May 3, 2009

Back on Mass Effect

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Simon Ferrari said...

Oh man, thanks for the reference and the support for my assertion! I saw you playing Insane with an Adept the other night and audibly said "fuck that" in front of my girlfriend. I played Normal as an Adept, and it was probably the most difficult combination for my abilities at the time. Being limited to a pistol and a few sometimes ineffectual magical powers makes for some really intense teamwork and firefighting.

It makes you wonder though, right? Is the optimal solution to allow a number of fine-granularity difficulty sliders, or a procedural system that gauges the enemy, your team makeup, and your performance to vary up each encounter? The first is decidedly data-intensive while the second is process-intensive (so Crawford and Costikyan would go with the second option), but in practice its really hard to tell if its working properly (like in Left 4 Dead, how smart is the AI Director exactly?).

Krystian Majewski said...

Haha, well since I've unlocked the assault rifle achievement, I could get a assault rifle skill when I rolled the character so at least I don't have to stick with a pistol. It's still very hard. I had to actually give up on one of the side missions because I couldn't get past a fight. Those damn Turians are nearly invincible! But I can already see how the game gets easier (and less engaging) with better stats and equipment. I later returned to that mission with a better gun and made it on my second try or so.

To be honest I have no clue how I would deal with that situation as a designer. The problem here is all that strategic finesse is only possible after I played the game for so long and know how it works. Also, I know that not everybody enjoys a challenge as I do. I know my girlfriend gives up very quickly when she gets into a situation where she dies frequently. So it's a kind of joy that is reserved for experienced and "hardcore" gamers. In a way, I needed at least one playtrough to get familiar with the game so I know it's rules and how to leverage them... but then, a Tutorial would also have helped ;-)

The problem is also that it is a RPG where you need to get the impression that the character is growing. If this was a mission-based game it would be easier.

And I don't like "rubber band AI" that automatically adjusts. I want a pre-defined experience so I can grow trying to overcome it.

Simon Ferrari said...

The weird thing about L4D is that it isn't a straightforward rubber band. Sometimes it's too easy, but more often than not it throws a little bit too much at you at once (on Expert that is, Normal is for boys).

Anyhow, awesome time on Gears of War. I have to admit, the first time I played through by myself I didn't even use the light beam on the Kryll or whatever they're called. Just kept trying til I outran them. Was much more fun to work it out together on super hard!

And now you've got me wanting to finish my third and final playthrough of Mass Effect. Damn you!

Cucky Lunt said...

I totally agree with your comment... achievements have totally changed the way I play video games, in a lot of ways. Most of these are positive, including playing at harder difficulties which I never used to do but I think playing certain games at the hardest difficulty gives them a considerably longer life in the console and tends to make the experience more worthwhile (specifically Stranglehold, COD: World at War, Ninja Gaiden 2, COD 2, GOW 1 & 2). I also found Halo 3 much more enjoyable at the hard setting makes you hold back a bit considering weapons and tactics instead of just charging in shooting anything in your way. I also like the way achievements allow developers to lead gamers to something in a game they may have not found otherwise (e.g. the singing vortigaunt cave in HL2, Sander Cohen's apartment in Bioshock). Even some of the worst achievements allow great replay value (the terrible flag achievements in Assassin's Creed give me an excuse to run around the cities again jumping from building to building which is great fun but I feel I would never do it if there wasn't something in it, even a measly 10 Gpoints which mean nothing). But I don't like achievements that negatively affect the way you play a game, such as kill X enemies with weapon Y times, sometimes these feel like a chore especially if the weapon sucks and is something you would never use. But I think achievements as a whole have really enriched the gaming experince.