Linear games: Are they worth playing?

Recently I’ve been trying to broaden my horizon and try out some games, franchises and genres that I don’t usually play or like. Among them were a number of quite linear games like the Call of Duty series and others. My goal was to verify my prejudices I had against a lot of mainstream titles without ever having played them.

In this article I’ll be talking about a few examples of linear games I’ve played recently and what observations I made while and after playing.

Note that I’ll be only talking about the single player portions of games and I don’t necessarily mean, that linearity entails a bad experience. If you like CoD, great, more power to you. There’s numerous of different preferences when it comes to playing games and I’m just talking about my personal experience.

Call of Duty Linear Games

Let’s get started

Call of Duty: Black Ops

This one I actually finished, just for the record.

I’m someone who tries to explore game environments, try different approaches to situations and in general find out what’s possible in the game. This is probably a result of playing too much System Shock and Deus Ex and also exploring the complex secret-riddled levels of Doom, back when it was released.

Turns out that’s a terrible thing to do in CoD. Following the games rules to the letter and staying on the path laid out for you is critical to “your” enjoyment of the game. Any deviation will either lead to death or absolutely nothing, because nothing will progress.

At first I tried getting at least some enjoyment out of the game by letting the AI do all the fighting or trying to skip sections and scripted events, but it usually didn’t work or took ages, of course with the same result, so eventually I caved and just played like I was “supposed” to.

At that moment I started thinking how my experience of the game was different from that of other players and I couldn’t reach a satisfying conclusion. Except for the difficulty and sometimes weapons, you basically have no say in anything that happens in the game, especially how the story plays out. Everything remotely important is presented via cutscenes and the actual gameplay playes more or less in a series of corridor-levels or at least linear areas.

But other than “That’s not the game for me.”, I didn’t really think much more about it after finishing up the solo campaign and getting myself killed a couple of times in multiplayer. But that would change a couple of years later when I tried the next game:

Continue reading “Linear games: Are they worth playing?”

Various updates and progress

Hey everybody!

It might not seem like it, but I’ve been pretty busy the last couple of months. As you can see the blog looks different, that’s because I’ve moved to a new provider and can (finally) use more current WP versions. Yay! So I moved the whole blog and gave it a little makeover. There will be more changes in the upcoming days and weeks.

In gamedev news, I’ve continued working on the Unity tutorials. Unfortunately at a very slow pace, I just managed to finish the current chapter. But I want to push through the last Unity 4 tutorial this month so I can switch to Unity 5 and start working on the mini-roguelike game in September.

Gaming is a little bit slow, but right now I’m playing (and loving) Bloodborne on the PS4. I’ve also played through “Papers Please” for the second time.

World of Warcraft has unfortunately fallen from grace. After a really REALLY (!) great start, it completely fell apart in the endgame. I’m not an active raider, I don’t love PvP and I don’t care about trivial content or achievements so the endgame has VERY little to offer, which is a damn shame, since the final endgame in MoP was just awesome.

Now Blizzard is already announcing the next expansion, so it looks like they’ll be releasing them faster. Don’t know if I love that. But in theory I’ve got a lot more topics to talk about, so we’ll see about that.

But I’d rather talk about more general game design topics, but I guess my gripe with WoW is still applicable to other genres and areas.

Anyways, see you soon, from today, there will be regular content updates again.

Development Day 16: Unity tutorials continue

After a longer break of preparing for my Japan trip and the subsequent trip to Japan, I’m continuing with my Unity tutorial marathon.

Unity 5 was released a while ago, but the tutorials are probably not updated yet. In fact, I remember having to look up quite a lot of stuff for 4.6 compatibility, so I won’t be switching to Unity 5 until I finished the remaining tutorials.

Today I continued where I left off, after chapter 1.02 of Tutorial 3. It was a bit slow, since I’ve gotten a little bit rusty with the interface, but in the end I made at least some progress, so I’m happy 😉

After the break are the chapters I completed today:

Continue reading “Development Day 16: Unity tutorials continue”

Day 14: Done!

Yay, it’s done.

The last two parts are completed.

09: Spawning Enemies and

10: Game Over

Editor view of the finished minigame

While there was a lot of “We’ve already prepared this for you” stuff, I still learned a lot, especially about working with the UI and Animation System.

 

I also discovered this: Unity – Live Training Archive

Of course I won’t work through all of this, but it might be useful as a reference in the future.

 

Here’s the link to play the game in your browser: Turorial 3 – Survival Shooter

(requires Unity 3D Web Player addon to play)

It’s a slightly bigger download, about 30MB, so

You move with wasd/arrow keys and aim with the mouse. Mouse Button 1 shoots and after you die you can restart if you want.

Edit: Due to popular demand, here is a Windows X86_X64 executable: Download Survival_Shooter.7z

Aaand a Linux build!

 

This is my current highscore, just in case you’re bored and want to beat it (shouldn’t be too hard)

1485 Points

Compared to the previous game, this gets more difficult as time passes. There’s still just one level, but the overall quality is a lot better.

 

Next up: Turorial number 4 – Project: Stealth

Day 13: Busy…

The last few days were insanely busy, so I just got the next, very short tutorial done, which is a score counter on the hud.

Boring!

 

Here’s the Link to chapter 08: Scoring points

 

Tomorrow I’ll try to finish this game and then we can move on to the next tutorial…which I want to complete more quickly so I can move on to the roguelike tutorial 😉

Day 12: Pewpew!

