The Walking Dead: Michonne, a three episode gaming experience, is the most recent The Walking Dead edition from Telltale Games. It follows a similar structure as the previous titles, yet falls short of emulating their success primarily due being limited in time, depth, and character development.
All in all, Michonne doesn't have the same gritty and dark feeling of previous iterations, which is mainly lacking due to the short experience that doesn't allow for true depth. The game really feels like it is about to take off right as it is ending.
In no particular order:
• Evoland - Evolve from GameBoy to PS1
• Dragon Quest VIII - It’s 3D
• Venture Kid - Essentially old school Megaman
• Battleheart Legacy - Missing the story element, but a fun action/adventure RPG
• Device 6 - Unique puzzle/mystery game
• Final Fantasy 6 - Classic goodness
• A Dark Room - It will make you question yourself
• Walking Dead: The Game - Deep, dark, gritty, and an emotional rollercoaster
• Zombie Highway: Driver’s Ed - Strangely addictive
• Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions - Classic strategy, tactical RPG
• Year Walk - Like living in an old, dark, European story book where the environments and creatures are as scary as they are bizarre
• Shining Force - Another classic, turn-based tactical RPG
• Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery - Beautiful design with an amazing soundtrack
• Orbital - Incredibly simple design done right
• Kingdom Rush - Fun, silly, and strategic
Recently I wrote a post about my love/hate relationship with the game The Walking Dead: No Man's Land. As part of that post I offered a list of design ideas, and today I want to expand that list with some additional thoughts.
Since writing that last post a ton of work has gone into improving this game, which I applaud, and I hope the momentum can continue forward. I also hope some of my ideas are helpful to the developers (if they see this).
Ideas from previous post:
I want to love this game. I really do.
I’m a huge fan of the Walking Dead comic and show, as well as the zombie genre as a whole. But this game…oh this game. A mixture of the now cliche Clash of Clans style freemium gameplay mixed with the tactical strategy games of old, The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land feels like an ongoing experiment in bad game design, put forth for all to cringe at as the developers slowly massage it into something presentable. Yet beneath the layers of grinding and clicking is the framework for something special. Something that desperately wants to come to life. There is so much room for growth, however, in its current form, The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land is a menagerie of lackluster, unbalanced, and lame design decisions, sprinkled with obnoxious pop-ups and ads.
The pie chart below shows how I find my time is typically spent in this game, with an explanation of each slice. At a high-level, you will notice a trend where I argue that the most interesting features are where you spend the least amount of time, and vice-versa, which is primarily a failure due to the lack of content and feature diversity.
Upgrading - Behind the safety of the town wall, players can build crops, storage areas, and stations for upgrading players and gear. While on the outside of the wall, with a recently added feature, players can now add and upgrade a walker pit. Supplies are spent to upgrade buildings, gear, and characters. Supplies which are obtained overtime and by scavaging. After the first couple of days of play I found that building and upgrading is an activity that is extremely infrequent, even after spending hours grinding to gather additional supplies.
Story Mode - The story mode is, by far, the most interesting aspect in the game, and unfortunately it’s what players will find they will spend only a tiny fraction of time participating in. What gets so utterly frustrating about the story mode is how infrequent it can be played, because the difficulty curve is an insanely steep arch. Rather than including more levels that can be played more frequently, the developers opted for a drought of content that is stretched so thin that it cannot even be enjoyed.
Raiding Outposts - Every time there is an update I get excited again, hoping for some fun, new features. And occasionally there are new features that, unfortunately, always feel flat, like a quarter of an idea, birthed from the womb far too early. Outpost raiding is one of those recent additions, where players build their own defensive outpost and raid the outposts of others in search for yet another type of resource. Raiding feels far too formulaic, not only in the limited environments, but in terms of strategy as well: kill the walkers, which charges your special skills, then unleash a flurry of your skills on the human enemies.
In short: great framework, terrible design, obnoxious ads, and an extreme lack of unique content.
Next, I want to offer up some suggestions, that I feel could greatly improve this game:
I’m at that point again where I’m ready to, once again, uninstall. I’ll check back in again, one more time, and hope the positive elements of this game have been amplified, and the negatives have been sorted out.
You've checked out Factions MP in The Last of Us, seen all the maps, and have tried out all three modes of play. You've also read all of the loading screen tips, and learned a few things from them. Perhaps you've also toyed around with different load outs and purchased a few upgrades. But what are some additional tactics you could be employing to your advantage? What mistakes are leading to your constant, frustrating death? Check out my tips below, and hopefully they help you out (in no particular order).
Bonus tactic: This one may work well for some, and horrible for others, so give it a try and see what you think.
