Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #86 - Police Quest III - Introduction



Original Composer: Jan Hammer
Initially released: 1992

This music plays during the Introduction to Police Quest III and shows a younger Jim Walls (the designer of the Police Quest series) in front of an old police car.

Jim introduces the game to the player informing them that it involves real police procedures and that surviving as a police officer requires you to know when to be a hero and when to rely on help from your colleagues. He also gives us the rundown on what has been happening in Lytton since the previous game:

Lytton, once a quiet and peaceful little town, has been growing like a weed. There's new industry, good jobs and a decent standard of living.

Unfortunately, progress is not without its side effects. Poverty and crime are going up about as fast as the new cultural center.

Homicide Detective Sonny Bonds and his wife Marie are still on a 'honeymoon high' from their wedding a few years back.

Marie's got a good job at Oak Tree Mall and the two have a beautiful new home.

As for Sonny, he was promoted to Detective Sergeant with the Lytton Police Department.

As the story opens, Sonny's just finished his Sergeant's training and is back on duty.

Overburdened as he is, he's been assigned to Traffic Division for a bit. Seems Traffic's always understaffed.

Well that's Sonny's life - and it's a good one, worth protecting. And now it's time for you to assume the role of Detective Sonny Bonds. I happen to know you're in for a heck of a day.


Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Loom Review

Not exactly suitable attire for the beach

  • Developer: Lucasfilm Games
  • Publisher: Lucasfilm Games
  • Release Date: 1992 (8 July 2009 – Steam re-release)

Recently I wanted to take a screenie for my next lot of Choicest VGM which would involve a few tracks from the game Loom. However after playing it for a little bit I got sucked into the game once again and since I knew it only took me a couple of hours to finish the game last time, I thought why not play it again and make a retro review out of it?

Plot (4/5)
The game is set in a fantasy world, or maybe not, if the years they use are Common Era, the game would be set thousands of years in the future. Anyway, whatever the case, magic exists in this world and instead of the world being split up into nations, the world is split up into various guilds (the game introduction suggests it is the Age of the Great Guilds). You are a 17-year old boy named Bobbin Threadbare who is a member of the Guild of Weavers on the island of Loom. However, the Weavers aren't only able to weave conventional fabric but they can also weave the very fabric of existence itself. At the beginning of the game, the Guild Elders and his guardian, Mother Hetchel are transformed into birds and fly away. Bobbin has to find out where the birds are heading which leads him away from his island home and across the sea.

I really enjoy the fact that there are separate guilds and that their trades have an impact on how they perceive life. While there isn't much conversation or background story in the game there is enough to get by. Apparently the original had an audio cassette that explained the background story but I unfortunately cannot recall the story (I believe I was listening to a friend's copy of the tape while playing Loom at his place). Also, another reason I like the plot is that a lot of the actions you take has unforeseen consequences (sometimes violent) meaning this game has a more mature plot than what you'd originally expect when playing through the first half of the game.

Oh so it's no coincidence the giant anvil-like building is the home of the Blacksmiths

Gameplay (3/5)
Loom is a point 'n' click adventure but unlike its contemporaries like Monkey Island, it had a minimal user interface similar to point 'n' click adventure games of today. In this regard, one could say that Loom was way ahead of its time, eschewing the more complex verb + object mechanic seen in Lucasarts and later Sierra adventures for a system where you play notes in particular sequences to interact with the game world.

The only problems with Loom's gameplay is that it could seem too easy, especially on the easier difficulty levels. Solving puzzles is just a matter of clicking on an object to have a four-note bar of music play and then repeating that bar elsewhere when you need something done. This means the game can be quite easily finished in a couple of hours however considering how many adventure games have been "dumbed-down" nowadays this can actually work in Loom's favour.

Sound (2/5)
Voice acting is generally well done however the Steam version has some issues with the synching of sound to the actions on the screen which can be a bit jarring at times.

Music (4/5)
The music in the game is all sourced from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. For its time, the soundtrack was quite beautiful and it still is to some degree except that the MIDI format obviously has its limitations. If they ever made a remake of Loom, having a live orchestra version of Swan Lake is a must!

Graphics (3/5)
The graphics were sensational for its day and even now they are still beautiful in their retro way. Unfortunately the graphics are at a very low native resolution so you'll either be playing in a window or the edges will be smoothed for you if you play full screen.

"Swans! You know... birds!"

Replay (4/5)
This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've played Loom. I'm not quite sure why I keep coming back to it – maybe it's how the Romantic soundtrack by Tchaikovsky complements the game so well, or maybe the unique way of solving puzzles with musical notes. While it's been several years between replays I can still see myself replaying this game for a long time to come. Be warned though, the game only takes a couple of hours to finish which is its blessing and curse.

Polish (5/5)
The game is fairly well polished besides the sound synching issues mentioned earlier. Hard to go wrong with what is essentially a linear adventure game :).

"Come on let's twist again.. like we did last summer"

Score – 7/10

Although over 20 years old, Loom stands the test of time as a unique take on the traditional point 'n' click adventure game genre thanks to its ingenious use of musical notes as a way of solving puzzles. It also demonstrates how you don't need an original piece of music to make a beautiful and effective soundtrack; all you need is some Tchaikovsky and away you go! The only criticism I have for the Steam version is that I continually experience synching issues between the voice and what is actually happening on the screen.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

If you like this game, you might like...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #85 - Police Quest III - Main Title Theme



Original Composer: Jan Hammer
Initially released: 1992

To commemorate the launch of the Precinct Kickstarter by Jim Walls, I've decided to skip to 1991 to a game known as Police Quest III. Apparently this was the last Police Quest game that Jim Walls worked on before leaving Sierra with the late LAPD chief Daryl F. Gates taking over for Police Quest: Open Season.

What may interest you is that the music in Police Quest III is composed by noneother than Jan Hammer. That's right, Sierra managed to hire the guy that created the iconic Miami Vice theme - which is appropriate considering it's a cop show. The Police Quest III theme has a similar vibe as a result.



Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

List of Drafts for Loom


The feature has been around for a long time but only now have I managed to get off my butt and do something about it. Steam has the ability for people to contribute things to Steam game hubs or communities such as artwork, screenshots, videos and guides. While I've already posted a few screenshots (not exactly hard to do) I decided to put in a bit more effort and create a guide on the drafts that are available in the 1990 Lucasarts classic, Loom.

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=163969078

I was originally working on a walkthrough since noone had done so but looks like someone else beat me to it :).

