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Editorial Entertainment Games

A Gamer's Manifesto 823

Posted by Hemos
from the ten-things-i-hate-about-you dept.
Krimszon writes "The top 20 things you always knew were wrong about games, but were afraid to talk about, since you thought that was just the way is was."
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A Gamer's Manifesto

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  • by professorhojo (686761) * on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:06AM (#12676488)
    Ah: jumping puzzles.

    The most annoying part of FPS games, which require you to take a break from gleefully blowing the crap out of your enemies to make meticulously-timed jumps across platforms, like you've suddenly turned into Mario or something.

    Personally, my biggest pet peeve is that the AI in strategy games hasn't advanced significantly in the past 10 or so years. More annoyingly, playing "harder" settings on these games doesn't change anything about the AI, it just lets the computer "cheat" to produce things quicker than you do.
    • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:15AM (#12676548) Journal
      (Good) AI and graphics require huge amounts processing power. The fact is that good graphics attract gamers more than good AI. Look at E3 2005. The demos were all about graphics and how realistic they were.

      Games use finite-state machines for AI simply because the range or variety of moves in each game is limited. And for each move or state, there is a logical reaction, not unlike rock-paper-scissors. It's hard to move forward on intelligence without expanding the variety of plays. Black and White worked because the range of abilities was far greater than any FPS.

      However, for people like myself that prefer strategy and thinking over gfx, we still have the time-tested games of chess, go and sudoku.
      • First of all, nobody hyped the Halo 2 AI much. All the hype was for the Half-Life 2 AI, which got completely killed. I mean, they couldn't even stick to scripted tricks that they know how to do. No, they had to cut a boss and completely script certain scenarios, and the only excuse I've ever heard is that we don't have enough CPU.

        Bring 'em on! By the time I can see HL2 on full detail at a steady 60 fps, I'll be more than able to run their good AI.

        But, Halo 2, although it has intentionally stupid AI so
    • Jumping puzzles in Metroid Prime work very well, thank you very much.

      I didn't play Half Life completely (I didn't like it), but, as far as I got, jump puzzles weren't a problem either.

      That said, why can't I see the feet of characters in FPSs?
      • by Rirath.com (807148) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:29AM (#12676615)
        Jumping puzzles in Metroid Prime work very well, thank you very much.

        I didn't play Half Life completely (I didn't like it), but, as far as I got, jump puzzles weren't a problem either. That said, why can't I see the feet of characters in FPSs?


        Metroid Prime should hardly be called a FPS. It's first person, and you shoot, but it's more a FPS / Platformer hybird. You don't really aim so much as you lock on, and dodge / fight like a platformer. It's unique in the field.

        If you didn't even finish Half Life, you're concerned about your feet in games (Halo 2), and these are the only two examples you give, I'm guessing you don't play too many FPS games. The end of Half Life had some really horrid jumping puzzles, for example.

        The problem has lessened since older games though, Alice was the last really jump-happy game that instantly comes to my mind. Doom 3 had some tricky jumps / platform fighting, but not a heck of a lot. If done right, jumping can add to the complexity of an environment and give the game depth. If done wrong, you are indeed jumping from floating / moving platform A to floating / moving platform B, C, D, and E for no good reason.
        • That Metroid Prime isn't really a FPS doesn't change the central issue - why is it that MP's jumping sequences aren't annoying, and in fact are even FUN, when most times having a first-person jumping sequence is the kiss of death?

          I've played through MP1 twice, and I'm now working on MP2, and I still can't entirely figure this out. What do they do right that no one else can?

          My theory is that, although it's very well-hidden by the art design, the platforms are in fact almost always a uniform distance a

          • by Rirath.com (807148) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:17AM (#12676896)
            That Metroid Prime isn't really a FPS doesn't change the central issue - why is it that MP's jumping sequences aren't annoying, and in fact are even FUN, when most times having a first-person jumping sequence is the kiss of death?

            Well, personally I'd say that has to do with the game type, as well as the reasons you listed. Metroid prime did had great jumping control, it was easy to do, and the camera flowed so smoothly. Metroid Prime was a platformer by design in many ways. It was something you expected from the heritage, something the game planned for and allowed for. The jumping was to get to a new area, or to expand the level design upward and outward, in a more 3D manner.

            In your average FPS, you're not a bounty hunter in a power suit leaping and flipping like spiderman, you're some joe carrying a ton of weapons. When all of the sudden you go from Gordon Freeman, sneaking around Black Messa to Xen, suddenly trying to pointlessly leap around, it's just not built into the game. It kills the belief when you're suddenly leaping over bottomless pits onto little platforms.

            Basically I'd say in your average FPS, it's not just annoying when you miss, it's out of place. As the original poster said, suddenly you turn into Mario. A perfectly normal game starts giving you really silly jumps to make across obviously preplanned routes. It's like if all of the sudden, I was required to start jumping on enemies' heads.
      • by angle_slam (623817) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:49AM (#12676729)
        If you never finished Half Life, you don't understand the complaint: after finishing a bunch of levels of the "Greatest FPS Ever" you get to a level that is merely a jumping puzzle where you have to jump from one thing to another. You'd swear you were transported to a Mario game. Half-Life 2 doesn't have that flaw. There is a tiny jumping part, but it is trivially easy, unlike HL 1, which was surprisingly hard.
    • Unreal AI is good (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mnmn (145599)
      UT AI impressed me. The bots fire in the direction youre running, not where you are. And they actually hide and make mistakes like people do too. I wished the aimbots of counterstrike 1.5 had that kind of intelligence, rather than vibrating all around and having a really good aim
      • I have a friend, who in playing the UT2k4 campaign, was in a 1 on 1 deathmatch with a bot. He stayed one or two ahead of the bot the entire match, up until he was one kill away. The bot then owned his soul, up until the point where he was just one ahead of my friend.

        The bot then hid for the entire rest of the round, and waited for the time to expire.
        It ran away from him, and waited out the clock, causing it to expire.

        They also say that UT2k7, they're completly revamping the AI, to be much, much, much harder. That's perfectly okay with me, I could use a good challenge :)
        • by rsilvergun (571051) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:36AM (#12677016)
          UT2K3 drove me nuts. The enemy bots didn't seem any better than the original UT (which is fine, they where excellent there), but your bots where dumb as bricks. In UT, I'd leave my whole compliment of bots to defend and be pretty sure I could at least get back in time to keep the flag from being taken. In 2k3, they're a bunch of babies or something, requiring constant attention, and can't make it to the bathroom without getting blown to hell, let alone to a flag...
          Sorry, just venting. I loved the game until the later levels. I know the AI's great, but the balance on the bots could've been better. The AI was more than good enough to support it.
      • Sounds like the bot skill was set to a low level and auto-adjust off. UT2k4's AI has a number of problems. At high skill levels the bots break off fighting each other and attack non-bots simultaneously during a frag, their aim becomes riduculously accurate with the most basic weapons and they detect your presence from a distance and fire headshots faster than any human could. They become a teaming clan of 12 year olds with wall hacks and aimbots.
    • by rathehun (818491) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:47AM (#12676724) Homepage
      Anybody play Thief? Harder difficulty actually makes the guards/Hammerites/bad guys more sensitive to where you are, more responsive to your noises...bloody great game!

      Don't talk about loot glint. No really.

      R.

    • by Latent Heat (558884) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:05AM (#12676825)
      Spoiler Warning: I guess it is not much of a spoiler because Attack of the Clones was shown on Fox TV a week ago to get you to go out to see Revenge of the Sith at the movies.

      OK, I am not a gamer and I hadn't seen Clones until last week on TV, but I am interested in graphics and adventure/SF/fantasy/whatever-the-heck-Star-Wars-i s-supposed-to-be. I also channel-flipped into Clones about halfway through, where in a great piece of Lucas dialog, Padme orders Anakin to "follow my lead" and they go into the battle droid factory.

