Humor and Realism Don't Mix

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Humor and Realism Don't Mix

Suspension of belief in games means overlooking some of the more unrealistic mechanics.

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I've accepted that the health bar is what you describe, a "luck" bar, for a few years. It has helped me immerse myself quite a lot.
And I don't really agree with the bitching about the new costume setup in Hitman, I quite like it. It makes it more interesting and challenging to blend in.

Edit: Somehow I've passed a 1000 posts and not noticed. O.o Yay me!

There is also something to be said for intuitiveness. If a game is otherwise working within the bounds of expected realism in games, but has a seemingly jarringly out of place mechanic (however good from a gameplay perspective it is), it could be more difficult to know how you are expected to play without an explicit tutorial guiding you through seemingly arbitrary mechanics (which I consider bad practice), rather than being able to work intuitively with the basic rules in the game linked with concepts you carry over from reality.

I would much prefer a luck bar the less bullshit in gaames the less retards think cod is amazing

Evil Moo:
There is also something to be said for intuitiveness. If a game is otherwise working within the bounds of expected realism in games, but has a seemingly jarringly out of place mechanic (however good from a gameplay perspective it is), it could be more difficult to know how you are expected to play without an explicit tutorial guiding you through seemingly arbitrary mechanics (which I consider bad practice), rather than being able to work intuitively with the basic rules in the game linked with concepts you carry over from reality.

but at the same time look at things that are considered intuitive in games now that when first introduced (wasd in Half-Life) had to be explained to the player who didn't read the book. not to mention that sometimes a mechanic that seems really realistic might have the greatest breakdown, and transparency if even slightly inaccurate (for accuracy of input) which is the reason that the Kinnect is deemed to out suck every vacuum in the world.

What? That screenshot from Call of Cthulu? Totally believable.

Ben taking on webcomics. Again. Must be a slow news day.

That complain sounds a little hypocritical for someone that named a whole genre around the idea that hugging a wall away from bullets for a few minutes would regenerate your limbs.

hermes200:
That complain sounds a little hypocritical for someone that named a whole genre around the idea that hugging a wall away from bullets for a few minutes would regenerate your limbs.

I think the issue Yatzhee has with regeneration isn't that it's unrealistic, but that it interrupts the flow of gameplay where finding health packs along the way usually doesn't.

As for Call of Cthulhu, I think that the "more realistic" healing mechanic works at least in the first half of the game, when things were all survivor-horror and you had the entire town of Innsmouth breathing down your neck. Later on, when you're shooting bazookas at Elder Gods and such, it stops adding to the gameplay.

I'm not so hard on the Hitman example. Hackers and security specialists into social engineering will tell you the most straightforward way to get into a place you're not supposed to be is to wear some kind of uniform (even just a golf shirt with a logo on it), carry a clipboard, and walk around like you're supposed to be there. ("Yeah, I'm here to fix your servers.") Bonus points if you get some kind of headset or Bluetooth earpiece and pretend to be talking to your supervisor.

Back to the OT: People have brought this up before--I'm pretty sure MovieBob has as Game Overthinker--the more photorealistic the graphics attempt to be, the more likely players will experience a disconnect when gameplay doesn't line up with reality. E.g., if you're playing a photorealistic military FPS and you have a rocket launcher that can blow up tanks, but you're not able to get past a wooden door without the right key, that's a really unintuitive break from reality. But if the art style were more cartoony or comic booky, or you're playing a sci-fi shooter with presumably super-advanced materials science, the break from reality is a hell of a lot less unintuitive.

Roofstone:
I've accepted that the health bar is what you describe, a "luck" bar, for a few years. It has helped me immerse myself quite a lot.
And I don't really agree with the bitching about the new costume setup in Hitman, I quite like it. It makes it more interesting and challenging to blend in.

Edit: Somehow I've passed a 1000 posts and not noticed. O.o Yay me!

