This week I have been mostly playing...

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Supahewok

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Supahewok » Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:46 pm

Well, making overworld models of all 700 or whatever Pokemon with the player riding on them in a logical manner would probably be more work than every other human and Pokemon overworld model already existing combined. The only way to make it feasible is to use the same models for both battle and overworld, and maybe using some sort of physics and collision system to automate a lot of the work attaching the player character, which I don't see being possible on handhelds. Could be done for the Switch game that's in the works, maybe.

Even if you just restrict it to the same Ride Pokemon as the game is using already, just Tauros and Machamp and Charizard and stuff... I've personally never felt the need for the game to explicitly state which Pokemon you use for the riding system anyway. Pokemon just pops up. You can easily just pretend it's yours, the game never brings it up outside of the moments when you acquire a new one. I guess the game could give you a battle to "catch" the Pokemon that you use for rides when you acquire them, and instead of going into your party it goes into the Ride system... But it doesn't strike me as a particularly necessary use of game time.

Also, there are far better methods for farming for shinies. That whole Pokemon SOS mechanic crap is designed for shiny farming and EV grinding: chances for shinies goes up at certain numbers of SOS Pokemon defeated in a single battle, and all SOS Pokemon give double EVs or something.
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John

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby John » Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:30 pm

SpammyV wrote:Well, I can say that the final mission of EW is absolute hell if you're doing an Ultiduo run. The Muton Rush was challenging, but the two Sectopods were actually the near impossible part. It turns out they can mortar you without LOS. The only way I got through the Sectopod Gatekeepers was to mind-control the Muton Berserker and have her distract them so I didn't get annihilated by robots. I couldn't bring a MEC either to try to stun the 'Pods. I have no idea if it was possible to do the final room in a "proper" way without cheesing it.

I am never, ever going to attempt this. But, hypothetically speaking, the first thing I'd do would be to try fielding a spotter with mimetic skin and a sniper with squadsight and double-tap. And, yeah, mind controlled mutons. Although for various reasons I have never managed to get a whole lot of use out of those in that particular encounter.
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Trix2000
Location: California

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Trix2000 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:25 pm

SpammyV wrote:Also, while the Ride Pokemon are interesting, I feel like it misses the point of Pokemon a bit. At least for myself. They do make for decent replacements for HMs and the bike, but here's the thing: I don't want to ride on some service Pokemon. I want to ride on my Pokemon. Why am I calling for a Mudsdale or a Tauros when I have a Mudsdale and a Tauros? I'm not sure if the games have enough room to cover checking every Pokemon available for a ride or task and giving the player the choice of which one they use for it, but it feels off to be calling for Ride Pokemon.

Gonna have to chime in with Supahewok here - that may sound cool and would likely improve the experience, but it's just not practical at all. Not just for all the modelling and such involved for such a small feature, but also because of how you'd have to ensure the player HAD a Pokemon capable of each of these things by the time it comes up, so as not to completely interrupt forward motion. Not to mention how certain Pokemon designs... might not take well to the purposes they can theoretically do.

Perhaps, as he said, having you catch specific ones for that purpose would work a bit better, but I don't see it being all that different from the existing system. And ultimately, it just might not be worth the cost for something that isn't too core to the experience to begin with.
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The Rocketeer

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby The Rocketeer » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:33 pm

Prepare to be shocked: I've been playing Skyrim again.

Because I've been playing a Two-Handed character, which I'd never done before, and specifically because I've been playing a battleaxe character, I realized that the Limbsplitter perk that adds bleed damage to axe attacks is pretty much worthless, I've been noodling around with the Creation Kit trying to improve it.

There are a lot of problems with Limbsplitter (and with Hack and Slash, the equivalent perk for one handed axes). It mainly comes down to the fact that it just doesn't deal damage large enough to ever, ever be noticeable ever. The amount of damage over time dealt by any kind of axe at any level is so negligible that you would almost never be able to see it register visually on an enemy's health bar; in fact, noticing that lack of visual feedback was what first led me to look into it. Bleed damage is useful in theory because it isn't mitigated by armor and stacks over itself, and several applications of bleed damage on a single enemy will add up into significant damage over time. But the fact is that Skyrim simply doesn't have many enemies healthy enough to withstand more than a small number of melee strikes before dying from your weapon's base damage, and if they are strong enough relative to your weapon or character to easily survive several attacks, they are also likely so much stronger than you that they can kill you in one or two hits of their own. In practice, only very heavy bleed damage— much heavier than currently implemented— will ever have a noticeable impact on combat.

