Category Archives: Interface
(Warning: Spoilers and in-game jargon ahead.)
I’ve never been one for RPGs. For me, having to deal with so many stats for so many different people and objects tends to detract from gameplay, so much so that I have yet to ever complete a game in this genre. Despite this, my best friend bought me a copy of Fallout: New Vegas last year, insisting that it was an RPG that I would enjoy much more than the others I’d tried.
For the most part, she was correct. It wasn’t long before I found myself deeply invested in the storyline and adjusting to the various weapons, but again, the stat system was killing my enjoyment quite a bit. To resolve this, my bestie put my save file on a flash drive, disappeared for about half an hour, and then returned to tell me that my file had been hacked and I was now essentially a god, courtesy of TooTooBang’s Mod. With the stats eliminated, I happily resumed what I did best: Wrecking shit and completing dialogue trees.
This all came to a screeching halt, however, when I completed the Lonesome Road DLC chapter.
As many gamers before me have woefully discovered, this menu pops up upon leaving The Divide and returning to the Mojave Desert. The game is trying to reward the player by offering a free point to one of the courier’s S.P.E.C.I.A.L. traits, but as you can see, all fields are maxed out. Despite the fact that there’s allegedly an option to reset a given field, pressing the indicated button doesn’t actually change any of the values. The point can’t be added, the numbers can’t be lowered, and this screen can’t be skipped.
This was going to take some ingenuity.
Project Length: 5 Weeks (5/4/13 – 6/1/13)
Team: Loud Cat (4 Members)
My Roles: Concept art, Game Mechanics, Character Development, Artwork (Environment, Weapons, Interface)
End Product: Full Game (Android)
In late spring 2013, I became a member of Team Loud Cat, which to date has been my most successful team. With little more intent than the decision to make a mobile game, we centered on the idea of a chaotic top-down shooter that broke the mold of fighter jets and roaming tanks. After quickly agreeing that junk food vs. veggies could have mass appeal, we settled on a cat as the protagonist, at least partly to honor our team name. Zach Allen, our programmer, nicknamed the project Baker Cat vs. The Veggies.
Baker Cat vs. Hellthy Veggies is the most adorable bullet hell gamers have ever seen. Players take on the role of the Baker Cat, who’s had enough of this ridiculous health food craze and is determined to bring delicious baked goods back into the public spotlight! Employing the use of donuts, cookies, cupcakes, and frosting, Baker Cat progresses through either a farmer’s market or an organic farm to eliminate the veggies — and it’s just as well, because it seems like the vegetables are getting a little out of control…
Both adults and children enjoy this exciting cute-’em-up, which offers a refreshing mix of challenging gameplay, catchy music, and fun characters and environments. Baker Cat is available free for Android via the Google Play Store.
When Jonathan Blow’s masterpiece Braid debuted in 2008, the gaming community had a lot to say about it. Many were impressed with the game’s clever mechanics, while others found themselves intrigued by the perplexing story elements. Others were taken by the surreal, painting-like art style. And then there were folks that didn’t like it at all, finding it to be pretentious or difficult or simply uninteresting. Whatever the feedback, there were hardly any blogs, communities, and classrooms that weren’t mentioning Braid in some way or another.
One of the particularly striking elements of the game is its use of symbolism. The game manages to simultaneously present a very exact yet ambiguous message, largely through the many texts available to the player before each level, and secondarily through subverted visual storytelling. However, I’m not here to wax philosophical on the prose, which has already been scrutinized to pieces by the internet. I’d rather examine something else in the game — something so miniscule that I never noticed it for five years, but so profound that it sent me on a hunt for other pieces of the puzzle.
(Spoiler warning for those that have not played or completed the game.)
Project Length: 4 Weeks (7/12/11 – 8/11/11)
My Roles: Gameplay Mechanics, UI Design
End Product: Full Interface Conversion & Demo
One of the most important elements of gaming is the user interface. Even an immaculately designed game can come crashing down if it controls poorly or the player can’t ascertain the information they need. As a test of skill, this project was a challenge to take a console-based game — one that has plenty of buttons available — and translate it to an Apple product format. The game needed to convert logically and remain as intuitive to play as it was on its home platform.
To meet this challenge, I chose the 2008 Prince of Persia. Neverminding that this is one of my favorite games, I felt that it had a control scheme that I could condense without losing the essence of the game itself. Prince of Persia is and always has been about fluidity of motion, and as such I believed it would benefit from simplified controls anyway.