My metagame Dungeon Crawler Experience is based on the process of advancing in a crawler type game, navigating simple passages and interacting with issues that appear as you progress. Death is simply part of the process in most cases, and ultimately only works to help your progress in an attempt to model gaining experience and learning from your mistakes. The Dungeon Crawler Experience takes place from outside of the actual game being replicated and the in game “gamer’s” thoughts are a part of this experience. It is only a model of my interpretations and experiences, and will likely not be relatable to by many.
One of the things that stood out to me while reading blog posts from games that I have previously played, is that others view the game differently from myself as I played them. For example, while reading several posts regarding the Dark Souls game several things stood out to me that I had not processed previously, despite having spent several hundred hours playing the series personally. In Nothing Warms my Soul quite like Dark Souls the final words mention the act of giving up is akin to the player’s character having gone hollow and losing purpose. One thing I felt that deserved to be touched on in regards to the Dark Souls game that the author likely did not get to experience due to the timed nature of the Logs, is the fleeting nature of many of the important characters. For example Rhea of Thorolund and Siegmeyer of Catarina are both two of the most friendly characters in the game, but if the player becomes emotionally invested in their well being and invests in their questline, the player gets to either see these two killed by those dearest to them, or mercy kill poor Rhea after her hollowing. I have always felt that the experience of playing Dark Souls is similar to that of feeling one’s way through a dark room, requiring lots of trial of error early but ultimately the player gets a feel for it and can move on comfortably, I feel the author of Every Corner Means Death and Nothing Warms my Soul quite like Dark Souls describes the unfamiliarity well but I am curious if they believe the game reaches a point where the player can be comfortable in the gameplay and progression.
In the article Game Log 2-3: Queering Soccer with Cars the author talks about the role of queerness in the game Rocket League. I think this is a perfect example of the application of concepts learned in class on a video game that is worth discussing. In other articles, such as The Last of Us #3 things that I had noticed before but never really processed were really brought to my attention, such as the importance of high quality facial animation. Due to my own struggle with word perception I often play games exclusively with subtitles and have never spent much time watching characters facial animation during dialogue, but will attempt to process that more actively moving forward.
Total War Warhammer 2 features turn based actions on a world scale but real time strategy based combat, this prevents it from being defined as a true real time strategy game but it this aspect features heavily in my experience. This Keeping track of several things at once is not an unusual feat for the average gamer, tracking ammunition, health, progress, timers, and mini-maps are all standard additions to what is happening on screen. Total War Warhammer 2 and other games with real time strategy properties take this multi-tasking to another level according to Glass, Maddox and Love in their paper,”Real-Time Strategy Game Training: Emergence of a Cognitive Flexibility Trait” (Glass et. all 1). While true real time strategy games like Starcraft or perhaps more appropriately, Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 3 that include economy as part of the real time processing were likely the focus of the study, Total War Warhammer 2 likely has similar effects, even if mitigated. The importance of the real time strategy game aspect is that instead of keeping an eye on several things at once the player is required to rapidly switch and almost simultaneously process the progress of several scenarios playing out at the same time. In Total War Warhammer 2 during a battle this may play out by applying buffs and debuffs that are time sensitive to certain areas, gauging the process of an infantry brawl, and moving calvary or other fast movers into a more advantageous position, while making sure that your ranged units have not got line of sight issues or been engaged by melee units. While playing multiplayer matches in Total War Warhammer 2 it is not uncommon to play somebody that mismanages their units and leaves one aspect of their army forgotten and ultimately useless, as a response players will often limit the amount of things that require micromanaging and focus on quality over quantity. Ultimately this kind of gaming challenges the players cognitive skills, and improves them through exposure and use.
Glass, Brian D., et al. “Real-Time Strategy Game Training: Emergence of a Cognitive Flexibility Trait.” PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 1 Aug. 2013, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070350.
