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Product Update - Valve
Updates to Sid Meier's Civilization® V have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted:

[STABILITY]
- Fix for various rare crash bugs

[MODDING]
- Re-enabled LUA library unused in the core game. It was removed because we didn’t think modders were using it, and apparently many, many are using it.

[GAMEPLAY]
- Fixed bug where as Siam, food from Maritime City States didn't provide the expected result.
- Make a few more negative promotions not pass through on upgrades
- Made the Mandekalu mounted unit have the same negative vs city as the other mounted units
- Increased the chance that the AI will improve sea plots

PC Gamer


This week brings a wealth of RPGs! We all knew Mass Effect 3 and The Elder Scrolls V were coming someday, but now that they're officially announced we can officially begin the speculation.



Also,  strategist/columnist/podcaster/PhD Troy Goodfellow joins us to give his detailed report on the updates for Civilization V and Elemental, in addition to Call of Duty: Black Ops and Fallout: New Vegas bug fixes.



And in the spirit of getting things done before the year is over, give us a call toll free: 877-404-1337 ext 724 and leave us a question for the next show!



PC Gamer US Podcast - 252 Three Monitors Ahead







Mass Effect 3 trailer



The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Trailer



The Humble Indie Bundle 2



MLG's Top 20 StarCraft II replays
Product Update - Valve
Updates to Sid Meier's Civilization® V Mac have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:

1.0.0.621a
• Graphic issues with Opening Cinematic caused by 10.6.5 have been addressed.
• Fixed crash when switching between 9400M/9600M on MacBook Pro.
• Updated Manuals are now installed in the Sid Meier's Civilization V Folder.
• Resolutions higher than 2048x1440 have been disabled. This is to prevent the "grey bar" issues that
appear at super high resolutions.
• DX9 no longer appears on Title Bar when in windowed mode.
• Users can now save to the Steam Cloud. (Mac games do not save to the same Steam Cloud as PC.)
• Private games are now available in Multiplayer.
• Launching the game in French or German and then playing the tutorial will no longer change the
Spoken Language to English.
UI
• Fix for production prompt that sometimes appears with newly created puppet states that could
stop the player from being able to end the turn.
• Aircraft banner corrections – now when you rebase an aircraft, the number will move with it.
• Resource icons now come up with Ctrl-R again, instead of sharing the same button with Build
Roads.
• Selecting a great general will no longer cause yield icons to appear.
• Added option to disable auto-unit cycling.
• Misc additional fixes to mouse controls, and other interface issues.
• Rounded out financial information in the Economic Overview screen. Details now provided on the
amount of gold provided by each city, the cost of buildings in each city, etc.
• Auto-populate save menu with save file name
• Allow selection of other cities by hex from within the city screen.
• Added detailed trade route info to Economic Overview screen.
• Added new tab to the Economic Overview Screen: "Resources & Happiness."
• Added option to activate the mp score list in single player (for “always up” score similar to Civ IV.)
• The Annex/Puppet/Raze popup now indicates how much extra Unhappiness will be assumed with
each action.
• If there are less than 5 buildings still needed to construct a National Wonder, the production
popup tool-tip now lists which cities lack them.
• Added Yield & Culture tool-tip info to the production popup.
• Tweak information on the Global Politics tab in the Diplomacy Overview screen.
GAMEPLAY
• Exploit – Raze/Annex happiness fix.
• Workers - Added option to force workers to ignore manually made improvements (so they don’t
change what you decide was best for a plot).
• Workers - Fixed bug where number of turns to complete were incorrect in build action button tooltip.
• Economy - Fixed bug where players could disband a single unit, and not see the economic return
until disbanding 1 more.
• Economy – Increased city wealth setting to 25%.
• Economy – Multiple fixes to the way trade-routes are tabulated and recognized.
• Economy - Can now sell Buildings in a city (to help lower maintenance for obsolete buildings later
in the game).
• Trade – Found and corrected a Trade problem that could cause your Resource inventory to
multiply.
• City States - Fixed a bug where you could not gift aircraft to city states.
• Military - Medic promotion now only provides healing bonus for adjacent units.
• Military – Fix for Minuteman movement.
• Military – Correct promotions for “archer-like” units (horse archers, chariots).
• Military - Embarked units will no longer slow enemy land units.
• Military - Improved unit cycling logic. Camera will jump around much less.
• Balance - Engineers +1 hammer
• Balance - Disbanding units now provides only 10% of their production cost in gold.
• Request – Enable “one more turn” button if you lose, but are still alive.
AI
• Military – Better handling of unit need (navy vs land, etc.)
• Military - AI will tend to build ships to deal with blockaded cities more often.
• Military – Corrected an issue hampering movement of AI armies, especially when in close proximity
to enemy forces.
• Diplomacy – AI will be more reluctant to offer or accept open border agreements with more
powerful opponents.
• Diplomacy – Fix for never ending deals (peace, research agreements, etc.)
• City – City specialization and city focus improvements.
• City - Cities that are Avoiding Growth will not grow while that option is selected.
• Workers – Priority of trading posts reduced, and rebalanced priorities on other improvements.
• Workers – Improved the path-finding mechanic when building route-to roads improved, including a
large performance increase when evaluating road-pathing.
• City - Make sure Puppets don't construct buildings that require Resources.
• City - Add a Puppet city strategy that turns off training buildings and emphasizes gold.
• Military – Defensive tactical AI update. When you are at war and threatening an enemy city, the AI
will better utilize the garrison, as well as the surrounding terrain in defense of the target city.
MULTIPLAYER
• Exploit – Fix for gifting unit exploit.
• Chat – Color-coding, sound alerts, etc., added for in-game chat system, including a larger window.
• Deals – Additional deal validation put in place to verify deals before they are committed.
MISC
• Research treaties that end because you declare war will no longer grant the free tech.
• Save/Load – Fix for corrupted saves being experienced by some players in late-game.
• Strategic View – Crash fix for units rendering in background.
• Strategic View – Fix for selecting units either standing on a city plot, or garrisoned in the city plot.
• Tutorials – Many tutorial tweaks and adjustments.
• Multiple crash fixes
• Taller than wide map crash fix
• Fix for Puppet State production exploit
Product Update - Valve
Updates to Sid Meier's Civilization® V have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:

