Critic Roundup

This Campster video sounds like it’s directly addressing you, I’m surprised you haven’t responded to it.

I’m pretty damn sure I’ve responded to it at some point in the past. I’m not searching my ask archive to find out when.

Here’s the short (warning, not actually short):

1. Ludonarrative Dissonance is real, it just doesn’t matter and most people don’t care about it in 90% of cases. Narrativist critics HATE this term, both because it says that game and story are separate, which prevents story from totally encompassing game, actively contradicting their attempts to redefine game as something that includes Virginia, Sunset, and Gone Home, and because if it’s real then it means that there’s a serious technical, not just semantic, barrier to games becoming seamless story-driven affairs. Also Campster probably realizes that it makes him sound really pretentious which he awkwardly jokes about being regularly, and a lot of people in call him out on being the ludonarrative dissonance guy. It’s practically associated with his brand now, even though he hates it, which I find hilarious.

2. It doesn’t matter if the debate never happened. It’s happening now. If someone tells you that there isn’t a divide between a game as a system of play/challenge and the story of that game, if they try to tell you that videogames are this gestalt medium, then they’re probably a narrativist trying to control the discussion by controlling how the object of discussion is viewed and framed. GNS theory predates the lot of this, having been posted in 1997 on Usenet, and I find it sums up a lot of player attitudes today. Games have intersections between all 3 philosophies frequently, but I see rather frequent static between these 3 ideologies.

3. The narratology boogieman isn’t people talking about how videogames are exclusively a narrative medium, it’s people like campster trying to claim the division between groups/ideologies doesn’t exist and video games (but not games in general) are really one big medium instead of like 5 sandwiched together that he is then going to suspiciously only review in terms of its narrative/meaning and almost never comment on the play aspect of it except for how it ties into narrative/meaning. Campster says it in the video, “Games *have* stories, whether procedural or[…]” which is a very direct attempt to claim that everything can be viewed as a story, so his approach is valid. On a more important level, the narratology boogieman took over, and started getting paranoid about the ludology boogieman that literally doesn’t exist, except for like 5-10 distinct uninfluential people in the games critical space.

Plus his comments section doesn’t really agree with him either, because even if he can claim that the historical basis for a lot of things is wrong, he can’t claim they aren’t still real right now.

This Campster review of Devil Daggers isn’t bad, right?

At first I was like, “yeah this is pretty alright,” when he talked about the mechanics. Then when he got into the theme I realized he had a lot missing from the mechanical review.

Also the word he’s looking for is twin-stick shooter or twin-stick shmup. I don’t think the shmup comparison is totally apt and he ends up with a lot more reasons how it’s not like a shmup than reasons it is. It has the same small blank room setup, obviously, but otherwise is basically just an FPS.

I like that he mentions that you get two firing modes that can be used instantly and without switching weapons or anything, but he doesn’t mention how these two attacks differ in use or application. In what situation is one better than the other? How does this make me evaluate the situation and approximate the best course of action?

Also it’s a good mention that gems are attracted to you when you release the fire button. It would be nice if he mentioned what the upgrades from gems actually do, and maybe elaborated as to how releasing fire is a strategic risk and some situations where it can get dicey, but forces you to think. Also only the shotgun blast causes them to float away.

“Because the enemies spawn in a static pattern, choosing which enemy to engage with is a bigger deal here than it is in most shmups.” Most shmups have static enemy spawns, yo. I mean, maybe not most twin stick shooters, but most shmups in general.

I feel like the biggest issue with this video is really that he doesn’t go over the different types of enemies and their movement patterns. That’s really what makes this game work more than anything. The skulls don’t just directly follow you, they have a slow turn speed, so they can be thrown off your trail. The spiders eat the gems and use them to spawn randomly moving mini-spiders. Centipedes create obstacles for you and will lunge down at you when they have the chance. There are different spawners, different skulls. Considering everything has a fixed spawn order, you can do a level design analysis here of how the order things spawn in affects the way you’re supposed to play. Not to mention how farming the larger skulls from spawners is an important tactic to the game for getting enough crystals to overcome 300 seconds in.

A mention of the sound design would be nice too, since it’s a big part of staying alive and the monsters do have distinct sounds that can help you place them in space around you or warn you of one on your back.

Literally everything he said about the story is made up speculation. “A lot of the game’s story is told through mechanics.” There is no story. Even the remark on the World Record is wrong, things are still clear late in the game. Synesthesia is a buzzword in this context.

Oh, and the game has strafejumping, which he failed to bring up. And fact check, World Record is 907 seconds. Given he calls the centipedes worms, I don’t think he did any research on the game beyond finding the World Record, or replaying it from in-game.

Have you ever seen this video by Jim Sterling? What do you think of it if not?

Mobile games are still games.

Old games are deep, they are deeper than most mobile games.