Factions MP is the multiplayer mode in The Last of Us, and like its single player counterpart, you’ll find yourself shooting, sneaking, crafting, hiding, fleeing, and vaulting over rubble like a dystopian gymnast. There are 3 team modes to play: supply raid (players respawn in real time when killed until your team runs out of reserves), survivors (round based combat), and interrogation (gain intelligence from enemies and then crack open their safe). Players select a mode, a load out (weapons and abilities), and an optional one-use booster that they may have earned during previous sessions (e.g. cheaper purchasable ammo or a starting upgrade to their primary gun). And no, you won’t find any zombies in any of these modes (I’ll comment more on that later in the article).
7 Reasons Why You Should Play
Let’s start by talking about some of the aspects that make Factions MP so great (and in no particular order).
That feeling you get when you shank an enemy
Nothing beats the satisfaction of creeping up behind an oblivious enemy that you have been tracking across the map, grabbing hold of them, and driving a shiv into their neck. It’s the ultimate insult.
Challenges add a layer of complexity
Every so often a challenge is presented to the player, which are divided into negative and positive outcomes that impact your camp, such as a hunter attack that you try to negate or new survivors that are looking to join you. The player has to decide how they want to complete the challenge, selecting from a list of options (e.g. X downs with Y weapon, heal X teammates, or perform X special executions).
The game modes keep things diverse
The 3 modes of play allow for a diverse set of gameplay. Perhaps you are in the mood for an all-out brawl with quick respawns. Then supply raid is your mode. Or maybe you are in the mood for a slow and strategic team based game with friends, in which case survivors is your mode.
Endless load out combinations
Load outs are essentially templates that you draft by combining weapons and abilities. You have a finite amount of load out points, which are used to arrange your gear, and customization is entirely up to you (with the exception of weapons and abilities that cost real cash, if you don’t want to spend the money that is). For example, you may prefer a stealthy approach that you can attain from a bow, covert training, and a silenced pistol (the bow and silenced weapons don’t show up on the enemy radar when fired). Others may go for a support role, opting for the ability to heal teammates and spot enemies from afar.
Your load out will indirectly affect how you use the parts you collect in battle (essentially currency) to purchase upgrades to your weapons, armor, and purchasable weapons. For example, some players save parts for a purchasable weapon, while others use their load out points on abilities, skipping a purchasable, and instead use their parts for weapon upgrades.
I’ve tried a lot of load outs, and at the time of writing this, this is my favorite: revolver, silenced tactical shotgun, agility 2, and covert training 2. I find that having a silenced primary is essential to your survival, as it allows you to get the necessary shots off to get a kill without giving out your location. The revolver is a solid compliment to the shotgun since it has the long-range versatility that the shotgun lacks. Agility level 2 means silent movement as well as the ability to walk, climb, and crawl very quickly, and the speed it provides cannot be overlooked in a game like this. Covert training level 2 pairs quite well with agility 2, as it allows you to crouch walk without appearing in the enemies listen mode. As a bonus, it starts you with a shiv at each spawn.
The needs of your camp take you out of your comfort zone
Every player has their own camp of survivors, and as you play your camp will grow in size, thus needing more supplies to stay well fed and free of sicknesses. One way to gain supplies is to down or execute enemies, and then collect the loot they drop. But sometimes raiding their body isn’t that easy, because the battles can be hectic, so you can’t just always go rushing over to your fallen target out in the open. Thankfully, your radar marks the locations of supply drops, so you can strategically return to them before the game ends, and collect them safely.
As a tip, when you have sick and hungry survivors, use a boost that you collected from completed challenges in order to give you a tactical edge in your next supply run. Avoid the urge to waste boosts when they aren’t needed, unless you have a hefty surplus.
Players automatically communicate
This is a bit of a minor detail, but it’s a prime example of one of the many elements that adds depth to the game. The character voices not only contributes a layer of ambience, but also serves a necessary role in communicating out essential information. If a teammate is shot down and needs help getting back up, he will shout out “I’m down!”. If you dig into your backpack to craft something, your player will ask those nearby to watch his back. Out of ammo? They’ll yell about that too. And from all this, you’ll discover that these situational phrases allow for interesting team-based gameplay without the need for everyone to be chatting over a microphone.
Properly balanced maps
Every multiplayer map is well thought out and fine-tuned for a solid balance. The arrangement of cover and the map sizes keep the action moving quickly without being too chaotic, whereas the placement of supply boxes often force the player to take the risk of exposing themselves (and that’s a good thing for balance and gameplay). Health kits are a bit too easy to come by, especially considering you can also craft them, but that doesn’t disturb the flow of the game. Best of all, there aren’t any overpowered camping spots, and due to the nature of load out points, you see a strong diversity of weapons being selected.
