I mean, Zelda marketed ITSELF as an RPG. Zelda 2 didn’t have unwelcome RPG elements. It still appears on RPG lists and nobody knows why anymore because they don’t remember that it called itself that. It’s a meme that nobody remembers the source of but people keep repeating.
SotN later went on to try to replicate Zelda 2 and everyone loved it. The Tales series also replicates Zelda 2’s overworld (even the visual presentation is similar) and people like that element of Tales.
Also you don’t need to grind because unlike a regular RPG, you are never forced to take damage. Because you can negate attrition, it’s possible to beat everything with min stats. Negating attrition is the single most important factor in preventing a game from becoming dependent on levelups. The second most important factor is making sure enemies cannot negate attrition at a rate faster than the player can cause attrition to the enemies.
Pasted the timestamp by mistake, I was wondering what you thought about the whole Zelda 2 review, especially the part about the Dark Link fight
I think, cool that he likes it. It’s an uncommon opinion.
Pleasant to note that the first screen has no enemies.
Wish he didn’t skim over why the enemies are interesting. I didn’t actually like the iron knuckles very much because I felt like they were kind of random. Though I can sympathize with that feeling of wanting to get engaged in a sword fight. That was something I pursued for a long time in games. It’s part of why I liked dark messiah and later demon’s souls. It’s part of why I got bored with 3d zelda.
He skips going into any detail on the enemies, or the specifics of combat in general, and the bosses. Regrettable.
He picks out a bunch of nice general points to say about the game and how they connect to making it an interesting and unique experience conceptually (like how it’s cool that link learns new sword moves), but fails to really justify how their implementation is good in this game.
It’s right opinion, but wrong/no justification.
Going back to the castle is not unfair. It is hard, it is punishing, it is not unfair. The definition of unfair he is using here is simply incorrect.
A lot of the complaining over how later parts of the game send you over long stretches with no options for healing is again senseless complaining.
Also booo, bubbles are bad. Whatever.
Those are not unfair enemy placements. Again, they are simply difficult. I’d argue some are good placement even.
I don’t have any remarks on dark link because I did not get to that part of the game, and I honestly can’t totally interpret it from just video footage. I think reaction time will play a heavy part, so I’d need to play it myself to really understand it. It’s definitely better than the OoT fight at least, and him refusing to move if you’re too far is a funny and clever behavior.
So, not a good review overall. I think an issue with many people’s judgement is they take good review to mean one that they agree with, rather than one that is necessarily explicit.
Have you responded to this?
First mistake: Referring to video games specifically, instead of the broader category of games in general.
Second mistake: “Defining what a game is just limits us.” The Game category is not the Art category. It does not behave similarly to the Art category. Yet we see a lot of arguments about the definition of game that mirror the arguments about what constitutes art, when games are not a misunderstood category that can encompass nearly anything, they’re simply a difficult to define one. There’s also the mistake that labeling what is or isn’t games will somehow dissolute Dear Esther, Gone Home and Mountain, instead of just saying, “They’re not games, they’re just something else.” It’s ignoring that this doesn’t have to be a war. Regardless of the semantic label you apply, these works of art still exist and still have value in their own right, just not the same types of values as games. Limiting the definition of games to just include games isn’t preventing any of this other stuff from being created. It isn’t preventing it from being works of digital art. They’re just not a part of the game medium, and they don’t try to be.
Third mistake: Saying the word, “Fail State”
(Side note, I think Jesper Juul’s definition of game is pretty trash, it specifically excludes slot machines (games of chance) and ignores a lot of simpler games. I think my definition is much closer, but I made it up, so of course I’m inclined to think that.)
Fourth Mistake: Assuming that all play is games.
Fifth: Stating that video games have “Matured,” which is again, misunderstanding of the medium.
Sixth: Again, comparing the definition of game to the definition of art. People tend to automatically assume, “Okay, we have this hard to define thing, and last time there was a hard to define thing, people were all curmudgeony about what fit in the art category, so therefore people must be being curmudgeony about what fits in the game category too. Also aren’t stories and meaning awesome? Lets do more of that, because that’s the only thing ever that makes art valuable.”
Seventh mistake: copping out the same way he said EC did. This isn’t an argument about what is true and beautiful in this world. Both can co-exist. They’re just not the same thing.
What do you think of Innuendo Studios?
His first video is defending someone who is basically an asshole on a regular basis (Phil Fish). Kayin wrote a great response to this type of logic. Then his “Blood is Compulsory” video totally ignores that people have been pissed off about CoD getting high scores since forever, and don’t talk about it much anymore just because it’s routine. People have been passing around that one image from Kotaku saying, “Why it’s Stupid to Hate Call of Duty” while the entire page is plastered in CoD ads since mammoths still walked the earth. Gone Home getting high scores is an anomaly. CoD getting high scores is disappointing and infuriating, but routine. The video creates a total strawman of the people he’s in opposition to. I’ve been in the threads hating journos since forever and have accumulated a massive number of screenshots of biased or poorly written articles. People have been crying out for journalists/reviews to ask more tricky questions and to STOP DEFENDING THE CORPORATIONS SO DAMN OFTEN. Like they did with DmC, like they did with Mass Effect 3. Like they have with on-disk DLC. The people who went after the positive reviews of gone home went for easy targets because the connections were way way easier to identify, and indie games causing a ruckus for alleged collusion was the trend at the time. Poor choice on their part, but the video completely ignores the actual stances of people. Then of course he ignores that the shooting might be substanceful within itself, because why would people enjoy gameplay? It’s obviously there for your violent murder fix, not because it’s intellectually stimulating. Then a series of videos about angry internet commenters, trying to say they’re wrong.