Also it’s funny that he says, “If this game were in arcades in the 80s.” My first experience with Infinity Blade was in an arcade actually. The Dave and Busters in Times Square. I was like, “Whoa, it’s a sword fighting game on this crazy huge touch screen, lets give it a shot”


I mean, I’m not crazy about Punchout either, but I think it has a lot more going for it underneath the surface, because the AI is more complex. Though honestly I don’t know why Punchout is considered a classic either.

Back on old games. Old games had simple control schemes, but as I’ve covered, they did a lot to make the experience more complex on subtle levels. There’s that principle, easy to learn, difficult to master. And that doesn’t just mean that it’s hard. It means that it’s hard to get precisely the response you want to out of the game, out of the very large number of responses it can give in any given situation.

Thoughts on this Skullgirls Review?

On the one hand, yeah Skullgirls AI is better than average fighting game AI. It blocks in advance of your attacks rather than deciding on the spot to block or not. However this guy’s explanation lacks examples. His case is: “Most fighting game singleplayer modes don’t teach you how to play” and “Skullgirls teaches you all these things” but he doesn’t explain how.

He does a tiny bit of this with painwheel vs peacock, but I don’t think his argument that this is a tutorial is convincing, considering you’re allowed to pick any character you want, and not every character starts out with peacock.

I never liked the boss as final exam analogy. I don’t think it maps well for most games, because bosses can be a lot of things and they don’t necessarily have anything to do with what you’ve been learning up to that point. They might just be fun challenges in their own right.

Then he goes on about how the inputs are easier and repeats the, “easier inputs let you focus more on the game” meme. Then says it doesn’t compromise depth (because easier inputs for the same moves do that?) because training mode has a lot of options. What. Even a bad fighting game could have all these things.

WHAT. His beowolf example is so terrible. You can learn from training mode that it puts out a long hitbox in front of you? You need training mode to see that? It’s even worse because he ignores the actual thing that you learn, the hitboxes extend almost all the way down to his feet, so it’s a killer crossup.

I think the problem with skullgirls, like other fighters, is it doesn’t show the way to actually play the game proficiently, because that is significantly different from what you see in the tutorials.

lol at his example fight. He doesn’t do a terrible analysis of it, but it’s a lot of noob flailing and choosing the wrong options. About the only thing right about the analysis is pointing out that the hitboxes are really accurate and distort during animations. “and I only won that round because I knew how to use ms fortune’s mechanics” You won that round because your opponent was bad and you happened to pick bad options that avoided their bad options. Instead of waking up with c.MK, she could have easily done c.HP as an anti-air, leading into a combo, instead of doing just about the stupidest thing possible and trying to hit ms fortune’s head. “I jump, to cover her options” PLEASE DON’T.

His descriptions of the characters, he’s like, practically making up attributes about the characters. He describes almost everything in these vague terms. Like describing eliza’s movement as “viscuous”. Are you serious? Then describing sehkmet as “bloodthirsty” and “attacks with fast paced ferocity”

“I really want fighting games to grow.” Then how about you describe them better first?

Video doesn’t support arguments well. Low/no evidence. Wastes a lot of time gushing.

is Extra Credits wrong here?

I’ll just say that Counter Strike and TF2 already did this. Overwatch isn’t unique here.

The key thing is that the maps are allowed to be asymmetric and even unbalanced, because the teams are expected to play the maps from both sides, as both attackers and defenders. Then the symmetric maps are used as tiebreakers if neither side wins more. They’re ideally at least somewhat balanced, because otherwise you’ll need to tiebreak all the time, which isn’t very elegant, but they can be completely imbalanced in favor of attackers or defenders and that’s fine, because the game as a whole is balanced. EC neglected to mention this and said that balance is even more important for these maps than others, when it only kind of tangentially is, because it doesn’t make the game as a whole unfair. It’s just a bit unsatisfying versus a more even competition each round.

Other than that, it’s not a bad analysis of the general properties of the maps. Like how the first point is set up to fall more easily, and the second point is harder to capture, and other minutia.

Could you respond to this:

and this?

The first video is, “What the actual fuck is wrong with you? Why would anyone want cartoon watercolor hipster sonic?” The entire design he proposes has absolutely nothing to do with anything established about the character as a brand. It’s a new character. What on earth would give you the idea that a character being “vulnerable” is a good idea? This design isn’t designed to appeal to children maybe, but it also isn’t designed to appeal to anyone else. This is your vision of a “mature” sonic? Being wide-eyed and vulnerable is relevant to today’s culture? Give me a break! That and his vision of the gameplay isn’t sonic at all. There’s no building or keeping speed, and it seems to function very linearly, where sonic has a lot more ups, downs, and turnarounds. His idea is more like a cheap Ori and the Blind Forest.

The second video is a fantastic response.

