Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas magic + bedazzles Indie Royale ! Proves nothing is Impossible !

So, the BIG BIG news is out already :D ! Did you hear it?

Yes , yes, our game "Christmas magic +" is debuting DRM free on Windows, Linux and Mac exclusively on Indie Royale's latest xmas bundle titled "The Debut 8" ! And even greater news which overjoys me completely is that it has been chosen to be a Secret Bonus game for generous users who pay $5 or more for the bundle ! So, technically, we are the best game of the bundle :) ! Way to go L'il Pono, we are one step closer to world domination !

Its an even bigger news locally, as we are the first Indian PC game ever,let alone indie or corporate, to be featured on any kind of bundle, let alone be chosen as a bonus game ! Christmas Magic + has created ripples in the Indian gaming industry and I am sure the news will encourage even more aspire-rs to make their own games and live their dreams !  While scores of gaming studios were busy making clones of other hit games, this unique little game quietly made it into the international circuit.If a game made by two dreamers can make it at the world stage, then nothing is impossible !

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Magic-al Storybook is now on MangoReader !

Hope this Christmas brings some good news for everyone, it sure did for us and the fans of L'il Pono. For all the people who do not own an iPad, the mesmerising tale of L'il Pono and The Magical Tree is now available on the awesome MangoReader website on PC and on the MangoReader App n the Android store !

MangoReader is a fantastic new platform that is going places with its interactive storybooks and the ability for users to create their own if they wish to. Christmas Magic has also been selected to be part of the Christmas Story pack which is also available as a separate app on the Google Play Store.

Here are the links for the Storybook on PC:

and on the Google Play Store:

So, get clicky on these links and get yourself and your family a warm christmas tale and gift your friends the best xmas gift in town :) !

For people, who want the full epxerience of the game and the storybook, the game app is available on the Appstore for iPad here:
For people who don't game on the iPad, well, lets say soe awesome news is inbound in just a little more time : wink wink  :)! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Something special is cooking up for Christmas Magic this year !

Hmm....I will just leave this little video here and let the mystery deepen :)

What is it? What is happening this Christmas ? Well, the mystery will unfold in just a little more time :) ! So, keep your eyes n ears open and visit here often, Christmas ain't far now !

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Doom 3 can do a Last of Us !

Yes ! My Doom 3 can !

Okay, so what is the most striking thing that The Last of Us does well in terms of graphics ? Well, there are actually a lot, but two things stand out prominently:

  1. The character models and their animation which Doom 3 can never match being a much older game
  2. The superbly fantastic lighting in the game, including realtime global illumination cast by the Flashlight ! and that is what we are talking about here!
The realtime GI being cast by the flashlight is a first for any game to make it to the final retail version. Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl had a realtime GI system but it was never optimised enough to work in the game. I tried it out once by enabling it via console commands, but that was about it. Guerrilla Games also had a realtime solution working for their superb game Killzone 2, but it was also never optimised enough to work in any of their games, including Killzone 3. Crysis 2 implemented it for the Sunlight but it finally worked only on the PC version. The console versions were again left in the lurch.

 But Naughty Dog finally cracked the nut with The Last of Us. You must have noticed that when you walk around in its many corridors with your flashlight turned ON, then the light from the flashlight bounces off from the walls, objects, floor or ceiling to nearby walls and objects. The colour from various objects also bounces off and falls all around. That is the effect I love and want in all games and guess what : it turns out my old and gold, good old Doom 3 can do it too :

Check out the bounced light on the wall on the left !
Check out this (super dark) screenshot from Doom 3 running on my PC and you can see realtime GI in all its glory !

So, how did it happen? Well, the game doesn't have it natively but if you install Sikkmod, a graphics mod, for Doom3, then you can enable SSIL in the game. SSIL stands for Screen Space Indirect Lighting. It is a way of calculating GI only in screen space and so is not perfect but still it gets the job done if you tune its settings well. Let me show you some more screens with some SSIL goodness :

Aren't those Suweet !!! :)

The game with Sikkmod and Wulfen Texture pack can rival the newer games in terms of graphics and atmosphere, it looks so damn good ! The art direction really stand the test of time and with the newer effects like HDR, SSAO,SSIL, Bloom,Soft Shadows, DOF and Colour grading the game just looks Fantabulous !

