This game is a crime against humanity

Spoilers, dummy.

For some reason I got an urge to replay Final Fantasy X. I popped open an emulator and turned on turbo mode to get through the slow-paced combat at 3x speed, and was done with the game in 3 days. Totally enjoyable. The combat is fun, there are plenty of side activities, and -- while all the "emotional" moments are totally awful and ridiculous -- there are a few parts with a few quirky npcs with a few quips that are genuinely charming. Above all, though, it has a decent core game that is fun to play... and the "core" story arc (excluding the awful dialog and acting) is actually fairly interesting to me. Overall it's a pleasant experience.

So, naturally, I wanted to play FFX-2, because I remember people praising it and I remember it getting positive reviews. Metacritic would mostly confirm that. Don't worry, I didn't just emulate the game, I went ahead and bought it on Amazon for 15 bucks.

To reiterate: this game is a crime against humanity.

It starts with a splash screen accompanied by music more suitable to Gran Turismo than what I thought should have been in a sequel to FFX. The intro sequence follows suit. My heart almost collapses into itself out of pure cringe-inducing, literally painful singing from a person who definitely should not be singing, according to her character. Little did I know it was only a kind of doppelganger, made possible by... garment grids? That's a whole other topic.

"I know who's got it goin' on." The motion-capture performance and music in this scene really drives it home.

I thought, "phew, I'm glad that's over." But, no. No, Development! Holy fuck, no; it's not over. It's the entire game. From the hot spring scene, where Rikku attempts to check out Yuna and Paine's boobs in the most alien way imaginable, to the airship shaped like a crab/motorcycle hybrid, to... well, every line of dialog, this game is responsible for the most physical pain I've ever experienced from a piece of entertainment.

Yes, I understand what this game is supposed to be. Sin is dead forever. It's a time of great joy. Yuna has gone off to explore the world and have fun while searching for one final MacGuffin related to Tidus (who, by the way, is fucking DEAD. Why is she trying to find him? She knows he's dead. She saw him die and disappear. Actually, he was never even real in the first place!). The game is intentionally very laid back and you're generally supposed to feel like you're on vacation within FFX's world. I get that. But it's done in a way that makes me think it's all the product of a 50-year-old man who's never actually seen humans interact before, let alone young women.

That's just the story. The combat is a total fucking mess. I camped out in the Thunder Plains for a half hour and got to level 30, and proceeded to slaughter everything in my path from then on without even bothering to care what battle option I was selecting. "Attack, attack, attack. Everything's dead. Repeat." The combat favors mashing attack as fast as possible, because taking your time and choosing the "intelligent" battle option will end with you taking more damage than if you'd just attacked the enemy normally. Not to mention that "garment changing" takes too long for me to care about mid-battle when I could just kill the enemy in the time it takes for a single dumb animation to play out (it still takes too long when you turn the animations completely off). Oh yeah, and every single enemy I fought (with the small exception of the Leblanc goons and some giant machine in the desert) is an exact copy-paste of an enemy from FFX. Yes, I understand the locations are going to mostly be the same, but not even adding new textures to the enemy models is pretty pathetic. How was this game received so well?

"What is our existence?" I gather 3 monstrosities together so we can blow off steam. No, really. That's a whole chapter.

I'm currently at a spot where I'm tasked with gathering musicians together (for the second time! The first time was just for fun! Yay!) so we can ostensibly put on a musical show for Spira, because it's "what they need"... or something. And fuck that. I'm done. This game is not for me. I don't know who it is for. Aliens? Toddlers?

Anyway, there's my rant. Felt good to vent after all the bad news lately.

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Day 5: Too Many Mistakes

Spent a whole day working with Unity's animation system. It continues to be frustrating as fuck. The animations ended up hilarious, but ultimately too bad to keep. Scrapped them all. Gonna try my hand at Blender for the umpteenth time, although I fucking dread Blender's beginner-unfriendliness. Took a 2-day break and I think I might first attempt some more fun additions instead of trudging through Blender tutorials. My first priority is not to kill my drive to finish this game, which feels like I'm staving off by mere millimeters. Although, I'm not sure what kind of scale I'm working with. Maybe millimeters are a lot? Inches? Minutes? I'm not sure. It's tight. Gotta poop. Be back lates.

