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Jason Pook's Games Design Blog


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Mario Kart 64- Game Theory

 

Mario Kart 64 is a racing game developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64 console as the latest addition to iconic character Mario’s list of games. The game is multiplayer compatible so you can play with your friends on your Nintendo 64 console if you had extra controllers through split-screen. You could play as 8 playable characters from previous Mario games Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Wario and Donkey Kong.

Flow:

Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi’s theory of flow applies to Mario Kart 64 through racing, when you race you want to win to be first place in every race is the main target for any gamer. To finish 2nd or 3rd and be presented on a podium with a silver or bronze is only a downgrade from what you really wanted that ultimate racer 1st place. To race in the game it requires you to drive around 1 of 16 circuit tracks which have obstacles, corners and pick ups (weapons or power ups), you have to be focused on the game to overcome any challenges you are presented with whilst on the track. Personally for me to achieve flow in mario kart whilst racing against 3 other students we was on Rainbow road the hardest track on the game with opportunities to fall off the track and lose position on nearly every corner, control of your kart is difficult and needs high skill for the challenge. This is to be repeated for 3 laps whilst other players fire shells at you leave banana’s on the track and so on, winning this race was a proud moment for me i felt in flow throughout the race and nothing was going to get in my way of my 1st place goal.

flow

To link to the diagram for Mario Kart when you are losing or keep getting hit by everything coming near you, it loses your want to play the game you enter apathy as you feel rubbish at the game but dont feel you should be in the position you are so its not like the game is hard. Or you could be racing against people in your group claiming to be mario kart 64 professionals on the hardest track and beat them to win the race entering flow throughout (that was me against Barrie).

Categories of Play:

For Roger Caillois’s ‘categories of play’ Mario Kart 64 would fall under primarily ‘Agon’. Agon is games of competition, with Mario Kart 64 you are playing to win the race or beat your best times. The added feature of muliplayer interactivity in this game adds to the competition as you want to beat your friends. There are in game cups to add to the competition as you want to win the championships in your kart to prove you are the best racer by completing the game.

It also falls under ‘Alea’. Alea is games of chance, with Mario Kart 64 chance is a big part. One corner a banana may have been left but you serve round it to see a red shell coming for you (homing missile) but it hits the banana, this is one of many examples first place may get hit by a blue shell (homing missile just for 1st place) before the finish line and you take the lead.

Mimicry also applies as Mario is a fantasy character and you race in Mario’s fantasy world and settings which the circuits are based on, you play as the avatar you select in the race to experience this fantasy world.

Bartle Test:

To link this into Bartle’s test which defines you as a player through a series of questions this type of game being puzzle based and score based would appeal more to an ‘achiever’ style of player rather than the others due to the achiever always wants to win. You always want to win the race or the championship either against the computer or your friends so achieving that is your aim.

‘Socialiser’ also applies when muliplayer gameplay comes into it as you are racing with your friends or family around the circuits, this can be an enjoyable experience which can also cause bonding or the opposite as you hit your Dad with that red shell on the final corner to the take the win and he storms off as “you didn’t deserve it”.


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Self Initiated- Research Gran Turismo

To follow on from my Need for Speed research i decided to look into the Gran Turismo series of racing games. Gran turismo is the highest selling video game on all playstation systems selling over 70million copies being exclusive to the playstation console. They currently have 6 games that have been released on one playstation console or another starting with Gran turismo in 1997 on the playstation 1, the game was well appraised winning best simulator game and then on it evolved into “the real driving simulator”. Gran turismo focuses on pure real life driving in races, mainly on a track circuit course but occasionally a rally event just to switch things up. GT3 was the highest selling of the gran turismo franchise selling over 14million copies and being labelled “the best of the bunch” of the series according to fans.

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My experience of Gran turismo growing up was first on the playstation 1 with the original which was one of my favourite games i just loved all sorts of racing games but gran turismo had to be my favourite, i didnt really have any of the other competitiors until need for speed underground so gran turismo was a favourite for me. One of my favourites had to be GT3 purely because i used to race head to head against my dad on the rally tracks, being quite a competitive gamer i always knew where best to ram him off the track was to win me the race and thats what its all about really competitive racing.

