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Saturday, 5 September 2015

Agent CODENAME: Hitman 47

I'm just playing, of course it's Hitman: Agent 47. Or just Agent 47 according to Ster Kinekor's app. Anyway—

I saw it today along with Richard and Lindsey. It was vaguely entertaining. I'll touch on two major flaws, along with one good point about the film in my review.

Let's start with the plot. What can we say about it? Hitman has to kill a megalomaniac world leader and retrieve a nuke to stop him from blowing up the world! No wait, that's not it. He has to travel back in time to—

Ok, I confess. I didn't really get the plot. I'm sure Richard would be disappointed here. To sum it up, there's a girl. She was created and genetically mutated to be paranoid by her father, an evil scientist who mellowed out like a hippie with orchids 'n' stuff in Singapore when he got older and developed lung cancer. People from Syndicate want him, because he's the only one who knows how to make new super soldiers, or AGENTS. Zachary Quinto's character has to stop Agent 47 from killing him because Syndicate need him. Quinto first befriends Quatre-Vingt -Dix, or Katia and appears to try save her from the presumed bad guy, the Agent. You see, she's Ciarán Hinds' (the evil scientist's) daughter. Or Quinto's the bad guy?

I dunno, the plot's a mess. At some point in the movie, you start to realise that anything is possible. ANYTHING. Agent 47's mother is actually Katia's Polish live-in seamstress. Or Katia is capable of psionic domination of Serbians. Or whatever. I guess it doesn't really matter. It feels like an excuse for a skop-skiet-en-donner film.

And that it is. And that's its best quality. It never really bores you. Sure, many of the fight scenes (and there are a lot) might leave you thinking, "LOL. That'd never happen in real life," but they'd never bore you. The action proceeds at a truly breakneck pace, and the production values are high. Every blow feels crushing and high-octane. 

I'm not sure the movie was very expensive to shoot, but it doesn't feel cheap. I'm sure the Audi sponsorship they got (people who've seen it will know what I mean) helped a lot financially. Sweet but unobtrusive soundtrack too. The ending is satisfying and feels like it was scripted by a professional. It hit all the right notes.

That's the good stuff out the way. Now I can go wild.

So it's as over-the-top as a good comic book. Except a comic book is utterly fantastical from the beginning. It never even approaches realism. This felt like a weird mix of pseudo-realistic action, and balls-to-the-wall unrealistic fantasy. Should I have suspended my disbelief more? Perhaps. I feel like it's up to the film you're watching to help you with that. That's Major Flaw #1.

Major Flaw #2 - Agent 47 is the perfect soldier. He's faster, more intelligent and more resourceful than any normal human. He feels no fear. He feels no emotion.

Neither does the audience. There's a scene near the end where they're standing in an elevator cocking their pistols and getting ready for action. They're meant to look cool and hardcore. I'm sorry. I cared infinitely more about the Terminator, a robot, than these two. I just didn't connect with them. Don't get me wrong, Rupert Friend does a brilliant job of playing the Agent. I just didn't care because he'd never care. He's almost too believable. It's a weird feeling to describe.

It's a fun movie nonetheless. It won't leave you feeling super unsatisfied. You just won't care too much.


Saturday, 29 August 2015

Grog 1699 Game Design - What would you do differently?

With the advent of Black Sails on the History channel (186 on DStv), I'm reinvigorated in my desire for this to be a success. You can bet your socks there will be both Billy Bones and Captain Flint characters.

If you have any feedback on the process I'm using to design Grog 1699 (working title) don't hesitate to let me know. Let's go into the first stage of Grog 1699 a bit.

It would be called something akin to "Recruit and Equip."

"Recruit and Equip 
Setting: Port (Town)Goal: Assemble your crew and equip your shipChallenge: Attaining the goal while everyone is trying to get the best crew members and equipment. It will require careful management of time and money. I'm keen to include an element of gambling in this portion. Perhaps a card mini-game against pirates in a tavern? Something like that."

This phase would start with all the seafarer cards laid out in the centre of the table. Perhaps there would be around 50 in the final version of the game, but I'm aiming for 20 for the prototype. Drafting then takes place à la Dota 2. So we would have team 1 going, "I'll ban that hero from being drafted." Team 2 responds with, "Sure, we'll ban that hero then."

After this is done twice, each team picks a hero to play with. The strategic implications of the banning rounds are huge. You could aim to prevent certain strategies, strategically limit options with the aim of forcing a certain grouping etc. The possibilities are endless.