That is explicitly how it is handled in Uncharted. Word of God says that the regenerating 'health' is actually just Drake's luck. Which is why he can be shot in cutscenes and be fine (Such as when he first finds the map in U1), but can also be shot once and that puts him down for the count (Flynn in 2).

This is pretty much how I imagine it worked in various RPGs. Surviving a sword slash was actually your character deflecting the blow. So instead of 'health' it's 'stamina'. Where magic and firearms are concerned, then it becomes 'luck'. Well, depends on the magic. Some magic I could believe is non-lethal.

Kopikatsu:

Roofstone:
I've accepted that the health bar is what you describe, a "luck" bar, for a few years. It has helped me immerse myself quite a lot.
And I don't really agree with the bitching about the new costume setup in Hitman, I quite like it. It makes it more interesting and challenging to blend in.

Edit: Somehow I've passed a 1000 posts and not noticed. O.o Yay me!

That is explicitly how it is handled in Uncharted. Word of God says that the regenerating 'health' is actually just Drake's luck. Which is why he can be shot in cutscenes and be fine (Such as when he first finds the map in U1), but can also be shot once and that puts him down for the count (Flynn in 2).

This is pretty much how I imagine it worked in various RPGs. Surviving a sword slash was actually your character deflecting the blow. So instead of 'health' it's 'stamina'. Where magic and firearms are concerned, then it becomes 'luck'. Well, depends on the magic. Some magic I could believe is non-lethal.

Also explicitly shown in Assassins Creed 1. Fail to block an attack and Atair will, more often than not, clumsily block the blow anyway whilst his life (or sync bar) is sapped.

Mahoshonen:

hermes200:
That complain sounds a little hypocritical for someone that named a whole genre around the idea that hugging a wall away from bullets for a few minutes would regenerate your limbs.

I think the issue Yatzhee has with regeneration isn't that it's unrealistic, but that it interrupts the flow of gameplay where finding health packs along the way usually doesn't.

I would argue that collectible health packs break the flow of the game a lot more, since you are often retracing big sections of the map in order to get items you left behind.
In either case, the healing is just an example. The point is that ranting about the cheapness of using referential videogame humor is a rather hypocrite attitude for someone that built his entire career around referential videogame humor.

gardian06:

Evil Moo:
There is also something to be said for intuitiveness. If a game is otherwise working within the bounds of expected realism in games, but has a seemingly jarringly out of place mechanic (however good from a gameplay perspective it is), it could be more difficult to know how you are expected to play without an explicit tutorial guiding you through seemingly arbitrary mechanics (which I consider bad practice), rather than being able to work intuitively with the basic rules in the game linked with concepts you carry over from reality.

but at the same time look at things that are considered intuitive in games now that when first introduced (wasd in Half-Life) had to be explained to the player who didn't read the book. not to mention that sometimes a mechanic that seems really realistic might have the greatest breakdown, and transparency if even slightly inaccurate (for accuracy of input) which is the reason that the Kinnect is deemed to out suck every vacuum in the world.

But WASD is not part of the game; it's how we interact with it. Whether you use keys or a controller or your own genitals to send in commands, your character doesn't care one bit. When it is in the game, however, gameplay and intuitiveness have to work together. To use the example of the chef from Hitman, you would think (based on real-world knowledge of what a chef does) that you should either be in the kitchen, using the bathroom or maybe checking on newly arrived food. Meanwhile, you'd expect bodyguards not just to go anywhere in the house, but everywhere: one the roof, in the bedrooms, in old closets, anywhere there could be danger. When you reverse the two, it becomes a better gameplay mechanic, but a less intuitive one.

gardian06:

Evil Moo:
There is also something to be said for intuitiveness. If a game is otherwise working within the bounds of expected realism in games, but has a seemingly jarringly out of place mechanic (however good from a gameplay perspective it is), it could be more difficult to know how you are expected to play without an explicit tutorial guiding you through seemingly arbitrary mechanics (which I consider bad practice), rather than being able to work intuitively with the basic rules in the game linked with concepts you carry over from reality.

but at the same time look at things that are considered intuitive in games now that when first introduced (wasd in Half-Life) had to be explained to the player who didn't read the book. not to mention that sometimes a mechanic that seems really realistic might have the greatest breakdown, and transparency if even slightly inaccurate (for accuracy of input) which is the reason that the Kinnect is deemed to out suck every vacuum in the world.

