default header

Theory

Videogame Culture

Moderator: JC Denton

Videogame Culture

Unread postby icycalm » 18 Jan 2009 05:52

So here's the idea for this thread. Most people reading this forum will have heard that I am writing a book on the philosophy of videogames (it is actually about a great deal more than that, but anyway...)

Now, apart from that book, I am also finishing up another, less ambitious one, which will be called "Videogame Culture", and will include all the articles known as "The Basics" which I have already posted on this site, along with many new ones.

Here is the current list of articles to be included:

Already published on this site
The stupidest word in videogames
Arcade Culture
In the name of consistency
Reviewing ports and compilations
Sequel: The Videogame
No More "Parodies"
On "Value" for "Money"
"Can games be art?" and other childish nonsense
Message my ass
On Role-Playing Games
The RPG conundrum
The nuts and bolts are as important as the ones and zeros
The videogame news racket
Non-games are for non-gamers
Casual reviews are for casual gamers
Mini-games are for mini-gamers
On Complexity, Depth and Skill
The second stupidest word in videogames
On New Games Journalism
Leave ranking to the experts

New ones
On Real-time vs. Turn-based Strategy
Beyond the Videogame News Racket
On Videogame Forums
Cocksucking Videogameland
And What About The LULZ?
An Insomniac's Guide to Great Games
On Narrative Delusions
On Genre and the Tree of Gaming
On Dungeon Crawling
Videogames & Simulation
Responsibility my Ass
Medium, Shmedium
Set Theory
Pressing Buttons
Shooting Love
Defining Cutscenes
How Good Exactly is Perfect?
To Save or Not to Save?, that is the question
The Website-owner Syndrome
Why Old-timers Hate Handhelds
On Grinding
The Truth About Emulation*
A Matter of Tradition
Versus Co-op
The Future of the Past of 2D Gaming
Hardcore Gaming 101 and the Culture of Mediocrity
The Third Stupidest Word in Videogames
Acquiring Taste
Industry, Shmindustry
The Bastardization Process
How Hard is your Core?
On Game Guides
Retrogression and Decadence
The Fourth Stupidest Word in Videogames
The Latest Thing / The Economics of Hype Generation
Inside the Brain of the Mini-Gamer
On the Impossibility of Playing to Lose
The Console and the End of Videogame Hardware
Notes on the Arcade Culture
Who REALLY Killed Adventure Games?
Western Videogame Art Design and the Cult of the Grotesque
On the "Spirituality" of "Successors"
The Xboxification Process vs. the Americanization Process
A Matter of Tradition
Versus Co-op
The Myth of Accessibility
The Myth of Innovation
Designing An MMORPG That Doesn't Suck
On Gambling
The Cinematic Videogame
On the Whole Murky Affair of the Emotions
On Difficulty
On the Uselessness of Game Academics
The Motion-Sensing Dead End
A History of Violence
Le Mise-en-Jeu
The New Games Criticism
Confessions of a Game Reviewer



The above list is not complete -- I am still considering other articles, so I'll be sure to keep it updated. And this is where this thread comes in. The idea of the book is to explain all the most important facets of "Videogame Culture", and to explode all myths/misunderstanding/etc. that have arisen therein. So do you think I have missed anything? Do you have any burning questions about games which you would like to see answered?

Post all such burning questions/suggestions here, and I'll consider them.


Notes:

1. The most important questions, the most fundamental ones (in short, those related to the definition of games, art, and reality, as well as the ultimate purpose of videogames) will be addressed in the other book.

2. Of course some of your questions/suggestions might already be addressed in the new articles, which you haven't had a chance to read yet, but I think a quick look at the titles should give you a general idea of what they'll be about. In any case, go ahead and make all questions/suggestions you might have, and I will let you know whether I have already addressed them in one of the two books, or whether they are something which I've genuinely overlooked and will address because you asked me to.

3. This thread will remain active even after the publication of the book (as usual for this forum), in case anyone comes up with an idea later on. I can always add more articles in future editions of the book, if the need arises.

4. Seriously, though, I feel pretty confident that I've covered everything worth covering. I will be very (pleasantly) surprised if anyone comes up with something genuinely new.



