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Everything posted by aoanla

  1. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    If you don't see why "the world becoming more dark and violent" is a negative signal for behaviour, then...
  2. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    I think I... sort of agree with you [Salacious Snake], but with some caveats. Firstly, I think you're eliding player agency in terms of the "RP" bit of RPGs, as they apply to immersive sims. I really wanted to play Dishonored as sneaky-stealth-non-fatal Corvo - both because the fiction implies this is the "right" choice, and because I prefer taking non-lethal approaches in games if they will let me. Even if Dishonored had a set sequence of Outsider powers you got at various points, I'd still have not been using the lethal, messy powers when I got them, because they're not something I wanted to use at all. It's not about "not trying things out", it's about "matching your vision of the character you want to play". In fact, given that Dishonored strongly signals that you should probably not be messily killing people, being forcibly given messy killing magic powers would have been a source of dissonance with the game's own narrative design, for me. (This does contrast with the more "sandbox" model of how immersive sims work - but surely one thing that makes an immersive sim more of a "game", in the classical sense, is having some sense of drive, or purpose, even if it's vague. For me, having a narrative goal, and preferably a (however vague) conception of how my character should approach problems, is fundamental to the experience. If you're messing around in a sandbox, then what was the point of them including the narrative goals in the first place?) Secondly, I think it's also a matter of degree as to how the "RPG" elements are integrated into the immersive sim. In another forum, I'm involved in a thread about the dissonance between some games' narrative description of the player character (as, say, a tremendous badass, or an impossibly stealthy spy, or whatever), and the player's competence at actually performing that. There's a sliding scale as to how much effect (and at what level) player "physical competence" bleeds into their character's competence, determined mostly mechanically. At one end, the "tabletop RPG" end of the scale, my character's skill at, say, fighting with a rapier, or mediating between two hostile forces, or whatever, is determined purely by their own statistical properties. I don't have to try to stick someone with an actual sword - or know how to do it - for my character to be successful. "Classical" CRPGs are basically at this end of the space, as is, for example, Fallout 3 using VATS for combat. At the other end, the "lasertag" end, perhaps, if I want to shoot someone with a gun, I have to be good enough at shooting people with guns (albeit harmless lasertag guns); if I want to sneak past people, I have to actually sneak past people. This is basically where, say, classical FPS games are, and also where Thief is - if I'm bad at sneaking (and I am), then so is my Garrett. I think the problems tend to come where you blend the two approaches in the middle - either via abilities which indirectly imply you should be awesome at "approach X" rather than "approach Y", or by direct stat-based interaction between player skill and character skill (my major bugbear with both the original Deus Ex, and Fallout 3 without VATS, being that my ability to shoot stuff is determined by my character's skill with a gun *as well as* my ability to target things with a reticule - fictively, JC Denton with Master-level pistols skill should be headshotting anything he wants, but if I'm playing him, he's just going to perfectly hit where my incompetently placed reticule is instead). Since a lot of RPG-based "definition of your character" comes (mechanically) from skill-choice and any other way you have to distinguish your version of the PC from those of anyone else playing, this is a very difficult place to negotiate. (And, as I mentioned above, there's also the problem of integrating this with your narrative signals, too - which is really where I think Dishonored has a problem. The narrative says "killing people messily is wrong"; the mechanics say "here's lots of ways to kill people messily". )
  3. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    Yeah, as previously noted by me, I gave up playing Dishonored basically specifically because I was trying to play it the way it was signalling it wanted to be played (stealth no-kills), but as Ben notes, it's actually not very fun to play that way. (I hear Dishonored 2 fixes this slightly in that there's more powers applicable to stealthy pacifism, as opposed to Destroying Your Enemies With Hordes of Rats or whatever). This seems like a significant problem with the game design, to me. (Although I'm also generally more of a fan of non-fatal progression in games, if they'll let me do it, so I'm also biased that way...) I'm actually interested to know if any interviews with the devs touch on this - I don't remember anything going into that much detail about if they felt they succeeded in their intent re the first game's systems and their impact on the player.
  4. Spelunky!

