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Gaming ideas that make you go, "That's genius!"

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I haven't played much Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, but when I first got out onto the streets...

 

I saw the hospital. Hospitals have blood, and I've just been turned into a vampire. Makes sense, right? I'll just go in and there'll probably be some blood bag items I can click on to pick up or something. I headed down to the right door, and at a service window there's a staff member who immediately calls my know-nothing vampire ass out and says if I want some black market blood I'd best come back with the cash.

:lol: A proper, "Whoa, I didn't expect that!" moment.

 

 

My sib's been watching me pour hours into Metal Gear Solid V after completing it themselves, and as the ending credits were rolling...

 

I mentioned how some stuff hadn't been resolved - I'd heard about Big Boss having a body double, and such, but not seen it yet. Cue "COMING UP IN EPISODE 2", a short trailer and then the news that I was only 50% of the way through the main game!

 

 

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Elder Scrolls Oblivion when you step out of the tunnel after the prison and can go where the hell you want to go. I'd never really played an open world game before and the freedom that offered from the start was amazing.

 

The final endings of Persona 3 and Persona 4. I did not think I would ever get that emotionally invested in a games characters that I would be as affected as I was by the endings. 2 VERY different endings as well. Playing the final songs on the dancing versions of 3 and 4 where all the charatcers involved still bring that back to me. 5 didn't have the same impact as I there is not as much finality about the ending, but that end dance still gets me emotionally.

 

World of Warcraft. Riding a bat for the first time and seeing other players underneath me realising what a huge world this was and I was sharing it with lots of other people. Getting that with FF 14 at the moment.

 

 

 

 

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I had something like this when I first played Persona 3 - I had bounced off a lot of JRPGs before but with P3 it wasn’t just “that’s genius” but also “why don’t other JRPGs do this?” For instance:

 

Linear dungeons with more granular difficulty curves - one of my earliest JRPG lessons came from me getting destroyed in a new dungeon in FFVII, bitching about it in college the next day and having my friend tell me to go back to an earlier dungeon and grind. However, sometimes the difference in difficulty would be such that I’d have to pick between battles I can’t win and battles that gave measly EXP rewards - less of a difficulty “curve” and more like steps. P3’s answer was to have one dungeon with literally hundreds of rooms in the form of Tartarus, so you could find a sweet spot between challenge and reward much more easily.

 

Elemental weaknesses that are worth exploiting - the “one more” and “all-out attack” systems are great. Often with JRPGs, using the correct element usually just results in a slightly bigger number popping out of the enemy, but in modern Persona games you can exploit an elemental weakness and then your character will get an extra action... which could be used to exploit a weakness on a different enemy, and so on. Exploit everyone’s weakness, and you can do a special attack for bonus damage. However, your party members are just as susceptible to this system as you are, so there’s a nice layer of risk there.

 

Social links - just hear me out, okay? I know that on the surface the social link system is very “go out with your waifu” but I feel like it solves a classic JRPG issue where the protagonist goes out of his way to win over a character that the player can’t stand, or acts like a jerk towards a character that the player actually likes. By creating optional character arcs that the player chooses to see, they have more agency over the protagonist, or at least the illusion of more agency. Other games do this a little bit - invisible paths in FFVII deciding who Cloud will date - but I think it’s a smart way of handling that dissonance between player and character.

 

Well, until that goddamn beach scene in Persona 3, anyway...

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Prey (Arkane Studios) letting you see what's in a cupboard without having to press a button first to open it.

 

Dishonored 2's A Crack in the Slab such a genius level that lets you play with a brilliant time travel device.

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1 hour ago, GamesGamesGames said:

The last moments of Braid.

 

The first moments of Fez.

 

Escaping in Portal.

 

The late game stuff in Fez was brilliant as well: 

Spoiler

Switching to first person, the Tetris alphabet, the ridiculous codes people cracked in order to get all the hearts. Proper Keanu "Whoa" moments, they were.

 

And more gimmicky than genius, but loads of stuff in MGS: switching controllers against Psycho Mantis; Meryl's codec on the back of the box; using cigarette smoke to see the infrared lasers; being able to kill the End in an early cutscene, or literally waiting for him to die by leaving the game on.

 

Oh, and the first physics puzzle with the buoyant barrels in Half Life 2. The realism of it all broke my tiny mind.

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51 minutes ago, Ran said:

A minor one but Prince of Persia weaving the whole framework of the game as a story being told. 

Death / restart being framed as "no, that's not how the story went" etc.

 

Idle Thumbs ruined that for me when they pointed out that his narration must consist of things like:

 

"..and then after running along a wall I mistimed the jump and got impaled on a pit of spikes and died....wait, no, that's not what happened..."

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Hotel Dusk - seeing a completed jigsaw on one screen and being asked to flip the puzzle over to see a message on the back... by closing the DS. You then open it and see the flipped puzzle on the other screen. It was a great way of utilising a feature that I assumed was just there to tell the DS when to go to sleep.

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Inventory screens can be a much welcomed opportunity to pause and catch your breath in an action-oriented game. In Resident Evil, for example, you can use those few moments when you are healing or switching weapons to think about your strategy.