I've extracted the list from the Steam guide here, just in case there are those who don't use Steam or can't be bothered checking it out :):

  • Opening = ECED (Hetchel's egg, clam on Loom Island and in Book of Patterns)
  • Closing = DECE (Opposite to Opening)
  • Night Vision = CDDC, DCCD or CCCC (Owls on Loom Island)
  • Emptying = GFFE, GEED or GDDE (Flask of dye on Loom Island)
  • Filling = EFFG, DEEG or EDDG (Opposite to Emptying)
  • Dyeing = DDCD, CCCD or CDCD (Cauldron with dye on Loom Island)
  • Bleaching = DCDD, DCCC or DCDC (Opposite to Dyeing)
  • Straw into Gold = DEDC, DEDE, DDDE or CCCE (Spindle on Loom Island)
  • Gold into Straw = CDED, EDED, EDDD or ECCC (Opposite to Straw into Gold)
  • Twisting = CFCC, DEFC or FDDE (Waterspout at sea)
  • Untwisting = CCFC, CFED or EDDF (Untwists objects)
  • Invisibility = GCGC, GCCD or GEEC (Shepherds in the woods)
  • Appearing = CGCG, DCCG or CEEG (Opposite to Invisibility)
  • Sharpening = AAAG, DFAF or CDDA (Glassmakers' Sickle)
  • Dulling = GAAA, FAFD or ADDC (Opposite to Sharpening)
  • Terror = EFFE, DFFD or FCCF (Crystal Sphere in Crystalgard)
  • Sleep = AFED, AEDC or AGFE (Sleepy shepherd)
  • Awaken = DEFA, CDEA or EFGA (Opposite to Sleep)
  • Healing = CAAC, ACCA or AGGA (Fleece trying to cure a lamb)
  • Reflection = FAAF, ADDA or AFFA (Pool in cave)
  • Silence = BAGF, BCCC or BFFC (Cast on Hetchel)
  • Unsilence = FGAB, CCCB or CFFB (Opposite to Silence)
  • Shaping = BFBF, BCBC or BABA (Cast on Hetchel)
  • Unshaping = FBFB, CBCB or ABAB (Opposite to Shaping)
  • Unmaking = ABBA or BCCB (Recorded by the Loom)
  • Transcendence = C'FGC (First learned at Loom at beginning of game and in Book of Patterns)

29/07/2013 EDIT: I've just discovered that many drafts in Loom are randomised but a few are not. So I will have to revisit this and modify my guide :). I have now added all possible combinations thanks to this link. I've also added the locations that you first learn of them.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #84 - Quest for Glory 2 - Closing Ceremonies



Original Composer: Chris Brayman
Initially released: 1989

This music is played during the closing ceremonies at the end of the game once the Hero is victorious. Basically, all the people that you've helped during the game come and thank you including (but not limited to) your Katta friends, Shameen and Shema, Aziza the Enchantress, a harem girl named Zayishah, the Emir of Raseir, the Sultan of Shapeir and Rakeesh the Liontaur Paladin. What was great about this game was the ending was slightly tailored depending on your class and the actions you took. For example, you'd only be made a paladin at the end of the game if you accrued enough Honour points during the game.

Another bit of interesting trivia is that at the end of the credits it told fans to stay tuned for Quest for Glory III: Shadows of Darkness. Shadows of Darkness in fact became the fourth game in the Quest for Glory series with the title "Wages of War" going to the third one.

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Omerta: City of Gangsters Review

Ah 1920s Atlantic City - complete with the Absecon Lighthouse

  • Developer: Haemimont Games
  • Publisher: Kalypso Media
  • Release Date:1 February 2013

I really enjoyed what Haemimont Games did with Tropico 3 and later on Tropico 4 (which is basically a Tropico 3.5 to be fair). These guys modernised a classic formula in a more or less dignified manner creating a game that was humourous and heaps of fun to play. So when it was announced (quite suddenly to me at least) that they were creating another strategy game where you run the Mafia and you even get turn-based combat to boot, I thought the game sounded like it had lots of promise. Was this to be Tropico with gangsters? Or was that too good to be true?

Plot (4/5)
Although I've never watched it, Omerta: City of Gangsters shares an identical setting with Boardwalk Empire – a TV series also set in 1920s Atlantic City. In the game, you play a Sicilian man who has come to America to look for a better life and after performing several missions (where illegal activities are involved) you work your way up to be a mafia boss of some repute.

It's your typical rags-to-riches mafia story with a few twists and betrayals along the way. So while it isn't the world's greatest or original narrative it's still good fun.

Gameplay (2/5)
There are two modes or layers to this game that you can play with: the real-time business management mode which is similar to Tropico and the turn-based combat mode.

The business management mode is where you manage your mob empire. From this screen you're able to recruit new gangsters and then send them on various tasks, such as opening new speakeasys, bribing cops or performing drive-bys on enemies. While the game feels a bit similar to Tropico in this mode it is by no means as fulfilling, feeling like a "Tropico-lite" since you can't build structures anywhere – i.e. the city builder aspect of Tropico is not present. Instead you occupy buildings with your own businesses which in turn generates profits in either "dirty money" or "clean money" (i.e. whether the money was generated through illegal or legal means). Meanwhile you have to be wary of not raising too much heat from your illegal activities unless you want the police to hold an investigation.

Fighting with your fists is surprisingly quite effective in this game.

The game's combat mode is a surprisingly old-fashioned affair, even RPG-like since a character's Initiative attribute is important in determining whose turn is first in each round – i.e. unlike other turn-based tactics games where teams take turns, individuals take turns in Omerta, a bit like a game of Worms actually. It might take some getting used to but it works relatively well once you know how. However, cover is atrocious and the percentage chance of hitting enemies means jack-squat; they even have (easily attainable) achievements for ridiculous shots! Not to mention it's hard to tell at times what your line of sight actually is and maps often have very little cover at all. More variety in the guns would've been nice too – maybe even actual weapons of the era (similar to how the Jagged Alliance series uses real weapons).

Sound (4/5)
There's some hilarious voice acting in this game – and it plays on racial stereotypes to a degree. But then again, I suppose Tropico 4 did that to some degree too, so it's not entirely surprising. NPCs in combat tend to make strange noises when performing certain actions too ("Hu-uuuuuh" when employing a Defensive Stance for example – I mean who does that?) – but it's probably no different to Jagged Alliance 2 in that regard.

Music (5/5)
The game has a surprisingly good soundtrack with music reminiscent of the era. i.e. a lot of early era Jazz and even country music (whaaat???) – I like this track in particular:



Graphics (3/5)
The city screen is quite detailed with day and night cycles. There are even pretty accurate renditions of classic buildings in Atlantic City like the Traymore Hotel and Absecon Lighthouse. The game uses black and white stills for the game's cut-scenes but they are drawn well and so are the character portraits. The graphics during the combat sequences aren't anything special but they do the job.