    Eh, like I read twitter
  5. Spelunky!

    The blog post makes me a tiny bit sad - as someone who played the original Spelunky on the original PC platform, I'd be very disappointed if I never got to play Spelunky 2 because it never comes here. (Also, surely PS Vita is a more natural target than PS4?)
  6. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    I played Dishonored and Deus Ex: HR at almost the same time, and DX: HR clicked much more for me than the former did, even though I was going mostly-nonlethal/terrible at stealth with both of them. (I think part of the problem is actually that it's pretty hard to non-lethally deal with people who've seen you in Dishonored, whilst DX:HR has a lot more tools for that. Much is made of how "powerful" you can be in both - but Dishonored has a heck of a lot more killing-or-otherwise-doing-bad-things-to-people skills, none of which were really useful to me. (Even possession kills your host if it's a small animal). And I was terrible at the swordfighting, if I ever tried it...)
  7. Hot In Space: Heat Signature

    Having managed to get Heat Signature working in Wine (needs patching the executable to turn on LAA, which Gamemaker Studio apparently doesn't in the release the game was compiled in), I'm ... mostly enjoying playing it. My usual stressors are kicking in, though, and I am very likely to let a character die if they get spaced more than once - because I'm not confident I could pick them up in time to save them anyway. As a result, I've actually barely retired anyone, and certainly not gotten anyone close to their personal mission - Hard ships are too hard for me at the moment, and I think I'm probably not going to feel better about the recovery system until I've unlocked the Angel pod. For similar reasons, I can't be the only person who gets pretty stressed out by the "friends" system? I've deliberately avoided the mission I've had which involved rescuing a Steam Friend's captured character, because I didn't want to be responsible for messing it up. (When things work - and I'm still learning systems; managed to accidentally space my captured target with my first use of a glitch trap, because I didn't expect it to trigger on unconscious enemies; though, it's really very fun. The pause-and-plan makes it actually playable for me, unlike Hotline Miami, which needed far too much twitch to be comfortable for me.)
  8. XCOM 2

    Oh, I know the Rulers turn up too... but I just think they overshadow the Chosen in any case. That said, I just realised that Brutal (the Strength my Assassin got) seems to permanently reduce Will, so there's definitely more to fear in Chosen than I had initially stated. (The Chosen Hunter just turned up for me, too, and he has the bad misfortune to have been generated with Brittle and Weakness: Templars... in the literally the only retaliation mission I brought my Templar to. You can imagine how long he lasted... which is a pity, since his V/O and lines are less annoying than the Assassin's, even if he's still a stereotype.)
  9. XCOM 2

    I did a bit of experimenting the next time the Chosen Assassin turned up - my general policy had been to concentrate entirely on her when she appeared, and not let her have a chance to do anything. And, since her health pool is much lower than a Ruler (or some late game enemies), this seems to work well. (It's also why I've had precisely one attack on me from an ADVENT Priest so far - "fill the new thing full of lead first" works out okay.. ) If I give her a turn to actually do something (other than her initial "run away and hide") then she's much more formidable, especially as a lot of her abilities take one or more soldiers out of commission. In this case, it was a mission with Lost, so I did have a little more to concentrate on, and of course Lost are escalating threats too, if you don't mop them up. I'd still like the Chosen to have a little more health - so you can't just kill them in less than a turn of concentrated fire if you can get to them - or maybe get rebalanced with a chance of a Ruler-reaction or some other interrupt if you get them below 50% health in one turn.
  10. XCOM 2

