The Morality of Emulation

What is your moral standpoint on the use of emulators?

Something that should probably be made clear up front is that Emulation is legal. It is legal to develop an emulator, it is legal to download an emulator, and it is legal to play backups of games you have legally purchased on your emulator. Downloading copyrighted material from the internet, such as ROMs or ISOs, is not legal. This is all fairly common knowledge, but I’m restating it just in case.

If you are operating within the above legal parameters, your use of an emulator is perfectly moral. This should probably go without saying. Continue reading

HBomberguy Defending Dark Souls 2

What do you think of this defense of Dark Souls 2?

I was LITERALLY scripting a video like this, even with a similar title.

Okay, from the get-go, he correctly identifies that there’s a certain level of damage/health where games are most fun. I actually think this is generally correct, with a bit of leeway. The thing he overlooks is, he claims that the souls games are perfectly tuned, which is why they don’t have additional difficulty modes that slide these values up and down like FPS games do. The trouble is, the Souls games actually do have that. They have multiple forms of it actually, in the form of levels, Souls/Body Form and Hollowing, Estus Upgrades, NG+ cycles, and World Tendencies/Intensities. There’s things mucking with your current amount of health and damage all the time in Souls games. They just generally do a good job staying relatively close to the sweet spot, but if you choose to break it, that’s very easy to do. Continue reading

Frametraps and Blockstrings

What do you think of frame traps?

I love frametraps. Frame Advantage is a really fun concept to play around with, because it’s so variable. You can have more or less of it. Like how Ken is fucking +21 on a V-trigger canceled fireball. Frame advantage allows you to give the defender narrow or wide windows to perform actions, like backdash, dodge, jab, etc. By setting them up at a disadvantage, you can limit their options and condition them as a setup for mindgames. Being +1 on block and +5 on block are very different scenarios.

If a character has a really fast move, it’s even possible to sort of reverse frametrap people. You might be at frame disadvantage, but you can use your fast attack to catch them so fast that they can’t get anything out in time. Sol Badguy in Guilty Gear can do this with his 5K, since it’s out in like 3 frames, fastest normal in the game. Continue reading

Hitstop/Hitfreeze/Hitlag/Hitpause/Hitshit

Care to do a breakdown on hitlag?

Hitlag, also called hitstop, hitfreeze, and hitpause, is basically when the game freezes the characters at the point of collision during an attack. Having the smooth arc of the character’s attack paused at that point of collision helps sell that the collision actually happened, gives the eyes a few frames to register and confirm it happened, and makes the impact seem a little more powerful, since if the guy’s fist or sword or whatever is stopped along its path, then clearly it needs a lot of force to go through the object that is being hit.

Fighting games and Smash Bros make use of this time to practical ends. The 2in1 Cancel in Street Fighter 2 exists entirely because of Hitstop. Basically, they made the first 5 frames of every single normal move cancellable to make it easier to input special moves, but the hitstop extended that cancel window since it froze the state of both characters for like 10 frames, meaning people could still cancel after the move hits. Since then it’s been a staple of Street Fighter that you can cancel moves during the hitstop period. And this is really convenient too, since the cancel takes effect at the end of the hitstop, so it always comes out during the same part of the move, helping to keep combos consistent. So now you have this large dedicated time that is pretty much exclusively there for canceling things on hit, that’s pretty damn good. Continue reading

Communicating Through Design

You often complain about enemies not having movesets that really test the player and that don’t interact with the MC own moves, can you elaborate on this with examples of games with good enemy design?

Basically, in well designed games, the enemies are designed around the abilities of the player character, and interact with the specific quirks of how the player character operates. This means that they both have abilities that respond to the player’s capabilities, attempting to limit some common player behavior, but also abilities that highlight skillful use of their abilities.

AM2R is great at this. The common beta metroid minibosses are a great example. They weave around your head in such a way that you need to run under them and jump over them to avoid getting hit, but also to line up shots with its vulnerable underbelly by tilting your arm cannon diagonally or straight up. Every section of the game has new enemies that forbid you from cheesing them with the new powerup you just got, but require you to also use your powerups to defeat them in a skillful reactive way.
Continue reading

Tower Defense & Tactics vs Strategy

What do you think of the tower defense genre? Do you have a favorite game in that genre or do you think its all casul shit?

