What game are you playing?

LostTheTone

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I replay them every couple of years on average. I'm shocked every time by how well they stand up still, and how good the atmosphere is.

Well, other than the ill advised zombie killing levels 🤣

You're right though, Thief is still a classic today. I do really wish that they had done a proper, faithful reboot with modern tech because there are rough edges but that doesn't stop that deep warm and fuzzy sensation that you get from sneaking around.
 

TedEH

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You're right though, Thief is still a classic today. I do really wish that they had done a proper, faithful reboot with modern tech because there are rough edges but that doesn't stop that deep warm and fuzzy sensation that you get from sneaking around.
As someone for whom video game audio is part of how I make my living, it saddens me that the modern Thief games threw out the sound-as-spacial-awareness concept that IMO was key to what made the first two games work.
 

LostTheTone

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As someone for whom video game audio is part of how I make my living, it saddens me that the modern Thief games threw out the sound-as-spacial-awareness concept that IMO was key to what made the first two games work.

It saddens me as a gamer, honestly.

IIRC the whole reason that Thief came to be was because of developers showing off some of the special tricks their new Dark Engine could do - The two huge advances were how sound could (somewhat) realistically spread through the level, and the AI was able to react in different ways to different sounds. Just building demos to show how it works was enough to make them see this was something really special and compelling.

It's just so intuitive but also so compelling and creates really amazing tension. The fact that you can sense where things are without the need for some artificial mechanic amazing, doubly so when you can't see the source.

Most importantly, using sound like this makes you feel that you are never truly safe. You always have to keep your ears pricked up, and hearing footsteps where you didn't expect them can really make your heart race. It is a special game that can make you feel constantly vulnerable but also very smart and capable.
 

TedEH

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Those titles honestly did a lot of things right:
- The spacial sound thing (works even better if you have the EAX or whatever driver and some headphones)
- Proper AI instead of just rushing you (it's probably still just basic state machines by todays standards, but it's still key)
- I think the AI "barks" to notify you (again with sound) of character states, I think was also novel at the time
- Intentionally unreliable maps + note taking that made exploration and mental models of places a part of the experience
- Deliberately underpowering the player to force you to use other tactics than combat (note how Doom Eternal has looped us back to forcing us to play certain ways by killing the player if they don't)
- Lots of circular paths leading in and out of rooms, giving you that early immersive-sim type progression where you choose how to traverse a space
- Rope arrows were brilliant.
- They understood that exploration can / should yield rewards.
- World building through incidental dialogue was fantastic.
- Relatively small amount of UI / HUD

These ideas weren't standard at the time. They knew what they were doing, IMO.
 

LostTheTone

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Those titles honestly did a lot of things right:
- The spacial sound thing (works even better if you have the EAX or whatever driver and some headphones)
- Proper AI instead of just rushing you (it's probably still just basic state machines by todays standards, but it's still key)
- I think the AI "barks" to notify you (again with sound) of character states, I think was also novel at the time
- Intentionally unreliable maps + note taking that made exploration and mental models of places a part of the experience
- Deliberately underpowering the player to force you to use other tactics than combat (note how Doom Eternal has looped us back to forcing us to play certain ways by killing the player if they don't)
- Lots of circular paths leading in and out of rooms, giving you that early immersive-sim type progression where you choose how to traverse a space
- Rope arrows were brilliant.
- They understood that exploration can / should yield rewards.
- World building through incidental dialogue was fantastic.
- Relatively small amount of UI / HUD

These ideas weren't standard at the time. They knew what they were doing, IMO.

Those things aren't even standard today!

I think that the combination of a non-combat core mechanic (stealth), exploration, real feeling level design and incidental world building are the key features of truly exceptional games, and they all tie together through one single concept; verisimilitude.

Games that do these things feel like a real place.

The ability to solve problems without just killing everything lets us much more easily connect with the character. And Thief creates very sympathetic situations; if you are going to fight you either do it in a very planned way because you don't have a choice, or you are going to flail and panic and flee. Creating environments which at least feel like they make logical sense as a building, rather than a game level, means that your own real world intuition still works. You know where people store stuff and hide things. The exploration pays off your curiosity, and because this is a real(ish) place it is full of real things for ambient story telling. You always feel like you understand how these games work, without anyone having to tell you.

