25 August, 2005

Follow Up and a Slam

In a previous post, I said I would talk more about bypassing enemies.

In Neko, bypassing enemies was one of the things I liked about the game. It let me feel a certain sense of freedom, like I had a choice about how to play the game. That can be pretty rare in homebrew games. Heck, it can be pretty rare in all games. [begin stealth game diatribe]

I rarely bypass enemies in supposedly "stealthy" games. It just means more chances to get caught. I kill them all. If I am detected, I have a much better chance at survival because I've reduced their numbers and have a good idea where the bad guys are coming from because I've cleared a lot of rooms already. Why would I do that though? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of playing a stealth game in the first place? Yes. It does. But that's because all stealth games I've ever played don't work. I've played Metal Gear Solid. I've played MGS2 (up until the Raiden parts, anyway). I've played Hitman 2. I've played Far Cry. These games all purport to allow stealthy play. But you can be as careful as you like and still get caught. The only way to go through these games in complete stealth is trial and error. Trial and error is not game design. Trial and error means you failed as a game designer by not giving the player the proper tools to tackle the problem and are falling back on the save game system.

And now for the slam.

Snowboard Assassins

The idea was fine: SSX with guns. But the execution is crap. You can't board up half pipes, like you can in SSX. It's hard to tell when you're going to catch air, so it's easy to crash accidentally. It's not easy to shoot people. You don't get much ammo for your main gun, and your secondary gun sucks. The levels I played are dull and sparsely populated. Many of the SSX features are missing, including rail grinds and turbos. And the default control scheme is crap. In fact, the control scheme in general is pretty awful compared to SSX, Tony Hawk, and other trick based games. It's also not even obvious how to finish a level. I boarded to the end. That didn't end the level. Then I blew up all the snowblowers on my way to the end. No dice. I could have gone back and made sure to kill every single bad guy, but there comes a point where you realize that the game you're playing isn't designed well enough to deserve your time. All that said, it's still a lot of fun to pull a method 360 while shooting a guy, but it's not enough to save this game.

I also played a little flash port of an old Macintosh game called Bill the Demon. The graphics were cute, and it was fun to make demon screams and eat people, but it became repetetive very quickly.

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