Diecast #286: Half-Life, Fallen Order, Mailbag

By Shamus Posted Monday Jan 13, 2020

Filed under: Diecast 119 comments

SoldierHawke is back, and so we spend a lot of the show talking about Valve games. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. Paul will be back next week for more of… whatever it is we do here.



Hosts: SoldierHawke, Shamus. Episode edited by Issac.
Diecast286

Show notes:

00:00 Black Mesa – Xen is out!

SoldierHawke and I were both wrong. The Black Mesa project began 11 years ago.

08:11 Half-Life Alyx

Like I said on the show, recent technological advances are making VR headsets better instead of cheaper. The evolution of the smartphone suggests that we should eventually reach a point where the hardware starts coming down in price. Then again, every technology is a little different because the price floor is shaped by both the number of consumers and the turnover rate.

I don’t know. I’m hoping we get cheaper VR in the next couple of years, but I don’t know if that’s a reasonable thing to expect or not.


Link (YouTube)

12:43 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

You can see the first episode of SoldierHawke’s LP here.

25:48 Games Done Quick

I imagine the archived runs will be uploaded to the GDQ YouTube channel this week. I suggest the following:

Fallout AnthologyThe runner plays all mainline Fallout games is one go: Fallout 1, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, and Fallout 4., Doom 2016, and Control. The San Andreas run has some good moments in it, but due to the nature of the game they’re pretty spaced out and there’s a lot of time spent just playing the game. It lasts 4.5 hours and the runner has to spend a lot of time doing these headache-inducing camera jerks to keep the streets clear of traffic. Much like Rockstar games themselves, this run is an amazing showcase of skill and dedication, but it’s also low on thrills.

I missed a lot of the rest of the show, but those are the runs I liked.

34:25 Mailbag: Capra Demon

Dear Prepare-to-Die-cast,

or, specifially, SoldierHawke: Can you give a pep talk for people stuck at Dark Souls?

For context, I can’t get past the Capra Demon.

– RFS-81

39:58 Mailbag: Should games be fun?

Dear Diecast,

One of the long-standing questions about our hobby that I occasionally wrestle with is: should games be fun?

Some people would go as far as to say that a game which makes no effort to be fun isn’t a game by definition. I would counter that by pointing to Survival Horror, one of our most venerable genres, which has built itself on a foundation not of fun, but fear. There are other titles such as the Dark Souls series, Team Ico’s output and certain entries from the Zelda franchise which I’ve found striking for their use of melancholy as the dominant colour in their emotional palette.

I’m not trying to score points against the ‘games should be fun’ camp – I love fun games as much as everyone else. But I was wondering if the pair of you had played any games that were memorable for evoking atypical emotional states, or if there were any as-yet unvisited emotions you’d like to see the medium explore.

Yours,
Asdasd

44:42 Mailbag: What makes Half-Life 2 so special 16 years later?

Dear diecast, and soldierhawk (and shamus)

I played HL1 for the first time a few years ago when i went through a 90s shooter phase. This christmas i felt that as a true gamer(TM) I should also have played HL2. I wasnt too impressed by it. So what makes it so special 16 years later? The pacing i dont really like that much, the original always had action, this one has the boatride and antlion physics stuff which just feels like it slows you down. The weapon set is smaller and some of the fun weapons are removed or reduced to a buggy (like my favorite the tau gun). I guess the story, but I find a story thats all mystery no resolution suspect. Ive watched LOST and seeing them throw up mystery after mystery, without ever having plans for those mysteries to be resolved, just feels cheap. Like a magician that asks you to turn around so he can stuff the rabbit into his hat.
So i wonder if Shamus his memory loss pill would make him appreciate HL2 as much as he thinks it would.

with kind regards
chris

52:24 SoldierHawk’s favorites of 2019

 

Footnotes:

[1] The runner plays all mainline Fallout games is one go: Fallout 1, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, and Fallout 4.



From The Archives:
 

119 thoughts on “Diecast #286: Half-Life, Fallen Order, Mailbag

  1. djingdjan says:

    VR headsets have gotten cheaper over the years especially in regards to Oculus. I think the real problem is the expensive computer hardware that’s required to run VR.

    1. Lanthanide says:

      Oculus Quest costs $400 US and doesn’t require a computer to run. No annoying wires that tether you and no expensive computer.

  2. tmtvl says:

    Fun isn’t an objective quality, so games cannot try to be fun, as it means too many contradictory things at once.
    Imagine trying ta make a game that appeals to both people who like non-stop action and people who like to take their time to plan every move in minute detail and micromanage everything.

    1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

      I think, fun is a wrong term to apply to entertainment. By saying “fun” we mostly mean emotional engagement or enjoyment.
      And because games are interactive entertainment, they consist of few major components that can bring it to us. These components are gameplay, writing and I’d add style.
      Gameplay should bring us some form of gratification. It shouldn’t be tedious. Challenges and rewards should be balanced and appropriate for the genre.
      Writing should provoke some emotions, be consistent with gameplay and provide immersion. It can be all in service of gameplay, then it should be plain and simple and shouldn’t get in the way.
      And style can bring satisfying aesthetics, it could be interesting, it could enhance stronger part of your game, or compensate for the weaker part.
      In this sense all game should be “fun”, just different kind of.

    2. Henson says:

      I think it’s a given that when we say that a game is ‘fun’, it’s not going to be fun for every single person. Games can certainly try to be fun, so long as they know who their audience is.

    3. PPX14 says:

      Hmm I’m not sure that is the case – isn’t that a little bit like saying that restaurants can’t try to make tasty food, because taste is subjective? I think in this, “making a game fun” is a case of knowing or identifying what a lot of people find fun, and doing that. I think the question isn’t over the various things that various people find ‘fun’, but whether the aim should be to make something that appeals to what some section of people find fun, as opposed to the counterpoint that that is only one valid aim, and the other might just be to make something thought-provoking or ‘significant’. For example the idea that a piece of art might aim to not be aesthetically pleasing but instead puzzling. Or a dish might not be tasty but might be evocative of what some historic people ate (clutching at straws for that one!) Or something like that haha.

  3. Joe says:

    I love watching speedruns, at least for games I know. It’s weird seeing things I’m familiar with in a whole new light, but I enjoy it. Wish I could speedrun, but I have no patience for it, and lack the real urge to find all the little tricks and stuff.

    Anyone know if a remake of HL2 is planned or available? I’d just like a version with less loading areas. When I replayed it a couple of years ago, the constant loading was enough to put me off.

    I’m not into horror of any kind, especially not the suspense/jumpscare kind. But done right, I realise that people get some kind of enjoyment out of it. If you aren’t getting that enjoyment, there isn’t much point. Oh, and Shamus, have you ever seen the original Wicker Man with Christopher Lee? A horror movie that’s very much the psychological ‘this situation just isn’t right’ kind, rather than jumpscare or gore. If that’s your kind of horror, you might really like it.

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      I love watching speedruns, at least for games I know.

      I’m the opposite. If I know the game, it bothers me when they leave something behind or don’t do something regular players would do. I understand that if they do that it means it’s not necessary (since they know the game better than me), but to me, not doing everything seems like an alien concept.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        That’s what 100% runs are for. All your going fast needs, with none of your leaving stuff headaches.

  4. tmtvl says:

    Shamus, in the note for the Fallout Anthology you put Fallout 3 twice instead of Fallout 2 and Fallout 3.

