Cold War: 1776

Created by Team Bad Company

Chase Cavanaugh – Historical Research and Script Writing

Kaeman Filiatrault – Custom Art Design

Jon Jones – Coding and Development

Blaise Parker – Historical Research, Script Writing, Compilation of Information

Cold War 1776 is an RPG that revolves around an alternate history scenario in which the Cold War bleeds back in time into the Revolutionary War. The basic plot of the game is simple: in the Cold War, humans discovered time travel technology. In an attempt to decisively win the Cold War, the Russians go back in time to assist the British in the Revolutionary War, with the goal being to stop America from ever becoming a country. As the player, you’ll meet historical figures such as George Washington and John F. Kennedy, who you’ll fight alongside to defeat Joseph Stalin and his devious mechanical creation, Mecha-Britannia, the ultimate weapon against patriotism. The game serves as a satirical look at the history of America, poking fun at the godly standards we hold the founding fathers to, while exaggerating the vilifying way we often view the Russians. Above all, the game is designed to be a fun and campy exploration of American history that doesn’t take itself too seriously, providing historically-based caricatures of famous figures from both the Revolutionary and Cold War Eras. We believe we have created an experience that can be enjoyed by all, historian or not, and we are excited to share it with the world.

Recommended/Influential Readings:

Cover, Jennifer Grouling. The creation of narrative in tabletop role-playing games. Jefferson, NC: McFarland et Company, Inc., Publishers, 2010.

“The Cold War.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/The-Cold-War.aspx.

Davis, Derek H. 1994. “Religion and the American Revolution.” Journal Of Church & State 36, no. 4: 709.

Feis, Herbert. Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin: The War They Waged and the Peace They Sought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957.

Fiske, John. The American Revolution. 8th ed. Vol. 1. Boston, Mass: Houghton, Milton and Company, 1891.

The Age of DLC – Squashing Bugs, Pre-Order Bonuses, and Endless Entertainment

Let’s talk about DLC.

In recent years, video games have gotten a knack for including the ability to add data onto the base game after it’s released. It’s become so ubiquitous now that it may not seem that important. However, DLC is a big deal. For the uninitiated, DLC stands for “Downloadable Content.” Since the internet has found itself in nearly every video game player’s house and every system nowadays can access it, DLC now exists as a way to add more data onto an already released video game.

Before the Xbox 360 and PS3 (though some would say earlier depending on the title/system), if a game was released, that was usually it. Occasionally development studios would re-release a game with some of its issues fixed, but examples of this are few and far between. Occasionally this would mean a game would be released with tons of bugs that could no longer be squashed. If they were on the disc/cartridge, they were there for good.

Now enter DLC. Downloadable Content can be anything that you download and add on to an already “finished” game. It can patch bugs, it can give new quests or items, or it can otherwise expand or change a game beyond what it was at release. This is great in many ways. It allows the fun to continue for a player after a game has ended, it allows developers to keep creating content for a good game without having to invest in a complete sequel, it allows developers to allocate small teams to DLC while bigger teams focus on new, more exciting progress, and, perhaps most importantly, it allows for those pesky bugs to be fixed.

Sounds perfect, right? Unfortunately this innovation in video game technology is not so innocent or cut-and-dry. DLC has caused its own plethora of problems. It allows developers to be lazier, worrying less about releasing a beautifully polished product, sometimes offloading a buggy pile of trash onto the consumer, promising “fixes to come”. It also has spawned more greed in certain developers or publishers. Gone are the days where massive games could be released, the player buys the disc and that’s that. Now, some people argue, developers can give you the “base” game, withholding content to be added for DLC later – at a cost. While it isn’t very well known if this is really the case, lots of speculation exists around the idea that devs are keeping content under wraps.

Furthermore, DLC spurns on the plague that are “pre-order bonuses”. While I could write an entire paper on why these things are essentially the toxic filth that infects the video game industry, the short version is this: game developers lure players into paying for their games ahead of time to get small bonuses. Why is this a problem? Well, if you pre-ordered the new Assassin’s Creed and it turns out to be the hottest pile of garbage you’ve ever laid your eyes on, sorry Jim. You’re out of luck. Ubisoft already has your money. But hey now you can play as Ezio! It doesn’t do much but you sure do look cool.

This is an issue which is prolific in nearly every game that comes out nowadays. A pre-order will promise free loot, cosmetics, perhaps XP bonuses or an early weapon unlock to give you the EDGE on the competition. This is as close to a pay-to-win strategy as you can get away with cleanly. Technically you may not pay any more for the game, but you are paying early to get a leg up on the competition. If it weren’t for downloadable data, there would be nothing that tells the game that you, Jim, made all us gamers look bad and gave Activision your money early for that sweet double XP and digital camo shotgun.

While these models can be set to abuse the system of DLC, there are some companies with beautiful, pixelated halos above their logos. Companies like Capcom often offer the player completely free expansions on already complete games. The first that comes to mind would be the upcoming Monster Hunter: World. The game is already complete and finished by most means, but the devs have promised to keep support strong for the game by adding in new monsters, quests, and armor completely free to the player. This will keep things feeling fresh even for someone who has put 500 hours into the game. And yes, Jim, you can spend that much time on a game and still like it. I’ve got well over 1500 hours in the Monster Hunter series.