Something that pops out at me with the high sensitivity versus low sensitivity problem is that you could just scale it depending on sonic’s speed, so that he’s less sensitive and it’s harder to make big directional changes at high speed, and he’s more sensitive and more easily able to make directional changes at low speed. You could scale those variables via a linear interpolation from a high value and a low value. At lower velocities sonic could be a standard platform character, and at higher ones he could have controls more similar to a racing game, and it could be possible to build a smooth transition between these two modes.

I think he’s assuming that the scripting is the problem, or the major problem. I’d say on a simpler level that 3d sonic games have the issue that there’s relatively few paths, and you’re asked to do what are basically simple button pushes as you go in them, resulting in 3d sonic being kind of a flat experience. Good 2d sonic games have a verticality to them of multiple paths that lay on top of one another, with a high path, middle path, and low path in many parts. Higher paths give more direct access forward, while lower ones are more roundabout. There are a number of connection points between these paths, to allow you back up to the higher paths when you fall. 3d Sonic doesn’t have this type of dynamic. Scripted scenes are lame, but they’re not the whole issue.

Oh. Yeah. I forgot about Prototype. The movement in that game was awesome. That’s a good template right there

An Accelerator button makes total sense. Generations and Werehog actually had that on X. If you really wanted to, it is totally possible to make a smooth transition between modes without using that though.

Time running out and time extensions are a great idea. Sonic’s clock only works that way to be the opposite of Mario’s clock.

The pole is a great idea too, don’t think it should totally replace the boost pad though.

Skip on the style points. Don’t think it fits, though admittedly score is already there.

I actually found Sonic Utopia on this guy’s blog.

What do you think of the Sonic Utopia fan demo? Problems? Good things?

It’s fairly interesting. Handles nicely. Fairly interesting, albeit easy, level. A few tricky places for keeping on the high road. Seems to have a progression based on needing to stay high up. Basically, there’s a high road forward, and you need to stay on the path to progress, or you fall down and need to get back up again. Given the speeds, this is kind of tricky. I’d also recommend implementing a 5 frame buffer on jump, it can be kind of misleading when he’s about to touch ground due to the low gravity. I eventually got it down, but I don’t think mastering pressing jump as soon as you touch the ground is one of the skills they’re aiming to test. It’s important to have that down because of the steps up to the higher areas, otherwise you hit the walls and lose speed.

I think it’s kind of weird that they have both a spindash and a “peelout”, both of which are used to get up to speed when you have no speed. I don’t think the spindash is necessary, it’s probably there as a retro reference more than anything. Peelout is cool, can be used as a precision brake to turn tight corners and gain a lot of speed, more than you can normally get. There’s one part where you need to jump over water to a loop the loop to get to a small island, and need to use the peelout to get enough speed to clear the gap, in addition to jumping on the right part of a hill right before the loop the loop. Good demonstration of peelouts and redirecting jump velocity with hills.

It’s cool that you can press jump in the air to instantly gain speed forward, and start spinning to hit enemies. It’s like the homing attack sort of.

Sonic always runs in “car” mode, even at low speeds, essentially being assigned a speed value and an angle, then the control stick alters the angle if pointed perpendicular to the current angle, but keeps the speed value consistent, unless it’s parallel to sonic’s angle in the opposite direction of movement. Would be nice to have a transition between the velocity modes, even if it’s after gaining just a little speed. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, just at lower speed values, allow the control stick greater control over the angle, which can be accomplished by having a greater angular velocity at low speeds and a lower one at high speeds, and totally ignoring the effect of pointing opposite sonic’s facing direction at low speeds, and having it brake sonic more at high speeds, or flat-out switch between a normal running movement and “car” mode at a certain threshold.

Interestingly, you keep a fair amount of speed even if you hit a wall, which I think is a nice touch. It’s a penalty, but not a big one.

I didn’t feel the enemies were very menacing, but they were relatively easy to hit. The size disparity works well.

Other complaint is it’s a bit hard to tell the way forward, because the art assets are so homogeneous. Use of more unique art assets, or gradation in the landscape as you make progress would be nice.

Good demo. I think they could push it more.

So I was listening to Game Soup’s analysis on Mighty No.9, and he uses the term game flow. He defines it at 1:52. What are your thoughts on game flow? Is it important to a game? Is he using the term correctly, if you even believe in it?

He is not using the term correctly. He correctly cited flow theory as keeping challenges proportional or slightly above player skill, to avoid frustration or boredom, however he then immediately cited blind jumps into spikes, which is not a flow problem, it is a visual communication problem.

Megaman hasn’t really been iterating on those things for 25 years. It got a lot of it right on the first two attempts. Megaman 9 is certainly an iteration on the original template, but it’s a mistake to claim that it’s hard to live up to the original series because it improved significantly with iteration. Furthermore, Keiji Inafune should have had enough experience from working on the series to make a suitable successor.

