Author Topic: Thoughts on games I played  (Read 152 times)

Offline TheVampire100

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Thoughts on games I played
« on: December 07, 2017, 11:18:39 PM »
I liek to talk about games. A lot. I like to share my thoughts on games I liked or didn't like. I share this trait with Misery (Misery talks a lot about games on Steam). But I think it's kinda stupid to make a new thread for each new game I discovered and found worth talking about, so I simply put these insights in one place from now on. There is no big reason for this, it's simply to get stuff out of my head, it's some kind of ventil for me when I finished a game or one particular game is currently stuck with me and I need some sort of space to share this.
It's not about selling something, maybe not even about giving information about the game, it's just for... fun.

That being said, first game I want to talk about is A Hat in Time. That game had kind the lively past and it's development process was a rollercoaster ride for all the backers.
First some basic background knowledge. A Hat in Time was a (successful) Kickstarter game designed by Gears for Breakfast. The developers described themself as passionate fans of the old classic 3D platformer games of the old consoles like N64 and Gamecube. As inspiration they metnioned Banjo-Kazooie and especially Super Mario Sunshine. While I never liked the later one (I never got used to the controls of the water pump you use), I adored Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie.
A Hat in Time was described as the "revival of Collectathons",  a game genre were you look for collectibles to progress in the game.  These games are centered around the concept of finding a specific object in great umbers to unlock new playes and progress in the game, they also often feature other sort of collectibles to open up new paths for the player in forms of new abilities, purchaseables and more.

A Hat in Time features as well collectibles, I divide these into major and minor collectibles depending on the importance of them for the game. Major means, you need them to finish the game, minor means, they are optional but still might help to progress in some way.

- Time Pieces: They are the prime collectible and you have to collect a specific number to unlock new worlds.
- Yarn: Used to craft new hats which give you new powers. You need these powers to beat some levels but most importantly, the final level.
- Pons: Used to buy badges and some levels.

- Badges: Give some special abilities but none of them are required to beat certain levels, the only one is the hookshot badge which you will get automatically in the level you need it.
- Rift Tokens: Used to buy cosmetic items from a dispenser.
- Relics: Open optional/bonus levels.

Only Time Pieces are counted towards the percentage bar for the completation.

AHiT was a game I observed for a long time. The development time took forever and for the amount of time you invest int he game, it went actually too long. Reasons for this were not given and other stuff during the development process went aweful. there was some kind of Alpha, which was promised for backers, but we got actually more of a prototype to play that was already out like... forever for Youtubers and basically we got that product that you could watch on Youtube already. It was also really messy and unfun to play at that point. There was some sort of "feedback tracker" for testers whic the developers eventually closed down due to the overload on feedback on the Alpha. The Alpha version was three times updated and then not anymore. A year later we get a "beta build" with more content but the same problems than before and also new problems. And I don't talk about "there are bugs" problems, I talk about seriously bad design choices.
A good example would be the very bad designed balloon race of the first world. You race against a ballooon but on a rocket. There are several problems with the race. The rocket has only limited fuel with absolute no way to regain fuel. You will run out before you even reach the end of the race track. there might've been a way to refuel but I never found out how. The balloon you race against has obvioulsy no-clipping features, so he can race through the track with no problems. You on the other hand clip on even the slightest obstacles and is it just a rope in the air. This wouldn't be such a problem, if one single touch to an object wouldn't cause the rocket to explode (resulting in an instant loss for you). And if this wasn't already enough, you had to fly through specific rings but the rings were aligned in so aweful places (most of the time near other objects which cuased you to loose) and the entire race track was basically a rollercoaster. Add really bad flight controls to this and you get the worst kind of racing ever experienced. I heard of no one actually beating it. No one.

Players made suggestions how to fix the race but the developers either didn't listen, didn't find the solutions possible or simply didn't care. instead they removed the race from the final game. No surprise here actually since this minigame was beyond broken. Instead they added a new (on land) race whcih you also couldn't win. At least not fair. They still couldn't manage to make a race that you can beat by simply... racing. Instead you have to cheat but this is intended from the game, it even states this on the decribtion for the race. This cannot fool me however because I know that tehy did this so they wouldn't have to make a real proper racing minigame. Maybe that's actually for the better, we have already aweful racing minigames in similiar games.