Here are a few shots showing specifically the SSIL turned ON and OFF, showing you the subtle effect:

Here is SSIL OFF:

And here it is turned ON, Notice the indirect light on the ceiling:

Ok, here's another with SSIL OFF:
And here's the same place with SSIL ON:
Notice the areas close to the ground ! See it !

Doom 3's Sikkmod trumps The Last of Us in a way since it calculates GI for all lights where as The Last of Us calculates GI only for the flashlight, that too only in a few levels. But SSIL isn't really true GI, its just a Screen space approximation which gives wild varying results depending on the view. So, yes, it isn't better in any way.......... but hey ! at least out Doom 3 , an age old game, now does look superb and better than many current game :) !

I will update the article with a video link soon, showing Doom 3 in all its glistening glory, but that will take time. So , stay glued and stay tuned and in the meanwhile, go give your old copy of Doom3 a spin with the new mods ! Trust me, this old gem is still more fun than many newer games !

PS: Sikkmod and Wulfen Texture pack can be easily found on Desura. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Apocalypse : My new MP mode for The Last Of Us !

We all know that multi-player as well as single player DLC for The Last of Us is coming soon and all wise gamers have already bought the Season Pass for it. As my last article must have clearly shown you all, I am completely in love with this game and consider it the epitome of good game design. The game is so good that either I am playing it or I am always thinking about it.

          While on one of those daydreaming trips of  mine :) I came up with an idea for a fantastic  MP mode for The Last of Us which could retain the multiplayer flavour we love, but also give us a real feel of surviving the apocalypse while fighting with real people and not AI. How can we have the SP mode's world and add real people instead of the AI and have a "real" survival game? How it would really feel in the apocalyptic future with rare supplies, rival factions and the infected roaming the world !

 The result, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call the : Apocalypse mode ! :) It is not a co-op mode, it is not a horde mode...

...the rules are pretty simple :

Phase 1:

  • 2 teams start at their basecamps A and B with limited set of 'tickets' or 'spawns', like say in Battlefield
  • The players rush to pick up supplies from different areas on the map just like in Survival or Raid while fending off enemy players.
  •  along with supplies, You also get "Parts" or "tickets " from these supply points now. The supplies belong to each player for crafting weapons but these "Parts" have to be deposited back into their base to earn more 'tickets' for your team. If you die while carrying them back, your teammates or the enemy players can pick them up again.
  • The supply points are littered all over the map, just like in Raid or Survival and you scuttle between your base and the next supply point to gather tickets and supplies.
  • You can have your team to defend you while only one guy does it, or all team members can scuttle off to different supply points to gather as many as they can.
  • Do whatever you can , plan to get as much supplies and parts and prevent the other team from delivering the parts to their base to keep their tickets down OR just steal their parts and deliver to your base ! Team work gets rewarded.
Phase 2:
  • After a set amount of time OR when all supply points have been looted,  the 'Apocalypse' begins and the infected arrive from two points on the map. Both teams get engaged in surviving the infected wave as well surviving each other.
  • No supply points exist now. Use whatever supplies you have left from Phase 1 and loot what you can from dead bodies of the enemy team or the infected.
  • Fight the infected, stealth kill them, bomb them, Do whatever you can and but keep an eye out for the enemy team too. Total survival !
  • The team which survives till the end of the wave or has more tickets when all the infected have been wiped out, wins the round.

   We can have three rounds where in each round the Infected get more and more dangerous.