I consider control schemes to be a slightly different matter, not so much a gameplay mechanic as an interface between the user and the game. There are certainly instances where the player will need to be introduced to the actual input required to play the game. Kinect almost completely misses the point of control in most games, which is to as easily and quickly execute a given action, not, as it seems to be used for far too often, to force the player to approximate the movement required in the game, which will never really work well until we develop fully immersive virtual reality, if that ever does happen.

I was referring more to the clash of ideals between on the one hand being rewarded for acquiring something challenging to attain (say a rare disguise giving you better cover in Hitman, which purely gameplay wise works well) and intuitive mechanics being easy to comprehend and work with by the player (which would not include finding a conspicuously rare disguise that would probably make you stand out rather than blend in).

This article basically hits on the reason I made the 'terrible mechanics in games you love' topic awhile back...Persona 3 has/had several design choices that were really, really irritating to people attempting to play the game...though at the same time, they were highly realistic. If you're running around fighting monsters, of course you're going to get tired and worn out...but in a video game, an RPG, with limited 'time units', the ability to level grind can be important...in the latest version, you still get tired, but only in the aftermath, affecting your next few days in the same way it always did, but allowing you to grind to your heart's content (and some times you NEED to grind...)...the game was full of 'nuisances'. P3P gets rid of most of them, and I feel it's better for it.

This has all been said before and I'd say go fuck a duck in a dinghy on a Polish lake, but Yahtzee's article actually made me do that retarded snorting laugh twice during two pages, which means that I'm an idiot and also that I'm not allowed to dislike it.

Oh, what tangled webs we weave.

Interestingly enough, I've seen the "luck bar" idea crop up in almost that exact form in d20-based tabletop rules (Spycraft and, I think, Star Wars d20 come to mind) that use both "health" and "vitality" stats, where damage initially just hits your Vitality and represents near-misses and the like. Only when your Vitality is exhausted do you start taking health damage.

Apparently some game designers like your idea, Yahtzee. It's a good one.

Good point about realism VS gameplay, but I think this spend a bit too long yelling at webcomics for making jokes... Jokes. He got it right at the end, that jokes are one thing but anyone who seriously complains about it needs to stop and think for a moment. So why three full paragraphs at the start hating on webcomics for making jokes?

I guess it's a good thing CAD didn't do a Hitman joke or we'd have another full article (and maybe another full ZP episode) hating on it just because hating on CAD is the cool thing to do if you're a cool person!

I like the wounds-->incapacitate-->kill mechanics from more story-based pnp rpgs but that would be difficult to translate into video games.

The limb damage mechanics worked fine in Fallout (and really well in first person 3/NV) and I wish they kept it for Skyrim. I'm surprised they failed at it in CoC.

Some games work well with "realistic" mechanics but with unrealistic properties, like in Dwarf Fortress I have to cut trees for lumber but don't have to dry the wood for a year before it is usable.

For me realistic is less important than consistent in the context of the game world.

Another dig at the Chef in Hitman Absolution. I didn't want to spoil the fun but I will! If you dress up as the Chef the Security Lead does in fact say to you "Another Chef's Assistant? Why didn't anyone inform me? Bah, check with me in 5 minutes for a profile" or something like that. So it's not a case of "only one chef" but giving you the impression the chef has many assistants coming in and out during the week (especially with a full guard duty with hungry bellies) and you don't stick out like a sore thumb.

I suppose more than anything, this whole article made me think of the concepts of coherence and engagement. In the sense that a cohesive game makes the experience more engaging.
To me the concept of realism is one of the deepest cancers of today's general fiction. A lot of people confuse realism with engagement, when one really has little to do with the other, and literal realism does very little to benefit if it doesn't enhance the UNAVOIDABLY unreal world of the game.

