What makes a good sequel: improving core features or adding new content?
A perfect sequel would do both, but developers often prioritize one over the other. Even a giant like Electronic Arts had to choose with The Sims 4, and the company chose the first route, even going so far as to leave out popular features from previous games.
Compared to its predecessor, The Sims 4 offers better customization, interaction and depth while sacrificing an open world and leaving some obvious content holes that, in typical Sims fashion, will inevitably be patched with expansion packs.
As a base game, The Sims 4 is the best installment in the series despite lacking some features as pools or toddlers. Here’s the thing: every games in the series has used expansions to complement the first release. Every Sims game is guilty of it, so it’s unfair to hold it against The Sims 4 more so than another installment. However, it’s a valid criticism of the entire series.
Where The Sims 4 shines is with its core features. Overall, they’re a strong improvement over The Sims 3. Most notable are improvements to the dialogue and emotion systems, which have undergone a complete overhaul to include various mood states for each Sim.
Continue reading Arizona Gamer reviews The Sims 4
Video games soundtracks are becoming “too Hollywood,” according to Arizona composer Christopher Norby. Some games avoid this trap, he said, but the true potential for games composing has still not been fully realized.
A native of Derry, Ireland, Norby now lives in Tempe and has worked on three mobile games: JellyFlug, Fionn Folk Tales and Grand Theft Seagull. All were developed by Ireland-based Troll inc.
He started playing the piano at age 6 and became interested in composing at age 11; films were his first inspiration, he said.
“The one that really stood out to me first was Aliens, the James Horner score,” he said.
While games composers owe a good deal to film soundtracks, Norby thinks games should avoid copying the style of film soundtracks too much, he said. Bioshock did a good job of keeping an orchestral and cinematic feel while staying original, he added.
“Some games have started to lose their originality,” he said. “But I think games are a brilliant media for writing music.”
Continue reading Best video game music: AZ composer talks tunes
Above: Justin McCandless explains his game, Mathpx, to Education Hackathon judge Mario Vassaux.
Local developers demonstrated the educational potential of games May 16 at a Game CoLab Education Hackathon pitch event.
The hackathon began April 22 and asked participants to create an educational game over the course of about three weeks and then present it to a panel of judges.
Four judges evaluated the eight games on four factors: fun, creativity, marketability and assessment. The winning game would be fun, feature original design, have a marketable concept and be able to measure a student’s progress and achievement.
Game CoLab partnered with Pearson to host the event and provided $600 in prizes divided among the top three finishers, with $300, $200 and $100 going to first, second and third place, respectively.
Justin McCandless won first place for his game, Mathpx, a learning game built in HTML5 that teaches students addition and subtraction through number visualization. A traditional math problem appears at the top of the screen while pixel balls are shown on the lower half, allowing students to manipulate problems and picture the math as they go.
Continue reading Arizona developers present games for Education Hackathon
Portal was about using physics to your advantage. TesserAct, a puzzle platformer from Phoenix-based Propelled Bird Software, lets you bend it to your will, lead developer Clay Walters said in an interview with Arizona Gamer.
TesserAct was greenlit last month and Walters expects the game to hit Steam this summer. The developers also recently received backing on Indiegogo to pay for licensing fees.
The game is set in a “universe based on scientific theory,” Walters said. It follows Sam, a student who is inexplicably teleported to an abandoned moon base in another dimension.
She stumbles upon the Catalyst, a tool that can manipulate the laws of physics, and sets out to find a way back home.
Continue reading Puzzle platformer TesserAct heads to Steam
Eric Piispanen, left, poses with Alex Ich, middle, and Genja, members of competitive League of Legends team Gambit Gaming.
By Alex Ferri
Eric Piispanen thinks of competitive League of Legends as a game of chess.
“Your goal is basically to predict and outplay your opponent, not through mechanics, but through being in the right place at the right time,” he said.
Piispanen is coordinator for the League of Legends teams of the Arizona State University eSports Association. League of Legends, the massively popular online battle arena title from Riot Games, is one of several games played competitively at ASU and across the globe.
When Riot Games announced its North American Collegiate Championship on Jan. 7 that would pit the best college teams against each other for a chance at a $100,000 prize pool of scholarship funds, Piispanen, summoner name iamanelf, started putting a team together.
Continue reading League of Legends: ASU eSports enters Collegiate Championship