The Booket List Episode 16: Storytelling and Video Games!

Hey Everyone!

On this episode of The Booket List we’re discussing the dynamic between Storytelling and Video Games. As y’all know, this months read is “Halo: Contact Harvest”. Which is in fact based on a video game character! Join us as we discuss storytelling within the world of video games.

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The Booket List Episode 15: We’re Back!!

Hey Everyone! We are so excited to be back on campus this week to start off our spring semester! Tune in to this week’s episode to hear about the different books all the hosts read over break, and hear the results of Kimmy and Brennan’s competition! We will be reading a book from the Halo franchise this month titled “Halo: Contact Harvest” by Joseph Staten. For those of you who are scrunching your nose at this because you’ve never played the games or don’t know the lore, we picked this particular novel because it starts at the beginning of one of the more well known arcs, so no one should be getting confused. Also another selling point, this novel is centered around Sargent Johnson who happens to be one of the most entertaining characters in the whole franchise.

We hope you’ll join us reading this month, you can purchase this months read here, and be sure to check back in throughout the month for more discussion.

Till next week, peace out peeps!

Happy 30th Metroid

Hello again everyone! As of August 6th the Metroid series has reached its 30th anniversary. It may not get as much love and attention as the other stars from Nintendo, but Metroid can hold its own.

When Metroid first released in 1986 the world was shocked to learn that the Samus was actually a female. A female who was just as capable of defeating space pirates and aliens as the male protagonists of the times. With her arsenal of rockets, bombs, grappling lasers, and Chozo inspired power suit she was Nintendo’s strongest female bounty hunter.

From www.dorkly.com by DANIEL MACGREGOR

From www.dorkly.com by DANIEL MACGREGOR

Over the course of Metroid’s 30 years the series has been made into a total of 13 different game titles. Throughout these titles Samus has shined as being the only feminine protagonist in Nintendo’s lineup to has such a strong fan base. A fan base that was passionate enough to chastise Nintendo on some of their less than stellar plot decisions at times. The greatest example being how in Metroid: Other M, Samus is relegated from being a strong leading female character to another helpless female character who needs a man to tell her what to do.

From metroid.wikia.com

From metroid.wikia.com

The game had Samus who had previously been an inspiring character who did whatever she wanted and made her seem uncharacteristically passive and afraid. Such as when she had to get Malkovich’s permission before using the Varia Suit or being terrified of an enemy that she’s defeated six times before (Ridley).

From metroid2remake.blogspot.com

From metroid2remake.blogspot.com

What I’m looking forward to is a new game for the Metroid series that takes Samus and pits her against the seemingly corrupt federation. What they plan on doing as far as the story goes isn’t really the most important thing to me. However, what is important is that they bring Samus back in a way befitting her character. I would like to see Samus taking up the mantle that the Chozo left for her and in doing so become an even more impressive character than she already is. In saying that though the Metroid franchise seems to be slowly dying off in favor of more lucrative game series such as Legend of Zelda, Mario, etc. The most promising prospect at this point is that such a game might be created or inspired by the fans who are taking it upon themselves to keep the series alive. Such as the AM2R(Another Metroid 2 Remake) project that was released for about four days after the 6th before Nintendo shut it down.

So with that, Happy 30th Anniversary Metroid and I look forward to seeing a great game from Nintendo in the future. So cross your fingers and Geekout!

 

The Geekwave Episode 45: Ross Przybylski (Shh-bill-ski)

This week on The Geekwave we are joined by tech/game industry veteran Ross Przybylski. With 10 years of industry experience Ross knows what it has to offer and agreed to share some of that insight with us. During our interview Ross told us how he came about founding D20 Studios, becoming a video game designer, as well as giving advice to others who want to make it in the industry one way or another.

The interview started off with us trying to pronounce Ross’s last name which is not an easy feat. Afterwords, Logan asks more about D20 studios and the past success of its web and mobile game Hero Mages. This was Ross’s first attempt in his quest to give a bit of excitement in the “fleeting moments of time” such as when your waiting for your wife in the car with the kids. He explained to us how many indie studious have great ideas, but can’t decide which game they want to make first. Ross on the other hand was fixated on the idea of bring back the feelings of wonder that came with table top games such as D&D, Warmachine, and Magic The Gathering. Before moving on, Ross shared some of his core concepts for D20’s newest game Prophecies, still in the works, that aims at achieving this goal of giving those “fleeting moments” some of that bygone wonder.

