Dynames Productions

A blog to showcase my creative and technical work. Talk about what I like to talk about.


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Battlefield 1 & Boot Camp Training

Hey everyone,

So it has been quite a while since Battlefield 1 was announced. Honestly, this is a welcomed change in the modern and futuristic shooter landscape. Battlefield 1 going to World War 1 in my opinion is a great decision.

Lately I have been thinking about this, I was brought back to the nostalgia of WWII shooters. In most of the ones I played, I remember going through a training boot camp session. There is just something about such a training level that really helps settle in the military tone and setting. Plus they were fun as well, experiencing boot camp activities and more (obviously not necessarily an accurate representation, but still fun).

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My hope is that in the campaign for Battlefield 1, they do something like this instead of just throwing us into the action right away and on-wards. Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault started with an action sequence, but it was short enough to maintain interest and then jump into a boot camp session.

Starting off with a boot camp session that helps get the players familiarized with the controls and the whole militaristic war feeling.

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~ Monty

Check out my other blog here focused on motivational and inspirational content.

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Video Games & The Mindset

You know, I have always been surprised at the power a mindset can have over how fun, engaging and accepting we can seem of things. This is true for video games as well. Lately as I play Borderlands 2, I have been struggling to get into it 100%. My last game, Tales of Symphonia had this problem as well. But for that game, I was in it at the start, but due to its enormous length I was starting to get fatigued.

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With Borderlands 2 however, it is a different story. From the start it felt like an on off experience. There are things in the game that excite me, yet things that dreadfully bore me. For example, the exploration, even if bare it is still fun. But when it comes to the action, it becomes boring quite quickly if I engage in it for too long. That is indeed quite sad since the bulk of enjoyment from Borderlands 2 comes generally from the action.

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Quests that have non-action objectives I find more intriguing than ones involving going to some place and shooting up something. I had the same problem with the original Borderlands as well. Most of the time I find my mind going numb from all the shooting as I finally shut down the PS3 at the end of the gaming session. That is not a good feeling to have after playing a game. I suppose one could argue that this just isn’t my cup of tea.

081BUT then something happened. Something changed my mindset on this game completely and that is partaking in the 4 player co-op. When I play with other people, the game becomes more exciting to play through due to the social aspects of team work. When I play by myself, it is nothing more than a chore, while at times it becomes interesting. Borderlands I believe was a game designed with action, loot, exploration and team work in mind. I enjoyed my co-op sessions on the original one quite extensively compared to playing on my own.

There is quite an interesting correlation between the mindset and the tasks you do. With the right mindset the tasks can be bearable, with the correct mindset they can be fun. But when your mind is just not into something, it will feel like a chore to grind through.

There are certain video games you can just pop on in and get playing, while others require a certain mindset to really get into it. The Borderlands series is just a few of those games I suppose. One of the things I have found that helps the most when I play is just taking a vehicle and driving around. If I come across enemies, I simply ignore them and drive around trying to find new locations and lootable places. It definitely does help, that is until the game forces a large action segment onto you… =_=.

I know a lot of people love Borderlands and its sequels. What has your experience been with the Borderlands series?

Thanks for reading.

~ Monty

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Bro, so true…


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JRPG Padding Which I DISLIKE THE MOST!

*** Post will contain spoilers for Tales of Symphonia ***

If you have read some of my posts before, you may have noticed one that outlines my like for the Japanese Role Playing Video Games (JRPG). But like with everything, this genre is by no means perfect. As I have been playing more of these recently, I have begun to notice a very annoying trend in them. From the title you should be able to easily guess it.

Did you guess “Padding”?

If you did, then you would be right. To be more specific, I talk padding of the nonsensical variety. Let’s use an example from my current JRPG that I’m playing called “Tales of Symphonia”. That game, as far as characters goes has cliched but varied characters. Story is interesting at the start, but starts to get drowned out as time goes on due to the magnitude of the game. Part of that magnitude comes from the unnecessary padding they add on for reasons they don’t even bother explaining to the player until very later!

Fine!

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So what happened exactly?

