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Your favourite game design howlers


Eighthours
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Everything is subjective. But is it reasoned?

I offered my reasoning as to why it's bad design, specifically why as a game mechanic it can only ever produce mediocrity at best. Yeah, it can do vertigo nice, but the gameplay is shit because of the game design.

I found the first-person perspective combined with the intelligent signposting of interactive scenery made for a 3D climb-em-up that was much more about interacting with the environment on an instinctive level than Tomb Raider's cautious and somewhat frustrating (for me) exploration and mental mapping of the location to decypher how the designer wished you to complete the predetermined route through the level. It's a subtle difference, forcing players to think on their toes while platforming rather than the patient methods usually employed in 3D games, and I think, iffy level design aside, there's a lot of possibilities in there. Certainly Mirror's Edge seemed to me to provide a far more visceral and kinetic platforming experience as a result of the first-person viewpoint.

Though I only played (and enjoyed) the demo, I suppose you probably have to see out the back of Faith's head instead of the front in the full game or something.

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There are just too many buttons in ME, man. You can learn the complex controls and (imo) unintuitive button mappings, but I think it stopped a lot of people from enjoying the game. It's just really hard to get into. Many of my friends and colleagues were seriously frustrated with it and found the game... annoying. Oh god I'm being shot at. Oh god I missed the jump. Oh god I have to turn my head 360 degrees hold down RT do a wall run and at the same time leap across to the painstakingly slow-to-climb pipe Oh I failed. It's no wonder it performed badly, although I honestly think we'll see a sequel. I am very fond of the cost-effective art, even the shitty Flash 6 cutscenes, and I like the vapid euroclub trancemix GO vibe.. and the blue skies. But I never got the feeling of improvisation that I expected. There was some fun to be had there, but it certainly is a game with design howlers.

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Yes, talking about such things as a game which requires me to judge jump distances and complex moves frequently not giving me enough visual information to do so. Oooh, what was I thinking. Let's talk about some of the more usual tropes instead. Who's up for yet another bitch about save points? :)

Srsly guyz. I had this much trouble judging distances = 0. Try looking at your feet before difficult jumps perhaps? I noticed there's always an extra footstep you can get in, much like when Miner Willy jumps from the very final pixel of a platform.

I'd suggest the difficulty lies with your ability instead of the design.

QTE events are ALWAYS shit, btw.

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I can refute it, and easily. You're trying to worm your way out of this with some rather poor semantics."The consequence being the amount you enjoy the game." Nigga Pleeeeease. By that eye-of-a-needle rationale, you're effectively stating that there are no bad and good designs, only subjective opinions. Which is another way of saying you don't agree with me simply on the basis that you don't agree with me. And so there's nothing to refute.

We're not just talking about whether you're able to do things like change storylines. That's the easy-peasy stuff as far as choice modeling and the like goes. Ooh, the narrative can branch a few ways if yo do certain things. Big whoop. Not hard to do design-wise, all it is is a few triggers.

No, what I'm talking about is teh game designz, in which you set down various game systems and rules in order to create complex choices. You do get that right? Right? Or am I just talking to an Eiger here?

Lastly, yes I did (here and here) and in detail to boot. As well you know.

Ad hominem, btw, doesn't mean discussing people's opinions. That is what is called debate. Ad hominem, on the other hand, is attacking the person in the absence of having any countering points to make. Such as this:

And it's a basic troll's trick. Honestly, if you're going to troll do it properly.

Or try actually addressing the points. For a change.

For example: I made a point about dimensionality to explain what I was saying about consequence. Rather than a bland bit of semantic wankery over turning the word 'consequence' into some non-point about 'The consequence being the amount you enjoy the game.' what do you actually think about dimensionality, do you agree with it, do you think it's better that choices get more complex or not? As the self-declared greatest fan of Deus Ex, I would think you'd have a lot to say on the subject?

You're crazy, bro. Your reasons for the unified ammo being a 'design fail' were that it discourages resource management (aka using the pistol all the time so you can save your rockets for other stuff) and that having limited ammo for certain weapons presents choice (while I think it makes choice an illusion). The old system meant that if you didn't have a rocket, you had to crawl past the sentry bot. That's not choice.

