# A criticism of originality, part 1.

(Wait, what the hell is this?) There aren't any games in that banner; what the hell's going on? Well, I thought I'd try something different, for a change. Namely, I'm gonna tell you guys about a few things that, over my illustrious gaming career, I have found out about evaluating games. Now this isn't so much a step by step method on how I blog about games or anything (that might come in the very far off future, though); merely a set of rules I've stumbled across over time. That out of the way, let's get into exactly what the hell I'm talking about. Up first:

## Don't form opinions about games until you've actually played them.

(Now this seems a rather obvious and inoffensive statement, but that's only because it is.) Still, I've seen gamers do this a lot, both positive ("THIS IS GONNA BE SO FUCKING AWESOME, YOU GUYS") and negative ("THIS GAME IS GONNA FUCKING SUCK, URGH!"). Now I'd explain to you exactly why this is so important to looking at games, but I don't want to waste your time yet. So I'll let Sherlock Holmes do it, instead.

OK, we good? Now then, let us move onto the real reason I'm posting this in the first place:

## A game must only be evaluated in terms of the game itself; do not drag outside factors into it.

(So what the fuck does that mean?) Well, it means what it means. I know that sounds just as confusing as before, so to alleviate this, I'll show you the problem that I have attempted to solve with this very statement:

### It's the same, now it sucks.

Oh, how illogical a way to evaluate games. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at what it says through the magical power of mathematics: It's the same, so x=y. Fair enough. But now it sucks. That word "now" implies that it did not suck before, so x>y. Or x<y. It doesn't matter, because either would mean x≠x. Wouldn't that also mean we've told logic to go fuck itself?

OK, I'll admit that was a bit pretentious as all hell. Worry not, for I've equally pretentious arguments coming later slightly less head-up-my-own-ass ways of tearing apart this logic. For example, to say that a game is bad because it is unoriginal implies that being unoriginal causes it to be bad. (Remember that for later.) Now does this not imply that originality relate to goodness? Let's see if that holds up. First, let's start with individual games, since that's what I'm primarily concerned with:

Nope. No goddamn connection. Turns out a game can be good without being original, and it can be original without being good. Well, maybe it holds true for series that remain original? After all, I see people insulting game series for staying exactly the same over time, so maybe that's where it becomes valid:

Again, no such luck. If there's no correlation to speak of between quality and originality, how can we even begin to say that one causes the other?

Which leads nicely into my next argument: I've seen this "sameness is bad" argument used endlessly against Capcom's stuff, so let's start with an example from them. "God, Mega Man 6 fucking sucks; it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5." Tell me: what is this hypothetical gamer saying? "The experience of Mega Man 6 sucks; it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5." (Trust me, I have a reason for adding that clause. However, I don't want to type that out all the time, so just keep it in the back of your mind throughout all this.) So Mega Man 6 is bad specifically because it is the same as Mega Man 5? What an interesting word: because. Because because because because......Cause! That's it! This statement is saying that Mega Man 5 causes Mega Man 6 to be bad; if Mega Man 5 weren't in the picture, then, presumably, Mega Man 6 would be good. So we have a causal relationship between Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6, meaning that Mega Man 6 is dependent on Mega Man 5. But wait, that makes no sense. Mega Man 6 doesn't need Mega Man 5 to exist; I can play Mega Man 6 on its own just fine. (Remember that "experience" thing I mentioned long ago? That's where it comes into play. I don't want any financial fuckery here.)

"You're beings selfish!", I can hear you cry through your computer screens. (You're lucky that your microphone was on, because computers don't work that way.) "You just gamed the system for this weird little experiment of yours! There's no way that this shit happens naturally." Really, now? I'll leave you with this word: Pokémon. And just like that, a slightly manlier version of Michael Jackson has tapped into a rich vein of nostalgia deep within you. You're probably remembering that time when you were seven years old and your friend told you all these rumors about a Green version of Pokémon that totally had a Pikablu in it that evolved into Mewthree or whatever your stupid rumors were. I suspect that, being a gamer of wide tastes, you have continued playing Pokémon over the years, and, because you have previously yelled at me for poor arguments, I'm going to assume that you're not liking the recent Pokémon games because they're the same as the previous ones. (I have precedent.) So the games are the same, meaning they're appealing to the same audience. You know what that means: right now, there's a seven year old playing Pokémon Black and hearing some crazy rumors about Blerdier in the super secret Japan only Pokémon Grey. Now where the fuck am I going with this?

Well, let's say you were to get into a discussion with this chi-you know what? Let's make this a super child with all the reasoning capacities of an adult, just so you can't attack him on the grounds of being a child. Manly knowledge in the body of a child. Anyway, discussion with child. You want to tell this kid how bad the new Pokémon games are. Now how the fuck do you go about doing it? Comparing them to Red and Blue? What would that achieve? The kid's fucking seven; he's not likely to have even seen a Game Boy, much less played games on it. Your argument would make about as much sense as me saying that Bastion is bad because it's a Fragile Dreams rip-off. You've never played Fragile Dreams; why the fuck should you care if it's a rip-off? In fact, if we go back to the child, do we even know what the hell he's played? Well, there's Pokémon Black, and....uh....Pokémon Wh-but that's just Black....hmmm....We only know that he has played Pokémon Black; we know nothing else about him. Therefore, we can only frame our discussion in terms of Pokémon Black. So it must be for all games.

However, I must point out that I have heard a rebuttal to this very argument: "Play some more games, you little brat!" Is that how we really wish to address the situation? Tell the child that their opinion is of no worth because of those factors completely outside it? Oh, how that reeks of ad hominem. However, I do not like the counterargument I have presented, since it reeks too much of strawman for my tastes. So let us construct a stronger attack by, yet again, identifying what is at the heart of what this person is truly saying. Now why would somebody use that reply in such a situation? Well, because they believe that if they were to play more games, their opinion would be more informed (even though they're already damn well informed enough for having played through the game in question) by comparing to its peers. You know what this means, right? The gamer in question is asserting that because other video games exist before Black and White (not that Black & White, although it doesn't really matter for what I'm trying to say), they determine the game's quality in exactly that way. Also important to this is that it doesn't matter if the gamer actually knows about these games; if such were true, then we could not use it as a counterargument. So, to sum things up about what it's saying: games exist beforehand, they determine quality as such, and our own personal knowledge holds no weight in this regard. What we have here the key to Pandora's Box, and I shall demonstrate as such....next time, because this is getting pretty long.

Posted by Video_Game_King

(Wait, what the hell is this?) There aren't any games in that banner; what the hell's going on? Well, I thought I'd try something different, for a change. Namely, I'm gonna tell you guys about a few things that, over my illustrious gaming career, I have found out about evaluating games. Now this isn't so much a step by step method on how I blog about games or anything (that might come in the very far off future, though); merely a set of rules I've stumbled across over time. That out of the way, let's get into exactly what the hell I'm talking about. Up first:

## Don't form opinions about games until you've actually played them.

(Now this seems a rather obvious and inoffensive statement, but that's only because it is.) Still, I've seen gamers do this a lot, both positive ("THIS IS GONNA BE SO FUCKING AWESOME, YOU GUYS") and negative ("THIS GAME IS GONNA FUCKING SUCK, URGH!"). Now I'd explain to you exactly why this is so important to looking at games, but I don't want to waste your time yet. So I'll let Sherlock Holmes do it, instead.

OK, we good? Now then, let us move onto the real reason I'm posting this in the first place:

## A game must only be evaluated in terms of the game itself; do not drag outside factors into it.

(So what the fuck does that mean?) Well, it means what it means. I know that sounds just as confusing as before, so to alleviate this, I'll show you the problem that I have attempted to solve with this very statement:

### It's the same, now it sucks.

Oh, how illogical a way to evaluate games. Don't believe me? Let's take a look at what it says through the magical power of mathematics: It's the same, so x=y. Fair enough. But now it sucks. That word "now" implies that it did not suck before, so x>y. Or x<y. It doesn't matter, because either would mean x≠x. Wouldn't that also mean we've told logic to go fuck itself?

OK, I'll admit that was a bit pretentious as all hell. Worry not, for I've equally pretentious arguments coming later slightly less head-up-my-own-ass ways of tearing apart this logic. For example, to say that a game is bad because it is unoriginal implies that being unoriginal causes it to be bad. (Remember that for later.) Now does this not imply that originality relate to goodness? Let's see if that holds up. First, let's start with individual games, since that's what I'm primarily concerned with:

Nope. No goddamn connection. Turns out a game can be good without being original, and it can be original without being good. Well, maybe it holds true for series that remain original? After all, I see people insulting game series for staying exactly the same over time, so maybe that's where it becomes valid:

Again, no such luck. If there's no correlation to speak of between quality and originality, how can we even begin to say that one causes the other?

Which leads nicely into my next argument: I've seen this "sameness is bad" argument used endlessly against Capcom's stuff, so let's start with an example from them. "God, Mega Man 6 fucking sucks; it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5." Tell me: what is this hypothetical gamer saying? "The experience of Mega Man 6 sucks; it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5." (Trust me, I have a reason for adding that clause. However, I don't want to type that out all the time, so just keep it in the back of your mind throughout all this.) So Mega Man 6 is bad specifically because it is the same as Mega Man 5? What an interesting word: because. Because because because because......Cause! That's it! This statement is saying that Mega Man 5 causes Mega Man 6 to be bad; if Mega Man 5 weren't in the picture, then, presumably, Mega Man 6 would be good. So we have a causal relationship between Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6, meaning that Mega Man 6 is dependent on Mega Man 5. But wait, that makes no sense. Mega Man 6 doesn't need Mega Man 5 to exist; I can play Mega Man 6 on its own just fine. (Remember that "experience" thing I mentioned long ago? That's where it comes into play. I don't want any financial fuckery here.)