On the other hand, if I am more engaged in a game, as detached from reality as the premises it introduces it may be, if they fit and enhance the universe and gameplay of the game, I'm happy to take them in, no questions asked. So in fact I don't think its humor that is at odds with realism, but games themselves.

When designing a game, the decision that comes up over and over again is whether to favor realism or gameplay, and if you've got sense, you'll go for gameplay every time.

Case in point: Far Cry 3. Why do I have to kneel down and go through a generic 3 second animation every time I want to loot the few bullets/bucks an enemy corpse is carrying? Why is there an animation for getting in a car/boat? I don't want realism, I want more action, and these miniature siestas from the fun add up to a lot after a while.

Tried and true: walk over gun -- ammo and/or gun appear in your inventory.
Click on vehicle -- instantly appear in driver's seat with engine running.

Why are these short columns paged? What is this, cracked-dot-com? :b

RobfromtheGulag:

When designing a game, the decision that comes up over and over again is whether to favor realism or gameplay, and if you've got sense, you'll go for gameplay every time.

Case in point: Far Cry 3. Why do I have to kneel down and go through a generic 3 second animation every time I want to loot the few bullets/bucks an enemy corpse is carrying? Why is there an animation for getting in a car/boat? I don't want realism, I want more action, and these miniature siestas from the fun add up to a lot after a while.

Tried and true: walk over gun -- ammo and/or gun appear in your inventory.
Click on vehicle -- instantly appear in driver's seat with engine running.

I think in this case, "realism" is part of the gameplay actually: Having to pause and/or do a mildly more complex action than usual to get supplies forces the player to make a choice during combat: do they risk getting shot/giving the enemy the possibility to sneak up on them in order to being able to use their awesome primary weapon a bit longer or do they risk running out of ammunition/having to use a worse/less fun weapon. Supplies become something which concerns the player a bit more than usual, since it's a lot less feasible to gather them on the fly. Additionally, the deaccelerating nature of having to do a short animation to pick up ammo helps create a sense of pacing that supports the intended feeling of the game, in FC3's case the claim to have every battle be a very unique experience which is a noteable event on its own, by incentivizing the player to revisit and examine the battlesite, building a stronger sense of what happened and what consequences it had for the game's environment and its actors (destroyed buildings, bodies, an upside down jeep).
Of course this is a very fine line to tread for the developers, especially since the difference between exciting and boring can lie in a second's difference in the length of an animation and also because, while game mechanic A might work well with the feeling game A might try to evoke it could be completely at odds with that of game B (for example, while having to aim down the sights of your weapon works well for the kind of slower, cover based combat of the Brothers in Arms-series, this limitation is completely at odds with fast paced arena shooters like the Quake-series (excempting Enemy Territory:Quake Wars)).
Only having played Far Cry 2 and a demo of the first one, I can't say however, whether or not the effect I described above actually works (I think it did in Two, giving the player the sense of being mildly fucked in every encounter with the enemy and making it all the more satisfying to wander across the field of destruction you created).

I'm glad that Yahtzee mentioned glass houses at the very end in regards to his comments on gaming webcomic humour, I was starting to think he'd forgotten he'd written Mogworld, which is an entire novel containing variations upon that exact kind of humour. Glass houses indeed, Yahtzee shouldn't really complain about this kind of humour being used when he's probably more guilty of it than the people he's referring to.

I'm not complaining though, I like Yahtzee's stuff and he's probably aware of all that.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fuck realism. ...within reason of course.

I usually suspend belief when it comes to video games. If it were as easy in real life to sneak into secret weapons facilities as it were in a video game, we wouldn't be playing a game about, we would just go and do that. The more fantastical a game's setting, the more likely I am to let those kinds of things go. Like when people look for 'realism' in a series like Halo; if you're looking for realism in a sci-fi shooter, you've probably come to the wrong place.

