Final Thoughts

All good things must come to an end. The semester is coming to a close, finals are here, and the last assignments are due. Now class is over, I want to share my thoughts about my class experiences: What I liked, and what I think can be better.

For one, I think we could have spent more time learning how to use Unity. Never mind that I think we shouldn’t have been introduced to Unity at all because I think it’s confusing and if you want to change something, sometimes you have to rewrite a lot of code to make it work. I made the mistake of using it in lieu of a program I was more familiar with (GameMaker) for the Final Team Project. But if you are going to keep using it, please spend more time instructing with it. Like, two week’s worth of lessons on the subject. I felt like this class was less practical and more theory in terms of lessons right up until the individual and team projects.

I, and my team, also didn’t totally get the Team Information Documents. That’s something we’ve never done before, weren’t given instruction on how it should look in class, and given the online rubric, I thought we did fine. But we got a pitiful grade on it, and I don’t understand why.

Finally, I really don’t get why we needed our Individual Prototypes to work on Macintoshes, or to upload it online. I mean, it would be just 10 times easier to publish it to Windows as an executable. Which is what I did, since I had no other choice. I spent a 2 good days on that project and got a big fat zero as a reward. Thanks.

But there is much to like about this course. I liked the team building activites, like the Tic-Tac-Toe thing. I liked the lectures and the readings; I always thought they were engaging. I thought the Quizzes were generally fair (except for that one question about the most used platform. Coffee Tables? Really?). I liked the professors, even. Professors Stubbs and Pursel are very passionate about what they teach.

So, those are my closing thoughts. What do you think?

And to the Professors: I know this post may seem very gripey, but don’t take these criticisms personally. I am only trying to be constructive. I liked this class. and I think it could be better.

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Brawlhalla (Game feature)

Growing up, I’ve played a lot of fighting games like Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Marvel vs. Capcom and so on. I haven’t had the chance to play brawl games like super smash bros early on but I’ve known of it. I never quite understood the fad around it until I started playing a brawl like game called Brawlhalla on the PC. The first ever brawl game on PC, mind you.


Brawlhalla was released on Steam in around 2016 and as I played it over the course of a few months, I realized the potential that this game has in the professional scene. I also realized the technicality and the high amount of skills you can posses in a brawl type game. It’s quite an intense game genre and I regret that I haven’t gotten in on the action early on with games like Super Smash Bros Brawl. And I was stunned to find out that Brawlhalla was the only brawl game on PC. I figured since Smash Bros was such a hit on Nintendo, there had to be a game that was in some way shape or form, resembling smash bros that some company made for the PC.

Brawlhalla is a free game on Steam that you can download now. It has in game purchases for character and weapons among other things. It’s a really fun game and it’s nice especially when I’m taking breaks when studying because games usually last only a few minutes. So it’s really nice to have games that are short yet satisfying.

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Reflection: VR/AR Experience

I want to start off by saying that I enjoyed my experience with VR and AR in the lab! I was able to try the Oculus, VIVE, and HoloLens. All three offered a different experience and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to try each on.

Personally, I liked the in-depth nature of the gaming experience offered by this form of gaming. When it comes to being immersed in the game world, I feel the VIVE offered the most psychologically engaging experience for me. I recall there being a moment, in my play through of Job Simulator, where I almost sat down thinking I was in an actual office with a chair! I didn’t break the barrier of thinking I was actually in the game world with the Oculus or the HoloLens.

While using the Oculus, I still felt like I was playing a video game. I wasn’t moving around with my own feet–I was teleporting. The experience was still great for me. I was able to enjoy the gaming experience in a more immersive way. But I didn’t feel that I was actually in the game world; it didn’t break that wall for me.

The last device I used was the HoloLens. I was interested in this one particularly because I’d seen Demetrius Johnson use it. The fact it maps of the room is amazing to me. Even now, I can think off all these applications for AR. Imagine it mapping objects in your room that become available to use in game! That’d be awesome! My main complaint with the HoloLens is the small field of vision it offers. We’ll have to see how the design is improved upon going forward.

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Hyper Light Driftor – Game Review

There aren’t a lot of indie game reviews here, so I figured I should do one on a game I played a few months ago.