  • First round : invaded by Runners.
  • Second round: Runners + Clickers invade the match
  • Third Round : Runners, clickers and two Bloaters !!
  Each team can go for either collecting stuff quickly and hiding from the enemy team, saving their tickets and bombs for the infected attack or making the other team weak by killing them off as much as they can and looting their supplies and tickets. But then, during fights, they themselves will also lose supplies required for surviving the Infected ! Multiple strategies are possible keeping each round fresh and unique ! The presence of the Infected and 'real world' rival people makes for the perfect "Apocalypse" survival experience possible in the world of The Last Of Us! :) Whatcha say !

Different Map features like hutments, natural landscape features like drop-offs can add to the survival fun while being pursued by the Infected.  This can be insanely fun :) !  This could be so much more than just a plain co-op mode against the infected or a tower defence stuff that every game seems to have now.

      The rules are simple and so is the implementation and I am really hoping  that instead of a straight up co-op mode, ala Uncharted, Naughty Dog listens and incorporates something like this it into the forthcoming DLC. If you guys have more suggestions on improving this or more maps designs, do put them in the comments!  Do Tweet it, like or G+ it and let ND hear ! ALso, if you haven't already, check out my previous article on the excellence of The Las of Us:

The Last of Us: A Masterclass in Game Design !

C'mon Naughty Dog, let the community design some maps n modes for you :) !

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Last of Us: A Masterclass in Game Design

…and I am back ! …after a week of being submerged in a world so captivating, soothing, disturbing, thrilling, challenging, intoxicating, mesmerizing and so magical that returning from it to the real world leaves me just wanting to go right back into it :)! I am talking about absolutely stellar game by Naughty Dog called The Last of Us ! Need I say more? Its time to dive in .......:)

The review scores all around had already prepared us all for a great game but the game’s geatness is far beyond what can be just measured by review scores or journalist reviews. This is a labour of love, a tale as much of the two protagonists as it is of the absolutely fabulous team of people who conceived it and brought it to life. Each and every room, scene, dialogue, expression and sound has a story to tell, and exists as a robust and independent entity supporting the other entities as aptly as possible. To find faults in this game is a waste of time, not because they are obvious or because there are none, but because that time will be much better spent in appreciating and learning from what the game has successfully achieved ! The game is what I would call a masterclass in game making and game design. Each level, each dialogue and each game mechanic has a specific and precise purpose and combined together they create a very specific mood which you cannot miss or not feel.