    Having just gotten War of the Chosen just this weekend (and having played through maybe 4 or 5 hours of it - basically, the extended tutorial section (for the extra "story" you get if you're playing the tutorial mode), plus a mission or two after), and have some initial comments, not all of which are positive. I've been playing on the default difficulty, and it doesn't seem much harder than the base game. Narrative/setting first, since I'm weird and care a lot about narrative and story consistency in games. I've spoilered a few bits here for the ultraparanoid, although I'm not talking about much which isn't in the release trailers etc. Good things: the new factions are mostly good (I've barely met the Templars yet, but I've seen enough of them in other people's games), and "round out" the XCOM2 setting in interesting ways, even if they're all stereotypes/archetypes of resistance groups (the Wilderness Survivalists, the Defectors from the Evil Regime, the Mystical Secret Society). As others have noted, the Skirmishers are actually the most interesting in terms of "potential narrative depth", The Lost also seem to be well handled, even if they're mostly SF Zombies, and there's a hint that they might be a little more behind them than that. It's nice to have the callbacks to XCOM that they allow, too, as well as the old ruined city environments. In terms of things with no reflection in gameplay at all: the "photobooth" option is as amusing and fun as everyone else seems to find it (and it's nice that there's some voice triggers from the Main Cast if you spend a lot of time messing with it); similarly, the extended set of post-mission V/Os (including propaganda broadcasts by ADVENT) are a nice touch, and I wish we had more ambient storytelling like it. Meh things: unfortunately, this additional depth plays merry hell with the old XCOM2 storyline Bad things: The Chosen. I know XCOM -> XCOM2 -> XCOM2:WOTC is a transition to becoming more and more Saturday Morning Kids Animation, but The Chosen are some of the worst Petty Feuding Villains with Faux Depth since bad villains began. I really don't like anything much about them, to judge from the Chosen Assassin, whose sole purpose appears to be to taunt you ineffectually over your comlink, and be an annoying melee glass-cannon in combat situations. (Seriously, she went down in 1 round of combat on her first appearance, and just two hits.) Even the design makes them look far too like a cross between their clear inspiration - the uruk-hai rivals system in Shadows of Mordor - and bad anime characters. Gameplay next: Good things: Again, the factions are pretty good, and their interesting level-up process is more interesting as tradeoff system than the vanilla XCOM2 process. Because of Plot, I've mostly had time with the Reaper faction, and their Key Special Mechanic is... interesting, even if I've not had much luck with not Revealing quite quickly. There's a bunch of new mission types - many of which don't seem to have timers; or have timers you can delay - but have other kinds of escalation built in that you can mitigate via skilful play. Of the ones I've played, these are a definite improvement on XCOM2's set of options, and their mostly inflexible counters. The Lost mechanic is fine, in practice, although it does lead to ridiculous (in a good way) carnage, and probably makes Gunslinger Snipers situationally overpowered (as pistols have no ammo limits, so as long as they don't miss, they can just endlessly mow down low-HP Lost). Quite a few bits feel like they were "inspired" by Long War 2, which is also good - I like the way the Factions system essentially gives you a mirror to ADVENT's hidden events, and an additional level of complexity on the strategy layer, although I've not had enough time to play with this yet. [It feels like the addition of a few extra room types to construct in the Avenger also makes this more strategically interesting - it's not as obvious what you start constructing, and there's probably more space tradeoff...] Similarly, the soldier-bond system (which LW2 mostly just enabled from existing code) is interesting... although it's annoying you need a new building to get past Level 1. Meh things: The Chosen. Honestly, I could take or leave them - although see above for how the narrative for them really doesn't sell me on them to start with. Again, I've only really met the Assassin, and the others might be more interesting, but she's not even as interesting as the Alien Rulers from the first "big" DLC, and considerably weaker than them in her first appearance, at least. Does XCOM2 need a gimmicky rivals system, when it already essentially had one from another DLC? Bad things: nothing, so far... but the strategy layer is getting pretty damn busy already, and I do worry about the Super Powered Endgame Soldier problem being even worse with all the Cool New Things.
  11. XCOM 2

    I've mostly only watched Twitch streamers play War of the Chosen (including before the release date). One thing which does seem to be changed is the difficulty - the early game seems harder, despite all the Cool New Things, although that's possibly just that everyone hasn't learnt all the new systems as well yet. (It's a contrast to some of the complaining about the brokenness of some ability combinations possible in the late game...)
  12. Idle Digging - Shovel Knight

    (And now the King Knight DLC seems to be progressing - even if it's not as soon as people had hoped. Sadly, for me, I love everything about Shovel Knight except playing it - so this whole "oodles of additional content" thing is just additional frustration that I just don't get it )
  13. bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

