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#1 Edited by CptMorganCA (243 posts) -

Hey ya'll, sorry if this is a topic that comes up all the time. I don't spend much time on the GB forums these days, but I've been a fan forever.

I've been listening to some old GOTY shows, as I am to do, and continue to feel a lack of representation for games that just play well. We have best story, music, moment, STTTTYYYYYLE, etc, but nothing as simple as best mechanic or best "feel."

Games with ambitions that start and end around only satisfying mechanics have no place to be praised until Best Game, where most of them would obviously have no chance. A 2018 example that comes to mind is Superflight.

What do ya'll think?

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#2 Posted by burncoat (522 posts) -

It's almost too subjective. You look at Persona 5 and somebody would have to be blind to say it doesn't have STYYLLE (whether it's the best or not is the point of debate), but when it comes to gameplay you'll immediately have very polarizing opinions on if it's good or not. Some people will just not like how it plays.

It could even be just one mechanic that completely ruins it for somebody. I was just listening to a podcast where one person hated how one key ability in The Messenger feels, but nobody else felt that way. Some things and games just don't feel right to everyone.

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#3 Posted by CptMorganCA (243 posts) -

@burncoat: I don't see how any of this disqualifies it as a category. The deliberations routinely come down to simple disagreements based on taste, especially in music and style. The magic of the way the GB crew does it is that they all come to an understanding that best represents them as a group. I don't think gameplay would be any different.

But I get your point, and a lot of that comes down to many people not knowing how to dig deep and describe what makes mechanics so good. Jeff and Brad often do this well, but Vinny and Dan struggle.

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#4 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2878 posts) -

They have talked about that a few times even on the GOTY podcasts themselves, and I agree. I'd like to see some more categories rewarding different kinds of gameplay. I suppose the fear then is that it just turns into "Best RPG, Best shooter" etc, but I have some faith that these dudes can spin som fun genres around gameplay. Just define it properly beforehand so it isn't "Best World" again.

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#5 Posted by CptMorganCA (243 posts) -

@redhotchilimist: i love the idea of the best world category, but it was jarring to hear them not on the same page about what the category was. I liked what they eventually arrived at.

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#6 Posted by captubaplayer (161 posts) -

@cptmorganca: oh man. Completely forgot about that Best World category. That was rough to hear so much misunderstanding and miscommunication. We shall see how things turn out this year.

I agree with you that some gameplay focused ones would be neat. I could see that potentially giving some games that normally 'don't hang with others' having a chance to shine.

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#7 Posted by WanLaghima (34 posts) -

@cptmorganca:

This is interesting, but I don't know if "feel" is the best word. I think maybe "mechanic" might work better? Or even "system?"

I can imagine a great debate going on between the swinging in Spiderman or the combat in God of War. One I would say is movement or traversal based, and the other is focused on combat, but I can see "feel" applying to both. Then again I can think about how a bit of looseness like in Overcooked might be a factor in how a game feels.

Getting lost in my own weeds here. What would you think, if you had to pin it down, would be the main factors that contribute to "feel?"

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#8 Posted by Ares42 (4187 posts) -

I made a thread about this after last years GOTY, and I absolutely agree that with the breadth of categories they operate with it's a severe omission. I understand that it's not necessarily the primary focus for people in the industry (as they move from game to game without diving too deep into the gameplay), but the gameplay experience is such a core feature of the medium and for a large amount of the audience it's the most important part of a game.

Having that said I'm not actually sure I'd care about their opinions on the matter. Having listened to their GOTY arguments I fear a category like this would devolve even further below what we've seen so far, with just a ton of completely baseless arguments being thrown around since they all tend to dive deep into separate games and none of them would be able to "educate" themselves about the other games.

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#9 Posted by CptMorganCA (243 posts) -

@wanlaghima: I think you're on the money! Even if the combat of GoW and the swinging of Spider-Man are two very different mechanics, the category would probably often bias in favor of which one was more unique or innovative, kind of like music or STYYYLE. Splatoon comes to mind as an example of this. Everyone would make their strong arguments either way and there would be some surprises!

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#10 Posted by CptMorganCA (243 posts) -

@ares42: I disagree that their arguments are often baseless. It can definitely be frustrating when it seems like nobody has played the games that each other are passionate for, but what I love about their process is that it's not about votes. Jeff is usually great at reading the room about what people are most passionate for and moving forward with that, regardless of if he's played the game.

