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How to easily understand the fun of "simple" games that keep score (e.g. Bayonetta)

Jul 25, 2010
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Hideki Kamiya said:
After you have worked through the game once, playing Bayonetta really starts.
In any game with a scoring system, it is often paramount that you play for score. It's the game's way of teaching you how to get the most enjoyment out of it.

In another thread, someone asked what I thought was a very key question:

Here's my difficulty with these games: you have a great number of different combos, but when you find the optimal one, why do anything else? If you can find out the combo that does the most damage, why change? What's the incentive?
I thought about my answer, and in doing so, an analogy popped into my head.

Someone introduces you to a new puzzle called Sudokuso. It's a Sudoku puzzle, except all you have to do is fill the 9 large boxes with 9 numbers each. You don't have to worry about not repeating numbers across columns and rows.

Compared to Sudoku, Sudokuso seems shallow and boring, right? Almost pointless?

Well, if you play Bayonetta without taking the scoring system into account, even at lower difficulties, you're playing kuso-Bayonetta. Using continues during a bullet hell shooting (or any other type of arcade) game? The kuso version. Sticking to cover, popping up to shoot until you clear the field, like Gears of War, when playing Vanquish? That's kuso-Vanquish.

Using Bayonetta as an example, if you stick to one combo, you miss out on a large chunk of the depth of the gameplay. You won't really get to play with things like launchers, sweeps, and so on. You also limit your power by a lot, since there is no one combo that is universally effective towards all enemies (unless you use glitches).

In a shooting game, if all you do when you get a game over is resume from the same point with a score of zero, then you miss out on literally every aspect of that game's scoring system, which is the only thing keeping the game from simply consisting of shooting enemies down without getting shot down. Even if the game has a ton of spectacle, it's very shallow, and would get old quickly. So the 30-minute playtime is welcome.

If, instead, you decide to delve deep into the game's scoring mechanics, you'll start purposely grazing each enemy bullet to rack up extra points. You'll fire at the enemy ships from as close as possible to maximize the multiplier tokens they drop. It makes the game much harder than simply trying to survive, and much more thrilling. There's a lot of skill involved in that level of play, so simply doing it is, in itself, rewarding and enjoyable.

Try expanding that concept a bit over the nature of entire games, and you'll realize that most games (that lack scoring systems) are designed to provide an easy, one-time finish before you move on to the DLC, the multiplayer, or the next game. The ones with scoring systems are the ones that demand mastery and finesse. You play them over and over again, trying to improve on previous runs. And it never gets old.

That's why those games are so fun. They're specifically designed to be as challenging as you want them to be, without ever getting old. They don't run out of content because there's always room for improvement in your level of play. But it's impossible to grasp any of that if you're playing the shitty version of an awesome game.
 

tsundoku

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Dec 8, 2014
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please don't tag games with kuso- like you just heard the word kusoge and desperately want to make it your own meme

Sudoku is a great example of a kusoge though.
 

Crayon

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Jan 6, 2007
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When I used to live with roomates at a certain place I kept a whiteboard up. Anyone could post a score or time for any game. Gradius V, GT4, Tourist Trophy were particularly contested. That helped everyone get into the spirit. Any of these roomates would have normally considered playing for score to be dull or pointless.
 
Jul 25, 2010
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But degeneracy is the fault of the game not the player. If a designer wants people to have that experience why are they able to avoid it?
The designer just expects more from people, I guess. It's kinda like making an effort to acquire the taste of beer, if that makes sense. Knowing how much people enjoy it might help justify the effort of drinking it before you can appreciate the taste.
 

Taliban Stan

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Dec 22, 2016
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Here's my difficulty with these games: you have a great number of different combos, but when you find the optimal one, why do anything else? If you can find out the combo that does the most damage, why change? What's the incentive?
I've never understood this approach unless the goal is to beat the game as quickly as possible with as little effort as possible. Like you buy the game thinking, "I just want to get this over with."

It's like buying a coloring book and being like, "blue is my favorite color, I've got a blue crayon... I don't need anything else. People using multiple colors... I just don't get it. Where's the incentive." I think it's funny that in games, the person coloring with different colors is seen as the oddball doing something that does not compute rather than the person coloring everything blue.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.
 
Jul 25, 2010
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I've never understood this approach unless the goal is to beat the game as quickly as possible with as little effort as possible. Like you buy the game thinking, "I just want to get this over with."

It's like buying a coloring book and being like, "blue is my favorite color, I've got a blue crayon... I don't need anything else. People using multiple colors... I just don't get it. Where's the incentive." I think it's funny that in games, the person coloring with different colors is seen as the oddball doing something that does not compute rather than the person coloring everything blue.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.
It's more like treating a coloring book similarly to how you would treat a story/picture book, grabbing a crayon because that's how you "read" a coloring book, and simply filling in all the blank space in the lines with that color before turning to the next page. Once you get to the end, the book is done, and you go on to the next one. But you didn't really like this particular book because, while the drawings were nice, it didn't have many (or any) words.
 
Jan 20, 2010
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Well, if you play Bayonetta without taking the scoring system into account, even at lower difficulties, you're playing kuso-Bayonetta. Using continues during a bullet hell shooting (or any other type of arcade) game? The kuso version. Sticking to cover, popping up to shoot until you clear the field, like Gears of War, when playing Vanquish? That's kuso-Vanquish.
nah (assuming you don't have unlimited continues)
 
Mar 8, 2013
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I couldn't agree more. The thing that especially gets me is the one quote you have, essentially asking "why use something else when XX works near every time?"? It's the enjoyment out of seeing all of the games mechanics work together with everything in the game to create near "ballets" when performed well. Plus, I always hated that when people talked about Ninja Gaiden in the past, the reliance on Flying Swallow was sickening. Games aren't meant to be mastered in one sitting. Gotta put some effort in to them dagnabbit!

Edit: Just wanted to add I have a few games I rarely play these days simply because of the score. I've already cleared some of them with ridiculous scores, but when I replay, if I know I'm not hitting thresholds that I should be hitting for the score, then I either restart or stop all together. It's maddening, but when I get things right, nothing is sweeter.
 

Cipher Peon

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Aug 19, 2013
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But degeneracy is the fault of the game not the player. If a designer wants people to have that experience why are they able to avoid it?
This is how I feel.

In regards specifically to Bayonetta, in order for me to care about the depths of the game's systems I need to be incentivized to care in the first place. I care extremely little about Bayonetta as a character, her story, or anything about the game. So there's no reason for me to want to put the time and effort into going at it again to extract more engagement when there was little to none the first time around.

Additionally, I never ever felt the way of "the game starts when you beat it." That always came across as a hand wave to dismiss a frustrating or unengaging first playthrough, which to me is the most important.
 

Lumination

'enry 'ollins
Jul 11, 2011
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Great thread. Yeah, most modern games give the player satisfaction from just getting through the level, no matter how they did it. Hitting that checkpoint rewards you with a cool action sequence, a plot point, some new equipment, etc.

Score-based games have the player "make their own fun" by challenging them to take the risky approach, to one-up a previous run, not for any tangible reward, just for that feeling of self satisfaction. It's not for everyone (see: Platinum games' sales), but once it gets its hooks into you, it's hard to turn back.
 
Jan 20, 2010
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1 credit clearing a shmup, or at least striving towards that is definitely the best way to play these games. It's an almost perfect example of a genre that becomes really boring if you're just credit feeding.
That depends on how important you consider attrition to be to the bullet hell experience

My favourite bullet hell shooter is rRootage, because attrition isn't that much of a factor
 

Tain

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I deeply, deeply, deeply disagree with the notion that shooting games (or arcade games in general) are only enjoyable when played for score, and I'm someone that doesn't use continues in arcade games.
 

Aske

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Jul 25, 2006
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I disagree. Character action games like Bayonetta are best when great enemy design forces players to adapt, and use different tools to overcome ever-increasing challenges.