Here I was going to the Temple of Earth as instructed by the story and I come across a gnome. Okay, that’s cool. But guess what, they wouldn’t let me past until I got another gnome in another location a potion. So I had to go halfway across the world map to get the potion, then go to the different dungeon that gnome was in, and then make my way back to Temple of Earth! (There is no fast travel)

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Now that I had done that, I moved on to exploring the dungeon (or temple, whatever you fancy). All was good, killing enemies, leveling up and exploring loot chests. Then I came across another gnome, oh and wouldn’t you know it, they wanted something as well in order for me to advance.

Player: So why am I helping them again?

Game: You want an explanation?

Player: That would be nice.

Game: No screw you! Do as you are told, and we may take enough pity on you to explain it later.

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Fine, I go get what the gnome wanted, in this case it was spicy curry. But here is the kicker, here is what really set me off on this whole nonsensical padding thing. I had to go halfway across the world map again! So that’s me two times entering and leaving the temple to fulfill completely unrelated mini quests. Quests mind you which don’t even give me an incentive to do so to begin with. All the game says is, if you want to get past the gnomes, you give them what they want.

Player: Why would I want to do that?! There is enough space around the gnome for me to walk around them.

Game: No no no, you must get them their shiz before you can move on.

I do that, I get him the curry, and get a nice little scene with everyone eating around a little campfire. Then I move on and finally learn why I had to do all this. It was so the gnomes would lend me their aid in finding a tunnel that would lead back up to where I was, well I could have done that through exploration!

Then as I went back to the start, I saw a new gnome. Finally this one was here to help me get to the dungeon boss, my main objective. So helping one wasn’t enough to get them to help me in return apparently?

On top of that, I had already figured out how to get to the boss, but because you needed the gnomes (which the game never told me at any point before completing the blasted mini quests), I had to play through that arduous 30 minutes process.

To that I say the following:

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I don’t know why this is a staple of JRPG design, of course they have gotten MUCH better at this but this unnecessary padding just seems like a lazy aspect of JRPG design. This padding just seems like an easy way out for the devs to extend gameplay hours through trivial mini quests thrown in there.

This isn’t exclusive to Tales of Symphonia alone, I have played many other JRPGs that have had this problem in my perspective. I think this problem is mostly prevalent in older JRPGs, but it is relevant in some modern games that are structured around a quest/mission system.

Some games may do this with some logic behind it, while others do it simply to make the player feel like they are getting their money’s worth. And to that I put my foot down and say…

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I realize this was kind of a rant post, but I hope it does at least make other gamers and devs out there realize how bad padding can be very frustrating to play through.

~ Monty

Click here for my previous post on JRPGs.


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The Souls Charm

hype-meme-0a79c29f1f3235b7e1d08393bbbe03c2There was once a time where I wondered why there was so much hype and rave about Dark Souls, and the Souls series as a whole. I played it once I got the opportunity to, and then the charm took me over. The Souls charm won me by a landslide in comparison to any other game I have played to date.

The way the game is designed at its core seems to adhere to some of the most basic game design principles. It doesn’t go for any fancy gimmicks, instead the series focuses on solid combat, strategic/critical thinking and exploration. Perhaps due to the level of simplicity it possesses for a new player, but at the same time the complexities needed for veteran players was what won me over.

dxg-dark-soulsI first started with Dark Souls, then got Dark Souls II and finally had the opportunity to get Demon’s Souls recently. Playing a test run of Demon’s Souls to make sure it worked fine on my PS3, I was hit with instant nostalgia for Dark Souls. Keep in mind, I haven’t finished any of the Souls game yet. I’m more than halfway through for Dark Souls, but decided to put it down for a while as I felt I was getting a little burnt out on it. No fun in playing a game that feels like it is wearing you out.

I was in love with the series the moment I picked up the controller in Dark Souls. So many good co-op sessions, and epic boss fights even if they do follow a pattern that with enough attention and patience can become predictable. Not to mention the complexity of the world we transverse through, all of it culminates to a brilliant game and game design.

