Matthew Matosis: Still Incompetent

If you are reading this post in 2022 or later, please be aware this post was written *6 years ago*. I don’t care about Matthewmatosis. I haven’t commented on anything he’s done in the half-decade since I wrote this. I haven’t even watched it. He might have gotten better according to my weird-ass standard during that time!

I have been developing a critical theory of game design on this blog, all by myself, not involving criticism of other creators. Please read something else! I have written HUNDREDS of posts that are more interesting than this.

(For context, when Matthew Matosis’s 6 hour long dark souls commentary came out I linked this on twitter: comparing MM’s new video to the zelda eyeball video. Slightly careless on my part, didn’t mean to get Sean’s comments on narcissism mixed up in this)

I don’t see the need for your elistist snark towards matthewmatosis’s new video. Haven’t watched it, but if that Zelda eyeball video is comparable, well, wtf are you getting so worked up about? It’s just a harmless video detailing a bit of trivia. Trivial, you say? THAT’S THE POINT OF TRIVIA! Why bitch about something intended for entertainment that also happens to educate a bit. Maybe you already know this stuff, but NEWS FLASH: not everyone does! (durr) Also, wtf does narcissism (not remotely exclusive to streamers) have to do with a video about game tech? The dude’s still talking about the goddamned game. Yes, contrary to what you and malstrom are screaming about, it’s still an element of the game. Not everyone’s is going to discuss (or limit the discussion to) whatever it is you feel is HOMG SO IMPORTANT.

The dude seriously describes for like, a minute or two, the concept of level streaming, and how RAM is the active memory used for the game process, and therefore faster to pass through the CPU onto the screen than the information on disc. Only he calls it Prefetching, which is a different thing, though similar.

This isn’t a new technique. This isn’t important information to the design of Dark Souls in any way. This existed YEARS before the game came out (It was in Metroid Prime and Mirror’s Edge, which both predate Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls). Unless I’m mistaken, it was also used in Demon’s Souls even though he claims it wasn’t.

The eyeball video is comparable, because there are so many things about the gameplay you could be talking about and you choose to focus on something so blisteringly boring as level streaming which you don’t know enough about to even get the fucking name right.

I am so goddamn sick and tired of video game trivia. There are an infinite number of youtube channels and other sources talking about video game trivia. I know so much of this bullshit already. I want Matthew to tell me what makes Dark Souls good. Telling me that it uses level streaming, like so many other games do, does not tell me whether the game is good or not. It’s him trying to show that he can repeat basic computer facts with the wrong terminology. His viewers might think that him being able to tell them incorrect facts about how the game was made is giving them an insight into what makes dark souls good and granting them a wider knowledge of video games in general, but it is not.

You want more info on how game graphics are put together without the youtuber marveling over how intelligent or wonderful everything is, and how great the developers must be to do this completely industry standard thing? Here you go:

This information on “prefetching” has nothing to do with game design. This is like listening to him in his Super Mario 3D World review talk about how nice the bump mapping looks, even though bump mapping hasn’t been used since the era of the N64 and early Gamecube (I remember when Dungeon Keeper 2 had a patch adding in bump mapping as the hot new thing). We use normal maps nowadays and they’re commonplace in all games, not a special feature worth marveling over in a Mario game as if it’s somehow special to Mario or even executed in a particularly significant way in that Mario game. I don’t need a video gushing about technical details that aren’t even correct.

More pressingly, there’s a lot of information on the level design that he could be going over, the arrangements of enemies together, the design of individual enemies, that he totally doesn’t cover. He could be giving you all this design analysis that he’s passing over.

His choice in things to criticize are completely asinine. Like the barred one-way door preventing access from the upper burg to the lower burg, because couldn’t someone poke their hand through to open it from the far side? How do people come up with questions like this? Immersion is almost like self-sabotage sometimes, I swear. This apparently hurts his suspension of disbelief in a way that never happened in Demon’s Souls, and we all know suspension of disbelief is really important. (sarcasm) They wanted to put in a one-way door, they thought it would distinguish the door from the ones around it to be barred and fit the aesthetic of that particular spot, also fitting the barred walls in the area below. The game has no “Move only one arm in such a way that I can activate nodes that the end of the arm can touch” mechanic. There’s no mechanic for moving limbs individually at all. How does it occur to people to think “Why can’t he just reach through the barred gate and open it from the far side” when there’s no mechanics in the game vaguely resembling that? Are you expecting the devs to intentionally think, “oh, we’re placing a barred gate here that is one-way, we should make it so pressing A here activates a totally custom contextual animation that has the character reach through the gate and totally break the sequence of the game in a high-affordance way for free”? Should the developers totally exclude using barred one-way doors just because it triggers your fucked up attempts to find inconsistencies in games’ fictional settings?

