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Video Games VIDEO GAME DEFINITION OF THE WEEK: “Invincibility Frames”


Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


This week the EFG staff is going to define the term “Invincibility Frames!”

Invincibility Frames are a short period of time, lasting one frame of animation, often after the player has suffered an error or negative consequence, where players can briefly not suffer the same or similar consequence.

For the every day gamer, invincibility frames allow for players to have a moment to collect themselves after an unlucky sequence of play. Getting hit by a red shell in Mario Kart or coming back to the stage after losing a life in Smash Brothers Ultimate will both result in a moment where the you can get back into the game without other players effecting you.

This is a video that teaches how to create Invincibility Frames in GameMaker, but it also serves to explain how it all works.

Invincibility frames are often indicated visually, with the character briefly flashing a different color or becoming transparent. Occasionally, there might also be a sound effect such as when Mario shrinking down from his mushroom power.

In more advanced play, players may injure themselves intentional to use their invincibility frames to their advantage during play. This is often referred to as “Damage Boosting.”

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Video Game Definition of the Week: “Skins”

Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


This week we chose the term “Skins.” Free to play games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Rocket League are dominant right now and this dominance shows no signs of slowing down. All of these free games make up for their incredibly low price by selling what are often referred to as “Skins.”

A “skin” is a kind of item that players can acquire in games. They change the appearance of the players avatar (the character on the screen that represents the player). Skins can be as simple as a change in color scheme (often referred to as a Palette Swap), or as complex as a new avatar with different lighting effects and animations. Most companies are very careful to make sure these skins don’t effect the actual gameplay though. The characters will still play the same. They will just look different doing so.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

Follow us on Facebook!

Like us on Twitter!

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Subscribe to our Newsletter!

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Video Game Definition of the Week: “Speed Running”

Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

This week we are going to define the term “Speed Running.” Awesome Games Done Quick is a week long charity marathon where speed runners from all over the country come together to play. The event starts on January 7th so it makes sense that we take a moment to actually explain what the heck they are doing!


Speed running a video game is the act of attempting to complete a game, in whole or in part, as fast as physically possible.

Anyone can speed run a game the same way that anyone can play basketball or baseball, but only a special few will be able to complete a video game and hold a world record. This can take preternatural reflexes, countless hours of study, and hundreds if not thousands of hours of practice.

Below is a YouTube video that was filmed live as the current world record holder for Super Mario Bros. earned his record. Most of these world records are not caught live thanks to streaming services like YouTube and Twitch, so large communities of fans have built up around some of the great players.

One of the hallmarks of speed running is the quest for glitches. These are points in the game where players are able to break the normal sequence of game play and gain some time.

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

This week we are going to define the game design term “gameplay loop.” This is, admittedly, a heavier word than we have defined before, but understanding what a gameplay loop is will help understand the games that our kids (and we) play a great deal!


A Gameplay Loop is a game design term that is used to describe the repetitive activities that a player will take while playing a game. It, essentially, defines what the player DOES while playing. Every level you complete in Super Mario Run, Pokemon you catch in Pokemon Go, and level you gain in Final Fantasy XV is an example of one (or more) gameplay loops.

Example

One gameplay loop example from a shooting game might work like this: (Shout out to Morten Grauballe for the killer example.)

  • a target appears
  • you aim at the target
  • you pull the trigger
  • the projectile moves towards the target
  • you hit the target
  • the target loses life

This is a “core” gameplay loop because, with a shooter, this is the activity that a player will be doing most often. It is worth noting, though, that games will often have more than one loop going at the same time. This is especially true in more complex games like RPGs.

Take a look a this example of a gameplay loop you might take from the game World of Warcraft. This is very complex game so each of these steps might include several other smaller loops that players would complete in the process.

  • You enter a new zone
  • You gather all of the quests from all of the different NPCs in the first quest hub
  • You move around the zone completing quest objectives
  • You return to the quest hub
  • You turn in all of the quests you have completed and collect your rewards
  • You move to the next quest hub
  • … and so on.

Thinking critically about the games our kids play and the way that our kids play them provides great insight. It is also a great way to connect with them. You’ll understand the games they enjoy better. You might even enjoy them a little better too!

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

This week we are going to define the term “Generation” with regards to how it is used in the video game space.


Video game consoles have been around for decades and have increased in power exponentially as time has passed.

