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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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Game Design: Differentiating Your Baddies

First-Person Shooters do a great job of naming all the guns. Whether borrowing real-world names like “M14” in the name of accuracy, generic names like “sawed-off-shotgun” in the name of clarity, or custom names like “Klobb” in the name of uniqueness, I can’t think of a single instance where I was disappointed in the dev’s firearm naming efforts. But this satisfaction does not always transfer to their naming of the things being shot. In a way, I think it’s almost more important that the bad guy units in a shooter be given decent names, especially if the devs are hoping a… [Continue Reading]

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Guide on… walking out of spawn in TFC

Hello, my name is eugensiman and I’m a passionate newcomer into the world of Team Fortress games (400+ hours overall). I quickly found out that I’m more of a theorist than a practicalist in these shooters. I can acknowledge the importance and strategical advantages of various rocket jumps, however sometimes I can’t even do some of the simplest wall jumps on Badwater. But we’re here not to talk about walls. As I’ve said, I’m a newcomer not only into TF2, but into all the Team Fortress games. That means that I also like to spam some grenades around, make sentries… [Continue Reading]

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