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Entries in Neo*RPG (12)


The Coefficient of Clean pt.8


1*(.95*.875) - .02 = .8113

  • M = .875 SHOOT. SHIELD. PUSH. MOVE. The scroll wheel switches between the 3 main mechanics while the left mouse button activates. They are dynamic and intuitive based on a triangle of interplay of basic melee combat moves. There are no cancels, and the stop-and-pop design separates moving from all other actions. Because you can hold the left button down to continually SHOOT rocks, SHIELD, or PUSH the individual actions are not very direct. This design is fairly similar to an input buffer. 
  • F = .95 The enemies and player could use some kind of visual feedback for when they're stunned. If this feedback change also acted like an organic timer so the player can gauge the remaining stun time, even better. Otherwise, the hitboxes are precise and crisp. The interactions are clear because of the slower game speed. The most important actions have sound effects and many have unique visual effects like the colored shockwaves. The aggro circles also help the player understand enemy AI priorities and limits. 
  • C = 1 With simple visuals on a single screen view there is nothing to clutter the visual presentation of the gameplay. 
  • S = .02 There are no invincible frames. Hitstun stacks, which is a very unique and organic way of designing hitstun. Combos are an emergent part of this simple design. As far as the invisible walls at the top and bottom, the edge of the screen is the visual element. Because Neo*RPG has a fixed camera, this limitation isn't unnatural. 
  • There are a few levels that offer a very similar challenge to each other. At some point, I just needed to fill in the spaces on the map with challenges. 

Technically, I could make a simple change to the mechanics design code and get a much higher #clean# score, but that's beside the point here.  


Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved

I've used this game as an example of how run-and-gun design can lead to a more cluttered game. Now we'll see exactly how that breaks down.

  .9*(.5*.89) -.08= .321

  • M = .89 MOVE. SHOOT. BOMB. Other than the simultaneity of the MOVE and SHOOT mechanics, everything else is fine. Steve Swink talked about the directness of the MOVE mechanic to the Xbox360 analog stick in his article Prototyping for Game Feel (V.2)
  • F = .5  Geometry Wars features death animations, special spawning animations, hit sparks, hit pause to reveal which enemy hits you, sound effects for additional lives/bombs, distinct firing sound for the 2 types of bullets, and HUD notifications for kills and multiplier upgrades. The sound scape is designed well so that the relatively small audio bandwidth ins't overloaded. 
  • Use one bullet to destroy one simple enemy, and the result is an explosion of fireworks. Excessive? Perhaps. Distracting? Probably. Visually obscuring? Definitely. With no ammo limitations of any kind on the bullets, players are free to spam the screen. To make the game challenging, hundreds of enemies are spawned in a few seconds. With each enemy that you will most likely shoot, the visuals become more and more obscured. Good luck spotting individual enemies. I've lost track of my ship many times before. With so much on the screen, visuals are the only way to cleanly present the action. With so many enemies and bullets, the action-reaction feedback is greatly stressed. 
  • C = .9 Interacting with elements off screen or out of view breaks the feedback communication. The camera shows a lot of the game field but it doesn't show it all. It moves around to keep the player controlled ship on the screen. This is great for centering focus on the ship, but bad because lots of game actions are hidden from view.
  • S = .08 Personally, I find the run-and-gun firing in the wake of your movements to be a very effective strategy that gets pretty stale. You'll need more than this strategy to do very well, but not too much more. This design creates static-space that is only minimized when the game's difficulty really ramps up, which can take a while. 
  • Also, I generally dislike endless games designed around high scores because time, patience, and repetition can be the determining factor for great success. But I really dislike it when endless games like this have ways for players to increase their lives/power thus dragging things out even more. 


Everyday Shooter

1*(.75*.83) - 0 = .6225

  • M = .83 MOVE. SHOOT. Yes, you can run-and-gun in this game, but Everyday Shooter presents an interesting case. Falling somewhere in between Neo*RPG and Geometry Wars, when you shoot in Everyday Shooter your "ship" slows down. Because you can't do both actions with equal effectiveness simultaneously, I'll take off half of a point from each. Also, I believe the SHOOT mechanic was designed on a PC for keyboard controls. So playing with an analog stick is a bit awkward. Instead of getting smooth transitions of directional aiming, you can definitely tell the variability is divided into 8 distinct sections like you'd get when playing on a D-pad or with the 4 main Playstation controller buttons. 
  • F = .75  Lifebars are used for enemy health and a music progress bar sets the time for each level. Death animations can be very large and distracting as they obscure other on screen elements. It can be very easy to lose track of your ship during action moments especially later int he game. The point pickups are color coded like your ship so you know they're safe to touch. But in a group of points, you can lose track of your ship. 
  • Oddly enough, none of the player mechanics in this game have any sound effets. To ensure a clearer musical sound scape, the constant, spam noise of firing was avoided. Bullets make unique and fitting musical sounds when they hit targets though. Since the sound effects for all of your actions change level to level, it can be difficult to adjust to the feedback of hitting targets and collecting points. 
  • The backgrounds can be a little busy visually. Unforunately, when the background color is close to your ship color, the vector style of everything can obscure your ship/bullets/points. 
  • C = 1 The camera in Everday Shooter is zoomed out and fixed. This greatly simplifies things. 
  • S = 0 With so many enemy elements moving around, chaining opportunities to consider, the give and take of the run-and-gun style gameplay, points to collect, and "movements" of the level to progress through moments of static space from whittling down a target's large health are rare.