Posts Tagged ‘video’

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The Devil Is In The Details

June 21, 2008

As a long-time film critic, one of the most important aspects for me in a movie is the oft-overlooked tiny details that, when done right, are completely unnoticeable, yet contribute to a successful film. Of course, when they’re done poorly… they can tank a movie without you knowing exactly why. I’m talking about sound cues, editing, facial expressions, the soundtrack… the 1,001 decisions a director has to make every day while filming and piecing a movie together. For instance, last night I saw Get Smart with my wife, and I noticed a very wonky detail — some of the action sequences, especially inside an SUV, looked like they switched from normal movie film to soap opera-ish visuals (think: camcorder). These were quick cuts, almost undetectable, except that a subconscious part of my mind flagged it for notice.

The devil is in the details, as they say (“they” being a great older couple I know that lives on the east side). MMOs are full of thousands of unnoticed details — unnoticed by the average player, mind you, not the developer who spends countless hours working them in only to have Joe Swordslash run through this content with tunnel vision only for the next kill. Without perfect details — the music, the sounds, the animations, the background art, the lighting, the world movement — MMOs become more lackluster, and people can’t quite put their finger on why.

I’d go so far to say that details are really what takes an MMO from its spreadsheet-slathered pen-and-paper brethren and gives it full life.

That said, I wanted to go through a few new gameplay videos that IGN posted and ignore the “big stuff” for the little details. Come with me, won’t you?

CHAOS – Ignore the action, close your eyes, and listen to the sounds of this video. In most MMOs, you spend ungodly amounts of time whacking away with a weapon, and thus are subjected to the same animations and weapon sound effects thousand and thousands of times. It’s an important detail how many variations on the animations/sounds there are, in addition to how well they’re done. This clip has a guy swinging an axe, which makes a metallic ring with every swipe — along with an accompanied meaty thud when it connects. You’ll notice that the metallic rings have different tones, almost like in fighting, you’re playing a song. Another visual detail is how the character jerks back when hit — hit animations are essential to giving combat a more visceral feel.

ENVIRONMENTS – Music can be used for much more than just a tub-thumping score — it can convey a very tangible emotion the directors want you to be feeling at the moment. Listen to the music here: is it friendly or border-line horror? What mood does it evoke in you? What does it tell you about the city the character is traveling through? How are sound effects (thunder, a bird) used to heighten this feeling?

CRITICAL HIT – MMO combat is not turn-based combat, where you select an attack and just hang back until it resolves. Neither is it real-world combat, where the action and consequences might be a bit more subtle than exciting. MMO combat utilizes a lot of visual cues to keep a player informed as to the tactical situation. Bad guy raises a sword and a tone plays? He’s probably charging up a special attack. Lens flare on an enemy? You made a hit and he’s now paying for it. Dark cloud seeping out over the battlefield? You’ve just launched an AOE attack. We simply don’t have the time to read or deeply analyze what’s going on in combat, ergo visual cues give us a fast-and-dirty rundown on the events unfolding.

FIRESTARTER – Art and animation are the unsung heroes of MMOs, in which fans typically stampede by these features to focus on classes and skills and loot. Look at the lodge that the Chaos guy is burning down. How much art and detail went into making this structure have a great “feel” to it? What about the thatched roof, or the carved wooden totems?

LOOKS DANGEROUS – Use this last video as a test, and then we’ll dismiss class for the day. What sound details do you notice? What visuals? What animations? How are the details being used to tell a story?

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Da Newz – June 19

June 19, 2008

Story of the Week: Baltimore Games Day 2008

  • A little bit of the old, a little bit of the new: this was the mantra of the devs who came to the Games Day convention, parceling out a few new snippets of info (10 character slots! population caps! expansion in the works!) and regurgitating a lot of older stuff. Many visitors noted that 8 of the classes were unavailable to play on the show floor, including the elusive Black Guard.

Beta Ticker:

  • 736,315
  • +7,469 from last week

Quote of the Week:

  • “Paul runs on love, kindness, and the blood of many elves!” ~ Mythic rep

New WAR Sites & Blogs:

From EA Mythic:

Misc. News:

Podcasts:

Articles & Commentary:

Databases & Forums:

Videos:

Fun & Games:

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Da Newz – May 8

May 8, 2008

Beta Ticker: 684,885 (+17,567 from last week)

Quote of the Week: “Death! Kill! Custard!” ~ The slogan on the 8-Bit Paul Barnett t-shirt

Story of the Week: The dev team did a huge conference call with 23 WAR and game review sites last week, prompting a plethora of articles more or less saying the exact same thing. We here at WAAAGH! were not invited, and thus are drowning in a vat of bitter tears and tabasco sauce.

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Da Newz

April 17, 2008

BETA TICKER: 663,325 (+8,354 from last week)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Warhammer was invented by a loaded of weirdos in England with patches on their jumpers and scruffy people with long hair.” ~Paul Barnett

BIG STORY OF THE WEEK: Mark Jacob’s WAR Beta Q&A over at Warhammer Herald. I’ve been pretty impressed with how much Mythic’s been communicating with the fans over the delay and beta process, and these seven questions, while nothing radically new, help to answer the multitude of closed beta, guild beta and open beta questions out there.

