You don’t know what Game Feel is, read the damn book please!

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This article is going to be me apologetically shilling for Steve Swink, because Game Feel is Rocket Science Quantum Computing Laser Surgery handed to Cave Men who decided that nomadic pastoralism is a better pursuit than being agriculturalists or hunter gatherers, dooming future civilization forever.

GAME FEEL! It’s the way a game feels to play! It’s incredibly intuitive as a concept, people talk about it CONSTANTLY! Yet, if you look up GDC talks on the topic, or youtube videos, it becomes obvious that no one has read the fucking book, despite it going into WAY more detail than any of those talks do.

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There was a whole talk on “juicy” that prescribes a specific type of game feel by pointing out some specific polish effects that these two dudes like to add to their games by adding them to pong, ignoring that 2 parts of game feel are real-time control and spatial simulation. Jan Willem Nijman of Vlambeer followed this up with another talk that did the same exact thing for a platformer game (calling Game Feel a terrible term in the process as if it were vague or unclear, despite clearly not having read the book, where it’s laid out extremely discretely) and showing off a ton of changes that aren’t actually anything to do with game feel (hp, rate of fire, number of enemies, bigger bullets, etc) and basically spends the whole talk saying, “do what I do and game feel is good now”, rather than building an integrated understanding of all the things that go into game feel, like Steve Swink’s book does.

Even youtube videos made on the specific topic of game feel omit terms from the book and have clearly not read the book. There are 3 components: Real-Time Control, Spatial Simulation, and Polish Effects. None of these videos mention these things, placed at the start of the damn book.

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At this point I’m begging you. PLEASE just read the damn book. It came out over a decade ago now. 2008. There is literally no better resource on the topic since. If you want a demo of what’s in the book, here’s a Gamasutra article by Steve Swink.

Hell, Steve Swink even coded INTERACTIVE DEMOS and put them on his site. Just read the damn book please.

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Play Western Games on the 2nd Hardest Difficulty

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This is a rule I usually abide by for western games. There are exceptions, such as Doom 2016, Doom Eternal, Halo (except 2), Quake 1, STALKER (hardest difficulty reduces the health of all humans), or Starcraft. For the rule to apply, there need to be at least 2 harder difficulties above normal (Normal/Hard/Hardest applies, Easy/Normal/Hard does not), and the hardest difficulty needs to not be unlockable, or playable through some type of NG+. This rule can apply to some Japanese games too (such as Nier, which has some enemies on hard that regenerate health faster than you can deal damage).

For some examples of games where this is true, we have: Old Doom (Nightmare is a joke difficulty, adding respawning enemies into a game about ammo attrition), Call of Duty (Veteran is bullshit), Titanfall 2, Bioshock Infinite (1999 mode, though honestly hard is still a big annoying jump from normal, and 1999 mode isn’t much harder), God of War (hardest difficulty has enemies engage Devil Trigger for insanely high health, and they can’t be launched anymore), Diablo 3 (Inferno, on release), Torchlight 2, Mass Effect 2 (here is a forum post outright mentioning the rule), Gears of War, Batman Arkham Series (turning off counter indicators is fine, but damage is way too high and enemies have way too much health), Uncharted, Spec Ops: The Line, Serious Sam, System Shock 2, Far Cry, FEAR, and Metro 2033. Continue reading

A Critique of Doom Eternal’s Story

Doom Eternal - Doomguy Confronts Khan Maykr Scene - YouTube
There have been some complaints about the story of Doom Eternal in comparison to Doom 2016, and I’ve gotta say, I agree. Doom Eternal’s story is disappointing, largely because it doesn’t build on the premise of 2016 and introduces a bunch of characters that we don’t get any time to become attached to as villains. That said, this has absolutely no bearing on Doom Eternal’s quality as a game. It’s a vastly better game than its predecessor, and is one of the best FPS games ever released, very possibly the most tightly tuned FPS game ever released, in a way reminiscent of fighting games, in a way stylish action games should be envious of.

