What makes an enemy well designed?

On a broad level, my 4 criteria for depth fit basically everything. Not going to repeat those.

Well designed enemies are good at performing multiple functions. They’re good at engaging with the player directly, they’re good at blocking the player’s path, they have ways they can be exploited to deal damage to them, and they avoid falling into repetitive patterns.

Good enemies are aggressive enough to threaten the player sufficiently, and passive enough to fit their function in the level, like barring the player’s path, or simply making a section as challenging as it should be. Ideally an enemy is both difficult to engage and difficult to bypass.

Contact damage enemies should move in the general direction of the player, but in some way not directly at them. This is what makes them dangerous but exploitable; not overwhelming. Enemies that move directly at the player should either be slower than the player, or faster but have a slow turning speed or recovery time between turns or some other limitation. Axiom Verge did not follow these rules, AM2R did.

Good enemies accentuate the existing difficulties of the environment, such as many ninja gaiden and castlevania enemies. Such as the enemies in zelda that push you back really far if you touch or slash at them. They’re positioned near pits and spikes because the danger isn’t from them, it’s from the environment.

Good enemies always give you a chance to avoid damage and basically shouldn’t set you up for “checkmate” scenarios, where you cannot avoid taking damage, especially enough damage to kill you. I can imagine an appeal for that type of thing, but it needs to be telegraphed in advance or built up over time and all I can think of right now is Ludwig randomly pulling out a really hard to avoid attack right after I get hit, and that sucks.

Good enemies threaten in different ways by controlling different areas of the battlefield, literally and metaphorically. Good enemies work well together with other enemies. Good enemies move differently, in weird but predictable ways. Good enemies force the player to move.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

What would you consider to be well designed enemies for platformers?

Ones that bar progress in varied ways. I really like ninja gaiden for this (both series actually).

I think a bad thing that happened in the transition to 3d games is we became more afraid of using contact damage enemies, so categorically enemies became worse at blocking our path. This follows from the trend of also using enemies with less predictable movement patterns over time as AI got more complicated, and enemies having distinct attacks with startup, active, and cooldown times.

I’ve been playing AM2R and I really like a lot of the enemies. Some move diagonally in circles around important points, some diagonally at you, some just close in slowly on you, some jump various heights, the metroids orbit around you and sometimes rush you and need to be hit from the bottom.

Medusa heads are a work of genius. Flea Men are annoying but pretty good too.

Hammer Bros and derivative enemies are generally pretty good. Same for enemies that work like donkey kong.

Hopping enemies work well.

Ninja Gaiden Birds are a nice example of a homing enemy. The robots in megaman that home in slowly are a good example of the opposite type. I also like the boomerang throwers in ninja gaiden.

My friend Ben Ruiz did a simple breakdown of various castlevania enemy types.

With platformers, the best enemies are simply ones that move well to block you. Blocking the player is the most important task for a platformer enemy. In most cases it’s better for it to be harder to get past them than to straight up engage them, though it should probably be possible to get through without taking damage and without killing them, just as a flexible guideline.

What do you think of these bosses from Axiom Verge? I think they’re some of the worst designed bosses I’ve ever seen due to their lack of moves, boring repeditive attack patterns, and bullet spongey nature.

I commented on this when I reviewed axiom verge, these are some seriously disappointing bosses. All of them have you be extremely passive in fighting them, which is lame.

The second boss, Telal, is notable, because you can damage boost through it to get to its opposite side. It cannot turn around, so you can stand behind it and shoot its weakpoint and there’s nothing you can do about it. Also his pattern just has you standing on top of a platform and jumping when projectiles come at you.

Uruku, the third boss, is easily defeated by simply using the address disruptor to create a platform in front of it. This platform never disappears, then you can position your gun diagonally, and shoot directly at its weak point, and none of its projectiles can harm you. If you don’t realize you can do this, then you can simply stand by some of the higher up platforms and shoot at him when he’s not using the laser.

Gir-tab, the fourth boss, is wrecked by the hypo-atomizer, which shoots forwards and sends extra projectiles out off its main path, so it reaches under him and hits the weak spot very directly. Also you can damage boost through him and deal a ton of damage with the kilver or drill. This boss and Telal really seem like lazy design. They have projectiles shooting in places you have little to no reason to be, and there’s phases you can just shoot at them without worrying about projectiles. A common theme with many of the bosses.

Ukhu Variant is the next boss, and the only one with a cool kill strategy. You can glitch the wasps it releases to become explosives, and they float upwards. If you shoot them when they’re near its mouth when it’s open, you insta kill the boss. This is the only cool thing in the entire game. Boss tracks you too closely on hard mode, makes many of its attacks impossible to avoid.

Similar deal with sentinel after it. The guy in this video just sits in the corner and shoots at it while tanking its projectiles. The fast strat for this guy is to jump up at his center and mash up on the dpad to teleport through it, because your teleport moves really far and does a ton of damage at this point. Either way, lame boss.

The final boss is even more lame, it almost used to be basically impossible to beat him unless you got into a safe corner of the room where the robots can’t shoot you. They’re playing against the patched version of the boss in this video. Those robots also show how a ton of enemies are in this game. They swarm on top of you, and you need to kill them before they can hit you.

The common theme is that it’s like there was no regard given for interplay between how the player would attack the boss and how the boss would attack back. AM2R bosses are just as complex as these bosses, or even simpler, but they all show how to avoid these mistakes. Except for the Omega Metroid, that one was just poorly considered (he’s like an axiom verge boss stuck in metroid!).

Even the alpha metroids can be weaved around and opened up.

Stealth Without Guns

1. Is Thi4f worth playing? I”m not really experienced in the stealth genre but I know you are supposed to be god-like at that game. 2. Agree/disagree with the thesis of this post? https://www.reddit.com/r/truegaming/comments/52seai/stealth_games_need_to_stop_giving_us_guns/

1. No. Really no. Unless for some reason you really want to see how the swoop works, because I thought that mechanic was pretty cool and totally worth stealing for a worthwhile game, don’t bother.