The second big problem is that many of the game's healthiest enemies, against which bleed damage would theoretically be of most use, are immune to bleed, such as Dwemer constructs and undead. By a very large margin, high-level draugr variants like deathlords and scourge lords will be the most common and durable enemies you will encounter, and they take no bleed damage; by contrast, the critical damage of swords is equally useful against all enemy types, and the armor-negating properties of hammers are useless against common foes (which you don't need help against in the first place) but is specifically geared to soften the toughest foes. (Actually, I've heard hammers aren't necessarily that useful since few enemies have significant armor, with enemy resilience mostly deriving from high HP totals, but I haven't looked into this thoroughly yet. I apologize for this lapse in my usual rigor.) Thus, already-underpowered bleed damage needs to be pumped up even more to compensate for its more limited use-cases.

Third, all of the above, like the details of most perks, are hidden from the player in the spurious interest of simplicity. From a designer's standpoint, the system shouldn't need explicit, numeric explanation because it should work intuitively and the player should simply feel their increased power when they try to utilize it. In practice, the specific ranges of bleed damage for each material type is unpredictable and mostly internally inconsistent, aside from a general upward trend. I can't fix this problem, in the sense that I can't show a player what they're getting beforehand, but I can make the system regular by conforming it to sensible internal rules.

And finally, the system is badly balanced between one- and two-handed axes; more specifically, it isn't balanced between the two categories at all. That table linked above on the page for two-handed weapons is the same table for one-handed axes. But of course, two-handed axes attack roughly half as often, meaning they apply bleed damage only half as often, and that per-hit bleed damage is the same as what one-handed axes apply. In practical terms, one-handed axe users have a much greater advantage in terms of bleed application, since they can apply much more bleed damage while receiving the benefits of a shield, or if dual-wielding, can apply even more bleed damage or benefit from a different weapon type's specialty in their other hand. Theoretically, one-handed axe users get greater use of bleed damage and two-handed wielders get less. But in practice, bleed damage is still so underpowered that one-handed wielders receive marginal benefit from bleed and two-handed wielders get practically none.

All of that being the case, I've whipped up a mod to redefine and standardize bleed damage for all axes. The one caveat I offer for the following numbers is that I calculated them to work with Morrowloot Ultimate, which significantly boosts the base damage of the rarer material types over the base game.

Firstly, I split the bleed damage effects for one- and two-handed axes; they now deal different bleed DPS and for different amounts of time.

Second, I standardized the bleed damage per second for ALL axes, one- and two-handed, as 10% of the base damage for an unimproved axe of a given material type for a player of the skill level necessary to purchase the given rank of the applicable bleed perk with all applicable damage-increasing perks available at that level. That's a bit of a mouthful, so, for instance, the first rank of Hack and Slash is available at 30 One Handed, at which the first rank of Armsman is available (and is a prerequisite of Hack and Slash). At 30 One Handed with Armsman 1, an unimproved Iron War Axe deals 11 base damage. Therefore, the bleed damage per second for Hack and Slash rank 1 for an Iron War Axe is 1.1. Meanwhile, the third rank Limbsplitter is available at 90 Two Handed, at which all ranks of Barbarian are available. The base damage of a (Morrowloot) Daedric Battleaxe at 90 Two Handed with Barbarian 5 is 93. Therefore, with Limbsplitter 3, a Daedric Battleaxe will deal 9.3 bleed damage per second.

Third, I made one- and two-handed axes deal bleed damage for shorter and longer periods of time, respectively. With the first, second, and third ranks of Hack and Slash, one-handed axes will deal bleed damage for one, two, or three seconds; with the first, second, and third ranks of Limbsplitter, two-handed axes will deal damage for three, four, or five seconds. Relative to the baseline damage values referenced above, this means that a one-handed axe will deal 10%, 20%, or 30% of its base damage per hit as bleed damage with successive ranks of Hack and Slash, and a two-handed axe will deal 30%, 40%, or 50% of its base damage per hit as bleed damage with successive ranks of Limbsplitter. For the example above, that Iron War Axe with Hack and Slash 1 will deal its 1.1 bleed damage for a single second, for a grand total of... wait for it... 1.1 bleed damage per hit. The Daedric Battleaxe with Limbsplitter 3 will deal 9.3 bleed DPS for five seconds, for a total of 46.5 bleed damage per hit. This might seem high, but it's important to keep in mind the context in which this damage is applied; the number of enemies that will still be alive five seconds after you start hitting them with your Daedric Battleaxe, with or without bleed damage, is vanishingly small. These enemies aren't MMO raid bosses you're going to hit dozens or hundreds of times over the course of several minutes; if it doesn't matter within three hits or six seconds, it will almost never matter at all. With the number of enemies against which bleed damage doesn't even apply, the biggest benefit by far is against dragons, which have the highest health pools and which grant opportunities for melee attacks only at their leisure; for batleaxe users in particular, who sacrifice any kind of close-quarters defense and may only get one or two swings in before a dragon flies away again, where it will circle aimlessly for another five minutes, that higher bleed damage might actually not feel like a complete waste of three perk points, which it currently definitely is.

