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The Heresy Thread

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Re: The Heresy Thread

by A.I Impaired » Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:43 am

This thread is juicy. Dripping!

Ill point out some sacrilege of my own first:

Metal Gear Solid 4: I feel missed everything I loved about the other games. It was still a pretty good game on its own, and impressive for its time.... but I don't think Ill bring myself to play it again. Why precisely? A general lack of focus. You know that sense of place you felt when you underwent the mission in shadow moses? The way you gained familiarity with the jungles of Tselinoyarsk in Snake Eater? Even the subtleties of the Big Shell? MGS4's settings felt like they were disposible. Only there to be book ended by cutscenes. More than this, you were constantly ushered forward as in a modern Call of Duty. There was no cause to think back to any place you had been, it was always forward. Thus the environments lacked a persoanlity. On top of this the games system of having an ever present gun merchant able to ship weapons to you at any time kind of made equipment and ammo trivial. You rarely had to consider rationing resources, you could be walking death mobile if you really wanted.

Odin sphere: Don't get me wrong, this game is fucking beautiful and is interesting conceptually. However, how can anyone stand to make it through this game? Repetition is only tolerable if what you are doing seems to give you a sense of accomplishment. I cannot say I found much of that as the game continued. Fights were largely unsatisfying, bosses were ... ok.

The Binding of Isaac: No!! Just no! I wanted to feel badass, and roll with the hardcore crowd... but this game just was not fun for me. It just felt like nothing but grind. The rewards just were never grande enough. Maybe I just did not find the true experience underneath the layers of tedium. I don't feel this is about skill as much as endurance.


Devilish advocacy:

Halo: Okay, so it took me YEARS of exposure and trying to "get it" before I could become the Halo campaign fan I am today. I was always caught comparing Halo to my experiences of Half Life, which definitely was the wrong direction to be coming from. I thought halo was really shallow when I first played it. However, I have come to see its place. Halo tried a larger scale, gave you a larger number of a.i companions, gave you vehicles, and gave you a war to fight in space. A battle with an elite seemed like a battle with a powerful creature that had moves to counter yours. I mean, you were always more powerful... but you often had to think about how to engage them especially on higher difficulty. At the same time I felt the weapon design was all about smoothness. Not necessarily inventiveness, but rather doing one function (shooting) really well. Yes, there are a lot of largely empty vistas. I guess the games obsession with picturesque landscapes, and sweeping music never really went away. There is something aesthetically pleasing about these game on more than a raw graphical level. Even the interface design, and the thought put into the controls and even the smoothness (in terms of user friendliness) of multiplayer matchmaking.... they are all like the apple to valves microsoft. Its slick, maybe not terribly deep at first glance... but room for fans to crash in the door and make it something special. These things seem consistently true of the series as it has marched forward.

Half Life: I never ever have disliked the original Half Life, but I was with the series in context from the beginning when all shooters were an extension of doom/quake. Yes, the opening is long. When we talk about Half Life, we tend to emphasis the cinematic elements of it. It of course did its share in presenting its world with more coherence than had typically been seen at the time. Its clone like characters even had a charm about them, which was quite rare for the genre. The main thing I found Half Life 1 did better than anything, was the same thing I feel Metal Gear Solid 1 did so well, and that was create an interesting sense of place. Not only did you get a sense of the Black Mesa research facility as a consistent well conceived setting that contains the progression of events in a confined, yet purposefully ambitious environment, the place was rife with interesting gameplay opportunities that merely stem out from its environment. The original game, I would say more than its sequel, has the heart of a platformer at some parts. You are hopping across obstacles and narrowly avoiding hazardous materials at every turn. It is Gordon Freeman vs. Black Mesa most of the time, and the addition of competent and varied A.I adversaries spices this up. That could have been it, but the introduction of a fun to use selection of weapons just seals the deal.

Now Half Life 2 in my eyes takes the satisfying /fun style weapons emphasis from the first game, and basically redefines everything else. The levels require very little traditional platforming. It is largely physics based puzzles, which this game basically made the category for. No physics games of note prior really. It can be quite annoying managing these now, but in context of its release there was nothing like it. Of course the big wow was how they transformed Half Life's clone characters into fully fledged believable NPC's that, barring heartlessness, you could actually care about as more than a quirky fascination. These characters generated feedback to the player in ways that are still not always done with such detail of believability. The art design was top notch as well, but I found the enemy designs were not as diverse as in the first game. So repetition in encounters were apparent.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by RedSwirl » Sun Oct 26, 2014 1:27 am

A.I Impaired wrote:This thread is juicy. Dripping!

