Tag Archives: PS Vita

Game Ideas: Fighting Online

Been playing a lot of Mortal Kombat and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 on my Vita when I get some free time. First thing first, I’m absolutely horrible at those kinds of fighting games, and yet, I still love to play them. The problem I run into is that I eventually get bored of playing the computer and my only other option is to try my hand at playing online. Big deal, right? Well, it kind of is. Fairly quickly after a new fighting game is released, the online community seems to die off and become comprised only of the most hardcore of players. I’m not talking about the guys who give you a bit of a challenge. I’m talking about the guys who have mastered the art of juggling you in the air and killing you before you can land more than a couple of lucky punches. No doubt someone out there is probably going to say “then get better at the game”. Yes, that probably is the obvious route but not everyone wants to spend all of their gaming time only mastering fighting games. Some people, like me, enjoy popping online every now and then just for some fun. The “casual” fighting game fan, for lack of a better (and less annoying) term.

I realize that a lot of games have a matchmaking option that is supposed to pair you up with someone of your skill level, but these systems rarely seem to work. Even if you wait a few weeks after the game comes out before going online (give the better players a chance to build up their records) you still end up fighting some guy that outclasses you in every way. Usually, it’s because all of the other casual players have already given up and the system’s only option is to move you up onto the harder players. What I’d like to see is just a complete separation of the player base. I know it’s probably a risky move but I think it’s one that could help foster a more diverse community than what we see now.

So, how would it work? It’s super basic. When the player enters the online mode, they would see three options; Casual Fighter, Fighter, and Elite Fighter (better names could be thought up later). When a player is just starting off, they can choose any of these options. Maybe you just know that you’re a total badass when it comes to Mortal Kombat. If that’s the case, you can jump straight into the Elite Fighter matchmaking, no questions asked. Once you’ve played a certain number of matches, your win/loss record would then determine which matchmaking you can enter. If you have a win/loss ratio better than 75% then you can only play with the Elite. 40% or better then you’re with the Fighters, or Elite if you so choose. Anything below 40% and you can pick your poison.

It isn’t fool proof by any means but it at least gives the casual player a fighting chance (PUN!) and may keep them around long enough to develop into a better fighter. So, good idea or bad idea?


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Game Ideas: Gravity Rush

Gravity Rush, for the PS Vita, is absolutely fantastic. Possibly, my most played game on the Vita so far. If you aren’t familiar with the game; it’s a 3rd person, open world, action/adventure title. You play as a girl, named Kat, who wakes up in a strange city and finds out that she has the ability to control gravity. I won’t go too far into everything about the game (there’s better places to find recaps/reviews about it) but, suffice it to say, the most unique thing about the game is the gravity abilities. Whether you’re flying, sliding, racing, transporting or fighting, the developers found a bunch of different ways to get you to use Kat’s powers. One thing that was conspicuously absent was the lack of puzzles in the game. So, I thought I might take a minute to offer a couple of ways that I think they could implement puzzles into a future installment (should they decide to make one).

Perspective Puzzles

Finding the right angle for a perspective puzzle could be difficult, yet engaging, if done right.

Perspective puzzles would give the player another reason to explore the game’s open world and it could tie in very easily with the “city life” feel of the world. You could introduce a new character, who’s into graffiti, and have him/her challenge Kat to find all of the tags they’ve left around the various areas of the city. The challenge, of course, would be to find the right way to line up objects in the city so that they form one coherent image. The player may need to be upside down at the time, looking straight down, or standing on the side of a building. There really would be a lot of possibilities with this because of the gravity mechanic that’s already in place. You could also use these types of puzzles another way. Have the player find three or four of them and then answer a riddle or guess what they mean. Kind of like Pictionary.

Simple “Fetch” Style Puzzles

The stasis field mechanic would work perfectly for finding parts around the city.

