unangbangkay's forum posts

#1 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

That's the big problem (or the great thing) with video games, that their mechanics and concepts go hand in hand to make an effective (or ineffective) games. And in the end, it comes down to personal tolerances or capacity for forgiveness on part of each that forms a person's enjoyment. I love Mirror's Edge because its appeal to me is exactly like that of a Stuntman game, in trying things over and over until that final perfect run. It's not for everyone, and anyone planning to go through the campaign just once will probably have a hell of a time (in a bad way), but I did get what was "good" and "bad" about the review.

The best reviews don't really tell you whether something is good or bad, but rather whether you'll enjoy this or that. It sounds similar, but it's not.

#2 Edited by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

Amazing! Now we can play the end of modern civilization in chronological order:

CoD: World at War
CoD: Modern Warfare
Tom Clancy's Endwar
DEFCON: Everybody Dies
Fallout 3

#3 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -
#4 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -
Left 4 Dead is preloaded onto me Steam account, and I've got a reservation for Storm of Zehir at my local Gamestop.
#5 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

Nice of them to consider games that aren't out yet or have only been for a couple of weeks (to the consumer, at least). Also, where's Valkyria Chronicles in that Best Graphics list? We're going to need a spot of color in all that grey and brown.

#6 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

CLICK IT JEFF, CLICK IT NOW! I'll finally know someone else who clicked that link besides ME.

#7 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

It came out yesterday, and what I said in the initial demo impressions holds true. It's a great-looking and well-polished tactical game, but it still comes with some niggling flaws that keep the experience from flowing as well as it could.

I'm of the opinion that the game doesn't quite merit the glowing reviews it's been getting, perhaps due to its novelty for gamers not well-versed in Japanese sRPGs (even then it's quite innovative), but mind you it's still a must-have for anyone interested in sRPGs, interesting visuals, anime, or worthwhile PS3 exclusives. The demo is available on PSN, and is thankfully no longer linked to an episode of Qore (small mercies), I suggest you hit it up. Those looking for a more comprehensive appraisal can refer to my own (glowing) review.

My ulterior motive for including yet another post about VC is that I've found out who the lead artist is: Raita Honjou. Also known as Zettai Shoujo, Raita has produced many good doujinshi of the safe and unsafe variety, and his signature style carries over into the game, perfectly suited to the visual effects. And now I will post (safe) images from my Raita collection. I have yet to find some of his more professional work, but if I ever do get my hands on them...

And now, some Raita:

Kill Bill by Raita
Raita's Militaria
Raita's Gizmo II
#8 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

@Jayge

It was no accident. I happened upon some snipers in 2Fort and went "yes, perfect chance".


Good on you for that, and indeed, obtaining some achievements are indeed worth being lauded for, but again, they essentially force you to go out of your way for unlocks. That shouldn't happen, at least not in TF2.

And before we bring CoD4 and its own unlocks into this, CoD4's unlocks were based on XP, and came over the course of normal gameplay. Several of TF2's achievements are practically based on random chance for all the likelihood of encountering them outside of a controlled situation. Your accomplishment of Show Trial was the exception, not the rule, and still doesn't address that some players may never encounter the same opportunity that you did.

Further, I'd like to see your less limited definition of achievements. Mind you, I'm referring to a systematically executed listing and tracking of specific goals and activities, with tangible rewards (be they points, trophies, or unlocks), not just personal milestones set by the player.

To be honest, I don't have a problem with achievements so long as they remain entirely optional and unobtrusive, never interfering with a player's experiencing the entirety of the game mechanics.

@SmugDarkLoser

Dead Rising and Ninja Gaiden are primarily singleplayer experiences, and by that tying an unlock to an achievement is just fine, a good way to extend the games' value propositions. Armor unlocks in Halo were meaningless except for appearance. They changed gameplay balance in no substantial way (I don't own Halo and can't speak as to game-changing unlocks I'm not aware of).

#9 Edited by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

@MattyFTM

The problem isn't that achievements are there (though that raises questions I'll try to address later), but that they're slowly being made into prerequisites. When they become prerequisites, they're not achievements, they're hoops you have to jump through. Think of it as school. Graduating with a 4.0 GPA is a great achievement, but you didn't need to grab that 4.0 to pass. When making that 4.0 the passing grade just to get the most out of your game, that's not an achievement, that's a barrier.

@Pause22

That's the problem, you shouldn't ever have to, especially not in a multiplayer game that's supposed to be balanced. Achievement-like challenges are only worth doing when they don't have to be done, otherwise they're just arbitrary barriers to enjoyment. The exact point is that they should NEVER be made worth doing if "worth doing" means actually having access to what the game offers.

@Jayge

Actually, it isn't absolutely fine, because this kind of "dedication" leads to behavior that runs counter to gameplay. Would a medic have been more useful because he managed 5 uninterrupted kills and earning props and bragging rights, or healing his team and helping them win? More likely the former rather than the latter. Now take a medic who would rather try for those bonesaw kills as opposed to healing his team and you see my point.

Furthermore, your actually managing Show Trial by chance shows exactly how pointless tying unlocks to achievements is. Your getting it by accident in a game that's fun for team-based skill and cooperation is neither fun nor relevant to TF2's gameplay philosophy. With achievement maps and unlock farming, the entire point of achievements (i.e. achieving) is rendered moot, players simply going through the motions so as simply not be left out. Where's the fun in that?