    Oh, and calling back to that "isn't Proof of Work wasteful?" question, I should note that some of the earliest "post-bitcoin" cryptocurrencies (generally called "altcoins" by people in the community) were precisely sold on doing "useful work" in the PoW step. Primecoin, for example, uses a large primes search, and therefore contributes by discovering large prime numbers. Primecoin is also not worth much at the moment, sadly.
  14. bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

    So, splitting this up into bits: "Does everyone with 1BCT now have a free BCC too?" yes. This is one reason for the volatility in BCC, as all the people who just wanted/believed in BCT immediately sold off their "free" BCC for "cheap profit", causing mass devaluation (and meanwhile, BCC supporters tried buying up BCC for more money to try to raise the price to make a point...) "How do we start a chain and why?" Essentially, the details of how bitcoin works (things like the maximum size of a block) are also a matter of consensus, and are signalled in the blocks as well. It was decided that a particular block would represent the turning on of a particular feature (called SegWit), which the minority minors disliked - SegWit is intended to reduce the size of blocks by recording less information about transactions, and hence "speed up" bitcoin, whilst the minority preferred letting blocks get "bigger" (which also speeds up bitcoin, as a block can hold more transactions if it's bigger, but takes the same time for miners to hash). The minority miners simply elected to "recognise" a different version of that special block, and their chain splits off from that point - it shares history up to that point. (You can get a bitcoin client to work on either chain, by letting it know which version of the chain you want to treat as "true") "Will the fork die?" We don't know. BCC proponents argue that their decision was the better decision, and their bitcoin will "win out" over the original by being more efficient - obviously the BTC guys disagree. Essentially, you're still a functional coin as long as you have enough miners to establish consensus and hash new blocks, so the "dominant" bitcoin is the one with the most miners. It seems most likely that both bitcoins will survive for the foreseeable future, though, as they both have die-hards in their miner pools. "Do vendors have to decide?" Technically, yes - but as you note below, the longest chain is by default the "bitcoin", and that's BCT by several hundred blocks at the moment. (BCC, being a minority fork, took much longer to mine blocks after the split, until the internal "difficulty adjustment" adjusted to the much smaller pool of miners available.) Most software will use BCT if you don't do anything special. Yes... but generally software using Bitcoin will wait until a certain number of miners have signalled that they accept the transaction as valid before accepting that it happened, which avoids this being an issue in practice. (This takes several minutes usually - or many hours for BCC after the fork! - which is one of the issues with Bitcoin that the BCT guys are trying to fix.) Yes - miners need to have the whole block chain, and it grows by hundreds of megs a week. The reason why BCT guys didn't make the blocks bigger - like BCC does - is precisely because they're worried about the future blockchain getting so huge that it can't be stored anywhere!
  15. bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