Replay (3/5)
I might be tempted to play again to get more achievements but once you've finished the game the only real reason to go back is to either play a Sandbox game (which has limited appeal) or multiplayer (which is limited to just the combat mode). I'm disappointed that co-operative play wasn't included in the campaign or at least the ability to fight over a city with friends i.e. a combination of sandbox mode and the combat-focused multiplayer modes. I think Haemimont Games and Kalypso Media missed out on an opportunity here.

Polish (5/5)
The game seems to be fairly well polished and there have even been some updates recently to the gameplay and UI over the first version. For example, you're now able to check an Economic Overview screen to see how much money and goods your buildings are producing at a glance (it's not terribly helpful but it's better than nothing). You're also now able to steal and use cars which makes a lot more sense if you're a Don of the Mafia...

Score – 7/10

Omerta: City of Gangsters's gameplay can become somewhat repetitive and the sandbox and multiplayer options on offer will only entice a limited number of replays. However, this unpretentious mafia strategy game has an entertaining (yet somewhat predictable) story with a great 20s era soundtrack to boot. I thoroughly enjoyed the single-player campaign and if you enjoyed the campaigns in Tropico 3 and 4, set your sights on Omerta: City of Gangsters.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam or DRM-free on GOG.

If you like this game, you might like...

Videos:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Is Kickstarter Fatigue starting to kick in?


For this article, guest blogger Luke offers some deep insight into sociology and how it can apply to Kickstarter projects. His comments will be in italics

I’m currently a backer for Precinct, a Kickstarter project by Jim Walls who was the creator of the Police Quest series. Jim is a bit late to the Kickstarter party when compared to projects by his old Sierra workmates, namely Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded (Al Lowe), Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption (Lori and Corey Cole), SpaceVenture (Two Guys from Andromeda) and Pinkerton Road Studio (Jane Jensen) already developing games. One of them has even already been released for sale (LSL: Reloaded).

One thing that has concerned me about the recent Precinct project is that it's only managed to raise a bit over $50,000 so far a few days in. Traditionally, Kickstarter projects get a lot of their funding in the first few days and then it tapers off for the rest of the project, usually with a big push in the final days of the project (usually straight after reminder emails are sent out to backers holding off on pledging). The previous "Sierra Kickstarters" were all successful with similar or more modest goals than the $500,000 that Jim Walls is seeking. However, I do recall that Hero-U only got through by the skin of their teeth and that was the last of the Sierra Kickstarters to be successfully funded. So what are the cold, hard numbers? I did some quick research using Kicktraq data and this is the picture it paints:


I've purposely ordered the projects with the earliest project on the left (Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded) and the most recent project on the right (Precinct). As you can see, Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded received the lion’s share in terms of pledges, managing to secure half of their goal in the first few days. They also managed to get almost 6,000 backers by then.

Subsequent Sierra Kickstarters raised less money and lured less backers. Pinkerton Road is an anomaly in that it is the lowest of the ones successfully funded although this might be explained by the fact they only asked for $300,000 and that the funds were not going towards a game but funding the studio for a year and receiving any products as a result (a more abstract idea than a tangible product that might have caused early backers to hesitate). Eventually the project exceeded its goal though with $435,316 raised (or about 145% funded).

Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded had a similarly high percentage of 131% ($655,182 raised) although SpaceVenture (108% or $539,767) and Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption (102% or $409,150) only barely made it over.

So how does Precinct compare? Well it currently has just over $55,000 or about 11% of its goal funded. This doesn't compare favourably to Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded (50%), Pinkerton Road (33%), SpaceVenture (32%) or Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption (33%) at around the same time.

So why is this not receiving the support? Jim Walls even seemingly did the prudent thing and waited to start the project much later than the other Sierra Kickstarers (probably to give a chance for fans to replenish their funds)! Jim Walls is an accomplished Sierra adventure game designer, just like the other guys and the Police Quest series was as good as any of the others. I’ve had some discussions and read some thoughts on the matter and they’re basically summarised below:

Luke: This pattern of crowd investment is intriguing insomuch as that it is not a single individual or pool of individuals we're analysing. Anybody on the internet can tell you that focusing the spectrum of the community in a single direction is like hand wrestling greased cats doped up on catnip and laser-pointers; and yet there is a definite pattern of initial enthusiasm which quickly drops away

Not enough information about the game

This is probably partially true for this project but it's really not that bad. There's a pitch video, some test footage, concept art and a little spiel about the game. Pinkerton Road didn't have much either when they first started out but then again, it didn't matter too much for them since their goal was $200,000 less. So I don't believe this is a major reason.

The game is too different to the original Police Quest games

I don't believe this is a valid reason. The other Kickstarters, with the exception of Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded, are creating new IP. Not only that buy Hero-U even proposed a totally different style different to their Quest for Glory games. Provided there is strong storytelling (which I'm sure Jim Walls can accomplish) and there's enough of a challenge, I don't think people will mind if there's a first-person view to the game.

The high starting price for the game has ruined the early rush

I was only made aware of this one recently and this might have a bit of traction. Originally I tend to pledge at the game + soundtrack tier which is usually around $30 - so in this case, I didn't notice that initially you could only get the game of Precinct if you pledged $30. With other adventure game Kickstarters, the entry fee was between $15-20. This has since been rectified (It's now $19 for a limited number of backers) but the damage might already be done. However, $10 isn't really a stumbling block for hardcore fans or even adventure game fans in general. I can only see it potentially discouraging players who don't usually play adventure games or who have never heard of Sierra and Jim Walls.

Competition for funds from sales and other Kickstarters

As some of you may know, the Steam Summer Sale was on recently although again I don't believe this is a valid reason for the adventure gaming fans as sales are happening all the time and Steam sales don't break the bank (unless you go overboard like I did ;)). There are also other Kickstarters, such as Star Citizen, where they're still selling in-game items way after the initial Kickstarter project has ended. While this may have some impact, again the ones who are backing Star Citizen are probably not fans of the adventure gaming genre (check out my 8 Gamer Stereotypes article for a humourous take on that :)).

Could it be "Kickstarter Fatigue"?

Then we have what I like to call "Kickstarter Fatigue" - people becoming weary (or should that be wary) of the onslaught of Kickstarter projects and not getting much for their money. Many Kickstarters haven't delivered anything yet with many pushing their release dates further back. This isn't too much of a problem in itself though as even big name developers and publishers do the same thing. What does become an issue is something akin to an often mentioned phrase in software engineering: "you've built the product right but have you built the right product?"

