Why didn’t I like Perfect Dark (as much as goldeneye)

Hi gang, I think it’s time to do a write up that continues from an older article I wrote regarding why I love goldeneye. But now I think it’s time to talk about it’s spiritual successor for the n64, Perfect Dark.

so edgy, so mysterious

So I played through Perfect Dark on Perfect Agent at the same glorious 60fps with mouse and keyboard and it worked great. the shooting works well, the controls were fine, the music overall is good…but why do I not like it that much? Why isn’t it clicking for me? Surely if it’s made by the same developers who made the previous shooter and it pretty much uses goldeneye as it’s base, I’d at least like it just as much? Below I went ahead and really tried to break down my thoughts as to why it didn’t really “click” for me like Golden guy.

The reality is that I’m pretty biased to like goldeneye. Because it was the first one I played, I got used to a lot of it’s quirks, enemies sometimes being hilariously dumb and taking longer to shoot, “simpler” objectives, less vertical layout in levels, more close quarters level design. I really do wonder how my opinion would be if I grew up with perfect dark first, then played goldeneye? would I have liked perfect more? Well, it’s kind of a waste of time to speculate on what my alternate universe self would have thought, but hey let’s break down what I like and didn’t like from playing perfect dark.

Features

We’ll start off with an objectively obvious one, perfect dark has more features like co-op, target shooting and bot ai, it wins in this department, the end. next.

The Story

This is a tricky one for me, the cutscenes and the way in which they presented them felt kind of sudden. The overall pace of the game in terms of how levels are connected sometimes felt like too much of a jump. First we’d be in a crashed airplane area then abruptly at a sea base where every corridor looks the same (more on that), suddenly we’re in an alien ship. I feel that the designers made a bunch of levels that looked impressive visually (at the time), but then the writers had to awkwardly try and connect them somehow.

But here’s the thing, I decided to do the unthinkable, I wandered around in the game at Carrington Institute (the hub world of the game) and read lore and info about the characters, vehicles, even the whole story. Oddly enough, what I read was pretty good, like, if someone presented to me a write-up of what I saw, as a director I actually probably would have approved (mostly, though the alien stuff maybe not?).

I did the unthinkable, I actually read the in-game logs.

When I look back on when I played the game for the first time, I got weirded out by how there were aliens and spaceships and so on, I mostly just expected a futuristic goldeneye with just humans. But instead got a sudden mishmash of aliens and area 51 and so on. I felt this conglomeration of ideas made the game lose its seriousness and felt like a bizarre cartoon. (It also probably didn’t help that “Elvis” the “Maian” Alien talked like Yoda from Star Wars.)

But I think the biggest reason I felt this way was because of the execution on the cut-scenes wasn’t too great from a story/character development standpoint. The way they presented the characters felt kind of thrown in suddenly and it resulted in making them feel a bit bare. I will say though that I’m definitely not jealous of whoever had to do the cinematography for those moments because you have so little time to work with in order to try and explain the story.

I don’t have much else to say. It’s a bit unfortunate (for me), because there’s some interesting character lore in the carrington institute computers

(and clearly I’m not the kind of person that was able to appreciate the story execution (unlike the reviewers who gave the game 95% scores)).

(of course goldeneye’s story is not too great either if you don’t know the movie it’s based on, call of duty)

Gameplay

I like goldeneye better, haha.

But let’s be real, it controls pretty much the same, they even added some secondary fire for some weapons which sometimes can be pretty cool (though honestly several have pointless primary/secondary options that hardly have any use and you just end up only using one or the other).

Other than my subjective taste with liking the slower and dumber enemies from goldeneye, or how they had simpler gadgets (or that there’s no aliens). I think really what this all boils down to for me is the level design.

Level Design

There weren’t many levels that really sung to me when I had recently played through perfect dark. A big problem I had was how they’d overly emphasize how vertical the game was. The first level has you fiddling with elevators that move and stop at multiple floors. Some levels like Pelagic II are just…terrible, because of how the corridors look the same and their excuse to try and make it easy to navigate is by changing just the color, yikes.

My problem with this level is that it’s basically a giant maze with the majority of the level being made up of these corridor assets…

Their excuse to try and make this navigable is by changing only the color.