I really would liek to hate AHiT. Simply because it caused a lot of mess during it's development time and basically because the developers cheated the kickstarter backers out of a proper alpha phase and gave us more of a "demo" while giving real alpha and beta games out to Youtubers to promote the game.
The thing is however, AHiT is a good game, a really good game to be honest. But the deveopers are not good people, so let's jsut go with "awesome game but shitty developers".

There are mutliple reasons why AHiT is a good game. The story is not one of this, the story is paperthin, you can look through it. It's the basic "there is a villain and you have to stop him" scenario but this scenario I common in these games. Hat Kid looses all her Time Pieces when some Mafio Goon decides to collect the "toll" for entering the orbit of the planet. She uses these pieces as fuel for her ship and now she cannot travel home, so she gies down and searches for them. She comes across Mustache Girl, an Anti-Hero who simply likes to mess with the Mafia and thinks that villains should be punished, no matter how. Mustache Girl founds out that time pieces can be used to rewind time and mess with it, so she wants them to shape the world in her liking.

The game is divided into 5 worlds and each world is divided into "acts" which can be described as levels. In general the worlds are one big, connected place and you can, no matter what act you select, explore it all and find all the secrets. But not time pieces except the one you selected. Beating an act unlocks a new one but soem of them have to be purchased with pons. There are also hidden secret levels, so called time-rifts, that can be found in any act but you have to look for the secret location of them. They transport you in some bonus level which were inspired by the bonus levels of Super Mario Sunshine and Galaxy.
What he game makes stand out to other, similiar games, each act is unique. Games like Banjo-Tooie, DK64 and Yooka-Layleee suffer from the "quantity over quality" syndrome. The developers put more collectibles in it simply to have more but this causes them to repeat challenges and mssions for them and just vary the details. For example "Let's put another race into the game", "Maybe we can use the same puzzle again but put the buttons in other places this time". Stuff like that. Especially Yooka-Laylee had the problem, that they had too many minigames where you had to get through a ring parcour with a limited time frame. All they varied was how the parcour was designed.
Developers also like to make the numbers round, like "let's put exactly 10 of this ine ach level" which forces them to find just another challenge to make despite no one fitting into the game anymore. AHiT does not have this problem, the number of acts vary in each world and the acts were made how the developers felt they woudl fit.
And most of the time they fit really well. Each one is it's own thing, some might be similiar but still different enough to be distinct from each other. Not all acts were good designed, I found the stealth parts in world 2 rather annoying but I think that stealth in 3D platforming games is not a good idea in general.
What I really liekd where how the boss fights were designed. They were most of the time very challenging but never unfair, the attack patterns of the boss very good designed and each boss had multiple phases that you had to get through. What I really would have liked though would have been a HP bar for the boss, so I can see how far ahead I am.

The platformign aspect of the game was very well designed, so well that I hope other games might take inspirations from it. Hat Kid has not many moves, the developers decided "simpler is better" here, this is in no way the ability overflow we know from Banjo-Tooie. Hat Kid can jump, double jump, has abasic umbrella attack and can also dive jumo. The dive jump is necesarry to either kill foes easier or, more important, reach far away places. The dive jump feels very natural, you can use it at any point while in air and directly control the direction you want to dive instead of just diving in the direction you are facing. This makes it very easy to reach platforms while stil maintaining challenge in the level design itself. Additionally, the game helps with small mistakes. If Hat Kid jumps against a wall, she will make an attempt to run upwards it. this small run can help to fix a misplaced jump, so the player just reaches a ledge to grab. This does not work however with the dive, if you dive against a wall, you will bounce from it. The problem with the wall run however is, Hat Kid makes too much use of it, if you just wan tto slide on a wall to prepare a regular wall jump, she will attempt to run it up, ruining your wall jump. Sections, where you have to wall jump, are luckily rare and only needed in bonus levels, so I guess the developers noticed this problem themselves.
Additional abilities can be gained from badges and hats. Hats are necessary to beat the game but badges are optional expect the hookshot badge which you get at the level you first need it. Hat Kid can switch the Hats without having to open the menu, which makes it easy to switch stuff, badges however have to be handled manually.

