Thursday, February 26, 2015

Revengeance of the Nerds

Metal Gear Rising... I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin on the mountain side.
That was the most satisfying game victory of recent years, and it was hard won. I started the prior battle against Metal Gear Excelsius with 9 health kits and the Armstrong fight with 7. By the end I was at 30% health, having used all of them. Looking forward to the sequel!

Making adventure maps for Minecraft has been somewhat harrowing. Perhaps I shouldn't obsess over it so much, but the community of this game is supremely frustrating to say the least. I cannot discern what MC players are looking for. I can say that if it requires paying attention to detail... forget it! I suspect that most MC players go into adventure maps looking for a distraction (or self-promotion, delusions of grandeur "Youtube fame" nonsense).

The apparent problem is that MC players expect no depth, so they don't recognize it when it's there. What they expect is an experience from which they derive nothing. In other words, they are playing to be done with it. What a waste of time! If you aren't enjoying the experience... the gameplay... you are just wasting your effort.

Overall, the gameplay in MC is its worst aspect, especially combat. I asked myself what I was looking for that made games worth playing. I value narrative, but the gameplay has to be engaging enough that I'll put forth the effort to see the story.

Metal Gear Rising was difficult, but the story was interesting enough that I was motivated to push through the difficulty in order to see how it progressed. The antagonists were developed enough that I wanted to defeat them. They were memorable characters who I had incentive to overcome. The gameplay is what you do for the majority of the time you are holding the controller, so that must be engaging enough to go through, and not be a chore.

Combat in MGR is satisfying because it is varied and dynamic, while in Minecraft it is limited and static. Raiden assumes a combative stance and swings his blade in a combination of strikes from various angles, causing his foe to stumble and react to the attack. Your character in Minecraft.... pretty much waves his weapon at the enemy and the monster continues to charge forward heedlessly. Raiden has an extensive repertoire of maneuvers to keep battles exciting. Minecraft has... one way of swinging the sword. Even if it's merely cosmetic, having more variety in combat is necessary to an enjoyable combat experience.

It's not just MGR... I prize this style of combat in all my favorite games: Kingdom Hearts, Batman: Arkham, God of War, etc. What do they do right that Minecraft doesn't attempt? They all have upgrades, ways to not only increase combat damage, but to change the flow of the battle by introducing more options. Even the addition of a simple thing, such as kicking (Might and Magic: Dark Messiah) can keep combat fresh and strategic, giving incentive for the player to maneuver to take advantage of the environment.

What I'm really trying to say, is that people don't take Minecraft seriously as an avenue for conveying a deep and interesting narrative, is because the game itself lacks pride. By having little to offer, it negates attempts to use it for a greater purpose. It would be like illustrating the Lord of the Rings in crayon. No matter how strong the story, characters, or message... the canvas matters.

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