In the next part of our interview, we discuss how Ross went from a technical writer for Adobe to the Director of Flash Development at Reflection Software and creator of the Indie Flash Blog. When we asked more about his blog he told us of his belief that information should be shared so that new designers and developers can take that information and create something new and better for the industry. It was this belief that lead Ross to make his video about “How To Start A Game Company” that is currently the first hit on Google for said topic. With the success of this video and an urge to give back the game community, Ross has recently decided to start a weekly You Tube series called How To Start a Gaming Company. Each week he addresses a different topic and gives solid, practical advice for developers and business owners.

The interview concluded with Ross sharing some parting information to beginning video game designers. Before he left the studio he gave us a quick quote about the role of a producer in the video game industry. Apparently he gets asked this question so often and since their is no correct answer, he has fun decided what to tell people each time, but this is what he told us.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this interview, have a great weekend, and geek out!

The Geekwave

How To Fix Pokémon GO

Throughout the last week, millions of people have snatched up up their phones and spare Pokéballs to adventure outside on a quest to pursue fantastical creatures known as Pokémon. While we’ve all enjoyed catching numerous Pidgey’s, battling for control of nearby gyms, and walking endless disappointing kilometers, players have begun to realize that the game still suffers from its early release. It experiences frequent glitches such as the three-step Pokémon indicator, the random “out-of-nowhere” Curveballs, and of course the server crashes. But we, as Pokémon Trainers, must excersice patience, as these bugs cannot be far from the developers’ minds. Instead of playing that all too familiar “their servers are down again” broken record we seem to love blurting out, we should be offering feedback and suggestions to enhance the game that we hold so dearly. Hello, fellow geeks, I’m DecreeB, and this is my personal list of suggestions for enriching the Pokemon GO experience.

Balance Pokémon Escape Rates with Trainer Level
I was walking to my car, ready to go home after a long day of Pokémon Hunting when I happened across another cute little Rattata sitting all smug in a plot of grass. “Oh, well, I guess I can catch one more.” I quickly engaged it in battle, eager to gain some easy Candy and Experience Points. “CP 10?” I think to myself, “This is going to be easy!” I ready my finger, steady my gaze, gauge the distance, and swipe! ‘Nice!’ pops onto the screen in bold letters as the Rattata is inhaled by my Pokéball. “He’s mine!”… Or, so I thought. The ball shook once before the purple rat burst out of his momentary prison, stared directly into my soul, then evaporated in a puff of Ash. An occurrence like this is embarrassing, even for new trainers, but I was Level 18, and the weakest possible Pokémon in the game had just humiliated the Shellder out of me! While it may seem worse that a high level trainer was shown up by a measly Rattata, you’d be surprised to learn that this is actually a common issue among experienced trainers, especially those over Level 15. The current system in GO makes every Pokémon harder to catch as trainers grow in level, even weak Pokémon like the evil buck-toothed demon that defamed me. This results in Level 1 trainers catching Rattata’s infinitely easier than the seasoned professionals. What I suggest is redesigning the system to lower the escape rate of Pokémon every time a trainer gains a level. This should make stronger Pokémon have lower escape rates for veterans. After all, if we’re getting more experienced at catching Pokémon, why is it getting easier for weaker Pokémon to escape?

Set Minimum CP’s for Evolved Pokémon
Dumb and DumberThis seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, apparently, it’s not, because it isn’t used in the game, or at least, not very well. I currently have two Pidgeotto’s in my inventory that both have a CP of 15, whom I have appropriately deemed “Dumb” and “Dumber” (pictured left). So here’s a question: why are evolved Pokémon in this game so weak? You’d imagine that a newly caught Raichu would be stronger than your old Pikachu, but most of the time that’s not the case! Imagine spending 10 painstaking hours of hunting down something really good, like a Machamp, finally finding it, then realizing it’s got a CP of 10. You’d probably throw your phone at that Muscular Magikarp; I know I would! This is unacceptable, we need to have a minimum CP for Pokémon that are at Stage 2 and 3 of evolution, ones that aren’t ridiculously low like mine! Personally, I believe that Stage 2 Pokémon should have a minimum CP of 100, while Stage 3 Pokémon should be set somewhere closer to 250. It would ease the trainer’s mind to know that the worst Nidoking will probably be stronger than the Nidoran they just caught.

