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Posts by Void
Well, finished it yesterday evening. Surprisingly completely even, 100% main story (including the grindy-er second half), 100% collecting all the “moons” (with the interesting story items!!!), 100% of the spider-web puzzles with the female antagonist backstory, 100% of the forts and so on… I think i’ve still got a few of the challenges, but it’s a wonder even that I did so many given that i mostly ignore them in games… that being said, here’s my quick random thoughts:
– having had played and surprisingly enjoyed the prequel Shadow of Mordor I was a bit saddened to feel the game was more a Mordor 1.5 rather than a new game, or so it felt to me for a long time
+, +, +, +, + The orc simulation/generation/personalities is aaaamazing. Seriously, this is one of the most amazing mix of technology and artwork of our time. I just couldn’t get enough of them, and so sooo many times I would just stare in wonder. In fact they were so good just in that in this game alone I’ve seen tens of characters more memorable and interesting than whole main characters and principal antagonists of many other games. I just couldn’t believe my eyes just how expressive they were, what interesting props they had, how lifelike they felt in their expressions, and how there could be JUST SO MANY so very interesting and unique. Had there been one or two or five, but it was tens and tens of unique characters, each with interesting props, distinguishing silhouettes, all visually interesting and making an impression, and yet all “generated” on the fly for my enjoyment, as if whole divisions of character artists were working just on this just for my game. Aaaamazing! Many of them deserve to be stars of whole stories if not games, they’re THAT good.
– it’s a shame they actually took steps back in some fields from the prequel. For example the prequel had this very cool storytelling via the ps4 controller speaker, at each loadtime I was intrigued and i think more often during gameplay also, the effects on the sounds as well as the directionality made it into a wonderful surreal whisper experience. Another feature that I found was brilliant and unique before and for some reason they dropped it: when examining new objects you would search for a certain spot which would reveal the story, a small minigame forcing you to even better notice the great details on those special story objects.
+, +, – The world is big, and in fact there’s a lot of worlds, with variety from snow to volcanoes, to greenscapes and swamps and forst, all in the form of quite huge maps/locations with their own mood and secrets that you gradually learn. The minus to me is that as in the previous game they felt somewhat bland and generic in the models/textures of the buildings. Nice in the gameplay but visually i couldn’t describe to you much of what made one orc fortress special to another. This is compensated by the gameplay & great simulation, but still, i wouldn’t call the world a delight for the eyes, even if it’s nice to explore.
-, -, -, – corrupting impact of microtransactions to the game enjoyment. I want to clarify, i’m not against the costs, I’m all for the developers getting well paid for such masterpieces, I’m talking about the devious ways in which such decisions corrupt the gameplay and make it less enjoyable or introduce unneeded and undesired grinding an frustration, all of it intentionally with a purpose. Many examples of this come to mind, all of them of course with a speculative element (lacking a counterfactual timeline of our universe), here’s some that come to mind now:
-, -, -, -, +, – with the orc army being the best point of the game, and some of the best experiences being dynamic such as encountering one, maybe him killing you, meeting him later, then converting him, all of this creating a memory bond with him, while being associated to a location and a set of events. As well as a moving part of the whole simulation, it is such a shame that they break the whole simulation of the world by dislocating the orcs from space and time via the ability to “generate” them from loot boxes. This breaks the whole game “economy”, creating an artificial unlimited outside source that’s unrelated to your experience and your actions in the world
-, -, – I’ve spent many possibly even hours in the “store” section of the menu. Not only is that un-immersive to a fantasy universe, but it clearly was not done for player enjoyment. All the mechanics there, could’ve been a legitimate fun discovery/experimentation/gambling experience, if they were done offline just for your enjoyment, but instead it’s constantly syncing to the server (“validating purchases”, “waiting for response”, “confirming”… ), sometimes not working and locked, but even when it is, for every page view or opening anything there’s always a lot of back and forth, sending and waiting for server response, leading to a very unresponsive laggy experience with lots and lots of waiting and potential breakpoints. It’s like browsing the web in dial-up 90s, you get the page of orcs in the end… but there’s waiting and refreshing involved. This all could’ve been considered a legitimate design direction maybe … if it was done all offline just for you, but it’s for them, not for the customer.
