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Posts Tagged ‘taste’

“Time spent” is not a measure of challenge.  It is not a measure of content.

“Risk” is not a measure of challenge.  It is not a measure of skill.

Too many games are built around time, not content or challenge.

Too many gamers want to be coddled instead of challenged.

Alas.

A few relevant links, thanks to some very eloquent bloggers:

The Lost Quadrant by Stubborn

The “Twit” Generation by Chris

Less Time Doesn’t Mean I Feed on Burgers by Syl

Redefinitions by Tim

edited to add:  What is Skill? by Gazimoff

…and an attendant point: I submit that it’s the desire to string along players and get their sub money that is the root of a lot of the changes in game design that veterans are fussing about.  If these MMO things were sold via “single sale” pricing, the design could easily be “take it or leave it” and pretty much left to be accepted on its own terms.

edited again to add:  Class Warfare by Azuriel

…and then there’s an old relevant article of mine, just in case you need some filler, Full Spectrum Challenge

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I’m of mixed opinion on Allods Online, but I am mostly favorably inclined toward the game.

What they do well, I really like, namely, the lore, the visuals, the interesting class design and character progression, the good writing, the fun exploration, good combat, and perhaps most of all, the business model, at least what I’ve seen of it so far.

And yet, they have some notions about game design that I find rather… unsatisfying, namely, the open world PvP (I detest ganking), the same old DIKU trinity backbone (though it’s more EQ than WoW, what with group focus and crowd control classes) and the use of ships as endgame content reserved for groups.  I think the ships are one significant key to making the game stand out in a saturated market… but I’ve belabored that point already.

In the balance, the game is still fun enough that I want to play it once it goes live (Open Beta starts tomorrow!), and I’ll probably find a good way to give them some money (here assuming the item shop isn’t a complete failure).  It’s just… I can’t help but wish that the game hit all of the high points that I’m looking for.  I wish that it would be all chocolate, no bacon.

And yet… maybe I won’t find a game that does that.  That’s perhaps the biggest problem with a mass market game; it’s designed to appeal to a lot of people, and it’s almost inevitable that any given player will find something that they don’t like.  The trick is to find ways to devour the yummy, yummy bits that you like, while avoiding the greasy, nasty bits.

Of course, that’s all a matter of taste…

In the balance, I’ll be playing Allods Online until I run out of things I find fun, or am overwhelmed by things I don’t like.  I think it will last me a while, though, and for that, I’m grateful.  I wish them well, to be certain, and I maintain that it’s a good game, well worth checking out.  Just… don’t expect perfection.  Look for the good parts, and savor them.

The game will be throwing open the floodgates in their Open Beta February 16th.  Race for the good names!  You wouldn’t want xXKillStealr69Xx to be gone by the time you sign up!

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I’m not a big fan of numbered reviews.

For one, the numerical scale is arbitrary.  A 94/100 doesn’t differentiate much from a 9/10 or a 4/5.  Yes, those are technically different (I do understand math, after all), but the increased granularity of a percentile or base ten model doesn’t change much from the basic five point model.  It’s still just variations on “really like, sorta like, neutral, sorta dislike, really dislike” spectrum, but those are statements of fuzzy opinion.  We can’t have that when Metacritic is waiting in the wings.  (And insanely, some game studios tie bonuses and even salaries to Metacritic scores.  This industry is so messed up…)

Two, the numbers tend to be inflated.  A normal distribution of scores would suggest a bulge in the middle of the data set, but game review scores tend to exhibit this data bulge around the three quarters mark.  A game that scores in the middle of a number scale, a 5 or 50 (or bizarrely, a 2.5 in a five star system… why bother with halves?), will be seen as a failure, when it is precisely in the middle of the possible scores.  Maybe that means the game gets a resounding “meh”, but that’s neither a “retch” nor a “rapture”.  Some may well like the game, despite its warts, while others can’t get past the small bra size.

Again, it often comes back to the simple “like-dislike” scale, but since the numbers are arbitrary and weirdly shifted, they don’t correlate well to a simple scale like that.

More than that, though, there is also the concern of personal preference.  I happen to really like Cogs, a brilliant little sliding tile puzzler I picked up from Steam for $2 during the Christmas blitz.  Its Metacritic score of 73 puts it squarely in “meh” territory in the typical scoring of games.  Braid, a game that seemed poised to bring about the second golden age of gaming simply by its mere existence, has a nice 90 score on Metacritic, but it gets a resounding “meh” from me.  Grand Theft Auto IV and Halo proudly wear their “Universal Acclaim” badge bestowed by Metacritic (complete with breathless fanboy reviews flooding the internet, tallying to 98 and 97 scores, respectively), but I can’t work up more than a resounding “retch” for either of them.  Maybe they mean “universal” the same way that Miss Universe is always an Earth human, or the World Series is pretty much just a United States thing.

Far more useful to me are well-written reviews that clearly state opinions and facts about a game.  I may not agree with them, but if they are well-written and clearly reasoned, I can get a fair bead on what the game offers, especially if I read a spread of favorable to unfavorable reviews and parse the commonalities.  I wrote about this a little bit when I suggested a Punnet Square of difficulty, and how it colored player reactions to Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume (a game I really liked).

Even some “real” journalists don’t seem to like numbers, but wind up using them anyway.  What good is a system that doesn’t accurately convey information, and that the users don’t trust?

So, henceforth, if I’m going to be pinned down to giving a particular game a “rating”, I will be using the following system:

Games I really like will be given the rating of “Fudge

Games I sorta like will be given the rating of “Peach

Games I am ambivalent toward will be given the rating of “Celery

Games I sorta dislike will be given the rating of “Onion

Games I really dislike will be given the rating of “Chitlins

If you don’t like my particular choices, well, perhaps it’s just a matter of taste after all.

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