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Everything posted by aoanla

  1. I'm just as sad about it as you are, especially when people start rolling out attacks on me for just having an opinion. "gamer invested in... clearly inadequate definition" (begging the question of what an "adequate" definition would be, other than one which agrees with Tycho, plus also attempting to categorise me as a "gamer" in a sense which is clearly intended to be both pejorative and imply a connection to various unpleasant online groups - which I've defended myself from in the past). In actual reality, my position is based partly on talking to actual humans who aren't regular players of video games, who were honestly confused by why some things were being called games, when they didn't seem to be games. But, *obviously*, I have to be some evil purist "gamer" trying to "defend" games from something. I'm sorry that this is such a trigger for some people in this community that they can't help bringing their own baggage into discussions - the last time I made a harmless aside, it turned into practically the entire forum attacking me ["thanks" to mods splitting out the attacks into their own thread, removing context for later people who just piled on], and drove me out for some time. I really don't want that to happen again. So, you know, Tycho, you just believe what you gotta believe. Maybe I kill kittens, too?
  2. Well, I'd argue that one of those isn't a video game (Minecraft creative mode is clearly a toy), one of those is arguable (Proteus - I think it's more an art-piece, like promenade theatre), and Animal Crossing is in a weird place, but its clearly "gamier" than the other two. [Clarifyingly, I should point out that Minecraft Creative Mode is precisely good because it is a toy, not a game, and Proteus has distinct value in being an art-piece and not having gaminess. "Game" isn't a value judgement.] (That said, I agree that games don't need to have a fail state - and certainly not hard ones.)
  3. (A good comment on the "low skill player of Dishonored 2" problem is in the Crate and Crowbar podcast's GOTY episode, where Pip discusses why Dishonored 2 isn't on her Top 10 list; it's also something she's mentioned on the Rock Paper Shotgun discussion of Dishonored 2 as a GOTY.)
  4. I also kinda disagree with the first mail in the mailbag about the "cause" of frustration in repeated failure (especially hard failure) in games. I think part of the issue is actually that "games" are contextualised as being "entertaining" - the failures have to also make you feel like you're "having fun" to be worthwhile. (Of course, this depends on the kind of game, and the kind of player - Dark Souls players, for example, presumably value the process of failure and improvement, and the need to work back through lost progress; conversely, Super Meat Boy likes to "fail" you very often, but because failure causes very little loss, and, in a sense, the failure is part of the "point", it's a very different experience.) And then, as Danielle noted, there's the issue with "storybased games", where the failure actively gets in the way of the point of the "Game" - failure (soft or hard) in the Game part can actively obstruct the Narrative part, or can interact with it in a way which pushes you out of the Narrative [say, for example, Dishonored 2's Chaos system, where a very lethal Emily or Corvo will act more like an angry sociopath, even if the *player* is very lethal through low-skill or lack of intent, and never thought of "their Emily/Corvo" that way.]. (As an aside, this is one reason why I think that insisting on "Walking Simulators are Games" as a category approach can be actively harmful - some things are harmed by trying to make them too "gamey", and would work much better if they could explore entirely non-game mechanics.) To an extent, narrative-heavy games seem to realise this - the "easy" mode for the two Deus Ex "prequel" games says something like "I'm here for the Story" - but ironically, their soft-failure modes and their interaction with not-quite-subtle-or-clever-enough morality-based plot forking engines, can make things just as frustrating.
  5. I'm a bit sad that there's no comments on the thread for this show yet - the whole discussion of performance-anxiety caused by "detailed score reports" from modern games really struck home for me. It's definitely something which affects me - along with the side-effects of morality systems misjudging incompetence for mal-intent - and makes me much less likely to stick with a game. (Not because the game isn't good, but because it's making me feel bad by pointing how how bad I am at it.) For a recent example, and one which is kinda relevant, I didn't finish Dishonored (the first one), because the later missions were too hard for me. But, the issue wasn't really that they were "too hard" - I am pretty sure I could have done the "Daud/Assassins/Whale district" mission, if I wasn't playing stealthily, and took lethal options - but that they were too hard whilst sticking to the options I felt limited to due to the game's morality system* and stat tracking judging me. It sucked a bit a lot of fun out of the game for me, and I'm strongly inhibited from buying Dishonored 2 because of the same effect. *the other "issue" with Dishonored is that the morality is also enforced for me by the goriness of lethal options. Even if it wasn't judging me on a screen / by Chaos level, it's still judging me by making lethal options visually unpleasant, and almost sadistic.
  6. I dunno - I've never talked to anyone in a multiplayer game either. I've typed things sometimes, but speaking out loud...? (And I've been playing multiplayer games online since the late 1990s, so before this newfangled audio chat thing even existed, which might actually be why I, at least, find it to be weird and odd. It's not that they're other people, it's that they're other people who are apparently phone-conferencing while they're playing.)
  7. PL4YST4TION 4