Chapter 07: Harming Enemies is finished.

Long video, but not very complicated, so I could follow along without pausing anything.

 

A lot of premade scripts again and also a hint on a lot of animation stuff that was prepared in the assets. Not really my cup of tea, I would’ve preferred to have an explanation of what and why that was done and how to actually do it myself. It’s not very helpful to get the information “We prepared this and that feature on the animation for you because you need it for this script.”. Of course it surely saves me a lot of time, but if I wanted to create a game by myself, using such a feature, this tutorial doesn’t actually teach me how to do it…which kinda defeats the point of a tutorial, doesn’t it?

But otherwise the explanations are fine and everything works. Plus this isn’t a tutorial made for the website, but a recording of a teaching session of some sort, so they had to make some cuts here and there. Let’s see how the next tutorials are handling this 😉

 

Tomorrow I’m pretty busy, so I won’t finish the game until thursday or friday.

 

See you then!

Day 11: Not much progress, but still progress

Today I completed the next two parts in the third tutorial.

These were:

05- Health HUD

06- Player Health

All in all not much progress was made, but at least the enemy is damaging the player now and there’s a visual representation of that on the screen. Yay 😉

 

Chapter 06 contained a lot of premade scripting, which might be useful as a reference later on, but as I mentioned, I prefer the way the previous tutorials did it.

But there were some very useful (but still basic) tips on creating the HUD, which seems to be really easy with Unity3D. Awesome!

 

Next time will probably just be Chapter 07: Harming Enemies. Since the video is over 40 minutes long, I don’t know if I’ll be able to complete anything after that.

New intermediate tutorial up on unity3d.com

Unity3D.com just uploaded a new tutorial, which seems really great.

I’ll definitely work on that after finishing the first four tutorials, because I assume there will be a lot of useful content for my own future project.

Tutorial 5: 2D Roguelike (aww yeah)

 

Its 14 chapters and assets are included. Since everything is 2D pixelart, I’ll probably recreate all the assets myself and only follow the tutorial loosely, to include as much of my own ideas as possible.

pewpew

See you later today for the update on the 3rd tutorial.

Day 10: Tutorial No3 begins.

Another day, another tutorial…or something like that.

 

Today I started the third tutorial on the Unity website: Survival Shooter

 

In the first chapter you can see a short introduction about the final product, check it out, I think it’ll again be a big step up from the previous tutorial.

 

Alright, what did I finish today?

Chapter 01: Environment Setup

Setting up the scene, importing the assets and a project overview.

 

Chapter 02: Player Character

This was where I noticed the video length of this tutorial. While there are only 10 Chapters, which seems very short, the videos are sometimes three or four times longer than in the previous tutorial. So it might take a little bit longer. In Chapter 02 player movement and animation is being set up. The animation system of Unity is really easy to work with, I like it a lot so far.

 

Chapter 03: Camera Setup

Nothing special here, setting up the isometric view and adding a couple of scripts to make the camera follow the player through the scene.

 

Chapter 04: Creating Enemy #1

Some basic stuff like adding the model in the scene, adding scripts, sounds and animations, but also some new stuff, such as getting the enemy to follow the player and adding pathfinding AI. The navigation by the AI is actually really simple, I was expecting it to be much more complex in terms of scripting. But I suppose with more complex situations, it’ll be less easy. But for very basic setups it works great with almost no work.

More scripting

Tomorrow I’ll continue with the next entries in this tutorial, such as Health HUD, Player Health and Harming Enemies. Let’s see how far we can get.

 

One thing I actually don’t like about this particular tutorial is the amount of premade content they give you. I understand this was from a live demonstration/course on quickly making a small game, but there’s really a whole lot already done. Previously it was just assets, but this time a lot of things, which I’m sure most new Unity users still need practice with, like setting up lighting and collision with the environment or scripts etc. is already finished.

Also, in the previous tutorials, there was slightly more explanation and especially experimenting and showing what happens when you do this or that in a wrong or incomplete way. This resulted, at least for me, in all the new information being much clearer and easier to remember.

But so far this tutorial is still really good and there are a lot of useful tips and explanations about the engine, that weren’t in the previous tutorials. So don’t skip this one!

Day 9: Done!

Well, done with the second tutorial 😉

If you like, you can do it yourself. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time and there are a lot of useful hints and tips along the way.

 

Tutorial Game 2: Space Shooter

Today I spent a little bit more time and finished the remaining chapters:

Chapter 11: Explosions

Chapter 12: Game Controller

Chapter 13: Spawning Waves

Chapter 14: Audio

Chapter 15: Counting points and displaying the score

Chapter 16: Ending the game

Chapter 17: Building the game

 

All in all this was still a really simple project, especially due to the fact that the assets were provided beforehand.

I made some very minor alterations from the tutorial, but nothing too serious.

This whole thing still barely qualifies as a game. For a “real” Shoot’emUp, the amount of work, even with just one enemy type and no additional assets, would be exponentially larger.

 

For now, I’ve just uploaded the web player version of the game. You can play it here:

Play Tutorial 2 Game “Space Shooter” in your Browser (requires Unity Web Player).

Controls are simple: WASD/Arrow Keys to move, left Ctrl to shoot, and “R” to restart the game after you die.

 

Next time, hopefully tomorrow, I’ll get started with the third tutorial “Survival Shooter“, which seems to be about the same length as the current one.