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Thread: PC Gamer August 2013 - summary and discussion

PC Gamer August 2013 - summary and discussion

  1. #1

    PC Gamer August 2013 - summary and discussion

    Picked up the PC Gamer UK August issue, with Thief as the cover story. Really disappointing. The feature is barely two pages long and it's essentially just a write-up of the e3 demo we've all analyzed and fretted over to bits. Don't worry if you can't get a copy, there's not much in it to miss.

    Essentially, the writer's thoughts are: "There are some things in this game that really bothered me, and seem anathema to the design philosophy of the original games. However, there aren't enough of them for me to not enjoy it as a Thief game in the same way I enjoyed the originals."

    The elements he harps on are the linear third person climbing, the QTE, and the contextual jumping. Shocking, I know. Really it's nothing we haven't seen before, but it is nice to see a major publication express the same doubts some of us have.

    The sad part is the reasoning behind the lack of free jumping, according to the lead designer Schmidt:
    "Jumping, bouncing up and down kind of broke the immersion. We didn't want you to be a master thief and just tend to fall off stuff all the time."

    I don't understand this at all. If nothing else, Dishonored proved beyond a shadow of doubt that first-person, free-movement stealth is not only possible in the current-gen marketplace, but truly immersive and empowering, not to mention wildly successful (commercially and critically). That's not to say that game didn't have some serious flaws, but it's attracted exactly the audience EM seem to be hunting for.

    The article talks intelligently about granular movement vs. contextual movement, and why EM's decision to "vary the pace" with linear sequences and QTE's backfires and turns those spots into the low point of the playing experience.

    Are you listening EM? Please listen! Everyone, fans and journalists alike, are all on the same page here! The kind of "pace variations" you're implementing are undercutting the other great stuff you're trying to achieve! Stop before it's too late!

    The last line of the article is another quote from Schmidt, and it's depressing, too:
    "If all people have to complain about is details like [QTE's lack of jumping, linear escape action scenes], then we're pretty happy, because that means the core is not broken."

    Then why have them in the game at all to begin with? If you're confident in your core gameplay and design, why tack on other bits that fall outside of it, that people have now soundly criticized across the board? There's something fishy in the logic EM's team seems to be applying to the game design. I don't understand their stubbornness to stick with certain bad decisions, especially in light of others which seem really excellent.

    ps. The issue listed Skyrim as the #1 greatest game of all time. None of the Thief games made the top 100 list. So maybe we should disregard their judgement entirely...

  2. #2
    That quote is ridiculous because that IS the core that is broken.
    I want your brain... to make his heart... beat faster.

  3. #3
    "At least the core is intact?" Are you freaking kidding me? - It's like a doctor saying " Hey, don't worry about your legs.... at least your brain still kind of functions"
    "Why isn’t the game designed as a Thief game first, but with a casual mode option if you think its too difficult?"

  4. #4
    First dinosaurs and fireballs broke immersion, now jumping breaks immersion? Am I in the Twilight Zone?

  5. #5
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    Originally Posted by DarknessFalls
    First dinosaurs and fireballs broke immersion, now jumping breaks immersion? Am I in the Twilight Zone?
    If they didn't contain swearing, I'd link a few "blind play's" of peoples first encounter with burricks. They didn't sound un-immersed to me!

  6. #6
    I wonder if you'd be willing to PM me links to Thief I or II totally blind plays (in English) that are worthwhile? I've enjoyed Veriax and CptGreenBear's blind playthrough offerings of Thief, but I can't find any others. CptGreenbear is part way into Thief II, not completed yet. His reaction to this part of one of the T2 levels was classic. I imagine some reactions to burricks are similar? Just goes to show how 'non-immersive' this stuff apparently is...


  7. #7
    Holy crap. I just can't even believe this. Like the "soft" ceilings in Human Revolution weren't bad enough, now we literally just can't jump unless they tell us we can.
    Speed up the accelerating returns, 'cause carbon doesn’t work, I want to evolve and operate at terahertz.

  8. #8
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    Simon says, JUMP. Simon say, RUN THIS WAY. Simon says, CHECKPOINT

    I harken back to when I first experienced the dreaded checkpoint. I thought, what is this crap. I can't save where I want anymore? I sat back and analyzed why checkpoints, along with all the other junk that has been taking a foothold, was happening.

