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I'd like to share old memories of "bigness" in space games. I recall playing Star Trek: The Next Generation - Future's Past on the SNES and spending most of my time travelling between planets and stars just examining them, exploring space. It was far more fun to me as a child than the actual missions, and I felt like a real explorer. I agree that I don't feel that while playing ME2, and that's something I miss a lot.

I find myself lacking immersion in most games I play now. Campaigns are either too short, a la MW2, or simply lack the elements that make me forget I'm playing a video game, no matter how good the game is otherwise.

I miss the good old days where the simplest things were the most exciting.

I too miss good, expansive space games like Frontier or Starflight. EVE Online (I know, I know) has that sense of bigness, but I'd prefer something a little more hands on. Closest thing I've selt to that lately is Parkan II. Thanks for continuing to talk about the need for more/better space games. :)

I've never been a fan of genre-mixing, and I doubt the RPG audience and the flight sim audience have much to say to each other.

I've always been keen on genre mixing, if only because I'm kind of a dick. I adored the fact that Mass Effect mixed, with great results, not only because it made RPG fancocks have to play an FPS and made FPS fancocks have to play an RPG, but because maybe at the end of the day both of these groups would realize that they were actually playing a really, really good game behind it all, and that it was so not in spite of but because of this chimeric gameplay.

But moreso than those respectively petty and impossible notions of messing with and enlightening fans, I've always found genre mixes to be fertile, largely untapped space for unique and intriguing gameplay. Now, doing so is tricky, and it requires a lot of skill to make anything not resembling a great big old mess. But these kind of mixes are usually not even attempted except by studios that have a lot of skill and have the best chance of pulling it off, like Bioware with Mass Effect. Other times, they fail, but often with something unique to show for their efforts, like Asobo and Fuel. Did the open-world exploration of a map big enough to fill 35 DVD's and the simplistic offroad racing parts really complement each other that well? Not really, but go ask Shamus Young if it was worth it in the end.

Genres don't necessarily require a full-on, 1:1 mix, either; it often takes only a little of a foreign genre to make the main genre spin in a fresh direction; just ask the multiplayer of any modern FPS game. And in the last console generation, a but of the RPG/flight simulator mix-up Yahtzee suggests had already been done with Ace Combat 5, a game that I love like the flag and which essentially lets you level up your planes into better planes. And I bet a lot of flight sim fans loved that system without even realizing that they were doing the Mach-2 equivalent of level grinding.

Personally, if a big, experienced studio mentioned tomorrow that they were making a full-on blenderized flight sim/RPG Frankenstein monster, I'd shit LEGO bricks- if not for being a longtime fan of both of these genres, then for the chance to bear witness to something that has really never been done before, at least not to the knowledge of myself or the average gamer. Isn't that worth something in and of itself in an industry whose genres are so easily recognized due to how tirelessly reiterative they have proven themselves to be?


Will these updates for your game be on Extra Punctuation or your website?

Uh... what's a swimming bath?

Man, I hope you make this game Yatzee. I wanna play :D! Also, Shattered Horizon has fantastic space movement, so maybe some inspiration can be taken from that.

You're forgetting a cardinal rule in control design; using the crouch/duck buttons to control altitude will without fail put players in a situation where they're trying to fly out of the way of that random asteroid that popped up out of nowhere but instead crash into it because the altitude controls are too stiff.

I know, I've crashed into my share of space debris and enemy ships because the "fly down" button wouldn't let me fly down at a sharp enough angle.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: Connectivity

The space-buggy sections in Mass Effect 2 may have been annoying, but at least they were there.

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NO, let me expand on that HELL NO...

Seriously the "Mining Minigame" was already enough of "fluff" or "timesink" to go around and annoyed me to no end... adding sequences where I have to fly for 10-20 minutes to a game that is story-based and should STAY that way would probably annoy me to the end of me actually giving up on the damn game. As you put it in your Review so very well if you want to play a "Mining Surveyor" you go play EVE... well if I want to fly pointlessly through an empty space for 40 minutes I'll do the same or go with Freelancer or whatever. I don't need nor WANT that kind of gameplay in a story-based RPG trying to emulate a movie experience.

