Category Archives: Game Impressions

Shogun 2s User Interface, A Study

The purpose of this project is to further my understanding of good UI design by studying various elements of Shogun 2s User Interface (UI) used in its Sengoku Jidai Campaign Map.

This post will serve to discuss the Campaign Maps UI layout, and be an index post in a multi-post project of non comprehensive personal observations of Shogun 2s User Interface.

Disclaimer: The User Interface (UI) is not quite in its Vanilla form due to having the Steam mod by Radious installed at the time of the study.

Shogun 2s User Interface Screenshot
Shogun 2 Campaign UI

The focus of this piece will be mostly on the 2-D elements of the interface such as menus, tabs, pop-up, and icons NOT the ‘3-D’ campaign map itself. So lets start with the general layout of the the Campaign User Interface.

General Layout

We can abstract Shogun 2s User Interface into an approximate layout with the following areas:

Shogun 2s User Interface General Layout
Interface Layout – Not to Scale
  • Dark Blue – Help and Options.
  • Green – Screen Center.
  • Light Blue – Map Lists.
  • Orange – ‘Selection’ Dial.
  • Pink – Description Popup area.
  • Purple – ‘Selection’ Banner.
  • Red – Map and Global effects.
  • Yellow – Management Dial.

Continue reading Shogun 2s User Interface, A Study

Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy – An Overview

Recently Humble Bundle had on offer a Star Wars Bundle which included an awesome entry from the Star Wars’s Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy.

jedi_academy_logo

I’d bought a physical copy of Jedi Academy years ago, and the memory of it was so endearing I thought I’d give it another play. This time with the difficulty set to max, and an eye open on elements of its design.

Continue reading Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy – An Overview

Darwinia – An Overview

darwinia

I recently finished the single player mode of Darwinia, and here’s a brief impression of it.

Good

  • Interesting game design. In particular I enjoyed the design of the Dawinians and how their management was handled well through the user of officers units.
  • Smart choice of aesthetics. The chosen look is simple and suited to both the environment and story. If there was a lacking the artistic department in terms of time/money/ability their choice covered it all nicely.
  • Enjoyable game play. The overall goal, and game play matched up nicely as it felt that you were cleaning up Darwinia due to the self-replicating nature of the virus.
  • Good use of sound. Behaviors and actions are clearly accented such as the sound of fear/fleeing of Darwinas, and the satisfying explosions of rockets.
  • Impressive file size. Clocking at a fantastically low 30MB makes this game very download friendly. In countries with fast internet this is a non-issue but with my slow internet, it makes a great difference.

Bad

  • UI was fiddly at times. I became frustrated with the gesture based interface, and fortunately a tab based interface was available as an alternative, but even there I faced some issues selecting what I wanted.

Conclusion

I enjoyed this game very much, it has great game play, and just enough story to go with it. Sad though that Multiwinia was just a ‘multiplayer’ expansion. I was hoping it would include another single player story that focused on Darwinian on Darwinian action with some additional complexity, as by far my favorite part of the game was the fighting between good and bad Darwinians on some of the final levels.

Overall an awesome little gem. Definitely worth checking out.

Supreme Commander 2 – An Overview

I recently completed the single player mode of Supreme Commander 2, and here are some brief notes on it.

supreme_commander_2

Good

  • Good in-game visuals. Top notch in-game animations in particular unit explosions.
  • Improved micro-management. Appreciated the removal of engineer and factory tiers from the first Supreme Commander, as well as being able to repeat build orders on factories allows one to focus on the fun part; commanding armies.
  • Game ran smoothly on my dated computer. I played the game on my fairly old laptop on the Medium graphics setting and it ran smoothly as well as looked good.

Bad

  • Pre-rendered cut scenes didn’t look good. To be fair though the game was released half a decade ago.
  • Single player mode was short. Supreme Commander one feature three seperate campaigns Supreme Commander 2 felt like it hacked together three half campaigns.
  • A weak story. The primary flaws with story are its underdeveloped characters, and a loosely strung together plot. It tries to have its ‘moments’ but unfortunately they fall flat given the lack of story depth.