Devil May Cry 1 is one of the prime examples of this. Fuck the scoring; you needed to master every weapon and attack except maybe Vortex and the Nightmare Beta to stay alive on ever-increasing difficulty levels. Every tool had an optimal use case, and plenty were all but useless against certain enemy types. Changing your weapon set profundity altered your combat style.

Devil May Cry has always appealed to me more than Bayonetta for that reason. 1, 3, and to a lesser extent 4 are all superb at forcing players to experiment with their abilities, precisely because there was no single weapon or combo that universally trashed every enemy in the game.

Nothing is balanced with such perfection as Devil May Cry 1 though. It's so much simpler than the newer games in the genre, but the enemy design and combat balance between the player and the various configurations of opponents has never been more finely tuned.

Scores and ranks are awesome if that's why you're playing, but the best character action games force players to get better in order to proceed, rather than just applauding players with more or less fanfare based on how stylish a given inevitable victory is.
 

Cipher Peon

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Aug 19, 2013
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1 credit clearing a shmup, or at least striving towards that is definitely the best way to play these games. It's an almost perfect example of a genre that becomes really boring if you're just credit feeding.
This sounds to me that this is the game's fault for not providing proper amounts of engagement when allowing this type of play to exist.

Of course this is solved with context and a story, which to me works wonders in making me care more about getting more familiar with the gameplay, not to mention incentives to not "credit feed"
 

Lumination

'enry 'ollins
Jul 11, 2011
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This is how I feel.

In regards specifically to Bayonetta, in order for me to care about the depths of the game's systems I need to be incentivized to care in the first place. I care extremely little about Bayonetta as a character, her story, or anything about the game. So there's no reason for me to want to put the time and effort into going at it again to extract more engagement when there was little to none the first time around.
Agreed. While Bayonetta's plot is really cool on paper, the execution is absolutely horrible. Most non-action cutscenes are a confusing snore-fest. I think that's why gaffers seem to really love Nier: Automata. It's imbuing a P* game with the one thing they do horribly: competent storytelling.

Additionally, I never ever felt the way of "the game starts when you beat it." That always came across as a hand wave to dismiss a frustrating or unengaging first playthrough, which to me is the most important.
I can see why this feels like a cop-out. Take Bayonetta again, for instance. In your first playthrough, you're constantly thrown into new environments with new enemies to fight. On top of that, you're periodically unlocking new weapons, moves, and equipment. It's simply too much to really internalize how to fight each enemy, use each weapon, etc. on the first go without duplicating the encounters multiple times, which is also not ideal. I'm honestly curious to hear what the alternative is.
 

2+2=5

The Amiga Brotherhood
Jul 28, 2011
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Not everyone play a game for the challenge, some like to relax, others like the story, the setting, the characters or whatever, saying that one way to play a game is the only way to play a game is wrong in every case.

That said times changed, scores aren't good for everything or everyone, i play games since the 8bit era and find scores pointless in single player games now, arcade games were short and more competitive(even in coop), now games have a lot more than that, they have story, acted cutscenes, choices and many other things, the shortest ones are 6 hours long, rpgs can arrive to hundreds of hours, hardcore gamers or fans aside not many people would replay all those hours just to master it when there's an insane amount of other games to choose from, many people have huge backlogs.
 

Aske

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Not everyone play a game for the challenge, some like to relax, others like the story, the setting, the characters or whatever, saying that one way to play a game is the only way to play a game is wrong in every case.
Exactly. Varying difficulty levels are a wonderful thing. Some people want to beat the game once without much trouble. Others like to challenge themselves to unlock rewards for beating more difficult gameplay (weapons, etc) to enhance the experience of more gameplay, often on higher difficulties. Others want to play over and over to get perfect grades and scores. It's not hard to implement all these things into an arcadey kind of game. Not to say every game should, but those that do have much broader appeal than those that only cater to one type of player.
 

Tain

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Regarding the "game starts after the first playthrough" thing: I've been vocal about this before, but in an ideal world it would be possible to do a singular playthrough of Bayonetta that hit all the heights offered by all the difficulty levels. We can talk about why this doesn't happen (budgetary reasons, a sizable chunk of the audience not being interested in the challenge, etc), but if there's mechanical complexity that makes the experience more enjoyable, I would like that to be closely linked to the aesthetic progression of the game (the advancement of the plot, the introduction of new enemies, new areas, etc).

So going from there, I see "for score" versus "for survival" in arcade games (or games like Bayonetta, even, because Bayonetta certainly isn't an arcade-styled game) in a similar light: survival is where the aesthetics and mechanics tie closest together. You aren't fighting for a higher number to compare with out-of-world people, but instead overpowering a boss, the glimpse of a new stage, etc.

Of course, scoring mechanics absolutely can improve games and often do. If only those mechanics, like the harder difficulty levels of Bayonetta, could be more deeply connected to the game's aesthetic progression!
 

Cipher Peon

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Aug 19, 2013
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Agreed. While Bayonetta's plot is really cool on paper, the execution is absolutely horrible. Most non-action cutscenes are a confusing snore-fest. I think that's why gaffers seem to really love Nier: Automata. It's imbuing a P* game with the one thing they do horribly: competent storytelling.


I can see why this feels like a cop-out. Take Bayonetta again, for instance. In your first playthrough, you're constantly thrown into new environments with new enemies to fight. On top of that, you're periodically unlocking new weapons, moves, and equipment. It's simply too much to really internalize how to fight each enemy, use each weapon, etc. on the first go without duplicating the encounters multiple times, which is also not ideal. I'm honestly curious to hear what the alternative is.
I'm glad I'm being met halfway, I feel very strongly about this subject and am usually met with hostility :p

I'm not sure that there is an alternative, especially since there's a lot of people who really enjoy this style of gameplay. I think the best thing is to learn lessons from other games and see what works for those games and try to implement them.

On the subject of character action games, I enjoyed the often maligned DmC: Devil May Cry a ton. Putting aside the aesthetics and the story, both of which I was head over heels with, the game was very accessible, allowed for encounters to facilitate a variety of weapon usage from the start, and had a manageable difficulty. Being invested in DmC was easy because you could enjoy yourself without putting the time in to learn all of the system's mechanics and you were incentivized to dig deeper with additional difficulty modes that tested your expertise at the game. I loved that. Anybody could have fun.

As for bullet hells, I think there's a lot to learn from Undertale. While the bullet hell gameplay of Undertale is very simple to understand and doesn't throw many mechanics at you, the way it was implemented into characterization and the story was nothing short of brilliant. On TOP of that, Undertale's accessibility was wonderful, embracing skill levels and personality types of all shapes and sizes. Many people played Undertale for the character and stories, and others were able to realize how the bullet hell gameplay integrated with that and made for a better experience.

I don't think either game started only in your second playthrough, but had systems in place to tell you that you should keep trying and going at it. The fact that playing awfully in DmC still made you feel cool was a big factor in keeping me engaged and feeling positive. Even playing like a scrub earned you a "DIRTY" which is infinitely cooler and less demeaning than the Consolation Prize in Wonderful 101 or Stone Awards in Bayonetta, which honestly make you feel like shit and make you ask "why am I even playing". It goes a long way in terms of game feel and making you feel happy playing, which I think Platinum needs to work on their accessibility a lot.

I look forward to playing Nier: Automata a fair amount to see how they've addressed my common criticism towards their games. I hear they made progress, which is great!
 

Aske

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Regarding the "game starts after the first playthrough" thing: I've been vocal about this before, but in an ideal world it would be possible to do a singular playthrough of Bayonetta that hit all the heights offered by all the difficulty levels.
Devil May Cry 1 excels at this. I love progressive difficulty levels: don't just take away all my tools and start me at zero again; leave me kitted out and adjust the game to compensate. And ideally, let me unlock even more stuff to use on the next difficulty level. I always disliked God of War for not giving me thay New Game + style difficulty progression.
 