    I did (mainly because YouTube announced that they now support 4k uploads), but given I don't have any display devices capable of that resolution (my desktop monitors are two old sub 1080p LCD displays, and who owns a 4K TV?), I've never really felt the need to try it...
  8. PL4YST4TION 4

    Not really: an nVidia GTX960 is quite capable of doing hardware-accelerated decoding of h.264 at 4K resolutions. I'm assuming that the PS4 Pro's "4.2 TFlop AMD Radeon" should be able to beat that, given that that's almost twice a GTX960's measured compute power... (So, it's definitely fixable in software, I'd say.)
  9. Yeah, I feel that No Man's Sky either needed to be Danielle's vision of a more soft-social game, or go entirely the other way and do deep-mechanics survival. The half-way house it seems to be in doesn't help either aspect much.
  10. Well, that and it's specifically designed to represent matrix mathematics in a nice way (differently to how "conventionally fast" languages like C do), which means that it's nicer to express that kind of thing in (as well as making it easier for a compiler to make fast code from what you've written). Also, it's Fortran, not FORTRAN, unless you're really talking about versions of it from 1977 or earlier
  11. Quake Champions

    Yeah, it definitely has more of UT feel to me, too (although the announcer sounds like the Quake3 announcer, and the movement is a bit faster than UT... the rest feels very Unreal Tournament indeed). Not that I don't have good memories of UT, but this, in combination with the lack of a single-player component (I really really wanted a new single player Quake (1) reinvention), I'm not that taken so far...
  12. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    No, I mean that tranq'd guards run away and tend to alert people, which is problematic if you're trying to stealth. Clearly it's just me who had horrible difficulties judging the difference between "too far away to hit someone with a melee attack" and "detected by a person you've bumped into" then...
  13. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    I found that particularly annoying in a couple of places (particularly, it stymied my attempt at taking a "third option" in the aeroplane encounter). But how do you reliably hit them with the damn thing? Every time I've tried playing Liberty Island doing melee stun baton stealth, I end up wasting charges misjudging the melee distance (or getting detected trying to slowly move up to them getting the distance right), or getting detected by guards who I've tranq'd and are running around raising panic before they fall over.
  14. The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