Since there are so many learning experiences in this game and each element interdependent on others , its difficult to put them in points, but lets try to list them in a bit of organized manner:
  • Building a bond with the characters using gameplay: The biggest marvel of The Last of Us is its ability to make you feel for and cry for the characters within its first 10 minutes of game time ! Yes, stories and games make you go through hours of cut scenes, tears and extremes to make you feel sadness or love for a character. Shadow of The Colossus made you feel for Agro, but it took half of the game to forge that bond. MGS3 made your throat choke, but it took the full game to set you up for that end scene but the Last of Us accomplishes it in 10 minutes ! How? I think the answer lies in the apt use of gaming medium itself. First of all, the very first character you play as is Sarah ! Not Joel but Sarah. Its a brief segment, but it makes the player instantly connect with her. Had she been just a cutscene character there would haven't been the same impact of her death on the player. They used the medium,the controller, the ability to be a character in a game to intensify the impact manifold. Also, you watch all hell break lose as Sarah, as a victim, but as soon as the fear or tension starts building up and you feel the need to act, as a gamer, they instantly shift you to playing as Joel, the Dad, the guardian. You carry her in your hands through the apocalypse. You feel the fear as Sarah but you act as her Dad, so you are the victim but the responsibility is also yours. That controller in your hand ensures you feel that whatever will happen will be a result of my actions. And you do it, you save her and take her away from harm, a satisfaction in your heart and then......the final punch arrives : Sarah isn't killed by the infected but by humans ! You saved her from the apocalypse only to be killed by a human!  Even the part in cutscene is handled superbly. You first see that Joel is safe, free from harm, only to realise that it means its Sarah who is hit ! The same feelings are re-invoked at the end by making you play again as Joel carrying his daughter in his arms again trying to save her from , not infected, but the humans again. There was no way I would not kill Marlene or the people in my way. There's no way I would let it happen again to my daughter ! The very beginning was preparing us for the end of the game. The point to note is that all of it was done using the strengths of gameplay as a tool. This was not happening in a long cut scene. Instead, the medium's strength,the ability to interact, was used to amplify every impact of the story. This, my friends, is wonderful Game Design and superb use of the strengths of a medium chosen to tell a story!
  • Foreshadowing of gameplay mechanics: We all know about foreshadowing in stories and movies but ND has gone one step further with foreshadowing of gameplay mechanics. Every gameplay feature or mechanic that they expect the player to use or be familiar with in the next segment of gameplay or the next level is foreshadowed casually in the segment previous to it. They make sure the player is already aware of  the new feature before he is expected to use it or be aware of it. For example, before the boss fight with David, we were made to roam around in that same room without any danger and introduced to the broken cutlery on the ground. We walked over it , learnt that it makes sound and breaks stealth, but it was introduced in a non lethal environment where we can learn about it without any punishment. Later, when David tries to find us in that room we are already aware that we are supposed to stay clear of the cutlery on the ground removing any chance of failure due to lack of info. If you fail, then you know you were careless, you never feel cheated.. It might seem very simple but most games would just go by the "learn by death" mechanism rather than explain in it by incorporating it in gameplay in a previous section. Its a detail which dictates level design and hence, can happen only if it is incorporated in your roots of game design. Another example is the light stealth section when you just cross outside the wall, before the actual use of stealth against the infected in the downtown area. The whole purpose of that section was to inform you that outside the wall, the enemy is overwhelming in numbers and force. So learn to hide as much as you can. This could have been said in tutorial message, like in most games, or via an NPC dialogue but ND knows actions speak louder than words. What better way than to present a situation where the enemy isn't as deadly as what is about to follow, but it forces you into hiding. Every gameplay mechanic has a similar foreshadowing in The Last of Us. This is brilliant game design and shows amazing detail in planning levels and mechanics.
  • The Goal is always in sight: Be it the Capitol building, the Bridge in Pittsburgh,the Radio Tower, the Science Lab in the University or the Hospital in Salt Lake, the goal of the level is always in sight whenever you turn a corner or come out of a building.
    Now this is a very small touch in game and level design but one which makes a huge difference. You are always aware of where you need to go, without the need of any UI message or an in-game compass. Not just that, you feel invested in the game all the time as you always have the goal in sight. Ok, thats where we are going ! and designing each level in such a way that every now and then you get a visual of your goal doesn't happen automatically. It means ND invested a lot of time and effort in making sure it happened every-time you jumped out of a building after scourging for supplies. At a time when developers put markers every 20m to keep the player guided in a linear mission, ND achieved the same without any obtrusive UI and it feels so natural that you might not even notice in the subtle way you are being guided around the level. And it isn't just limited to visuals. In the level where we wade through a snowstorm in David's camp, since the snowstorm made sure we weren't able to see anything, ND made sure the bells ringing loud in one the buildings provided you with an aural landmark, so that you could guide yourself in the snowstorm using the sound of the bells !