One of the first indie games I purchased was Hyper Light Drifter and it was on Steam for PC. It’s got good ratings but what enticed me to buy the game was it’s beautiful artwork. The game is a rogue-like RPG game that wanted to focus on its narrative with visuals only. So it basically doesn’t have any dialogue. And since it’s an RPG, you’d be hard pressed to finish the game in a reasonable amount of time. With no hint system available, you’re really on your own in the wild world that is Hyper Light Drifter.



The game starts us off with a cut scene, again, with no dialogue or subtext. Just a slideshow of images of the character fighting against what seems like his foes. And towards the end, it shows a friend of what seems like the protagonist, in a hospital bed. And then the game transitions to gameplay. And it seems like you’re supposed to help this friend but it isn’t clear at this point. As you play the game and travel around, you come across an interact-able set of objects that are arranged in a star. And it seems like the game objective is to collect a special item to fill up these objects.

As the game goes on, you meet different NPCs and you can ‘converse’ with them, but instead of there being dialogue, the game shows a series of pictures for the player to interpret. I thought that was a cool idea. The game sort of throws the ball in the player’s court and lets the player decide what to make of the interactions with the different diegetic elements.




One of the more interesting aspect of the game was it’s unique gameplay mechanic. The character starts off with a sword with two basic move sets for heavy and light attacks. The character is also able to dash towards a direction, which can be used to leap small gaps, avoid projectiles and enemy attacks. Players are also able to upgrade characteristics of the player such as unlocking new combos for both light and heavy attacks. There’s also a gun that you can purchase where ammo is recharged by either killing enemies or breakin any objects within the game.




The game doesn’t seem very intimidating in the start but quickly picks up the pace as you progress through the levels. The AI is very interesting considering it’s an indie game. The enemies actually try to avoid your attacks and make it harder for you to attack them. And the enemies do get progressively harder as you play the game. Some enemies evolve, intensifying their attacks as their health drops. And more often than not, you’ll be looking for medkits as you’ve just finished a level, barely alive by the skin of your teeth.

Hyper Light Driftor is definitely an interest game that definitely the money’s worth. Even though it’s a hefty $15 for a relatively short game, it boasts a great and unique gameplay style that challenges players and brings a new experience to the rogue-like genre.

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Battlefield 1 – Spring Update (300 KILLS?!!?!)

What are you even doing, DICE?

Today, I’d like to talk about the newest update for Battlefield 1. The update included some new features: Platoons (clans), “Medic revive intent” (let downed teammates know you’re coming to revive them), and new ribbons and dogtags. Those are nice and all, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Instead, today, I want to talk about one of the most perplexing decisions DICE has made to date. With the update, DICE introduced four new weapon variants. These are variants of weapons you unlock by reaching level 10 with a class, and only the base variant existed before the update, unlike most other class primary weapons, which have 3 variants. What annoyed me the most about this update is how you unlock these weapons.

Now normally, you unlock weapons and vehicle kits with “warbonds”; a kind of currency you get by leveling up. For weapons released after launch, they are instead unlocked by challenges. Case and point: you unlock the RSC 1917 Factory with 50 kills with the M1907 Sweeper and by performing 75 revives.

It takes 300 kills with the base variants to unlock these new variants.

Why would you even do this, DICE?! Why torture us like this?! Who came to the conclusion that there needed to be such a high bar to unlock these new weapons?! That’s 1200 kills in total! That’s going to take me ages!

And on top of that, you need 25 kills with various class gadgets. I’ve already completed 25 Rifle Grenade kills and 25 Limpet Charge kills for the Sebstlader 1906 Sniper and the Huot Automatic Optical, respectively, and I’ll get 25 bayonet charge kills for the Martini Henry Sniper naturally, but I also need 25 AT Mine kills for the Hellriegel 1915 Defensive. After two hours of consciously trying to get AT Mine kills, I got 6. Before the update, I had 11, and that was after playing ~260 hours. AT Mines are too visible, destructible, and niche to be a viable class gadget. You’re better off using another Assault gadget instead in most circumstances.

