Friday, June 22, 2007

Original Hardcore

My blog has begun!! I have been meaning to do this for a while, so I figured June 22, 2007 is the best time to start. My mind stirs at night, and tonight I have a lot of things bouncing around.

So let me begin with a little about myself. I am currently working as a Senior Combat Designer at SCEA Santa Monica. A unique title that I am proud to hold. I recently finished working on God of War 2 with an extremely talented team. We are in the initial stages of our next project.

I have been in the industry for over 6 years now and I’m still excited about what I do and the potential of video games. I have had the privilege to work alongside my best friends as well as gain new friends through this career. We are all passionate about what we do, and we are all leaving our marks on this growing medium. Some of them have blogs, which can be found on the right.

And now for the blogging. So lately I have been playing Pac-Man Championship Edition and loving it. The first videos I saw of the game had me hooked. The polish on the original game was gleaming but it still kept its roots. This is how old school games should be updated and it adds another great example of how digital distribution can work. I only have one concern with the game, the price (10$). I actually didn’t buy the game right away because I felt it was overpriced. Seven, eight dollars, no problem, but when you hit double digits it feels expensive. I finally gave in though and bought the game, it’s definitely worth the 10$, just hard to see that from the outside.

I never played pac-man that much, I think I played that old arcade game Pac-Land more than the original. After playing Championship Edition for a while though I have gained an even deeper respect for what this game accomplishes. It is a very simple concept for anyone to pick up and allows onlookers to appreciate the dramatic highs. When a ghost is hunting you down and you barely catch a power pellet, you and your audience sigh in relief. Now running off that adrenaline rush from the chase, you turn on the ghosts and seek out your revenge.

All of that drama actually occurs on the side, as your main goal is to collect pellets and fruit to complete the stages. They have incorporated a 2 level combo system that allows you to combo ghosts or keep going after pellets. These systems add a greed factor that the player must balance. Fear, greed, revenge, relief, anger; all these emotions from a simple video game.

They then take this package and polish it by making the stage pulse in a psychedelic effect that matches the music, dramatic pauses and screen shakes when you eat ghosts, and music that intensifies as your time runs out.

I never thought I would be into pac-man again, but some mechanics hold up to the test of time. (Tetris, Robotron, Pac-Man, etc) All it needs is a nice new package wrapped around it.

Continuing on the old school gaming trend, this weekend I’m seeing Chasing Ghosts, a documentary on the original hardcore gamers that mastered games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. I didn’t really grow up in this age but was part of a different hardcore gamer scene, the birth of arcade fighting games. I spent countless hours and met best friends playing Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and all the other random fighters like Bloodstorm, Time Killers, Wargods, and World Heroes. The trailer reminds me a lot of those times, only a little less cheesy.

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