      Something about that part of the movie seemed so cheesy for something as big-budget and hyped as Star Wars, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Padme and Anakin go down this long corridor when suddenly all of those buzzing winged monkey creatures come out of the walls, and then Anakin defends himself and Padme by hacking them up with his light saber. I guess Padme leads by crawling through a hatch to fall into the actual droid factory with Anakin following that lead into the same mess, where they have escaped the buzzing winged monkeys but Anakin not only light saber all of the droids but also dodge these stamping presses of the droid assembly line while Padme rides around in a foundry ladle.

      If it weren't for all of us being fans of the Star Wars franchise, when you think of it, this kind of hero and damsel in peril cliche gets much, much better treatment by the Indiana Jones movies. But there was something I just didn't get about the Clones scene until I read the Gamer's Manifesto post. The hero triggered the alarm and had to fight off hundreds of BWMs (buzzing winged monkeys), for no good reason to the plot or the character or the story apart from when you walk down some long corridor with nothing in it, hundreds of BWMs will appear from seemingly nowhere -- it is just the formula. Also, after escaping the BWMs, you will have to fight droids and have to engage in what I guess is called a jumping puzzle -- avoiding the stamping presses, and I guess, also jumping across moving platforms now that I think about that scene in Clones.

      Not only is single-handed combat against hundreds of BWMs followed by a jumping puzzle a gaming cliche, it has crossed over to become a movie cliche, and I guess it is just as lame in the movies as it is in games.

    • Ah: jumping puzzles. The most annoying part of FPS games, which require you to take a break from gleefully blowing the crap out of your enemies to make meticulously-timed jumps across platforms, like you've suddenly turned into Mario or something.

      That's because kids nowadays don't have any problem solving skills. As my mother , a 7th-8th grade algebra teacher, complained to me last night, "They can't figure anything out on their own. Even their video games don't teach them problem solving. It's all 'jum

    • by Simonetta (207550) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:29AM (#12676968)
      If you're seriously bored with the lack of AI and realism in current games, have I got the solution for you!

      It's called US-Soldier. What a wild game! You don't have to buy it. Just sign up. You start by running around endlessly and having some guy yell at you for trival things. This goes on for weeks while you learn the rules of the game.

      Then, the playing action begins. You get physically relocated to some hot-dry shithole on the other side of the world. Surrounded by thousands of the enemy. You can't tell them apart from ordinary people, but it doesn't matter because everyone hates you just for being there. The enemy has hundreds of years experience fighting new gamers like you. They know all the tricks. They communicate in a special language that you or anyone on your game team can't understand. But they know how you think from watching your television shows and movies. They have a secret religion that enables them to kill anyone without remorse and to accept their own and their fellow gamers deaths without hesitation.

      Such incredible realism in this game. And your enemy's gaming stategy is based on the experience of a permanent hot war that has been going on there since you were born. They were gaining combat experience while you were watching cartoons. They've already made all the mistakes in this combat game and they won't make them again, but you will.

      Just like an arcade game, when you're done playing, you get sent right back to begin again.

      And just like every other video game, no matter how good you get, in the end, you always lose.

      Sign up now!
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Monday May 30, 2005 @01:06PM (#12677545)
      The most annoying part of FPS games, which require you to take a break from gleefully blowing the crap out of your enemies to make meticulously-timed jumps across platforms, like you've suddenly turned into Mario or something.

      When they die, the guys who came up with these puzzles will go to their own personal hell. This hell will consist of a sea of molten, red-hot lava a hundred miles across which they must cross. To get to the other side, they must jump across moving platforms, elevators, and little tiny ledges. The tiniest mistake will cause them to fall into the boiling lava, and then they will have to go right back to the beginning where the last save point was. And they'll be forced to do this for all eternity.

  • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:14AM (#12676538) Journal
    We get so overjoyed every time an enemy actually shoots from cover in a game that we forgive the fact that real, advanced A.I. is as much an unfulfilled promise as the flying car. Where are the FPS bad guys who can adapt their strategy on the fly? Enemies who themselves have six different guns and switch up according to what the situation calls for? Bad guys who work in teams, who strategize, who create diversions to distract you? Where's the enemy Solid Snake who sneaks up on you with the silence of a ninja's church fart?

    While I generally agree with the author's complain, I can recommend him a game with quite decent enemy AI: Operation Flashpoint [bistudio.com]. However, this is also a good example why too good enemy AI can be bad for gameplay. In Flashpoint, you can really be killed by Russian sniper or sneaking soldier just behind your back - but it's as exciting as getting blue screen of death when playing. You just die - and that's it. Personally, I found it surprisingly boring and quite happily returned to totally unrealistic, AI-foolish "Max Payne 2".
    • by MoonFog (586818) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:31AM (#12676630)
      The AI in OF isn't what I would call genious. Rather, it "cheats". I've experienced sneaking through the woods wearing nothing but black. Then lay down and try to snipe someone from 300 feet away. If I miss, he turns and shoots me with a goddamnt AK47 in pitch black without knowing where the shot came from.

      OF is a great game, but as you say, gets boring real quick.
    • 100% Ack (Score:5, Interesting)

      by usrusr (654450) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:42AM (#12676696) Homepage Journal
      "Where's the enemy Solid Snake who sneaks up on you with the silence of a ninja's church fart?"

      this is obviously just another example of the ironic fact that most gamers would make very bad games if they were to design one.

      it's simply amazing how many of them have no idea of what makes a good game.

      they always cry for more, more AI, more realism, more micromanagement etc.

      but all those things have nothing to do with a good game. they might make a good simulation, but games are supposed to be fun, a good simulation would be as frustrating as real life. excluding /. i have real life around me 24/7 and that's for free. if i invest precious time and money for playing a game, i certainly don't want more of the same.

      • Re:100% Ack (Score:4, Funny)

        by flyingsquid (813711) on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:56PM (#12677477)
        but all those things have nothing to do with a good game. they might make a good simulation, but games are supposed to be fun, a good simulation would be as frustrating as real life.

        You don't think real life makes a good video game? I have to disagree. I mean, I thought "Overweight Pimply-Faced Virgin Living in his Mom's Basement" was a blast. The graphics are wicked- you can see every little button on the remote as you're watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" reruns. And the AI is really tough- no matter how you try to get away from them, those junior high school kids track you down and beat you up and steal all your comic books.

      • Re:100% Ack (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MSBob (307239) on Monday May 30, 2005 @01:02PM (#12677522)
        but games are supposed to be fun, a good simulation would be as frustrating as real life.

        Flight simulator would be a good illustration of your point. While I'm sure it's great for aviation freaks it's just cumbersome and tedious for the average player such as myself.

      • In *real life* people attack you like that?

        Wow. You must be on edge all the time.

        For me, real life is filled with people who come up behind me, and then *don't do anything*. They sit down on the bus, or stand in line at the cinema, or whatever. The lack of sudden, lethal attacks is (for me) one of those things that distinguishes real life from the game world.

        Good luck against those ninjas though. I hear they're pretty bad this time of year.
      • Re:100% Ack (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DarkZero (516460)
        "Where's the enemy Solid Snake who sneaks up on you with the silence of a ninja's church fart?"

        this is obviously just another example of the ironic fact that most gamers would make very bad games if they were to design one.


        I beg to differ. One of my favorite parts of the original Half-Life was the two scenes where you're faced with government assassins in a fairly dark room. In the first room, there are only two of them, but their AI and their movement speed are so perfect that the game initially fools y
    • by JayBlalock (635935) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:01AM (#12676797)
      I agree. I don't think most gamers WANT good AI. They want the experience of being super-heroes who can mow down fifty bad guys without breaking a sweat. This is FUN.