Innuendo studios exists to defend the status quo of reviewers being blameless and the audience being entitled crybabies. This is kind of gross.
And it also exists to explore game stories, I guess.
The one good video on the channel is the smash video, and it’s not great. It’s just weird and out of character for him to make a video like that. It’s weird to see him enjoying a game, especially one so rarely explored among commenters and one so familiar and special to me.
I NEED YOUR OPINIONS. I NEED THEM!
When I try to define things, I look at historical usage of the term, colloquial usage, etc, and try to come up with a definition that fits all of those and excludes everything else. Definitions and semantics are a game of white list/black list. We make categories of things because we need to address groups of things specifically instead of just everything, instead of just individual things.
With games, we have this historical usage to refer to things that are challenging in some way, or random in some way. We have games of chance and sports. Then suddenly we had video games. We had the ability to make entertainment software and we all made games. Games became an overwhelming type of entertainment software, unlike the difference between games and toys in physical media. Practically all people made with entertainment software was games, so when you make something that is not a game, not reliant on challenge or chance, then it seems really weird to not also call it a game.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t accepted as a simple misnomer, like RPGs (final fantasy and derivatives don’t involve role-play), but
Sure, there are cultural definitions, just 1. This new defintion of game as “whatever” doesn’t match how the term has historically been used, and is still colloquially used. and 2. It conflates much larger categories and removes our ability to specifically refer to a category of entertainment that I think is very essential to the human experience.
The changing of the definition of art didn’t remove our ability to refer to a previously existing category. It’s not like art was the sole word for paintings and with art later encompassing theater, sculpture, music, etc, that we lost our specific identifier for paintings.
I don’t disagree with the video really at all. Anything can be art in the proper context. Anything can be art if it is an attempt by a human to communicate something stylistic. I think the definition of art shifted to what it currently is because this definition suits best something essential to human nature that has always been in us, less like a change in definition, and more like a distillation of the correct definition. Also importantly, our language did not get worse at describing things for expanding the definition this way, it got better at addressing something really important to us. We didn’t lose words to describe all the smaller categories of art underneath the big banner.
And I think he does address something important about semantic discussions; context is important. Recognizing definition overlap is important, as is trying to address the actual things instead of the words addressing them. Entertainment software is being broadly called Games, but many people want to vehemently deny this is a misnomer in the case of Proteus and company, because like some people with Art, they see Game as a status symbol that is being denied to them, and don’t care much about actual games.
Would this be a good example of a review that talks way too much about immersion and plot points?
He said it took 20 hours to beat due to trial and error gameplay.
I mean, it’s not really about immersion. They just don’t have enough detail here, and the points they do bring up are lacking information, like saying, “You often have to die a few times to find the right path, as you often alert nightwalkers you just didn’t know were there.” This kind of relates back to my recent post on stealth games and information warfare actually. Are you given a fair chance to find out about them? What constitutes a fair chance? We’ll never know.
They complain about how you’re given weapons, then they’re taken away, which might be a legitimate criticism, since the vampires clearly are difficult to kill with normal weapons, but a more useful criticism would be going over that they seriously thought you should have powerful weapons in some missions but not others.
Also who cares about whether it’s ripping off splinter cell?
He says there’s not enough time to discuss all the issues with the game, but the thing is 4 minutes long. Maybe bandwidth wasn’t good enough back then, but it’s kind of disappointing compared to the long-form reviews of today.
I brought this game up before, but I’d like you to review this review of it
Alright, I went and played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and I’m gonna spoil the shit out of it.
You know how I’ve said that in order to prevent ludonarrative dissonance, you need to either constrain the story or the gameplay? Brothers does the latter.
The brothers can never be too far apart from each other, and exclusively interact with the world via contextual interactions at specific points. There are very limited implementations of more dynamic systems at various points in the game (moving a pole through tight and twisty paths, avoiding a dog that will chase you across the low ground, leading a troll to run into some walls, swinging across handholds using a belay, sliding down a slope, rolling a ball into a spider) but these are kept very constrained to one specific interaction instead of opening a wider bevy of possibilities.
So what does Brothers have? Brothers has a specific story that it is free to tell because you have almost no way of fucking it up. It’s a story told by moving the two brothers to specific points of interaction and holding a button down.
So how does Brothers play to the strengths of the medium of games? It does a few specific things. It has two controllable pawns that operate individually. Each one has abilities the other doesn’t. The older brother can swim, and pull big levers. The little brother can slip through tight bars. They’re given different roles depending on the level, and frequently they need to work together, such as both pushing a lever at the same time, or the big brother boosting the little brother up, or moving a heavy object together from opposite ends.
So you have two characters that you need to make do things and those things emphasize that they are different people that need to work together.
So near the end of the game, the older brother dies. There’s your spoiler. Then the little brother is taken back home, he’s nearly accomplished his mission, but he’s stopped by water, and he previously could not swim. So you can’t bypass this water, you need to go through it, and to go through it, you need to hold the older brother’s interaction button. And because you’ve gone through so much with the older brother, then to have him missing, but still helping the younger brother through the power of inspiration, carrying him through the water like he did when he was alive, that’s supposed to be powerful. Then after that the younger brother needs to climb up a wall his brother previously boosted him over, and pull a big lever only his brother could previously do, again using the older brother’s interaction button. Showing that through his journey, and the loss of his brother, he’s grown up a little and carries on his brother’s spirit.