    1. Lino says:

      Ha! I actually thought Shamus omitted Fallout 2, because for some reason it wasn’t considered part of the mainline series :D

  5. Lino says:

    It’s really cool how much money AGDQ raise for charity every year, but I’ve personally never understood the appeal of speedruns. It’s probably because one of the main reasons I play games is for the story and atmosphere. Rushing through a game at speeds that were never intended has always seemed very dull to me. In that sense, speedrunning has always felt like someone going to a high-end Italian restaurant, and then proceed to find a way to only eat the bread sticks they have sitting on each empty table. Yes, you’ve managed to eat at a high end restaurant and finish your meal much faster than everyone else, but you’ve missed the entire point of the experience! You might as well just go to a fast-eating competition!

    I know that speedrunners are very skillful in the games they play, but if I want to watch someone play with skill, I’ll just watch a pro playing Sarcraft, DotA or any other competitive game. At least there the player is exhibiting skill over another person, rather than over a static piece of software, that’s barely ever (if at all) changed in order to facilitate/hinder the challenge.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that speedruns harm any of the games I enjoy, nor am I saying that they shouldn’t exist. But I’ve never been able to enjoy them.

    With regards to horror games, if you’re into ones that don’t involve jumpscares, I recently watched a Let’s Play of Darkwood, and I strongly recommend it – it’s top-down, with some survival elements, but it has some of the best atmosphere I’ve ever seen in a horror title.

    Shamus probably wouldn’t like it, because there are a couple of secondary characters who happen to be kids, but overall the game has a very engrossing world, and is a case study of how you can do a lot with very little.

    1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

      I think your restaurant analogy isn’t quite right. Speedruns are appealing, because it’s not intended way to play a game, it’s a way to break a game. As I understand, usually speedruners know the game they playing to that extent, that they want to try something different.
      I had similar experience, though not a speedrun, with Gothic I. After numerous playthroughs I’ve memorize almost all dialogues, characters, items and quests, I knew all exploits and shortcuts, so I tried to reach endgame condition in the first chapter and I had a lot of fun during process.

      1. Hector says:

        To echo this, its LITERALLY in the name: speedrunning. Speed Running.

        Why would anybody run at all, especially if you aren’t racing? It’s to get better, stronger, faster and try to excel under different circumstances. To see if you *can*.

      2. Grimwear says:

        I’d agree with speedrunners usually knowing the game they’re playing. As for the exception, I remember watching a GDQ run for a cooperative 2D fighter (can’t remember the name) and they’d gotten the developers to phone in to talk about the game, answer any questions from the runner, etc. Unfortunately this runner did not care about the game at all and went out of his way to point out many times that he has no interest in these types of games and that if it wasn’t able to be broken like this then he wouldn’t have ever played it. Kinda ruined the whole point of having the developer on there and the run was extremely awkward because of it but at least the runner didn’t lie about his feelings about it? I guess? Maybe he should have had some tact?

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      A better analogy here would be “Why would I do the Boston Marathon, the town of Boston is very pretty! You should slowly walk through Boston and enjoy the sights!” Someone who is speed running is after the challenge of execution. They’ve experienced the story MANY TIMES. If you think someone needs to stop and smell the flowers on their 30th full playthrough of the game… I’m baffled by your thought process. If you want to see a game explored to its fullest, you want to be watching Long Play videos, not speed runs. Speed runs are about impressive feats of streamlining or humorous exploits to how a game was designed. Example: I watched a Legend of Zelda 2 speedrun where they exploited how the game loaded areas to, at one point, load dungeon 3 INSIDE of dungeon 4 and then beat the required parts of them in tandem. Very strange, very interesting.

      1. PPX14 says:

        I don’t think he’s saying speed runs have no purpose, or that he doesn’t understand that/why some people or the runners enjoy them, just that he doesn’t. Much like I don’t enjoy sprinting. And so while I do understand that the athletes enjoy the challenge, discipline to meet a goal etc, I’d still say gosh I don’t understand why so many people love this so much to the point that the 100m, people literally running in a straight line for 10 seconds, is the peak event of the Olympics (and despair at humanity’s lack of imagination and the amount effort spent on pointless things by people who don’t realise their only real purpose is as entertainment, not pushing the rather paltry bounds of human performance! For goodness sake it’s not even 25 mph, I can’t count the number of animals who can do that with ease, plus it’s literally a straight line! We might as well have a human density competition where people compete to have the most dense bodies, or compete to see who can fall 100m the fastest. Or the slowest! Or more importantly if one has such monumental drive for performance, why not compete to be the best doctor or charity worker or medical researcher! Anyway…)

        Edit: oh wait I do actually enjoy sprinting in real life. The feeling of the transformation of effort into speed!

  6. Duoae says:

    Regarding Jedi:Fallen Order – I definitely died more than 10 times to each of the bosses… but I was playing on the hard difficulty. Though, playing through the second time, I didn’t find them that bad. I guess once you know “how” something works makes it that much less challenging to repeat again – even if you only scraped through by the skin of your teeth the first time! :)

  7. Joshua says:

    Regarding HL2, beyond still finding it enjoyable 15 years later, it’s one of those games that was definitely revolutionary at the time, and had impacts on other games designed after it was released. I believe it was one of the first notable games with physics (which many other games later copied), but it was also ground-breaking at the time to start off an FPS with 20-30 minutes before you even get your first weapon, and to do that with not just holding you hostage to exposition and cut-scenes. It reminds me of Super Metroid in how much of the story they were able to tell in just the environment alone, without having to rely upon exposition. The variety of levels was also pretty impressive, although something they had also managed in HL1.

    On top of everything else, there’s also that less substantial “magic touch” that Valve had on the game that used huge amounts of Q&A, tester feedback, and general psychology to make the world feel much, much bigger than it really is, like feeling you’re in an open sandbox when in reality you’re in a fairly linear game that uses subtle cues to make virtually everyone choose the same path while thinking they were making their own decisions (something that becomes more obvious in subsequent play-throughs.

    I won’t disagree that the weapon choice seemed less interesting than in HL1, though. No trip-mines, satchel charges, or snarks.

    I think that’s an issue with a lot of ground-breaking games or other media. It’s harder (but not impossible) to appreciate what made them special decades later when you’ve had plenty of other imitators. For me, Final Fantasy VI was absolutely amazing in 1994 because of all of the new things it did, even though it couldn’t even begin to compare to something like D:OS2 now. Bob Case has done some interesting articles on this kind of phenomenon here with his BG perspectives.

    1. Lars says:

      Physics were a thing before HL2. Just look at every Warren Spector game since Ultima Underworld. I don’t know why the gravity gun was called revolutionary, while JC Denton could lift and throw objects 4 years prior to HL2 without needing to switch guns.
      The only new hing, was that the player needed to play with those physics to proceed in the game.
      That HL2 was a Walking Simulator in the first 20-30 minutes before the term existed isn’t much of an accomplishment.

      Revolutionary on Half Life 2 was Portal!

      1. Joshua says:

        Couldn’t tell you anything about those other games, as I never played any of them. While there have been many games that allowed you to pick things up and throw them at enemies even in the 80s (Beat ’em ups, Super Mario 2, many more), I think using physics to this extent in the context of an FPS was fairly novel.

        “That HL2 was a Walking Simulator in the first 20-30 minutes before the term existed isn’t much of an accomplishment.”

        That’s a fairly snarky and dismissive comment. I would consider it to be good world-building and story-telling without having to drag the player aside and say “Here’s what happened since you were last here. The Combine took over, they put everyone into ghettos, and they’re really, really bad, ok.”

        1. baud says:

          But is that story really interesting? I mean I’d gladly take that text: “Here’s what happened since you were last here. The Combine took over, they put everyone into ghettos, and they’re really, really bad, ok.” over a few pictures of combine soldiers and that dictator so that we can recognize them later on, over the 30 min of utter boredom that are the beginning of the game. And I would call a lot of these “cutscenes”, because even if you can move around, there’s no gameplay to do while you’re getting that exposition.