Far Cry Primal is a game that takes the player far away from the areas and sights that they are used to, while still retaining a sense of familiarity in the execution of the design. The removal of long ranged weapons as the staple of combat forces the player to have a better developed understanding of these enemies. This understanding of the enemies leads you to develop relationships with these animals as allies after you tame them, an enemy that causes you great trouble is similarly able to be a wonderful tool that you can command. According to the game’s director, Thomas Simon, states, “We’ve been carful to make sure that the beasts would be efficient and flexible like a weapon, but at the same time make sure that that isn’t the only way to play, that it doesn’t become the ‘win button’.” ( Robertson 11). A Sabertooth Tiger needs to be challenging enough to cause a headache to the gamer, but simple enough that it is not capable of wiping out a camp of relatively helpless non player characters on it’s own. Predators existing as both allies and enemies is a unique dynamic that helps enforce the player’s sense of connection to the world they live in. The world is bigger than the player and this is designed to help reinforce that the player is merely a part of that world, and not running it. The animals all have their own strengths and weaknesses but ultimately the player decides how big of an impact the predators have on the way Far Cry Primal is played. The establishment of melee focused combat forces players to be more intimately familiar with their enemies, but once those enemies are allies this familiarity is raised with the ability to pet, ride, and command the predators, ultimately making the player feel more of a part of the world that is designed to resemble land from 12,000 years ago, rather than the stranger they are.
Robertson, John. “Far Cry Primal: How to Make the Stone Age Rock.” Red Bull #Games, Redbull, 18 Feb. 2016, www.redbull.com/us-en/far-cry-primal-interview-on-pc-ps4-and-xbox-one.
The video game that has wasted the most time? Several names come to mind for me, such as The Sims, Solitaire, and perhaps Pac-Man. Minesweeper is in fact, according to Richard Cobbett in his article “The most successful game ever: a history of Minesweeper” (Cobbett 2). Minesweeper is not defined by exciting or juicy features but by simplistic deductive problem solving, despite the relatively dull features compared to the other listed games Minesweeper has still found it’s way onto the screens of gamers all over. This may be attributed to the game being packaged with many versions of windows, and originally included in the Windows Entertainment Pack. This availability of Minesweeper may be a large factor in being so widely played compared to other popular games that are paid. The easy access and relative simplicity ensure that the amount of people that would play it is as wide as possible, other games, such as World of Warcraft would only attract MMORPG fans who typically have large quantities of available time. Minesweeper is quick, easy, and accessible ensure that any individual with at least a couple minute, a computer but not necessarily internet, and enough understanding to use a mouse can play. Regarding Minesweeper’s popularity, Cobbett states, “Less obvious than Solitaire, less concentration required to play. What better way to hide from the boss while waiting for the internet to be invented?”(Cobbett 3). This perspective highlights a gaming at work perspective that would be worth researching the actual implications of that type of game on the gaming habits of those who may not consider themselves ‘gamers’ by nature. Minesweeper’s overwhelming popularity from a time used perspective is not likely attributed to being the most desirable way to spend one’s time, but rather from its ability to be the best available option for many situations.
Cobbett, Richard. “The Most Successful Game Ever: a History of Minesweeper.” TechRadar, 5 May 2009, www.techradar.com/news/gaming/the-most-successful-game-ever-a-history-of-minesweeper-596504.
Minesweeper is a game with minimal nondiagetic machine elements, Also not very many elements at all, it’s a simple game. Featuring elements from several kinds of games including Alea elements sometimes becoming a game of chance and probability. The game primarily consists of identifying where there is only one possible solution and using that to narrow the amount of potential solutions for the surrounding problems. Often the player has to rely on guesswork and are not guaranteed to be able to solve any given puzzle. The game can be modded to have different visuals which can change the illusion of what the player is accomplishing, but very little can be changed about the game itself and the way it operates. Minesweeper can be made more challenging potentially by modding in a timer that forces the player to make quick decisions. The experience of playing the game is similar to that of a puzzle as it is driven by filling out the layout of the map, without narrative driving the game. This does not lend itself well to long musical scores or ‘juicy’ sound effects despite potentially long games. These may be things that certain individuals enjoy and would want to mod in to make the game more entertaining but ultimately do not fit the relatively unexciting design of the game. The game of Minesweeper does not offer a dynamic experience that allows for much in the way of modding or audio flexibility but the game is designed very simply in order to provide a simple experience.
The audio in Far Cry Primal will almost always consist of background animal noises, the sounds of nearby rivers, or dialogue between several non-player-character. It is therefore a combination of diagetic machine and operator for the sounds created by the player controlled character, non player controlled characters, and animals, but also non diagetic machine music. It is also one of the most important factors in avoiding an untimely death. Playing at a difficulty where the most fearsome apex predators can easily kill an unsuspecting player, being able to hear something before it can see you is an important advantage that must be leveraged efficiently. By playing music while also playing the game I was without this advantage and frequently found myself getting attacked in frustratingly impossible scenarios. When exploring less dangerous areas the ambient audio is much more relaxing than it is tense, and is an important piece of what makes the game immersive. Using a headset that gives a better surround sound experience elevated both the immersion of being able to identify nearby sounds based on their location, as well as the tension of knowing that a small growl is likely the difference between making it to one’s objective successfully and finding yourself getting mauled by a sabertooth tiger. Comparing the game’s audio while playing music in the background, with a headset, or without either played a factor into my ability to fully experience what the creators of the game intended to create with well developed audio. Many of the diagetic operator sounds are not dialogue, but generic grunts from swinging weapons and the sound of the character moving around.