I didn’t mean to imply Matthew is narcissistic. He seems like a pleasant person and I don’t dislike him as a person, even though I get on his case about what he says in his reviews. I’m just irritated by how nobody wants to talk about gameplay and they’d rather talk about absolutely everything but the gameplay. I probably shouldn’t have tweeted Malstrom’s article, and I realized that it wasn’t totally the point I wanted to convey after tweeting it. MM isn’t narcissistic, and I don’t want to insult him that way.

People talk up MM like he’s the best gameplay critic out there, and he says almost nothing about the gameplay of the various games he reviews, when that’s ostensibly the reason people are coming to him for his reviews over the common video game critics.

No, the concept of level streaming or moving things from the disc to RAM is not a part of the game. It shouldn’t be in a dark souls commentary or review any more than it should be in a Gears of War commentary or review (another game that used level streaming). Wow, such amazing level streaming. Did you know that computers need to move things into RAM to use them? And the time to move things out of disc space is milliseconds versus the nanoseconds from RAM!?

I mean, I know I tend to be biased against reviewers covering anything but gameplay, but this isn’t reviewing the video game anymore, this is basic-ass facts about how computers and game engines work, in a context where it has little to nothing to do with the game. This is a common feature that many games older than dark souls use. This isn’t

At minimum, if this is the type of content that he’s putting out, it’s mundane and not particularly praiseworthy. A good review shouldn’t include praise of a game for doing something that every other game in its time period is already doing, for using technology that is already dated by the time it comes out. A good review shouldn’t get these technical details incorrect in the process of praising them, misinforming their audience.

Also, ironic that you’re bitching about things that are irrelevant to ‘gameplay design’, yet most of the things involved in many speedruns are also completely irrelevant to ‘gameplay design’. Who gives a shit if you can press start to cancel this animation to trigger some action to clip through a wall so you can skip half the game? Probably fewer than those that care about the eyeballs in TP, I’d wager. Pretty sure no one’s designining speedrunnable Zelda, while that vid might be informational for some aspiring designer or artist.

Those things, despite being unintentional and therefore outside the realm of the intentionally designed, speak to a broader theory of design. They’re good for the game, even though they’re not part of the designer’s original vision. Also I don’t judge a game based on the speedrun, I just enjoy speedrun content.

Let me give a pressing example within the Dark Souls series itself. In Demon’s Souls, there was an issue with stunlock, if you get hit by a weapon that can stun you long enough to prevent you from dodging, then it will stunlock you, holding you in hitstun until you die or they run out of stamina. In Dark Souls to prevent this, they added poise, which functions as a form of super armor until the invisible poise meter completely fills and you are subject to stunlocking.

However there is actually a glitch called the Toggle Escape Glitch, by toggling your weapon at the right time, you can cancel the hitstun animation, allowing you to escape stunlock combos. You can apply skill in a low affordance way, to escape something that would otherwise kill you. This gives you a last ditch chance to escape if you are skillful instead of getting stunlocked meaning straight-up death.

What does this have to do with game design? What bearing does a thing that allows players who can react quickly to being hit (not only react to being hit, but to that hit causing stunlock), and prep an action at a specific timing, have on game design? This is a golden goose of good game design, it happened to come about even though nobody planned for it and it fit perfectly with the rest of the system. Their intended solution to stunlock, poise, didn’t work as well as this golden goose did, and in Dark Souls 2 and Bloodborne, they just threw toggle escape out, even though it had a positive effect on the game. In Dark Souls 3 they implemented a solution where hitstun on other players would be canceled automatically after 2 hits, which is much less elegant than the toggle escape glitch, because it didn’t take dexterity, reaction speed, or timing from the player to pull off. It couldn’t variably allow 1 hit or 3 hits or 4 hits relative to the skill of the toggle escaping player. It’s 2 hits every time guaranteed, which is really lame and samey.

Part of why it also works well is the specific action that escapes stunlock. If you could simply escape stunlock with dodge, that’s already the thing people are mashing. You might as well not have stun if you’re just going to let people out of it with dodge. Instead you need to press a button that requires you to also remove your finger from the control stick, so that when you dodge, you can’t dodge in a direction.

The further point is, this type of question wouldn’t come up in any competitive game for even a second, “Oh, that’s possible? We’re all going to be doing it from now on.” Everything that is possible in the game is legitimate until you (in a single player game) or the authority defining the game rules (in a multiplayer game) outlaws it. Nobody would argue that the TAC infinite in Marvel 3 is irrelevant to game design. Nobody would argue that Unit Stacking in RTS games is irrelevant to game design. Nobody would argue combos are irrelevant to game design. If you ever play Super Puzzle Fighters 2 Turbo, you can bet your ass off that everyone will be using the diamond glitch to double the number of counter gems sent over by diamonds, it’s such a simple glitch that even beginners can do it accidentally (make a slot for the diamond to go into with color you want to break at the bottom, swap from regular piece to diamond as it touches down, get double drops). This impacted the rereleased version balanced by Sirlin, where he figured he should just have diamond give 100% counter gems all the time, but without the need for the setup, it became overpowered. The original implementation of the glitch in my opinion trumped Sirlin’s redesign, even if it’s a bit tricky to explain to people.