I have a heart of ice, so it was a cute surprise to me.
I’ve seen things like this before, but I don’t think quite this way. The repurposing of a common action that a player has become acclimated to in order to serve a greater climactic meaning.
So okay, here’s the central question: Is Brothers a story that could only be told with games? My answer is, No, not really. The game is so constrained that it’s a story that can be told without using computers at all.
The journey that the brothers went on featured a number of interesting locations, it had a bunch of gameplay setpieces, and it had that ending, but all those things do not rely exclusively on interactivity to be conveyed. It is entirely possible to show a character gaining the courage to swim as his brother did, jump as his brother could, and develop the strength to pull big levers. That’s a narrative motif that is not dependent on interactivity. It could have been entirely communicated without those elements.
However I cannot say that it would have lost nothing. There is a certain meaning there, using something you’ve been conditioned to use throughout the whole game in a new context in a way that relates to the narrative and how it has changed what mechanics you have available.
However I’d still say that Brothers is not a game worth playing. You can watch a lets play, or hell, a speedrun (Okay, not a speedrun, literally every set piece is broken in some way), of the game and you’re not really going to see anything different from playing it yourself, at most you need to understand the button gimmick. It’s a really limited game. It is not challenging at any part. Many of the contextual interactions take a long time. The cutscenes can be fairly long, and they cannot be skipped. There is no reason to replay this game once it is done because it is impossible to have a significantly different experience with it. TB says he doesn’t like games that constantly interrupt with cutscenes, or which constantly take control away, but Brothers does this fairly frequently.
On an artistic level, there are a bunch of visually interesting creatures and locales across the game, the animations are really bad/mediocre all around, and it can be a bit finnicky to get the characters to interact when they’re within activation range of the interaction points.
So what is Brothers really? It’s a story about characters who largely walk/climb through a bunch of places as things happen around them. It doesn’t have a lot of interactions or a lot of systems. It has a mostly set sequence of events that cannot be strayed from, and sets up almost no points of broader emergence. It doesn’t “Marry together Mechanics and Narrative” as TB claims, it tells a story by having no consistently repeatable actions, instead just having the player press a button to trigger the next bit of the story instead of cutting to a cinematic. In this sense, you’re not truly interacting with a system of widely varied actions, you’re only moving pawns to interaction points
Plus, I found a contradiction. When you are supposed to get little bro on big bro’s shoulders, you can do it without becoming bloody, and free the girl by just not getting too close to any of the tribe, and at the beginning of the next shot you become bloody suddenly.
Dumb article incoming. Any thoughts? https://www.wired.com/2016/12/final-fantasy-xv-patch/
There’s not much to say about it. There’s a terrible level that nobody likes. This author argues it should stay, despite acknowledging that it’s terrible, precisely because it’s terrible, and also moody, which he equates with artsy-ness.
If you glance at his author profile, you can see he’s also written for Kill-Screen
The message is really clear, art is all the bad traits people hate about this level, it shouldn’t be removed because otherwise people won’t be able to experience this art. And this reinforces his hipster game journalist viewpoints, and imposes them on others.
I mean, it’s like a reflection of the ME3 ending controversy. Don’t change this obviously bad thing that nobody likes, because that compromises artistic integrity. Don’t respond to consumer criticism, don’t be beholden to your audience because the quality of your product isn’t determined by conventional values, but instead by all these things I’m going to make up.
Also he’s not saying the actual word art obviously, but all the matters he talks about are a proxy for the common hipster game journalist position.
Do you have a link of SBH’s professor talking shit? If not, do you remember if it was a video on his channel or from somewhere else altogether?
I do not have a link to it. He unlisted it.
Wait, I looked up his Dragon Con video, and it was linked in the description:
He also linked this image from a different journalist:
I think it’s funny how these answers were given and George kind of glossed over them and didn’t really take them seriously.
I know you’ve reviewed snomaN before, but what do you think of this particular video?
So I’ve said this in the past, but I’ll repeat it in case it’s important: I don’t think bosses are some inherent factor of game design, I think they’re a trope we settled on because they’re cool.
-Bosses should be challenging, but fair
Kind of a “No duh” moment. This describes nearly every part of a game, not just bosses. Bosses don’t always have to be more challenging than the rest of the game either, just different, but reinforcing similar principles.
The sans example isn’t the greatest. Yeah, his first wave of attacks is deliberately designed to not be easy to react to if you haven’t seen it before, but it’s the same every time and all his later attacks do give you enough reaction time to work with.
I think Derelect Frida actually had really poor telegraphing on their attacks.
– As player skill and knowledge increases the challenge of a boss should decrease.
This is a tautlogy if I ever saw one. As a player gets better, they should be better. C’mon.
-Avoid padding boss health
Padding out the boss health isn’t false difficulty, it’s real difficulty. You’re asking the player to consistently make the right choices to lower the boss’s health more times. It can substantially raise the difficulty of some fights, like NG+ Four Kings in Dark Souls. Sure, it’s boring compared to adding new attacks or patterns, and too much health can mess with the pacing of the fight, because you end up dealing with the same group of attacks for too long (which is why bosses have phases), but sometimes the issue really is just that the boss doesn’t have enough health, and a bit more can give it a huge boost in difficulty. For example, Sundowner has way too little health in MGR, so by the time most players beat his first phase, he barely gets to show off his second, more interesting, phase before he dies. I like to say bosses with not enough health suffer from sundowner syndrome as a result, which is probably a really insensitive pun.