Notwithstanding the trend of declining funds as shown in the charts, people are becoming more cynical of Kickstarter projects - maybe because it's become too mainstream or popular? Or it's because there are critical articles about Kickstarters such as this article on GamaSutra which suggests Leisure Suit Larry should never have been remade in the first place.

Luke: The pattern that can be discerned from above is something I've only seen replicated in one other concept: The Issue Attention Cycle. This model has historically only been applied to environmental issues in the context of hypoactivism of the 70s through 90s yet despite that, may be applicable here.


Luke: Applying the above model would go something like this:

Facing increasing costs and overheads, necessitating increased sales from publishers and developers, Stage 1 sees the video game industry chasing the safety of the lowest common denominator. Creative and artistic flair stagnates under the auspices of 'safe' single bottom lines such as Call of War: Battle of Honour 15.

Stage 2, under this model, could represent the moment Kickstarter begins to go 'viral' and enter our psyche with all the promise of a return to the mythical city on the hill. Subsequently, apathy then sits in when the realisation is made that pledging money does not instantly create a product and delivery is entirely in the hands of the developer (whilst keeping the pledger, but not his or her money, at arms reach).

Stage 3 & 4 are largely self explanatory but it is important to note that attaining Stage 5 is not necessarily arriving at a solution to a 'problem'; rather it represents an unwillingness to accept the problem as a problem anymore.


While I can agree with some of what Leigh Alexander says, I think she's potentially painting all Kickstarter backers with the same brush. Not all of us are just blinded by nostalgia and throwing money at the likes of Al Lowe. Some of us actually like the guy or the company he used to work for and want to give them a chance to make a new game. That's definitely the case with the other Sierra Kickstarters where they've been unable to secure their original IP. Although she does touch on a sentiment probably shared by contemporary critics: Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded received a mixed response and it was probably because the game worked in the 80s. Two decades later, it just feels a bit out of place, despite the better graphics and more forgiving gameplay. However, this is exactly what the fans wanted: a HD remake of the original with some new puzzles thrown in. This goes back to the phrase I mentioned earlier. Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded was built right - the project fulfilled it's promise to the fans and delivered. However, it's probably not the right product for the general gaming public. Not at this time or in this manner. Some potential backers are probably now wary that of their feelings of nostalgia elevating the games of their youth too highly.

This potential problem doesn't just apply to resurrected franchises or genres either - it applies to any gaming Kickstarter since what you promise in a Kickstarter can be seen as a walking a tightrope. Follow what you promise to the letter, and you might deliver a game that's simply not fun or doesn't work - but hey at least you kept your promise. On the other hand, you have the likes of projects like GODUS where Peter Molyneux thought it'd be fun to suggest the game will always be online or planting the Curiosity winner, Bryan Henderson, as a God of Gods. He might think he's making a better game as a result but it angered quite a few backers since it's not what they originally signed up for (or at least so they thought).

Then there are other potential pitfalls, like poor project management: Broken Age's release has been delayed and it's now being released in an episodic format because it seems Tim Schafer has blown his budget. Add to that fact the early adventure game Kickstarters may have been successful for political reasons (i.e. adventure gamers wanting to prove that there is still a market for their kind of games) and you can see why I believe that maybe Kickstarter Fever is over and Kickstarter Fatigue has begun.

So what do you think? Why is Precinct not getting the numbers? Do you believe there is such thing as Kickstarter Fatigue?

Luke: It's hard not to feel a little nihilistic for my generation. Those in generations before agitated for things like the civil rights movement and social safety-net reforms; when agitating meant more than clicking a Paypal button.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #83 - Quest for Glory 2 - Khaveen



Original Composer: Chris Brayman
Initially released: 1989

This music is played during the dramatic finale to Quest for Glory 2 where the Hero and the Raseiran Resistance Movement storm the Emir's palace. The first half of the track is played while you either sneak your way into the palace with the second part playing when you enter combat with the eponymous Khaveen. Khaveen is the captain of the city guard and he harbours a deep hatred for the local people of the region, the cat-like Katta. Thanks to Khaveen's racist policies, no Katta are allowed within the city of Raseir (and if there are any they're either imprisoned or in hiding).

Apparently Khaveen is named after Rick Cavin who was the head of the Trial by Fire production team.

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #82 - Quest for Glory 2 - Blue Parrot Inn



Original Composer: Chris Brayman
Initially released: 1989

This music is played when visiting the seedy Blue Parrot Inn and this is where you meet Senor Ferrari and Ugarte for the first time. Not references to Casablanca at all...

Why do I like this piece? Probably because it's a chilled jazz piece - out of place in the Quest for Glory series (unless you happen to be a thief of course :)).

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded Soundtrack Review

  • Name: Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded OST
  • Label: Austin Wintory
  • Composer(s): Austin Wintory
  • Number of Tracks: 21

When I first heard that Austin Wintory was doing the Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded soundtrack I had mixed emotions. On one hand, Austin Wintory is an accomplished composer having scored soundtracks not only for games but for film as well. He's also been nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on the game Journey. However, if you've listened to his work on Journey you would wonder how on Earth could someone composing this style of music go on to score music for a game like Leisure Suit Larry?

Thankfully, after listening to the soundtrack, my doubts quickly subsided. While the tracks that were related to the character Fawn and Eve weren't my favourites (what's with the banjo, fiddle and organ for Fawn's music? Some joke I'm obviously not getting) the rest of the tracks are excellent. Most of the tracks fit within the jazz or big band genre my personal favourite being the bombastic Larry's Town. Incidentally, the leitmotif introduced in this track is used in a couple of other tracks on the album.



There's even a funk tune played in the pimp's room called Channel Surfin', a harmonica solo in Juke 1: Lefty's, a live performance by the sultry Melora Hardin called Tiers of Joy (which is actually a joke song about Kickstarter) and a track that sounds like it belongs in The Pink Panther: Cruising the City of Lost Wages (which is played whenever you take the taxi in the game).

Al Lowe and his MOJO band even make an appearance for the final track, a reprise of the Leisure Suit Larry theme.

And you know what? They're all awesome tracks meaning this album receives lots of replays.

Score - 8/10

Austin Wintory manages to prove what a versatile composer he truly is. This jazzy album suits the game Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded almost perfectly and is definitely one of the main things going for the game.


