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God of War: Ascension Buttonless Mini-Games (QTE) Prototype

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Posted by Tony Huynh.
Punch-Out “Buttonless Mini-Games” Prototyping

Here is the original prototype for the Buttonless mini-games that shipped in God of War Ascension. I worked on this concept along with Animator Michael Biancalana.

Note: This is an early prototype that happened as we were wrapping up God of War 3 so the animations and camera are obviously not polished. Also ignore the cone on top of Kratos’ head. :)

The goals for this new feature were twofold:

1: Maintain a cinematic experience by reducing the need of intrusive button prompts.
In this video of the original prototype the player and enemy have a lot more options than what we eventually shipped with.

The player has the following offensive attacks, light attack (fast/low damage); heavy attack (slow/high damage) and Block Breaker. Defensively the player has evades, block and counter.

The enemy could use light attacks which could be blocked or heavy attacks that were unblockable (but can be parried). The enemy would also occasionally counter the player to promote a feeling of a back and forth struggle.

The challenge here was to make the attacks read well and for the player to be able to discern the correct paper/rock/scissor response to the enemy’s actions. I believe we were successful in our prototype, but ultimately we shipped a streamlined version of what we prototyped for readability as well as to save on animation costs.

2: Get the camera close to show off how good our character models look
I always felt that It has been a shame that the gameplay camera in God of War is typically so wide that the crazy detail our artists put into characters is missed. Whenever I moved the camera close to our characters there was just so much detail that was not being shown that it mandated that we keep the camera tight for this mode.

I hope you found this interesting and enjoyed the prototype video and I’ll be posting some more prototyping I did for the bosses, AI cast as well as player and cooperative mode mechanics at some future date.

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Life in your 30s

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Posted by Tony Huynh.

I saw this topic on reddit written by reddit user Ass_Munch_Reborn and it reminded me of how good I’ve got it now that I’m in my 30s.

Damn it, this is the BEST time around.

It’s the best of all worlds. I still have the energy to hang with the 20 year olds, but I don’t have to eat top-ramen, worry about some stupid class, deal with stupid roommates or immature girls. I got money, an established career, and can really afford any creature comfort or any vacation I want. Basically – everything those young people are striving for.

I can also hang with the older crowd. I have all the things they have in terms of material goods, but shit, I still appreciates my new found semi-wealth. I can play with my friends babies when I need a baby fix. Go wine tasting with them. Whatever.

I am not beaten down by the world yet, but I have already gone through the Socially Awkward Penguin stage. I can discuss stock market trends and how to invest my 401(K) with some people, yet still kick it on reddit and enjoy stupid memes that would confuse 40 year olds. Let’s face it, I can watch DuckTales on an nostalgic, and ironic level. How awesome is that?

I play basketball at noon three times a week – but at work on a perfectly manicured campus. I have a fiancee who is cute and fun, but also mature enough to not have to worry about useless drama. I’m not scrambling around, trying to scare a career, but I still am learning quite a bit.

The worst is behind, and the best is yet to come.

Well, I admit, I did paint a rosy picture of myself that comes off as a little self-aggrandizing. But I guess it’s Saturday night, and I am feeling a bit philosophical. So, I will impart some words of wisdom that will most likely be savagely torn apart by obscure anecdotal evidence and bitter people, or hidden deep in this post.

So I will say this. When you are in your lates teens or early 20s, everyone is kind of the same. Poor, young, eager. You are a product of your parents and your genes.

When you hit 34, you are a product of your actions.

And I have a dichotomy of friends, those that succeeded, and those that failed. I guess I can say I succeeded. Anyway, I can see that patterns that emerged from “failures” and “successes”. I want to describe what makes a person a failure and a success (and these are the things that I wish someone told me earlier).

