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Monday, May 30th, 2005
10:59a
The Games Manifesto

and a lot of objections.

1) "We want better AI."

Hell yeah we want better AI. No objection.

2) "We want new, interesting games."

Once again, hell yeah. No objection.

3) "No graphics BS - mark cutscenes as cutscenes and screenshots as screenshots."

Yep. I'll buy that too.

4) "Make truly adult games."

Yes. As he points out, it's basically impossible to sell a non-porn adult game. Something minor like massive devastation really only gets you a "mature" rating (yes, I went and looked at my GTA box, it's got "mature") and I'm curious what games are waiting to be made that are Adults Only.

What can I say? Sometimes I'm bloodthirsty. Deal.

5) "Make games with female characters that don't necessarily have huge tracts of land."

Not talking about real estate here. Also agreed.

6) "No more save points."

Whoa hold on a sec.

There are pros and cons to save points. The pros are obvious - you can save anywhere. The cons are also obvious - you can save anywhere.

Some people, as it turns out, want to just waltz through a game. They don't want any real challenge. If they have trouble with a section, they'll literally sit there saving every four seconds and play it "perfectly" (and then, occasionally, claim it was too easy.) This group of people is not *all* people.

I want a challenge. I want things to be hard. I also want things to be *possible*.

The problem with the save-reload tango is that it makes everything much easier. So when people make a "hard" game, what it usually means is "we have this enormous cluster of bad guys up there that has to be played perfectly". And that means the save/reload tango, if you're not God. There's no way to be, instead, *very good* and work through it on a hard difficulty setting. Save/reload or death.

Ratchet and Clank, as an example, had a sort of implicit savepoint system. There were checkpoints throughout the level that were just areas in the map, not even marked. Get there, and the next time you die you'll restart at that point. That worked. That was fun. That was, occasionally, hard. I approve.

He goes on to complain about *bad* save points, and I agree with that. Put a checkpoint in front of the boss, dammit. Put a checkpoint before any ultra-hard section, just so we don't have to replay the not-ultra-hard sections seventeen kajillion times. But don't get rid of *all* my checkpoints. I like the challenge.

(Note: FF7 for the PS1 had a cheat code that allowed you to save anywhere. The ability to do this on consoles has been around for *years*. They don't want to, and I don't want them to.)

7) "No more loading times."

Sure, it'd be nice. But you know how hard it is?

REALLY FUCKING HARD.

The game I worked on, we just didn't have enough RAM to do it. And that probably holds true for many games. You see a lack of loading times? Take a look at the program's memory usage. I can guarantee you it's high. On a console, of course, it can't be any higher - so imagine what you might be losing out on. Better textures. More enemies. Higher-quality models. Better AI - that programmer time has to come from somewhere! Is it worth it?

IMHO, no way. I don't mind five-second load times. It's when it hits 15 seconds that it gets irritating.

(And of *course* the 8-bit Nintendo didn't have load times. It practically didn't have RAM! Where the hell would you load data *to*?)

(For the curious: 2KB RAM. And 2KB video RAM. Even the original Game Boy has more than that.)

8) "No more stupidly repetitive sound files."

Halo did a good job of that. Your marines had a lot of things they said, and they didn't repeat too often. Agreed.

9) "No more invisible walls, dammit. No more waist-high barriers that you can't climb over."

Agreed. And, yeah, it's hard to do the animations and logic for climbing over a barrier. But it looks so stupid when you can't.

10) "No more arbitrary game logic entirely - why can't I just blow away the rickety door?"

Agreed.

11) "No more superimposing text on the screen."

I remember a game that avoided a GUI. It was a big selling point. Turned out it was tough to play. Black&White, if you're curious - Peter Molyneux has admitted it was a mistake, and is changing his mind for B&W2. Sorry, but I'll take an interface over artistic "look mom no interface isn't it pretty now how do I use it" any day.

The rest, I will agree, is often a problem. Although cinematic camera angles, when done well, are pretty cool.

12) "No difficulty insanity." Argh. Subpoints.

"Arbitrary triggers in RPGs" - agreed. Make the universe feel, you know, moderately realistic. Seriously.

"Ammo starvation" - hey, ammo rationing is part of the challenge! I find it *fun* - I can't just pick up "uber giant gun" and have unlimited ammo for it. I have to *think*. Leave me with my ammo starvation.

"Confusing, mapless floor plans" - maps would be nice, I'll admit. I've gotten good enough at mental maps that I don't need them, but hey.

"Instant failure stealth levels" - isn't this what you want save points anywhere for? But, agreed. Sly Cooper did a good job with this - you got two or three "failures" before death.

"Unnecessarily difficult end levels" - *unnecessarily*, sure, but the end boss shouldn't be a pushover. But I agree with the cutscene comment. Make cutscenes skippable! Always! Seriously!

"AIs that cheat in games where they shouldn't be allowed to" - like racing games! YES.

("Hard games are fine. We like a challenge.") Apparently you only like *certain kinds* of challenges.

13) "Stop making us start without any fun abilities."

Getting new abilities is *part* of the fun. That's something I loved about the first GBA Castlevania game - you start with *nothing*! (Well, you start with a whip.) Want to start with all the abilities? Go find some cheat codes. Leave me with my sense of accomplishment.

I do like his idea about *starting* the player with a giant machinegun and going *up* from there, though. :D

(Though I suspect he would then complain about "didn't start with enormous megagun of death".)

14) "Get rid of the crates."

At this point they amuse me enough that I'm tempted to ask for them to stay in . . . but yeah, why the hell are there wooden crates everywhere? Is the entire world a giant warehouse? Stop with the crates already.

15) "Stop the short-sighted business BS"

Yeah right. He really thinks this'll happen? The genre knockoffs happen in *every* genre, *everywhere*.

Although I do agree that the current patent situation is fucking stupid.

16) "Don't write buggy games that need patches."

Yeah, we'll . . . we'll get right on that. Sure.

Hope you enjoy your Pong, since that's the most complicated thing we can make that can be guaranteed bug-free.

17) "Stop making machines that aren't dedicated gaming machines."

Eh. I haven't bought a true DVD player yet - my PS2 and XBox do the job fine. I'm not really complaining here - when they stop doing the job of a games console, or I feel they're too expensive, I'll stop buying 'em.

18) "Don't sell us bonuses for real-world money in online games."

Yeah, seriously. That's just *icky*. I don't want to be slaughtered by Jimmy Q. Moneypants, that can't play the game worth crap but has the cash to buy his +114 Dire Platemail of Awesomeness.

Yeesh.

At the very least, if you *have* to actually *sell items to players*, put those players on other servers. I want no cheating.

19) "No more jumping puzzles in FPS games."

Yes. Yes yes yes. THEY DON'T WORK. GET OVER THEM.

20) "Consoles that sit vertically!"

Hey! They do! But I *like* horizontal consoles! Ever tried to knock over a console that was sitting horizontally? It doesn't knock over! What the hell is this obsession with vertical?

----

Mostly, good points. Some things I disagree with.

Wow, you still reading this?

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