Hell I was so fucking happy about it that they beamed you up to the ship after every mission instead of making you walk the whole fucking way because it is a pointless waste of time and that they let you sprint outside of combat and little things like that, they don't make for a better game... those elements just make for more timesinks in a game...

Now don't get me WRONG I'd like to be able to explore alien planets and discover mysteries, solve puzzles or problems and all that like they did in Star Trek: TNG on a few hundred alien planets... but as you've obviously seen from the example of Mass Effect 1 that's not POSSIBLE in the timeframe they have to complete the game. They already heavily reused setpieces and design elements on almost all story-places/planets:

image image image image image image
Six different places, that still all look very similar...

So the choice is between having 5-7 places that are and feel truly unique and have their own "feel" to it like right now or 4-6 places like that and a few dozen planets created by a random terrain-generator that are just boring empty areas to drive/walk around in and shoot stuff I will always go with the first.

That's also why I always preffered Bioware/Obsidian/Black Isle games before the kinds of Bethesda with "small areas" where you actually did stuff and there were interesting things to see and interact with (even if some areas were empty aside of 2-3 things and not exactly every one of them was a big "HUB world") like Baldur's Gate 1+2, Icewind Dale 1+2, Planescape Torment, Fallout 1+2, KOTOR 1+2, Jade Empire, Dragon Age, Mass Effect 1+2, Neverwinter Nights 2 etc. etc. while I found Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3 to be shallow and boring after a while cause you had to litterally wade through a ton of shit killing enemies to even get to those 5-6 "interesting" areas in the game.

If you're interested I'm a (relatively new, nine months) programmer who has done basic AI's before. if you're interested I'll send you a battleship game that me and a partner created. It's a console app, nothing special but the point was proving we could create an AI.

If Yahtzee hasn't heard already, the zombie corpse of MircoProse and the zombie corpse of Interplay might be reviving the Descent series.,9671.html

Oh how I miss the Wing Commander/X-Wing games. Tie Fighter is an amazing game, probably my most favorite.

I went to the dentist the other day, it felt like playing ME 2.

Go from my house to a predetermined point of interaction and talk with some people who I know I'm going to talk to so they'll do something I know they're going to do.
I stood around outside waiting to meet up with my mother, just looking up out at the world...

It reminded me rather unhappily of The Citadel, this massive place with this wonderful garden and all that water and for some reason, I was stuck visiting this one place with a small scripted sequence and a slightly large level with some shops.

So, whilst they've refined shooting, they seemed to have reduced the enormity of the world to that of a trip to the dentist.

That said, my life has much less shooting in it than ME 2, so the trip in The Citadel wasn't exactly identical to my trip.


That's also why I always preferred Bioware/Obsidian/Black Isle games before the kinds of Bethesda with "small areas" where you actually did stuff and there were interesting things to see and interact with (even if some areas were empty aside of 2-3 things and not exactly every one of them was a big "HUB world") like Fallout 1+2, etc. while I found Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout 3 to be shallow and boring after a while cause you had to literally wade through a ton of shit killing enemies to even get to those 5-6 "interesting" areas in the game.

I respectfully disagree. Mass Effect's grind/time wasting areas were almost completely optional and Yahtzee has a point; if he wants a cinematic showing you beam down to the surface, why is that so hard? If you don't want to watch it you could skip over it. A good fast travel system could also help with immersion while cutting down on running back and fourth (again with optional cut scenes unlike the stupid elevators in ME1).

Fallout 1+2 must be one of the most visually boring games ever and you had to wade though waves of enemies whenever you went somewhere in the form of random encounters (at higher levels you could skip over them with perks)! But I never got bored playing it because of the other immersion aspects and constant novelty. Random encounters in those games were fun since with a few building blocks you could have thousands of combinations of unique battles i.e. gangsters verses mutants versus radscorpions with your character in the crossfire. (Though they were also somewhat necessary for ye olde Ecks Pea grinde.)

In those games Yahtzee would have like the fact that your pointer moved across the map and you could it and explore the randomly created locations in between cities thus creating a sense of connectivity.

Fallout 3 did have a pretty generous fast travel system and I also thought the developers put a lot of effort in scattering interesting details across the world map and thus I think it is fair they made you walk to each location just once.