But yeah, he nails some issues with the game, specifically that the tutorial is garbage, blind jumps are garbage, having everything inside a tips menu rather than conveyed more directly during play is garbage, and the dash mechanic in combination with common enemy placements is garbage (by the way, I think the correct solution is to power up the dash on dashing through 1 weakened enemy so that it can absorb the other enemies too)

I think the dash mechanic is kind of interesting. It’s like the dynamic in capturing pokemon, but with a slight twist. Instead of trying to weaken them as close to the bottom without killing them, you’re trying to get them to the point of weakness, and catch them right there without going any further. Downside is this frequently requires memorization of how many times you’re allowed to hit an enemy. Other downside is if you want to kill a weakened enemy from afar without absorbing them, you need to shoot them a lot more.

Going into the menu for things is kind of a flow issue, but I’d chalk it up more to engagement/pacing. Flow is broken by having interruptions, but that’s because flow is about more than just matching difficulty to player skill. Flow is an actual mental state players go into.

Rather than having an already weakened enemy on the other side of the gap, I’d say make it so some enemies are always weakened, so you can always dash through them, and have some that can be shot into weakness, but only killed with dashes, for the sake of teaching in the first level, and for variety later on. These will help establish the importance of the dash mechanic in addition to making it uniquely useful.

Not a bad video, could use some polish.

While I’m at it. What ARE your thoughts on Might No. 9? Not the controversy surrounding it but the game itself.

I played the intro level and the fire level. I think the dash feels cool, I think the dynamic with weakening enemies but trying not to go past their initial point of weakness is interesting, but requires a lot of memorization to use effectively (or cautious play) and the enemies are arranged poorly for speed. Also the jumping doesn’t feel as good as megaman’s original jump, like you have less height and are more blocky or something, which is why you require all the hand holds, when the original megaman didn’t.

Many enemies are laid out in ways where there doesn’t seem to be a clear way to attack them. Not even in ways that make it tricky to attack them, but just there’s no way to really deal with them. Like having flame bars placed above you and in a cycle where you don’t really have a chance to jump up. That’s just weird and poorly considered. In many sections you can just dash through and not need to worry about enemies. It’s like they didn’t plan for every level to be beatable with the base weapon, or plan for levels to be multilayered with later powerups. They’re just kinda simple.

The number of cutscenes and their length was irritating. And I don’t really like the professors or their dialogue.

Many of the non-piercing powerups aren’t very clearly conveyed and it’s not totally obvious why they’re useful. The piercing one is taught well in the tutorial, almost impossible to not figure it out. You gain it, and immediately have 3 enemies in a row to use it on. Apart from that, it’s hard to tell what the symbols are supposed to mean.

But I only really played 2 levels and got bored. I’ll eventually revisit it, but not today.

His summary of flow theory is fairly comprehensive. He drops the word immersive occasionally, but I can’t really blame him. Flow is often cited as being immersion, or the result of immersion, even when the normal conditions of flow aren’t met.

He kind of messes up when he covers anxiety. The issue is that the game gets harder beyond the player’s skill level, and the diagram he’s showing is slightly misleading (he didn’t make it, it comes from wikipedia, so he can’t really be blamed). The diagram assumes that the challenge of the game is constant, and it doesn’t state that the player’s skill is relative to the game’s challenge for the purpose of achieving flow. The way he raised the challenge level of the game up so flow moved into arousal makes total sense, but the diagram just isn’t shaped right to capture how even further up is anxiety again.

Also I’d personally swap relaxation and boredom, but that’s a personal disagreement on my part with flow theory. The rationale is that if you are of a lower skill level, then being able to reliably and consistently beat easy challenges is relaxing, but as you advance to a higher skill level, they become boring. At a middling level of skill, it’s cool to do crouching medium kick into fireball, or to wavedash across the stage as a victory lap, but as you get better, you seek harder things, because the simpler ones can’t totally satisfy you anymore, and the things that used to be hard that are now middling easy become the new relaxing normal.

This might be a better diagram, since it scales better:

In this one, imagine control/relaxation as the line between boredom and flow and arousal/worry as the line between flow and anxiety.

The ideal is that the player is regularly aroused so they are challenged to get better, but never pushed so far as to go into anxiety.

Since he used the wrong graph, or misunderstood the graph, he came up with a bunch of silly stuff to try to rationalize how it fits the theory, like entering a new graph every time the goal changes. Flow is a continuous state that isn’t jumping or being redefined. Flow is maintained by continuous success and shrugging off minor failures. becoming too fixated on failures breaks flow, leading to a cascading effect until control is reestablished.

lol at the smash bros play. The smash bros play is bad. lol. Like I could list so many things wrong with their decisions. See me in Melee, scrub!

