I’m Chris Wagar. I write about video games regularly and this is a dumping ground for the various writings I’ve produced. I’ve played and written about games for a long time, formerly writing for the now defunct, Gather Your Party. I program in Unreal Engine and have experience as an animator with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in Animation. I currently work as an enterprise software engineer.
Most content here is reposts from my Ask.fm, recompiled with questions from askers marked in bold above my writing.
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I’d order my priorities for games in this order: (discussed in more detail in my standard of quality)
- Challenge (for single player games, multi has challenge automatically)
- Clear Feedback
- Game Feel/Kinaesthetics
- User Experience
- Quality of Graphics/Sound/Animation/Story
My stance on games in a nutshell is that fun is based on uncertain successes and failures, as well as succeeding more at a task over time. Basically, you win sometimes, you lose sometimes, and over time you win more and more often. A game isn’t fun if you never win, it isn’t fun if you always win.
Depth is the number of different things you can do in a game, a game with a lot of depth has a lot of things to succeed and fail at, so as you get good at one thing, there’s another thing waiting for you afterwards and you can keep going from being bad at something to being good at it for a long time.
Depth can be achieved in a bunch of different ways. It’s the total number of things that can happen, minus the ones that are redundant (the same as other things you can do), minus the ones that aren’t relevant (poorly balanced, unknown, impossible to perform, etc). Any type of game can have depth. Depth can be achieved both through having a lot of things you can do, and by adding nuances to each thing you can do. Depth is a component of the player’s options, the obstacles, and the level design, as well as how all of these things interact with each other.
My favorite games are:
If you want examples of what I’m all about, and some of my best writing, read the following:
A Basic Introduction to Depth
Definitions: What’s a Game State?
My Standard of Quality for Games
4 Criteria for Depth
Games for Learning About Depth
Micropositioning: Another Source of Depth
Simple Actions with a lot of Depth
How Do I Determine if a Game is Good or Bad?
Depth Done Right
How should we form values to judge games by?
Cultivating Possibility Space
Critique of Critics
Reviews and Notes on games
Halo: Combat Evolved Review
Halo 2 Review
Thief 4 Review
Shadow of the Colossus and Ico
Nier Automata Demo Review
Nier Automata Review
Axiom Verge: No Depth?
Axiom Verge Boss Review
A Link Between Worlds Review
Skyward Sword Boss Review
Twilight Princess Boss Review
Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild Review
Hollow Knight Review
Mario Odyssey Review
Immersion is Fake and a Menace!
People Aren’t Random
Mind Games vis Mirror Neurons
Street Fighting For Beginners
Smash Bros Melee Beginners Guide
Stealth Games: Informational Warfare
What Makes a Dynamic Platformer?
Review All Games As If They’re New
What Should be in a Game Review?
On Game Reviews/Critique
Analyzing Art Objectively
How to Git Gud at Understanding Games
The Issues/Joys of Parrying
Changes to Fix Melee Weirdness
Hitstun in Stunning Detail
5 Games 5 Jumps
Taking Apart Stealth
Stealth Game Distraction Tools
Making Turn Based Battles Actually Fun
The Joy of Souls Combat
Throws in Smash Bros
The Majesty of Dark Souls 3’s Backstab
How iFrames Augment Dodge Rolls
Understanding Framedata: Combos, Traps, and Turns