-, – , – this monetization is in some ways a method of “pay to not play the game”, which is never a good sign. In a good game I should be happy to and beg them to give me the opportunity to pay more to experience more of the game, instead of pay more to experience less of it
– the game wasted a lot of my time through having to “destroy” randomized items. Like i’d get a lot of them which are useless, and it takes many seconds to destroy even one, and by the end i had many many tens of them, it was an even bigger chore to manage this than in other such games like Destiny. Also there’s a time wasting loop that goes like this (aggravated by all the serverside syncing): you have a lot of items, which you then sell, to get coins, it’s slow and takes time but now you have the coins. So what do you do with them? You could potentially get a weapon loot box… but 95% of the time you get another weapon which is worse than what you have, which you then sell, but you still have too much money… and so on so forth. If at least the game allowed to spend huge ammounts of the low-value currency to get something better, but that’s payed with a much more valuable commodity: your time.
+, -, + now before you think I’ve spent a ton of money on loot boxes, not so. In fact I played for a while not checking the license agreement checkbox of sending data and i didn’t play with them at all proud of my loophole, and then later when I did I never spent real money, just in-game currency. This is the plus side of the game, that you can obtain lots of (some of) it, that this was possible, and in fact that I could obtain just by having fun in the game a LOT of it… well, ate least the “silver” one. The premium one they offered just once at some point I didn’t realize… but then i never got it again even for major missions as I was expecting. So it’s cool that you get to play with the loot boxes and get lots of orcs just like that, without paying extra, but then again it makes the game feel “incomplete” with >50% of the items there that i never touched because I didn’t want to spend more money on the game. This kind of “a game you bought gives you an incomplete/negative feeling” is one of the reasons I think these monetizations screw up the customer experiences and could result in a buyer backlash when compared to a past where everything in the game was yours and you could make the game fully yours just by taking the time to explore it, while now you pay for it but then get a feeling of intentionally built-in dissatisfaction from it.
– something that can give one an indication of the bad choices and the incentives built in is that there’s actually a store eitem costing 100$ which doesn’t have the game, nor dlc or content… it just has 12000 ingame currency. And of course you could buy it repeatedly… while the simple fact that it exists tells a lot of story to those prone to thinking of incentives and aware that in fact humans do respond to incentives…
+ the way in which (in-game currency) loot boxes could’ve made a somehow passable design choice (even if less immersive) was in the later game if you think of it as a game mechanic to save you time and give you even more options, to see many orcs. Thus I multiple times just “flooded” a territory with “generated” orcs, and that in itself was initially interesting, while leading to me not playing the game which, again, i find speaks of bad design when inviting to such an extent. I did it partly to do a proof of concept point testing, that even if they limited this for me leaving only the premium currency it would still be a game breaker. This option will likely exist in a future where payed content becomes ubiquitous and it by necessity introduces a game breaking outside source.
+, – the main story campaign was so so. Good enough not to complain, not spectacular or worth remembering. I wish instead they would’ve put that story content into the orcs, giving them more dialogue lines, more custom experiences and quests. As it is the two components of the game actually fought against eachother like two separate games sometimes. This was made worse by:
– , – , – artificial barriers. Unlike I hear many reviewers I actually really enjoyed “playing with my orcs”, i was mind blown by the arenas, and had a lot of fun developing them, picking favorites and trying to help some of them survive through the trials. However it was a shame that the game actually went to lengths to prevent me from reaping rewards from this: I was constantly hampered with the orcs by a level cap for them forcing me to play more of the story missions I didn’t enjoy so much, and during the story suddenly all my achievements with the orcs, from calling one to making use of the army to easier pass a frustrating mission, I kept being locked away from that as if I didn’t do that. Particularly annoying to me was one main mission when in one of the typical worst practices of such open world games they locked me in a room with a boss, which was spawning infinite enemies and regenerating and i struggled a lot, all the while knowing I had built an orc army which would’ve helped a lot. And if this were to happen just once, but it happens many maaany times over. I really find it a horrible design decision (and did so from way back on the old Fallout 2/Baldur’s gate 2 times) when a game which gave you choices in character building or an open world with options and you’ve developed strategies and a certain playstyle you enjoy while relying on it, but then a game decides “to be cinematic” and takes everything way from you to force you to live it’s maker’s very particular limited view of how it should be played there.