I heard when the game was released that there would be custom difficulty modes and leaderboards based on who could beat the game with a custom difficulty setting, and that whoever got to a certain rank would sit there forever, instead of getting dethroned by someone playing on the same difficulty with a faster time. My intention was to download the game, beat it with every modifier turned on, and then write a review being the permanent best player in the world. In practice, I could not accomplish this, because beating the whole game in one go is fucking insane. I got glitches that would randomly kill me in a late level, you were supposed to press space to do a context sensitive jump, but it wouldn’t register sometimes and you’d swoop off the ledge and just die right there. I was number 1 in the world when that review went up, but not with the maximum possible rank. I was rushing to complete the review, and I actually had a thesis project I was putting off to work on it, so I didn’t have additional time to try to get the maximum score possible and wreck that game permanently. It was a good accomplishment for the time though and makes for a good story. How many journalists have literally become the quantifiable best player in the world for their review?

2. Partially agree.

The thing is, if you don’t have some way of manipulating or removing the guards, then stealth games become timed movement games and that’s really really lame. Successfully taking out a guard means multiple things in a stealth game. It means you need to do it when no other guard is watching. It means you need to do it without them noticing you. It means you need to prevent other guards from noticing their body. And it means you need to worry about what they’ll do when they wake up.

If you kill them outright, or are playing deus ex and hide their body sufficiently well, you never need to worry about them waking up.

If they’re the only guard in an area, you never need to worry about another guard seeing them.

If you have a ranged weapon that incapacitates them instantly, you never need to worry about them noticing you as you take them out.

Unfortunately silenced lethal weapons can do all of these things. They can invalidate any single guard, and also invalidate lineups of multiple guards should they look in different directions and you headshot fast enough. This is why level design and enemy placement are really important for stealth games. You need to make sure guards cover each other with sight and in patrol paths.

SIlenced nonlethal weapons can do most of these things good enough for the difference to not be that big, and DXMD doesn’t have enemies wake up or investigate when you shoot them, both of which are faults.

I don’t think guns are without a stealth challenge, but one perspective is we aren’t building stealth levels tough enough to adjust for the use of guns, to take them into account and make use of them difficult, by making it difficult to incapacitate guards without others noticing, and to necessitate that players incapacitate at least some guards to progress, but of course allow them their choice of which ones at which times.

Beyond that, naturally follow MGS3’s solution of having guards only get incapacitated for a brief period of time (I know technology is good enough now to allow ragdolled characters to get back up), and have them investigate around your area if you shoot at them, so you’re presented with an up front evasion challenge when you want to risk taking out a guard. Headshotting them could be adjusted to either no longer instantly take out a guard, or to cause them to make a loud sound when shot that can alert nearby guards, so you need to consider if guards are nearby. As in DXMD and MGSV, you could add head gear that makes guards immune to instant kill or instant sleep headshots, and stick those on any guards that are by themselves, so you always need to evade them before they pass out. A level design solution to this problem was presented by the original Thief, require that players both infiltrate an area, and exfiltrate, so they need to go back through the areas they’ve beaten already, living with the consequences of what they did in earlier areas. Unfortunately Thief didn’t have enemy guards wake up, either on a timer, or when other guards noticed their bodies. Another touch could be to automatically wake up guards in earlier areas as you make progress into the compound, so you need to deal with them on the way out, which could lead to choices in how you solved early level challenges rippling into later in the level.

And of course, don’t include lethal silenced weapons. Just don’t.

I think we should reconsider a lot of elements in stealth games and rework them to fit their apparent purpose better so that we don’t end up with all these weird genre conflicts. Like a line from that “what’s with stealth” video made me consider that the current lethal assortment of weapons that are used for fighting during alerts should probably be tools for re-establishing stealth, making the run away phase interesting a la monaco, rather than just killing enemies and eliminating the stealth challenge. Maybe you outright fight and disable enemies during the run away phase, but you want to get away from them before they get back up because they’ll do so with a start and you’ll get killed really quick if you’re too close. Also there should be measures in place preventing you from progressing if you get caught, since in many stealth games it’s easy to just get caught and run past without really caring. Sokolov refusing to let you in during alert in MGS3 worked great for this purpose and that level still gives me more trouble than the rest of the game for some reason (probably the level design).

If there is a problem, diagnose and find a solution.

Monaco is interesting in that it entirely intends for you to get caught and chased around the level, making that really exciting, but then it has obstacles you can’t reasonably get past while running away, so you’re given this freedom to get caught, run away, hide, and get back to business in completing level objectives.

Games Ruined by Bad Balance

Can you name some games (single player and/or competitive) that you feel were ruined by poor balance?

I can’t think of any multiplayer games that are that way, except maybe TF2? An Arena shooter would get hurt by that too, but I don’t think any current arena shooter has a balance problem. Balance in those games affects the number of viable elements of play within a single game, bad balance effectively makes them simpler games to play overall, it doesn’t just excise certain characters.

As for a single player game, Nier. Absolutely Nier. Nier was fucked in the ass by balance. Nothing is balanced in Nier. Weapons aren’t balanced, attacks aren’t balanced, spells aren’t balanced, companions aren’t balanced. Dodging and blocking aren’t balanced. The only things in the game that are balanced are the standard attack combo, dark blast, dark lance, and dark hand.

In the early game, you don’t have spells. When you knock enemies down, you’ll want to press block and then attack to do a finisher on them. In the later game, that does piddly damage and you have spells which are a better use of a shoulder button than block.

Blocking is shit compared to dodging. Blocks make you move extremely slowly, you can only block in one direction. Moving while blocking does not change the direction you block. Your block can get broken by sustained attacks. There’s literally only one room in the game you want to block in, and that’s a room that will autofail you if you press dodge or use a magical attack.