    It's less work for developers to force you to do things how and where they want you to, rather than allow you to do anything anytime you want to. (You want to what? You want to shoot an arrow into that beam? Why on Earth why? There's nothing up there. Your goal is over there. Can't you tell by all the flames shooting out of the roof? Go over there, please. We spent a lot of time animating those flames.)

    It pads game time. With the standard game weighing in under 9 hours of gameplay, it dramatically adds playing time. How many times have you played the same sequence 10 times cuz you kept dying before you got the the next checkpoint? Or told your friends, "Hold on, I have to make it to the next checkpoint before I can save. Then we can go."? (You want to save here? Now? No, we can't allow that. If you can't successfully jump The Cavern of Doom, we want you to go all the way back to the River of Death and do that all over again. Jeez, our game is short and easy enough as it is. He wanted to save just before he jumped so all he had to do was keep quickloading until he made the jump.Kids these days.)

    Developers are proud people. They want to take you by the hand and lead you over here, so you can see all the hard work they did in designing this cool pathway to the sacred temple. Can't have you venturing off over there, that pathway is just for looks (After all that design time on that cool pathway, we blew our budget. No money to make anything else in this area look cool. Proceed this way)

    I feel so old.

  9. #9
    Originally Posted by contrarian
    Simon says, JUMP. Simon say, RUN THIS WAY. Simon says, CHECKPOINT
    .
    Bash on everything you wan't and I'll likely agree, just don't bash on checkpoints. Quicksave is for noobs

    However, quicksave is still a nice tool to have the option for, so I don't see why there shouldn't be the option for one or the other when selecting a new game.

  10. #10
    The problem is that checkpoints are for linear games. You cross a point and it saves. Like in Half Life. If you are combing through an area, but do not cross that area they have designated a check point, then you lose that progress. I suppose it could be like Far Cry where it saves every time you do anything. Open a chest. Save. Find a trinket. Save.

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by Specter
    The problem is that checkpoints are for linear games. You cross a point and it saves. Like in Half Life. If you are combing through an area, but do not cross that area they have designated a check point, then you lose that progress. I suppose it could be like Far Cry where it saves every time you do anything. Open a chest. Save. Find a trinket. Save.
    I suggest you go play more games, because that is entirely false.

    You can place triggers wherever you please, and make them any size. Just because checkpoints suck in modern games doesn't mean they wern't commonly great in older ones.
    Though the reason I think they suck in modern games is because they trigger every 3 minutes.

    There are many save systems I've seen over the years, and quicksaving is one I do not approve of. But I have discussed this elsewhere enough times so I'm scooting.

  12. #12
    Any love I had for checkpoints (which was never a whole lot to begin with) died with Bioshock Infinite. It was the first game I played after landing a more demanding job IRL, and I was only really able to play for an hour or so each night.

    Bioshock Infinite was a game that I ended up strongly disliking for a variety of reasons, and one of them was the needlessly padded-out combat portions in the middle of the game. Without a quicksave (or even a manual save option), I had to either stop halfway through some of said sections, only to repeat them the next night when I had my hour window, or push on through them, feeling exhausted and frustrated that I couldn't simply put down my game and pick up where I left off the next day.

    Checkpoints are useful only in certain kinds of games. An FPS is not one of them, in my book.

    However, all of this is a moot point for the new Thief because it's already been confirmed that we can save anywhere. Thank goodness.

  13. #13
    I assume when people refer to a quicksave, they're also talking about manual saves? Because a quicksave is just a shortcut. In any case, manual/quick saves are not just for noobs. Can't tell you how many times I want to do a little experimentation in Thief and did a manual save. It's all about player choice and freedom. You should be able to save when and where you want to. Maybe you want to try one portion of the game with a different strategy, or you just want to mess around with the AI at a certain spot in a level. Player choice is what makes these situations possible.

    Now if a game has both (quick/manual & checkpoints), well then fine, at least there are options.

  14. #14
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    Developers are proud people
    You know...it's always been the case to some degree, at least the guys I knew in the late 90's.