Weltall Zero

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Another example most players play in kuso- mode are the Arkham games. You can beat the game by mostly mashing, but good luck getting decent scores in challenge mode without knowing every nuance of the system front and back and being able to weave insane combos using every gadget.

Man, what a terrible opinion.

"Go is such a shitty game, it's not engaging at all! You just have those black and white pieces on a plain board, so bland and boring. It's the game's fault that I was not engaged the first time I played. Go should definitely learn from a game I've enjoyed from the start, Snakes and Ladders! It has all kinds of cool things going on in the board, plus when I play Snakes and Ladders even against excellent players, I have the same chance to win. This is so much cooler than Go where I always lose, which is so demeaning and makes me ask myself "why am I even playing?"".
 
Jul 25, 2010
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nah (assuming you don't have unlimited continues)
If you're playing the home version of these games, you do. If you're sitting at the arcade pumping quarters in until you see the credits, you effectively do. The point is, you're playing the game in such a way that explicitly makes the game less rewarding/fun.

1 credit clearing a shmup, or at least striving towards that is definitely the best way to play these games. It's an almost perfect example of a genre that becomes really boring if you're just credit feeding.
Bullet hell shmups are the best. You don't sit down and hit Continue until you beat the "final" boss (final in quotes because you can rarely see the final boss by credit feeding); you sit down until you see the Game Over screen, which will be on level 2 or 3 if you're used to shmups, or level 1 if you aren't, then you try again until you get survive longer than you did before. And you repeat until you can finish the whole game on one credit. Once you've done that, you've effectively learned the game, and can start really playing for credits. You already know where a lot of the enemies will spawn, especially in early levels, so now you try to learn about the scoring system and figure out how you can apply its mechanics to what you've learned about each level. Maybe you'll start by hugging the left side until the first enemies appear on screen, then slowly sweep to the right, destroying one enemy at a time, to keep your combo up as you attempt to chain the entire level to get the max bonus (which is your new challenge now that you can clear the level pretty much 100% of the time).

Some of the simplest games have some of the most depth because of stuff like what I outlined above.


This is how I feel.

In regards specifically to Bayonetta, in order for me to care about the depths of the game's systems I need to be incentivized to care in the first place. I care extremely little about Bayonetta as a character, her story, or anything about the game. So there's no reason for me to want to put the time and effort into going at it again to extract more engagement when there was little to none the first time around.

Additionally, I never ever felt the way of "the game starts when you beat it." That always came across as a hand wave to dismiss a frustrating or unengaging first playthrough, which to me is the most important.
Games like Bayonetta are fun at any skill level, but the more mastery you achieve over the game, the more fun it is.

If you need an incentive, there it is. Just watch the first combo in that video. If it doesn't seem like pulling off something that looks like that would be enjoyable, then it's not your kind of game. If it does look like fun, then the game will do everything it can to help guide you to that point. All you have to do is figure out what difficulty is appropriate for you, and play. The more you play, the better you get.

Once you beat the game at one difficulty, go up a notch. If you were playing suboptimally, but in a way that was acceptable enough for you to win fights, you may find that your old tricks no longer work. You will simply die instead of cheesing your way through a fight. So you have to try something new. Figure things out by experimentation, or simply read the strategy guide.

Witch Time is the ultimate cheese. You wait for an enemy attack, then dodge right before it hits you, and time slows down (for the enemies) for a few seconds. If you start hitting an enemy, you can extend the duration of Witch Time. It's immensely powerful.

Until you meet Gracious and Glorious.

These two enemies are mostly clones of Grace and Glory, with the key exception that dodging their attacks does not trigger Witch Time. To beat them, you have to win straight up. It's very difficult, especially at harder difficulties that have you facing 2 or more of them at once. And if you think those particular enemies are difficult, wait until you get to the hardest difficulty, because it applies that same Witch Time dodge activation protection to every single enemy in the game, in addition to having a more difficult set of enemies in each fight, having them hit harder, and having stricter ranking requirements.

Simply playing to finish Bayonetta on its hardest difficulty is, in itself, fun, because it requires mastery over the game. Playing for score requires even further mastery.

So when Kamiya says the game doesn't start until you beat it, he really means that you won't truly be able to appreciate and fully enjoy the game until you've achieved the level of mastery that you can only get to by completing the campaign once.
 

Syril

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Mar 28, 2008
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Man, what a terrible opinion.

"Go is such a shitty game, it's not engaging at all! You just have those black and white pieces on a plain board, so bland and boring. It's the game's fault that I was not engaged the first time I played. Go should definitely learn from a game I've enjoyed from the start, Snakes and Ladders! It has all kinds of cool things going on in the board, plus when I play Snakes and Ladders even against excellent players, I have the same chance to win. This is so much cooler than Go where I always lose, which is so demeaning and makes me ask myself "why am I even playing?"".
Jesus Christ dude, why don't you tell everyone how you really feel?
 

Lomax

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Jul 8, 2013
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It's good that games have depth and the capability to offer scoring as a motivator for those that wasn't to continue playing. But I have 2000 games on Steam alone. I bought Bayonetta because it looks cool and I'm enjoying playing it, but I know I'm never going to touch the depth you're referring to and I know that. Which means it does need to be engaging in one play through (which it is). I'm not going to invest hundreds of hours info it, even my favorite games I'm not doing that with any more, because I have too much else I wanted to play. Sure, when I was a kid and owned maybe one new game every few months (if that) I would play them to the point of mastery, learning every little detail. Getting 101% on Donkey Kong Country in under an hour (save time, actual time was weeks on end) is still something I consider a great accomplishment. But now? I don't need that nor do I really want a game that expects it. Games should be engaging and fun to play as well as deep. Games with a good story don't need a score and if anything seeing constant scoring at times just feels like a relic of an arcade past that is now long gone.
 
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If you're playing the home version of these games, you do. If you're sitting at the arcade pumping quarters in until you see the credits, you effectively do. The point is, you're playing the game in such a way that explicitly makes the game less rewarding/fun.
Not all home versions of shmups have unlimited continues
 

Cipher Peon

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Aug 19, 2013
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Man, what a terrible opinion.

"Go is such a shitty game, it's not engaging at all! You just have those black and white pieces on a plain board, so bland and boring. It's the game's fault that I was not engaged the first time I played. Go should definitely learn from a game I've enjoyed from the start, Snakes and Ladders! It has all kinds of cool things going on in the board, plus when I play Snakes and Ladders even against excellent players, I have the same chance to win. This is so much cooler than Go where I always lose, which is so demeaning and makes me ask myself "why am I even playing?"".
Setting your facetiousness aside, I believe Earth-2 Cipher Peon has a point here. Personally I have no interest in Go or its mechanics and some theming and context would go a long way. However, I would feel that a lack of both are common features in board games and therefore have lower expectations as opposed to the clearly distraught Earth-2 Cipher Peon.

Additionally, unlike the alternate universe counterpart of myself, I have no issue losing to better players. However, I think it is extraordinarily important to create experiences that can appeal to everyone, especially those who need help entering this wonderful medium of ours. Of course, the best experiences appeal to all skill levels, so people who put heavy investment should enjoy the game, just as well as beginners!

Finally, I think the difference in Earth-2 Cipher's point regards to losing being demoralizing in Go is that when you're playing a video game by yourself, you don't expect to be laughed at when performing badly. At least, I don't! Motivating people who are struggling is infinitely more fun for everyone involved than mocking them for doing poorly. In their Go example, if I was brand new at Go and I played against someone and played poorly and they made a huge deal about me sucking, would it be illogical if I were to be discouraged from playing again? I don't think so.

Also I think Snakes and Ladders is a super nonentity, but if Earth-2 me likes that then who am I to judge?