      While I know there are people who would truly enjoy the intellectual challenge of out-smarting a really great AI, I suspect those people are few and far between. They would be greatly outnumbered by those who found such contests stressful and very UNfun.

      I point at Metal Gear Solid. Remember how frustrating the Psycho Mantis battle was, until the trick to the fight was revealed? There you go. There's what computer AI could be, if the gloves came off. AI isn't really about making the computer smart enough to beat the player - it's making the computer dumb enough that the player can win.

    • by Illserve (56215) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:13AM (#12676871)
      It's a good thing the gaming industry doesn't listen to players, because we'd all quit playing within a week.

      This guy does have some good points, especially re: obnoxious savepoints, misleading advertising and jumping puzzles, but many times he's asking for things that would destroy the fun of games.

      For example, having instant-save anywhere sounds fun until you have it, at which point you realize there's no challenge to a game. You can just play like an idiot and rewind whenever you make a mistake. At that point you could throw your console controller into a paintmixer and it would eventually "win". Fun = gone.

      And the parents point about "good" AI is excellent also. we enjoy beating up lots of stupid guys in a game because it puts us in the driver's seat, controlling the game flow. If this guy wants good AI's with a selection of weapons, he should fire up some bots in Quake or UT and get his fill of immaculately aimed rail guns up his ass every 5 seconds. Wheee!!!

      That said, a few elements of good Ai *used sparingly and appropriately* will do wonders to enhance immersion.

      Back to the main point, people don't often realize that the things they are aggravated about during gameplay are the same elements that make them enjoy the game when it's done.


      • For example, having instant-save anywhere sounds fun until you have it, at which point you realize there's no challenge to a game.

        I think the point was that a challenging game would have an inherent challenge. A game is not challenging merely because you have to replay 10 minutes of stuff you've already seen to get to the part causing you trouble ... over and over and over and ... That merely challenges one's ability to perform repetitive actions. A truly challenging game would not be harmed by the ability to save your position.

        • Exactly.... anyway, it would make more sense to me if you could save anywhere except that there would be certain "no save" periods, for instance during boss fights. [Probably it should allow you to save then too, but restore your save to the beginning of the no-save period you were in.]

          One thing that drives me absolutely nuts is when there's a hard boss, but also a 10 minute annoying trudge from the last save point to the beginning of the boss. I can deal with the boss fight (well, actually I like it),
      • For example, having instant-save anywhere sounds fun until you have it, at which point you realize there's no challenge to a game. You can just play like an idiot and rewind whenever you make a mistake. At that point you could throw your console controller into a paintmixer and it would eventually "win". Fun = gone.

        Yes, it's true! No (Half-Life) game (Max Payne) has (Thief) ever (Advance Wars) let (Starcraft) you (Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory) save (Psychonauts) anywhere (Baldur's Gate) and been any good.
    • by SilicaiMan (856076) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:33AM (#12676997)
      However, this is also a good example why too good enemy AI can be bad for gameplay.

      Unfortunately, many game designers don't understand what AI in games is all about. It's not about making enemy units smarter so they can kill you faster, since that, as you noted, makes the game boring. The main purpose of AI in games should be to improve immersion and suspension of reality, so you can enjoy the game more.

      For example, in many games enemy units are triggered once you are within a certain distance from them. They will start shooting at you, but once you step outside this invisible circle, they simply turn around as if nothing happened. In this case, improved AI shouldn't be the ability to shoot more accurately, but rather to be able to detect motion at further distances, and react realistically.

  • Totally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Apreche (239272) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:15AM (#12676550) Homepage Journal
    I read this a few days ago, but I gotta agree with a lot of what this guy is saying. Some of his points can be debated, like save spots, but most of them are just dead on, like bad AI.
    I was thinking previously that in the next gen sony and MS were just going to make more of the same games, and that hopefully Nintendo would give us a real revolution in which there are new gaming experiences. However, after reading this I remember there IS still room for shittons of innovation in the current gaming paradigm of a screen, speakers and a gamepad. Nintendo is sort of taking an easy way out by innovating in other areas than these fundamental, obvious and real problems. If the other guys who are making plain old video games with the same old interface can address many of these issues you can be ready for some games that will sell by the millions.
    Maybe this is how there will be a PC gaming comes back. If the next gen consoles dont' fix these things, perhaps some newer PC games will buck the trend and we'll have us a revival.
  • by cyrix (882273) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:18AM (#12676563)
    The simple fact is that gaming companies have dropped the "let's be innovative and unique" idea long long ago. What was the most innovative and unique game to come out last year? Katamari Damacy? Donkey Konga? And how many copies did these games sell? The bulk of the gaming world unfortunately resides in the teenager category. And what do these kids want? Well look at how they dress or what they're into. These kids want something that they think will make them look cool, IE: the most overhyped product to come out. Take GTA: San Andreas for instance, that game to me was a big fudge up compared to VC. First they promised us so many things, then didn't deliver. Some of the things they did give us were lacking some of the depth and options they said they'd give us. Very few game developers want to take a risk due to the high cost of development. And most studios won't let them even take that risk even if they have a cash cow. If the game does bad the company is basically done for given the fact it probaly cost them at least 5mill to develope it. So what do we REALLY need? Either lower development costs, or more expensive games. Why? Because the average gamers again doesn't care about what has great gameplay or something unique to it, they want what the game with the best graphics, the most hype, and the one they're friends are likely to get. Yeah I probably screwed that up somewhere.
    • IE: the most overhyped product to come out. Take GTA: San Andreas for instance, that game to me was a big fudge up compared to VC. First they promised us so many things, then didn't deliver. Some of the things they did give us were lacking some of the depth and options they said they'd give us.

      I'd really like to hear some specifics. Because VC was probably my all time favourite game until SA came out... and now I find that going back to VC is like going back to GTAIII after playing VC .. there's just so m
    • Today, console games have high cost of development because the systems are so locked up. You need to license a development console and the SDK from the console provider for big bucks, and not everyone gets the license anyway. Then you need to pay the console manufacturer for each box sold.

      It's just impossible for a small company to create a small, nice, innovative game for a console. A new great idea along the lines of Tetris would never make it, no matter how addictive or playable the game was. All the n

    • the bulk of the gaming community is NOT teens, its young men, 18-30.
  • I eagerly bought one of the first generation PS2s when they came out, in the hope that ps2 game developers would continue the playstation tradition of releasing good war strategy games. Games like Command and Concur, or Allied General, or maybe a decent civilization type strategy game. But no. So now the damned thing sits idle because I got sick of playing car crash and kill games (grand theft auto), FPS games (red faction et all), I never liked the final fantasy games, etc etc etc. I like pretty graphics. But this 37yo wants a game that takes more planning than pressing a button to take out the enemy or jump at the right time. I'm bored with these damn games and haven't bought a new one in over a year. That can't be good business. How 'bout some better games folks? --M
    • by the phantom (107624) * on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:46AM (#12676720) Homepage
      I must agree. Command and Concur was a great game. It is always nice when you give an order, and units agree to follow it. ^_^
      • by Richard Steiner (1585) * <rsteiner@visi.com> on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:25PM (#12677287) Homepage Journal
        I can't count the number of times I've caught a Harvester in C&C gazing longingly across a river at a tiny little patch of timberium that it can't possibly get to, or getting so drunk after filling itself that it decides to wander over to an enemy base get a really close look at an enemy turret.

        Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! :-) :-)

        Damn things need a babysitter.
      • by Skevin (16048) on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:56PM (#12677479) Journal
        Excellent comment, sir, although the game was called Commend and Concur. It was the corporate office brown-nosing game, sir, but I'm sure in your vast experience and knowledge you already knew that, sir.

