Dark Souls 3 Reviewers: Let Them Die

I think the story criticisms are dumb, I don’t really like story criticisms.

I’m fine with there being more connections to the original dark souls, especially with them being more directly related in cause to the events of the original dark souls. I agree that totally original settings each time would be preferable, but if they’re going to trot out a sequel, they might as well connect it better than dark souls 2. Continue reading

An Arthouse History for Video Games

Your thoughts? http://rhizome.org/editorial/2016/aug/03/an-art-history-for-videogames/

I’m not really interested in this article or anything it has to say except this:
“This game takes the ideas of “adventure,” “exploration,” and “mastery,” and flips them on their heads, turning the experience into a slog, a mean-spirited joke. This is why I love it—or rather, the idea of it. This game is aggressively not fun and almost completely luck-based, which is intentional.

This is arthouse mentality in a nutshell I think. Continue reading

God Hand and Conveyance

That stinks that you’re finished with reviewing reviews. I just found this one today that you might be interested in. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGO2dE7GRkg&a=&feature=youtu.be

Nah, just reviewers.

I feel like he misses some history here. God Hand has been a cult classic on /v/ since long before totalbiscuit became popular (or made the video about god hand in 2012). There’s a reason I owned the game in like 2009. Continue reading

Novacanoo Jak 1 Reply

Thought you might check this out. We established that our interests lie in slightly different places, but I think this shows massive improvement on those criticisms that I did agree with.

I think it’s a bit reaching to say that naughty dog suffered from genre fatigue. The concept of needing to do something to “reinvigorate the genre” seems more than a bit fuzzy to me.

If the level transitions can’t be skipped, then it’s a load screen. Avoiding loading screens is an impressive technical feat, but what really matters is avoiding making the player wait for things. Loading screens are kind of unavoidable and common, so I think there’s not much that can be done but to view them as a necessary evil where they pop up. On that note, the unskippable scene of the rocket ship going to a planet every time in Ratchet and Clank drove me nuts.

Don’t care about the story.

Sum-up of the tutorial is alright, doesn’t go over how it specifically teaches.

Don’t care about daxter. As an aside I like him.

Okay, Blue Eco Vent. This is a trend I see a lot, where a dude points out the first time something appears in a game, then says that it “teaches players” about that element. The Vent here doesn’t really teach them anything. It’s just a distinctive shape on the ground. It’s not teaching them that they need to come back here. It’s just a thing they might see, and later on when blue Eco vents are activated, they might remember that they saw one here, which, if they remember successfully, will teach them to check back after activating vents of a certain color.

I would like a demonstration of how the enemies work relative to Jak’s abilities honestly. They, and the platforming near them, act in tandem to deliver challenges and bar progression. Instead there’s just a remark that the area is a bit harder and that there’s no bottomless pits, so you have to climb up, which is its own sort of punishment (which importantly means you need to jump across correctly, developing jumping skill)

I think you’re reaching a bit with the sound effect for precursor flooring, but it is a nice sound effect. Having unique sound effects for different flooring is a neat touch in terms of feedback. More important in games with full noise propagation engines that are factored into enemy AI, like Thief.

I think the boss is basic reinforcement of your ability to move and jump. And I think the idea you were searching for was if a vine had gone limp while the boss was still attacking you, so you need to find a point between the boss’s attacks to attack it, opening up the leaves, then the boss would feel less condescending and maybe a bit more back-and-forth, like you’re fighting it as it fights you, rather than simply cycling phases.

Funny that you say variety can make something more than the sum of its parts given my recent criticism of how variety making it so every part needs to stand on its own more than being able to rest on others. I think variety adds exactly what it adds and nothing else. The strength of adding a new mode is that it’s a new mode with a unique strategic space to explore, so it can help keep players engaged by turning them onto a new task. The weakness is that it’s segregated from the rest of the game and doesn’t build on or take from the existing strengths of the game. Also in a developmental sense it can strain dev time and end up half baked, which is a problem by itself that can simply be called out for what it is.