          For my part, I play all the HF games for the first time in 2018 and I agree with Chris (the maibag question), HF 1 aged way better than HF 2. I’d say there are multiple reasons for this: once you’ve accepted that the HF 1 graphics are three generation old, they don’t suffer much from the comparison with current games, unlike HF2, which now just look cheap compared to current games; all the quiet moments in HF 2 did nothing to me: for me it was always an exploration phase, looking for ammo and healthpacks, which is not very rewarding to me; in addition to a smaller and less fun weapon selections, there are less enemy variety; the gravity gun feel like a cheap gimmick (perhaps then it was revolutionary, but today it feels just like that), either you can barely use it for lack of projectile or the whole level is built around it to the point of excess, but at least during the end when it’s overpowered, it’s fun to use.

          1. evilmrhenry says:

            The real problem with the opening area of HL2 is that it’s just an unusually-long instance of the game’s cutscenes, and HL2 doesn’t have good cutscenes.

            In a normal game of the time, cutscenes would occur by showing a movie (in-engine or prerendered), then resuming gameplay. HL2 got the bright idea of letting the player retain control. That way there’s no cutscenes, it’s just gameplay, right? Except, watching multiple characters talk at each other doesn’t get more interesting just because you can jump on a desk and throw coffee cups at them. HL2 did a lot of cutscenes via locking the player in a small room while the NPCs had a meeting, and that didn’t really age that well once the novelty of throwing things at NPCs wore off.

            A more modern take on the formula would attempt to give the player something to do while they’re listening to exposition. HL2 doesn’t start once you get your first weapon, it starts when the police start chasing you, and a lot of worldbuilding can occur while the police are chasing you.

            1. Syal says:

              I really think any opening should have a skip for the sake of replayability. For a plot-heavy intro like Half Life 2, you could put the exit in the first room hidden behind some unintuitive mechanic*, that you’re told about at the end of the introduction, but if you already know it you can do it right away and skip the slow worldbuilding opening.

              *(…or a combination lock. That’s probably easier.)

              1. Joshua says:

                You can do this by starting a new game and skipping the first chapter. Normally, starting at a later chapter vs. getting there naturally is suboptimal because you might end up with less items, but that’s irrelevant for the beginning of the game.

          2. baud says:

            For the sake of this conversation, the comment above is wrong, the player gets its first weapons after 20 minutes, if the player goes straight to the objective each time. And the 3 minutes of the police chase aren’t boring (but the rest still is).

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        Can you throw saw blades such that they chop enemies in half at the point of contact where you hit them in Deus Ex? If no, then… it’s not really the same, is it? Can you hit enemies with toilets and watch them crumple with a detailed physics reaction? Picking up a wooden box and the enemy takes health damage when you ping it off their forehead (which is what I would assume Deus Ex has) is the same interaction without any of the life to it. That’s like saying you can’t see what makes Mario 64 any better than Bubsy 3D.

        Also, any time without combat in a game isn’t a Walking Simulator. You are being frankly ridiculous and it’s impossible to take your critique seriously.

        1. baud says:

          “Also, any time without combat in a game isn’t a Walking Simulator.”

          Then what is that part of the game? The only “gameplay” interactions are walking and picking up trash, all the while being told, as Joshua summarised above, “The Combine took over, they put everyone into ghettos, and they’re really, really bad”.

          Personally I’m happy that more devs didn’t copy that style of intro, or at least too closely.

          Also to be fair, HF 1’s intro is even worse to be fair, since it’s just a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng cutscene. But the rest of the game (and more importantly the monster shooting bits) is better.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            I would call that section of the game story setup/basic tutorial/and establishment of stakes. Running from heavy Combine enforcement without the ability to fight back lets the player know how it is for all the people in the slums of City 17. I can’t think of a single game that would be accurately called a Walking Simulator where the player is chased and has to execute an escape of some kind. That’s… not what Walking sims are, by nature they aren’t action games. Realizing that, makes it noticeable that walking sim is being used as an (inaccurate) pejorative rather than an attempt to classify a gameplay style. He might as well have said “Gears of War often becomes a walking simulator when the Gears pause and slow walk to listen to important instructions from Command & Control.” That’s not a thing. That’s dumb.

            1. baud says:

              It’s been some time I’ve played HF 2, but doesn’t the chase scene last like less than 3 minutes out of all that part? And can you even get killed if you stand still? And the rest has the same level of player input as a walking simulator.

              lets the player know how it is for all the people in the slums of City 17

              And it’s just world-building that has no impact on gameplay and only a little impact on the story, so I don’t think it’s a salient point for defending HF2’s start.

              1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                The term of art “walking simulator” has more components than “you usually can’t die” and “all you do is walk and interact with certain objects in the environment.” This reminds me of when people try to pretend that “RPG” must mean that any game where you “play a role” is fairly classified as an RPG. So Mario 64 is a role playing game because every player plays the role of Mario, necessarily! That’s like saying every movie is a mystery because the watchers of said movie don’t necessarily know every event that will occur next, so therefore… it is a mystery to them.

                Half-Life 2 has a really well developed pace and escalation. At the end of the game, you’re basically a God, able to pick up enemies and hurl them to their deaths without even firing a shot. You’re like Neo at the end of the Matrix. The opposite point of that curve is not being capable of even fighting back against the enemies and running from them helplessly… also like Neo at the start of the Matrix. The game would really lose something if Gordon exited the train into City 17 and immediately started headshotting fools who dared impede his way through doors. A slowed moment of consideration doesn’t change the game into a different genre and there’s more to that other genre than a bit of calm before the storm in a violent action game.

                1. baud says:

                  The term of art “walking simulator” has more components than “you usually can’t die” and “all you do is walk and interact with certain objects in the environment.”

                  Except that “you usually can’t die” and “all you do is walk and interact with certain objects in the environment” is what we only get to do during the HF 2 intro. So you mean that walking simulator are somewhat superior to the HF 2 intro?

                  The game would really lose something if Gordon exited the train into City 17 and immediately started headshotting fools who dared impede his way through doors.

                  Except that slow start (except for a short chase sequence) is too long and doesn’t bring much to the game, especially since it’s immediately followed by a slow exposition dump in the lab. I agree that a slow start isn’t a bad idea, but it’s way too long and it shouldn’t be followed by that long “cut-scene”/info-dump.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I mean we could push it further. The Skyrim cart ride and later on waiting for the execution could be replaced with just a box of text “tied on a cart *stop* head about to be chopped off *stop* dragon started wrecking shit *stop*” then start you in the courtyard. Alan Wake “writer’s block, spooky cottage, wife in the lake, amnesia”. Fallout 3 “past: dead moms and birthdays; present: missing dads and radroaches; always: war, because war never changes”. I’m obviously exaggerating for effect but the reason these sequences exist is not just to provide you with a bit of exposition but also to immerse you in the world. We can argue about their value for the gameplay or as tutorials on a case-by-case basis , and I’m not particular fan of HL games so I’m not going to die on their altar, but I think that would miss the main point.

            On the other hand I understand your point if you just want to get to gameplay. I’m a lore whore and even I will admit some games definitely prolong their introduction sequences before letting you do stuff (isn’t MGS notorious for it’s super long cutscenes? And probably like half of the world’s JRPGs) and personally I’m a great fan of the game letting you skip the introduction, and tutorial, if not straight out (though if you ask me go for it) at the very least on subsequent playthroughs. And yes, I’m aware that I mentioned Skyrim and like every one of those Bethesda open world games has an alternate start mod.