Also he’s being too literal with the examples when he talks about using breaks to mess with the opponent’s flow. Flow is a state of mind, people aren’t always in one of those 8 states. Flow isn’t all about transitions between those states. If your focus is broken, if you aren’t actively engaged, you fall out of the state of flow. You lose momentum. Momentum is built by successive… successes. Etc.

Alright vid, then he extrapolates too far.

Thoughts about this Doom 4 vs Doom analysis? (yes it’s the same dildo reviewer who also made the Pathologic review)

Okay, long wordy intro like the pathologic vid. I’m going to totally skip that this time. Dude does not know how to compress ideas and convey them without really awkward use of language. It’s like he’s not used to speaking to people, or like he’s trying to show off.

Doom1. No jumping, no aiming up or down. No rooms above one another. Rooms above one another were basically impossible with the tech of the time, even Duke 3d had to cheat to make that work (made the floors raise and lower to cheat the effect). Aiming up and down were totally possible, as was jumping (there was gravity and the ability to fall after all), which is why almost all the source ports and clones of the time include those. However to anyone playing the original Doom, I’d recommend you use the Chocolate Doom sourceport, because aiming up and down and jumping really change what the game is about. If you can jump, then a lot of terrain hazards become harmless, and a lot of levels get flat out broken because you can jump to parts that are not intended to be connected. Aiming up and down is more of a stylistic change than a clearly game-breaking one. If you play Doom1 and Doom4 back to back, you’ll notice that the way you aim is really different, with Doom1 not intending aiming to be a real test of skill, but instead the game being more about controlling the crowd of enemies around you, and doom 4 having tons of tiny targets to hit precisely, like most other shooters. Doom1’s choice in this respect allows the player to move really fast without worrying as much about screwing up their aim, where that’s a lot harder with the smaller targets that must be tracked on two axes in post-doom shooters.

“I view this mostly as close to an orthogonal shift in the game’s priorities, meaning that I think it achieves similar goals through different means, essentially. Although the run speed itself is slower, these other factors maintain the flow of movement in an acceptable fashion.”
This is nonsense gibbberish. What’s the flow of movement supposed to be? Why the hell did you bother to use the word orthogonal, then immediately explain it, instead of saving half the time by just saying the explanation instead? You don’t need to use words like that to sound fancy. Why can’t you just say what double jumps and vaulting actually do to the game instead of all this setup?

He doesn’t think “the flow” is as good as Doom1 or Quake, because reasons.

“although one weapon does effect a notable amount of knockback.”
Who actually uses “effect” as a verb when they’re not trying to affect a greater importance to their writing than it actually has? Also, WHICH WEAPON? Why would you say there’s one weapon and NOT SAY WHAT WEAPON IT IS? Does this guy have a phobia of using evidence?

Is he worried about spoilers or something to the extent that he’s trying to not say anything specific about the game?

“Given the scope of the game itself, what it has is still responsive, and the flow of movement is acceptable.”
What isn’t responsive!? What FPS game is there that isn’t responsive? How is the flow of movement acceptable? What would a bad example of either of these things look like? I’m sure this looks real fucking clear in his head, but I have literally no idea what this means. If anyone has any clue what responsive is supposed to mean, please tell me. I hear it all the time and it is one of the biggest buzzwords.

Previous Doom games had character progression in the form of picking up new guns. Yeah, Doom’s introduction of points you invest into things is weird. However I’d like it if he mentioned what the upgrades actually do. If he laid out how the upgrade system worked before spouting an opinion on it then this wouldn’t come across so weirdly. Instead he waits until after he’s given an opinion on it to explain the stuff you actually collect. I don’t really disagree with his opinion here, the upgrade system was pretty crazy and out of place, but holy shit he could have presented this in a more straightforward manner. For all he likes complaining about the game making things convoluted, he could stand to make his review’s structure less convoluted too.

Also his choice of footage is terrible here too. He could show the menus, he could show more about the upgrades, but he doesn’t. I showed the pathologic video to Joseph Anderson after I was done with it and he pointed out how around the 30 minute mark this guy starts talking about the landmarks and lay of the town, but doesn’t show it onscreen, instead choosing to show some random dialogue footage. In this Doom review, he similarly goes to seemingly the least effort possible to pair video with the concepts he’s actually talking about.

I don’t want to get into disagreeing with him over the weapon balance, but I’m glad he talked about it at all. This feels like the first part of the review that is actually trying to make a specific claim about something.

“Some guns remain fun to shoot, but others become shockingly terrible pea-shooters.” “The plasma gun also feels very unsatisfying to me despite being heavily based on the DOOM 3 plasma gun, which is the one gun from that game that I actually enjoyed.”
This is terrible layman language. It doesn’t mean anything. He could stand to elaborate a lot more on these points and avoid making these sort of vague assessments about whether the guns are fun or satisfying or not.