[AI]

[TACTICAL AI]
- Proper evaluation of which enemy units can reach my units next turn.
- Sorting enemy targets (within a class) by damage.
- Combine bombardment fire from cities with other ranged fire where possible.
- Never target a city for a ranged attack when they are already at (or going to be at) 1 health.
- Have the tactical AI be more aggressive about fortifying units that aren't moving anyways.
- Make all forms of guarding improvements the lowest priority tactical AI moves.
- Don't mark tiles adjacent to enemy at sea as good for flank attacks -- there is no flanking at sea.
- Update to tactical AI pillaging code - now prioritize enemy land resources and trade routes (never regular mines or farms). Always uses the check to make sure AI is not trying to pillage in an enemy dominance zone. Barbarians will still target everything.
- Never use ranged units to provide flank bonuses.
- Reduce chance of AI civs making "suicide" attacks.
- Changes to better protect the capital or any city with an enemy within 5 tiles.

[VICTORY]
- AI will be more aggressive about pursuing Diplo victory (bribing City States) if they are wealthy.
- AI will be more aggressive about building Spaceship parts when going for Science victory.

[CIVS]
- Tweak a few leader settings to be more likely to use their traits.
- Adjust Napoleon to make more likely to go for culture.

[COMBAT/UNITS]
- AI will not use Horse as defenders on hills as much.
- AI will often build more defensive troops.
- AI will more aggressively hunt barbs in the early game.
- Slightly more naval units.
- AI will now build ranged and mobile units more in line with the flavor settings for the team - in general, this means more mobile units.
- AI now builds, deploys, and uses air units more effectively.
- Allow AI to build more units if above Prince.
- AI will be more likely to build and bring siege units in a city attack.
- Better nuke targeting by AI.
- Won't build AA if no air threat.
- Allow AI or automated human explorers to move to edge of sight range and then explore again.