The order is this:
Team 1 Ban
Team 2 Ban
Team 1 Ban
Team 2 Ban
Team 1 Pick
===Here Team 2 gets 2 consecutive picks to make up for not getting the first overall pick
Team 2 Pick
Team 2 Pick
Team 1 Pick
Team 1 Ban
Team 2 Ban
Team 2 Pick
Team 1 Pick
Team 1 Ban
Team 2 Pick
Team 2 Ban
Team 1 Pick

The big difference here compared to Dota is that only 4 heroes get recruited. The final member of the team has to be obtained from the Barracks or Tavern.

After the drafting phase, I envision that these 4 buildings will come into play:
  • Tavern
    • The undrafted pirates are shuffled and three random pirates will be placed face-down here. Only by spending a turn visiting the tavern would you get a peek at the three. 
  • Barracks
    • All the remaining pirates are imprisoned here. One pirate is revealed every turn. If not recruited, he goes to a pile of pirates that will be released soon, and can be recruited by anyone stopping at the Barracks. Everyone can see these pirates.
  • Armory
    • This is the "shop" of the game. You can buy five items per turn, and there is a limited stock available. Considering you're gonna have 5 pirates on your team, you'd be aiming for around 15 items or so. I would have to design a list of around 45 equipment to make this a strategic choice. The items would be divided into Mundane, Uncommon and Magical. The pricing would be of such a nature that a team could afford a maximum of 5 Magical items with no other equipment. This wouldn't normally be a successful strategy, so maybe the team would rather go for 2 Magical items, 5 Uncommon items and 10 Mundane items to be distributed among the 5 pirates.
  • Docks
    • Naturally, this where you purchase your vessel. The ship would have stats such as Durability, Speed, Firepower and Crew (the support guys other than the main 5 pirates). On top of that, I'm aiming for a choice of around 7 unique layout designs. In this way, the ships essentially become the terrain for the ensuing battles. For example, one ship would have 3 defensive battlements, 2 sails and 4 cannon positions. Maybe that qualifies it as a defensive juggernaught, compared to a vessel sporting 4 sails, 1 defensive battlement and 0 cannon positions. This would be a speedy runner-type vessel.
It occurs to me that it would be more interesting from a commander's point of view to have the ability to split up your crew into various vessels than to pack them all on the same one. That way, you could have one battleship supported by maybe two lighter ships. You'd pack 3 heavy dudes on the battleship and some support characters on the little ships.

Gosh, I'm a tiny bit intimidated by how quickly this game seems to be growing in scope. That's both good and bad. The life-blood of games is decisions the players make. At this point, we're in no danger of having too few choices for the player. We are in danger of the scope of the game creeping out of control to the point where it's no longer fun for a newcomer to play, much like Dota.

This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that players have to cooperate in their teams in order to strive for success. It is definitely not an individual endeavour. It strikes me that I would have to prevent the more experienced players from making all the possible decisions for the team.

I'm working on a basic map prototype of the naval phase of the game, and will hopefully post that next time.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Game Design: #Grog1699

Things are finally moving out of my head and onto the page with the Grog 1699 design. Through these entries, you can be a companion to the design process.

Where do I start?

I've already mentioned the basic premise for the game here

Let's move onto solid ground. I'm starting with the characters to be included in the game. I'm thinking a list of roughly 20 or so famous seafarers should be a great start towards the inevitable prototype.

The ones I want to introduce today, are:
  • William Kidd
  • Calico Jack "Jack Rackham"
  • Blackbeard "Edward Teach"

William Kidd:

"Captain William Kidd (c. 22 January 1645 – 23 May 1701) was a Scottish sailor who was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd's fame springs largely from the sensational circumstances of his questioning before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial. His actual depredations on the high seas, whether piratical or not, were both less destructive and less lucrative than those of many other contemporary pirates and privateers."

Awesome! There's fantastic stuff to work with here, specifically his character motivation for existing in the game. He wants to clear his name, but time and time again he just falls into the lure of, "Oh gosh. I guess I have to be a bastard about this, and PLUNDER!!" Or is that just the gossip about him? /cue dramatic film trailer music/



However, for the game, we can forget the last line of the Wikipedia entry. Obviously his depredations will be glorified. :-)

Calico Jack:

"John Rackham (26 December 1682 – 18 November 1720[1]), commonly known as Calico Jack, was an English pirate captain operating in the Bahamas and in Cuba during the early 18th century (Rackham is often spelled as Rackam or Rackum in historical documentation, and he is also often referred to as Jack Rackham). His nickname derived from the calico clothing he wore, while Jack is a nickname for John."