“With enough damage, enemies will stagger, and if you’re stupid, they’ll glow bright orange too.”
They glow orange when you’re in activation range to melee them, and blue when outside that range, idiot.

“These animations try very hard to be satisfying, but they don’t often work out.”
SATISFYING. There’s that buzzword again.

“They remove you from the combat itself temporarily, and they give you a small window when no other enemy will try to harm you. They’re very gory and well animated, just like everything else in the game, really, but because they don’t involve any real interaction with monsters, they have no substantial effect.”
Okay, think of it like this. Imagine if, the instant you pressed the button, that the game just jumped instantly to the monster being dead, instead of playing that animation. The actual thing going on here is, press button, monster dead, monster explodes into treats. Since no interaction can occur in the middle, the middle effectively doesn’t happen for all intents and purposes. Now ask yourself, is this okay? Is this objectionable? Do we gain or lose something by having this? Then, after you’ve answered those questions, ask: Is having a short non-interactive animation here a pain and inconvenience?

The dude is looking at this whole thing as, “Before, you could melee enemies and it didn’t involve stupid canned animations, and now we have this horrific non-interactive thing instead of this more complex interaction” and ignoring that melee serves a TOTALLY DIFFERENT PURPOSE in Doom 4. It is literally an entirely different option from what it used to be for the most part. They shouldn’t be compared because they’re not the same damn thing. Super Bunnyhop recognized this. Shit, even Campster recognized this. The new Glory Kill melee system is a totally different option with a totally different effect on how the entire game plays. It creates a new dynamic for how enemies are dealt with, encouraging aggressive play, while allowing a steady stream of damage to the player.

“A notable side effect of the melee execution moves is the death of the chainsaw. It’s still there, but it is turned into an overpowered instant execution device. It was previously a powerful but highly situational tool, and id Software somehow managed both to nerf it and to overpower it.”
And here’s the part where he fucks up AGAIN. The chainsaw is, like melee glory kills, not the same thing it was before. It’s so different in application that you can’t compare it just because it looks the same. The chainsaw’s purpose is not to give you “free kills” on powerful enemies. It’s to GIVE YOU A WAY TO REFILL YOUR AMMO WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE ANY LEFT TO WEAKEN ENEMIES INTO A GLORY KILL STATE. This is important because of the arena structure of maps, you frequently end up in environments that do not contain enough ammo to kill everything in the room and are not allowed to progress until all the enemies are dead. Whereas in the original doom you never got locked into rooms, there was always enough ammo on the map to kill everything from a pistol start, and killing enemies was never required besides bosses. Also it kinda did give you free kills by stunning enemies as you deal damage to them in the original Doom. Though I admit there’s obvious differences, like not pausing the game, which made it function differently in Doom 1, so other enemies could still threaten you. And you could willingly engage and disengage damage from the Doom 1 chainsaw, but I wouldn’t expect this guy to ever be insightful enough to actually point all that out, it would require too much citing of actual things and not enough vague gesticulating.

Funny that he should bring up “creative, mind-bending, intelligent level design.” then show a boxy room with a bunch of shallow alcoves with enemies in them. Doom 1 did way better than that. Level design in Doom 4 isn’t great, it’s passable for the subject matter, but this isn’t telling me why Doom 1 level design was good at all, or why Doom 4’s is lacking. At least he mentions that they lock you in arenas, that’s a pretty basic thing to bring up. Also please stop saying skate park. Please.

Oh, so he does recognize that there’s basically regenerating health. He fails to mention why it’s there (because projectiles from enemies are way faster and there’s poor audio cues warning you of enemies offscreen), only that a lot of enemies drop health now. So swing and a miss. Also he fails to mention that health drops are connected to glory killing, which requires you to get out of cover and actually attack enemies up close (and therefore, near other enemies) to get health. He seems to think that the reason enemies drop health is because it would look stupid having a ton of health kits around arenas, not thinking back to how common health kits were in the original Doom (about the same), and without realizing that it’s a lot easier to take a lot more damage a lot more quickly in Doom 4, in ways that aren’t always totally fair necessarily. Only one enemy in Doom1 had hitscan attacks, and it was the weakest enemy in the game. There’s a lot more enemies with super fast projectiles, or outright hitscan attacks in Doom 4, and they do a lot more damage with a lot less warning. In Doom 1, you could beat basically any level without taking any damage (unless hazardous floors were involved). This means they could afford to place less health kits, which they did. Also sometimes even when your health is low, you get shitty health drops. It’s partially randomized, and especially biased against regular kills.

Also seriously, how do you not notice that glory kills drop more health?

“But this system is still butt-ugly and takes a lot of satisfaction away from the violence. It’s harder to appreciate all the immaculately rendered entrails when there are so many glowing balls flying all over the place.”
This is stupid. This entire complaint is stupid. Who gives an actual fuck?

