Tag Archives: Dr. Hogue

A Change of Pace: Back Alley Brawl

“This bear comes out of nowhere and then slaps us around like we’re his hoes.” – Stan Burdman, professional reviewer

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It’s easy to comment and blog about professional games with well made mechanics and competent programming. So lets pick on a lousy PC game by the name of Back Alley Brawl, an incompetently made fighting game that’s available to download for free as no-one would pay for this, they wouldn’t even accept payment to play this.

Given the hot topic of my Game Engine’s class this week is A.I., Back Alley Brawl is an example of how NOT to design opponent A.I., one of the most important components of a fighting is challenge, it’s important that your opponent can fight at your level to keep the game interesting. The programmers of the A.I. in this game are the equivalent of a parents who lets their child wander all around the place. While you’re fighting, your opponent will walk around aimlessly and even keep walking into a wall. Someone hasn’t heard of the A* algorithm.

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Not sure if complete moron or training like the protagonist from Turkish Star Wars.

I apologize for comparing the opponent’s A.I to a child, even a child knows not to walk into a wall. I remember my Introduction to Programming professor Amin Ibrahim commenting on the first day how a child will learn to not put its hand on fire after getting hurt once, while a program or machine won’t learn unless its code tells it otherwise. The first rule of coding, broken by people would can develop a functional game.

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Where’s the playability? WHERE IS IT?

It’s quite the far cry from Namco Bandai’s Dragoball Z and Naruto games where the characters are always in a state of facing each other; all their movements are based on a grid with the camera managing to keep both players on the screen and opponent A.I. that doesn’t go wandering around. Though it helps that those games were programmed by decent human beings, rather than which ever chimp programmed this. He even inserted himself into the roster Shyamalan style with special guest character Miley Cyrus, another reason to play Namco’s fighters, they include guest characters in Soul Caliber who’ve had GOOD games.

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The reason I chose to blog about this game is because unfortunately at our level, our GDW games are closer to the quality of this game than to something like Tekken. Whereas Tekken managed to make fighting a bear a popular and plausible contest outside the Russian Federation, this game stands as proof of PC gaming’s inferiority to consoles where you can download Tekken Revoltution for free. Sorry if I keep mentioning Namco a lot in this blog, being away from home for college causes withdrawal symptoms.

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Batman Arkham City: An animation milestone

Batman Arkham City is a 2011 game released for the Playstation 3 and X-box 360. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Warner Bros. Studios. The game uses computer generated graphics as most video games nowadays do. The environments are very vibrant and detailed, the characters look very realistic. Every now and then the game is interrupted for a cutscene, there is almost no difference between them, and the cutscenes are up to date and well rendered, a true testament to this game’s graphics.

As with the source material, the graphics are stylized with a very gothic and dark atmosphere. The city is designed to give the feeling of a dangerous slum where the inmates run the asylum, where no one but yourself is to be trusted and survival is only achievable by the most capable and dangerous individuals. Even though it’s a huge environment you still get the feeling that you’re isolated, that it’s quiet and anything can happen within a heartbeat.

When you fight enemies, you use a Freeflow combat system where the player’s attacks gravitate towards the nearest opponent. You can also use the triangle button to counter your enemy’s attacks, the way you counter the enemies depends on your character’s position as well as the enemy’s method of attack. I bring it up because I find it impressive that they animated so many different attacks with nearly every predicament taken into account.

While playing you’ll notice little details on your character like little bits of Batman’s cape ripped off as you progress. I find it to be a nice touch because it makes the game more realistic and cinematic, it shows all the struggles the player has endured and how critical the situation is.

If you look closely at the characters you’ll notice the attention to detail as you’ll see wounds, sweat, dirt and other blemishes which supports the games nitty gritty feel.

The game’s setting of Arkham City is much larger than Arkham Asylum in the game’s predecessor, it’s been said that it is about five virtual footprints bigger than Arkham Island. The city is large and shelters many villains from Batman’s rogues gallery, because of this areas in the games are design according to the character’s theme and motif, for example in Joker’s turf, you’ll see graffiti on the buildings that fits with Joker’s persona with bright & clownish yet violent and haunting art. The enemies themselves are also very varied, every group wears clothing coordinated with their affiliations; Joker’s henchmen go around wearing face paint and colorful wigs and Dr. Hugo Strange’s underlings would include guards in traditional riot squad/military type uniforms. Even within the ranks of groups, the enemies are varied. They come in all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, attire and minor aesthetics like tattoos, hair and face paint.

The characters are animated in a very realistic manner; the characters movements and mannerisms mirror that of how humans would behave in real life when they have conversations and engagement in combat, though of course no human being possesses the dexterity of Batman or Nightwing.

Overall the graphics and animation is top notch, in my opinion it can give Pixar Animated Studios a run for its money. The design is provides an excellent atmosphere that accomplishes all the goals of trying to bring the Batman universe to life. There is so much attention to detail in the environment, the characters and in the combat. Video games are considered and art form, and games like this validate the statement.