        It was a simulation of sitting in long bored-room [sic] meetings where you lose points for falling asleep, but gain points and status for being agreeable to the lecturer's ideas, hence the name of the game.

        I rank this game as follows:
        Addictiveness: 10 out of 10. At my current job I play this game for 8 hours a day in lieu of my real responsibilities, only breaking long enough to eat a 30 minute lunch. Every single day.
        Interface: 10 out of 10. Commend and Concur forgoes the traditional controller setup and makes use of verbal commands and body language to play the game. Certain system functions, like pausing, must be executing with undocumented verbal commands such as "I need to use the bathroom", but you cannot pause indefinitely.
        Immersion: 10 out of 10. Creepily realistic graphics - I couldn't tell the difference between this and real life.
        A.I.: 2 out of 10. The other humans in the meeting room are often devoid of life and anything creative to say. Programmers, please remedy this in the sequel.
        Playability: 10 out of 10. You can play this game without thinking-... wait! I am playing this game without thinking! In fact, I'm typing up this Slashdot comment while I'm playing this game.

        Solomon Kevin Chang
    • by Punko (784684) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:53AM (#12676753)
      2 comments on this:

      Don't buy a console for anything other than mindless FPS, side scrolling Mario gams, and racing games.

      Stop the developers from lowering the standards of gameplay to suit consoles. Thief: Deadly Shadows was a middling-quality game utterly ruined by the limits imposed so the publishers could sell it to xbox owners. They had to dumb the game down, and sever the levels into small pieces to suit the xbox. This ruined the immersive environment totally.
    • by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:24PM (#12677280)
      With all due respect, that does seem rather like buying a hammer so you can bang screws in more efficiently.

      The reson for your complaints? That would be because all the strategic, intellectual, clever, thoughtful games for the PS2 are... on PC.

      Seriously, dude - you buy a console, aimed squarely at fast-paced arcadey twitch-gaming (the occasional good strategy/RPG notwithstanding), then slate it because it doesn't do well what it patently isn't designed for?

      Like I said, there's a market segment catering to the very areas you identify - it's called PC gaming. You even list your "ideal" games in the post - C&C, Allied General, Civilisation - see any connection? They're PC games.

      Buying a PS2 for lobotomised knock-off PC strategy titles is like buying a hammer to install screws. You might be able to do it, but it's patently obviously The Wrong Choice.

      The console marheteers know their audience - you've just bought the wrong product, is all.
  • by Kjuib (584451) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:22AM (#12676581) Homepage Journal
    You walk into a room full of traps and puzzles to disarm them... you are well on your way to getting through the room.. when suddenly.. BAM! You have just stepped on a tile that locks the way out. What do you do now? Leave the way you came in... and PRESTO! all the traps are reset and everything is back to how it was before you entered earlier.... that always gives me a chuckle or two...
  • by Nonoche (138802) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:26AM (#12676594)
    "How in the name of Islamic Fonzie did we ever let games get away with "Loading..." screens? The Gamecube doesn't have those, not on the games made by Nintendo. Hell, the 8-bit NES didn't have load screens 20 years ago."

    Bwahahaha... that guy gotta be kidding on that one
  • by gullevek (174152) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:29AM (#12676613) Homepage Journal
    seriously. One of the best games I have ever played is Lumines, and it was the cheapest game for my PSP.

    Anyway, the article is so right in every point, and it just shows my double why I don't play much games anymore, and why I haven't bought a PC in more than 5 years ...

    FSPYQIS ... I know I am bloody registered!
    • by jdludlow (316515) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:42AM (#12676697)
      OB reference to... NetHack [nethack.org]. Still one of the most amazing and fun games ever made. If you don't cheat (i.e. play from backed-up save games) it's really frustrating, but in a good way. You know why you died, and almost every time you know that it was squarely your own fault and easily avoidable. (Yes, gnomes sometimes step on polymorph traps, turn into a mumak, and trample you to death, but those are rare events.)

      The game keeps you coming back for --more--, time and time again.

      • Roguelikes in general are really quite amazing. I prefer Angband, but we've all got our tastes.

        For an absolutely amazing game series, try Geneforge [spidweb.com]. Low on graphics, but includes almost non-linear gameplay in an incredible RPG. Best of all (I think) they give you a HUGE demo to play around in - the first quarter of the game or so, maybe a bit less. And, there's 13+ endings in each of the games, so you keep coming back for more. Completly awesome games.
  • This guy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot AT monkelectric DOT com> on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:31AM (#12676628)
    This guy has *really* put his finger on exactly whats wrong with videogames.

    Maybe it goes back to what you grew up with, but the videogame "Type" that I always loved the most was "Adventure Games". I was a major Sierra and Lucasarts junkie as a kid ... I lived for each release of Kings Quest, Monkey Island, Quest for Glory, Sam and Max, Day of the Tentacle, etc ... then then doom came out (yes I know wold3d was first, but doom was the *BIG* hit) and Adventure games stopped getting made, and videogames got dumbed down forever. Instead of intellecutal challenge and witty writing, we got button mashig, searching for ammo, and looking for what switch opened that door. Grim Fandango (1998) was the last *GREAT* Adventure game. To put it in the words of a friend of mine, "I actually feel a sense of loss that the game is over, like someone has died and won't be a part of my life anymore." Has anybody ever felt that way about a FPS?

    • Re:This guy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:38AM (#12676672)
      I was expecting a fluff piece, but it's surprisingly accurate when it comes to listing the weaknesses of modern games.

      Allow me to add one more:

      NO MORE DAMN 5-CD INSTALLS!

      We've had DVD-ROM drives for YEARS, and most people have burners now. PUT THE DAMN GAME ON A DVD AND QUIT WASTING OUR TIME!

      It's much easier to install (and store) a single DVD than the massive CD case that comes with the game (or an armload of flimsy paper sleeves (ala WoW)).

      N.
    • Planescape: Torment (Score:3, Informative)

      by why-is-it (318134)
      Grim Fandango (1998) was the last *GREAT* Adventure game.

      I really liked the art deco style of Grim Fandango, but it was not the last great RPG. That title belongs to Planescape: Torment (1999). It has storytelling like nothing else before or since. What a shame it never sold well...

  • by jdludlow (316515) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:31AM (#12676631)

    Almost every game does this. In Lord of the Rings: Return of the King there's actually a "run out of a crumbling building" level and where stones rain down on your head and block your path. So the biggest difficulty in the level is that you can't jump over a knee-high stone because THERE IS NO FUCKING JUMPING IN THE GAME.

    This one really hits home, because it's exactly the reason that I didn't buy Guild Wars [guildwars.com]. Yeah, it might be a really fun game otherwise, but it's like your character is on rails. Hey, there's a cliff. I think I'll run off the edge... hmmm, nope there's an invisible wall preventing me from moving. In a game that's supposedly a cross between FPS and MMORPG, this is just super lame.

    For all of it's fault, at least in WoW I could explore terrain, climb mountains, and roam aimlessly if I wanted to.

  • I consider myself a good game critic. This article was right on about just about everything ... except:

    As a rule, a console is a better game machine than a cheap PC because all it does is play games.

    A console is a DUMB PC COMPUTER! All it does is play games - of one variety. I can play console games from multiple consoles on my PC.
    And it's upgradeable.
    AND ... ... free pr0n.
  • I don't agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xv4n (639231)
    He's only complaining about his gaming preferences. I don't think the FA applies in full to every game-player.
    • Re:I don't agree (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NickFortune (613926)
      Disagreeing is of course your privilege. However the interesting thing about this article, really, is the degree to which the author's preferences reflect the consensus of the gaming community.

      Personally, I've yet to seean article that says "I want stupider monsters, more ammo starvation, I don't think I pay enough per minute for my MMOGs, nd every game in the world should be a post-apocalype first person shooter". Of course, that may say more about the sites I read than it does about by gamer consensus.

