Favorite Nioh Bosses

Surprised no one’s asked you that much of Nioh outside of general impressions, do you have any favorite Bosses?

In order of appearance, Hino-Enma, Tachibana, Yuki-Onna, Okatsu, Saika, and Oda Nobunaga. Plus of course the combination fights of Oda and Yuki, and Tachibana and Honda.

I think each of these bosses emphasized the core group of skills that the game was based on, had varied movesets that controlled different areas of space over different lengths of time, and were generally challenging. They’re some of the best bosses I’ve ever faced in a video game. Continue reading

Comparing Stylish Action Games

What are good criterias to analyze and compare hack’n slashes (Bayonetta, DMC, MGR, NG etc)?

I’d say the big fields are, attack design, enemy design, and defense design. Level design doesn’t tend to be a big factor, though enemy composition could be.

The big things in attack design for me are, how many command attacks are there and how varied in function are they? How many strings are there and how varied in function are they?

Platinum style games really emphasize strings on their characters over command attacks. Only DMC and to a lesser extent God Hand emphasize command attacks. The Platinum design ethos seems to be: here’s a bunch of strings, memorize them and perform longer or shorter strings based on the situation. Dodge enemies in the middle of your strings and use dodge offset to keep the string going so you can get to the wicked weave at the end. And maybe some strings have particular launching effects or something. Performing strings gives you magic points which lets you do powerful command attacks to get a wicked weave without doing a string.

DMC meanwhile has a ton of moves you can use at any time, and they have different area coverage, damage output, and combo potential, so their use can differ a lot based on the enemies you’re facing and the current situation.

God Hand sort of strikes a medium by having the customizable combo that acts as filler between everything else, and you also can bind moves that launch in various ways, guard break, dodge highs, hop lows, or other wacky effects.

NG has a lot of strings. I don’t really know why. Most don’t seem very useful really. You can get long combos by doing the right strings to launch and throwing shuriken at the right point in the combo to keep the juggle going.

In terms of defense design, DMC wants you to commit to moves, not allowing attacks to be canceled into defensive options generally. Also you generally jump for defense, though you can roll or trickster dodge too.

Bayonetta wants you to dodge and do it at the last moment for a big bonus, and it makes everything but wicked weaves cancelable, so nothing feels like it has much commitment except wicked weaves. They want you to juggle between doing combos and dodging at the same time without picking one or the other.

Ninja Gaiden uses a block, but the block can be broken, so you really want to block and then dodge out of block usually. And similar to DMC, attacks cannot be canceled, so an attack or string is a commitment you need to weigh carefully. There’s factors that help differentiate block from dodge so each are useful and exclusively dodging will usually get you killed.

MGR really wants you to parry correctly in the right direction the enemy is coming from and then forward dodge and BM cancel out of the parry block. Plus it had ninja run versus bullet attacks.

God Hand lets you dodge out of any attack like Bayonetta, but its dodges are much more constrained, giving a higher feeling of commitment. Plus there’s the differentiation between sidestep, weave, and backflip dodges.

In terms of enemy design, enemies can be more aggressive or passive. More mobile or static, they can be melee or ranged oriented. They can control space or time.

Enemies in DMC tend not to control space very well, being purely about timing really. DMC1 did something really clever and gave all the enemies a mix of close range and long range attacks, making up for the inability to combine enemy types together in the same room. DMC3 enemies especially were very one-note frequently, only having 1 or 2 attacks.

My gut tells me Bayonetta enemies are good, but honestly I haven’t played in long enough to really remember. I’m honestly blanking on NG enemies too. I remember them varying between clean solid design and being gimmicky bullshit a lot. Both games have extremely aggressive enemies however, which is generally nice considering how mobile the protagonists of these games tend to be.

MGR enemies were okay. Camera issues hurt some of them like mastiffs, who are great except for getting obscured off camera especially during their jumping attacks. Generic soldier enemies were a bit weak design-wise.

God Hand enemies are excellent for their ability to threaten different spatial zones, making each of your dodges differently effective versus each enemy type and their various attacks. They also used team tactics and had special quick but escapable throw moves that could vary the pacing of combat a lot. They used things like projectiles, whips, AOE attacks, multihitters, vertical and horizontal swipes, and lunging attacks to seriously vary what tactics were effective against each of them.

Nioh’s not technically in the canon, but I think it did an excellent job of combining all these factors, having a wide variety of moves, interesting and varied defense, and great enemy design.

Also I object to the name hack and slash, because that tends to describe Diablo style games more frequently, and not all stylish action games even feature swords, such as God Hand, or Bayonetta, which is primarily punching and kicking.

Thoughts on Pinball

What do you think of Pin ball?

Pinball is really interesting from a historical perspective. The original pinball machines were more like pachinko, no flippers, no spring, just put the balls in and let them roll downwards. They were more like gambling than the game we know today, and on the original machines, the only way to influence the ball’s movement was to tilt and bump the machine.

http://www.bmigaming.com/pinballhistory.htm

Later machines included tilt and bump sensors to detect if people were physically tilting them to cheat, usually tuned so there was a little tolerance, so players could still bump it, but not too much or the sensor would give you a warning, or eventually disable your flippers if you ran out of warnings. If you’ve ever seen old cartoons with the pinball gag, then this is where it comes from.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PinballGag Continue reading

Reviewing Mario Maker & User Generated Content

How would you go about reviewing a game like Super Mario Maker?