"You're beings selfish!", I can hear you cry through your computer screens. (You're lucky that your microphone was on, because computers don't work that way.) "You just gamed the system for this weird little experiment of yours! There's no way that this shit happens naturally." Really, now? I'll leave you with this word: Pokémon. And just like that, a slightly manlier version of Michael Jackson has tapped into a rich vein of nostalgia deep within you. You're probably remembering that time when you were seven years old and your friend told you all these rumors about a Green version of Pokémon that totally had a Pikablu in it that evolved into Mewthree or whatever your stupid rumors were. I suspect that, being a gamer of wide tastes, you have continued playing Pokémon over the years, and, because you have previously yelled at me for poor arguments, I'm going to assume that you're not liking the recent Pokémon games because they're the same as the previous ones. (I have precedent.) So the games are the same, meaning they're appealing to the same audience. You know what that means: right now, there's a seven year old playing Pokémon Black and hearing some crazy rumors about Blerdier in the super secret Japan only Pokémon Grey. Now where the fuck am I going with this?

Well, let's say you were to get into a discussion with this chi-you know what? Let's make this a super child with all the reasoning capacities of an adult, just so you can't attack him on the grounds of being a child. Manly knowledge in the body of a child. Anyway, discussion with child. You want to tell this kid how bad the new Pokémon games are. Now how the fuck do you go about doing it? Comparing them to Red and Blue? What would that achieve? The kid's fucking seven; he's not likely to have even seen a Game Boy, much less played games on it. Your argument would make about as much sense as me saying that Bastion is bad because it's a Fragile Dreams rip-off. You've never played Fragile Dreams; why the fuck should you care if it's a rip-off? In fact, if we go back to the child, do we even know what the hell he's played? Well, there's Pokémon Black, and....uh....Pokémon Wh-but that's just Black....hmmm....We only know that he has played Pokémon Black; we know nothing else about him. Therefore, we can only frame our discussion in terms of Pokémon Black. So it must be for all games.

However, I must point out that I have heard a rebuttal to this very argument: "Play some more games, you little brat!" Is that how we really wish to address the situation? Tell the child that their opinion is of no worth because of those factors completely outside it? Oh, how that reeks of ad hominem. However, I do not like the counterargument I have presented, since it reeks too much of strawman for my tastes. So let us construct a stronger attack by, yet again, identifying what is at the heart of what this person is truly saying. Now why would somebody use that reply in such a situation? Well, because they believe that if they were to play more games, their opinion would be more informed (even though they're already damn well informed enough for having played through the game in question) by comparing to its peers. You know what this means, right? The gamer in question is asserting that because other video games exist before Black and White (not that Black & White, although it doesn't really matter for what I'm trying to say), they determine the game's quality in exactly that way. Also important to this is that it doesn't matter if the gamer actually knows about these games; if such were true, then we could not use it as a counterargument. So, to sum things up about what it's saying: games exist beforehand, they determine quality as such, and our own personal knowledge holds no weight in this regard. What we have here the key to Pandora's Box, and I shall demonstrate as such....next time, because this is getting pretty long.

Posted by A_Talking_Donkey

I almost agree but there are three points in this blog I disagree with though only two of them are relevant to advancing the conversation in a meaningful way. The first, and totally irrelevant to the conversation, is that you somewhat assume we agree with your graphs without explaining why we should. Granted your point doesn't revolve around the graphs, but for clarity's sake it should probably be noted that there is no objective measure used to determine what is good and bad in the charts.

The second point is one of language and inferred meaning. When someone says a game sucks because of an earlier gaming experience we have to assume that there is a relation between the statement and their own experience. Using the example you used of Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6; if someone said Mega Man 6 sucked because of Mega Man 5 it could mean that they're not ready for another Mega Man experience because in that moment they're burnt out on Mega Man. They got their fill of 5, so in reality there is a direct link between 6 sucking and having played 5. It could also mean that because of story elements in 5 they're not enjoying 6, so experiencing 5 directly negatively impacted their view of 6. Further still, it could be that they're inarticulately stating that 6 is a step back from 5 and based on playing a similar yet superior product they don't enjoy 6 as much as others might. 6 sucking might be directly related to their personal experience with 5.

The third is that the "play some more games brat" argument while asinine isn't totally incorrect depending on intent. I don't think it applies to casual gamers or general population at large, but for a reviewers or really for anyone's opinion to expected to have any weight it does. If you're lacking experience in a medium and don't have a vast amount of knowledge your opinion really means nothing. Just like someone doesn't become a professional music critic overnight because they own 2 Nickelback CDs and an ipod full of top 40 radio hits, nobody has ever formed a meaningful opinion about any game ever with just 1 game as a reference point. If they enjoyed the game or not is one thing, being able to pick out why you enjoy it, why it should appeal to others, and how it stacks up to similar games is entirely different. It isn't about other games existing before it or the game's contemporaries, it's about having a deep enough appreciation for the medium to have an intimate knowledge of the nuances. Yes the game stands on its own merits and should only be judged by its merits, but how could you ever determine if the game is of quality without having a working knowledge of gaming in a broad and general sense?

Posted by Ravenlight

@Video_Game_King said:

Posted by Ravenlight

Okay, for realsies this time.

How long should one play a game until one feels they have verified their belief that they would not like the game? I gave League of Legends about an hour before I completely gave up on it, but MOBAs aren't really known for being particular scrutable right off the bat. For a game with such deep systems, does an hour still fall within "haven't played it" territory?

A game must only be evaluated in terms of the game itself; do not drag outside factors into it.

From a purely theoretical standpoint, we can totally evaluate a game on its own merits. However, outside of this magical domain lies the real world where my brain remembers past experiences if I want it to or not. I can understand what would make a game good on its own, but at the same time I can't help but to not enjoy it because of previous experience sometimes. Case in point, I'm not having as good of a time with Darksiders 2 because I'm fresh from the first game and I feel like the mechanics in the second were made needlessly complex.

I guess the compromise I try to make is to not to try to convince others that a game I don't like sucks, since it has its own merits for those who may not have shared the same previous experiences as me.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@A_Talking_Donkey:

True, but graphs generally make things easier to understand. There may not be a clear cut measure of these things, but the concept is demonstrated, nonetheless: originality and quality aren't inherently connected.

I actually thought about this a bit, and there may be a way to reconcile this: separating "like/dislike" from "good/bad". That way, I could say that I did not like Mega Man 6 because it's very similar to Mega Man 5, and teh necessary causal relation would still be there. However, I could not use that as a reason for saying that Mega Man 6 is a bad game; I'd have to point elsewhere.

That still reeks of ad hominem, though. For instance, let it be known that I have little to no experience with WRPGs. In fact, I could probably count all the WRPGs I've played on one hand, and all the ones I've beaten on the same hand. Does that make my Temple of Elemental Evil blog crap? (I just realized that I really don't want the answer.) Of course, greater experience with games makes it more likely that these opinions will be more fully formed and will more easily find out what makes a good game good, but at the same time, one should not dismiss the opinions of an amateur because they are an amateur. Dismiss them because the argument's crap or it actively contradicts what's actually in the game (EG calling Chie a traditional model of femininity).

Just wait until you see the spider porn in my next part.

Yea, an hour is still not having played it. I wanted to include "finish the damn game" as a direct response to Wolpaw's Law, but couldn't really figure out how to make it relevant to everything else. (The first part is relevant; just not now.)

Even then, it is the reviewer's responsibility to consider and frame their opinion only in terms of the game. If you believe that part of your opinion comes from another game, and you cannot make that other game irrelevant, throw it out. It shall only pollute. For Darksiders 2, for example, you could likely say that its systems are just too complex in general. If somebody fresh off the first can't figure it out, what hope has a person coming into Darksiders 2 an utter virgin?

Also, you could use the terminology thing I used up in the second paragraph of this comment. That oughta help.

Posted by Ravenlight

But crafting words into meaning that accurately reflects my position is hard :(

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Ravenlight said:

But crafting words into meaning that accurately reflects my position is hard :(

Nobody ever said it would be easy. I'm fairly certain my blogs are a testament to that.

Edited by Tennmuerti

You would be correct if games were evaluated 100% objectively.

But they aren't.

So you're kinda wrong. :P

Which brings us to the first ironic point. Your base data is faulty, so you are twisting the facts to suit your own theories.

/flexes fingers, starts humming a tune

## A game must only be evaluated in terms of the game itself; do not drag outside factors into it.

This is impossible. Everything you are, everything you think, everything you believe is based on your personal experiences. Outside factors are what inform your thinking. Your evaluation of a game will always depend on outside factors whether you like it or not. Thinking otherwise is the height of delusion. You are and everyone who judges games are human beings. We judge and evaluate things not purely objectively it's not simplistic math x=y but for a very large part subjectively. Objectivity in judgement can only be strived for never achieved. Brining simplistic objective math to a human psychological issue is ... shallow thinking at best.

