Skip to main content

Divine Hindervention

I do not remember the last time I was actually excited to play a game, but Tales of Zestiria has managed to deliver.


If I had to try to guess why I’m enjoying it so much, it’s probably because they have set a very good pacing.  There is a colorful cast of characters, a good variety of locations to visit in the open world, and a story that drives you along at a merry pace that is well-conductive of adventure.

Due to trying to intersperse productivity between gaming sessions, I often limited myself to 1-hour-long sessions of Tales of Zestiria, and each time I came up for air I was pleasantly surprised at how much progress I felt like I made during that hour.  Perhaps I owe persistent state games for this feeling, because they generally stretch out the content to the point where nothing particularly new is introduced over a very long period of time.

Not only does Tales of Zestiria keep the story and its developments moving along at a far brisker pace than a typical persistent state game, the very game mechanics perpetuate this trend.  It seems like something new is introduced to the way the game is played every time I turn around:
  • At first, combat is simply a matter of mashing the attack button.  
  • Then they introduce "hidden artes," special combat moves activated by the other button.  
  • Then I learn about blocking and how it is important to replenish the fuel of your attacks.  
  • Some time later, the ability to merge with your saraphim partners.
  • Exploiting elemental weaknesses in enemies becomes essential.
  • Dodging attacks at the right time becomes important.
  • And so on; this barely scratches the surface of all the mechanics that are introduced over time.
There's actually 78 monoliths in the game that you can find in the world and read, each discussing an aspect of the game (with a few repeats).  They provide only supplemental tips to various mechanics introduced over time.   It is like every Tales game added a new layer, and so this is one formidable onion!
With a hex edit, Tales of Zestiria can run surprisingly well in ultrawide.
Of course, I could knitpick a bit:
  • You are expected to grind monsters, although the combat is deep enough that this is not as monotonous as it could be.
  • Real time combat keeps things fun, but I miss the depth of a more strategic, less twitch system.
  • You can get away with button mashing in combat more than I like.  Granted, you will be a lot more effective if you know what you are doing.
  • The environments, while varied and imaginative, are clearly low poly in order to facilitate the original hardware that the game was released on.
  • The equipment system, while interesting in the unique systems introduced, is somewhat frustrating because it's quite difficult to simultaneously upgrade my equipment and slot the gear I want.
Yet, the way I feel about Tales of Zestiria now, I would probably be on board with playing the "new game plus" mode a bit once I finish it.  I'm a Tales fan, and it's about time.

Development:

As I just finished saying over on Reddit:
After two weeks of mulling over the drawing board, I decided I had enough of staring at Unity doing hardly anything and embarked upon revamping some core systems in the direction of creating a playable game.

I think the trouble was I was trying to skip some important steps because I figured I ought to be good enough.  Lets say the steps went something like this:
  1. Create a tile engine.
  2. Create a static (non-procedural) world as a test bed.
  3. Slowly introduce content (tiles, items, monsters, gameplay mechanics) until you have a pretty good core experience.
  4. Once the gameplay is looking good, start offloading the static assets in favor of procedural generation until the game is entirely (or nearly entirely) procedural.
  5. Add some factional conflicts that produce visible changes to the procedural world.
  6. You now have a tile based game with solid gameplay and procedural content that is regularly being changed through factional conflicts.
I basically was attempting to skip #2 and cram #3-#5 into #3.  This is a bit of a problem because, while I have some cool ideas, I can't really visualize the whole of everything right away.  But I kept on trying, because I figured if I wracked my brain for long enough I would succeed.

Forget it.  I've wracked my brain for long enough and time's up.  I decided instead to integrate things in at smaller pace that better facilitates experimentation.  With this change in milestones, I was finally able to release myself from drawing board hell and actually return to coding things.  Feels good.
So hey, the ball is still a-rollin'...

Boring Real Life:

...but I know for a fact I would have gotten a bit more done if I weren't distracted with babysitting today.  The nephew said he was bored of the games I wanted to play, so instead I got to play the Orcish Inn demo a bit.  But that's a large kettle of fish for another blog entry.  For now, the weekend is over, as ludicrously quick as always.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Sometimes, The Cat Skins You

The formula for cat girls is simple enough: young girls are cute, cats are cute, so young girls who are also cats are cute times two, right?  ... Cat Planet Cuties (a.k.a Asobi ni Iku yo) does not stop there, it includes girls with guns, nudifying weaponry, and even failed romantic comedy that shows lots of skin.  Cat's out of the bag: Cat Planet Cuties is basically straight up wish fulfillment.

The overall plot is pretty simple.  The Catians are a race so advanced that they have not changed in over 70,000 years.  They discover Earth, a planet whose people have uncanny resemblances, right down to speaking the same language!  Desiring an escape from their cultural stagnation, they rename their own planet from Earth to Catia and dispatch a scout to assess the viability of first contact with this new Earth inhabited by humans.  High jinks ensue.

Other than an excuse to see some fun sci-fi devices, the plot sucks. Let me count the ways:
Kio Kakazu - The male center of our harem, a 1…