I know I have a bit of a reputation for being “fuck story”, but it’s not that I don’t enjoy stories or enjoy analysis of them. I’m willing to put up with an actively bad and obtrusive story in the name of a good game and likewise I can appreciate good stories from bad games (Legacy of Kain Soul Reaver is my go-to example for this). I don’t want to build a platform where I’m expected to have a nonsense hardline position where it doesn’t make sense.

Some people have been complaining about the story of Doom Eternal, and I think their complaints have merits. Anyone saying the lame story makes the game bad can shove it.

I enjoyed Doom 2016’s dismissal of story elements by the main character. I thought the core concept of 2016 was good, corporation leverages hell to power energy crisis earth, devolving into intracompany demon cults going rogue and fucking everything up. Hayden is like, “but energy tho” and Doomguy does not give a single fuck. We have a neat sequel hook of Hayden betraying us at the end, and Eternal just does absolutely nothing with that. Continue reading

Speedgames Ruined by the Patch

What speed games got ruined the most by update “fixes”?

I’d say either Dark Souls 2 or Bloodborne.

Bloodborne had the forbidden woods skip right at the beginning of the game, which involved a boost jump off a coffin, which I fucking love performing. This broke the game in half, and resulted in me hard locking the game, making my file impossible to complete, by fighting amelia out of order, but I got to fight her and eileen the crow at the end of her questline simultaneously, and after dying a lot, took them both out in the same go. This skip added a lot of nonlinearity to an otherwise rather linear game, and I dislike that they removed the ability to throw gascoigne out of bounds too. It was really tricky to set up and is a really unique quick kill method. Continue reading

Animation East vs West

I’ve heard you’re an animator, is there a difference in techniques between western animation and Anime? Even in Ghibli films there’s a different feeling about the animation itself, so its probably not because its cheap, and I don’t think its just the artstyle. I’m unable to find articles on this.

Yes. I’ve read a few good articles on this. The east and west have extremely different and separate traditions of animation.

The west is more about character animation. Historically, they’d hand control over a certain character to a specific animator, and ask them to basically direct the character. The analogy you’d commonly hear for animators is, “actors with a pencil”. Animators in the west have been trained in acting, and their animation is like giving a performance.

In contrast, animators in Japan were typically handed control of an entire scene, and different animators would pass off scenes to one another. (and of course, in both east and west, inbetweeners fill in frames within scenes.)

This lead to western animation having more of a focus on the performance the character gives, and eastern animation having more of a focus on the cinematography overall. In the west, the animator is the actor. In the east, the animator is the director of the scene.

This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the topic:
Why over sixty years of animation history still remains obscure

And here’s another article on how western animators look down on japanese animation for a lack of character animation:
https://cartoonrevue.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/character-animation-east-vs-west/

Japanese animation is also typically drawn with less frames than western animation, so this lead to a stronger emphasis on strong key-poses instead of consistently good animation throughout. They can’t match the framerate, so they make what little they can put in count for more.

Here’s some more articles:
https://www.tofugu.com/japan/anime-vs-cartoons/
https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/feature/2015-11-11/the-secret-of-one-punch-man-success/.95251
http://www.tested.com/art/movies/442545-2d-animation-digital-era-interview-japanese-director-makoto-shinkai/
https://www.thoughtco.com/sakuga-animation-in-anime-144807
https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/editorial/1998-07-09
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9534852

I also recommend looking up Sakuga, a term used by western fans of japanese animation. Sakuga fans are known for focusing on specific scenes, and following the animators who produced those high quality scenes, in a way replicating the production process.
https://sakugabooru.com/post?tags=animated+order%3Ascore
https://www.sakugabooru.com/forum/show/15

AM2R and Scumbag Nintendo

What do you think of nintendo making their own Metroid 2 remake?

Kinda scummy. Doesn’t look as good as AM2R. The Parry is unexpected, I guess it follows from Other M. It looks really lame versus the boss enemies, but versus common enemies the parry can hit enemies to varying places depending on the angle of impact, which is very slightly dynamic. Also you can shoot at any angle, which makes sense, more-so than using a trigger button to hold the weapon at an angle.