Is there really a lack of acceleration on the net in the fishing minigame? Or is it that it accelerates on a funny curve, moving between low speed and high speed over a short period of time, so if you try to tap it, you go nowhere, but if you try to hold it, you go way too far? Added to that, a slight deceleration curve so it continues moving after you let go? The motion doesn’t look instant from the footage. I’m just guessing. I played about half of Jak 1 before declaring, “fuck this shit” to all the collectathon nonsense, so I don’t really remember.

Hmmmmmm, your discussion on how power cells are the core progression metric, yet are also partially optional is interesting. You bring up a good point and concern as a reviewer. As an aside, I’d say that a collectathon style game where collecting every single collectible was mandatory would be a flaw. There needs to be a suitable amount of leniency. I don’t really know how to resolve the dilemma you’ve brought up here, except by saying that all the content should be reviewed as if it were required instead of potentially optional, but that doesn’t really seem like the correct answer either. Simply put, by reviewing everything, everything can individually be declared good or bad and worrying about the sum total is easier, since most games have good and bad levels anyway.

Fair statement on the driller enemy and drop out floor combination. I don’t think that the combat mechanics and 1 hit enemies necessarily prevent them from combining platforming and combat challenges, I think they just failed to integrate them.

I think they made the punch the way they did intentionally. I think they didn’t want the player to chain the lunge punch into itself and zip across the levels that way, rather they wanted player to use the roll jump. Also canceling the punch into the spin is kinda technical.

Yes, it does make it feel awkward to have a much longer window to self cancel the move than canceling it into other moves. If the lunge punch had a stationary followup then I’d write it down as a flaw without a second though. I don’t think you needed the frame counts, but I appreciate the effort. Yeah, it feels jank, but I don’t think it was done without purpose. I don’t think you’re right in saying it makes the spin kick the vastly superior option, just the superior one up close. Also it means that there’s a clear purpose for both instead of the lunge punch being flat out better.

Hmm, fair point about the level design. Levels are nonlinear, but every possible route involves all of Jak’s moveset regularly, and avoids open areas where you don’t do anything but walk around. I don’t think that keeping the player active is necessarily the path to great level design, but it’s certainly a step up from your cross-example with Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (forgot that game existed).

Okay, I hate the precursor orbs and scout flies. I hate collectathon shit in general. I hate having them stuck everywhere so you don’t just get past the level, but you practically need to sweep up all these little bits and bobs sitting everywhere. I’d be much more okay with this game as a whole if these were totally removed in favor of just the power cells. I’m fairly certain in many areas you’re gated so there aren’t enough power cells to continue on power cells alone so you need to collect these.

Wish you went into more detail on the roll jump move than just that you can access some power cells that unskilled players cannot with it. Like, it’s more than a gating mechanism, it’s a fundamental part of movement.

I dunno about the spin. It always felt kinda lame to me, like it didn’t last long enough, compared to contemporary hover mechanics. I don’t think it’s really that hard to press the appropriate buttons. Something feels fiddly about the jumps in Jak, but I’d mostly chalk that up to the slow movement speed of the character.

That’s the common argument against ice physics? Shrug. I thought it’s just that people don’t like characters moving independent of input, of sacrificing some measure of direct control over them. Also I don’t really approve of your logic that the ice physics are dumb because they’re only there to make something normally unchallenging, challenging. The order you present it in almost makes it seem like they had the buttons first, then threw in ice so it was harder to step on the buttons. I think the buttons are a legitimate challenge, they emphasize not only being able to orient yourself on the ice so as to move across it to a desired location, but because they require you to jump, you carry the momentum on the ice into the air, and it’s noticeably higher than your normal top speed on ground or air, so you have this excess momentum in the air that you need to control by either jumping preemptively so you’ll land smoothly on the button from afar, or control in the air to correct your trajectory onto the button, or slow yourself down close to the button in order to make a more easily controlled jump on top of it. You also neglected to mention the rather genius move to have a force field around the buttons that repels you if you get too close, because then the challenge could be trivialized by getting really close to make a completely slow and controlled jump instead of trying to get as close as you can without getting rejected. Plus they throw enemies at you at the same time. Also the lunge punch has a unique affect on your ice momentum which is cool. I think they were on top of their game here honestly and your criticism isn’t coming from the right angle. You gotta look at the challenge as it is, in context, not as what it could be. or would normally be. The ice serves to make a difficult task that takes some coordination and thought to do.