There are two things that make me like this game. The first one is the soundtrack. A Hat in Time has an awesome soudntrack composed by Pascal Michael Stiefel and Grant Kirkhope. The music is really well done and always fits the theme of the corresponding level or boss.
The other thing are the characters and the according voices. The developers designed some really great characters and each one stands out on it's own with their personality and their distinct voice. The only odd one here is Mustache Girl, who is a really flat character ith little to no backgroudn expect tha she is the main villain of the game (which is kinda sad). This wouldn't be so odd if not every other character int he game was more colorful than her.
Each character has perfect voices that fit the character, even Hat kid, who is not silent at all. Especially Hat Kid has to be mentioned here, her voice is simply adorable, she is probably the cutest character of 2017. She always comments stuff in her childish voice when she does something, like counting loud when she collects something (typical for children), when she takes an item, she says "I borrow this quick" or "You come with me" and in the very first level, where you have to defeat a single Mafia Goon, she shouts "Down with the Mafia" followed by a "Thank you", after she defeated him and took her Time Piece back.
She is easily likable because of this behaviour and it's always fun to see how she reacts to given situations.

With this all being said, A Hat in Time isn't even finished. It is finished in a sense that you have a game with a start and an end and everything between but the bonus content, the content promised on Kickstarter (stretch goals). Currently the game misses the Co-op mode, New game+ and 2 bonus worlds, that were promised. If you consider how long the developers took for the game already, we might wait another year or to for this.

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Thoughts on games I played
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 08:26:12 AM »
This is a recent game I started to play:

Pyre is interesting because of many reasons. The number one reason is, it is made of two genres that I really don't like to play but for some reason this game draws me in and I actually like playing it.
Now, what is the game actually about? Pyre is a mix of a visual novel and sports game. because of this I'm pretty sure that Misery would never touch this game ina ny way. The game is about 80% text and 20% actual gameplay, where you actively do something aside from just selecting dialog options. Liek I said above, I despise these genres, especially VNs who are barely even games. And of course they aren't meant to, they are meant to be interactive novels. Problem is, the genre is corrupted. This comes from the fact, that the genre comes from Japan and most of these games are anime-like games with anime-like tropes. If you like this stuff, it's good for you but if you don't like this stuff, you cringe at the dialogs and the over-the-top story. Most of the time they have some obvious erotic or romantic subplot that is actually the main plot while the main plot is just the subplot to carry the romantic relationship of the main protagonist and basically every other character int he game.

Pyre ont he other hand is a visual novel how the genre should be. No overdramatic, romantic plot that is force-fed to you during the entire game whiel dropping the actual main story that was the reason why you would ever buy such a game. Seriously, the amount of forced relationship stories and pairings in these games is the best reason why I don't want to buy this stuff. On the other hand, Pyre was made by Supergiant Games, the developers of Bastion and Transistor, two games that received very positive feedback. Like those games, pyre shows excellent, hand-drawn art style and a great soudntrack while also giving the player an interesting story to follow. But this time the game focuses more ont he story and less ont he gameplay than the predecessors.
In the game you start as an exile, a person who was cast out of their homeland and driven to the Downside, a hostile land with different environments and climates next to each other. Ypu cannot flee by normal means from teh Downside because the river, that leads to it, has a strong torrent that washes everything back in.
The game starts with you being wounded starving and at the brink of death. You are found by three masked individuals who save and nurse you back to health but ask for your help in return. It is revealed that reading in this world is a forbidden knowledge and you, the player, are one of the few who can do this (and was most liekely the reason for your exile). They give you a magic book to read which tells you of a way to return to your homeland, the commonwealth, if you fulfill a series of magic rites. After that, the tutorial on said magic rites start, where the three masked strangers are sucked into the book and you, as reader, lead them in the rite.