Can you imagine being colorblind and playing this level? Yikes…

I don’t think this really is entirely my own bias anymore with me liking goldeneye’s level design better than perfect dark:

  • Most of the levels in goldeneye avoid having too many elevators to use mid level (In fact there are none! as they’re only at the beginning and end of levels), as a result there is far less waiting time with having to traverse around waiting for an elevator to get you someplace.
  • Goldeneye likely had to work with size limitations so the levels are mostly smaller and focus on close quarters design (which I actually think was to its benefit because there’s more deliberate placement to rooms)
  • The visual design of most levels generally avoids being distracting so you can just notice important things like doors, switches, computers etc.
  • In my opinion, big opens maps from both games are the least enjoyable levels. (unless we’re talking surface 1, with that glorious stealth sniping (though really I do remember getting lost when I played that one as a kid)
  • Generally most of the levels in goldeneye are simply more intuitive to navigate, the layouts have easier to remember shapes that make it easier to landmark where you were. (Basically if you are designing a level, you don’t need to put statues, crazy pillars or props in a room to make it memorable navigation-wise, you can change it’s shape to have a L,T,X,+,O,etc. shape and people can recognize that spatially)

If I HAD to pick missions that I did like from Perfect dark, they’d probably be Villa, Science Lab (mission 2) and uh…hmm….

Mission Objectives

If you read my previous article, you’d know that I didn’t really enjoy the objectives aspect from goldeneye, and the same goes for perfect dark.

I’d probably say Perfect Dark at least handles the intuitiveness a bit better because it at least explains how to do the objective…

At least they provided us with this.

Plus Goldeneye is guilty for the terrible gameplay extending egypt level, where you just had to keep trying to guess the correct path until you memorized it. I’m not kidding, there are no visual queues, no audio queues, nothing, if you guessed a tile wrong, you had to keep redoing it.

Yeah I’m not really a fan of the objectives from either game.

(Also you have to keep in mind that I have an IQ of -400 and am only capable of doing things like hold ‘e’ to plant a bomb, kill certain enemy, find some pickups or destroy computers.)

Enemy AI

I prefer Goldeneye’s slower and dumber AI. At times perfect dark’s enemies would shoot too fast for you to take cover.

(But at least they don’t instantly shoot at you and you pray to the RNG gods like in call of duty 4 veteran difficulty *shudders*)

Final Verdict

Frankly…I’m biased as all hell, I just like goldeneye for the simplicity and (to me) better level design. The fact of the matter is that the game features much more intuitive level layouts and I felt that was the biggest deciding factor for me. You just can’t beat the wonderfully designed layouts of levels like Facility, Bunker 1 & 2, Depot, Caverns, etc.. (though frigate starts to veer close to that Perfect Dark esq. layout with too many doors and too many floors to choose from (I still like Frigate don’t get me wrong)).

They’re both great games, but the golden boy takes it home for me.

(unless you ask me to play with you to do some co-op or go against some bots then oof, yeah see ya golden guy.)

Thanks for reading,

-Brandon

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Nameless 1st Anniversary quick post

I’m kind of ashamed to even talk about Nameless. I don’t want to delve too much into my thoughts on it because honestly there’s not really much to say that’s positive. Please understand that I rushed development because it wasn’t worth investing more time into it because people were not interested at all in it. I know it’s disappointing to anyone who was eager to play an incredible game, as was I. But I just lost all morale when it became clear that people were not interested when I tried to crowdfund it in the past (it didn’t reach it’s goal).

I will still try and put it on sale when appropriate and just hope that people understand that it is inherently risky for them to play a game like it as I don’t think many will really enjoy it. You might think that I should just “fix” the game and all of the problems will go away. But to “fix” the game would basically involve throwing out 2 years of work and redoing everything.

I feel that in today’s day and age of highly polished, high expectation software development, a lot of those highly awarded games start to become a bit “artificial” and “factory made”. I say this in how you can compare a real painting to a digital painting. One is very real and tangible and has mistakes, while the other is robotic and cleaned up. I say this because, Nameless is like a real painting, it was not made to be perfect and is a very “human” game.

I just want to say I’m sorry to the people that were eager to play this game, hoping that it would have been the next best crowdfunded game but were disappointed by the final result. I feel that development was extremely mentally draining and morale was pretty low (albeit similar though a bit worse than Frog Hop’s development).

I feel that Nameless truly suffered from comparing itself too much and didn’t really have a clear identity (which is funny because the main character kind of represents this). It simply tried too hard to be like Earthbound, Undertale, Hotline Miami, but in actuality achieved a result that did not represent any of those. In some ways, Nameless resulted in a reflection of myself (More so by the feelings that are felt in the game were what I was experiencing). I wish I didn’t try to outshine those games. Undertale was obsessed with itself to the point where it knew it had a huge following coming and would hide secrets knowing people would find them. In Nameless I worked hard to try and implement easter eggs and all sorts of endings to try and match it. But frankly it ended up being pointless because there wasn’t really anyone there to play it and explore it all. But, uh…I’m not gonna talk much more about that.