You make a fair point about the opportunity lost here, though I wouldn’t use the word cancel, just for the sake of clarity. they could have had more cliffs around the ice, and more circumstances where you need to be careful not to overshoot into danger.

Using the base mechanics doesn’t necessarily determine whether something is a decent test of skill or not, just that it’s consistent and probably deeper than whatever variety themed system they try to shoehorn in at the last minute. If it suddenly switched into a full-on dark souls or bayonetta style boss fight with all of those mechanics completely replacing Jak’s mechanics, then it would be a greater test of skill, and deeper than the rest of the game, but incredibly inconsistent. Whether it’s a bad thing or not, I don’t really know, it’s never happened before and I think my reaction would be, “why wasn’t the rest of the game like this” rather than panning it. And speaking of that, weren’t there other bosses in this game than the first and last ones?

I think it’s intensely debatable whether Jak 1 outdoes Mario 64 (I can’t debate the rareware collectathons, I haven’t played them) on its very first try. Beyond that, I feel like you’ve somewhat missed the spirit of the game here. I didn’t like Jak 1, and I liked Jak 2 a bit more, due in large part to the removal of collectathon elements. I feel like Mario 64 keeps its collectathon elements extremely constrained, limiting them to just the goals of each course, not littered throughout the game world. Mario has always used coins, but never as a barrier to progression, and the 100 coin challenges in Mario 64 are not only optional, but far in the periphery of available stars for progression. There is an excess of stars that can be used to progress that are not 100 coin challenges, where Jak 1 felt like collecting things was much much more obligatory.

I feel like many of the level design challenges were probably interesting, but glossed over. Mario 64 very directly creates challenges that require dynamic platforming skill with control over velocity and momentum, where jak is very much about simply jumping as far as possible to the next platform with each jump, since Jak has such high friction and accelerates to top speed so easily, a speed that is rather slow to begin with. That and it doesn’t mention how frequently progress is barred by things you need damnable power cells for, rather than simply allowing one to clear areas and progress and get it over with (like the later Jak games did).

And because it’s me, here’s a speedrun. Pretty cool. Notice the combination use of rolling and punching and other moves.

An appreciative rebuttal, since I bet you’ve never seen a critique of a critique of a critique before. Critique-ception? We need to go deeper: http://pastebin.com/yGTns0bY

I thought collectathons died out because they were never particularly popular.

I liked the transitions in R&C the very first time I saw them, and was in agony thereafter. If I can’t skip it, it sucks. I’ll eventually replay the game, I’ll eventually want to cut to the chase. I don’t want to deal with anything forcing me to just watch.

I like Jak 2 better so far. I only just got the two gun types, but it’s a lot more straightforward than collecting endless power cores.

I don’t play levels fast. I just dislike being asked to visit every possible location in a level. It’s not that these elements obligate slow collection, it’s that you’re not really allowed to find your own way through a level and whatever works works. You’re obligated to collect whatever comes your way to speed up progression, or you might hit a roadblock and need to backtrack to collect more things to clear it.

Yes, I do think the roll in OoT being slightly faster is a fundamental part of movement. I think it was put there intentionally to encourage you to move faster. Sidehopping and backflipping are never required in OoT, but they’re important too. I don’t think something has to be strictly required to necessarily be fundamental, though definitions and cut-off points may vary. I think roll jumping is a big deal to the movement system, and it deserved a little more focus.

We’ll see what happens with Jak 2.

I’ll check out whiplash, it sounds interesting.