Charge attacks are garbage in Nier. You spend a really long time charging them up, and they do less damage than a simple attack combo that would take the same amount of time.

All the sealed versus that aren’t Dark Blast, Dark Lance, and Dark Hand are garbage. They simply have terrible damage output. Dark Blast is a free projectile attack and can destroy other projectiles, Dark Lance is ranged sniping and does a bunch of damage, dark hand is close range and does more damage. They all have varying uses across the game. None of the other sealed verses have a good use that these aren’t better at.

The weapons you obtain are all strictly better than the previous ones, there are 3 categories of weapons, 1 handed swords, spears, and 2 handed swords. All the weapons in a category have the same moveset, so you always just pick the strongest weapon in the category. 2 handed swords are too slow to be worthwhile.

I still think Nier was a good game, but only because it did really well with the few elements it had working. I’m sad that Automata doesn’t seem to have Dark Lance, Dark Hand, or the magic meter which absorbs blood from enemies. I expect Platinum to compensate in other ways, but I feel like the game is losing some of the few things the original did right that made it stand out from other games.

Nerfing Fox

Lemme cite Leffen really quick:

I don’t approve of Scrumpy’s balancing style for multiple reasons. First is, no balance patch exists in a vacuum. If you nerf the top tiers, then you turn away people who previously enjoyed those top tiers. Nerfs are occasionally necessary, and I agree that Fox could use a nerf, but I do not think these are the correct nerfs, especially because they change what fox is capable of and his options, making the character less deep.

I think the Project M fox nerfs were much more appropriately considered, especially the changes to shine and laser. Laser shouldn’t be limited to a single laser, players enjoy using double laser. It should be nerfed in damage instead. Sure this will keep its ability to reset scaling the same (though theoretically that could be jury rigged to count less often in the staling buffer, or be excluded from it completely) Project M went the extra mile and had its damage decrease over distance, while nerfing its base damage to like half a percent.

I think Shine should be changed to be transcendent priority (unclankable), which in addition to losing its invincibility, means that it will trade or lose with attacks that deal 13% or less, where right now it will clank, keeping fox safe. (though given the hitbox is disjointed, this might backfire and effectively make shine beat a bunch of attacks where previously it would clank) Project M also made an extremely subtle and well considered change of having the shine scale in knockback versus aerial opponents exclusively, meaning that exclusively shine spikes are percentage dependent, and all of his ground combos with shines are intact.

Beyond that, I think the big thing to fix fox’s design while keeping his playstyle intact is simply decreasing his damage output all around, but leaving his knockback the same. Fox isn’t Marth or Sheik, he doesn’t have tools that outright invalidate loads of characters in the neutral game. He’s a jack of all trades, good at combos, gimps, recovery, and killing. Nerfing damage can allow him to continue to be good at all of those things, but need to work a bit harder for it than other characters.

Also I just think Scrumpy’s solution to shine was terrible. Making it a 3 frame move, making it cancellable on frame 6, removing its higher hitlag. He might as well make the move useless. Shines are a huge part of fox’s character, and if you remove these aspects then he completely loses options he had before, he becomes a less deep character.

Similarly, on his buff videos, I feel like he didn’t make extensive enough changes to fix some of the inherent problems of the lower tier characters, or make them into fun/deep characters like Project M did. PM didn’t just buff them to make them viable, it expanded what they were capable of.

I’d point to SD Remix as a better balance mod than whatever his final result will be. SD Remix versions of characters are also in the latest 20XX hackpack.

Balancing to the top didn’t completely work in PM, as I’ve explained previously, but it’s still preferable to this.

Project M Intro & Overview

A friend of mine said that Project M isn’t very good because most characters are up there on Fox level and because of that they don’t have any match ups which tends to be a bad game (such as Squirtle gimping out players). I don’t know much about fighting games, what do you think?

Alright. Lemme explain a little. Basically, in Melee, Fox was the undisputed best character. There’s a lot of reasons for this, he’s fast, can combo people really hard, can run away and shoot lasers at them forcing them to approach, has really easy setups to kill people, has a great recovery and several different ways to recover. If you want the full lowdown, you can check a lot of different guides.

Project M originally aimed to make Brawl more similar to Melee. To be Melee 2.0. To that end they recreated a ton of extremely subtle melee mechanics. Things so small most people feel them, but don’t realize they’re ever there.

They elected to try to make the old best melee characters play exactly how they did before. However they also wanted to bring all the new characters into the fold and to make all these characters just as good as each other. People don’t like it when you make the best characters weaker, so they decided to make Fox exactly like he was in Melee and try to make all the other characters more powerful to compensate. Don’t bring fox down to the level of the other characters, bring the other characters up to the level of fox. This way people could enjoy playing Fox the way they always have, and now we have a bunch of new characters too, that in theory are just as good as Fox.

That didn’t exactly work out. Project M 3.02 was the big shot version of the game, the first version to have all the characters in place. In theory every character was as strong as fox, had abilities as strong as Fox’s Shine (a move that comes out instantly, is invincible the frame it comes out, and can be quickly canceled so it can be followed up with other moves or more shines), but what ended up happening was a bunch of characters, all the characters with projectiles, now had this amazing ability to zone other characters out. They could spam projectiles all day, or sit on the ledge invincible, and not play the more conventional neutral game for a whole match. Some characters like Squirtle had a strong ability to use certain moves to limit the game, like squirtle’s side B has armor that can only be broken by very powerful moves, and he can move back and forth with it all the time, and use it to knock you down and keep knocking you down over and over again instead of needing to dash dance (a more conventional form of movement).

Project M 3.5 toned all of this down. A ton of characters got nerfs, and the overarching trend is that characters needed to now play more of the conventional melee-style neutral game. Fox even got nerfed a little, as much as they could get away with. Most characters aren’t on Fox’s level anymore. Fox is currently considered the best character in the game, because he’s still the all-arounder with terrific damage and kill potential.