One of the limitations on home consoles is that in order to work as consumers expect them to they must remain, at least mostly, the same from a power perspective for a long time. This is done to allow publishers  to generate the software needed to help consumers feel like the purchase was “worth it.” At this point, consumers generally understand that a console will only last a certain number of years before a console manufacturer will replace it with something new and more powerful that they will need to buy in order to play the latest and greatest games. (This wasn’t always the case though. There was a great deal of outcry against the Super Nintendo because people did not originally understand that it wasn’t just a slightly different Nintendo Entertainment System.)

Console manufacturers tend to release new consoles all at once (or at least over a short span of time). This behavior has lasted almost as long as consoles have. As a result, Gamers and game historians have taken to referring to the time that a set of consoles is available as a “generation.”

There have been eight generations of video game consoles so far. The list below includes the major consoles included in each generation. Game historians may argue some of the finer points regarding what might be included in each generation, but this list is generally accepted as accurate.

  • First Generation: Magnavox Odyssey, Pong, etc.
  • Second Generation: Colecovision, Atari 2600, Atari 5600
  • Third Generation: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
  • Fourth Generation: Nintendo SNES, Sega Genesis
  • Fifth Generation: Nintendo N64, Sony PlayStation , Sega Saturn
  • Sixth Generation: Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft  Xbox, Sega Dreamcast
  • Seventh Generation: Nintendo WiiU, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft  Xbox 360
  • Eighth Generation : Nintendo WiiU, Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft  Xbox One

 

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

This week we are going to define pixels because they are going to come up an awful lot over the next few months. We’ll likely be talking about them when we sing the praises of the NES Classic edition and its “Pixel Perfect mode.” And we’ll likely be talking about the sheer volume of pixels on screen when we talk about the resolution of the PlayStation Pro or the Xbox One Scorpio.

But… What are pixels exactly? Why were they called pixels in the first place?

Pixels

The term Pixel has a number of different definitions depending on the context. In general though, pixels are the basic building blocks of digital images.

The word “pixel” was first published by Frederic C. Billingsley of JPL in 1965. He used the term to help describe the different picture elements of video images from space probes to the Moon and Mars. You see, these pictures and images from back then weren’t exactly the hi res images we get from Mars. They weren’t even as good as the images we received from the Rosetta probe as it crashed into a comet. He used the term Pixel (“pix” being short for “pics” and “el” being short for “element”) to help refer to the component parts of the images they received.

The volume of pixels in an image help to determine how clear the image is. More pixels also gives a greater likelihood that the captured image will be accurate compared to the subject.

More pixels means better looking images and more clear animations. Just compare an image of Super Mario running in the original Super Mario Bros. Game and compare it to the same animation in New Super Mario Bros. Wii U. The Wii U is a much more powerful machine so it can display more pixels on screen. As a result, Mario’s run animation is clearer.

 

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined . Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!

But, without further delay…. this week we are defining sports games. This is a very relevant topic considering the number of games in the genre that have come out in the last few weeks. There are also a few different kinds of sports games that people might not think about. Take a look below!

Sports Games

Sports games are some of the most easily recognizable games on the market today. They are games that attempt to emulate the playing of a “traditional” or “real world” sport like football, basketball, American football, tennis, etc. They may not be readily available on store shelves, but the digital age has breathed life into the sports game genre. There are titles available for fishing, lacrosse, and even cricket that can be purchased on app stores and digital store fronts.

Sports games come in two main varieties: simulations and arcade sports games. Both of these sub genres are focused on emulating the play experience of “real world” sports. The difference, however, comes in the execution.

Simulations focus on realistic recreations of sport. The designers set out to make sure all of the different game elements from the art to the physics all accurately represent the act of playing (or watching) the sport. They do this to attract fans of the different sports. The goal is to get these fans to build a steady audience to help with sales. Some of the communities built around games like Madden and FIFA are HUGE! Some of the more common sports simulation games are the Madden series, the FIFA series, and the NBA 2k series.

Arcade sports games are focused more on creating a fun gaming experience without emphasis on accuracy. These games might include exaggerated physics, bizarre art styles, and sometimes even power ups. Sometimes these games are dismissed by hardcore fans as being “too casual,” but those types of comments miss the point. These games are often targeted at broad audiences that might not notice (or care) that some design liberties were taken. Some of the more common arcade sports games are  NBA Jam and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.

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