Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Makes a Game Interesting For Me

This may seem like a kind of stupid post, specifically because it pertains to me, but theres some underlying truth to all of this.

Lately, Lolzor has been showing me several games that I probably would not have played otherwise. I kind of live under a rock when it comes to games. I get very good at a few a games. And I mean very good. I was CAL-main in cs 1.6; Platinum in League of Legends; Platinum in Starcraft II--but this doesn't always apply to other games that are/were firsts for me.

For example, when he tried explaining Borderlands to me (Borderlands one, that is) I was very reluctant to accept it. Back then, the only FPS game that I played was Counter-Strike 1.6--so when he was explaining "percentage chance of igniting" it seemed very luck based in a game of fps, where skill is supposed to matter, not luck. When Borderlands 2 went on sale I was pretty hooked. It's actually a 100% chance to ignite if you can critically strike them (similar to a headshot in counter-strike), which makes it very rewarding for skill level, but still a percentage chance of a regular hit igniting. An odd balance between casual play and rewarding skill. I enjoyed the game thoroughly.

Another game, was Faster Than Light. The way he explained it was "Oregon Trail in space." Now Oregon Trail was fun in elementary school, but I really wasn't that interested in the game. It was fun, but not really addicting and I only played it a few times. About the same amount of time you would play a flash game. FTL was actually significantly more interesting. The further you get into the game, the more interesting it becomes. Basically it's ship-on-ship action. Each ship has a shield, where you have to break through it to deal damage to the ship it self, but the ship is constantly regenerating shields. While a ship battle is happening you also have to manage your crew because sometimes the enemy ships will board you, so you have to fight off hand-to-hand combat while maintaining shields, oxygen levels, etc. With enough play you learn all the weapons, and then you have to learn volley control to beat some of the harder ships. You could use the auto-fire option but it is suboptimal and you would want to prevent as much ship damage as possible. Volley control is pausing-unpausing-pausing the game while your laser shots are en route to have the least amount of time between your first and last shots; this way you "burst" through the shield, rather that trying to fight shield regeneration the whole time.

Yet another example is Super Meat Boy. I heard this game was a frustrating platformer. Platformers are kind of an old favorite of mine, so I bought it while it was on sale. The game fun, and as frustrating as I had wanted it to be--but it really doesn't have the replayability that I would have expected. I played it for about 20 minutes, beat the first boss, saw there were 6 more levels and just went: "well, that was fun" and closed the game.

There was nothing particularly captivating about it. No replayability (is that even a word?), and more importantly no meta. I enjoy a game with a good meta game. Things that offer choice but it's pretty obvious which one is better. Maybe another choice is better if a specific scenario arises, but it's still a pretty blatant choice. A very old example of this was the online card game: Estiah. You are a fantasy character who's equipment is cards. You make a deck of your equipment and topdeck the whole game. Some attacks do magic, some do physical damage; there's armor/warding for defense, and you can mill through "spirit damage" which you can willpower against it. It's very interesting and even has class systems which unlock exclusive cards for your class only. Every player went to try and get the best cards, but everyone always went back to a level 35 card called "strike." This card unlocked card combos, so when you played with friends/someone in your party and someone used a frost attack and you pulled strike within 2 turns, you would get a free attack called "Frost Strike", essentially giving you an extra turn. This applies to some Fire cards for "Flame Strike" and if you even pulled Strike back-to-back you would get X-strike. Because it combo'd with everything and even combo'd with itself, it was basically mandatory to have 4 of these in your deck, even if you were level 51. (Which was the highest level when I quit.)

I'm pretty sure I could rant even more about previous games that I have played, but if there's not enough depth to the game, I call it "having the depth of a flash game." There are several very high quality flash games, but you would never play them for more than a couple of days.

Thanks for reading!

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