138: You're Not Allowed To Do That.

You're Not Allowed To Do That.

"Thrust into the strange new world of dormitory living, I sought refuge. Clustered around a small portable television, I found kindred spirits, drawn, like myself, to the noble art of GoldenEye. Spare controllers beckoned; I grabbed one and joined the fray with the comparative strangers. Would this work? Reassurance came immediately:

"'No Oddjobs, yeah?'"

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"No Oddjobs" is a rule known to all who play GoldenEye. Great article, Mr. McCormick.

Hehe, "no oddjobs!" was yelled countless times when we'd settle down for a night of GoldenEye in college. MarioKart64 was always a second favorite, both games wasted countless hours late into the night that would have been better used for studying or completing assignments. And don't forget the 2 for a $1 Chevron chili dogs, extra onions please!

Ugh! Once again, the writers put a lengthy story with no analysis in the story, and leave pretty much all analysis to the forum-goers.

Most of the time, I feel that unwritten rules mark bad game balance, but it is sort of good that the fans are willing to make their own decisions about it. In modern games, I think the equivalents are the AWP, Martyrdom, frontstabs (TF2), and various things in Halo 3.

Oh, flashbacks to my early gaming days.

I remember playing Street Fighter II on the SNES with my brother, he could only have been 6 or 7, and we'd already agreed that Blanka and Dhashlim were out, because they were too easy to gank with.

Moving up, Goldeneye and Perfect Dark brought up the same unspoken rules of conduct - no exploiting the Golden Gun/Phoenix Rifle for easy kills.

Halo I, II & III, Counter-Strike, TF:2, my friends and I have always developed and adhered to what could be called a code of honor. It's odd, now I think about it, that these things developed so naturally.

Who says games make you unsociable? Although they may lead to screams of: 'No Auto-Aim!' and a controller being shoved somewhere tender.

Ah, I remember the first time I saw my friend pull off the rainbow road short-cut. He did it first lap. He started laughing hysterically, the rest of us just stared, jaws down and speechless.

He went on to lose that race. It was the first lap on rainbow road - plenty of time to catch up.

Reading this article, I was slightly reminded of an article in a previous issue of The Escapist detailing how a person felt he had to play games in secret, away from the prying eyes of everyone else. I can't remember the title of that article right now, but I can't help but read this article and think how wrong that writer was...

In my circle of friends it's known as Pro Ev. You lose the useless O at the end of Evo, knocking off a syllable and making it flow beautifully.

And about Oddjob, we had the "Suicidal Midget" game. Where one player was Oddjob and the only weapon he was allowed was to hold a grenade until it exploded killing himself and, hopefully, his target.

devilondemand:

And about Oddjob, we had the "Suicidal Midget" game. Where one player was Oddjob and the only weapon he was allowed was to hold a grenade until it exploded killing himself and, hopefully, his target.

brilliant. absolutely brilliant.

Odd job is allowed round here, mainly because other characters (Boris and the Siberian special forces) blend into the walls like stealth troopers. But proxy mines are not allowed. Thus avoiding exploding spawn syndrome.

Have you read Sirlin's Playing to Win?

Basically, he posits that there's a difference between "playing to win" and "playing for fun," and that players should be conscious about why they choose to adhere to specific sets of rules. There is of course the subtext of how players end up compensating for poor design decisions, where a game sometimes isn't fun as implemented (due to exploits, unbalanced characters, etc.).

- Alan

Katana314:
Ugh! Once again, the writers put a lengthy story with no analysis in the story, and leave pretty much all analysis to the forum-goers.

Most of the time, I feel that unwritten rules mark bad game balance, but it is sort of good that the fans are willing to make their own decisions about it. In modern games, I think the equivalents are the AWP, Martyrdom, frontstabs (TF2), and various things in Halo 3.

Well, there are very few games were perfect balance and variation co-exist (Starcraft being the No 1 example) and in a copetative multiplayer enviorment its extremely hard to balance.

