Author Archives: Mark Wolsiefer Jr.

Are Difficulty Settings Necessary?

The pursuit of a challenge can be a driving force in life. The accomplishment of something thought to be unobtainable has a certain allure which some find irresistible. Game designers tend to play off of this concept, creating challenges that seem insurmountable in the context of the game world. Typically there will be an option for the player to affect the likelihood of beating the odds through game difficulty. As a designer, the proper implementation of difficulty, in my opinion, is instituting a learning curve and building from there. Once the player has gleaned the knowledge the game has presented, the designer is free to introduce complex obstacles that utilize this knowledge in varying ways. Approaching the difficulty question from this angle allows designers to create more involving situations during the progression of the game. This concept of “learning in order to succeed” seems to eradicate the necessity of a difficulty option altogether.

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Interview With Eitanya

Garrus and Shepard

Have you ever wanted to cuddle up with your favorite character only to discover hugging the game box or dvd case is just uncomfortable and not very fullfilling? Then you need to drop Eitanya an e-mail. Her plush version of the fan-favorite character “Garrus” from BioWare’s Mass Effect series was first posted in Game Informer and then made its way around the web. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing her on the creative process and finding out why she started making soft and squishy versions of characters.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure thing. I’m 26 years old, currently living on the gorgeous Emerald Coast with my husband, my brand new baby girl, and one spoiled rotten dog. I work from home designing plush toys, hats, and doing whatever other random creative things strike my fancy. When I’m not playing video games, of course.

How did you get started making these plushes?
My husband is a huge fan of the Strider video game series. I wanted to get him something related to the series for his birthday a few years ago, but finding something Strider-related that he doesn’t already have is getting increasingly difficult. So I got it in my head to make him a plushie. Mind you I had never attempted anything even remotely like that, but hey, I’m all about panic-learning! After making a few simple ones for myself I managed to plushie-fy Hiryu and then it was all over. I was hooked.

What did you make before that first plush?
Before Hiryu? A poison rice ball from Tenchu, a small Weighted Companion Cube, and my first human plushie was Faith from Mirror’s Edge.

Do you have a favorite plush that you’ve made?
Oh that’s tough…probably Aphmau from Final Fantasy XI, I was really happy with how all the details turned out.

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The Bond of Gaming

Imagine a scenario where you are playing a game on its normal difficulty and you’re a quarter of the way through the game. You’ve been having a good time, especially for the last couple hours. Suddenly, your avatar’s speed is crippled to an agonizingly slow rate, with no explanation as to why. Every single motion that you try to make your character initiate seems as if it’s a monumental task when it’s something as simple as moving forward.

On October 16th, 2007 this type of nightmare mode was selected for my life. I was dead asleep after an exhausting day of classes. Out of nowhere, I heard my cell phone emit the tiniest “beep” – the indication that someone is trying to call when it’s charging. I glanced at the alarm clock and noticed that it was two in the morning. Wondering who could be calling, I flipped open the phone, groggily mumbling a greeting.

I was surprised to hear my father’s voice on the other end. He told me to “put my feet on the floor.” I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at this point; however, my legs swung over the edge of my mattress and my bare soles were pressed against the cool tile floor of my room. My father then proceeded to tell me what had happened, while my brain began to process the severity of the situation, wondering if this was some sort of demented joke. In the background, I heard a preternatural wailing and realized that it was my mother wracked with grief. All doubt left my mind: I had to accept that my brother, Derek, had died in a car accident.

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