I truly do not wish to be some dickish asshole deriding your text here by throwing insults on intelligence (i hate that shitty childish tactic) this is merely how I see that particular way of approaching the problem.

If you want to turn to maths examples in search of opinion validation it would be best to turn to relativistic physics and equations, they are far more applicable here. Because to put it simply the point of view/reference of the observer always matters.

This non vacum does not only extend to sequels, but to similar games, to games as a whole, to our areas of thematic interest, to our upbringing, etc

OK, I'll admit that was a bit pretentious as all hell. Worry not, for I've equally pretentious arguments coming later slightly less head-up-my-own-ass ways of tearing apart this logic. For example, to say that a game is bad because it is unoriginal implies that being unoriginal causes it to be bad. (Remember that for later.) Now does this not imply that originality relate to goodness? Let's see if that holds up. First, let's start with individual games, since that's what I'm primarily concerned with:

Of course we can't simply say that a game is bad because it's unoriginal. That's obvious. But we can say that it might hold less value to people because it's unoriginal, one can say it's worse to them because it's unoriginal and they can not like it as much, their evaluation can be lower. Saying something is inherently bad because it's unoriginal is stupid. This is not even an argument. You are using a very simple absolute example here to argue with yourself. "Bad". Absolutes like that are extremely easy to counter. Setting up your own pins and then knocking them down. Remember this for later, it extends to almost your entire post.

Nope. No goddamn connection. Turns out a game can be good without being original, and it can be original without being good. Well, maybe it holds true for series that remain original? After all, I see people insulting game series for staying exactly the same over time, so maybe that's where it becomes valid:

Again, of course it can! Of-fucking-course a game can be still good even if unoriginal. This picking the lowest possible false counterpoint and arguing against it. No shit you are correct. But this is irrelevant to the actual assumption and statement that games have to be judged by themselves. Something like originality an unoriginality can affect something's (game's) worth in a negative or positive way without delving into such crass absolutes.

Again, no such luck. If there's no correlation to speak of between quality and originality, how can we even begin to say that one causes the other?

Because you are using select examples to support your own theory and not looking at a bigger picture.

Furthermore causality and correlation are not the same thing.

Originality does not need to directly cause quality. Something can be good and unoriginal and visa versa. That does not mean that there is no correlation. Simply that there are dozens and hundreds of other factors involved. Originality is just a single one of those factors (by which we evaluate) it's not a fully determining factor. However humans do naturally tend to value originality more, it's simply how most of us a build. Learning and absorbing new information and experiences is one of the cornerstones of human nature, hence the inflow of newer fresher experiences is associated positively in our minds. At least under normal circumstances.

Which leads nicely into my next argument: I've seen this "sameness is bad" argument used endlessly against Capcom's stuff, so let's start with an example from them. "God, Mega Man 6 fucking sucks; it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5." Tell me: what is this hypothetical gamer saying? "The experience of Mega Man 6 sucks; it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5." (Trust me, I have a reason for adding that clause. However, I don't want to type that out all the time, so just keep it in the back of your mind throughout all this.) So Mega Man 6 is bad specifically because it is the same as Mega Man 5? What an interesting word: because. Because because because because......Cause! That's it! This statement is saying that Mega Man 5 causes Mega Man 6 to be bad; if Mega Man 5 weren't in the picture, then, presumably, Mega Man 6 would be good. So we have a causal relationship between Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6, meaning that Mega Man 6 is dependent on Mega Man 5. But wait, that makes no sense. Mega Man 6 doesn't need Mega Man 5 to exist; I can play Mega Man 6 on its own just fine. (Remember that "experience" thing I mentioned long ago? That's where it comes into play. I don't want any financial fuckery here.)

You need to look at some better arguments. "Sameness is bad" is a shitty argument. Like I have said before the tactic of setting yourself up with such absolute simplistic arguments make sit an easy job to knock them down. It's like picking on the weak kid. A better argument as mentioned before is "sameness can be a negative factor in our evaluation of a game that depends on quite a lot of factors"

Mega Man 6 might not be a shit game because it is the same as Megaman 5. But it sure as hell can be less enjoyable to a person because of it, thus giving it less overall value to a lot of people.

Do you think your evaluation of Persona 4 would have been the same if you have never played a single other videogame before? If you did not enjoy a Japanese approach to certain issues? (if i am being a bit crass here sorry) You liking Persona 4 is very much influenced by your past experiences by other having played other games, by having played gamers at all and liking games. YOU are not evaluating Persona 4 on it's own merit. Because you physically can't.

Again the experience of having played the sequels is only a single such particular defining experience in your entire life full of them. And this particular experience may shift your evaluation one way or another.

A person who has played Persona's 4 predecessors has a full right to judge and evaluate Persona 4 based on them. Because such an evaluation will always be somewhat subjective and only ever fully relevant to themselves. Just like your evaluation of Persona 4 is subjective and only fully relevant to yourself. Both of them can only ever be partially relevant to others.

"You're beings selfish!", I can hear you cry through your computer screens. (You're lucky that your microphone was on, because computers don't work that way.) "You just gamed the system for this weird little experiment of yours! There's no way that this shit happens naturally." Really, now? I'll leave you with this word: Pokémon. And just like that, a slightly manlier version of Michael Jackson has tapped into a rich vein of nostalgia deep within you. You're probably remembering that time when you were seven years old and your friend told you all these rumors about a Green version of Pokémon that totally had a Pikablu in it that evolved into Mewthree or whatever your stupid rumors were. I suspect that, being a gamer of wide tastes, you have continued playing Pokémon over the years, and, because you have previously yelled at me for poor arguments, I'm going to assume that you're not liking the recent Pokémon games because they're the same as the previous ones. (I have precedent.) So the games are the same, meaning they're appealing to the same audience. You know what that means: right now, there's a seven year old playing Pokémon Black and hearing some crazy rumors about Blerdier in the super secret Japan only Pokémon Grey. Now where the fuck am I going with this?

Here is the thing the person who thinks that Pokemon whatever is not interesting to him because he has played the same shit over and over is evaluating the game correctly. The seven year old kid who is in love with the game is also evaluating it correctly. (granted a better way would be to consider both viewpoints in a professional review, but even doing that will still be subject to other factors)

### In conclusion:

Evaluating games is both objective and subjective. It's 2 sides of the same coin. It's a balancing act always.

You can't ignore the subjective side. At best such is only deluding yourself into thinking you are being purely objective. When your own human nature does not allow you to be such. Experiences and evaluating our environment based on them is an inherent part of intelligence.

...

PS: Borderlands 2 is not out yet, so i am bored /shrug

Posted by Ravenlight

What? Your blogs are totally formulaic, you just fill in the middle bit*.

1. [BANNER]
2. [Link to Fire Emblem or FF song] [Yell at reader a bit, gentle self-deprecation, yell at reader for not playing unrelated game]
3. [Picture with witty caption]
5. [More FE/FF songs]
7. [Repeat 2-5 with more yelling at reader]
8. <3 I'm king of the Moon, motherfuckers! Hold me, Leonardo DiCaprio!

--

*Not to be taken seriously.

Edited by ProfessorEss

Just a question regarding the Final Fantasy: Good/Stayed Original bit.

What I find confusing is how in a different genre (like the First-Person-Shooter or Third-Person-Action genres) it seems a game has to be totally different, totally fresh and totally flip the whole genre on it's head to be considered even remotely "original" while the RPG genre simply has to write a new story and throw in a few new combat mechanics to be considered "original".

But overall I agree with your post. I think it's sad that the bulk of "professional game journalists" are so burnt out on every game and genre that they can't look at anything but the absolutely most original (both good and bad) with even the slightest hint of objectivity. I would be first in line if there was some sort of weird line-up being formed around the idea that there have been too many Assassin's Creed games released in too short a period. I was kind of enjoying AC: Revelations but I didn't finish Brotherhood that long ago, and I didn't finish AC:2 proper long before that and I just got totally burnt out but still think that dinging Revelations because of the way I personally chose to saturate myself with it isn't a fair representation of that game.

I don't really care what we the gaming community says in regards to originality. We're not getting paid, we're just shooting shit and shooting our mouths off. Everyone seems to enjoy putting their opinion (informed or otherwise) out there and I enjoy reading them but professionals on the other hand are losing it in my opinion. They've grown so jaded and burnt out that they'll take any original idea and praise it to the ends of the earth despite it being a piece of shit in every category except originality. I understand that they're basing this off of the level of enjoyment they personally got out of it, but I think telling Little Jimmy to buy a piece of shit game based on their own personal fatigue of the "standard fair" shows an inability to put the purpose of your piece before your personal tastes and emotions.

Edited by MattyFTM

I don't think the average person is very good at articulating their feelings. To use your example, someone who says "God, Mega Man 6 fucking sucks; it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5." doesn't really mean that. They mean "I don't like Mega Man 6 because it's exactly the same as Mega Man 5". That person has already played Mega Man 5, why would he want to play a game that's exactly the same? Or at the very least, why would he want to spend his hard earned money on a game that's exactly the same? That reaction is completely understandable. It may be wrong to objectively call it a bad game, but the game being exactly the same as a predecessor is a very valid reason for disliking a game on a personal level.

