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Characterization Through Mechanics

In this video, we’ll talk about the importance of mechanics in adding depth and personality to characters in games on example of Thomas Was Alone and few other games, and what things we need to take into account when adding or reusing mechanics in the games we make.

Thanks for watching! Feel free to leave any comments below! 🙂

And if you’d like, consider supporting my work on Patreon! Thank you very much!

Farlands Newsletter – 26.05.2017 – DevGamm, Next Video, and more

Hey all. So last weekend I got back from DevGamm Moscow 2017, which is why there was no newsletter last Friday (which, to be fair, was chosen absolutely arbitrarily as the newsletter day just because I happened to post the first one on a Friday). The conference was very cool, met some very nice people and listened to some cool talks. I think my own presentation went very well considering that I was absolutely calm until the very second I started speaking infront of the crowd. I guess this means that 7-8 years of dancing might remove fear of stage, but not anxiety to talk. At any rate, the conference is over, which means…

Next Video – Characterization Through Mechanics
This week I’ve started working on new video! The topic is characterization through mechanics, mostly on the example of Thomas Was Alone. The script is already written, all that’s left is to edit it and record and make the video itself… so quite a bit, but hopefully at some point next week it will be done.

I haven’t had a lot of time to play since last newsletter, but I did check out some games. One of them was the first Darksiders (Warmastered Edition to be precise). I had both Darksiders games for a long time but never had played them, and the recent announcement of Darksiders 3 has inspired me to actually go through them. So far I enjoy it quite a bit, and can see where the Legend of Zelda comparisons come from. Will talk more when I finish it or get close to finishing it.

Batman: Arkham Knight
I also started playing and almost completed Arkham Knight. It’s… it’s engaging enough that I played several long sessions so far, but the game is problematic.

Problem #1 – Batmobile. More precisely the frequent tank battles and the desire to create arbitrary obstacles to use batmobile with. For movement it’s absolutely fine, but by the end of the game the battle portions with batmobile get so tiresome. ‘He’s got a Rattler!’ or variations of it is a phrase that I heard just so. Many. Times.

Problem #2 – The notion that the games takes place all in one night. It worked for Asylum, was pretty stretched but still worked in City, but in Knight it’s just not feasible and that removes from immersion.

Problem #3 – Fake stakes. The whole narrative rests on the concept that there’s just too much shit for Batman to handle, and that’s how Scarecrow wants to break him. The problem is, even though the game tries to show that there’s dilemmas going on, ‘oh who will you go save, Catwoman or Barbara?’, ‘While you were chasing me how many crimes there were that you didn’t stop?’, etc., there’s no actual choice because you can do everything in the game.

Problem #4 – Indoor level design. There’s very few of proper indoor levels, and they’re not very big. So we have a bunch of gadgets that we rarely use (for example Line Launcher that’s available from the start of the game, I think I used it about… 10 times at most), but the indoor content is not as expansive as it was in Arkham Asylum or Arkham City. Most of the things are happening outdoors.

Problem #5 – The titular Arkham Knight. It’s… let’s just say there was a lot of awesome build-up that didn’t amount to anything really.

So this is all for this week’s newsletter. Thanks for your time! Feel free to leave any comments below. If you’d like to keep an eye on my future blog posts, feel free to follow me on Twitter @farlander1991 🙂

And if you’d like, consider supporting my work on Patreon! Thank you very much!

Game Opinion – TorqueL

TorqueL feels like a prototype of a very interesting mechanic that has never really left the stage of being a prototype and sort of became a full game. The point of the game is that you roll around in a box, and instead of jumping, you extend one or more of the box’s sides to do the platforming.

I really like the concept and find it interesting. And as a prototype, TorqueL is a great proof of concept. It is not, however, a great game in my opinion.

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Badland: Mobile vs. Consoles

A few years ago, I played Badland on mobile by my fiancee’s recommendation, and I had tons of fun – it’s a great game. Beautiful art, simple controls yet challenging levels, and when you play it you really get into the state of flow as you try to make perfect runs. So I was really curious when I learned that the game would get a console/PC port, titled ‘Game of the Year Edition’. And thanks to it appearing among the PSN+ games, I got to try the port out.

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Thomas Was Alone

If there’s anything that Thomas Was Alone proves, is that you can make characters you relate to and root for out of anybody – even if they’re just… blocks. Of different colors. And it’s also really interesting how their personalities are related to their abilities.

Chris is short and he can’t jump high, so he has developed sort of an inferiority complex, for example. John is a very tall block that runs fast and jumps really high, and he’s somewhat of an attention whore and show-off, requiring the audience of other… blocks. And they develop their personalities throughout the game! It’s amazing. And the narration is awesome.

Not to mention that the level and puzzle design is really quite smart, and there are times where it requires a very clever use of said blocks’ abilities. Thomas Was Alone is really short, though. You can beat it in around 3 hours? But it’s a very enjoyable and engaging experience, I really liked the game and would recommend you to check it out.