“This is the kind of mechanic that I wouldn’t expect to arise in a game with design similar to DOOM.”
Here’s the crux. He’s looking at this too much like it’s supposed to be another Doom game. It’s a REALLY different game, in like, all respects. It’s doing totally different things with its weapons, enemy design, movement, level design, health system. It’s very much its own monster. Instead of evaluating Doom 4 on its own terms, he’s seeing it all as old doom versus new doom. Classic design versus modern design. Yes, we totally lost the old style of design here. What we got is not really a Doom game in anything but name and theme. However, what we got is still an interesting and unique take on how a shooter can be structured, with a lot of unique game systems, and generally structurally sound combat. Is it an insult to the old style of Doom? Should it have been given the Doom name when it’s so different structurally? I don’t give a fuck. For all I care, this could literally be another DmC in terms of name and theme, and I am perfectly fine with it. Doom dies, this lives. Awesome. It’s a shame the old style of design is gone, but someone else can go and revive that. We got something new and interesting this time.

Again, I’ve made it through 20 minutes of this review out of 29. I’m really fed up with it by this point. I’m not going to sit through the last part where he goes through boring comparisons of all the old monsters to all the new versions of them. Play both games, they’re both really fun and different experiences. Don’t watch this review, it’s stupid.

Dildo guy complained about organge glowing enemies because he turned off the glory kills visual effect altogether. How would you describe the most common buzzwords like “satisfying”, “crunchy” and “responsive” with actual, tangible terms?

I wouldn’t. Or I’d cite how the animations are actually built.

Recently I started playing Lords of the Fallen, and instantly realized why it looked so clunky in combat, none of the animations have any slow-in or slow-out. They play at a relatively consistent speed throughout the whole animation, whereas in other games, including dark souls, weapon swings start off slow, speed up as the active portion begins, then smoothly slow down into the followthrough. This gives weapon animations in dark souls a sort of snapping effect, so you can clearly identify the part where it snaps forward and attacks.

Responsive is a really common buzzword, and is commonly used to refer even to games that don’t have any input or display lag. I have no actual idea what people mean when they say a game isn’t very responsive, or that a game is especially responsive. I’ve seen shitty console port menus that sometimes don’t highlight the option your mouse hovers over (Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is a recent example), but I’m totally lost for all other usage. I think a lot of it is not understanding the role of startup or recovery frames, but really it’s nonsense in 99% of usage. In some cases, like a game omitting IASA frames at the end of attacks I can see it’s legitimate, but I doubt people can actually identify that, and they usually aren’t talking about games that do that.

Really really boring. It’s all about story, immersion, tone, blah. I love the part that says something like, “The boost guardian is hard, but for all the wrong reasons.” then it doesn’t say the reasons. This isn’t a game review. It’s a walkthrough that gushes about how every part fits the theme of the game so much. It makes all these assumptions about the intended experience. I nearly fell asleep listening to this in my car.

I don’t want to review any more videos like this. There isn’t anything interesting to comment on. Please stop sending me mediocre/bad game reviews unless they make some type of interesting point that I can actually discuss rather than droning about stuff I’ve already heard and that doesn’t take much thought to spit out. Guy’s not putting any effort in. The most interesting thing in the whole review is probably that they changed the scan visor to highlight objects in colors instead of using an icon on the object.

I’d appreciate more good analysis videos or at least interesting bad analysis videos. If you submitting this video are the person who made this video and want a more in-depth criticism, then you can ask me directly on twitter or here.

Is this review of Serious Sam by gggmanlives any good?

It’s better than most of his previous reviews. I have watched various gggmanlives reviews before, and I find them to be generally vague, more based on tone than gameplay. They’re like a standard magazine review. Also he complains about games being too difficult a lot. Like he seriously complained about that for dark messiah.

In this review I like that he at least goes over a few of the enemies and the unique ways they threaten you. I like that he goes over the two enemies he dislikes and the way their placement is used to make them more effective (but also maximize how annoying that enemy type can be, since it involves hitscan and homing fireballs). I don’t like that he calls it a cheap way to increase the difficulty, and I don’t know if his case against the homing fireballs is totally solid since it looks like they can be avoided on open ground.

It’s cool that he mentions a few of the weapons and their unique utility (though I’d prefer if he covered all of them honestly).

It’s cool that he mentioned that this is an arena shooter with enemies spawning into wide open arenas, unlike other FPS games. This is obvious to anyone who knows about the game, but it’s laying a groundwork that I think is important nonetheless. Not everyone who sees this review will have played the game before.

I think he’s too vague on the difficulty, just saying it’s too hard or easy.

I still have not played Serious Sam the First Encounter, but I did once briefly play Serious Sam The Second Encounter, and found it kind of boring. I was still on LTC at the time and was told that it was the worst of the series and the first and third games are better.

