"You're getting shot-up!"


Kinda like the retro look
             

Gaming habits and bragging rights

I don't think I'm going to finish Black Ops on veteran. 
 
Perhaps another time, when I have a small break between games. Right now my main focus has been finishing up Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Nier, and Sly 3, all of which I am taking my sweet time with. ( LBP2 is probably next on my gaming list.) 
I slowly digest games, I can make an eight hour game become a week or more. I like this methodology and when I purchase games, I try to implore myself that I must take a long time to finish them. 
 
I think in some-respect, that's one of the factors why achievements appeal to me. I like achievements that make me explore every nook-and-cranny in a game. Assassins Creed might have a bunch of misc junk you have to collect, but I'm exploring through area's, I wouldn't usually check out.
 
 &$#^@^*! LEGENDARY!
I remember playing the first Halo and having the ultimate bragging rights when a friend would stop by. We would boot-up the game, then check the level-select and show each level emblazoned with a Legendary difficulty logo. I probably didn't recognize it at the time, but such interaction is an extension from our primordial gaming roots. 
The High-Score on an arcade machine, that general moment where we check something that someone able to accomplish. It's no surprise that social networking and the internet elevates such bragging rights in a very organic manner. There was this person on TV talking about how people "perform ourselves" on web sites that have open forums, which makes sense when you stop and think about it. For example, you might not believe this, but I do act very humble in real-life. Unlike here, I don't necessarily plaster my ego on readers faces, as if it was some palpable matter. 
Ladies

It just makes sense that achievements are so intertwined with social media/internet. We broadcast our bragging rights, in conjunction with our own self-indulged advertisement. I don't mean any of this with a negative connotation, just an observation about why achievements have worked so successfully from a player perspective.
 

Where it goes "wrong"?

My major fault with achievements is when difficulty get's confused for monotony. Is beating Black Ops on veteran require skill? How do we come to a consensus that having "skill" in a singleplayer game means? During the first level of Black Ops while you are off trying to assassinate Castro, you are required to rappel down a cliff via a pre-scripted action. 
 
I died ten times.
 
 Captain Obvious says: Doing this awesome thing, isn't awesome after the billionth time.
The problem comes from an enemy placement on the bottom of the cliff. Friendly NPC's come to your aid during this sequence near the bottom, but none of the allies in CoD games, or most shooters, really do anything. When you hit "X" to rappel, you are stuck in a canned animation, incapable of defending yourself. I tried valiantly to spot the single enemy who kept striking me down before getting to the bottom of the cliff, but could not spot him. On the eleventh try I rappelled, and this time the enemy didn't have time to immediately kill me out-right. Why? I have no idea.  

It's times like this when I question difficulty achievements, when your increase in difficulty is akin to a roll of a dice, versus something more substantial. I get the feeling like I'm grinding because of some developers lack of foresight.
 
It's when the achievement, or trophy, butts-heads with your overall enjoyment of the game when I get turned-off. If the achievement alters my overall appreciation for a game.
 PICK DONATELLO
Did you notice that Black Ops has a return of the endless re-spawning enemies? On Veteran you will. 
 
It's a difficult tight-rope to cross, because "difficulty" is a such debatable concept. For those of us who remember the original Nintendo-era, or farther, this conception of difficulty becomes far more complicated. Days forgotten trying to figure how to get through the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and getting myself destroyed day after day. These days we would look at such insanity as bad game design. 
 

Gaming roots

What's funny is that we put all our focus on talking about pushing new technology, design and new experiences: and yet so much has stayed the same. 
 
A hail of gunfire is peppered around me. The noise of skimming bullet's play out like a crescendo of controlled anarchy, becoming louder as I make my way to the origin of the firefight. Woods stops and holds his ground while I advance, a flurry of bullets fly at my face...distorting my vision...
 
"YOU'RE GETTING SHOT UP!"
 
That doesn't look that bad.  Just crouch behind a box and I'm sure your neck will grow back.
The million dollar budget for the production falters, a grenade bounces off of Woods and explodes, he shakes off the explosion of a grenade. Like Wolverine my previous shot-gun round to the cranium apparently is all but gone, and without a second thought I mow-down everything around me down.
No different from something akin to playing Metal Slug, or something even older. Something more archaic. The level comes to it's end, I obtain my "high-score" (achievement) and move on. 
It's funny what has changed: How we now try and regulate the difficulty of what used to be "normal", to something optional. 
What's stayed the same: How High-Scores have evolved into achievements. 
 
Yet when it comes to presenting (<-Keyword there) the concept of damage, we haven't done anything new since gaming's inception.
 