Novacanoo Crash Bandicoot Reply

Critique these critiques?

Holy crap, 11 reviews, jesus christ. Are 11 reviews really necessary?

Second, you’re really monotone. Like really really monotone. Sounds a little forced. Also are you actually british or just putting on an accent?

I don’t think the information on why you’re not covering the games prior to Crash is really relevant. I’m honestly not that interested in the history of Naughty Dog. Maybe someone else is, but I think it’s fluff when it comes to a game review.

Also I think your sentences are a bit long and drawn out, maybe using more words than necessary.

It’s weird to present the introduction to the game before the attract mode cutscene. It’s like you’re starting one idea then interrupting it with an earlier one.

Right here, you don’t mention what the character’s abilities are, how they work, or how intuitive they are.

I don’t think it’s fair to say that the X axis is barely used at all, it’s used about as much as the Y axis. Also don’t think it’s fair to say that obstacles that make use of the X axis don’t play into the strengths of the design. If they didn’t play into the strengths of the design in some way, then wouldn’t it effectively just be a different perspective version of a 2d platformer? A not very impressive 2d platformer?

Today we’d probably call it arcadey? Is that implying that arcadey is a bad thing? Today I think I’d call it uninspired and derivative same as they did back then.

Okay, so a game with high commitment jumps is alright as long as it’s, “designed around them.” This is a buzzphrase. What does “designed around them” mean here? It would appear to be, “the player is asked to jump any distance except the maximum length of the jump”, but castlevania, the example you just cited, requires you to jump the maximum length of the jump sometimes. Also doesn’t it seem like a good common sense rule of thumb to never ask a player to jump the maximum jump length so they don’t have to do ridiculously frameperfect jumps?

What does “poor physics” mean here? Are you sure you don’t mean the fact that you’re jumping into the Z axis, where distance is harder to judge?

“since most of the game’s jumps are the same length, there’s nothing stimulating about the act of jumping.” That’s a decent observation coupled with a swift judgment. I think it would have served your purposes better here to cite examples of how different jump lengths could have been used to construct more varied challenges, and how the system for controlling crash during jumps makes those infeasible, rather than jumping into the conclusion that this is compensation for an unruly physics system.

I don’t imagine that getting the physics right was a big hurdle at all. I think making a competent rendering engine was a much bigger hurdle. Crash’s system for rendering 3d graphics is legendary for its performance on the PS1 hardware. Physics calculations comparatively are very simple (at least, when you aren’t coding something like havok). Collision detection in 3d is harder.

Talking about what’s probably hard or the troubles the developers went through is very much copping MM’s style. I don’t think it’s helping your case, because like MM, I don’t think you have a background in computer programming or knowledge of game engines. Saying, “it must have taken a lot of effort” or “they put a lot of thought into this” or “I imagine that getting the physics right was one of the biggest hurdles” are kind of empty statements.

It doesn’t really matter what the intent of the designer was, or what was hard or what was easy. You can spend tons of effort doing something a hard way that doesn’t really pay off, and a reviewer should be impartial to that in my opinion. It shouldn’t matter to a reviewer how much effort something took. It matters to a development team. Saying “Man, they spent a lot of effort on this thing that turned out to be worthless” isn’t saying much about the final state of the game, it’s advice to make sure a hypothetical design team doesn’t fuck up another game. And maybe you want to include that type of thing as an aside, but it doesn’t properly indict the game itself for it’s own faults.

I’ll draw one exception when it comes to proposing alternative implementations that could have been better than what the game actually did. I usually limit myself to implementations of mechanics that existed at the time, to prevent hindsight bias. However this is still only loosely connected to evaluating the game as it is. If a game did something wrong and the correct interpretation was come up with later, you could just as easily say the game was made too soon to actually be good. It doesn’t matter if the developers tried hard, had the wrong tools, or incredible setbacks, either the game works out or it doesn’t.