I uploaded a picture of the specific damage values per weapon per perk level here, for the curious. Meanwhile, I'm sure I'll get lots of... testing... done with my Ebony Battleaxe.
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JadedDM

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby JadedDM » Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:43 pm

I decided to play some original Diablo, trying a Sorcerer this time. I've only ever played Warrior before, so I thought it might be a new challenge. And man, was it ever. Due to the randomness of the game, I didn't get Mana Shield until more than half-way through, Chain Lightning until the second to last level and Fireball until the very last level. Yeah, I was relying on Firebolt and Lightning Bolt for pretty much the whole game.

What was really tricky was when I'd run into enemies that were immune to both fire and lightning. I eventually found an Axe of Sorcery that I was strong enough to use, but I'd get interrupted too much to actually make any decent attacks (and my To Hit wasn't great either). But I found that using a Stone Curse scroll (I never found the actual spell) or summoning a golem to tank for me so I could flank enemies, helped a lot.

I still think the ending to the original Diablo is the weirdest thing ever. So you've just defeated a primal evil, the equivalent to the Devil basically, and sealed it away in a gem. Do you:
A.) Find the deepest, darkest cavern there is and bury it under a mountain of rock
B.) Sail out to the deepest sea and drop it into the ocean
C.) Just jam it, really hard, into your forehead. What could possibly go wrong?
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SpammyV
Contact:

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby SpammyV » Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:38 pm

John wrote:
SpammyV wrote:Well, I can say that the final mission of EW is absolute hell if you're doing an Ultiduo run. The Muton Rush was challenging, but the two Sectopods were actually the near impossible part. It turns out they can mortar you without LOS. The only way I got through the Sectopod Gatekeepers was to mind-control the Muton Berserker and have her distract them so I didn't get annihilated by robots. I couldn't bring a MEC either to try to stun the 'Pods. I have no idea if it was possible to do the final room in a "proper" way without cheesing it.

I am never, ever going to attempt this. But, hypothetically speaking, the first thing I'd do would be to try fielding a spotter with mimetic skin and a sniper with squadsight and double-tap. And, yeah, mind controlled mutons. Although for various reasons I have never managed to get a whole lot of use out of those in that particular encounter.


I played Ultiduo on Easy, as a balancing factor. The game's tying an arm behind its back by being on Easy. I'm tying an arm behind my back by sending 2 soldiers when the game expects 4-6. And then we hit each other with foam swords and it's fun! Anyway, on Easy a max rank Sniper can boom headshot the boss and someone can creep around the edges of the room for a long way before they hit the spawn trigger. So when I stopped trying to do the job right I got it done instantly! I really wanted to bring a MEC and the volunteer, but the volunteer was a Support so I had to get through with a Support and a Sniper. I'd argue that Supports are a bit more useful in Ultiduo because with only two people, being able to cover 3 extra spaces is huge. For EXALT missions my go-to agent was a Support with Meme Skin and Spingy Legs to cover ground on Hack the Gibson missions. I don't think I ever had a spare Sniper to give the Pistol skill to and dedicate to covert missions. If I went back and did Ironman Ultiduo (the first run was a non-Ironman proof-of-concept) I'd try to get an extra Sniper for that.

Incidentally even being on Easy doesn't help much when you reach the point where Floaters and Seekers happen in the same missions. If Seekers immobilize everyone on a mission you instantly fail (which is why I consider Highlander impossible), and although they don't seem to grab both people when there's two, it gets REAL tight when a Seeker strangles 50% of your available soldiers, there's one Seeker unaccounted for, one Floater on Overwatch, one who flew himself into a flanking position, and one more for good measure.
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Humanoid

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Humanoid » Tue Oct 17, 2017 2:14 am

Yeah, when there are active Sectopods out of LoS I just scatter, basically, making sure I don't end any turn with a soldier in the same spot that any soldier ended their previous turn (except the turn directly after a mortar just hits). It's not too bad unless you run out of room to retreat into.