            1. Joshua says:

              Thank you. I had referred to “The Combine took over, they put everyone into ghettos, and they’re really, really bad” somewhat sarcastically, but that was taken as a serious point. In a purely intellectual sense, that’s the short-form summary, even though you’re learning more specific details such as the nature of the Overwatch, the concept of districts, the reproductive suppressor, etc.

              The point, however, is not to just confer information in an exposition bullet point list, but to get to the feel of the game, tone, rules, and understanding that the Combine is using the slightest facade of legitimacy, which is quickly torn apart once you get involved. The Half-Life games don’t have any exceptionally innovative stories in what’s being told, but rather in how the story is being told. That’s one reason why the “cut-scenes” aren’t the usual passive like a film, but are trying to show how video games experience stories as a different media than film.

              That being said, I fully understand how people might not care for that approach upon subsequent playthroughs, as there is unfortunately no way to skip scenes that I’m aware of, apart from skipping to the next chapter.

              1. baud says:

                I think that the intro still way too long and too slow and it could be pared down to less than half of this. And I’m not exactly playing a FPS to immerse myself in the feel of a setting and even then, the setting and its delivery isn’t anything particularly interesting or brilliantly delivered (“yawn, another dystopic police state, except this time it’s controlled by actual aliens”)

                And those “cutscenes” are worse than actual cutscenes, since most games give the option to skip them, unlike here, where I got to do wait until the writer finishes to expose the situation. And there’s no interaction to be had while the player has to wait until the prose delivery part is done, which is even worse, since games are supposed to be better than movies because they’re interactive.

        2. Lars says:

          Yes as Joshua pointed out: My comment of HL2 being a Walking Simulator is a snarky one – not to take too serious. Sorry.
          What you could do in Deus Ex and Thief with physics is distract enemy guards, build towers to reach parts of the level you normally couldn’t, block ways to lay traps. No you couldn’t throw saw blades. And there were no ragdoll effects.

          Spector games had only basic physics, but they were there and you could do stuff with them other than health damaging. HL2 took that to the next level, but it didn’t invent it.

          1. Joshua says:

            Thanks for the reply. I’m not sure I would say that anything in HL2 is brand new, especially the story, but what made it work for me is the combination of a number relatively new things combined together, topped off with a sheer amount of Q&A polish.

        3. Lanthanide says:

          “Can you throw saw blades such that they chop enemies in half at the point of contact where you hit them in Deus Ex? If no, then… it’s not really the same, is it? ”

          Well you can’t do that in Half Life 2, either. Only zombies can be cut in half, and only if you throw the saw blade somewhere near their mid section. You can’t cut off zombie heads or hands or slice them vertically with the saw blade like you’re implying you can.

    2. Chris says:

      I understand it was revolutionary for its time. That is why i wanted to question of the “memory pill”, whether it would still hold up if you could somehow forget it. Because if Shamus would play it now, but with the knowledge of games that came after it, you lose that.
      Half-life one also started you with 20 minutes without a gun. Well, it does if you walk around in the complex instead of rushing to the test chamber. Heck, that game even had you sit in a car ride for a long time with nothing to do but admire the sights. HL2 seems to show restraint not locking you in a wagon for too long.

      My point was, and I’m sad it didn’t get picked up, is not that HL2 is bad, but that compared to halflife one it isnt nearly as impressive. HL1 also had a silent protagonist. It also had pacing (better in my opinion), it had cooler guns, it also had these reversal moments. Similar to shooting the helicopter that harrassed you the whole trip, HL1 has that moment when a huge monster chases you, and you call in an airstrike to take him out. Halflife also had plenty of little touches, like when you get through the waste facility and find out they were keeping houndeyes in kennels. Then you realize they werent quite as unaware of the aliens as you might think.
      So, I guess my question should be. Why would you want to replay HL2 for the first time if you can replay HL1 for the first time.

      1. Joshua says:

        “Why would you want to replay HL2 for the first time if you can replay HL1 for the first time.”

        Hard to say. I really liked the open areas of HL1 (where you’re mostly fighting the military, and not including Xen), and I therefore really loved all of the openness of HL2. I think there’s much better characterization in HL2, considering that there’s barely any in HL1 at all, mostly just the G-Man at the end.

        I think both games are slightly long and exhausting with somewhat disappointing last levels, although it’s again hard to say whether I prefer HL2’s somewhat shorter(?) last levels although it jettisons the existing gameplay in favor of the super-powered gravity gun, or HL1’s Xen which keeps the same fighting gameplay as the rest of the game albeit with tons of annoying jumping puzzles.

        “Half-life one also started you with 20 minutes without a gun. Well, it does if you walk around in the complex instead of rushing to the test chamber.”

        I thought about that after my initial post. I think HL2 works better in that you’re actively learning more about the world and have more control of where you can go, whereas HL1 seemed to me more like you’re just waiting for the plot to kick into gear? This is not meant to insult HL1, as it’s meant to show how your semi-normal day is being disrupted.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        Was Half-Life 1 more impressive to its time than Half-Life 2 was to its respective time? Hard question to answer, not sure how you would manage it.

        Would a new player with no preferences towards either game or the franchise or the dev but (presumably) an appreciation for first person style games enjoy Half-Life 1 or 2 more? Uh… 2. 100% 2. 1 is ancient and decrepit in comparison. If the player happened to nostalgically prefer old games or old gamestyles, 1 could come out on top, but that’s loading the dice. Now… 2 vs Black Mesa? That’s a fairer contest, but it’s also kind of silly. Black Mesa is clearly “what if 1 had the aesthetic sense and more clear storytelling like 2”, which means that a victory there would mean that 1 could be the favorite… if it was mostly replaced by 2’s style and mechanics.

        1. Chris says:

          As someone who’s too young to be nostalgic for old games, and someone who played HL1 a few years ago (2 years i think) and HL2 last christmas, i prefer the original. How is HL1 ancient of decrepit. If anything i think its gameplay is still very up to date, and until some other old shooters it is tightly enough designed you arent lost for a long time. The speed and weapon selection really makes it better than HL2 in my opinion. That said, i was spoiled on HL2s story (how could I not, its practically everywhere, especially with the epistle 3 being dropped), so i do miss out on experiencing that.

          1. Joshua says:

            One thing I’d give HL1 credit for over HL2 is being a challenging game, for people who want a more difficult FPS. You’re going to experience the red screen/flatline a lot more in the first game than the second, as the second cheats all over the place to hurt you if you’re full on health and pull their punches if you’re in bad shape.

            1. Chris says:

              Yeah, the ammo boxes are really silly if you know how they work. You just use the best ammo since it will refill that over giving you pistol ammo. Meanwhile if you try to preserve ammo it will only give you shitty ammo back.

          2. shoeboxjeddy says:

            Not disputing your experience of enjoying 1 more than 2, but I will DEFINITELY dispute the idea that unmodified Half-Life 1 has a modern sensibility and it’s easy to avoid getting lost. Getting lost in the bizarre jumping/box/lift puzzles would actually be my largest complaint, by a LONG shot. Half-Life 1 fully intends to confuse the player and have them try moves that don’t work and get you killed over and over. Half-Life 2 finds no enjoyment in killing the player for curiosity or confusion. More often, piss poor execution of clearly sign posted tasks will get you killed in 2, which is the much more modern attitude. Your mileage may vary as to which is more fun, but I’ve played through 2 about 3 times and loved it each time, and occasionally didn’t want to continue playing 1 through on my first time.