Follow up with two more questions (sorry for this string of questions). There was also a mention that killthrows from all these characters are not very good either, I’m not sure how exactly that is bad (if it even is). Also what exactly are matchups?

A matchup is basically when you mentally think about which character would win against which in a fight. Basically, look at say game and watch versus link. Who wins? A bunch of people get together and they think it over, they review matches between game and watch players and link players, and determine which character they think has the advantage. So a character who has a lot of good matchups theoretically beats a lot of other characters. If your character has a lot of good matchups, then they’re considered to be a very good character.

Here’s a matchup chart for Project M. A positive number means that character has a good matchup, a negative one means they have a bad matchup. You can see fox has good matchups versus every character except Metaknight and ROB.

What your friend was probably saying about matchups was that every character has good matchups like fox, which if that were true would be a really good thing, it would mean the game is balanced. Your friend probably wasn’t actually saying that. I can’t tell what he meant from the way you worded your question, you left out a bit too much information.

However saying that squirtle gimping people is bad, that’s just silly. Squirtle isn’t very good at gimping in the first place. He’s alright, maybe as good as link or a bit better, but there’s better characters at gimping in Project M.

Kill Throws are rare in PM, and they tend to only work above 120%, which is when you’re basically dead anyways. Squirtle has one, but it’s not one of the better ones, and can be survived past 120% depending on stage position with good DI. Other kill throws are Mewtwo, Ness, Zelda, ROB, Charizard, Snake (at 160-180%), and Lucas. So, not that many across the cast. 8 out of 41 characters. Kill throws just mean you shouldn’t get grabbed above 120% or so. There were kill throws in Melee too, on Ness and Zelda, and a lot of other characters had kill confirm throws, like Fox at 70%.

I mean, far as objections to PM go, these aren’t really substantial, but you’re probably summarizing your friend’s points incorrectly.

Also, he said he’s glad Project M is gone from tournaments because of some controversy about death threats about the community was being toxic and therefore had to be punished.

People send death threats about loads of things. The majority of the Project M community did not send death threats. Alex Strife received a bunch of death threats over dumb shit he said about APEX, and for molesting some underaged girl. Not to mention that a ton of people hate Project M, especially people on 4chan. It’s entirely likely that a bunch of those death threats were sent by people who disliked Project M and were trying to rile things up.

The actual community isn’t any more toxic than any other. Bad shit happens because there’s always a couple bad people out there no matter what. So death threats were sent when PM was removed from APEX, so death threats were sent when PM was discontinued.

The community by and large isn’t toxic. Maybe a couple people on the peripheries

Project M is gone from larger tournaments because of Nintendo’s increasing involvement with the scene, Project M’s ban from Twitch, and the discontinued development. Project M’s scene still runs a large number of tournaments which see great attendance.

I mean shit, the game and the community do not deserve all the shit that is constantly heaped on them.

Final follow up question (I promise): What makes Project M so fun?

It’s like Melee except you can pick whatever character you want and still be able to do alright. It’s like Melee, but there’s a few more tricks, and some of the basics are slightly easier in ways that don’t impact their function at all.

It’s like Melee, but I get to play Snake, ROB, and Bowser, and actually beat people with them. I get a few more tricks to learn, I can introduce people easily to the game, and I can avoid playing crap like Brawl or Smash 4.

Tell your friend to remove the stick from his ass and just play it. If there’s something offputting to him, then he can damn well adapt. Almost nothing in the game is legitimately bullshit. Most of the problems people complain about in the game like auto-combos (meaning really easy combos that can’t be reliably escaped) or Gimmicks (meaning playstyles that make the whole game about one little thing), or jank (miscellaneous weirdness), have been worked out of the game with the past 2 patches. No character can wall the other character out now, every character needs to play to the fundamentals.

No character has an unbeatable strategy, everything has at least 2 counters with every other character. It’s just well made.

what are the differences between. project m and all the other brawl mods (brawl+, brawl-, brawl turbo, etc.)

Brawl+ was the first big modding effort for Brawl. It basically implemented a bunch of physics touchups and character changes, but stayed more or less true to the original spirit of the characters in their brawl incarnation. It was made before a lot of modern modding technology was developed for brawl, and the early versions didn’t even have custom character files, they adjusted and balanced characters entirely with assembly code. They didn’t fundamentally change the way any character’s moves work. Brawl+ went through a lot of increasingly rapid patching cycles, until it became patched nightly. Many people complained about the balance of the mod, and the rapid patching made it impossible to keep up with what was current, ultimately leading to a collapse in popularity.

Balanced Brawl developed alongside Brawl+ and basically aimed to be as much like brawl as possible, except balanced. I originally thought it was a minimalism mod (it mostly is), but apparently they did some big restructuring (relative to simple number buffs) of some lower tier characters too, though I’m not up on the details because I never played it. It removed infinites from the game, and increased the number of viable stages. It removed tripping, and added limits to how many times you can get invincibility from regrabbing a ledge.

Brawl- was not the third big brawl modding effort, there were some smaller and lesser known ones, typically made by one person, but it did come before Project M. Brawl- aimed to be crazy wacky fun that was simultaneously balanced. They dialed the hitstun up, gave characters silly moves, often with random functions, added sillier stages, but did a better job at balancing than Brawl or Melee did. I don’t know where balance stands in Brawl- currently, but personally I don’t like the mod very much just because many of the characters have moves that are ludicrously bullshit, like link’s ridiculous sniper arrows of differing elements that can be charged really fast and hit all the way across the stage. A lot of that was toned down over time, and I don’t know where it currently stands. Ganondorf for example once had it so his up tilt was a fullscreen quakebox, meaning if you were touching ground anywhere on the screen you would be hit. Brawl-, like Brawl+ before it, sticks to a lot of the original moves used in brawl, but came up with some newer character archetypes for various characters.