A sequel would be incredibly unlikely, so unlikely that it will never happen ever. But because it’s fun to come up with game ideas, if it ever did make a sequel, I probably would make it:

  • Drastically more focused on being consistently light hearted and funny, no more edgy, weird sensitive topics.
  • Removal of moral decisions (because frankly killing and sparing was not interesting at all, period).
  • Just make a shooter with deeper mechanics and abilities, maybe upgrades.
  • Remove gimmicks like the mini-games, money system and store.
  • No more 4th wall breaking gimmick nonsense, that stuff gets old fast and wasn’t at all interesting.
  • Would probably be shorter, arcadier, bite sized fun game without all the pointless dialogue (but would keep the funny dialogue).
  • Much less story focused, but still have some kind of simplified narrative.

Thank you for reading through this, I know it was a bit heavy and depressing. I sometimes feel anxious with my current game Ato , but at the same time I feel I’ve learned a lot from the past to make my current project Ato at least a little bit better than last time.

I know I’m not one of those people in the web articles where I’m a legendary 5 year old game developer who makes his 1st game that looks like ori and the blind forest that sells millions of copies and gets all sorts of awards. Nameless is not perfect, please understand that it is very much like a real painting, presented as it is in its flawed and real state by a human being who is still learning to get better at creating games…

…Just know that Ato would never have existed if Nameless never got fully completed.

I am not going to promise anything with Ato, I can’t even guarantee anything until it’s done. Just know that when it reaches beta, I will need all the help I can get.

Thanks for reading,

-Brandon

 

Why I like Goldeneye (and the veil of nostalgia)

Hello gang, today I’d like to talk about my experience with goldeneye and why it’s one of my favorite games of all time.

Goldeneye is an old and outright janky shooter that when played on the n64 controls weird and gets really laggy. However…I found out a way to play it with mouse and keyboard at 60 fps and it’s such an incredible experience. In fact, it was so incredible that I almost felt like I was playing a mod of half-life.

goldeneye’s source material is based off of a well known movie and book franchise – call of duty.

But why DO I like goldeneye? What is it that makes this golden boy game so good to me? As a whole with nostalgia aside it’s pretty mediocre, there aren’t really any new mechanics or engaging gameplay features that are added to keep it interesting. The enemies are pretty much the same and the guns are honestly pretty stale in variety. With that out of the way, I will say that the funnest aspect for me would have to be the level design and the enemy AI.

Level design

Most of the level design in golden guy is really good, like it starts of linear, but opens up *just* enough to let you at least explore a bit and shoot stuff and find equipment. (Although I would say some other shooters like half life or doom do it better because there are more actual pickup types to obtain)

Enemy AI

Now the enemy AI, is a fine example of good shooter AI. Unlike most shooters of today, they actually animate a startup and recover animation to their attacks. basically, the enemy will see you and bring his gun up, THEN start the random hit scan shooting, THEN they start to put their gun down.

(“Hit Scan” is a special type of “bullet” in video games where they instantly reach the point of contact when shot, meaning there’s no travel time. Usually this is balanced out in games with bullet scatter randomness and other features.)

tldr:

  1. Start Aiming their gun at you
  2. Shoot
  3. Put the weapon down to then repeat the process.

or rather the better version is

  1. start aiming their gun at you
  2. ???
  3. Profit

This is SO good, because you have time to react and it’s completely fair if you get shot since they are telegraphing their movements. As derpy as the enemies can be in golden boy, this design is honestly something I wish more shooters would go back to and stop doing the cheap instant shooting RNG hitscan nonsense.

(Of course goldeneye enemies sometimes also do cheap/questionable things though like that one animation where they’re walking and shooting their gun towards you and somehow have an absurdly large ammo clip during that attack.)

Another thing to point out is that frankly the enemies in goldeneye are pretty stale, in terms of depth and variety. I think what barely keeps this game going is the fact that there are so many different animations for when enemies get hit that it’s compelling enough.

Basically…if you’re in development crunch time, just have one basic enemy with a lot of different animations and uh…I suppose it’s enough?

Random thing to point out, in my opinion death animations of shooters like modern warfare 2 feel better to me because they have a quicker “pop” to them and instantly respond to your shot vs goldeneye having to startup it’s animation. (not really a problem but I find the pop feels better in games like mw2)

The weapons

The guns, the guns are okay, though there is a weird delay for some guns and honestly, the pistols of modern shooters like Cod4 feel so much better than goldeneye. But that aside, the hit impact sound and fx feel good enough and work well for making the gunshots feel responsive in goldeneye.

