Thursday, December 29, 2011

Terrible Yet Beautiful

It is not often that I play games in the vein of GTA 3 anymore. After San Andreas, I was done. Not because it was a bad game or anything. I just felt the genre didn't have anything else to offer me.

Just Cause 2 proved me wrong in that regard, as insane and explosion-porn-like as it was. I would say however that it kept me interested mainly because it wasn't about rival gangs and hoods in a stereotypical American city, but rather an oppressed island nation fighting back against the government. It was incredibly open, diverse and looked and played great. Being a game where you are essentially spiderman with a gun will do that.

I didn't have much of an interest in Saint's Row The Third when it came out. It seemed to me like just another GTA clone that would probably be worse than GTAIV was, which apparently was boring and had lost its charm. I wouldn't have purchased the game if I wasn't informed of its $20 price tag from greenmangaming, but since buying and playing it I am glad I did. I think there is a lesson in this, that being that your non-experienced impressions can occasionally be wrong and you should go to the effort to making up your own mind in an informed manner. There isn't really much to say about it so far (not even 1/2 way through atm) so I will simply post this picture/comic of your everyday encounter with innocent citizens in this digital world:

... terrible, yet beautiful. All it needs is a trollface.

Edit: Video testing coop gameplay.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My horror story

Edit: I should probably mention this earlier in this post lest anyone get the wrong impression. I don't dislike consoles or the games that are best designed for them. There are, in fact, many games that I think excel on console and should only ever be played on console. Fighting, driving, sports, shmups and platform games are all examples of these. My issue lies when games and more importantly, game design suffers when games that shouldn't be built for consoles are. It is of my strong opinion that both RTS and FPS games fall into this domain, and why I have such a seething resentment for FPS games that are built exclusively for the console market. It should never have happened to FPS games and they are worse off today because of it...

Recently I attended a social event organised by my university colleagues and I to play some games that involved catchup options in modern games. To provide an example of what a catchup option is, think of the Ultra bar that charges slowly when you take damage in Street Fighter IV. It is something that allows a losing player to equalise the playing field, should they know how to effectively employ it. A lot of fighting, racing and even FPS games have them. I do not have a problem with catchup options as I am all for allowing players who are losing considerably, slight advantages for them to still remain competitive. As long as they don't tip the balance in an overpowered manner or effectively rubberband the winning players from their deserved position. I am, however, totally against options that allow a winning player to continue winning ... but that is a heated topic for a later date.

So ... this event. We played a number of games and people generally had fun. There isn't really much to say about the specifics of what happened as it would probably seem pretty boring to an observer/outsider. There was, however, one thing that stood out dramatically for me which is why I am making this post. I consider it a brainfuck of epic proportions now that I think about it, mainly because it both proves and hammers home everything that I despise about console FPS games. Yes, it's one of these posts again. Sif not.

While I was busy fighting some people in SSFIV (a game I still consider to be terrible at), I couldn't help but notice that Halo Reach was being started up on the TV adjacent to the one a group of us were playing on. I wasn't aware of there being catchup options in a game like Halo Reach. In fact, I was quite certain (and still am) that there are not, as it is in fact the opposite of catchup with the whole regenerating shields/HP bullshit that it spawned in the last generation of shooters. Nevertheless, for some bizarre reason, I was curious as to why everyone was so keen to try it out. What was I missing?

As the afternoon continued, I noticed some people were giving up and handing controllers over to others. It seemed like some of the people, namely the ones who wanted to play the game in the first place, were feeding off the less competent in a rather egoic fashion to the point where the less fluent were not willing to contribute anymore. Some of the non-fluent players openly admitted to finding both the genre (FPS) and the method of control (360 controller) to be cumbersome, which I remember thinking was a fair statement at the time. I did not inquire as to what their preferred genre or method of control was as I was too busy pullling off an Akuma Ultra, but it did irk me somewhat. Eventually my sparring partner and I had enough of fighting each other and surrendered the game to another two people, so I made my way to the other television, only to squint at it in utter disbelief. Now, we were playing on rather large 50" TV's at a reasonably close distance. Admittedly my eyesight is not perfect, but it wasn't so much a resolution issue as it was a framerate and visual clarity related one. I suppose the 360 shouldn't be expected to run four instances of the game (at least from a UI point of view) in four separate windows for four players with any respectable visual magnificence, but it seriously looked like something from the early 2000's. But then I noticed that one of the screens wasn't moving. There was also a controller on a seat where someone had given up and just left it there. I don't know why I did it, and I regret doing it even now, but something akin to the competitive berserker I knew in my early years of UT99 fired at that point, so I grabbed the controller and sat down.

I remember being quite enthusiastic. "Why not?" I thought. Surely they can't be as bad as I have been preaching all these years. Maybe I have just been a misinformed, biased lunatic and simply havn't gotten over the hump that is the torture of using a controller for playing FPS games. If I could get past that, maybe I could look past all the other bullshit that evolved as a result of it.

Below is a graph of my enthusiasm over time:
Note: The game played was actually Halo Reach, but it is essentially the same

Roughly linear, it took me less than a minute to go from a highly enthused, keen-for-frags young man to a blank faced, eye-twitching Hannibal Lecter, observing the silly man who could not play his instrument properly in the orchestra. To an extent, that pun is two-fold. I was watching a tiny screen of a player not doing things correctly ... but I was watching it from a player who knew how to DO them correctly. You see, in that less than a minute of play I had performed the following sequence of events:
  1. Turned around, taking a good second or two
  2. Moved to the end of a corridor, in what seemed like a year of gameplay
  3. Realised it was a non-obvious dead end with nothing in it and and frowned at the point of the corridor
  4. Walked back down the corridor, looking back at the SSFIV screen longingly while doing so
  5. Exploded around a corner from a grenade not thrown at me
  6. Respawned back in the corridor
  7. Ogled worriedly at the responsiveness, speed and sensitivity of the controls
  8. Started a gunfight with someone who got the jump on me
  9. Noticed the significant amount of auto-aim granted
  10. Still managed to shoot walls and windows more than I shot the dude
  11. After a year, killed him (I think I had more shield regenned due to floating around jumping)
  12. Got one shotted in melee
  13. Respawned back in the corridor
If I wasn't holding a controller I think I would have face-palmed around about that point. I continued playing for a few more minutes, longer than what that graph suggests (you get the point though). At some point I found a sprint button and laughed out loud at the meager increase in speed it offered, sacrificing aim. Everything. Everything I had been saying and ranting about for the last few years was still true. Worse in fact, if that was possible. I remember thinking how had we come from the glorious days of Quake, UT and Half-life to this shamble of game play and mechanics? The precision of keyboard and mouse, the multi-task capability of the PC, the flexibility of graphical and control settings, the variable and ever increasing speed of the internet, LANs where everyone would bring their own terminal and comfortably do what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted ...