    I actually own like 0.01 of a bitcoin (and some other cryptocurrencies), so let me reply to this. You're mostly right though! (Sort of: there's multiple cryptos in the crypto currency - there's the security of the blockchain (which relies on each "block" in the chain holding a crypto-secure hash of the previous block, so you'd need to modify all the blocks in the chain *after* the block you wanted to spoof if you wanted to try) ) Strictly: Bitcoin uses a "Proof of Work" system for mining, there's other mechanisms. What "mining" *actually* is is the process of establishing that consensus about the blockchain - the mining nodes are the nodes which agree on which transactions happened, and calculate the hash of the previous block to enforce that. The need to solve a difficult math problem as part of this is actually there to make the blockchain secure - the idea is that it should be hard enough to make a block that anyone wanting to fake a transaction history would need to do all the work of recalculating the blocks after that - and will never catch up with the "current" block because the miners will have moved on since then. The wallet contains multiple addresses potentially (each of which is a public / private keypair). As you mention later, Bitcoin is a pseudonymous currency, not an anonymous one - everyone can see what a given address has transacted, and thus calculate its balance, but they can't tell who owns a given address unless you tell them. It's considered good practice to use more than one address in order to make your presence "fuzzier". (There are genuinely anonymous cryptocurrencies - such as Monero - which essentially record "a thing you can use to prove you have the money, but isn't your address" for a given transaction. Monero has a much worse reputation than Bitcoin, because obviously anonymous is preferred over pseudonymous for a lot of bad actors as well as privacy freaks.) Bitcoin is particularly volatile at this very moment, as the blockchain has currently "forked" - a small subset of the miners decided to disagree on the majority consensus and build their own chain, due to a disagreement about some feature changes. The "main bitcoin" (trades as BCT, generally called Bitcoin or Bitcoin Core) and the forked coin (BCC, "Bitcoin Cash") have been engaging in wild swings of value, especially from BCC (which has changed value by an order of magnitude repeatedly in the past week since it existed). Interestingly, a lot of post-bitcoin cryptocurrencies accept this as a problem, and advertise themselves as "ASIC-resistant" or "GPU-resistant" if the mining PoW they use is designed to not do well on custom hardware or GPUs. (And then there's the non-PoW coins, which don't use PoW at all.) It's less anonymous than cash (for which you'd want Monero as your altcoin), but more anonymous than a bank account, I think.
  16. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    Yeah, I found that problem too - whilst I understood in theory what could be synergistic uses of plasmids and environment, when things actually kicked off, I was usually too busy to actually use any of them. (Plus, my Eve reserves never seemed quite enough to really splurge on things.) (I'll also say that: brute forcing via Vita Chamber was basically how I killed any Big Daddies I dealt with. They're ridiculously tanky, and pretty fast moving when they can see you... In fact, to be fair, brute forcing via Vita Chamber was basically how I did quite a lot of BioShock, until I got bored of brute forcing via Vita Chamber and stopped playing!)
  17. I've been thinking about this a bit after the E.Y.E. Divine Cybermancy discussion over in BenX's FPS Playing thread. Obviously, all games with a competitive/challenge element have the core result that if you're good at them, you're going to get further in them / finish levels with more health etc. Some games, however, seem to more interested in pushing this further: usually by giving "better" players bonuses, which often make the game easier in the future if used, although sometimes by punitively penalising a poor player for repeatedly doing badly by making the game harder. I'm thinking of things from Rogue Legacy's economic model (where buying upgrades between generations needs you to be good enough to earn enough money to buy upgrades... which you need less if you're good enough to earn money), through the unintentional case of Shovel Knight / Dark Souls etc's "you lose credits when you die but you can pick them up again if you don't die before you get to them" (which death obviously is more likely to happen if you're poor at the game... and you probably need the upgrades you can buy more if you're that bad), through to things like E.Y.E.'s (apparently) "if you die multiple times, you can get permanent stat debuffs" mechanic. [I personally particularly dislike Rogue Legacy's case here, as prices also rise when you *do* buy something, so it's particularly easy to end up in a situation where you literally can't get any further, because you're at your skill peak, and can't afford any upgrades that might help. That happened to me before getting to the second boss...] Obviously, this matters more to me as an admittedly poor player, but does anyone have a good word to say about this kind of mechanical approach? Is it justified? Does it encourage you to get better - and what about people who just can't get "better enough"? [Does a game have to be possible for everyone to complete?]
  18. Right, so almost everyone approves of the mechanics in settings where there's some kind of opponent, playing under similar rules/context to you - strategy games, board games, and multiplayer FPSen are all cases where you're either competing against other humans, or against AIs controlling agents like you. My initial concern was over the exporting of this into single-player asymmetric contest style games - like platformers, for example - where the "opponent" is more in the way of a constructed challenge, rather than an AI competing directly with you.