I couldn't agree more with this article. Pro Evo was a really good way to break the ice in the first few weeks of universtiy, where everyone in the flat was a complete stranger. We used to stay up for hours, occasionally realising that it was time to go to lectures rather than go to sleep. The 3 random picks rule is also used, but occasionally changes depending on the mood. I'm in my third year now and pro evo is played less than first year, mainly due to people actually having to work, but other games like Mashed and Wipeout Fusion have been introduced. So essentially, I'm going to fail my degree.

I disagree with this article. Console gaming, and gaming in general, is not social outside of a limited group of people who are interested in it. Anecdotal evidence to suggest otherwise is that: anecdotal. You can just as easily imagine asking people if they'd like a few pints down the pub as being a good way to start conversation, and once drunk, it's much easier to carry on.

When you go to University, there is a vast number of people out there looking for new friends: people like them. If you advertise who you are by how you behave, or dress, or where you go, you are more likely to meet them.

Consoles are just one way of advertising who you are. I still wouldn't say that they're any more social than D&D, a deck of cards, scrabble, actually playing sports, or joining a debating society.

Alan Au:
Have you read Sirlin's Playing to Win?

Basically, he posits that there's a difference between "playing to win" and "playing for fun," and that players should be conscious about why they choose to adhere to specific sets of rules. There is of course the subtext of how players end up compensating for poor design decisions, where a game sometimes isn't fun as implemented (due to exploits, unbalanced characters, etc.)

After reading through the first page of the article, "Playing to Win" popped into my mind as well. Actually, I'm surprised that Sirlin's site isn't listed on the Recommended Sites section. He definitely has some great articles... always analyzing and never leaving well enough alone. ;-)

I don't think the author tried to argue that games are the #1 way to meet people or anything like that, just that they are great. It's not hard to meet people like you at college, you just have to flash your colors.

Unwritten rules are a big part of gaming, and often the community enforces them with no mercy. It's interesting to see just how hard a team is willing to work to flank an AWP sniper (which I also agree are no-skill rifles). Just because something was put in a game doesn't mean it was a good design choice.

Anyways, I have found quite a few people who like to play video games of many genres, but, at least for me, the strangest is the startling amount of MMO players, WoW in particular. There's ALWAYS someone looking for a guild or new MMO at school. It's great, picking up people you already have on MSN :P

Enjoyed this article very much. Echoed my experiences at University in the UK for sure. If it wasn't for Pro Evo, I'd have done much better in my exams!!! Difficult to regret it though - had so much fun sat round the console in the dorm rooms in the first year.

I remember getting to Uni and playing Mario Kart away from home for the first time. These two lads jumped straight for Yoshi - when I reminded them that Toad was the best small character, they couldn't believe how wrong I'd got it. Course, Bowser was my pick so small characters weren't really my area of expertise.....

Excellent article!

Back in my day, we allowed Oddjob, but he was a 'bonus' for newer players against better ones. I wish I could remember who, but there was also an opposite, taller character - was Jaws in it as a playable character? Either way, he was a penalty for better players.

Oh, and:

Katana314:
Ugh! Once again, the writers put a lengthy story with no analysis in the story, and leave pretty much all analysis to the forum-goers.

If you're left so disatisfied with the articles here, why not either a) leave and stop reading them, and/or stop commenting or b) surprise us all with your fantastic writing skills and write your own articles?

Interesting article.
However, the opposite view also has weight.
I had a really bad time in a house share in Uni and the collective love for Goldeneye and the absolutely insane F-Zero X became a gladiatorial arena when things went sour.
We all had our favourite weapons, arenas and characters (there was one person who consistently used Oddjob, more to my chagrin). I think it's safe to say we all took great relish in beating our opponents into the ground on their own turf. Still, it did make me learn to appreciate Rammstein as good stomping music. F-Zero X became just plain spiteful as one would come home from uni and see that someone had sat there and knocked out all of their best times from the top slot.