Active towards the end (1718–20) of the "Golden Age of Piracy" (which lasted 1650 to 1730), Rackham is most remembered for two things: the design of his Jolly Roger flag, a skull with crossed swords, which contributed to the popularization of the design, and for having two female crew members, Mary Read and his lover Anne Bonny."

Yay! This gives us two more members of the Grog 1699 cast! More importantly, cool chicks too! Mary Read and Anne Bonny. I'll cover them in future.

SIDE NOTE: Calico Jack was the first real pirate figurine/toy I got as a tiny boy. I remember him clearly. :-)

Of course, he's a very famous name in pirate circles. His fame *almost* borders on, "Too cheesy for inclusion. :-/ " I picture him as a vagabond/renegade/young-blood character. Also, doesn't the "Golden Age of Piracy" sound awesome??


"Edward Teach (also Edward Thatch, c.1680—22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. Although little is known about his early life, he was probably born in Bristol, England. He may have been a sailor on privateer ships during Queen Anne's War before settling on the Bahamian island of New Providence, a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined sometime around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnet, but toward the end of 1717 Hornigold retired from piracy, taking two vessels with him."

Is he the most famous pirate name ever? Possibly. Nevertheless, he just oozes machismo. An important consideration is to make him cool but balanced. This also gives us yet another cool pirate to include...the teacher/mentor/sensei of Blackbeard, Captain Hornigold.

So what will these characters do?
The three phases of the game will be

Recruit and Equip
Setting: Port (Town)
Goal: Assemble your crew and equip your ship
Challenge: Attaining the goal while everyone is trying to get the best crew members and equipment. It will require careful management of time and money. I'm keen to include an element of gambling in this portion. Perhaps a card mini-game against pirates in a tavern? Something like that.

Sail and Fight
Setting: The high seas
Goal: Get to the island as quickly as possible, and delay anyone who's also going for the treasure.
Challenge: Again, time pressure balanced with crew strength. You need to decide when to go for it. Combat against others is obvious.

Find the Treasure!
Setting: The island
Goal: Treasure
Challenge: Actually finding the elusive treasure, running into rivals, dead ends, traps, etc.

I reckon it's important to just throw ideas out there and adjust as I go on, so the ones I'm proposing at the moment are:

Types of Character:
First Mate
Master Gunner

Character Attributes:

Hence, Blackbeard and William Kidd will fulfill the role of Captain. I reckon Calico Jack might be a Swashbuckler, or maybe a Captain. I dunno yet.
Their respective ratings, out of 6, for the attributes:

2 - Discipline
4 - Pathfinding
5 - Luck
6 - Firepower
5 - Toughness
Total - 22

Calico Jack
1 - Discipline
3 - Pathfinding
6 - Luck
5 - Firepower
3 - Toughness
Total - 18

William Kidd
5 - Discipline
5 - Pathfinding
1 - Luck
3 - Firepower
6 - Toughness
Total - 20

Their equipment AND abilities will be added on top of that, not to mention the ships they'd be competing for, giving us a wealth of options. I'm excited!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Konrad, Richard, & my HOLY TRINITY to follow...(are you reading this RIGHT NOW?)

We a team? I'll reveal my three at three pre-determined dates. It's the RULE OF THREE. Haven't heard of it? Google Steve Jobs. (Have my father to thank for this).

Neo, Morpheus and Trinity. The Bible storyline? Speak, bitches! :-P

Inspired by Tata, for real! :-D

I was SAVED last night...^5!

WHENEEEver you're ready to know, ASK ME IN PERSON. 0824182652.

This isn't for everyone, and you'll know when the time is right. Sounds HEAVILY cliched and I wouldn't have listened to myself a while ago. THANKFULLY, I was READY. I am over-the-moon-style celebrating. In a GREAT way. :-) 

Friday, 19 September 2014

One of my fathers...

This man is perhaps the finest human being to have walked this planet since I was born. Obviously. Blah blah. Blah.

But to appreciate the pure logic in his thought, the BLINDING beauty of it...made me cry. This was one of the best weeks of my life, and both myself and Man Utd are making a brand new start. Step-by-step. Only fools skip a link in the chain. And horses. If you ever watch British comedy... :-)

Just watch if you've some time to kill on a Friday night. Or whenever. But it's one of those. It's not a cat video. It's not a kid. It's not sports. It's not any of that shit.

Not that those aren't important. videos...they're so...if you could overdose on "Meh." /shrug


Points if you have any idea who said that. :-)