Magnavox television sets, it did not sell well, but rather only moderately so.

Another hit game released in this era was PONG! And it really originated from another game altogether.


Pong was Atari’s kick-start into the game industry. This game began as a Tennis game developed by Al Alcorn. Bushnell, Atari’s founder, wanted to enlist Bally Manufacturing’s assistance in producing the game, but because of policy had to test run it himself first. After setting up a prototype in a bar, he realized that the machine was earning major profits for him and decided to develop the machines without Bally’s assistance. PONG! was then borne, becoming an immediate sensation in 1972. Soon after PONG!’s success, Bushnell bought out Dabney and became Atari’s sole founder.

Soon later, Atari founded a rival company known as Kee Games. This action was really done so that Atari could expand further into the Arcade industry. Kee Games, led by Atari’s second in command, Joe Keenan, began inventing Atari clones and eventually even made a successful unique game of its own, Tank.

The Decline of the Video Game Industry(1976-1977)

Apparently, people soon got bored of the reused game genres. Games were pretty similar in this period with clones being made from the two industry giants of the time, Bally, under its Midway subsidy and Atari, as Joe Keenan as the new president, after Nolan Bushnell’s retirement. During this period the video game industry suffered its greatest lost and began declining, however this would soon change.

The Golden Age of Gaming (1978 ++)

It was the year 1978, when it began. Atari and Taito were responsible for this new growth and spur in the industry with two very different games. Taito, a small Japanese company at the time, was responsible for the creation of Space Invaders, one of the greatest hits in the game industry. Invented by Toshihiro Nishikado, Space Invaders was a slow selling but simple craze that was later shifted from Japan to America via Bally Midway. Space Invaders were apparently so addictive that the Japanese Government had to begin an increased production of 100 yen coins (The coins used to operate the machine). At the same time, Atari released a revolutionary sports game called: Atari Football. This featured a track-ball as a control and a smooth scrolling screen.

It was also during this period when Vector Graphics was introduced. Vector Graphics was pioneered by Larry Rosenthal, and was later patented under Cinematronics, which created a whole array of Vector games, including a clone of Spacewar! called Space Wars. This industry, however did not last very long because of technological advancements in Raster Graphics.

Space Invaders apparently was the beginning of many Japanese video game companies. After the launch of Space Invaders, Konami and Namco joined the Video Game industry. Beginning as a Jukebox rental and rocking horse company respectively, they joined the industry fresh off the shelf. Namco released the first color version of Space Invaders, called Galaxian. Namco also brought video games firmly into America with the release of Puck Man (known as Pac Man today). Puck Man was created by Toru Iwatani, a pinball enthusiast. Iwatani wanted to create a video game that appealed to both sexes and that was non violent, hence Puck Man was borne. Puck Man was widely accepted in America and defined arcade games with its intriguing design. Puck Man was later renamed to Pac Man.

Evolution of Games

Of course, games didn’t reach their current state over-night, so here is a quick recap on the evolution of games. (A more detailed description can be found above, in the milestone section)

Mainframe Computers

Games were originally developed for the mainframe university computers. These games were not widely available, but were the original games in the market. Rather than coding in C++ or any standard language available now, these games were coded mainly in Assembly and with hardware chips. The development of these kinds of games spanned from 1971 – 1980.

Early Handhelds

The first handhelds included OXO which was a tic tac toe game, and Microvision, a console with interchangeable cartridges. Later on, technology evolved and color became an advancement in early handhelds.

Home Computers

Source code for early computer games could be bought in books. These games were usually made by hobbyist and only featured text on the screen. The games were generally distributed via Floppy disks and game cartridges.

First Generation (1972 – 1977)

First generation consoles include the Magnavox Odyssey and the home version of PONG. These were generally simple and had counter parts in arcades around the same time.

Second Generation (1977 – 1983)

Also known as the 8-bit era, the second generation generally consisted of game consoles such as the Atari VCS, Intellivision, and Colecovision.

Third Generation (1985 – 1989)

This was the period when Nintendo finally stepped into the game industry. Games from this period are generally more widely known. This was also the generation when Super Mario Bros. and the Nintendo Entertainment System was created. This device set the standards for console gaming, and the basic design of the machine is still widely used.

Fourth Generation (1989 – 1996)

The creation of Sega’s Mega Drive and Nintendo’s Super NES appeared. Sega and Nintendo were the market dominators in this period of time. This was also the debut of CD-ROMs and the Neo-Geo system which was the most advanced 2D rendering machine at the time. Game consoles generally had their 8-bit chips replaced with 16-bit alternatives, and an immense improvement of graphics was seen.