Of course, it's easy to say this stuff. It is incredibly difficult to actually design a game that does these things. But, even when you have games that try to do this and aren't quite instant classics, they are still way more interesting games than the normal sludge of the AAA industry.

Prey is... Not an all time classic game. It has problems. But fuck me, at least it tried. And I genuinely enjoyed my time playing it. There were some of those same feelings of being alone and hearing weird alien noises and just being scared. That first level which starts off as tutorial but transitions into survival horror and also tells you lots about the overall narrative is maybe a tiny bit too cute for its own good, but if I had written that I would be pretty smug too. And it had ambition and aesthetics and felt like a real place. The meta-narrative is eventually what hurt it, which is a shame, because it was trying something new.

Its kinda telling that even 20 years after Thief, there are only a handful of games that have recreated it's magic.
 

TedEH

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Its kinda telling that even 20 years after Thief, there are only a handful of games that have recreated it's magic.
And by a team with ties back to the people who made Thief in the first place, as I understand it. :)

verisimilitude
I'm glad you picked this word over "realism". I know there's a lot of game design philosophies that aim for some degree of either verisimilitude or realism, but it's a tough nut to crack. I've heard lots of arguments for game systems that "work" because they don't target realism in any way - they target either accessibility or risk/reward feedback loops, or some other aesthetic quality.

I guess - if I go into thinking-out-loud-mode - there's a difference between an aesthetic verisimilitude and a mechanical verisimilitude. The latter being what immersive sims do really well: cohesion and consistency of the mechanical components/systems that make up a game, so that you can put whatever aesthetic or narrative you want on it, without breaking the "realness" of the space.
 

LostTheTone

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I'm glad you picked this word over "realism". I know there's a lot of game design philosophies that aim for some degree of either verisimilitude or realism, but it's a tough nut to crack. I've heard lots of arguments for game systems that "work" because they don't target realism in any way - they target either accessibility or risk/reward feedback loops, or some other aesthetic quality.

I guess - if I go into thinking-out-loud-mode - there's a difference between an aesthetic verisimilitude and a mechanical verisimilitude. The latter being what immersive sims do really well: cohesion and consistency of the mechanical components/systems that make up a game, so that you can put whatever aesthetic or narrative you want on it, without breaking the "realness" of the space.

IMHO realism isn't a helpful word for video games, at least outside of the hyper-real sims (trains, planes, whatever) where all games are works of fiction and we are clearly aware that they are works of fiction.

What we are really talking about is a mix of that internal mechanical consistency with design choices that feel like they occurred naturally - You could say "things that continue the illusion in an thoughtful and credible way". It's all about making all the various elements feel like they reasonably exist in the same world together. The player will suspend disbelief, as long as the game reinforces it and rewards them for thinking about problems in the games own terms. And that means presenting things that feel just real enough that we scan over them, rather than actually being realistic.

Those systems all still need to have proper risk/reward and feedback though. You need to present players with choices that aren't just obviously better or worse. But you need all of that calculus hidden away with the player just presented with "Choice?" without even necessarily telling them what all the options are.

That's what creates the sort of meta-realness within immersive sims - The sense that turning around and walking the other way is still a valid option. There's nothing in the game's world which would stop you doing that, so that is open to you if you think to do it. You have to solve the problem, not get to the end, and the choices you make will impact things later on. That's a quality of the real world which can be brought in without having to make every aspect work like the real life counterpart. And of course that transcends setting and context so it can go into any genre or timeframe.
 

WarMachine

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Debating on picking up either Dying Light 2 or FFXV. They are both on sale, i can get FF for 19 bucks. I loved Dying Light, but i've read tons of mixed reviews on the new one. Anyone here played it? Would it be worth getting for 47 bucks or what for it to drop more?
 

wheresthefbomb

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D&D 5e session 3 - We are playing Out of the Abyss. I've never done a 1-20 campaign before so I'm pretty stoked. Even if it doesn't go that far it has been a lot of fun already. Spoilers ahead...