Objectives

Probably the aspect that is least interesting to me are the objectives, especially the ones related to escorting/protecting AI or having to trial and error my way to get the goldengun, etc.. I think objectives in games are a tricky aspect to keep compelling, the best example I’ve seen for objectives would have to be Starcraft 2’s campaign levels. they do an excellent job of providing a base line goal to complete, but also provide side challenges that motivate you to accomplish more to get better rewards. I feel that if I played goldeneye now the objectives probably would have frustrated me and I wouldn’t have felt as compelled by them vs when I was younger and was way more graceful/patient with games.

The only reason I might sometimes have the bias to say “oh yeah the objectives feature in goldeneye were awesome” is because I already know how to do them.

Conclusion/Final Verdict/Final Destination

Now it is one of my favorite games of all time yes, but the veil of nostalgia only lasts for so long with this golden guy.

I feel the fun starts to drop off though once bunker 2 ends. For me statue and the latter start to lose momentum and there are no new mechanics, no new things to do, and it mostly relies on showing a new gun that shoots just slightly different in hopes that it still feels fresh (or some objective, but as you could probably tell the objectives didn’t really compel me that much). Most of the levels in the later half feel redundant and lack that brilliant flow that some of the earlier levels have. Of course to each their own, I do still enjoy some later levels like depot, archives and caverns, it’s just that some missions like streets/statue just feel kind of repetitive and don’t have as much of a clever layout to them IMO.

The length that the game is feels appropriate. I honestly can’t imagine it going for longer than what is already there. Most guns that are introduced aren’t really that special, like the ZMG, really it’s just a Klobb, but it shoots faster?…and does more damage…ehhh….

I feel that if shooters of today are going to make guns, please make them different instead of just “gun x” shoots faster but does less damage that “gun y”. There’s a reason I feel why arena shooters like doom and quake have much more compelling variety to them.

All in all, I still like goldeneye, it’s still one of my all time favorite video games, and I’m still willing to criticize it. I know there’s the argument of “well at the time it was revolutionary/ground breaking”, But I still can’t help but compare how some mechanics/features are funner and worse in old games compared to modern ones.

Maybe I should compare this to perfect dark one day, after all perfect dark is the spiritual successor, but why didn’t it click for me?…hmmm maybe next week I’ll write on that.

Thanks for reading,

-Brandon

p.s. Enjoy watching this clip of bond never running out of bullets

Looking at…Xenogunner by HappyFrogGames

Howdy gang, let’s take a look at another one of them videogames.

XENO GUNNER

Xenogunner is a game jam game that features boss rush elements with mouse aiming shooting mechanics. It’s has vibes reminiscent of genesis games like Gunstar heroes and Alien Soldier. …and call of duty.

You can get the game jam game here at itch.io

The game apparently is being developed further to feature more levels and fleshed out artwork. which is great because the game is pretty fun and it’s great to see fun games be developed.

Thanks for reading!

-Brandon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xenogunner apparently is still in development, I’m not really sure what the status is on the whole project but you can see some improvements that get tweeted by Pedrovin, the main artist for the game. Happy Frog Games seems to still be developing it while also cranking out smaller games on the side. I hope one day we will see this boy come to life and “xeno gun” all the baddies one day…one day.

The video below shows more of the game, it seems like they’ve been really trying to make the levels have more obstacles to them so you can’t just blitz through it all unless you know what you’re doing. Also that announcer voice…sounds so ExCiTe

I think my greatest concern is whether the shooting itself won’t be super repetitive, especially when there’s little reason to not hold the shoot button (unless there are enemies in the game that counter that or there’s some sort of other incentive). Though I will say from my own experience when I designed Drone Strike, I questioned the aspect of a fire button in shoot-em-ups so I just made it auto-fire and whenever you hold the “Shoot” button it instead is a charge attack.

In Dronestrike, the shoot button is replaced with a charge attack button and you always autofire.

Regardless, I think Happy Green Frog will do a good job with handling that and also provide new weapons to use to help with balancing and keeping the game interesting.

Thanks for reading!

-Brandon

p.s. And take a look at this, who knew games had to start from scratch in order to become what they are now!

 

p.s.s.

Happy Green Frog responded with some answers to some of my questions, huzzah:

1. The status of the upgraded version of the game is that it is nearing completion. Release date is still uncertain, but it’s been playtested a decent amount, it has cutscenes fully implemented, most if not all of the graphics are done or near-done, there’s one boss battle I want to refactor a bit but it’s not strictly necessary, and from there it’s up to my publisher.