You can grab this album via Austin Wintory's bandcamp site for $6 here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The 8 Gamer Stereotypes

Over the years you've probably noticed that your friends have preferences for certain types of games or even genres. Some like FPSs, some like Real-Time Strategies, others might be happy with a bit of Tetris. You could even classify gamers by these genres they prefer (something that Pure Pwnage did with great comedic effect) - however what happens when someone happens to like multiple genres? Then things start to unravel. I believe that is when you have to explore the motivations behind why a gamer plays games and as a result you end up with the 8 Gamer Stereotypes I've identified. I've also provided a handy chart to show you where I perceive each of these stereotypes to sit on the Cartesian plance. The x-axis is time spent on gaming and the y-axis represents a spectrum with competitive gaming at one end and cooperative gaming on the other.



Major caveat of course before reading the rest of this - this is all just for a bit of fun. Don't take it too seriously since as Alexandre Dumas famously said "All generalisations are dangerous, even this one." Also, note that you may see traits of you in several of these stereotypes. I know for a fact that I probably fit in two of the below categories - partially the reason why I decided to create a graph to show these are not really discrete points but that they in fact exist on a spectrum.

The Critic



Example of games played:
Indie games, new genres, Adventure games, RPGs (Mass Effect), single-player FPSs (Half-Life, Mafia, GTA, Assassin's Creed), Need for Speed, SimCity

Description:
Analyses games and the gaming industry in general. Sees games as a work of art. Might even write reviews. Might have things in common with the Retro Gamer due to them generally being older gamers however Critics are more likely to play the latest trends while Retro Gamers are stuck in the past. Favours single player games with strong narratives like RPGs and adventures.

The Competitive Gamer



Example of games played:
Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, DOTA, Starcraft, FIFA, Street Fighter, Sports games

Description:
Games which usually rely on lightning reflexes and good situational awareness. Not for the faint hearted, those who excel at these games usually find themselves as cyber atheletes. Usually not tolerant of anyone who calls a game "just a game". It's their livelihoods in some cases.

The Casual Gamer




Example of games played:
Tetris, Bejeweled, Peggle, Zuma, Bookworm, Hidden Object Adventures, the Sims, Wii Games, Facebook etc.

Description:
Usually women. Often sandbox games or games that almost anyone can play. These games are after the largest demographic as possible and hence why you'll tend to find gamers of all ages and persuasions playing these games.


The MMO Tragic



Example of games played:
World of Warcraft, Defiance, Lord of the Rings Online, etc.

Description:
MMO Tragics go from one MMO to the next, never shifting out of the genre. Sometimes they even return back to the original MMO they started playing because the new ones are too different to what they're familiar with. Often wants to be the highest level with best armour so they can feel superior (and in this regards, the more successful MMO Tragics shares similar traits with Power Gamers). Sticks almost solely to popular MMOs since they want as many people to look at their Epic Armour of Awesomeness +1337. Tends to not play many other games due to the time commitment required to play MMOs - not that it matters though - other games are just a waste of money anyway right? Might as well keep investing it in something you're familiar with...

The Carebear



Example of games played:
Co-op games, Diablo, Torchlight, Left 4 Dead, Alien Swarm, Co-op RPGs, compstomps on RTSs, squads in Battlefield, etc.

Description:
These players seek camraderie or the ability to help and support others. Consequently, they tend to stick to multiplayer games only. They see gaming as a social activity - a way of catching up with friends and sharing in a positive experience where you can then share "war stories". May play traditionally competitive games but are more satisified with achieving their team goals rather than purely a high kill-to-death ratio. If playing online RPGs, some Carebears can be closet MMO Tragics.

The Retro Gamer



Example of games played:
Metroid, Bubble Bobble, Sonic the Hedgehog, Zelda, Nintendo games, etc.

Description:
These gamers are not to be confused with the many gamers that look back on the games played in their youth with rose-tinted glasses; they're actually playing those games now mainly thanks to emulators or even with existing consoles/hardware. Sometimes old franchises are still kicking thanks to companies like Nintendo as well so some of these games can also be considered retro games (even if they are HD remakes or "spiritual successors"). Most retro games can also pass as "family-friendly" entertainment and casual gamers would play many of the retro revivals.

The Simulation Addict



Example of games played:
Colin McRae Rally, Silent Hunter, Microsoft Flight Simulator etc.

Description:
Simulation Addicts don't play many games and might only have one they focus on such as a racing sim or submarine sim. It's not that they're unable to play anything else but they're just simply not interested. Like MMO Tragics, they don't appear to deviate much from any other genre and they even have similarities to the Power Gamer in that they tend to pore over the minutae in order to give them a slight advantage (which to be fair is the whole point of many simulations). Enjoys the hyper-realism to be had from playing simulations so they often have beefy systems to run games on the highest graphics settings and funky controllers (e.g. steering wheels, flight sticks, etc.). Tends to be a niche market as most people don't have the patience and understanding.

The Power Gamer



Example of games played:
Diablo, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft, Civilization

Description:
Power Gamers occasionally play the same games as the Carebear but the Carebear tends to exclusively play multiplayer games whilst the Power Gamer doesn't care if the game is multiplayer or not; their goal is to either get 100% completion in a game or to find the most efficient algorithm when it comes to beating a game or the most efficient build. Exploiting the system is not beneath them since if it's in there, it's the developer's fault for not foreseeing it. They tend to favour RPGs or Turn-based Strategy games as they tend to be the kind of games where you can develop builds and strategies at your own pace. Steers away from games that are usually in the realm of the Competitive Gamer even though they may have similar goals. Competitive Gamers usually have fast reflexes and skill whilst for Power Gamers it's about long-term planning.

So do you agree or disagree with the stereotypes I've proposed? Perhaps you have some of your own you'd like to share? :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Where to buy The Bureau: XCOM Declassified in Australia?


Okay so I thought well I might give this The Bureau: XCOM Declassified another go since it's got a couple things going for it - one it seems to be more than just your average shooter and secondly it's set in the 60s - that means 60s era weapons (which I happen to love - back in those days a rifle was a rifle!)

The three shops I decided to look at include the usual "bricks and mortar" shops of EB and JB Hi-Fi but I also checked out ozgameshop for an online alternative. It doesn't appear that Steam is currently offering this title.

If you pre-order the game from EB you get an extra in-game mission along with a plasma pistol. The other stores don't appear to be offering pre-order bonuses but you do get the game cheaper:

  • EB Games: $78 (extra mission and plasma pistol if you pre-order)
  • JB Hi-Fi: $69 (No pre-order bonuses)
  • ozgameshop: $45 (No pre-order bonuses)

Considering how much cheaper ozgameshop is offering the game (and they offer free delivery too) I'm probably going to be ordering from them this time around. Check it out here.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #81 - Quest for Glory 2 - Caravan to Raseir (Intermission)



Original Composer: Chris Brayman
Initially released: 1989

Ah now we come to one of my favourite tracks in the game. One of the most humourous parts of Quest for Glory 2 is when the Hero joins a caravan that leaves the city of Shapeir to its "twin" city of Raseir in the south. While the caravan crosses the desert we are treated to an epic theme very similar to the soundtrack from Lawrence of Arabia.