            1. Higher_Peanut says:

              Half life 1 really does come from the era of quicksave as a hotkey in FPS. There’s a ton of fiddly first person jumps, instant death traps and guys with rockets round blind corners. I’ve been through it a few times and it’s not the best to return to. It says a lot about signposting when I’ve played it multiple times and still wander lost in places.

              I like that we moved away from that with HL2 but hate that it came with the extra baggage of hiding their difficulty to try and keep the dangerous moments in. It feels bad and ends up exploitable as soon as you figure it out. I won’t miss the cheap deaths though.

              As an aside I do miss the machine gun (MP5?) from HL1 compared to the HL2 version. It felt far beefier to fire and use, even if the soldiers were meat tanks compared to the combine.

      3. Duoae says:

        I think it seems clear to me from the very divided view of the games in the discussion above that the memory pill would work for exactly the type of person who enjoyed the game in the first place. People who enjoy world-building, tone setting and exploration of environments and themes will still enjoy those things later in their life, though the impact of such an event might be lessened depending on games they consumed between “the forgetting” and the (re-)playing.

        For me, and clearly our tastes are different, Half Life 1 was not nearly as revolutionary as Half Life 2. In fact, I knew people who much preferred Unreal to Half Life or Quake 2. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 was also pretty good in terms of level design and gameplay (for the time) and we also had Hexen 2 at the time HL1 was released.

        Half Life 2 introduced all this technology (rigging and lip-syncing, improved amounts of reactionary physics and lighting) that wasn’t common at the time and linked it to a well-constructed world, art-style and gameplay. In fact 2004 was a really stellar year for technology with Doom 3, FarCry and Half Life 2 all coming out. Each did different and interesting things with the FPS genre, too.

        In many ways, the original Half Life was more similar (in terms of design) to the games that were released around the time than Half Life 2 was to its contemporaries.

        It’s funny for me to see the discussion about physics and stuff like that in the comments above – we had those discussions back in 2004, leading up to the release. In fact, the E3 demo where the breaking of the wooden fence was argued over a lot. Of course, I was correct in that the game was spawning in new assets instead of actually breaking the fence dynamically… and yes, of course the gravity gun wasn’t new technology – any game that allowed you to pick things up had the same possibility… but it was only Valve that implemented it.

        1. Joshua says:

          I do remember playing HL1 and Hexen 2 around the same period of time. While I enjoyed both, I definitely preferred Half-Life by a long shot.

          1. Duoae says:

            Yeah, again… personal preferences was my point. :D

            I think I’d place Hexen 2 closer to Half Life 1 (and Doom 2) on the FPS scale than Half Life 2… ;)

  8. Grimwear says:

    Here’s my annual…bi-annual? statement in regards to GDQ where I still love the idea of runs and may scour their archives for an interesting run but it gets harder and harder to support with their arbitrary rules enforcement and bans.

  9. John says:

    One of the long-standing questions about our hobby that I occasionally wrestle with is: should games be fun?

    Down this path lies a never-ending quagmire of definitional arguments. I’ve been there, and I’ve regretted it. On the one hand, you have people who are willing to stretch the definition of “fun” to “whatever it is that makes someone want to play a game”. On the other are the people Asdasd is talking about, the people who are willing to shrink the definition of “game” until it excludes everything they think isn’t “fun”. Watching the two groups talk past each other is only slightly less painful than being in one of the groups and talking to someone in the other.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the best response to any short, rhetorical question about games is a short, rhetorical counter-question about games. If someone asks “Are games Art?”, I respond with “Why wouldn’t they be?”. If someone asks “Should games be Fun?”, I respond with “So what if they aren’t?”. Their reply is usually enough to indicate whether or not further conversation is going to be worthwhile.

    1. Thomas says:

      The whole idea games ‘should’ be anything is a dead end discussion. Games exist, people will end up using them however they wish.

      1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

        Well, they should have some elements and qualities, to appeal to some audience. And they should be interactive in some way to be called a game.

        1. tmtvl says:

          Is a book a game? It’s interactive because you turn the pages yourself.

          1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

            Then movies interactive too. You need to go to the theater, buy tickets, and the most thrilling experience is going to restroom without missing key plot points.

            1. tmtvl says:

              Sure, movies are games too. As is breathing, sleeping, going to work,… I think that by the definition you gave any activity is a game.

              That’s a wonderful way to look at life, I’m jealous.

        2. Thomas says:

          Sure but ‘a positive value by some definition to someone’ is so broad, that that’s really just a longer way of saying what I said.

          And saying games should be games is tautological. Stones should be stones. If we’re talking about what movies ‘should’ be, I’d have said movies.

          1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

            Everything should be what it is, if we play it like this.
            Mentioning interactivity wasn’t smart, and I knew it, when I did it, but we all going with some very broad statements.
            And I wasn’t arguing with you. I was trying to specify, that games should adhere to some staples of their genres and should target some audience, because making one game appeal to everybody is impossible and making one that appeal to nobody is ridiculous.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      The rhetorical question I prefer is typically “Who cares?” If God himself descended from the heavens and announced to the world “Videogames aren’t art”, would it change your gaming habits at all? Do you think it would change what games the publishers fund much? If not, who cares?

      1. John says:

        In this case, I have an actual answer for your short, rhetorical question. Me! I care! I don’t care enough to want to wade back into the quagmire, but I definitely care, if only because I’d like the people who make video games to get the respect that they’re due as artists and craftsmen.

        1. Hector says:

          That’s circular logic, though. “Games must be art so the creators can be valued as artists because they made art.”

          Either the word Art means something specific, in which case it ought to be used properly, or it just means something vaguely nice, in which case it means nothing.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            Generally people try to say something isn’t art when they discover something they think is stupid is being described as art. Perfect example: the room full of trash art exhibit or the banana taped to wall art exhibit. My viewpoint on stuff like this is: all of those things probably SHOULD be described as art… but the financial speculation on them is almost certainly a crime or fraud of some sort. If not for the “this wall-taped banana is worth $40,000” stuff going on, I think people would possibly be more interested in discovering what the artistic statement is meant to be and if it speaks to them at all.

            1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

              I think, there is two problems with contemporary art (maybe more, but currently I think about two). First, it happens now, and we can’t evaluate it’s impact properly. And second, there are too many artists, and large part of them are quite mediocre. So they try to stretch or defile the whole definition of art. And that may be an art too, or maybe not, I’m not in position to answer that.

            2. Hector says:

              I mean however, that regardless of how people sloppily abuse language, art is a thing or it’s not. If everything is art, if course, then I shall declare its usage irrelevant and define the word as I please. To wit:

              Games in the abstract are not art. This does not mean that abstract games can’t be art, but that the game, on it’s own, has no intrinsic artistic value. Only the game as played by a specific person is art.

          2. John says:

            Not at all. The fact that I’d like game-makers to be recognized as artists is the reason I care about whether or not other people think games are art, not the reason that I think games are art. There’s nothing circular about it.

            1. Geebs says:

              I think I’d rather they had some work-life balance and got paid. The trouble with being labelled as an artist is that people then expect you to be cool with being poor until after you’re dead.

              1. John says:

                I see your point, but I wasn’t aware it was an either-or thing.

