Tagged: halo

Poetic Cartography: the use of decorative, non-utilitarian maps in games


[~1500 words]

The first image isn’t actually a good example of what I want to talk about; it’s just a cool map in a video game. What I want to talk about in this post are maps that actually represent the level or playable space in a game, but which don’t actually serve a gameplay purpose to the player.

Let’s dive in.
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Fun Gun Awards: The Needler from Halo

needler 3

An award for video game guns that aren’t necessarily good or effective at killing, but which are creative, unique, and lots of fun to use. These guns might suck, but I want to learn to use them effectively because they’re so enjoyable.

The needler became my favorite weapon in Halo almost immediately. It is unique and fun and quintessentially a video game weapon. It just wouldn’t be as interesting in any context other than a game.

It’s visual design, first of all, is great and exemplifies visual weapon design in games. You’ve got this strange, beetle shell casing, which makes it look fundamentally different from any other weapon, Covenant or human. When you reloaded the needler, you kind of shake it, and the needles spring out from the top, which kind of made it feel like a living creature, like it’s raising its hackles.

Then, to make it stand out even more, it’s got glass(?) needles, the gun’s ammunition, sticking right out the top like a field of obelisks. Only a video game designer would think of that. No one else would think to have a gun’s own ammunition physically located on the outside of the gun; not a film director, not a writer, not a painter, not a manufacturer of real guns. And then the needles shrink as you shoot the gun! You actually see the ammunition get used up! That tangible, visual communication is quintessentially “video game”, and it is just one of the aspects of the weapon that makes it fun and memorable.
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Halo 2 is a vast expanse of nothing

halo two is nothing

A while back I wanted to write an article where I redesigned Halo 2. Basically, created a Halo 2 that would have actually done Halo 1 some justice. It was going to be two parts, a critique of the real Halo 2, and then then a design article about a better, hypothetical Halo 2. I never finished either, and I probably never will. So here’s the unfinished first part, where I critiqued Halo 2.

If anyone wants more of this, let me know.

There are no images in this post, deal with it, if you dare.

For some reason I’ve been thinking about Halo2 recently. Thinking about what it did wrong, what I expected it to be, and what it should have been.

One of my major disappointments was how the Halo sequels didn’t actually continue the story.
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Failures in storytelling: A scene from Halo 4

So, there’s a thing that amateur writers often do that ruins their stories, and that is to make the universe revolve around their main characters (rather than staying true to the characters, staying true to the situations they’re in, and staying true to the effects of their actions within those situations). Everything always works out for the characters, the good guys agree with them, everyone looks up to them, anyone that disagrees with them is instantly a bad guy, etc. What ends up happening is that certain moments or scenes feel forced or fake because, even if it’s only subconscious, we know something doesn’t fit; we know we’re not looking at a realistic or even sensical world. We all could probably pick out a dozen such instances from movies et al., but one such glaring moment  occurred when I played Halo 4 recently, and I felt like picking it apart.

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Floodgates: FPS Game Option That Doesn’t Exist

This was directly inspired while playing the map Cold Storage in Halo 3: The Reckoning.

The idea is meant for a first person shooter multiplayer game. The only requirements would be teams and that each team has a base. Ideally it would exist in a wild and surreal game such as Constantly Shifting Zones of Craziness which was more or less sketched out in the “Guns That Don’t Exist” posts.

So this option could be activated or deactivated for gametypes such as capture the flag, or territories, or infiltration or whatever.

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Games That Didn’t Exist For Too Long: Horde Mode and Valve’s Director

So, the wordpress stats tracker is telling me a lot of people are linking to this article looking for info on a sequel to a certain game about zombies. This article has nothing to do with that game about zombies; but I did recently play a preview of a different Valve game and wrote I about my experience: Check it out. Onto to the original article:

In my first post I mentioned two situations where I felt it took too long for a couple things to officially appear in games. I didn’t elaborate on what I meant citing that you the reader were not sufficiently prepared to read the story. Now I have deemed you are ready. If you are reading this post before having read aforementioned first post then I applaud you on becoming ready before schedule.


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