Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Dead XBox Makes Me Feel Less Lonely

My XBox 360 Elite died tonight, making me feel that I have finally truly joined the community of gamers. It was the E74 error, which basically means that my beloved XBox had finally and irrevocably gone beyond the vale of tears.

At least now I can finally catch up on my PC gaming. For example, I got to play Today I Die. It's a cute flash puzzle game. There really is a puzzle there. It takes about three minutes to play. It's one of those artsy Indie games, the ones that are trying to expand the field and make a statement, but it stands out among that dour lot by actually being a little fun.

You have to watch out for these Games Are Art people. I agree with them, in theory, but they tend to be the sworn enemy of, you know, games. Like this guy. His post, "Braid is not a game," really brings out the forum troll l2pn00b side of me. God, buddy. Find a new field of interest. Just because you suck at games, don't try to spoil them for the rest of us.


  1. It is really hard to resist posting on that blog post.

    It's got the feel of "since I didn't like it, I must find a reason for no one to like it besides my displeasure."

  2. His post, "Braid is not a game," really brings out the forum troll l2pn00b side of me.
    In some ways, his comments are not unlike what Robert Gutschera (formerly of Wizards of the Coast) has said about computer games. In various talks, Robert has claimed that player-versus-environment (PVE) games are not games; he claims that must have a player-versus-player (PVP) component for it to be a game.

    The issue here is that PVP and PVE are very different entities. They are balanced differently and have very different pacing. PVP games have to worry about external social issues like player politics and kingmaking. PVE games often (at least strategy-wise) boil down to issues of exploration, puzzle solving and resource management. These are different enough that you can have people that are fans of one but which totally hate the other.

    This is not helped by the fact that most PVP in computer games is defined as a PVP veneer on top of an essentially PVE game. When multiplayer is an afterthought, it really shows. Yes, you are playing with other humans, but the interactions feel shallow. Similarly, when you take a PVP game and put a thin PVE veneer over it *cough* D&D 4.0 *cough*, the environment feels shallow.

  3. Braid was impressive in large part due to how gently and naturally it introduced you to the eventually-complex gameplay. l2pnoob is right!

  4. Braid was impressive in large part due to how gently and naturally it introduced you to the eventually-complex gameplay.
    The blog author's point is that PVE is not "gameplay". This is an old tired argument. These are also the people that claim pen-and-paper RPGs are not games. This is not a new argument, and the authro is not bringing up anything that has not been argued to death before.

    In short, not only is he a troll, he is a boring troll at that.

  5. Bringing up arguments which are not new and which a lot of people have dismissed in the past is equivalent to being a troll? I don't think that necessarily follows.

  6. There is a certain level of pretentiousness coming out of the indie game scene lately, which I noticed at GDC and on the various gamedev forums I frequent. People who talk about their revolutionary "art" game for years without actually producing anything. Although, every art media has people like that so maybe it's a sign that games are going to be taken more seriously as an art form.

  7. I'm an infrequent, casual gamer: As I go back
    over the handful of games I've played over the
    years I'm not even sure what made them engaging, PVP, PVE--or just the puzzles, now I'm not so sure. But something in each game made it addicting.

    I can count on only one hand the games I've played over the past three decades (that I actually spent real time with). Of course I am not counting chess and hide and seek, those are more obligations for the kids. After I think about this some more maybe I'll be able to say something about PVP and PVE, but for now I can't get past the fact that the puzzle element of every game I liked had to have the correct learning curve for me. If it didn't I set it aside.

  8. Bringing up arguments which are not new and which a lot of people have dismissed in the past is equivalent to being a troll? I don't think that necessarily follows.

    I would assume that the reason it's been dismissed before is that it's ridiculous. Every reasonable definition of 'game' I've ever come across says that he's wrong. 'It's a game only if someone is happy at the end' sounds like the sort of thing a parody of a hippie would think up.

  9. For me it is as simple as whether a game feels like drudgery. A little work is okay (especially if you're taunting a buddy)
    but working against the machine can be a slog.
    Examples are easy to come by--expressing it is tricky. I've never even heard of Braid. Does that mean I'm not qualified to judge what makes a good game? Ha! Each person is independently tuned. I'd like to see a list of my favorite games predict the next game to which I'll get addicted, but I doubt that it can be done with any skill. And now, I'm OT.

  10. I love your games, so I'm honored that you played TID.

  11. @Daniel Benmergui: Was my pleasure. Hope I got a few more people to play it.

    - Jeff Vogel

  12. Honestly, I'm happy that you pointed out that game Jeff. As a (hopefully) budding indie developer in the same genre as yourself (isometric RPG), I've been following your blog for a few weeks now (since your "How much do I make?" post), and it's little gems like this that make it always worthwhile :)

  13. I have to say, while I agree with you that a lot of art games are a bit dour, I don't necessarily need games to be fun, so long as I enjoy the experience. There have been a few games that I would hesitate to call fun, but I still liked playing.

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