GWJ Conference Call Episode 611

Hollow Knight, Octopath Traveller, Xenonauts 2, Lieve Oma, Cultist Simulator, State of Decay 2, How Expectations Change Your Threshold For Game Mechanics, Your Emails and More!

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This week Elysium, Shawn and Amanda talk about how what we're expecting colors what we play!

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00:03:18 Hollow Knight
00:06:00 Octopath Traveller
00:12:00 Cultist Simulator
00:13:09 Lieve Oma
00:15:43 Xenonauts 2
00:19:03 State of Decay 2
00:25:00 How Expectations Change Your Threshold For Game Mechanics
00:49:14 Your Emails

On the topic of expectations vs mechanics, there's a weird interplay between grinding and microtransactions to skip the grind.

It manages to pull some mental ju-jitsu on me - my abject refusal to pony up for the microtransaction makes the grind all the more valuable. Like, "ha-ha! I'm too clever to fall for your paying money trick, instead, I'll spend hours earning that pittance the hard way!"

Hollow Knight was my personal GOTY for 2017 so it warms the cockles of my cold, jaded heart to hear more positive talk on it.

I've noticed much more people on my favourite quiz show, replying to the question, what are your interests? by saying, "I play video games and/or collect comics." It's good to see.

Game mechanics wise I've always though that the death mechanic is a good test of how much you are really enjoying the game (or part of a game.) If I get incredibly frustrated at a death then I'm probably not really having fun, if I'm neutral about it then it's probably a good middle of the road time waster, if I'm secretly pleased to have died because it means I get to repeat a combat encounter I just had (as often happened in the early Halos) then I'm clearly am enjoying the heck out of it.

I can't cope with rogue-likes putting you back at the start of a game. I feel like I've made no progress, I died, often 'unfairly,' and now I'm right back at the beginning of the game. I played The Binding of Isaac for a while and I often thought I'd have enjoyed that game much more if, every time I died, someone swopped a postit on the corner of my screen that said 'Level 1' for one that said 'Level 2.' That way I've had a sense of progression.

I accept the die and restart mechanic in Dark souls and Bloodborne because you are moving from one progression point to another. You get the rogue-like 'learn and do better' feel but you also get progress.

Apparently, I have a few of these...

One thing I've noticed about the much maligned 'collect 30 of X mechanic' in games like Assassin's Creed is that people don't seem to see how they add to the moment to moment fun of a game. How I usually interact with collection tasks is to gather a few as I go but won't go around deliberately trying to locate them. I'll find one in some random court yard somewhere or at the top of an obscure cliff I happened to climb and I'll get a little thrill each time then I'll finish the game and move on collection incomplete.

Collectables add a bit of interest to a world and give small rewards for exploration. I remember playing Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath and, towards the end of a mission, finding a little side canyon to explore. I ventured down it, excited for what I'd find, only to arrive at a rocky and featureless dead end. I immediately thought, this game could really do with some collectables.

I couldn't disagree more about puzzles being a bad mechanic in games like Uncharted and Tomb Raider. They could work a little harder making the contraptions more logical, but lets face it, the odds of the traps in the Indiana Jones movies still working are pretty slim as well. They give some variety to the pacing of those games and I actually wish there were more of them. The idea that they would take you out of the game, yet having to mow down your 400th baddie doesn't faze you seems ridiculous to me. You can take an insane amount of damage while dropping countless enemies, and if you do get in trouble, you just hide behind a pillar until your health comes back. How could puzzles be what takes you out of those games?

I keep hoping that some day the violent clashes will become fewer but more impactful, although I doubt it will ever happen. Naughty Dog promised exactly that with The Last of Us, yet they couldn't help using those shootouts to pad game time in a game that didn't need it. Every time I started exploring an abandoned street, I knew a group of pickup trucks would be pulling up soon. The last thing the Uncharted games need is to take out the puzzles in order to make the shooting more frequent. Having to shoot helmets off of enemies in the Uncharted games is my pick for a mechanic that took me out of the game. The puzzles were a welcome break in the action.