[EXPLORATION/EXPANSION]
- AI will emphasize getting an Ocean going explorer unit when the time comes.
- AI slightly more likely to settle off home continent.
- AI should colonize other continents regularly.
- AI second wave expansion more aggressive.
- Improve the AI's chances of setting up protected bombard attacks.
- Settlers: should handle watery maps better.
- AI will grab goody huts on other land masses.
- AI will grab empty barb camps more often.

[WORKERS/CITY AI]
- Large Cities should be more willing to build happiness and gold buildings.
- Workers prioritize repair builds higher than other builds.
- AI will be more likely to build a wall on any city that was an original capital.
- Builder tasking now calculates yields appropriately during golden ages and weighs tiles according to how much stuff they provide overall as well as their maximum yield of a certain type.
- More likely to build up economy early.
- Multiple worker AI improvements.

[MISC]
- Factor GS into flavors more.
- Disband obsolete units even if not losing money.
- Upgrade units a bit more.
- Tweak flavors of policies a bit.
- Have AI factor Grand Strategy into picking policies.
- AI will factor grand strategy into tech choices a bit more.
- AI don't send a barb expedition if defenses are critical.
- AI less likely to pick a city on an inland sea for serious naval production.
- Additional pathfinder optimization.

[GAMEPLAY]

[CITY/BUILDINGS]
- Added "National Treasury" national wonder, which requires Markets in all cities. Provides +8 Gold per turn to the city in which it's built.
- Added "Circus Maximus" national wonder, which requires Colosseums in all cities.. Provides 5 Happiness.
- Library now has no specialist slots.
- Wat now has two specialist slots.
- Public school now has 1 Science per pop, +1 free Great Scientist point, +1 Culture for 3 gold maintenance.
- Observatory now has 1 specialist slot.
- Research Lab has two specialist slots.
- Public school now provides 1 beaker per pop for 3 gold maintenance.
- Watermill now provides +2 good and +1 production for 2 gold maintenance.
- Paper Maker now has no specialist slots.
- Circus now has +2 happiness and no maintenance.
- Theatre now has +5 happiness.
- Stadium now has +5 happiness.
- Reduced production cost and maintenance for the Courthouse.
- Courthouse can now be purchased in a city (although it is expensive).
- Removed maintenance from city defense buildings (Walls, Castle, Military Base).
- City defense buildings now help cities heal.
- Increased city strength ramp-up based on technology.
- Reduced effects of Forbidden Palace and Meritocracy (Happiness per city).
- Reduced amount of food needed for cities to grow at larger sizes.
- Buildings can now no longer provide more Happiness than there is population in a city (wonders are excluded from this).
- Ironworks now gives 10 hammers instead of a % bonus.
- National College now gives +5 science in addition to the % bonus.
- Hermitage gives 5 culture in addition to its previous bonus.
- Raze/Unraze exploit fixed.
- Cities being razed are unhappy about it (only during the razing process).
- Cities heal more quickly.

[UNITS/PROMOTIONS]
- Cavalry can now go obsolete with Combustion.
- Stealth bombers cannot use carriers.
- Only allow one upgrade per unit from a goody hut.
- Add second embarkation promotion ("Defensive Embarkation").
- Amount of damage done during naval combat increased.
- All melee horse units get penalty attacking cities.
- Increased city attack penalty for mounted and armor units to 50% (from 40%).
- Lancers (and Lancer UUs) upgrade to helicopter.
- Lowered combat value of Horseman and Companion Cavalry.
- Promotions must be picked the turn they're earned.
- Can no longer promote a unit that has fought during the turn (instead, the promotion comes up the beginning of the following turn).
- Catapults and Trebuchets now weaker against units but stronger VS cities.
- Reduced effectiveness of Archers & Crossbowmen (and their UUs) VS cities.
- Reduced some combat bonuses: flanking (15 to 10), Great Generals (25 to 20), Discipline (15 to 10), Military Tradition (2x to 1.5x).
- Remove requirement for aluminum on Mobile SAM.
- Lower open terrain penalty to 10% .
- Marsh is now 3 moves to enter (Chariots do not move quickly through it anymore).
- Cavalry now upgrade to tanks.