Jesus Christ dude, why don't you tell everyone how you really feel?
Don't worry, that was the type of reaction I expected coming into the thread! I don't take it personally, though I sometimes wonder why people react so defensively over this genre. But I'm sure they have their reasons!
 
Jul 25, 2010
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I deeply, deeply, deeply disagree with the notion that shooting games (or arcade games in general) are only enjoyable when played for score, and I'm someone that doesn't use continues in arcade games.
I wouldn't say they're only enjoyable when played for score, just that (arguably) most of their enjoyment is locked behind that mastery gate that you can't really make much progress on until you've finished the game. In a way, though, shooting games kind of have multiple levels of engagement; there's pre-1cc and post-1cc. Pre, you're just trying to survive, and making the game even harder by playing for score isn't really a thing (except on, maybe, the early levels, as you necessarily end up mastering them before the later ones due to sheer repetition). Post, you're taking those skills and making whatever adjustments necessarily to get your score up. The whole way you play the game changes. You might jump to specific problem points instead of continuing to play through the game over and over.

I disagree. Character action games like Bayonetta are best when great enemy design forces players to adapt, and use different tools to overcome ever-increasing challenges.

Devil May Cry 1 is one of the prime examples of this. Fuck the scoring; you needed to master every weapon and attack except maybe Vortex and the Nightmare Beta to stay alive on ever-increasing difficulty levels. Every tool had an optimal use case, and plenty were all but useless against certain enemy types. Changing your weapon set profundity altered your combat style.

Devil May Cry has always appealed to me more than Bayonetta for that reason. 1, 3, and to a lesser extent 4 are all superb at forcing players to experiment with their abilities, precisely because there was no single weapon or combo that universally trashed every enemy in the game.

Nothing is balanced with such perfection as Devil May Cry 1 though. It's so much simpler than the newer games in the genre, but the enemy design and combat balance between the player and the various configurations of opponents has never been more finely tuned.

Scores and ranks are awesome if that's why you're playing, but the best character action games force players to get better in order to proceed, rather than just applauding players with more or less fanfare based on how stylish a given inevitable victory is.
You say this as though you can simply faceroll through Bayonetta, and as if playing for score doesn't make Devil May Cry 1 harder than just increasing the difficulty. Neither of those things are true.

This sounds to me that this is the game's fault for not providing proper amounts of engagement when allowing this type of play to exist.

Of course this is solved with context and a story, which to me works wonders in making me care more about getting more familiar with the gameplay, not to mention incentives to not "credit feed"
All of these games have context and stories. I couldn't really explain even the most basic facets of the plots of many of these games, half because most of them don't get localized at all, half because I never cared, but the story is still there. That being said, games like Ketsui were designed for arcades. You put in 100 yen (or whatever) and play as long as your skill holds out. If you get a game over, you can continue from where you left off, but your score is reset. In this way, the game gives you control over how you play it. The incentive not to credit feed is the right to enter your name on the high score leaderboard.

It's basically impossible to get a high score after a game over, because you will have a strictly lower score than any player that beats the game on one credit.

Credit feeding through a shmup is kinda like pouring a beer wrong and drinking a glass full of mostly-foam.

Agreed. While Bayonetta's plot is really cool on paper, the execution is absolutely horrible. Most non-action cutscenes are a confusing snore-fest. I think that's why gaffers seem to really love Nier: Automata. It's imbuing a P* game with the one thing they do horribly: competent storytelling.


I can see why this feels like a cop-out. Take Bayonetta again, for instance. In your first playthrough, you're constantly thrown into new environments with new enemies to fight. On top of that, you're periodically unlocking new weapons, moves, and equipment. It's simply too much to really internalize how to fight each enemy, use each weapon, etc. on the first go without duplicating the encounters multiple times, which is also not ideal. I'm honestly curious to hear what the alternative is.
Yep. Normal is basically a really long, fun tutorial. It's why you're forced to play it before unlocking hard, I think. If you jump straight into hard mode, you're gonna have a bad time. The enemies hit twice as hard, there are more of them, and more difficult ones appear more often. They're also more aggressive, and give you less time to react to their attacks.

It's interesting that you mention duplicating encounters, because Bayonetta, for the most part, doesn't do this. The game is broken down in to chapters (levels) comprised of various verses (battles). Each chapter at each difficulty has the same set of verses (except no Alfheim portals on Easy and below), but each individual verse can have 1 to 4 different enemy layouts, depending on the difficulty (only 4 because there are very few differences between Easy and Very Easy; basically, on Very Easy, you can't fail QTEs, and you get passive health regen if you avoid damage for 5 seconds). This means that while you'll see the same cutscenes (though, since they're all in-game, Bayonetta will wear her current costume) each playthrough, the enemies and enemy behaviors will very often change.

As for the plot, I really couldn't tell you what was happening. I've played through without skipping cutscenes three times, and the plot of both games is still pretty impenetrable for me. I think it's because I never read any of the lore books I picked up along the way. In a way, the game's story is another layer I have left to explore.

Not everyone play a game for the challenge, some like to relax, others like the story, the setting, the characters or whatever, saying that one way to play a game is the only way to play a game is wrong in every case.

That said times changed, scores aren't good for everything or everyone, i play games since the 8bit era and find scores pointless in single player games now, arcade games were short and more competitive(even in coop), now games have a lot more than that, they have story, acted cutscenes, choices and many other things, the shortest ones are 6 hours long, rpgs can arrive to hundreds of hours, hardcore gamers or fans aside not many people would replay all those hours just to master it when there's an insane amount of other games to choose from, many people have huge backlogs.
Exactly. Varying difficulty levels are a wonderful thing. Some people want to beat the game once without much trouble. Others like to challenge themselves to unlock rewards for beating more difficult gameplay (weapons, etc) to enhance the experience of more gameplay, often on higher difficulties. Others want to play over and over to get perfect grades and scores. It's not hard to implement all these things into an arcadey kind of game. Not to say every game should, but those that do have much broader appeal than those that only cater to one type of player.


I'm not saying it's the only way to play. Just that any game with a scoring system is probably at its most fun when playing for score. RPGs, in my experience, do not have any sort of scoring system at all. They also don't particularly reward mastery, or at least don't incentivize it much (or at all), even if they have difficulty sliders.

By the way, the whole concept of "backlogs" runs counter to the idea of mastery, so I don't think about my collection as a "backlog" anymore. Just because I own a game doesn't mean that if I enjoy it even a little, I "have to" finish it. I'd rather play whatever it is I enjoy the most. Games that you finish once and then move on are probably less fun, not more, when you start a new playthrough. Once you learn how to play, it becomes easy. And raising the difficulty often merely increases enemy power and decreases player power, which is extremely lazy. Games like Bayonetta and Rocket League get more and more fun to play the better you get at them, because the game never runs out of a new challenge to provide. You'll never get so good that you never want to play anymore, because playing at that level is inherently fun.


All that being said, Bayonetta scales all the way down to nothing in terms of difficulty. You can make the game almost play itself thanks to the Immortal Marionette. And once you beat the game at that lower difficulty, you can then take that item to the other difficulties in the game, if you rely on it to do combos.

Regarding the "game starts after the first playthrough" thing: I've been vocal about this before, but in an ideal world it would be possible to do a singular playthrough of Bayonetta that hit all the heights offered by all the difficulty levels. We can talk about why this doesn't happen (budgetary reasons, a sizable chunk of the audience not being interested in the challenge, etc), but if there's mechanical complexity that makes the experience more enjoyable, I would like that to be closely linked to the aesthetic progression of the game (the advancement of the plot, the introduction of new enemies, new areas, etc).

So going from there, I see "for score" versus "for survival" in arcade games (or games like Bayonetta, even, because Bayonetta certainly isn't an arcade-styled game) in a similar light: survival is where the aesthetics and mechanics tie closest together. You aren't fighting for a higher number to compare with out-of-world people, but instead overpowering a boss, the glimpse of a new stage, etc.