... to sitting in a stinky, cramped room around a TV, squinting at 1/4 of a screen, trying to make out the environment from the UI/weapon, taking forever to do anything using a horrible control peripheral with a horrible control scheme, fighting the game more than I am playing the game, a game that is apparently a FPS and supposedly a good one at that. HOW!!!?? Why is this considered normal, good and fun? This has to be the shittest FPS experience I can think of!

Halo Reach - your average frag video (recent)

The thing is, it is considered normal. Not just by the developers, the publishers and the general media. By the consumers. This is apparently what the average consumer wants and what the average consumer considers to be an enjoyable FPS experience. At some point during my play I actually glanced at my opponents/colleagues in bewilderment, eyebrows raised, to see their reactions. They were having a ball! Laughing, joking, merry as can be. I felt sick. Have I really been missing something important all these years? Hours of fun playing console FPS games with friends, squinting my eyes into blindness at 1/4 of screens every weekend? My god, surely the problem wasn't me ...

But then I looked at their screens. At what they were doing. The simplest of movements. No vertical aiming. No circle-strafing. Chasing someone for ages with a powersword, to kill them instantly only when they stopped moving. No jumping. Camping on weapon/player spawns. No defensive retreats, no running backwards pot-shotting around corners. No strafing, checking corners, looking behind for an instant to check for chasers. No sense of awareness, no sense of self-preservation, no strategy and no plan.

Nothing that I was doing and everything that I wasn't doing.

It was then that I realised ... that they were all just a bunch of scrubs. To them, seeing enemy and running forwards while pressing fire was the limit of their FPS capability. Even with auto-aim, wrestling to keep the crosshair on a target using the horror that is console controls WAS the challenge. Everything and anything that goes beyond that exceeds their ability to perform in a multi-task manner ... and I couldn't blame them. I was struggling to perform 1/2 the shit I was doing in a timely manner and more often than not, it was getting me killed. So used to circle-strafing a target while engaging, quickly checking a door way while bunny-hopping, checking for respawns and equalising distance based on enemy location/firepower that it was actually inhibiting my ability to play the game. Simply put ... you CAN'T! At least in any acceptable amount of time. The sluggish controls of the console controller and the responsiveness translated into the game are not worth the effort of doing. So you are quite literally forced to just move forward and shoot if you want to have the advantage over someone you come across. You meet them, you shoot before they shoot, you wrestle to keep the crosshair on them and whoever did that better wins. Gee-fucking-gee!

Quake 3: Arena - your average frag video (old)

I remember back in the day I would have struggled with this even on keyboard and mouse. Aiming, moving and shooting were the limits of my skill. Over time however, it became muscle memory, a reflex that is instinctively ingrained in the way I play these games. I don't think about it, and I think for a lot of people who grew up playing FPS games on PC it would be the same. So you consider other things, get better at other techniques, learn weapon mechanics and so on and so forth. Not for every game, but at least for those that offer them. When you go 'back' to a game where all you really have to think about is aiming, moving and shooting because that's all you really can do ... it's hard to break out of habits. I want to do certain things and I just cant do them. This is, in my opinion, a problem.

I didn't voice my opinion of the game at the time, mainly because I knew it would have gone on deaf ears and because it wasn't what other people wanted to hear. As much of an elitist prick I can be on this blog at times, I know when my views are not welcome in a social situation. So, I swallowed my pride, took my helping of fail and smiled politely when the owner of the game boasted of their score at the end, repeatedly. Remaining humble and collected was more of a challenge to me than expressing my opinion, something I think more people should do more often concerning other topics in life. I did quietly kick his ass at SSFIV later though :)

So, to cut a long story short, this event can be summed up as a realisation of two things:
  1. Console FPS games (like Halo Reach) are not designed to allow players to employ many of the techniques, skills and logic that origintated from their PC ancestors
  2. People enjoy playing the aim-move-shoot mini-game that essentially is these sorts of games nowadays because its all you can do and because it is in itself a challenge due to the impracticality of the controller
Subconsciously I have always known this, but to see it laid out in front of me from a first-hand, social experience is horrifying.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Diablo III beta experience

After receiving the opportunity to try out the Diablo III beta from a friend, I have come to the following conclusion: I am going to fuck up the final year of my PhD because of this game. Let me explain...

I have always had a strange relationship with Diablo. I never played the first one and was introduced to the second one roughly the time it was released by a cousin of mine. He was addicted to the game and explained how it was affecting his first year university studies. I gave it a go and didn't really see the appeal. Too much clicky, not enough rewardy is probably what I was thinking at the time. After a couple of hours I grew bored and shelved it with the intention of never playing it again.

Oh what a fool I was! But how was I to know? How was I to KNOW!? It's the numbers, you see. Oh yes, it was ... it was the numbers ...

sif not

So ... it was the numbers. Anyone who has played an RPG seriously or dabbled into the likes of games such as WoW will know what I am talking about. You 'see' numbers, whether they be related to your health or armour or critical strike chance or perhaps the damage you are doing, and so you ... see ... them. You see? See, the numbers are how they get you. It's like licking grains of crack every time you see and mentally process what they are. Low on health, a big crit, fuck tons of armour. The numbers don't lie, and your ability to maintain and fix a situation using other numbers is somewhat satisfying. You can be a terrible mathematician and still enjoy the process of observing big red numbers above your avatar, refilling your health bar with green numbers while simultaneously pressing buttons to make orange and white numbers appear on the enemies. It's all to do with numbers and people's want/desire to manipulate and rectify them.

Now, that probably sounds a bit insane. It probably is. In a normal situation, the previous scenario would likely be described by a regular fellow as (for example) "killing an elite who is doing a lot of damage to you while you pot and spam your abilities". That sounds more like a game, doesn't it? Still, while you may think you are looking at textured polygonal meshes translating and animating in three dimensional coordinate space, you are still undertaking the process of manipulating and rectifying numbers. It's just prettied up a bit to deceive you from your true nature - that you are obsessed and compelled towards changing numbers. Forever.

You're your yore

What the flying fuck am I talking about? Well, let's get back to what I was originally describing with my early Diablo experiences. It didn't take long for the numbers to haunt me back in the year 2000. As much as I thought I didn't want to play the game, I just could not let my health pool be that low. That axe could probably have used an upgrade too, hitting only from 3-6. What about that sash? It's only got 1 armour, is cracked and looks like shit! Come on, have some style at least. And so it began. I did eventually stop playing the game some time in 2002, though my high-school friends and I eventually picked it up again in our final year and eventually took it into first year of university. While some awesome moments did arise from that (e.g. the fabled Ratmen incident), Diablo slowly slipped away in the face of bigger, prettier and more time consuming games of similar nature. By which I mean World of Warcraft.