This one is the more obvious of the two, but I still think it’s a worthwhile idea. There are areas in the city where Kat can unlock challenges by repairing city systems. The thing is, all you have to do to repair something is pay a small amount of gems. It feels like a missed opportunity. I would have the player search for a part of some sort (depending on what they’re trying to repair) and then bring it back to repair the machine with it. The actual puzzle aspect would come into play when you try to repair the machine. That would initiate a mini-game where the player would be tasked with moving parts into place, securing them, etc. It would be a great opportunity to use the Vita’s set of features too. The mini-games could be operated using the front touchscreen, back touchpad, gyroscope, or maybe even find a use for the camera.

I’m sure there are even crazier ways of using the gravity mechanic to implement puzzles into Gravity Rush. These are just two that came to mind while playing the game tonight. I’ll probably come back to this topic after giving it some more thought.

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Game Ideas: Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale

I keep seeing hands-on previews for Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale where they talk about how fun the game is but then lament the fact that they don’t understand the health system. Personally, it seems simple enough. Your character has a meter. It has three levels. The more damage you inflict, the more power you build up in your meter. Once you’ve built up enough energy, you can unleash a level 1, 2, or 3 powered “Super” and gain a point for anyone you hit with that super. The part that seems to be tripping people up is the fact that you aren’t necessarily making the other players weaker as you hit them.

Build up your meter… then hit people. Doesn’t seem that hard.

Let’s compare this to Super Smash Bros, the game that PAS: Battle Royale will understandably be compared to for years to come. In that series, you have a percent meter. The more damage you take, the higher the percentage goes. Once the meter gets to a certain point, it becomes much easier to knock a character off-screen and score a point. Is this really that much easier to understand than the other? They seem like opposite approaches to the same problem to me. One is about increasing power in your character, while the other is about decreasing power in your opponent. They both offer viable strategies and unique gameplay.

Build up your opponent’s meter… then hit them. Same problem. Opposite approaches.

So anyway, I’m reading/watching these previews and I start thinking, is there a better approach that’s more understandable? Better might be the wrong word but I think you get the point. We can’t just stick a health bar in there because then it’s too much like every other fighter. That’s by no means a bad thing. It just seems like the people at SuperBot were going for something different and I want to try and stick with that philosophy.

The Aura System

So, this system would keep the core of PAS: Battle Royale the same. The three-tiered meter, knock outs only come from supers, and everything else, stays like they are. What this would do is add an aura around the player’s character that would change as they take damage. These are the four aura stages the players would encounter.

Green: This is the players starting aura. It indicates that they are healthy and at full strength.

Yellow: The player has taken minimal damage. It isn’t affecting their fighter but it will if they take anymore damage.

Orange: The player has taken extensive damage. Their character’s movement speed has decreased by 10 (random number chosen. This would obviously need to be playtested to determine the best amount) percent.

Red: The player has taken a maximum amount of damage. Their character is visibly exhausted and their movement speed has been reduced by 20 (same reason as above) percent.

The goal behind this system is to add another dimension to the game, without detracting from what SuperBot came up with. Having your aura depleted doesn’t allow other players to knock you out. They still need to hit you with a super to do that. This system just makes it harder to avoid those supers. Basically, it’s meant to give more meaning to all of the hitting besides building up your super meter (which seems to be the big complaint). Players will want to keep their aura green (or yellow) so that they remain quick and nimble, while at the same time, remaining in the thick of battle to build up their super meter.

It’s hard to say whether or not this would work for the game since I haven’t played it yet but I do believe it would address the concern some sites have expressed and possibly add to the experience. Either way, it’s just fun to think about. Personally, as long as the game is fun, I don’t see the problem.

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Taking On Crossplay – Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

One of my favorite features of the PS Vita is the crossplay ability it has with the Playstation 3. Having the ability to play a game on my big screen at home and then continue the same game on a portable when I leave is truly one of those things I used to dream about as a kid. It hasn’t really been used for anything beyond that though and while it’s still a new feature within the industry, I’d like to see developers spread their wings a bit and really try something unique with it. I was just reading an announcement on the the Playstation Blog about Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time coming to the Vita and thought this would be a perfect game to try new crossplay features.

More Sly Cooper is always a good thing.

One thing to keep in mind is that the PS Vita is a portable machine; meaning most people aren’t going to play for extended periods of time, so we should stick with ideas that are quick for the player. Because of that, most of these ideas will end up being expansions onto what the player would do in the main game or mini-games (for lack of a better term) that provide benefits in the main game.