[CITY STATES]
- Reduced bonuses from Maritime city-states - Friends: +2 food in capital, +0 food in other cities - Allies: +3 food in capital, +1 food in other cities
- Only the first 3 units gifted to a city-state will earn Influence now.
- Killing a barb inside a city-state's territory now gives a 5-turn buffer where there is no Influence intrusion penalty.

[HAPPINESS]
- If an empire reaches -20 Happiness, it goes into revolt, and rebels start appearing throughout the empire, based on the number of cities.
- Amount of Happiness needed to trigger a Golden Age reduced.
- Amount of Happiness needed to trigger a Golden Age now increases as the number of cities in the empire goes up.

[POLICIES]
- Landed Elite (Tradition Branch) now reduces culture cost of border growth by 2/3.
- Monarchy (Tradition Branch) now provides +1 Gold per 2 pop in the Capital..
- Liberty now provides a Settler training bonus to only the capital, and not every city.
- Tradition now provides +50% growth in the capital.
- Theocracy now reduces Unhappiness by 25% .
- Reformation now gives a 10-turn GA.
- Adopting Rationalism now gives a 4-turn GA.

[TECH TREE]
- Add link between Military Science and Dynamite.
- Add link between Civil Service and Education.
- Add link between Economics and Scientific Theory.
- Add link between Chivalry and Acoustics.
- Research overflow now works correctly (extra beakers after completing a tech will rollover to the next tech).

[GENERAL]
- Fixed bug where clicking on a city plot wouldn't select the garrison.
- Natural wonders now award culture (if worked) and happiness (if in border) if that trait is assigned to a wonder in XML.
- Players must now always adopt Policies immediately, and cannot defer picking until later.
- Have culture cost for policies never go down (trading away cities to reduce culture cost exploit). Razing cities will not raise your policy cost ceiling.
- Reduced culture needed for first plot acquisition from 20 to 15.
- 3 new Natural Wonders and rarity code for both base game and New World scenario.
- Reduced points from Wonders (40 to 25) & Cities (10 to 8), increased points for pop by 1 (3 to 4).

[DIPLOMACY]
- AI's attitude towards you is now visible in the diplo screen and diplo drop-down.
- Added info tooltip for an AI leader's mood. Lists things that are making an AI player happy/upset.
- New diplo system: Declaration of Friendship (public declaration with diplomatic repercussions).
- New diplo system: Denounce (public declaration with diplomatic repercussions).
- New custom leader responses (Serious Expansion Warning, Aggressive Military, Luxury Exchange, Borders Exchange, Gift Request, etc.).
- Not agreeing to a friend's request now results in a relations hit.
- Third party AIs can now respond when a player makes a DoF or denounces someone. What they say is based on the situation - e.g. if you make friends with someone they don't like, they'll scold you.
- AI leaders will now sometimes ask their friends to denounce one of their enemies as a show of support, and refusing to denounce someone when an AI asks can now make them very upset.
- AI is now capable of denouncing friends (aka, backstabbing) and added backstabbing info to diplo overview screen.

[UI]
- Add XP bar for air units, do not allow XP for air units attacking a city that is already down to its last hit-point.
- Change ActivePlayer's name to "You" in single player in score list.
- Added game option to disable automated workers from removing features.
- Fixed bug where Happiness from garrisoned units wasn't being listed in Happiness info tooltip.
- Load Map function will now display correct size and type of saved map.
- New "Angry Genghis" loading screen (replaces the "fluffy-bunny Genghis" loading screen).
- Added setup options to allow players to defer choosing Policies and Promotions right away.
- Show the river penalty when attacking city across river (the penalty was there but was not being shown in the preview).
- Global politics screen updated to reflect new diplo system.
- Can no longer Force End Turn (shift-enter) through blocking notifications. CAN now use it to skip over units which need orders.
- Multiple tweaks and bug fixes.

[MISC]
- Fix small bugs with adding long roads around existing features.
- Fixed bombard arrow across world wrap.

