Favorite Animations

Heard you’re an animator. I have to ask, what is some of the most impressive animation you have ever seen, whether it’s from a video game, anime, or just some Youtube video.

Redline. 7 years. All Hand Drawn.

3rd strike.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (I have the book with all the pencils in it. The final fight with lord genome had like, twice the number of key frames as an ordinary anime)

Cowboy Bebop

This, which I haven’t bothered to look up the name for.

All of the post-sotn castlevania games have really beautiful animation for the main characters.

Happy Harry is fucking ridiculously good.

A lot of animations in SFV are amazing (also the way they smoothly blend command grabs is fucking beautiful)

FLCL had this:

Nichijou was a masterpiece:

King of Fighters always had great animation

Vanquish is pretty great all around:

Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion made amazing use of subpixel shift for super subtle pixel animations:

Kekkai sensen, also known as blood battle blockade

Animatrix: World Record

Mirror’s Edge has amazing animations:

Every smash game except 64 has superb animations

Dark Souls

Have some ugly interpolation on Thief and The Cobbler (which is fucking phenomenal animation-wise):

For that matter, everything from golden age warner brothers and disney. It’s all fucking nuts. Also Batman The Animated Series.

Puzzles vs Games

Layton is awesome. You don’t classify puzzles as games, right? But as something sort of a sidestep away?

Yeah, I don’t think they’re really the same type of thing, or at least, can’t be judged the same type of way. Puzzles tend to focus on a small number of solutions, and games tend to focus on a large number. Puzzles have a spoiler effect, where once you know the answer to a puzzle, it’s trivial; where in games even if you’ve done something before, it can still be extremely difficult.

You could also say there’s a continuum or spectrum between the two. After all, I frequently point out elements in games that are more puzzle-like.

I think Tetris being labeled a puzzle game, as well as other falling block games similar to it, is a complete misnomer.

I like good puzzles, but I think they need to be judged on a set of standards and criteria that isn’t the same as games. Something like depth (as I’ve defined it for games) is no longer a factor for whether a puzzle is good or not. Though then there’s weird exceptions like portal which clearly benefit from depth in a manner similar to games. A large state space in of itself can help prevent a puzzle from being brute forced, by trying every possible solution. A lot of Layton puzzles for example just involve inputting a number, but they are still frequently good. I could probably ruminate on good puzzle making until I come up with something satisfactory with a lot of research, but currently I regard that as outside my scope.

Though now that I think about it, I can see a connection between many puzzles and complexity class, as pointed out by Raph Koster in his Games are Math talk. http://www.raphkoster.com/2009/09/22/gdca-games-are-math-slides-posted/ A lot of good puzzles (and good games) regard problems that are difficult to process in terms of state size, but there are exceptions to that too, like simply figuring out connections between established mechanics.

Metroid AM2R

How would you rank the metroid games from greatest to least? (Including AM2R)

It’s really hard for me to rank the metroid games because I played most of them many years ago, with the exception of Super Metroid, Zero Mission, and AM2R. Even among those it’s really hard to rate one above the others.

Super Metroid clearly has the highest absolute depth and most interesting speedruns as a result. There’s a lot of subtle stuff that goes on in it that no other metroid game has. It also has the most interesting world structure and powerups. However Super Metroid is really slow and really easy. Kraid in particular is disappointing. Phantoon stands out however.

Zero Mission is much faster and has a nice structure to its world, is also much harder, but has less going on with its game engine, and is kind of tethered to the powerups that fit Metroid 1. It has great bosses and pretty alright enemies.

AM2R is on-par with Zero Mission in most ways, except it has the speed booster and redesigned controls that make use of modern controller limits, doing a number of things with the controls that no previous metroid game has done. It has the most challenging and best designed enemies in the series as well as some of the best bosses, if not outright the best bosses. Many of the enemies and bosses make very clear use of the different beam and missile modes very intelligently, requiring you to switch at the proper times.

I kind of want to put the original Metroid above Super Metroid, because it’s a harder game with better enemies and bosses in most ways, but that also doesn’t feel totally right.

Worst Metroid is definitely Other M. No contest, easy choice.