I think you could have put in a better shot at explaining how that level doesn’t work so well with the dpad and physics. The dpad claim is especially weird here considering the dpad should make a level that looks like it’s just a straight line easier. It’s a digital input tool, it should be good at staying straight on a level that’s straight, and only moving you forward when pressed and not otherwise.

You’re reaching when you say that the developers tried to force intricate platforming after making compromises to their original design. I don’t think you have sufficient evidence to claim that. The developers are dead. You don’t know what their intent was. It doesn’t matter what their intent was.

Stating that players probably gave up once they reached this level is similar reaching. You don’t know that. Please avoid guessing at other players’ experiences.

The spin attack thing was probably intentional. It would have been easier to implement it the other way, where you stop when you release the dpad. They probably went to extra effort to make it move regardless of your dpad because they wanted you to feel committed to the motion of the spin attack, feeling like it has inertia of its own, like dash attacks in many games. Dying due to it sounds like it speaks more to incompetence on your part unfortunately.

I think the level analyses could have been better if you went over the way the individual levels attempted to challenge the player rather than the extreme cliffnotes versions. How was the level design actually utilized to make the player think? What sort of play does it bring out? How are the enemies used? For the water level, I think it would be appropriate to mention that aligning the camera with the primary plane the character is moving on helps players significantly with accurate movement across that plane. This is why we have 2d platformers with cameras from the sides instead of the back. In many Crash level, the camera is behind crash, which makes it difficult to judge how far things are ahead, but in water levels, they clearly felt that this wasn’t as important as simply showing the player exactly how far the character is moving relative to what’s below him.

I don’t think having a variety of stage types is necessarily a strength, especially if all of those stage types are bad or average. It’s better to do one thing well than 5 things poorly.

In what way do the hog ride levels rely on trial and error? You’re presenting a conclusion before your evidence. Same thing when you say the slippery climb level is extremely challenging but in a good way, because it “takes the limitations of the controls into account” which is incredibly vague. When you mention how it’s a pain to jump on moving platforms with these controls, that could do with some explanation as well. I’d presume it’s because you don’t inherit the platform’s movement when you jump and need to manually accelerate and deccelerate in the air to keep up. Also it would help if you had a better explanation of how bad the controls are in the first place. Also vague is saying that you were frustrated by the last level because again, the controls suck, especially versus the things introduced in that stage, which you don’t elaborate on.

I don’t really care how fancy the final boss’s scenario was for the time.

Game feel isn’t a concept that’s ethereal, though without knowing the exact game logic it can be hard to put a finger on. I think you could have broken down the mechanics of how crash moves and jumps much better than you did. I think this is particularly remiss given it’s a platformer game. This isn’t a factor of age, Mario 64 was released months before it. The game logic required to make a good feeling 3d platformer is not hardware intensive nor beyond the mathematical capabilities of developers of the time. Game logic is usually the least cpu intensive part of any game, barring AI. The issue is that they built a faulty implementation.

Also, it’s really bizarre how you can say that they basically screwed everything up, levels, camera perspective, physics, enemies, bosses, yet the game is somehow still worth playing. You haven’t really mentioned any of the merits of the game at all. Also, dark time when we played 3d games with Dpads, try playing the Ys games on PC. They have a very similar control system to Crash, and you can in fact play them with a dpad (or arrow keys). They control fairly well. The dpad limitation is something that can entirely be worked around. The Crash developers simply failed.

To look into the game a bit more, I downloaded a rom of it and had a try at it. Something I guessed from the video was that diagonal running was at the same speed as cardinal direction running, and that turned out to be correct. My guess is that they have an independent X and Z velocity value that both have physics calculations run independently, rather than a cental polar coordinate value that is later converted into X and Z velocity values using trig. This is a common error in games of the time, but I’d guess that it’s not an error here because of the boulder sections. If you ran with correct angular velocity, then you’d lose distance to the boulder across the boulder chases when moving left or right. Obviously having different speed ordinal directions is part of what makes movement feel so awkward. Another observation is that you didn’t really explain how the health powerups, the tiki masks work. More or less they’re like a mushroom from mario, giving you another hit before dying, but not providing any other function. Also you failed to mention that you can control your movement during a spin, but you have basically no friction and a smaller acceleration force than normal. And that spins can be canceled by jumps and vice versa, and canceling a jump with a spin seems to increase the speed at which you fall, so you don’t seem to get as much distance from jumps if you spin out of them (I can’t totally tell, all my testing seems to indicate the jump is unaffected, but it feels like you get less distance).