The rite is revealed to be soem sort of sports competition in which two teams with three players face against each other. The goal is to throw an orb into the enemy fire (Pyre) which will extinguish a part of it. The goal is to extinguish the enemy pyre completely. Only one player per team can move at once, the others have to stand still until the active role is passed, this means if someone has the ball, he has to pass it first before another player can move. Each character has an aura, an area that marks your damage field. If a player of the opposing team touches your aura, he will be banished, wich means he is removed from the field for a set amount of time. This gives you an open window to throw the ball into the fire. Two characters witht he same radius on their aura will of course banish each other but different characters have different aura ranges. Additionally you can throw said aura in some sort of attack in front of you, which acts as some kind of attack shot. This allows you to hit a person before it can touch you but requires more skill and coordination because a fired aura takes tme to recharge and you are vulnerable until than.
The player who carries the orb always has a zero aura range and cannot fire his aura, but he can fling the orb, either at an opponent (to reduce his aura to zero) or at a corner. In the best case you can fling it directly intot he pyre, dealing damage to it. Each player has mutliple sorts of powers that are dependant on their race. Each one has some sort of sprinting ability that allows them to rush forward, either as long as the button is pressed or perform a quick dash in one direction to avoid incoming attacks. The other ability is to jump or, in some rare cases, even fly above the auras of enemies, that way you can avoid attacks directed at you or jump past an enemy defense line. Both abilities differ from player to player in soem way, humans have the very basic abilities with normal sprint and normal jump while an imp, a bat-like creature, can flap their wings to fly past auras and move in quick, small dashes across the map. The aura ability can also vary from race to race, imps explode instead of shooting the aura in one direction, this explosion hits mutliple targets in a circle but also banishes the imp as well.
reducing the Pyre to zero is the only way to win the game and the game does not end until this is done (unlike other sport games where you might have  atime limit), damage to the Pyre can be achieved by either flinging the orb into it or, which is better, carrying it with a player to the Pyre. The last example banishes the palyer who did this from the next round until a new point is achieved (from either side) but this also does much more damage.

The games uses some very basic RPG mechanics to make te game more interesting. There are four stats which affect the performance of the abilities of players, they increase damage to the Pyre, increase the range of your aura, reduce the respawn time of banished players and increase the moevement speed. The different races in the game also affect the abilities (like mentioned above) and the starting stats of a player. Demons for example are slow powerhouses with a huge aura, a huge attack shot that is hard to dodge and deal massive damage to the pyre but move slower than a slug. To make up for this, they have some sort of stomp jump, that pushes enemies back when you land (unless you land directly in their aura).
The stats can be improved through talismans (equipment) or with training, which means you play with them in matches, they level up, they get better stats and abilities. Additionally, reaching certain story events will also improve the stats of players. The player has also the chance to permanetely imrpove a stat for all players by studying the book of rites at certain points in the game, although this has a cap, so you cannot reach massive amounts of points with this.

Of course the main part of the game is the rich story about the Downside, the different characters you meet ad the Scribes, 8 Exiles who wrote the book of rite to give other exiles a chance of escaping the downside. The player travels through the land in order to reach the places where the next rite will start, on the way you can choose the path you want to take which might have positive or negative influences on your players, you can find new items to equip or sell and of course reveal more of the story to you. The other exiles in your party will reveal more of their backstory to you and tell you for an example how they landed in the Downside, what their previous life was and what heir goal is, once they return home. After you fought through 8 rites (one for each of the Scribes) you have the opportunity to free one exile of your party. this means the player is permanetely removed from your team but this is of course the main goal of the game. Ater you freed an exile, you return at the start and do it all over to free the next one, now with one player less.
An important aspect to the game is, that loosing does not end you the game, not even the final match. If you loose a match, you simply don't get the experience for ypur players, which means later matches get harder because you lack the strentgh. On the other hand, if you win a lot of matches, you become a strong powerhouse but in the final match, the liberation rite, you have to choose which to let go and the one with the most exp. is the most likely to get you there. This also pushes you back in term sof power but since you start anew, you don't need that much power anyway. Loosing the final match means that no one is freed (from your party at least) but since you can repeat the cycle again, you don't loose anything, you might even loose on purpose out of mercy for your opponent, who also wants to get freed. But of course, you don't know much about your opponents and soem act really rude towards you and your team, so in the end, let them suffer some more.

If the game repeats over and over, is there an end to it? The game itself states, there is none but there might be more behind it if you win more matches and reach a certain point. While you travel, you fill the book of rites with new pages which reveal the back story of the 8 scribes, finishing a full circle will also add new chapters that also fill with new pages once you beat a new rite. The story behind all this is interesting to read, if you like something like this.

In the end I was positevely surprised how much fun I have with the game, the story alone lets me play this some more, because I want to know more about my fellow travelers and I want to know how the world of the game became what it is now.

The actuall sport minigame is fun enough to keep going and since it makes only a small part of the entire game, it never feels too repetetive and the different abilities of the players and races add to this.