I think the review falls short in not having enough detail, not really describing the way the enemies combine to threaten you except to say that you should circle strafe at all times, and with the difficulty falling back on, “It’s cheap” over and over again, which is a shortcut to avoid analyzing why it feels that way. It doesn’t get into the types of tactics and mindsets that the game is supposed to bring out using its variety of enemies and weapons.

Have you seen this guy’s video on Bloodborne? I think some good points are made but he goes on too many tangents and some of his comments towards DMC made me want to hit him with a blunt object.

Okay, here’s the short. I think he makes a compelling case that Bloodborne could teach players how to play souls games more effectively. I don’t think he’s correct that dodging and playing aggro all the time are the most fun ways to play the souls games.

When playing Demon’s Souls I dodged a lot, because most shields were shit in that game and dodges had infinity iframes. I mean, I went dragon bone smasher and heavy armor on my first playthrough. On hearing and seeing that dark souls had useable shields, and non-worthless armor, I was actually pretty happy with it. Dark Souls unfortunately made shields a bit too good, they regenned too much stamina while holding them up, they had too much stability, and you could get low weight 100% physical block shields fairly commonly (Spider Shield anyone? pre-patch eagle greatshield?) Dark Souls 2 and Dark Souls 3 did a pretty alright job remedying this, making it so there’s much less stamina regen while blocking, and more shields allow at least a tiny bit of chip damage.

The big thing he’s ignoring here is the dynamic behind how shields work. Shields make it really easy to block incoming attacks, no reaction time required, but they drain more stamina than rolling, and prevent you from retaliating against heavier attacks. And they frequently have you take chip damage, unless you weigh yourself down with a heavier shield.

The key is also that when you hold the shield up, you’re reducing your rate of stamina regeneration. So if you’ve lost stamina, you want to put your shield down in order to regenerate it. Beyond that, if you lose all your stamina, your shield is broken, and you will take damage, potentially more than normal. So you have this dynamic, you want to let go of shield, making yourself vulnerable, then hold it just in the nick of time to guard enemy attacks. It’s like taking gulps of air before going underwater.

The key is, Dark Souls had this balance between shields, dodging, and a third option, simply walking out of the way of attacks. They had tradeoffs in terms of stamina, vulnerability, and movement speed. You needed to select which one to use based on the situation, rather than just rolling all the time, or just shielding all the time, because that’s not actually optimal.

I liked that bloodborne was so insistent on eliminating or punishing bad player behaviors from the souls games, but I still think there is value in having a shield.

I would really love your thoughts on this video and, if you have time I’m curious on your thoughts on his Game Difficulty and Movie vs Game Design video.

Okay, so the gist is, you need casual players, because they’re the majority of the people who will buy the game. Sure. I don’t really disagree with this. I’ve said that making a good game is different from good sales all the time. SFV failed as a product in many ways, even if it meets all the needs I have, even if it doesn’t conflict with the way I play. The size of the casual community absolutely affects the growth of the hardcore community. However all the changes that capcom made to make this game more inviting to casual players trying to learn the real game certainly didn’t hurt.

Evo Moment #37 happened during 3rd strike, the game which the FGC and casual crowd hated, both because of parrying and because it was way harder than the previous games and had no familiar/relatable characters (and broken earlier versions). It was also in 2004, right in the middle of the fighting game doldrums before SF4 revived the genre in ’09. Evo Moment #37 very specifically happened when the genre was at its lowest.

Statement from an FE friend regarding the FE portion of the video:
“I hate the Fire Emblem thing.
No, Awakening didn’t save the series. The goal was for Awakening to get 250,000+ copies, or else it’d be C&D’d. This is a common threat among Ninty games, even going to Star Fox 3D. Every FE, bar Tellius, sold over 250,000 copies before. Awakening didn’t save the series, it simply pandered to the lowest common denominator. Awakening didn’t also JUST add casual features, it jeopardized depth by offering simple objectives and made the game far more stat based then previous entries. To say this didn’t harm the series for old school fans is an outright lie. Old school fans didn’t hate waifus, we hated the fact the series had lost a lot of the difficult level design found in older games. The fact the next game had to be two entries, both having drastically approaches (EG, Conquest is a very good game, Birthright is basically Awakening 2), shows how broken the base was afterward.”

In short, yes, your product needs to appeal to a wide audience in order to be financially successful. Competitive players are not a wide enough audience by themselves. However Starcraft sold 11 million, Melee sold 7 million. It’s possible to strike a middle ground without compromising.

One thought on “Critic Roundup

  1. Shintai January 19, 2017 / 10:43 pm

    I would have liked if you addressed some of the blasphemous comments Hbomberguy made about the DMC series in his Bloodborne video but I liked your response regardless.


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