        2. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

          Merriam-Webster deffinition of art:

          …the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects…

          By definition, art is creative process and it require skills, so games are art, sort of. Problem that we don’t have universal criteria, what makes them good art, or I’d rather say, art, that works like art. We have them for paintings, movies, books etc. Also a lot of people unconsciously falls for “it’s good art, because I enjoyed it”, which not quite true, and with video games, because of lack of universal criteria, there’s a lot of arguments fueled by this fallacy.
          As example, lets take Mass Effect 2.
          It’s enjoyable for a lot of people, but story isn’t working most of the times, some characters work, some don’t, gameplay is dull and simplistic. So what will be overall conclusion on this? It’s art, but not good enough, isn’t it?
          And lets take other example. Pac-Man.
          It’s an old arcade, there’s no “movie” or “book” components, but it’s definitely a good art. It’s artful programming for it’s time, it’s influential etc.
          So we need to take into consideration genre, external factors, like when and where it was made, just to set up a criteria. It’s a work for thousands people, who can spend their lives writing monographs on this topic.
          So my final thought, being an art doesn’t elevate something higher by sheer label, so games are art, but we still in a long process to figure out, what criteria makes them count as a good art.

          1. Henson says:

            You’ve touched on something that has been pointed out to me recently: apparently, ‘Art’ used to be thought of as a process, not a product. So the creation of games would be thought of as an art, but the idea of the games themselves as art would just be nonsensical. The same would apply to any artistic endeavor, so the question of ‘what movies are art’ would be similarly meaningless.

            I find I rather like this approach, as discussions of ‘what things are art’ is ultimately a question of either (A) what things you personally like / find meaning in, or (B) what things you view as deep and high-brow. If those are the discussions we want to have, it’s best to simply have them and not confuse the issue with “”””””””””Art””””””””””.

            1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

              Well, I think when we call something an art, it’s a short for “a product of art”.

              Yeah, you pointed out almost the same thing, that I thought, but more cohesive and short. It’s pointless to delve into academic-like discussion about games and “art”.

            2. Sleeping Dragon says:

              Here’s an additional idea. Are video games more like sculpting or painting, giving as a “product” that may be open to derivative work and obviously can be interpreted in various ways but in itself is pretty defined, or are they more like composing or playwriting, where the work exists but its specific performance can have artistic value of its own or reinterpret the work.

              1. Henson says:

                Are you saying that the real artists were the gamers who were playing along the way?

                1. Hector says:

                  Well that’s my argument though I can’t speak for him.

      2. Kyle Haight says:

        Yes, it probably would. I’m a life-long atheist, so God descending from the heavens would pretty much uproot my entire understanding of life and the universe. I doubt my gaming habits would survive that unchanged.

        1. tmtvl says:

          As a polytheist I have the opposite problem, it would depend on which deity manifested to make the proclamation. I’d be far more likely to believe the word of Heaven-Shining-Great-August than that of Brave-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness. So if it were Heaven-Shining-Great-August I would be more concerned with debating the precise meaning of her words whereas were it Brave-Swift-Impetuous-Male-Augustness I would be wondering what his agenda is (he has done both laudable and despicable acts).

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            God has arrived and answered definitively: video games ARE art! Unfortunately, the god in question was Coyote… the known trickster god. This has muddied the waters further.

    3. Asdasd says:

      In my defence, that wasn’t the question I put to the hosts, just a question that I occasionally tangle with on my own. That’s probably not what I should have led with, but luckily it didn’t seem to distract Shamus and SoldierHawke from giving what I thought were great answers.

      I was rather hoping to obviate the definitional argument. My strategy was to make an example of a genre that nobody would dispute counted as a game (survival horror), but that was enjoyed for emotional content separate from its quotient of what people would traditionally call ‘fun’. That way we could blow past the quagmire and focus on the future possibilities, the frontiers we’d like to see games explore in terms of emotion.

      It seems I chose poorly, though, as apparently the appeal of survival horror games falls squarely within some people’s definition of fun. What probably lies at the heart of this oversight is that the most fun I could personally derive from horror, contained within any format, would almost certainly involve a match and a can of petrol.

      And so it was that I opened the exact door that would allow everyone to collect $200 and advance straight to an argument over semantics. Or, as that’s a bit passe for a sophisticated arena such as ours – the opportunity to argue about arguing over semantics. ;)

      Ah well. I hope people are at least having – wait for it – fun.

    4. SupahEwok says:

      In my own opinion, the whole argument boils down to “games” being an immature term for what we have now. I think “games” do have to have a goal of being fun. But I don’t think that everything we call games are games.

      It’s like this. You know what else are games? Football. Soccer. Baseball. Can anybody argue that these games are art, or are not supposed to be fun (even if I don’t see the appeal in them personally)? Not anybody in their right minds. So why, when it comes to this new artform we have, do we keep trying to limit it to this narrow definition encapsulated by the term “game” (or even “videogame”)?

      I think it’s nothing more than momentum. We’ve always called them games, we shall always call them games. But I prefer to think of them as “interactive video experiences”, some (okay, the vast majority) of which are games, and some which are not. Seems like everybody gets what they want that way and language gets to evolve, although I admit something catchier than “interactive video experience” is needed to catch on to the public conciousness.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        This, this shackling of the medium to the term “game” is exactly what caused so many pointless issues. All the wars about walking sims, visual novels, story modes, fail states or lack thereof…

      2. Thomas says:

        I agree with the sentiment. ‘Interactive video experiences’ is about 11 syllables too long to ever catch on though! Language has shortened ‘videogame’ down to game and that’s just 3 syllables.

        If everyone could just recognise that ‘game’ as in videogame isn’t quite the same concept as ‘game’ as in chess, we could end a lot of discussions about language that don’t get us anywhere useful

    5. Duoae says:

      I think it’s much simpler to reply to those questions with:

      Are games art?: “What isn’t art?”
      Should games be fun?: “What isn’t fun?”

      The ultimate answer is personal, therefore a general question along those lines is pointless. Some people find Sudoku fun. Others think it’s pointless busywork.

  10. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    *logs on to defend the virtues of Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast*

    Wait, KOTOR came out a year later?

    Wow.

    Well, anyway -KOTOR is great, and I guess therefore it is not wrong to say that the last great Star Wars game was KOTOR (I or II, I loved both). But Jedi Outcast was phenomenal. (Alas, Jedi Academy was less awesome.)

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      Hey, Battlefront 2 was 2005.

      It’s weird, the drought in recent years is because EA got and then squandered an exclusive license, but that was 2013, and the only Star Wars games I can even name from 2006-2013 are Republic Commando (decent) and Force Unleashed (meh). I wonder if something happened around 2005, or if it was just chance that Star Wars games had been doing so well until then.

      I suppose the obvious answer is that Episode 3 happened, and with the trilogy wrapped up in a less then stellar manner, Star Wars hype started to die down and people just made less Star Wars games.

      1. John says:

        They were talking about single-player games. The Battlefront series may have some single-player content, but it’s very clearly multi-player focused.

      2. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

        Well, Star Wars always was quite a troubled franchise. There was more games, like Empire at War (2006) which was somewhat mediocre. Also there was some problems at LucasArts after 2005, rapid changes in management and a lot of failed projects, if I remember it right.

        Disclaimer: everything below is my controversial opinion.

        And in 2008-2009 The Clone Wars happened. Animated show aimed on children under age of 7-9, that expands further the worst SW movie ever made. At that time I doubt that Lucasarts/Lucas licensing will license anything that don’t have clonetroopers or Anakin in it. You could see this in The Old Republic MMORPG, that dismissed all aesthetics of Old Republic from comics and singleplayer games and tried to look like Episodes II and III.

        And later it even get worse, metastases of soulless marketing strategy reached other media. DH comics, that was always full of creativity, start to stamp awful trash like “Darth Vader and #insertnameorplace#”, “Adventures of Han, Leia and Luke in #somwhere#”, “Star Wars”, “Leia is hotshot pilot now and men are useless, or something”.

