Contentious Videogame Opinions



  • The Uncharted games (at least 1, 2, 3) are poorly designed games, with terrible stories, unlikeable main character and have been a driving force in making the higher profile games in the industry less interesting and in general making games take a step back on relation to being able to tell good stories as it's own medium.

    Ni No Kuni is one of the worst JRPGs I've ever played, and it drove me mad seeing how something I looked forward to so much ended up being so incredibly mediocre.



  • 1:
    I've never played a game with a "quest system" that I felt couldn't be improved by removing it entirely (or better yet: taking 10% of the quests and including them organically). This includes conventional RPGs/JRPGs, metroidvanias, and not just the open world genre. I'm referring to quest systems which are any conspicuous systems that are elevated to a constant part of the game (and not, say, a quest you do at that particular town or at that particular moment in the plot) and which present quests in a more predictable/more templated way than normal goals and gameplay.

    2:
    Dislike: Having character cutouts displayed above/inside dialogue boxes, or even overlaying a lightly animated 3D model during dialogue scenes (i.e., for games where such scenes don't have close camera work and motion capture like a AAA game). I dislike this and I think it is actually a step backwards from what came before. I feel it will occasionally be a confusing source of player attention, since the actual game screen is no longer the sole focus. It's a step backwards because it seems to have fully replaced having a diverse set of animations and expressions. It'd contend that 16 bit RPGs and a certain style of PS1 RPGs with highly detailed spritework still use more character animation and character posing than a staggering amount of comparable games that followed.



  • @chocobop I'm pretty sure it's me but I don't understand your second point. Can you give a few examples?



  • @chocobop said in Contentious Videogame Opinions:

    2:
    It's a step backwards because it seems to have fully replaced having a diverse set of animations and expressions. It'd contend that 16 bit RPGs and some PS1 RPGs with highly detailed spritework still use more character animation and character posing than a staggering amount of comparable games that followed.

    I don't want to project my own opinions onto your point here if this isn't actually what you're referring to, but do you mean how in 3D games, especially JRPG games, they use this sort of pantomime animation in the background while the 2D depiction of the character in the text box is actually more expressive than the 3D model?

    If so, I also HATE this. It blows my mind how lazy some animation is in JRPG games. The sort of poses I see where the model stands in their default pose, the they just have them gesture their arm to the side like that is some sort of compelling acting in any way whatsoever.

    Fun fact - at my studio we usually hire candidates by having them do animation tests. We will very likely not hire somebody if they use hand gestures / pantomime to act the character out. It's just lazy, universal acting that can apply to any character and isn't unique to the way somebody is written in the script or voice acted.

    I love Persona 4 but there was a disgusting amount of lazy animation in the talking scenes. Arm flipping gesture, arms raised when mad. I actually like how they convey the character expression through the 2D head, but I really don't like the acting on the 3D models.

    See the pantomime example below when Youske says "Huh? N-No, I didn't mean --!" in which Kanji immediately follows up with more lazy arm gestures. This stuff is outright BAD to me.

    Youtube Video – [04:57..]



  • @e_zed_eh_intern
    Here are some examples I could come up with quickly: https://imgur.com/a/z3EhPEv



  • @dipset I don't personally mind this, but I can see your point on the matter and why it may be seen as low effort.

    And not to excuse this as I think it is a valid criticism, but I do believe this often comes as a measure to provide clarity to the scenarios and not inflate costs, since as far as I know animations can be one of the most labor intensive and expensive parts of game development and in JRPGs in particular I can see that as being a cost they are not willing to take given the generally don't have huge teams and they are aimed at a niche audience, certainly was the case with Atlus on the PS2 days, and still today to a lesser extent.



  • Resident Evil 4 is a bad game. All it has going for it is the third-person combat, which is just awful by today's standards. The story is nonsensical, the escort parts suck and it helped popularize QTEs, which suck big time. I'll admit it was revolutionary for the time, but that doesn't make it good.



  • @bard91

    Totally and that's why I really don't harp on it too much. P4: G and P5 are two of my favourite games ever, so I don't use the generic animation as a major knock against them.

    On the other hand, we're in a world where Yakuza games exist as quasi-niche titles and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio manage to add some more expressive acting and poses across the side missions with a more budgetary attention to detail in the main story stuff. Even if they have basic posing / acting, they have recently been adding more interesting camera blocking and such. We're not talking The Witcher 3 side mission levels of blocking, but its still decent enough.

    So I just think more games should try harder in this regard. Obviously, this is based on the size, scale, and budget of the production.



  • @chocobop Ah yeah, ok. And then they only have like 3 different expressions for each character that they switch between in a single frame.



  • Most games are good.



  • @dipset (Didn't see your post when I replied initially). The pantomime'ing is related and almost inseparable, although technically I was referring to the character "cutouts". These cutouts appear as overlays on the screen, and don't exist in any perceivable space even though the regular game screen and its perceivable space is still visible in the center of the screen (it is the latter place would typically have pantomime'ing, although games with an even less detailed art style wouldn't of course).

    I'm not a fan of pantomime'ing for the same reason: it has replaced more expressive animation and scripting the character sprites to move around dynamically (think FF6, Super Mario RPG, Chrono Trigger). But pantomimes alone (with no cutouts) don't split your attention at least. Usually they aren't rise-able to me even though they are obviously a knock against the quality. I think the main culprit behind pantomime'ing is voice acting (when the amount of production values can't reach something more like a voice acted cutscene), although since you are professionally involved with stuff like this you'd probably understand what is going on more.