"Fuck! I died" - The Ratmen Incident

So, Diablo III. This post is already getting stupidly long and I don't care about going back and making it shorter so I will sum up my experiences of the beta so far in bullet point format:

• The beta is overall far too easy. No enemies, not even the boss at the end, really pose a challenge
• It was incredibly short
• It doesn't actually look that great. This is something I have a problem with Blizzard and their latest games. While I am all for performance, their production timelines are confusing
• It's very dark and gloomy. Hopefully this changes as the game continues
• Combat is somewhat boring and repetitive early on. This is unfortunately the nature of these sort of games though
• Sound design is excellent
• It feels very similar to Diablo II, albeit a few changes here and there (e.g. Artisans)
• Killing/destruction streaks give you incentive to pop the shit when you fight a screen filled horde of enemies
• It is addictive
• I will more than likely buy the game when it is released

So, with that out of the way we can get to the most important part of this post. Oh yes...

... that being the NUMBERS!!!!!! GLORIOUS NUMBERS!!!!! Mwaahaahaglrgrgrll!!!


Wllaarrgrala!! Wllaarrgralaaaaa!!!!





Thursday, December 1, 2011

Berserker Rage: Sated

Not really much to say about this except that it is likely the last Skyrim execution video I will make. I have done enough executing to last me a lifetime, and that was before I even started Frapsing for this video. Now I can play and enjoy the game more without my framerate dropping to 30 fps everytime I find a dude to kill.

I have went for a slightly different editing procedure this time, not using heroic/trailer music and instead using a couple of tracks blending into each other. They are from X-Men: First Class and were used to make the video seem a little bit darker/edgier. Not entirely sure if I am happy with the results. I think heroic music just suits the world of Skyrim better.

Additionally, I have improved upon my original Skyrim weapon after painfully leveling alchemy, the only profession I actually regard as taking some skill and effort to level properly (unlike facerolling smithing and enchanting). This is mainly because you actually have to find the vast majority of the ingredients you need to make stuff (to simply level) instead of just rocking up and buying out a vendors supplies and making 50 iron daggers. The following 2h Daedric Greatsword I have appropriately renamed as 'The Soulreaver' (sif not Legacy of Kain) is the result of this process and in all honesty, a complete waste of time. Even on master, the game has become too easy as these weapons just do too much damage. I don't think this damage was intended by the developer.

"The descent had destroyed me... and yet, I lived"

This is with both Berserker Rage (100% extra) and a Fortify two-hand damage potion (130% extra) activated.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Game Roundup

Well, the year is nearly up and it is unlikely that I will be buying anymore games other than what I have pre-ordered and are still yet to be released. I honestly think that this year has been the best year in games for a long, LONG time. Possibly up to and including a decade, depending on how you look at things, but I will get to that.

The point of this post is really to contradict a belief that I and many other people (some notable critics e.g. Yahtzee) believe in terms of rating a game: you cannot rate a piece of artwork/entertainment numerically. As leisurely activities and appealing media are and always have been subjective in nature, applying a value out of 5, 10 or 100 for the masses to decide over is a little silly. What works and appeals for one person is not necessarily the same for everyone. Nevertheless, it is a little hard to make this post without ranking things in at least an order of appreciation, so I have decided that just this once I will break this rule and rate the following games I have played this year out of 10 in ascending order. I will however say that these values represent how much that I, and only I, enjoyed each of the following games and that YOU may and should have an entirely different opinion. Which is perfectly fine.

Bulletstorm - 5.5/10

Ugh. The utter dismay I express and disappointment I have for Epic Games, making this abomination of blissful theoretical oldskool design but awful modern FPS execution is one I cannot forgive. A misleading advertising campaign (Duty Calls parody video, "kill with skill" trailers?), a horrible PC port and just bad, boring, linear game design has put this game as the worst game I have played this year. Yes, I know I am biased with the whole console FPS perspective thing I have going. But the fact it is Epic Games, forgetting their once strong and proud Unreal Tournament, PC fanbase and cashing in with the console Gears of War crowd just makes it all the more bitter. While I still love their old games pre-UT3, I have come to despise the company that made them. It is their design philosophies and trends that are the cancer which plagues much of modern AAA game design these days.

this is probably the best part of the whole game, but still manages to suck

Duke Nukem - 6/10

Duke Nukem was just a bad game. There isn't really much to say. It is by no means the worst game ever and there were even bits of it that were kinda cool and funny. However, after over 11 years of production, the shamble that was released mid 2011 is inexcusable. I don't blame Gearbox Software. They were merely picking up the corpse left by 3D Realms and tried stuffing some life into it for as cheap as possible. For them it was a profit deal. Like Bulletstorm it suffered from modern-day FPS syndrome, but not quite as bad as Bulletstorm did. Mainly it was regenerating health and the inability to carry more than 2 weapons that threw the towel in for me. The King did not return.

maybe if he did less of this and more ass kicking while lacking bubblegum supplies ...

Crysis 2 - 6.5/10

I loved the original Crysis and its expansion Warhead. They were easily the best shooters of 2007/8 and they are still some of the best looking games ever made. Don't get me wrong, Crysis 2 is gorgeous as well, but goddamit. Going from kilometers of lush tropical beaches and snowy mountain ranges to cramped, cement buildings in a fucking American city was just stupid in my opinion. God I hate cities. GARRGH. Linear design, fucked up story, barely any advances graphically (used Dx9 on release) and far too many cutscenes and quicktime events. Like the sequels to the original film The Matrix, Crysis 2 is a game I prefer not to remember.

no! don't look!

Rage - 6.5/10

Despite the textures in this game looking like absolute turd, the game play is actually decent. It was not, however, decent enough for me to not get bored after arriving at the first major town though. I don't know what it is about this game but I just cannot get stuck into it. There is just something inherently ... noobish ... about it. Like you are being led by the nose by some invisible man, telling you where to go without you knowing it. I think the illusion of free space, but not actually HAVING free space to move and explore things creates this feeling for me. I feel trapped. I don't want to help any of these cunts and the inability to just fuck off and do my own thing really bugs me. I had decreasing levels of expectation for this game leading up to its release and its console FPS design was not unexpected when I eventually got my hands on it. I don't think iD have gone completely the way of Epic Games just yet. I still have hopes for them delivering in the future...

this is actually a texture in the game

F.3.A.R - 7/10

Still yet to finish this game, but it has been ok so far. I actually quite like the story, the tale of two evil but powerful brothers coming to terms with both their and their mother's existance is unique, at least to other video game stories. While it has the same bullshit weapon restrictions, regenerating HP and cover systems that make my eye twitch every time I indulge in them, the gore and pacing of the game is still interesting enough. A spiritual successor to Max Payne's bulletime, the enhanced reflexes of the protagonist makes for some entertaining weapon play at the very least.