        1. baud says:

          I wouldn’t call Empire at War mediocre. Perhaps on its own merit as a RTS, it might be mediocre, but I’d say that the SW licence elevates the concept: I mean commanding all those ships we see in the movies is fun! Well a bit less fun on the rebel sides, since their most easily recognized spaceships are in the fighter/bomber class, so are a little overshadowed by the cruiser-class ships. In space battles, dropping ships out of hyperspace all around your enemies feels really good. I won’t defend the ground battles though, which were usually miserable.

          If you also take mods into account, there are quite a few of very good mods out there.

          1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

            I totally agree with you. I had the same thoughts but omitted it in the comment, to make it shorter and more readable.
            Space combat was good, but there was lack of variety with objectives and strategies.
            My biggest gripes were: overall simplicity as RTS, especially ground combat wasn’t shining, and that distinction between Alliance and Empire was only a little more than cosmetic. After Rebellion no other game get it right. But I still can’t decide if Rebellion was brilliant or disaster of a game. Most likely both at the same time, though.

            I had a lot of fun with mods, even modded game a bit myself. KotOR mod was my favorite, despite there were a lot of ugly models and a few types of units for every faction it felt very immersive, because of nature of conflict and relative equality of sides.

          2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            The ground combat was uneven, but it did have some good ideas -like cover for infantry, which I think was fairly new at that point (Emperor: Battle for Dune had come close, but not quite gotten it). And it was a big step up to have space battles followed by ground battles. Sins of a Solar Empire just had you bomb the planet into submission, and the other games I’m familiar with from the era simply autocalced one side of it or the other.

            The space battles, however, were a blast. And yes -hyperspacing a cruiser into the middle of a Star Destroyer fight was amazing.

            The “Thrawn’s Revenge” mod made the game a lot of fun -taking down an SSD is a thrill. Though I was disappointed that they didn’t implement ruined buildings -or at least remove them from the map -for the non-Republic/Empire factions. I once spent like 5 minutes trying to blow up an already destroyed building of the Chiss Ascendency because I didn’t know it was already dead (and artillery was just targeting the ground in the base).

    2. tmtvl says:

      The Force Unleashed was better than KOTOR. Fight me (as the kids say nowadays).

      To wit: KOTOR may have a decent-ish story, but the gameplay is not up to par with the better Star Wars games. It falls kind of in the awkward space between when Bioware released NWN and ME. So it’s very shallow RTWP combat without any interesting additional gameplay mechanics to make up for its flaws.

      And as a talkie game it doesn’t hold a candle to the better Black Isle/Troika/Obsidian games.

      1. Trystan de Lyonesse says:

        Well, KotOR utilize butchered SW D20 system, for a lot of people it was a problem, as I remember. Also KotOR was released in times of prequels, which created next equation “Star War = exciting lightsaber fights” (I’ve resisted an urge to write last three words in caps and add a lot of exclamation marks). But it’s hard to make DnD based combat exciting in a video game.

        Also I’d argue, that first KotOR simplicity, and what somebody could mistake for mediocrity, is actually it’s merit. It’s a simple SW story of good and bad, fall, redemption, nothing new but it had a good set of characters, good pacing and was overall a satisfying experience. There was enough SW feeling in it. KotOR 2 on its own would be a bit alienating without first.

        Ah, and about Force Unleashed, gameplay may be good for a “Jedi simulator”. Actually I want to hear comparisons with Fallen Order’s gameplay. But writing was.. It would be better if TFU had no story at all.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          Fallen Order’s gameplay is good if you like Dark Souls (I do), but I think it’s a bad “Jedi simulator”. Maybe this is just weird personal taste, but it really failed to sell me on “laser sword that cuts through anything”. Part of that is the tragically Disney-mandated lack of dismemberment, part is things having too much health (how did that stormtrooper survive four hits of my laser sword?), and part is the animations just feeling kind of wimpy (lots of glancing blows). The other part of the Jedi fantasy is sweet force powers, and Dark Souls design principles mean that your force powers have to be weak enough to not get any free kills, and limited enough that the player can’t spam them. All of that works for a Dark Souls clone, and I think it’s in general miles better than TFU, but it doesn’t leave me feeling like a cool space paladin.

          1. Thomas says:

            Star Wars games have struggled with dismemberment for a long time.

            In some ways it’s a tricky balance, because Star Wars makes dismemberment a big thing, but also a much less gory and impactful thing. Having Mortal Kombat style dismemberment would feel as bad as not having it.

            I’m curious, if anyone remembers Metal Gear Rising – do you think the dismemberment in that game would work in Star Wars? Or is that too far.

            1. DeadlyDark says:

              Something something something, g_saberrealisticcombat 1

              1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

                The Only Way to Play.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            Yup, I think we’re seriously overdue for a Jedi spectacle fighter.

      2. baud says:

        I think KotOR and FU has different strengths, with KotOR having a way better story and visual design and FU having decent-ish gameplay. In the end I think I had more fun (two different type of fun, though) and got better memories of KotOR (because of the story and visuals), there’s not a lot of games that do that whereas there are many game with decent action gameplay. Also KotOR brings some gameplay variety and a lot of freedom in which order you do what.

        Regarding how the license is used, for FU it feels like a coat of paint, with a story that doesn’t really fit the rest of the SW movies, whereas KotOR gave the feeling that it understood much better what SW was about.

      3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I could never get into Force Unleashed -which always seemed to be more like a rollercoaster of force powers (I also lost interest after the first two levels, so it could have changed later). I do not get the joy others do, apparently, from force pushing people off a cliff.

        KOTOR combat wasn’t great, but it wasn’t particularly bad compared to the era of RPGs. I mean, Morrowind basically did the same thing, as did NWN. So did Fallout. The worldbuilding and environments, however, were more interesting to me. I enjoyed wandering Telos far more than I enjoyed walking through Kashyk just Force murdering people.

        I think Jedi Knight hit a good middle place (and as a result I will also dissent from the Silent Protagonist position -I like Kyle Kataarn being an established character).

        1. tmtvl says:

          KOTOR combat wasn’t great, but it wasn’t particularly bad compared to the era of RPGs. I mean, Morrowind basically did the same thing, as did NWN. So did Fallout.

          The only thing the combat had in common with Morrowind or Fallout is that there were to-hit rolls. In Morrowind you weren’t ordering your character around in the abstract, you had very direct control, and Fallout was turn-based instead of RTWP. And yes, it has the same bad combat as NWN, but in NWN at least you had options. Rolling a Wizard and using scrolls for everything, building a crit-stacking Weapon Master, going Druid and choosing between the more single-combat focused Shifter route, or going more for crowd control as a single-class character,…

          I like Kyle Kataarn being an established character

          Kyle is amazing and one of the main reasons I will always consider the EU to be actual canon.

  11. Geebs says:

    Re: atypical emotional states / game settings – I’ve just started playing through Blasphemous, and that’s pretty interesting while doing a good job of not being explicitly about any one real-world institution. Lots of stuff in there that really has no bearing on my day-to-day internal life, but that clearly a lot of people have given a lot of thought to.

    One genre I’ve never really been able to engage with, though, is “trance-inducing” games. I thought Rez was pretty neat, and Thumper was pretty irritating, but Tetris Effect has completely bounced off me, even in VR. It’s just Distracting Tetris.

  12. Retsam says:

    Screw the Capra Demon.

    That is all.

    1. Geebs says:

      No, no, no! Screw the dogs first, then the Capra Demon.

      1. Duoae says:

        Haha….

        I never really played Dark Souls but Kess did okay against the Capra demon with guidance from Yahtzee.

    2. Asdasd says:

      If you subscribe to the idea that Every Dark Souls Boss Is A Lesson, then the purpose of the encounter is to teach you how to deal with multiple targets in a cramped location. (Perhaps also to be open to the idea that the priority target isn’t necessarily the biggest, most obvious threat.)

