Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bad game design

I have always claimed that Ocarina of Time is a well designed game. When people whined about the water temple I always came to the games defense. However in my quest to collect all the Golden Skulltulas I come across something that I can't call anything other than unforgivingly bad game design on the level of the broken game design you used to see on the NES.

As a kid I was very interested in one lonely tree along the fence at Hyrule Castle, close to where you find Talon sleeping. The reason for this was that the ocarina sounded different when played close to this tree. How I even figured this out I'm not sure. This oddity seems to have been fixed in the Virtual Console version, but have come to find out that this tree holds an even bigger secret. If the song of storm is played close to this tree a secret hole will open up in the ground. In which one of the Golden Skulltulas can be found.

This is so completely random that I have no idea how anyone could ever figure it out. Why would the rain make a hole appear in the ground? And why at this completely random spot of all places? It is completely impossible to figure out without a walkthrough. If there was nothing of real value in the hole I guess it could be excused as a cool secret but hiding a Gold Skulltula in there is just a big fuck you to all those players who try to collect them all.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Predicting number of 3DS iterations with fancy statistics

With Nintendo's history of releasing numerous itterations of their handhelds most gamers expect this to be true for the 3DS as well. I thought it would be interesting to use some statistical methods to try and predict the number of 3DS iterations we should expect.

I put together a nice little graph showing the number of version released of each system, that would be the red dots. With the exception of the Game Boy Color the number of iterations seem to increase in a fairly linear fashion. So I used the ordinary least squares method to fit a straight line onto the graph. The slope of this line is calculated so that the distance between the line and the dots is the smallest possible. We can use this to predict the number of iterations the 3DS will have, based on the assumption that the relationship between handheld generations and number of versions is a linear one. The results are presented in the table below, the most interesting being our prediction of four versions of the 3DS.

So if you are one those people who have put off your 3DS purchase hoping for a new and improved model to come out, now you have some pseudoscience to support your decision.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Random thoughts on Zelda

Here are some random thoughts that popped in to my head while playing Ocarina of Time.

#1 Stackable tunics - Having to switch tunics when visiting the fire and water dungeons can be a bit annoying so I thought it might be handy if the tunics stacked on top of each other. Plus it would be hilarious to see link running around in a rainbow colored tunic.

#2 Where did all the skeletons go? - When young Link traverses Hyrule field at night he is constantly attacked by evil skeletons. Seven years later they are all gone. This doesn't make sense to me, you would think the undead would enjoy living under the rule of someone like Ganon. Sure I can see the King of Evil not getting along with the Zora or the Gorons but the skeletons?

#3 Zelda is whole lot easier if you speak English - This might be an obvious one but when I first played Ocarina as a kid I hardly spoke any English. This made the game a lot harder. Like in the second dungeon when you have to drop a bomb in to the eye of that huge Dodongo scull, that is almost impossible to figure out if you can't read the inscriptions telling you to try it. Or getting the fire arrows by shooting the rising sun over Lake Hylia. I thought I was a genius when I figured that out the first time, not knowing I was standing next to a sign telling me to do just that.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Too much stuff

The negative side effect of becoming more powerful in Ocarina of Time is that your screen becomes increasingly cluttered. Every time your health increases by one, another heart is shown in the upper left corner. When you get over ten they even start a whole new row, getting in the way of all those surprisingly sweet looking early 3D graphics. Then when Link gains his magic power you get an ugly green tube-thingy underneath the hearts. The absolute worst is when the Fire Mountain Fairy grants you additional magic, which should be welcomed since it's so useful, but it looks awful as that green tube is stretched out over half the length of the screen.

The screen is already cluttered from the start with the A, B and C-buttons displayed prominently. In the bottom left corner there is a rupees counter and in the bottom right hand corner there is that God awful map. Thanfully at least the map can be switched off, otherwise I might not have been able to keep playing.