Marvel Vs Capcom 3 - 7/10

This is a decent game and I probably would have rated it higher if not for one simple reason: fighting games are multiplayer games. As I seem to be the only person I know who is avidly interested (but still terrible) at fighting games, getting other people to play and enjoy fighting games too is almost impossible. I have made posts about the merits of playing fighting games before so I won't repeat myself here. Nevertheless, MvC3 is slick, stylish and fast as hell, but suffers from being a little too dumbed downed and ... incomplete, for lack of a better description. Dumbed down it may be, you won't see many new people picking up and playing this game as it is still one of the most complex and mechanically confusing fighting games out there, second only to MvC2.

i wonder if she plays basketball...

Dirt 3 - 7/10

There is nothing really wrong with this game, it's just that it is nothing really special and new compared to Dirt 2, a game I enjoyed far more. While GRID is still the undisputed champion of Codemaster's last few racing game titles (for me), Dirt 3 doesn't really raise the bar on any level. In fact, I would go so far as to say it actually looks and plays worse than Dirt 2. When it boils down to it, I wish I didn't buy this game, basically.

if only

Sanctum - 7/10

Interesting game concept, something I have thought about myself many times but never thought would actually be successful. Turns out there are people who are interested in FPS tower defense though. For a cheap, indie game there are few complaints about it but there are definitely elements that could be better. The DLC is a bit of a dick move though.

ass rockets ftw

Street Fighter 3: Third Strike Online - 7/10

Again, a fighting game and again it suffers from the same personal flaw of mine: No one I know wants to play it. Still, as a remake of a decade old game, it still has some nostalgic and historic aspects to it. The game that put some of the best Street Fighter players where they are today (e.g. Daigo) is easy to play but hard to master, especially the parry mechanic. Maybe I should take it online, like the name implies...

well, at least two of these ladies play basketball. clearly the one on the right

Magicka - 7/10

This game had a lot of appeal early on in the piece, but fell off rather slowly as time went by. I'm not sure what exactly is the cause for this. It might be that it gets repetitive and annoying remembering and plugging in the same spell combinations over and over and over again, sometimes having risky or unexpected results. Comical at first but later frustrating down the track. Additionally, playing with people who have played it much more than you have, making frequent use of overpowered, non-team oriented spells gets a little annoying. Especially when they get you killed.


Spacemarine - 7.5/10

A tiny bit disappointing but overall a good game, Spacemarine satisfied my need to kill greenskins ... and then some! While the singleplayer was enjoyable, with random spurts of godlike jump-pack goodness, the most fun I had was with the free DLC survival mode Exterminatus. Most definitely a challenge, it was the only foraging I did into the game's online multiplayer, something that seemed rather enjoyable for the brief bit of time I spent with it. I imagine if I hadn't had so much to do and had so many other games to finish, I would return to this game's multiplayer for a second helping.

it really, really is ...

Trackmania 2 - 7.5/10

If your need is for speed, then Trackmania will definitely do the trick for you this year. As crazy as ever, Trackmania 2 is pretty much the original with a slight facelift and an interesting theme. I could not justify forking out the money for this one but luckily I was gifted it by a friend. It's fun, I'll give it that, but from a purely competitive point of view it is not really my type of racing game. That is because you aren't really racing, but competing for times. Without direct means of influencing the success or failure of my opponents, they feel less like opponents and more like ... other people who are just trying to get a good time on a track. To me that makes the game slightly less engaging.

i iz driving car!

Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - 7.5/10

This isn't really an entirely new game, being an expansion pack for Super Street Fighter 4. Arcade Edition just adds some tweaks, balances and 4 new characters. Two of them I fucking hate (Yun + Yang), mainly because they seem uninspired and do nothing but add to the sausage fest that is the SF4 roster. Evil Ryu and Oni are at least interesting aesthetically and add some interesting gameplay mechanics (air dashing, chargeable ultras). Personally I would have enjoyed the expansion much more if they added a few more female characters to the mix, possibly Elena and R.Mika. That would have made it perfect.

now that's just uncalled for

Portal 2 - 7.5/10

I totally forgot about this game. As big as it was and enjoyable to play as it could be at times, I guess it just slipped off my radar after awhile. That might be because of its limited replayability. Solve a puzzle once and there really isn't anything else to it, unless you are extremely forgetful. Some of the puzzles were genuinely challenging and mind boggles, and coop with a friend could be entertaining at times. I will probably come back to it in a year or so for another run, but it was never the sort of game I was going to get down on my hands and knees and worship as a god. As much as I like and respect Valve, their most recent games just havn't been kicking it for me as much as their older ones. I'm sure they have something refreshing in the works though.

its kinda scary this chick is more cut than most dudes

Serious Sam 3: BFE - 9/10

Bit of a jump from 7.5 to 9, huh? I guess I didn't really play anything that I felt only just fell short of being awesome. Speaking of awesome, SS3:BFE is the shit. I will probably do a more detailed review of this at a later point, but for the moment this will suffice. After over a decade of waiting, a company, Croteam, has finally decided to pop its head up amongst the sea of garbage and say "Hey, this stinks. Let's go back to the way things used to be", with, in my opinion, resounding success. While there are very slight traces of modern FPS game design in here, some of which are alien in a Serious Sam game (reloading, ironsights, sprinting, melee), they are but minor nuances to the overall experience that is shooting into a horde of monsters while running for your life over some sand dunes. To be fair though, some of those minor nuances can detract from the experience. Reloading gets you killed more often than not, but sprinting is actually a useful addition. Melee is ok I guess, not something you really focus on at all. Ironsights though? I really don't see the point of it being in the game except to make modern FPS players feel slightly more at home ... at least initially. I almost feel Croteam have put it in just to troll you as you won't be using it at all later on (you move slower while ironsighted). Actually, I feel the first few levels are just one big troll fest by the developer, resembling something out of COD or Doom 3 before finally dropping you in an arena and saying "Sup bro? Heard of strafing bro? You'll hear about it now. BRO". The latter levels become increasingly more chaotic, almost to the absurd level. I don't think I have openly swore in joy at an FPS game since UT2k4, so it is kind of sad to know that the game probably won't sell very well. It will inevitably get average ratings and being PC only (for the moment), will be ignored by 99% of the FPS community. However, I cannot see how you could use a controller for this game at all (vertical aiming). Still, the best FPS I have played this year, paying true homage to the oldskool games of skill and fun. Hmmmm. Excuse me ... I have something in my eye ...

come at me bros!!!