Project M had a lot more invasive rewiring of the brawl engine to produce a completely new game practically. It ignored a lot of the character archetypes from brawl and completely restructured them based on whatever they felt would be fun, for example lucas and lucario, who are totally different from their brawl incarnations. The original character designs were only used as loose inspiration for many Project M versions of characters.

I don’t honestly know about Brawl Turbo or any others.


Why does PM feel different from Melee? I want to say it’s a psychological thing resulting from the different graphics, animations, sound effects, etc., but I’m pretty sure there’s an actual difference in mechanical feel in spite of all the claims that some characters like Fox are exactly the same as in Melee. PM just feels a bit slower and maybe sluggish for lack of a better term.

I’ve gone over this in the past, there are some subtle mechanical tweaks to PM, though it should not feel more sluggish except in one way, the one frame physics delay.

Most people don’t understand what the one frame physics delay is, so I’ll try to be clear. It is NOT a frame of input lag. When you press a button, the action tied to that button occurs instantly. What the one-frame physics delay actually does is prevent air velocity from being applied to a character on the frame they enter the air. This means that if you press jump, you will go through your normal jumpsquat frames and on the frame you enter the air, you will be adjacent to the ground, rather than slightly up. You will be moved slightly up on the next frame, when the velocity is actually applied to you, and the motion will be normal from there on out.

In addition to this, there is a glitch in melee. If you attack on the exact frame that you enter the air, you will not reach as high a jump height. You will have slightly less velocity moving upwards and will reach a slightly lower maximum jump height. This is extremely slight, but effectively cuts your air time by 1 frame. This glitch does not exist in PM, so in combination with the 1 frame physics delay, PM characters stay in the air for 1 or 2 frames longer than their melee counterparts. This is the only change to actual framedata that exists in PM.

Beyond that, the sluggishness you feel might be accounted for by the fact that PM inputs are easier to do. You do not need to smash your stick as hard to perform a dash, the zone that counts as a dash on the controller has been increased in size, and the 1 frame leniency that exists on a forward dash has also been applied to the backdash (meaning dashing the opposite direction from the way you’re facing from an idle start). Another change is that the shorthop window now extends to all the frames of a jumpsquat. Melee had a glitch where the last frame of jumpsquat was excluded, meaning you needed to release the button a bit faster. This means characters like Fox, Samus, and Lucario can shorthop more easily with no change in frame data.

The 1 frame physics delay also makes it easier to wavedash, since you have 1 frame close to the ground, then another frame that is like frame 1 of a melee wavedash. This in turn makes it easier to multishine in PM, as it’s now a 2 frame window instead of a 1 frame window.

So you might find that PM feels slower just because you’re allowed to input things without smashing your stick or buttons, even though there’s little to no change in frame data. People who usually find PM slower are those coming from Smash 4 who are not used to playing without a buffer, but Melee players shouldn’t have that problem.

Fighting Games are Too Hard?!

Not the video but scroll down to Suika Ibuki’s comment. What is your opinion on that?

The fact of the matter is that Fighting games are simply a genre that will NEVER be crazy popular. During the golden age of arcades it was, but that was a different time. The reason is quite simple actually.
It all comes down to time needed to be put into the game in order to mastery it. In order to get to a level you can be considered ”Decent” will require hundreds of hours Practicing in training mode, Hard wiring moves and combos to muscle memory, Getting beat up by experts, learning about matchups and game mechanics so you can master every single maneuver in your arsenal, Et cetera et cetera. Then you need to learn how to use all of those to actually win against someone who also knows about them.
The problem is, None of this is fun. Doing the same combo over and over again against a dummy foe in training is not fun, staring at the same screen is not fun, going on a never ending losing streak is not fun, reading up on matchups only gets you frustrated, and so forth. And while you’re doing this, you know that there is an avalanche of other genres you know you’d enjoy much faster. Many, many who try just say ”fuck it”.
fighting games are not the only games that have this problem. Like dark souls, as it also has a learning curve and the game will kill you until you start to physically get ill, but you learn it AS you play through it. Someone who has beaten dark souls definetly knows how to play, and even has a chance against every foe who happens to invade his game.
Alas, Fighting game can never have this luxury, as Computer simply, not matter how hard it’s difficulty is, cannot replicate how an actual human being fights, because every player is different. Heck, the player might even know of a mechanic or an exploit the computer does not! You can tip the odds against the player when dealing with A.I. but this is a very bad idea, making the match feel unfair. And every battle in Fighting game is fair. Or at least mostly.
You could simplify the game. But in doing so you also remove depth. I once asked when i was very young ”Why don’t combo’s just happen when you hammer the same button?” Which is because, then every combo is the same, which is boring to play, and even more boring to watch. There is of course fighting games that have comboes you can do with one button, But that’s only the first part. removal of mechanics that exist in every fighting game Hardly works, because if you do, the game feels boring.
Thus, Fighting games are a genre that 75% of gamers do not have the time, patience, or desire to learn them. 25% of people who do, half succeed, other give up. I myself belong sadly to those who tried but failed. I do however, Find fighting games extremely interesting, fun to play with friends and Watch experts play.

My opinion is, maybe they’re right.

There’s a funny parallel that was pointed out to me recently between the world of esports and real sports. Fighters get paid less than team players. MMA is less popular than Baseball, Football, and Soccer. Basically all individual sports are less popular than team sports. In video games this is true as well. Fighting games are way less popular than MOBAs or CS:GO. Arena shooters are less popular than team shooters. The most popular game mode in most shooters, like call of duty is team deathmatch.

Maybe this is just human nature and we’re kind of doomed to this? Maybe it’ll change now that individualism is on the rise? Who really knows?

The other thing is, this guy overestimates how hard it is to actually get far enough into fighting games to play them competently. I don’t think it really takes longer than a month to learn all the moves your character has and get competent enough at movement and inputs to blow up a button masher.