Our experiences are coloured by our previous experiences. That's our very nature as human beings. Everything we do is based on our previous experiences. The things we like, the things we dislike are because of previous experiences. Obviously my experience with any given game will be different to your experience with any given game due to our differing previous experiences. And when we talk about games, we aren't just talking about the game. We aren't giving an objective list of facts about it. We're talking about our experience with it. We're talking about how it made us feel, what we liked and disliked about it and why. Which is very much based on our previous experiences.

So yeah, it's very much impossible to evaluate a game without outside factors. The only way to do that would be to hand a game to a newborn baby. And I'm pretty sure their reaction is going to be something along the lines of "*gurgle* *burp* *long pause* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *shit* *sleep*".

Moderator
Posted by Slag

I agree with

Posted by TheHT

@Ravenlight said:

@Video_Game_King said:

Protip: if you have no idea, it's probably porn.

Posted by Fattony12000

Games can totally be evaluated and compared and critiqued against other games/developers/genres/stuff, you just have to do it in a manner that is not shit.

Posted by MikkaQ

I kinda don't agree, games shouldn't be evaluated in a vacuum, they need to be looked at as products of their time and evaluated against similar games from the period and other games in the franchise. Otherwise every JRPG before the PS2 era is fucking terrible. But compared to each other there are ones significantly better than others and in the mindset of the times they are great games. I mean I loved the old school Final Fantasy games but strict "you go, then they go" turn based combat feels really boring compared to the more involved and dynamic combat of certain JRPGs today. I'd take FF12's gameplay over 6's any day, but 6 was still the better game judging by the standards of the time. It broke more ground at the time than FF12 did 6 years ago.

Obviously it's not the only criteria of evaluation but I think it's important to acknowledge the times when evaluating or reevaluating a game and to take that into account. It certainly counts for something. And it even speaks to the qualities of some games that they DO hold up today. Super Mario Bros would be an entirely unremarkable indie platformer if it came out today but it would be an incredibly tight, well designed one still by today's standards which I think makes it all the more impressive than just looking at it for what it is.

Posted by kgb0515

AHHHH...now you've done an "inception" thingy to me, and all I can do is form opinions about games that I've never played! Seriously though, I really enjoyed this post, but I always run into a problem when reviewing games where I compare sequels or franchise titles to their predecessors. If I don't, then I might as well just say, "refer to the Megaman 5 review for comments regarding Megaman 6". If there's no progress or evolution in a franchise's mechanics then I'm going to call that game out for it. It can't be helped. Still, I mostly agree with you.

Posted by Bocam

You've played Persona 4? What do you think of Persona 2?

Posted by haggis

Games should be evaluated how ever the individual wants to. If you don't like the way someone is evaluating them, ignore them. There's no reason why someone can't make perfectly valid arguments about a game without having played it, especially if they're experienced in the genre. They have a right to that. And you have a right to ignore them, yell at them, or whatever. But telling them they shouldn't do so is a bit silly.

The same goes with outside factors. Leaving them out is ridiculous. Most of us want new games to bring something new to the table. And that expectation forces developers to sharpen their skills and their imagination. If we didn't expect more and better, games would never progress. If you want to evaluate games solely on what is presented and nothing else--fine. But you're confusing your preference and opinion as objective fact. It's not.

There are a lot of different ways of evaluating games, and that diversity of opinion and approach is helpful. It's why this community is so damned helpful when it comes to learning about what is and is not good about games. Telling us all that only your approach to evaluating games is valid and logical is ... well, invalid and illogical.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Tennmuerti:

Holy shit. Should I even post a part 2? It seems like you'd destroy that one, too.

Then is not the role to minimize it instead of eliminate it entirely? We can still take wisdom from it that way.

I know this sounds childish and petty, but in the next part, I at least attempt to show the danger of placing a game in a context, especially given that final part at the end.

@Tennmuerti said:

You are using a very simple absolute example here to argue with yourself. "Bad". Absolutes like that are extremely easy to counter. Setting up your own pins and then knocking them down. Remember this for later, it extends to almost your entire post.

I'm not even going to respond to the rest of this simply because you've so effectively destroyed and dismantled my entire argument. (Although to be perfectly fair, some of these are based on arguments I've actually seen people use in this type of debate.)

@Ravenlight said:

What? Your blogs are totally formulaic, you just fill in the middle bit*.

1. [BANNER]
2. [Link to Fire Emblem or FF song] [Yell at reader a bit, gentle self-deprecation, yell at reader for not playing unrelated game]
3. [Picture with witty caption]
5. [More FE/FF songs]
7. [Repeat 2-5 with more yelling at reader]
8. <3 I'm king of the Moon, motherfuckers! Hold me, Leonardo DiCaprio!

Except this one. It's just banner, music, YELL AT READER.

@ProfessorEss said:

But overall I agree with your post. I think it's sad that the bulk of "professional game journalists" are so burnt out on every game and genre that they can't look at anything but the absolutely most original (both good and bad) with even the slightest hint of objectivity. I would be first in line if there was some sort of weird line-up being formed around the idea that there have been too many Assassin's Creed games released in too short a period. I was kind of enjoying AC: Revelations but I didn't finish Brotherhood that long ago, and I didn't finish AC:2 proper long before that and I just got totally burnt out but still think that dinging Revelations because of the way I personally chose to saturate myself with it isn't a fair representation of that game.

That's pretty much what I wanted to say about this: separate your past experiences from your own opinion of the game itself, if that makes any sense. I wouldn't have aimed it as much at professional critics as I would have everybody else, but yea, that's kind of the problem I wish to solve.

@MattyFTM said:

That person has already played Mega Man 5, why would he want to play a game that's exactly the same?

....Because it's exactly the same? (I'm assuming they liked Mega Man 5.) Although that last part I did acknowledge in the comments: dislike gets around it, bad does not.

@MattyFTM said:

Our experiences are coloured by our previous experiences. That's our very nature as human beings. Everything we do is based on our previous experiences. The things we like, the things we dislike are because of previous experiences. Obviously my experience with any given game will be different to your experience with any given game due to our differing previous experiences. And when we talk about games, we aren't just talking about the game. We aren't giving an objective list of facts about it. We're talking about our experience with it. We're talking about how it made us feel, what we liked and disliked about it and why. Which is very much based on our previous experiences.

Still, it does not make sense to hold those previous experiences against the game. How is the game to know what I played? It can't control the fact that I've played Umihara Kawase Shun; it can only control itself, and to judge it otherwise is unfair. Besides, if we were to judge based on our past experiences, doesn't that just support my point? That you can't say "it's the same, so it sucks", since it would essentially go against your previous experiences?

@MattyFTM said:

So yeah, it's very much impossible to evaluate a game without outside factors. The only way to do that would be to hand a game to a newborn baby. And I'm pretty sure their reaction is going to be something along the lines of "*gurgle* *burp* *long pause* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *cry* *shit* *sleep*".

Of course that's what they're going to say when you ask them to play Final Fantasy XII.

@Fattony12000 said:

Games can totally be evaluated and compared and critiqued against other games/developers/genres/stuff, you just have to do it in a manner that is not shit.

My question, though, is if it's even possible.

@MikkaQ said:

I kinda don't agree, games shouldn't be evaluated in a vacuum, they need to be looked at as products of their time and evaluated against similar games from the period and other games in the franchise.

What games, exactly? That, I answer later.

@MikkaQ said:

Otherwise every JRPG before the PS2 era is fucking terrible.

Then shouldn't that be cause for concern that you should revise your earlier opinions? That they may have been using shallow technical to create the illusion of quality? (The first thing that comes to mind when such an argument is brought up.)

@MikkaQ said:

I'd take FF12's gameplay over 6's any day, but 6 was still the better game judging by the standards of the time. It broke more ground at the time than FF12 did 6 years ago.

NO STANDARDS OF TIME! NO CONTEXT! AND WHILE I'M YELLING, 6 WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER THAN 12!

@MikkaQ said:

Super Mario Bros would be an entirely unremarkable indie platformer if it came out today but it would be an incredibly tight, well designed one still by today's standards which I think makes it all the more impressive than just looking at it for what it is.

Actually, not really. History is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, here. Although that's a tangential argument, at best, so I shall abandon it.

@kgb0515 said:

If there's no progress or evolution in a franchise's mechanics then I'm going to call that game out for it. It can't be helped. Still, I mostly agree with you.

Alligators have not evolved much in their time, yet are still fucking awesome. Food for alligators thought.

@Bocam said:

You've played Persona 4? What do you think of Persona 2?

You shall see, eventually. For now, "it is good" shall suffice.@haggis said:

There's no reason why someone can't make perfectly valid arguments about a game without having played it, especially if they're experienced in the genre.

Yea, there is. They haven't fucking played it. It's highly unlikely they know what the game is actually like. Research and video can lead one astray, for viewing a game and playing it are entirely different things.

@haggis said:

Most of us want new games to bring something new to the table.

Is it even possible? You may expect too much of developers.

@haggis said:

Telling us all that only your approach to evaluating games is valid and logical is ... well, invalid and illogical.

Am I doing that?....I'm not trying to be an asshole, I'm just asking if I'm really doing that. All I know is that the blog is so needlessly aggressive that you'd think wrote it.

And just like that, the comments are as long as the blog itself. Startling.

Posted by Ravenlight

@Video_Game_King said:

All I know is that the blog is so needlessly aggressive that you'd think wrote it.

It's lacking anecdotes about drug use in Burger King, though. Maybe you could slot one in at the end.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Ravenlight said:

@Video_Game_King said:

All I know is that the blog is so needlessly aggressive that you'd think wrote it.

