Ironically, Kotaku doesn't understand the concept of NPCs at all; or further proof that their staff doesn't really know much about games.

Jun 13, 2013
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... Much of that has to do with its people and how they exist only for my benefit. It’s not even about being more “realistic”, or creating better AI; it’s about allowing these entities lives independent of their service to the player. These people don’t align with the world they’re in and they certainly don’t always have to exist for me...
Alright, normally I click and move on, but fuck it: I've seen some shit in my years on the 'net. Some weird, strange, un-Godly things, and some amazing, engrossing glimmers of brilliance. The bolded is, quite literally, the dumbest, poorly informed, barely cognisant chain of human thought I've ever seen vomited out into the digital abyss. This is not a thought provoking article, conjuring deep inner reflection in its audience through a dazzling array of poignant observations, composed of such sheer quality as to demand contemplation. Neither is this an article that presents timely or relevant reflection upon a piece of popular culture, offering its audience professional-level insight, or simply presenting an opinion that one might enjoy or find entertaining long enough to finish. No, this is a cobbled together scrap of barely coherent thought, based solely around: "Hey, this is a western - like WestWorld! Yeah, that's popular, and people think its really smart, I'll write about that! Sure, its completely disconnected from the game and its: setting, story, narrative, dialogue, themes, presentation, structure and gameplay, but fuck it - its close enough to WestWorld that I'm going to write a really smart article!" This half-aborted malformed chain of thought is premised and justified within the opening paragraph in a single demonstrably false sentence:
Red Dead Redemption 2’s excessively detailed world tries to suggest reality. Fall and you get covered in mud; while covered in mud someone might make a coy comment about how they hope it’s not shit. The world is full of little flourishes and behaviors that suggest its NPCs are real people with genuine reactions. But the more I play, the more they feel like puppets putting on a show. More so than any other game I’ve played.
What? What?! Someone who writes about video games for a living believes that the environmental facsimile within RDR2 bares the marks of its digital machination more so than, according to their own words, literally every game ever made?
It embarrasses me that the word 'author' is used to describe the "author" of this article, and Liz Jackson, James Agee, Walter Lippmann, and other actual writers and journalists worth reading. I weep that something so poorly informed, poorly written, and so badly premised is the legacy of their craft.
 
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Sep 7, 2015
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This encounter meant to give my actions consequences, but the reward and the scripted nature of our interaction rang false. For all of Red Dead Redemption 2’s attention to detail, this NPC wasn’t an entity who existed before I found him. Which is to say he literally exists because of me and my importance as a player. He was spawned in as I came near, solely to be rescued by me, and then again to reward me for it. Enemies are magically summoned for me to gun down; I’ve watched them blip into existence on my radar during certain events. NPCs exist in orbit of the player, for the player. This is true to a certain extent in all games, but it feels particular pronounced due to Red Dead Redemption 2's aspiration for creating a meticulous and believable space. As a result, Red Dead Redemption 2’s open world often captures the beauty and detail of real spaces—I’ve never seen grass of these particularly perfect colors before—but it never manages to treat its citizens with empathy or give them life beyond their service to the player. How can it, when these people exist to serve me and when I can decide to kill them with the single press of a button?
congratulations, you described "videogames". Have a cookie.

I'm cringing more every day.
 
Likes: DeepEnigma
Oct 13, 2014
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"they [NPCs] are woefully artificial. The seams start to show, and it’s obvious that Red Dead Redemption 2’s people only exist in relation to me and are defined solely by what I can do to them. "



Also, the author really must enjoy video games when saying something like this:

I avoid towns more often than not in the game. I get too distracted by the animatronic people and their play-acting lives.
 
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Oct 5, 2015
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I dunno, the "severity" of the terms are on completely different scales. With NPC, it is used to criticize how you are just using the same terms and thought processes devoid of any critical thinking. However, you can learn to have thoughts of your own and convey those thoughts in a meaningful way. With Nazi/Alt-Right, it is a direct attack at the core identity of the person. You are being told you are not better than a racist murderer who despises large swaths of humanity and want them removed.

As a liberal myself, NPC is a "meme" that holds some water (even if it is a tad childish). Calling people Nazi/Alt-Right is on a far different level and should never be normalized.
Great post.
 
