Can you give me your opinion on this short conversation: http://pastebin.com/51hM4bGw I don’t know if I totally agree with the “friend.” Pirating has been a bit of a grey area, with devs saying they don’t mind (Gaiman, Ed McMillen).

I don’t think always-online is ethical, because even on land-line connections, we’re not always online. Connections blip and sometimes get cut off completely. Those servers won’t always be there to authenticate us. MMOs are kind of a tricky topic, because someone needs to run a server for them to work at all, unlike say starcraft, which you can hook through hamachi or a LAN and play any time you want, regardless of servers. I think as a show of good faith, the server software to an MMO should be released when the developers can no longer support it. I don’t think the game should remain dead forever. Continue reading

When to Use a Guide

Do you ever look up what to do to progress in a game if you have no idea what to do? Or do you 100% figure it out yourself?

A bit of both. It depends on the game. Sometimes I try really hard to figure it out, because the reward is really sweet when I do, sometimes I brute force it or look up the answer. If a puzzle doesn’t really fit the tone of the rest of the game then I’ll sometimes bypass it by looking up what I’m supposed to do.

I had to look up where to use the basement key in dark souls for example.

Very recently I played Dishonored 2 and got stuck in the very first room, eventually had to ask a friend who did the exact same thing as me how to get out. There were two windows that I didn’t realize could be opened, they looked like a part of the wall.

I think I looked up one of the light redirection puzzles in DMC3, at least the first one, because I flat-out didn’t understand what I was supposed to do.

I remember being really ecstatic about figuring out the video puzzle in Phoenix Wright 1 where you need to notice that the evidence locker light is still on. I had no access to internet and had to figure it out myself.

I’ve cheesed the dice puzzle in DMC4 almost every time (use devil bringer right when the die faces the side you want).

I beat the first 3 days of majora’s mask on my own, then basically used a guide for everything up to the water temple because I couldn’t be bothered to figure out what inane connections there were between everything.

I came up to the windmill in Brothers, and thought I had to jump from the windmill onto the raised bridge, not the other windmill, so I looked up a lets play to figure out what to do there.

I remember looking up the fight for the final boss of Doom 4, because I didn’t really understand how to avoid the blue mist and getting skewered on top of the platforms. The videos I found seemingly just had the guy get lucky.

Recently I played Dishonored 2 and got stuck in the very first room where you have control. I tried interacting with literally everything in the entire room, but couldn’t determine what the fuck I was supposed to do. I went out the open window, but there didn’t seem to be any way forward there. I eventually asked a friend who had played the game before me, and he pointed out I could open the other two windows in the room. I thought they were just set-dressing, not interactable.

In Nioh, I played one level themed like a bathhouse called, Trail of the Master. In that level, you need to find 3 tiles to open a door to the boss encounter. I found the first two tiles by beating one time encounters around the level, and slowly cleared the level out. I found all the kodama, I found a secret wall, I found one of those wall demons, I found paths on the banisters into other rooms. I thought there must be something I’m missing. The last tile was on a corpse I thought I had already looted, because if you loot a corpse and it has consumable items when you’re at max capacity, the corpse stays active across resets instead of the item being lost like in dark souls. So I scoured the level up and down and eventually looked up a walkthrough.

My stance generally is that if just knowing what to do ruins a section, then it’s usually not a very good gameplay challenge to begin with. You can’t make a dark souls boss any easier with a tutorial video (unless it’s bed of chaos, and even then). I’m not proposing this as a hard and fast rule, it can be fun to figure things out for yourself, but I don’t really begrudge using guides or such when you’re stuck and there’s really no clear way forward. Though I’ll also say that if the challenge is presented fairly and you do have all the pieces to figure it out, you should try your best to figure it out before resorting to a guide.

What’s Wrong With “Fail States”?

What’s wrong with the term fail state?

It’s attached to the definition of game for many people, and it doesn’t mean anything real, so it causes semantic fuckery when people try to argue about what constitutes a “fail state” and whether a given game has one.

So what counts as a “fail state”?

Here’s an obvious one most people will agree with, game over. Meaning you reset the whole game, do it over from the beginning. You’ve lost the entire game. It’s all over. Multiplayer games have this as well. You can see this in tetris, contra, street fighter, and a bunch of others. Kind of went the way of the dinosaur except for short games and multiplayer. Continue reading

Deep Mind on Starcraft 2: Competitive AI in Real-Time

What do you thinik of Blizzard’s collaboration with Google to developing sophisticated Starcraft 2 AI using Google’s Deep Mind?

I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited as hell. However I think they should try a version where they train it with the visuals on a 250ms delay, because unlike chess, this is a realtime game. Humans realistically operate with a delay between when something actually occurs, and when it reaches our brains. An AI playing a realtime game can frequently employ strategies that are not only better than human ones, but which are literally impossible for humans. My classic example is SFA Akuma, which will walk up to you, and if you press a button, shoryuken, if you block, throw, and if you shoryuken, block you and punish. It destroys the RPS loops that define the game. It’s effectively not even playing the same game arguably.

The AI in Starcraft itself is already way better than any human player (just way stupider), with up to 3000 APM depending on what it’s doing. It can operate every unit individually if it wants to, using units like Ghosts to hard counter mech builds with the lockdown ability fired from every ghost individually onto each individual unit, when in real starcraft, ghosts are practically useless because no human player can possibly micro like that.

You’ll notice that the lockdown ability didn’t return in starcraft 2 where ability units like the high templar are rigged to only have 1 unit cast the relevant ability when multiple of the same unit are selected, because it would have made the above tactic really really easy.

The point is, in realtime games, unlike turn based games like Go, computers are frequently able to beat humans in simple ways that don’t really reflect the way the game is normally played. A 250ms delay might produce something that looks more like optimal human play rather than play that is borderline rigged cheating.

Like, we want AI to beat us in playing roughly the same game we’re playing, ostensibly, but if you remove this human limitation, then it’s like you’re effectively playing poker without hiding your hand, not very interesting.

Why Controllers Suck at FPS Games

Why do you strongly dislike using controllers for first-person shooters? What exactly is wrong with using a controller as opposed to a mouse and keyboard? While I’m at it, what do you even think about console shooters (shooters made strictly for controllers).

Basically, unlike fighting games, controllers are a completely inarguably inferior method of control for first person shooter games. In fighting games, and a lot of other (digital input) genres, using a controller over another input method is usually a matter of preference. In first person shooters (and RTS), mice are the best way to control the game, period. Continue reading

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

Game Addiction

What do you think of articles like this comparing videogames to drugs? http://nypost.com/2016/08/27/its-digital-heroin-how-screens-turn-kids-into-psychotic-junkies/

Not totally wrong. I think saying it’s like Cocaine is an exaggeration. If you’re familiar with Cocaine, it blocks dopamine receptors, meaning that dopamine gets stuck percolating in the brain. Videogames trigger strong dopamine reactions, so yeah, from brain scans you’re going to have similar results. It’s not literally a drug, but it can be addicting like one. Continue reading