I think that fighting game makers, if they try, if they put it into the budget, can improve the learning devices players have for getting into these games. They can’t make good CPUs, but they can make training dummies that teach you specific skills. Maybe it’s impossible to make fighting games crazy popular, but there’s a lot left undone to push the popularity of the genre right now. We could be trying harder, or at least trying smarter.

Here’s a video a friend linked me on the subject today. I think it’s rather interesting.

Also I don’t really want to give up, because Smash Bros exists with crazy universal appeal, because Tekken apparently sold 44 million across the franchise, making it the best selling fighting game franchise.

The least we could try on the community end is shifting the narrative. If the story that a world champion who can do every combo with every character can be beaten by mashing the buttons is so popular, then can’t we come up with other stories? Can’t we come up with more wombo combos and moment 37s? Can’t we tell the story of the kid who, for just a few moments, figured the game out and won? Can we show something about people and the game that’s authentic and exposes a little of why the game is so nice? Can we sell the game as easy to get into instead of hard? Simple to learn, difficult to master?

Not every set has hype commentary or changes the way people see a game, but this video made a story out of something otherwise innocuous.

What makes Nioh’s Ki Burst fun?

What makes execution barriers like Ki Bursting fun?

It depends on the action. It’s different for every one.

Ki bursting is fun to me because it means being very mindful during fights of my stamina, and the state of the enemy. Beyond that it means being mindful of the stance I’m in, and the stance I want to go to. Ki Bursting means I need to absolutely not miss the window of time during which Ki fills, or I wait even longer for stamina to regen. Ki bursting also introduces decisions, like do I want to cancel my attack and instantly gain back a little stamina so at minimum I’m safe and haven’t lose all the stamina I just spent? Do I want to commit to a combo while I have the opportunity to attack and potentially get hit, but also be able to regenerate almost all the Ki, or wait and see if the enemy is still vulnerable after attacking to do another attack at the expense of the Ki I spent? Do I want to attack once at a time and burst each time to regenerate the Ki back to where I had it, or commit to several attacks for more damage, but at the cost of some of the maximum ki I’ll regenerate with each attack? Do I want to do a super powered dodge instead of Ki burst? Do I want to block and sacrifice the ki burst completely? Do I want to switch stances in order to regain more Ki? Which stance do I want to change to, and what is the left over stance that I need to switch through to get the maximum boost?

It’s a really elegant mechanic. The only thing truly arbitrary about it is that there’s no reason to not press it when it’s full (and of course that switching stances twice, into an unused stance, then the stance you actually want, gives you an extra boost), and it gives you a tiny bit of extra time when it’s full to press it to make the timing easier (I’d guess 6-10 frames).

In theory you could just have the Ki burst be automatic whenever you do another action during the ki burst period. So attacking or blocking would just have it automatically burst right there. At that point it would just function like higher stamina regen for the portion you just spent. It would remove what makes the Ki burst difficult and strictly speaking it’s not technically any functionally different from how it functions right now, assuming consistent execution on a player’s part, but there’s very obviously a functional difference in player mentality from watching that gauge and trying not to miss the point where you want to ki burst, and not bothering with watching the gauge so precisely after each attack, as in dark souls.

Of course other execution tight things have their own individual appeal. They all function differently and frequently introduce more interesting choices into the games they occupy, even if they also introduce some pure execution non-choices.

Pacing and Games

What are your thoughts on pacing and structure in videogames? (Not when it comes to cutscenes, but based on pure gameplay)

Okay, I’ve been thinking about pacing, and the obvious observation is that pacing in a video game is way different from a movie or an act of theater. The instinct perhaps is to think of pacing in terms of how developers laid out their content, like here’s a fast section, here’s a slow section, here’s a variety section. I think it’s worth investigating rather the different modes of interaction and how fast those are perceived as. Is the player reacting to an enemy? are they allowed to proceed at their own pace? Are they controlling a character or sitting in menus? Are they allowed to trigger a different phase of interaction? I think more consideration should go to the literal pace in terms of action frequency too. The other major factor is of course the difficulty curve.

One thing I thought of was Persona 3. My brother hated me for playing that game, because I spent ridiculous amounts of time sitting in the velvet room fusing personas and he hated the music, then we began ironically mocking the music, and we ended up loving the music. That’s obviously very slow paced, however you’re allowed to exit that mode whenever you want, but you need to engage with that mode some time because there’s natural pressures that eventually require you return there. Not to mention there’s natural pressures to either engage with after school activities or work through that month’s dungeon. Turn based RPGs as a whole are rather slow in pace because of the menu combat. You are not demanded to make an input quickly, you are allowed to wait and select what you want, and animations for attacks take a long period of time to watch, during which you cannot interact. ATB systems have less of this, but you still need to wait for meters to fill reasonably often.

Then there’s Dark Souls. Dark souls during combat encounters does not allow you to pause, and you are required to make an action to end the combat encounter. Enemies tend to stay still most of the time, so if you’re not being attacked or followed right now, then you’re usually free to sit around and do whatever, which can involve actively looking around the environment, or messing with menus.

Then there’s Metal Gear Rising, where you have natural cycles of playing missions, which involves a lot of combat, broken up by running to the next combat area, then a stealth section, then a part where you uncontrollably walk slow and aren’t allowed to do anything, followed by a skippable cutscene. Every mission’s end returns you to a menu which you can access at any time, but it’s inconvenient, where you buy stuff in menus, but the buying tends to go by quickly because there isn’t that much to actually consider. There’s a few small sections of exploration, but they’re skippable, allowing you to rush to the next combat encounter.

So what’s a game with bad pacing? Assassin’s creed is the first one that comes to mind, because you’re asked to go out on some assassination missions, then you need to return to the home base after each one to talk to the dude. During all the walking and talking sections, you’re not allowed to do anything, including skip it. These happen among other unskippable cutscenes all the fucking time.

