WoW Diabetes Update 3

I am happy to announce that our mod will now be using actually a real world mathematical model to calculate the glucose level of a character! We have heard back from the team of doctors in France and they have given us their equations and research on calculating glucose levels in the body. This math is extremely complicated and uses a lot of data from the human body, which we do not have for the WoW characters. We have been working with the doctors to use standard values for many of these data points and are very close to having a complete function for use in the add-on. While working on the math, I have been working on adding the blurry and blacking out effects to the add-on. I hope to have these in the mod by the time I (along with half of the team) go off to PAX EAST (this weekend). At PAX EAST I hope to show this add-on off to anyone interested (including press hopefully) and Blizzard. The team’s hope is to show this to Blizzard and get their interest in the add-on and when we are fully finished, sometime this summer, have them showcase the add-on.  It’s nice to see the add-on in a working state and play like a game, while still simulating Diabetes.

WoW Diabetes Mod Update #1

This week, the team finally finalized roles of the WoW Mod. We have split our team of 6 into 2 groups, one to work on the actual add-on, another to develop the website that the add-on, which will communicate with a website to give players achievements, leader boards and other incentives to play with the add-on. I am working on the add-on team. We have been building a basic add-on for the web team to use so they can develop the infrastructure needed to grab the mod’s info for the website. We have just finished this basic add-on and it has been pushed up to the github page found here. In working on this basic add-on we have a better understanding of the base code that was given to us by Zach (a RIT graduate that was working on Stephen Jacob’s starting work on the mod) and now see a new problem ahead to solve. In wanting to have the mod store information on the user’s machine, we will need to have a way to grab that information to send to the website. It seems (from early research so far) that we will need to make a client with an installer for the user to download and install on their machine. The team is going to do more research on what is the best way to grab and send this information. Check back for more developments and how we solve this issue!

First Thoughts on World of Warcraft

I have never played World of Warcraft; lets just get that out of the way. I have played other MMO’s: Guild Wars 2, betas of Elder Scrolls Online, and Star Wars: Old Republic. I enjoyed my time in all these games, Old republic until it became free-to-play, and like the ideas of a connected world with players inhabiting it. So for a class, I will be making a mod for World of Warcraft, so it seems important to have an understanding of the game. I downloaded the game,  started a toon, a Tauren, and began my adventure. And boy was it boring! I would spend more time walking to the activities needed for a quest then doing those activities. The story-line and world seem like some super generic fantasy, full of tropes and cliches. All these story-lines also seem super racist! Seen below is my toon in the starting area, which might be a little offensive to Native Americans.

Maybe?

Maybe Slightly Offensive? Native Americans != Cows…

 Now granted I have only played 5 hours of it, a game that people have played for years, so maybe I have not gotten to the “interesting” or “fun” parts of the game. I will be playing more of the game but since I am playing a starter edition of the game (the Free version), I can only play a toon till level 20. Check back for my thoughts on the game and see the progress on the WoW Diabetes mod I am working on.

Gone Home Review

Gone Home has many references to life in the 1990's. Here two friends are talking about going to see Pulp Fictrion

Gone Home has many references to life in the 1990’s. Here two friends are talking about going to see Pulp Fictrion

In going to a yard sale you can learn a lot about the owner just from his possessions. Is the vintage Noid figure missing one of his ears through child’s play, or is it still in its original wrapper? Are old records for sale? Cassettes? CDs? Gone Home is much like walking through a yard sale. Everything thing is on display in Gone Home. Feel free to go to the fridge and pick up a banana, see if it is fresh, and place it in the trash. The art direction in the game really lends to the player examining as much as they would like, with high resolution handwriting and graphics abound. There is a necessity for these high resolution graphics though, as much of the experience is spent reading handwritten notes, seeing how handwriting changes throughout the page, and enjoying the drawings and doodles.

You'll be spending a good chunk of time in Gone Home doing this; looking into furniture and opening furniture.