2. To answer the question of whether there’s ever a reason to let go of fire, one of the more powerful weapons has a really low fire-rate, and, without spoiling anything, some bosses move in ways in which it is ideal to wait until you’re sure you have a shot lined up before you fire. Suffice to say, manually pressing for a bit to fire a volley of it, then letting go for a bit to wait for the next good chance to strike, is, in a few boss fights, a good idea. I’m not 100% sure that it’s a sufficient way to keep the shooting from getting repetitive, honestly, but it’s something at least.

3. The old levels have indeed been updated to have more obstacles, first level aside. Additionally though, there’s a large supply of new levels, expanding the game well beyond what the GameJam version featured. If memory serves correctly there’s a fair bit more than 15 all new bosses to fight. (I think the total number of bosses, including the old ones from the GameJam version, is around 25?)

4. Some fun trivia: The voice announcer was actually me! I recorded that voice clip myself.

5. “Xenogunner” actually refers to the main villain of the game, which does make one of the lines in your article a tiny bit odd (but still kind of works overall), mainly the “xeno gun” but.

Ato Progress Report August 2019

Hey guys, I’ll do my old GM games next week, in the mean time I thought I’d do an update post regarding Ato’s Progress this month.

So far I was able to hit my goal this month in terms of game content. I’ve finished adding some new encounters, 2 new areas and plenty of tweaks and improvements.

Lighting – This probably will be used at a minimum, but this new lighting system will be utilized in some parts of the game.

Environment sample – one of the areas I was able to get done this month.

Animation Sample – A spear type opponent, tall, fast and tries to control the space between you and him.

note: (size of image was cut for size reasons)

Coin – Collect all of them and…?

What could these be for?…

(TLDR) Comphrehensive list of things completed:

  • 2 new Areas finished, environment, encounters, puzzle elements etc.
  • 5 Enemy Encounters added
  • Tweaks to combo system, damage scaling decreases further when hit alot.
  • Coin asset added
  • Minor updates to UI, such as Health UI Shake when damaged
  • 40+ rooms added
  • Converted some old enemy code to new parented code (not really going to affect you guys but helps me with adding more bosses and not have to spent extra time when coding new encounters)
  • Particles now slowdown/speedup
  • Bug Fixes Galore

Currently I want to continue getting the main parts of the game done, 2 left to be exact. And then afterwards I will be focusing on side content like optional bosses and power-ups.

-Brandon

Ato Indiegogo Successfully funded!

(This is the same post as the one on Indiegogo)
Hi everyone, thank you so much for supporting the project. Ato’s Indiegogo has been successfully funded.

To celebrate, on August 10th saturday at 3PM (CT) I will be doing a celebration livestream, it will be fairly short, so come join and hang out if you can!

Stream Link: https://www.twitch.tv/wolfwhat

The Livestream will contain:

-Developer playthrough and commentary of Ato Game Demo

-Quick showcase of some new features added to the game.

-Minor showcasing of workflow, some pixel art and effects.

-Live Q & A throughout stream!


I’m sorry if I haven’t been super active in posting information regarding news or doing marketing on the game itself, but here’s a rundown of the things I got done since I last posted an update on Indiegogo:

Here’s a more comprehensive list of things I got done:
-1 area completed
-2 cutscenes added
-minor ability added in
-30 rooms added
-2 bosses coded in with their own attacks and effects
-Clash propery added to attacks
-Modified chain dash system, increase of cooldown when chained.
-PS4 Controller functionality
-Lots of other tweaks and adjustments
-Bug fixes galore

Music Sample of an encounter…

Clashing Mechanics – Happens when Melee attacks hit eachother, they will cancel the attack hitboxes and knock the attackers away from eachother.

I can even make some attacks be more deadly where they will still go through the clash…

As much as I want to get the game done this year, I just want to forewarn that, again it’s possible that the game could get delayed (since it’s just made by me). But I still want to try and get to beta and have the game be tested, tweaked and bug fixed!

That should conclude this update, thank you again for supporting this project and I hope to see you drop by for the livestream!

-Brandon

A bit o’ news

Hi gang, Brandon here (not robert) and I just wanted to share a bit o’ news regarding what has been going on lately.

Ato is geting o’ so closer to it’s goal! 88% and only 6 days left! Wahhh!

so close…yet…

Ato Indiegogo page (88%!!!)

I’ll have to do a mass post on the stuff that I got done, but rest assured I’ve been busy creating more rooms and boss fights. As well and some music too.


Also I finally spared some time to edit VideoChess‘ Ocarina of time Highlight video!

It is o’ so fun to watch.

o’ ho ho.

o’

did you notice how I…o’ nevermind

-Brandon

www.tinywarriorgames.com

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