But yeah, the final mission is easy even in Long War. It's because the alien spawns are essentially hardcoded so there are no more aliens there than there are in the base game. But unlike the base game, you get to take twelve units instead of six, turning it into a milk run. The only semblance of challenge is that you're essentially forced to kill the underling Ethereals before the uber one in the final room, but with a typical endgame squad even that is doable in a turn.

I don't really mind that it's done this way, mind you, as the design of XCOM feels best when not balanced around single points of failure. Individual missions should be challenging, but at the same time a single failure shouldn't be terminal to the campaign. You can recover from any other individual failure, including Base Defense (in Long War, that is, in the vanilla game it's a game over), so having the final mission be easier as a tradeoff for no chance of recovery after failure is fair enough in my book
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JadedDM

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby JadedDM » Sat Oct 21, 2017 3:38 am

Awhile back, I got Dungeon Keeper Gold from GOG for free, so I've started on that recently. I'm only on level three, and I'm starting to get the hang of things.

I've also been playing Telltale's Guardians of the Galaxy. I've made it past Episode 3 so far. It's been pretty funny so far, although it took awhile to get used to the fact that it isn't in the comics or the movie's continuity, but a completely different one altogether that sort of borrows elements from both.
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John

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby John » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:58 am

JadedDM wrote:Awhile back, I got Dungeon Keeper Gold from GOG for free, so I've started on that recently. I'm only on level three, and I'm starting to get the hang of things.

Free Dungeon Keeper is the reason I created my GOG account. It's a charming and often quite fun little game. Be warned, though. There's a huge difficulty spike on, I believe, Level 9, which requires you to build up your economy incredibly quickly. I've never beaten it.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:47 pm

So Ive started fractured but whole.The third tip I got during the loading screen was "If the combat is too hard for you,try getting better at the game".Then I got to choose the difficulty,and it was actually a skin color slider.Yup,this is definitely another south park game.
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Ringwraith

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Ringwraith » Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:51 pm

Except the skin colour "difficulty setting" just affects how much money you start with.
How very insightful of you, South Park.
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Trix2000
Location: California

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Trix2000 » Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:07 pm

SpammyV wrote:(Picture)

For some completely unexplained reason, I am very happy right now.

I named mine Theo and he was the bestest.
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JadedDM

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby JadedDM » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:03 am

John wrote:Be warned, though. There's a huge difficulty spike on, I believe, Level 9, which requires you to build up your economy incredibly quickly. I've never beaten it.

Well, that's ominous. Especially since I tend to be very bad at RTS games, and I have had to give up on them in the past (damn you, Blood and Magic!).

Maybe I should start looking for a good walkthrough, just in case.
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The Rocketeer

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby The Rocketeer » Sun Oct 22, 2017 4:49 am

Bought, played, and have finished Metroid: Samus Returns.

There's one big question hanging over this game: is it better than Metroid Fusion, as perfect a game as has ever been made, and which has been both the best Metroid title and best game of its kind for fifteen years? Well, it just might be. In some ways, it definitely is.

A Metroid game consists of pretty much two things: combat and movement, and Samus Returns' combat and movement are both better than they were in Metroid Fusion. Much is the same as it always was; this is a first-party Nintendo title, so you shouldn't expect something unrecognizable from its ancestry. But it is the biggest step away from previous 2D Metroid titles, and the changes are all but entirely for the better. The most obvious case of taking advantage of the greater power available to it is the 360-degree aiming; you still fire at 45-degree intervals while moving, but holding the L Button plants your feet and lets your free aim while standing or hanging on a ledge. But the biggest change to the combat comes from parries and Aeion abilities.

Almost every enemy has an attack where they will charge you, and a quick flash and sound cue let you know it can be parried; a successful parry cancels the attack, knocks the enemy to the floor, locks Samus' aim to the fallen target, and, as long as you don't move or adjust aim before firing, lets you fire an overpowered counter from your cannon; no standard enemy can survive a counter long enough to get back to its feet, and even if you can't counter after a parry due to other enemies, the stun effect lasts for long enough to take them out of the fight while you deal with the others. Bosses can be parried, too, resulting in Samus grappling them and letting you unleash as much damage at point-blank range as long as she can hold on. Nailing parries in combat takes a huge bite out of tough fights and makes you look like a serious badass. The only way they could be improved is if they had Dark Souls' thundering parry/riposte sound effects, but I guess you can't have everything.