Characteristics of Failures at age 34:

  • Believe the world is rigged against them. The stock market is rigged against them – so they’ll never bother investing. Their genes make them fat – so why bother running. This country doesn’t do shit for the working class, so they’re doomed to fail. Being “poor” in your 20s is natural. Being “poor” in your 30s is a state of mind.
  • Do the minimum to get buy and don’t understand that much of the world’s success comes from doing what is right. They won’t stay after work to do an extra assignment to help someone. They never read a book that could be helpful in their career in their free time. They won’t volunteer their time or money to help a friend. They don’t realize that when you have good intentions ingrained into you, people notice, people pay you back, and you get ahead.
  • Believe they “deserve” everything. I’ve seen many a rel
  • ationship ruined by a demanding guy or girl who felt they deserved a Prince Charming or Super women who could didn’t exist, and then blame the opposite gender for being weird. Or, they deserve a promotion and they are underpaid, so they put in hardly any work because they feel slighted.

  • Stubborn and hardheaded. No one knows everything. We all have pre-conceived notions. The ones that stay in a rut always stick by their guns, even if they are wrong. The ironic thing is that most people claim they are “informed” and stick by their guns, in fact, purposely choose ignorance
  • These are the people who work shit jobs or are unemployed. Single or divorced. Poor or in debt. The worst part is, their actions only make their situation worse, because it also reinforces their own retarded hardheaded beliefs of a world against them denying them what they deserve.

    Charactics of Successes at age 34:

  • Natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. Why do I invest in the Stock Market? Because, fuck, I learned from the guy that created the “Binomial Option Pricing Model” to learn about derivatives. I realized that simply knowing the Security Market Line makes me more confident. When I am at work, and I see some new technology – fuck – I have to learn how to do it. I will spend my Saturday night learning web design (that is what I’m doing right now). That’s not even in my job description anymore. And all my friends who succeeded at work and in life? They do the same stuff. We are perpetual students.
  • Doing what is right is routine. This applies to your whole life. You make the bed in the morning, it means that you value your house, you value organization, you realize that a little bit of work goes a long way to bring order. All my loser friends have unkempt beds, all my successful friends have made beds. Exercise is routine. When you work out constantly, and you don’t exercise, you have feel just wrong. It’s that ingrained. Eating right becomes natural. If you treat friends’ right without any expectations in return, you will suddenly find that your friends will stick by you no matter what. You automatically save money each month, it just becomes routine, and there’s no sacrifice involved.
  • Believe they control their own destiny. They realize that while luck has a small part to play some of the time, it evens out over a lifetime. You work your ass off, it will pay off. You eat right and exercise; you will be slim, fit, and running circles around your fat 35 year olds. You tackle whatever faults you have, you will magically not have those at faults. Fuck, I’m doing that right now. I’m 34, and I’m heading to toastmasters because public speaking scares the shit out of me.
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    God of War III Combat Enhancements and Additions

    Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

    Posted by Tony Huynh.

    While I was not the Main Hero designer for God of War III, that honor belongs to Jason McDonald, I do have some insight into the new enhancements to the combat system in God of War III that I’d like to let you guys in on.

    QTEs (Quick-Time Events)

    Here is a little explanation on how we attempted to improve our QTEs, or as we refer to them internally, Context Sensitive Moments. For God of War III we attempted to remove the clutter away from the center of the screen to give the player an unobstructed view of the action. To do this we made two improvements to the QTEs. The first thing we did was move the button prompts for the QTEs to the edges of the screen to correspond with the button placement on the PlayStation controller’s layout.

    • Triangle appears at the top of the screen
    • Square appears on the left side of the screen
    • X appears at the bottom of the screen
    • Circle appears at the right side of the screen

    PlayStation 3 Controller

    The second key improvement from previous God of War titles and even God of War III’s demo that you should notice is that along the edges of the screen there are a series of white flashes that accompany the button prompts. This was specifically designed to take advantage of the way the human eye works to make QTEs more intuitive. A little scientific explanation to follow, you’ve been warned.

    The human eye is made up of rods and cones. The rods are more sensitive than the cones, but are unable to discern color. The rods are also concentrated on the edge of the retina. The flashes on the periphery of the screen are designed to be picked up by the rods and help the player to quickly determine the appropriate button prompt while not having to shift focus away from the center of the screen.

    Article on rods and cones.

