Red Faction Guerrilla: On Multi-Player

After the recent last article I actually have something more I say about Red Faction: Guerrilla before letting the game go. I have actually spent a lot of time with the game. Most of it playing multi-player. For once because I wanted to once get in such an on-line gaming community. So far I’ve been playing multi-player only very briefly. So I was never quite able to fully understand the cultural idiosyncrasies of communities like the one around Halo multi-player. I wanted to find out what the fuzz is about. The other reason was that I’m a shameless achievement whore.

Red Faction Ostrich

I have spent a significant portion of my lifetime grinding this game and all I got was this silly ostrich…

It was interesting. I gained a few insights which I would like to share with you. Generally I think there is a lot wrong with how the multi-player in that game works. The basic blocks are in place, they are just not fully thought-trough. They expose fundamental problems with how game designers approach multi-player today.

Continue reading “Red Faction Guerrilla: On Multi-Player”

Red Faction Guerrilla: Collectibles Review

Collectibles. Fellow German co-blogger Pasco commented recently that collectibles are one of the characteristics of modern games. Also, the always superb Experience Points Podcast discussed collectibles as part of their “In Search of Secrets” Episode. Finally, being an achievement whore myself, collectibles are something I deal with on a regular basis. More than enough reasons to take a closer look at them. And in fact, for such a seemingly simple gameplay element there are quite a few variations on how they can be implemented. So many that I have been struggling to write a definite review. Instead, I decided to start yet another category of posts: the Collectibles Reviews. I will do separate reviews of implementations of collectibles in different games and hopefully, after some time, we will start seeing patterns of what works and why.

Red Faction: Guerrilla Opener

Mars. You will never find a more deceitful hive of collectibles and hidden doodads. We must be cautious.

I’d like to start with Red Faction: Guerrilla. For once because it is the game I’m currently playing and as I mentioned in the podcast, a surprisingly decent game. But also because it is a game that has A LOT of collectibles.

Continue reading “Red Faction Guerrilla: Collectibles Review”

Podcast Episode 4: News

And here is yet another AMAZING podcast episode. We thought it was shorter, but it isn’t really. However, we do cover more topics in the same ammount of time.

Harvest Mania Screenshot

Among this show’s topics: Yu-Chung talks about his new game – Harvest Mania (and also demonstates his ignorance of such super-important things like RickRolling).

Download Episode 4 (39MB, 84 Minutes long)
RSS Feed for the Podcast
iTunes link

This time we gather to share with you 3 exiting pieces of news with you. All three are about or current game projects. We kick it off with some talk about games like Street Fighter which become a recurring theme of this episode.

Music as always by Dualton / Patrick Keuthen

Feel free to leave a comment. We are very eager to hear your opinion.
(Pssst, you could really help me out here. You know, I’m fine with how things go but it’s getting increasingly more difficult to motivate the other guys ;-) )

Fallout 3: Survival by Default

Judging by my recent posts on Mass Effect one might come to the conclusion I was a Fallout 3 fan. Both games are often compared when discussing modern western RPGs. I think their relationship is quite complimentary. The one has strengths where the other has weaknesses. Nevertheless, I indeed think that Fallout 3 offers a more complete, insightful and better crafted experience.

Fallout 3 Negative Effects

-1 Endurance due to minor radiation poisoning. No word about the adverse effects of not eating or sleeping for weeks.

But that doesn’t mean it is without flaws. This time around I would address a particular, not quite obvious problem. It is a hereditary disorder – a feature that Fallout 3 inherited from previous RPGs but one that turns out to have devastating effects in the specific environment of Fallout 3. I’m speaking of the fact that like in many RPGs, the mere survival of your character in the wilderness is taken for granted.

Continue reading “Fallout 3: Survival by Default”

Podcast Episode 3: HD Gaming

We still haven’t established a real posting pattern. So surprisingly, here is yet another exciting Game Design Reviews Podcast Show episode.

Download Episode 3 (47MB, 102 Minutes long)
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Join us on this episode as we geek out about the advantages and troubles of HD Gaming. We discuss our gaming setups and the experience we had putting them together. We also discuss quality issues and the style of the HD games.

  • 0:00:00 Introduction
  • 0:02:10 General Gaming Setup
  • 0:22:51 XBOX 360 versus Playstation 3
  • 0:36:32 The quest for quality
  • 1:07:32 Entering HD: The User Experience
  • 1:18:02 Conclusion and wrapup: How HD-Gaming Improved our lives
  • 1:23:80 Games That Nobody Played: This time the Polish ├╝ber-underground super-retro Strategy game Kolony (Google translation from Polish)

Music as always by Dualton / Patrick Keuthen

Feel free to leave a comment. We are very eager to hear your opinion.

Okami: Disapointments

This is my (very) subjective review of Okami. To summarize it: I can’t play the game. It’s unbelievably unplayable for me, due to shockingly bad details.

Ever since it was released on PS2 and got rave reviews about its style and concept I wanted to play, even own it. Then Yu-Chung reviewed it and even mentioned that a Wii version would be released. Over one year ago I purchased the Wii version but haven’t played it until now, due to the lack of time and my backlog. Last evening I could play it at last.

