Why Apex Legends is the Best Battle Royale

I previously covered PUBG and Fortnite on this channel, and you may have noticed neither of them stuck around for very long because I just couldn’t get into them. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the Battle Royale genre in general, but Apex Legends is seriously the first Battle Royale game that I’m finding legitimately fun on its own merits and I’m amazed that I can’t wait to start playing it even from the moment I’ve turned it off for the night. The developers have looked at all the things that usually make Battle Royales boring and… [Continue Reading]

Read more

aabicus at College: A Conclusion

About a year ago, I wrote an article discussing my first quarter of my Master’s Program. I’d ended that article saying that first quarter was expected to be the busiest, but honestly each one had more work than the last. Not a complaint, mind you, but it turns out it’s not easy cramming two years of work into a single year. That article ended with me becoming Creative Director for a healing-based puzzle shooter called Medical Necessity, and that project took up the lion’s share of the following (winter) quarter. You can read about the progress we made by checking out… [Continue Reading]

Read more

Interaction Design and the User Experience

Don’t mind me. Just summarizing what I’ve been learning lately. But I feel a LOT of this could be applied to gaming, so maybe it might interest you as well. Interaction design focuses on how people use and work with devices and other products, such as computers and smartphones, but also how they work with interfaces in general, such as that of smart watches and ATMs, anything with an interface. The context of interaction design is on users, activities and environments, with users focusing on physical, sensory and cognitive capabilities, while environments include not just location, but also the setting,… [Continue Reading]

Read more

aabicus at College: An Update

Hi everyone! I’ve been almost completely silent on both the forums and this blog, and I apologize for that, but as I mentioned in this video, I’ve been attending a Master’s program in Game Design, and it’s been loads of work. Luckily it’s been amazing and enjoyable work, and I’ve just wrapped up my first (and supposedly the busiest) quarter. It has been so great getting to explore so many different elements of game design in an academic setting! This article is basically a compilation of what I’ve been doing the last four months, and a bit of discussion on… [Continue Reading]

Read more

Left 4 Dead: The Birth of a Genre

Left 4 Dead was a great game. It had the perfect mix of arcadey action and strategic gameplay to entice shooter fans of every skill level, while also having amazing writing and atmosphere that really sold the survival horror aesthetic. Sure, it wasn’t the first 4-player coop (Yahtzee even griped in his Left 4 Dead 2 review about how commonplace those sorts of games were), but it carved a niche for itself that is so prevalent nowadays that I’d call an entire subsection of Co-op horde shooters “Left 4 Dead clones”. Left 4 Dead famously came into existence when the… [Continue Reading]

Read more

BarrierWatch

I’m finding myself playing less and less Overwatch these days, and while part of it is the new workload from preparing for my Master’s program in game development later this year, another part of it is me getting pretty tired of a mechanic that seems to have been Blizzard’s answer to too many balance problems. I don’t think there’s a single element of Overwatch that’s been buffed as many times as the barriers have. When the game was first announced, there were only two barriers among the initial twelve characters, and Winston’s sucked. Now, it’s perfectly possible (heck, downright common) for the defensive… [Continue Reading]

Read more

How to Design Enemies That Are Truly Scary

There are many, many enemies in video games designed to be scary, and I wanted to take some time to talk about ways to make enemies that fulfill this trope without resorting to “cheap” tactics like jumpscares or making them speedy OHKOs. Note that this article is mostly interested in “normal” enemies, not single boss-like monsters (like Spider from LIMBO) or full-fledged NPCs (like Pyramid Head from Silent Hill). Also I’m not an art major so my focus is on game mechanics and AI behaviors, and less on appearances. One of the scariest monsters I’ve had to fight in any game was… [Continue Reading]

Read more

Differentiating Maps Through Gameplay

Previously I used Left 4 Dead 2 to show an example of well-distinguished enemy units in a video game. I thought I could also take the chance to look at a little-known element of map design called “thematic gameplay”, and this time compare it to the original game, Left 4 Dead. While the first game’s initial four campaigns have a unifying vision of atmosphere and incredibly strong visual themes separating their design, they are almost completely lacking in gameplay alterations. They all involve forward progression through linear zombie-infested environments, eventually surviving a holdout finale and rushing the escape vehicle as soon as… [Continue Reading]

Read more

Windows in TF2

No, not that Windows. I’m talking about the ones that even Mac and Linux players have to deal with. Many maps in TF2 feature glass windows, which surprisingly are something of a new feature for the TF series. Going back into Team Fortress Classic, I can’t find any examples in official maps of transparent screens allowing the user to look but not interact with further parts of the map. They were consciously included in TF2’s design, as the Gravelpit developer commentary explains: “Height is a useful feature when designing defensible buildings. For instance, the cap B building needs to be defended from… [Continue Reading]

Read more

On Ladders

Abandon all gravity ye who enter here. You think you’ve tackled the toughest foes first-person shooters have to throw you? Do you evaporate bullet sponges, quickscope flying speedsters and melee tanks to death without thinking? Then I present to you the one enemy who doesn’t care. The foe whose only strategy is to use your own weight against you, the foe who can morph the game into a platformer at the worst possible time. Not only is it seemingly impossible for any shooter to make ladders that don’t suck, they also can’t agree on the mechanics. Do you latch on by facing… [Continue Reading]

Read more