2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mass Effect 1 – 2



I loved the first game and adored the second.  The thing that really drew me to like this game was the world/story and design.

The first game has a few issues here and there looking at it now, but that game released on 2007.  The world was filled with deep interesting lore, and the story was very easy to get into and interlace with.  The first game gave you several choices that allowed to you impact certain parts of the story and make major decisions in the game.

Granted I am writing this after knowing very little about Mass Effect 3, and the controversial endings they released.

What I did like was how the first and second game worked well with each other.


SPOILER Mass Effect 2 Ending Decision Chart

The first game had a few interesting decisions, and looking at their impacts on the story I can say the game was built very nicely to create a good unique play experience.  For example, if I had chosen to do something in the first game, it would have a fairly minor impact on the story in the second game.  A few people live or die, its more for entertainment purposes.  The second game allows you to make many more decisions that together shape the third game in a more important manner.

The other thing I noted is how easy it was to do this.  Looking at this chart that depicts the choices made in the final chapter of Mass Effect 2, creating this chart is something I am very capable of doing.  In fact most of the decisions are relatively simple.  It just involves organisation and a knowledge of proper conversation mapping and decision mapping skills.

Why is it that the game was so fun even if it is easy to make choices during conversation/gameplay? I think it is because of the world.


Dragon Age allows the player to make some decisions in game.  Fable allows for some decisions.  What makes Mass Effect different? Polish.

The deep codex’s and the intergalactic theme with the superb story writing and characters.  All these things come together so nicely to make a worthwhile game.  Looking back at Dragon Age, I could not remember very many memorable characters.  Fable has that witch lady and the rest of the game revolves around the character.  I am not so egotistical to like myself that much.


Mass effect really knows how to write a good story with controversial decisions where the repercussions of those decisions are not so simple as black and white.  In many games if you take the high road, you end up gaining the love of the people and loyalty.  You take the bad road you end up with more power and wealth.  Sometimes these choices are evident in ME, however there are many times when they really make you question your ethics and morality.

A good example *SPOILER* would be towards the end of Mass Effect.  You acquire a member of a Networked Artificial Intelligent  race of robots called the Geth created by another race known as the Quarians.  The Geth crew member is known as Legion and the Quarian member of your crew is Tali.  The Geth and the Quarians hate each other more then Pakistani’s and Indians, Jews and Natzi’s, Tom and Jerry combined.  The Quarians lost a war to the Geth and are now forced to spend their lives in special suits to survive while flying in space in giant ships since they cant sustain life on other planets without their suits.  What you have here is a disaster, two crew members hating each other that you have to calm down or pick a side.

Legion and Tali – Guess who

Aside from the bickering, you are sent to special missions for each character. Legions mission involved you sneaking on a Geth ship and loading a virus into their network.  The current virus turns the Geth into ‘heretics’ that only want to wage war on organic life.  The two options you face are to blow up the station, or re-write the virus to integrate the ‘heretics’ with the rest of the Geth.  In essence its like having the power to convert all Islamic humans to Christianity, because they cause war and believe in suicide bombing and the Christian humans are better for you.  Or you could just nuke the home town of all the Islamic people.

This is one of the major and controversial decisions you have to make in the game.  People assume that they are just stupid robots, but in reality they are so much more.  They are an advanced sentient race that are self aware and can self improve.


Overall, I am excited to start Mass Effect 3 and find out the fate of Shepard and his crewmates.  I can tell you that aside from all the controversy about the endings, this will be a great game.  Even if the final outcome isn’t as player imposed as you would have hoped, the developers decided on that for a good reason.  There is no point in playing a game that you know what will happen because you picked it.  The greatness comes when someone designs a player experience and your input is taken into account for a result.

I think it would be more upsetting if they were 3 very black and white endings with one general ending.  Even in Mass Effect 2 they hint that not every decision will be black and white, there will always be grey area.  I hope the endings do have some polar opposites, but are filled wit grey area that make them very difficult to pick in between.