    With these improvements to the QTEs, we found that players could focus on the center of the unobstructed screen (where the action is) and intuitively pick up which button input was necessary to succeed in the QTE.

    New Weapons That Players Want to Use
    We used a multi-prong assault to address the fact that most players in our previous games have doggedly refused to use any weapon besides the default blades. The following is the list of changes designed to promote the use of other weapons by the player.

    1. Increased orbs to make weapons easier to upgrade
    We purposely gave players more red orbs (experience) than in the past in an effort to encourage players to be less reluctant to experiment and upgrade other weapons in their arsenal.

    2. Tied magic to weapons
    We tied the magic to the weapons so that there would be greater incentive to switch weapons to use different magic. In addition, this helped us streamline the controls and remove the redundancy of the separate weapon and magic system that was in previous God of War titles.

    3. Made on-the-fly weapon switching accessible
    This was the most important change in my opinion. We put the weapon selection on the directional pad where the player could easily switch their weapon on the fly. The other addition is L1 + X also cycles weapons and produces a new attack. These two mechanics made weapon switching much less cumbersome.

    4. Nemean Cestus
    We purposely made the Nemean Cestus overpowered to ensure that players used something besides the default blades.

    5. Hades’ Hooks
    Reasons to use the Hade’s Hooks.

    o The single most powerful magic is the Centaur Soul summon.
    o Gorgon Soul summon is useful as well.

    6. Nemesis Whip
    Reasons to use the Nemesis Whip

    • Builds combo meter fast
    • Titan mode (Blade of Olympus) meter builds up fast
    • Enemies drop orbs on occasion when hit by the Nemesis Whip
    • Easy air juggles

    Regarding the Hades’ Hooks and Nemesis Whip, I think a byproduct of having weapons that look similar to the traditional blades is that it entices people to put them to use more often.

    7. Made enemies that require a specific weapon to defeat
    Siren’s require the Helios’ Head to make vulnerable. The shield carrying grunts require the Nemean Cestus to defeat. These design choices were made all in the hope that we could entice players to mix up their weapon usage routines.

    New Items and Item Meter
    We added a self-recharging item meter and tied it to the following weapons, Apollo’s Bow, Hermes’ Boots and Helios’s Head.

    We found that players in previous God of War titles were largely ignoring items like the bow because it was tied to the Magic meter. Players tended to horde their magic for really difficult fights and bosses. To combat this we added a self-recharching item meter. This opened up the combat system, as players were no longer limited by their magic while also giving the combat designers a way to limit and balance the use of these weapons.

    In my opinion, the Hermes’ Boots and the ability to Air Evade is the single greatest new addition to the game. I personally rely on this mechanic constantly and don’t know how I ever got along without it.

    Combat Grapple
    The combat grapple is an important new addition to Kratos’ repertoire. The combat grapple makes the combat in God of War III a bit more accessible to players as it allows the player to more easily string together combos and worry less about player positioning to maintain combos.

    Pro tip: Using the combat grapple against Wraiths that are underground pulls them out.

    Ridable Creatures
    This is another new combat feature that puts a different twist on encounters. The areas we struggled were to make the creature feel responsive while selling that the player is indirectly controlling the creature through attacks. This was a tough balancing act, but I think the final product succeeded.

    More Enemies
    Our switch from the PS2 to the PS3 has allowed us to greatly increase the number of enemies that the player faces at any given time. Now we are able to have the player fight up to 50 enemies at once.

    Target Selection
    We wanted the player to be actively engaged and making decisions during combat. One way we did that was to encourage the player to decide which enemy to deliberately target during a combat engagement. For instance, if the player is fighting a group of enemies and one of them happens to be a Gorgon, he can decide to focus on the Gorgon and kill her first and unleash an area effect stone blast to dispatch the other enemies. The Siren works off of a similar concept.