    But at the same time it looks to me like a different kind of pride. Maybe it's because I'm an outsider today, and only see them through press and the net. But damn, there is an indisputable attitude of righteousness I've rarely encountered before in the industry I knew. It always seems to be "me against the world" today, even in the debriefing sessions months after release. Never mind the entire world has spotted some of the flaws of your logic or design, you were never wrong, In retrospect, you wouldn't change a thing. At best your intentions were misunderstood. Like that jackass who wrote Farcry 3. Poor lost lamb, no one got his message.

    Probably has something to do with the sales figures being so high.
    To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness

  15. #15
    Originally Posted by brethren
    Maybe you want to try one portion of the game with a different strategy, or you just want to mess around with the AI at a certain spot in a level. Player choice is what makes these situations possible.
    Yes, I very much understand this want, and agree with it. But if you want challenge and the consequence in choice & consequence then it's no good.

    Now if a game has both (quick/manual & checkpoints), well then fine, at least there are options.


    Originally Posted by Pillowman
    Any love I had for checkpoints (which was never a whole lot to begin with) died with Bioshock Infinite.
    Poorly designed.

    Without a quicksave (or even a manual save option), I had to either stop halfway through some of said sections, only to repeat them the next night when I had my hour window, or push on through them, feeling exhausted and frustrated that I couldn't simply put down my game and pick up where I left off the next day.
    Also understandable. The solution? Temporary saves. An extra save slot where you can save to from any location & it deletes itself when reloaded. Most Castlevania games do this as well as Final Fantasy Tactics and others. This way if any real life issues come up you can handle it and when you return it's like you never left.

    Edit: And whilst that is the best solution, if there is no temp save slot ideally the save points/checkpoints are not placed too far apart so you only lose a few minutes of gameplay maximum if something urgent comes up.

  16. #16
    Originally Posted by CyberP
    Yes, I very much understand this want, and agree with it. But if you want challenge and the consequence in choice & consequence then it's no good.
    My only point is, I should be able to regulate that, not the game devs. Not everyone plays a game just to "win" or "beat the game."

  17. #17
    I understand that, hence the thumbs up to the second quote. And I don't play just for those things either, but a game without challenge I'm not quite sure I could even categorise as a game....
    Bioshock (original) for example. Ok, it's a game, but not a traditional one by any means. There is no challenge at all intellectual or otherwise.

  18. #18
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    Eidos Montréal seems to be entirely oblivious as to what produces immersion in games. The freedom to execute basic movements whenever you wish is immersion, because you are not playing the game, you are experiencing it. The game obeys your every command and never does anything unless ordered to.

    When the game has to tell you which specific situations a basic movement mechanic is enabled, that is the opposite of immersion. When you can only jump when the game thinks it's appropriate, you are not immersed in the game world. You are shouting orders and the game is deciding whether or not to obey based on its own arbitrary rules. As a human being, I am perfectly capable of jumping whenever I want. If the normal human being called Garrett can't do that in the game, then there is no immersion.

    And I seem to have called it. What Schmidt said must be the 5th time that something Eidos Montréal has said sounds exactly like what a troll would say about the next installment to a legendary series.

    Originally Posted by Platinumoxicity
    The only reason I can think of, and it's ridiculous, is that the developers want to absolutely enforce natural character behavior. Since a thief randomly bunnyhopping constantly through the city streets due to the player choosing to spam the jump button would be very unrealistic, they are making jumping illegal in any location where it doesn't make sense.

  19. #19
    After playng and studying the games so much, it's hard to fathom how they decided absolute player control/movement freedom wasn't ideal, or fun, or a pillar, or more advanced than virtually any games out there, or immersive. Somehow they're not on the same page with every other Thief fan regarding this, and that's a little odd to me. Seems like a big miss, or a weird deviation just to simplify coding or level design, or they just have a very strong passion to match other casual game controls. Bums me out they saw control preciseness and freedom as less important than fluid T-rex hands.