Dec 3, 2013
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"they [NPCs] are woefully artificial. The seams start to show, and it’s obvious that Red Dead Redemption 2’s people only exist in relation to me and are defined solely by what I can do to them. "

These are the same people who are so disconnected from reality, they legit post on forums (mainly the other place) that the agency of a female NPC/PC is important, and talk down to people for taking away "her agency".

I swear it was trolling, but then I see these articles, and... just wow.
 
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they legit post on forums (mainly the other place) that the agency of a female NPC/PC is important, and talk down to people for taking away "her agency".
Could you give more context or examples? I'm curios and rather new to the debatte and topic – maybe for the better... to leave it. But I can't help it right now... I'd like to read some of this stuff you have mentioned.

I'm relatively active on ERA, but mostly in, let's say, 'non-critical' conversations. You know, mostly the stuff you normally talk about a game, like its performance and art design and so on, and less the political agendas.
 
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Could you give more context or examples? I'm curios and rather new to the debatte and topic – maybe for the better... to leave it. But I can't help it right now... I'd like to read some of this stuff you have mentioned.

I'm relatively active on ERA, but mostly in, let's say, 'non-critical' conversations. You know, mostly the stuff you normally talk about a game, like its performance and art design and so on, and less the political agendas.
I do not have any links on hand, but Google might (and other forums that log these posts). I have seen posts where they talk down to people, saying the NPC, "she cannot consent", and other such batshit insane posts compounding upon that with use of "agency" and the like when it comes to sexualized designs, etc..

Hell, they used to post those types here before they exited to la la land.
 
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i usually check the writer hair color before reading their articles to decide if it's worth or not, and i see it applies here as well
 
Aug 30, 2014
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From the article:

"Arthur and the player’s actions are expressions of a mythic masculinity. We rescue women and lesser men—after all, better men would be able to fight off bandits and manage their horses— "

Gotta love this line, modern identity politics laid bare. A jab at masculinity, highlighting only its own stupidity. The text "after all, better men" is clearly trying to present criticism, Judgment of the Judgment of what makes better men. But here's the problem . The original judgment stands . It absolutely is better to be able to fight off aggressors then not to be able to be able to fight off aggressors. It absolutely is better to be able to manage horses when they are your primary means of conveyance than to not be able to manage them.

I mean, a cowboy should be able to manage cattle and horses, and should be able to stop rustlers. Like, literally that is their job. And yes, being better at it is a good thing. Taking a clear indicator of competence and implying it's some sort of mythical masculinity to be avoided, or at least rethought in this Modern Age is ridiculous.
 
Dec 3, 2013
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From the article:

"Arthur and the player’s actions are expressions of a mythic masculinity. We rescue women and lesser men—after all, better men would be able to fight off bandits and manage their horses— "

Gotta love this line, modern identity politics laid bare. A jab at masculinity, highlighting only its own stupidity. The text "after all, better men" is clearly trying to present criticism, Judgment of the Judgment of what makes better men. But here's the problem . The original judgment stands . It absolutely is better to be able to fight off aggressors then not to be able to be able to fight off aggressors. It absolutely is better to be able to manage horses when they are your primary means of conveyance than to not be able to manage them.

I mean, a cowboy should be able to manage cattle and horses, and should be able to stop rustlers. Like, literally that is their job. And yes, being better at it is a good thing. Taking a clear indicator of competence and implying it's some sort of mythical masculinity to be avoided, or at least rethought in this Modern Age is ridiculous.
The privilege of not having to grow up in the times this took place, is all this article and line read like to me.
 
Likes: hariseldon
Aug 30, 2018
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https://kotaku.com/assassins-creed-odyssey-really-blew-its-ending-1830170997
Breakdown of the article below for those who don't want to clicky-the-linky

Different writer but same weird understanding of video games?

Kotaku is realllllly....just....yeah these days.

-=-=-

Luke starts of explaining and praising the games mechanics/world in typical gamer wonderment; expansive, pretty, lots to do, etc.

He explains that he usually plays the main questline as the first thing he does...but then turns around and complains he doesn't get any of the sub-plots that help build out the main plot of the game that side quests/sub-plots provide.

