Don’t Diss a Genre You Don’t/Refuse to Understand

I said I wouldn’t review any more videos of other critics, but I couldn’t stand to watch this one and say nothing. I’m reposting here, mostly because I think it goes a ways to explain the differences between traditional fighters and smash. If you’re a smash player, please play other fighting games too. Please stop sticking to one insular franchise.

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HBomberguy Defending Dark Souls 2

What do you think of this defense of Dark Souls 2?

I was LITERALLY scripting a video like this, even with a similar title.

Okay, from the get-go, he correctly identifies that there’s a certain level of damage/health where games are most fun. I actually think this is generally correct, with a bit of leeway. The thing he overlooks is, he claims that the souls games are perfectly tuned, which is why they don’t have additional difficulty modes that slide these values up and down like FPS games do. The trouble is, the Souls games actually do have that. They have multiple forms of it actually, in the form of levels, Souls/Body Form and Hollowing, Estus Upgrades, NG+ cycles, and World Tendencies/Intensities. There’s things mucking with your current amount of health and damage all the time in Souls games. They just generally do a good job staying relatively close to the sweet spot, but if you choose to break it, that’s very easy to do. Continue reading

Critic Review Roundup: Pearls Before Swine

Sorry this is a question about reviewers, what are your thoughts on the criticism where the player cheeses through most of the game with one combo/weapon, then complains that the combat system allows this? This kinda relates to the gggmanlives review, but I see this a lot in other reviews (for example the Previously Recorded Nioh Review) I can kinda see the point in that a game doesn’t teach/challenge enough to provoke experimenting but it also annoys me when interesting features of combat are glossed over because they aren’t strictly necessary to progress.

A long time ago, I used to think, games shouldn’t allow you to cheese them. Games should let you try as hard as you can in any way to win, and should resist being broken. This attitude came to me from competitive games where that’s more legitimately true.

Basically, I got presented with cheese for tons of games I held highly, including God Hand, dark souls, and DMC, and it’s like, okay, nearly everything has cheese, should I still hold this belief? Continue reading

Book Review: Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design by Joris Dormans

What do you think of the book “Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design” by Joris Dormans?

I skimmed through it, and it seems pretty good. One criticism I’d have is the use of the Machinations flow diagram system for describing game logic, but it still has a lot of great textual examples backing it. I think that these flow diagrams never really work out too well (Raph Koster’s game grammar was kind of a disappointment, the one used in the book seems a bit more realistic though). They don’t have strong descriptive or predictive capabilities most of the time. I’d honestly prefer code or written word descriptions usually. But I mean, it’s not really taking away from the book at all.

Overall, the book features tons of good and useful information and examples of different game mechanics and means of implementation. I’d totally recommend it!

One critical thing it leaves out though is rock paper scissors. It loosely alludes to it when it goes over rushing versus turtling (RTS games have the early game counter loop of rush > greedy > turtle > rush). Greedy builds spend all their early resources on maximizing the rate of resource acquisition. Rush builds spend those resources on fucking people up as early as possible. Turtle builds spend those resources on defending against a rush. It’s pretty obvious to see rush beats greed and turtles beat rush. Greedy builds beat turtles because the turtles don’t have as strong an economy, and lose out in the long run. In Starcraft the meta has kind of settled on mixed turtle builds being the best early on (far as I know). The book sort of alludes to greedy builds on page 69, but it doesn’t say the word greedy anywhere and kind of forgets about this early example when it goes into turtling versus rush later on.

Without the dynamic of rock paper scissors, I think the book misses something really important to any type of multiplayer game, but it makes sense given the simulation game background the book appears to be coming from.

Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think the economic modeling system used by the book is entirely appropriate to describe platformers, or action games or FPS games either really. It’s kind of limited to games that are more strictly about economics. Hmm. It does mention Dan Cook’s Skill Atoms, but it talks about those more in a structure similar to locks and keys in order to teach the player a chain of skills, rather than looking at the game dynamics from the perspective of a player who is already experienced and merely engaging with emergent systems composed of familiar components and familiar skills in an unfamiliar arrangement.

So, still a good book, but I guess it’s not comprehensive. Good if you’re building an economics game, or game that features economics somewhere, useless for building a racing game, or most action games including fighting games and platformers.

Literally What Does “Pretentious” Mean?

How would you describe something as pretentious and how would you define it? Could you give an example in the context of a show/film as well as the context of a game?

There’s a simple definition if you google it actually: “Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.”

This is pretentious. This is attempting to show that the game The Last of Us has a greater cultural value than it actually possesses. Continue reading