[MODDING]
- Parent category counts now include counts of child categories.
- Selecting/deselecting a category now automatically selects/deselects it's children and its parent.
- Tweaked category name truncation to better fit names.
- Hide categories w/ no children and a count of 0.
- Added support for fallback languages (if mod is not translated, fall-back to English so text keys are not showing).
- The pager for the installed mods tab of the mods browser is now displayed in the correct location.
- Long values for properties such as "Special Thanks" will no longer extend past the edge browser frame.
- Categories refresh much faster now in the mods browser.
- Multiple additional tweaks and fixes to the mod browser.
- Support for mods that perform major restructuring of the tech tree including adding, deleting, and updating techs, buildings, and units.
- Added GameEvents system for overriding Gameplay DLL specific functionality.
- Fixed "Reload Landmark System" mod flag to now refresh landmarks defined in "ArtDefine_Landmarks".
- Multiple SDK updates (new version to go live shortly).

[SERIALIZATION/SAVES]
- Fixed save format which causes saves to increase the memory footprint of the game drastically when loading frequently over the course of the game. This heightened the risk of late-game out of memory crashes significantly.

Kotaku

The Video Game Posters For That Tiny Cinema You Never Go ToGet a load of these posters. They're game posters done up to look like movie posters, but not the boring kind, the kind you see for a quaint little art house cinema that only shows a movie once.



So they're not cold, stark images. They're a little kooky, a little old-fashioned, full of quirks and detail and colour. And there's not an airbrushed actor or "SUMMER 2011" in sight.



They're by Ron Guyatt.



The Video Game Posters For That Tiny Cinema You Never Go To

The Video Game Posters For That Tiny Cinema You Never Go To


Shacknews - Jeff Mattas
Hot on the heels of the announcement that The Double Civilization Scenario Pack: Spain and Inca is coming soon, Firaxis and 2K Games have revealed that a Civilization 5 patch will be available "on or before" the DLC's December 16 release.

The list of fixes posted on the 2K Games Forum is quite massive, due in part to the fact that the list includes all changes to made to Civ 5, and not just the ones included in the upcoming patch. It's a huge list, so let's just get to it, shall we?

[Thanks to Shacker trineas for the tip.]

[AI]

[Tactical AI]

  • Proper evaluation of which enemy units can reach my units next turn.
  • Sorting enemy targets (within a class) by damage.
  • Combine bombardment fire from cities with other ranged fire where possible.
  • Never target a city for a ranged attack when they are already at (or going to be at) 1 health.
  • Have the tactical AI be more aggressive about fortifying units that aren't moving anyways.
  • Make all forms of guarding improvements the lowest priority tactical AI moves.

    Read More

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas
Firaxis and 2K Games have announced that they'll be providing Civilization 5 players with some more options for world domination via a downloadable expansion on December 16.

Incan leader Pachacuti and Spain's Queen Isabella I

Called 'The Double Civilization Scenario Pack: Spain and Inca,' the pack adds two new playable civilizations and one new campaign scenario. On top of bringing Queen Isabella of Spain and Incan leader Pachacuti into the mix, the new scenario, set in 1492, let's players sail the ocean-blue in search of the new world, and of course, lay waste to their enemies in the name of Thanksgiving.

The Double Civilization Scenario Pack: Spain and Inca will have a suggested MSRP of $7.49 when it hits digital distributors on December 16.

The descriptions from the press release describe both new leaders an the new scenario in detail, after the break:

Read More

PC Gamer


A series of maps that were originally included in the Civilization V digital deluxe edition have been released as DLC. The four map packs include a series of real maps designed by Firaxis, which can be played with historically accurate Civilizations or random leaders. The maps can all be tweaked in the World Builder so players can make their own scenarios on the new terrain. The packs cover the Americas, Asia, the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. They'll cost £1.99 / $2.99 each, or can be bought in a bundle for £6.30 / $9.99. if you're interested the packs are available now on Steam.
Kotaku

marcus feniy fighting a big brumak in gears of warFreelance artist and game designer Anjin Anhut shares some thoughts (and neat comparison charts) on what size means for video game's creatures great and small .