Increase The Candy Gained by Catching and Transferring Evolved Pokémon
Have you ever noticed that when you catch a 1, 2, or 3 Stage Pokémon, you get three Candies no matter which Stage it is? I have, and I don’t think that’s fair! Higher evolution Pokémon are much more difficult to catch than Basics (Stage 1); they require stronger and rarer items and Pokéballs to catch, so we should only naturally get more Candies for catching them. I suggest we receive three Candies for catching a Basic Pokémon, four for a Stage 2, and five for a Stage 3. This should help ease the pain of using all of your good items on catching that Alakazam, but there’s still one more problem: when you transfer that Stage 3 spoon-wielding genius to Professor Willow, he will only give you ONE Candy, the exact same as transferring an everyday Pidgey! Why is the Professor holding out on you?! You just gave him an EPIC Stage 3 Alakazam that costs 125 Candies to evolve, and he’s only giving you one pitiful Candy?! When we evolve our Pokémon to the next generation, the value of those Pokémon goes up, so it’s only logical that we receive more Candy for our efforts! That’s why Stage 1 Pokémon should get us one Candy; Stage 2 should get us three, and Stage 3 should get us five.

Increase Experience For Evolving Different Pokémon
This one is fairly straight-forward, and surprisingly not in the game yet. As it stands, whenever you evolve a Pokémon, no matter what that Pokémon is, you’ll get 500 Experience (Exp) for doing so, which, obviously, isn’t very fair as there are multiple stages of evolution. This time, though, I don’t want to suggest giving more Exp for different stages of evolution. No, that system would be terrible (albeit better than what is currently in the game), and I’ll explain why: If you use 12 Candies to evolve a Caterpie into a Metapod (a Stage 2 evolution), you’ll get 500 Exp; likewise, if you use 400 Candies to evolve a Magikarp into a Gyrados (also Stage 2), can you guess what you get? Yep: 500 Exp! While they both evolved into the same stage, one requires over 33 times the number of Candies as the other, yet you get the same amount of Exp! The most logical system that we can use would grant you Experience Points based on how many Candies were used to evolve that Pokémon. Right now, you can grind the Muk out of Pidgey’s to gain some quick Exp, but when you finally gather 100 Candies to get your kick-Grass Venusaur, you get no special rewards! Experience Points gained through evolution should be tied directly to the amount of Candies used in the evolution. For example, let’s say we gain 20 Exp for every Candy used to evolve a Pokémon. This would make cheap, easy Pokémon like Pidgey and Weedle give you 240 Exp for evolving, while a powerful, demanding Gyrados will net you 8,000 Exp! There we go, much better!

Complete Overhaul for Gyms
Battling at gyms, as everyone knows, is probably the glitchiest mechanic in the game. Not only is it slow and clunky, but it also doesn’t work the way it’s intended to. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve swiped to the right to dodge the enemy’s attack, only to take damage even though the screen just informed me that I had made a successful dodge! In fact, everyone I have spoken with regarding this phenomenon has had the same experience I have. All of us have ultimately resorted to simply tapping on the screen as quickly as possible, praying our Pokémon will be just a little bit stronger than our rival’s. Another issue with gyms is how difficult they can be for casual or new trainers. Battling gyms is one of the few things to do in Pokémon GO, and not everyone has enough time or patience to train their Pokémon heavily enough to really take on a gym. Consequently, they get left in the dust by all the dedicated trainers that have plenty of time to kill. However, while these current mechanics have a few issues, I admire the concept and I think they have a lot of potential. Sans fixing the current systems in place, here are a few gym mechanics that I think should be changed or introduced to make gyms a bit more interesting and enjoyable.

  • Pause the battle when switching Pokémon. I can’t express just how irritating it is having one of your Pokémon pass out because they’re sitting around taking a pounding while you’re busy scrambling to switch them out with your next fighter.
  • Pause the battle when a Pokémon faints. Self-explanatory, and also a trademark of past games. If your opponent gets a new Pokémon, you should, too; if your Pokémon passes out, you should be able to pick your next gladiator.
  • Items should be usable in battles. Not all items, of course, as some of us have hundreds. No, only a set number should be allowed, such as 5, so that you can either buff-up, heal, or revive your Pokémon in the middle of a heated battle. Especially useful to new or casual trainers.
  • Make Special Attacks quicker to use. The current mechanic dictates that you hold your screen for upwards of three seconds to initiate a Special Attack, making your Pokémon a sitting duck for your rival to wail on while you wait for your attack to activate. And another thing: when using these stronger attacks, the opponent should not be able to attack. I mean, we can’t dodge or do anything else, why should our opponent be able to keep smashing us while our Pokémon prepares to use its attack?
  • Strengthen Pokémon after winning a battle. When your 600 CP Flareon defeats a 1,000 CP Snorlax, it’s a magical feeling – until you realize your Flareon gets nothing in return. When your Pokémon defeats an opponent’s Pokémon, especially one that’s stronger than they are, they should gain some strength. It’s only logical.
  • Automatically Take Gyms When Conquered. Do you know how many times someone has stolen a gym from me after I just barely defeated it? Too many times. When a player conquers a gym, it should automatically grant that player control, not the next person to walk up and toss their Pokémon at it while you’re waiting for menus to go away. I understand they do this so the player can heal their Pokémon before deciding which one they want to place in the gym, but that creates scenarios that are very aggravating and time-consuming for trainers! Instead, Pokémon should automatically heal or revive when placed in a gym, after all you deserve something for your courageous efforts.
  • Grant Gold for Conquering Gyms. With the current system, each trainer can only claim gold once every 24 hours. The amount of gold you’re given varies depending on how many of your Pokémon are stationed at gyms, 10 gold each. However, when you conquer a new gym, or buff up a friendly one for that matter, you’re not given anything if 24 hours haven’t past since the last time you claimed your gold. While this seems fair on the surface, as it prevents players from taking advantage of the system, it’s not fair for those who are legitimately putting effort into conquering multiple enemy gyms a day, since they’re not getting their fair share of gold. This “click-to-claim” system just doesn’t cut it in my book, it’s time to switch over to a new, automatic, system. This system should grant trainers gold whenever they place a new Pokémon in a gym, more if they conquered it themselves. And if your Pokémon has been there for a certain amount of time, we’ll say 24 hours, it will automatically grant you more for building a great defense.