Maybe if people really wanted unique locals, developers shouldn't try to push the envelop of graphics and stick to the art.

Little Duck:
Basically, the consensus seems to be we want the mako back but we want the planets to have plants fauna and flora (did I spell fauna right?) and for the mako to be able to go from point A to place 2 comfortably.

Well, EDI said in the cargo hold that the SR-2 is equipped to handle a land vehicle they call the Hammerhead (another breed of shark). I got bored shortly after clearing the Omega Nebula, so I don't know if you ever actually acquire one. I actually tried to get in the Mako when exploring the Normandy crash site, because it's the only thing from the SR-1 that seems intact.

Jaranja couldn't have agreed with you more.

But it seems Yahtzee's prayers have been heard by the Gaming Gods because Bioware just announced 5 vehicle missions. FOR FREE (for those who bought the game new, or have access to the Cerberus network).

So gear up and start warming the engine of your flame throwing hoover tank strangely named the Hammerhead though it resembles a Dragon more than a shark.

I tried using Blender once...and failed miserably. Obviously my artistic talents are limited to tangible media. I can't wait to see what Yahtzee's done with it though!

Also, the mental image of him playing Frontier as a child is fucking adorable.

The "biggest" game I've ever played is X3 Terran Conflict. It could be argued that it's too big; since the ships are fairly slow, even with time acceleration one needs a good amount of patience. It's also entirely possible to play the game without seeing a lot of the universe, though if you're determined to build a lot (and let's face it, that's the REAL reason to play the game) you should have every sector mapped out.
Still and all, it is by far the best game to play if you want to feel like a speck of dust in the sea of space travel.

It's worth mentioning that it only takes a small script to cheat yourself more engine than your ship is supposed to be able to handle - a cheat which I, not being a very patient person, find essential to enjoy the game.

So, what, do we get to rip apart HIS game when he finishes it? Or maybe someone from a Game Publisher or Developer should guest-rant on his work, that would be a switch.

I can so relate to the love of flying in old videogames! On our old Windows 95, we had Fury 3, and I would spend hour after hour playing that--not just to win the game, but just to fly, because it was so much fun!

For those who haven't played it, you basically have this little fighter that you fly around to different mission objectives on a planet. Once you've completed all objectives (which were usually something like "Fly to Checkpoint A. Then fly to City B and kill target. Then fly to City C and destroy it. Then fly through Tunnel D, etc.") you flew to the "Jump Zone", which teleported you to another place on the planet. After three missions, you went to the next planet. As you flew around, you picked up more and more enemy fighters around you, which you destroyed by shooting them down with increasingly powerful weaponry you picked up from blowing up OTHER stuff.

So pretty basic, but the fun thing was that there were no limitations whatsoever on where you could go or what you could do--scenery was extremely limited, especially outside of the areas you were "supposed" to go to, but it was all explodable, and you could even completely skip mission objectives and go straight to the Jump Zone if you wanted to. And flight was AMAZINGLY fun! I used to do crazy loops and skim as close to the ground as possible--I think I even managed to get a couple of enemy ships to crash like that once. And you could even fly beyond the cloud cover into the upper atmosphere (or whatever it was; graphics were terrible back then), so there was all sorts of maneuvering moves you could make, and even a limited turbo speed to cover lots of ground fast.

All in all, it was incredibly fun because it was so open. The planets were technically limited, but it wasn't obvious, because after a while you looped around to where you'd started from. The controls were easy to pick up and simple to use, and could do pretty much anything you put your mind to. And the freedom was great--you could do each mission objective, then go at turbo-speed to the next target and so on, but it was a lot more fun to meander around and kill everything in sight instead (besides, you got all sorts of lovely bonuses and extra points from that!). We need more games like this. It had scarcely any plot beyond "aliens taking over the galaxy" and terrible graphics, but it was fun, and that's all that mattered! *sigh* Nostalgia. I'll have to go play that game again now...