Whenever I decide to get around to part 2 I'm going to talk about achievements properly used and potential for the future, but unlocks are not part of that future, nor are they examples of proper use.

#10 Posted by unangbangkay (146 posts) -

It's an interesting feeling when you have an epihany about something. It might come as a consideration of dynamic difficulty and its ramifications on open-world gameplay, the experience of playing "non-game" games like Linger in Shadows, or even the wonders of the Half-Tucked Shirt. These sorts of things can fundamentally change the way you see a game, feature, or what-have-you.

In this case, I came to an interesting realization regarding achievements. Let's get definitions out of the way first. Achievements are artificial point values (or trophy grades, or titles) awarded to commemorate passing various milestones over the course of gameplay. These values are then tracked online so they can be seen, marveled at, or ridiculed.

Achievements are now standard in nearly every Xbox 360 game (where they became popularized), most newer PlayStation 3 games (as trophies), and making inroads into various PC titles. Most view them as an easy and largely painless way for developers to extend the value propositions of their games beyond simply finishing them. Obtaining achievements and the perceived value associated with them appeals to that primal hoarding instinct in many gamers' minds that drives them to "hundred-percent" all the games they can find.

On the surface, achievements don't mean much, being little more than meaningless excuses to gloat, virtual street cred for the young (and young-minded) to wave about. Dig a little deeper, however, and you may notice achievements' potential to change games in ways that perhaps not even their developers may notice, altering a game's design or its players' behavior in ways that may not always be benign.

What caused the figurative lightbulb in my head to pop on, like the belabored flickering of the vacuum tube in Fallout 3's "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" intro, were the "unlocks" being implemented Valve's Team Fortress 2.



In case you've been trapped in a time paradox for the past half-decade or so, unlocks are special weapons and equipment available for Team Fortress 2's various character classes. The new unlockables are, well...unlocked by passing certain numbers of achievements. Unlocks are the most telling example of my concern over achievements, mainly because of how strongly the unlocked content can change the way a given class is played.

I think you can see where I'm going with this. Linking unlockable advantages to achievements attached real value to them, making them worth more than meaningless points. Achievements are becoming game-changers. Let's start with the broad strokes first, mainly focusing on TF2 and the class updates. TF2 is an especially important case because of its multiplayer-only, teamplay-focused design. Achievements and unlocks, however, are entirely individual and personal, and thus self-centered. Think about how ridiculous some of the achievements are, like this one, for the Heavy:

Show Trial: Kill an enemy with a taunt.

Seriously? Your fucking taunt? Where will you ever find an opportunity to pull that off in a normal match? Whatever happened to your helping your team achieve victory?

Granted, not every achievement is this ludicrous (some are moreso, in fact), but the point is that questing for achievements undermines team play. It might be fun for you to go out and try hitting 5 enemies in a row with your Medic's bonesaw (without dying or missing, good luck with that), but I'm thinking at least some of your teammates would rather you pull out your goddamned medi-gun and do some healing.

Furthermore, tying unlocks to achievements may well undermine the fairness and balance that makes Team Fortress 2 so great (in addition to its many other beloved qualities). An article in Scientific American examined a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania which concluded that people in general would rather be fair than greedy, often willingly reducing their own benefits in order to make sure that the other guy gets a fair shake.

When selfish achievements are required to make sure the playing field is level (thus making skill and cooperation the defining factor in victory), fairness is systematically undermined. Is that fun or balanced? Not to me.

I developed this attitude shortly after I read a great write-up on Rock Paper Shotgun about the "Achievement servers" that started popping up in the wake of the various class updates. For you tl;dr types, achievement servers exist for the sole purpose of helping players grind achievements with the goal of getting unlocks as soon as humanly possible. They host custom maps designed for that selfsame purpose. TF2 players instantly became more akin to Lineage players. Ugh.



Unlocks also "unlock" a mild form of class discrimination between players. Players who ground away at their achivements became "haves", while noobs and those without OCD became the "have-nots". I've seen some teams on public servers kick or force underequipped newbs to spawn as a different class because they didn't have the unlocks necessary to be useful. Some MMO players regularly find themselves shut out of a raid because their compatriots haven't found the time to farm the necessary-tier gear. Lots of fun, that.

On a more trivial note, achievement farming renders a lot of the stat-tracking features useless. A player who loves rolling Medic but decided to grind Pyro achievements to fit in can no longer find satisfaction in seeing his stats, which would undoubtedly be newly weighted towards his farming time.

Sure, we can just choose NOT to grind the achievements and enjoy the game as a plain ol' K.G.B.-less Heavy, but hey, you're now less versatile. That Medic who would have liked to uber you in the hopes of dinging the "Blunt Trauma" achievement. Sorry, doktor, you'll have to find someone else to help you get the Blutsauger or Ubersaw. And as with the "Show Trial" achievement above, some of those goals are impossible without a controlled setup.

Granted, I might be bitching and moaning about unlocks because I just plain fail at TF2 (and life, for writing this treatise in the first place). Fair enough, I am pretty fail at TF2. But consider this: would I be failing less had I chosen not to have fun, instead putting up with boredom farming the Backburner on an achievement server, to be more useful to my team?

I'd get into some of the more insidious aspects of Achievements and their implications for game design in general, but this entry is long enough as it is. I hope to get a part two out sometime soon.