  • by Alef (605149) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:43AM (#12676701)
    It has to do with the fact that both the XBox 360 and the PS3's Cell CPU use "in-order" processing, which, to greatly simplify, means they've intentionally crippled the ability to make clever A.I. and dynamic, unpredictable, wide-open games in favor of beautiful water reflections and explosion debris that flies through the air prettily.

    Wherever did he get this idea? It is completely unrelated. "Unpredictability" only harms in-order processing at the scale of single assembly instructions (nanoseconds). A good bot should hardly do something unpredictable more often than once every other second.

    And for that matter, more advanced AI algorithms, such as ANN or SVMs, are usually massively parallelizable and very easy to predict. The Cell would be ideal for such applications.

  • IAAGD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaestroSartori (146297) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:43AM (#12676703) Homepage
    I was going to write a long point-by-point discussion (and partial refutation) of the points listed in this article thing. It would of course take forever, no one would read it, and the problems would still be there at the end of it.

    Most of the things in the article (having shorter load times, better AI, no invisible borders, etc) are things decent game developers strive to do on every title. However, many of these problems are hardware-bound (you can only stream data from dvd so quickly regardless of how you optimize your code), knowledge-bound (AI isn't exactly a solved problem is it!), or practicality-bound (yeah, "come up with a new genre" is easy to say, you do it, find funding, get it published, etc.)

    Another few quick points -

    "bullshit" about graphics is indeed bullshit, but it *sells games* and people put up with it for some reason. Trade description laws might well apply, if they do, use 'em!

    Save points are a fairly nice way of saving progress in a completely linear world, like for instance Halo. Less so in free-roamers like Resident Evil, but thats just my opinion. I can see why developers use them, and I've worked on games which have them in, and its better than the alternative. They're not there to save space!

    Sports game commentary will suck for quite some time, game DVDs aren't 9Gb (usually, anyway), and commentary is difficulty not because of how much speech you record...

    "Superimposing shit" on the screen is going to happen until you can come up with a way of conveying all information without text (or sound, because deaf people play games too y'know). Even cunningly hiding it like in The Movies isn't getting rid of it.

    And do you have some kind of magical map that shows you floor layouts of places you've never been before? No? Didn't think so. How do you find your way around? Exactly.

    Hmm. This turned into a huge post. :(

    • Re:IAAGD (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ffrinch (586802) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:27AM (#12676950)

      And do you have some kind of magical map that shows you floor layouts of places you've never been before? No? Didn't think so. How do you find your way around? Exactly.

      Yes. It's usually on the wall of the lobby.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:36PM (#12679508)
      The problem is that many game universes are too self similar for people to visually find their way around. Yes, that's how we do it in real life, we don't have a map but we use visual clues to figure out where we are and navigate. However even in fairly bland areas/buildings in the real world, there is plenty of variance to cue in on. People put posters on the walls, surfaces take damage at different rates, the light is different in different parts of the building, etc. There also are a whole bunch of people walking around that you can go and ask, and they'll help tell you where to go, not just deliver a scripted response.

      Many games lack that. Now it's not the designer's fault entirely, there are real limits to the amount of textures you can load in a card at the same time, but it's still a problem. You find yourself lost without a map because everything looks the same, and there's no one to ask for directions.

      Everquest is an excellent example of this. I was always getting lost in zones because you'd have this wide open space, nothing descript anywhere and your "find direction" ability worked for shit. Even if I go in to the middle of the desert out here, I still am not nearly that lost, the landscape has variances, there are major landmarks (like mountains) that I can cue off of, and the sun is always there to help you know which way is which (unconsciously usually).

      So if you develop a world that is very rich in detail, where everything truly looks different, then on you can argue people don't need a map. However if you find people who haven't played your game getting lost all the time, sorry, your world doesn't cut it, a map is a good idea.

      There's also the fact of how much you take in at once in a game. You are limited to a 90 degree FOV and looking around isn't natural. Moving the point of view is associated with moving your character, and is generally a conscious action. It's not like eye movements and even head movements, which we tend to do all the time automatically. Thus there's less information for a person to cue in on to figure out where they are.

      Generally I think maps are a very good idea in games. Being lost isn't fun, and a map just makes sure that never happens.
  • True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:46AM (#12676717) Homepage
    Its so true.

    If you want a game that's truly a challenge, it will have to be against human opponents.

    Things like Counter-Strike (without cheats), fighting games (Tekken, DoA, etc), or occasionally strategy games (C&C, Empire Earth, Civ).

    Everything else is too easy. The only difference between easy and hard on some games is the amount of enemies. Granted, yes, that does make it harder, it doesn't make it any more exciting. There's only so much enemy-slaying you can do before it loses its excitement.
    • Re:True (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tri0de (182282) <dpreynld@pacbell.net> on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:41AM (#12677043) Journal
      You might be right, but for those of us with lives and families online gaming can be a pain.

      I only have a few hours a week to play games, and those come at odd an unpredictable times; thus it is a royal pain to log onto a server of join a clan, etc.

      Hell, I play games because I want to gedt the hell away FROM having to interact with other people! :-)

      Give me the following:

      1- GREAT AI
      2-unpredictible replay
      3- DVD install
      4- supreme realism (e.g if you get shot with a 9mm round your subsequent performance WILL be seriously impared, DOH)
      5"good enough" graphics - nice but will not make up for bad design as afar as the immersive experince goes.

      Do the above and I'll gladly pay $100 or so several times a year for a good PC game. I'm 44, I've been playing games since Spacewar in 1976 and rebuilt my whole PC to play Wolf 3d when it came out; cost is not an issue, quality is.

      No slam on teens and 20 somethings, was there and still think that the average gamer is above average intelligence, but my demographic is a little different.

  • by JayBlalock (635935) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:50AM (#12676734)
    I've gotten really sick of arbitrary level design. What really irritates me is that they don't even TRY. They *could* make the door some sort of super-duper HellForce-powered starship-grade forcefield... but they don't. It's just a door. And despite having enough weaponry on you to level Myanmar, you have to find a key.

    Basically, I think the rule is: a gamer should NOT be aware of the cruel hand of God fucking with him.

    If you ever say, "Damn you, (programmer)!" then there is something wrong. (well, unless Will Wright is peeing on you [penny-arcade.com], but that's another story) There should never be moments so arbitrary or evil that you're snapped out of the game universe to curse the designer. A door which you JUST walked through should not suddenly be locked, for no reason at all, just to prevent you from going back to that save point you passed two rooms before. (I'm looking at you, Metroid Prime 2 - and your older brother DIDN'T DO THIS!)

    Or if you're near the endgame... You've got all the keys and magic spells... And all you have to do is march into the Temple and kill the evil wizard... this is NOT the time to make you go on a scavenger hunt all over the fucking map for a ludicrously high number of pieces of an arbitrary key which has no purpose except to draw out the last act! *cough*WindWaker*cough*

    (if I pick on Nintendo, it's because if any game design company should know better, it's them)

    It's really simple. Just ask yourself - if this were a MOVIE, would I believe in this event? (Paul Anderson and Uwe Boll movies excepted) Would I believe that the characters need to spend three months item-gathering? Would I believe it's necessary for the heroes to take a break from the plot to crossbreed giant chickens? Could I conceive of a world in which a character is unable to climb over a ten-inch high barrier?

    If the answer is "no" then there is no excuse for having it in the game.

  • by Espectr0 (577637) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:56AM (#12676773) Journal
    Why isn't a there a spy game where we actually get to be a real spy rather than a hallway-roving kill machine? You know, where we actually have to talk to contacts and extract information and tap phones and piece together clues, a game full of exotic locales and deception and backstabbing and subplots? A game where a gun is used as often as a real spy would use it (that is, almost never)?