No game is prefect, and the issues I’m listing out are pretty minor as far as multiplayer games go.
Every so often I find that I am inadvertently targeting the wrong enemy, which leads to my demise. Here are a couple of examples:
Rough bullet collision
Occasionally, I will be firing through the window of a dilapidated car or between the railings of a stairway, and by bullets will fail to penetrate through them. In a game where every shot counts, a missed opportunity like this will often turn the table for the enemy.
Everyone’s a critic, I know. And there’s only so much time, resources, and budget to work on a game. But whatever, we can dream, and this is what I wish Factions MP could add in:
All in all, Factions MP is a solid multiplayer experience with enough diversity in weapons, modes, challenges, customization, and tactics to keep each game fresh and fun.
I am very excited to announce that I am currently developing a web-based 'choose your own adventure', starring you as the hero and your loving companion: a dog. The story takes place in San Francisco, two weeks after a zombie outbreak has plagued the city, and you must escape the city and reach safety. Along the way you will pass through a variety of districts, come across other survivors, and battle hordes of zombies.
What I am most excited about with project is that, unlike traditional 'choose your own adventure' stories, this adventure will be much more expansive (there's already 600+ passages) and will contain video game like elements such as items to collect and use, light puzzles to solve, some dynamic content, and an evolving story line.
For this project I am collaborating with a few artists and photographers, and creating some of both myself. Namely I want to mention Peter Glanting, who is creating the bulk of the artwork thus far, and you can check out more of his artwork on his website. I find that the mixture of art and photography aesthetics by different artists creates a unique feel to this project, which is partially why I am going to continue to add art to the project after it is released, including work that can be submitted by the readers.
There is currently no set release date.
Recently I posed a series of questions to the various modding communities that use Valve's Hammer Editor to create environments, levels, maps, and campaigns. I want to thank that entire group of 46 participants that submitted a response to the survey (the full list is at the bottom with website links) and I will conduct more surveys in the future. The answers below are just some of the highlights that I selected to share, and in cases where the same answer appeared frequently between participants I made a note of it.
How long have you been using the Hammer editor?
Experience of participants ranges from 1 month to 16 years (including WorldCraft experience).
What projects have you created using the editor?
The most commonly mentioned games were Left-4-Dead 1/2, Counter-Strike: Source/Global Offensive, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2.
For people just starting with the editor what key pieces of advice can you offer them?
What do you find to be irritating when using the editor?
If you could add one feature to the editor what would it be?
Overwhelmingly, the most popular response to this question (43% of those surveyed) was the desire to have some form of real-time preview mode so that designers can properly see the lighting of their environment without having to compile.
When preparing to start a new map/level/campaign how do you start?
The answers to this question ranged from no 'preparation work at all' to a very robust process of pre-production.
What is an important and often overlooked element in map making?
The most popular response to this question, by far, was lighting.
What is your work process like?
Any funny or crazy editor stories to share?
The majority of responses involved some form of corrupted or lost files.
If you have ever collaborated with other developers please share your experience.
Have you ever used any other level editors? If yes, which ones and how do they compare?
The most commonly mentioned editors in this response were Unreal/UDK, CryENGINE/Sandbox, & Unity.
Do you have any interesting Easter eggs in any of your designs?
Survey group: TZK203, internethandle, Filip, novalin, Punishment, Wouter Pleizier / Blueberry_pie, Jacol, George "Noface" Campbell, Bernt Andreas, Brickinator, marnamai, Arran Seaton, David Zetterdahl "LordDz", SM Sith Lord, Ark11, Nijbu, Nicole, Rectus, Hopna, Jess Nielsen, Oliver "FRAG" Curtis, Garrador, The_Blazer, DerpyBlade or Alex, HoliestCow, Peter Brev, unknown, SotaPoika, Text_Fish, Mr Funreal, Roflmahwafflz, Fauckers, Rev_deaddiet, insane3004, someone, Marcy, Sam Morris, Leafo, Devieus, 4echo, Element, needadonut, Dan, BlazingOwnager, RainingMetal, & RuninWivSizors.
OK, I will admit, "fan" might be a bit of a stretch here, which the dictionary defines as "an ardent admirer or enthusiast", neither of which I can prove the posters of these screenshots are. Nonetheless, these images were posted by Tour of Terror players on Steam, and I would like to share a few of my favorites.
Brian Riggsbee lives in San Francisco CA. He enjoys gaming, writing, creating art, practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, chasing adorable dogs, and spending time with his wife and boy.