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 9.5/10

It is hard to describe this game. There is so much to do and be and kill that it almost becomes something more than a game. Hell, some of the guild based quest lines are more engaging than entire AAA games made today, which is saying a lot. Atmospheric would probably be one word. Immersive would be another. I have made enough posts about it already for my view to be expressed. An excellent game, an excellent PC game (despite a few issues) and as far as singleplayer RPG experiences go, you will be hard pressed to find something better. I think everyone will get something out of Skyrim because it really gives.

i am so totally immersed right now ...

Shogun Total War 2 - 9.5/10

This isn't the final game on this list because it was better than Skyrim but because it is equivalent to it. It is funny that out of the three best games I played this year, one of them was the first game I played. Still, it resounded and lasted all the way up to now, inevitably ranking high for the sheer amount of hours and enjoyment I got from this game. Dominating Japan with a friend in a coop campaign has resulted in some of the most memorable gaming experiences I have had, something that few titles do for me these days. Great soundtrack, solid multiplayer and just an ... enlightening theme is what makes this game. Again, I have mentioned this all before so I won't recant it now.

die motherfuckers!!!

And that's it. These are the games I have played enough of this year to form a solid opinion on. While they are mainly FPS games there is still a decent mix (fighting, racing, RTS, RPG) on both console and PC to not limit myself with. Where is, you may ask, Arkham City, for example? Good question. While I did buy the game this year, I am still yet to finish Arkham Asylum, a game I started late last year. It will likely be one of the games I complete next year at some point. I seriously have too many games to play, with many still to come on the horizon. Most notable are Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Street Fighter x Tekken and undoubtedly Diablo III. Then there's Max Payne 3, Torchlight 2, Farcry 3, Soul Calibur V, Aliens: Colonial Marines ...

... O.o

I think I probably play too many games :S

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The fruits of ones labor

This wont be a long post.

Skyrim is an addictive game. Anyone who has seen me on Steam recently has probably noticed this. I should probably cut back a bit. After my most recent effort, I probably will.

After marrying Lydia, giving her a Daedric Greatsword, Bow and set of armour like myself, I began the insane process of enchanting all of our shit to give us the highest potential damage output that we, combined, could achieve while still maintaining some utility (stamina draining bows, magicka draining weapons, magic resist amulets/rings). Long story short I have resulted with the following weapon. Well, two of them to be precise:

my precious...

Having a wife for a companion in this game is also ... interesting. After reading articles like this it is not hard to understand how people can become attached to certain things in this game. It does a good job of making you care. Lydia was easily the best choice for me, and makes a wicked apple pie, if you know what I mean :). Having another me running around in scary gear also has its merits, especially if I am too busy looting a corpse, confident that she will clean up the rest of the army of bad guys in the room we just walked into. I don't take her out all the time though. Someone's gotta clean the house...

She cooks an apple pie for you and it is good - wtf did you think I meant!?

Anyways, the following two screenshots sum up the result of this ... relatively easy but still time consuming mission to make high quality Skyrim gear. The target is an Elder Dragon, one of the highest HP enemy dragons in the game:

Needless to say I will probably be increasing the difficulty very shortly :S

Edit: Thought I would put this here too instead of making a new post. Fuck I laughed when this happened. Lucky I was frapsing at the time too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Berserker Rage Addendum

Because my previous post's related video inspired at least two people I know to deck themselves in steel and crop the chop, as well as the fact I was still not done with the Skyforge Steel Greatsword, I decided to make another execution compilation video from clips I had left over. This video is my character from levels 15-28 (the previous is from level 12-20) and contains a couple of rare executions you don't see too often (forward thrust, downwards beheading).

As I have picked up on the main quest again, further leveled my smithing and started leveling my enchanting, the game has become noticeably more difficult. Often I will be pitted against enemies decked in steel plate brandishing orcish or even glass weapons, or alternatively multiple mages at once. This has got me thinking about the difficulty scaling in the game and how it seems to scale higher the more progressed you are in your skills (and consequently level), as well as increasing difficulty based on your narrative progression. Essentially what this means is someone who is doing nothing but hit things with a 1h sword and not following the main quest will find the game much easier than someone who is power leveling their skills or primary questline (or both).

What this creates is an interesting, dynamically changing difficulty that isn't overwhelming for newbies getting used to the ropes, but isn't stupidly easy for people who are really getting stuck into multiple things. It is an interesting way to balance a game and certainly allows room for re-playability. I like it.

I will probably make one more post/video about Skyrim before I consider it covered, probably involving me running around in a newly crafted daedric or dragonplate set and doing all manner of funky things with weird enchantments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Berserker Rage

There was a time, roughly a few months ago, when if you would say something like "Skyrim is coming out in November", I would have glanced over at you and delivered the most unsympathetic "meh" I could muster. Truly, that was a time of blissful ignorance, unwavering in the face of hype generated from both friends and the media alike. However, in the last few months, things have changed. It might be due to a lack of a true singleplayer game in years. Perhaps I just wanted to escape from the real world for awhile and feel something akin to what games like WoW and Diablo II did back in the day. Whatever the case may be, I did end up buying The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on day one in a shop in Australia (blasphemy, I know!) and have played it for a solid 40 hrs since release. At this point in time that calculates to an average of 10 hrs a day. Jesus Christ!!!

it is undoubtedly a pretty game

I am not sure why I decided to be a 2 hander wielding, heavy armor wearing orc. Actually that is a lie, I know exactly why. I wanted to hit things. Really fucking hard. To vent some frustration perhaps? Who knows. While I could do this in real life, waving a stick around in the back yard beating the crap out of trees and shit, the observations by onlookers and outcomes thereof would not be entirely desirable. Beating the shit out of entities in a virtual world will suffice for now. Who ever said games were not suitable as stress relief should be beaten to death with a stick. By me.


Really, this is my Skyrim experience in a nutshell: I am a big dude running around hitting things. However, unlike previous Elder Scrolls games, I have not returned to a state of murderous glee, slaying everything and everyone in sight. This might be because I actually paid for this game or because I have matured slightly since my youth, but there is definitely a method to my madness. I make few enemies and I make fewer friends, always choosing the most silent, shortest path should it be available. I build my own equipment, I mine my own ore and I work legitimately for the gold I have earnt (i.e. no stealing). Morally, I think the character I am playing is the type of person I would be should I be placed in the world of Skyrim.


Holy shit ... I am role playing.