Yahtzee you seem to have an interesting point but i really think the "teleportation" travel is good for a game like Mass Effect. We probably just don't see eye to eye on this, but I think Mass Effect is plenty immersive just with its missions. I do hope you know that the Mako and the airlock/elevator sections were actually something people really didn't like about ME1. All the airlock was, was a little filler loading screen while the game loaded the planet. I don't call that immersion, I call that the was of time. They were all about presenting the game to the players in the way the players could access as much content as possible. And it DOES show you a cut scene of you ship coming into port with every planet you visit. I think they were thinking normal people could just fill in the blank that "oh, OK, Shepard took his shuttle and put on his armor", I mean do you really need the game to show Shepard stripping and putting on a spacesuit EVERY time you land somewhere?

Its a valid argument you have, but ME2 isn't the same kind of game as Fallout or Oblivion. And personally i'm glad it isn't. Like you pointed out in your Oblivion review, after awhile its just the same piece of dungeon/countryside copy pasted 100000000000 times and to me thats not immersive. Thats just boring and wasteful.

I think your criticism is mostly based off a nitpick. long live the nitpicking.

Hmm, that would actually be really cool. If you had the tools, you could (if you wanted to)board the massive behemoth ships and take them out from the inside. A lot like Battlefront 2, but with less suck.

Going into the atmosphere of a planet to land would be amazing in this day and age of technology. Though, I have yet to play a game which has an ability to land a flying vehicle without having to jump out watch it crash. Well, Battlefront 2 had a kinda working landing mechanism, but it was very annoying.

Maybe if Battlefront 2 was not a starwars game, it would have been given the care and love it needed to make all of the pieces work right.

I feel the sameway how games cut out the connectivity between areas in game.
In FFX, Squaresoft cut out the world map which i believe was a huge mistake on thier part, for me, its a vital ingredient to the ff franchise. :/

No game has yet to capture, even slightly, the actual size of the cosmos. Infinity might be the first title to, but who knows when that will be released.

Like the idea of the game

I completely "get" what Yhatzee's saying there with a lack of connectivity

Sometimes I feel that a developer has had a cool idea in his head which he imagined, and then put it into a game. Unfortunately, he can't get across the idea exactly the way he wanted it, so he simplifies and/or stylises his idea

When he plays it, it seems perfect. But that's because he's using it as a platform, a sensory aide to the idea in his head. When we play it, even if he explains it to each of us personally, we cannot get his idea into our heads, and so we're left with the game, which is good-to-average, but not a godsend like he finds it

For that, I envy developers

the new game your designing sounds pretty innovative and I know your just gonna take this as fanboy crazies but still I'd like to wish you good luck.

Totally agree with Yahtzee's points. This is why I like sandbox/mmo's. The fact that it's a really large world which is fun to just cruise around in, exploring. The storyline almost becomes secondary to the random fun you can have just kicking around.

That's why I'm waiting for this, if its ever completed;

I agree completely with you about the lack of spatial believability in Mass Effect II and the lack of the Mako (I never bitched about it, I quite liked rolling away in the damn thing, just wish the controls had been better). I'm also extremely intrigued and looking forward to Fun Space Game: The Game.
I await your updates eagerly and wish you well on your epic endeavour.

While I often agree with points old Yahtzee makes, I've got to question the logic on this one. I can relate to the idea that ME2 lacked the scope of ME1 in terms of exploration, and I agree that whoever thought of the "let's make people spend 33% of the game scanning planets" was probably huffing paint when he formed that bright idea, but I think the overall point of this article was kind of weak. I mean, the introduction for the article is "The space-buggy sections in Mass Effect 2 may have been annoying, but at least they were there." So what's your point Yahtzee? That something can totally suck balls, but it gets bonus points for the sake of existing? That's like saying, cancer may be a major bummer, but at least it exists. As though the alternative to something bad existing (i.e. that thing not existing) was somehow a worst situation.

I think a lot of people missed the actual problem with the driving in the first Mass Effect. It wasn't the vehicle that was the problem, it was the f*cking terrain on those maps. Far too many planets had nigh-unscalable mountains, at the top of which were the minerals or outpost to which you needed to get. If they would have kept the vehicle and made the maps a bit more reasonable in area and "jaggedness", it's my belief that the complaints would have gone away and people like me wouldn't be left sitting here wondering why ME2 felt so shallow.

As far as the vehicle controls are concerned, I don't get the problem. The right stick controls where you look as well as where you steer. Not ideal, but it's not hard to get used to with a bit of practice. Goes for ME1 as well as Borderlands and probably many more games past and to come.

