Tropico 4 review


Inscribed layer

The mechanics of the game is quite complex. There are various external factors the player has to interact with. The game is a rough simulation of how to rule a small country in the caribbean. The game’s goal to see how long your country and reputation lasts, while maintaining order and stability in the country. The look and feel of the game responds well to how the player should go about playing the game. The game set-up allows the player to control their resources and control the type of tenants they want. After the player chooses the island they want the landscape and graphics are rendered well with a lot of detail.  The game has no general plot, it basically gives you ultimate freedom on how you want to run your island. The controls on where to build and what areas you want to dig or setup any building or factory is represented on a grid structure that color codes what type of area is good for a specific resource or location. The amount of data and statistics that the game engine runs on is amazing. Every aspect of an island has been broken down into segments that can be manipulated in the game. Playing through and understanding what my island can do was a little difficult to grasp all at once when the game started. I had to keep track of how to maintain my long term based on the island gives me. I could see my horizon of intent increasing with more options. Building relationships with international figures was a good addition to either increase your profit and also build an alliance. As long as the player completes the mini challenge or quest

Dynamic Layer

Once the game starts and you begin to build from your resources the mechanics of the game kick in. I had a island that was rich in bauxite and some iron, so I capitalized on the minerals as a natural resource to create weapons and build more factories. I figured I would want to make as much money as possible. The options in the games are bound to the island and what you can do as a dictator or ruler. The game started to get fun when the satisfaction levels of the people were measured. The more factories I build destroying vegetation, I could a spike in ecologist that were against it. Generally, trying to make money and keeping the people happy was interesting to juggle. I found that powering the cities and homes were an important factor in running an effective country. The main interests came from electricity and roads. Having the people react and in different ways was interesting to see develop over time. Any major factory or decision I made for political reasons, there was always a faction of people that were against it. I tried to balance the the overall public relation and tried not to go past 50% of disagreement among the people.

Cultural layer

The cultural aspect of the game isn’t so much as a dictator themed game, but just a world building simulator game. The “culture” of the game stems from a long line of world building simulator games like sims, rollercoaster tycoon, civilization, rome, etc. Tropico has the same feel to it when playing. There major and minor occurrences that happen during the game, and based on the player’s own cultural influence, they can run a country like North Korea or like a capitalist society. The Game makes you start off as a lowly dictator that could turn into a major economic power if played correctly. The game although might seem a little too similar to civilization or other world building simulator games. I don’t really see a die hard following of Tropico, unlike Starcraft or Sims. The cultural impact of the game, is something that might be unique to a small demographic of players. The game however captures the response of citizens quite well and keeps the dictator in check of their decisions. If the people are not happy they can have a coup or revolt and overthrow the player. The reaction of people in the game creates a special unique culture within the game. The game can be used as a historical demonstration when dictators lose control of their country or island. The game has nice message behind the ways to win and lose. I like how the “happiness” and overall satisfaction of people is a constant theme the game revolves around after a certain time. There are always people that will not like the decision I made, but I have to come to terms with it to attain larger goal that will eventually lower the people’s disagreement. Much like in reality, there is a latency effect. The plan won’t take action immediately, but overtime and with accumulation of money or resources, the plan will work.

Character feedback for Kaze

Nice job on the overall character design, thank you for taking the time to draw this! I had a different take on this character, not sure what Maia thought, but I was thinking more along the lines of a Bruce Timm type of art style. I like how you drew from inspiration of Jessica Jones, but I was thinking like a Nikita type of character, fast and nimble.
Some things to consider:
-Try to slim down the character.
-Sharper angular lines for her build.
– She’s not an actual ninja, her demeanor and skills are just similar to a ninja. She needs to move fast, like the wind, which is what kaze means in Japanese. So like a “streamlined” look.
-And maybe for her white shoes, they can act as like a blurred streak she leaves behind when shes running around.

Really like the design you did with her name and made it look like Japanese calligraphy . The scarf is a good addition, and the leather jacket is exactly the type I was thinking. Hope this helps.


Impact of a story

After reading the article, I have some points that I agree and disagree with. The story and structure of  a game does enhance a players experience being involved in a world that is novel to someone.  A lot of successful adventure games, had major success with this model. Although, I had to disagree with the point that inscribed narratives has to be apart of the game experience.  There lots of games out there that have little to no story before playing the game. I watched a youtube video where, the youtuber analyzes the game Mega Man X for the snes. This game is regarded as a classic for gamers. The first level has no story or tutorial, all you do is run, jump, and shoot. The inscribed narrative mentions the climax of the story, but instead it should measure the response of the player’s “climax” (dirty innuendo). Just because the story’s climax is happening, the same reaction won’t always be the same with the player.