Lara Croft Re-Boot

New and Old Lara Croft

This new (young) Lara Croft game is really something I am looking forward to.  The new, less curvy Lara croft as many seem to call it.

To be able to play as the less experienced Lara, thats not a daredevil independent woman as her future self.  In fact the developers are saying that, “when people play Lara, they don’t really  themselves into the character… They’re more like ‘I want to protect her.’ There’s this sort of dynamic of ‘I’m going to this adventure with her and trying to protect her.”

I thought that was an interesting way of looking at the game.  Its like playing as Nathan Drake as a child or a teenage Kratos.  You would see a whole different side of this character and how the became the legend.  Sometimes we see the video game Avatar as a representation of ourself.  Here they are saying you and the character are separate entities only bound together by the controller.

This isn’t really something revolutionary, I don’t think I am Solid Snake or Mario when I play those games.  Where this really hit’s home is how human she looks.  The tattered clothing and realistic look of the new Lara is much more powerful then the older sexualized version with insane proportions.  It’s almost as if the industry is moving away from the titillation of women and now making strong female protagonists that can use something other then plain avatar graphics to enhance their character.

By making a video game character feel real, move realistically, it makes the action and fighting hit closer to home.  If I am playing as Snake in MGS 3, I really don’t give a damn if he dies.  I just get pissed of that I have to reload my save.  Here you are playing as a cornered animal in an island surrounded by threats.  To be able to go from an everyday person to a hero is fairly existential.

From the demo’s I saw at E3, this and Watchdogs are the two games I really want to play.

Template Description

Welcome to the template description:

This will be the template description for my Game Autopsy Series in the Game Design category.  The goal of this series is to analyse games and learn what they did right and what they did wrong.  Also to look at their mistakes and think of ways to fix them.

  • Overview – A bit about the company and the game
  • The Hook – What compelled me to buy, try out this game as well as how I found out about it
  • Game Mechanics – This section will vary for different game types but it will essentially be a high level overview of what the game is made of.  You can think of it as a bit of a wikia summary
  • Summary – In case you are not interested in reading the long Game Mechanics section, you can skip to the summary where I summarize the main point of the game
  • Likes and Praises – An analysis of what I liked about the game and what it does well
  • Dislikes and Criticism – The mean part where I talk about what I disliked and what I would change
  • Closing Remarks – Some last items to state to summarize what I learned from this game’s design

Hope you like my structure, it’s a  bit like a Game Review but it works.

This will be the template description for the Game Construction Series in the Computer Graphics category.  The goal of this series is to look at video games in the industry and somewhat reverse engineer them.  Rather then  doing the whole game, I will pick a gameplay video, or a part of the gameplay that intrigues me and try to see how I would go about coding and executing it.

  • Overview – Some information on the game and company that I will be constructing
  • Goal – This is where I play a video or discuss the gameplay element that I will try to reverse engineer
  • Breakdown – I take the goal and break it down into bits and pieces
  • Closing Remarks – I address how I would implement this system in one of my own games
There is not really much of a template to be built for this one, rather each construction post would have a personalised template.
This will be the template description for the Game Opinion Series.  The goal of this series is to look at the industry and analyse what is going on and how as game developers we can learn from the mistakes others have made and something more or less along those lines.
  • Overview – Overview of the topic I will be discussing
  • Rant – A few paragraphs on what the topic is
  • Summary – Analysis on the rant
  • Closing Remarks

– Moose

First Post!

Welcome to my BLOG!

What will be going on here:

  1. General posts of stuff that interests me
  2. INFR 2330: Game Design posts – Posts related to Game Design
  3. INFR 2350: Intermediate Computer Graphics – Posts related to Computer Graphics and Shader Programming

I will also link blog to our game studio, Scorching South Studios, where I along with my team:

Will be making a weekly update (developer diary) on our development of our current game: Ultimate Gladiator Colosseum: 80 A.D.

I also have to think of a cool way to end my posts… for now… I will just go with the generic Oblivion one until I think of a better one.

May Talos Guide You,

– Moose