Of course, scoring mechanics absolutely can improve games and often do. If only those mechanics, like the harder difficulty levels of Bayonetta, could be more deeply connected to the game's aesthetic progression!
I don't think it's that important to only ever play a game once, or only enjoy a game the most the first time through. I actually don't think what you're talking about is possible. Even Resident Evil 4 has a Pro mode that you unlock after the first playthrough, and that game arguably has the best adaptive difficulty design in history (maybe second to Tetris DX or something).

I'm glad I'm being met halfway, I feel very strongly about this subject and am usually met with hostility :p

I'm not sure that there is an alternative, especially since there's a lot of people who really enjoy this style of gameplay. I think the best thing is to learn lessons from other games and see what works for those games and try to implement them.

On the subject of character action games, I enjoyed the often maligned DmC: Devil May Cry a ton. Putting aside the aesthetics and the story, both of which I was head over heels with, the game was very accessible, allowed for encounters to facilitate a variety of weapon usage from the start, and had a manageable difficulty. Being invested in DmC was easy because you could enjoy yourself without putting the time in to learn all of the system's mechanics and you were incentivized to dig deeper with additional difficulty modes that tested your expertise at the game. I loved that. Anybody could have fun.

As for bullet hells, I think there's a lot to learn from Undertale. While the bullet hell gameplay of Undertale is very simple to understand and doesn't throw many mechanics at you, the way it was implemented into characterization and the story was nothing short of brilliant. On TOP of that, Undertale's accessibility was wonderful, embracing skill levels and personality types of all shapes and sizes. Many people played Undertale for the character and stories, and others were able to realize how the bullet hell gameplay integrated with that and made for a better experience.

I don't think either game started only in your second playthrough, but had systems in place to tell you that you should keep trying and going at it. The fact that playing awfully in DmC still made you feel cool was a big factor in keeping me engaged and feeling positive. Even playing like a scrub earned you a "DIRTY" which is infinitely cooler and less demeaning than the Consolation Prize in Wonderful 101 or Stone Awards in Bayonetta, which honestly make you feel like shit and make you ask "why am I even playing". It goes a long way in terms of game feel and making you feel happy playing, which I think Platinum needs to work on their accessibility a lot.

I look forward to playing Nier: Automata a fair amount to see how they've addressed my common criticism towards their games. I hear they made progress, which is great!
I can't speak to DmC as its presentation turned me way off, but Undertale, IIRC, doesn't have a scoring system, so it's not really trying to challenge you that much. You kind of get through it and play for the story more than anything.

Those Stone awards are the game's way of telling you "fine, I guess you survived the encounter, so technically you pass even though you aren't playing the game in a fun way." These games aren't about that participation award life.

Another example most players play in kuso- mode are the Arkham games. You can beat the game by mostly mashing, but good luck getting decent scores in challenge mode without knowing every nuance of the system front and back and being able to weave insane combos using every gadget.



Man, what a terrible opinion.

"Go is such a shitty game, it's not engaging at all! You just have those black and white pieces on a plain board, so bland and boring. It's the game's fault that I was not engaged the first time I played. Go should definitely learn from a game I've enjoyed from the start, Snakes and Ladders! It has all kinds of cool things going on in the board, plus when I play Snakes and Ladders even against excellent players, I have the same chance to win. This is so much cooler than Go where I always lose, which is so demeaning and makes me ask myself "why am I even playing?"".
I agree about Arkham (though it's still piss easy compared to the other games we've been discussing), but as for your second point, I can relate to people who feel that way about games. It took me over 20 years of playing to get to the point where I realized the stuff I'm talking about in this thread. Where, instead of doing stuff like trading games in and waiting for sales, I simply dive into the intricate systems of these games that I've ignored for years.

It's good that games have depth and the capability to offer scoring as a motivator for those that wasn't to continue playing. But I have 2000 games on Steam alone. I bought Bayonetta because it looks cool and I'm enjoying playing it, but I know I'm never going to touch the depth you're referring to and I know that. Which means it does need to be engaging in one play through (which it is). I'm not going to invest hundreds of hours info it, even my favorite games I'm not doing that with any more, because I have too much else I wanted to play. Sure, when I was a kid and owned maybe one new game every few months (if that) I would play them to the point of mastery, learning every little detail. Getting 101% on Donkey Kong Country in under an hour (save time, actual time was weeks on end) is still something I consider a great accomplishment. But now? I don't need that nor do I really want a game that expects it. Games should be engaging and fun to play as well as deep. Games with a good story don't need a score and if anything seeing constant scoring at times just feels like a relic of an arcade past that is now long gone.
Of those 2000, you could probably pick 50 and be set for life.

You can begin making progress towards the depth I'm referring to in Bayonetta when you start playing the game on Hard mode. The initial Normal playthrough should take 8-12 hours, counting cutscenes and deaths. But in that first playthrough, you'll only rack up enough halos to buy a fraction of the game's available weapons, items, techniques, and costumes. And each combination of accessories can have a very significant effect on your playstyle. The Moon of Mahaa-Kalaa, for example, lets you parry enemy attacks. The parrying system is lenient enough for you to parry just about everything if you keep mashing a forward input on the left analog stick towards your enemies, even mid-combo. But this overlaps with special moves like Stiletto, so you'll have to either disable those, or simply get used to parrying with real timing instead of mashing. One option is easier, but the other is much cooler. Or, you can mix and match, switching strategies depending on what works for you in any given fight.

Play Bayonetta for 20 hours and tell me you don't enjoy the second 10 more than the first. Read the strategy guide. Watch tutorial videos. Learn the advanced skills. Once you start getting better, you can't stop.

Not all home versions of shmups have unlimited continues
This is true, but this is really just a cheap way for developers to artificially extend the "replayability" of those types of games for the types of people who would simply hit continue at the game over screen until they were done, then complain about the game taking only 30 minutes to finish.
 

Tan

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To use your own comparison as an example...
I would rather play sudoku than kusodoku that scored me better if I played it like sudoku
 
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Finally, I think the difference in Earth-2 Cipher's point regards to losing being demoralizing in Go is that when you're playing a video game by yourself, you don't expect to be laughed at when performing badly. At least, I don't! Motivating people who are struggling is infinitely more fun for everyone involved than mocking them for doing poorly. In their Go example, if I was brand new at Go and I played against someone and played poorly and they made a huge deal about me sucking, would it be illogical if I were to be discouraged from playing again? I don't think so.
Kamiya wants you to get good at Bayonetta so you can enjoy it as much as possible. He is doing his due diligence by designing the game such that it tells you how well you played at the end of each fight. What you do after finding that out is on you.

To use your own comparison as an example...
I would rather play sudoku than kusodoku that scored me better if I played it like sudoku
It's a pen and paper game. The rule about not repeating numbers across rows and columns is only enforced if you enforce it. That's the point I'm trying to make.

What you're saying is that you'd rather Bayonetta not allow you to play it badly, which I'm not sure can be implemented in a fun way at all. What you're suggesting would be like... having every fight that would end with a Stone rating instead trigger a Game Over.
 

Weltall Zero

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Setting your facetiousness aside, I believe Earth-2 Cipher Peon has a point here. Personally I have no interest in Go or its mechanics and some theming and context would go a long way.

However, I would feel that a lack of both are common features in board games and therefore have lower expectations as opposed to the clearly distraught Earth-2 Cipher Peon.
Go would be improved with a backstory and pretty game pieces? "Lower" expectations?
I'm going to assume all of the above is self-parody for the sake of conversation.