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#11 Posted by Pie (7360 posts) -

They need a "Best runnin around" category. And yeah I think they need to rethink their GOTY in general and really nail down what the actual categories are. Some more gameplay categories would be cool

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#12 Posted by SirPsychoSexy (1603 posts) -

Wow that makes so much sense. Definitely a category that we need. Like you mentioned, I'd love to see some debate over things like the satisfaction of swinging vs throwing the axe, etc. I feel like this is a category games like Titanfall 2 could have done well.

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#13 Posted by Colonel_Pockets (1307 posts) -

Best mechanic would be a great addition. Stuff like the wall running in Titanfall or blink in Dishonored could be up there.

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#14 Posted by Kamui97 (96 posts) -

Best gameplay? that seems very broad, but i think it would be an interesting counter to best looking

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#15 Posted by ripelivejam (13003 posts) -

Best Driving Around in an Open World and Chilling and Ignoring Life's Horrible Stress Award.

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#16 Posted by Slag (8125 posts) -

I feel like the main game of the Year category essentially boils down to this criteria anyway. Would be duplicative to have another discrete category

Ask yourself this, when was the last time a game with the best Styyyyle, story or sound etc beat out a game with better gameplay in the site's overall top ten?

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#17 Edited by MostlySquares (301 posts) -

I agree. As someone who pretty much only cares about how a game feels and plays, having no category for it just seems odd. I get that it's probably a hard category to nail down cause of how subjective it is.. But so is style, so is everything in their GOTY deliberations. It's not an objective process, it's a clash of tastes. Everyone knows when a game feels right, feels tight and sharp. Everyone could easily come up with a couple of games each year that feels good to play. In an era where pretty much all games feel exactly the same (looking at you 3rd person action games and FPS games) it's important to highlight the games that aren't just AAA copies of eachother.

It could also be a really interesting category, because so many genres could be competing. Like a puzzler, a platformer and a dual stick shooter could be on the same list as a fighting game, a flight sim and a rhythm game. Maybe even a VR game would make it in there (Super Hot last year felt PRETTY GOOD.)

Anyways.. There should be categories where story and graphics are just ignored. Pure-ass-fun mechanics and gameplay feel should be its own category.

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#18 Edited by soulcake (2461 posts) -

Here's a Jeff'sesque anwser to previous GOTY what's gameplay? gameplay could mean a lot of stuff, just like "worldbuilding" both these terms are pretty broth, and they could literately mean anything. I think a old pc gaming editor one's said that only bad gaming "journalists" use the term gameplay. It's a easy word to describe a bunch of things.

Although they might go the Oscar road and go for a "Best kiss in a videogame" category.......

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#19 Posted by Dan_CiTi (5144 posts) -

yeah saying best gameplay might as well be "best thing you do in a game" which is kind of what best sequence is. best mechanic might be really cool though, I can see the frustration with straight-up gameplay stuff not quite having its specific time alone to be discussed.

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#20 Posted by turboman (9692 posts) -

Best Feel is a pretty obvious category to add imo. A couple of nominees would be Swingin' Around in Spiderman, Jumping Mechanics in Celeste (more specifically the dash through space goo ability + jumping at the end of that to launch yourself out of the space goo), Breaking through doors in Dead Cells, Tekken-Style Juggle Combos in God of War, etc.

@slag said:

I feel like the main game of the Year category essentially boils down to this criteria anyway. Would be duplicative to have another discrete category

Ask yourself this, when was the last time a game with the best Styyyyle, story or sound etc beat out a game with better gameplay in the site's overall top ten?

I would not argue that PUBG had any mechanic that felt good last year (not compared to Mario/Tekken/etc.)

Hitman was a better game than DOOM, but in no way did Hitman play better than DOOM

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#21 Posted by KavaJava (48 posts) -

Should they call it Best Button-Feel? Akin to mouth-feel? It implies the feel based on your input and would push out arguments about how "that lighting made that game feel good." I think it would still leave room for sound cues, and dynamic world stuff based on your actions, but wouldn't allow for a good feeling sequence where you run in a straight line through canned explosions.

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#22 Posted by turboman (9692 posts) -

@kavajava: UX is definitely a part of it. I mentioned Tekken above and the main new mechanic they added to gameplay other than the supers is that slow-mo effect at the end whenever it's a close finish.

Does it add anything in terms of gameplay? No. But holy cow it feels amazing whenever it happens and you end up winning.

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#23 Posted by KavaJava (48 posts) -

@turboman: I think that still counts under Button-Feel, but maybe that term isn't so intuitive now that I'm looking at it again. The slow-mo in Tekken is really something you're doing—you're landing, or almost landing, the final hit. It's not something that's happening to you. I think that's an important distinction.

