Are games “fair”? I’m playing some XCOM 2 right now, and man, it sure feels unfair sometimes. It uses a random number generator to determine the outcomes of various actions, so I believe that it’s inherently meant to be fair, but sometimes it feels like the odds are skewed in the enemies’ favour.

Do you need a game to feel fair in order to enjoy it? Like the rules of the game and its systems are known, and as long as you operate within them to the best of your ability, any deaths/fails are your own. Or, are you OK with a hard game being hard on purpose, randomly or otherwise?

Tuesday, 4:01 pm – Gavin

A game not feeling fair is one of the quickest ways for me to drop it.  I need to know that the AI and its systems are logical and rational, and that the difficulty is a natural extension thereof.  When a game lacks fairness or is just hard for the sake of being hard, I have a difficult time appreciating it.  Ninja Gaiden, for the original NES, was notoriously difficult for stupid reasons.  One such oft-repeated example is that of the enemy bird that plagues a specific level, and doesn’t come into frame until you’re mid-jump and cannot avoid it.  There’s no way to tell that a bird will arrive.  It just shows up, and the only way to get around it is to know that it will come at that specific moment.  It’s a scripted event insofar as it’s triggered by the player’s progression past a certain point in the screen, but it’s just nauseating.

I don’t often play games with much in the way of random number generation, and those that I do play are usually balanced and fair, i.e. Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Child of Light, etc.  If I have no control over how much damage an enemy can do to me, I’m not overly inclined to like it.

That’s not to say that I don’t like hard games, or that enemy surprises aren’t always appreciated.  But take something like I Wanna Be The Guy, which prides itself of unforeseen difficulty, and I not only dislike it – I actively dislike that other people like it, because I don’t want developers to look at that as a model for something that people might like and spend their time trying to create something like that.

Even if the internal math of something like X-COM 2 checks out, if it feels unfair, then that’s what’s going to be frustrating to me.

It was a fairly quiet gaming weekend for me.  I started playing Firewatch after some technical glitches (my laptop didn’t want to recognize my video card and forced all games through my Intel HD 3000).  It’s too early to make an informed decision yet, but the narrative is strong, the voice acting top-shelf, and the scenerey gorgeous.  This game is an artistic marvel so far, and I’m barely an hour into it.

I also finished up with Yoshi’s Woolly World, and I’m glad to be done with it.  I know that I called it my GOTY 2015, but I’m really questioning whether or not that was the right decision.  YWW limped to the finish, having peaked entirely too early.  The game is still absolutely gorgeous and undeniably adorable, but there’s limited depth to the gameplay, rarely progressing past “travel in a straight line, look for hidden areas to find collectibles”.  Compared to the absolute majesty that is Yoshi’s Island, it’s a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.  There were neat tricks, but the game peaked, in my opinion, at level 4-6, meaning I still had 14 levels to go before the game was over.  I tried to collect as much as I could, but even that got annoying after a while.  I didn’t really care for the first bonus level, so I wasn’t inclined to collect anything for the remaining levels.

It’s disappointing.  I’m still happy that I played the game, and I will definitely load it up when I need some zen gaming time.  However, unfortunately, I doubt that this game will have the staying power that Yoshi’s Island did.

To that end, I am giving strong consideration to stripping YWW of it’s GOTY 2015 status and giving that to Axiom Verge instead.  We’ll see – my second runthrough of AV has been going swimmingly.

Tuesday, 8:11 am – Ricky

Hope all of you Canadians had a fun holiday weekend!

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