Additionally, unlike the alternate universe counterpart of myself, I have no issue losing to better players. However, I think it is extraordinarily important to create experiences that can appeal to everyone,
That's a fallacy, though. You say that you want all games made "to appeal to everyone", but that's at best a mistake and at worst a lie. Wanting all games to smile and hand out trophies to the most incompetent of players doesn't make them appeal to all players: it makes them appeal to players that don't want a challenge. In other words: you don't really want games to appeal to everyone: you want them to appeal to you, and you want to force everyone to like the games you like: watered down games that are only "for everyone" in the sense that Dora the Explorer is "rated E for Everyone".

Pretty much every one of my favorite games (Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Spelunky, FTL, Platinum games) is made with hardcore gamers in mind and none of them are welcoming to newbie players, most of them notoriously so. This is not an accident, and yet many of them are hugely popular among hardcore gamers. Why? If your "for everyone" theory held any water, they would have to be the least popular games ever.

especially those who need help entering this wonderful medium of ours. Of course, the best experiences appeal to all skill levels, so people who put heavy investment should enjoy the game, just as well as beginners!
You seem confident that this is such an easy task. Can you name examples of single player games that are as attractive to newcomers as to hardcore gamers?

Finally, I think the difference in Earth-2 Cipher's point regards to losing being demoralizing in Go is that when you're playing a video game by yourself, you don't expect to be laughed at when performing badly. At least, I don't!
You are genuinely distraught by a piece of software awarding you a digital trophy? And you find this a normal reaction?

Motivating people who are struggling is infinitely more fun for everyone involved than mocking them for doing poorly.
Again, you are not everyone. Hardcore gamers don't appreciate the condescension and want to be told they suck when they suck. Denying that shows a very feeble grasp on what makes games engaging. There is a whole field of game theory deciding how punishing failures should be in a game. There is a reason why Dark Souls games are so popular, and even those pale in comparison with the also hugely popular roguelikes and permadeath.

There is no simple, universal answer to that question. Don't cheapen it by pretending you have one.

In their Go example, if I was brand new at Go and I played against someone and played poorly and they made a huge deal about me sucking, would it be illogical if I were to be discouraged from playing again? I don't think so.
You are grossly and disingenuously exaggerating what "huge deal" P* games make about getting lower ranks. I.e. they make none of it, you just get a goddamn trophy. Being offended by that is not having thin skin, it's having no skin whatsoever.

Also I think Snakes and Ladders is a super nonentity, but if Earth-2 me likes that then who am I to judge?
Well, it being a non-entity is entirely my point. You are the one saying that instant appeal is more important than depth. And if Cypher Peon-2 wrote a post extolling the virtues of Snakes and Ladders versus Go, the least one would expect is some counterarguments (in fact I just had a mental image of Weltall Zero-2 using a videogame example to illustrate his point).

Don't worry, that was the type of reaction I expected coming into the thread! I don't take it personally, though I sometimes wonder why people react so defensively over this genre. But I'm sure they have their reasons!
Yes, we do have reasons. Some of us are old enough and have been gaming for long enough to remember how the past two decades have been a massive slide from games that actually demanded something of the player, to autoplaying "press A for awesome" barely-games with progressively insulting (non)challenge levels. It's only relatively recently that some developers said "fuck it" and started releasing games that a braindead ape can't complete (when Demon's Souls released it was revolutionary precisely because it was so unusual among modern games). It's been quite a struggle to convince publishers that there is a market for hard games: having even that small counter effort threatened by people who aren't content that 90% of modern games can be completed playing with one's feet, it has to be 100% of them, on the highly hypocritical excuse that "that way they can be enjoyed by everyone", yeah, that pisses us off royally.

I agree about Arkham (though it's still piss easy compared to the other games we've been discussing),
Have you tried scoring among the top in an Arkham game's leaderboards? I can assure you "piss easy" is not the way I would describe it. :D
 

Curufinwe

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I disagree. Character action games like Bayonetta are best when great enemy design forces players to adapt, and use different tools to overcome ever-increasing challenges.
I think it does that on Hard. On Normal you can get thru without really using all the options, but that's OK. The percentage of people who actually finish games is low enough as it is.
 

TheRedSnifit

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I dunno. I played Bayonetta 2 and Wonderful 101 several times without paying attention to scores. I have a huge amount of time in Metal Slug games (the over 45 hours I've got across the first three in Steam is but a tiny fraction of time spent in them), even though I mash that continue button all day (or used to, I can 1CC them these days depending on how friendly the RNG is with weapon drops). I don't need that carrot to enjoy these games.
 

LordKasual

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In any game with a scoring system, it is often paramount that you play for score. It's the game's way of teaching you how to get the most enjoyment out of it.
Sonic Adventure 2 is a wonderful example of this.

The game was clearly very much designed around its scoring system, and actually doing well adds a massive amount of replay value to the title.

Almost all of the mechanics factor into the scoring system. It was a great idea.
 

Paragon

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I think this post really just helped me understand why I want to like these games so much, but don't enjoy the time I spend with them.
I have absolutely zero interest in competing for score.

That's not to say that I don't like to be challenged by a game, or that I just want the easiest path from start to finish possible.
But focusing on score is not the sort of challenge that I have any interest in, in practically any game.

I think this is why I have almost zero interest in modern STGs. (shmups)
They focus on hidden rules in the scoring system that are not explained anywhere in the game, and just throw a million bullets/enemies at you.
Perhaps there is a lot in these games that I'm not seeing because I'm not a high-level player that pays attention to those sorts of scoring systems, but to me, the games feel like they are often very short and have little variety now, compared to older games.
It's like they're laser-focused on one specific type of play, and if you only have a casual interest in the genre, you aren't going to have a great time with them - whereas I could go back to STGs from the '80s and have a lot of fun while still being challenged by the game.

A game should still be fun to play even if you credit-feed your way through it, and not only with the artificially imposed challenge of esoteric scoring systems.
That's what most of these modern games seem to be lacking.

I'm not saying that I want to credit-feed my way through these games right from the start so that I can finish them in less than an hour and never touch them again.
I do challenge myself to try and 1CC them, or at least make it through as much the game as possible with a limited number of credits.
But if the game is not fun for someone who is playing it on free-play mode, the type of challenge it's offering is not what I'm looking for.
Look at games like Metal Slug or R-Type - they can get brutally hard in places if you're trying to 1CC them, but a casual player is still going to have a great time with them even if they're just credit-feeding because the game itself has a lot of variety and is just fun to play - not only when you are focused on a 'fun' scoring system inside a bland game.

If a game is only fun after a certain number of playthroughs and mastery of the mechanics, I'm tempted to call that bad game design.
I'm lucky if I have the time and interest to play through a game to completion once these days.
I don't have time to sink 60-100 hours into a 10-hour game any more, nor do I find it rewarding to do so.
A game needs to have a lot more than a challenging scoring system to convince me to play through it again.

You say this as though you can simply faceroll through Bayonetta, and as if playing for score doesn't make Devil May Cry 1 harder than just increasing the difficulty. Neither of those things are true.
I think you missed the point that he was making - that DMC1 is still a fun and challenging game when you pay no attention to the scoring system at all.
You're constantly being introduced to new abilities and challenged to use them just to beat the game - which is probably antithetical to a game designed mostly around a scoring system where you want to give the player the most amount of options at all times.
Modern character action games seem to have less variety and focus more on the 'fun' being in the scoring system than the gameplay, just like STGs.
That's why the genre is continuing to shrink in popularity; because they're only catering to a very small section of the audience that wants to play these games.

Those Stone awards are the game's way of telling you "fine, I guess you survived the encounter, so technically you pass even though you aren't playing the game in a fun way." These games aren't about that participation award life.
Which is one of the big problems that the game has.
It doesn't introduce new mechanics well, and teach or encourage variety from the player.
Unless that person is already an advanced Character Action game player and focused on the scoring system, it's easy to be stuck playing the game in a way that just isn't fun.