Feeling And Understanding



While "make it big" seems to be the obvious approach, there is more to consider and to achieve by structuring the sizes of protagonists, enemies, items and environmental elements in a clever way. The basic conventional concept of size representing power can be an awesome tool to help players instinctively understand a game situation and also trigger the desired emotional reaction. Let's check out some ways how this is achieved.



The conventional idea of bigger=stronger is not manmade, it is based in nature. A common defense mechanism for many animals is to appear bigger. Some four-legged animals stand up and birds spread their feathers to provide a bigger silhouette and hopefully appear to be too dangerous to attack for their opponents and predators. Also large horns, antlers, tusks, manes or overall physique often help establish the status of the dominate male in herds, packs and animal families.



Man comes into play when tackling the idea from the physics side and cultural side. From a physics perspective, it is roughly understandable that large objects easily move small objects, but not vice versa. You know, like your body can easily be crushed by a tank. But the tank can't be crushed by your body. (I would like to see the Myth Busters disprove that one.) Anyway, culturally the analogy of size and strength is commonly used in narration and language. For example: "Why don't you pick on someone your own size?", which basically means "why don't you pick on someone as strong as yourself?".



super mario fighting a goomba on the NESStacking Doll Food Chain



To start with the simplest and clearest form of the idea, let's have a look at stacking dolls. Using the engulfing/swallowing as representation for all sorts of dominance, it helps to illustrate a simple concept. Whatever is bigger than me, is superior in strength, power to me. Everything smaller is inferior in those regards. One could also extract that idea from the principle of food chains, where it is usually the bigger animal eating the smaller one. But there are so many exceptions to the principle there, that I rather came up with the very consistent stacking dolls analogy.



The stacking doll model takes nothing into account, except size itself. No weapons, no superpowers or other factors. Some factors, we will explore later.



stacking dolls to illustrate a game design ideaOrganize By Size



The stacking doll analogy can be applied in various forms to various games. Structuring entities by size to help the player instinctively understand strength relations is quite effective and already used well. In professional chess several conventions assign relative values to the pieces regarding their offensive qualities on the board. This represents the strength of the pieces in the imaginary combat situation depicted in a round of chess. Various sources assign values like this: pawn=1/knight=3/bishop=3/rook=5/queen=9 (king not included, since he is not mend to join the battle). This hierarchy is roughly represented by the size relations of traditional chess pieces.



In Gears of War 1+2 it becomes also quite obvious that relative size is used to hint at relative offensive power or level of threat. While most enemy creatures actual offensive power is determined by the weapon they are carrying, the physical appearance of the enemy is always matched. Except boss-like enemies, unarmed creatures are smaller than the Gears (human soldiers). Enemies with equal weapons to the Gears (sniper rifles, shotguns, assault rifles) are human-sized. Slightly more powerful weapons and special abilities (Torque-Bow, summoning Tickers) are used by enemies either slightly bigger than Gears (Kantors) or by enemies with the same size, that wear big hats to appear bigger (Theron Guards). The really heavy weapons are held by so called Boomers, which are big in size and have a massive physical appearance.



Please note that the difference in size of all those enemy creatures is not a logical consequence of the weight or usability of the weapons they are handling. Making the physique and weapon power of the Locusts match in size is just a visual cue for the player. Gears can pick up and use all of the weapons described above and do not need to vary in size to do so.



locusts from gears of war, grubs, kantors, brumak, corpser, ticker, wretches and boomerHuge Threat



So, keeping the stacking dolls in mind, let's have a look at how the player characters from Bioshock 1 and 2 are ranking amongst the other characters and creatures from the respective games. Please note, that the mannequin is just a stand-in for the faceless protagonist from Bioshock 1. We can clearly see, that in both line-ups, the Little Sisters are way smaller than the player characters, which perfectly suits the concept of them being at the player's mercy. Also in Bioshock 1 the enemy creatures are either the same size or noticeably bigger than the player character, successfully providing a sense of threat.



In Bioshock 2, the player is the biggest stacking doll, with maybe only the Brute Splicer or other Big Daddies equal in size. This made me feel very safe and comfortable while fighting the regular Splicers. Even the Big Sister was very spooky but did not appear to be equally matched with my powers. If we just take the stacking doll principle into account, the player in Bioshock 2 had very little to actually fear, while in Bioshock 1 he was under the constant threat of being swallowed by bigger matryoshkas.