Hitman has always been especially silly, particularly with the way that no one seems to remember how to dial for emergency services when they find a dead body. Or even just a knocked out one. The only time I normally call bullshit in a game is when it's plot has large, gaping holes or blatantly unrealistic character development. That's what's making Assassin's Creed 3 so hard to get through and what made me stop playing Final Fantasy XIII. Of course, those are the reasons that I play video games, which naturally won't be the reason others play a game.

When designing a game, the decision that comes up over and over again is whether to favor realism or gameplay, and if you've got sense, you'll go for gameplay every time. Which is not to say realism doesn't have its place. Realism adds weight, it adds immersion, a shooter wouldn't have the same impact if everyone bled glitter glue instead of blood, but beyond that it is the awkward twat at a social gathering who doesn't say anything except to flatly say that they're offended every time someone tells a racy joke.

This is more or less the gaming words I live by, and it's why in my view GTA IV was such a dissappointing failure of a gaming mess, and why Ironsights need to go and die in a fire.

I usually agree with him, but Yahtzee is dead wrong this time.

Grand Theft Auto 4 nails it.

Costumes were actually pretty balanced in Blood Money- usually, there'd be more than one tier of guard, so stealing a random costume to progress was only so helpful. The challenge became figuring out how to trade it out for the better model to avoid suspicion.

Finally someone floated out this thought in reference to stealth games.

I'm glad the enemy AI largely forgets about you after 30 seconds. Might as well just restart if I have to wait much longer than that for them to return to their path.

Falseprophet:
I'm not so hard on the Hitman example. Hackers and security specialists into social engineering will tell you the most straightforward way to get into a place you're not supposed to be is to wear some kind of uniform (even just a golf shirt with a logo on it), carry a clipboard, and walk around like you're supposed to be there. ("Yeah, I'm here to fix your servers.") Bonus points if you get some kind of headset or Bluetooth earpiece and pretend to be talking to your supervisor.

Back to the OT: People have brought this up before--I'm pretty sure MovieBob has as Game Overthinker--the more photorealistic the graphics attempt to be, the more likely players will experience a disconnect when gameplay doesn't line up with reality. E.g., if you're playing a photorealistic military FPS and you have a rocket launcher that can blow up tanks, but you're not able to get past a wooden door without the right key, that's a really unintuitive break from reality. But if the art style were more cartoony or comic booky, or you're playing a sci-fi shooter with presumably super-advanced materials science, the break from reality is a hell of a lot less unintuitive.

..and that's where Red Faction shined. The original one. No door? No problem! :)

Games should have nothing to do with realism except where it makes the game better.

Jfswift:

Falseprophet:
I'm not so hard on the Hitman example. Hackers and security specialists into social engineering will tell you the most straightforward way to get into a place you're not supposed to be is to wear some kind of uniform (even just a golf shirt with a logo on it), carry a clipboard, and walk around like you're supposed to be there. ("Yeah, I'm here to fix your servers.") Bonus points if you get some kind of headset or Bluetooth earpiece and pretend to be talking to your supervisor.

Back to the OT: People have brought this up before--I'm pretty sure MovieBob has as Game Overthinker--the more photorealistic the graphics attempt to be, the more likely players will experience a disconnect when gameplay doesn't line up with reality. E.g., if you're playing a photorealistic military FPS and you have a rocket launcher that can blow up tanks, but you're not able to get past a wooden door without the right key, that's a really unintuitive break from reality. But if the art style were more cartoony or comic booky, or you're playing a sci-fi shooter with presumably super-advanced materials science, the break from reality is a hell of a lot less unintuitive.

..and that's where Red Faction shined. The original one. No door? No problem! :)

And why hasn't this caught on? I drove an armored vehicle through a wall, untied some hostages, loaded them up, and watched guards surge into the room in my rear view mirror as I drove through the other wall. Or, heck, I've parked a car in just the right spot so that I can jump over a compound wall and avoid a gunfight at the entrance.

Structure destruction isn't just low-hanging fruit, it's fruit that's on the ground. And very few developers bother to pick it up now matter how awesome it looks and feels. I continue to be very baffled by this.

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