Ill point out some sacrilege of my own first:

Metal Gear Solid 4: I feel missed everything I loved about the other games. It was still a pretty good game on its own, and impressive for its time.... but I don't think Ill bring myself to play it again. Why precisely? A general lack of focus. You know that sense of place you felt when you underwent the mission in shadow moses? The way you gained familiarity with the jungles of Tselinoyarsk in Snake Eater? Even the subtleties of the Big Shell? MGS4's settings felt like they were disposible. Only there to be book ended by cutscenes. More than this, you were constantly ushered forward as in a modern Call of Duty. There was no cause to think back to any place you had been, it was always forward. Thus the environments lacked a persoanlity. On top of this the games system of having an ever present gun merchant able to ship weapons to you at any time kind of made equipment and ammo trivial. You rarely had to consider rationing resources, you could be walking death mobile if you really wanted.


I'll agree that compared to previous games, MGS4 is very uneven. Its first two chapters show a lot of promise with the vastly updated control scheme, but then it spends the following three chapters doing off-the-wall shit. What I want is a full traditional MGS game using those modern controls. I like Peace Walker in its own way, but is structure is also different, being focused around micro missions on-the-go. MGS5 might be my savior, but for different reasons. It seems in MGS5 you'll go back to traversing one or two large environments, but they'll be much larger, like real sandbox-sized.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Alex Connolly » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:29 pm

Re: Zombies.

I don't mind zombies, but I need an interesting setting or reason. Favourite justification would be the sad, shuffling brain-damaged Stalkers who got caught in a Zone blow-out. Nothing beats that, in my opinion. Better than some corporation doing something dastardly.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Teryn » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:06 pm

But it's popular to treat corporations as the bad guy, then we BUY the games from corporations to see them villified, everyone wins!

... Seriously, it's pretty strange. On the other hand, game writers are just cogs. Maybe it's repressed self-hatred for being a small part of a huge, uncontrollable thing. Damn, no wonder the stories are good!
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Alex Connolly » Sun Nov 02, 2014 1:35 pm

My heresy proclamation for the hour?

Jagged Alliance: Back In Action was a good game. Not a great Jagged Alliance game, but a good game in its own right.

*Afrikaans accent* Operae'tin!

This also salves the wounds I'm feeling towards what I suspect Flashback is, i.e., a game that needed far more funding and far more time in the oven. *sigh*
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Bowley » Fri Nov 07, 2014 6:32 pm

Beige wrote:Left 4 Dead and its algorithmic spawn
Screw this entire genre. Valve found a way to take writers and other humans out of video games and replace them with random number generators. Joe Consumer lapped it up so hard that all development towards Uncharteds and Resident Evils diverged significantly into the world of "we replaced your directors and writers with alorythms let's see if they notice" never to return. Now even goddamn Mass Effect must have "player retention" in the form of skinner boxes inside it. All of the mechanics of shoveling food into your mouth with none of the nutrition. Since then we've seen Evolve, HALO 4, shootbro X, and whatever find a way to inject less and less human craft into the game making process, replacing it with procedural content. "But content is HARD" you say. "And EXPENSIVE". Well, make shorter games then.


I hear what you're saying but I'm confused, do you hate L4D too or just its legacy? I mean, the goal was a 4-way co-op FPS zombie survival game where all the actors are played by people, which doesn't leave much room for writers in the first place (although characters did have well written conversations between each other). It was also designed to be played multiple times and since knowing where the zombies will pop up sucks out all the tension, the AI director was a great ( not perfect) solution.

Even then, L4D is not bereft of craft. Take a look around any level and you'll see plenty of examples of environmental storytelling. The most overt example is the safe room wall, the more covert being objects and scenes built into the map that you likely pass by, but upon closer inspection tell the story of survivors that were there before you (they point a few of these out in the original L4D commentary sections).

A more heavy-handed storyline with more writing and no algorithm would have ruined L4D in my eyes. L4D2 was a cash grab that I avoided until it was 5 dollars, but that's another story altogether.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Beige » Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:40 pm

I think I softened my position later on to equate L4D with the TV show Survivor, Season 1. Which is to say it was ok, but was at the vanguard of something that ultimately became distasteful to me. It's a subjective thread, these be subjective opinions.

Hating on L4D for being what it is is kinda rediculous, I know. I won't deny that the game was revelatory, as Survivor was, for showing a bored industry a New Way that later would go on to become de rigeur thanks to its ability to shave shave shave down the costs of making games.