So what’s a game with bad pacing that doesn’t involve unskippable cutscenes or their equivalent? How about, MGSV? Ehhh, that has unskippable helicopter rides in every time you start a new mission or want to faff around on the map, plus it has them when leaving many missions, so maybe not the best example of avoiding unskippable cutscenes. Most of the main mission content is fine, but a lot of faffing around on the overworld suffers from pacing issues I think, because transportation takes forever, you end up collecting a ton of stuff which isn’t terribly interesting. I think that if you’re trying to play stealthy/nonlethal, the alert phase of many stealth games is a pacing issue, because players need to sit still in a hidden location for a while, however there’s no real way to remedy that which I can think of, beyond what earlier MGS games already implemented, having the alert pass faster if you’re better hidden. The caution phase having a visible timer can be a pacing issue for worse players who don’t realize it’s relatively safe to move around during that phase and are trying to be optimal by just waiting it out. The caution phase should definitely stay in, but maybe not display the timer visibly or have some other measure to coax novices out of hiding.

I think Crysis Warhead had better pacing than the original Crysis, neither having unskippable cutscenes, but it’s been too long since I played Crysis to remember why. Crysis is a longer game, and slower, but again, can’t totally remember why they’re different precisely.

Actually, the collecting things pacing issue comes up in a lot of stealth games or similar, like Thief, Deus Ex MD, and others. However they also serve a rather valid point of design, to encourage players to visit guarded places and take risks. However having so many damn collectibles, all of which need to be moused over, and if you die you gotta do it over again, that’s a pain. That’s a reason to put quicksave into your game, even though I hate quicksave normally. If I didn’t have it in these games, then I’d waste an even more colossal amount of time just picking things up, or frequently on hard parts I’d start out needing to recollect things every single time I die. Dark Souls solved this by having collectibles be autosaved on pickup, but it wouldn’t necessarily work for all these games.

Maybe for a Thief style game you gotta steal something, then at some point after the steal it actually gets permastolen, the idea being that you gotta steal it and get away with it instead of just doing a suicide run for the item like many dark souls players do? Of course sticking these collectibles in bigger less frequent chunks is also nice. Reducing the amount of item management overall is nice for pacing.

So far I think the key elements of good pacing pacing are making the distance between important chunks of content relatively short, limiting the amount of busywork that needs to be repeated when a player dies, limiting how much inventory management actually needs to be done on a regular basis, giving the player opportunities to rest between encounters which they can take advantage of at their discretion, varying the length of periods they need to remain continuously engaged for, and of course, avoiding unskippable cutscenes like the plague. I don’t think variation, in the sense of totally alternative modes of play, like puzzle vs action, are really totally necessary. I think plenty of games get along fine without that sort of thing. I think it’s more about giving the player the option to take a breather here and there and considering how much of a breather the player is given before they need to do the next thing.

This is related to the commonly held idea in psychology that attention is a limited resource. The talk Attention vs Immersion by the Naughty Dog Dev goes into this a little, saying that players need chances to build their attention back up after it is depleted by action. That’s perhaps the nice part of equipment systems like those in Dark Souls or Nioh, or the upgrade systems in stylish action games, that they provide regular smaller tasks you can do regularly that are not as demanding of your attention. They are not strictly necessary to be performed, just helpful in the long run. Players can spend longer or shorter periods on them and choose when to engage with those at their discretion. Things like equipment limits, such as in DXHR, DXMD, Elder Scrolls, or Demon’s Souls make it so the player eventually needs to tend to their equipment or they literally cannot continue.

The pause button is a big feature in relation to pacing. When you have a pause button, the player can opt to take a breather whenever they want for however long they want. I think this is most important in games that have a continuous unstopping progression, like arcade games, anything with a time limit, or tetris. Pause buttons are nice. They are convenient. They are an important part of User Experience. However I also defend the decision of games like Dark Souls and Nioh to not include pause buttons.

This is certainly inconvenient and a hit to user experience, but I think that it is interesting to avoid giving players an easy way to recover their attention during encounters, to be allowed to push the player on tilt and not give them a means to center themselves and think things over. This also means avoiding giving players a way to “pause buffer”, a technique involving repeatedly pausing that allows players to effectively slow the rate at which the game plays, either to augment their reaction time, or their sense of timing to hit more precise timing windows. The other thing is that in dark souls and nioh, you’re frequently given chances to stop at little to no risk to yourself, because enemies don’t really patrol levels that often, and you can just stand around once you killed an enemy and do whatever. The encounters are spaced out so stages aren’t one long continuous fight and so there is space between groups of enemies.

Also I’ll grant one special exception in the bad pacing department to that ladder in MGS3. I can’t hate that ladder.

Difficulty curves feel like they’re a big element of pacing, but I now think they’re really more their own topic. I think that periods of uninterruptible engagement should get longer in correspondence with the level of difficulty, ramping up to say a boss encounter, which is a long period of continuous engagement, then either directing the player to something slower paced that they can spend a fair amount of time on, or having just some space to chill out before the next encounter. Going back to a menu screen is also acceptable. Once a fighting game match is over, you go back to character select. Between rounds you’re given some time to reorient while the next round is announced, and you’re usually allowed to skip some of that reorientation time too.

I tried connecting game speed and action frequency to pacing, since I mentioned it at the start, but on further research I think they’re just totally separate issues.

Regarding pacing, what do you think of games that put time restrictions over the entire playthrough? Games like Fallout (which has one major time sequence) and Majora’s Mask. (which has many smaller time sequences) I recall you answering a question about this before, but you didn’t really go into detail.

I can’t say much for Fallout because I never finished it, but often times the game pressured me into playing more recklessly, despite that I usually don’t; I typically take my time with most games and play them thoroughly, but Fallout had me skipping some sidequests and generally just rushing through. This later resulted in many encounters that I was hopelessly unprepared for later in the game. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Looking back on it now, I’m sure I had way more time than I thought I did. Just the idea of that timer made me play the game faster.