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Day 3: Sounds and flying T-Rexes

The goal was to do... a lot more than I did. I'm pretty close to overcoming some more hurdles, I think. I didn't have time today to implement exploding dinosaur gibs (pronounced "jibs"), so instead just made the dinosaurs lose all of their physics constraints when they get hit. They still chase me, though, so they just become flying dino missiles.

Turn you volume down before viewing.

I figure I'll add some more sound effects, some music, some miscellaneous stupid things, and then just call it finished. As much as I'm enjoying this game I need to move on. I'm gonna go watch Oblivion.

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Day 1: the game has changed

It was too complicated before. If I'm gonna see this project to the end I need to keep it simple. My attention span is extremely volatile and I've learned I really can't give myself any minuscule reason to halt work on a project, because I'll take it. I'd rather make something negligible than nothing at all.

I spent most of the day trying to figure out Unity's seemingly inscrutable particle effect creator, all while dealing with a shitty replacement mouse and a keyboard with a busted Shift key. It was frusssstrating.

I'm just gonna see where this thing goes, but the plan is still to include dinosaur-ramming.

Here's what it looks like right now, as I'm going to bed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvPCilMh9TY

Also, the "days" of these blogs aren't like, *actual* days corresponding to days in development. Just the days I make blogs.

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Day 0: I'm making a game about Dinosaurs and Space

I'm sure no one will read this until I finish the game, but here it is for posterity's sake.

I made a thread, and some of you picked your least-hated idea for me to make a game out of, which then shouldn't surprise anyone that it's a space sim with dinosaurs. I guess I'm free to interpret that how I wish. Another parachuting idea almost won, so I figure I'll combine them a little.

Here's the plan:

The game is called "Ready to Die"

Game begins with a black screen and text fades into view in the center of screen. It reads: "Your ship has been shot down by the rebels above their home planet. No one will hear the results of your scouting mission."

The text fades out. An alarm sound gradually fades in, and the black screen fades away. You're above the clouds on a planet, in your spaceship, plummeting downward, with an alarm casting red light throughout your cabin. All you can hear is the alarm and your breathing. Text fades into view again, "Move the mouse and click to turn off the alarm."

After you figure this out, thereby showing you have basic PC game competency, your ship breaks through the clouds. Below is a desert planet. You see what looks like bugs flying over the planet. Upon further descent, you realize they're winged dinosaurs, of course. Text fades into view once more, "You will not survive. Take as many rebels with you as you can. Scouting vessels aren't equipped with weapons." That text fades away, and more fades into view, "You are not ready to die."

At this point, you're instructed to move the WASD/left stick to pivot the ship in its trajectory if you hadn't already figured it out. I'll leave it to the player to realize they need to smash into as many flying dinosaurs as possible.

The player can make it to the surface and blow up with their ship by default, but the real end-game is to hit so many dinosaurs that your ship gets destroyed, at which point you'll be ejected from the cockpit. As you fall, your goal stays the same, and you must smash your body into as many dinosaurs as possible. You are more mobile than you were in your ship, and descend slower.

The player can hit the ground here, as well, but the real-ist end-game is to hit enough dinosaurs that the player's velocity is slowed enough to land on a dino without obliterating it, which will then allow the player to safely glide down to the surface. At this point, there is nowhere else to go. Flying dinos are one thing, but on the surface you have much more savage dinos and you're just a man without weapons. You are free to try running away, which will work for awhile, or you can stand and nobly accept your fate.

Upon death, the player can immediately restart by pressing "R" or "Start," but will also be shown how many dinosaurs they killed, and what kind killed the player.

Here's what I got so far:

A dude, in a cockpit, plummeting towards the ground. I can control the ship and adjust the player's view. Dinos will be one of the last things to add.

I'm just pulling all the art assets from opengameart.org, so it'll go swiftly once I get the mechanics finished. I predict... a few days, if all goes well. I really fucking hope I don't loser-out and quit this project. Here's hoping I'm not a scumbag!

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I decided to finally play this. Am I an idiot, or is this game designed terribly?

I'm leaning towards a mix of being unlucky and stupid, but here's my experience with the game:

It looks good. I like the style, and I like the facial animation stuff, of course; who doesn't? The cars control surprisingly well, although the whole "skip action sequence" thing makes me feel like I'm a huge sucker every time I opt to actually play the game. From what I've played (not much), I like the main character's really uptight asshole demeanor and I'm interested in seeing how his personal story develops. It's not the longest list, but those are the bulk of things I like about it so far, and in theory those things could keep me playing a game to completion. But hey we're not here to talk about positive things.