Yahtzee Croshaw:

The space-buggy sections in Mass Effect 2 may have been annoying, but at least they were there.

Does he mean the space-buggy sections from Mass Effect 1 ??

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Extra Punctuation: Connectivity

The space-buggy sections in Mass Effect 2 may have been annoying, but at least they were there.

Read Full Article

If you want an epic game of bigness Yahtzee I suggest Vega Strike, the incredibly old version that I have of it is brilliant, worth a look at least. Lots of trading and wooshy blasty fun, much better than the battles in Space Force: Rogue Universe at least.

The hammerheads going to come out this month. aka space buggy is still there it's just DLC. Bioware said they have game altering and tiny tidbit DLC planned till at least 2012 so by the time we get ME 3 I bet we won't even recognize ME 2

i cant say I noticed this lack of bigness, although the normandy seemed "bigger" than any other areas just because you had to load everytime you went between decks. This really pissed me off, I spoke to the crew not on the nav deck less because I couldnt be arsed to wait for it to load. I think if they had then got me to walk to the door to get onto the planet it would have driven me mad.

There was a Japanese Gundam MMO I played for awhile (I was fluent enough to get by and to interact with the community) called Universal Century Gundam Online. The environments themselves were largely flat and barren, seeing as how the game took place in Australia, and the combat was fun enough, mixing sim-ish elements with traditional MMO combat. I believe it's closed down now, unfortunately. Granted, the engine was clunky and performed poorly, and the on-foot sections left a lot to be desired, but it was a good effort at a Gundam MMO.

More specific to the point of the article, however: an expansion had been released for the game sometime before I joined that allowed players to fly around and fight in space as well as in the barren wasteland that was Virtual Australia. Special engine or suit types were required for space battles, and tactics substantially varied due to 3D movement. It felt "big", too; you had to fly Jumpgate-style for great distances to get to new areas.

Here are two links I'd like to show you. First, here's how the game handles the transition from the ground to space sections. It should be accompanied by a music track when the space cutscene plays, but the person playing probably has that off. This is the best implementation of seamless transition between two completely different area types I have ever seen, and this is what I wish Mass Effect and similar big-budget titles would work on getting right instead of stuffing loading screens in people's faces like this was 1994.

The second is a space PvP raid by Zeon players on an enemy faction's base, a complete furball:

I have to agree and disagree with you on this one Yahtzee. I agree that yes there needs to be a tad more context with transferring from space to space dock to exitting the spaceship onto the location you just docked from and even a bit more flight look when going from planet to planet cause yes I got the same feeling you did about even though there are representations to let you know how huge the galaxy was it felt like I should have had a telepad next to the nav control just to shoot me onto my desired location. They did need to add a bit more there but then there is the fear of adding too much and you end up like the horrible space buggy situation where your spending hours just roaming around at first thinking "this is great it's so huge!" then after a few minutes your more thinking "just give me my damn resources so I can make my equipment and get off this damn rock."

Reading this article kinda make me think of Kingdom Hearts with that cute little gummi ship that you built ( I made mine a borg cube and hid the jets and guns inside LOL ) and you could play the little mini game blasting enemies and blocks and it gave you a great sense of distance from one location to the next also they were nice enough to let you skip that whole mini game for those who just want to get there now and continue with the storyline.

So yes your right it needs more but also you gotta find the line to not giving it too much.

space sims are all about guns and fighting what ever happened to exploration?

How odd. That whole Frontier thing and the sense of sheer size and how it all flows together was something I was mulling over on another thread about an hour ago without having read this yet.

Funny how we have this amazing - literally, gobsmackingly powerful - hardware at our disposal, and people marketing games still go doolally over having a hundred square km of poorly-integrated play area. Then suddenly something like that - or for example, it's more primitive (nearly cubist in its abstract minimalism re: polygons) forebear Mercenary - comes bubbling up out of history to bitchslap the lot of them. So the actual experience of playing it isn't so gripping as a sub-1mb game played on an 8mhz 16-bit system... therefore what have all the mhz and mbs that make up the difference been DOING all this time, other than lens flare?

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