Extra Punctuation: The Sandbox Killed Batman

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Rocksteady have deliberately held back giving us Gotham City. For good reason, you don't obsolete your own product with one massive leap - you slowly make elements of it redundant whilst charging full price for each iteration. See: Gilette razors.

The issue regarding travelling, will be fixed with the Batmobile, Batcycle and Batplane. Already, this is the only action that Rocksteady need to perform to ensure that Gotham City rakes in the sales - but I don't believe they'll stop there.

The true power of the villain - as mentioned in the article - is the unpredictability. Immensely difficult to achieve in a finite resource such as a game, developers don't have the ability to create a seemingly endless set of scenarios for their playerbase, but the playerbase itself does.

Looking at Little Big Planet and to a lesser degree inFamous 2 - the community is extremely willing to essentially build their own game if the developer allows it, both by a robust tool set and an acceptable method of integration.

With Demon Souls/Dark Souls unique "Single player but Multi player" format, it's been proven that players love the idea of encroaching on and being encroached upon by the community, even if they're the sole hero of their world.

With Gotham City, Rocksteady simply need to provide the villains, provide the rules for their behaviours (i.e. Freeze wouldn't be popping down to the steel mill at any time soon) and allow the community to build their own villain scenarios.

Other players can then decide whether they wish for these scenarios to migrate into their world; with filters such as quality, villain focused upon, difficulty, frequency etc.

Whilst playing the game, these scenarios will then appear in your world as seemingly organic actions. Download rates will be fairly low, seeing as you're merely loading actions with assets already on the recipient side.

Not only are we still playing the hero, but we're all also fighting as the villains - potentially creating incredibly devious plots and seeing how well they hold up against the heroes out there.

Like a true villain, we'll fail. But we'll come back, with an even more devious plan than the last.

All this being said though, I truly imagine this will only manifest come Gotham City 2. Still have vehicles to add...

If you promise to add a fourth wall breaking sequence in which motion controls appear temporarily in the game before the villain bursts into the developers office and beats him to death before disabling them, i'll pre-order the special edition of MHYTRMG. Or it could be quick time events if you're not going for an exclusive.

I'd buy into that game. Being the gang leader in Saints Row works after all. And it's an interesting point made at the end, which I feel is better summerized in Batman's words at the end of Dark Knight: "You either die as a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villian."
But more to the point, I think it's easier to get people to play as a hero or a villian depending on how the series has started. Games like crime sandboxes and Infamous/Prototype work because in all of those series you're a bad guy from the start, whereas Batman has already been established as the protagonist. And I think making a villian the front man in this series might be a bit much for the fans.
It was an interesting point made about Scarecrow though. It actually reminds me of "Fight club", where David Fincher explores nihilistic views. He does this by having Brad Pitt running an underground boxing ring or "fight club", with the purpose of erradicating people's earthly fears of pain and social conformity. In essence you could make Scarecrow protagonistic by representing that: teaching people to deal with their fears. But, like I said, it's not easy to have an audience buy into such existentialist views. And I definitely don't begrudge the writers for not making such a risky move.
But this whole thing about Batman is an academic debate anyway. Last I heard the studio is toying with the idea of making the first "good" Superman game, so I guess that means they've moved on from the whole Batman thing. And that's what I would do. Quit while you're ahead.

GiantRaven:
What happened to Longshoremen 1 through 9?

Smartarse. -.- But now I've got you! Didn't you mean I through IX, eh? ;P

I loved that spiderman game, younger me was like, "GTA and Spidey, hell yes!"

I don't agree that the sandbox environment was a disservice to Batman, quite the opposite. In the first game when I swooped down on unsuspecting baddies waiting for a wallop, I recall wishing there was more room to glide around in, cause it's damn fun, and makes you feel like Batman. Arkham City gave me exactly that. And while Batman may not be as agile as Spiderman, once you get the hook boost and some practice, gliding around the environment is quite satisfying. Plus it's the smallest sandbox world ever, and feels like an appropriate upgrade to the world size from the Asylum.

I just love having a bunch of rooftops to jump off, surprise my prey, then swoop back to, making me feel quite like the shadowy figure I feel Batman to be.

But when you've got to complain on a deadline I don't hold it against you that sometimes this sort of thing is the best you've got. Better luck next time Yahtzee.

braincore02:
But when you've got to complain on a deadline I don't hold it against you that sometimes this sort of thing is the best you've got. Better luck next time Yahtzee.

I feel like you've hit it on the head here. Yahtzee learned long ago that his popularity and level of hilarity are directly proportional to his negativity. It almost feels like these articles have started to grasp at straws. I loved the sandbox aspect of Arkham City, I thought the grapple glide travel system was fluid and in character, and since when is stopping villains from killing innocent people "maintaining the status quo"? Seriously?