    Lastly, I wanted to talk about the framerate. Framerate directly applies to combat because it affects how a responsive a game feels. The game runs at 45+ frame rate for the most part and in my experience anything 45+ is hard to distinguish from 60. In other words, what we noticed is that the difference from 30 to 45 fps is tremendous, but the difference from 45 to 60 is not as discernible. So, wherever we could we tried to keep the frame rate close to 45. The God of War III’s framerate on the PS3 is at least on par with God of War II’s on the PS2. God of War III shouldn’t have any screen tearing (which is an improvement over GoW2) and the new motion blur we are using masks the variable framerate very well.

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    God of War 3 III Chaos Will Rise Trailer

    Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

    Posted by Tony Huynh.
    This is the new trailer that was released for our game last week. This is all in-game. God of War 3 releases March 16, enjoy the trailer.

    Video Games | God of War III | Exclusive Chaos Will Rise Trailer
    XBox 360 | Playstation 3 | Nintendo Wii

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    Greatest Video Game Trailers, God of War III (3) Release date and cover

    Sunday, January 31st, 2010

    Posted by Tony Huynh.
    If you haven’t already noticed, I would like to call your attention to the new WordPress Theme created by none other than the wonderful and talented Berenice Limon of I haven’t been posting because we’ve been in the final crazy stretch for God of War III (3) coming out this March 16, 2010. We’ve been all working a lot of late nights and weekends to make sure GoW3 is the conclusion that the God of War series deserves. The hectic schedule is finally beginning to wind down as we get closer and closer to the ship date.

    In another announcement, the box art is finalized for God of War III.

    God of War III God of War 3 Cover Art - Tony Huynh

    I know some of you may prefer to have a certain “other” cover for the game. If you are one of these people, you may want to grab your copy of God of War 1 and 2 and open the case and take out the cover. Now flip the cover around and you’ll notice that on the back is an alternate cover for the game. When you get God of War III, you may want to do the same thing.

    I also noticed that Amazon has a great deal on God of War III pre-orders. You can get the game for $57 and they’ll throw in a $10 gift card.

    Lastly, there are some great games coming out this first quarter and beyond and some really great game trailers to go with them. Here are a few of the standout trailers.

    Mass Effect 2 Launch Trailer
    Damn that’s a good soundtrack and I’m a sucker for good soundtracks.

    Red Dead Redemption Trailer
    This is the perfect trailer for a Western themed game. It’s surprising that so many western genre games miss on evoking what a western is about. It is about selling the setting and not the main character and always has been.

    These game trailers got me thinking about all the great video game trailers of the past. Here are a few of my favorites off the top of my head.

    Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare 2K7 Trailer
    I like explosions.

    Silent Hill 2 E3 Trailer
    This is one messed up trailer, especially looking back on it now that I’ve played the game.

    Gears of War (Mad World)
    This trailer is made by the inspired choice in music.

    GranTurismo 5 Ferrari Tribute
    Damn this is a sexy trailer and a great accompanying song.

    World of Warcraft Cinematic Trailer
    Blizzard has been known for creating amazing cinematics and this is their crowning achievement.

    Mirror’s Edge Trailer
    Amazing soundtrack and innovative gameplay. The game wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but this trailer made the game an instant day one purchase for me.

    Halo 3: ODST Live Action Trailer
    Damned if Microsoft doesn’t know how to market a game. Truly successful trailers sell a feeling and a sense that the game is bigger than it is.

    Street Fighter IV Announcement Trailer
    Without any news on the actual game and this trailer the only thing to go by, I thought if they could make the game a 1/10th of how awesome this trailer was, I would be satisfied with Street Fight IV.

    Battlefield Bad Company – Snake Eyes
    I genuinely laughed when I saw this. Humor works.

    Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony (There’s Always a Girl)
    Rockstar knows pop culture. When you can cut a great trailer with The Look from Roxette you’ve earned my respect and god damn it, there’s always a girl.

    Halo 2 Announce Trailer
    I remember sitting there in disbelief when I saw this trailer. It left a lasting impact especially for somebody who loved the first Halo as much as I did. What separates a great trailer is that it evokes a feeling of something bigger than the game itself. Halo 2’s advertising campaign did that and that’s why it is my favorite trailer.

    Hope you enjoyed the video game trailer blast.

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