Meh. Whatever. It is still fun. Generallly speaking I think I have gone for the easy-mode-pve sway of things with my character's build and playstyle, literally carving through enemies and territories with relative ease. Admittedly, it is simple. Charge at a dude, chop him, crit his face, loot corpse. Repeat. This has been greatly assisted by getting a Skyforge Steel Greatsword incredibly early in the game which is apparently comparable to the Elven and Ebony variations that appear much later. While at times it does feel like god mode, I do have a kryptonite. Mages. Motherfucking mages, especially frost ones, draining stamina and slowing you indefinitely. What was always incredibly one sided in WoW (i.e. warrior vs frost mage) is now the case in Skyrim. My general strategy for countering these pricks is to either funnel them into a choke point and ambush them from a forced point blank range, or strafe in concentric circles, getting closer each time to the (hopefully) out of mana asshole in the middle. Both require appropriate environments to be successful and even then are a gamble at best.


Other than that, there isn't really much to say other than what can be garnered from review sites. The UI is consolified and is a headache to use on occasions. Certain systems could be explained better, especially for newbies (binding weapons, soul gems etc). The NPC interactions still feel incredibly static and unimmersive, though the animations are a vast improvement over the other games in the series. When it comes down to it though, Skyrim has been an excellent hitting simulator and will probably rank as one of the best games I have played this year. I will save that topic for another post though.

For the moment though, enjoy this overly dramatic montage of executions with the Skyforge Steel Greatsword on my Orc berserker:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Rolling Thunder

Inspired by this trailer of the upcoming movie Warhorse, I thought for awhile about my somewhat unhealthy obsession with large groups of equines running over and into things. It would seem that every time I buy a Total War game, the very first thing I do is steer an army of heavy cavalry into a much larger army of peasants (or equivalent unit) and observe the results with childish glee. Who wouldn't? Those peasants with their rags and clubs think they're so good. Got what's coming to them in my opinion.

Seriously though, the horse would have to be the most under-appreciated and almost completely forgotten mammal that has helped mankind get where it is today. For thousands of years they have carried our carts, ploughs and fat arses all over the world for travel, agriculture and especially warfare. I cannot imagine what it would be like charging into battle with a regiment of cavalry, let alone being on the receiving end of one. I imagine the horses would be pretty pissed off though, especially after carrying some poncy British knight half way across the world only to die in the Crusades. Nevertheless, enjoy the following video I made of horses from various movies carrying lazy bastards into battle.

I imagine if I would have been raised on a farm with horses I would probably have become quite a fanatic. May we never have to use these beautiful animals for warfare ever again.

Noteworthy fact:
The last successful horse charge ever performed in a military operation was the Battle of Beersheba (1917) in WWI, performed by the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade. They charged across two miles of open ground in the face of both artillery and machine gun fire. Its probably because the fort had the word 'beer' in it as to why Aussies even attempted it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rage Quit

I really don't know what to make of this game. Game play wise it is probably above average. It is a driving based FPS game with some RPG elements thrown in. I am kind of bored with the whole post-apocalyptic setting in games, especially when they are represented wholly by desert wastelands. Fallout 3 and Borderlands have sated my (apparent) appetite for it long in advance, so it really could just be a case of me not finding the environment interesting. At all. But, I have to say it. Rage looks like shit, and it makes me sad.

It makes me sad for a variety of reasons, the biggest being the simple fact that this is supposed to be iD Game's ( a company I have enjoyed previous games from) new engine technology. Over five years in the making, Rage and its engine are supposed to be the new benchmark for making games. I can see the appeal of the technology (streaming texture/geometric environments) but really, they should have pulled a Crysis and made this for PC only because this sorry console port looks fucking terrible in my opinion. It's not so much the lighting/rendering/polygon count as it is entirely to do with the textures. They are god awful, and the game suffers because of it.

Now I am not usually one to fuss too much over graphics. Sure, I like them. I go to great lengths to see them. Hell, I am a fucking PC Gamer ffs, so it does matter to me. But, if the game play isn't there as well then you won't find me playing it for long. Not to mention I play plenty of games (on console and PC) that you would hardly call state-of-the-art visually. However, my confusion when it comes to Rage has been all the talk about how good the game looks, from console and PC users alike. "Hmmph" I thought to myself, getting my hopes up once again. "Maybe it will look good after all".

Perhaps it is better if I explain my observation in a certain way. The following screenshot of some steps is from Doom II:
Doom II (1994) was also made by iD Games. It uses the same engine as Doom (1993), which for the time was an incredible piece of technology. Sure, you can easily make out the pixels in its 8-16bit texture palette, but for the time it was considered incredibly realistic. The colours/detail of the textures don't detract from the gameplay as everything kinda looks the same anyway, so it all fits nicely. The game is still incredibly playable even today. It is a game I frequently revisit to remind myself about aspects of game design and system architecture as it was a game that pushed your PC to its limits back in the day.

Let's jump a few years ahead. The following screenshot is some steps from Unreal Tournament:
Unreal Tournament (1999) is possibly my favourite game of all time. Released in what I still consider to be the best year in gaming, ever, UT99 was also a game that gave your PC a run for its money. In an era when AGP video cards were actively coming into distribution, games like UT99 were taking things like detailed textures and dynamic lighting very seriously. Besides this, UT99 was enjoyable as hell, looked like a beast and was/is an absolute gem of a LAN game.

The following screenshot is some steps and ridges from Quake III: Arena:
Quake III: Arena, also made by iD Games, was released late 1999. A direct competitor to UT99, it was/is a solid arena shooter. There is perhaps no better arena shooter for measuring skill and efficiency in FPS games than Quake III. It also boasted a significant texture palette, probably slightly better than UT99's and definitely was a benchmark for its time. Unlike UT99, however, it ran quite well on systems due to highly optimized rendering and network code in the format of iD tech's new gaming technology (i.e. iD tech 3).

The following screenshot is from Doom III:
Doom III (2004) was a strange game. It was rather hit and miss for certain audiences, especially those who were a fan more of the frenetic run and gun action of its older brothers. Game play squabbles aside, the game did look great, even with its default textures. Although the game has not aged well, looking rather bad comparatively to modern game's rendering engines, for its time it was considered state of the art.

The following screenshots of some ground is from Crysis:
Impressive huh? Despite the discontent people have for this game (something I have never understood) Crysis (2007) looked absolutely incredible. Taking full advantage of new technologies such as bump-mapping and dynamically lit textures, Crysis made the ground in games look almost photo-realistic. I say almost as, like all textures, repetition patterns emerge if you look at them closely enough (marked above). Nevertheless, it was a minor non-issue to an otherwise stunning game that, admittedly, kicked the shit out of your computer and raped it dead. In my opinion it is the last game to come out that was truly ahead of its time and nothing since then has beat it from a technology-vs-year standpoint.