Perhaps our use of health-pick ups allowed us to compartmentalize how much punishment a videogame character can take. 
One can argue "It's just a game!!!", yet I think back at achievements and high-scores. 
 
Sure, achievements are not perfect. Developers abuse what qualifies as achievements all the time. 
Although what was a relatively dead concept from gaming's roots: The basic act of broadcasting and boasting your accomplishments, was revitalized to a more modern era. I don't think you can go farther than that in gaming when it comes to base concepts: The evidence of "winning". 
 
Yet with all our technological muscle, we are still stuck in, at least what I personally feel: A very primitive way of presenting violence being inflicted on player characters. 
The evidence of "losing". We don't play with cubed pixels as characters anymore, and the idea of a human being being shot a billion-times, breathing heavily and having all of his wounds simply "disappear" confuses me. 
 
I don't have answers to "fix" this "problem". 
Nor do I advocate if a solution would be found, that it should be applied in an absolute manner. Just something to think about.  

A reminder that while the Halo's regenerative health mechanic works wonders, it made sense in the actual concept of the world of Halo. (Last time I checked, a modern solider doesn't have access to a futuristic regenerating shield.)
And perhaps more importantly: A reminder that even the most base concepts of gaming, can change in conjunction to the context of today.  
 
12 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by vidiot

Kinda like the retro look
             

Gaming habits and bragging rights

I don't think I'm going to finish Black Ops on veteran. 
 
Perhaps another time, when I have a small break between games. Right now my main focus has been finishing up Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Nier, and Sly 3, all of which I am taking my sweet time with. ( LBP2 is probably next on my gaming list.) 
I slowly digest games, I can make an eight hour game become a week or more. I like this methodology and when I purchase games, I try to implore myself that I must take a long time to finish them. 
 
I think in some-respect, that's one of the factors why achievements appeal to me. I like achievements that make me explore every nook-and-cranny in a game. Assassins Creed might have a bunch of misc junk you have to collect, but I'm exploring through area's, I wouldn't usually check out.
 
 &$#^@^*! LEGENDARY!
I remember playing the first Halo and having the ultimate bragging rights when a friend would stop by. We would boot-up the game, then check the level-select and show each level emblazoned with a Legendary difficulty logo. I probably didn't recognize it at the time, but such interaction is an extension from our primordial gaming roots. 
The High-Score on an arcade machine, that general moment where we check something that someone able to accomplish. It's no surprise that social networking and the internet elevates such bragging rights in a very organic manner. There was this person on TV talking about how people "perform ourselves" on web sites that have open forums, which makes sense when you stop and think about it. For example, you might not believe this, but I do act very humble in real-life. Unlike here, I don't necessarily plaster my ego on readers faces, as if it was some palpable matter. 
Ladies

It just makes sense that achievements are so intertwined with social media/internet. We broadcast our bragging rights, in conjunction with our own self-indulged advertisement. I don't mean any of this with a negative connotation, just an observation about why achievements have worked so successfully from a player perspective.
 

Where it goes "wrong"?

My major fault with achievements is when difficulty get's confused for monotony. Is beating Black Ops on veteran require skill? How do we come to a consensus that having "skill" in a singleplayer game means? During the first level of Black Ops while you are off trying to assassinate Castro, you are required to rappel down a cliff via a pre-scripted action. 
 
I died ten times.
 
 Captain Obvious says: Doing this awesome thing, isn't awesome after the billionth time.
The problem comes from an enemy placement on the bottom of the cliff. Friendly NPC's come to your aid during this sequence near the bottom, but none of the allies in CoD games, or most shooters, really do anything. When you hit "X" to rappel, you are stuck in a canned animation, incapable of defending yourself. I tried valiantly to spot the single enemy who kept striking me down before getting to the bottom of the cliff, but could not spot him. On the eleventh try I rappelled, and this time the enemy didn't have time to immediately kill me out-right. Why? I have no idea.  

It's times like this when I question difficulty achievements, when your increase in difficulty is akin to a roll of a dice, versus something more substantial. I get the feeling like I'm grinding because of some developers lack of foresight.
 
It's when the achievement, or trophy, butts-heads with your overall enjoyment of the game when I get turned-off. If the achievement alters my overall appreciation for a game.
 PICK DONATELLO
Did you notice that Black Ops has a return of the endless re-spawning enemies? On Veteran you will. 
 
It's a difficult tight-rope to cross, because "difficulty" is a such debatable concept. For those of us who remember the original Nintendo-era, or farther, this conception of difficulty becomes far more complicated. Days forgotten trying to figure how to get through the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and getting myself destroyed day after day. These days we would look at such insanity as bad game design. 
 