*sup Recap!
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby JoshF » 18 Jan 2009 09:47

Hardcore Gaming 101 and the Culture of Mediocrity

:lol:

Have you checked the site lately? Kurt's inclination for "reviewing" (animucharacterportraitbiographing?) games with mechanics he doesn't understand recently reached a new low. Still, I hold promise for the insightfulness of his upcoming look at Armenian text adventures.
User avatar
JoshF
 
Joined: 14 Oct 2007 14:56

Unread postby icycalm » 18 Jan 2009 10:03

Just checked his frontpage:

A lot of people tend to gloss over a lot of older adventure games, calling them too dated, but you know what? As long as you have a FAQ in hand, they're a much more enjoyable way to spend an afternoon than frame skipping through the grinding segments of an old JRPG, and despite some of their obtuse puzzles, can still be pretty damn funny.


Jesus Christ in Heaven! WTF is the point of playing an adventure game with "a FAQ in hand"? And what difference does it make if they have "obtuse puzzles" if you are going to use a FAQ anyway?!

This kid, man. I am telling you, this kid just kills me. He could not have picked a more ironic name for his website!
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby Magnum Apex » 18 Jan 2009 10:25

I've read the On Role-Playing Games and The RPG Conundrum articles, and found them quite informative, as I didn't grow up playing pen-and-paper role-playing games, which appear to be where the genre started. Now I wish I could turn back the clock and ask Dave Arneson how he felt about today's so-called RPGs when I took his Rules of the Game class a few years ago.

Shortly after reading those articles, I wondered what your thoughts were on other genres, and if you were going to elaborate on them the same way you did on RPGs (and to an extent, strategy games).

icycalm wrote:A question of genre


I'm expecting your commentary on the rest of the genres will be located there. Personally, I'd be interested to read your input on the "action-adventure" genre, which is a label usually given to a broad group of games. For example, if one wanted to play every "action-adventure" videogame out there, which criteria should one follow in order to pick the games that represent the genre accurately, regardless of quality?

There are other genres that people like to lump together out of ignorance, or because to them there isn't a clear definition, like some of my colleagues calling beat-em-ups like Streets of Rage and Final Fight "fighting games," and vice versa.
User avatar
Magnum Apex
 
Joined: 21 Oct 2008 19:23
Location: San Diego, CA

Unread postby icycalm » 18 Jan 2009 13:31

Magnum Apex wrote:I've read the On Role-Playing Games and The RPG Conundrum articles, and found them quite informative, as I didn't grow up playing pen-and-paper role-playing games, which appear to be where the genre started.


Where it started, and where it still remains. New RPGs systems are being made every year: both commercial and independent ones. It is a very vibrant field of gaming. Here is a series of interesting articles on the subject:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/

Magnum Apex wrote:Now I wish I could turn back the clock and ask Dave Arneson how he felt about today's so-called RPGs when I took his Rules of the Game class a few years ago.


I was thinking of shooting him an email with a link to the article, asking his opinion of it. I've no doubt that if he bothers to read it he will wholeheartedly agree. Gygax at least certainly did, so I don't see how Arneson wouldn't.

Magnum Apex wrote:Shortly after reading those articles, I wondered what your thoughts were on other genres, and if you were going to elaborate on them the same way you did on RPGs (and to an extent, strategy games).

icycalm wrote:A question of genre


I'm expecting your commentary on the rest of the genres will be located there.


That article will be about the concept of genre, not about specific genres.

About specific genres I have already, as you noted, discussed "RPG"s in two articles; then there's also the Arcade Culture article, which, even though it doesn't focus on specific genres, it does examine the key aspects of a specific flavor of many genres (i.e. the arcade flavor); and then there's the "Dungeon Crawling" article coming up (which talks also about JRPGs, since most of them are basically really poor dungeon crawlers); then the "On Narrative Delusions" article, which partly deals with all games which put a lot of weight on narrative, such as visual novels and the like; then the "Shooting Love" article, which deals with shooting games; then the "On real-time strategy games" article, which is about RTSes; and, finally, I am considering an article titled "Who REALLY killed adventure games?", which will refute this rather well-known article, which is blatantly wrong.

Then I'll probably write another article explaining why the bemani genre is the least interesting genre, and why motion-sensing technologies are a dead-end, and completely antithetical to the future development of videogames.

So all of that would take care of my views on pretty much all genres out there, I think. And this actually leads us on to your next question...

Magnum Apex wrote:Personally, I'd be interested to read your input on the "action-adventure" genre, which is a label usually given to a broad group of games. For example, if one wanted to play every "action-adventure" videogame out there, which criteria should one follow in order to pick the games that represent the genre accurately, regardless of quality?