We had an intense battle with some hags on a lake that almost killed two of us because we refused to let them add our sentient mushroom friend to their soup. After that, we got involved in a kuo-toa religious dispute and enjoyed a front row seat as prospective sacrifices to the "deep father" who turned out to be the demogorgon going godzilla on the kuo-toa city. After a bizarre lovecraftian scene of exploding fish heads and cannibalism, we made our madness saving throws, gathered our party, and ran as fast as our little level 3 legs would carry us. I failed my first madness save today, if we fail three total we gain permanent madness so that should be fun.

We ended there, gaining level 4 for our troubles. I'll likely be taking my first Arcane Trickster level, but more Wizard levels after that so I can scribe and cast the L2 scrolls I'm slowly stockpiling. Long term I'll be shooting for Bladesinger 5 by 12th level to unlock level 3 scribing and Counterspell, not to mention all the cool utilities and rituals along the way.

Also, our Dwarven Hexblade rescued a Hooked Horror egg in an earlier session. It was born, and imprinted onto him which has resulted in numerous amusing and hilarious situations.
 

Werecow

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D&D 5e session 3 - We are playing Out of the Abyss. I've never done a 1-20 campaign before so I'm pretty stoked. Even if it doesn't go that far it has been a lot of fun already. Spoilers ahead...

We had an intense battle with some hags on a lake that almost killed two of us because we refused to let them add our sentient mushroom friend to their soup. After that, we got involved in a kuo-toa religious dispute and enjoyed a front row seat as prospective sacrifices to the "deep father" who turned out to be the demogorgon going godzilla on the kuo-toa city. After a bizarre lovecraftian scene of exploding fish heads and cannibalism, we made our madness saving throws, gathered our party, and ran as fast as our little level 3 legs would carry us. I failed my first madness save today, if we fail three total we gain permanent madness so that should be fun.

We ended there, gaining level 4 for our troubles. I'll likely be taking my first Arcane Trickster level, but more Wizard levels after that so I can scribe and cast the L2 scrolls I'm slowly stockpiling. Long term I'll be shooting for Bladesinger 5 by 12th level to unlock level 3 scribing and Counterspell, not to mention all the cool utilities and rituals along the way.

Also, our Dwarven Hexblade rescued a Hooked Horror egg in an earlier session. It was born, and imprinted onto him which has resulted in numerous amusing and hilarious situations.
I've never played D&D in person, but "because we refused to let them add our sentient mushroom friend to their soup" sounds amazing :lol:
 

Empryrean

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After playing a laughable amount of Elden ring I finally dropped into some Guilty Gear Strive to see if maybe I can appreciate it now and I gotta say. I hate everything about current gen fighting games even more now. :lol:
 

wankerness

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I bought Ys IX and Kero Blaster.

And then started another Elden Ring character :( I need to start Ys IX and make myself finish it.

Still haven't gone back to Horizon, cause screw Machine Strike. Though maybe I can just find a higher level opponent and fight them without having to go through all the tutorial garbage.

I've gotten urges to play Jedi Knight, Jedi Knight 2, and the previous Tomb Raider Trilogy (Anniversary, Legend, Underworld). But I'd have to do that on PC! There's a console port of Jedi Knight 2 but it sounds pretty awful. I played that game a lot way back in the day, but that was when I could stand doing Mouse/keyboard. Dunno if the PC version has some mods that make controllers work OK on it - the console versions definitely don't. I haven't played those Tomb Raider games, but supposedly they're pretty good. I never really liked Tomb Raider 2 or 3 back in the day, but I really liked the "reboot" trilogy starting in 2013.
 

BlackMastodon

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I bought Ys IX and Kero Blaster.

And then started another Elden Ring character :( I need to start Ys IX and make myself finish it.

Still haven't gone back to Horizon, cause screw Machine Strike. Though maybe I can just find a higher level opponent and fight them without having to go through all the tutorial garbage.