Fifth Generation (1994 – 1999)

This was the period when Nintendo’s Nintendo 64 emerged. This was also the period Sega’s Saturn and Dreamcast was made. Coming fresh into the market, the Sony Playstation managed to become one of the best selling consoles, placing Sony high in the market in this period. Games were now rendered in 32-bit glory, with 3D titles springing all over the place. Many great games were also created during this period including “GoldenEye 007” which revolutionized first person shooters on consoles, and Legend of Zelda – The Ocarina of Time, which is regarded by game critics as the greatest games of all time. Following these games is the highly regarded Final Fantasy series and various Playstation releases.

Sixth Generation (1998 – 2005)

This was the generation which I personally got the best look of. Being a growing boy at the time, I was exposed to all the consoles developed in this generation. This included the Playstation 2, the Xbox, the Gameboy, Gameboy Advance and GameCube. Many innovative games were also created in this period, including the Sims, GTA III, Halo 2 and Resident Evil 4.

Seventh Generation (2006 – Present)

This generation of video games is still occurring, with many of the latest hits we see now. This is also the boom of the mobile game industry, starting with Nokia’s N-Gage in the Sixth Generation. Some of the consoles in the seventh generation include: handhelds such as: the Nintendo DS & DS Lite and the Sony PSP. The competitors: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft also release new Next-Gen consoles, namely the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360. The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 feature a new graphical rendering system capable of outputting HD quality video output. The Nintendo Wii features a new interface and controller design.

Factors to the 1983 game industry crash

In 1983, the video game industry crashed terribly. I believe that the reason for this is due to the fact that the game industry had extremely bad titles such as E.T. and a badly ported version of Pac Man. There were apparently so many left over copies of E.T. that they had to be buried in a hole in New Mexico. Due to the release of such titles, the game industry crashed badly, and only managed to recover in 2 years.

Why did games succeed or fail?

The answer to this question is perhaps the most obvious. The games crashed because they were badly designed! This shows that game design is extremely important and knowing the intricate principles of game design is vital in the production of a successful game. Game’s that were well designed often succeeded, and games that had bad design just crashed (Like E.T.).

Story-line VS Game-play

Ladies and gentlemen step on up! Today in the ring we have… on the left, the mighty, the sophisticated, the never-ending… STORY-LINE! And on the right, we have the fearful, the intuitive, the fun-loving and awesome, GAME-PLAY! This is indeed the match of the season, yee haw! Well ok jokes aside, today we’re going to be discussing the importance of Story-line and Game-play in video games. I’ll be going through the following points:

- The importance of Story-line in today's games
- The importance of Game-play in today's games
- Which is more important, Story-line or Game-play?
- Examples of games with good story-lines and game-play
- Summary of story-lines and game-play

The Importance of Story-line in today’s games

Without further a due, let us begin. Firstly, we’ll be talking about the importance of story-lines in games. Have you ever played a large scale video game with absolutely no story before? I doubt it, because such titles rarely exist. Back in the golden days of gaming, story was never really needed. I mean what reason does a yellow ball of funk (named puck man (Pacman)) have to continually gobble up balls of food all over a large vertical map. Why are the strange ghosts always pursuing Pacman, and why does he die when he comes into contact with a ghost? There wasn’t much story in Pacman, but strangely enough it did well for its time. Well, now imagine a great game like Halo without a story. See the great difference? Well, obviously, Halo would not be such a great masterpiece if Master Chief never really had a reason to fight with the covenant.

It is therefore evident, that story is a key in today’s video games. This is especially so in the RPG and adventure genres. In fact, some games, such as the Final Fantasy series, depend strongly on a great story-line. I feel that no matter how intuitive the battle system and character design is in final fantasy, ultimately, if it had a bad story-line I’d get sick of it, rather easily I might add. The game is basically made of random battles and little avatars running around the screens and talking to one another. It is the story that keeps people playing the game, and the interaction between characters. I mean, playing final fantasy would really be a drag if there was no story. All I’d really be doing is leveling up my characters and facing new enemies… without a purpose.

The importance of game-play in today’s games

As much as story is concerned, I believe that game-play is also extremely important. Citing my previous examples of old school games, it is obvious that game-play is very important in the design of games. Back in the early age of video games, game-play was vital for a good game. Street fighter would never have become popular if all the characters had were detailed Biographies of their life. What made the game fun was the various fighting styles and moves each character possessed which in my opinion is the very essence of the game’s game-play.