Gaming roots

What's funny is that we put all our focus on talking about pushing new technology, design and new experiences: and yet so much has stayed the same. 
 
A hail of gunfire is peppered around me. The noise of skimming bullet's play out like a crescendo of controlled anarchy, becoming louder as I make my way to the origin of the firefight. Woods stops and holds his ground while I advance, a flurry of bullets fly at my face...distorting my vision...
 
"YOU'RE GETTING SHOT UP!"
 
That doesn't look that bad.  Just crouch behind a box and I'm sure your neck will grow back.
The million dollar budget for the production falters, a grenade bounces off of Woods and explodes, he shakes off the explosion of a grenade. Like Wolverine my previous shot-gun round to the cranium apparently is all but gone, and without a second thought I mow-down everything around me down.
No different from something akin to playing Metal Slug, or something even older. Something more archaic. The level comes to it's end, I obtain my "high-score" (achievement) and move on. 
It's funny what has changed: How we now try and regulate the difficulty of what used to be "normal", to something optional. 
What's stayed the same: How High-Scores have evolved into achievements. 
 
Yet when it comes to presenting (<-Keyword there) the concept of damage, we haven't done anything new since gaming's inception.
 
Perhaps our use of health-pick ups allowed us to compartmentalize how much punishment a videogame character can take. 
One can argue "It's just a game!!!", yet I think back at achievements and high-scores. 
 
Sure, achievements are not perfect. Developers abuse what qualifies as achievements all the time. 
Although what was a relatively dead concept from gaming's roots: The basic act of broadcasting and boasting your accomplishments, was revitalized to a more modern era. I don't think you can go farther than that in gaming when it comes to base concepts: The evidence of "winning". 
 
Yet with all our technological muscle, we are still stuck in, at least what I personally feel: A very primitive way of presenting violence being inflicted on player characters. 
The evidence of "losing". We don't play with cubed pixels as characters anymore, and the idea of a human being being shot a billion-times, breathing heavily and having all of his wounds simply "disappear" confuses me. 
 
I don't have answers to "fix" this "problem". 
Nor do I advocate if a solution would be found, that it should be applied in an absolute manner. Just something to think about.  

A reminder that while the Halo's regenerative health mechanic works wonders, it made sense in the actual concept of the world of Halo. (Last time I checked, a modern solider doesn't have access to a futuristic regenerating shield.)
And perhaps more importantly: A reminder that even the most base concepts of gaming, can change in conjunction to the context of today.  
 
Posted by Ghostiet

The way Far Cry 2 handled regenerating health was pretty neat - your health bar is segmented to five parts. Health regenerates, but if you lose a bar, you have to use a medkit. If it falls to the last bar, you begin to slowly lose health. To stop it, you have to perform a special action, like cracking your arm or bandaging your hand and only then you can use a syringe. It wasn't perfect and it should have been streamlined a bit, but I think it's so far the best way to integrate the regenerating health concept into realistic environments without it being wallbangingly dumb at times.

Posted by Apocralyptic

Achievements have definitely made me do some messed-up things (I had a blog post about this a while back).  
 
I agree that there's a fine art to making a game "difficult" without making it monotonous.  I remember trying to beat the first DMC on the hardest setting, and the health bars of the bosses were so ridiculous, it got simply boring trying to fight them.  (See: bullet sponge.)  
 
Oh, and the infinite enemies on Black Ops sucks, mostly because I had no idea.  I tried the level fighting VC on the hill for over an hour before I figured out they were never going to run out of troops.

Posted by Azteck

I like it when a game requires you to find new ways of playing, altering how you approach the situation and making you adapt to the situation as the difficulty increases, rather than just throwing more enemies at you. More often than not, the AI partners, aren't equipped (intelligently) to handle the scaled difficulty. I do enjoy Achievements though, because sometimes they actually force me to do some new things I wouldn't have thought about.

Posted by zityz

Would be great if getting acheivements did something more than gamerscore. Like unlock cheats, items. Maybe something for your avitar (360) to show you S ranked it. (crown with the game on it) or something.  I don't know I like achievements and I don't. Hopefully they evolve.

Posted by Wrighteous86

I wrote a blog post a while back about how trying to beat the optional final boss, Yiazmat, in Final Fantasy XII over the course of 8 hours made me give up on the series all together. 
 
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
 --Albert Einstein
 
Maybe we, as gamers, are all a little insane.

Posted by iam3green

good blog
 
achievements and difficult games are stupid. i hate when games put those in. i stopped playing veteran after call of duty 4. i gave up on that game because of how hard and cheap the game was. the enemy kept on respawning so i could not move. there were a grenades after grenades in the game.