  • Storytelling during gameplay:  Just like the opening sequence, ND uses gameplay moments to tell most of its story. A particular moment which stands out is how Ellie turns quiet and sullen after her encounter with David. When Joel and Sully reach Salt Lake city, Ellie doesn't respond to Joel's gameplay prompts as she is preoccupied and disturbed after what David tried to do to her. Joel has to go and talk to her to prep her up.Due to the fact that it happened during gameplay, it got noticed by the player and made an impact. Hence,the Giraffe scene that followed had a much greater emotional value as Ellie got back to her own self after that encounter.
    There are many more examples, like when Henry reveals his story during gameplay moments as we walk around in a suburban town. Also, the behaviour of Ellie changes from a talkative teenager to a more quiet survivor during winter to a grown up coming to terms with life and relationships by the end of the game. Another example is how Joel refers to Ellie as "the girl" during the initial sections of the game. It changes to "Ellie" during the mid and to "Kiddo" after their Father-daughter relationship gets cemented ! You can literally feel their relationship while playing the game !Also, the death of Tess doesn't happen in a cutscene, but during gameplay ! They could have simply extended the cutscene by a minute and added Tess's death and Joel teeth grinding histrionics into it, but instead , when the sacrifice of Tess became inevitable, they handed the control back into your hands. You were Joel, when Tess died ! You went over to the upper floor and peeked over the ledge to see Tess lying below. It wasn't just some character, it was you ! Whatever reaction that evoked in you , were yours. Had it been a cutscene, the reactions would have been of Joel, not yours, and hence the impact would have been lesser. These are small storytelling touches that add up to the masterpiece we experience in the game.
  • Down-times were never so enjoyable: Most games, including ND's previous ones, use downtimes to provide breathers between heavy action sequences and I was expecting the same here, but boy was I in for a surprise ! The downtimes are the game here ! Yes, it is the combat segments that feel like they are there to provide break from the downtimes. We spend sometimes around 30 minutes without any action, scavenging for supplies and roaming the beautiful levels, but those are the times when the game's some of the best moments are.
    You soak in the environment , the game world and its stories during those serene times.Ellie would start talking to you about her and your past while you are exploring. At one instant I was inside this house and She and Sam sat down on the sofa and started talking, it felt so natural, so real ! Then there are times when we are prompted for conversations during these downtimes. Add to that the stories that are littered around in the form of notes you find in houses, settlements. Some of them were so moving that you actually felt you had just played a mini story inside the main game.For example, Ish's story, the settlement in the sewers where the mother killed all her children to prevent them from getting infected and left a note on the ground saying "They didn't suffer" for the Dad to find if he ever comes back ! To give him the 'comfort' that his children did not suffer in death! It was a chilling tale that was delivered during gameplay spanning around 30 minutes via notes, messages and children's drawings on the walls. There was even a hint in the next town that Ish might still be alive ! The exploration is full of stories and conversations you would just miss if you didn't have these downtimes in gameplay. Not to mention exploration is also always rewarded with collectibles! Me likes them shinies ! :)
  • Razor sharp combat gameplay: 'Perfect' is the only word to describe the balance of gameplay in The Last Of Us. I played on Hard, with Listen mode turned off, and I always had just enough supplies to scrape by. Never had too much to feel confident and never too less to get stuck. Always barely surviving ! That shows how well the game has been play tested by ND and balanced accordingly. All the levels are open areas with multiple strategy options depending on what you have in your backpack at that moment.  If you have Shivs, time to go stealthy and grabbing people. If you have run out of shivs or can't stealth around enemies, there's the Bow, a fantastic stealth alternative. If you have run out arrows, which you won't as you can recollect them after a kill, you have the melee weapons, which can be upgraded for one hit kills. If you don't like stealth, there the whole arsenal of guns. Ammo is limited, but that can be overcome by crafting extra holsters for quick-swapping weapons. Change weapons quickly and you aren't out of ammo so soon. There's always a way to play. In fact, I found the combat as addicting as Demons Souls' combat. They are very different yet very similar in the sense that both have extremely well balanced gameplay, where if u pay attention, you can win any situation.
    If I may compare, I find The Last of Us' combat more rewarding and engaging than Demons Souls'. Tackle one enemy, run, hide...find something...craft ...tackle another, run....hide...wait ...LOU combat is also long drawn and tense like Demons Souls. One wrong move and your chances of survival go down exponentially. In fact, if you don't run often you won't find the supplies that are required to make it through. Running away is an integral part of the combat system, which itself is a unique mechanic. Demons Souls' combat is more about memorising and dodging correctly, whereas LOU combat is more about finding right moments for crowd control and using what you have to your advantage in a split second decision. The sudden fights and the panic decisions that ensue are so unique to The Last of Us that they provided some of the most memorable moments I have had in games. In Demons Souls fights tend to have a pattern whereas in LOU no two fights play out the same ! The magic of LOU is indeed fantastic !You are never stuck and you are never overpowered either. Kudos to the designers who could manage such a balance and could produce such an unpredictable AI. OH, and the perennial decisions: Molotov or Health Kit? Shiv or a nail bomb ? the thrill is amazingly well balanced.