-Boss should be intimidating
-Test what the player has learned.
Again, this is good design in general. You don’t want one section teaching something totally unique to it that is never used again. You want to teach and explore a certain skill set. Many bosses have unique mechanics and it works out fine (Like Princes Lorian and Lothric), many bosses are totally their own things (like in Zelda or bed of chaos) and are completely lame.
-What’s the reward
Uh. Mkay. Sure I guess. Not saying much here.
-Stay Fresh + Unique
Not much actionable advice here.
-Avoid same boss rehashes
Mkay, sure. Don’t want to repeat content.
Yeah, I mentioned this. Lets you change up the fight while keeping the single enemy presentation the same.
Where’s the actual advice? This video said next to nothing.
https://twitter.com/tha_rami/status/809814620143841280 What do you think of this?
I don’t totally know the criticism he’s replying to and can’t infer it from context. Is Super Mario Run high price and therefore people are mad? Are some people arguing it should be cheaper and Rami is saying it’s alright to be expensive?
One of the reviews on the app store says this:
“After the first three levels, the game seriously begins to feel like a money grab! I mean, you only get THREE free levels!!”
The game itself appears to be free, then you pay $10 for level packs. So I’m guessing Rami is confronted with people telling him Mario Run is priced too high, and he’s saying, let them price it however they want. The market will ultimately decide whether that’s the right pricing point and reward/punish the game accordingly. The people who are being vocal about the price point might not necessarily reflect the volume of paying customers, and a low initial price allows a ton of people to download it and leave negative reviews.
I mean, nothing he’s saying sounds totally incorrect. I think $10 is more than I’d ever pay for a phone game, not that I’d pay for phone games in the first place. I’d remark that negative sentiment is a sign that there’s potentially more money to be made, but who really knows? Rami says he has statistics on his games, and game boycotts have historically failed in the past (but more silent canceling of pre-orders has historically been cause for change).
The iOS platform has been conditioned to expect low prices and a glut of games. If a higher priced game comes out, then they whine.
So I don’t think there’s a lot to make of this and I don’t think he’s saying anything fundamentally disagreeable. You gotta pick a price point that will generate the optimal amount of revenue and if you’re Nintendo, then you can probably get people to pay a higher price than most competitors.
Okay, I agree that games shouldn’t be reviewed by gameplay, graphics, sound, story, but not his reasoning. His analogy to music is bad too, reviewing each instrument individually, because that’s a like-to-like comparison, rather than the aforementioned categories which are like-to-unlike. Same for the food analogy. I actually comment on Pizza that way, by talking about the quality of the cheese, the sauce, and the crust. Obviously I’m not eating them separately then trying to comment on them together, but it’s really clear how each of those parts add up into the whole.
“I’m a stakeholder in the game review system, and when a new game comes out, I read reviews”
lol, your mistake.
It’s funny how he compares getting a grade in english class to a game score, and whines about review score inflation, when a C (average) is 75% and F (fail) is below 60%. Call of Duty is a significant financial force, way too significant for them to snub with low ratings.
Why is a product’s Quality being presented Quantitiatively rather than Qualitatively?
Because we want to know whether a reviewer thought a game was good or bad, and by roughly how much. Is it good? Is it really good? Is it just barely good? Is is a masterpiece?
Beyond that, yeah, there’s obvious incentives that bias or corrupt the review process. Bad input, bad output.
Okay, so how are ratings not sorted ordinally right now? No real proof of that, one way or the other.
Is it fair to rate perfect dark lower than the new doom because the new doom is more technologically advanced? YES IT IS, DUMBASS. The new doom multiplayer is more technologically advanced than Quake 3, but quake 3 is still better. You don’t need advanced tech to build a good game until a certain game mechanic/dynamic is impossible without advanced tech. This is like saying, “are modern car engines better than old car engines? No, because they’re made with more advanced tech, so that’s not really fair to older car engines.” That’s dumb because fairness doesn’t actually matter here. Modern Car Engines are still pretty much inarguably better (unless an automotive expert wants to argue with me here).
A better point of comparison might be old 2d animation versus new 2d animation. Is it fair to compare new animation to old animation because we have so much better revolutionary technology to animate with now? Yeah, and you’ll find that a lot of old 2d animation is great in ways that modern animation is not. There are a lot of types of animations and object transitions that are only really possible thanks to computer CGI, but by-and-large it’s a really even playing field. It doesn’t matter what your limitations are, it’s up to you to do the best you can with them. Nobody remembers or cares about most atari 2600 titles nowadays, the NES had better games flat-out. NES had more advanced tech, but those games a primitive compared to modern ones and yet they still hold up while atari 2600’s don’t.
Don’t bother with concessions. Don’t reward innovation. Reward success. Nobody remembers Space War, everyone remembers Pong. Nobody remembers Vietcong, everyone remembers Halo.
Here’s the big problem with a more direct ordinal scale (instead of the informal one we’re already operating on): it has serious barriers to adoption.
Nobody wants to recategorize everything as an ordered list. Nobody wants to deal with angry fans who are mad you placed one thing over the other (they already have to deal with angry fans who don’t agree with your score that indirectly places things over one another). Reviewers also don’t want to be held accountable for comparing games to each other, which is why all these review sites openly state that every game is rated individually and the ratings are not supposed to be compared to one another, even though that’s what everyone does anyway.
Not to mention with his crazy shit about how games can’t be directly compared across eras, or possibly across series, you end up finding it harder to determine the ballpark of quality anything is in. Beyond that, you still have the problem of bad input, bad output. Call of Duty will still end up higher on the scale than god hand or bayonetta, because there’s obvious biases there.