Let's get into the thing the internet was made for: my problems with the game. I go on my first real murder investigation. I gather some clues from the crime scene, then I talk to a store clerk lady. Thanks to an incredibly annoying in-your-face tutorial (by the way, do those remaining 'help' messages ever go away?), I pass that interrogation with flying colors. But now I've gotta find the murderer at a jewelry store, and most of the training wheels are coming off. No problem, I got this. I chase the dude down and bring him to the station for questioning. Mr. Murderer wants me to prove my allegations, which is kinda weird, him being the suspect and all, but I go along with it. I offer up what I think is a good piece of evidence, and the game makes a noise, and the perp contorts his face and says something out-of-context to the effect of "incorrect answer, player." Then Phelps puts a little 'x' on that bullet point. Wait! Phelps! Dude! We can try again, man! Fuck. So, naturally, this being a game and all, I quit and restart. After sitting through the entire cutscene again I get to the question and fail, yet again. Third time's a charm, and finally I nail the interrogation and my boss is super psyched. No more blue uniform.

So to keep things shorter, I'll say that about the same thing happened for the next case when I went to the victim's wife's house to ask her questions. After restarting three times and still fucking something (no idea what I could have done differently) up in the interrogation, I just said "okay, I'm playing this game wrong. You're supposed to roll with the consequences." So from that point on I did just that. I did alright on the wife's convo, but when I went to her accomplice I failed every single bullet point. Didn't matter, I guess, as my boss said I did a bang-up job.

Next case (my final case): Some "kids" stole a diplomat's car or something. I walk around the crime scene trying to find every little piece of evidence, then talk to an old man who witnessed the commotion. I realize he's lying to me since I have to stop playing and belly-laugh for about two minutes at the fucking hilarious faces this guy is making. He does this twice, and -- since my version of Cole Phelps is apparently entirely incompetent -- I get both of them wrong. I also accuse him of telling the truth when he wasn't, so fail every single bullet point. No idea what I did wrong, or how I could have known otherwise.

I think I finish the scene, then go to check out the dealership the car was rented from. No surprises here: I find "all" the clues, do the stupid minigame, then talk to the owner and fail every bullet point. I'm feeling pretty good right about now. Not at all frustrated. I see a worker detailing a car right next to me and get in it, trample over a curb, and smash into traffic. Feeling a little better now. I get back in my squad car.

"We should probably get back to the empty lot, Cole." Wait, what? I finished that lot. You told me to come here. Since it's not on the notebook anymore, I assume it's a minor glitch, and proceed to the station to interview the diplomat. Hey, guess what? I fail every bullet point. Now I head to the main subject's house. After scouring for every clue I can, I talk to his wife. Fail every bullet point. "Hey Cole, we should head back to the empty lot." Ohhh, okay, so I did forget something. Well, I head back and spend about ten minutes trying to find whatever it is my omniscient partner seems to think I've forgotten. Can't find it. "Hey Cole, there's no way we're done with the subject's house. Let's get back there." What? What?! Dude, make up your mind. So I go there, find nothing, and am currently left with no idea what to do. I have 3 potential places to go to, each with a possible hidden gem of evidence, and no idea where to start.

I want to enjoy this game, or, at the very least, I want to experience the work that was put into the game. But I can't. I could walk around forever, bouncing between 3 locations, trying to find the magic piece of evidence like some mid-'90s adventure game, but I'm not doing that. No fucking way. I might restart the whole case sometime in the future, but for now I'm done. This game, at least in my eyes, is goddamn fucking terribly designed. It has potential, and gumption... or whatever, but the fundamental game design part of it just isn't good at all.

tl;dr: I fail every single interrogation and the checkpoints are terrible, and you can't skip the cutscenes. There's no leniency at all on what items you choose to "prove" your claims, and it requires the player to know exactly what the game designers were thinking. Worst of all, I'm stuck running between 3 different locations looking for a magic piece (pieces?) of evidence that will advance the story, but have no idea where to start.

Terrible, frustrating design. Or not? Tell me what I'm doing wrong.

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