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Let’s talk about: Player-Driven Context; Final Fantasy XV, That Dragon, Cancer and How a player connects to a game

Final Fantasy XV is an interesting game. The first 80% of the game feels endless. You get in the car, Noctis and friends, trying to help Noctis find himself, his purpose and his responsibilities. You take detours exploring caves, hunting for the next big fish, camp under the stars and wish you would find the next town soon so you can get a decent shower. During it all, there’s friendly ribbing, putting each other down as a display of how close you all are, egos blow up or real life seeps in and full out arguments escalate until the cold front  sweeps through the group hindering all conversation but you know that they mean well because the argument only grew from a place of worry, respect and friendship rather than ill will. But everyone works through the bad feelings and it only helps to strengthen their bond in the end. Then the last 20% of the game happens, real life becomes too important and that friendship isn’t enough to stop life from happening causing the inevitable distance between you and your friends to grow.

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Final Fantasy XV is interesting because it made me long for the times when I could just spend the days with my friends not worrying about the distant future and just live in the moment with them. Only having to worry about our next meal or plan our next outing together is a distant memory from the abruptness of real life. But then again, I’m only thinking like this because of where I am in life while I’m playing the game. I’m already past that part of my life where I’ve had the time to waste with my friends where we only spent time building bonds with one another before life got in the way. I’ve brought my own experiences from life and had it color my experience of FFXV, by relating to the motifs of friendship and reminiscing between the banter that only friends that know each other well and are completely comfortable with shitting on each other can do. If this was my first Final Fantasy playing FFXV before having these experiences of bonding with my friends I can see the next generation idolizing the idea of grabbing your closest friends, going on a trip and making an adventure out of it as a means of entertainment and building bonds.

This raises the question: When is the right time to play a game?

More after the break

Continue reading “Let’s talk about: Player-Driven Context; Final Fantasy XV, That Dragon, Cancer and How a player connects to a game”

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Bias In Gaming – How Brand Trust is Built – Blizzard and Steam, yes. PoGo, no.

PoGo PoGo PoGo

The summer of Pokemon Go is almost completed and it still seems like many are still at it. Walk by a public park and you’ll still find people at all hours of the day with their head down at their phone flicking towards the top of the screen.

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Everybody who tried playing during the first few days knows how poorly made the game is, how clunky the UI and controls are, how fickle the servers can be, but we all still kept at it. Whenever Niantic announced that they were releasing the game to the next wave of countries, the community prepared itself for the outages that would ensue as Niantic worked to scale their for traffic and replicated databases to support the millions of new users.

Game launches rarely ever go well unless you’re used to them not going well and plan for contingencies accordingly, like Blizzard and the release of Overwatch which was only troublesome to login and had spotty connectivity issues for the first day or so. Even on Blizzard’s worst launch days, e.g. most World of Warcraft expansion releases, Diablo 3 etc…, they might get a couple bruises in the gaming press but the gaming community as a whole still views Blizzard as one of the best in the business when it comes to polish in a game and longevity in a multiplayer experience.

But why could a game like Pokemon Go get away with feeling like an alpha/beta public test? Forgoing obvious arguments of nostalgia and novelty, why could Pokemon Go gain this much traction for what was ultimately a broken game? How can we trust Niantic and Pokemon Go as a brand and how does a company like Valve and Blizzard keep their high pedigree of brand trust? We’ll talk about that below the break.

Continue reading “Bias In Gaming – How Brand Trust is Built – Blizzard and Steam, yes. PoGo, no.”

Bias in Gaming – Attention, Rank and Choosing which Games to Buy

Imagine this scenario, you’re on Steam perusing the store and you find your way to one of the multitude of game categories – let’s say Action games. So you start looking through the games to see what you might like.

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What do you think you’d click on? There are 600+ pages of Action games, is it likely that you’d click on all of them? Probably not.