    I take it that he didn't play Deus Ex (the original). I think it is the best game of all time. It is rumored that you could win the game without shooting a bullet.
  • by lokedhs (672255) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:01AM (#12676795)
    I don't play many games. The main reason I don't is for the same reasons he lists.

    However, I do play a lit of simulators. Mainly flight simulators, but also more "down to earth" simulators like Operation Flashpoint. These games need to have great AI, because they would be completely unplayable if not. They also usually have a physics model unparallelled in any other type of game. Take a look at IL2 Sturmovik [il2sturmovik.com] for a good example.

    Imagine that... There already exists games without artificial barriers, with great AI, with real physics, no indestructible doors and realistic movement.

    I guess the problem is that as soon as you make such a game, it suddenly becomes a "simulator" and therefore not interesting anymore for most game-playing consumers. That's why unrealistic crap like Ace Combat sell way better than the realistic counterparts.

  • Might I reccomend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jearbear (10099) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:05AM (#12676821) Homepage
    Uplink [uplink.co.uk] a fantastic small game by introversion [introversion.co.uk] and ported to the mac by ambriosia [ambrosiasw.com] (whom I adore) - yes, it's not a PRETTY graphics based game, and it can be a bit cheesy at times, but VERY immersive, and puts you in a fundamentally different role than a shot-em-up or make-my-army-win kind of game. Darwinia isn't half bad either.
  • by Markus Registrada (642224) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:12AM (#12676863)
    Probably to most of you this will mean nothing. For those of use who grew up in the 70s, though, and saw these damn posters everywhere...

    Gamer's Desiderata [cantrip.org]

  • by xeno-cat (147219) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:21AM (#12676915) Homepage
    FTA:

    "I understand you can't have infinite space, guys surfing right off the mountain and taking a snowboard tour of Asia. But put a cliff there. Cliffs are solid. Empty air is not solid."

    Tribes II had, as best I could tell, a totally unlimited play area. You could stray from the "battle zone" and litteraly just fly for ever. And the terrain it generated remained the same as you flew back, so it wasn't just recycling. I had got into a couple duels where me and the other guy fought until we could no longer see the battle area. Now that was a fight that sucked to win.

    Kind Regards

  • Multiplayer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Radical Rad (138892) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:25AM (#12676938) Homepage
    Chances of that happening...

    Almost zero. One, there's more and more focus on multiplayer for this sort of game. This takes some of the pressure off programmers because in multiplayer, other humans supply their own A.I. Even the ones who are complete morons.

    Not only that but they ought to work toward creating a multiplayer experience that is more realistic. Just because some twelve year old kid is controling that enemy soldier doesn't make the game any more fun than if it were just a bot. Every time I have gotten into a multiplayer game hosted on the internet it turns out to work about like this: Every player runs blindly through the level like they are crazy and high on methamphetamines shooting everything they see. If it is a team game then the only change is to shoot everything they see but stop if they realize it is their own team's color. How many soldiers do you think charge through alleys shooting people and picking up ammo and flak jackets? Their have been a few but they usually get awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. For anyone that wants to go back home, that's a sure way to make the trip in a body bag. Multiplayer games should be designed so that wild hotdogging heroes buy the farm just like in real life.

    • Re:Multiplayer (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dcam (615646)
      I'd agree with you in general. The point is that there is little penalty for dying.

      In some games there is. Take counterstrike for example. If you die, you lose any weapons you might have bought, which means you may be short of money. You don't want to go from being kitted out with armour, deagle, full kit of grenades and para to just deagle and grenades. Also you have to wait for the round to finish before you respawn.

      CSS is the only game I play regularly online.
  • by daVinci1980 (73174) on Monday May 30, 2005 @11:33AM (#12676998) Homepage
    (I've developed several titles, including the top selling PC game a few years ago. And no, not the Sims.)

    1. Give us A.I. that will actually outsmart us now and then.
    Actually, this is the point of the cell processor. The cell is meant to allow lots of pipelined tasks to happen with little additional overhead. This means that the difference between a "simple" AI and a complex "AI" (in terms of performance) is little different. And the cell is actually seperate from the RSX, which is the graphics chip from NVIDIA.

    2. Give us a genre of game we've never seen before. Something that's not an FPS or an RPG or Madden NFL or...

    The fallacy of this statement is laughable. Games don't simply exist. The reason that a particlar game genre is produced again and again is become you asshats keep buying them. Again and again and again. Want more games like Katamari Damacy? Then buy the game. No, pirating a copy doesn't count. Want games of alternative genres? They're out there. They're just not advertised and they're not always available at your local Best Buy. They will often be at your smaller game store, or available online. So get off your lazy ass and go vote with your dollars.

    3. Don't bullshit me about your graphics
    We wouldn't have to, except that by the logic in argument 2 this seems to be the #1 thing that people care about. You vote with your dollars. Your mouth is saying "graphics don't matter" but your wallet says "grapihcs are all that I care about. Shit in the box as long as the graphics are top notch." Doom 3, Unreal 3, Half-life 2... All top sellers because of their stellar unrelated gameplay?

    4. Nipples?
    5. And on the opposite side of the nipple coin...
    A game these day costs in the tens of millions of dollars to release. A company is simply not going to risk that kind of green (and possibly the fate of the company) on an analyst's hunch. There has to be something more than a gut feeling to release that kind of game. I mean, when's the last time you bought a Japanese dating simulation? (NSFW) [jlist.com]

    6. All of the new consoles will have hard drives. Use them.
    Agree.

    7. Loading...
    As soon as you come up with a mechanism to physically get 16 megs of data off a DVD rom faster than 1 second, I'll be all over improving load times. It's truly staggering how much data has to be loaded from disk and how frequently it has to be done. On the PC, fire up ye old task manager sometime and turn on the I/O stats for the process. Then be shocked as your game loads multiple gigs of data from disk over the run of the game. All in the name of that "immersion" you're looking for.

    8. I understand that John Madden was raised by wild boars...
    This hooks in with #7. Bottom line, consider the requirements of this. It's a simple M*N cost to have more sounds. (M events by N events per sound, assuming a flat distribution of sounds). Of course, one could argue (successfully) that an increase in all sounds isn't necessary, and just in the sounds that come up again and again. Of course, you could also forsake the Madden franchise in favor of a lesser known football series. (This would also have the side benefit of ceasing to support the EA cartel.)

    9. Immersion and the invisible hand of God
    Agree. This is generally just laziness (or a very tight schedule).

    10. And while we're at it...
    I sort of agree here, but I see the other side of the coin as well. I mean, if I let you get to areas that aren't important for gameplay, then I need to populate them with content. You also might become lost and frustrated, which is something I don't want to happen either.

    11. And while we're still at it...
    I agree, with the caveat that this is a genre-specific complaint. For example, I don't mind health bars imposed in an RTS, because I realize it's just a game that I'm playing. On the other hand, having numerous hea
    • by mad.frog (525085) <[moc.knilknirc] [ta] [nevets]> on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:39PM (#12677379)
      An excellent response, wish I could mod you beyond 5. I worked with Mr. daVinci on that very same game, so let me amplify a few points:

      2. Give us a genre of game we've never seen before. Something that's not an FPS or an RPG or Madden NFL or...

      It's not merely that people are buying the same-old-stuff, but also that it costs so freakin' much to make an "A"-list title these days... if you are fronting the millions of dollars it takes to produce a title, I guarantee that you want assurance you'll see a return on your investment. As with Hollywood, most publishers (large and small) would rather take the shitty-but-safe route of Yet Another Pile Of Adam Sandler Horseshit than risk their money on an indie. It would be nice if the industry was about making "art", but to exercise one of the best movie quotes ever: "It ain't about art! It's about percentage!"