425-3-1370142006Now the Souls series would be nowhere near as good without it’s death mechanics. Every Souls game has seemed to changed the penalties for death somewhat in the past. But that feeling of dying remains the same in any game. There is a constant fear of loss when you first start out. You know that the more souls you carry, more is at stake. In some games, it limits your health lower than 100% as well. That fear of death can either paralyze you, or create a sense of adventure to keep on pushing forward.

But once you overcome that fear, so many options will open up to you in how you choose to play. You can be a lot more daring, or still play passively.

Let’s also not forget the character evolution in these games. You can start out as one particular class, but evolve the character into something else as you progress through the games. This level of freedom allows room for great experimentation.

darksoul_facebook_miniDark Souls III is going to release only on the current gen hardware (PS4, Xbox One & PC), sadly I won’t get the opportunity to play it. At least not right now, but when I do, I’ll savor every moment like I do with the rest. These games alongside Bloodborne are a necessary existence in the gaming industry, it shows other devs that there are still gamers out there who yearn to be challenged both mentally and skill wise when playing their games.

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Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed that post! Stick around for more! 🙂

~ Monty


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What makes JRPGs so fascinating to play?

Hey everyone,

Today I bring sort of a discussion topic. What makes Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) so fascinating to play through?

Now before I get into the discussion, I know not everyone likes JRPGs. But this topic is more aimed at those that do and find a certain feeling within these games that they can’t seem to find in others, not even Western RPGs. With that out of the way, let’s get into the topic.

I have for the most part found that JRPGs tend to follow a pretty standard formula when it comes to story telling. The battle systems are usually similar as well in some respects, while minor things about it may differ to help make it a little different. From the JRPGs I’ve played so far, the combat from my experience can be categorized into three categories:

  • Turn Based: You and your opponents fight when it is their respective turn. Example(s) being: Older Final Fantasy titles.
  • Active-Turn Based: Normally a system where both the opposition and player are allowed to attack at any given time. But there is a limit on when you can attack. Sometimes this limit can be in the form of a gauge that needs time to refill before engaging in another attack. Example(s) being: Final Fantasy XIII Series, Tales of Series, Ni no Kuni
  • Real-Time Based: Anyone can attack at any time they please. Example(s) being: Dragon’s Dogma, Souls Series, Bloodborne

For the most part in Western RPGs, I have noticed that the Triple AAA games tend to stick to the Real-Time based combat. Not going to lie, it is fun when the battlefield becomes a land of confusion and you’re just fighting to ensure your character’s survival. But of course this is less strategic, but more about tactics. It also relies on your adaptability as a player to the ever changing tides of battle. But this point is applicable to every battle system I suppose.

So what exactly makes JRPGs fascinating to play? Well for one their battle systems will usually be in-depth, and at times complex requiring some time to grasp it. This is all a part of the fun, as overtime you’ll definitely notice improvement in your own combat abilities in that game.

The next point is the level of customization we get with some JRPGs. Now Western RPGs have done this quite well for a long time now actually, starting with Fallout 3 and above (according to my knowledge, I’m sure there were many fantastic games before Fallout 3 that had great character customization options). But if you look at a JRPG like “Dragon’s Dogma”, you’ll really see the level of detail and complexity that went into being able to customize your characters, the battle abilities and behavior in combat.

Finally, as I mentioned before the story. Even though the stories have started to follow certain trends after being over-saturated in the Japanese gaming market, they still seem to work somehow. All of the characters almost always will tend to go through some type of development, Tales of Xillia is a good example of this. But this does not ensure that the pacing and the writing of the development will be good, there are several Mass Effect characters who have had far better development than some JRPGs characters I’ve seen to date.

In conclusion, JRPGs are great at the things mentioned above because they’ve been doing it for a long time. Japan is one of the countries where RPGs gained a lot of traction in video game form long ago. This also meant that since JRPGs have survived this long, developers and writers have had a great amount of time to practice their art of JRPG game development to a higher level every time.

What did you think about this post? Leave a comment down below as your feedback helps! 🙂

~ Monty