He also seems to be confused that in RPGs, things are often level gated because it's not entirely sensible that a level 1 character gets the best sword in the game and one shots everything. That would completely trivialize most of the gameplay.

I'm just confused on what he's actually complaining about here; is he stating he's upset because to get more plot you have to play more of the game? That there's too much to do? That it all feels tedious to complete?


"Introduced in last year’s Origins, Ubisoft has now given Assassin’s Creed an RPG-like level system where the more you play, the more you do and the more quests you complete, the higher your level. And as a consequence, certain items, quests and enemies are locked behind a level gate (each Cultist, for example, has a requisite level you need to be at or near to challenge).

This is bullshit! If I have to do mundane sidequests to pad my XP in order to level up and access a main quest, then they’re not really sidequests at all, they’re just sub-standard quests. Having to complete them isn’t making me a better player, or allowing me to have more fun, it’s just making me do more Assassin’s Creed, seemingly for the sake of it."

"This is representative of one of Odyssey’s wider problems: it’s just too big."
inb4 I didn't post an archive link.
 
Likes: Saruhashi
Oct 2, 2018
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https://kotaku.com/assassins-creed-odyssey-really-blew-its-ending-1830170997
Breakdown of the article below for those who don't want to clicky-the-linky

Different writer but same weird understanding of video games?

Kotaku is realllllly....just....yeah these days.

-=-=-

Luke starts of explaining and praising the games mechanics/world in typical gamer wonderment; expansive, pretty, lots to do, etc.

He explains that he usually plays the main questline as the first thing he does...but then turns around and complains he doesn't get any of the sub-plots that help build out the main plot of the game that side quests/sub-plots provide.

He also seems to be confused that in RPGs, things are often level gated because it's not entirely sensible that a level 1 character gets the best sword in the game and one shots everything. That would completely trivialize most of the gameplay.

I'm just confused on what he's actually complaining about here; is he stating he's upset because to get more plot you have to play more of the game? That there's too much to do? That it all feels tedious to complete?

inb4 I didn't post an archive link.
This kind of stuff really feeds this idea I have that a lot of people writing about games just want games to be more like movies or books.

While games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey can be described as bloated I think many players, the writer here being one of them, don't really see the intent of the designers.

These big Ubisoft worlds seem designed to give you some time in each region of the map. So you spend a few hours doing side quests in Area A then you go to Area B, then Area C and you pick up bits of the main story as you go along.

Leveling allows them to "pace" that for players willing to play along. Sure, I can farm exp for 10 hours and then be overpowered no matter where I go for the rest of the game but really when you play a game you have to allow yourself to "play along" with the developers vision.

This guy is just like "NO, I want the story and just the story". Problem is that a game is not a story. You can call it an interactive experience or a toy or just stick with game but fundamentally its a thing that you play with. You have to be willing to give up some of your... inhibitions(?) to the game. Like you need to let go and say, Ok, I know this is a bit nonsensical but I am gonna have fun with it.

The writer is basically saying "I don't want to play the game" because they value the story. I would argue really that if this person wants satisfaction then they are engaging with the wrong medium for them personally.

Surely the secret to good game design is to come up a story that exists to facilitate gameplay? Too many writers seem to want a deep story with gameplay elements bolted on. I don't get why that is.

Do you even need a story? I put tons of hours into Tetris because I enjoy playing the game. Does a story improve that?

Taking something like Lord of the Rings.
The books are very detailed and involved and you need to spend 6 to 7 hours per book.
The movie adaptation would be almost like a summarized version of that. It's a more narrowly defined vision that you can consume more quickly.

What should an LOTR game adaptation be? Just a cinematic retelling with some game mechanics, platforming, combat, whatever?

I would say an LOTR game needs to be a game. We all know the story so what if we could just play in the world and the developer fixes it so that you play a few hours in this region and then you level up and move onto the next and so on.

This writer would just be like "No, just retell the LOTR again!". I feel like so many of them just don't "get" games on a fundamental level.
 
Aug 30, 2018
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This kind of stuff really feeds this idea I have that a lot of people writing about games just want games to be more like movies or books.

While games like Assassin's Creed Odyssey can be described as bloated I think many players, the writer here being one of them, don't really see the intent of the designers.

These big Ubisoft worlds seem designed to give you some time in each region of the map. So you spend a few hours doing side quests in Area A then you go to Area B, then Area C and you pick up bits of the main story as you go along.