The term 'action-adventure' is not really a genre. There are action games and there are adventure games and they really have nothing in common. An 'action-adventure' game is therefore, first and foremost, an ACTION game, and then it also has a few puzzles sprinkled here and there, mainly to prevent the player from finishing the game too quickly. But these puzzles, whether there's a few of them or many, do not alter the feel of the game too much. And besides, even if you wanted to differentiate between pure action games, and more adventurously-inclined ones, it would be very hard to decide where to draw the line. So in the end, you just call them all "3D Action" and leave it at that. KOEI's Musou games and Capcom's Biohazard and Devil May Cry games, and EIDOS's Tomb Raider games, and Smilebit's Gunvalkyrie and Jet Set Radio, are all 3D Action games with varying degrees of "adventuring" (i.e. puzzle-solving) mixed in. There's no reason here to get any more specific.

Basically, what it comes down to in the end, is that there exist four major categories of videogames: Action, Strategy, Puzzle, and RPG. Those are the four fundamental categories of videogames possible, and they will never change. A fifth one will never be "discovered". All genres will always fit right inside those categories, or somewhere between them. I should write another article explaining this, I think. People still keep fantasizing about future genre "inventions", and it is time someone put an end to all this pointless, pathetic daydreaming.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby Volteccer_Jack » 18 Jan 2009 19:25

I have a question on the topic of game genres. It may have already been answered by this:
Basically, what it comes down to in the end, is that there exist four major categories of videogames: Action, Strategy, Puzzle, and RPG.

...but I'd like some clarification regarding Platformers, my oh-so-favorite games. I always thought "platformer" was vaguely defined. I use the word "platforming" to mean challenges presented by the environment, rather than the enemies, with enemies thrown in to make the platforming harder.

Am I to take it that you would categorize platforming as being Action and/or Puzzle? I'm thinking Action-heavy stuff would be like Mario or Sonic, and Puzzle-heavy stuff would be like Prince of Persia or Shadow of the Colossus.
"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life." ~Winston Churchill
User avatar
Volteccer_Jack
 
Joined: 06 Sep 2008 00:37

Unread postby icycalm » 18 Jan 2009 21:40

Volteccer_Jack wrote:I use the word "platforming" to mean challenges presented by the environment, rather than the enemies, with enemies thrown in to make the platforming harder.


Sounds like a fair definition to me, although you must be aware that (as with all subgenres, really) it is impossible to draw a line, perfectly dividing, say, 2D platformers from 2D action shooting games (run 'n guns). Makaimura is a classic example here, but there are many others.

Volteccer_Jack wrote:Am I to take it that you would categorize platforming as being Action and/or Puzzle? I'm thinking Action-heavy stuff would be like Mario or Sonic, and Puzzle-heavy stuff would be like Prince of Persia or Shadow of the Colossus.


All the games you mentioned are action games. If reflexes are involved it's action -- and there's nothing to think about.

Puzzle games, on the other hand -- pure puzzle games -- do not involve reflexes, just as pure strategy games do not involve them. But of course you also have real-time strategy games, and action puzzle games, which fall somewhere between the four grand categories (which are really two, if you think about it, which ends up being one in the end, a merely conventional distinction, like all dualities -- but I'll explain all this in detail in the articles...).

In the end, then, to repeat, all the games you mentioned are primarily action games (so no need to call Mario or Sonic "action-heavy", as in "action-heavy action games" which is a pleonasm), and as for Prince of Persia and Colossus; I wouldn't call them "puzzle-heavy" -- in fact, I wouldn't even call them "puzzle-light". They are just a 2D and a 3D action game, respectively.

A "puzzle-heavy" action game, to give you a comparison, would be Tetris for example. A "puzzle-light" action game... tough call. I'll let you know if I come up with any good examples.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby Recap » 19 Jan 2009 17:54

icycalm wrote:*sup Recap!


Yeah, I want to write about this at some point, but it's such a complex subject if you want to make it understandable for everybody that I can't find the moment to begin. Doing previously the second part of the scanlines dossier seems mandatory, anyhow.

I miss the HD article in your list, by the way. It's a bit specific for what you seem to want here, but, even if as a sample, it exposes perfectly the digital picture issue, which is quite an intrinsic and universal one.