I don’t want to rate or order the souls series. I’d prefer to give everything a 10/10 and DaS2 a 9/10.
I can see how an ordinal list might keep people more honest, but I don’t think it can be realistically implemented on a wide scale.
I thought you did think that games should be reviewed by gameplay separately, because to you that’s the most significant aspect of the medium? Besides, isn’t it just an analysis perspective? like, you could analyse music by instrument individually if you claimed that there was a hierarchical structure in the piece, which is what underlies your methodology of putting gameplay first, if I’ve understood you correctly? So with such a hierarchy it’d make sense to pick categories apart… which wasn’t that your whole deal with reductionism anyway? (also you commented that that analogy was wrong because it’s comparing like to like and the other categories are unlike, but that’s also just a way of defining them, as every instrument can have unlike functions, same with food ingredients… it just depends on settled on criteria)
Okay, allow me to clarify. I think it’s dumb to have 5 scores for gameplay, story, sound, graphics and overall. I’d have one overall score and skip the others. I think it’s dumb that story, sound, and graphics are a major focus of game reviews. I don’t agree with his whole, “They’re interwoven through their presentation” thing.
Sure, you could analyze music through each instrument individually, however he chose the example on purpose to try to show that you should review them all at the same time, because they’re all producing sound, the same type of thing, unlike graphics, sound, and story, which are all different types of things. He chose a biased analogy on purpose, to make it less obvious that he was comparing unlike things.
Here’s another YouTube video I’d like your opinion on to throw on top of the pile
I was gonna type a comment on the video itself, then I realized the video was a year old.
I’ve gone over this topic a dozen times at least now.
If you want to define game, you need to include what games were BEFORE they became video games, and you need to recognize that choose your own adventure books, amusement parks, and promenade theater were NOT in the game category before video games came along, and therefore should still not be referred to as games.
I’ve come up with a perfectly adequate descriptor of what a game is: A contract that a person or group of people agree(s) to abide by in relation to pursuing a favorable outcome or set of outcomes from a system that produces said outcomes inconsistently, for the purpose of amusement.
Getting to this definition was really hard, so I can’t expect that everyone’s on board with it, especially when I’m totally unknown.
We’re using Game as a shorthand right now for what I’m going to call Video Environments.
To answer one thing from the video, yes, sim city and minecraft are not innately games, but people play games with sim city and minecraft. This is because the game is not the software, it’s not the board or the game pieces, it’s the contract that the player agrees to. Games like Super Mario Bros, are not just a software system like sim city, they are also implicitly and explicitly, a contract that players agree (or don’t agree, see speedrunners and guys trying to get the minimum score) to play by. People playing sim city and minecraft frequently come up with games to play with it. They make their own games in conjunction with the toy/software, but game is not an innate part of their ontology like it is for something like Go. Without a game, a Basketball is just an inflated rubber ball. You can play the game of Basketball without specifically a Basketball, but instead another type of ball that bounces, though not the same game of Basketball played in the NBA.
Meanwhile with Visual Novels. These are not only not games, but it is impossible to come up with a game to play with them. It is impossible to create a contract to attempt to seek favorable outcomes from an inconsistent system, because the system isn’t inconsistent.
Bringing up the fact that Video Games are legally considered Art is genuinely retarded. As if what is or isn’t Art is defined by the supreme court, or the court system in general, or laws or regulations. Are you actually joking with me? Is that to imply that before now they weren’t considered art and they’re only now art after that court decision? Please fuck off. I am not going to say for a damn second that Gone Home is not art. However you are being doubly retarded for implying that Gone Home is MORE art than Call of Duty: Ghosts™. Everything is equally art, not more or less. Literally no one is making the argument that Gone Home is not Art because it’s not a Game. Stop being Deliberately Stupid™.
And then he goes on to say that “Narrative games have made me feel things that almost no other artistic work has in any medium,” showing that he doesn’t understand the nature of games or art in the first place, or the nature of the argument in the first place. He’s making a strawman argument on top of an appeal to emotion in order to get us to mislabel categories because otherwise it’ll make him feel bad because we’re invalidating his feelings.
These are not “arthouse games” because they are not engaging with the actual art form being used. They are engaging with ANOTHER art form entirely from games, which happens to overlap with games. Both Video Games, and Interactive Fiction are using Software for the purposes of artistic expression in the form of a medium that doesn’t have a good name for it yet, but I’m going to call Video Environments or Simulated Environments (Vid or Sim Spaces might also be appropriate).
Gone Home is not trying to interact with the same medium as Soccer, or Go, or Tetris. It genuinely doesn’t care about that. It’s trying to make a world, it’s trying to tell an emotional story, which are things that are totally unrelated to Games, totally unrelated to contracts to pursue inconsistent favorable outcomes. You can make games with Gone Home, such as the Gone Home Speedrun, which is a game, played using the Gone Home Software. This is a game like competitive Cup Stacking is also a game. You can use systems in the world around you to make games, but there must also be the understanding that the game is not a physical object you interact with, but instead the completion of a contract. We can ontologically say that specific games like mario are games, because they are additionally implicitly contracts that we agree to abide by, defined by a combination of the creator, the community, and our individual perception of both. Therefore by these terms we can say that we’re playing the same game as everyone else, until we decide to play a different one with it.
