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September 04, 2005



"I wonder what's going on in their heads when they make such a decision."
In the shmup world apparantly it is quite common to have 'easier' versions for Japan.


This is what I call the "press X to advance plot." The Gamecube controller is obviously an indication that Nintendo has foretold this development and is optimizing their hardware for this type of game.


Based on your comments about DMC, I was wondering what you thought of Ninja Gaiden, which I've just got around to completing now. Too hard? nah, I think it's just right.

Rob Segal

"One day soon we'll be down to open-environment sandbox games and FPS's and nothing else."

Damn I hope not but I can definitely see it. I've had that feeling myself on too many occasions. Things may not change unless there is another new genre to challenge the traditional ones. More games where you can look at them... try to categorize 'em and say... I have no idea what genre this is thereby having to categorize that game under a new genre hence having the cycle start all over again! Ahhhh! Stuck in an infinite loop!


The article is amusing. The reviewer seems to like easy games; maybe he's just not very good at games, or doesn't take the time to learn them, or something. But when people disagree with him, it's because of some bizarre conspiracy...either "I suspect manipulation of some kind - 8.8 is really quite out of control" or "some kind of groupthink collusion among game reviewers". Here's a thought; maybe some people like a game that you can't win by button mashing - which is all DMC3 (and Ninja Gaiden too) really are.

Eric Lulie

Hmm, could the killer strategy of a game also be considered a "you win" button, of sorts? I know RTS games are subject to "build orders": as soon as you've mastered that, you've more-or-less mastered the game. I've seen more than a few turn-based games that fell victim to a single strategy; I suspect it's true for FPS (I mean, geez, master the rocket launcher or sniper rifle in Halo 2, and you will win most of your games). If enough games from other genres are subject to victimization by killer strategy, maybe we should classify the One True Strategy for a given game as a "you win" button, as well...


Fah...The above poster apparently doesn't actually play games. You can master a build order for an RTS, and what that will give you is a good starting position for a given team, in a given situation, ASSUMING the opponent doesn't counter it in an unexpected way - nothing more. It is a LONG way from mastering the game.

Likewise, there is no one true killer strategy for FPS's; to anyone who has actually played an FPS, the concept is ridiculous.

Eric Lulie

Well, thank you very much for asking; yes, I have been playing RTS games since Dune 2 came out; I've also played Robot Wars (an old game by Dani Bunten, that was RTS-like, but no building was involved) and Command HQ (which was also by Dani Bunten, and had building, but still doesn't quite fit the RTS mold). As for previous FPS experience, again, thank you for asking: I've played Wolfenstein, Doom I-III, Quake I-III, Unreal I-II, Halo I-II, FarCry, and some other older PC and C64 games that were close-but-not-quite FPS. I still stand by my comments.

Where I erred in my comment is that you have expanded (at least) two of the genres in my original post to include online play; I was not considering online play in my statement, but I failed to state that. Online play doesn't have a killer strategy, you are correct; single-player, however, does.

(Even though, it is arguable that build orders are the start of wisdom for online play in an RTS, and that's it; in more than a few, assuming you've picked a fast build order, and have done enough intel to identify resource locations that an opponent is going to need to grab, you can harrass your opponent enough to prevent them from expanding as fast as you, territory-wise and tech-tree wise. [Not only that, but in AoK/AoM at least you want to gather resources the fastest way possible, which means hunting over fishing and farming, frex...not to mention, building only what you absolutely need to advance to the next tech level.] Once you've reached a certain point, it will be difficult for your opponent to catch up. And a lot of time, at least int the online games I've played in -- Warcraft 2.x and 3.x and AoK/AoM, since you've asked so nicely in your post -- more than a few games have devolved into "let's build troops and go smash stuff that's not ours", hardly indicative of the deep strategy your post seems to imply is inherent in online play...)

(Similarly, with FPS, there are some strategies you can use that will assure success more often than not: using Halo 2 as an example -- because that's the FPS I just got done playing Saturday -- if you know where the overshield is, and you have a sniper rifle or rocket launcher, you can be fairly confident of setting up a position where you can camp covertly and take out opponents who try to grab the overshield...although in this case, you will need a good backup weapon. [Why not just get the overshield yourself, some of you ask? You want to draw people into your line of fire -- so you camp where the prime weapons respawn. You can also expand this to camping at location you know your opponent is going to have to pass through.] Alternatively, sniping in this game with anything can be a pretty effective strategy, especially if you can consistently get head shots. Again, since most players are running for the same drops and running to the same killzones/positions most of the time, this would also seem to go against the deep strategy you're implying is inherent in online play...)

(So while the strategies I outlined above aren't killer RTS or FPS strategies in the sense that you will win each and every game, and I've only outlined some of them, your survival rate increases exponentially when you employ them; in fact, it's very surprising if players didn't employ these tactics. And those who don't these strategies tend to die quickly; I've been on the receiving end of many a butt-whooping for not knowing these strategies. And these online matches tend to look and play very similar...)

