Helping players help themselves: diegetic hints

A short article about game UX issues that have been on my mind (somewhat succinctly, as it was originally written for Twitter).

Game designers spend a lot of time tuning the difficulty of combat and puzzles, but what about the narrative or campaign?  Obtuse campaigns can be frustrating, while others “hand-hold” – rob players of gratification – if the golden path is too obvious.  How can design balance these issues?

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Everyone’s War: Backstory and engagement in Fallout 4

A month or two after Fallout 4 launched I started my second character and something immediately bothered me: the male and female player characters have different backgrounds.  This has been criticized for falling short of gender neutrality and for practical reasons – the character’s skills and knowledge – but my big issues are with the character’s emotional journey. Continue reading Everyone’s War: Backstory and engagement in Fallout 4

Why I’m not worried about Fallout 4

Every day that goes by without an official Fallout 4 announcement is just another day of doom and gloom for the legions of fans. Me? I’m not worried.

I’m a huge Fallout fan – take ten seconds to browse my articles if you’re not sure – and I’m very excited for the prospect of Fallout 4. So are millions of other fans, many of whom are writhing at the looming five-year anniversary of the last installment, Fallout: New Vegas. This was exacerbated by Bethesda announcing their first-ever E3 press event in June, 2015, sending fans of both Fallout and The Elder Scrolls into a frenzy of speculation.

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Rude awakening: Why Fallout: New Vegas felt incomplete

The Fallout series of role-playing video games have been well-received and popular since Fallout was released in 1997 as “America’s first choice in post-nuclear simulation.” Post-apocalyptic video games have been numerous, yet the Fallout games stand out for their immersion and complexity. Fallout has managed to transcend the traditional combat- and leveling-focused RPGs to satisfy players on a much deeper level.

At least, the Fallout games transcended the typical genre offering until Fallout: New Vegas. Never before has a canonical, major release Fallout game received such hedged reviews from fans and critics. Yet, New Vegas seemed to have all the ingredients of a stellar Fallout game: an expansive world, factions to meet, choices to make, and excellent casting, all centered around a sweeping and nuanced regional conflict. Why, then, did it feel incomplete? There was something missing from New Vegas that, as players and critics have remarked, makes it feel more like a really big Fallout 3 expansion rather than a Fallout game in its own right.

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in the spirit of inflated celebrity burnouts and Live the Sheen Dream, i present Sheenisms:

NASA announced the space shuttle replacement is Charlie Sheen riding four porn stars.

Charlie Sheen alone holds up the economies of Columbia and Peru.

Charlie Sheen singlehandedly killed every Somalian pirate, equipped only with a floatation jacket and 28 grams of cocaine.

“Two and a Half Men” was canceled because Charlie Sheen bought the rights to the name for his penis.

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antenna armor: reinforcing a whip

a Yaesu VX-170 radio and armored Diamond SRH-320A
it’s a bit long.

my EDC radio – and my only amateur band transceiver, in fact – is a Yaesu VX-170 topped with a Diamond SRH-320A antenna. this radio was a gift from my late Elmer, WA6UBE (“Elma”, “Elmette”?), and came with the Diamond antenna. as you can see, it’s a really big antenna, but it performs well in urban areas (and i don’t have the original duck). it pulled a fairly line-of-sight 5W 26-mile run to a repeater at S3-4 so, hey, not too shabby.

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Fallout: New Vegas: launch FEVer

so i’ll just say it: it’s everything we wanted.  (except for the performance glitches. and losing a couple hours worth of saved games.  sigh. back to Goodsprings.)

i’ll have more from the midnight release in Sunnyvale, CA…  but that’ll wait.  you think i’m gonna wait this long and put it all on hold for a silly blog?  no, no, i’m just killing time ’til i’ve woken up enough to face the Wasteland again.