Also, there's a significant difference between multiplayer and massively multiplayer. There's nothing like the internet for generating grotesque characters such as FPS Doug and Angry German Kid. As soon as people get out of physical retribution distance, all manners & civility seem to be forgotten.

I think my fondest memories of multiplayer are Bomberman on the SNES, which I now regularly play 8 way games on the DS ^-^"

Well written article. It does speak a lot about the social advantages of games which more people need to look at and at least consider.

fix-the-spade:

Odd job is allowed round here, mainly because other characters (Boris and the Siberian special forces) blend into the walls like stealth troopers. But proxy mines are not allowed. Thus avoiding exploding spawn syndrome.

Which reminds me: Siberian SF + Complex = the win. So many fond memories.

I killed my friend so many times with the Spartan Laser in Halo 3 he tried to make me swear a blood oath to never, ever use it again. He was in no hurry to receive fiery red death from long range one more time.

Though it's not like that stopped me.

Thsi doesn't just apply to videogames. I remember creating loads of rules that existed for years (or just an afternoon), when playing various games as a child. From "War" (running around with guns yelling "Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah! You're dead!" "No, I'm not!" "Yes you are, I shot you in the back. You have to lie down dead and count to 30" "Oh, alright then...") to "Space War" on the Atari 2600 ("You're not allowed to wait until I've shot all my ammo before firing back") to breaking up a fight that was getting to close to a low wall or step, and restarting it further away in a safer area in the exact position as it had been before the break, to playing Co-op games whilst sharing kills and loot.

It's all part of the growing up to be (relatively) well adjusted members of society. :D

Echolocating:

Alan Au:
Have you read Sirlin's Playing to Win?

Basically, he posits that there's a difference between "playing to win" and "playing for fun," and that players should be conscious about why they choose to adhere to specific sets of rules. There is of course the subtext of how players end up compensating for poor design decisions, where a game sometimes isn't fun as implemented (due to exploits, unbalanced characters, etc.)

After reading through the first page of the article, "Playing to Win" popped into my mind as well. Actually, I'm surprised that Sirlin's site isn't listed on the Recommended Sites section. He definitely has some great articles... always analyzing and never leaving well enough alone. ;-)

I definitely thought of Playing to Win when I saw this article: people making house rules because the disallowed behaviors are "cheap". Granted, that's the only thing of Sirlin's I've ever read, and his premise that you should allow everything sort of falls apart when he recognizes that there are some "cheap" things in games that CAN'T be countered. But if you've never seen it it's a nice read.

My friends and I went the opposite route: We ALL played Oddjob. It provided interesting situations in levels with height.

Which reminds me (slightly off topic), I never understood why they made Oddjob so short anyway, Oddjob was only marginally shorter than Bond. It was Nick Nack who was the midget, why didn't they make him the short character?

*clap clap*
All the N64 rules were basically in the article, though drunk fraternity nights of my brother's friends are STILL spent playing Mario Kart 64 and shouting at unreasonable volumes.

The servers I play on in Counter Strike: Source have developed their own etiquette. If you're winning by 10, drop the AWP, AutoSnipe, and Para. If you have been tracking someone for half the map, put away the knife and shoot them. If someone continues to abuse frequent camping positions, find the most humiliating way possible to end it (de_tides, their is a ledge above the entrance to bombsite A which I could frequently reach before they could get out of the entrance, it ended with me being knifed.)

Sorry if this is a bit off topic but I am just wondering about the modeling talent. Normally you guys use in stock pictures and in game footage. Do you hire out to a talent agency or are the models someone on staff's relatives? Also does your photographer have a website?

That sounds a lot like my Uni house is at the mo. Here Smash Bros Melee and Guitar Hero 2/3 dominate the games, even the girls in the house are getting into it, one of them has become a little too adapt with Pikachu for my liking (damn rat!).

jezcentral:
This doesn't just apply to videogames...