Glitches, like them or not, are a part of the game, a frequently low-affordance part of the game. However a lot of intentionally designed things, like many many sequence breaks in Super Metroid, are intentionally designed low-affordance things too. Someone did design speedrunnable metroid, it’s called Metroid, they have a timer after all and it’s reprised its role in every metroid since, along with a fair number of sequence breaks. Or you have the Jump Cancel from the first Devil May Cry, or any number of advanced beat em up mechanics since then. There is a validity to a design for low-affordance, which means that even if glitches are not intentionally designed and technically not “part of the design”, they are entirely something functional that affects the game, even if few to no people use them.

They are something that can be talked about in terms of game design (their level of affordance, effect on balance, challenge, etc), choosing to patch them out or leave them in is a game design decision. In the case of Devil May Cry, a completely core mechanic (juggling enemies) that has become a core mechanic of most 3d beat em up games since then, was inspired by a glitch occurrence in Onimusha, where some enemies would stay suspended in the air if attacked.

Fighting games, in their search for new mechanics, constantly invent new techniques that have execution methods similar to glitches, or incorporate glitches into their gameplay, like alternating guard in King of Fighters, or jump install in Guilty Gear.

But still, fine, ignore all that glitchy shit in your review. You don’t need it. You do however need to at least talk about how the combat mechanics are structured, the way your character’s animations are timed relative to enemy’s. The amount of space they cover. The idea of the tradeoff between dodging, blocking, and attacking as they’re implemented in this game versus other action RPGs or beat em up games.

Matthew Matosis does precisely none of this. The video is instead filled with tangents onto other nonsensical topics that have almost nothing to do with Dark Souls. He managed to make a 6 hour video with less insightful content than his 30 minute videos. That’s a feat in video production.

Tell me why the game is good!

9 thoughts on “Matthew Matosis: Still Incompetent

  1. animeisbestwatchedwithfriends May 21, 2016 / 10:50 am

    This guy has never said anything that someone with 2 brain cells didn’t know, it’s fucking sad that people even care about him.


    • ANIMEISBESTWATCHEDWITHFRIENDS August 4, 2016 / 4:37 pm

      He got better tbh, and i was a bit harsh with this comment.


  2. Santiago August 3, 2016 / 7:10 am

    Such butthurt. The guy talks about what’s important to him, why don’t you go make a fucking video and talk about what’s important to you instead of watching 6 hours of something you don’t give a shit about?


  3. Santiago August 3, 2016 / 7:20 am

    Dude you’re so damn hateful. This guy makes videos of whatever the fuck he wants, he’s not the best, he’s not amazing, people just like him cause he’s entertaining. You can’t be like this, you can’t send so much hate and butthurt just because you know more than him yet people loves him more. Just do your thing and be happy


    • sonpies August 4, 2016 / 4:36 pm

      I think you’re just butthurt someone has some legitimate criticisms of your favorite e-celeb.


  4. Gilgamesh310 October 20, 2016 / 9:03 pm

    I enjoyed his tangent about Berserk, but you make good points against him.


  5. Jer March 10, 2020 / 2:07 pm

    You’ve completely missed the point of his video. It’s a 6 hour commentary, not a review. It says so in the title, and the first thing he says is that he will simply be talking about the game.

    You don’t have to like it. But there’s a reason it has over a million views with a fantastic like ratio, and there’s a reason why this article has virtually no likes.

    It’s a 6 hour video, there’s no way you’ve actually addressed the whole video in this article. You’ve assumed it’s a review, cherry picked things you don’t like about it, and shat out this journalistic turd piece. Bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. alucardslan July 31, 2021 / 10:47 am

    “I mean, I know I tend to be biased against reviewers covering anything but gameplay, but this isn’t reviewing the video game anymore”

    This is your issue. If you take another look at the title of the video, you’ll realise it says “Dark Souls Commentary”. Not “Dark Souls Review”. There is no point in the video where Matthematosis states that he will only talk about gameplay design. Within half a minute he very explicitly states “I’m just going to speak about whatever springs to mind, there’s not going to be any particular topic for this video”.

    You say you’re a “critic of critics” but if that’s the case then I feel you’re doing a pretty poor job when you watch a 6-hour commentary which specifically states that it just a commentary with random topics but then criticise it for not being a good review…. which it wasn’t trying to be.

    This might have been a useful article if it was in response to one of his actual reviews (Y’know, the videos that actually say “Review” in the title and where he says he’ll be reviewing a game) than an entertaining commentary rather than what it is right now where you’ve clearly missed the point.

    Liked by 1 person

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