It’s not my thing, I’m just not a fan of games where I make a bunch of decisions at the beginning and see them play out over time. Having such a long iteration cycle/feedback cycle on my input makes it tricky to see how my decisions were much better or worse than other possible decisions I could have made. Also I just don’t get the positioning and tower type tradeoffs in most TD games.

There’s certainly a depth in picking different towers and positioning them differently. Different towers can have synergy with each other and effective positioning can be a big deal, and there’s a range of expression there depending on how much granularity you’re allowed in tower positioning. It’s just not my type of game because it’s all strategy and no tactics. Continue reading

Review All Games as if They’re New

We should have a consistent set of standards for games that doesn’t change over time, a change in our standards reflects that our standards were wrong. There’s this saying that in art you learn the rules before you break the rules, but if you can break the rules, then that indicates that those weren’t the real rules, there’s an even deeper and more universal rule. Einstein disproved newtonian gravity, but he replaced it with special and general relativity. Disproof of something we regard as true means there must be a deeper truth beneath it, that encapsulates everything we already knew about the previous truth, but also includes the exception within the same rule.

When we say a game was “good for its time”, what this should probably be recognized as was, the critics of its time were outright mistaken about the quality of the game. Probably the best example of this was Half-Life 2, a game that wasn’t as good as its immediate prequel.

Right now Zelda: Breath of the Wild seems a lot like the type of game that we’ll look back on 5-10 years from now and say, “it was great for its time, but it hasn’t aged well” when other people make games in a similar style, but better gameplay. We should be recognizing instead that it’s a good game which doesn’t fully live up to its potential and has a number of flaws, which I think many people are actually doing, perhaps because we’re more jaded than in prior generations. Continue reading

What RPGs do I consider good?

Do you play JRPGs? If so have any favorites?

Not anymore.

I’d probably go with SMT3 Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga. Outside that, maybe Paper Mario Thousand Year Door.

I don’t really want to play JRPGs anymore. They take up a lot of time and, being menu based, they’re not very engaging. Eventually I want to play some Zeboyd ones, like Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves The World, because they showed a lot of promise, and I know they’re worth a second look.

I’ve played a huge number in the past, and I don’t want to spend time on that anymore. Continue reading

(Non)Importance of Developer Intentions

How important do you think developer intentions are? Do you think stuff like poor control schemes, are acceptable, just because it’s part of the scheme the developers envisaged? Are horror games “supposed” to have bad controls?

A long time ago, I’d say, “Not at all.” I’ve reached a more mediated stance as of recently.

The role of developer intention is complicated. Primarily, it’s related to defining what the game is in the first place, but the actual game is what the player decides to play. Since games are contracts, developer intention is filtered down through the design of the game, and the textual feedback of the game to communicate to the player what the game is supposed to be, then the player interprets that and creates the contract of play for themselves. The developer intention creates the framework for how the software is to be interpreted as a game, and I think that’s just about it. Continue reading

Halo 2 Review

You can read my Halo: CE review here.

For this review I’m playing the Vista version of Halo 2 on PC. I heard that legendary was crazy bullshit in Halo 2 with one-shot kill jackal snipers, so again I decided to start on heroic first. The very first thing I noticed when I gained control was that Master Chief actually moved at a respectable movement speed. No more slow plodding (though it is still fairly slow in the scheme of things), and significantly less floaty jumps. You gain the same height, but much higher gravity and jump force. This made me initially hopeful, before I got railed into interactive cutscenes. Okay. Fine. At least they’re short (and never show up again).

Once getting into combat I initially had some confusion over the controls, and how dual wielding worked, and at first it felt pretty cool to have an SMG in one hand and a plasma pistol in the other, then I discovered that with two weapons at once, I couldn’t switch out to whatever my third backup weapon was, or melee enemies without dropping the offhand gun, or throw grenades at all (yet he can somehow magically reload both guns while holding them). So I very quickly went back to the regular 1 weapon at a time setup from Halo 1 before I had even been through 3 encounters. Continue reading