It was some time ago that I claimed Axiom Verge to be Metroid 5. It wasn’t until this weekend that my brain finally accepted it as a new ‘home’. It’s something that happened before with Super Metroid and Zero Mission especially. I played these games so many times, that they became cosy and friendly places to dwell in.
It has taken a suspiciously long time before anyone attempted to emulate the success of Demon’s Souls and its offspring the Dark Souls series. Only two years ago did Lords of the Fallen take a somewhat random stab at it (and died). From Software’s own Bloodborne was so similar that it spontaneously generated the “Soulsborne” genre name and wasn’t even regarded as a competitor. Maybe it’s simply too difficult a task to fill From’s shoes. Would be kind of poetic, wouldn’t it?
Luck, RNG (“random number generator”), or chance is now an incredible force within games. As a child, chance is fascinating and somehow rolling dice seems to still convey control. Games like Ludo and Game of the Goose lose their shine as children become more experience and discover the true amount of control in rolling dice.
Of course, in video games the equivalent of dice rolling is done behind the scenes and things become a lot more stressful. Somehow not being able to throw the dice yourself makes humans incredibly suspicious of the process, often crying wolf without reason:
“When I was working on online games, it was nearly impossible to convince certain players that the results weren’t rigged in some way. People came up with elaborate theories about how beginners were given better results so as to rope them into subscriptions, or veteran players would be rewarded with better results for their patronage, and so on.” At one point Kapalka published huge files, revealing hundreds of thousands of simulated die rolls, to persuade skeptical players that the results were truly random.
Source: The Problem with Video Game Luck
It reminds me of the collective cry of anguish with the release of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords years ago. This simple match-3 game used the results of your match to influence a role-playing game and then switched the game over to your computer-controlled opponent.
A bizarre effect popped up in that players (me included) experienced the computer-controlled opponent’s moves as “cheating”. It always felt like your opponent had better moves, or could somehow take a peek into the future and see what upcoming new blocks could be used. A match-up leading the computer-controlled opponent to perform multiple moves felt infuriating, while the times it happened to you constantly felt like catching up.
In contrast, World of Warcraft has generated multiple instances of people swearing they could influence the chances of getting a certain item by performing certain “rituals” in the game, leading to in-game superstition. (Another similar effect is people believing that Down+A helps them catch Pokémon more effectively in the eponymous games.)
The thing I’m worrying about a bit, is how generations of people growing up on these games and their systems will experience real-life “luck”. Are they setting themselves up for permanent frustration?
In October 2016, we first got a teaser view of the Nintendo Switch and all was well in the world (relatively, that is). There was common sense behind Nintendo wanting to merge the handheld and console markets into one device. Finally, Nintendo can focus on what they do best. But come January 2017, “there’s always something to nag about” appears to be the thing Nintendo does best.
For many years people have watched Koei’s Warriors series of games and collectively shook their heads at it. So how could Samurai Warriors 4 possibly be fun? Battle after battle fighting against lifeless dumb soldiers while running around a random environment with the occasional similar sounding general uttering nonsensical battle cries.