    Adding my voice to those who strongly disliked the stealth training session - although, given that I also had horrible trouble judging melee distance, I really never managed at stealth or non-lethal stuff in DX at all...
  15. I'd argue that the "more to it" is about the history of how much seriousness "Video Games" have been treated with by "traditional" criticism. I'd say that there's a certain undercurrent of "defending video games" in both the "this isn't even a game" and the "this is definitely a game" responses to media like Everybody's Gone To The Rapture. (And I'd say that they're both wrong, for basically a related reason to you: that not being part of a genre is never a pejorative.) Compare, for example, to the situation in genre literature - the SF&F writing community is pretty used to the asymmetry in classification of works depending on how much "quality" the "serious literature critics" ascribe to them. (Works that serious critics like are almost never "SF", as are works by authors who serious critics consider to be serious - see the whole thing with Iain [M] Banks, who wrote both in and out of genre and equally ranked his works in both, to the apparent confusion of the Critics.) [Edited to add: and in the converse direction, there's things like the Sad Puppy movement, etc, who want to police what's "allowed inside" the genre to match their own preferences.]
  16. (I should say, I'm only unhappy with "Walking Simulator" because it downplays the importance of narrative to a lot of things categorised this way. Ironically, Rapture actually mostly gets criticised because the walking is too slow, and people feel impeded in experiencing it, so...) [Edited to note: I also don't think that things have to be a member of just one category of thing - it's pretty clear that things can transcend boundaries and be stronger by it. There's definitely a continuum in modern entertainment software between "things which are purely narrative" and "things which are purely game" (and "things which are purely non-narrative art", for that matter), and describing something as "software theatre" does not mean that it can't also have gameish or other elements.]
  17. It's probably mine: I'm used to a more antagonistic response, so I might be reading some criticism into your original paragraphs which is not there! I agree with pretty much everything you've said, other than that I do kinda care about the games thing, because I do think that a lot of the "X is a game" thing comes from a conscious or unconscious conflation of "this is part of my thing and therefore is good" which I don't think is particularly helpful. (Plus, I'm old enough to remember when Sim City was released, marketed specifically as a "software toy", not a game, soI think that shapes my perspective on definitions - I really dislike the apparent underlying assumption from a lot of people on the "X is a game" side that "being software" seems to weight something more heavily into being a game than not being software.) Yeah, I know, but part of the point of "software theatre" as a term, for me, is that it sidesteps and attacks that to an extent - someone who thinks that calling something "not a game" is somehow an insult deserves to have it gain critical acclaim for "not being a game", and thus have the basis of their value system weakened more fundamentally. (I also kinda agree that, ironically, given their proponents tending to be, stereotypically, the kind of people who insult "walking simulators", the Call of Duty games are becoming quite software theatre like themselves... )
  18. Sure, but "meaningful interaction" does not a game make - I explicitly referenced Promenade Theatre because it precisely is telling a narrative, whilst also allowing the "audience" to interact (via traversal, looking over the shoulders of the actors, exploring the space of the performance - often Promenade Theatre is designed around this, such that dependant on your choices in where in the space to be during different parts of a performance, you have different interpretations of the piece). This interaction is "meaningful", but it's not necessarily the kind of interaction which gives you a game - your agency is deployed differently, and can't influence the actual outcome of the performance, just your personal experience. Everybody's Gone To The Rapture doesn't manage to develop this level of sophistication - although you can't influence the result of the narrative in any way, you can potentially miss bits of narrative, but can't (IIRC) really miss the important aspects, and I don't think you could reasonably manage to have a significantly different interpretation to someone else. (If we consider Her Story as software narrative, then it definitely does achieve this - people sometimes strongly identify with whichever of the multiple possible interpretations they settle on, dependant on the ordering in which they uncover clips.) I take your point that "navigating virtual spaces" is a skill which needs to be learned*, but there are certainly 3d virtual spaces which claim not to be games (Second Life, being the most famous). It's not clear to me if this is an argument that "things that have virtual spaces are games" (which I would reject). I'd argue that there are distinct advantages to virtual spaces - you can construct environments and staging which would be infeasibly expensive, or physically impossible, to construct in reality, for example - which justify their use, even if there's a learning curve to interacting with them. (That learning curve might decrease if VR actually becomes more mainstream, potentially - much as it became easier to experience movies (and people learned how to interact with them, and not duck when the image of the train was heading "straight for you") when they became more widespread, and then actually entered the home.) I think that the creators of "walking sims" aren't necessarily making that decision on those bases though - mostly it's about accessibility of tools which exist for them to create their narrative in: most creators of "walking sims" either have a background in actual computer games dev, or in game mod development, so their skills in creative software are aligned with the tools which exist for creating virtual spaces in computer games. (Dear Esther and Everybody's Gone To The Rapture could equally have been implemented in the virtual spaces of Second Life, for example - although it might not have gotten the media attention if it was.) There are certainly problems with the way in which we make available, curate and discuss creations which involve virtual spaces - the lack of many "mainstream" outlets for things which don't "call themselves games" is definitely a cultural issue, but I don't think the correct sticking plaster is to simply decide that we're going to call "everything we want to talk about" a game. (Ironically, perhaps, Steam actually doesn't limit its own marketplace to games anymore...) *actually, I'd go further and argue that "navigating virtual spaces" is a skill that needs to be learned multiple times - I'm pretty competent at navigating a 3d space with a mouse and a keyboard, but with a modern controller I'm mostly hopeless. I recall a discussion either in Idle Thumbs or Idle Weekend about whether "tank controls" or more modern camera-relative controls were easier to use; whilst experienced navigators often find tank controls limiting, they seem to be easier for novices to grasp, for example.
  19. I've caused contention here before, but since it's relevant: I do think part of the problem with the "walking simulator" issue is that people are assuming that something that's interactive must necessarily be a game. Rob's issue with Everybody's Gone To the Rapture (which, I would argue, is shared with Dear Esther) "really actually being mostly about traversal" is key to this - essentially, you're traversing an environment, in which there's "narrative" which plays when you encounter it. The only reason that anyone calls this a game is that the environment that you're traversing is virtual, rather than physical. If it were in physical space, you'd call it Environmental or Promenade Theatre (like Thumbs favourite Sleep No More), or an Art Installation. So, perhaps, we should call Everybody's Gone To The Rapture "software theatre", which would also neatly stop people who think that "game" is somehow an badge of quality, rather than a simple descriptor of a kind of interactive media from being able to complain about it "not being a game". (Afterall: as the letter you responded to noted, the qualities that are valuable in "walking simulators" are explicitly those qualities which are not often prized as a game, but are prized in theatre and art, so why try to shoehorn them into a context which doesn't want to appreciate them?)
  20. I Had a Random Thought (About Video Games)