Aeion abilities are a new take on trying to add variety to Samus' arsenal without cluttering a game built on an incredibly pure, fluid experience. They do a pretty good job of that, giving Samus four unique abilities powered from an MP bar. Aeion abilities fill a nice niche; they aren't permanent boosts to Samus' base power like beam upgrades or inventory pickups, and they're much more natural to use than, say, the inventory from Super Metroid. In practice, the abilities themselves are a mixed bag. The first is a scan ability that uncovers the map in a sizeable radius around Samus' current position. This is an invaluable tool from beginning to end, and I'm as surprised as I am relieved that the developers would, in this way, so casually elide having to uncover the map, which has traditionally been a foundational assumption of the Metroidvania experience and was sort of a key part of Metroid Fusion, in which routing around the incomplete or misleading maps you download from the environment was a key part of how the game established pacing, goals, and tension. The other three are a shield that lets you use your MP as extra life energy, a cannon charge that gives you full-auto fire, and a time-slowing ability. They all have their uses, but for various reasons, the cannon upgrade is by far the most useful in combat, and the other two are mostly useful for navigating specific obstacles. Aeion energy is pretty limited, and you'll blow through it very quickly if you aren't careful; but a successful parry, in addition to its other benefits, gives Samus a decent MP recharge.

The movement in Samus Returns feel better than Metroid ever has before, ironing out the few tiny nitpicks I had with Metroid's movement in the past: the weird inertia when first moving or stopping is gone, changing into or out of the Morph Ball and moving while in ball form isn't as clingy as it has been in the past (yet is still clingy enough that it remains my only major gripe with the movement), and chaining somersaults once you get the space jump never randomly fails, as it frequently seemed to in Fusion. The Morph Ball also has a new ability that lets you cling to surfaces by holding the L Button. The game uses slime patches and spikes to prevent Samus from climbing everywhere with the Spider Ball, but they were pretty light-handed with those restrictions and the Spider Ball gives you a lot of vertical freedom of movement much earlier than you'd expect. As you'd expect, they also integrate it into the various puzzles throughout the game, and it adds some freshness and variety to a bag of tricks that otherwise hasn't changed much since 1994.

You can also tap the screen to change instantly in and out of the Morph Ball, which is often a useful boon and necessary for some of the trickier platforming you'll occasionally do. However, as is always the case, using the touchscreen or the buttons feels natural on these handhelds and using both, switching from one to the other for even an instant, always feels somewhat clumsy and distracting. (My affection for The World Ends with You, which uses both simultaneously at all times, remains inexplicable.) So the game has two methods for engaging or exiting the Morph Ball that both feel clumsier than they should. Presently, in order to use Aeion abilities, you hit one of the D-Pad directions to select it and A to activate or deactivate it; I think you could easily just make the D-Pad click those abilities off and on with one tap, which would make the system feel a lot more natural and less distracting in combat, and would free up the A Button to toggle Morph Ball in one click without having to switch between the buttons and touchscreen or add extra unnecessary movements to the analog stick in the midst of combat or precision platforming.

The game also throws out two things that I'm sure some freaks will miss, but which I'm glad to see the back of: the speed boost and water sections. The Speed Boost never had any use in combat or platforming except in specific puzzles designed especially for it, which were always the biggest pains in the ass of any kind of platforming challenge in the game. The shinespark was fiddly, unreliable bullshit and the game punished you for flubbing the use of its most esoteric, user-hostile movement ability with a steep damage penalty (or maybe that was just in Super Metroid). The slow-motion Aeion ability and the super bomb blast are used to fill the ludic space the speed boost and shinespark used to hold, and they do the job painlessly. Good riddance. And no, the game has no "water level," no extended section where you trudge miserably at half speed with a crippled jump for five times longer than the game needs to make its point before you inevitably get the Gravity Suit and then have to backtrack through all those same areas you couldn't competently explore before. The game still has some water areas, and it still has these same anti-movement properties without the Gravity Suit, but the game uses the water to block specific exits or to signal, "Don't go this way yet," the same way it uses hot rooms before you get the Varia Suit; it makes the same gameplay point without creating a belabored interval of player misery, the way it did in Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. (And maybe Zero Mission. If you've noticed I've hardly mentioned Zero Mission, it's because I hardly remember Zero Mission.)