Also they added an attack to the metroids that lets you farm drops, so you can’t completely run out of missiles to kill them with. I’m mixed on this. It alleviates the frustration of running out of ammo and being stuck with no option, but it also removes the challenge of needing to be ammo efficient. Continue reading

The Morality of Emulation

What is your moral standpoint on the use of emulators?

Something that should probably be made clear up front is that Emulation is legal. It is legal to develop an emulator, it is legal to download an emulator, and it is legal to play backups of games you have legally purchased on your emulator. Downloading copyrighted material from the internet, such as ROMs or ISOs, is not legal. This is all fairly common knowledge, but I’m restating it just in case.

If you are operating within the above legal parameters, your use of an emulator is perfectly moral. This should probably go without saying. Continue reading

The Morality of Platform Exclusives

So, I bothered you about this on twitter, and I don’t know if it interests you at all, but why do you consider exclusivity to be intrinsic to current console development? Current consoles have basically standard pc hardware, only slightly customized. Alienware could very well mass produce a pc tailored to last the next 5 or so years of games, and it would have all of the benefits of consoles (devs could optimize for specific hardware, buyers get a gaming ready product) without enforcing a closed platform. But console manufacturers benefit from a closed model, and so enforce it.

Because it costs developers money to release to each platform, to publish patches to each platform. That’s required developmental upkeep that grows with each platform released to, even if they’re identical codewise. Also this is the first time in history where the competing consoles have had identical CPU architectures and it may not stay that way. Despite that, code still needs to be changed between releases, it still costs development time.

And realistically, if you’re going to bother releasing a console at all, you’re going to want exclusives for your console, so you can have a unique brand from your competitors and compete as a brand rather than as a producer of commodity. Alienware does this. The Alienware brand allows them to overcharge for parts and rip people the fuck off in a market that would otherwise be primarily about commodities, just a matter of trying to undersell competitors pushing similar products. It doesn’t completely resemble a pure commodity market because there’s better and worse hardware, but whatever.

Sony and Microsoft and Nintendo all want their brand to be unique, so naturally they’ll pay people to be exclusive. Naturally they’ll all develop software exclusively for their platform.

It’s within everyone’s rights to make the business model as it currently exists. It costs more to them and does not particularly benefit them to change it. And it’s not inherently evil like Freemium or deliberately making a game a carte blanche DLC-fest to try to pocket as much revenue off whales as possible. It’s a reality of the fact that there are different software platforms, and developers can choose to develop for one or multiple.

I agree that upkeep for many ports costs more, but this is exacerbated by the different OSs they use, and while them using similar hardware may not go on, it would be preferred, as they probably won’t make a better CPU or GPU than Intel or Nvidia, so them using custom stuff has no benefit, with the exception of when there’s something really unique like the 3DS or something, in which case I totally accept the fact that there will be exclusives for that.

The thing is they can be unique, but if they are making hardware and a service, that should be their selling point. Exclusives are a monopolizing practice, and they force people to buy redundant hardware to get access to a particular product, it’s like if you had to buy different radios to get access to certain composers, or different monitors to be able to watch particular shows (which Occulus is somewhat doing with their enforcing of DRM). While I recognize that this comparison is biased, because music and video doesn’t require specific code compatibility with hardwware, my point is that the difficulties in compatibility are obviously artificially increased.

In an ideal world, consoles could just be a specific hardware configuration they chose to play to certain strengths, with whatever service they can provide, and they would just all use linux or something, so going multiplatform would only entail optimizing for specific hardware, and not having to use an entirely different API, they could probably even use a single executable, and manufacturers would be forced to make a better service and product to compete, rather than kidnapping pieces of art to be only accessible through them. This is entirely distinct from OS vendors, which require different APIs to work with the actual thing that they actually develop and whose differences with other OSs are the actual thing that are core to their product. Even porting between OSs could eventually be smoothed out if we get to a good enough universe, though that’s beside the point and isn’t really trivial, unlike consoles which only would require to stop using different OS to ease up multiplatform development. Here they mention the smoothing of porting between OS by the way, specifically at 21.45:

I obviously recognize that this is “the current state of affairs”, but if the console market could be completely open, which it definitely can, we should push for that because it’s obviously better. Sure, it’s incredibly idealistic, but just encouraging people to not buy a console, at the small sacrifice of forfeiting access to like 5 games, could make a small push so that we arrive there a bit faster, because money motivates them, and boycotting takes their money away. Evidently it’s an exageration to call it “evil”, as it’s not directly exploitative of people like freemium, but it is exploitative to some degree, and it’s a business model based on acquiring more small monopolies on some products, which is also corrupt at least to some degree, so it definitely should be worked against. So yeah, idealistic, but it really is The Way Things Should Be, and it seems obvious to me that at least this much should be recognized, and people encouraged to boycott just to put the issue in their minds.

I don’t think it’s gonna play out that way because of this:

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http://www.hejibits.com/comics/superfluous-steam/

Things aren’t a perfect ideal open source world because a ton of people just want to buy a box they can stick a game in, and a ton of companies don’t want to become another OEM.

If you are the platform holder, then you are the one everyone pays dividends to. That’s where the real money is. Becoming a popular platform holder is about the strength of your brand, and if you subscribe to open standards and allow cross-compatibility with other platforms, then you cede your power to them. This is what keeps google, apple, microsoft, steam, sony, and nintendo on top. All of these companies, except steam, offer products that run exclusively through their services. You cannot compete with the google play store or apple app store. Google allows tons of people to create android hardware and run the android operating system, but they hold the power, because they own android and the store through which all the apps are sold.

This might not be the best situation for customers, but it’s the way the world works, and many customers are more than happy having a simple world like this.

How Often Should you Replay?

How often do you play through games that you like? Do you think you need to play through various games, multiple times to get a proper grasp of their systems?

Depends on the game, depends on you.

Some games have a lot more up-front complexity. Some games have a lot of subtle details. Some games have a lot more mechanical processes to master. Determining which is which requires good judgment. Determining if you really understand it takes good judgment.

I don’t have very consistent records of how many times I’ve played through all the games I’ve played. I’ve beaten Demon’s Souls twice, Dark Souls 1 at least 7-9 times. Dark Souls 2 maybe 3-4 times. Dark Souls 3 once. I’ve beaten God Hand once, same for Bayo and Ninja Gaiden, so I haven’t played hard mode in any of these games unless it was unlocked from the start, which I know I should do, but I just haven’t had the time. I’ve beaten Mirror’s Edge maybe 15-20 times. I’ve beaten Tales of Symphonia twice or 3 times. I’ve beaten DMC3 twice. DMC4 maybe 4 times on various difficulties. Mark of the Ninja perhaps 5-6 times. DXHR perhaps 4-5 times. MGR at least 7 times. Beaten HL2 perhaps twice, HL1 once, maybe twice. Halo 1 twice, Halo 2 once. Hotline Miami at least 4 times. Crysis Warhead at least 5-6 times. Beat Dishonored at least 6-7 times. Beat Wind Waker 3 times. Beat Cave Story twice. In both Thief and Thief 2 I stopped on the last level. Super Mario Bros I beat 6 times in the same month.

I replay it if I have time, if I like it, if I feel like there’s more content, if it’s been a long time since the first time I played it, if I happen to look at it when I have time open.

I think that replaying games is ideal, I don’t always have the time for it. I think I got the gist of a lot of the games above on my first playthrough and very few of them had me actually significantly learn more across playthroughs. I also supplement my play with gleaning facts online, seeing speedruns, reading about tricks and techniques, etc. I try to limit it sometimes so I figure things out myself, it varies. If it’s a crazy action game, I tend to look up whatever advanced techniques there are. Sometimes I wait until I’ve played the game a bit before doing that. Sometimes I find games to play because I’ve seen advanced techniques from them and think it’s cool.

Replay if you can and if you feel the game deserves it.