I've gotten urges to play Jedi Knight, Jedi Knight 2, and the previous Tomb Raider Trilogy (Anniversary, Legend, Underworld). But I'd have to do that on PC! There's a console port of Jedi Knight 2 but it sounds pretty awful. I played that game a lot way back in the day, but that was when I could stand doing Mouse/keyboard. Dunno if the PC version has some mods that make controllers work OK on it - the console versions definitely don't. I haven't played those Tomb Raider games, but supposedly they're pretty good. I never really liked Tomb Raider 2 or 3 back in the day, but I really liked the "reboot" trilogy starting in 2013.
Tomb Raider Anniversary, Legend, and Underworld were all fun. I remember I got them along with all the other TR games including the 2013 reboot a while back in a Steam sale for a ridiculous price and started with those. I have no interest in playing the older ones because of their outdated gameplay, but these ones were modern and fun enough to play. Not going for realism like the reboot trilogy but I enjoyed the sometimes ridiculous over-the-topness of them. I remember liking Legend the most out of them, Underworld had some not-always-responsive climbing mechanics which resulted in a lot of bullshit deaths, which sucks for a TR game.
 

KnightBrolaire

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Apparently Slipknot is in cahoots with Smite and they're playable in the game, which is hilarious to me. Never did I think I'd see a MOBA/slipknot collaboration
 

BlackMastodon

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Apparently Slipknot is in cahoots with Smite and they're playable in the game, which is hilarious to me. Never did I think I'd see a MOBA/slipknot collaboration
Never would've expected that either. I wonder if they're just gonna be skins for existing characters or if they'll make new ones for them which implies that they are metal gods? Still not Kiss levels of marketing at least.
 

KnightBrolaire

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Never would've expected that either. I wonder if they're just gonna be skins for existing characters or if they'll make new ones for them which implies that they are metal gods? Still not Kiss levels of marketing at least.
idk the metalsucks article said that all 9 of them are playable, so i'm guessing skins
 

rokket2005

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I got my Steam Deck yesterday and despite Steam saying Trails in the Sky isn't verified for it I booted it up it worked and I was immediately nostalgic for it even though I just played it like a year ago. It'll be such a good lay in bed and play kind of game.
 

Mathemagician

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D&D 5e session 3 - We are playing Out of the Abyss. I've never done a 1-20 campaign before so I'm pretty stoked. Even if it doesn't go that far it has been a lot of fun already. Spoilers ahead...

We had an intense battle with some hags on a lake that almost killed two of us because we refused to let them add our sentient mushroom friend to their soup. After that, we got involved in a kuo-toa religious dispute and enjoyed a front row seat as prospective sacrifices to the "deep father" who turned out to be the demogorgon going godzilla on the kuo-toa city. After a bizarre lovecraftian scene of exploding fish heads and cannibalism, we made our madness saving throws, gathered our party, and ran as fast as our little level 3 legs would carry us. I failed my first madness save today, if we fail three total we gain permanent madness so that should be fun.

We ended there, gaining level 4 for our troubles. I'll likely be taking my first Arcane Trickster level, but more Wizard levels after that so I can scribe and cast the L2 scrolls I'm slowly stockpiling. Long term I'll be shooting for Bladesinger 5 by 12th level to unlock level 3 scribing and Counterspell, not to mention all the cool utilities and rituals along the way.

Also, our Dwarven Hexblade rescued a Hooked Horror egg in an earlier session. It was born, and imprinted onto him which has resulted in numerous amusing and hilarious situations.

Awwwww maaaaan, I wanna do this.

Never would've expected that either. I wonder if they're just gonna be skins for existing characters or if they'll make new ones for them which implies that they are metal gods? Still not Kiss levels of marketing at least.

I mean there’s enough members for Slipknot to have its own pantheon. Haven’t played in years but I bought the all gods pack on PSN so I’ll have to check this out.
 

Jarmake

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I had a bit over a week long break from ds3, but last night I killed Aldrich, devourer of Gods. Then today I killed Dancer of Boreal Valley on second try, downed the Lothric Wyverns and spanked down the Dragonslayer Armor on one try. Next up is the grand archives... 6 bosses to go.
 


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