      Whenever the game threw a curve ball at me – and this being Dark Souls, I do mean at me – I got into the habit of opening my inventory and looking through everything I was carrying. Up to this point, players will mostly have been focusing on weapons and items that are really good at dealing with targets one-on-one. They might have been lulled into forgetting that there are weapons and items which can clear out multiple targets in a small space – in a flash, no less.

      And as SoldierHawke says, there’s always summons. Making use of absolutely every advantage you can find is how we, as a species, have overcome much bigger, nastier threats in our environment. It’s quite fitting If you read ThE gaMe aS a commentary on Man vs Nature, which is one of the like four thousand ways that you can.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        The real lesson of Capra Demon is that heavy armour + Zweihander is good, actually. Two-handing the Zwei, you’ll do enough damage to one-shot those pesky dogs and even stagger Capra. It’s a really brutal fight in conditions you’re not used to if you try to fight him the way you’ve probably been fighting the rest of the game, but his low health and stagger resistance makes it surprisingly possible to just stand in the doorway and tank him.

        If you’d prefer to do it a different way, the standard advice is to sprint for the staircase and use it to lure the dogs to you so you can kill them before engaging Capra one-on-one. If Capra comes up the stairs before his dogs, just drop off the staircase and either kill them on the ground while he’s up there, or wait for him to drop down and run back up to try again. Either way it’s critical to have high-damage weapons, killing the dogs quickly is the most important part.

        1. RFS-81 says:

          You mean you hold the “two-hander” in two hands? Now that’s just madness ;-) The weapon I’m using at the moment is that thing you get when you shoot off the drake’s tail.

          I’ve not found heavy armor yet. Maybe more evidence that I should be somewhere else in the game. Or am I just screwed out of heavy armor because I didn’t pick a knight at the start?

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            I’ve not found heavy armor yet. Maybe more evidence that I should be somewhere else in the game. Or am I just screwed out of heavy armor because I didn’t pick a knight at the start?

            You can find copies of all the starter sets throughout the game world: the knight set is in Darkroot Basin and the much better Elite Knight Set is reasonably easily reached in Darkroot Garden (You know where the blacksmith is? If you go down the stairs from him you’ll find a giant demon that you can fight or just sprint past, and then a path where the left fork leads to the Garden and the right to the Basin). This is not a “You should definitely have gone here before fighting Capra” area, but the Elite Knight set is one of the earliest available sets in its weight class so it’s worth going out of your way for if you’re not playing some light-rolling rogue. In general, assuming you’ve found the blacksmith you’re probably not too far out of place yet: the first bell is a pretty short distance from him and it doesn’t actually do anything until you’ve rung both bells so there’s no need to do it at this point, for either content unlocks or game mastery.

            The drake sword you’ve got is also very good (doesn’t scale well into the late game, but you don’t need to worry about that yet), though I don’t know if it has enough stagger for a single hit to interrupt Capra’s conveniently slow attacks.

      2. Joshua says:

        Reminds me of the challenges of D:OS2. 9 times out of 10, if you are having trouble in a particular fight you can look through your inventory for items that could give you an advantage (in addition to possibly adjusting a strategy).

        If, when looking through your inventory, you think “there’s nothing here except useless junk and stuff you were hoarding for a hard fight”, go back and re-read this sentence, slowly.

    3. Grimwear says:

      Capra I would argue is the worst boss in the game. Even worse than Bed of Chaos. The biggest problem is the first 2 seconds of the fight since when you go through the fog wall both dogs charge you and Capra will usually always start with a flying smash. So what you really need is a strong shield to survive those first two dog hits and Capra’s initial swing. After that just race for the stairs and the fight becomes easy beyond belief. Except…half the time you get body blocked trying to get there since your entrance is a really small doorway so you can just get trapped and killed while you try in vain to roll away.

  13. RFS-81 says:

    Thanks for the response! I may have been following some bad advice on where to go next in Dark Souls because I have, in fact, not rung the first bell yet.

    On whether I’m liking this game: I do like that you have to be careful and pay attention even to normal enemies. I like the metroidvania-ish parts where you unlock connections and see how the world hangs together. There’s a kind of “heavy” feel to it that I don’t see in other games. Not really into all the punishment, though.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      Unless you’re really into the exploration aspect of Dark Souls, I recommend looking up a list of where the game’s bonfires and shortcuts are located (if you’re kind of into it, maybe delay the lookup until you’re dying repeatedly in a long area). More than a few of them are easy to miss and it makes the game that much more punishing when missing a bonfire means you, like I did, climb the entirety of Sen’s Fortress for every attempt at the Iron Golem fight.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I think my first time playing Dark Souls -when the person in the Undead Burg tells you to ring two bells -one up and one down -I decided to try down first. It was painful.

        I didn’t play for like a month after that.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          Dark Souls is one of those games that’s best played with the assistance of an experienced friend who can answer questions like “What weapon should I use?” “Where do I go next?” “What’s equip load?” The game’s lack of tutorialization means you can make a lot of mistakes that you don’t even realize are mistakes and the result is miserable.

  14. Paul Spooner says:

    Wow, Eastshade does look really pretty. Plus it’s on sale for $15 right now too. What’s the playtime like? Is it replayable, or is this a The Witness kind of experience of wandering around a pretty island once, and then you’ve seen it all?

    1. evilmrhenry says:

      https://store.steampowered.com/app/715560/Eastshade/
      (Would have been nice to have the name in the notes.)

    2. Philadelphus says:

      I’ve put 30 hours into Eastshade according to Steam, and for reference I’ve 100% completed the achievements, explored everywhere, and completed all* the quests in a single play-through. Perhaps in part due to that I haven’t felt a desire to replay it yet, though I liked the music enough that I bought the soundtrack (and listen to it while I’m painting IRL, amusingly enough). Barring some visual glitches, it really is an absolutely gorgeous game. My first time on the hot air balloon going to Restless Reach was pretty magical.

      *there’s a mutually-exclusive pair quite a ways into the game and I missed an extremely minor one near the start which you only get one chance at (uncharacteristically for the game, none of the other are missable that I know of).

  15. Simplex says:

    VR is getting cheaper. In 2016 you needed a $800-900 VR goggles kit (including motion controller and tracking sensors) and a $1000 PC.
    In 2020 you can get standalone all-in-one VR goggles and motion controllers for $399 (if you can actually acquire them, because they’re backordered till end of February because of a surge in popularity). I am talking about the Oculus Quest.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oculus_Quest

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebooks-vr-quest-finally-getting-real-11578916800

    Even better – these standalone goggles are a 2-in-1 device – they can be connected to a PC using a USB-C cable and then they act like PC VR goggles (I.e. they can play PC VR games from Steam or Oculus store).

    If you have PS4, you can get PSVR kit for a couple of hundred dollars.

  16. Will says:

    A game is meant to evoke a feeling in the player
    Feeling like you’ve done good at your task for the goal oriented games
    Or laughing, feeling fear, sadness, or joy in more story & character focused games
    And if you want a melancholy game, play Last Day of June

  17. I know that in internet comment time (ICT) I’m waaaay late to the party, but I really enjoyed SoldierHawk’s visit on the podcast.

    And I totally agree with her about SW:Jedi:Fallen Order needing a character creator. As a Dark Souls fan, I would love to try the game. But after 40+ years of playing video games, I’m so…very…tired of being forced to play male protagonists. Ugh. Come on, EA. Grow up!

    Anyway, I hope that SoldierHawk is a guest again soon on the show.

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