Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Self-Assessment and Mario

Phew! Something about the end of year does something funny to me. I think a combination of both the year and my age changing in such a short space of time makes me take a long hard think about what I've achieved in the year, usually resulting in a coding frenzy that starts in mid-November, and continues into the new year. The regime of doing a full day's work before heading home in the dark and cold for another few hours bathed in the glow of a screen is both gruelling and exhilarating in equal measures, but I definitely wouldn't do it if I didn't have a project I was proper excited about.

Work on Hohokum has been progressing pretty well, albeit not quite as quickly as I'd naively hoped. The thing about programming is that you can go really fast and throw skyscrapers up in no time, but if you do their internal layouts tend to work out a bit sub-optimal, and you find yourself walking out of lifts straight into toilets and all kinds of weird stuff. It's generally better to spend ages on the lobby and make sure you've got it just right before you start heading for the stars. Anyway, excuses aside, I should be able to post something here before the end of the year, assuming I can work out how to link it into the blog.

I've also finished the Flash version of CowBandits, which is a game I last made in 2002 for mobile, and involves the player piloting a little Thrust craft through a subterranean cave system looking for cows to abduct and drop into a giant space mincer. I'm really happy with the way it turned it - it's much closer to my original vision of the game, which was somewhat sullied by the format at the time - chiefly that mouse controls are much better than mobile phone keypads for controlling fiddly little spaceships being pulled by gravity.

And finally, I'm still playing Mario Galaxy. I have over 60 stars now and have 'completed' the game, so now it's the hunt for every last one. I still look forward to playing it every time I turn on the Wii, but I think there are a few glaring faults:

Dear Nintendo,
  • Guys, it's 2007 - it's now officially okay to not have a lives system. It patently doesn't add anything to the game - I've yet to run out of lives once so far, and even if I wasn't diligently hoovering up all the star bits for regular 1-Ups I get plenty from the hub world (primarily from Peach and her stupid letters, which keep arriving even now she's safe in her Mushroom Castle). When I'm on a particularly difficult level, the distant possibility of running out of lives and being rudely booted back to the hub isn't a good thing- it's just unnecessary stress that marrs an otherwise wonderful experience.
  • Please put in ALL of the sensible restart points in future. Oh sure, Galaxy is still hundreds of times better in this area than most of the main offenders (many other Nintendo games among them), but it's still not perfect. The rule is really simple - doing a difficult bit successfully, then failing at the next difficult bit and being forced to repeat the first one is just NEVER FUN. You've almost put restart points in all the right places - now just go and add that final 10%, and we have a deal.
  • Springy Mario and flying Mario aren't added bonus features. They're irritating and half-baked - don't acknowledge this by barely using them; just remove them instead - Galaxy has plenty else that works brilliantly, so we won't mind, honest.

love Ricky


Adam said...

You're right about the lives system, it doesn't even remember how many lives you had the last time you played and that sucks. And you didn't mention the sucky swimming either.

Anyway, come round and play Brolly chronicles when you're ready. Also got the lovely Uncharted Drake's Fortune which is a lot of movie-generic type fun!

Ricky Haggett said...

I didn't love the swimming, but I didn't think it was completely broken either. And not so much a fault of MG but the Wii controller's - only one analogue stick = whoops! Makes it tricky to navigate full-3D spaces like underwater.

I find it easier when you grab a shell to pull you along, and you can actually hold Z to go slowly (which I didn't get told for ages).

If there was an analogue trigger, then some kind of thottle system where you could vary your speed much more precisely would probably work, but whoops! No analogue trigger.

Still - those crazy Miis eh? Eh?

Kipper said...

Like the new blog logo!