It's lacking anecdotes about drug use in Burger King, though. Maybe you could slot one in at the end.

Edited by Tennmuerti

@Video_Game_King:

You should absolutely do a part 2!

It might not be 100% as you planned it initially (i hope ^.^) but it will still be an interesting read. Also, fuck me, for that matter (in how it relates to your next blog posting that is, not physically). Thoughts like these should always be heard written and read, you put time and effort into such things. This blog right here is the goddamn meat and potatoes that should be forming the giant homey soup of thoughts and opinions that make up our godforsaken GB forums. I'd rather read a dozen such written arguments like yours (and spend hours of my time replying to them) rather then some 1 post count no avatar troll kiddies spouting asinine one sentence nonsense without ever bothering to explain themselves or their stance. (if i wasn't lazy as fuck i'd blog too)

And just like that, the comments are as long as the blog itself. Startling.

That's couse people care, bro.

...

And I fucking LOVE meat and potatoes!

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Tennmuerti:

I actually have a part 2 fully written for next week. Imagine this, but ten times more imbalanced and generally less useful. It makes some great points at the end, though, that bring this together. Also, charts. Insane-ass charts.

Posted by haggis

@Video_Game_King said:

@haggis said:

Most of us want new games to bring something new to the table.

Is it even possible? You may expect too much of developers.

@haggis said:

Telling us all that only your approach to evaluating games is valid and logical is ... well, invalid and illogical.

Am I doing that?....I'm not trying to be an asshole, I'm just asking if I'm really doing that. All I know is that the blog is so needlessly aggressive that you'd think wrote it.

If anything, I think we're not expecting enough of developers. But then, it's not up to you to set what my expectations are for a game, nor for me to set yours.

The whole point of your post was to tell us what not to do. When you say "Don't form opinions about games..." and "A game must only be evaluated..." then yes that's exactly what you're doing in the post. I don't think you're being an asshole--I just don't think you've thought through the best way to make your arguments without sounding like you're telling everyone the best and only way to evaluate games. Seriously, you're telling people how to form their opinions.

You might say, "I can't take seriously someone's opinion about a game if they haven't played it," and "I prefer when reviews and criticism of a game focus on the game itself and not on outside factors." And then say why. It's tone. Maybe it wasn't your intention, but it's right there in the text. It's always best to frame these things correctly, or you'll get slagged. Actually, this is the internet--you're going to get slagged anyway, but probably less. If you start telling people how to think, they're not going to actually listen to you.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@haggis:

I merely set these expectations out of logical necessity, or at least what I perceive to be logical necessity.

Ah, but is there anything wrong with telling people how to form their opinions? After all, my methods do not disallow the variety of opinions, do they? In fact, opinions not formed this way need not be thrown out immediately; if the can still be defended within these parameters, then the opinion is stronger for it. Otherwise, a shadow of doubt hangs over the work.

Yea, that's probably it. I'd have preferred to keep myself out of it (because given what I'm writing about, it'd be a tad strange), but point taken on the whole.

Posted by Viking_Funeral

Mega Man 6 is bad in the same way that Police Academy 6 is bad. It's the same damn thing, but nothing has changed, and it's often worse for being the the 6th string jokes that weren't good enough for earlier parts in the series.

The Fire Emblem series is good in the same way that the Harry Potter book series is good. Some elements don't change and remain mostly the same, but there are mechanics, story telling, and even creative quality that improves with each number in the series.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Viking_Funeral:

But what connection does Mega Man 6 have to the other Mega Man games? Would your logic make sense if the game was called "Japan Bot Chides Plant Man For Being Really Stupid"? (Odd, I know, but there's a point to it.)

Or perhaps they're good games because they know not to fuck with what's worked in the past? If they're doing the same things as previous games, and those things are thought to be good, then should it not be the case that the later games are also said to be good, regardless of the earlier ones?

Posted by Tennmuerti

@Viking_Funeral: I found Harry Potter books to be quite the opposite. :)

Great at the start but completely unable to evolve and mature over time as the characters and the audience grew up.

Posted by MikeGosot

People can have their fill of a certain experience. Even if they enjoy said experience, that doesn't mean he wants the same thing again in a sequel, because they already had their fill. That doesn't make the sequel objectively bad, but it does alter how much enjoyment you can get out of something, so you can dislike it.
And seriously, don't expect people to say "If this game offers the same experience as the previous one, i'm going to pass it, because i already had my fill." instead of "THIS GAME SUCKS ITS THE SAME THING!"

Posted by Video_Game_King

@MikeGosot said:

That doesn't make the sequel objectively bad, but it does alter how much enjoyment you can get out of something, so you can dislike it.

I think I said just that in one of these comments. Can't blame you for not reading (because there's so many of them), but still: I must inform.

Posted by MikeGosot
@Video_Game_King said:

@MikeGosot said:

That doesn't make the sequel objectively bad, but it does alter how much enjoyment you can get out of something, so you can dislike it.

I think I said just that in one of these comments. Can't blame you for not reading (because there's so many of them), but still: I must inform.

Posted by Hunter5024

You're right about everything you said except El Shaddai being good. Problems inevitably arise when drawing comparisons between games for the sake of criticism. If we all lived in vacuums then perhaps this problem wouldn't exist, but there's nothing we can do about it now. Pretending that our gaming background doesn't color our opinions about a game doesn't feel objective to me though, it just makes a writers opinion feel less genuine. That's why when I speak ill of a game I try to qualify my statements by relating my personal experience as best I can, and hope that even if they don't agree or relate with the statements I'm making, that they can at least understand why I feel the way that I do. That goes a long way towards arguing for whatever point I'm trying to make I think.

Sorry if someone already said what I did, comments are long and confusing, and I've got Poetry homework I'm busy ignoring.

Edited by Viking_Funeral

@Video_Game_King said:

@Viking_Funeral:

But what connection does Mega Man 6 have to the other Mega Man games? Would your logic make sense if the game was called "Japan Bot Chides Plant Man For Being Really Stupid"? (Odd, I know, but there's a point to it.)

Or perhaps they're good games because they know not to fuck with what's worked in the past? If they're doing the same things as previous games, and those things are thought to be good, then should it not be the case that the later games are also said to be good, regardless of the earlier ones?

2 reasons:

1) Something that already exists is a known entity in the cultural subconscious. This then becomes the default or 'base' onto which to compare other similar ideas or objects.

Take Superman. He exists, and is readily available in the cultural subconscious. In that, other similar entities to Superman (flying, super strength, skin that repels bullets) are seen as inferior, because such a entity already exists and was done well. The new entity, let's call him... Captain Marvel... can basically do all the things the original, Superman, can do, but adds nothing to the formula. Many people then question the need for such a thing to exist, when it can be served reasonably well by the original, and is hence often dubbed a "rip-off." It adds nothing. Worse than that, it appears to be capitalizing on something that was already done well. (See also: Transmorphers and/or Go-Bots compared to the Transformers.)

Now, you can take that formula and change it a bit. Add to the formula, if you will. Like say... Thor. In many ways, Thor is similar to Superman, but is different in enough ways that he is seen as at least somewhat original. While he can also fly, is super strong, and not easily hurt by bullets, he also has unique elements. He can control the weather, wield lightning, can be hurt by mortals if enough effort is applied (without magic rocks), and has some elements of medieval magic and fantasy. Being reductionist, you can say the two things are very similar, Superman and Thor, but they are different enough that the broad cultural consciousness doesn't see them nearly as similar as Superman and Captain Marvel.

There are subtleties to this as well. It's definitely not a black & white thing. To use another example, see The Grateful Dead & Phish. Again, very similar in ways that to the broad cultural subconscious, they are practically similar. To the initiated, yes, there are fine differences, but we are talking about the broad point of view here, not the view of the nuanced fan. However, the Grateful Dead have not existed in a long time, and therefore have not put out a lot of new material. (What with Garcia being dead and all.) With a lack of new material, and the old material being revisited so many times, many people will seek something similar that they would not have wished for previously. So many Grateful Dead fans started to give Phish a chance, something many would not have done previously (and many still don't), because it has been a long time since anything similar to the Grateful Dead was new and being produced.

I will bring this back around to Mega Man in a second, but going back to Superman for an instant, you can see that Superman has been around for a long time. He's still around, and there is a wealth of new material with him in it. There is no need for a Captain Marvel type character, because whatever itch Superman fans have is being scratched.

So, back to Mega Man.