    It's still enough now! (Really though: when did one joystick/d-pad stop being enough...)
  21. I Had a Random Thought (About Video Games)

    Well, it'd be interesting to see what the "unique" distilled aspects of Quake would be - the new Doom already takes some things from Quake (like the verticality, and more trivially, the quad damage powerup) in modernising Doom. Other than the tone and aesthetics, and the "being really 3-d", what's the core things about Quake which make its gameplay different from Doom? Doom 2016 works because it realised that the "core" things about Doom - the encouragement of aggression, the fast pace and rhythm which comes from being able to dodge projectiles whilst also attacking (and also not having things attacking all of the time - which is what secrets, and the need to find them are for), needing to prioritise enemies, and, tonally, being totally comfortable with embracing the B-movieness of Demons Invade Mars as a plot - can be applied to a more modern FPS design. So, what would we need to do to do the same with Quake? It's got a bit more weight to it, control-wise, than Doom, although not by much. The big changes to movement (other than the fact of 3d giving us jumping at all) are grenade and rocket jumps and swimming sections (plus those air pipes which push you around in some later levels). The big environmental changes are that the environment can change more - there's a bunch of "mechanical" traps which rely on the floor or ceiling or walls moving when you trip switches - or actively attacks you with projectiles (which require timing to avoid). Oh, and it has trick bosses. [And, I realised after writing this, it actually has trick enemies - zombies can't be killed unless gibbed/dealt enough damage in one hit to explode them; shamblers are explosive-resistant; spawn explode when killed, so you need to get distance from them to safely dispatch them etc]
  22. I've noticed a particular comment about the Doom protagonist in a few contexts, including Idle Weekend, so this is as good a time as any to bring up a slight point of confusion for me over interpretation of his character. Several people mention the "punching the terminal" thing as an indicator/textual statement about how Doom is all about Action and "Dudebro" characterisation of the protagonist. It seems pretty clear to me that Doomguy's behaviour is actually a little more nuanced than this - there's actually a surprising amount of characterisation given for him in his little interactions in cutscenes (looking pointedly at a dead body when Hayden does one of this justifications of using Argent energy being "for the benefit of humanity"), and it seems rather clear that Doomguy isn't so much a Dudebro as a guy who (understandably) Really Hates Demons and People Who Try To Justify Means From Ends (given his backstory, it seems reasonable) - a bit later in the game, he does take time to perform some actions on his own initiative, to protect another character, which shows he's not just all about killing. It's actually one of the more impressive things about Doom that it manages to actually do a little physical characterisation whilst also being a full-on Action FPS of the kind that we've not had in years.
  23. DOOM

    Yeah, watching it just makes me flash back to the first (and only) time I played Goldeneye on the N64 around a friends'. I was moderately good at competitive FPS at the time, on PCs with a mouse and a keyboard ... I don't think I ever managed to get my muscle memory to work with the dual-stick controller setup, and spent most of the time being painfully unable to aim in any direction without explicit conscious thought and painstaking effort. So, I actually have a lot of sympathy for the person playing in that video [although you do wonder why they put it up, given that they're obviously out of their comfort zone...] (I've never really been confident with controllers for anything other than scrolling shooters or fighting games, though, and I still don't use them enough to actually have any kind of useful muscle memory with them.)
  24. I thought this was curious too - I have a lot more problems with Quake 4 than I think you do, but it seemed generally pretty competent, managed to improve on Quake 2's enemy design in a few ways, and was mostly pretty good fun. It certainly wasn't as terrible as people seem to now be remembering it as. (I mean, obviously it would have been better if they'd junked Quake 2 in favour of a sequel to the original Quake, but...) That said, I've never played a Call of Duty game, so I'm unable to see if any of the comparisons made are apt...
  25. Yeah, along with my dissatisfaction with the text for some of the tech items, this is fuelling my desire to write a tweaked-tech-tree mod with a few more interdependancies and things. (Also, looking in the game files itself, there's one or two techs commented out - including what appears from the name to have been a technology for gaining power by demolishing stars! I kinda hope a later update brings that back - there's strategic import in being able to remove stars from the map, given their role in providing routes between destinations...)