Picking nits, I don't like this title: "Why old-timers hate handhelds". I wrote about that in my latest editorial -- it's not a matter of being an "old-timer" at all, just one of undumbness.


As for Tetris, that never was a puzzle game/puzzle-heavy action game, if you ask me. It's purely an action game. There's no strategy involved in its mechanics unlike say, Puyo Puyo.


Best of the lucks.
Recap
Insomnia Staff
 
Joined: 17 Dec 2007 22:18

Unread postby Worm » 19 Jan 2009 19:51

"On Game Guides" will probably cover this, but what about cheating with codes, programmable pads, Game Genie, etc.? Your position was made clear in the "1CCing: The intended way" thread, but I wonder where it will fall in the articles.
User avatar
Worm
 
Joined: 20 Dec 2008 21:06

Re: Videogame Culture

Unread postby EightEyes » 20 Jan 2009 00:40

Recap wrote:
Picking nits, I don't like this title: "Why old-timers hate handhelds". I wrote about that in my latest editorial -- it's not a matter of being an "old-timer" at all, just one of undumbness.



Where's this editorial, Recap? I'd be interested in reading it.
User avatar
EightEyes
 
Joined: 25 Sep 2008 06:31

Re: Videogame Culture

Unread postby icycalm » 20 Jan 2009 01:02

Recap wrote:Yeah, I want to write about this at some point, but it's such a complex subject if you want to make it understandable for everybody that I can't find the moment to begin.


I suspect that your take on this will be different from mine. In fact, I have no idea what your opinion will be on this matter. I know you are "pro-emulation", but I do not know the specifics of your arguments. In any case, there is not too much complexity in my arguments on this subject...

Recap wrote:I miss the HD article in your list, by the way. It's a bit specific for what you seem to want here, but, even if as a sample, it exposes perfectly the digital picture issue, which is quite an intrinsic and universal one.


Yes, but also a transient one... It did not exist 15 years ago, and, who knows, it might not exist 15 years in the future (perhaps someone will invent a new display technology that can do everything perfectly). I want everything that goes in the book to be as timeless as possible. I've already included an article which explains why hardware is important (this one); apart from that, individual hardware issues, due to their transient nature, are better discussed online.

Recap wrote:Picking nits, I don't like this title: "Why old-timers hate handhelds". I wrote about that in my latest editorial -- it's not a matter of being an "old-timer" at all, just one of undumbness.


True, to an extent, but what it comes down to in the end is that undumbness=experience=old timers. Why do you think that me and you have clearer and more correct views on games than anyone else? Would this have been possible if we had started playing games two months ago? Five-six years ago, for example, I saw no problem with credit-feeding. So I wasn't BORN with all the convictions I have now, even though I was definitely born undumb.

So I guess I could change the title to "Why intelligent people hate handhelds", but it would be less true than the other one, because I know lots of intelligent people who don't hate handhelds -- either because they do not play games at all, or because they have played so few of them and play them so rarely, that they have not had enough experience to allow themselves to reach the conclusion that handhelds are, to a great extent, a bad idea.

So, I don't know, I am not quite satisfied with the title, but I don't have any better ideas for it at the moment either.

Edit: Here's an idea: "Why intelligent old-timers hate handhelds". Because there are of course many old-timers who don't hate them... I think this is a more accurate title, though I am not too sure I like the sound of it.

Recap wrote:As for Tetris, that never was a puzzle game/puzzle-heavy action game, if you ask me. It's purely an action game. There's no strategy involved in its mechanics unlike say, Puyo Puyo.


Strategy does not come into my definition of puzzle -- pattern-recognition, which Tetris has plenty of, does. Besides, it would be a bad idea for me to categorize Tetris as a pure action game, because I would then be forced to include it on the same tables with, for example, Contra or Shinobi. All my ideas of genre must ultimately be tested against this: whether they allow me to compile appropriate tables of top games that make sense. And it makes more sense to me to include Tetris on the same table with Puyo Puyo than on the same table with Contra or Shinobi.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby icycalm » 20 Jan 2009 01:08

Worm wrote:"On Game Guides" will probably cover this, but what about cheating with codes, programmable pads, Game Genie, etc.?


Yes, all of that will be covered in that article.

Worm wrote:Your position was made clear in the "1CCing: The intended way" thread, but I wonder where it will fall in the articles.