But would you have at least clicked on the first few? Do you even know if they’re good? What about the first 10? Maybe. First 20? Less likely.

For me, I’d probably at least look at Batman – Telltale and Abzu, but I’d have hoped that I would’ve noticed Abzu on the second page and not abandoned my browsing already.

I bring this up because making choices is always tricky. You’re are presented with options, some of which are influenced by our immediate wants and some by your distant ones, and you’re asked to pick one of those options. But if you’re told to answer now then you might give a different answer than if you’re given a half hour or a half day to answer. The person asking you the question is giving you pressure, your immediate wants are clouding your judgement and you just might give an answer that you might regret because you’re forced to answer it at this moment.

The reason why I bring this up is because most (if not all) Bias In Gaming posts are about the choices we make and the situations in which we make them, inside and outside of gaming. Those choices are affected by when and how we’re asked and how those choices are presented which influences how and what we’ll choose to do. The context of which we make a choice is typically called a Frame (as in how do we frame our choices) and talking about frames is bringing to light the many ways that those frames influence our choices, intentionally and unintentionally for better or worse.

Frames can be thought of some category that we filter out options. When purchasing something like a TV, we might first Frame our options based on brand like Sony or Samsung, then Frame out options based on TV definition 1080p or 4k, then on Price, then on number of HDMI ports, etc…

But what is it about the Steam store, Playstation Network, Xbox Live Marketplace, etc… that influence how we decide what to look at and what to play? It’s all about availability and rank.

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming – Attention, Rank and Choosing which Games to Buy”

Best of Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) 2016

Summer Games Done Quick 2016 has wrapped up. The event raised around $1.3 million for Doctors Without Borders during the week long charity stream where around 170 games and 200 players donated their time and expertise to give the gaming community an entertaining 24/7 display of gripping moments, glitched games and great commentary.

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I’ve compiled a list of the what I think were the highlights of the event, based on how entertaining the games were, how impressive the runners were, and how cool some of the spectacles were to watch.

This list is a compilation of the best runs throughout the event, spanning races to co-op, blind-runs to glitch exhibition.

Continue reading “Best of Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) 2016”

Bias in Gaming – Complexity and Toxic Communities – A Small Case Study from League of Legends and Overwatch

Is it just me or is it getting harder and harder to devote time into games that are seemingly more and more complex?

Complexity in many games might not be apparent at first, but some have a surprising depth to them that can make it intimidating to get your hands on, especially after watching people who’ve mastered the game, understand all of the intricacies and nuances of the complexities at play.

League of Legends is the prime example of a game with an astounding amount of depth making it entertaining to watch experts strategize around the depth within the game, but extremely intimidating to pick up and exhausting to keep playing as those strategies evolve, change completely or go extinct like the failed traits of an evolutionary tree because some new apex predator was created leaving a wake or genetic devastation.

Keeping up with the strategies is one troublesome aspect of League of Legends, but what’s worse is being berated by the community for not keeping up with those strategies when you’re trying to be a casual player or a semi-skilled player but one who doesn’t devote more than an hour or so per day to gaming, or by making one bad play causing everyone to criticize you more harshly for the rest of the game. Doesn’t sound like a good time, does it?

Then a game like Overwatch comes along, lightening the load of complexity, less resources to manage, less strategy to manage and making it feel all the more accessible, inviting spectators and players alike much like the early days of League of Legends. A game that’s still new (as of writing this) with a metagame that’s not completely defined yet and a community which doesn’t judge everyone so harshly for one or two bad plays.

Why is it that Overwatch and League of Legends has such differing community behavior, one toxic to all new-comers, casual players and nonprofessionals while the other is currently inviting to the same crowd? Well, that’s probably a bias worth looking into.