  • Stellar sound design aides gameplay: The amazing sound design supports the gameplay perfectly. I chose to play without the Listen ability, which meant I had to rely on sounds to make out enemy positions. Many a times it was only the sound that provided me information about my next move. Whether to turn this corner or not. Should I go upstairs or stay below. Each decision was aided by perfect audio information. The gameplay could have fallen apart if the audio processing was not precise as it is now.The fact that I could easily complete the game without the Listen mode, shows that the sound feedback is perfect in this game. Every little sound made by the enemies provides proper positional feedback even on a stereo headset. On a 7.1 channel headset, the experience is sublime !  The thunder in Downtown, the sounds of nature in Lincoln, the eerie underground Infected levels and the open spaces, all resonate with a perfect audio cues.Add to that the surreal sounds by ND and the music of Gustavo Santaolalla, this is one unforgettable aural experience.
  • The little details, Crafted with Love: I won't talk about the details in the characters faces or models but the little touches like moving clouds. Yes, its not a big deal, but even though we could see these were just skyboxes, the 2D clouds subtly and slowly move if you care to look up and just gaze at them :) ! Ellie tells you little jokes if you care to linger around her. Also, the fact that Joel protects Ellie by shielding her body with his own, whenever they crouch in cover during gameplay shows extreme attention to detail. 
    Not to forget all the small colour ques to guide the player through an environment, like yellow always means explorable area. Also, the movement of Rats always shows you where to go next! The state of the dead bodies you find always dictates which kindof enemies you will find in this area. When an enemy strangle Joel, his nose starts bleeding and the blood spreads on his face. When Joel kills an enemy, his blood spreads n the shirt and the stain grows. Also, when you switch on your flashlight, the FOV changes just a bit, objects appear just a bit closer, to give you an better illusion of things being more clearer than before !The amount of little details in unbelievable ! I am not even talking about the absolutely sublime ambient lighting and the real-time GI cast by your flashlight.Whether the player notices it or not, these details are always there for him to immerse him in this world. To make him suspend his disbelief. These small touches, little details show the developer's attention to detail, dedication to the experience and the love for the medium they are working with. One feels honoured to have played such a gem of a videogame !:)
  • A Masterclass of story telling: The prologue itself is a masterclass in revealing the plot.I will just recap how the apocalypse was revealed to us in the prologue. First a phone call indicating something is wrong. Then a newspaper report about an infection, then a TV report about something wrong(nothing about infection), an explosion right outside the windows,Sarah is scared now, Dad is missing and then finally we see a infected enter the house! Now that we know there's an infection,we are shown the magnitude of the problem increasing as we ride in the car and then later we are thrust right into it running and screaming only to realize that it is not the infected who the story is about, but it is the it is a human who kills Sarah, not any of the infected ! In an indirect way the game makes it clear right at that moment, that this is a story about humans and their decisions, not the infected. A typical video game would show a TV report showing zombies rampaging the streets and be done with the introduction.But then would it be the Last of Us :) !Also, something people might not have noticed, that after every tense or heavy situation, the game always changes the mood to relief and puts a subtle smile on your face ! That is fantastic to experience: to smile right after a major tragedy! For example, when Joel gets wounded badly, the screen fades to black with a sense of dread about what will happen to Ellie now ? But the very next moment, after a pause , you see bright snow-scape with Ellie trying to hunt a deer. Like a child you run after it here and there, smiling at this play of life. Yes, life is back, the fear of death faded away the story moves forward :) ! Similarly, after the dreadful encounter with David, as Ellie weeps and reveals that David tried to abuse her, the screen fades away and we are left with a dark sense of an innocence lost to this dark brutal world. But the very next moment, after a pause to let us feel the pain, the screen comes back to life with the bright colours of Summer ! :)  Life is back and our goal is near, the Salt Lake city! The story telling was special in yet another way too: no one was a hero here, and no one a villian, the whole act of "Winter" was to showcase that our every heroic act towards Ellie was as villainous as any other enemy we encounter on our way. The entry of David in the story showcased the cruelty of our "Heroics" and made us see the other side. It also foreshadowed the 'end' of the story where Joel turns into a villian for the whole mankind while being a hero as a Dad. No one was a hero, no one was a villian. Yet we saw every journey with empathy and concern. We invested in every character as much as we invested in Joel and Ellie.
  • Subtlety : I believe that was their keyword for the whole game! Except for the brutality of violence , everything else is done in the most subtle way possible. The acting is subtle, never over done, not in the case of a death scene. Take for example, Sarah's death or Tess' death. No emotion was overdone, yet we grasped the weight of the situation. The dialogues are short and subtle. Subtlety also seeps into the hints provided during gameplay. They are never loud, just subtle enough to be noticed. Characters talk bare minimum during interactions, yet convey a lot. The music , the fantastic music, is so subtle and minimal that it sets the whole game apart from anything else we have played before it. ND lets players' minds fill the gaps while providing just enough information to spark the imagination ! The best example for this point is the end of the game : Single-handedly the most mature and subtle end to a game ever. Very suggestive, sets your mind on fire and simply and gracefully fades away while leaving you thinking while a smile of satisfaction, as well as , "how long will this lie hold?" spreads on your face slowly :) ! Naughty Dog sure had the guts and the talent to bring this end to life in such a convincing way.
This is a game where I found myself watching the whole of the credits to honour the people who gave me such an amazing experience ! This is a game I found myself replaying the moment I finished it ! This is the game of which I will be telling my kids about , one day ! This is a game I will keep playing till I imbibe all that Naughty Dog has put into making it ! This game is my masterclass of Game Design ! :)