All-in-all, DLC at its core is a beautiful thing. It promises more than it denies, it gives more than it takes, and it has proven to be an excellent thing for gamers. We now live in a world where, if a game is crap, it may not always be that way. If the developers are determined enough to fix it they can! The best part is, though, if they aren’t willing to fix it, you know exactly what games not to buy in the future.

The Revival of Nintendo

Nintendo

The name brings certain images to mind: an undeniable behemoth in the gaming industry, colorful characters like Mario, Link, Pikachu, Kirby and more, and family fun. It could be argued that Nintendo, in a sense, is the messiah of the gaming industry. After the game market crashed in the days of Atari and E.T., Nintendo brought forth the NES and saved the world of games. Despite the incredible success of the NES and its successor, the SNES, the years passed and Nintendo seemed to be losing traction. The Gamecube was successful, but after the almost exclusively family-friendly library of the Wii, the Wii U couldn’t hold a candle to its competitors in terms of technical prowess or unit sales. For a while, many people were left asking one question. “What happened to Nintendo?”

Nintendo has always had a philosophy that revolved around creating a great experience for its consumers. In the first days of 3D, Nintendo made the mistake of staying with cartridges as opposed to the newly emerging CDs, but the argument was that cartridges would load faster and were the only medium suitable for the complex 3D graphics that systems would have to load. It was a mistake done to try and improve the player experience. When they realized their choice was wrong, they fixed their issue with the Gamecube, moving over to mini-discs that still offered greater storage space but fast load times, while also helping to protect Nintendo games from piracy. Then the Wii came out. While systems like the Xbox 360 focused on hardware power, Nintendo looked to make an affordable game system with revolutionary motion technology. A system that the whole family could play on together, enjoy, and not break the bank.

Everything up to this point had been great for Nintendo, but the Wii U proved to be the black sheep of the family. The system’s core values became drowned in the gimmicks of the gamepad and poor marketing. People didn’t even know what the Wii U was, with many believing it to be an incredibly expensive expansion to the Wii. With a high price that didn’t match the power

and steep competition from Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo seemed to be trying to break into more adult territory with the Wii U’s slightly more diverse and mature library, yet didn’t bring a system with the chops necessary to do so. The Wii U, while an excellent system in its own right, lost way of the Nintendo vision and was a commercial failure.

Then, sometime in the last couple years, something incredible happened. Nintendo’s secret project, “NX” had some details leaked. For the first time, we were introduced to the idea that Nintendo was making a system that could be both portable AND a home console. When I first saw the rumors, I thought this would be the end for Nintendo. They had already been failing because of high prices for weak, gimmicky hardware. Now they were going to make a system which was expected to perform as a home console, but using a platform limited to the power-saving nature of portable devices? I was prepared to mourn Nintendo as a hardware company, expecting them to go the way of Sega after their swan song, the Dreamcast, still wasn’t enough to save them from failing hardware sales.

However, Nintendo did the unthinkable. The Wii U was the martyr that made Nintendo realize they’d lost their way, and the great new maverick that is the Nintendo Switch emerged, as if from nothing. Boasting a portable form factor, a focus on flexibility and multiplayer fun, an HD 720p display, and quite satisfying battery life, the Nintendo Switch is a true no-compromises system. For the first time ever, a player can bring graphically-intensive games on the go, play them at high resolution, and make it through a whole cross-country plane trip without running out of power. The Nintendo Switch is a shocking success story, delivering absolute grand-slams of video games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, BOTH of which are acclaimed as the best games in their series (and Game of the Year in terms of Zelda). The best part? When the day is over and you’ve made it home, you can slide the switch into its dock and play games on your home television, in the beautiful FHD 1080p that your 50″ screen deserves.

The Switch is something special, evidently more so than even Nintendo thought. They couldn’t keep them on shelves when they were released, and it’s quickly become the most sought-after gaming console to hit the market in a long time. It isn’t an iterative improvement like the PS3 to the PS4, it’s a revolution in Nintendo and in the gaming industry altogether. Yet, amazingly, it does all of this while returning to the focus of the player. The Switch isn’t gimmicky. It genuinely puts the “fun” in functional and it can only get better as time goes on, with more fun games coming out daily. Personally I can’t wait for Metroid Prime 4 to blow me away.

Nintendo could not have impressed me more with this system. The Switch truly is a return to form for Nintendo and, more than anything, is a love letter to video games and the many players who enjoy them.

https://venturebeat.com/2016/10/29/rating-nintendos-names-for-its-home-gaming-consoles/

Making a Game: What is the Responsibility of a Developer?

Hey everyone,

Today I found myself really inspired by our gameplay of Verdun to talk about this topic. I specifically remember playing games with my friends, particularly Call of Duty in this case, and passing off some of the gameplay mechanics we didn’t like for the developers needing to still be able to make it fun. “There’s a limit to how realistic games can be because they still need to be fun.” What did I mean when I said this? Sometimes I was referring to physics, sometimes it was those (ridiculous) one-shot knife/tomahawk kills. The thing is, while they were absurd and made no sense, they were fun.