Read the strategy guide. Watch tutorial videos. Learn the advanced skills. Once you start getting better, you can't stop.
And that right there is a huge part of what is wrong with the game.
 

Jintor

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weird

i have 300+ hours in bayo but i almost never think about score

i only really have one overriding objective in bayo, which is "I want to clear this without getting hit"
 

Jerry Orbach

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I think scoring works better in games that are all about scoring (Virtua Tennis) than games that are ostensibly about being the last starfighter or whatever. Bullet scraping in shmups is the perfect example: it's something you do because you read it on a wiki, that earns you some arbitrary points, which have seemingly no connection to anything happening in the actual game but I'm sure someone, somewhere cares about. Contrast this with the car-scraping mechanic in Crazy Taxi, where near misses are rewarded with cold hard cash from your passenger, which then gets tallied up at the end of your run to find out just what a crazy driver you are. This is a little bit better since it at least gestures in the direction of contextualizing your actions, even if they don't have much consequence in the game itself.

Much better are the near misses in Burnout. These fill your boost gauge, which in turn allows you to go faster, which contributes meaningfully and immediately to your ultimate goal of winning the race. Burnout makes the most sense to me because the pieces fit together into a coherent whole, as if they're all one game, instead of a second disconnected and totally unexplained game layered on top of a base game too boring to stand on its own. This doesn't mean I can't enjoy playing "simple" games for score, it just means I think those games could find more accessible avenues for integrating their secret complexity.
 

Smasher89

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Yep, Gunvolt s a good example of this, some people think its a megaman game, which it's not, and playing it for highscore is alot more fun then any megaman game ever were!
 
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Wanting all games to smile and hand out trophies to the most incompetent of players doesn't make them appeal to all players: it makes them appeal to players that don't want a challenge. In other words: you don't really want games to appeal to everyone: you want them to appeal to you, and you want to force everyone to like the games you like: watered down games that are only "for everyone" in the sense that Dora the Explorer is "rated E for Everyone".

[...]

Again, you are not everyone. Hardcore gamers don't appreciate the condescension and want to be told they suck when they suck. Denying that shows a very feeble grasp on what makes games engaging. There is a whole field of game theory deciding how punishing failures should be in a game. There is a reason why Dark Souls games are so popular, and even those pale in comparison with the also hugely popular roguelikes and permadeath.

[...]

Yes, we do have reasons. Some of us are old enough and have been gaming for long enough to remember how the past two decades have been a massive slide from games that actually demanded something of the player, to autoplaying "press A for awesome" barely-games with progressively insulting (non)challenge levels. It's only relatively recently that some developers said "fuck it" and started releasing games that a braindead ape can't complete (when Demon's Souls released it was revolutionary precisely because it was so unusual among modern games). It's been quite a struggle to convince publishers that there is a market for hard games: having even that small counter effort threatened by people who aren't content that 90% of modern games can be completed playing with one's feet, it has to be 100% of them, on the highly hypocritical excuse that "that way they can be enjoyed by everyone", yeah, that pisses us off royally.


Have you tried scoring among the top in an Arkham game's leaderboards? I can assure you "piss easy" is not the way I would describe it. :D



As for Arkham, I'll say something different. I finished a few of the Arkham games, but I didn't enjoy the mechanics enough to want to put in the effort to actually get good at it. I didn't even remember that it had a scoring system with leaderboards. It might even be harder than Bayonetta, but it doesn't matter for me, personally, as I don't enjoy it (beyond the "one and done" thing).

I dunno. I played Bayonetta 2 and Wonderful 101 several times without paying attention to scores. I have a huge amount of time in Metal Slug games (the over 45 hours I've got across the first three in Steam is but a tiny fraction of time spent in them), even though I mash that continue button all day (or used to, I can 1CC them these days depending on how friendly the RNG is with weapon drops). I don't need that carrot to enjoy these games.
If the game poses enough of a challenge to you for you to enjoy it as it is without regard for scores, then that speaks well both to you and the game. You're still getting better, even if you are flattening out the difficulty curve over time.

Sonic Adventure 2 is a wonderful example of this.

The game was clearly very much designed around its scoring system, and actually doing well adds a massive amount of replay value to the title.

Almost all of the mechanics factor into the scoring system. It was a great idea.
This response is amazing, because it made me realize I've had this mentality way, way longer than I thought I did. I thought I just got into this line of thinking when I stumbled upon Ketsui Death Label for the DS. It's basically a handheld port of the arcade Ketsui bullet hell shmup, except only the bosses. But it has this interesting system where it starts you out with one continue, but you unlock more continues as your playtime goes up (IIRC). So even if you aren't getting better, you're gradually able to complete more of the game with each playthrough, as it sort of forces you to get better, even as it allows limited continues. Eventually, I got the 360 version of the full port, and the skills I honed on the DS transferred over perfectly. That casual/scrub training ground of sorts left me with a set of shmup fundamentals.

Anyway, that was only a few years ago. But I can recall the day I found out you could unlock the Green Hill Zone in Sonic Adventure 2 by collecting all 180 emblems. Seeing as how I had a Sega Genesis and Game Gear, and that Sonic was a huge part of my life growing up, I made it my mission to get those emblems. It meant getting an A ranking on every stage, as well as doing a bunch of extra optional stuff. I had about 3 emblems to go before an asshole idiot friend of mine took out the VMU, mashed the A button, and deleted the save while I was in the bathroom (after I specifically told him not to touch it).

The other game, even earlier, was Tetris DX. I kept playing, and playing, and playing. I always thought the next higher score was just within my grasp, if I could only play a little better. And if I could get my score high enough, I could see a new congrats animation. The animations were awesome, too. For 40 lines, the faster you did it, the better the fireworks got. If you played Marathon, then you'd see a rocket launch, and the size/quality of the rocket would depend on your score. It was awesome.

So I guess, even as a kid, I understood how great it could be to dive into a game's optional stuff. Maybe I did it because I didn't simply have a million games lying around then as I do today, and I had little choice if I wanted to play at all.

I think this post really just helped me understand why I want to like these games so much, but don't enjoy the time I spend with them.
I have absolutely zero interest in competing for score.

That's not to say that I don't like to be challenged by a game, or that I just want the easiest path from start to finish possible.
But focusing on score is not the sort of challenge that I have any interest in, in practically any game.
Score is just an excuse to play a difficult game in a fun way. The main reason why you're playing a game is to enjoy playing the game.

The idea is that throwing rocks off a bottomless cliff with your eyes closed is fun, but it's even more fun if you throw them in front of you such that you can see how far away they end up, and try to see if you can throw them even farther each time. You might figure out ways of throwing the rock to eke out an extra inch of distance. You might start doing things like spinning or running to build momentum before the throw. You might try to figure out what kinds of rocks fly farthest, and focus on throwing those. You might look up pitching techniques to maximize distance, if they can even be applied to rock-throwing.

So that's "mindlessly throwing rocks" vs "figuring out how to get the rocks to go as far as possible when you throw them." The latter is a purely optional added challenge, as at the end of the day, you're just throwing a rock, but I'm sure it's way more fun. Maybe they play it on Earth-2.


I think this is why I have almost zero interest in modern STGs. (shmups)
They focus on hidden rules in the scoring system that are not explained anywhere in the game, and just throw a million bullets/enemies at you.
Perhaps there is a lot in these games that I'm not seeing because I'm not a high-level player that pays attention to those sorts of scoring systems, but to me, the games feel like they are often very short and have little variety now, compared to older games.
It's like they're laser-focused on one specific type of play, and if you only have a casual interest in the genre, you aren't going to have a great time with them - whereas I could go back to STGs from the '80s and have a lot of fun while still being challenged by the game.