Oh, and not to mention the Martini Henry Sniper is complete trash. It has a bullet velocity half that of most sniper rifles, and a medium range “sweet spot” (range where bullets do 100% damage to the chest). Garbage decision making, I think.

I’m still going to complete these challenges; I’m too stubborn and addicted to back down, and I get the feeling DICE, or rather EA, knows that.

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Nintendo Switch Review

When Nintendo first announced the Switch many, including myself, were skeptical about its future success. My brother, being the hardcore Nintendo fanboy that he is, had his finger on the Amazon pre-order trigger as soon as he possibly could. Fortunately for me, that means that I occasionally (rarely) get the chance to play his Switch.

The Screen

The Switch’s screen turned out to be very vibrant and great looking overall. Coming in with expectations of a screen similar to a 3DS, my expectations were not very high, but I can say that Nintendo did very well in this category, and I think perfectly balanced display brightness / resolution / color output with relation to the battery life of the device.

Build Quality

When you first pick up a switch, the feeling you get is without a doubt that of a premium one. The matte black finish feels very nice to the touch, leaving minimal fingerprints on the controller. The overall construction feels very solid and the casing demonstrates almost not flex when I tried bending it. The JoyCon controllers feel very nice in the hand and the analog and buttons do as well.

The Battery

One of my biggest complaints with today’s mobile console market is battery life. Unfortunately, the Switch falls short in this category for me as well. When playing games such as BoTW I was only able to squeeze 2-3 hours of battery life on the go. I personally would like this to be much higher in the 5-6-hour range, but I understand performance-battery life tradeoffs had to be made. Fortunately, you can charge your Switch with a USB-C and any portable battery. Unfortunately, Nintendo made one of the most ridiculous design choices ever and made the charger port on the bottom of the switch, therefore not allowing the user to have the Switch in kickstand-mode and be charged simultaneously.


The performance of the console will vary from game to game, but generally the console’s performance does suffer at random times. Lag spikes can be randomly observed when played the Switch due to the fact that the Switch renders in 900p when in docked mode and 720p natively on its own display. The causes somewhat sporadic performance as sometimes rendering games such as BoTW in 900p is too much for the Switch to handle.

Pro Controller

Many gamers prefer to play more serious games using a dual analog controller. Nintendo created a new iteration of theirs specifically for the Switch. The MSRP of Pro Controller is currently at $70, which is quite steep as far as console controller prices go. Nevertheless, I must say, the Pro Controller does feel very nice to use. I personally prefer an Xbox 360 controller as my main controller, and the Pro controller is very similar to it in design. The buttons feel nice to press, the analog sticks have a nice feelings to rest your fingers on, and the triggers have a nice bounce and resistance to them.



The Switch is a very nice console and I definitely see it have potential. The main limitation for it right now is its limited selection of games to play, but hopefully that should be fixed in time with games like Super Mario Odyssey and the surprising amount of Indie developers that have signed on to create for the Switch.

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Videogames and Music

While looking up a topic for this blog, I found an article talking about videogame music and the Grammys. The article discussed Baba Yetu which was the first song made for a videogame to win a Grammy. The song was originally written for the opening theme of Civilization IV and won “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist” back in 2011. But Baba Yetu isn’t the only piece of videogame music to be nominated. In fact, Journey was nominated for “best score soundtrack for visual media” in 2012. I’m glad that videogame music is starting to get some more recognition, but I am wondering why it took so long.

Videogame music has always been fantastic, even in the 8 bit era. Back then, there was a limited amount of memory and notes that could be recorded, so the music was simplistic. But just because the music was simple does not mean it was not memorable. I’m sure if I played the Super Mario Bros. theme, everyone would recognize it instantly. Not to mention the Tetris, Mega Man 2, and Pac-Man theme songs. Just mentioning these songs causes the tunes to start playing in my head. They are catchy, they are fun, and they set the mood for each of their respective games. I am impressed that the musicians who made these theme songs were able to do so much with what little resources they had.

With the increase in memory and processing power, music has drastically changed. People now have the ability to hire complete orchestras to write the music for the games. Some games even have albums and the bands that go on tour playing the in-game music. Other games even use famous tunes throughout history. Just look at Fallout and its use of 1950’s music or Rock Band, where you actually get to play old and new songs. One could even argue that the quality of music in these games is comparable to that of movies.