At 1:06 the Hero's caravan is ambushed by a horde of bandits and the story ends on a cliffhanger... just in time for a Pythonesque intermission at 1:36. The story then continues at 2:18 where the Hero stands atop a mountain of enemy corpses and says the memorable quote:

I love the smell of victory in the morning... It smells like... sweat. No, no... oregano... nooo... like Victory! Yea Victory!... Yea! Yea! That's the ticket.

Ah... good times.

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Police Quest Creator launches Kickstarter: Precinct




As mentioned in an earlier article it was only a matter of time before a Kickstarter project led by the creator of the Police Quest series, Jim Walls, was launched.

That time has come.

Precinct promises to be a new police procedural adventure game where you play the role of a rookie cop in the fictional Californian town of Fraser Canyon. Apparently the game will feature cases based on Jim Wall’s experience as a cop and the plot will involve the player not only fighting the usual criminals but corrupt cops and politicians.

What is a major departure from previous Police Quest games is that the game is now taken from a first person perspective. Already the screenshots for the game (especially the lighting) look fantastic. It seems to be adopting a similar graphical style to Telltale adventure games and that's not the only thing it shares in common with them; Jim Walls intends on releasing the game in an episodic format too.

A $30 pledge will get you a digital copy of the game (although it remains to be clarified whether that's just for one episode or the whole thing – I’d be surprised if it isn’t the latter).

The current expected release date is sometime in June 2014.

17/07/2013 EDIT: Jim Walls has clarified that the game is not to be episodic but that the first game will be part of a series of games set in the same city.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Cave Review


Hmmm I wonder where I've seen this before?

  • Developer: Double Fine Productions
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: 22 January 2013

Plot (5/5)
The premise of The Cave is simple. You control three characters as they descend into the Cave to acquire their deepest desires. On the way you'll learn about their darkest secrets which usually involve the spelunkers performing heinous acts in order to attain what they desire at any cost. You learn more about the history of each character by interacting with symbols that appear on the wall as you delve deeper into the Cave. Each time you interact with one of these symbols you are presented with one page of a comic – the idea being by the end of the game you would have pieced all the pages together to give you a full history of the character and the reason he, she or they are in the Cave in the first place.

Wit and humour often go hand-in-hand when it comes to games by Ron Gilbert and as a result the story is often a strong suit when it comes to his games. The Cave is no exception and while playing the game you really feel motivated to learn more about the darker side of each of the characters. The Cave (aka the narrator) makes some amusing quips every so often too. There are also a lot of in-jokes to previous Ron Gilbert games, the Monkey Island series especially, so fans of his work should feel right at home.

The background story for The Cave's characters are explained through comics like the one above.


Gameplay (3/5)
The Cave is a puzzle platformer so it's quite easy to learn the basics. Each of the characters also have a special skill that is especially important during that particular character's puzzle. For example the Monk has the ability of telekinesis that allows him to grab objects from afar whereas the Scientist can hack consoles. Many puzzles in the Cave require you to use all three characters at once in order to progress to the next area. The game is actually quite similar to Maniac Mansion in this regard since just like Maniac Mansion you have to pick three characters out of several characters to take with you on the adventure. Also like Maniac Mansion each character has different abilities.

Puzzles are fun and are personally at the right level of difficulty. Two of the puzzles I needed a walkthrough but it turned out that in both situations I knew what to do although it was just the controls that were holding me back (more on that later).

What annoys me is what you need to do in order to get the “good" endings. Yes, I'm telling you now (to save you some heartache) that there are actually a "good" and “bad" (default) ending to the game. I won't go into details on how you get the "good" ending but let us use a similar puzzle such as when Guybrush Threepwood acquires the eyeball necklace from the Navigator's Head in the Secret of Monkey Island. As you may recall, you acquire the necklace by begging many times for it. While in order to get the "good" ending in The Cave you must also do a certain action multiple times unlike Monkey Island where you actually needed the eyeball necklace (and would've eventually stumbled upon the solution) there is no requirement to get the "good" ending of the game and hence the only way I can see it happening is if you stumble upon it by accident. I didn't even know a good ending existed until reading about it on the Internet. If this was Mass Effect: No Paragon ending for you!

Cave Effect


Sound (5/5)
Audio in terms of sound effects are fine. There's not much voice acting in the game but the quality of conversations by the random characters you meet (and especially narration by the Cave itself) is humourous and fits the game well.

Music (3/5)
The soundtrack to the game is nothing memorable but it's a minimalist soundtrack to begin with; most of the time you'll just be hearing background noises. I have to say I liked the music on the Scientist's level though since it captured a sense of gravitas.

Graphics (4/5)
Graphically the game is generally good. The game employs a quirky 3D cartoon character style and the characters are animated smoothly.

Replay (3/5)
In order to get all endings you'll need to play the game at least 3 times (7 characters… well actually 8 if you consider the twins but they only have one story for both of them). While it's interesting to experience the different levels for each of the characters there are some common levels in between which you'll have to end up repeating (which can be a bit of a chore whenever you decide to replay the game).

"In order to get all endings you'll need to play the game at least 3 times"

Polish (4/5)
Controls are a bit strange and you can tell that it's a console port. There have been several times in the game where using a mouse to move around the level has been a hindrance making it quite easy to fail puzzles. I highly recommended you use a gamepad if playing this on PC (although maybe I should've followed my own advice?).

Score – 7/10

I still don't understand why Ron Gilbert doesn't just make another point 'n' click adventure game! The Cave has the trademark Ron Gilbert humour in there but in a puzzle-platformer package which is a pain to play if you're used to playing with keyboard and mouse. Also while the game is charming I feel a bit miffed about the secret (and I mean secret) alternate endings, not to mention the game's short length (6 hours). Thankfully the game isn't expensive so if you're a Ron Gilbert fan, it might be worth a look, especially if you can grab it when it's on sale.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

If you like this game, you might like...

Videos:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #80 - Quest for Glory 2 - Poet Omar



Original Composer: Chris Brayman
Initially released: 1989

This track plays when the Hero visits the Katta's Tail Inn while an old man named Omar is reciting his poetry (yes, another pun. Get used to it, just about every Quest for Glory game is laced with them ;)). It's only much later in the game that it is revealed that Omar is not just simply a poet...