When I played Witcher 3, I found the beginning to be boring. I could be at a biased point of view since I was pretty tired at the time playing it. Nonetheless, the game started out too slow. The premise was that I am a bad ass warrior who lost his girlfriend. There was a short tutorial on how to do certain moves, but the action or the story seemed like an elongated experience. When I watch a movie, I don’t want something telling me what to look at while I am watching, I want to dive right into it, and get to the juicy action. Witcher could barrow the beginning of Mega Man X, and give the player all the powers to experience first only to have it taken away from you so you can keep playing and get back to the sweet sweet action.  Witcher 3 probably had other titles that came before it, so I would assume the majority of the players played Witcher 1 and 2. The players would feel bored if they are relearning what they already know.

World building suggestion.

I haven’t really thought out the specifics of this game, but a rough estimate of the game would be to force players to work with one another in the beginning and then towards the end have to decide who to let go in order to survive in the end.

This game would be  a complex system of mapping out and creating continents and deciding what type of inhabitants will live on that continents.  The players will start out by rolling a 6 sided die, whatever the number lands on will be the size of a grid frame they will use to draw their continent. For example, if someone rolls a 4, they need to get the 4×4 (inches) grid frame and draw whatever they want within that frame anywhere on the board that cannot overlap with another continent, only isolated or adjacent to. After the continent building phase is over, the players get to choose a set of inhabitants all with special abilities. There are warriors, hunter and gatherers, pirates and explorers. Each inhabitants will have their abilities but also weaknesses. The game will be set up where each player will have to decide who to ally with. The point of the game will have to be to survive 5 rounds. Each round will have a specific event that will affect a type of inhabitant. One round could be extreme weather, sickness and disease, outside forces maybe aliens? Or be attacked by the games own continent that cant be reached, except by the pirates and explorers who may or may not die in the process.


Mystery character-Kaze (grant and maia)

Female detective similar to a ninja look. She has a slim upper body with a thick muscular legs. She carries a katana around as a weapon instead of a gun. She is very smart and skilled in deductive reasoning. She has all black attire, black leather jacket with black pants and shirt, with oddly clean white shoes. She has an “asian” look. She also has a urban street style look to her wardrobe. Should have a catchy catchphrase like James bond.

Kaze’s Sketch & Illustrator’s comments

“I pictured Kaze being a mysterious but powerful female detective with attitude similar to the super heroine  Jessica Jones.  I gave her a red scarf that she would wrap around her face to hid her identity during her stealth mission, she is a ninja after all!!! I also have her a scar on her eye so she has some sort of history of battle/past investigations gone wrong in the past. I also gave her a giant shuriken (Japanese term for throwing star) because I thought it cooler. Most ninja or Kounoichi (female ninja) didn’t brandish katana’s but throwing stars and chain and sickle or even two short swords like a tanto or wakazashi. If you both insist that Kaze weild a katana I’m more than happy to draw her with such. Her James Bondesque line would ” Measure Once, Cut Twice ” giving players insight on how much a critical thinker and planer she is before she makes her move. I hope you both  enjoy my interpretation of the Mysterious Kaze and hope to hear back from you. ”





Games in Education

There are some contemporary studies done in recent years that demonstrate the learning capabilities with games in the educational setting. In one article, Cheville, R.A. High Educ (2016) 71: 805. doi:10.1007/s10734-015-9957-8. In the article Cheville examines the benefits of how “The curricular mode of being can be better implemented and credentialed within educational institutions if students learn to develop a self-narrative through navigating a multiplicity of learning experiences.” The curricular mode refers to learning experiences as addressing, knowing, acting, or being. Opposed to systematic mode that only focus on educational experiences that are aggregated (totaled) together. Developing a curricular mode of being helps students gain a self narrative. Gaining a self narrative in educational experiences can be beneficial when trying to learn and understand a complex problem. I didn’t get to read the whole entire study, but in the abstract, the author describes how role-playing games helps initiate conversation that utilizes curricular modes, which in turns make the individual initiate in self-narratives. The article mainly focuses on the narrative aspect in conversation and how one out of the two modes of learning experiences can benefit from self-narrative skills.

Another article, by Steve Nebel, Sascha Schneider, and Günter Daniel Rey, the authors explain how spatial reasoning and complex problem solving skills are enhanced when players are motivated to play a particular game that is stimulates them. In the study, the authors used the game Minecraft. The article is a literature review on recent findings of how Minecraft the game has an impact on education. This was another article I could not open due to it not being available. There seems to be an overall trend in games and their growing utilization in the educational field. Puzzle games such as mist, portal, or even Mario galaxy and Nintendo games have a certain way of problem solving training that STEM in schools can benefit from if the right overlap can occur.