  19. I actually think the board game analogy is probably why this feels more expected in grand strategy games, too - given that they're basically big boardgames themselves. (XCom and XCom2 especially so.) For single player games divorced from that genre, though...
  20. Right, but I think the other difference there is multiplayer v single player challenge. Mario Kart wants to keep all the individual players "in the game" as long as possible. (Conversely, Team Fortress 2 maps are intentionally designed to promote exactly the Rich get Richer effect - rather than have a game drag on by making it harder to assault the later control points, for example, respawn rates etc are adjusted so the losing team finds it harder, leading to matches ending in a rush.) The balance here is between simultaneously, in the same contest, giving the more skilled players the win they deserve, whilst also allowing the lower skilled players to feel like they're not just being brutally steamrollered continuously - the "challenge" comes from other people. Adversarial single player games have a different set of tradeoffs, as the only challenge comes from the game itself as designed. The difficulty with Poor get Poorer mechanics here is that they're not doing anything other than punishing people who are already bad (or making things easier for people who are already good) - there's no simultaneous "opponent" who's getting a converse effect to balance things out, as in TF2. (And, indeed, they can make the game effectively impossible, or unpleasant, to complete, for a sufficiently poor player, which seems actively negative for the developer.) The "this encourages you to get better" effect only pays off if the subject is capable of getting as better as you expect them to; or at least, capable of doing so whilst they still retain any enjoyment or satisfaction from playing a game which is actively trying to make your life harder. Although, I would argue that "encouraging" someone to get better by... making things even harder... is a quixotic approach. [This isn't even negative reinforcement - giving someone a "shock" for doing something wrong doesn't increase the difficulty of doing something right subsequently.] (I'd been bashing my head against the second zone of Rogue Legacy, whilst being unable to earn enough money to buy any upgrades at all, for several hours before I packed it in, for example. I deadlocked in the "second set" of Shovel Knights' zones (Treasure/Plague/Mole?) for similarly hours before deciding that I wasn't going to get anywhere - partly because I just couldn't afford anything, but also because after repeating each level tens of times, I really wasn't convinced I would improve, and certainly wasn't having "fun" anymore.)
  21. I think I'm counting the effect in XCOM as being more towards the "this is how games of this genre work" end of the spectrum though. It's totally true that being bad at the tactical game also makes the strategic game harder (and vice versa), but snowballing feels slightly different to me in this kind of game. (I guess it's hard to draw hard lines that everyone can agree on as to where these mechanics become egregious, but XCOM feels like it's mostly throwing "Incident Pits" at you - situations which are, separately, not that bad to handle, but will quickly escalate if you repeatedly mishandle them several times in a row. Also, these kind of things are always worse, for me, in games where you can end up just "stuck", rather than just "losing quickly", but that's a personal thing - I'd rather, if a game has to do this to you, have XCOM's rapid endgame slide, than end up in the distressing deadlock of Rogue Legacy where you can still play, but you're just not going to ever progress.) -Re the point about controller familiarity etc being a factor, from marginalgloss, I totally agree. There's a whole bunch of games that "need controllers" that I basically am never going to be good at because I missed out on building strong muscle memory for twinstick controllers back when I had more neural plasticity. But I'm not sure how you fix that at all - some games are so tightly wedded to a particular control scheme that moving them off that would lose something.
  22. Well, E.Y.E. does also have the sort-of-related mechanical feature that Deus Ex had (your skills influence how much help you get at challenges - including, for example, how accurately you can aim - which you could also just be bad at IRL too), but I'm trying to stay away from that this thread And do feel free to make an E.Y.E. thread, I think there's a range of opinion here...
  23. Duolingo - TWO LANGUAGE-O

    Sadly, I hear it also doesn't teach kanji, and I'd quite like to actually be able to read and write Japanese, not elementary school Japanese...
  24. Duolingo - TWO LANGUAGE-O

    I'm really sad at how bad the Japanese Duolingo course apparently is - I basically completely flaked out of learning Japanese last year (after 2 years of failing to pick up vocab), and I was hoping that the Duolingo course might be a good way to try another way at getting back into it. (Annoyingly, apparently Duolingo Russian is also not one of the best Duolingo courses either...)
  25. SGDQ 2017

    If we're talking about couch commentators, the Freedom Planet run has the most excited and high-energy couch commentator I've seen - he literally did not stop speaking for the entire run, and seemed genuinely enthused by some of the higher-skill parts of the run. This is either really annoying or quite sweet, depending.