The Case Against Fail States

So I’ve been thinking a bit and I’ve decided that video games need to rethink the “game over.” In fact, I think the idea of a fail state in games is an unnecessary holdover from the games where you had lives and continues. Yes, having a game over and having to restart from a certain point adds challenge to the game. But in general, with the way games are developed nowadays, often times the fail state just adds aggravation to what is otherwise a wonderful gaming experience.

The problem, of course, is that most games are based around death. Killing enemies to progress is a large chunk of gameplay loops, and the easiest way to add challenge to the loop is for the enemies to, you know, kill back. Health bars/indicators/numbers are the main tracking agent and when you hit 0, time for a fail state to show you didn’t live up to the challenge!

But, and bear with me here, what if that wasn’t the case? What if we figured out a way for games to keep their challenge but eliminate the need to make the player feel bad because they didn’t shoot the guy with the one-hit KO attack fast enough? What if we eliminated the silly QTEs that if you missing pressing a single button you have to do an entire sequence over again?

I’m going to talk about some games that have recently opened my eyes to how good a lack of a fail state is, and how some games have been hindered because of fail states, and how some games have given you an illusion of a fail state but don’t actually have one and that’s what games should try to live up to.

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Plot of Thrones: Stumbling At The Finish

I didn’t watch Game of Thrones until the eighth season. I’m watching this final season because my girlfriend is semi-invested in the finale and wanted a companion to watch with. “But why would you spoil yourself?” C’mon son. The internet has spoiled me on every major event and most characters, so I know all the big plot points and characters already.

I know about all the weddings. Red Wedding, Purple Wedding, White Wedding (hey little sister). I know what happens when Oberyn and The Mountain face off. I know Tyrion drinks and knows things. I know Jon Snow doesn’t know anything.

So I’m not coming into this final season completely blind. And after watching the penultimate episode and witnessing the fan aftermath on the internet, I have some thought about this season both from a writing perspective and from a perspective of observing fans of the show for seven seasons without watching the show.

(Spoilers for everything Game of Thrones up until the episode that aired yesterday will follow, along with minor spoilers for some other shows.)

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PAX East 2019: Sunday Round-Up

And now here’s my round-up for Sunday! I was unfortunately unable to get a ticket to the floor on Saturday, however I did get to go to the What’s Good Games Podcast meetup which was absolutely amazing. The women from the podcast are as genuine in person as they are on the podcast, and the community is welcoming and very friendly.

But enough about how awesome What’s Good Games is. Let’s talk about PAX East and video games!

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RE: New Zealand Terrorism

Please note I wrote most of this on Friday when everything was fresh. I took the weekend to take a breath before posting, but I still stand by all of it.

50 Muslim people are dead in Christchurch, New Zealand. A white supremacist terrorist walked into two mosques and used guns to kill innocent people.

He livestreamed the attack, using a camera mounted on his head so it looked like a first-person shooter.

He said “sub to PewdiePie” on his livestream before killing people.

He mentions video games and uses internet memes in his mainfesto.

It’s almost a foregone conclusion that at some point there will be a video games and violence narrative in relation to this terrorist attack.

So because I’m upset and angry and feeling helpless and useless, I’m going to do what I can and write about the internet culture that has produced radicalized white supremacists like the Christchurch terrorist(s).

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Some Podcast Recommendations!

The latest episode of the Make Me A Gamer podcast was delayed and won’t be coming out today. No problems with editing or anything like that this time – I was just really, really tired, and my brain was not functioning in a capacity conducive to audio editing. So the podcast will be delayed by a day, but should be out tomorrow!

In place of myself and Harvey Z’s wonderful podcast, here are a few other podcasts I listen to that amuse me and make me happy. A lot of these were the inspiration for my own podcast, so here’s me giving some suggestions for you to fill your time until the next episode of Make Me A Gamer comes out!

Make Me A Gamer – Okay, am I cheating putting my own podcast first? Sure, but just in case you got this far and somehow DIDN’T know – I host a weekly podcast with my friend HarveyZ where we talk about video games and all sorts of other random stuff that comes to mind! There may not be a new episode today, but there’s twenty-five old episodes plus some extra content just waiting for you to give them a listen!

The Dollop – A comedic American history podcast hosted by Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds. Dave tells a story from American history that Gareth knows nothing about. They’re often very funny and very enlightening from a historical perspective. The first podcast I ever listened to.

Waypoint Radio – Waypoint is a division of Vice that focuses on a more nuanced side of gaming, taking into account politics, culture, and emotions as well as if a game is fun to play. Their podcast is very entertaining and they talk about a wide variety of topics, not just limited to video games.

What’s Good Games – The three ladies behind this gaming podcast are amazing and relentlessly positive. They sum up weekly news in the gaming industry and talk about games they’ve played and were a huge inspiration for me to start Make Me a Gamer. I highly recommend listening to them as they (and their community) are wonderful people.

What a Time to Be Alive – This podcast is three comedians counting down five of the weirdest, funniest stories that happened in general news this week. They’re hilarious and often having me laughing out loud at work as I listen to their antics. I’ve never not been in a good mood after listening to them.

Sneak Attack! – A D&D podcast done by five regular ol’ friends and the other big inspiration for Make Me A Gamer. This link takes you to their new Volume 2, but they have the completed first campaign Volume 1 available as well. Even if you don’t know D&D, everyone on this podcast is hilarious and entertaining, and the overall story leads to some great moments.

372 Pages We’ll Never Get Back – If you want a little homework to do with your podcast listening, this is the podcast for you. Conor Lastowka and Mike Nelson from Rifftrax find a really, really bad book and each week they go through a section of it and take it apart with hilarious results. It started with Ready Player One but has moved on to some really, really awful tales, but it’s worth it if you can enjoy making fun of awful writing.

Humans Who Make Games – I just started listening to this, but this is a great series done by Adam Conover where he interviews game developers about the ins and outs of video game development. Fun and informative, just like Adam Ruins Everything!

Let’s Talk About SRPGs!

There are a lot of different types of RPGs when it comes to video games. You have your JRPGs, your WRPGs, your CRPGs, your ARPGs and your SRPGs, which can also be TRPGs. And these are just genres: this doesn’t take into account the favorite “with RPG elements” moniker that can be tacked onto any genre. (It’s a racing game with RPG elements! What does that even MEAN?!)

Today I’m going to talk about the SRPG (or TRPG) which is probably not only my favorite RPG genre, but my favorite game genre as well. Mostly because I’ve recently been playing two very good games related to the genre and want to talk about them and why these games make me happy!

This may be the first part in a multi-article series about each kind of RPG – I’m not sure yet. I definitely love all genres of RPG so it wouldn’t be hard for me to wrangle up opinions on all of them. But I make no concrete promises.

Anyway, let’s get started and learn about SRPGs!

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