Plants vs. Zombies Review

This is a summary of the issues we discussed during the Sussex Games Reading Group meeting on the 26th of June 2009.

Its a review of “Plants vs. Zombies” by PopCap:

1. Could have become harder quicker
2. After playing the Demo you couldn’t port your progress into the Full version
a. EA did this with the Sim and Spore Creature designer
3. Timed Demo gives impression that game is very short
4. Difficulty spikes – why does it get easier after being hard? –> What am I doing wrong?
5. Certain items are much more useful than others
6. Some of the plant descriptions could have been more informative for the difficult levels (optional plant set hint).
7. Half way through a level some plants can become useless (mainly because you don’t want to waste your slots for them).
8. Usability: Can’t move plants around in slots, to re-order them you have to empty the slots
9. Usability: Zen garden has problem when moving plant. You can accidently click and move the plant to the wrong point
10. Usability: Zen garden – you can’t swap plants, only move them to a empty slot.
11. Tree of knowledge doesn’t give any good hints, basically useless. Promises reward. World of goo’s tower is much better.
12. Golden watering can doesn’t help much.
13. Usability: Golden Watering can doesn’t show exactly what it waters.
14. The almanac didn’t have consistency when it came to the stats
15. The bomb plants are very similar and their different strengths are not signposted very well.

Natal and VR

Microsoft presented project NATAL at E3 this year. This has rekindled my interest in the matching VR display problem (we want that holodeck!). Anyway, my main interest is in multiview displays or panoramagrams.

The idea is that a display presents multiple images at different angles, this generating a different image for each eye from whichever angle you look at it – generating stereoscopic image.

I think the future solution to this will be something like nano-pixels, where a group of light sources (lED or something smaller) form a half sphere. The seperate rays are deliniated by tiny tiny tubes (maybe not quite nano) that prevent the eye from seeing the others from a given angle.

This, together with a motion detection tech similar to NATAL and a VR setup like the CAVE would pretty much check all the boxes for a holodeck, although we still cant hold project objects onto our hand that way (we’d need a display on our hands with the current solution, which seems infeasable). So it’s not perfect, but definately a step forward as it works without periferals and with multiple participants: both the motion detection and the multiview screen techs are user-number independent.