I think Yahtzee makes some great points here and there, but not in this article. Arkham City wasn't perfect, true, but its few flaws have nothing to do with any of the mechanics he talks about here.

Longshoremen X made Dead to Rights awesome. It's easily my favourite boss name.

Did... Did he describe Evil Genius there on purpose?

OutrageousEmu:
So get the upgrade to the hookshot, the one that lets you launch yourelf extra high, and learn to control your wings. You're flying and drifting like that guy from Just Cause 2.

Agreed. You could get all the way from one corner of the city to the other in somewhere between a 30 seconds and a minute, and in fact had to for some of the Zsasz stuff.

OutrageousEmu:

...you didn't notice Stranges TYGER helicopter that kept looking for you, and basically saying "Strange has his eye on you Batman" over and over? Not to mention the Tyger security cameras that could be found everywhere?

That was there, but it wasn't quite the same as being stalked by Scarecrow in AA. The helicopters aren't really any threat for most of the game, and the open world lacks the claustrophobia of knowing that a villain could lurk around any corner, waiting to destroy your mind. You get some of that with the Mad Hatter, but it's such a brief section that it really doesn't have any lead in or anticipation.

OutrageousEmu:
Yes. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel says that a Luthor controlled world would be a worldwide Stalinist Russia.

That was Superman, in Red Son. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel was about Luthor making a superhero.

OutrageousEmu:

It was established in the Animated series, Cranes scientific methodology is sloppy, and doesn't have any manner in which to establish control or mitigate factors. Even if he went through with his studies, the data would be virtually useless beyond proving the effectiveness of said fear inducing gas.

I agree, this was a silly point for Yahtzee to make. Permanent insanity has very little useful effect on society.

Overall I absolutely adored Arkham City. It had everything I liked in the previous game plus more. Still, I would have also appreciated some more development of the villains, in game rather than in unlockable text files. Especially since they put a lot of effort into putting a unique spin on the characters, like making Penguin's monocle a broken beer bottle.

duchaked:
I would totally play "Mankind Has Yet To Recognise My Genius"...someone please make it! like legit make it, not just something slapped together lol

but seriously, aside from the main superhero who you won't kill and who won't kill you, you can possibly kill other smaller superheroes (or just heroes, without superpowers) that you WILL kill (like the Joker killing Robin)
and heck even stupid vigilantes wannabe heroes who you gladly knock off to scare the city via city news reports

anyway...
they should be able to tighten things up in the next Batman game and still retain the sandbox. might just take a bit extra work for added focus...

I've been wanting to play Mankind Has Yet To Recognise My Genius since the review for SR2 came out. It's a great idea and sounds like a lot of fun.
I imagine a company like Gearbox approaching YC and asking him to fully sketch it out.

But if he ever wants to start his own dev studio to make Mankind Has Yet To Recognise My Genius, YC definitely has one investor right here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiHr7qLxOvU&ob=av2e

I think that pretty much summarizes Yahtzee's thoughts.

Speaking for myself I kind of liked the Arkham City approach to things, because to be honest that is actually more the essence of Batman, than any of the deep, personal stuff that sold Arkham Asylum. Comic stories similar to the events of the first video game stand out because they are unusual. A lot of Batman's time is actually spent lurking around the city, looking for problems to stop. It's important to also note that Batman already knows his rogues gallery inside and out, so a lot of "getting to know you" stuff isn't really nessicary except for the sake of the occasional new reader. Really "Arkham Asylum" was a good way to start off a video game series because it helped fill in the details so they won't have to be expanded on to the same extent in future games.

Really, Arkham City reminded me a lot of the whole "No Man's Land" scenario from the comics, where Batman had to run around and take down various gangs run by members of his rogues gallery throughout the city to try and restore order... without any of the gradual build up that explained No Man's Land and how the city wound up like that for a time. Really the whole situation in Arkham City is preposterous even for Batman, since I couldn't see a part of the city being cordoned off like that for those purposes, or Bruce Wayne and other critics being rounded up and tossed into it that way. Maybe in China, but not in the US, even the US of the DC comics universe.

Of course then again No Man's Land also had a sort of "twist" ending where the final big bad was Lex Luthor (a superman Villain) who had been setting everything up, which is part of what made it work, espcially seeing as Lex was aiming for the White House at that point (if I remember), and was popular enough to get himself elected president. The overall DC universe had done enough gradual lead in to Lex having enough pull to get a city declared a national disaster area.

