This week in class I had the pleasure of play testing Trapezium Media’s game Deity. Deity is described on Trapeziums blog as “A combination board-card game where the players are Gods or Goddesses, in the style of a polytheistic pantheon, who control the mortal realm and go to heavenly war in the astral realm. The players will gain the resource ‘faith’ by gathering followers in the mortal realm and then expend that resource in the astral realm to summon armies and engage in a turn-based, tiled wargame to eliminate their rivals.” And Boy did I feel like a god playing this game.
I played in a 5 player session with one of the creators and 3 fellow classmates. Throughout the playthrough I became more and more engrossed in this world we were building together. At the beginning of the game each player rolls a dice to determine their gods relation to the other players. This has no impact on the game other than providing extra narrative for the players to do want they want with. For example, my relation was that I am bitter rivals with the player to my right. So I decided to pool all my resources and focus all my efforts on destroying him, which ended up with me winning the game. I did not have to do this but for sake of our narrative I thought it would be fun. I think this is a key element the guys at Trapezium have gotten right with Deity. The narrative is there for players that want it but players that want a pure gameplay focused experience can have that as well.
The gameplay side of thing was quite balanced for a game that’s still in development. Each turn players receive 2 cards each that have an impact on one of the phases of the game. For example a card could allow you to add a follower to a city and remove one of your opponents followers, thus giving you more and your opponent less faith (the games currency) or spawning a minion in the astral plane that could move straight away (when you buy a minion it gets summoning sickness and cannot move for that initial turn). As the game progresses through its 3 phases more powerful cards become available which gives the game a nice feeling of progression and prevents it from getting stale. It also makes you feel as though your god is becoming more powerful and isn’t that really the point of the game?
All in all I had a blast playing Deity. The guys at Trapezium have obviously worked ridiculously hard to be able to create a game that while still in development is already a well-rounded and most importantly fun board game experience.
At first glance I assumed that Ori and the Blind Forest was going to be a typical indie platformer (albeit a really good-looking one) where the gameplay only exists to move the story along but boy was I wrong. Ori and the Blind Forest is a platform adventure game developed by Moon Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. It follows Ori, a forest spirit who has been tasked with restoring balance to forest.
Ori plays like a typical Metroidvania style game with light RPG elements ( i.e a skill tree) but with pixel perfect controls. The accuracy of the controls is really important because contrary to my prior assessment Ori is highly gameplay focused.
Ori is gameplay focused in the best possible way. It focuses on actual platforming and puzzle solving to progress through the game! Something I feel has been lost with a lot of recent platformers that focus heavily on combat. Combat exists in Ori and is used quite frequently but, it’s obvious it’s not the focus of the game. Puzzles are purely based on platforming skill and don’t let the pretty art style of the game fool you this game is hard.
Well the game is challenging and it doesn’t feature the option to change difficulty setting. It all makes sense when you add in the ingenious save mechanic. In addition to various checkpoints throughout the world players can create “soul links” at any time they choose to serve as save points, but they use a resource collected throughout the game that is not in abundant supply. This allows you to put down a save point right at the tricky part you have been stuck at so you don’t have to run all the way back there from the games allotted checkpoints which are quite sparse.
The map in Ori is quite daunting at first, but in true Metroidvania fashion once you unlock a few abilities moving around the map is a dream. This allows you to explore the map with ease and makes it enjoyable to return to a previous area and explore new things that previously you couldn’t access. This is a Metroidvania game through and through don’t let the cute graphics fool you.
Ori and the Blind forest is a special game. The art style makes you feel like you’re playing a Disney movie, the core game mechanics are super smooth making nothing seem like ‘a grind’ and its simple but engrossing story all meld together to create quite a lasting impression.
Virtual Reality is something I have always associated with the future. Even with the rapid nature of tech development I thought it would be a long time before I got to actually use a VR headset but that was not the case. Last week I had the amazing opportunity to use an Oculus Rift.
It is a surreal feeling the first time you put on the Oculus. I immediately felt immersed in the game world which made me realise the great potential that this device possesses. Just walking around a game world and soaking in the atmosphere by moving my own head around blew my mind. I can now see why Sony has rushed to get out their own VR headset. The only negative i had was using a keyboard to move was not the best. I think a controller would be better for immersion sake.
So that was my week two. Outside of using the Oculus I helped collect everyone’s blog addresses to link on the subject blog (Thanks whoever put them on the blog?!?) and just really discussed what I wanted to do in the subject with others. I am hoping I can do a bit of everything from producing content such as videos, podcasts and blogs to helping with game development. Also, I love the creative process so if anyway wants help developing ideas or some feedback on stuff they’ve already just find me in class or on twitter @iironiq.