The two areas where the game falls short is in pacing and environment variety. Metroid Fusion used the conceit of its setting to perfectly establish both of those priorities with the various environments of the space station. Samus Returns, meanwhile, basically feels like it has no internal segmentation, no rise or fall of action from the establishment or accomplishment of various subgoals. Even the breakup of the game into various regions feels more like a way of simplifying the map screen than anything. I mention above that there are no water levels, and that's a good thing. But there also aren't any... anything levels. There's very little to visually or stylistically contrast any of the game's regions from any other, and while I know the designers tried to do just that, the fact that it all congeals into a blur of undifferentiated caves in my memory indicts their results. A big part of the problem is that there just isn't a broad enough palette, which might be attributable to the change from the 2D games of the past to a 2.5D game with all 3D models and environments; in my experience, this transition is always accompanied by a marked reluctance to indulge contrast and color to the same degree. Metroid Fusion's environments were gorgeously colorful, distinctively accentuating each of the various environments: tropical, arctic, cave, space station, etc. Ironically, that space station and its environments in Fusion were designed to replicate the varied environments of SR388, but Samus Returns takes place on the planet, and all its environments boil down to dim caves with yellow/gray/brown rocks and maybe a purple crystal here and there.

Some of the visual shortcomings and the game's largely non-existent pacing can be attributed to its fundamental nature as a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. As you might expect of a game made for the Game Boy in 1991, Metroid II was a pretty simple game, and Samus Returns preserves a lot of that simplicity, starting with the premise and radiating out from it: your entire goal, from beginning to end, is to touch down on the planet SR388 and wipe out the metroids. You start with 40 metroids registered on your tracker, and you want to make that number hit zero. That's it. And that's really the root of the game's pacing; your goal never changes from the beginning of the game to the end, and there are no large, distinct milestones foreordained within that larger goal. Now, I'm not gonna get caught up critiquing the narrative structure of a remake of Metroid II and neither should anyone else. The bare straightforward simplicity of your goal lends a sense of purity I really admire, and which goes hand in hand with the extreme purity that characterizes Metroid gameplay at its best. And because creator/writer/director Yoshio Sakamoto was cursed by an old gypsy woman after refusing to share his umbrella, the Metroid games have demonstrated an iron inverse relationship between writing quantity and writing quality. So if Nintendo wants to make more Metroid games with no more story than you can inscribe on a grain of rice, I won't shed a tear. It also means that, of the four entries in the 2D Metroid timeline, this is the only instance in which Samus Aran, legendary bounty hunter, actually feels like an on-the-job bounty hunter, which I guess might tickle some folks.

One aspect of Samus Returns I waffle back and forth on is the bosses. There are both very many and not very many bosses. In accordance with the premise, you hunt down the 40 metroids, which are formidable foes differentiated from one another by where they fall in the varied lifecycle stages of the species. So conceptually, the metroids themselves serve as 40 boss fights scattered around the game. In practice, you have four minibosses collectively copied and pasted forty times. Sometimes they're distinguished from one another by altering the environment you fight them in, but these variations are pretty minor, and some subtypes are always fought in identical rectangle rooms because that's the only environment their attack patterns are designed to work with. So there are over forty boss fights in the game, but then again, there aren't, if you get my meaning. Aside from the recurring metroids, how many unique boss encounters are there? Four, as opposed to ten-ish in Super Metroid and around a dozen in Fusion, depending on how you distinguish bosses and minibosses. And they're all really good, as are the metroid fights. But if, like me, a big highlight of these games for you is the unique, climactic boss encounters, the sheer quantity of metroid encounters might not make up the difference.

Speaking of the fights, though, one thing to be warned of if you're interested in the game: Samus Returns is hard. Now, I'm a proud and experienced Metroid scrub; I've never been a pro at these games despite having played them many times each. In all Metroid games, Samus is pretty fragile, but the enemies of Samus Returns will murder you if you aren't at the top of your game. I think partly to compensate for Samus' increased offensive utility and to elevate the parry mechanic, enemies are much more aggressive than in past games. This makes the room-to-room combat more varied and engaging than it typically has been in the past, but until you start getting the last few upgrades and your offenses start to outmatch the strongest standard-enemy-type palette swaps (which happens surprisingly early, actually), they'll test your best every step of the way. For really the first time, every enemy feels like it's actively, cognizantly engaging Samus, rather than just feeling like their combat pattern has kicked in in your vicinity. But despite the increased challenge, the combat does feel fair; the enemies are as predictable and pattern-based as they always have been, and your wits and reflexes make the difference between parry-countering all comers and getting knocked on your ass. Bosses, naturally, are in a whole category of their own. I was very thorough in collecting capacity upgrades every step of the way, and even if you're as ammo-efficient as possible, boss encounters will frequently still have a little fight in them even after all of your Aeion energy and super missiles are expended. Bosses' attacks are remarkably damaging, and you will absolutely get your ass handed to you if you get cocky and try to win by trading blows. Getting cocky when encountering a weaker metroid variant and thinking you've become strong enough to overpower them is an extraordinarily efficient route to learning humility. By contrast, just keeping your head, knowing their pattern and playing defensively will lead you to school even the toughest encounters. It's especially important— and especially satisfying— to nail the parries on a boss, due not only the the wonderful animations of Samus (wo)manhandling them, but due to the large Aeion recharge parrying a boss gives and the grand opportunity for dealing maximum, unguarded damage to an enemy that otherwise has you right where they want you. Correspondingly, it really hurts to flub those opportunities, especially since they tend to thoroughly telegraph their parriable attacks.