I am not so sure it was made very clear in there. In any case, it will be made crystal-clear in the above article.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby Recap » 20 Jan 2009 03:47

Where's this editorial, Recap? I'd be interested in reading it.


Well, my site is currently down as we're commenting in the other thread. This guy copy-pasted it on his forum, though: http://www.zonadejuegos.org/thread.php? ... e65fc0428f


I suspect that your take on this will be different from mine. In fact, I have no idea what your opinion will be on this matter. I know you are "pro-emulation", but I do not know the specifics of your arguments. In any case, there is not too much complexity in my arguments on this subject...


I can see no approach to this very subject other than the technical one. And technicalities are always complex to a point. In this case, they could get really nasty, indeed.



So I guess I could change the title to "Why intelligent people hate handhelds", but it would be less true than the other one, because I know lots of intelligent people who don't hate handhelds -- either because they do not play games at all, or because they have played so few of them and play them so rarely, that they have not had enough experience to allow themselves to reach the conclusion that handhelds are, to a great extent, a bad idea.


That brought to my mind this wonderful thread (for laughs). So yeah; it's either, unintelligence or lack of experience and interest. Notice the "and", though. I still find quite hard to believe that, for anybody non-dumb really liking video-games despite being a newcomer, handhelds can be anything else than retarded toys.


Strategy does not come into my definition of puzzle -- pattern-recognition, which Tetris has plenty of, does.


I'm not sure I'm following you. You mean, exactly...?



And it makes more sense to me to include Tetris on the same table with Puyo Puyo than on the same table with Contra or Shinobi.


Tetris and Puyo Puyo do share some important things, even in the mechanics department, but their essence is apples and oranges. You don't need anticipation and elaborate a strategy in Tetris -- just your reflexes and dexterity. !?

In my opinion, the first problem here is that "puzzle" is a blatantly misused term. There's nothing of "puzzle" in stuff like Puyo Puyo or Magical Drop. There's nothing to "solve" there, just "elaborate" (unlike in Soukoban or Lup Salad, to illustrate).

Much like with "RPG", we can accept the "official" usage for "puzzle", but even so, Tetris doesn't belong there.
Or if they didn't want players to credit feed, since basic design choices all point to COIN OP.
Recap
Insomnia Staff
 
Joined: 17 Dec 2007 22:18

Unread postby icycalm » 21 Jan 2009 00:07

Recap wrote:I can see no approach to this very subject other than the technical one. And technicalities are always complex to a point. In this case, they could get really nasty, indeed.


Yes well, I don't have the necessary technical knowledge in this case, nor is it possible for me to acquire it anytime soon. All I have are a couple of thought experiments which will demonstrate the points I want to make. It's like using a mathematics theorem. I am not going to prove it for people -- I am just going to take it as a given, and simply draw all the conclusions that follow from it. So I am not out to PROVE to people that emulation can be perfect: I am going to explain to them why the very concept of perfection is a false one, and why emulation can therefore be better than perfect, if done properly.


Re: the subject of puzzle games. Perhaps the word "puzzle" is not the most appropriate to describe the group of games that I have in mind, and if I come up with a better one I'll be sure to replace it, but I still see no way to group games like Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Chu Chu Rocket and even Kuru Kuru Kururin other than together. Perhaps a passage from my Kururin review might help demonstrate why:

One of the reasons I am always happy to try out new puzzle games is that they keep providing me with fresh experiences, in a way that games belonging to other genres rarely do. The latest shiny FPS, for instance, is in the end just another FPS -- regardless of whatever new tricks or advances it boasts over previous such games. The same thing can be said about most of the titles lining the shelves of your local game store; whether they are racing or fighting games, shooters or RPGs.

But each puzzle game -- and I am referring to the originals here and not the endless Tetris clones or similar object-matching games -- is a world unto itself. Lemmings, Mr. Driller and Polarium all ostensibly belong to the same genre, but each one controls and plays as differently from the others as Altered Beast from Command & Conquer. In effect, each new puzzle game brings into being a brand-new genre -- or sub-genre, if you prefer -- a fact which to an extent justifies the numerous sequels most of them eventually spawn.


http://insomnia.ac/reviews/gba/kurukuru ... review.php

I think if you combine the above with my recent post in the Pressing buttons thread, you might better see what I am getting at.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby Recap » 21 Jan 2009 02:11

icycalm wrote:Yes well, I don't have the necessary technical knowledge in this case, nor is it possible for me to acquire it anytime soon. All I have are a couple of thought experiments which will demonstrate the points I want to make. It's like using a mathematics theorem. I am not going to prove it for people -- I am just going to take it as a given, and simply draw all the conclusions that follow from it. So I am not out to PROVE to people that emulation can be perfect: I am going to explain to them why the very concept of perfection is a false one, and why emulation can therefore be better than perfect, if done properly.