and while I leave you, to my mind springs a prose about The Last Of Us :

A tale was woven and a world sprung around it ,
A life was stolen and another lived without it,
An Innocence was lost, another hadn’t found it,
As a story unfolds, there’s a fire, gather around it,
A tale was woven and a world sprung around it !

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wolfenstein : Return to Old School !

Yes ! Yes ! Yes ! I am a die hard fan of the Old-School shooter gameplay, simple, fast, guns with a punch and loads of fun, and am extremely happy to announce that Starbreeze, the fabulously talented FPS developer, has just showcased the first gameplay of "Wolfenstein: The New Order" and it looks like that old-school-son-of-a-gunner magic is coming back to life again !!! :D

Lads and damsels, here I present, the sparkling new gameplay footage :

 There, There  ! See that awesome Old school fun all over !!!B)....and as if the Old School Gods of gaming themselves were guiding this game, it is being brought to life using ID's Tech 5 ! The smoothest engine with superb visuals, made by the ID , the father of Shooters ! Also, note that they seemed to have made a lot of improvements to the engine as well. We can see pillars crumbling and cover shattering when being shot at. AL so, players can cut holes into metal to shoot through while staying hidden. Thats a lot of dynamism in what was a fairly 'static' engine. To top it all, the devs are not even making a big deal out of it ! Just sly smirks on thier faces :) ! Thats the way to roll guys ! and compare that to the COD reveal : "Next gen AI of the Fish which move-out-of-the-way" !

