Category: Mechanics

No More Mechanics 4

No More Mechanics

Last week I lied a little. It is likely that there will be no more Mechanics articles in the future or, if there are some, they won’t be on the weekly basis that they have been lately. I do plan to continue writing a weekly article of sorts, but I don’t really want to limit the scope of topics to game mechanics as I’ve past up some interesting topics (interesting to me, at least) in order to fit the goals of the column type. One of my favorite ones, the Far Cry 2 one, wasn’t really even a valid entry...

Mechanics 7: Heart of Darkness (Far Cry 2) 12

Mechanics 7: Heart of Darkness (Far Cry 2)

I just got another mission from the unnaturally quick-speaking warlord of the African UFL — one of two warring factions in Far Cry 2 — when one of my buddies gave me a call on my cell phone telling me to meet them if I wanted to make my mission take twice as long as it would if I simply followed orders at no real additional benefit to me. I guess I could just do it, though. I mean, my buddy Nasreen is, apparently, one of the only two women in all of Africa. It wouldn’t hurt to endear my...

Mechanics 6: You’re the Hero Now, Dog 4

Mechanics 6: You’re the Hero Now, Dog

Ruff, ruff! This quote comes from one of the only, if not the only (aside from Half-Life 2’s Alyx Vance), video game companion that never becomes annoying or troublesome to gamers. One of the most recurring problems in any video game is that of trying to create a companion in a video game that can tag along with a player character’s exploits throughout a game in a fashion that is not only realistic but, more to the point, doesn’t require constant babysitting to avoid the common video game companion pitfalls of getting stuck, going the wrong way, or committing suicide...

Mechanics 5: Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) 0

Mechanics 5: Vault-Tech Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.)

With the development of Fallout 3, Bethesda Softworks faced a dilemma: they had to make a first-person RPG engine that was typically used for high-fantasy RPG/adventure games handle the intensity, gore, and statistical probability of the gunplay in Black Isle’s cult-legend Fallout and Fallout 2 in such a way as to not annoy either first-person shooter gamers, fans of the Fallout games, and long-time patrons of the games in The Elder Scrolls series. The problem with mixing a first-person shooter with a role-playing game is that they are, basically, as diametrically opposed as two genres can get. The cornerstone of...

Mechanics 4: Integrating User Interfaces 4

Mechanics 4: Integrating User Interfaces

Interfaces of all sorts are one of the most game-specific features of any entertainment medium; there’s never an ammo counter on-screen when watching John McClane do Die Hard thing or a health indicator attached to Forrest Gump’s forehead in his movie — that would be ridiculous. Yet throughout the history of the gaming industry UIs or HUDs are featured in just about every game; it’s not a question of whether or not to have a HUD in a game so much as it’s a question of what kind of graphics should comprise the HUD, what should be featured on-screen, how...

Mechanics 3: Achievements 4

Mechanics 3: Achievements

Everyone likes candy. Diabetics or people on a strict diet may nay-say such a statement but, for the rest of us, a bit of candy here and there is a little treat composed solely of sugar and happiness. Achievements in video games are similar class to a piece of candy. Players can gain achievements for beating a level in a normal progression of the game, beating a hard boss without using certain items, completing an entire playthrough of a game without dying, or, in the case of the recently released Mega Man 9, beating the entirety of the game five...