Addressing Invisible Power

Last week I posted discussing the concept of “Invisible Power”. The basic gist of it is that sometimes it’s hard for people to appreciate how good various mechanics in your game are. This can be a problem because it basically means that those players don’t understand how to play your game properly. Last week, I also promised that we’d discuss some ways to address invisible power this week. So let’s get started.

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Impressions: 3DS

Over the holidays, I got to stay with my family. Among other things, one thing I got to do was play on my brother’s newly acquired 3DS XL. While I was intending to get around to getting one myself eventually (when I felt like there were enough promising games on the system to justify the purchase), it was nice to get a chance to preview the system. Here’s a few of my impressions:

3D isn’t just a gimmick

Yeah, there were a few gimmicky uses to it, but a bunch of legitimate ones too. In addition to rendering 3D environments (which is cool, but still falls under “gimmicky” for me), I also noticed speech boxes, character sprites and backgrounds all being “placed” in different layers (Fire Emblem: Awakening). This was nice because it communicated that the characters weren’t just lumps of pixels glued onto the text boxes. In general, the 3D wasn’t just being used for the wow factor, but thoughtfully in places where it really did communicate something that 2D would have more trouble with.

Circle Pad

I like the circle pad. Although I had first thought it was a gimmick to make the system seem like it was adding new interface features and its sensitivity took some getting used to (think “new mouse”), I actually grew to like the continuous range of inputs that it allowed. Using the discrete four directional d-pad feels clunky now (in the same way you can’t get all the diagonals you’d want from WASD compared to a control stick).

3D + stylus = difficult

For some one who is used to being allowed to wave their hand held console where-ever they wanted as long as there was some random line of sight to the screen, holding the 3DS in one place was pretty hard, especially in games where using the stylus meant I only had one hand to do it.

My eyes are getting old

Back when the GBA was released, I conditioned myself to not get carsick while playing and riding (I think it has to do with being uncomfortable with not knowing how the car is going to jostle, kinda like how a newbie subway rider is thrown around a lot more than a veteran). Well, (correctly) hypothesizing that the 3D features would be a similar learned skill, I didn’t let it bother me that it was taking some getting used to. However, I did notice that I wasn’t adapting to the extra effort required to perceive the 3D as quickly as I had hoped. I like the 3D features a lot, but I was surprised that I tired out my eyes looking at the 3D so quickly. On a side note, it was nice having the bigger screen of the XL. When I returned to playing my DSi, it felt small in comparison.

Overall

I’d say the 3DS is a pretty solid console. The only thing holding me back from buying it at the moment is it’s catalog, and only slightly with that.

tmurfc: 1/11/14

Today’s practice was eventful. While I was originally a little nervous because I had not been able to play for the last few weeks due to technical difficulties with my desktop, shaking off the rust was easier than I thought it’d be. Starting from Bronze 3: 0 LP and ending at the beginning of our promotional series for Bronze 2, we made quite a bit of progress today. From what I could tell, most of our victories today were due to mechanical skill, where all three of our lanes were generally winning (even getting a pair of forfeits for our dominating performances). Two of our matches, however, were very influenced by connection problems on the opponent team, one of which we might very well have lost. I wouldn’t say that we used a lot of team coordination, we made a few play calls and rotations, but few of them were more intentional than the jungler coming into a lane to gank. While it wasn’t strictly necessary to use such tactics since we were controlling lanes so well, being able to coordinate will become increasingly important as climbing the ladder makes it more difficult to keep the mechanical edge on our opponents.

The other problem we encountered to day was having too many players. It’s unfortunate that only 5 people can play a ranked game at a time, and I’ve been considering ways to make sure no one feels excluded while at the same time keeping the momentum of having a formal team with starters and subs. I guess, as one of the key organizers of this team, this is what it feels like trying to negotiate who gets the most play time.

“Woah! How’d you do that?”

The Situation: Super Smash Bros (classic) with 3 other friends of highly varying skill levels in the living room.

The Play: I jump between two battling opponents and knock both of them away simultaneously.

The Question: See post title.

My Answer: “Umm… I just used my aerial neutral A. Y’know jump, then press A.”

The Response: “You make it sound so easy!”

Great, now I feel like those professional athletes that say dumb things in interviews. Continue reading