+, – i think i saw something like 173h of play on a counter, now on one side this reflects how much fun i had with the game, particularly the fascinating arenas, but also that a huge part of the engame i just had orcs playing against eachother, just so they level up, and also it turns out to be a great source of coin, of which huge quantities are needed for the grindy 2nd half. I enjoyed the parts I did voluntarily from the start of the game ignoring the story whenever I could, but the way they set it up what happened later is that I would just leave the PlayStation on for long periods of time coming back to it occasionally to start a new orc fight and going back away. This management element could’ve been a fun android game, and for me personally it was even enjoyable, HOWEVER, I believe due to the corrupting choice of monetization this is not geared towards customer satisfaction as much as to an intentional frustration buildup to encourage you to buy more. It happened to not have worked on me as I enjoyed it BUT i think this is a bad decision overall and worthy of lower reviews and I’m not surprised hearing a lot of customers just stopped playing after a while. If they had more audio storytelling/in between the different attacks, and with the orcs themselves, that would’ve been another story.
+, – the soundtrack i found like the environments, passable but not memorable and feeling somewhat generic and hard to notice. Except the music that starts when riding a Caragor which got me engaged every single time.
-, + the “challenges” i normally ignore even in games i love such as Dying Light, however I actually played a few of them simply because they are providing small insights at least into the mood of Celebrimbor, the to me more interesting side of the main character.
– the other secondary characters felt very bland and boring
+, + extra points to the game for doing an edgy subject matter (if you strip away the Tolkien skin it hides under), a bit of insight as what could’ve lead to this is done quite beautifully in the nice tribute done to a person (who i presumed died?) at the end of the game, as well as how they get you to care about him via the mysterious helper who saved me more than once out of hopeless spots
Overall I’d say this game was a mixed bag. I personally believe if they didn’t have the design corruptions mandated by microtransactions this game would’ve been worthy even of a 3 on a -5 to 5 scale, particularly for somebody who didn’t play the prequel, however given all the bad customer experiences they chose i couldn’t give it more than 1.5. I enjoyed my time with it, but as it is I find it hard to call it GREAT game as that rating would imply, being a mixed bag of amazing brilliance and wow moments and so-so agravated by bad customer treatment. Again, I want to emphasize, unlike many who complain about microtransactions I’m not against developer monetization, neither do I expect the devs to work for free and great things, I just think this is a sneaky inflationary and somewhat deceitful practice of selling you an “incomplete by design” product and that hurts it. Ff this game would’ve cost double but didn’t have their domino effect of bad choices and instead the resources had been use to do the right things giving a good customer experience I believe I would’ve appreciated it despite the price, but as it is it’s like having a great cake with some rotten parts thrown in intentionally into half of the mix to get you to buy another cake. It’s weird and i think bad business practice alienating customers. Also i should mention i’m not even against “randomized boxes” as much as one might think, i think these could have a valid place in game design, to express statistical probabilities, gambling discovery or as a different type of gameplay… BUT it has to be done for user enjoyment, not the opposite: for his disenjoyment that he may pay to avoid the displeasure.
PS: i think they had a bad (again probably biz/management driven ) title, Mordor 2 would’ve been much shorter and catchier, this title is hard to abbreviate, and i think every company should care about how easy it is to talk about their product
PS2: if you actually read all of the above, I am humbled and honored, thank you for taking the time. It came out much longer than I anticipated… I guess the game took long enough that it spawned a lot of thinking about it.
I found it interesting what he looked at and an interesting perspective on things. For me it was however the only one of them I don’t think I finished… though I remember playing it, so maybe I did… but I guess to me the remained a bland one that I didn’t remember and didn’t like the art style or the general “mood” of things… though I can’t explain more even to myself. Getting back to the video though I find it very interesting the idea that the game streamlined the platforming and I can imagine why some people would love it exactly for this reason, while others might miss the feeling of they themselves taking the decisions and even the occasional puzzlement. I’d be curious how Mario players feel about the mobile endless runner Mario as in some ways this would be similar maybe?
This one to me was interesting, more so than the bland world of the first in the trilogy, with the character’s emo rock tendencies… well, I found them a curiosity. Didn’t bother but also didn’t delight as it wasn’t subtle enough for my tastes.
This one was to me and remains the best in the series. If the previous felt like a rebellious teenager pushing everything in your face this one felt like it had matured, with character but with the subtle confidence of somebody who’s been there done that and now is a grownup. But what really blew me away more than anything was the amazing art work. All through the game I could feel the strong concept art of Bruno “Hydropix’ Gentile and many of the places felt not just incredibly original but interesting and having almost a painting quality. But to me it also hooks back into what the first video was talking about, the fluidity: granted it may not be as trivial to navigate as the 2008 version, BUT I did eventually got into the flow, and like with learning how to fly the wingsuit in Just Cause 3 once that happened the satisfaction was even deeper because of the overcome difficulties. The most cathartic moments I remember was after my brain had gotten into a special analysis mode that would surprise myself too, when simply looking at a big room/path I would instantly “get” the path and having had imagined it I could pull it off, and sometimes i was so much into this instinct-reflex mode that my conscious mind would get surprised and even delighted at seeing at the mind-finger speed and being amazed at even solving new and surprising things on the fly. As far as I can remember so many years ago this kind of no-brain-just-instant-reactions was for me on a depth maybe even comparable to the times I was playing Quake 3 arena for hours on end just for that “too fast to think total immersion” feeling.