Metroid: Samus Returns is a tremendous title and a remarkable achievement for the series. These games have always been titles in which the flaws are small and few, and the uncommon greatness of the experience almost hard to notice beneath a deceptively effortless sense of polish and smoothness, an experience that all holds together with a natural grace that leaves the player's mind unoccupied by anything but the pure comfort of challenging, graceful play. Atop these redoubtable contenders now stands Metroid: Samus Returns. It's an immediate must-play for anyone who's enjoyed previous 2D Metroid titles or Metroidvania titles in general, and otherwise still a very strong recommendation to anyone that owns a 3DS.
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Ringwraith

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Ringwraith » Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:35 am

JadedDM wrote:
John wrote:Be warned, though. There's a huge difficulty spike on, I believe, Level 9, which requires you to build up your economy incredibly quickly. I've never beaten it.

Well, that's ominous. Especially since I tend to be very bad at RTS games, and I have had to give up on them in the past (damn you, Blood and Magic!).

Maybe I should start looking for a good walkthrough, just in case.

Easy thing to abuse if you ever need more time: fortified walls are completely indestructible to the AI.
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John

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby John » Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:14 pm

Ringwraith wrote:
JadedDM wrote:
John wrote:Be warned, though. There's a huge difficulty spike on, I believe, Level 9, which requires you to build up your economy incredibly quickly. I've never beaten it.

Well, that's ominous. Especially since I tend to be very bad at RTS games, and I have had to give up on them in the past (damn you, Blood and Magic!).

Maybe I should start looking for a good walkthrough, just in case.

Easy thing to abuse if you ever need more time: fortified walls are completely indestructible to the AI.

That's the problem with Level 9. You can't build walls to keep the enemy Keeper's creatures out. The level just isn't designed for that. It's a big departure from everything the game has shown you so far. Normally, Dungeon Keeper is all about turtling. You build your base Just So and only when you are ready do you break your impenetrable walls and go in search of the enemy. I love turtling, so I love the first eight or so levels. I'd probably love most of the rest of the levels too, if only I could beat Level 9. Now I may be over-selling the difficulty here. I've only attempted the level a handful of times. So perhaps it isn't really all that much harder than the previous levels. But it is definitely different.
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Ringwraith

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Ringwraith » Sun Oct 22, 2017 5:30 pm

Hrm, I don't remember the one that gave me trouble, as there was one where I deliberately walled myself in just to buy some time.
Mostly as this was years ago.
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John

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby John » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:28 pm

Still playing Endless Sky. I think I've mostly solved the "how to field the most guns for the least money" problem. There's an Interceptor-class ship called the Fury which will let me field four heavy lasers but requires just one crew member. There are bigger, faster, and more heavily shielded ships that can also field more and better guns, but the Fury is the clear winner of the DPS per dollar competition. There is, however, one unfortunate complication to my little scheme, which is that the Fury has negligible cargo and passenger capacity. And all of the game's really lucrative missions--at least the ones I've seen so far*--involve large amounts of cargo and passengers. So Furies are fine for escorts, but to keep the money rolling in I'm also going to need at least one larger ship for hauling goods or people. It seems I'll have to hit the spreadsheets again to figure out which ships offer the best ratio of cargo and passenger space to crew size.