Features i like in Gran turismo especially the newer versions are the menu system its very relaxed calm music with slide select navigation and iconic selection noise youd instantly know it was gran turismo if you are a gamer. As shown below i like the garage feature you can view any of your cars and dont have to be in a race to do so, and the car in the background of the game navigation. Basic Race, garage, controls will all i feel necessary for my game at this time but this is good reference for layout ideas. This is perhaps too elegant of a look for a drag racer game as id like to have a street feel to it like a tornament vibe as of yet im not sure how ill go about doing that but gathering what i can for ideas will be helpful. Then again the tuning option is a nice touch so it adds that personlised feel to your car that its not just standard anymore you have made it better to be better.

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Moving on from that my favourite feature is the range of cars, in the most recent gran turismo you have 1197 cars to choose from in game. That is a huge amount of cars which give the game a vast range from classic to modern to concept/prototype cars. This is something id like to implement as a range of cars tend to mean up in performance, speed, difficulty this not being the case for all as you can have a classic car like a jaguar e-type against a modern citreon saxo. But for the racing scene going from a classic mini up to a nissan skyline would work well as an upgrade and still provide range.

Gran turismo despite not being the style of racing game im going for will be valuable to my research as it has gained over the years that balance of a real feel for driving the realism in gran turismo is definately there its not all speed and blurred lines its control handling and skill something that could be neglected in my game due to the drag straight line race but speed and feel for realism is a factor i cant overlook.


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Self initiated- Background research Need for Speed

With my game i proposed to do a racing game, its vital i look into who my competitors would be if i was to launch my game.

The racing scene in games is a huge area that has been done for many years going all the way back to what is consider the first racing game in Gran Trak 10

So this was 40years ago, meaning i have 40 years of racing games to look into to try and figure out how these games work and what makes them sell well. I wont be covering every single game ever but i will raise the main competitiors.

Starting off with Need For Speed:

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Thats a fairly extensive video showing footage of each game breifly through need for speeds history but ill sum it up my way. Starting with the first in 1994 need for speed has been a constant game in the racing genre since then spanning 23 games in total and now 1 film based on the game. The introduction of the police in Need for speed 3: hot pursuit was one well recieved so much they have revistied it several times in there game to the point where you race as a cop to take down other drivers. Personally the best need for speed games was the undergrounds 1 and 2, these games featured fully modifiable cars which would be classed as “tuned” or “street racing cars”, the turn away from track racing to being in the city racing at night was much more immersive. Also the fully customisable vehicles from paint jobs to decals/ vinyls gave the car a feel of thats my car thats my work of art and we are going to win this race together, there was times id be angry with myself for scratching my new pearlescent paint job on my tuned hyundai coupe (not sure why but as i kid i liked that look) this really ignited my passion for cars and love of racing games. Carbon was one of my favourites the slow motion tension of drifting round mountains with lack of barriers to keep you on in a 1on1 battle to own a section of the city was intense, they really used Roger Caillios theories of play well particulary in Agon (competition) and Illinx (disorientation), agon is an obvious one it was all about competition every race is a battle against the other driver/ drivers to win, not only that it was a “who has the best car?” rivalry with modifications. Illinx was the blurring of the screen or the speed lines using the car lights to show speed and make you feel like wow im going fast here, as well as impact, weather and dirt having effect.

All that aside Need for Speed is the most successful racing video game series in the world, and one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. Over 140 million copies of games in the series have been sold to date. Making it the biggest contender id have to compete against if i was to launch my game, with that highlighted some playing of the game will be nessecery to perhaps emulate what works well and try implement that into my game with it being drag racing its different but the players sense of speed will be vital getting the balance right.

I am going to re purchase some of these games and have a play through to give myself some insight into features i like and dont like, aswell as some possible inspiration for the hud and menu navigation.