But why do we need music in games? What does it do and how does it improve the player’s experience? Well like I stated before, music helps set the tone. It helps the player know how they should feel at a given cut scene, during a battle, or even before the game starts. For example, consider the intro music to The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker. It is such a happy and upbeat tune and when I hear it I know I’m about to embark on a great adventure.

It can also be used as a game mechanic. For example, it can be used to warn the player if an enemy is near, if they are approaching a new area, or if they are in a safe or dangerous zone. Again, let’s consider the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. In the game, anytime an enemy is nearby, distinct battle music begins to play. This helps change the mindset of the player and allows them to prepare for whatever awaits them. If the music is not playing, then they are free to explore with little fear of danger.

As one can see, videogame music plays an important role in games. It makes the world feel more alive and interesting, it gives the player clues on how to play the game, and it has given us plenty of catchy songs over the past decades. Games without music would not be the same, so the next time you design a game try and think of how you can use music to improve the experience.

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My VR Experience

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of using the school’s few Virtual Reality devices, and I gotta say: it was really fun, as I’m sure most of you have experienced first hand. I just wanted to document my experience and what my take-aways were.

I played on the Oculus Rift, which admittedly, would not be my first choice for a VR headset. For one, it was bought by Facebook, and I don’t like the whole “social integration” direction they’re taking the Oculus VR company in. It also wasn’t built from the ground-up for motion controls, unlike the HTC Vive, and it’s not as cheap as PlayStation VR. Still, on the whole, I thought the whole experience was solid. I’ll get back to my gripes about my headset experience later.

For the time allocated to me, I played Robo Recall. The game starts up, and I’m in a street looking at a store TV display case. The TVs in the store are showing a news report about robots supposedly running amok. Other, non-violent robots start to crowd around me in an orderly fashion to watch the news. Some of the robots make comments about statements from the RoboReady Corporation, the manufacturers of the robots, saying they trust the company’s denials about the situation. Suddenly, the TVs flash red with a QR code, and the robots start to sieze and malfunction. That is, until, they turn their attention to me, malice in their eyes. This does not look good…

They jump at me, I flinch in terror, sudden cut to black.

That little introductory experience had to have been one of the most immersive and frightening experiences I’ve ever seen. It’s not even a horror game, and it made me feel terrified!

Cut to an elevator, and voice tells me I am a new agent working for RoboReady as a “Recall Specialist.” Basically, it’s up to me to destroy these rogue robots. One of the first things I tried while in the elevator was try to grab at the elevator railing. It really felt like I could reach out and touch it! How cool is that?!

After a brief tutorial, I’m spawned into the streets to kick shiny metal butt. In short, the shooting gameplay I found to be very intuitive and rewarding. You grab weapons from your holster and shoot both exactly the way you would think you would. Soon, I was dodging bullets like Neo from the Matrix, plucking bullets out of thin air, and grabbing enemies by the handle on their back and ripping them limb from limb. Riot games knocked it out of the park by making the combat fun and easy to pick up.

One of my biggest gripes is the teleporting mechanic. You teleport by pushing the left stick up, then to the direction you want to face. Unlike Vive, in which you can face any direction freely, on the Rift, you need to be facing forward for the sensors to capture your movement. This makes what direction you face when teleporting key. Not only did this add an additional complexity to learning the teleport mechanic, but even after getting used to the controls, I was often briefly disoriented to my position and the positions of the enemies. This small problem becomes glaring in the middle of an intense firefight, when you’re being shot at from all directions and need to make a getaway, you can’t be fiddling so much with your only method of movement!

Overall, I was very pleased with my brief experience, aside from some fixable flaws. VR has some cost barriers to break down to be viable to the mainstream, but I think VR is here to stay.