Okami Wii Boxart

Great box design, i really love it.

But boy, was I shocked about how bad some simple aspects of the game turned out. They made me end my playing session after approximately 30 minutes of (play)time.

Continue reading “Okami: Disapointments”

Mass Effect: Massive Interface Fail Part III

Welcome to the third and last part of the Massive Interface Fail Trilogy. In this series of articles I’m discussing the manifold interface design shortcomings in BioWare’s Next-Gen RPG Sci-Fi blockbuster Mass Effect.

Star Wars Characters have interface problems too

- “Ok, Artoo. Now zoom out. NO! Don’t close the galaxy map! Goddamn Artoo, if I only had a healthy hand, I’d smack you!

As previously stated, almost EVERY screen in Mass Effect contains at least one major interface design flaw. In previous parts (Part I here and part II here) we already discussed many parts of the interface – from extremely common screens such as the HUD to more obscure but not better-designed parts like the “Recovered Items” menu. This time, I would like to address the remaining parts of the interface. They are remarkable because they include what seems like the most commonly praised parts of the interface. In reviews of Mass Effect it is often the galaxy map and the conversation menu which receive some favorable mentions. While I do understand why, that doesn’t mean they are well-executed from the standpoint of interface design – sadly. So let us finish this epic saga by taking a closer look at those audience favorites.

Continue reading “Mass Effect: Massive Interface Fail Part III”

Mass Effect: Massive Interface Fail Part II

Welcome to the second chapter of the Massive Interface Fail Trilogy. In this series of articles I’m discussing the manifold interface design shortcomings in BioWare’s Next-Gen RPG Sci-Fi blockbuster Mass Effect.

Mass Effect Interface Fail 2 Teaser

Ok, I admit I haxxored this one to drive the point home. But from here on only genuine screenshots, honestly.

As previously stated, almost EVERY screen in Mass Effect contains at least one major interface design flaw. In the fist chapter we discussed the first superficial parts of the interface such as character generation and the in-game HUD. We also briefly dipped into the more hard-core parts of the interface by taking a look at the character management screen. Today, we shall tackle all the parts of the interface that deal with items, because it’s exactly here where the Mass Effect team made their most severe mistakes.

Continue reading “Mass Effect: Massive Interface Fail Part II”

Mass Effect: Massive Interface Fail Part I

Mass Effect received a lot of praise when it came out. It still receives a lot of it. It is considered as one of the prime examples of next-gen western RPGs. It is a status I don’t think it quite deserved. Yes, Mass Effect offers a visually and thematically rich, cinematic experience. But that thin veneer only barely covers an otherwise amazingly unpolished game. It is a game with great but unfulfilled ambitions. In that sense, it is an prime example of western RPGs, indeed.

Mass Effect Opener

“You won’t get away with your sloppy interface design this time. I’m gonna track you down.”

One can argue a lot about the various shortcomings of the game and whether or not they bear a significance to judge the game. But one particular area leans itself pretty well to a thorough analysis as it provides some tangible evidence to root the debate on actual facts. Almost EVERY screen in Mass Effect contains at least one major interface design flaw. When discussing this with fellow gamers, my observation was often met with disbelief. So I set out to list all of Mass Effect’s interface design flaws.

The endeavor turned out to be more laborious than I thought. The first draft was over 7500 words long. It became one of the reasons why I wasn’t able to post for such a long time. I decided to split the article into an epic trilogy of interface failure – somewhat fitting considering the game is an epic space opera. So without further ado, let us open up the first chapter. In a world of bad design choices and poor execution, there was one game that ruled them all…

Continue reading “Mass Effect: Massive Interface Fail Part I”

Podcast Episode 2: Flower, Square/Enix Concert

We are currently trying to establish a regular podcasting pattern. Or goal so far was 2 weeks but since it’s the first podcast we do, there might be delays. Like this time. But anyway, here is another exciting episode.

Download Episode 2 (42MB, 90 Minutes long)
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iTunes link now availible!

In this episode, we come back to GDC Europe once more to discuss the Flower keynote by Kellee Santiago. Also, we discuss a recent Square/Enix symphonic concert we visited. Finally, we talk about Battlefield Heroes, FPS controls on consoles and rom cartridges. Here is a more detailed breakdown:

  • 0:02:40 Flower: motion control
  • 0:09:00 Flower: prototypes & maintaining vision
  • 0:20:30 Square/Enix concert
  • 0:33:45 Secret of Mana
  • 0:43:25 New audience in concerts
  • 0:49:52 Battlefield Heroes
  • 1:07:00 FPS controls on consoles
  • 1:16:05 Bad experiences with ROM flash cartridges
  • 1:25:25 Games That Nobody Played: Lost in Blue

Music as always by Dualton / Patrick Keuthen

Feel free to leave a comment. We are very eager to hear your opinion.


Game Design Reviews is a Blog used by a group of game designers from Germany to publish and discuss their thoughts on various games. The blog consists entirely of reviews of games. Each review focuses on the important game design ideas and concepts of that particular game. We also run a second, more informal Blog called Game Design Scrapbook.


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