After enjoying a few weeks of post-uni free time (and successfully passing my driving test), I got some brilliant news yesterday…
I have been accepted for a place on the Science Communication MSc course at UWE! It’s conditional upon me getting a 2:2, but based on my current analysis of my grades so far, that should be easily achieved. So it means I get to learn all the media side of science that I’ve been interested in, which I’m really happy about.
I’ve got almost 1.5 years before the course starts, so I already know some of what I’m going to use that time for, but I also need to find some new things to do. There are quite a few skills included in the course (such as video editing for the video module, and stronger scientific writing for the science writing module) that I also need to develop before I start the course, so I’m going to have some fun learning these :)
Something I’ve been thinking about this week is how game developers and fans can now interact so freely, and what this means for games and the gaming community.
There are some situations where this ability is unambiguously good, and some studios who balance their interactions really well. Most notably, Valve. For example, when fans loved Left 4 Dead, but were upset that its content had run over the expected release time, Valve responded by producing a completely revamped sequel a year later.
And when a group of college students began making a puzzle game in 2007 based on Valve’s Source engine , Valve responded not by suing them but by hiring them, providing the students with resources so they could continue making their game. Considering this puzzle game became Portal, Valve’s method was the epitome of win-win situations.
As you’ve gathered from the last few posts, I’ve been spending the majority of my non-lecture time in uni, hiding out in my semi-underground lab and testing people. I’ve found the process of researching interesting, but it has also worried me a bit: doing my dissertation research has shown me there are many more things to take into account than I expected.
While organisation isn’t my strong point, it can be resolved fairly easily in normal lecture and seminar environments. During data collection, on the other hand, keeping track of many different variables and responsibilities becomes incredibly important, and my difficulty with it has almost got me into trouble already.
I’m now 4 months into my dissertation, which is a scary half-way through. A lot of interesting uni-related things have happened in the last week.
I had originally planned to have collected most of my data by now, which didn’t happen as one of my approval forms went missing. (My uni is good at teaching, but not at organisation- a recurring theme throughout the last three years).
Luckily, as my study is low-risk, I was approved quite easily. The delay meant I couldn’t do anything towards collecting data over the Christmas break, so I instead started writing the other parts of the dissertation such as the history of what I’m studying, the method I’m using, and the introduction. This has been going surprisingly well, and its now about 25% done.
One important thing I should mention about my experience with Mass Effect 3 is my propensity to glitches. The isn’t the fault of the game itself, as it was usually very reliable. However, I do have a tendency to accidentally cause bugs and glitches in most games I’m playing, even when other people playing it don’t experience these bugs. When playing ME3, this ability is increased to weird levels. (It’s because of this game that my Xbox tagline is now “the accidental glitcher”). So I couldn’t really write about ME3 without explaining some of the strange things that have happened to me while playing it.
1) I’ll start with the most minor glitch. At the start of each wave, the enemies will appear from certain locations, depending on where the team members are. Normally, you don’t see them spawn- at least, most of the people I play with say that. However, I always end up right by where they spawn. Seeing as they usually appear by flying/jumping down from a point above the map, that means I’ve occasionally had enemies jump down almost on top of me, which isn’t supposed to happen.
2) Another minor glitch is an unfortunate consequence of a useful part of the gameplay. Some multiplayer classes have stimpacks or temporary skill boosts that are accompanied by visual effects. For example, human Soldiers have Adrenaline Rush, which increases rate of weapon fire and damage, and when this is active everything is brighter and colours are more saturated. Another effect is on Krogan characters, whose Rage mode tints the screen red to show their increased attack damage.
While these effects add a visual extra to the game, they are often inconsistent- sometimes the skill can be active without the visual effect activating, and other times the visual effect will remain even when the power isn’t active. Normally, these don’t cause too much bother: the only one of these that I’ve found annoying is the visual glitch caused by some of my favourite characters, the Volus species. Voluses (Volii?) have incredibly low health and shields (150 health/ 250 shields as opposed to a default 500/500), so rarely survive a direct fight. However, they excel in a pure support role, relying on their Shield Boost ability to refill their own shields and those of nearby fireteam members. The “Volus glitch” comes from using this ability just as you’re about to die. At very low health the screen goes dark red as a warning, but using Shield Boost to recover your health often locks the screen onto this colour, which can only be fixed by losing health and shields again. This means it’s a lot more difficult to see what’s going on, which has caused me to die unnecessarily before. Continue reading
As I promised, I’m going to start with my favourite co-operative game- Mass Effect 3. However, I should probably clarify one thing first though; I haven’t played the single-player campaign yet. That’s mostly because the games are so good that I know finishing the story will kind of be the end of an era- the gaming equivalent of finishing the last Harry Potter book. My love for this series is therefore based on just how awesome I’ve found the multiplayer to be- and also on completing the first game, which I bought after playing the third. Below is my explanation of just why I find this game so appealing.
In multiplayer, there are 64 available characters (originally 25, with new ones added throughout the year after release) – split across 12 alien races and various humans, in 6 attack classes. Each race has different health and shield levels, and different weapon preferences. Each character has three abilities, which can be for attack, self-defence, or team support.
I’ve spent a large proportion of this summer gaming when I meant to be doing psychology work, so I figured I could at least combine the two so it looks like I’ve done some work :p
I first got the idea of this combination when I was playing Halo 3 online- while the game is good, an annoying part of the online experience is that people on the opposing team will in many cases jump away and lose a point for committing suicide rather than lose a gunfight and have the other team gain a point. Even though these two options have the same outcome mathematically, many people will choose to take the deliberate loss rather than let someone else gain any status. While this seems like an irrational decision, the principle is common in real-life as well.