Tuesday, September 18, 2007

elements of bleh

What causes developers all over the world to make design choices. Specifically, why do they make bad ones. Aren't they supposed to be professionals?

I just played through Kameo: Elements of Power. I've been thinking about how to best sum up my experience. Pretty. Normal Mapped. Charming. Poorly written. A constant wrestling match.

For a game that's almost 2 years old, it still looks pretty remarkable in places. Notably the use of lighting and extensive foliage. Some character models are downright jaw dropping thanks to a combination of design and animation. Other stuff doesn't fair too well. Bland and blurry textures are pretty meh, but they're not too distracting.

The game revolves around the player acquiring different elemental creature things which have a wide variety of powers. These powers are used mostly for environmental puzzle solving. The problem is that none of the characters are all that adept with combat. The first and last characters are designed specifically for fighting, but thats out of a cast of 10. It can make combat a bit frustrating at times. The puzzles range from decent to unbelievably mind numbing and repetitive. I can only use Major Ruin to spin into a ball propelling me up a ramp so many times before I start to get kind of sick of it.

Now we come to the really crappy stuff. The writing is laughably bad. The story is stupid and predictable and the dialog stilted. In fact, the game basically tells you in the first 5 minutes of play that one of the characters is going to betray you. I knew the ending in the first 5 minutes. That's some shitty writing people. It also feels really out of place. A plot that feels like it's written for 10 year olds existing with game play that has you throwing trolls into spinning fan blades chopping them into little bitty bits. It just feels really out of place.

There's also a bunch of overt sexuality riddled throughout the game. Kameo is scantily clad, her boobs almost busting out of her clothing. When she flies (she's a fairy...elf...fairy...thing) you get a fairly clear panty shot if you position the camera right. It's a good thing panties are around in the old vaguely European fantasy world she lives in. This stuff, however, is nothing compaired to when you rescue an elemental from a shadow demon. At the end of the battle you approach the elemental and "absorb" it. The disturbing part is the doughy eyed look each elemental gives Kameo, and the seductive slanty eyed devil grin she returns accompanied by a throaty sexual moan. The demon then bursts into the air and "enters" Kameo, with explosive results. I'm not making this up and I'm not embelishing. I was laughing the first time I saw it, and groaning with emberassment the last time.

And so we come to the biggest sin of all. Control. In this day and age, consoles have a pretty set control layout for games across the board. There is no excuse for a game in which the player must struggle to control the characters adequately. So what happens when a game has shitty controls? Why isn't it caught? Why doesn't someone on quality control say something? Why is the elemental who is supposed to specialize in underwater realms not controlled with the analog sticks? Why is one of the trigger buttons used to thrust the creature forward? It's hard to describe how bad this is for gameplay. It's ackward and completely unnecessary.

The final insult? The last boss. He's a huge troll who can take lots of damage. I understand wanting to make a boss be able to absorb a gigantic amount of punishment, but when your designers decide that it should take a full 10 minutes of constant attacks to down your last boss, that's unforgivable. Yes, it literally takes 10 minutes to beat the last guy. When I say, constant attacks, I mean it. If you don't use this certain elemental's attack, it would probably take 4 times as long. I'm not kidding.

It's especially odd for this game as well. Every previous boss battle involves finding some kind of weak point and exploiting it. Sort of a mini puzzle. The game trains you to think like that. Then you get to the final guy and the game just says, "Forget all the intelligent boss design. Just hit this guy. Hit him a bunch until he falls down." Why?

That's it for my Kameo rant. It was 20 bucks. It was fun in places, so I'm not too disappointed. Whatever.


Mike said...

Hi Phil.

I'm in your website, reading your blog.


Meraud said...

i think you mean blogz.

if you're going to reference and internet meme, do it right for fucks sake.

it's nice to have you here snookums.

Mike said...

No, I mean blog.

What internet meme are you referring to?

Meraud said...

I'm in ur base
killin ur d00dz

Mike said...

What is this base, and whom are these, as you put it, d00dz?

Meraud said...


well this degenerated into...something

thanks mike.

Mike said...

I hate you, Phil.

Mike said...

I'm sorry baby, I didn't mean it, you know I love you.

On topic: bad design.


Dear Phil, please use your powers of good and blogginess to explain just W.T.F.