The following screenshot is of a sidewalk curb in Rage:
WTF is this greasy looking shit covered excuse for a texture doing up in my curb yo?! I think I could vomit onto some dry leaves and come up with something better looking than that. Seriously. This looks fucking horrible, and it is everywhere. All over the damn place. Sure, there are some interesting crease lines and possibly unique cracks in the cement, but jesus christ! Does it really have to look that bad. The problem is, I know this is just a low resolution version of the textures they were actually working with. John Carmack has even stated there is a HD texture pack in the works so the game doesn't look so shithouse on PC. But ... why? Why would they not publish the game with said HD textures in the first place? What possible motive could they have for releasing their game with highly compressed, blurry, indistinguishable textures at all?

.... do I really need to say it?

Don't be fooled. No new engine is going to magically overcome the limitations of hardware that is going on 6 years old. No game studio is going to stop developing for the masses, even at the expense of the quality of their games. Don't listen to people who don't know wtf they are talking about, who are looking through a kaleidoscope from the wrong end. Most of all, don't believe what you see in screenshots solely used for advertising and marketing. What may seem like a beautiful, lens flare filled vista of the vast horizon....
.... is nothing but a fake distraction from the giant turd you are crouching on:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Those are the times

I wasn't originally going to start off this post by talking about this, but sometimes sifting through the mass of utter crap on Youtube can be really depressing. Usually I have posts that are loaded with videos when I am too lazy to discuss something original and sometimes the amount of searching you need to do to find the right videos is fucking absurd. Often you get these shitty videos of a dude with parkinson's disease filming a TV screen on their phone with the holocaust roaring in the background, limiting your ability to both see and hear wtf is going on. Often these videos are the most watched and liked, which I cannot fathom to any extent. I dunno, maybe I am too picky, but I really cannot understand how people can think these sorts of videos are worth even putting on youtube, let alone their constant ability to record stuff while having an obvious seizure.

Anyway, my frustration comes from trying to find some non-hyped up game play of the upcoming CS game Global Offensive. In my frustration in finding anything decent on youtube I have had to look elsewhere, and found something that made me cringe just a little. Basically its CS:GO on Xbox 360 ...

I think what makes it that much more painful to watch (at least for me) is the simple fact that in any of the engagements the guy gets into in the first few minutes would be over in less than a second or two in both CS 1.6 and Source. It's like ... Deagle, point at head, click. Over. Quick, clean, easy. This is CS, the game that birthed the whole 'Boom Headshot' theme (from Pure Pwnage) and here we see two clowns jumping around emptying clips into walls more then they are emptying them into man. It almost looks like a mod for Halo. Maybe the people playing aren't very good, but to me it just shows the obvious difference in control between PC and console for FPS games ... and it bugs me. It bugs me because it should not be considered 'fine' and 'normal' by industry standards, both developer and consumer based.

Nevertheless, branching away from the occasional pile of steaming that Youtube can be at times, one does stumble across absolute gems of video. This is particularly the case concerning an e-sports, fighting game documentary of a player in the US. Taking on the likes of Daigo and Justin Wong at Evo 2010, Mike Ross is the star of FOCUS, an incredibly well put together story about his happenings in the big league of professional Street Fighter IV play.

There are a growing number of videos such as this (e.g. Beyond the Game) emerging slowly over time, which in my opinion can only do good for both the e-sports scene and the gaming industry as a whole. Showing the humanity behind these 'players of games' and exposing the fact that for some, e-sports can and are a profitable venture is a step towards un-demonizing the perspective many people have towards games and game development. Especially in this country.

Roughly this time of the year I start looking forward to things that are on the horizon. While I personally think that this has been one of the best years for games in a long, long time, some of the best stuff is yet to be released. I may just be in a RPG mode, perhaps from playing too much LoL and withdrawal symptoms from WoW, but Skyrim, Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3 are all ranking highly on my list of most anticipated. It would be excellent if we could get a group of us playing Diablo 3 at once, or at least playing it concurrently (not necessarily together). Here's hoping it is as addictive and time consuming as its previous iterations. No surer way of fucking up my PhD research than playing an addictive game too much.

Other than games though (and I should talk about things other than games), the announcement of Evangelion 3.0: The Quickening is also rather tasty. The name though (and I am sure this has been done to death) is rather ironic in the sense that it has been in production for fucking ages. Almost twice as long as the previous installment, which took 50% longer than the one before that. At least Asuka is coming back as a pirate with a sniper rifle this time, shooting things in space. Some kind of cosmic hybrid of LoL's Gangplank and Caitlyn methinks, yarr!

Speaking of LoL (yeah, sif not weave an entire blog post compositionally into some shit about LoL by what seems like random topics), Dominion has been an interesting distraction from classic SR, something that I feel I am infinitely worse at because of it. It is a strange beast though, favouring the tanky dps, mobile and ranged/global ult characters harder than ever. While I find my strongest characters are Ryze, Yorick and Xin, almost every game I play has an enemy Akali, Jax, Rammus, Shaco, Ezreal, Heimer or Gangplank in it. Some of these characters massively counter my favourite picks (e.g. Xin vs Jax) so making a smart choice in blind pick is somewhat impossible. Still, many enjoyable moments have occurred, solo and frequently with friends. The following video demonstrates some of our awesome powah!!

Special thanks to PanicsX, hotpies, MorePieNow, m1ch3ck and fooolishfool for being cannon fodder for the enemy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

To kill a Mordekaiser: Xin Zhao

In addition to that old video of me killing a terrible Mord ... as Mord (so annoying -_-), I thought I would upload one that is even more faceroll as Xin. Technically, since the recent changes to Mord, it is actually a lot harder to 1v1 Mord without creeps because he now generates even more shield off champions. I have also improved the video quality significantly after mucking around with some rendering settings, so this video should look beautiful at 720p at fullscreen. Expect future videos to be just as good.

However, it is worth noting that Mord is almost useless as his early game farm is now rather impossible, provided you aren't fighting brain-dead opponents.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


After many months, it is finally complete. After a weekend of editing and another week of rendering (20 fucking hours for both quality versions -_-) and uploading, Faceroll is finally online.

Recommend watching in fullscreen at 720p. I would force these settings by default but Youtube's new iframe object eludes me and I cannot be fucked figuring it out for the moment.

If you are unable to view the Youtube video (blocked in some countries), or would prefer to download the SQ version as a single file, please use the this Depositfiles link.

Overall, I am not super happy with the final product. This isn't so much because of the number of shots I received, but more so the quality of them. They could be better. More awesome. More exciting. To an extent I have tried to beef up the not so exciting shots with editing that tries to direct the observer, which works to a degree. However I have not went overboard on the editing this time. This is partly because of time available and partly because I think an editor of video should be able to distinguish when less (editing) is in fact more. In principle I have gone for this approach.