Both

  • Smaller scale. Though the maps are smaller in scale, in some ways this is a benefit as you don’t have units travelling for ages to get to a battle, thus there is less time between ‘action’. Yet the point still stands that the overall scale of the battles have been shrunk, and with it the feeling of being the Supreme Commander.

Conclusion

Overall I enjoyed the experience. Supreme Commander 2 definitely has some improvements from the first game, though I get this feeling that the game is less that perhaps it intended to be. Perhaps due to time/budget constraints?

Nevertheless if  you enjoyed the first Supreme Commander the second is certainly worth checking out.

Shogun 2 Total War – A Recommendation

I remember nearly not buying the first Shogun Total War since it required four CD’s, which meant three other games I couldn’t have.

I remember sitting infront of my desktop impatiently. Expectantly flicking through the manual while the game installed, CD to CD.

shogun-2

I remember a journey. Fighting alongside the Shimazu, rising from Kyushu, besting the great clans of Japan to ultimately ascend as Shogun.

I remember years of waiting for a worthy successor to one of my life’s best games.

In 2011. I found Shogun 2.

I’ve been looking at Shogun 2s Campaign Map UI. Check it out here!

League of Legends

League of Legends is described by some as the equivalent of electronic basket ball, by others like AngryJoe as “crack”. I agree. This Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), where team work is essential to success has players take control of a single unit in a multi-player match up, with the goal of destroying the opposing teams ‘Nexus’.

Nexus
The Nexus

A Short History

League of Legends or LOL (though well executed) is not an original idea. In fact it was originally conceived as Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). Based on a mission from Starcraft, DOTA was a custom game created by Eul on the popular Real Time Strategy game Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. Unfortunately Eul did not update his map, and so others created spin-offs; it was Steve ‘Guinsoo’ Freak who got it right.

Guinsoo created a variant of DOTA calling it DOTA: Allstars. He then put in an enormous amount of work in to adding new champions, items and game features. He later handed it over to Abdul ‘Icefrog’ Ismail who continued his work. At present IceFrog has gone onto become a lead designer at Valve working on the sequel DOTA 2.

DOTA: Allstars

Continue reading League of Legends

Reus

reus

In the beginning there is only an empty planet…

Using its last remaining power, the planet summoned four elemental giants in an attempt to restore life to it’s dead surface. These giants were charged with cultivating a suitable environment for life.

reus-four-giants

Welcome to Reus, a 2D god game by Abbey Games where under your control are these four giants; Forest, Rock, Ocean and Swamp.

Each giant has the ability to create a unique biome by terra-forming the planet. They can then place different types of resources within these biomes, and grant aspects which can augment their own, or other giants resources.

Multiple resources work together to create a ‘symbiosis’ that offers additional benefits to the surrounding area. These resources then attract nomads who settle in the cradles of life that you create, building villages that soon require more resources to grow.

The task that forms the lions share of the games complexity is a balancing act, between finding the combinations of resources that provide what a village needs, and keeping the villages ‘greed’ in check.

Simply put, greed is a mechanic where by bestowing a village with too much too quickly, they become greedy and destructive, to the point where it can result in a village destroying the very utopia you forged and even turning on you. If necessary you may have to destroy the offending village, its your choice.

Continue reading Reus

No One Has To Die

No One Has to Die’s comments on Newgrounds read “4 people are trapped in a building fire and need your help to escape”, now I’ve finished playing it, looking back it’s the tip of the iceberg… an awesome iceburg.

no-one-has-to-die-logo

An hour or so in length, this indie game manages to pack quite the punch. It isn’t particularly difficult and it’s not designed to be. The simplicity of its gameplay and mechanics, peel back to reveal the complexity one feels in considering the consequences of those simple choices, which in turn furthers the narrative in a ‘player-driven’ manner.

no-one-has-to-die

It’s art style is simple, functional, colorful and doesn’t detract from the game. The music is top notch, working well to build up an atmosphere in tune with what’s happening in-game. The writing of characters is good and given the length of game it’s enough to start to get a ‘feel’ for them.

No-One-Has-To-Die

All in all No One Has to Die is a thought provoking puzzle over life and death. Its great moments and emotional highs and lows leaves one with a joyously sweet aftertaste. This is one indie gem, is well worth your time.

So what are you waiting for! Play it!