Pokémon GO is a unique technological feat that has been an absolute pleasure to play so far, however the current mechanics of the game are a bit lacking, and they get frustrating quickly. If Pokémon GO is to be a lasting success, they need to add more interesting features before their players get sick and tired of these broken ones. Hopefully my suggestions for this game will give you a solid understanding of how Pokémon GO can become a more well-rounded and entertaining game for all of us, and that it may prompt you to create your own ideas on how the game can be improved. Together, we can help the developers craft a better gameplay experience through our mutual ideas and constructive feedback. Finally, if you found this article informative and entertaining, make sure to check out some more awesome articles from everyone here at the Geekwave!

Adventures of A Geek – Pokemon Go!

Pokémon Go: the new augmented reality game that everybody, and I mean everybody, is talking about. For those who are new to the world of Pokémon Go, it is Nintendo’s latest attempt, or rather success, to ease the laziness out of gamers everywhere. In my opinion, the real gem of Pokémon Go is how the game encourages its players to not only go outside, but to also meet new people and have fun while doing so, as they seek out that precious Pikachu.

As far as game mechanics go, Pokémon Go seems rather simple. When a Pokémon shows up on your smartphone screen, you swipe your finger to throw poke balls at it until you catch it. Easy enough; until there are no Pokémon nearby. Which happens quite often for me and I find it incredibly frustrating. This is the part where Pokémon Go gets a little more complicated.  Your phone uses GPS pings to calculate distance from your original location, so as you walk the Pokémon showing up on your screen will start changing. Keep in mind though, with this system, walking in circles will not get you far in either distance or Pokémon numbers. You have to walk away from that original GPS ping or nothing will happen. I realized that one half-way around the walking path of my neighborhood park.

In my personal experiences with this game, not only have I rediscovered my love for Pokémon; it has also rekindled the child in me that innate need to share this amazing experience with others. For me, there was no one better than my sister.  Since starting the game, I have found myself doing some pretty silly things. Each time I’ve been able to feel slightly better about it simply because my sister was doing it with me.

Do I feel guilty for driving to every LDS church house in my neighborhood just for the Pokéstops? No, because I caught some awesome Pokémon and my sister did it too. Do I know exactly how many Poké-stops there are at my workplace? Yes. Do I feel guilty for that? No; my boss knows how many there are, too.

There have been other silly moments as well. I laughed when I realized that the Del Taco across the street from my house is a Gym, and cried when my bed wasn’t close enough to let me visit it without physically going there myself.

For as much fun as I’ve had and as often as I’ve played, even with the knowledge I have amassed so far, there are still so many questions about this game I’ve yet to find answers to. Do I need to be by water to get my Eevee to evolve into a Vaporeon? Is it the size of my Eevee that determines its fate? Or is an Eevee pre-assigned an evolution according to which attack it knows? Could my 10 Kilometer Egg really be a Pidgey?? Who knows?! Not me!

If you want to check out Pokémon Go, all you need to do is head to either the Google Play Store or the ITunes App Store, search Pokémon Go and download!  You’ll be on your way to becoming a Pokémon Master in no time. If you come across a Pokémon that you’re proud of, share it with us on The Geekwave Facebook page, so I can be suitably jealous!