This talk of dimensionality is bizarre. You think that a game being more complex will inherently make it more fun? My point from the beginning was that Invisible War stripped away dimensions that were wholly superficial to the game at hand (as well as a few which helped the atmosphere, such as keypad entry). The active gameplay consequences of Deus Ex are given less weight by the fact that the ammo/inventory management forces choices onto you that you would otherwise not have taken. Invisible War removes these constraints, leaving you in a far more balanced position at each juncture to act at your discretion, and giving the consequences more weight as a result.

And sure, Ad Hominem, whatever. I've never seen someone so stubbornly refuse to understand this point while attributing its merits to his own argument. It's like you live in Opposites Land or something.

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Yes, talking about such things as a game which requires me to judge jump distances and complex moves frequently not giving me enough visual information to do so. Oooh, what was I thinking. Let's talk about some of the more usual tropes instead. Who's up for yet another bitch about save points? :)

Call me a shit-eating, piss-drinking lunatic if you like, but surely you judge jumping distance in Mirror’s Edge in exactly the same way you judge jumping distance in all other games – through perspective? i.e. you judge the distance of objects and the size of jumps by their relative size on the screen. Am I on crazy pills?

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I played Mirror's Edge last week and I think it's obvious that Neuromancer/Meh etc were just a bit rubbish at it. I played through on normal and found it really easy. Sure I missed the odd jump, but it was usually my fault.

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<LONG POST>

So we've established Neuromancer is a flame-baiting troll, right? I could reply to everything you've said but I don't want to waste my time anymore, you've chatted so much shit I wouldn't even know where to start. You're entitled to your opinion, as everyone has said, but when you state it as FACT time and time again it really starts to grate.

Seriously there is nothing wrong with Mirror's Edge, you clearly just sucked at the game if you had much trouble. Like Timmo 90% of the time it was easy enough but this didn't make it any less enjoyable for me. Save one or two glitchy platforms, every time I died from the platforming aspect it was due to my own error.

I am very fond of the cost-effective art, even the shitty Flash 6 cutscenes, and I like the vapid euroclub trancemix GO vibe..

lol

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You might have, but he's made his points clearly and succinctly enough, whether you agree with them or not.

I'd agree with that, it's more the way he is presenting his opinions as fact and dismissing anyone who disputes his point of view, clearly just to try and get a rise. And he succeeded, oh well.

EDIT: See this post:

One man's subjective truth is another man's objective fallacy. One day Neuro may realise that his view of the world is not 'correct', and any dissenting views are not 'incorrect', but that day will not come soon. So, until then, ignore the flamebait.
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Not annoying, but an actually stupid design ...

Company logos are a necessary evil but ...

when they pop up at the start of a game EVERYONE will press a button to skip it.

So why do they all fade in or have an animation before splashing the logo up ???

It should be BAM!!! Too late button mashers! We made this!

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So we've established Neuromancer is a flame-baiting troll, right?

In fairness, I think I'm just as guilty as him in failing to really articulate my points regarding Deus Ex 2.

Mirror's Edge is blatantly wank, I called it as soon as the damn thing was announced. Damn I'm good.

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Guardian Heroes?

To be fair, I was specifically thinking of Too Human's implementation; GH used its cleric well by not nerfing her offensive ability (thanks to the way you could allocate plenty of points to her other attributes anyway, and to her offensive magic): her random magic attacks were good fun, and during the final bosses her circle of healing could be an absolute godsend.

The problems come in TH because the healer is near-incompetent at all combat, never getting a decent DPS, making the game unbearably tedious when playing as them. If the game had come out, as it was intended, with four-player mode, they would have been far more useful, but as it is they seem a waste of a character slot.

In fact, one other Too Human problem: when making a game designed from the ground-up to be multiplayer, try to keep to the number of players you initially intended. Also, try and find a way to explain the presence of said extra characters, rather than having two of the same person (albeit in a different class) playing through.

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So why do they all fade in or have an animation before splashing the logo up ???

It should be BAM!!! Too late button mashers! We made this!

Fucking a, but there's all sorts of coporate legal bullshit associated with logo display times, forced display and so on with a lot of games. Hnng.

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No, it's not.

The arguments being made earlier was that it had sold copies, therefore it must have been liked.

To which I said "no it hasn't, it hit the discount bins at light speed"

To which the counter was "well maybe that's good"

To which I countered "grasping at straws" and showed some stats

To which the counter was "Jesus Christ" etc in frustration at my fairly simple pointing out of fact that the game is a commercial, and imo critical, failure (Hence the Zero Punctuation link).

