Tagged: classic games

How gameplay can be humor: a lesson from the Secret of Monkey Island

monkey island underwater puzzle

Humor can be one the of the hardest things to pull off in any medium of entertainment. It might also be one of the most rewarding for both the audience and the creator.

And if game designers find it hard to combine narrative and gameplay then combining humor and gameplay is even more difficult.

The Secret of Monkey Island is pretty famous for being fun, creative, and, of course, funny. Along with standard forms of visual or verbal humor, one of the things that Monkey Island does well is make sure that the gameplay itself is funny. There’s a few different moments where this happens, but there’s one particular example that exemplifies the idea of interweaving the humor and the gameplay so that gameplay and humor are the same thing. Playing the game is actually funny, not just reading a conversation or seeing something silly on the screen.
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“Your people require more maggot lollipops.” An unknown inspiration for Destiny.

What most people don’t realize, because Bungie has been very tight lipped about this, is that the Hive take a great deal of inspiration from a little known 1999 real time strategy/city building game called “Alien Nations”, by German Developer JoWooD Productions.

In Alien Nations you could select to play one of three alien species: the blue Pimmons, the large breasted and scantily clad Amazons (WTF???), and the insectoid Sajkhi.

alien nations race screen

It is the last of these that was the direct inspiration for Destiny’s Hive. Not only are the Sajkhi insects, like the Hive, but the Sajkhi also farm maggots which are their primary food source. It was the maggot farming that was the direct inspiration for the Hive’s worm narrative in Destiny:

alien nations sajkhi maggot

The Sajkhi also had a “Hall of Orgies” (WTF???) as their recreation building, so expect that to definitely be a Raid in the next Destiny expansion.

Dear Readers! Post in the comments if you’d like to join me in starting a kickstarter campaign for the world’s first Hall of Orgies! Wouldn’t all our lives be a little better if there was a Hall of Orgies in every city? Well, this kickstarter campaign is how we make that dream a reality. Post in the comments!

Fun Gun Awards: Storm Bow from Heretic 2

storm bow 5

The Fun Gun Award™, is an award for video game guns that aren’t necessarily effective, don’t necessarily give a player a tactical advantage, but which have creative behavior, unique design, and are fun to use. These guns might suck, but they’re so fun that I WANT to learn to use them effectively.

I liked Heretic 2. Probably more than it deserves; or, less than it deserves. I liked the weapons, the visual design, and the plethora of non-human characters and enemies (after the first environment, I don’t think there are any more human enemies). I even liked the silly Ogles in their mountain mines, dancing and shaking their butts every time I saved them.

This was like the sneezing panda video of character animations.

This was like the sneezing panda video of character animations.

I also really liked the Storm Bow, although it wasn’t always that useful.

There is a certain beauty to the literalness of the Storm Bows name. It’s not poetic. It doesn’t shoot a storm of arrows, or do damage equivalent of a storm. It literally shoots a storm at opponents.
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The Colony: a 3D FPS from 1987 that is simply amazing (even by modern standards)

the colony monsters


“funny that doom and marathon didnt have desks and chairs or anything just sprites”

“Sad thing is this game has more interactivity than more than two thirds of the games out now.”

“I think this was also the first game to feature crates!”

Those are some select quotes from the comments section of two walkthrough videos of the Colony, a 3D FPS from 1987 (I just found the videos even though they’re from 2009). The last quote is from the creator himself, David A. Smith, who narrates the videos and reveals some really fascinating stuff. Like, one wall in the game took up 2 Bytes, and an entire map took about 4K. 4K!!! As one commenter points out: “Now days you can’t even send a email without going over 4kb.”
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The Contrasting Diaries of JC Denton and Señor Guns

deus ex stun prod

I originally wrote this when the new Deus Ex came out and I replayed the original. I wrote it to point out how unbalanced the different builds paths happened to be in Dues Ex.

Some people complained that in the new game, if you focused on non-lethal skills that this would sabotage other parts of the game like certain boss battles. What I wanted to point out was that this was still true in the original game, and that the unbalance between tech paths was, in some cases, even worse in the original game.

I wanted to do more work on it before posting it, but oh well.

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Half-life doesn’t have a good story

halflife face

So, sometimes I see people claim that Half-life has an amazing story, one of the best stories in video games.

I think these people must be mistaking story for storytelling technique. Because, while Half-life might have some very interesting story telling techniques, let’s remember what Half-life’s story actually is:

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