Maybe this issue is more tricky, than some game developers treat it.



little sisters, splicers and big daddys from bioshock



little sisters, splicers and big daddys from bioshock2Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee



There is something weird happening, when the difference in size passes a certain threshold. The payoff is satisfying. Taking down a titan as big as a house is quite an accomplishment. But the fight itself can feel less physically tense and dangerous, than fighting enemies, closer to the protagonist's height. Simply put, when the enemy is too big, he can become less frightening and the player character suddenly becomes the palpable threat.



I think, this impression is caused by several factors. One is the depiction of physical pain. Instant death is always looming, but normally there is little pain involved for the player. When the protagonists looses against the giant, he is getting completely crushed, swallowed whole or ripped to shreds. Total instant destruction. The giant enemy, whenever critically hit, gets hurt pretty bad and it takes multiple painfully articulated hits to finally end him. The protagonist mutilates hands, rips out eyes, cuts of tounges and the giant enemy creature dies a slow painful death.



Then there is giant enemies becoming so big, that they are treated as part of the environment. Fighting giants often feels like and is structured like a sequence of avoiding environmental hazards. All strategic elements of armed and hand-to-hand combat gameplay usually don't apply to taking down titans. There is no blocking, no quick kills, no juggling, no counter attacks, no splatting head shots. Climbing on titan creatures or crawling around in their innards, circling them on horseback and systematically damaging their weak spots often is more akin to toppling a tower, derailing a train or wrecking a building than to fighting.



Lastly, to return to the narrative perspective, the giant enemy creatures are often engaged by the protagonist in games. The giants are either hunted or are placed as bosses of their own realm. The player character usually moves thru an area to reach the giant, not the other way around. This also enhances the feeling of the insect-sized protagonist being the offensive force.



shadow of the collossus, gears of war's riftworm and the colossus of rhodos from god of warSupersized



Size can also be used as a multiplier for emotional effects. In horror literature and films supersizing things and creatures has a long tradition. Think of King Kong, Tarantula, the US version of Godzilla, Attack Of The 50ft Woman. But the multiplier also works on a smaller scale. We do not need the sense of being physically overpowered here. Know somebody who shudders at the sight of spiders? Have ever seen a camel spider or seen what it's bite can do? Use supersizing to multiply the dread and fear small terrors give us.



On the other hand, making things supersized can also result in big comedic effects, when funny and harmless things get blown out of proportion.



images of spiders to illustrate a game design idea



the cow from earthworm jim and the giant cow from black and whiteSize Matters



Now let's have a look at dead things. Props, weapons, armor, tools. I already mentioned large horns, antlers and so forth visually establishing the status of being strong. This can be directly translated into the size of manmade tools and weapons. Where it gets interesting, when you consider weapons and tools as extensions of your body. This concept is already extensively explored by various writers (for example Steve Swink – Game Feel or Scott McCloud – Understanding Comics) and especially powerful in video games, where the tools we pick up in a game actually allow us to interact. The power of the weapon or tool is projected onto the character by making the weapon or tool an extension of the characters physique.



This concept allows us to give great physical strength to a skinny boy, have a baby be a heavy force in hand-to-hand combat or apply the destructive power of a tank to a single person.



cloud strife from final fantasy, baby head from captain commando, vulcan raven from metal gear solidConclusion



I know my observations are incomplete and subject to discussion and there is so much more to explore. There is a lot of depth to the ways size and size relations can work for gameplay, narration or emotionally. And I always enjoy, when I recognize game developers tackled this issue with consideration and concept.



You can read more of Anhut's stuff (including this piece) over on his personal website, How Not To Suck At Game Design.


Shacknews - Brian Leahy
The various "Cradle of Civilization" map packs that were released as retailer-specific bonuses with the launch of Civilization V are now available to purchase, as promised.

The Americas and Mesopotamia maps

Each of the four packs can be snagged for $2.99 or bundled together for $9.99.

Or, you could just keep playing random or user-created maps. Your choice.

Read More

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