"Experiments"? Like in "side-to-side tests"? Problem with that is that, if you don't support it with technical explanations, it will have zero value for most people. Measuring hardware-based lag, for instance -- I don't think it'll be enough with just an "I played this particular game and didn't notice the difference".




Re: the subject of puzzle games. Perhaps the word "puzzle" is not the most appropriate to describe the group of games that I have in mind, and if I come up with a better one I'll be sure to replace it, but I still see no way to group games like Tetris, Puyo Puyo, Chu Chu Rocket and even Kuru Kuru Kururin other than together.


I think I'm seeing what's in your head now. I wish I had played Rocket and Kururin more than once in my life to get a better picture, but I suppose both are a bit like Bomber Man -- they demand [manual] dexterity/reflexes but also strategy elaboration (and this latter part is what makes them have that originality flair which distinguishes them, when they're different, that is). In that case, "puzzle" is a total misnomer and I'd just put them in the "action" bag -- Street Fighter II does demand to develope a strategy too after all.

But if as it seems what Kururin demands from the player is not "strategy elaboration" but actually "logic" (="solving an enigma"), that's indeed "puzzle" in my book and it has to be separated from Rocket, Puyo Puyo, Bomber Man, etc., etc. Unless the demand of dexterity is much more relevant there, that is.

Now, back to my first post -- Does Tetris demand from the player either, "strategy development" or "logic" (call it "pattern-recognition", if you will)? Or is it purely "reflexes and dexterity"? I can see the former much more clearly in say, R-Type than in Tetris!

I'm sorry for asking again, but it's a key question. My ultimate point is that we need to abstract the essence when classifying a video-game (if classification is a need, which you already know I reject precisely for this charade that is current conventions). "Button-press" stats, much like "visual presentation" may lead us to wrong conclusions. Tetris is "universally accepted" as a "puzzle game". The Pang! series was recently compiled as the "Puzzle Game Collection" in the US. I've even read that Ikaruga is a "puzzle game"... Enough already.
Or if they didn't want players to credit feed, since basic design choices all point to COIN OP.
Recap
Insomnia Staff
 
Joined: 17 Dec 2007 22:18

Unread postby icycalm » 21 Jan 2009 03:12

Recap wrote:"Experiments"? Like in "side-to-side tests"? Problem with that is that, if you don't support it with technical explanations, it will have zero value for most people. Measuring hardware-based lag, for instance -- I don't think it'll be enough with just an "I played this particular game and didn't notice the difference".


It might not be enough for a few people on Shmups.com, perhaps, but those people are anyway beyond help -- for anyone else it should be enough. It is for me, so it should be for others. If it's not then it's their problem -- but even if it was mine I wouldn't be capable of solving it, since I don't have the necessary technical knowledge to do so, nor is it feasible for me to acquire it anytime soon.

My arguments will basically stand on their own, on a purely logical basis. Whoever remains unconvinced after that will just have to wait for your article...



Recap wrote:In that case, "puzzle" is a total misnomer and I'd just put them in the "action" bag -- Street Fighter II does demand to develop a strategy too after all.


I am still failing to communicate to you exactly what the idea of genre means to me. It's basically a tool. I need genres for two reasons: 1. To be able to critique games at all, and 2. To be able to construct Top 10 lists of similar-style games. If a genre convention does not fulfill BOTH of those goals, then it is entirely useless for me.

You say that "Street Fighter II" demands strategy. And sure enough it does. In fact, every game ever made demands strategy -- some of them perhaps infinitesimally small amounts of strategy -- but that is still strategy nonetheless.

So what am I supposed to do about that? Should I categorize SFII together with Puyo Puyo and WarCraft and Spacewar and Civilization, just because all of them require strategy to a certain extent?