Video Games, except for Minecraft and Sim City, are largely software toys, built similarly to Screwball Scramble:
They’re built in such a limiting and specific way that you can only really play the game that the creators intended to be played with it. The contract is really clear through the design of the software, unlike say a poker deck.
Others, like Poker, use physical cards as a facilitating medium. And cards are constructed to actually allow a wide array of games, which is why you can probably name at least 10 games all played with a poker deck. Again, the important thing to understand is that the game here isn’t the physical facilitator, but rather the contract used to define how the facilitating medium/system is to be used in order to play the game.
These works of art are certainly meaningful, but on a completely different spectrum than games. This video does not appreciate games, and cannot appreciate the difference here. The creator is simply blind
This sounds like he’s been reading your stuff
He cites his sources, and they’re good sources. A few people other than me have been saying the same thing as me, we’re just minority voices.
You’d probably be interested to know that a lot of the Games Studies people hate immersion too, but for different reasons.
I don’t totally agree with the whole representational gap idea though, it seems like a detour and possibly strawman of the opposition. I just think you cannot build a perfectly simulated new universe, due to limitations in simple man-hours, and even if you could, games are a different thing from simulated universes, and you’d still need to build games on top of that simulated universe. It’s telling that Roy (from Rick and Morty) has a score screen at the end. We’re still connected to the specific challenging type of play in games, and there’s this still this baseline cultural understanding that without striving for something, you don’t have a game.
Frank Lantz totally nails this in saying that even if you could make a new reality, you’d still need to stick a game in there, because again, a simulated world is not a game. (and admittedly I wrote the previous paragraph right before hearing that part)
This is why I think we need different words for these things. Because language shapes our picture of what the universe is.
I think this video sounds like a lot of my own rants, perhaps because it’s something that is outside just me and my weird perspective and is something you can notice on a broader scale if you’re just someone who pays attention?
Mechanical immersion he describes is actually Flow (which he mentions, feel like I’m one step ahead of this video). I don’t think Flow is immersion, because it occurs in contexts totally unrelated to games or virtual environments.
I don’t think all the stuff he’s coming up with really contribute to some overall sense of immersion. He’s still treating immersion as if it’s real, when I’d say it’s a ton of unrelated or tangentially related phenomena that we arbitrarily lump together.
That and I’d say the “immersed” or engaged with flow gamer do think about the buttons (though maybe not the screen). There’s a ton of different button pressing techniques for various games, especially fighting games. In Dark Souls I know many people use the claw grip to run more efficiently and direct the camera at the same time. Mew2king switches between claw and regular grip all the time. I once saw a guy who clawed the controller to press Y and B quicker as fox. In Fighting games, people grip the stick differently, and have all sorts of different double tapping and plinking tricks that they need to be cognizant of.
I think the critical thing he’s missing here is the principles that make games actually good, when he’s tying it up at the end, and he is still fundamentally appealing to the immersive fallacy. Guy doesn’t get that these things don’t add up to fun, and judging by his other videos, he doesn’t really get what fun is yet.
Regarding your video onImmersion. Don’t you think it’s rather audacious of you to presume that others don’t know what fun is when we practically experience it in our day-to-day lives? I think you mean we don’t know what makes something fun rather than knowing what fun is. Not to mention the sources you link are theories rather than definitive truths that many may not agree (like you said). So what makes you think that people don’t know what fun is when there isn’t even a set truth to what it is? I don’t mean to come off as rude.
Well, I mean, the video I was replying to didn’t actually talk about what made good gameplay, it seemed to just take it as a prior. You’re right that I’m probably being a bit forward in saying the guy doesn’t understand fun, that’s a loaded sentence.
On the other hand, a lot of our subconscious behaviors go typically unexamined. We think we know more about our tendencies than we actually know, usually. This is the finding of a lot of psychological research, people aren’t always reliable at self-reporting. We know when we’re having fun, but if asked to describe what fun is, we give relatively vague answers or say, “I know it when I see it.”
The video is making a claim that there is something about games specifically that is enjoyable, totally separate from their nature as simulations. We call this type of enjoyment, fun. He called it that too. The trouble is that he identified things in the video that make games enjoyable, apart from their gameplay. He didn’t identify what specifically made gameplay fun and the things he identified as making a game good were things other than necessarily fun. This leads me to think that he hasn’t had a strong self-reflection on this topic.
You might not like the definition of fun I put forward, you might not like the word fun, I was honestly reaching more for saying that he doesn’t get what makes gameplay good, but you need to have some type of substance for what makes gameplay good, and both this, and his previous video on clouds were lacking in that regard. That and it takes a lot of self-reflection to really get that type of thing. It was a long road getting to where I am now, and looking at games in that kind of way isn’t totally intuitive. It’s like seeing a beautiful painting, then hearing a critique of the painting and suddenly you see all these different things about it that were there before, but you weren’t paying attention to. This type of awareness is not default and I don’t see evidence that this guy has it.
That and you need to define fun as something. If you’re going to give it a set definition of some kind, I think my definition is either in the ballpark of being correct, or is a solid stand-in. There are a lot of observed neural mechanisms connected to the definition I put forward. Not to mention that it overlaps with a lot of colloquial usage, “It’s more fun that way,” usually referring to making something less consistent on purpose. We don’t think of it this way in the moment, but it reflects the way we genuinely use the word.
Novacanoo brought up the ideas of “mechanical depth” and “situational depth” in one of his reviews. Do you think there is such a think as situational depth? Do you agree with him?