      5. And on the opposite side of the nipple coin...

      Um, "dating simulation"?

      Clearly, I've been married and out of the "dating" scene waaaaaay too long if that's what constitutes dating these days... :-)

      On the other hand, the exclusive deals that EA has inked with football is utterly deplorable and should be called what it is: a monopoly tactic

      If I were an EA investor, I might call it a savvy business deal; certainly, the NFL has the right to license their property as they see fit. But as a former EA employee who has sworn to never purchase or play another EA game as long as I live -- and also an avid fan of videogame-football (Sega 2k5 was awesome) -- I have to say that I hope Mr. Probst & Co roast in hell for this deal. (That said, hopefully Midway's upcoming non-NFL-related football game will live up to the hype...)

      So for example, you might have a game with 10 2-hour long episodes, each of which sells for $10-20. Wouldn't this really be preferable if they were released every 3 months or so?

      Absolutely! Personally, most games are too freakin' long for me to finish these days anyway... I have other stuff going on in my life. I'd much rather have 10 hours of *solid* gameplay,(with a nice beginning, middle, and end) than 40 hours that have been padded out with Yet Another Level Of Shooting Grunts And Dodging Critters... I'm too old (and slow) for all the reflexes to hold my interest for that long! Give me a *story*, dammit... at least of comic-book quality. (And no, "Demons have invaded the earth and you must kill them" is not a story. It's an excuse.) Can't some enterprising company hire someone like, say, Brian Azzarello / Warren Ellis / Alan Moore to put a storyline worth a damn into a game?

      I'll take this one step further and argue that jumping puzzles aren't fun *anywhere*.

      Amen! It's time for "jumping puzzles" to join crates as "sign the game designer ran out of ideas or time and is just trying to pad out his level requirements..."

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2005 @01:44PM (#12677761)
      1. Give us A.I. that will actually outsmart us now and then.
      Actually, this is the point of the cell processor. The cell is meant to allow lots of pipelined tasks to happen with little additional overhead.


      Yeah, that's what game developers said about the PS2's "emotion engine" and pretty much every console CPU since the Z80. The PS2 was supposed to enable AI that could beat a Russian grand master at chess, instead we got another generation of guards who forget they're looking for Solid Snake as soon as he leaves the room. The raw number-crunching power may be there, but I suspect it'll be used to calculate the effects of the sun's gravity on bouncing breasts in "DOA: Extreme Jell-O Wrestling" long before making enemies smart enough to cover each other's advances and shoot from behind a rock...
    • 2. Give us a genre of game we've never seen before. Something that's not an FPS or an RPG or Madden NFL or...

      The fallacy of this statement is laughable. Games don't simply exist. The reason that a particlar game genre is produced again and again is become you asshats keep buying them. Again and again and again. Want more games like Katamari Damacy? Then buy the game.


      Um... I did. Actually, I went in halves for a used PS2, *then* bought Katamari Damacy, making its effective cost to me $85.

      Despite my doin
  • by Chris Carollo (251937) on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:21PM (#12677257)
    I'm a professional game developer, and for the most part I think this guy's a moron. Here's why:

    Where are the FPS bad guys who can adapt their strategy on the fly? Enemies who themselves have six different guns and switch up according to what the situation calls for? Bad guys who work in teams, who strategize, who create diversions to distract you? Where's the enemy Solid Snake who sneaks up on you with the silence of a ninja's church fart?

    First, many enemies DO adapt their strategy on the fly. Many enemies DO switch weapons when appropriate. Many enemies DO work in teams. The problem is, AI isn't about the NPCs, it's about the player, and for the most part AI advances would be in areas that the player doesn't notice. Getting snuck up on? Not fun. Fun is all about keeping the player informed about what's going on so that they can react and devise and enact their own plans. There are a number of ways that AIs need to be improved, but these aren't really among them.

    It has to do with the fact that both the XBox 360 and the PS3's Cell CPU use "in-order" processing, which, to greatly simplify, means they've intentionally crippled the ability to make clever A.I. and dynamic, unpredictable, wide-open games in favor of beautiful water reflections and explosion debris that flies through the air prettily.

    You've GOT to be kidding me. In-order instruction hurts the performance of the processors but allows them to be much simpler (and thus allows the Xbox360 to have 3 on a single core). AI is not hurt by this in the least. It's just ridiculous, and it's clear he's got absolutely no clue what he's talking about.

    Why isn't a there a spy game where we actually get to be a real spy rather than a hallway-roving kill machine? You know, where we actually have to talk to contacts and extract information and tap phones and piece together clues, a game full of exotic locales and deception and backstabbing and subplots? A game where a gun is used as often as a real spy would use it (that is, almost never)?

    I worked on Thief, and let me tell you, we did basically this. And guess what? Didn't sell for crap. Action is fun and interesting. The game he's describing sounds like a bore.

    And as far as why we don't come up with new genres, well, we do, only it only happens every few years. The whole stealth (Thief/Splinter Cell) genre started 6 or so years ago, and lately we've created the "open city game" (GTA). I honestly find that pretty amazing, particularly given how outrageously expensive games are to develop and how necessarily risk-averse that makes publishers.

    3. Don't bullshit me about your graphics

    Fine, then have a clue and don't fall for it. Killzone released a movie that was blindingly obviously not gameplay footage, and they never claimed it was, and yet at this very site there was huge debate as to whether it was real or not. Take marketing with a grain of salt, eh?

    All of the new consoles will have hard drives. Use them.

    Actually, in MS's and Sony's infinite wisdom, they're going to be OPTIONAL hard drives. So we can't count on them. So we can't actually leverage them in our games. Sorry. Don't blame me.

    Loading...

    Fine, if you don't want loading, expect there to be cuts elsewhere in the game. That's not to say that loadtimes can't hurt the game significantly (including one game that I personally worked on), but we've only got X million dollars and Y years. If you think it's that important, fine, but then don't bitch about the limited scope of games.

    YOU HAVE A HARD DRIVE NOW, taking data from a 9 GB DVD. You have NO excuse to keep recycling the same mindless observations over and over and over again...

    We do on the Xbox. And it's more like 6GB on the DVD, and that's if we want to deal with the layer switch and the impact on QA-ability of the title. But yeah, I agree a little more variety would be good.
  • A partial rebuttal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iapetus (24050) on Monday May 30, 2005 @01:09PM (#12677556) Homepage
    I came across this article a week ago at another place [gaming-age.com], and was quite annoyed by it there. Here's what I said:

    1. Give us A.I. that will actually outsmart us now and then.

    I largely agree with this one, though I also think there's room for pattern-based attacks. Doom III isn't a tense military sim with realistic opponents. It's a shoot-'em-up in 3D. The original author's missing the point here.

    Where the enemy's supposed to have advanced AI, though, it needs to be better. Duh.

    Where's the enemy Solid Snake who sneaks up on you with the silence of a ninja's church fart?

    The End from Metal Gear Solid 3, perhaps?

    Two, as developers have lamented, the guts of the new consoles are geared to make the gaming equivalent of dumb blondes. It has to do with the fact that both the XBox 360 and the PS3's Cell CPU use "in-order" processing, which, to greatly simplify, means they've intentionally crippled the ability to make clever A.I. and dynamic, unpredictable, wide-open games in favor of beautiful water reflections and explosion debris that flies through the air prettily.

    To greatly oversimplify, in fact. There are plenty of approaches to AI that don't rely on scripted routines that are hit by in-order processing. And I don't believe that even the limited scripting-based AI that tends to get used these days is going to be in any way reduced from what we have now. "We won't be able to do more of the same, but faster," cries the author, in an article where he spends most of the rest of his time bitching about the fact that games are just... doing more of the same, but faster. Woo!