Of course, what do I know, I obviously don't actually play games; gee, thanks for pointing that out, eh. I never realized that all that time I spent in front of a console or computer, supposedly playing a game, was just me staring at the pretty pictures the computer/console was spontaneously generating...man, I do love it so when the computer/console spontaneously generates that "You win" screen. Gee, thanks for pointing that out, eh.


(I think I'll put gratuitous parentheses around my post also. Maybe I'll work myself up into a huff as well.)

(Your long winded and nearly incoherent grab for some kind of gaming "street cred" obscures the fact that you aren't really saying much. You list some examples of simple strategy and tactics, but those aren't equivalent to mastery. Winning games "more often than not" doesn't take much; from a statistical viewpoint, winning 51% of your games puts you in the middle of the curve. That's hardly "mastery". So it makes no sense to a refer to a strategy that allows you to win games "more often than not" as a killer strategy.)

(And yeah, you're right, I was mostly thinking of online play. Who plays RTSs and FPSs single player? No doubt you'll come back and say "Hey! I've been playing Pixel Vs. Vector RTS single-player since 1922, and I use my l33t breathless blather strat to win every time!"...but really, very few people spend much time playing those games single player, compared to the vast numbers playing online every day for years.)

(Anyway, all the irrelevant stuff you said about "the start of wisdom" and "your survival rate increases exponentially" has nothing to do with your ridiculous original statement that I was mocking, which is that build orders enable you to more-or-less master RTSs.)

Eric Lulie

Eh, I obviously pissed you off; I apologize.


Holy crap, I can't take it! Awesome.

Obi Busta Nobi

In best Keanu Reeves impression - "Whoah..."


Hey Jamie, maybe difficulty and marketing don't have as much to do with it as we all think. Perhaps what interests players are a couple different aspects of games:

1) Sustained sense of adventure - allows the player to experiment, explore or collect.
2) Balanced competition - allows the player to measure themselves against... themselves... or other players.

If you think about it, most games where there's a 'cinematic' element are just collection games, right? You're just collecting those cutscenes or neat moments, and then you perhaps share them with your friends.

What it all comes down to, really, is achievement. Whether you're competing or exploring or competing with yourself or others, you're achieving. Even when you're experimenting in the sandbox world, you're achieving... trying to find that right combination of factors that will lead to something neat. Think about it, there's a certain sense of pride to be found there.

Even in the little lovers' quarrel above, you can see that Mr. Eh is reveling in the fact that he has achieved a higher plane of existence than Mr. Lulie with regard to RTSes. Specifically, he has achieved beyond the build order horizon and is working on master strategies to defeat others who have surmounted that barrier to entry into the cool club. And he's totally stoked at how clever he is... and I'm kind of impressed, too. Good job, junior achiever!

That's why I think you heard way more acclaim than cynicism about swinging in SM2... it was difficult, but attainable, which led to people feeling like they had really achieved something when they got the hang of it.

Too much hand-holding and too much automatic wall run don't leave enough room for 'look how awesome I am'.


Fah...you are reaching for any old way to smack at me, Rich. Perhaps you are offended that I dared to disagree with ridiculous statements. In point of fact you are mistaken. I am not that good at RTSs, and, ironically, I am good at build orders. I am good at getting a good starting position and sometimes executing a rush, but I am often beaten by better mid-game players. That's how I knew that Lulie's statements were erroneous.

So I am not posting here to tell a bunch of people I don't know that I am good at games. I am posting here because I enjoy arguing and skewering foolish statements that haven't been thought out. Still, I admit that you make a good point about achievement; that is a real motivation.

Collecting is boring though.


Nah, I thought you were pretty much right on in your statements. You're also right to observe that I *was* smacking at you a bit and I have to admit, it *was* kind of fun. Ok, maybe a lot of fun. Not as much fun as collection, though. :D

Eric Lulie

"I am not that good at RTSs, and, ironically, I am good at build orders. I am good at getting a good starting position and sometimes executing a rush, but I am often beaten by better mid-game players. That's how I knew that Lulie's statements were erroneous."

*sigh* I wanted to let this whole thing go, but: how many RTS players do you know who don't use any build order (emphasis on any build order) who routinely win any games? I would argue none, but you're the expert here, so I'm curious to here your opinions on the subject.

Eric Lulie

Yeah, I know, I'm an illiterate slob in addition to a foolish thinker: the above should've read "...hear your opinions on the subject."

chris heimpel

bring on the sandbox. give me a bunch of cool things to do and let me do them. don't kill me every 3 seconds. i'd rather be bored than frustrated


So, Lulie, before I answer, what is your point?

I think you intend to argue that build orders are necessary to mastery. I wouldn't (necessarily) disagree. But necessary is not the same as sufficient.

Anyway, to answer your question and favor you with my expert opinions, one would have to have a better definition of "build order". Any time you build some units you are using a build order, but that's not what you really mean...

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The Games

  • Energy Hook
    3D grappling-and-swinging-and-running-on-walls-and-doing-tricks ... with a jetpack ... for style!

Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game