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #79 - Quest for Glory 2 - Battle Theme 2



Original Composer: Chris Brayman
Initially released: 1989

This track is one of the battle themes in Quest for Glory 2 and it sounds suspiciously similar to Battle Theme 1 from the first Quest for Glory (which is played during battles with standard opponents).

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Choicest VGM - VGM #78 - Quest for Glory 2 - Thief



Original Composer: Chris Brayman
Initially released: 1989

This track is the music that plays whenever the thief is sneaking around someone's shop, stealing their wares. Like the last VGM, Battle Theme 1, it sounds suspiciously similar to music from the previous game. Mind you, the tempo in this version seems to be a bit faster.

Thanks to Sierra On-Line and Quest Studios for providing these memorable tracks.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Which Battlefield game is the best? - The Results



As mentioned in this thread what prompted me to create a survey answering the question "Which Battlefield game is the best?" was the comment by a forum user that Battlefield veterans accounted for less than 1% of the gaming population. The number seemed a bit of an exaggeration for sure but knowing whether Battlefield veterans made up a minority or majority of current Battlefield players was a question that plagued my mind.

Since releasing this survey though, E3 has revealed that Battlefield 4 will indeed have a Commander Mode so in some regards it is adopting some gameplay elements from older Battlefield games like Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142. This would hint that DICE and EA are listening to a certain cohort of Battlefield fans but it still remains to be seen if it is the right thing to do. Many newer fans to the series have cast doubt on whether the Commander Mode will ruin the game experience.

Why do I mention this? Because the announcement of Commander Mode or BF2-style elements (a major reason behind starting this survey was to see how many fans of this feature there were) does not mean there is no longer any point to this survey. It can instead be used as a litmus test to see if DICE and EA are actually listening to their fans or not.

It’s been almost two months now since I originally created the survey on 6 May and I have received 82 responses. Not quite the turnout I was looking for but it’ll have to do for this analysis. Obviously from the start the sample size is quite small meaning this survey won’t be a truly representative segment of the Battlefield population (but it’s an interesting exercise nonetheless).


Methodology


I decided to use a SurveyMonkey survey to gather results. I only happen to have a basic account which limited the number of responses I could collect to 100. Thankfully this didn't turn out to be an issue as I didn't even receive 100 responses to the survey anyway.

I discussed my survey and encouraged others to comment on it on the following forums:
  • Games.On.Net
  • ABC Good Game
  • Whirlpool
  • Battlefield Google+ Community
  • PC Powerplay
  • Official Battlefield forums

I also talked to friends and family about it too, so all of the respondents are likely to be from these channels. I believe the choice of sources is a good mix although it obviously only captures those who are really passionate about the games in the first place (or else they wouldn't be loitering around an online forum talking about Battlefield). Consequently, there already may be some bias towards the older games in the series as a lot of newer players haven’t invested enough time in the series in order to become attached to a community.

In the following sections I go through the answers to the survey's questions.


Question 1: Which of these was the first Battlefield game you played?


It’s important to realise this question asked which Battlefield was the first Battlefield people have played (not necessarily the earliest of the series that they've played). The reason I asked this question is that first impressions have a lasting effect on people, so the first game in a Battlefield series would greatly influence a respondent's opinion on which direction the series is to head.

In the end, almost half of respondents (40) lists Battlefield 1942 as the first Battlefield game they played. Battlefield 1942 was released in 2002 meaning it’s possible that some of the respondents have been playing the Battlefield series for over a decade (obviously this doesn't take into account when the respondent started playing Battlefield 1942). Coming in second place is Battlefield 2 with 18 respondents or over 20%. Battlefield 2 took the series into the modern setting and introduced Commander Mode to the Battlefield series.

Interestingly only 4 respondents (just under 5%) list Battlefield 3 as the first game they've played. With such a heavy bias towards respondents that have played earlier games in the series (95%) I suspect this would result in stronger opinions about the direction the series takes.

None of the respondents listed Battlefield 1943 or Battlefield Play4Free as their first Battlefield game.

Question 1: Which of these was the first Battlefield game you played?

Question 2: Which of these Battlefield games have you played?


All Battlefield games that were listed have been played by at least one respondent. The least played game out of all of them being Battlefield Online at 13 respondents.

The most played Battlefield game is not surprisingly Battlefield 3 with 75 respondents. Interestingly that means 7 respondents (or about 9%) have not played the latest Battlefield game. BF3 is followed closely behind by Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with 74 respondents.

Consequently a majority of the respondents would have experienced the most recent major Battlefield games (i.e. Bad Company 2 and BF3). Based on popularity you would think that BC2 and BF3 would be rated the best. If they are not then it may be a case of people buying into the franchise for the sake of buying a new Battlefield game.

Question 2: Which of these Battlefield games have you played?

Question 3: Which is your favourite Battlefield game?


If we’re just taking the number of favourite game votes (without taking into account least liked game votes) the big winner is Battlefield 2 at 26 responses or 31.7% of the votes. Coming in second place though is Battlefield 3 with 17 responses or 20.7% of the votes and in third place we have Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with 14 votes. Battlefield Heroes, BF1943 and Battlefield Online received no votes.

If we refer to the results to Question 1, only 4 respondents listed Battlefield 3 as their first game (5%). If you include the games since Battlefield 2142 (the last Battlefield game to have Commander Mode) there were 16 respondents where their first Battlefield game was either Battlefield: Bad Company or a more recent game. This almost correlates with the 17 responses for Battlefield 3. So perhaps this is where all the votes from Battlefield 3 came from. Alternatively, "best" is obviously a subjective term and when talking about FPSs, gameplay isn't the only important aspect but graphics are too. Since Battlefield 3 obviously has the best graphics in the series this may have swayed respondents to pick BF3 on graphics alone (the graphics in some of the older Battlefield games is a bit jarring considering how old they are).

With respect to Battlefield 2 receiving the top vote, there may have been some bias due to a few votes by friends being Battlefield 2 fans – although even without their votes I still believe Battlefield 2 would've been the top choice (although maybe only by a slim margin). Battlefield 2 broke new ground in the Battlefield series thanks to the introduction of Commander Mode introducing a whole new meta-game. I believe this is a major reason for Battlefield 2 still being a favourite and it's interesting to note that Commander Mode is now returning in Battlefield 4.

Question 3: Which is your favourite Battlefield game?

Question 4: Out of the Battlefield games you've played, which is your least liked Battlefield game?


For the best Battlefield game question, there were clear favourites: Battlefield 2, Battlefield 3 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. With the least liked Battlefield game, every game in the series got at least one vote but there was one that got much more votes than the rest and that was the most recent Battlefield game, Battlefield 3. Battlefield 3 received a massive 23 votes (28%), followed by the casual, free-to-play Battlefield Heroes at 12 votes (14%) and the sci-fi Battlefield 2142 at 10 votes (12%).