  20. #20
    Originally Posted by Pillowman
    The sad part is the reasoning behind the lack of free jumping, according to the lead designer Schmidt:
    "Jumping, bouncing up and down kind of broke the immersion. We didn't want you to be a master thief and just tend to fall off stuff all the time."
    I seriously can't believe what I'm reading
    Oh how I wish this company and others like it, sharing such idiotic design practices, would just go away and stop destroying great series of the past. Guys, please don't support this kind of crap, it'll only get worse.
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  21. #21
    Originally Posted by DarknessFalls
    After playng and studying the games so much, it's hard to fathom how they decided absolute player control/movement freedom wasn't ideal, or fun, or a pillar, or more advanced than virtually any games out there, or immersive. Somehow they're not on the same page with every other Thief fan regarding this, and that's a little odd to me. Seems like a big miss, or a weird deviation just to simplify coding or level design, or they just have a very strong passion to match other casual game controls. Bums me out they saw control preciseness and freedom as less important than fluid T-rex hands.
    It's because the game-design philosophy appears to be more about giving the player an experience rather then letting them create an experience -- because, given too much freedom, the ultra-slim attention span of modern gamers might lead them to feelings of inadequacy if the game doesn't make them immediately superhuman. Instant gratification -- it's where the bean counters think the money is.

  22. #22
    I read the article over the weekend in the supermarket whilst the other half did grocery shopping. It didn't take me very long. Suffice to say, I was left with the impression that PCGamer paid for the exclusive and felt obliged to say something positive about it to gloss over their stupidity.
    NEWSFLASH! Garrett laments fans' lack of character!
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  23. #23
    "Jumping, bouncing up and down kind of broke the immersion."

    Erm.....at this point, I'd love to ask Mr. Schmidt "What's your definition of immersion?"


    "We didn't want you to be a master thief and just tend to fall off stuff all the time."

    If you tend to fall off stuff all the time (which I'm sure depends on your skill as a player) then frankly, you suck at the game. Judging by this quote, I'm pretty sure that the game has invisible walls to prevent you from falling off cliffs and similar things like that. :/

    What doesn't make any sense to me is that the devs talk about giving freedom to the player, yet they restrict control and movement.

    For example: If I have a jump button, then I expect to jump. It would seem weird if I am only able to jump in certain moments because this restriction would remind me that I'm only playing a game and therefore, I won't be immersed and/or drawn into the world of Thief.

  24. #24
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    I'm generalizing here, but overall, the developers of today are young, fresh out of "video game design school" and have very little knowledge--much less playing time--of games pre 1995.

    I think that's an accurate statement. Anyone care to debate that? No takers. Good.

    So, what do you expect the developers of today to create? You think we're going to ever see games of the caliber of Elite, Baldur's Gate, Super Mario World, Legend of Zelda, Wolfenstein, Half-Life, Wing Commander, etc.??? Sure, once in a while a truly great game will come along, but it will be the exception and not the rule.

    I'm sure many of the devs today were weaned on 10 minute cutscenes every 5 minutes. I'm sure today's video game developers were still suckling on their momma's when Castlevania came out in the late 80s and think Gauntlet is something knight's used to wear. I wonder what percentage of developers ever played an AD&D game by SSI.....2%? 5%? I'm sure many of the devs never played a single game that lasted over 10 hours of gameplay time when they were growing up. They simply don't know any different.

    I think what we're going to get in the latest Thief should come as no surprise to people who are over 45 (like me) and who have been playing video games for the last 30 or more years.

    Lower the bar. Expect mediocrity. Know when to throw in the towel and admit defeat. You, too, will be happy, just....... like........... me.

  25. #25
    Originally Posted by Slither
    It's because the game-design philosophy appears to be more about giving the player an experience rather then letting them create an experience --
    That's a great way to put it... the philosophy being to force-deliver an experience rather than giving the players a set of tools to let them more create the experience. I enjoyed the Uncharted games, but that's what they are -- delivering an experience. You are so restricted in Uncharted and ones like it (*cough* Last of Us). That's not what I'm looking for in Thief, nor nothing like it, personally. Based on a couple comments I've heard from the EM team about the narrative, though -- in context with casualized features -- I fear they are going to force-deliver the experiences so that we are assured to see their narrative fully and in the best possible light. Take my hand, EM... I'm ready to walk through this game and see the narrative delivered professionally without me jumping all around or climbing in weird places

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