I think the game feel issues can be chalked up entirely to the way acceleration works. The character moves at a slow speed across the screen, much lower than say the perceivable speed of mario in Super Mario Bros on NES, or Mario 64, yet the acceleration value is also fairly low. The friction value is the same as the acceleration value, so it creates this feeling like it’s difficult to get moving or to stop moving, where in mario 64 by contrast, if you hold a direction all the way, you get moving almost instantaneously. The dpad is a hinderance here because there is clearly extra acceleration and decceleration going on here compared to 2d games where acceleration is usually close to instantaneous, yet because of the digital controls, fine control over the acceleration is not possible, so the character always moves a bit further than you intend, or not as far as you intend when you press or tap the dpad directions. It’s like having ice physics, except the friction level is the same as the acceleration level, so it comes across as feeling weird rather than clearly like ice. Also friction is only applied when the dpad is released (I think), which is why it takes so long for crash to turn around (because if it’s applied all the time, then he’d lose speed from the direction he’s going at double the normal rate instead of the same rate as when the dpad is released).

This is the same in the air, making it so that if you’re directly over something at the peak of your jump and hold back directly when you’re over it, you’ll still overshoot it based on the time it takes to slow down. Unlike Castlevania, you’re required in some sections to accelerate in the air, which means you need to accelerate enough to get onto the target platform, but stop before you’ll overshoot it when you hold back. Because the acceleration value is so low, it’s easy to over/under shoot this. To accurately jump to another platform from no acceleration you need to accurately hold in your mind how long it will take to accelerate to the appropriate speed to get to that platform across the amount of time you’re in the air, and the point at which you need to hold back in order to not overshoot, plus the added constraint of how long to hold the jump button. This is so far from real-world physics and even commonly intuitive videogame physics that it’s a huge pain in the ass to jump accurately even in the 2d platformer levels. In Castlevania you at least have the luxury of always knowing the exact arc of your jump.

Speaking of the jump, something feels awful about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. I don’t have frame advance or a memory reader that can tell me Z position over time, so my best guess is that as long as X is held, you move up at a certain velocity until a timer runs out, then gravity handles it until you hit a terminal velocity equal to the rising velocity. The end result is that the jumps look consistent every time, but feel like you don’t have a lot of control over them. This is likely because the rising velocity and terminal velocity values, as well as the gravity value, are all fairly low. This produces a sensation that feels floaty and like you don’t have a lot of direct control (because you have no control over the jump height while gravity is doing its work, as opposed to the way 2d sonic and mario control their jumps where either your upwards velocity is instantly braked to a lower value when the button is released, or gravity is altered as long as the button is held, respective to the two games). On a more simple level, you get maybe 1.5 times as much height by holding the button down all the way as not. That’s a really shitty amount of variation.

That the running animation also is forced to play through a full cycle before coming to a stop doesn’t help matters. It seems like there’s an animation of him taking a step, and doing a full run, and it transitions between these when he hits a low enough speed threshold, but the full run can only transition to the step animation when his feet are together, at the passing position. So it looks like he has this exaggeratedly big level of motion when his velocity is very low, which is disconcerting. Animation blending didn’t exist back then, but they could have added extra animations to help buffer this transition out (like mario 64 did).