Absolutely - although I remember well in my first week at University (in 1979) discovering the unspoken rule about the Space Invaders machine: if you wanted a game at lunchtime, you put your 10p on the top in a little queue with everyone else. And you had to wait an eternity for the queue to start moving, because there was always the expert player who managed to rack up a massive score one-handed, whilst drinking his pint AND eating his bar meal...

But outside video games there are many other examples, such as commonly-known 'house rules' in Monopoly (land on Free Parking to get the kitty of fines & taxes; land on 'Go' to double the payout from 200 to 400). Beyond games altogether there are 'accepted behaviours' which avoid landing you in trouble - don't talk to people in a lift (in the UK, at least!); don't look down at other people in the toilets...

All of these (and Richard's observations in his article) help make up a society. Some people get ahead by not conforming, but end up ostracised by those who just "know what's right".

Nic
PS - My username is accurate - I really am Richard's uncle...

The root of the "No Oddjobs" class of house rules is an attempt to keep more of the options of a game open to players by outlawing some playstyles that make some decisions obviously bad.

Oddjob, because of his height, is the only Goldeneye character with a play advantage. His existence, alone, makes character selection into a strategic choice. If players are playing to win, Sirlin-style, then they will choose Oddjob, full stop. It would make no sense to pick anyone else, of the many characters included. Since a big part of the fun of Goldeneye is shooting each other up with James Bond characters, this would make the game considerably less entertaining for most people, hence the rule. It is relatively easy to enforce, too: if someone selects Obbjob from the selection screen, then it has been broken.

The test I use is follows: if a given strategy is so effective that everyone who uses it wins, then it is not really a strategy. It is to be assumed that players will choose it. If it is not outlawed, it makes the choice not to use it inviable. If the intent of the designers of the game is that people make this decision then fine, but if it is not then this is a game-breaking problem and a house rule should be formulated to restrict it.

Similar is the case where there is a tactic that always produces wins, or even a considerable advantage to winning, that some players can perform but not others. Snaking in Mario Kart games requires lots of practice to pull off consistently, with "lots" meaning many hours of doing nothing but learning to snake. Players who can snake well may object, but the fact is that Mario Kart is still obviously intended to be a racing game, not a snaking game. (Lots of people don't even -want- to play a snaking game.)

This is a problem that I have with Sirlin's Playing To Win, it assumes there are no game-breaking exploits. In a game like Street Fighter II, which has been extensively tested to remove game-breaking exploits, then this kind of all-out approach makes sense. For a fighting game, where movement is along a single line and player positions and speeds really cannot vary too tremendously, this is a lot easier to do than in a fully 3D game in which velocity vectors can potentially, once in a great while, cause the player to miss clipping walls or send him over obstacles.

I'd agree with this article. Mario kart 64 brought my family closer together than Dr. Mario had, and even closer to my father as that was the only video game he ever got into. And as much as I like to chastise the Halo series, it really built and maintained my friendship with my best friend after we got tired of Perfect Dark and Smash brothers on the 64.

Well some gaming cultures are great places for creating and building friendship, especially through coop mode when possible, some can be really snobbish though, especially fanboy cultures that hog the controls, criticize games you like, and enjoy playing one or two player games, especially fighting games that you're not experienced in where they constantly eject the loser.

Anyway, I think a game company out there should really focus on making a really good, totally devoted coop game. Extra points if they don't require that you play with someone online and can develop a really good split screen system like Rockstar games did for Warriors.

I thought it was Nick-Nak how was the midget. Bare in mind I haven't played Goldeneye in a while but I do know a lot about the movies and Oddjob was a very tall guy while Nick-Nak was a midget.

That is so true. We had a no shelling rule on wario ware on the big jump, no oddjobs in goldeneye, you name it, we have it. Even today, castle crashers, no potions in fights for the princess. Everyone knows them rules. We keep to them religiously.

 

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