Question 4: Out of the Battlefield games you have played, which is your least liked Battlefield game?

You might at this point wonder how can one game be rated the second best Battlefield game yet at the same time be voted the least liked as well? Maybe that is indicative of people having a love-hate relationship with Battlefield 3. There are many things they dislike about the gameplay yet the graphics and the fact it has an active community still means it’s the best Battlefield option at the moment – whether you like it or not.

I decided that with the favourite game votes and the least liked game votes, I could potentially subtract one from the other to get a view on which games were generally well liked and which ones were definitely not. The result is below:

Difference between Best Battlefield game votes and least liked Battlefield game votes

Looking at this chart it appears that Battlefield 2 is a clear winner – but it also shows that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is quite popular in its own right with modest followings for the original game, Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield Vietnam. The free-to-play, casual Battlefield Heroes is the clear loser with Battlefield 1943 and Battlefield Play4Free being moderately disliked. Battlefield 3 is still shown as being one of the most disliked games but it’s by no means the worst.

Question 5: Do you believe the Battlefield series is improving?


The original purpose of this question was to get a feel of the confidence from respondents that DICE and EA knew what they were doing with each subsequent release of the Battlefield series. The question was intended to gauge on whether respondents thought the series was going downhill or not, since those that tend to say so are a vocal bunch.

The results were really close, with 27 of respondents saying they thought the series was getting worse, 23 saying it was about the same and 18 saying it was getting better. 14 were Unsure.

While a lot of respondents thought the series was getting worse (almost 1/3) that still left 2/3 of respondents that didn't think the series was getting worse or were unsure about it. This would indicate overall fans think the games are still of good or average quality but the vocal minority of disappointed fans is a big minority.

Question 5: Do you believe the Battlefield series is improving?

Question 6: Which game modes do you like in the Battlefield series?


The purpose of this question was to prove a theory I had. If the claims from several that a lot of COD players have migrated to BF3 are true, I suspected that Team Deathmatch would be one of the most popular. I was proven wrong as Conquest, a staple game mode of the Battlefield series, scored 71 votes i.e. 87% of the votes. Half of respondents said they enjoyed the Rush game mode and surprisingly, 21% (or 17 respondents) said they liked Titan mode from BF2142 (a surprising result considering how only 8 listed the game as their favourite).

I must also note that this question was a bit of a learning experience for me. I missed some of the lesser played modes in the Battlefield games and there were some modes I missed because I never played the Battlefield game in question (e.g. Titan mode in BF2142). Consequently, when more than one person commented on a particular mode they liked in the Comments, I then added it as a new option to the question. However this may result in some bias in the results (as the option wasn't there to begin with).

Amongst the remaining results for "Other" modes there was mention of Assault Lines from BF2142 and another respondent mentioning Co-op was their favourite game mode. A third respondent mentioned he/she enjoyed all game modes.

Question 6: Which game modes do you like in the Battlefield series

Question 7: Which features do you believe distinguish the Battlefield series from its competition?


The purpose of this question was to see if Battlefield players thought that Commander Mode was a distinguishing feature of the Battlefield series – or perhaps something else?

It turns out I didn’t really get a definitive answer with almost everything having a decent amount of votes (except authenticity – i.e. voices in native language, realistic language, etc.). This could imply that what makes Battlefield successful is a combination of all its features.

There were 12 "Other" responses too:

  • Three mentioned teamwork, communications and in-game Squad VoIP as being distinguishing features – while this relates to Squad and Class-based gameplay, it was probably a defining feature of the series in the early days and now a staple for the more recent games.
  • Another three responses mentioned Mod support which was prevalent in the earlier Battlefield games but is sadly missing from the more recent ones.
  • Two responses mentioned the gun physics was reasonably realistic, except for the suppression mechanics.
  • One response mentioned that the Battlefield series is not distinct from other games at all as all games have the same features as Battlefield.
  • One response mentioned that the series has Hollywood-style "realism". Since "realism" is in double quotation marks I don’t know if he’s being serious or not.
  • One thing I missed that relates to the more recent games is the destructible environment which one respondent mentioned.
  • And finally, one of the more interesting "other" responses was someone mentioning that the original games with no perks or "CoD BS" was the way to go. I must say that he/she makes a good point.
Question 7: Which features do you believe distinguish the Battlefield series from its competition?

Question 8: Comments


The final question was just a general comments section although I did receive 18 responses. Besides some mistake comments, some "amusing" comments (e.g. "ura faget" and "I like turtles") and some comments where respondents list their favourite game, the most common thread is that the Battlefield series should stop "pandering" to Call of Duty fans and that it should stay true to its original formula.

Caveats


This section summarises the caveats I've made on this analysis:

  • Small sample size means it’s not a truly representative segment of the Battlefield population
  • Friends and clanmates that have answered this survey may skew the result towards Battlefield 2 and Battlefield Bad Company 2 (although I predict at most 10% of responses were from this group)
  • Battlefield players that frequent forums may be biased towards older games in the series compared to newer players
  • Maybe some bias towards traditional game modes like Conquest due to absence of all game modes across the Battlefield series (Other option was always available for this question though).

Conclusion/Findings

  1. A lot of respondents (almost half) played Battlefield 1942 as their first Battlefield game
  2. None of the respondents have played Battlefield 1943 or Battlefield Play4Free as their first Battlefield game
  3. Every Battlefield game has been played by at least one of the respondents
  4. Most respondents have played Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (90%) and Battlefield 3 (91%)
  5. Battlefield 2 is the best Battlefield game using two measures (best game and the difference between best game votes and least-liked game votes)
  6. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is second best or third best depending on which measure is used.
  7. Battlefield 3 is the least-liked game taking this measure on its own but if you take into account the difference between votes for best game and votes for least-liked game, then Battlefield Heroes is the least-liked game.
  8. Most respondents believe the Battlefield series isn’t getting worse. However, a large minority believes it is (1/3).
  9. Conquest is by far the most popular Battlefield game mode (86%) followed by Rush (52%).
  10. Respondents believe a combination of all Battlefield’s features distinguishes it from the competition
  11. A few respondents have mentioned that the Battlefield series should stop becoming more like Call of Duty.

So what can DICE and EA learn from this? If you make Battlefield 4 more like Battlefield 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 but with Battlefield 3 graphics/animations you can be on to a winner. From what I've seen so far in terms of Battlefield 4’s E3 footage, it seems they’re thankfully heading in the right direction.