I also feel it’s weird you didn’t mention the life system and how collectibles work, granting an extra life when you gain 100. Compared to most games in the genre, there are a lot more collectibles dispensed, and the game chastises you for missing collectibles at the end of each level. Also in your review I felt like the remark about how it was unconventional that you could destroy collectibles, even really important ones, was weird. Playing the game, I feel like the reason it’s there is so there’s a hazard as you open boxes, that in your rush to destroy more boxes, you might destroy collectibles too. I just destroyed a save point collectible like 4 times in a row while playing. A more appropriate criticism of the mechanic would probably be to mention that there’s no benefit or alternative use to destroying powerups, or objects in general, they’re just gone.

Also you brushed over way too many of the level challenges. The core of the game is moving forward in the direction the level goes, and around obstacles as they crop up, jumping and spinning as appropriate. You could have explained how the level designs, the enemy arrangements, and so on, combine these 3 key aspects to make the player need to think (or not need to think too hard) about, planar movement, jumping, spinning.

I think overall you need to focus more on describing how the core mechanics work, or don’t work. You’re going to need to develop a better eye for that sort of thing. I think you brushed over a lot of the central interactions between the core mechanics and the enemies/levels. You frequently remarked that they were trivial or not worth mentioning, sometimes that they were hard or frustrating, but rarely got into detail about what goes into any particular section that makes it trivial or frustrating.

Your review ends on an upnote for a reason that is not at all made clear by the contents of the review. I mean, I really have no reason to not think this game is a walking talking abomination all things considered.

Well, thanks for your effort. There’s certainly plenty there to consider. I will say though that the last few paragraphs on controls are where we differ – people like you and me who can understand all that jargon are few and far between, and there are even fewer who find it interesting.

What do you mean we differ? Like, you don’t agree with that part, or you didn’t quite have the knowledge to pull that type of thing out?

Anyway, I find it super interesting. I think it’s one of the most interesting things about games. I’ve programmed a number of simple physics simulations, collision detection systems, and other stuff, and the vast number of different ways these things can be implemented is fascinating to me.

“What do you mean we differ?” I just meant that, while we can both understand everything you meant when talking about acceleration/friction/gravity/velocity values, you find it super interesting where I don’t. And, while I usually hate the phrase, to each their own.

Hahaha, damn! That’s unfortunate.

I like math, and physics, and animation. Games are like the intersection between those things.

With that said, you’ve got a follower in me if you ever get around to making videos of your own. You say you’re lazy, but take out the references to me and paragraphs 51 through 60 could fill out a focused video on Crash 1’s controls just fine. I just dunno what kind of audience you’d find. To show that that 3000 words doesn’t go unappreciated: http://pastebin.com/r12Jjafy I’ve taken the parts I unreservedly agree with and written a little something to keep myself in check. In particular, I really needed to hear that part about making claims about a game’s development as justification for a fault being a totally worthless endeavor. Sorry for quadruple post – I appreciate how constructive your criticism is, and this is the way to act on it that makes the most sense to me. Also it’s a New Zealand accent, believe me you aren’t the first one to wonder.

Thank you and you’re welcome.

You’re right, my remarks on the game from trying it is practically an analysis in of itself. However writing is easy for me, video editing is harder. Why do you think I answer so many asks?

Thanks for your pastebin summing up some of my remarks. That fits into this ask from earlier: http://ask.fm/Evilagram/answers/138183828245 At the time I couldn’t remember some of the more specific procedure I had, but your pastebin sums it up nicely. I might append a rewrite of some of that when I post the ask to my blog.

Good luck, have fun.

Castlevania 3 Level Design Counter-Analysis

http://gamecareerguide.com/features/869/good_games_bad_design__episode_.php thoughts on this article?

Ha ha. An article on why the game that I praise as being a masterpiece in level design has poor level design. Maybe they should have reviewed one of the actually interesting levels instead of the first one.

Here’s a video so you can see the first level in motion:

1-01. You were given a safe space to try out the controls before being thrown into the action. They placed a candle at the top of the stairs, so that if you walk up the stairs, you are rewarded for doing so, building the basic behavior that walking up stairs is rewarding. Stair controls in classicvania were very rigid, so it’s nice to have a place to try them out without risk.