Posted by TobyD81

I agree with what you call "evidence of losing." The regenerative health mechanic is basically a way to notify the player that they're not doing well, without being so punishing as to kill them and make them restart an area right away. It might not seem realistic in a game like Call of Duty, but it does encourage realistic combat tactics: take cover, assess the situation, shoot or move, take cover, reassess. I feel like having a health-regenerating item can do the opposite, especially if you have a lot of those items stocked up. In that situation you might charge into a firefight without regard to your safety, because if you can just keep slapping bandages on your face, you'll make it through. Both game types are fun, but only one reflects what you might do in real life.

Posted by TobyD81
@zityz: Are you talking about avatar awards? A few games do that but I wish it were a lot more. I rock my Meat Boy, Rock Band, and After Burner t-shirts proudly.
Posted by Claude

That reminds me, I want to buy Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Haven't stabbed two dudes in the neck in a while. A little uh, uh.

Edited by vidiot
@Ghostiet: I heard about Far Cry 2's damage system. It reminded me a bit of Call of Cthulhu, although from what I remember the original concept of that damage system was far more complex. You have to be careful. 
I have the philosophy, that we should all adhere too, that games shouldn't attempt to replicate reality 100%. Emulating concepts and adapting it to something fun should be top priority.

I was giving this some more though yesterday. For me it's not necessarily about adding additional systems and mechanics, but more of a visual aspect. A change in the concept that you are perhaps, not getting literally shot or hit, but getting close to being shot or hit. From my understanding: When someone gets hit by a bullet, they're first reaction isn't to brush it off. 
Although, showing you getting hit makes more sense immediate sense to the player that something negative is happening to you. I think a more sensible balance would perhaps show-up in the long-run.
 
@Apocralyptic:
I have every achievement you listed in your blog, except for Zombie Genocider. 
 
Getting platinum in FFXIII could have bee a spectacular accomplishment, the later hunts were fantastic.
The after-game grinding in FFXIII, is ludicrous and worse: Nowhere near as interesting as the franchises previous outings. 
 
To put things into perspective: I don't mind grinding. I have S-Ranks in both Lost Odyssey and Resonance of Fate. My RPG habits, without achievements is to max-out characters in games like this. Resonance of Fate tested my patience, but it was quite easy to get to Level-300 while watching TV or listening to a podcast. FFXIII on the other hand, was an exercise of my sanity. Unlike other games, where the bulk of grinding involves making you characters stronger, FFXIII makes you grind for cash for a broken weapon upgrade system. 
You get the feeling that simple change in enemy item drop-rates would have shaved off five-ten hours or more. 
 
@Wrighteous86:
I killed Yiazmat. I know exactly what you went through, and I was actually thinking of that quote while fighting him. 
 
Thank god for that save-point outside of where you fight him. I think that one boss alone took around a week on-again/off-again paying.
 
@iam3green:
Thanks. I remember playing CoD4 on veteran, and I think I actually beat it on that difficulty. I remember my patience being tested though, and proclaiming that if infinite enemy re-spawns were to appear again: I wouldn't bother. 
I hated a large majority of Modern Warfare 2's singleplayer, but there was really only one time while playing that game (running from the safehouse) that I felt "cheated". 
 
@TobyD81:
Agreed, which is why my complaint is not necessarily against the mechanic itself. 
The more I think about it: Perhaps we need better ways of visually communicating to the player that they are close to death, without showing the player they are being directly hit. While I responded to Ghostiet above about how we shouldn't try and replicate reality 100%, I just don't feel that visually the days of watching the super-marine getting an entire clip of ammo being emptied into him makes much sense anymore. That it's something that can be traced to the beginning of gaming, like the high-score, that has yet to really change in the context of today.
 
Once again, thanks for the responses everyone.
Posted by TobyD81
@vidiot: I play Dungeons & Dragons, and I GM a game. Damage and hit points start to get very unrealistic as players gain levels and more hit points. One way to explain how a high-level character endures so much punishment is that with every "hit" they are not necessarily taking physical damage, but that the physical and mental demands of combat are wearing down their endurance. Higher-level characters are able to endure greater stress from combat, but eventually they reach a point where they just couldn't quite get out of the way of that sword/arrow/bullet/gnarled claw, and they go down. I wonder if you could convey in a game that as your character experiences combat, it is not just their body that is taking damage, but their mind and emotions as well.
Posted by Ghostiet
@vidiot:

You are making my brain fry, but I think I recall a game that used this almost exact explanation. Gah, I can't remember the title.

I understand the concern, but the system worked in FC2. It's essentially a regenerating health system, only with the wiping-the-windshield business being given a acceptable explanation. I think a more mainstream game should give it at least a shot.