That’s tricky. Ordinarily for reviews of games, I’d say that user generated content is off-limits, because you’re ostensibly supposed to be reviewing the content of the developer, not the users, because user content can be variable depending on the userbase. However Mario Maker brings that contradiction to the forefront because there’s almost nothing but user generated content. The thing is, Mario Maker technically isn’t a game, it’s a tool for making games, or rather, making levels for a game. The ontology gets a little weird there. Should we consider each level its own game? Should we consider there an abstract generic “Mario Maker” game of which there are many user generated levels, each an instance of this concept of a mario maker game? We can definitely say that the 10-man mario challenge, and the 100-man mario challenge are games within the broader mario maker software. 10-man uses pre-made levels that Nintendo themselves created specifically for you, so if you wanted to evaluate the game of Mario Maker entirely from the perspective of developer generated content only, you could evaluate these pre-set levels and nothing else, and you might end up with a fairly poor opinion of Mario Maker. They’re not very impressive levels. If you wanted to evaluate 100-man, then that gets extremely variable. It’s possible to make tons and tons of different types of levels in mario maker, from auto levels, to kaizo levels, to puzzle levels, to troll levels, to creative themed levels, to more general mario-style levels. That and unlike say Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden, Mario is a game that is heavily defined by its level design. There isn’t a generalized set of options you always have access to and enemies don’t have a wide set of options they exercise against you, your options are very heavily defined by what’s present in the level and the interaction of various level elements.
Continue reading

Making BOTW Climbing more Dynamic

Since BOTW is fresh on your mind, how would you go about improving its climbing system? Do you think climbing should have combat sections as well (Say spiders that can threaten to knock you off or whatever)

You’re not mobile enough to avoid spiders, so that would just get annoying.

The primary thing I’d do is just speed it up twice as much and have jumping consume maybe half as much stamina, enough that it’s still significantly more than climbing the same distance, but not so much that you only get like 3 jumps, thereby letting you scale things a bit faster.

Add the skyward sword stamina regen fruit, make them move in some way. Continue reading

Tower Defense & Tactics vs Strategy

What do you think of the tower defense genre? Do you have a favorite game in that genre or do you think its all casul shit?

It’s not my thing, I’m just not a fan of games where I make a bunch of decisions at the beginning and see them play out over time. Having such a long iteration cycle/feedback cycle on my input makes it tricky to see how my decisions were much better or worse than other possible decisions I could have made. Also I just don’t get the positioning and tower type tradeoffs in most TD games.

There’s certainly a depth in picking different towers and positioning them differently. Different towers can have synergy with each other and effective positioning can be a big deal, and there’s a range of expression there depending on how much granularity you’re allowed in tower positioning. It’s just not my type of game because it’s all strategy and no tactics. Continue reading

What RPGs do I consider good?

Do you play JRPGs? If so have any favorites?

Not anymore.

I’d probably go with SMT3 Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga. Outside that, maybe Paper Mario Thousand Year Door.

I don’t really want to play JRPGs anymore. They take up a lot of time and, being menu based, they’re not very engaging. Eventually I want to play some Zeboyd ones, like Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves The World, because they showed a lot of promise, and I know they’re worth a second look.

I’ve played a huge number in the past, and I don’t want to spend time on that anymore. Continue reading

What I’d like to see out of DMC5

If we ever get a Devil May Cry 5, what improvements to the series would you like to see?

More than anything I’d like to see better enemies. The current stock of enemies doesn’t seem to really play around Dante or Nero’s abilities. They seem to be alright combo fodder in terms of hit-reactions, but they don’t have a moveset that really plays with or responds to the movesets of the main characters. A more diverse set of physical combo properties for enemies would be cool too, like different combo weights, similar to how God Hand does things. A bunch of enemies seem designed in ways that seem counter-fun, like the fausts and mephistos that have the no hitstun cloak that you need to get rid of, then just pound on them when they have no ability to fight back. Or the Blitzes that make it so you can’t fight them with the majority of your moveset and are only remotely fun to fight as Dante who can parry them and who actually has an array of projectile moves. Or the Chimeras that fuck everything up at regular intervals and you basically just stop attacking them during that time. Or the Cutlass that you can’t very easily attack with melee and which disappear underground. Or all the different enemies across the series who can go through walls, leaving you unable to attack them. Or the enemies with shields that need to be broken through. These things don’t create a dynamic. They never ask the player to make tricky evaluations, they’re all about procedure, which is boring. They don’t allow the player to get varying levels of advantage or disadvantage in the fight. Some cues from Nioh enemies might be cool, but it’s hard to tell how much would really carry over. Obviously Bayonetta is the go-to example as most similar to DMC. Maybe MGR and Ninja Gaiden too, just no incendiary shurikens.
Continue reading

What’s So Great About Zelda 1

What’s so great about LoZ? There aren’t any advanced mechanics are there? inb4 muh micropositioning

M-Muh micropositioning!

I’m not gonna claim it’s the most deep game of all time, but it really emphasizes player movement around enemies in a way few other games do. The 2d top down action game roster is actually fairly limited (apart from twin stick shooters) and the original legend of zelda is one of the few successful games in that lineup.

There are a few advanced mechanics, but they’re not really why the game is deep. (spin attack, some weird reverse bomb thing that works on darknuts, and forcing bomb drops on the 10th enemy)
Continue reading

DESYNC Changelist

I was a tester/consultant for DESYNC after the creator Sean Gabriel, added me on steam out of the blue because he was a friend of a friend and curious what I’d think about his game. I went into the game not receiving any information on how to play it, attempting to figure it out purely for myself so I could give better feedback about how to inform players about how to play the game. I suggested a lot of changes over the course of development and a fair number made their way into the final product. I did not get to play a lot of later areas until extremely late into the project, meaning I never fought the second and third bosses until release, and never used a few late game weapons like the rail cannon, stake gun, and wavescythe until release. I’m very proud of my contribution to the product, although I did not serve as one of the primary developers and they are worthy of a lot of praise for their combined efforts. Continue reading