1-02. Now you have stairs in conjunction with skeletons. These are the most basic enemy type in the game, giving you a place where you can be damaged, but also destroy skeletons. You can walk up the stairs, but need to be somewhat careful of the movement of the skeletons. The game is starting you off slow. Mario did much the same thing.

His ideas here for how the game could branch off and offer all these amazing possibilities are getting way too far ahead of himself. The game is giving you a chance to acclimate yourself to the controls.

The “disappointment well” is the most insignificant thing.

Also here you have a heart that drops over a pit, but because of the sine pattern of hearts, you can catch it without jumping off the platform, minor skill challenge, important for the room ahead.

Funny that he disregards the chapel. Guess he’s only focusing on the bad.

Maybe they’re playing a bit hardball here. You can react to it if you’re familiar with the controls. It’s not fair to say that this is the first enemy that has a real challenge. There were bats in the chapel.

They have you move far to the right to ascend because stairs only go diagonal, and they want you on the far end of the top platform. Also it brings the next skeleton into view so he can become active throwing bones down at you while moving you out of the way of his bones to face him head on.

The skeleton below the overhang has quite clever positioning actually. He blocks the stairs down, practically asking the player to fall, he tosses bones up at you, he offers the risky option of jumping over him to skip him. Plus this is a great opportunity to use your subweapon, as both the bottle and axe will hit him down there.

I don’t know the purpose of the top platform with the candle either.

There’s a candle in the “disappointment well”. The first swivel platform also lets you test the platforms in a safe environment before the real test with the medusa heads ahead. Also notice the first one spawns in a place with no platforms. He’s right about the way players might accidentally take the bottom path, but it’s not a huge fault.

1-03. It’s the first level, it doesn’t need to strongly engage the player. It just needs to establish the basics. This room has enemies that need to be dispatched 1 at a time continually, and a small jump that might be made more dangerous by enemies on the other side.

The skeletons don’t jump randomly, flea men are a fair way to ramp up the challenge.

It’s not earlier misdirection. There can’t be misdirection if the pattern doesn’t exist yet. I know the author has a preconception from prior castlevania games, but in this game this is the first instance of turkey.

There’s two flea men here, both fight you individually. It wouldn’t make more sense to put the zombies here because it’s not flat ground, and the space is rather cramped in comparison.

I’ll admit that it’s a fault in the boss that you can get trapped without a way to escape.

Overall, this analysis short sells a lot of the level design of the first level. The way they took pictures, omitting most enemies, really makes it a lot harder to understand what’s going on in the first level.

The other thing is, it’s the first level. They’re not trying to destroy the player. It’s the ramp-up, the teaching phase. All these “disappointment wells” cost seconds at most.

They keep reiterating that the player’s not really learning anything, but lets look it over:

They get an opportunity to try out the controls, including the stairs. They get an opportunity to destroy some enemies or get hurt. They’re required to climb stairs to proceed. They get an opportunity to break candles and catch their contents over safe gaps. They are required to hit enemies or get hurt. They are required to jump to aescend. They have an opportunity to fall into a bottomless pit. They are introduced to enemies with projectiles, they are required to jump over the easiest type of bottomless pit, with a ramp up, mimicking the jumps in the chapel, so they won’t make the mistake of thinking they can walk over it. They’re introduced to medusa heads and a new type of level feature, the swivel panels. The medusa heads themselves are like more extreme versions of the bats they faced earlier. They face respawning enemies, required to whip them to proceed and potentially get the cross item which clears them. They have to jump over a real bottomless pit in combination with the respawning enemies. Then they face the flea men, the first dynamic enemy, and have a chance at wall chicken. Finally they face a boss who is one of the simplest bosses in the game, but has the minor flaw that the player can get trapped and forced to take damage.

To win, the player needs to know how to move, climb stairs, whip, and jump. Optionally they need to know how to break candles, and use subweapons. These are all the skills the player uses throughout the game. The first level has accomplished its job and the game is now free to challenge the player under the assumption they have all the skills necessary.