This week’s odd “I’m not sure if this is news or not” comes from Warhammer Vault. I, like many others, use Google Reader to track numerous blogs and to alert me when Warhammer news hits. On early Tuesday afternoon, it flagged an article entitled “The Art of Saying Nothing During an Interview”, which started “Mark Jacobs has two sides. One side challenges people who accuse him of something false or speak erroneous ‘facts’ (and I do love reading…” The rest of this was concealed until after the jump, so I clicked the link and… there was nothing there. No article, no post, nothing. The link for the story went here.

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Ten Ton Hammer Coverage – Breakdance! Er, Breakdown!

April 1, 2008

The past few weeks have been a flurry of press coverage, write-ups and videos concerning WAR, to the point where we are literally a week behind the times. After WAAAGH!’s legal counsel advised us that presenting this information to you as “late breaking awesome sauce” would constitute perjury, we’re going to have to fess up and tell you that this is late breaking awesome sauce. To hell with the lawyers! They’re mostly imaginary and/or hand puppets anyway!

So let’s take a peek and break down TTH’s WAR coverage that splurged all over the place last week:

State of the Game with Josh Drescher and Paul Barnett

Nothing radically new here, but it’s a good, brief overview of the current state and focus of the closed beta (more polish, experience curve, RvR, easter eggs, etc.). However, both fans, Democrats and Republicans gave this a standing ovation. I just think they want to clap.

WAR City Overview with Mark Davis and Mike Stone

A lot of the new focus that Mythic is guiding the press to is their creme de la creme: capital cities and the sieges thereof. TTH swoops in to check out the Empire capital of Altdorf, which boasts, among other things, public hangings! For those of you who were let down by WoW’s many empty gallows! Okay, I kid. Reportedly, Altdorf will sport three instanced dungeons for parties to explore, which are kicked off by quests given at the tavern (in the cities, taverns are THE hub of all quests and activities, as they well should be). For Destruction players looking to raid the town, it won’t be easy: you have to fight your way through five levels of the city, including two mini-bosses, and then take on the Emperor in a major raid battle. It appears that renown levels will dictate who’s statue will appear in each city (hint: it won’t be mine). Happily, enemy players can level the statues (woot).

Crafting, Trophies and More with Justin Webb

Crafting’s been a major question mark ever since Mythic announced it would be in the game. So what did TTH find out? First of all, Mythic doesn’t want players to be huddled over a forge crafting for hours; they are designing the game so crafting can be done on the fly as you fight and level. Three announced gathering skills will be Cultivating (growing weeds and mushrooms), Butchering and Scavenging. All mats will drop from people you kill. The only crafting skill they saw was Apothecary (potion making). It seems that, depending on the ingredients you use, you can modify a basic potion to have additional traits. Crafting trophies (advertising your profession) will be available as well. Finally, for all those Warhammer fans who love to paint their miniatures, the dye system in WAR promises to let you customize your character’s look via color-coordinating. Ooh, pretty in pink!

Altdorf Walkthrough Video

A narrated tour through the capital city of Altdorf. Various observations: some steampunk elements (gyrocopter), the night sky looks absolutely beautiful, the Market Square is the main hub of the city, there’s a donkey’s butt hung above a tavern, the character they used to go through the city had hair that was almost constantly moving, there are public quests and quests and dungeons in the city proper, multiple auctioneers and bankers are spread through the city, all of the content (like dungeons) is available to the enemy if they’re capturing your city, some talk about the final battle with the king (which involves a gryffin smashing through some stainglass windows and carrying the king off), there’s a guy in a portapotty, public statues will be for this week’s top 10 renown earners, plus one statue for the lifetime renown winner.

Paul Barnett & Josh Drescher Site Visit Preview Video

Paul and Josh talk about some of the sites and features you might encounter in the game: the plungers of the world, out of the way caves/lairs with super dangerous mobs, cursed coffins that spawn horrible monstrosities out of nowhere, in terms of design – there’s a difference between technically doing something well and capturing the unique spirit of doing it well.

Justin Webb Trophies Video

Egads, there’s a lot of videos here. Anyhoo, Justin takes us through a tour of the trophy system, which will have a sense of visual progression and customization of your character. The Tome of Knowledge will help unlock trophies as well. Once you choose the five trophies you want on your character, you can cycle through where they’re located on your toon.

Crafting Video with Justin Webb

Pretty much the same stuff already covered in the crafting article, but in video form! Whee!

Collector’s Edition Images

Astound your eyes with a visual feast, including bread pudding dessert!

Tome of Knowledge Preview Video

Carrie takes us through the TOK. One thing we’re hearing a lot of is that the TOK is seen as a “metagame” by Mythic — a game within a game. You can read TOK announcements at your leisure. One of the rewards for unlocks is… new story! New lore!

Guild Preview

A lot of people have questions about the guild system in WAR, especially since it seems to be shipping with a robust set of guild tools. The guild screen can boast a unique UI look suited to that guild. Lots of options for colors and designs of guild banners (which will be used when you take over an enemy keep as a guild). It takes six people to start a guild in game. Guilds themselves gain levels and experiences, to give members new features and tactics. The guild UI includes a roster page, an events and achievements page, guild profile, and calendar. Finally, guilds can team up with other guilds to form “Alliances”.

Sheesh, I think that’s about it. Great work, TTH!