Puyo Puyo and SFII do not belong in the same category. Because if they did, and if I tried to compile a list of the top 10 fighting games ever, it would end up looking something like this:

1. Street Fighter II
2. Puyo Puyo
3. Guilty Gear
4. Arcana Heart
5. Gekka no Kenshin
6. Samurai Spirits
7. Hokuto no Ken
8. The King of Fighters '94
9. Waku Waku 7
10. Fatal Fury

Don't pay attention to the particular titles -- I picked them randomly: just notice how absurd it is to have Puyo Puyo on that list. Or Tetris, for example. Or any other game that's not a 2D fighting game.

And it goes even further than that. Because when I am reviewing SFII I would never mention Puyo Puyo in the review. Nor in the reviews of any other fighting game.

From the previous two paragraphs it follows that -- for my purposes -- Puyo Puyo should not be in the same category with SFII, or with any other fighting game. The same goes for Tetris, or Kururin, or any other game you care to mention that is not a 2D fighting game.

You eventually come to a point where you have several hundred, let us say, "mini-games", which are all more or less quite unique, with wildly different control schemes, scoring/progression methods, etc. and which you then end up lumping all together in a category which you label "Puzzle". If you don't like that word you can always label them "Genre 24" or whatever.

But it is NEVER an option to pick games from this category and stick them in other, solidly defined ones, such as with racing games, or fighting games, or fishing games, for example. The MOST you could do would be to grab a bunch of them, which have similar characteristics, and separate them from the rest into a new "sub-genre". For example by sticking all the Tetris clones together, etc.

However, for my purposes, it does not yet seem necessary to do this. Keeping all these "mini-games" lumped in one category does the trick fine for now. Any other solution is for the moment totally unthinkable, because it would destroy my capacity to critique games, and, ultimately, to construct the Top 10 lists which are the goal of my entire critical effort.

I hope you can now see that my classification scheme is not really governed by me. In the end, I have exactly zero control over the creation of genres and the distribution of specific titles within them. It is the games themselves which tell me where they must be placed. Again, if this sounds too far-fetched or even absurd to you, I direct you to the "Pressing buttons" thread, and these two posts in the "Artificial Intelligence" thread:

http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?p=7329#7329
http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?p=7330#7330
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby Recap » 21 Jan 2009 18:08

icycalm wrote:Puyo Puyo and SFII do not belong in the same category. Because if they did, and if I tried to compile a list of the top 10 fighting games ever, it would end up looking something like this:


I think both of us lost a bit of perspective in this discussion. You're talking about "genres" while I was about "major categories", as you wrote ("basically, what it comes down to in the end, is that there exist four major categories of videogames: Action, Strategy, Puzzle, and RPG"). My point just being that Tetris (like SFII) belongs to the Action category and never to the category which groups puzzle-solving stuff like Soukoban (which I myself would obviously identify as the Puzzle one).
Or if they didn't want players to credit feed, since basic design choices all point to COIN OP.
Recap
Insomnia Staff
 
Joined: 17 Dec 2007 22:18

Unread postby icycalm » 21 Jan 2009 19:23

Oh, yeah, I am 100% with you there. It's definitely an action game then, just like SFII -- and the same goes for Kururin, by the way: there's really no puzzle-solving in that game. But since neither of them fits in any of the action sub-categories (fighting, shooting, racing, etc.), they are lumped with all the rest of the mini games in the "action-puzzle" category (as opposed to the pure puzzle category, which includes stuff like Lup Salad...).
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby icycalm » 24 Jan 2009 19:40

Heh, I was going through old threads on gamengai just now, and stumbled upon this:

CTN wrote:So you don't like handheld gaming at all?


Recap wrote:Is there any reason to do it?




The handheld falacy, Japan vs the West, the incapabilities of 3D graphics, the scanlines/true-low-res thing, the RGB signal, arcade sticks vs joypads, the truth behind emulation... If I had published a book on these subjects like ten years ago maybe I'd be richer now.

Whatever.


http://www.gamengai.com/forum/viewtopic ... 0200#10200
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby icycalm » 03 Apr 2009 13:46

Continued from here: http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?p=9063#9063

Recap wrote:Indeed. Put it up on the front page just in case and I'll have one more editorial gone from my to-do list.


This article, slightly expanded, and with more examples, etc., will go in the first book I'll be publishing (the one which is the subject of this thread). It will not go online, at least for the next couple of years, because I do want at least a few people to buy the damn thing. Once it has sold enough to make me back all the money I'll spend publishing it, and perhaps also enough left over for a 550 Maranello, I might consider posting some or all of those articles online.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby FallingUp » 30 Apr 2009 10:19

icycalm wrote:Basically, what it comes down to in the end, is that there exist four major categories of videogames: Action, Strategy, Puzzle, and RPG. Those are the four fundamental categories of videogames possible, and they will never change.