 

The Geekwave Episode 37: The Big Utah Games Episode

What is up Geekdom! :)

We are recording from the floors of the second annual Salt Lake Gaming Con at the Sandy Expo Center. This event is a gamers’ paradise with countless games to play, demo and enjoy. There is still one day left, so don’t hesitate to come on down.

SLGC has a special place in our geek hearts since at the original Salt Lake Gaming Con, The Geekwave did its first episode. So far we have had a pretty good run. This year The Utah Games Guild has been so courteous to let us use their booth for the episode and Fresco Press has generously donated t-Shirts for us to give away on Facebook. Make sure to like this episodes Facebook post for a chance to win. If you win show up at the Fresco Press Booth on Saturday, June 4th and pick up your t-shirt. The three prizes are a visually pleasing Boba Fett t-shirt or one of two Salt Lake Gaming Con shirts.

On this special episode, we sit down with three different development teams from The Utah Games Guild. To start it off, we speak to Lanie a director of The Utah Games Guild and Josh the developer of Legacy of The Elder Star. We chat it up about the con and Josh’s game which releases on June 7th. In fact, we will have some Steam Keys to give away next week. Legacy of The Elder Star is a really fun and pretty action shooter that is accessible to everyone. Definitely check it out!

Next up, we talk to Marc and Dave, two of three brothers who have been working on Crashnauts, a futuristic, 2D, local-multiplayer and insanely entertaining game. Growing up playing similar games these brothers bonded. Wanting to give others a similar experience and drawing inspiration from games like Towerfall Ascension, Crashnauts was born. Make sure to stay tuned for more updates from these rocking developers!

Last but not least, we sat down with David and Nick developers of We Need to Go Deeper. This co-op, submarine experience inspired by 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea is a blast for a group of sea hardened or not sea hardened friends. We hear what it is like to switch engines and we are not talking about on the yellow submarine. From Game Maker to Unity, We Need to Go Deeper is a great time and we look forward to trying to captain our own submarine in the future.

Once again, like the Facebook post, checkout Salt Lake Game Con and don’t forget to geekout!

 

-The Geekwave

Geek Wish-List: Hyper Detailed Games

Welcome back beautiful readers for another Geek Wish-List. I wanted to take this week to discuss how video games are becoming extremely detailed and complex, more importantly I also want to discuss how I would like this trend of detail and complexity to continue.

With the increase in graphics and memory space, games with  extreme graphical detail have become very common. However, I don’t have the space here to reference every detailed game out there. So I’m going focus on the ones I’ve been looking at recently, Total War Warhammer, Battlefleet Gothic Armada, and Battlefield 1.

Image from www.gamewatcher.com

Image from www.gamewatcher.com

What I find really interesting about these games is the sheer level of detail and how all these elements don’t degrade their performance. If we look at the Total War series as a whole it has always been known for having great detail. Yet the games detail isn’t limited to looking good. but also a high level of detail in how units interact in different in-game situations. One example of this interaction is how Total War allows you to charge into the flanks of the enemy to break formation. Similarly how of Battlefield series allows massive battles with up to 60 players, seamlessly. This concept of having games that are both highly detailed as well as complex in their mechanics is what I find so interesting.

Image from www.battlefleetgothic-armada.com

Image from www.battlefleetgothic-armada.com

Having learned how much work goes into creating simple games with minimal graphics and complexity I’m awestruck on the technological feats of today’s video games. My wish is for features from games such as Battlefleet Ghost Armada, where each unit can be upgraded individually, are introduced into large scale battles with Total War level of complexity.

Image from www.psx-sense.nl

Image from www.psx-sense.nl

I know that the concept might be hard to visualize so let me help break it down a bit more. What I’m wishing for is for games to include the following features. First off, I want video games to have models that are not only graphically detailed, but also interact with their surroundings. The next feature I want implemented is for these units to have detailed customization and upgrade options. Last of all I want all these game models to be included in large scale maps. The ending result would be games that include amazing graphical detail and enough complex interactions to make the game feel as if it’s a functioning world in and of itself.

Image from starcitizen.wikia.com

Image from starcitizen.wikia.com

In my personal opinion what I would love to see is a game where large scale conflict can be flawlessly affected by small scale conflict. To help visualize this feature I came up with a game scenario of my own design. As a player you are flying a massive battle cruiser against an enemy space station. They are firing dozens of cannons at you and vice versa. After getting within range you send in troops via boarding pods and they proceed to fight in first person combat. After your troops destroy the shield generator they Evac from the station before your cruiser unleashes its finishing salvo.  The glory of this being that your fight, which is able to stand as a match by itself, is only part of an even larger scale battle ranging across the battlefield.

With that my wish-list for the week is done and I will hopefully see you all again next week.