Before I end I wanted to mention this one. People have bashed it a lot, and so I ignored it and when I got it for free on PS+ i didn’t expect much. I was surprised. Sure enough i was not by far so impressed by the artwork/story/content/atmosphere as Two Thrones, HOWEVER, i was surprised just how decent/good it was. And even more so about how well the gameplay was tuned into a series of incrementally building platforming sections, which at times actually got hard and challenging all while feeling part of a cohesive gameplay whole. This game to me felt to me like a set of great and oiled cogs in a machine: maybe not a masterpiece, but I was impressed and inspired to respect at the refinement and quality of them all and how it all worked together so cohesively. And just a very good “flow” overall inviting “just a little bit more” as it came so naturally and… fluidly.
Some interesting commentary. Not all of it I agree with and some is of the typical “ask for higher budget” type, but others are I thought quite insightful.
Fascinating deep existential discussion on the lore of this surprisingly deep game hiding in the shell of a challenging action exploration experience.
PS: in case you don’t know it and are curious you may get more insight points about the world from this great video by Vaatividya
Thank you SebastianKErben for the gameSketch proposal! Looking forward to a game review by you ;)Usual rules: 3 tries per person. Winner gets to propose a gameSketch. x5 multiplier for first timers. Newcomers: you may ask for 3 freebies even if you didn’t yet guess anything. Outstanding credits: Jason Clark 10, Jaco x101, Marius, SebastianKErben x17, Firefish x34, Radu x45, , 47Crows x19, Ange, PettyX90 x7, Pori x2, Tarpo x5, player347 x9, Diana x6, VideoGamesAsArt x2 , thegazer x9, BiaHawks x7, rsocu x5, Teofil S. Awaiting scenes from you guys.
Yep, i’ve been doing a LOT of this, (many hours already at the point of this recording, so sorry for the lack of enough Uruk presentation), and not because i have to… just because it’s fun. First and foremost i’m incredibly INCREEEDIBLY impressed with the tech+artistry in making them. I just can’t believe how unique a lot of them are. Like seriously… I’ve seen a lot of concept art and actual in-game characters that are less memorable than these randomized orcs. So much expression, interesting props and just plain style on some of them… it feels like a lot of them would be fit to be a main character or main antagonist in their own games. And then on top of that you can put them in the arena. Not only is it interesting and surprising to watch betting on the winner or rooting for one, but I’ve created a meta-game for myself picking some favorites which I like based on their visual identity and try to pick “rig” fights based on their strengths and weaknesses to get them to the higher tiers. Not only is it interesting but also it provides for great custom drama as either I succeed or one that I didn’t like, surprisingly underleveled comes in out of nowhere and beats one of my champions. Fascinating!
You add to that the fact that some of them may come with a personalized back story and some have their own dialogue lines that they said to you upon first encountering them in the world or a particular memorable moment where they fought you/multiple times/had to work for them/or even saved you surprisingly and you end up with a surprisingly memorable cast, which I then actually felt motivated to sometimes use on them the very rare training or beasts/warrior support to make a particular favorite or another into a fighter with a higher chance of surviving. Oh, and also: the visual interest of their props and expressions is amazingly complemented by the great variety in their specific attributes and traits leading to interesting surprises in their gameplay to complement their looks.
I remember for example a character i didn’t think of based on weapon and powers and weaknesses, but then had this very aggressive style of attacking combined with some quick stunning explosions that got him to win a lot of battles though i had considered him weak and replaced one of my champions even though i had given him a much better cursed weapons with flies (or was it fire/poison?). Or the fact that over time i had concluded that the big bulky beasts are way advantaged and archers suck even when of the same level compared to non beasts, and then this particular archer had a funny combination of skills and weaknesses of shooting fast, stunning and acrobatically rolling which made him into a surprising exception.
PS: maaan, some look soooooooo interesting!