Modding is a prominent feature in Total War Warhammer 2, featuring a steam mod-workshop that was an important part of my second playing experience. The mods, when I first played it after it came out, was flooded by small mods with minimal effect that were not well done. However, now the workshop has a large supply of usable mods that give me freedom to play the game in a more satisfying way. The mods that I enjoy the most often add very little to the game, but rather rebalance Total War Warhammer 2 in a way that improves the asymmetric advantages that each group enjoys. This type of mod should mostly have a dominant interpretation, as it does not modify the intended interpretation of the game. Most of the mods likely also dominant as the tools available for those modding the game are limited to files and models already in the game. Mods that alter victory conditions, or dramatically change the way that the player experiences the gameplay for a group likely are some of the only one’s that do not agree with the intended experience of the game. Steam’s mod workshop is attached to steam, one of the major online game distribution services. This makes it extremely valuable from a convenience perspective, bringing modders and players closer. Total War Warhammer 2 already has a very diversified gameplay experience, as there are many different ways to play the base game. The mods work on several different levels of the game, including character models, statistics, and camera view and using them to design the experience to one’s own liking can result in mods that conflict, and potentially cause crashes as I experienced. My experience with mods has radically changed for the better as the game has been out longer and the modders have had more time. The first time I played Total War Warhammer 2 trying to use the mods currently available was detrimental to the gameplay of the game. Perhaps opening the game to select modders before release would allow the game to maximize modding utility early in the process.
Total War Warhammer 2 is a real time strategy game with a turn based overlay. The separation between battles fought and the turn by turn empire building feels pretty dramatic, as the player must make quick decisions and be constantly aware of developments across the battlefield as the match progresses. The narrative of the game is slightly dynamic, as the player chooses between one of four different paths and that path significantly impacts the story. The different stories associated with different groups have very similar plots, where the player’s group takes control of more and more land and builds resources in order to perform rituals that bring them one step closer to the final battle which players very similarly for all groups. Every player may play with the same basic set of objectives, but their experiences may wildly differ based on random events and their own personal playstyle. This particular type of game often requires many hours across several different sessions, and therefore must have a degree of interruptibility despite that it should not be played in very small intervals. Unlike some other games in a similar turn based manner, like Civilization, the length is up to the player, and doesn’t depend on a slider to determine how long or short the game takes. The length of the game often depends on how diligently the player is able to help himself and hinder the enemies, as the game is a race. The game’s multiple groups have a variety of themes and each fills a very specific niche that is designed to suit different players. PC games often have to be able to tweak the performance of the game as the systems that the game runs on could vary heavily in the level of graphics and performance they can handle, a natural part of playing many PC games. This game feels designed to be naturally handled by a PC more powerful than my own.
Minesweeper is a casual game that is primarily based in logic and probability based puzzle solving. The player must apply logic to navigate their way throughout a field and identify where bombs are located and not set them off by selecting a tile that contains a bomb without marking it. Featuring multiple difficulty levels that adjust map size, the game can take anywhere from 5-25 minutes depending on the game, but autosaves to preserve the interruptibility of the game. The theme of the game is sweeping for mines but could quite easily be anything else as the only points during actual gameplay that it reveals itself is when you fail and a bomb goes off and the little red flag that marks a tile as dangerous. All games are not winnable however, as there are times when a game that’s lasted over 20 minutes can come down to a 50/50 guess between two tiles. While all games not being winnable would appear to dampen the playability of the game, I would argue that having the ability to fail late in the game makes the experience of winning more enjoyable. The game is rather old and very easy to run, and traditionally appears on computers but I played it on an app by Mahjong. Minesweeper does not offer anything in terms of narrative outside of the illusion of clearing a minefield. The game requires probability calculation skills as players will often be examining multiple possible scenarios and analyzing where the most likely spot is based on multiple surrounding numbers and potentially the number of bombs left.