Mega Man 6 came out too soon after the other Mega Man games. It was the 6th game in 6 years, and there was almost no change in the formula. Even Superman doesn't have the same adventure every single issue. Sometimes he's in space, sometimes he is with a team or Batman, sometimes he just sits and home and has fun with Lois. (Seriously, and the stay home issues are... well, the X-Men did them better, but the Superman writers did some good work there as well). Mega Man 6 is basically the 6th version of the Grateful Dead's song "Stuck in the Middle With You," except every version came out just a year after the last. And, unfortunately, the original version is by far the best. This brings me to my second point...

~~~~~

2) The best ideas are often used in the first, or in the very first iterations of something.

This is not always true, but it is often enough. In movies you will often see that the best ideas are used in the first film, and only rarely does a second film surpass the first. Usually, when a sequel surpasses the first, it is because the first is such a success that enough money & freedom is given to the second film to expand on the idea. You can see this with films like The Godfather part 2 or The Empire Strikes Back. More often, you're going to get a Matrix Reloaded or Hangover 2. Or Home Alone 2. Ugh. To brake away from this, sometimes you have to go in a completely different direction. Like Aliens did as a sequel to Alien. The core concept & mythology is there, but the formula has been completely changed.

A quick aside: In video games, it is not uncommon for the 2nd or even 3rd games to better than the first, because video games are not movies, and it takes time and practice to code a style of game well and to polish out what works with fans and what doesn't. Still, this works for my argument of 'first iterations' and not just the very first. And once in a while they are taken in a totally different direction, like Fallout 3 or Grand Theft Auto 3. Now back to the show...

Using my original analogy of Police Academy 6, all the good jokes were used in the previous films. There may have been some jokes in the 2nd film that were better in the first, which is why I say the first iterations and not just the very first, but by the time the 6th movie comes along they are using jokes that were on the cutting room floor of the that last 5 movies. Or they are just plain out using the same jokes but slightly different. Mega Man 6 is no different. They are using the same character concepts, but in new clothing.

It's the same jokes... sorry, forgot we were on Mega Man and not Police Academy... the same bosses as before but crappier versions of them. There is no expansion of concept here. It is hammering something into the ground.

~~~~~

@Video_Game_King said:

@Viking_Funeral:

But what connection does Mega Man 6 have to the other Mega Man games? Would your logic make sense if the game was called "Japan Bot Chides Plant Man For Being Really Stupid"? (Odd, I know, but there's a point to it.)

As I have pointed out, the Mega Man games already exist. That cannot be taken away. You can change the game enough to be its own entity, like the game Power Blade, but if the game was called "Japan Bot Chides Plant Man For Being Really Stupid" and it played exactly like Mega Man 6 then people would call it a Mega Man rip-off in the style of Transmorphers or something out of China.

This is not the same as something like Mega Man X. There, enough was actual changed to make a difference, even if it was remarkably similar in many ways to the previous games. People loved it, because it scratched that itch without being just a retelling of what came before. It even came out before Mega Man 6, which is probably another reason Mega Man 6 was so derided. People had seen a change in the series, an evolution if you will, and seeing Mega Man 6 come out later as just being more of the same had to make it appear even worse.

Going alllllllll the way back to my Grateful Dead and Phish analogy, Mega Man 9 did so well because there had been a long time since a Mega Man game in that vein came out. 11 years in fact. The public consciousness had time to cool on the concept, and nothing else had come to fill its place. It didn't hurt that it was also very well made.

~~~~~

Now, what if Mega Man 6 was the only Mega Man, and the other games did not exist? Would it be a good game? Yes, and No.

It would be a good game because there would be nothing else like it on the market. So, on the level of the cultural conscious, it would benefit from not being compared poorly to previous games in the series or designed in that style. It would also benefit from being an improved game, because the best concepts from the previous games would not have been used yet, and could be used in that game. That would drastically increase the quality of the game alone.

It would also be a bad game, especially if it was the exact same iteration of the game as it was released. That is, if Mega Man 6 was released as the only game in the Mega Man series, but as the same exact game as Mega Man 6 already exists as, it would be a poor game because it has by far and away some of the poorest implementations of the ideas that are core to the Mega Man series. A good idea implemented poorly does not make a great game.

The concept of cover in an FPS didn't start with Gears of War. The modern use of the cover system arguably began with WinBack. Unfortunately, WinBack was not a very good game. (Some people will argue with me on that, but... c'mon. Seriously. C'mon.) Again, a good idea implemented poorly does not make a great game. You can see this again with Dune 2 and Warcraft. Or Everquest and World of Warcraft. Yeah, there's a certain charm to the game that started the concept, but they are not nearly as popular and well loved as the games that implemented those concepts well. (Again, some people will argue that Everquest is better than WoW, and I actually prefer EQ myself, but you can't argue which is more successful.) Much like the original Mega Man has a certain charm to it, Mega Man 2 is the game that implemented those ideas well.

So, Mega Man 6, existing in a world were no other Mega Man games existed, would have a certain charm and maybe even a small cult following, but it still wouldn't be a great game.

@Video_Game_King said:

@Viking_Funeral:

Or perhaps they're good games because they know not to fuck with what's worked in the past? If they're doing the same things as previous games, and those things are thought to be good, then should it not be the case that the later games are also said to be good, regardless of the earlier ones?

There's using what works, and then there's making the same damn thing over and over again.

Fire Emblem keeps what works, and changes what doesn't. Sometimes they change something that worked better previously, so they go back to that. Dragon Quest also keeps what works, and changes what doesn't. There is nothing like that in the main Mega Man series that came out on the NES. Mega Man 6 changed nothing. Not the graphics. Not the system. Not the controller. They only changed a few graphics and basically played ad-libs with the story.

I'm not saying that originality is the only thing that is important, but in a world where people have a cultural memory, it sure as hell doesn't hurt.

(Also, for the record, I really don't like the Grateful Dead, Phish, or most jam bands. If I want to hear someone play the same notes over the E chord for 20 minutes, I'll go plug in my guitar and smoke some smelling salts.)

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Hunter5024 said:

That's why when I speak ill of a game I try to qualify my statements by relating my personal experience as best I can, and hope that even if they don't agree or relate with the statements I'm making, that they can at least understand why I feel the way that I do. That goes a long way towards arguing for whatever point I'm trying to make I think.

There might be a place for that, but again, I emphasize stating it all in terms of the game. As long as you don't drag in outside experiences, I'm kinda OK.

@Viking_Funeral:

Did you just respond to my blog with a blog of your own? This oughta be fun.

Funny thing, that: I go in-depth about why this logic doesn't work in my next installment. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but I honestly address it. Although to keep this in the debate, I do not see why Superman's existence should reflect poorly on Captain Marvel. If we were limited to using each idea only once, then we'd have run out of ideas long ago.

It seems as though these are not issues of originality, but rather, issues of just poor writing or game-makery or what have you. Police Academy 6 sounds like it sucks not because it was similar to the other movies (in fact, it sounds like it would have been better if it was), but because of shitty jokes.

But why are they crappier? If they are the same, what makes them worse? That they are the same? That makes no sense. If they use the exact same patterns and the are exactly as challenging, shouldn't they be exactly as enjoyable? A change in quality can only arise from a change in....well, something.

@Viking_Funeral said:

As I have pointed out, the Mega Man games already exist. That cannot be taken away. You can change the game enough to be its own entity, like the game Power Blade, but if the game was called "Japan Bot Chides Plant Man For Being Really Stupid" and it played exactly like Mega Man 6 then people would call it a Mega Man rip-off in the style of Transmorphers or something out of China.

How many people criticize (and not just describe) Cocoron for being a Mega Man rip-off? What of The Krion Conquest?

Two things about Mega Man X:

• If Mega Man 6 came out after Mega Man X (I should know this, but I don't), wouldn't that represent a change of some type? Wouldn't that scratch the itch for novelty? Perhaps I shouldn't argue logistics.
• If change in and of itself would make the game good, then by that logic, wouldn't this get the same score as Mega Man X if it took its place? Great changes have occurred, after all.

@Viking_Funeral said:

It didn't hurt that it was also very well made.

Perhaps that's the reason? Not an appeal to originality (or nostalgia, I guess)?

@Viking_Funeral said:

It would also benefit from being an improved game, because the best concepts from the previous games would not have been used yet, and could be used in that game.

Improved from what, though? Its context no longer exists, so what could it improve upon? And if we're using your previous arguments to criticize Mega Man 6, how could it also be the worst? It seems like you're saying that it implements its ideas the worst because of the previous games that, in this context, no longer exist. And I still see the audience as interpreting this game incorrectly. I may be naive on this, but why should the quality of the game fluctuate like this when the game isn't changing a damn thing? Perhaps it's just that I'm describing expectations, and you are impressing into me the reality of things. The reality I wish to alter, I must clarify.

@Viking_Funeral said:

The concept of cover in an FPS didn't start with Gears of War. The modern use of the cover system arguably began with WinBack. Unfortunately, WinBack was not a very good game. (Some people will argue with me on that, but... c'mon. Seriously. C'mon.) Again, a good idea implemented poorly does not make a great game. You can see this again with Dune 2 and Warcraft. Or Everquest and World of Warcraft. Yeah, there's a certain charm to the game that started the concept, but they are not nearly as popular and well loved as the games that implemented those concepts well. (Again, some people will argue that Everquest is better than WoW, and I actually prefer EQ myself, but you can't argue which is more successful.) Much like the original Mega Man has a certain charm to it, Mega Man 2 is the game that implemented those ideas well.

I'm....actually not arguing against that. Ideas need their execution, something I'm intimately familiar with.

@Viking_Funeral said:

Fire Emblem keeps what works, and changes what doesn't. Sometimes they change something that worked better previously, so they go back to that. Dragon Quest also keeps what works, and changes what doesn't. There is nothing like that in the main Mega Man series that came out on the NES. Mega Man 6 changed nothing. Not the graphics. Not the system. Not the controller. They only changed a few graphics and basically played ad-libs with the story.

Perhaps because all those previous elements worked? It still seems as though the difference between Mega Man and Fire Emblem is pure semantics. Just like Mega Man has a formula, Fire Emblem has a formula. In fact, here it is.

I, however, of am the mind that originality is irrelevant to the quality of a game and, therefore, should not be a criteria for determining a game's quality.

*passes out from exhaustion*

Posted by YukoAsho

On judging games I've not played, I can mostly agree with you, save perhaps in the case of sequels to games I did not enjoy, which will have to do some work to get me on the bandwagon (see the Killzone series).

About judging a game on its own merits, for the most part, I agree. It's important to judge a game based on what it brings to the table, without prejudice. However, as an entertainment medium, taste and preference will always play a role. Someone who dislikes traditional JRPGs isn't going to take kindly to, say, The Last Story, no matter how well-made it is.

Lastly, for the most part, I do agree that originality is not the end-all, be-all. There is equal value to both revolution and evolution. However, the problem comes when a game offers neither. As said, there's doing what works, then there's just repeating oneself. With games as expensive as they are, I'm expecting some reason to play a new game as opposed to the ones I already have, be it a totally new play style or a refinement of existing game-play.

Sorry I gotta rag on ya after coming to your defense, but Gears is a 3rd person shooter, not a 1st person shooter. Seems trivial, but you'd be surprised how that difference effects some people. I know a guy, loves Gears to death, but can't play Halo or CoD because they make him nauseous. Literally. He gets motion sickness from those games.

Posted by coakroach

You cant analyse anything in a vacuum. Ever.

Also games that do innovate and do try something original deserve far more praise that those that are just iterating on the same formula, and this can only be done when you take into account the context in which something is released.

Posted by believer258

You know what? I need to play Final Fantasy XII some more. I like that game, one of the three Final Fantasy games I've played. I heard it mentioned here and was reminded of it.

Anyway, my argument against yours has been said several times already, so I'll just go on whistling the Chrono Trigger theme while flipping through the internet. Can't wait for part 2!

Posted by Video_Game_King

@coakroach said:

Also games that do innovate and do try something original deserve far more praise that those that are just iterating on the same formula

Why?

Edited by Viking_Funeral

@YukoAsho: Tsk. I always fail to make the distinction between FPS and TPS, but for the most part those type of games play largely the same.