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2017 Game Industry Reports Summary

Some of the impressions I got from the class are: game developers earn just a little portion of the profits; it’s really difficult to start a game studio so don’t expect your first game to be a hit; and that game developers don’t earn comparable salary compared to people with similar skills. (Sorry—I omitted the fun parts of the class.) I figured if I’m to enter the game and entertainment industry, or start a studio, it would be good to know more about the industry. I looked at a few widely-cited reports and here is a summary:

  1. Demographics

(Data from and

According to the 2017 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry from Entertainment Software Association, first some demographics info: the average gamer was 35 years old; I didn’t find gender distribution from the 2017 report, so here is the 2016 report from the same agency: male accounted for 59% of gamers; (which is lower than I thought, since most video games contents are male-oriented; and the fact that there’re only 3 girls in this class.) even considering most frequent gamer purchaser, male accounted for 60%.

2. Most Played

(Data from

Next comes the top sellers: COD was No. 1, followed by Battlefield 1, and GTA 5, Madden NFL 17, and NBA 2k 17. The best selling genres of videos games were kind of predictable, 1st being shooter, next action, RPG, sports, adventure, fighting, strategy, all other and racing. The factors that influence decision gave an incomplete lists because I only saw a few elements of games, no mechanics being mentioned. The first one, kind of surprisingly, was the graphics, next was price, and then interesting story. Although from what I observed, whether the game is fun to play or not (mechanics), is the most important thing.

3. Total Revenue and VR

(Data from and

VR: over 90% of PC and console VR owners were satisfied with purchases. 1 in 3 of the mfg said they were likely to buy VR in the next year. Actually, from the report: 2016 Year in Review, Digital Games and Interactive Media from SuperData, 2016 VR revenue was 2.7 B, among $91 billion total interactive entertainment revenue (worldwide). Given that 2016 was actually the first year of VR. The portion was very promising. (Among the 91 billion are 40 from mobiles, 35.8 from PCs, and 6.6 from consoles.) SuperData also projected VR to hit 17.8 Billion revue by 2019.

4. Market by Region

(data from and

The biggest video game consumer in the world is —- China, with a revenue of nearly 28 billion. Given that a LARGE number of games played in China are downloaded violating copyright. This number could be dozens time higher. U.S. closely follows with a revenue  of 25 billion. (As of April, 2017) Asia-pacific was the largest market (47%), followed by North America, Europe, (Europe and North America is almost the same. ) and Latin America. (As of 2016)

5. Income

(Data from

According to Entertainment Software Association, employees in the industry earned average compensation of 97,000 per year (2016). I am not sure about the median income though.

(After looking at the data, I feel better now.)


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Nostalgic for 90s Games

While I was writing the previous post and talking about whether game is fun to play is the most important thing. Two games immediately popped into my mind, Theme Hospital and Neighbours from the Hell, and I decided to write one more short post about them. I played these games when I was in middle school or elementary. These games were the among the start of the path leading to the checkpoint that I’m here, writing these post, and could possibly go to game industry in the future. I still like them after 10 years. And honestly, these games have really characteristic graphics as well (comics like something?) If they were to be released these few years, I don’t see they’d be consider outdated.

I think someone mentioned the theme hospital in his post. It was released in 1997. It’s simply a fun game, you run a hospital, and as you level up, more patients are flushed in, more equipment can be built and doctors meaner can be hired, and it gets difficult in the later levels. It’s also famous for the dark humor from the producer shouted out by the broadcast. and I still remember the broadcast say to the patients: Patients, DO NOT die in the hallways!

Another representative game is the Neighbours from the Hell. It was released in 2003. This is another fun game. It still get 10 out of 10 on steam. Basically you mess up with/prank you neighbor and his girlfriend because he’s a %$&# using objects near you.

As for artwork, while there’re more and more fancy 3D games, I feel like sometimes their 3D models come from the same set of modelers or artists and get me tired, so at times when I come across simple games like these that have a distinctive style, they immediately grasp my attention, and I think that’s a trend as well.

The other day I was discussing game ideas with other guys from the class, we came up with similar ideas with the Neighbor from the Hell. The mechanics of triple A RPGs are always similar, like backpack, fight to level up, collect treasures, open world…I mean I am a big fan of RPG games, but I get tired too. I think a couple of people express the similar thought in this blog that sometimes we don’t need realistic graphics and complex combating system to cover the flaw of fun mechanics.

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