Monday, February 13, 2012

Video game log, week three!

Edit:  I finished Zelda:  Skyward Sword last night!

Overall I cannot believe that reviewers did not _rail_ this game for failing to establish Fi as a compelling character.  She is annoying, does not fit the aesthetic of the rest of the world in the slightest, and I did not have the emotional connection to her the ending made it clear I was supposed to have.  Maybe it would have spoiled the ending to harp on this?  She's annoying throughout though.

I don't feel that the world was as big as in previous games either, though flying around it was certainly more fun that in Twilight Princess or Wind Waker (though I'm the only person who enjoyed sailing around WW, apparently).

How this relates to education:  Annoying characters, whether in video games or in the classroom, have a difficult time establishing themselves as authority figures.  Treat your students with some respect, and don't be afraid to assume they know just a little bit about certain topics.  :p
This week's reflection is based around my experiences with the platforming revival of the past few years, beginning with New Super Mario Bros. and ending with Rayman Origins (DKC Returns, both next-gen Kirby games inbetween).

One thing that many of these games do well is to allow for a large disparity of skills between the first and second players.  Rayman and NSMB are especially good at this, as players intimidated by certain sections can opt out of playing them instantly, and even if they die, they immediately float back in a bubble to be respawned almost immediately.  Rayman is the best of these, as they don't have a traditional, outdated "number of lives remaining" -- either you succeed or you retry the level, which is much more inviting to experimental, risky play (the kind of crazy play that I like).

More games need to find ways to encourage not just participation amongst groups of disparate gaming talents, but ways to safely invite ridiculously risky, fun play.
League of Legends is _not_ inviting to new players at all.  It's the only game where I have been called a "cuntsack" and other even less appropriate language by members of my own team who had an active interest in helping me to succeed.

I can't think of anything outside of the MOBA game genre that has this poor of a community.  No other game or activity is so uninviting to players.  The catch is that very few other activities place your success (and rewards given out, and in many ways, the "fun") in the hands of others though.  The game is played on 5v5 teams, and if one person royally screws up, your chances of winning approach zero very quickly -- success early begets success late, creating a sort of "snowball" effect.

What lessons does this sort of thing teach players?  We don't want to encourage tentativeness and safe play, because the most successful players in the game are the ones willing to attempt the risky plays -- the more often you attempt them, the better you get at completing them.  The social dynamic does not reinforce this in the slightest though -- by yelling at people who mess up, they become more nervous and more tentative, causing lackluster play at best.


Single player World of Warcraft is boring.  I would much rather play a more involved, better looking game like Skyrim et al.  I am looking forward to the class getting together to play later in the semester.  This is a good lesson for me in that gaming is not always fun (though of course I am familiar with this idea from L4D research, and my upcoming FFVI / Bastion projects which will be more work than play).

As far as learning goes, I am not learning much, I must confess.  Partly because I already have sufficient gaming experience in the genre, I suppose?  I wish I had more time to play, but alas, my comprehensive exams approach quickly.  After them I'll have to have a major WoW session.

My biggest challenge thus far has been navigation, especially in major cities.  It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out Origrimmar's elevator system, haha.  Combat is ridiculously simple thus far, though I hope that it begins to get more complex as I unlock more than 4-5 abilities.


Soul Calibur V progress continues -- I am now learning a new character (Viola) because I am enjoying making new models of characters with Addie so much.  I understand the high barrier of entry to the series, but this character creation is so good that it warrants a second, very brief mention at the beginning of this week's log.

P.S.  My new Morrigan model is _extremely_ good.  Super proud of her, might get a picture up sometime soon if I have the time.

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