The 3d Metroids I also have trouble comparing. I think Metroid Prime 3 is the worst because of its more disconnected and linear guided structure. I didn’t play enough of Metroid Prime 2 to judge it. Metroid Prime 1 I played so long ago that I do not have very clear memories of what the non-speedrun experience is like.

The Line between Complexity and Accessibility

For a developer, in your eyes, is it a necessary evil to sacrifice the complexity that translate to depth, in order to prevent alienating their target audience? It is a dilemna I struggle with. I want my game to be deep, which comes from complexity, but not if it means people won’t play it.

I think there’s ways of getting both, and I’d cite Smash Bros Melee for this. It was a commercial success, but it’s also tremendously complex and deep. It was able to accomplish this because the majority of people who played the game have no actual fucking idea how to play it, or what most of the functions are. It has a very simple foothold for people getting into the game. You move around like a platformer, you attack in the direction of your opponent and it usually works. Super simple.

Making a game deep but understandable is about connecting with what your audience actually wants and actually can understand. The key is building a low “skill floor”, the minimum level of skill necessary to functionally play the game.

Street Fighter has a very high skill floor in comparison to Smash Bros. To play on a basic level, you need to know a LOT more and be competent at a lot more, otherwise you can’t even make real decisions.

I think this is what holds back a lot of action games, they have these complex move lists and people take one look at that and go, “like fuck I’m gonna remember all that” or they just mash buttons and it usually works, so they call it a button mashing game.

A ton of really complex games are extremely successful, like league of legends, but they do that by making the players’ most basic means of interaction with the game really simple. You can move, you can shoot, you have like 4 abilities. A lot of the other stuff is more advanced and you don’t need to know immediately. You can feel like you actually understand the game well enough to play fairly quickly. Similar deal with Pokemon, which has hundreds of actual pokemon, hundreds of moves, abilities, and weird other shit, but kids don’t need to know all that just to play.

I think the key is layered complexity, and introducing things one at a time, while not holding advanced players back. It’s a fine line to walk.

Understanding Framedata: Combos, Traps, and Turns

I want to come back to this later to add animated gifs or webms that show different moves, with overlays displaying the framedata

Many beginners to fighting games, including myself, get intimidated by frame data. They look at it like this huge spreadsheet of numbers that they think they have to memorize. I originally didn’t get framedata, but wanted to understand how combos were built, how people discovered them, and thought, “will I just have to memorize all this framedata to get it?” It took me a while for it to click. In reality, yeah people pick up a lot of framedata incidentally, but almost no one seriously memorizes all the framedata. People really only look for a few things, which moves are unsafe, which moves set up combos, which can follow up combos, and whether each move is plus or minus on block. Continue reading

Ranking Zelda Games

Tier the Zelda games you’ve played? Which ones did you enjoy at least a little/think are good games?

I think I’d rank Zelda 1 as the best zelda game hands down, but from there it’s a bit harder.

Next best I think is Oracle of Seasons, which was largely built as a remake of Zelda 1, with a similar map structure and all. I haven’t beaten or even played very much of Link’s Awakening, but reputation indicates that it might go here as well.

I’m not totally sure where to put Adventure of Link, it’s hard to compare to the rest, but I think it’s very good overall, except for the enemies that can stab high or low. There’s no animation telegraphing this, so it can come across as rather random. It has nice jumping, nice enemy designs, and nice moves like the down stab, up stab, spells, and others. Continue reading

Weapon Imba & Breakable Powerups

What do you think about games where you lose your upgrades when you get hit?

So we got, Super Mario, Cave Story, Contra, Metal Slug, Zeldas with beam sword, and whatever else is up there.

Uhhhh. I don’t really know. It’s an additional punishment for getting hit. It makes a slippery slope where players who get hit are more likely to get hit again, since they can’t defend themselves as well. Apart from that, I don’t really have anything. It doesn’t really introduce an interesting decision, because players are already trying to not get hit. I guess it can be a way to limit damage boosting, but how many games are intentionally constructed around damage boosting, or are susceptible to undesirable unintentional damage boosting to the extent that they’d want to introduce a punishment for it rather than just reconfiguring their levels? Continue reading