I have a lot to say about Majora’s Mask, but honestly my thoughts on it are scattered. I’d have to replay it and at that point, I may as well turn in it into it’s own little piece and send it your way. I do think it brought a lot to the table in terms of pacing and structure and I would love to hear your thoughts on it, even if you hate it.

I think timers don’t work very well unless you replay the game a lot or there’s a way to return to a save point (like Persona 3 & 4). Most people don’t replay games. Basically when you have no idea what you’re doing and there’s a time pressure, you tend to flounder and rush and not have a very good time. The thing about a time pressure is that it’s so abstract that you can’t really tell if you’re wasting too much time and need to move on or not.

Majora’s Mask gets around this by letting you reset the days whenever you want. I think time pressures over the whole game don’t really work that well unless it’s the type of game you replay a lot, like for example a roguelike, or it has some other type of reset mechanism with minimal penalties for resetting. Majora’s Mask has a billion key items, and they let you bypass a lot of the puzzles and other obstacles easily to get to the part you were last working on. I think the dungeons also stay persistent across cycles, but I don’t really remember.

Persona 3 & 4 also mostly get around this by giving you regular save points and a full save state system, so you can retry as you like from any previously point in time. However if you only use one save, it’s very easy to get trapped underleveled close to the end of the month and be incapable of grinding enough to beat the current dungeon, because when in a dungeon you have limited resources based on what you had when you went in, and leaving the dungeon (and advancing the game by a day) is usually the only way to restore those resources. So you might need multiple days to grind that you don’t have time for.

The other thing about time pressures is they’re trivial for experienced players, because they can get so far ahead of the clock that it might as well not be there.

I think a more sane and intuitive solution is to introduce a more tangible time pressure. For example, the rising water in the Ginso Tree in Ori and the Blind Forest. It rises at a steady rate, but if the player gets ahead of it, it will catch up with the player. This means that if the player screws up too much on any one part, they have a strong chance of dying, no matter how far they are, and they need to keep moving at a reasonable pace. Kirby Return to Dreamland has levels like this as well, where you get chased across the screen by purple that steadily advances, and you can move faster, it’s not a pure autoscroller, but the purple can never be further than the edge of the screen.

Obviously these only really work on constrained sections rather than a whole game, but you could implement things that are similar in principle. Mirror’s edge has the cops steadily appear as you wait too long in any given chase area. You could theoretically have an open world game where the number of monsters or something steadily increase and or spread their area of influence until the whole world is overrun. Or you could have release valves like the majora’s mask solution.

An Arthouse History for Video Games

Your thoughts? http://rhizome.org/editorial/2016/aug/03/an-art-history-for-videogames/

I’m not really interested in this article or anything it has to say except this:
“This game takes the ideas of “adventure,” “exploration,” and “mastery,” and flips them on their heads, turning the experience into a slog, a mean-spirited joke. This is why I love it—or rather, the idea of it. This game is aggressively not fun and almost completely luck-based, which is intentional.”

This is arthouse mentality in a nutshell I think.

Pretentious is defined as trying to affect greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed. I think a lot of art for art’s sake ends up this way. They’re works that aren’t meant to be directly engaged with. They’re works that end up in a history book or bid on by an art collector as a status symbol. Takeshi’s Challenge isn’t enjoyable and this writer doesn’t make the mistake of saying they loved it. Instead, “Takeshi’s Challenge showed the capacity of the medium to make substantive, subversive social and formal critique.” I think this is asinine.

“Takeshi’s Challenge may be viewed as an anti-game in the way that a Dadaist or a Fluxus artist would make anti-art. The joke was on us the whole time.” Dada was invented as a movement to satire the way art had grown to be pretentious (I think the founder was upset at how his wife’s more realistic paintings were rejected from galleries while more abstract conceptual works were admitted and basically made dada paintings to see if they’d accept something stupid and pointless masquerading as having a sublime underlying meaning). Somehow rather than being recognized as being deliberately stupid and therefore the abstract conceptual art it was parodying was stupid, it’s seen as some weird superposition of trying to meme on people, but still being regarded seriously, as much as the conceptual art it parodied. It somehow got subsumed into the movement it attempted to critique. Yeah, the joke’s on you, you’re still taking Takeshi’s Challenge seriously.

Majora’s Mask Boss Review

What do you think of Majora’s Mask’s boss battles?



Odolwa because his fight sucked in the original video

They’re weird compared to normal zelda bosses. You’re given a variety of ways to fight them. Each one incorporates the mask associated with that dungeon but doesn’t force you to use it. They all have some spatial aiming element. They’re not amazing boss battles in the scheme of things, but for a 3d zelda boss, they’re pretty good.

Odalwa has attack patterns, some movement. Summons mooks. He’s a boss. Simple, but allows more freedom than typical 3d zelda bosses.

Goht is the standout boss among these. You can race alongside him, you can shoot arrows at him. You gotta carefully follow him and pick up magic drops and launch yourself up at him, avoid being trampled, and he kicks up rocks at you. You have all these things to consider as you move around him. That’s pretty dynamic all-in-all. In the remake they OF COURSE have him get stunned for a long period and you wail on him with the designated item because sure, why not.

Gyorg was significantly improved in the remake, actually needing to be shot multiple times while he moves. He eventually gets stunned and you shoot the eye, but then he raises the water level and you gotta use the zora mask to fight a ton of tiny fish, sure, alright. In the original you shoot him once, he’s stunned, then you use the mask for damage, pretty lame.

I honestly didn’t play up to Gyorg. I just know Goht is the GOAT 3d Zelda boss. The others still look fairly boring. I probably just should have specified that Goht is pretty alright for a zelda boss. Goht is the sole redeeming feature of Majora’s Mask. Goht is GOAT.