You’ll be spending a good chunk of time in Gone Home doing this; looking into furniture and opening furniture.

Gone Home’s story in not a fantastical one. You are Kaitlin, coming home from a trip abroad to Europe and while overseas your family has moved, leaving you to arrive at a new house and no one to greet you. That is all that you are given. The rest must be found in letters between your mother and father, the personal diaries of your sister, and meaningful writings your family has kept in the house. Gone Home is all about atmosphere and place. For $20 it may seems like a lavish and expensive experience, but think of your typical cost to see a movie. Gone Home is slightly longer in its experience than a film, and gives you the agency to move the plot forward or stare at every book in every bookshelf in every bookcase in a library. Its gameplay is almost non existent, as this could be described as “not a game”, much like Dear Esther. This experience is all about immersion, and its storytelling. If you are ready and willing to be transported to 1995 to learn about a Northwest American family and see how their lives are lived through their possessions, then play Gone Home.

Tiny & Big in Grandpa’s Leftover Review

I’ve decided to voice my opinion on games I am playing so that others may get a sense of what I see as making a “good” games in terms of design. These reviews will try to be as un-personal as possible, but I realize that my preconceived notions and favorites in video games will discolor my judgement, but I will try to bring that to light in the review.
Anyway, Tiny & Big in Grandpa’s Leftovers by is a game that reminds me of the days of simple 3D graphics and the first platformers made in 3D. This is done through its charm and humor, while sticking to a basic set of rules for gameplay. For this review I will be employing the MDA Framework developed by Robert Hunicke of thatgamecompany, Marc LeBlanc of Looking Glass fame, and Robert Zubek of Zygna. This framework is called MDA based off its core principal of what game design is, Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics. Some definitions for those:
Mechanics: the rules and concepts that formally specify the game as a system
So Ting & Big’s Mechanics are simple, it’s a platformer. The player is given the ability to run walk, jump, push things, use rockets, cut things with a laser, and pull things with a grappling hook. Other mechanics the game has are realistic physics, and a character that cannot fall too far, or get squashed by anything.
Dynamics: the runtime behavior of the game as a system and its players
The basic rules of the game let the player cut a large pillar (in any angle), pull it down to the ground, and throw a rocket on the end, throwing the pillar across a canyon and landing with the other end of the opposite side of the canyon, creating a bridge. Many of the core parts of maneuvering in the game revolve around this concept or manipulating objects around you to reach an end goal, outlined that the start of each level, and by “stupid rocks” (collectibles, also game’s words not mine) that lead the way. Though the game does have conflict. These sections have various things in the environment being thrown at the player, with the intent of cold murder. The player can of course throw a rocket on the object, sending it in another direction (very difficult) or cut the object in two mid-trajectory, causing the object to miss the player. These dynamics are well introduced in the first few minutes of playing and are given many different scenarios to be used.
Aesthetics: the emotional responses evoked by the game dynamics.
The game gets players invested with its humor about the situation and the simplicity of wanting something back. The protagonist was given by his grandfather (possibly deceased?) leftovers, or magical underpants, which were stolen by his brother. Thus Tiny (protagonist) comes after Big (his brother) to get back his rightfully wanted? underpants. The look of the game lends to its weird premise, looking like a real made web comic, with some great art and nice touches. When things falls, the game will add “Phoosh!” “Bamn!” in nice 3D text nearby.
Other: This game also has a great soundtrack “from indie artists you may never or have heard of” as the game says. With this look and sound during the game, the player is led down a path to enjoy their time in the game, without really worrying about planning their next move.
The games only has 6 levels and I have spent maybe 2 hours playing the first three, but with the amount of collectibles and statistics the game tracks, there is a lot of replayability in the game. All in all, for ten bucks, the game will keep you entertained for at least 4-5 hours, more if you are a perfectionist, and is a worthy buy for a unique experience and gameplay that reminds me of classic 3D platforming.