@AskWheels I guess there's a mailbag question. Are there too
many releases now days, should we look to the
Disney/Hollywood system? i.e. Longer periods between sequels
/ spread out AA release schedules / "studio" development. Stick
of Truth proves 14 hour RPGs can work. More shorter
(pref with lower price tags to reflect length) games please
That's a very
tough question. The two industries, despite
similarities, don't align perfectly. Before we
get into that comparison though, let's discuss
whether or not there are too many releases.
There are many different kinds of gamers, and I
know many who will only play one or two games at
a time, or even just a few over a given year
(these are more than "casual" gamers). So for
them the bloated number of releases probably
means there's many games they'll miss out on. Of
course, there's the other end of the spectrum,
people like us who probably buy every single
game we're curious about but can't possibly find
the time to play them all at release. Most
likely fall between these two extremes, but for
any sort of game there seem to be a lot of
disadvantages to so many releases. With many
closures in recent years, it seems likely the
number of big AAA releases is just going to have
to be scaled back or else. Of course good luck
trying to get Activision to not do a yearly Call
of Duty game.
Now we'll look at the two solutions you kind of
mentioned (shorter games and the Hollywood
model). Shorter games and specifically shorters
RPG can work just fine. That said, I think it's
best to leave the length of a game dependent on
the style of game, how it fits the mechanics,
how long it takes to resolve the story, etc.
Plenty of long RPGs and other types of games
justify their lengthy completion times! Of
course I'm not sure you even intended this as an
idea for a solution.
As for mimicking Hollywood, there's probably a
few ideas there which game publishers could take
to heart. Looking at this two week period with Dark
Souls II, Titanfall, Metal
Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, and Final
Fantasy X/X-2 HD all coming out, there's
no doubt AAA releases are often too bunched up.
I'm sure once we get to summer there will be
very little for months! As for some of the other
things, I'm not so sure. More time between
sequels might not work for every game series,
especially multiplayer focused ones that need
the refreshment a new entry provides. Movies and
games are such different beasts that it's hard
to do such a comparison. One thing is for sure,
with many studio closures and even the end of a
publisher in THQ, I think AAA games will see
some sort of adjustment in release schedules and
budgets in the not too distant future.
Now if you'll excuse me, it's only March and I
already have a massive pile of 2014 games to get
Dark > Demon's
Dear Wheels, recent editions of the mailbag have almost
directly courted comparisons between Demon's and Dark
Souls and specifically which is better. As someone
with a grossly inflated sense of self-importance I can't let
the question stand without putting in my two cents.
Demon's Souls is from most every angle a weaker
experience than Dark Souls, but what I think is its
biggest problem is that aspects of its design are at cross
purposes with each other. Both Demon's and Dark
strive toward being essentially User-Neutral worlds as
opposed to User-Positive experiences that most games offer.
The player is just another piece of the puzzle and that's
why the struggle feels so great, they aren't being awarded
any real special treatment. By the same token they are both
designed in such a way that a player willing to keep playing
regardless of setbacks is going to eventually win, almost Dragon
Quest-esque in that sense minus the sense of
positivity pervading the game, if you are willing to buckle
down anyone can finish a Souls game.
So with that long winded explanation of why I think both
games have fundamentally the same design philosophy and goal
out of the way, it's time to get to what I think are errors
of execution. Demon's Souls undermines the player at
several turns, making it tedious to recover from failure and
essentially wasting the players time on some level. Dying in
Demon's Souls diminishes the players max life by 50%
instantaneously, in contrast to Dark Souls II ways
to fix this are stupendously rare outside of killing a boss,
putting the player in the odd position that their first
attempt at an area, the one where they are least likely to
succeed, is also the only one they are guaranteed to be at
full strength for. It's an obnoxious and discouraging system
that due to its nature of subtracting so much at once
doesn't actually make future death mean anything it just
makes you feel like you could do better if the game wasn't
arbitrarily handicapping you. Dark Souls 1 removed
this concept entirely, while 2 turned it into a
proper stick and carrot while making it more possible to
consistently bat away the stick.
The other area I want to focus on, and perhaps the single
most brilliant innovation of Dark Souls is the
concept of health restoration and how much the estus flask
gives the player in terms of mental well being and saved
time. Getting healing items in Demon's Souls isn't
terribly difficult, merchants sell them and they aren't
terribly expensive, however, getting them is tedious and
obnoxious and running out is a discouraging thing
particularly for new players. Needing to get healing items
also encourages grinding which is not really a solution that
a souls game ought to be cultivating. The Estus Flask
elegantly fixes this, but it also is an important factor
mentally. It encourages the player to keep going because no
matter how badly they failed, there's always that baseline
of resources the game can't take away from them and that
baseline is enough to win. This allows more people to force
themselves to keep playing until they understand the game
without dumbing down the challenge or wasting anyone's time.
The estus flask so perfectly cultivates the right mindset to
allow someone to keep going without breaking the hostility
of the world that it might be one of the most brilliant
additions to a game I've ever seen.
I could go on of course about world design being more
interesting than a hub and other things, but nothing
encapsulates the reason that Dark is better designed
than Demon's better than the way they govern the
player's ability to repeatedly attempt something. For games
that, let's face it, intend memorization to be a part of the
experience even if it gets less important as they go on it's
important that the player not be inundated with other
negative consequences when an ambush they didn't have the
presence of mind to suspect cuts them down in the middle of
exploring a new area.
I agree with
absolutely every word you've said.
Damn it Frank, why
you gotta do this to me? I feel like I'm doomed
to somehow be conned into actually trying Mugen
Souls Z. I fear for my sanity if that
happens. I guess enough people liked the first
one that this was a lock to come over here? I
don't begrudge anyone liking that game, but man
did it do a number on me.
For those unaware, this is a long standing joke
between @kylelitke and I because I bashed Final
Fantasy IV during a spirited defense of Final
Fantasy XIII. Though I can no longer
stomach the "easy" original SNES version, I am
quite fond of the DS and PSP versions. Not my
favorite Final Fantasy game but I
certainly don't hate it at all, honest! Heck, I
even bought the PSP version a second time to get
it digitally. What more must I do to prove my
Eric, I eagerly await the day Tales of
Hearts is translated. By far my favorite
portable entry in the series (if we don't count
Tales of the Abyss on 3DS), I absolutely
adore its battle system and classic sprites.
Though the game is on the linear side and thus
not the worst game to play with a translation
guide, playing it completely in English would be
fantastic. I honestly wish I could donate to the
translators to speed them along. Just let us
never speak of the abomination of a remake that
appeared on the Vita.
Here are some hot topics I've seen around
- Is the level of negativity in the gaming community
something new, or just something more focused on now?
- No seriously, where are your Dragon Quest VII
thoughts and opinions?
- What should BioWare do in the next Mass Effect?
See you next week!
| Mailbag Archive