Yep, this is how i play games… don’t laugh. Yes, i am like that excited asian tourist with a big camera stopping every couple of steps to take a photo. And yes, i am advancing slowly through games… but you know what? I’m having a lot of fun seeing these amazing worlds. And how often does one get the chance to visit not just Egypt, but ancient Egypt?
PS: yes, this is Assassin’s Creed: Origins, haven’t had such a great visual treat since my visit to to 1789 France in AC Unity (maybe not quite that level though) and parts of the Witcher 3 expansion which also looked very good at times… but from what i’ve seen so far not quite on this level. And the BIG surprise of the experience is that it actually offers somewhat of a similar experience in interacting with the world through a mixture of little stories and exploration.
Wow, what a journey through time! I can’t believe even I didn’t live the first ones. Also makes me wonder when we’ll start to see the slowdown in game-tech so we’ll be more like movies with the difference being more in content than visuals, as I was expecting to see a huge slowdown in the last ones but the leaps were IMHO still big.
It’s quite interesting to see the player outrage over this one piling up on the recent outrage on the whole turning stuff into “games as service” such as EA shutting down Viscereal Games, the makers of Dead Space, after there too also slowly transforming the IP from a cool experience into a micro-transaction shop. Here’s an even more upset commentator on the subject
What i find ironically funny and a little tragic about it is that we see here both motivated improvements of experiences for the players as well as the less desirable shifting of incentives and even a touch of the kinds of behaviors usually reserved to states in finding new and inventive ways of milking their tax people. And like with them I’d predict they’ll get through with it despite the outrage, but like with them I expect they’ll discover a lot of the unintended side effects of central planning, ways it will backfire and like there there’s gonna be a lot of “patching of loopholes” which might fix some things but might break even more things, or more likely not break but rather tie everything down in a net of hard to follow twisted cause and effects.
In the meanwhile i’ll try to further hide behind my singleplayer hat. Will there still be space in this brave new world for singleplayer stories without catches? The Visceral Games experience with the killing of a singleplayer star wars story game suggests less. But maybe new studios will spring up to fill this desire of the audience as the old ones shift towards the bigger money… because as long as people will be willing to pay for these micro-transactions, well… they’ll be around. What that patent does (as far as I understand it) would indeed increase the pleasure of the experience of the purchasers. Which again makes me think that this whole thing is simply a way to raise the prices, because to those willing to pay more (pre-orders, micro-transactions, late buyers of bundles) the overall experience might actually get improved in the manipulative way in which games have always done, by design aiming to create artificial worlds to give a feeling of achievement by buying the products. And I don’t mean this part as a bad thing… that’s why we buy/enjoy them. Then maybe the question is just one of price… and here, with some knowledge about economics and world history, I have to wonder how much of this increase in price is the normal and expected desire of the game makers to make more, and how much is their attempt to get the same even as the different governments burden them with new taxes and regulations and possibly in the meanwhile dilute the value of “the same ammount of money”. In this second case this could mean they’re simply trying to preserve a similar purchasing power as they used to have, but they’re indirectly forced by those in power to do it in such sneaky ways. This would fit very well with inflationary universal experiences across countries and history of the general bad-will of everybody condemning everybody else and hating/being suspicious of the others as the binding trust of societies is slowly eroded with the erosion of the value of their currencies/freedoms. In this case it would be no different with micro-transactions than the classic “bag of chips got shrunk with price staying the same, or bag of chips stayed the same time, but customers realize that a) it’s got more air to product b) it’s using lower quality ingredients”, like the shift from steak to hamburger meat inflation measurers have been switching to. Should this be the case i’d expect more and more of such stories, more and more popular outrage even as this shift keeps going on due to bigger forces.
-, – the world & level design feels not like you exploring a credible well thought out world with a history but rather like a tightly scripted corridor of fun, feeling very much like a “2d platformer” if I may make the extrapolation. To those who like such games this might be a plus, to me it was somewhat immersion breaking to see bits of walls on cranes sitting exactly where you need them to proceed given your very specific movement type. A few times through the game i would’ve found it acceptable, but though the whole game it felt very “convenient” in a slightly artificial way, even if it had the occasional cool moment
+ within that mechanic though there was a section where I almost felt like I shouldn’t judge it as a FPS being empty and bland but rather like a Portal game with more content than just puzzle rooms… not that it was anywhere near the intelectual/world perception shifting that that game was. Plus there was a bit of a nice joke to see a visual assembly of a house/street.