Can you please explain the difference between the strategy and puzzle genres?
FallingUp
 
Joined: 30 Apr 2009 10:09

Unread postby icycalm » 30 Apr 2009 21:44

It'll be in there.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby icycalm » 29 Jun 2011 20:43

http://mindprobe.co/forum/index.php?top ... 540#msg540

S65 wrote:Also looking forward to some of his upcoming articles, though with a lot of them you can pretty much predict what he's going to say before he says it:

* "On Difficulty, Fun, and the Impossibility of Playing to Lose" - Challenge is intrinsically linked to fun and everyone is playing to win, also all play is competitive (I don't care if that makes the word "competitive" so broad that it's completely useless, shut up fagot).
* "On Narrative Delusions" - Because the future of videogames is full virtual reality, predefined narratives are bad and ruin immersion. If you want plot just read a book or watch a movie man.
* "Why Old-timers Hate Handhelds" - Handhelds are bad because all my favorite console/arcade franchises keep being relegated to 5 inch screens.
* "Dungeon Crawling" - Fuck JRPGs.
* "The Third Stupidest Word in Videogames" - Replayability is a dumb word because we're inclined to replay all great games.
* "Videogames & Simulation" - Videogames are simulation, we're heading towards the Matrix maaan!
* "How Hard is your Core? (or, The New Casuals)" - Fuck Tim Rogers.
* "On Real-time vs. Turn-based Strategy" - Turn based strategy games allow for more complexity! Example: let's compare Civilization V vs. StarCraft 2.
* "On Journalism's Irrelevance" - Now I will repeat what I said in the News Racket articles. Just in case you didn't get this the first time.
* "The Myth of Accessibility" - Accessibility is a buzzword, you meant to say "dumbed down."
* "The Myth of Innovation" - Innovation is a buzzword, you meant to say "refinement."
* "Responsibility my Ass" - Developers don't need to have social responsibility because videogames are virtual reality and their purpose is to free us from responsibility.
* "On Genre and the Tree of Gaming" - There are two main genres, Action and Strategy, each on the end of a spectrum, and all genres can be placed somewhere on this spectrum, and there is also a tree because genres have subgenres. This is why Spelunky is not a roguelike.
* "On Grinding" - Allowing the player to grind essentially makes skill irrelevant. Look at JRPGs man! Also grinding and filler are essentially one and the same: long periods of a game without any increase in complexity or difficulty.
* "The Console and the End of Videogame Hardware" - The console will eventually die, the PC is the superior platform, and cloud computing is great.

Well now that I've laid my Bingo card out let's see how right it turns out!


Not bad! Not bad at all! He even guessed correctly what the third stupidest word would be! Naturally, there also some mistakes, and even the articles he DOES get right will contain many more points than those he managed to guess -- but it's not a bad outline. And that's one of the reasons I don't mind revealing the titles of the articles in advance. Other people can play too in this thread, if they want. It is amusing for me to see this.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Unread postby Some guy » 30 Jun 2011 14:33

* "The Motion-Sensing Dead End" - Using motion sensing controls means you have to be aware of the world around you, and so you cannot become immersed in the world of the game. Immersion and complexity are ultimately the same thing (see here: http://forum.insomnia.ac/viewtopic.php?p=10179#10179) therefore games using motion sensing controls will have a low level of complexity. Motion sensing controls are a dead end because they cannot increase the level of immersion in and complexity of videogames.
User avatar
Some guy
 
Joined: 24 Nov 2010 14:21
Location: UK

Unread postby icycalm » 15 Apr 2012 15:40

Via email:

Halzebier wrote:The book has finally arrived and, as expected, it’s outstanding. The long-awaited scoring essay is a real eye-opener and worth the price of admission alone. Also, it’s great to have all these great essays in printed form. I immediately ordered the genealogy to which I look forward even more. In the meantime, I’ll read and reread this book.


I would rather people post their comments in the forum, instead of emailing me. Emailing should be kept for private issues: subscriptions, payment, shipping, delivery, etc.
User avatar
icycalm
Hyperborean
 
Joined: 28 Mar 2006 00:08

Next

Return to Theory

cron