The bottom line is that I liked the way they did Arkham City just fine. Honestly if anything I'd like to see some of Batman's allies have a bigger role than just his adversaries. The interplay within the so called "Bat-Family" is one of the things that holds the concept together, especially nowadays, and charracterizes Batman as being more than just a face punching machine...

I will say that a sandbox super villain game would be kind of fun, and I hope they do make a decent one some day. I think they tried something similar with "Prototype" and "Infamous" but neither really got the vibe right. Saint's Row 2 actually made me feel like more of a super villain, even without powers, than either of the other games.

I think a key mechanic that gets overlooked her is the planning. Villains don't just bust into the bank and take stuff, they use the opportunity to drag in a freeze ray, a portable cloaking device, and keep their helicopter on standby to taunt the police via megaphone. There ought to be some kind of pre-mission map where you hand out orders to your minions and choose equipment. Of course, you shouldn't have to do this; it should also be open to simply driving your thematically-appropriate tank through the foyer.

Also, research shouldn't merely be "pick item X and invest Y points", but require you to take the thing in question out and use it in prototype form before it's well and truly researched. Maybe you also have to steal components from science labs, art museums, and other supervillains.

I've never disagreed with Yahtzee more. I've been playing Batman: Arkham City every day since the day it came out and I've had more fun with it than I have had with a game in a very long time. I feel more like Batman than any other video game makes me feel like its protagonist. I will admit to being a huge Batman fan so I'm sure that my judgement is a bit clouded by this fact. But the bottom line is that I am having fun with the game. I love that it is a sandbox, I love flying and grappling my way around the city and I'm thoroughly enjoying the story and the small interactions with all of the other villains incarcerated in Arkham City. I understand Yahtzee's gripes with the game but I completely disagree.

Catwoman, on the other hand, was a pain in the ass to get from Point A to Point B. I laughed my ass off at the part of the video review where Catwoman slams into the side of a building because it is very true.

His comment that the hero always needs to defeat the villain is interesting. Normally, the player expects that anything they face can be killed eventually, but we can't have that in a traditional comic-book villain. However, why should they even bother building deathtraps and gathering hordes of minions if they know that the hero will just rip through their defenses like a human Cuisinart?

My idea is that the villain just needs to keep the villain busy until they can escape. Batman will eventually punch out any number of minions, evade any number of gunmen, and deploy enough Bat-gadgets to bypass any trap. However, while he's busy with that, you and your lieutenants are hard at work in your inner sanctum, shredding the evidence, hiding the death rays, arranging your next hideout, and taking out a gigantic insurance policy on your soon-to-be-demolished lair. So when Batman finally kicks down the door, you can give him a dramatic one-liner, hop into the getaway car, and escape to plot another day.

By making the hero truly unstoppable, you prevent players from derailing your plot by killing him off early or just turtling up with an impenetrable wall of deathtraps. So gameplay would be about getting the most out of your limited resources (time, money, minions). Perhaps, to make minions more expendable, make it really difficult to transfer them between hideouts.

I'm not sure what the end goal would be, though. If you can't defeat the hero or complete a world-changing villanous scheme, what can you do to win? Perhaps you could go semi-legit, like the opening of Saints Row 3, where you have so much wealth and power that people just have to deal with the occasional act of villainy. Or perhaps you get official support (what if the government wants to use Scarecrow's fear gas?) Perhaps the ultimate victory would be Joker Immunity - you're so popular and marketable and stylish that you can never be defeated for good.

I didn't think the grappling mechanics were bad at all, in fact i believe they worked pretty well.

However, i don't think "sandboxing" Batman improved the game, it's a pretty dead world, sure, dropping down and kicking the crap of some inmates is fun the first couple of times but after that... The sidequests were an annoyance... Zsas, The Riddler, Dead Shot...
I liked the tight structure of Arkham Asylum Better, kills the urgency of Batman is dying...

In the end i think the best way to play Arkham City is ignore them unless right on your path.

I'm not sure i would like the world to get smaller for the next Batman, it was specially cool the infinite possibilities of approaching a sniper area, i just want a tighter story, without "i might be poisoned and about to die... but i will pickup this phone instead".

The reason that makes the Batman movies so great and the Batman games isn't because they are focused on Batman.. but because the interesting relationship between batman and the villians. Of course on a individual basis the villians are cooler/more interesting/big ideas and big plans, but the dichotomy between them is what makes it interesting as well as the conflict/rivalry that arises from it.

The are the 2 peas of the pod, not the one big pea and the other flimsy pea that wastes space.
So I think for once I can actually disagree with Yahtzee on one note, but (yet again) I have to agree with everything else. I would totally play a super villian sandbox game.

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