Pffft !! :-/

Lastly, the best part about an Old-School shooter is the"punch' to the guns and , yes, Starbreeze seems to know that all too well. Just watch the gameplay again and tell me you don't want  to dual wield that automatic-chain-loaded Shotguns right now !!! :)

 They have nailed it to the core ! Starbreeze has brought that 'mystical' magical breath of fresh air in a saturated genre by going back to the basics and nailing the fundamentals ! Heavy hitting gameplay has been complemented perfectly by moody visuals thanx to Tech 5 which is ultralight on hardware, smooth as butter and makes sure the fun gunning never 'stutters' and your smile never drops !!!

Leaving you with an interview with the creative director of the project. Hoping and praying that the whole campaign will have a breathtaking momentum and exhilarating atmospheric and 1960s meets futuristic art ! C'mon Starbreeze, bring it out already :D !!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

XBOX ONE: Fuel the Gaming industry, Don't Dilute it !

 As a gamer and a developer, here are my thoughts:

What MS did wrong with XBOX ONE was it diluted the console hardware industry. Now every console will need to also need to showcase TV features to survive. And instead of giving maximum powerful machines for games , hardware resources will have to be allotted to making extra features work. Either this will lead to weaker gaming machines or costlier gaming machines. I don't want either of that trend to spread as it hampers gaming, as a hobby and as an industry, and no one else.

If MS had launched a separate product called Xbox Magic Tv and made it the water cooler it wants to I wouldn't mind at all. But making a GAME console diverge and do all this just makes for bad trend that has started and cannot be stopped now !

It can't be undone now, lets just hope the other competitors don't follow suit and instead support gaming, indie devs and make them the highlight of their game consoles. Steam, Humble Bundle, ease of purchasing and sharing are the future of games. Going back to TV is not !

Saturday, January 5, 2013

ID 's engines Rock ! Doom 3 and RAGE both look fantastic on my PC !

Check out whats cooking on my PC these days, the best of graphics and the best of ID's tech 4 and Tech 5 !
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Can you spot which ones are from RAGE and which one's from Doom 3 ! :^) Yes, Doom3 +Sikkmod +Wulfen's texture Mod = Awesomeness of the highest order !

Christmas Magic + update 1.1 is live now !

An update for Christmas Magic + is live now, updating the game to version 1.1. Its a major update for all iPad 3 owners who were having some problems with graphics.

 iPad 3 is fully supported now and graphics will display properly on the retina displays now. If for some reason, the game wasn't working properly on your iPad till now, I recommend updating the game as some other bugs related to rating the game and memory management are also solved in this update.
Download here:

Also, just a reminder , the New Year Sale is still on ! So, get the update and then get all that you wanted to buy in the game at the lowest prices ever :D !.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Happy New Year (Sale) on Christmas Magic + !

Hullo one and all ! The Christmas Magic + team wishes you all a Happy New Year !  Hope you guys enjoyed your holidays a lot and had a lot of gaming sessions with family and friends. The holidays are over but the fun can continue on , and to make sure it does we are doing a massive sale in Christmas Magic + !

        If you fire up your Christmas Magic + on your iPad now, you will notice a massive price drop on all in-game items and unlocks ! So don't wait anymore:
  • grab all those Magic Pots and Hints you wanted :) ! 
  • ...and remember you can always Unlock a canopy to go the next set of puzzles. 
  • For all those who love the ambiance of 'Chritsmas Magic +' you can unlock the original Music and Concept Art  from the 'Unlocks' menu to enjoy it independently. 
  • The Concept Art bundle is also nice peek into the making of Pono's world as it has many sketches that did not make it into the final game and has all the Storybook illustrations for your personal usage. They make great wallpapers for your mobile phones and desktops !
For example, this:

  •  And then there's the 'Unlock Story' option for all you story lovers. If you are not the gamer type and just want to read a mesmerising story, then you can skip the game and just Unlock the rest of the fully voiced and illustrated story by tapping the story page or from the 'Unlocks' menu.

Christmas Magic + has something for everyone in the family and hoping this sale gives you enough incentive to invest in everything you wanted to unlock :) !

Don't let the Magic stop......lets keep it alive and kicking in the New Year ! Wishing you a Happy New Year everyone !