The scoring systems are hidden because Japan considers the discovery process for them to be part of the fun of playing. It's the same reason why it took so many years for Japanese fighting game developers to start releasing frame data (and it's still relatively rare when it happens). You and I can just read the English translation of some dude's scoring system analysis once we can 1cc the game. Although, thinking about it, I recall that a lot of the home releases of these games include Superplays or support replay downloading, so you can just see what people do and mimic them to get their results. Stuff like hidden bee patterns, or figuring out that you get more points if you slowly kill enemies one by one during relaxed sections in Dodonpachi Daioujou instead of destroying them all as fast as you can.

A game should still be fun to play even if you credit-feed your way through it, and not only with the artificially imposed challenge of esoteric scoring systems.
That's what most of these modern games seem to be lacking.



Like Weltall Zero said, I don't think it's always possible for a game to work well at both extremes of the mastery spectrum. I certainly don't think I would like a version of Dodonpachi Daioujou that's still fun even if you're horrible at it. It would mean reducing the speed, frequency, and/or aim of enemy bullets to the point where avoiding them is trivial, or having some crazy absorption/ignoring system that makes them easy to bypass. Or provide infinite lives, or let you resume after a death/game over from the same point without penalty, and so on. Maybe some annoying overarching story that has to be skipped past all the time? I can't think of anything that would make a hard game more fun for a player that can't or won't get good at it without making it less fun for players who try to master it.



I'm not saying that I want to credit-feed my way through these games right from the start so that I can finish them in less than an hour and never touch them again.
I do challenge myself to try and 1CC them, or at least make it through as much the game as possible with a limited number of credits.
But if the game is not fun for someone who is playing it on free-play mode, the type of challenge it's offering is not what I'm looking for.
Look at games like Metal Slug or R-Type - they can get brutally hard in places if you're trying to 1CC them, but a casual player is still going to have a great time with them even if they're just credit-feeding because the game itself has a lot of variety and is just fun to play - not only when you are focused on a 'fun' scoring system inside a bland game.

If a game is only fun after a certain number of playthroughs and mastery of the mechanics, I'm tempted to call that bad game design.
I'm lucky if I have the time and interest to play through a game to completion once these days.
I don't have time to sink 60-100 hours into a 10-hour game any more, nor do I find it rewarding to do so.
A game needs to have a lot more than a challenging scoring system to convince me to play through it again.
I'll concede that some games have more variety than others, but I have to say that they sacrifice depth for that breadth. I don't think Metal Slug has a particularly complex scoring system. And that's not compelling in the same way as a less-varied game.

Also, I don't think it's a good thing that you would much prefer to put 10 hours into 10 games than 100 hours into 1 games. Either way, you're enjoying the time you're spending playing games, but one way costs 10 times as much as the other.

I think you missed the point that he was making - that DMC1 is still a fun and challenging game when you pay no attention to the scoring system at all.
You're constantly being introduced to new abilities and challenged to use them just to beat the game - which is probably antithetical to a game designed mostly around a scoring system where you want to give the player the most amount of options at all times.
Modern character action games seem to have less variety and focus more on the 'fun' being in the scoring system than the gameplay, just like STGs.
That's why the genre is continuing to shrink in popularity; because they're only catering to a very small section of the audience that wants to play these games.
The point that I was making when I mentioned facerolling through Bayonetta was that it, too, is challenging if you ignore the scoring system. He was implying that it wasn't.

Which is one of the big problems that the game has.
It doesn't introduce new mechanics well, and teach or encourage variety from the player.
Unless that person is already an advanced Character Action game player and focused on the scoring system, it's easy to be stuck playing the game in a way that just isn't fun.
The results screen is, itself, the lesson. It teaches the player how to use every single mechanic in the game. It's all there, on the File page of the Select button menu. Even Dodge Offset is explained there.

And that right there is a huge part of what is wrong with the game.
The nuances of the combat system and scoring system can be figured out by playing the game and paying attention. When you hit an enemy, an icon with a number pops up under the combo meter. If you're paying attention, you'll eventually notice that the number goes up fast at the start of a combo, but then you quickly get diminishing returns. You'll then notice that the growth resets back to the initial value if you finish your combo with a Wicked Weave attack, which has a different icon. And so on.

That's the learning process that the people who recorded the videos and wrote the strategy guide followed. You can play, and play, and play, until you figure it out on your own, over hundreds (or thousands) of hours, or you can take a shortcut to that level of enjoyment (because you don't enjoy the discovery and experimentation that much) with those resources. Same as with STGs.


weird

i have 300+ hours in bayo but i almost never think about score

i only really have one overriding objective in bayo, which is "I want to clear this without getting hit"
I think that guarantees you a bronze. In a way, it works as a sort of "real minimum:" land a badass combo, finish up quickly, or don't get hit.

i do this but with games that track your time completion for speed.

so, things like F-Zero and Mario Kart's Time Attack modes get a ton of play from me.
Time is like a universal score. It's why speedrunning is so interesting, as most of those games weren't designed to be competitive.

I think scoring works better in games that are all about scoring (Virtua Tennis) than games that are ostensibly about being the last starfighter or whatever. Bullet scraping in shmups is the perfect example: it's something you do because you read it on a wiki, that earns you some arbitrary points, which have seemingly no connection to anything happening in the actual game but I'm sure someone, somewhere cares about. Contrast this with the car-scraping mechanic in Crazy Taxi, where near misses are rewarded with cold hard cash from your passenger, which then gets tallied up at the end of your run to find out just what a crazy driver you are. This is a little bit better since it at least gestures in the direction of contextualizing your actions, even if they don't have much consequence in the game itself.

Much better are the near misses in Burnout. These fill your boost gauge, which in turn allows you to go faster, which contributes meaningfully and immediately to your ultimate goal of winning the race. Burnout makes the most sense to me because the pieces fit together into a coherent whole, as if they're all one game, instead of a second disconnected and totally unexplained game layered on top of a base game too boring to stand on its own. This doesn't mean I can't enjoy playing "simple" games for score, it just means I think those games could find more accessible avenues for integrating their secret complexity.
I think I agree with you. But different games allow entirely different types of mastery.

Yep, Gunvolt s a good example of this, some people think its a megaman game, which it's not, and playing it for highscore is alot more fun then any megaman game ever were!
I'll have to look into this.
 

Kai Dracon

Writing a dinosaur space opera symphony
Jun 7, 2004
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Space is the Place
Platinum has kind of codified the concept of multiple playthroughs with remixed and incrementally more difficult mechanics to test the player's knowledge. It goes with the territory that some players will in turn feel that they cannot "properly" enjoy the game on a single playthrough then shelve it... but I have to wonder how much of this is perception simply because people know there's another layer to the game that is beyond a one-and-done approach to the title in question.

I've seen plenty of people (including some in this thread) cite that they've had plenty of fun playing Bayonetta or The Wonderful 101 without even getting into the scoring system or higher difficulties, so the games must be doing something right.

I think demanding that all games be maximally satisfying to all people on a single playthrough is unrealistic. No activity can be fully satisfying to everyone after a single experience, a single session. Some activities will always become better with time or repetition or practice.
 

1upsuper

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Excellent thread with all the expected responses. Playing for score isn't for everyone, but there's no doubt that a lot of fantastic games are built with score-hunting in mind, and that's A-OK. Not every game is going to appeal to everyone, nor should ever game.
 

heringer

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I disagree. Character action games like Bayonetta are best when great enemy design forces players to adapt, and use different tools to overcome ever-increasing challenges.

Scores and ranks are awesome if that's why you're playing, but the best character action games force players to get better in order to proceed, rather than just applauding players with more or less fanfare based on how stylish a given inevitable victory
This is pretty much what I wanted out of those games. I guess I'm not wired to have fun by artificially raising the challenge of a game changing the way I play or limiting myself. I will always want to try to take the most eficient path because that's what's fun to me.

Sure, a scoring system is an incentive to do my best, but it's not a great incentive to me. To me it's more tangible and satisfying to beat something I would otherwise not be able to unless I'm skilled.