As a 4-player Zombie shootfest it did its job admirably, no question. You can like Halloween while disliking slasher movies as well. It's easy to take cheap shots at L4D but I, like everyone, bought it at launch and played it enthusiastically and we all thought it was great. Honestly, I guess it's difficult to imagine how you'd improve on the formula while sticking true to it. Somewhere between L4D and Titanfall / Evolve / CoD / whatever, I personally feel that I just got frustrated with an industry that seemed to implode on the promise of long narrative experiences in favor of iterative map-based cooperative shootfests. I would think differently about L4D if we were awash in Witcher 3s, of if we'd had a Mass Effect trilogy without the tacked on multiplayer maps and slot machine skinnerbox at the end of it. Also, I got sick to death of half the people on my Steam list only owning 5 games, one of which was L4D and constantly messaging me on the phone "hey dude, up for some zombies??? RRRawr?"

I know when I'm honest that my annoyance with L4D is annoyance with a symptom and not a cause brought on by larger shifts in gaming over which I have little control. Hating on it is like hating on co-op board games. You're picking on a very specific flavor beloved by many people for no goddamn reason apart from just personally not liking it. And yet I like the idea of sharks vs divers cage match boogaloo. Go figure. I also don't hate on Madden these days, though I certainly used to.

I suppose what it is is that this new wave of games -- connected, social, iterative, open world... *streamable* (guk!) ... have their appeal elements grounded in traditions closer to the world of extroversion....like sports or house parties and farther away from the introverted, meditative crushingly difficult spirit-of-bushido 1 vs them arcade classics of my youth. It's hard to change. After an hour of L4D I come away thinking that I haven't accomplished anything of consequence. I realize that there is objectively zero difference between an hour of Dark Souls or XCOM, superficially. I'm still firmly in the Nintendohard solo journey camp if I'm honest - the games that fill me with the most delight tend to be things that push the boundaries of personal skill and through which I pass through largely unmolested by other humans.

Recently I read a psychological paper that posited that games were a good investment of time-to-money when compared to other purchases because they left an imprint similar to the imprint left on the mind after going on a long vacation, say road trippin' across the USA. Unlike a new pair of shoes or a speaker, video games are experiential.... your 60 bucks buys you the memories of Ash Lake, Sen's Fortress... walking into Blighttown for the 1st, 10th, 50th time. Years later, you still have memories of your showdown with Saren squirreled away with memories of prom and they are equally blurry. 10 years later, my Planescape journey and my year in Australia blend together in terms of their flashbulb moments.

I know there are people who could talk for an hour about a 30 second moment in DOTA or "that time in L4D when.....". But for me, these flavors are lesser compared to the memory of striding into Zanarkand after 60 hours of anticipation. This is a personal feeling sure, but it merits mention in the sacred cows thread. Roguelikes have their place, as do zombie shooters...

I'm just bitter because them development dollaz are going towards Clash of Clans right now. It feels like looking at a city skyline and wondering what, with all our miraculous construction technology, what great work might we accomplish in 2014 if we put one tenth the effort and manhours into a great wonder of construction as the guys put into building the cathedral of Notre Dame. I want to see the medium evolve into this... but the money says that we evolve instead into open world co-op shootfests and microtransaction based card games.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Bowley » Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:57 pm

Beige wrote:I suppose what it is is that this new wave of games -- connected, social, iterative, open world... *streamable* (guk!) ... have their appeal elements grounded in traditions closer to the world of extroversion....like sports or house parties and farther away from the introverted, meditative crushingly difficult spirit-of-bushido 1 vs them arcade classics of my youth...

...I'm just bitter because them development dollaz are going towards Clash of Clans right now. It feels like looking at a city skyline and wondering what, with all our miraculous construction technology, what great work might we accomplish in 2014 if we put one tenth the effort and manhours into a great wonder of construction as the guys put into building the cathedral of Notre Dame. I want to see the medium evolve into this... but the money says that we evolve instead into open world co-op shootfests and microtransaction based card games.

Yeah, it was inevitable with the internet. Everything being connected and social is still new and fresh and thus more interesting and more profitable as a result. Gaming was built on the back of the solo journey, but it's well trodden ground. This is the new paradigm, I'm sure the luster will wear off like it did with the MMO, but social mechanics are here to stay. Fuck, even Dark Souls is connected.

On another note, your comment on extroversion taking over the AAA space is interesting. Have you ever read Quiet by Susan Cain? Western society is enamored with and accommodates only the extrovert ideal. I suppose it would follow that once the audience for video games in the west broadened you'd naturally see a shift toward extroverted leaning games. I'm not sure how much of that is really at play in the market, but it's interesting to think about. It's no wonder that people here adopt Japanese games wholesale, introverted culture produces introverted games. Nintendo STILL doesn't really get the whole online thing.

For my part, I enjoy both scaling the mountain of the solo journey and the co-op shootfest. That one type is more dominant and in vogue doesn't bother me too much. In fact, I get very tired of one without having the other. However, I can't help but agree, where would we be if the lion's share of development dollars were going toward complex story driven games like the Witcher?