 

So Zombi-U, with its inventory screen that not only forces you to take things out of your backpack in real time but also makes you split your attention between the game world on the TV and the contents of your bag on the gamepad screen, was genuinely game changing. An amazing mechanic that was sadly not adopted by other developers.

 

The game also deserves praise for the gameplay feature of, on death, encouraging you to hunt down and defeat your previous avatar to regain your loot. It added consequences to death, that was not only frustrating but also felt organic in the game world.

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Arkham Knight spoilers. 

Spoiler

 

The Joker in Arkham Knight being a hallucination in Bruce Wayne's mind, all through the game. It genuinely is genius. 

 

 

Arkham Knight spoilers, obviously. 

 

 

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Sightline: The Chair (and later, Batman VR) when you look around the room and the walls that are outside of your viewpoint close in around you, so when you look back, it's like "Jesus!" as you jump out of your skin at the surprise of a wall.  A wall!

 

I think VR forces developers to be inventive.  The way that you walk into a dark room in Resi7 or Blood and Truth, it has so much.... scale.  a dark room is a genuinely unsettling experience for a while as you forget that you're actually wearing a headset so you're sat in the dark, on your own, in your house. The bright screens in the headset take you into the world so that when you do find yourself in an isolated scenario, you really do feel like you're in the dark, alone....  it's creepy. 

 

Also VR forces inventiveness with the controls.  Just holding a PS Aim controller in the hands and looking down and seeing (what feels like) your own hands and the big gun.  You can look at all sides of the gun and it all feels so real because you can see your hands, you can see the gun, you can feel the gun in your hands. It just works.... very cool.

 

  

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The game has been out for over four years ... though I suppose as this isn't a thread specifically about the game, it probably should be fully spoilered. I'll edit the post. 

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Easy ones for me are:

  • Starting Little Big Adventure 2, opening comfortably in Twinsen's house with the original's art style of 3d models over isometric pre-rendered backdrop, only to exit the house and find myself in a fully 3D, polygonal world that seemed to stretch on forever. Mindblowing.
  • Playing Thief, and confronting NPCs who reacted believably to hearing things, who could be tricked and distracted by using noise. Such a simple thing, but until then the closest to 'believable' behaviour that I'd seen in games had been characters who were reliant on line of sight - moving to characters that not only had hearing but could be fooled into going the wrong way by making noises at a distance? Brilliant.
  • Playing Deus Ex, getting the end of the very first level (having already been astonished by the scope and freedom of approach), and being confronted with an 'enemy' who made it apparent that maybe I couldn't just take everything my ostensible allies were telling me at face value.

 

Still, I don't want to just wax nostalgic about the things that astonished me as a youth, so some more recent examples:

  • Total War: Three Kingdoms squaring the circle of wanting to use the whole 'Three Kingdoms' concept while not wanting to restrict you to just said three states to play. Instead the game starts before the kingdoms have formed, and has a 'Three Kingdoms' event trigger once any one state (player-controlled or otherwise) crosses a certain threshold of prestige, at which point the three most powerful states automatically declare themselves emperor and become the Three Kingdoms (with immediate, dramatic effects on any shared coalitions or alliances).
  • This amazing piece of branching dialogue in Pathologic 2:1221627741_DialogueTreePathologic.thumb.jpg.059aa82a82a2cea38dea2baf193b21a8.jpg
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8 hours ago, Thor said:

Arkham Knight spoilers. 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

The Joker in Arkham Knight being a hallucination in Bruce Wayne's mind, all through the game. It genuinely is genius. 

 

 

Arkham Knight spoilers, obviously. 

 

 

 

I think my fave bit was the homage to Killing Joke though. I absolutely wasn't expecting it, but when the knock on the door happened I knew exactly what was gonna happen and it just hit all the beats for me. 

 

I'm a sucker for all the Arkham games though (even Origins - it's a much better game than people give it credit for). Each of them have moments which gave me complete mind-fucks.

 

In a good way :D

 

My own contribution is Darkest Dungeon. It's the sheer bloody ruthlessness of it all and you have to get into the unusual mindset of not caring about whether your heroes die. Mainly because they will die. Regularly. It's utterly refreshing, and slightly disturbing in how it brings out the brutal bastard in you!

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My favourite moment of genius is in the design of the Dreamcast version of Bangai-O: the way your offensive capabilities increase in proportion to threat, and the way that certain levels were designed around that, requiring you to just hurl yourself into a maelstrom of enemy bullets in order to power up your attack enough to get through it.

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15 hours ago, Thor said:

Arkham Knight spoilers. 

  Hide contents

 

The Joker in Arkham Knight being a hallucination in Bruce Wayne's mind, all through the game. It genuinely is genius. 

 

 

Arkham Knight spoilers, obviously. 

 

 

 

Spoiler

A lot of the times he pops up feel really organic and unscripted, further adding to the creepiness - one time I was minding my own business scoping out the train station (think I had to activate a bridge or something) and so I went all the way up to the insanely high parapet at the top to scope it out. I swung the camera around and there he was on the edge, teasing me for skulking around on a rooftop like only Batman would do. It blew my mind, because obviously some dev was like “I bet people are gonna come up here to recon lmao” but that whole missable moment came right through the fourth wall at me because me thinking like Bats would had taken me up there. I had become vengeance. I had become the night. I had become Batman. 

 

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