Games that depend largely on game-play are generally found in the action and first person categories. Multiplayer games like counter-strike depend completely on game-play while other games like rhythm-based games such as DJ Max depend on intuitive design and style. These are all in my opinion elements of good game-play and the games quoted do not have any story-line what so ever.

Which is more important, Story or Game-play?

Now, the important question, which do we prioritize, story or game-play? Surely we must have one that is more important than the other, right? WRONG! In my opinion, both story AND game-play are equally important. I know there are many games out there with either just a great story or great game-play, but think about it… if we added that extra element of either the game-play or story, which was missing; we get a really awesome game as the outcome! Actions speak louder than words of course so I’ll show you examples of great games that have both story and game-play.

Examples of good games with good story-lines and game-play

If you thought games couldn’t have great story-lines and game-play, you are wrong, for nothing is impossible. Take for example, one of the few games to ever receive a perfect score on, The Legend of Zelda – The Ocarina of Time. This is one game that really packs a punch. It is classified as an Action-Adventure RPG, where you play as Link, the hero of time, and gain various skills and items that help you complete tough dungeons and defeat difficult bosses. Apart from a very impressive 3rd person hack and slash game-play, LOZ – OOT also has a deep and rich story-line where link has to face Ganondorf(the game’s antagonist) in a final battle of wits and power. Being one of the greatest games of all time, the LOZ – OOT was a major hit for the Nintendo 64.

Another great game with both an excellent story-line and intuitive game-play would be the First-Person Adventure game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Being a top-rated game with impressive graphics and audio effects, Oblivion also boasts a unique first person slash and magic casting experience. Set in a medieval world, with many creatures, monsters and sentient beings, Oblivion includes hundreds of side quests, as well as an intriguing main quest. Having about 50 hours of game-play and story this game is one you should definitely check out.


Woah. We finally got to the summary! After the discussion of game-play and story, I have only one conclusion to make. Great games need both game-play and story and to keep up with times, game designers should try and house game-play alongside story and try to blend the two contradictory components. Only then, would the game not just be another video game, but a GREAT video game.

The definition of fun according to Bryo

As defined by
1. something that provides mirth or amusement: A picnic would be fun.

2. enjoyment or playfulness: She's full of fun.

–verb (used without object), verb (used with object)
3. Informal. joke; kid.

4. Informal. of or pertaining to fun, esp. to social fun: a fun thing to do; really a fun person.
5. Informal. whimsical: flamboyant: The fashions this year are definitely on the fun side.

6. for or in fun, as a joke; not seriously; playfully: His insults were only in fun.
7. like fun, Informal. certainly not; of doubtful truth: He told us that he finished the exam in an hour. Like fun he did!
8. make fun of, to make the object of ridicule; deride: The youngsters made fun of their teacher.”

Hello y’all, and welcome to yet another informative post from your friendly neighbourhood game-designer-to-be. Today, I’m going to try and define fun. Hopefully, my attempt won’t be as futile as I believe it will be.

Fun… this word in general is extremely vague. In my honest opinion, I would believe that any activity that brings joy to an individual is the very definition of fun. For example, if you enjoy beating people up and other random acts of violence, playing a game like: Grand Theft Auto would be fun in your opinion.

Fun is also based on opinions. I doubt there can be a medium that brings enjoyment to everybody; therefore, my theory is that there is no such thing as universal fun. Fun is really based on the individual’s preferences. Everyone is unique, therefore what may seem fun to one person, might be boring to another. Take for instance, a game of chess, to some people, chess is a game that involves strategy and wits, to others it’s simply a waste of time. The same can be said for various games, like World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto. However there are some games that actually come close to universal fun. Such games are considered fun to the general public and are generally playable by all peoples of all ages. These games have been coined with the term “Casual Games”. One example of a casual game would be the strange and challenging action game Katamari Darmacy.

I also believe that the essence of being a game designer is to pursue the ever-lasting quest of finding universal fun. Because essentially if a video game was universally fun, everyone would want to play it. After all, who can resist something that brings them enjoyment? At any rate, the video game industry has a long way to go before it finds universal fun. One of the problems in finding universal fun is that it has to cater to all peoples, and games that are universally fun tend to be casual and not catered specially for a certain type of people. Although some might argue that being casual is the way to go, I disagree. Somehow making brilliant titles like Gears of War into casual games isn’t really my idea of fun. What I propose however is a massive change in media, and changing the mindsets of the world, rather than the games we make. Ultimately if everybody had a unified sense of what was fun and what isn’t, wouldn’t that solve the problem of universal fun?

As impossible as my proposal of fun sounds, it just might work, given time and patience. For all we know, the future league of gamers will be greatly diversified. With that I’d like to end my report on fun, thank you for reading it and have a fun weekend!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This place is pretty stoned... so....

