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Hian to the Third Degree has moved!

In my efforts to stop being technologically-inept, I've moved my website to a shiny new custom domain name using Jekyll to generate static sites. Check it out there!
Recent posts

Designing Better Leveling and Skill Progression Systems

Watching numbers go up is boring. In a lot of games, the player's character starts from Level 1 and, after accumulating enough experience points, gets to be a Level 2 character. Big whoop! You've killed some monsters, or you've completed a quest or task and you should be rewarded for your efforts, right? Your character is rewarded with some shiny new stat points and/or skill points to be spent on new abilities or upgrading existing ones. It sounds great if you've never played any kind of role-playing game before, but this kind of progression system dates way back to when RPGs were still played with pen and paper, and the use of an efficient system like this allows for a quick measurement of a character's relative skill level. Due to the turn-based nature of pen-and-paper RPGs, player skill had to be abstracted into some arbitrary stat points and acquired abilities. Well, it's 2019 now and games haven't stopped pumping out more and more action, and leveli

How a Triple-A Game Forces the Player to Stare into the Heart of Madness

Spec Ops: The Line was released in 2012, developed by Yager and published by 2K Games, that huge publisher you probably already know of (Oh come on, don't say you've never heard of BioShock , XCOM , Borderlands , or  Civilization ). Despite strong praise for its single-player campaign, the game never really got big. Heck, I'm one to talk, only playing this game 6 years down the line. Some reviews took points off for it's lackluster multiplayer, which frankly, is the stupidest thing you can say as a reviewer. I strongly believe that this game was not designed for multiplayer — hell, it wouldn't be crazy to say that it shouldn't have even had a multiplayer. This is a game whose campaign stands so strongly on its own, that any multiplayer would take away from its central theme: how detached modern shooters are from the atrocity that is war. The hopelessly buggy and poorly implemented multiplayer mode has you shooting faces off other players who're trying to o