So a couple years down the line, I had my first experience with a Battlefield game in Battlefield 3. I absolutely loved the game because it had huge maps, destructible environments, and a unique skill function– bullet drop. It was unique and felt like it made the game more realistic, even if it may not have been scientifically accurate. Of course, Battlefield by no means entirely realistic, but the flexibility to do something crazy and unrealistic is still fun. I specifically remember riding a C4-packed “quad-bike” (ATV) into an enemy base, waiting to hear my buddy’s signal (“CA-CAAAWWW!!!”) to jump off the bike so we could use it as a rolling, high-powered bomb.

Enter Verdun. To be honest, it was pretty awe-striking. Whereas COD and BF make you feel like a gun-toting, steroid-infused, bandanna wearing, Rambo-type, one-man-army badass, watching Verdun made me feel the exact opposite. The cold, muddy trenches, the explosions, the pools of the no man’s land, the sudden, instant death after the snap of a marksman’s rifle…they don’t make you feel strong. They make you feel afraid. For the first time, I experienced something akin to the reality of war and it was surprising. It felt like I was seeing something that couldn’t really be conveyed by video games, yet there I was.

What does this mean for me as a gamer and for developers? As a gamer, I don’t think I’d ever pick up Verdun. It seems to be an excellent game and serves its purpose well, but the reality of it gives it a steep learning curve and a difficulty that Battlefield and COD don’t really touch. For me, the perfect “realistic” shooter is Battlefield. It’s a great mix of fun and realism and offers more flexibility than COD in terms of what you can do. That said, I recognize Verdun as a real achievement in terms of gameplay and development, both in terms of realism.

This brings us to the ultimate question: what does this mean for developers? When it comes to making a game, what is the level of realistic accuracy a game should exhibit? Or is there a responsibility for this at all? There’s many ways one could look at this. Who is the target audience? What kind of game is it? Are you trying to make something realistic, or pure fantasy?

To be honest, it doesn’t matter all that much. Video games are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to present the player with a way to be part of a different reality and that reality should be enjoyable. Whether it’s the notorious challenge of Dark Souls, the jubilant glee of jumping around in Mario Odyssey, or the ultra-realistic gameplay of a true simulator, the point of the game is for the player to have fun. That said, I’d like to conclude in saying that the developer’s responsibility is not necessarily just to fun or just to accuracy/realism, but to the player. Developers usually know what kind of game they want to make and who it’s for. If you’re making a simulator game, then people who like sims will play it. If it’s a shooter, then people who like FPS action will play it, etc etc. With that in mind, developers need to know their audience, know what kind of experience they want to deliver, and do it while making the games as fun as possible, whatever that may mean for the individual game in question.

There are millions of people who play games, all of them with different tastes and preferences. It’s up to the developer to make sure an experience the player wants is what’s being delivered, whether that’s an ultra-realistic war sim or a colorful hero FPS.

Level One: Booting Up

Greetings Classmates!

This weekend has proven to be quite the lucrative one. Between my groupmates and I we’re starting to get into the meat of this project. After deciding that RPGMaker was the best option for this project, I got to work on learning the software and designing some playable tests. I’ll make sure to add to this post some images of the works I’ve done over the weekend.

In previous updates, the team has written about the storyline we’re attempting to try, alongside decisions about the software. We’re still sticking with the Revolutionary/Cold War time travel narrative (read Blaise’s previous post!) and I’m excited to see what we make of it.

As mentioned, a player character interacts with Revolutionary War era figures and also Cold War figures. With that in mind, I’ve been hard at work creating some initial versions of these characters to bring to life in-game. Initial designs have been created for Paul Revere and John F. Kennedy while I’m still experimenting with the software in an attempt to figure out how we might make the player character customizable in-game.

The RPGMaker software truly is incredible. It allows for quick, easy implementation of many things such as if-then trees, automatic actions, and even NPCs. While I only have an initial demo screen made and our team will surely have to make art assets of our own, this is looking like an excellent piece of software to create our vision in.

Other than aspects of the playable game, Blaise and Chase have begun creating ideas for plot/dialogue while Kaeman and I have been experimenting with the software side of things. There will be much for us to share in the coming class.

Some more details about our game are as follows:

  • RPG set in Revolutionary War Era America
  • Will feature customizable player character
  • Focuses on a “what if?” scenario in which time travel exists during the Cold War
  • To this extent, the Russians attempt to assist Britain in the Revolutionary War, hoping to stop America from ever existing.
  • To prevent this, John F. Kennedy also goes back in time to assist the Americans against their newfound incredible adversaries.
  • There will be a party system, which allows the player to meet and recruit famous American figureheads such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and more.
  • The team is tinkering with the idea of including Uncle Sam/Lady Liberty in some way, either as special hidden characters or super abilities for the player character to have. Keep an eye out for these exciting features!

Overall, I think it’s safe to say the whole team is getting very pumped for this project and we’re looking forward to developing it and getting to share it with everyone!

See you tomorrow!

– Jon

Base Title Screen

Recruit Paul

Menu

Player Name Editor