I'm going to overhaul it with loads of stuff... once I learn how to make templates for this site that is. Anyway.... there will be an update coming soon (tomorrow I hope), and from now on, I'll be reviewing the game designs of different games weekly! So hopefully, this blog will be more alive~

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Munchkins and the Return of the Simian Prophet Expasion Set

Munchkins.. munchkins, what can I say. Well, first off, here is a "relatively" short description of the game:

Munchkins is an RPG card game, created around the year 2000, by Steve Jackson and John Kovalic from Steve Jackson Games. The game basically revolves around a deck of cards, classified into 5 different card types: Race, Class, Monster, Item and Event. All players begin the game as a level 1 human, and battle foes slowly to reach level 10. The objective of the game is simply to reach level 10 and become the strongest player in the game. Of course, the game is tilted by factors like races and classes which give players additional abilities, items and events that can either benefit or put a player down.

Expansions and Spinoffs (From
  • Munchkin
    • Unnatural Axe, the first expansion, won the Origins Awards in 2003, for Best Card Game Expansion or Supplement of 2002. The Orc Race is introduced in this expansion.
    • Clerical Errors, the second Munchkin expansion, brought the total number of cards for Munchkin up to 392. This expansion introduces the Gnome Race and the Bard Class.
    • Clerical Errata, is a misprint of Clerical Errors, containing cards printed with the wrong card back (e.g. dungeon rather than treasure). By popular demand, a limited public release was made. Enough units were sold to make back the printing costs.
    • The Need for Steed, the fourth expansion to Munchkin was released in 2006. This included a new type of card, Steeds, such as a dragon, an eagle and a turtle. Furthermore, many new kinds of Hirelings were added. Rules for these new cards are also included in this expansion.
    • De-Ranged, adds the Ranger Class as well as some of the monsters from the European version of the game.
  • Star Munchkin was released in 2002. It is a standalone version of Munchkin, and is not intended to be mixed with other munchkin decks unless you are "crazy enough to try". It parodies science-fiction in general, with an emphasis on the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. It won the Origins Awards in 2003, for Best Traditional Card Game of 2002. Sidekicks are introduced in this game.
    • Clown Wars is an expansion for Star Munchkin. It introduces Rooms and the Bug Race and the Star Ranger Class.
  • Munchkin Fu, another standalone version, was released in 2003 and parodies Asian martial arts movies. It introduces a new concept, Styles, which represent different fighting styles you can use.
    • Monky Business, an expansion to Munchkin Fu, was released early in 2005.
  • Munchkin Bites is the fourth standalone version, released in 2004. It parodies horror role-playing games, such as the games set in the World of Darkness universe, and horror fiction and movies in general.
    • Pants Macabre is an expansion for Munchkin Bites, and was released in late 2005.
  • Super Munchkin is the fifth standalone version, released in the summer of 2005 and is a parody on super hero comics.
    • The Narrow S Cape is an expansion for Super Munchkin, released in the summer of 2006.
  • Munchkin Impossible, the sixth standalone version, was released in late 2006 and parodies secret agent stories such as those of Mission: Impossible and James Bond.
  • Munchkin Cthulhu, the seventh standalone version, released in March 2007, lampoons Lovecraft's Mythos and the horror gaming that surrounds it, summoning classic monsters from outside reality.
  • Munchkin Blender is a special set released in response to players combining the different versions of Munchkin. It is an expansion sized set of cards designed to enhance this type of game, in which a player could be an elven/mutant bounty hunter/ninja or a dwarven samurai who uses a lasermaserbobaserbananafanafofaser (that's four different guns). Also provided are rules for playing to the 20th level, also known as Epic Munchkin. The Blender pack of cards is not required in order to mix two or more different standalone versions together.
  • Munchkin Dice is a supplement which contains six oversized 10-sided dice. The dice are designed for use as level counters. Also included are 14 cards for the original Munchkin and rules for rolling a Munchkin die for random game benefits.
  • Epic Munchkin is a set of rules for playing up to level 20 for all the Munchkin games. Players that reach the higher levels [10-19] gain 'Epic Powers' for each race and class (these powers are lost if the player is reduced to level 9 or lower).
Homemade expasion pack: Return of the Simian Prophet
Here is the expansion I made during class for the week 3 assignment, enjoy :P

Concluding this article, I'd like to add that Munchkins is a great game, suitable for most(if not all) ages, though some of the jokes in the game tend to require some kind of maturity to understand. This game has the potential to eat up loads of your time if you aren't careful and finally, if you're considering playing the game yourself,