* The way the game works is that you don't start getting offered combat and bounty missions until you have a sufficient number of confirmed kills. I've got three kills at the moment, so I sometimes get offered short, low-difficulty escort missions. (Which I hate, as all right-thinking persons do. But nevermind that now.) These missions typically pay about $60,000, whereas I can often get over $100,000 for a rush or bulk cargo delivery mission. As you get more kills, you start getting offered longer, more lucrative escort missions as well as bounty missions but I haven't hit that point yet in this attempt at the game. I don't remember how much those pay.
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Sudanna

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Sudanna » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:07 pm

i assume you're min-maxing for payroll efficiency just for the heck of it, cuz if you start doing decent missions, payroll of any plausible size becomes negligible.
Steve C

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Steve C » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:48 pm

I played Endless Sky about a year+ ago. I'll try and dust off what I remember.

Regarding the Fury... No. omg no. Don't use those. Believing you can fight with a fleet of little ships is a trap that will bankrupt you. (As is picking the combat ship as your starting ship.) It is possible to fight with a fleet of midsized ships (kinda- not recommended) but not small ones. BTW DPS per dollar is not something that matters. Damage per second doesn't matter much at all in that game. Winning fights decisively without losses is far more important. Furies will die way too fast to save them or control the battle. You'll also spend huge amounts of time micromanaging repairs after every jump.

Combat and bounty missions are very profitable. Not due to the bounties or mission payments though. Combat is profitable by capturing ships. To capture ships you need a ship with a lot of spare crew to attack disabled ships. Crew spread over multiple ships doesn't work for boarders as only one ship can board at a time.

You can however use a fleet of smaller ships as your cargo fleet. Small cargo ships can also carry a handful of passengers each. A passenger capacity that easily covers 95% of passenger missions (Everything except late game ones like transport 100+ colonists to a new planet.) Cargo ships don't need high crew count as they aren't boarding. They don't need weapons either although they can contribute to combat with a long ranged weapon. Your capital ship moves in to engage while the cargo ships wait in safety at the edge of the map. You can have it so that one ship is a lean-mean heavy hitter and a second ship boards. The boarding ship can also be full of defenses that covers the cargo fleet. It is about midgame when that becomes viable.

Combat ships need to be tanky. Glass cannons are just... omg no. I could maybe keep captured Furies alive long enough to get them to a shipyard to sell them. Mostly they simply died. This is about as weak as you can go. If you cannot afford that cheapass fleet, you cannot afford combat- yet. Instead focus entirely on running away.
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John

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby John » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:16 pm

Sudanna wrote:I assume you're min-maxing for payroll efficiency just for the heck of it, cuz if you start doing decent missions, payroll of any plausible size becomes negligible.

Well . . . yes. I've played this game before and flown all sorts of ships, from Scouts to Bactrians. I know that min-maxing isn't really necessary. But the thing is that I've got this second monitor, see, and what am I supposed to do? Not put a spreadsheet on it?

Steve C wrote:Don't use those. Believing you can fight with a fleet of little ships is a trap that will bankrupt you.

You raise a compelling argument. My calculations have been strictly limited to DPS per dollar and ignored other factors (such as a the propensity to explode when shot by a medium warship). To tell the truth, the whole thing's been mostly academic so far. Heck, I sold the last Fury I captured. Nevertheless, I'll probably give it a shot anyway. I won't use an all-Fury fleet. I want a larger flagship--probably a large warship, though I don't have anywhere near enough money for that right now--for all the reasons you mention. I look at this as an experiment. If it fails, so be it. I'll find some other crazy strategy try.
Steve C

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Steve C » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:45 pm

Ah. If you've played this game before then that's different. I believed that you were like an hour in or something when you said you had three kills. Carry on.
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Charnel Mouse
Location: England, UK
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Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby Charnel Mouse » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:37 pm

Without knowing a thing about the game you're talking about, if you're doing rough theoretical min-maxing, you'd be better off using DPS*health / cost, or cost^2, to emulate Lanchester's laws.
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John

Re: This week I have been mostly playing...

Postby John » Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:20 pm

So I attempted to play a little Psychonauts this week. What a mistake that was. I shall now list a few of the game's many sins in roughly the order that I encountered them.

  • It only runs in a tiny little window in the middle of my screen.
  • The opening cutscene goes on for far too long.
  • The color palette is best described as seasick.
  • The camera controls are awful.
  • The controller support is terrible.
I didn't actually pay for Psychonauts. The Humble Store was giving it away for free a month or so ago, presumably to promote the upcoming Psychonauts 2. I'll be charitable and assume that the game worked better in its original console release and that the camera and controller issues are due to the PC (Linux) port. Nevertheless, I'm pretty irritated. If I'd paid good money--even just a few dollars--I'd be furious.

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