+, -, +, – They said this would be a short game, well, not for me (+): it took me ages to finish, but unfortunately often because i’d lose interest every once in a while
+,+ Started out very interestingly, with a mixture of nature and technology. Also it has moments when it looks fantastic, slightly bland geometry & texturing, but good use of lights & fog as well as size.
+ technically the graphics looked good, good lighting and cool rendering, felt like good framerate
– but artistically i felt it quite bland, blocky world design, boxes everywhere,
-, -, + I personally disliked the in-titan section, but then again for a mech game it was fantastic, probably the best I’ve seen: the movement felt still smooth, almost like a FPS and the interface was pretty cool looking, with some fantastic touches such as parts of the “screen” turning on gradually as you get in
-, -, – an abundance of old game style bland industrial environments, like pipes and sewers and tunnels which are essentially big straight walls/corridors. In this it reminded me of some games I was playing in the 2000-2005 period, as i was playing each and every fps but, like this, they were too bland to remember past playing them
+, +, – the wall running mechanic felt mixed. It would’ve been very very cool, and technically it definitely was, along with the overall “speed” feeling of the game, but the world wasn’t open enough to take advantage of it so it resulted in an environment that was specifically crafted in a linear way to use it’s tricks in ways that felt predictable and forced, sometimes for the ordinary, sometimes for multiple trial & error deaths to figure out what you were supposed to do (as opposed to had the opportunity to do)
+, +, -, + however in the end game it felt fantastic when it was combined with another even cooler mechanic, of dual timelines/overlapping spaces. I might even go as far as to say that in it’s implementation this was even superior to the experience in Dishonored 2. Not due to artwork, no, definitely NOT, here the game fell embarrassingly lame, with a huge section where it felt like the devs just placed placeholder boxes and environmental walls that they used to proof test the gameplay but never got around to actually replacing them with actual interesting art assets, whereas Dishonored 2 in the dual-timeline level had stellar artistic content. BUT where this was better however was the feeling of running through it, the possibility to skip whole sections by jumping back and forth in time while advancing and dynamic fights making use of it. That felt nice.
+ the music felt professional but (to me) also in that bland kind of way, even while checking the AAA game/movie checkboxes of quality
+, +, + there’s some great looking cinematic moments, as well as great scripted scenes, even a wonderful time-stop scene which is delightful to explore and still looks great
-, -, – rather silly antagonists, along with a, to me, somewhat silly to me feeling premise of the humanoid mechs, the relationship with them as well as the whole romanticization of the military structure
+, – the game/story does manage to pull finely on a couple of emotional strings, such as the partnership with the titan, while at the same time doing to me too much of the “oh, i’m an AI so i don’t get jokes but being human is the beeest” that scifi stories of this type do.
+ there were a few moments where I almost felt they were about to start some nice scifi fiction narative on a future humanity… but then they dropped it.
Overall I’d give this game a 1 on a -5 to 5 scale: I’m disappointed in the level of it’s artwork content even as I was impressed in the technical polish of the game. And while I might complain about the mediocre universe and levels I can see why more gameplay oriented people appreciate this game (in a parallel way to to Doom 2016?), especially if one considers that this, to me not as great campaign, is in fact a big huge bonus for people who otherwise would’ve gotten a multiplayer only game, multiplayer which in general I don’t really play more than a few minutes for a peek (seemed decent with fresh ideas) so I don’t count it here. So overall, for me, this is a passable AAA game, albeit a forgettable one.
Funny video with (to me) a more serious discussion behind it.
While I disagree on the use of the term “graphics” I fundamentally agree with the implicit point, which is also the reason behind Artsygamer.com’s starting out. I don’t think it’s about graphics though, but I do think it’s about “content”. Sure, gameplay can be viewed as content too, but I’m talking more about the more traditional forms of content like story/music/mood/architecture/environments/set design…
It is interesting and exciting though to see modern games presenting things in such an easy way that everybody can get it at a glance, but even if one went back to old games, say you went back to text mode games, so there’s no “graphics” at all, I think even back then one could make this separation: I’ve played text adventure games written by the great funny scifi writer Douglas Adams himself… and I’d call that content that can move people in a deep way, and content that somebody coming from a traditional “reading books” world can get, as opposed to games of that same era that were about reflexes, bouncing dots, moving/fitting shapes and reacting which I don’t see as being able to play in the same field. Not saying they’re not fun, or can’t also trigger attachment, I just see a fundamental difference between these two and by far value one over the other even on a theoretical level.