    2. Give us a genre of game we've never seen before. Something that's not an FPS or an RPG or Madden NFL or...

    Okay, suggest one. And I don't mean just come up with a goddamn stupid setting, I want to hear about the gameplay and why it's fun, and why it isn't just a variation on an existing genre, and why it's actually a practical idea with current-day technology.

    Not so easy, is it?

    There are games that break with existing genre convention - that do something new, and do it well. There have been every generation. And they've been limited in number every generation, because for each idea that works well there are a hundred total abortions.

    I loathe the idea of innovation solely for the sake of innovation, and I always have done. I'd rather play a mediocre 2D platformer than a godawful pre-op transsexual simulator. It's great that despite the wailing and moaning of the people whose favourite game is bitching about the game industry innovative games still get made. And lo, some of them (like Katamari Damacy) are great. But the level of innovation involved will never make me excuse the shittiness of your game.

    3. Don't bullshit me about your graphics

    Don't be such a stupid bastard, then. You know what the games look like, don't expect them to suddenly become photorealistic. Apply some critical thinking here.

    Yes, it's the fault of anyone who falls for it. But that doesn't mean you're subject to it if you don't fall for it - it's pretty much trivial to find screenshots online for any released game.

    I blame the developers formerly known as Square for this.

    So would you care to explain why I should be lectured on what gamers want by someone who didn't start gaming until the PSX? That's the only conclusion I can draw from someone blaming Square for something that's been around since day one. Anyone else remember the 8-bit game boxes with the beautiful screenshots and the small print reading "Screenshots may be from a completely different version of the game - yours will be shitty two-colour graphics with hideous colour clash"?

    4. Nipples?

  • by feepness (543479) on Monday May 30, 2005 @01:13PM (#12677573) Homepage
    1. Give us A.I. that will actually outsmart us now and then. I make games for a living. Actually, gamers want AI that isn't too smart. They want to dominate and destroy the game. If they are playing against the machine, they want to be the baddest godamned thing in the universe. Now granted, this doesn't excuse AI that interferes with the gameplay, running into walls and each other and forgetting you are there if you hide in a shadow for 10 seconds. It also doesn't particularly apply to strategy games, where the strategy is the basis of the gameplay. The bottom line is, when another human repeatedly kicks your ass, it's a challenge. When the machine does, it's simply frustrating. But otherwise, a great article.
  • Women in Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LionKimbro (200000) on Monday May 30, 2005 @03:44PM (#12678427) Homepage
    The author wrote that there is something wrong with the way that heroines are designed. He said that he thought it made women feel objectified, and that this was turning them away from games.

    I disagree, because my girlfriend (29) and daughter (4) love the outlandish clothes women wear in games.

    Three games that we are playing right now are: Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy: Chrystal Chronicles, and Xenosaga (ep 1.)

    Pretty much all of these feature pretty outlandish clothing. We talk about it. We think it's cool.

    I don't know about Ms. Floss, (pictured in the article,) but I suspect my girlfriend would think it was cool, and have no problem playing her. My daughter seems sort of blase, ("Do you like it?" "Yeah..,") but she's more focused on kicking robot ass in Xenosaga right now.

    Our daughter regularly tells us, "I want to be Lulu," by which she means: "I want to dress like Lulu." She earnestly likes all these images. We let her cut and paster her old clothing, to make the outfits.

    Nobody finds it particularly offensive that Lulu has big breasts.

    So, I'm going to have to say: I think that one's right off the mark.

    Maybe some women won't find the images appealing. Maybe a conservative christian women won't find it appealing. People who have strong ideas about what people should be, how they should dress- obviously, they're not going to like it.

    But, there's a lot of women who like these kinds of things.

    When I went to college, interest in anime was mostly a male thing. (Or, perhaps it was that I just went to a school that is mostly male. [hmc.edu]) But I've heard from the anime that in the younger croud, I'm guessing people aged 15-20 right now, that a lot of girls are into anime- that the ratio is even. I strongly suspect that almost all of those girls will feel comfortable with Ms. Floss.

    Look at the movies that are coming out: Sin City, X-Men, - it's like we're going on a comic book fashion rampage. I don't think this is a bad thing.

    It may offend more traditional sensibilities. Women from particular backgrounds may feel objectified. But: I think if we're talking about the growth of games, it makes sense to look at what this younger generation is doing and thinking.
  • The kid who wrote this (and I say kid, because typically adults are able to write criticism without using frantic, profanity filled pleas) really ought to spend a few minutes and think about the horrible hypocrisy he's showing. It seems apparent to me that the guy makes his games purchasing decisions based on what the cover the glossy fan boy gamer magazines and websites is showing.

    There are actually quite a few games out there which are not FPS, racing games, or sports titles. He'll just have to look in a different part of the software store to find them.

    Most of my favorite games (which I've collectively spent far too much time on) fall under none of these genres, and satisfy most of his complaints. At the end of the article, I thought "well, if this guy wants something that will satisfy most of his demands, he should head down to the store and pick up a copy of MS Flight simulator. It's challenging. The primary focus of its development is realism as opposed to graphics. It has online multi-player (for free). They're really aren't any restrictions in the game's world that would limit the immersion factor (the game does cap off the maximum altitude you can reach, but 95% of the aircraft you fly wouldn't be able to reach it due to physics modeling, so it's more or less a non-issue). In some of the default airplanes the pilots are drawn as women who are hardly "scantily clad". Granted, the AI is a little clunky, but in its current form it's more there for ambiance then game play.

    Though I doubt he'll do it. I mean, there are no monsters to kill, nothing to blow up, and even though he says he wants games to be difficult at the start, the learning curve for most FS is pretty high. I mean, he'd probably have to read the manual and go through a number of tutorials before he could complete a short, successful flight in a Cessna without crashing. Oh, and he'd have to use a computer instead of a consul.
  • by MiceHead (723398) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:45PM (#12681098) Homepage
    1. Give us A.I. that will actually outsmart us now and then.

    This is not really what we want; it's actually not always fun. What we actually want is AI that will a) surprise us, or b) do something that appears clever. In some of the better, faster-paced games, there a decent amount of intelligence on the part of the enemy -- (ever see how enemies in Half Life 2 will try multiple doors to get to you?) but we're so busy running and gunning, that we don't notice it.

    2. Give us a genre of game we've never seen before.

    I'll be -1 Redudant and point out, say, many of Will Wright's offerings, (PA [penny-arcade.com] notwithstanding). Hell, they even bring up Katamari later on in the article. I was somewhat agog at the article's next complaints:

    Why isn't a there a spy game where we actually get to be a real spy rather than a hallway-roving kill machine? ...Where's the game where we're a castaway on a deserted island and the object of the game is to find food and clean water...

    Games such as Thief and, to a lesser extent, Splinter Cell, fulfill the former; and the underrated (but difficult-to-play) Robinson's Requiem and (again, to a lesser extent) Notrium are among the latter.

    5. And on the opposite side of the nipple coin... Developers will be shocked one day when they notice that the world is full of women. It's true! More than half of your potential customer base are penisless.

    Absolutely; I think companies will flock to that as the "next-big-thing" eventually. Here's my timetable for buzzwords:

    2004 - Shadows and Lighting
    2005 - Realistic Physics
    2006 - Emergent Gameplay
    2007 - Appeal to Women

    10. And while we're at it... Let's rid games of all arbitrary barriers.

    Again, I agree; and I wonder if, should we start building games differently, (e.g., if more elements are handled by simulated systems rather than scripted events), will we see more of this? I care less about this from the standpoint of immersion, and more from the standpoint of the ability to solve problems as I want to solve problems. This seems less a matter of horsepower and more a matter of game design. It's not slow CPUs preventing us from doing this. Is it?
    ________
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