Beige wrote:It's hard to change. After an hour of L4D I come away thinking that I haven't accomplished anything of consequence. I realize that there is objectively zero difference between an hour of Dark Souls or XCOM, superficially. I'm still firmly in the Nintendohard solo journey camp if I'm honest - the games that fill me with the most delight tend to be things that push the boundaries of personal skill and through which I pass through largely unmolested by other humans.

Well, if we're totally honest, you actually don't accomplish anything in the real world playing ANY game, not really. I read somewhere that gaming for a lot of men is akin to achievement porn, in that it makes you feel like you did something when you really didn't. Not true for everyone, but through much introspection, in my earlier years I find that holds true.

Beige wrote:Recently I read a psychological paper that posited that games were a good investment of time-to-money when compared to other purchases because they left an imprint similar to the imprint left on the mind after going on a long vacation, say road trippin' across the USA. Unlike a new pair of shoes or a speaker, video games are experiential.... your 60 bucks buys you the memories of Ash Lake, Sen's Fortress... walking into Blighttown for the 1st, 10th, 50th time. Years later, you still have memories of your showdown with Saren squirreled away with memories of prom and they are equally blurry. 10 years later, my Planescape journey and my year in Australia blend together in terms of their flashbulb moments.

Rekall, Rekall, Rekaaaaalllll.



Couldn't help myself.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Teryn » Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:42 pm

Wow, that's pretty interesting. I didn't really think to narrow it down into "introverted" gaming vs. "extroverted" gaming before, but that *is* essentially what's happened.

It isn't so much "regular person" vs. "male nerds/geeks", then, either. Introverts were the ones who tended to discover video games because an extrovert would not typically invest in worlds that exist (more or less) solely in the imagination. I guess the only real difference is what drives your gaming experience as a whole.

As the years went on and the "multiplayer" experience began to be important, didn't things change? I know it made my brother a lot more popular with his Goldeneye or Perfect Dark parties for a little while.

Do you crave doing difficult things and being able to trumpet your deeds to the world? Do you want to share tasks with others to bond with friends and make new friends? Do you want to experience something that only you can in your own way? Or do you seek some balance of all three?

To get more on topic... I hate the Mass Effect series for what it represents in the real world. I love the Mass Effect series for what it represents in my imagination. Maybe that's part of the disconnect between introverted and extroverted gaming, too.
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Re: The Heresy Thread

by Beige » Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:14 pm

There's a huge market out there for Introvert games. Farming / Train Simulator are bigger than Jesus, believe. Skyrim of course, most JRPGs. Witcher, Mass Effect single player. Adventure games. Journey / Gone Home.

Extrovert: We're talking.... Smash Bros? CoD, MarioKart, Mass Effect Multiplayer? Anything on phones? Social Games? Sandbox sims like Day-Z and Rust? Huge on YouTube.

DOTA? Unsure. 50/50? Leaning extrovert for the clash and competition angle? Perhaps its borderline stance is part explanation for its huge success.

I'm just defining the camps roughly by the "Person who recharges batteries either alone or with small groups of close friends" as introverts and "people who recharge their batteries through big social interactions" as extroverts.

I'd agree with Bowls that the predominant Western paradigm is that extroversion = good, introversion = suspect which is horseshit of course but that's advertising for you. Watch any McCommercial where young sparks bust sick skateboard ollies while tweedling guitars and girls do... something involving music. Music is socially sanctioned shorthand for extrovert "cool" though I'd bet many if not most introverts are hardcore music listeners as well.

XCOM has always been the realm of the introvert, as is Civ, as is the PC generally and pretty much everything coming out of Japan. DanceDance, guitar hero, Western stuff?

Apple, extrovert, PC, introvert. Guess what genres of games are promoted and normalized on iOS?

The existence of the Internet brought the extrovert populace into video games for sure, with the Wii and its waggle dance roping in extroverted casuals. What does Wing Commander have to offer the house party crew? Who knows. Phones are compulsory among teenagers and especially teenage girls because of the communication possibilities they offer -- have been since the dawn of time. Games on phones therefore must be social / extroverted to be normalized amongst the populace, at least to the Candy Crush, Clash of Clans or Words With Friends level. Might explain why I don't give two shits about most phone games.

I personally respond well to the 'social' type experiments coming out of Japan, which is to say social experiences made by introverts. You meet as airline flight friends for the duration of a single boss raid in Dark Souls, nobody can talk to anybody but everybody can do silly gestures. I salute you gamertag BongSmoka420. Nobody can directly affect my game or beat me with a rock a la Rust

Things with small parties of friends who know each other already a la Divinity or Portal 2 multiplayer? Swell.
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