He talks about it at about 2:29
Yeah, sure. My theory for depth is overarching on all states of play, and you can draw a dividing line anywhere you want. You can talk about the range of relevant non-redundant states of play for a character’s actions, or for the enemies, or level design.
Far as divisions and sub-categories go, this is a totally reasonable one and useful for describing more specific segments of a game’s depth.
What do you think of this guy’s 3-Minute Game Design series? Each vid is, obviously, around 3 minutes in length each with 10 being made so far.
I know about Keith Burgun already. He writes a mix of good and bad stuff. He thinks there’s no such thing as predicting people, that people are just RNG. And he takes a stance similar to Sirlin on execution, but not nearly as extreme (Like, Sirlin has a knowledge and attention to detail in real-time game systems that allow him to be extremely obsessive about removing execution that Keith does not). Unlike Sirlin he also thinks asymmetric matchups are bad design.
I was reading his blog because someone asked me about him previously, but I didn’t come to an overall conclusion. His terms input RNG and output RNG are good.
Thought I wrote a thing on execution previously, but could not find it on my blog, so I’m linking to it here and scheduling it to be posted later:
Execution is not strictly hard output randomness. Execution skill is related to cognizance and nerves in the moment, which is related to your ability to think and process in general. He outright makes the very false claim, “and during a match you actually have no control over your ability to execute.” This is simply not true.
Execution skill is a skill that can be improved. When I’m teaching people how to do links in street fighter, I tell them, “press this button, then press the next one right when the first one ends. If the second attack does not come out, then you pressed it too soon, if it comes out, but does not combo, then you pressed it too late.” In this way I was able to coach someone who had literally never played a fighting game before to actually finish like 12 of Chun Li and Ryu’s combo trials in SFIV, something I could not for the life of me understand how to do when I first played the game. And this was a person with really slow fingers. They played the Guilty Gear Xrd tutorial after that and couldn’t mash fast enough during the part where you need to mash out of stun to pass that particular section.
When you play, you can use feedback from the game to see what you did wrong, and experiment to refine your approach. Execution is not a binary success/failure that is totally random as Keith paints it. Many games show feedback as to exactly how you failed executionally and you can use this output to refine your inputs next time the same situation comes up. This is entirely why melee players do handwarmers before sets. They do them to test their execution and get used to performing before the match actually starts.
I disagree with his definition of game. I don’t agree with the venn diagram model of games as adding decisions on top of puzzles and contests.
Unlike hard output randomness, success from execution scales with the skill and practice of the player, much as one’s ability to make good decisions scales with skill/practice. If I really wanted to be a dick, I could argue that making correct decisions is hard RNG too.
Games are enriched by the addition of execution skill. Even strategically, as shown in the link above.
I feel like you’ve probably seen this, sorry if it’s already answered somewhere, but I thought it was pretty interesting. Thoughts? Do you think the “learning the rules process” itself is part of the challenge, the fun of Souls? https://theludite.com/2014/12/19/dark-souls-2-difficulty-dissected/
I think it’s part of the challenge/fun of every game, but that’s really beside the point.
He makes really different arguments against Dark Souls 2 than most people do. The single most common complaint about Dark Souls 2 was that it had too many scenarios where they throw multiple enemies at you and force you to fight multiple enemies rather than a small number of enemies like the first two games. By contrast, this dude is arguing that it doesn’t use multiple enemies often enough, and when it does use them they’re more easily separable. It’s a weird weird criticism. I even heard speedrunners complain about Dark Souls 2’s tendency to place pileups of enemies before fog gates, which no longer granted iframes immediately. Joseph Anderson even back-pedaled on his position about multiple enemies in response to Dark Souls 2 using a lot of them.
And it’s kind of factually inaccurate too, given that Dark Souls 2 is the first game in the series to assign multiple enemies to groups that are all aggro’d if one is aggro’d, given that many rooms in the game are set up to spawn enemies all around you, and spawn multiple enemies at a time. Many enemies are arranged in tight squads in many areas.
That and unlike Castlevania, Dark Souls enemies are designed with multiple attacks, not one simple pattern. Every Dark Souls enemy is as complex as a Castlevania Boss. Even if you separate them out, they are not always trivial, and the simplest dark souls enemy is harder than any individual castlevania enemy. I know that despite replaying these games many times, I’ve been killed by simple enemies in the beginning areas a large number of times too. I fundamentally disagree that the process of building strategies is simple in dark souls once you simply know the rules, it is at least as hard as in castlevania once you know how any given encounter is arranged.
Plus I’d dispute his definition of optimal. Optimal by his terms seems to be winning every challenge after taking every measure possible to make upcoming challenges as easy as possible, which if you want to be totally strict about it, could mean farming the first enemy until you’re level 720. It could also mean killing every enemy repeatedly until the levels are totally void of enemies (in DaS2’s case)
Finally, this ties into a broader discussion of dynamic difficulty which I’ve covered before.
There’s a lot of potential for cheese in the dark souls systems and always has been. It’s been lessened in games like Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3. I’ve been in favor of reducing the influence of cheese from the beginning. I don’t think the original perspective of “if it’s in the game, it’s meant to be used” totally holds true for single player games. And I certainly don’t think that reigning in all of dark souls to make something more constrained to inseparable enemies like an arcade game with less build variety will necessarily make a better game overall.
What do you think of this video
Oh, I see why I got asked about Nostalgia now.
I regard a lot of old games that I used to like unfavorably now, except for Populous 3 and Dungeon Keeper 2. I don’t think Nostalgia is a significant influence on my evaluations.
