Jul 30, 2016

No New Vegas this week, sorry

I smashed my right hand like an idiot, so I can barely type now. Should get better by next weekend, hopefully.

Jun 27, 2016

DOOM, And How To (Not) Ruin Your Arcade FPS

So DOOM (4) is out, and it has accomplished the seemingly impossible - it's a triple-A shooter in 2016 that actually does the franchise justice, and even improves on the old classics in some respects. In light of this new triumph, I'd like us to focus on all the things DOOM doesn't do, that make it such a great successor to the FPS legacy of old.

Apr 9, 2015

FTL Is Unfair(ly Maligned) - Part 2: The REAL Problem With FTL

After enemy weapons go down, I can safely pull the engine 
guy to fight the boarder

I may sound dismissive towards people complaining about having a hard time with the game, but I actually understand where they are coming from. Their problems are all symptoms of an underlying unintuitiveness of FTL's gameplay, combined with a lack of hints or tutorials teaching how to play, not just how to control.  Because the tutorial doesn't do much more than teach where all the buttons are, all the player has to go on is their pre-existing knowledge of RPG games and how to play them.

But FTL's approach to upgrade progression differs significantly from a typical RPG. In a regular RPG, the player picks a path (guns, swords, plumbing expertise) to follow and then keeps investing more and more into that one path: getting shootier guns, bigger swords or mightier plungers, excluding everything else. In contrast, FTL is all about upgrading to a wider range of attack and defense systems.

FTL Is Unfair(ly Maligned) - Part 1: It's Not Random

This is so unfair, the enemy ship can't even damage me

As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts, I love "roguelites": indie games mixing various existing genres with traditional roguelike ideals of replayability, permadeath and procedural world generation.

And my favorite roguelite game to date is FTL: Faster Than Light. It is a rare example of a game that focuses on planning and preparation, and rewards that above all else (and, contrarywise, punishes lack of planning and sloppy, reactionary play).

Thus, being both a fanboy and the type of gaming windbag focused mainly on dissecting game mechanics, I am dismayed by people constantly claiming it's "random" and "unfair". I see those labels being used all the time, by everyone from everyday gamers to pundits and professional reviewers and critics (who are supposed to know better), some going so far as to brand it nothing more than a "slot machine", a game where the player's actions are meaningless and the whims of the random number generator alone determine if you win.

Mar 9, 2015

Why Most Elemental Damage And Status Effect Systems Are Pointless

This primarily applies to RPGs (Western ones, I've never really played a JRPG, it's possible they implement it way better, I wouldn't know).

The idea itself isn't bad in theory, but somehow whenever I see a game use it, the system serves no practical purpose.

Mar 3, 2015

It's The Economy, Stupid: Variety In The Binding Of Isaac And Other Roguelites

I hate this boss so much

I enjoy most genres, but roguelites/roguelike-likes are a particular favorite of mine. I'm drawn in by multiple qualities: the real choices and consequences of permadeath, the focus on solid gameplay instead of narrative or visuals, the tendency for multiple short playthroughs keeping the experience tight. And the way these games make use of procedural content to offer a huge variety of scenarios, letting me fully explore a set of mechanics. And in the variety department, no other game in the genre has been able to top the sheer replayability of the Binding of Isaac (the first game or Rebirth). I often wonder why that is. When other roguelite games have tried to use Isaac's formula, or some choice bits of it, none of them really came close to the same potential for different playthroughs. They appear to just copy some shallow elements of BoI's gameplay, seemingly without understanding their purpose in the overall system.

So what is this system, exactly? What makes each playthrough in Isaac so different from the last?

May 31, 2011

Let's Play Baldur's Gate - Part 22: "Enemy At The 'Gate"

Warning: the final part of this post contains a lethal dose of screenshots, proceed at your own risk.

And thus, after a not-quite-final showdown at the Duchal Palace, the remaining Grand Dukes are saved, the party's collective names are cleared (sort of) and Sarevok is ousted and on the run, with us in hot pursuit.