I don't think I will edit another big LoL video for at least a year. Until then I would highly recommend Frapsing your own replays because it is unlikely I will be viewing them anytime soon with any form of enthusiasm.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Guessing Game

Usually I will use this silly blog of mine to post some random crap I have been doing or thinking, sometimes in the form of a video but more often in the form of a rant. As much as I would like to think that this space is above the popular and socially acknowledged communication mediums also used for this sort of thing (including crap like Facebook and Twitter) I know that most of the time it probably isn't. Most blogs, including this one, will only ever bring up topics of interest to the author, and while they may be more expository and informative then some fool on Facebook exclaiming how drunk they got last Friday, they really are just more concentrated versions of the same thing. I am interested in things->I write them up onto a place->you digest them and contemplate their meanings. I would like to think they are somewhat less egotistic than say ... the average twitter post ("Hey! Look what I am doing. I am oh so happy!") but I am not so courageous to actually make that claim without some form of quantitative evidence. As much as I may try to justify my actions and fill these posts with things that I believe to be interesting, I know that deep down, even subconsciously, they are but bundled up expressions of the same deal.

The difference is I don't care who reads this.

So, with that out of the way, I will now do exactly what I described above. Often spurred by 'discussions' with certain friends of mine, the concept of what I describe as 'mechanical skill' has been fluttering around in my brain more often than not, for various reasons. This has been further punctuated by random interesting reads in the field of AI such as this, which form part of my weekly research for my PhD. The idea of implementing AI techniques that mimic those performed by human players is an interesting area of the domain, especially in terms of leveling the playing field and creating realistic agent behaviours. It is also ... simply refreshing to see that other people are out there that think like I do concerning the topic, proving that I am at least not entirely crazy (or that there are at least two of us who are). This is especially the case in regards to the amount of criticism I get about my PhD from certain supervisors of mine.

Still, the mechanical skill necessary in games is an interesting game design topic, primarily because it can determine two important factors of a game: the game's learning curve and its overall difficulty or skillcap. Mechanical skill relates to the accuracy, speed and appropriateness of the user's input with the peripheral/s controlling their game play. In simpler terms, how good you are with a touchscreen, gamepad, joystick, keyboard or mouse. Games of all types have varying degrees of this mechanical skill. If you compare something like Angry birds to Tekken 6, you can see this difference factor quite clearly. One has only several button presses a minute whereas the other has tens, if not hundreds (depending on how good you are or how hard you are facerolling).

Eddy Gordo (right) - The epitome of mechanical skill

However, a higher degree of mechanical skill doesn't necessarily equate to a more difficult game. You would hardly call chess a game of extreme mechanical skill, yet it is a game that is viewed to be incredibly complex and skill based to the point where large amounts of money are still being devoted to making the ultimate chess playing AI. Some games of high mechanical skill, such as Starcraft 2, are more to do with sustained repetition and speed of execution. Others, such as Street Fighter IV, are more reaction based with timely input of button combinations at opportune moments. First Person Shooters like Quake 3 have a mechanical input control that can be seen to require extreme precision, above all things. Even Guitar Hero (and clones) has a strong mechanical skill factor that requires some nimbleness and dexterity on the user's part. They are all incredibly skillful games that lean heavily on the mechanical skill side of things, some warranting e-sport status around the globe.

There are others though that may not rank so highly on the mechanical skill side of things, but still considered somewhat skillful games. Racing games and DotA clones fall into this category, some of which also have e-sport status. In a racing game, the number of actions per minute and timing of actions may not be so different from one person to another, yet clear proficiencies in games like Trackmania are obvious in the online community. Here, experience and understanding of the game's physics are more important. In League of Legends, the input and actions of an amateur player may be little different from that of a pro, yet a clear distinction in their skill differences can be seen in other areas (teamwork, knowledge, itemisation, ability to last hit etc). While most, if not all games have some form of mechanical input which inherently requires some degree of skill, not all games have the same depth of input required by the player. This aspect alone is what turns many people on and off certain games. People like your mum.

The learning curve of a game has a significant mechanical skill component to it, many of which can seem demanding at first. Street Fighter 3: Third Strike introduced a parry system that was far ahead of its time and considered too difficult to adapt to, even for veterans. To a person learning to play an FPS game, competency of aim with a keyboard and mouse comes only after many hours of practice. Hitting buttons on a controller is easy enough. Hitting them in reaction to certain events, especially in sequence, comes only after many failed attempts. An example of this can be seen in my attempt to learn how to play Street Fighter IV. Embarrassingly, there was a time when I was so terrible at this game (I still am) that I couldn't even pull off a Super/Ultra combo without repeated attempts. Of course, having endless chances to pull off a combo like that doesn't happen often in the game itself, so it is absolutely essential that a player can perform something like that first time and everytime they input it. Failure to do so results in losing. Even in League of Legends, playing a new champion has subtle differences in mechanical skill as you learn things such as their attack animation, abilities, attack ranges and hitbox size. This may cause you to tunnel vision somewhat when playing them for the first few times, adjusting to their components slowly over time. The first time I played Urgot, I found his control to be bewildering and irritating. Now? It is something I have gotten used to and not generally a problem.

Chogath's hitbox is both a blessing and a curse. It is enormous. Just like your mum.

When it comes down to it though, all human mechanical skill in the moment to moment game play can be based on one's own uncertainty and ability to guess. Whether this be correcting your mouse aim ever so slightly, blocking immediately after dashing, tapping right repeatedly around a corner or getting in range to throw your Ultimate, everything we do concerning mechanical input in games is based on our feedback response with the games output and our desire to make the game state more desirable for ourselves. Often, we don't know what is going to happen, we are merely assessing the visible situation and positioning ourselves in such a way to perform whatever we have in mind most appropriately. This comes in the form of the duration of a keypress, the velocity of a mouse move, the distance of a drawn skillshot and the placement of a cursor. We perform these tasks effortlessly without even thinking, but they are such a crucial and fundamental component of how we play games that they are often disregarded completely in their design. I know this as it is especially the case in the design of game AI.

Basically, I guess this is what I am trying to say: games should focus more on making the mechanical processes required to play them easier for new players. However, this should never, ever be interpreted as making the game easier to play. A game that is somewhat easy to play mechanically will require other areas through which skill can be injected, and if not available, can cause serious problems in terms of player motivations. If anything, it should be seen as the potential for making even more complex control schemes that can be both unique and demanding for players, but developed in such a way that they can adapt to them slowly over time. Then, and only then, will we see humanity pursuing the development of the next chess, instead of consistently simplistic games becoming increasingly playable by everything and everyone.

Including your mum.

Note: Somewhere in here is my usual rant about FPS games and skill. I am sure you can find it.