I think the industry was going to shit in the period I entered into enjoying it. I actually missed out on the PS2 originally and caught up with PS2 games much later, only having nintendo consoles and portables before that. I think things were only truly good overall during the NES/SNES era, but I wasn’t alive for that era, and obviously a TON of the games I’ve enjoyed since then have come out sporadically in the eras since.
I think a more apt title might actually be, when fun and enjoyment don’t match up. Because it’s possible to get enjoyment from games that are bad/low quality and genuinely unfun, because of pleasant experiences associated with them (nostalgia or experiences occurring simultaneously outside the game and possibly as a result of the game, like mocking it with friends), or other factors.
Critical word he’s missing for “So Bad It’s Good” is Camp.
Good overview of preferences and separating enjoyment from quality.
Nice video. Very Thorough. Very well considered.
How much do you think nostalgia actually affects a person’s enjoyment of a game?
No, seriously. Like how much, and do you think it has any value?
It’s different for every person, it’s different for every game. It has a value to the person themselves. I can’t give a definite answer here. Nostalgia has value to people who value nostalgia. Nostalgia is not a property that is attached to any specific game more than any other, it’s specific to each person’s life.
I have nostalgia for Populous: The Beginning, and Dungeon Keeper 2. I have nostalgia for Pharoah and Zeus: Master of Olympus. I have nostalgia for weird games no one’s ever heard of, that might be good or might not, I have no real idea and I can’t totally judge fairly.
When I was that young, I also played pokemon red, the first game I ever personally owned, and I don’t feel any particular attachment to that game like I do the others. I went through a phase where I was obsessed with pokemon and everyone else around me was too. I went through a yugioh phase as well. I actually saw the pokemon live show and have memories of losing my game systems on various airplane flights because I wasn’t careful enough.
Wind Waker was my first zelda game ever. I remember driving up to my cousin’s house and they had an N64, which I’ve never owned, and I got to play smash bros there, and watch them play ocarina of time, or starcraft 64, or super clay fighter. I remember roleplaying for hours on end with my cousin, brother, and sister in Smash Bros Melee as well as Kirby Air Ride, where they would all grab the Dragoon, and I’d use the Hydra to chase them around and try to blow up their stars. These are experiences I look back on with a bit of nostalgia, but unlike the games near the top, I don’t have a nostalgic connection to any of these (except maybe kirby air ride, though that game is kind of a shit-show and our made up game of chasing each other around the city in free run mode was a lot better than the real city trial mode).
Like, it’s just not how I personally look at all of these and that’s different from person to person. In some cases I’ve connected the feeling of nostalgia to the game itself, like the bullfrog and sierra games I used to play, but in most others, I only have nostalgia for the experiences I had as a child and not really the games themselves. The way I mythologized games when I was younger is really different from how I look at them now. I don’t feel connected to smash bros melee because it’s a game from my youth, more because it has such a tremendous value to me right now, one which I can vocalize and make a definite case for.
Nostalgia affects everyone’s enjoyment differently. I believe that in my sphere, it’s better to not get caught up in nostalgia. I think it’s better to enjoy things in a more genuine way, because it gives you value now, not because it’s connected to fond past experiences (though I wonder if I could talk to magic scrumpy about making a better city trial mode, perhaps based on the game I played with my cousin and siblings).
Level 2 in the carl sagan vid is garbage, ignore it.
Level 3 is essentially a supercharged version of a bowser castle level from a real mario game. Many of the obstacles are much more carefully considered than the ones in the first level of this video, using multiple elements in synchronicity to provide a dynamic challenge with many possible solutions, all of which are difficult. He’s given chances to get powerups with varying levels of risk, and varying approaches as well.
Level 4 is also garbage.
Level 5 is Kaizo platforming, not really a great example.
Level 6 (bowser coaster) is a less good version of the first level and all my analysis there applies to this too.
And lets ignore the other levels.
So what do we have? We have all these very dynamic factors that require decision making and reaction time in real-time that have cascading effects on future game states. we have routes on top of routes. In Mirror’s Edge, we even have a ton of different platforming mechanics that the player can utilize to move around a mostly static environment. In Mario we have a few of those (some powerups, carrying objects, spin jump) and a ton of environmental features that can interact and do different things depending on input and their combination.
We have a variability in where you can jump, how high you can jump, where you jump to, what you jump off of, what type of jump you do, what speed you’re going at. Do you adjust your speed in the air or on the ground. All of these things are afforded by the level design, and very few of them are afforded by the level design in Meatboy or Kaizo Mario, which demand extremely precise inputs on all of the above. All of those are possible via the movement mechanics of those games’ engines, but none of them are allowed for any of the individual challenges in those games’ levels. There’s no point for expression or interesting decisions.
There’s obviously a potential to do all this with the same exact engines and setpieces they have in Super Meatboy, but they don’t build the levels that way.
Some of this is reflected in the speedrun, how hard it is to route. Routing Mirror’s Edge is really fucking tricky and there’s revisions all the time to the optimal routing because you have all these things that you do earlier that affect your options later. Speed is persistently carried over. In Mario, you need to grab powerups/items to use later. Meatboy doesn’t have the same type of persistence, so choices made early on usually don’t matter later. You can’t sacrifice some of your health to avoid dying completely. New stuff obviously gets discovered for super meat boy that makes the speedrun faster, but a lot of the real route changes are just deciding which levels are the shortest to complete and many of the levels themselves are just completed with higher standards of perfection. Mirror’s Edge has had many cases of competing routes with similar times, where different optimizations are found for like 3 different routes.