Vita specific side missions

This might qualify as a “lowest hanging fruit” idea but…who cares? I think it’d be fun and it could take advantage of the Vita hardware. The side missions wouldn’t be crucial to the main game’s storyline (we don’t want to leave PS3 gamers in the cold of course) but they would offer added value and possibly build upon the story’s foundation.

From my understanding, Sly 4’s story revolves around him discovering his ancestors and using their unique abilities (I’m trying not to spoil it for myself so that may not be up to date). We could use that premise to give Vita gamers a side-story that revolves around Sly trying to find an ancestor’s Thievious Raccoonus page that isn’t in the PS3 version of the game. Owners of both versions could, of course, transfer this new ability into their PS3 game save. These new side missions would be built around the Vita’s unique qualities. Picking locks or cracking safes with the touch screen, dodging laser sensors using the motion controls, basically anything that would be unique to the Vita without stepping on the main game.

Side missions could be based around one or all of the Cooper Gang.

Or, we could base these around Bentley (the tech guru) since his gameplay is more gadget based. The missions could be about Bentley going out to test his latest and greatest inventions. There could be one gadget per Vita feature and completing all of the missions for that gadget would unlock it for use in the PS3 version of the game. We could do things like perfecting a voice modulator for Sly by recreating sounds using the Vita’s microphone. Bentley would play a noise and the player would have to try and mimic it. Once it’s unlocked in the PS3 version, Sly could use it to unlock voice controlled doors and gain access to new areas/missions. That might be a bit convoluted on paper and it may not work out in practice but come on, it’s 3 am and we’re just brainstorming ideas. That’s the best time to come up with the oddball ideas and you get the point, right?

New character, Parallel story

We could go with a more focused approach. A side story that runs parallel with the main game and provides a fun, outsiders, view of what happens in the main story. We could create a new character and say that he’s been a big fan of the Cooper Gang. He’s out to prove he belongs on the team, so he tags along in secret and tries to help however he can. He needs to be an animal, so lets make him a mole, because every good group of thieves needs a tunneler, right?

Our new character could look like this. Only, more cartoony and less old man meets creepy troll.

Between Sly, Murray, and Bentley, we have stealth, action, and gadget focused gameplay covered. So with our new character, we could focus on strategy gameplay. He’s a digger, so his missions would revolve around trying to dig his way into where ever the gang is trying to break in. Each location would have almost a labyrinth-like security system in place under their base and players would need to use a combination of touch screen and motion controls to navigate and/or disable the hazards. We should probably put some kind of timer or “air gauge” in place to create a sense of panic for the player.

Our new hero’s story can’t really interact with the main story (again, don’t want to leave out PS3 gamers) so he should always get there right after the Cooper Gang has left. Almost a “The Princess is in another castle” sort of deal but the player will get their payoff at the end. There could be some sort of unlockable content for the PS3 version (like what was mentioned above) but this idea is more about giving Vita players some added value.

Vita as an in-game gadget

No I don’t want the Vita to actually exist in the Sly Cooper world but I do think it would be cool to allow Vita owners (who own both versions, of course) to use their Vitas as a special controller for the PS3 version. It would act almost like a real world gadget for the player. You could activate a camera using the Vita’s touch screen, which would turn on the Vita’s actual camera, aim it at the TV and use the Vita’s AR capabilities to show the players things in the level that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. This could be locations of hidden items, secret areas, or even the stealthiest way to complete an objective. There’s all sorts of things you could try with that. Maybe even have them find gameplay elements around their own home.

Using that same example, they could use it for hacking computers by using the touch screen. Or, the screen could act as the camera on a spy plane or RC car and the player could use those to scout out enemy locations and tag them on their map (which could also be on the Vita’s screen). Taking pictures of enemies, using the Vita’s AR ability, could unlock character bios or show the players the best way to defeat certain enemies.

Again, there’s probably so much more we could do with these features and I’ll probably come back to this topic at a later date. If anyone has read this far (thank you) and has any ideas, I’d love to hear more thoughts on this.

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