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming – Complexity and Toxic Communities – A Small Case Study from League of Legends and Overwatch”

Bias in Gaming: Predetermined Moral Choices, Empathy Gaps, and Victims

Playing a game like inFamous, Bioshock, Dragon Age, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or any game that has a morality system built into the game has been a bit strange for me. They build stories where you get to choose how your character’s life should play out, with dozens of opportunities to piss off the wrong people because they have punchable faces or act like skidmarks on your underwear where regardless of how clean you’ve been they still appear, moments that make you want to change sides because your emotions get in the way causing you to ally with a faction with a sympathetic background or because a character that you’ve grown fond of was killed by one’s hands.

But all of those opportunities are useless. Not because I’m so detached to the struggles that the characters in the story exhibit, nor because the storytelling did a crappy job of getting me attached to the characters within the story so actions against them wouldn’t cause some emotional reaction.

It’s because when the game started, I decided that this playthrough my player would be the Paragon, always choosing the morally “right” thing to do.

By picking a side and sticking to it, my actions are predetermined regardless of how bad the situation got to the characters in the game. No matter what kind of emotional response I would have because my favorite ship was getting tortured, chaos the villain was causing, betrayal that my best-friend would cause.

InFamous_Second_Son_Karmic_Moment_-_Hank

The emotional stress that any of this would cause me normally would be completely disintegrated because I knew that my actions were already predetermined. I would be the Predetermined Paragon for this run of the game.

But why does choosing this even matter? Does the canonical story assume that the player would be a Paragon of goodwill, ethics and morality pulling from an infinite pool of patience and persistence until they succeed? Perhaps.

A question as important: why does it cause such emotional stress in the first place?

More after the break.

Continue reading “Bias in Gaming: Predetermined Moral Choices, Empathy Gaps, and Victims”

Let’s Talk About: Superhot

Having the infinite power to survey and analyze while stuck with the limitations of the human body.

If you ever felt like The Flash needed a handicap, this would be the best one to give him. Given the power of high speed thought and processing, without the powers of high speed movement. How useful is being able to see the Matrix if you can’t manipulate yourself fast enough to dodge bullets.

Superhot is an experiment with these limitations.

The game opens up slowly, in the style of bringing intrigue and curiosity to the picture. A friend recommends you a game to try out, so you do. This is when you start learning your mechanics.

 

superhot - mechanics

When you move, time passes. When you don’t move, time stops.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About: Superhot”

Impressions: Invisigun Heroes (PAX South 2016-Build)

PAX has always been a place for finding high-grade indie-games worthy of talking about. The games are generally a mix of novel, innovative and fun with some prospect of them being close to completion. This year at PAX South 2016, I was able to wade through the dozens of independent games there and found a new game that has a good mixture of all three.

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Invisigun Heroes is a mix of Bomberman and Hide-and-Seek. Give Bomberman a gun, make it 4-players and make all players invisible and you can immediately understand the game and easily imagine how chaotic things can get.

Start

You’re not invisible all of the time and you aren’t impossible to be spotted at all times. Bump into a tree, people know where you are (kind of).

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Walk onto a puddle of water and you leave a ripple behind, people know where you are (more than kind of, deadman).

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But if you try to capitalize on knowing where someone may be, you have to shoot your weapon thus making yourself visible and easy to spot.

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Continue reading “Impressions: Invisigun Heroes (PAX South 2016-Build)”

Event Highlights: AGDQ 2016 – TAS and Hacks

Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 has wrapped up. The event raised around 1.2 million during the week long charity stream where around 160 games and 200 players donated their time and expertise to give the gaming community an entertaining 24/7 display of gripping moments, glitched games and great commentary.

0104-AGDQ

I’ve compiled a list of the what I think were the highlights of the event, based on how entertaining the games were, how impressive the runners were, and how cool some of the spectacles were to watch.

This list, in particular, is for those that find all of the hacks and glitches to whittle down the times through means other than optimized movement. Finding out how to influence the RNG, influence enemy behavior, and that one glitch to give you infinite items.

Continue reading “Event Highlights: AGDQ 2016 – TAS and Hacks”

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