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#24 Posted by turboman (9692 posts) -

@kavajava: Maybe a better definition would be the interaction between your controller inputs and what the results are on screen.

The Spiderman web swinging is just timing your holding of the R2 trigger and timing out X button hits but the actions on screen triggers a good sweet spot in your brain that really makes you feel like you're extremely in control of Spiderman.

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#25 Posted by CptMorganCA (243 posts) -

@slag: You're missing the point. Best Game is a culmination of everything that's good about a game in one. There's a history of games with great gameplay losing out because their scope isn't big enough or worlds not pretty enough in the overall Top 10. A discreet category meant to praise mechanics and feel without the baggage of look or scope is what I'm looking for.

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#26 Posted by Darknorth (236 posts) -

Best Mouth Feel?

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#27 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7355 posts) -

Best Mouth Feel?

Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Ice cream, that is my final answer.

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#28 Edited by Slag (8125 posts) -

@cptmorganca said:

@slag: You're missing the point. Best Game is a culmination of everything that's good about a game in one. There's a history of games with great gameplay losing out because their scope isn't big enough or worlds not pretty enough in the overall Top 10. A discreet category meant to praise mechanics and feel without the baggage of look or scope is what I'm looking for.

No I get where you are coming from. I just don't agree with you that this will help things.

I think you have a valid concern about purely mechanical games like Superflight not getting a fair shake (or some thing like Nuclear Throne, some puzzle game, what have you. Take your pick). But I don't think what you are proposing will solve that because of how they tend to actually make these things.

Firstly I just don't think the gang plays enough of those games to populate the category, so it's still ultimately going a bunch of candidates that are similar to what's in the overall top 10 anyway. The games you think that have too large of a scope. As far as I can tell in practice gameplay is the main criteria they use to order that list. That's why those other criteria categories can work, because they don't weight Style, Music etc as highly as gameplay.

PUBG, Mario Maker , Mordor, Hitman etc all seemed to win for gameplay reasons, at least that was the rationale I remember being given. Now maybe you liked a different game's gamplay from those years better, but that doesn't mean the staffers did.

And secondly I don't know if the crew on a consistent basis thinks about individual mechanics independently enough of the whole gameplay package to really rank those separately. Sometimes they do, but a lot of time they will just talk about the composite. Which I think makes some sense as it's hard to tell exactly where one system ends and one begins because of how interlinked everything in a game is.

So yes, this idea has some merit in theory but I don't think it fits with how GB actually currently does things. I could see it working for another website or if GB changes how they do GotY.

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#29 Posted by csl316 (14863 posts) -

I support this idea. Stuff like Spelunky or 20XX, games that just feel good to control.

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#30 Posted by CptMorganCA (243 posts) -

@slag: Crazy late reply because I haven't checked notifications till today lol.

I think you're underestimating the team. It's true that the category could share overlap with the Top 10, but it's the same way that Best Looking and Best STYYYYLE often have overlap. They share considerations, but everyone agrees that both should exist for good reason. A Gameplay category is compatible with how they currently do things, and I reject the notion that there would be nothing to fill it that the team played. Even with overlap from Top 10, it's where the games with the tightest gameplay would win, not just rate at number 10 or even a spiritual number 11.

2015 comes to mind with Galak-Z. Austin made sure it got its props before it was ultimately cut, but that same impassioned speech on an official gameplay award could have swayed it into the top 3 of its category. Now, you're right that best game measures gameplay as a very important thing, but ultimately "Best Game" is a vast AAA game with impressive polish, graphics, and gameplay (the exception being PUBG, because it took over the office and felt like the game of the year at the time). Uncharted 2, Mass Effect 2, Skyrim, XCOM, Last of Us, Mordor, Mario Maker, Hitman. AAA wins, for good reason, but it's not doing "gameplay" justice in the way that its own category could.

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#31 Posted by Slag (8125 posts) -

@cptmorganca: no worries man. I'm not on very often myself of late.

that's certainly possible. I guess I just view their top 10 as very heavily weighted towards gameplay, meaning that the overlap and crucially ordering similarities there could be potentially far greater than Styyyyyyle etc.

I don't think I'm selling them short as much as just being realistic about the amount of games they can play as a staff, especially since many of them now have family commitments etc outside of work. You are certainly right that AAA games dominate Best Game category, but do you think they play enough smaller purely mechanical games to populate a hypothetical gameplay centric list that would look markedly different from Best Game? There seems to already be issues of making sure enough people have played enough of the candidates for these categories already.

fwiw I hope they take your idea because It never hurts to try something new.