Leveling allows them to "pace" that for players willing to play along. Sure, I can farm exp for 10 hours and then be overpowered no matter where I go for the rest of the game but really when you play a game you have to allow yourself to "play along" with the developers vision.

This guy is just like "NO, I want the story and just the story". Problem is that a game is not a story. You can call it an interactive experience or a toy or just stick with game but fundamentally its a thing that you play with. You have to be willing to give up some of your... inhibitions(?) to the game. Like you need to let go and say, Ok, I know this is a bit nonsensical but I am gonna have fun with it.

The writer is basically saying "I don't want to play the game" because they value the story. I would argue really that if this person wants satisfaction then they are engaging with the wrong medium for them personally.

Surely the secret to good game design is to come up a story that exists to facilitate gameplay? Too many writers seem to want a deep story with gameplay elements bolted on. I don't get why that is.

Do you even need a story? I put tons of hours into Tetris because I enjoy playing the game. Does a story improve that?

Taking something like Lord of the Rings.
The books are very detailed and involved and you need to spend 6 to 7 hours per book.
The movie adaptation would be almost like a summarized version of that. It's a more narrowly defined vision that you can consume more quickly.

What should an LOTR game adaptation be? Just a cinematic retelling with some game mechanics, platforming, combat, whatever?

I would say an LOTR game needs to be a game. We all know the story so what if we could just play in the world and the developer fixes it so that you play a few hours in this region and then you level up and move onto the next and so on.

This writer would just be like "No, just retell the LOTR again!". I feel like so many of them just don't "get" games on a fundamental level.
It's not that I don't agree in some aspects developers are adding more artificial length to games by just packing it with random stuff, but they are learning to make that more appealing to someone like me.

I wouldn't say he's looking to the wrong medium, I think he's looking at the wrong genre. If you're looking for a more story focused game, play an action adventure game with less RPG elements. Or hell, just an adventure game.

I wouldn't play Mario Party while looking for hardcore fighting game mechanics.

What's funny is I was trying to think of a LotR analogy to this situation, just couldn't find a good one and didn't want to seem charged about the article.

I feel like what Luke is complaining about is having to spend time to get the full scale of the story/universe. To me that just doesn't make any sense. I wouldn't expect to only read the main LotR books and understand everything going on, I may need to grab that Tolkien-compendium-thing that goes over a lot of Middle Earth's history leading up to The Hobbit.

On the matter of sub-plots helping build the story, well yeah, but it's still not the meat and potatoes of said story.

If Sam and Frodo's journey and main goal is to destroy the ring, if they take 20 minutes to have a scene of them frolicking in a field and becoming better friends doesn't move the main story along, but brings depth to the world and characters and you form a stronger bond with them.

Looking at his comments, it seems he more wants a player controlled story in a sandbox environment, instead of choose-your-own-adventure style we're currently at in technology....which oddly leads back into the original post of this article on NPCs not being human enough.

Video games that have a plot to them but aren't delivered in the way they want with NPCs that aren't human enough.

I'll let my snideness slip through here; with them complaining something they didn't create isn't exactly what they want with people who don't act exactly how they want them to act, I'd love to see these people deal with a major life conflict.

If NPCs acted like people, and game stories played out more like life did because of that, that's called the Matrix, not a game.

tldr; if you don't enjoy the game, why not just admit you don't enjoy the game and do something else? If you enjoy it enough to deal with its faults, why not just enjoy it?

tldr; gaming journalists want the matrix and don't know how to cope
 
Likes: Saruhashi
Nov 24, 2018
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Exactly, I would go as far as to say that RDR2's NPCs are the best NPCs ever created in a videogame, but not for that person who wrote up that garbage apparently. I guess when you've never played a videogame in your life and you have this fake idea in your head that NPCs behave like real people then you might be disappointed by RDR2's NPCs. This is diversity hiring at its finest, prioritizing pink hair and gender ambiguity over experience and knowledge.
That's pretty uncalled for, people sharing traits with this writer can be more informed and people who don't share traits can be just as bad, this is hardly the first games journalist writing something stupid and therefor far from the first journalist that wasn't qualified enough to be hired, but was anyway.
 
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