~~~~~

@Video_Game_King: I didn't intend to write that much, but when I get on a roll... also doesn't hurt that I'm something like a 100 WPM typer.

@Viking_Funeral said:

It would also benefit from being an improved game, because the best concepts from the previous games would not have been used yet, and could be used in that game.

Improved from what, though? Its context no longer exists, so what could it improve upon? And if we're using your previous arguments to criticize Mega Man 6, how could it also be the worst? It seems like you're saying that it implements its ideas the worst because of the previous games that, in this context, no longer exist. And I still see the audience as interpreting this game incorrectly. I may be naive on this, but why should the quality of the game fluctuate like this when the game isn't changing a damn thing? Perhaps it's just that I'm describing expectations, and you are impressing into me the reality of things. The reality I wish to alter, I must clarify.

Think of it this way... some of the best level designs are arguably in the earlier Mega Man games, specifically Mega Man 2 & 3. Those were great ideas, but you couldn't just take those same levels and put them in later games. Even for as repetitive as the series became, they made sure not to copy & paste the games. (Though Mega Man 6 came close with the robot bosses. Yeesh.) Since those great level designs were used in previous games, they couldn't be used in Mega Man 6. Now, if Mega Man 6 was just "Mega Man," as in none of the other games existed, then it's entirely possible to use the amazing level designs from the previous games, because they would be new & novel. By being the hypothetical only Mega Man game in the series, Mega Man 6 would have been free to use any and all of the great ideas that we had seen in the series up to that point. Plant Man would have been an original concept, and even more likely they would have just called him Wood Man.

This is, of course, all hypothetical, as Mega Man 6 is VERY MUCH a game born out of all the other Mega Mans that came before. It would not exist in the way it does without being a sequel to the other games. If it was the only Mega Man game, it would not have been made the same way, as described in the previous paragraph. In the hypothetical scenario where only Mega Man 6 exists, it could not exist. Just like there could be no Empire Strikes Back without the original Star Wars. What made it what it was, is in response to what came before.

@Video_Game_King said:

I, however, of am the mind that originality is irrelevant to the quality of a game and, therefore, should not be a criteria for determining a game's quality.

*passes out from exhaustion*

That was kind of what I was saying about Mega Man 6. If it was the only game in the series, and we changed absolutely nothing about the game as it exists today, it would still be received kinda poorly. The level design wasn't that great, the controls felt sloppy, and a lot of it felt uninspired. The game is treated perhaps more negatively than it deserves because it doesn't exist in a vacuum, but even if we ignore the idea of originality--nearly impossible in our world, but for argument's sake--it's still not that great of a game.

Edited by Video_Game_King

@Viking_Funeral:

I'd probably be a 100WPM typer if I could think of 100 words to type in that time. And if my computer could keep up (it's been struggling this entire time to keep up with these comments).

Why? Why can't they be used in later games? Why are they off limits if we loved them before? They do not cease being good by simply existing for time. What I'm trying to get at is an elimination of the appeal to novelty. It relies on conditions of which we can never be certain, and some other stuff in part 2. (Also, Plant Man will always be stupid. Flower robots can never be justified.)

I addressed that, though, with the "experience" thing. Financially, it may have been born of Mega Man games past, but as a game, it exists separate from them. No causal relation between it and its past and whatnot. Compilations get around this, but still require careful thinking. (Damn computer was so slow as to make me think I ended that word as "thinking" and not "think".)

@Viking_Funeral said:

The game is treated perhaps more negatively than it deserves because it doesn't exist in a vacuum, but even if we ignore the idea of originality it's still not that great of a game.

And that is what I ask for. A game-centered argument. Context and other games, if they cannot be eliminated altogether, must be minimized in their influence.

Posted by coakroach

@Video_Game_King said:

@coakroach said:

Also games that do innovate and do try something original deserve far more praise that those that are just iterating on the same formula

Why?

Because continuous straight-line repetition and iteration, in any cultural medium, leads to stagnation.

Thats why people who play a hell of a lot of games get disillusioned with seeing the same military fps, the same jrpg, the same pixel art indie platformer etc.

You're not wrong that in certain circumstances a game may seem amazing to one person and mediocre to the next (like you said, Pokemon is a good example of this) but if a game doesn't push any boundaries (or only technical, incremental ones) then it simply isn't contributing to the medium on the same level as a more progressive title.

People can always enjoy the Megaman 6's and Modern Warfare 3's of the world, but most people with a significant investment in the medium will simply get tired of playing the same game again and again.

And we should, not because it's about being pretentious and entitled, but because we know the medium is always capable of doing and being more than what it already is.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@coakroach:

Logically, it cannot. Stagnation is a change, and change cannot occur through the lack of itself.

And the game is responsible for advancing the medium and contributing these innovations and such? This may be setting a low bar, but shouldn't it be fun and enjoyable first and foremost? Shouldn't its priority be to work? Have a workable idea, then allow itself the time to develop on that idea and make a case for it? Vague, I know, but an example.

But does it make sense to blame the game for that? As I've already said, it can't control what you've played. It has no idea. How does Modern Warfare 3 know you've played Modern Warfare 2? All it knows is that you're playing it right now; that is all it can be held accountable for.

Then the focus is not on making more original and unique games; it is on making better games. Should they be original, then whatever, but pursuing originality whilst believing it will guarantee quality comes with several significant problems I have touched upon, and a few more I will touch upon later. (I feared that I'd fall back on the "wait for part 2" excuse. *sigh*)

Posted by coakroach

@Video_Game_King:

stagnate |ˈstagˌnāt|
verb [ no obj. ]
(of water or air) cease to flow or move; become stagnant.
cease developing; become inactive or dull: teaching can easily stagnate into a set of routines | (as adj. stagnating) : stagnating consumer confidence.

Modern Warfare 3 knows you played Modern Warfare 2 because you logged an absurd amount of hours playing online and spent a shitload of money buying DLC. Modern Warfare 3 wasn't made in hopes of turning a genre on it's head (like Call of Duty 4 did) it was made because they had a tried and tested formula that could be put to work and make absurd amounts of money.

Theres no doubt these games can be enjoyed, I just dont think they're as worthy of merit as something that does successfully shift some paradigms through risk taking, much like Bad Boys II (enjoyable as it is) isn't as worthy of merit as say The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

And you're totally right that an original or novel concept wont always make a fun game, and the best games that do have original features will almost always borrow something thats been proven to work consistently.

But being slavish to a formula, however wonderful it is, will eventually lead to people being bored with it which in turn doesn't do any favours for the long term health of the medium.

Posted by YukoAsho

@Video_Game_King said:

@coakroach said:

Also games that do innovate and do try something original deserve far more praise that those that are just iterating on the same formula

Why?

Well, there is something to be said for trying something new. If it doesn't work out, for shame, but if it does, you have the next big thing. The point is that someone, somewhere has an idea. Ideas are a precious commodity. Always have been. Whether it's moving forward a bit of shaking up the paradigm, people just emotionally like the idea that there's thought put behind the things we love.

Posted by GunslingerPanda

Yeah, I agree.

Edited by Video_Game_King

@coakroach said:

@Video_Game_King:

stagnate |ˈstagˌnāt|
verb [ no obj. ]
(of water or air) cease to flow or move; become stagnant.
cease developing; become inactive or dull: teaching can easily stagnate into a set of routines | (as adj. stagnating) : stagnating consumer confidence.