Well, what I actually wrote in reality was:

Jesus Christ, Neuromancer. The mere fact that so many people had no problem with the viewpoint in Mirror's Edge proves that it's not a game design "howler". You might not personally like it but enough people do to prove it's not inherently broken.

That's nothing to do with sales. I never mentioned sales there. I don't see what sales has to do with the issue. I said that so many people have said that the viewpoint is fine that it can't be inherently broken, which is true. And I mainly meant people on this board.

Oh, and I don't see how you can decide that ME is "in your opinion" a critical faliure. It either is or it isn't. Posting a single review (and from the famously negative Zero Punctuation no less) is hardly the general view. It scored 79 in metacritic garnering what the site itself calls "generally positive reviews". That's hardly critical failiure. And reviews aren't even relevant in this case. Personally, I would mark Mirror's Edge quite low - it's full of problems. But the viewpoint isn't one of them.

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You're crazy, bro. Your reasons for the unified ammo being a 'design fail' were that it discourages resource management (aka using the pistol all the time so you can save your rockets for other stuff) and that having limited ammo for certain weapons presents choice (while I think it makes choice an illusion). The old system meant that if you didn't have a rocket, you had to crawl past the sentry bot. That's not choice.

Indeed. That's consequence.

What I'm driving at is that the older system made choices complex because you basically have to think of the consequences, whereas the newer system basically made all the choices immediate because the unified ammo removed the need to worry about consequence. The only consequence was, essentially, that you might run out of ammo entirely. And I think that's bad.

This talk of dimensionality is bizarre. You think that a game being more complex will inherently make it more fun? My point from the beginning was that Invisible War stripped away dimensions that were wholly superficial to the game at hand (as well as a few which helped the atmosphere, such as keypad entry). The active gameplay consequences of Deus Ex are given less weight by the fact that the ammo/inventory management forces choices onto you that you would otherwise not have taken. Invisible War removes these constraints, leaving you in a far more balanced position at each juncture to act at your discretion, and giving the consequences more weight as a result.

The best example I can think of of dimensionality (which is, admittedly, a wanky word) is the difference between chess and draughts because they both use the same kind of play area, number of players and turn basis.

Draughts is a game in which your choices are generally very simple. All pieces move the same way, therefore all the strategy of the game involves trying to work out your best plan of attack to get King'd and kill the other guy. It's a good game, but a relatively simple one.

Chess, on other hand, has pieces with many different types of movement. That means that movement in Chess is more complex than in Draughts, it has more dimensions to it. Working out attack and defenses in Chess is much harder and the game is far more strategic as a result. The consequences of a mis-step in Chess can be devastating, but it takes more skill to perceive them before they happen. So Chess is a better game than Draughts.

In a sense, what I'm saying is that Invisible Wars' mistake is that it takes Chess and turns it into Draughts by virtue of the unified ammo mechanic (sort of - you still have more weapons, but the need to choose between them is cosmetic rather than strategic). You have less immediate choice in the first game, but you have less in the way of meaningful consequence in the second one, and (in my opinion, less I get accused of factoiding again) that makes the second game worse.

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Call me a shit-eating, piss-drinking lunatic if you like, but surely you judge jumping distance in Mirror’s Edge in exactly the same way you judge jumping distance in all other games – through perspective? i.e. you judge the distance of objects and the size of jumps by their relative size on the screen. Am I on crazy pills?

But perspective is the one thing you don't have. Like I was saying before.

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I'd agree with that, it's more the way he is presenting his opinions as fact and dismissing anyone who disputes his point of view, clearly just to try and get a rise. And he succeeded, oh well.

Not at all.

If I seem testy to you, then it's only because folks got unwarrantedly testy at me first. I've tried to just explain my thinking, why it is that the game design fails as I see it, and just reason it out. Any further inference from that is your own projection.

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Of course you do. You don't have stereoscopic vision but that isn't massively important.

In this particular case, in this game, I think it is.

First person perspective is great when you're doing things at range or at speed because you can judge distance very easily. But when you can't do that reliably, the game becomes blind luck and hope-for-the-best actions rather than any sense of skill. ME's problem is that its close range and slow, and so the game experience is rather like being someone running over the rooftops with only one functioning eye.

Not all perspectives work for all games. A counter-example would be a game where the main gameplay was about sniper-rifling enemies over half mile distances, and yet the game insisted on a 3rd person perspective.

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