This does not disprove my point that stagnation represents a change. To say that something has ceased moving implies that it was moving in the first place.

So the game's gonna know what you've played before you come and pick it up? Because it really can't change itself after you've bought it and it's found out that you've played these other games.

But being slavish to a formula, however wonderful it is, will eventually lead to people being bored with it which in turn doesn't do any favours for the long term health of the medium.

I merely say that they should not. If you are becoming bored with a series that's been the same for so long, (and this may sound outright insulting) it's your fault for buying so many of those damn games in the first place. Don't hold your past experiences against a game that could never know them in the first place.

@YukoAsho said:

@Video_Game_King said:

@coakroach said:

Also games that do innovate and do try something original deserve far more praise that those that are just iterating on the same formula

Why?

Well, there is something to be said for trying something new.

Is that even possible?

@YukoAsho said:

people just emotionally like the idea that there's thought put behind the things we love.

Thought can also be put into something that's been done before.

Posted by haggis

@Video_Game_King said:

@haggis:

I merely set these expectations out of logical necessity, or at least what I perceive to be logical necessity.

Ah, but is there anything wrong with telling people how to form their opinions? After all, my methods do not disallow the variety of opinions, do they? In fact, opinions not formed this way need not be thrown out immediately; if the can still be defended within these parameters, then the opinion is stronger for it. Otherwise, a shadow of doubt hangs over the work.

Yea, that's probably it. I'd have preferred to keep myself out of it (because given what I'm writing about, it'd be a tad strange), but point taken on the whole.

Your expectations are opinions. They may be rooted in logic at some level, but they are still subjective opinions. We're all free to disagree.

And yes, there is something wrong with telling people how to form their opinions. The problem is not that it disallows other opinions (which is actually impossible), but tone. It's irrational to tell other people how to think, and counterproductive. As I said, when you start telling people how to think, they tend to think you're an idiot and an asshole, and not actually listen to you. You don't set the parameters for other people's opinions. That is what makes them opinions.

Posted by Little_Socrates

I think that we can discuss games both with and without context, and I think it might be smart to allow decontextualization to happen more often. Context drastically changes the way we talk about games, as context also takes into account the human element of limited time. When we only have x time due to the context of the human experience, spending time with b when a>b makes a lot less sense if a is also very similar to b. Basically, every time we sit down with our stack of games, movies, cds, and books, we're given a choice as to which one we choose to engage with. After choosing, say, movies, we still have to sit down and choose between Dr. Strangelove, Reanimator, The Fog, and The Hurt Locker. These choices stack up beyond the current human lifespan, meaning our resource of time (let alone resources of money and access) are limited. As a result, prioritization is important, and quality conversations should generally address superior experiences if they are similar. If Resistance 3 were roughly the same as Call of Duty barring the reasons it is not nearly as good as Call of Duty, it would be fair to address Resistance 3 in the context of Call of Duty and tell readers to spend their time elsewhere instead. In fact, most critics would say it is there duty to inform them where they should prioritize spending their time.

In a less abstract form, as pointed out, story can also lead to direct influence on the next game in a franchise. Though the example makes less sense with Mega Man, how about we use Metal Gear as an example?

Metal Gear Solid 3 set me up to take Metal Gear Solid more seriously than I had previously, as it's a much more laid-back and emotional arc with a lot less humor and off-the-wall insanity than the preceding games. However, Metal Gear Solid 4 takes that insanity to new heights; where Volgin has robotic hands, Raiden is now literally mostly-robot. Where Volgin could punch with electricity, Raiden has some near-mythological connection to lightning itself, with it striking regularly around him. Where the humor was once Ocelot making cat noises and not being as cool as Naked Snake, the humor becomes Johnny literally shitting himself constantly and making constant references to the previous games. Basically, where once we had a Coppola or Scorcese film, we were now getting Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, and that context being used to wrap up the extremely John Carpenter-esque MGS2 and perverting characters from MGS3 was extremely distasteful to me. The context given by MGS3 largely ruined Metal Gear Solid 4 for me, to the point that it is one of only a handful of games I behave angrily about.

Of course, I have formal complaints against MGS4 as well. Its missions don't prioritize stealth despite stealth being the most interesting way to play the game, the Europe chapter is miserably dull, the script is more over-indulgent and exposition-y to the point of repugnancy, and the handful of new elements added to the plot are basically an afterthought and suck as a result. But that context from MGS3 immediately turned me away from even trying to like Johnny or Drebin, and so context remains relevant in story-driven games.

As for "it's the same, but it sucks now"...it's generally a reductive way of saying "it's not as good as the last one, but the reasons for that are minimal and it's hard to differentiate the two. Go play the previous one instead" or of saying "I'm bored of this thing and need a new thing." These comments only make sense in the context of the time in which they are given, it's true. However, at the same time, to use that conversational technique requires you to also remove historical context from games discussion, as to take a game as "the only game ever" requires that leap.

It's ironic, really. My main argument is that we should remove historical context from quality discussion of games, as "seminal" has been forgotten and replaced with "classic." Games like Defender and The Ocarina of Time are regarded as "classics" because of their historical place and influence rather than their longstanding quality, which I'd argue are both limited. However, I largely argue for the contextualization of games against other games without the consideration for history, as when one looks at all the games that have ever come out, history matters less than prioritization.

However, my answer to the problem of the child is much more simple than that; one should definitively differentiate between the things that they like and the thing they consider "good." For (an extreme) example, receive more glee and learn more from The Room and Birdemic: Shock and Terror than I do from the far superior Escape from New York. More tastefully, I derive far more from the experience of listening to Rihanna than I do from the far more talented and personally representative Rush because I am allergic to their style and singer more than necessary. If Pokemon Black is "worse" than Pokemon Blue, it is because the balancing of the gyms, the roster of Pokemon, and the structure of the journey aren't as strong as that original Pokemon game; however, I'd imagine it's probably improved, and I'm simply a cantankerous old bastard who likes what I like. Analysis of quality involves more objectiveness and decontextualization than subjective analysis, but I always remind people that I think it's okay to like bad things and that I do so regularly.

Edited by churrific

In my experience, NO two games are exactly alike. For me personally, I tend to stay away from general comparisons between an "original" game and a similar game. Previous history with a certain type of game usually only serves as a barometer to whether or not I'm in a particlar mood to play that new game at the time. If I'm burnt out on a genre, setting, or mechanic, I stay away from the game. I won't call it shit just because it looks like another game though. I just won't have any opinion on it at all except "Hey, this looks interesting. Maybe I'll come back to it when I'm in the mood again."

Really though, it's all about the minor details/depth that inform my opinion about whether a game is good or bad compared with a similar game. As a most recent, glaringly obvious example, take Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Putting bad business models aside, a casual consumer might think they were EXACTLY the same game. Presentation is exactly the same, basic mechanics are the same. Just some new characters being the difference. To me and probably other astute fighting game fans, they were completely different games. Things you couldn't do in the original were now possible. Some terrible ideas concerning character abilities were turned into great tools and ice versa. This led to how I approached the two games being completely different. Since different methods were taken, I had wildly different experiences within the same core product. It's those different approaches that I take in similar games that really shape my opinion of whether each individual game is good or bad. What I'm saying is that it's completely within a person's right to judge a book by its cover, but when someone's making a blanket statement like "this game sucks, it's just the same as x game before that," I will never take it seriously. The depth of a game, whether it be the story, mechanics, play style, etc., is the differentiating factor for me.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Little_Socrates:

I shall merely say that there are ways to divorce it from the context, at least in part. For example, we could say that the serious tone in Metal Gear Solid 3 was good (or at least done well) and the humorous tone in Metal Gear Solid 4 was not (or at least it was not done very well). Pretty much what you said later in your comment, and what I'm gonna allude to later in the second part.

It's ironic, really. My main argument is that we should remove historical context from quality discussion of games, as "seminal" has been forgotten and replaced with "classic." Games like Defender and The Ocarina of Time are regarded as "classics" because of their historical place and influence rather than their longstanding quality, which I'd argue are both limited.

I'd probably argue for that, too, if I had thought to relate it to the rest of this work. Basically, good games don't rely on context to make them good; they make their contexts irrelevant. The problem, though, arises with modern games; since we're in the context for which it was designed (or, rather, a context for which it was designed), it may be difficult to remove ourselves from it. Sadly, the only solution I can proffer is that we should hone our critical capabilities.

However, my answer to the problem of the child is much more simple than that; one should definitively differentiate between the things that they like and the thing they consider "good." For (an extreme) example, receive more glee and learn more from The Room and Birdemic: Shock and Terror than I do from the far superior Escape from New York. More tastefully, I derive far more from the experience of listening to Rihanna than I do from the far more talented and personally representative Rush because I am allergic to their style and singer more than necessary. If Pokemon Black is "worse" than Pokemon Blue, it is because the balancing of the gyms, the roster of Pokemon, and the structure of the journey aren't as strong as that original Pokemon game; however, I'd imagine it's probably improved, and I'm simply a cantankerous old bastard who likes what I like. Analysis of quality involves more objectiveness and decontextualization than subjective analysis, but I always remind people that I think it's okay to like bad things and that I do so regularly.

I made that argument early in the comments (the "separate like and good" thing), so all I can do is nod and post this GIF.

Oh, and agree with the last two people who commented here, @churrific included.