  • @chocobop

    I think you kinda hit the nail on the head with this statement here:

    @chocobop said in Contentious Videogame Opinions:

    I think the main culprit behind pantomime'ing is voice acting (when the amount of production values can't reach something more like a voice acted cutscene)

    Something just lost me when I played FFX for the first time. I don't know how to describe it but I always just blamed the VO. I think VO had become a band aid solution for studios to say "see, we have high production values too," but so much of the creative and artistic expression got lost in the pursuit for higher fidelity models and real VO.

    I played FF6 for the first time about 2 years ago and I was pretty blown away by the aesthetics, the way the story unfolds with a locked overhead camera, and how charming everything and everyone feels when they move around the set/background.

    Sometimes I almost think to myself that if a studio can't pull of voice acting, scene blocking, and animation to the extent that, say, TW3, TLOU2, GOW2018, Yakuza 6, and other games like those, then don't do VO in your RPG. However, I don't even know if I fully agree with myself on that statement so don't hold me to it.



  • @dipset

    Sometimes I almost think to myself that if a studio can't pull of voice acting, scene blocking, and animation to the extent that, say, TW3, TLOU2, GOW2018, Yakuza 6, and other games like those, then don't do VO in your RPG. However, I don't even know if I fully agree with myself on that statement so don't hold me to it.

    Yep, I think that way too. There are obvious counter-examples though that I can self-undermine this assertion with, i.e. examples where I've really enjoyed voice acting with little to no associated animation:

    • when the VO is coming into your character's ear like a walkie-talkie during normal gameplay (near ubiquitous in first person games nowadays)
    • codec scenes like from Metal Gear Solid and RE4
    • narration over a cinematic (often the opening cutscene of games)

    Games like Star Fox and the flying sections of Kid Icarus: Uprising have both memorable and very frequent voice acting and it wouldn't make sense to add 3D modeled animation during on-rails gameplay even if they wanted it.

    Another thought is that somehow Dark Souls pulls off VO very well without having almost any character movement during those interactions. I think it's because those games don't use dialogue very much to begin with, and it's basically just one person talking about something that is usually very disjointed from what the player has been doing recently. This lets the player settle into thinking "well, I guess the whole game world is just mysterious and lonely, and there isn't normalcy like the real world". The other JRPG examples we've been referring to use dialogue very frequently, and want to have much more normal interactions where characters are emoting back and forth and speaking about recent plot events.



  • @phbz Beat me to it.



  • @chocobop

    Touche. You pretty much just proved me wrong there because I can safely say that I adore the acting is the Souls series despite absolute no animation on the in-game characters at all.



  • I made a thread for this exact purpose a while ago
    https://forums.easyallies.com/topic/4886/hard-axis-hate-and-contempt

    The Black Ops games are by far the worst Call of Duties.
    The multiplayer level design is atrociously bad and the singleplayer of the first game is insultingly bad. The only redeeming quality of any Treyarch made CoD is zombies, and even that is played out now.



  • Most games some of us think of as the GOAT are actually 7s with fanatical niche audiences and heavy doses of nostalgic feelings attached to them.



  • @phbz You take that back!



  • @sazime casting a very wide trigger net there. Examples?



  • One of those topics where "I think" or "I feel" should be put before everyone's controversial statements but in the spirit of playing along:

    Inside was an extremely overrated game where you just go right, solve some mediocre puzzles, and imagine the story yourself because the devs were too lazy to actually think one up themselves, and the only reasons people loved it was because it reused the less than fresh style the exact same studio used on Limbo before it except prettied up, and the crazy ending twist, which as the end of the game left people with something to talk about, spreading word of the game, and took people's attention away from all the bland stuff before it. It would've legitimately been a better game had the whole game been that, as Carrion is going to show us.

    Many games are guilty of this, but it also furthered the problematic stereotype of all dogs being violent and dangerous beasts, which often leads to people developing phobias and reservations when they've never interacted with a real one. And yes, I know neglected and specifically trained pet dogs can be capable of violence, but it is hardly the norm, so when every single dog in a game is an attack dog used to instill fear on the player, it just gives the wrong impression overall. We've gotten used to them as common video game enemies, and I'm not saying stop using them entirely. I'm just saying either slap a notice in there that not all dogs are vicious or add good dogs that help the player or are just chill and sweet in some separate sections, so your entire game doesn't paint dogs as horrible, vicious monsters to run from.

    Sidenote though, I actually think games like Maneater are fine, despite doing a similar thing to sharks, because it is clearly meant to be more of a extraordinary parody about an individual for the sake of fun, although one could argue it still continues to enforce an ongoing unfair stereotype society has leaned hard into despite over time relatively few cases of shark attacks, which are also usually justified by the really dumb actions of the humans involved, and then on the side glorifying other animals like Dolphins that are deceptively naturally more dangerous.

    Super Mario Odyssey is stealth one of the worst 3D Mario entries, because it is padded out with tons of bloat, ruining any sense of replay value, and the entire game is disgustingly easy, even the majority of the postgame challenges that are meant to be difficult. But because every time someone grabs a Moon every 20 seconds it triggers a dopamine response, people are all about it. People complain about FLUDD ruining difficulty in Sunshine, but Cappy gets a free pass! Also, it has very little memorable music, but people think it has a GOAT soundtrack because all they think of is Jump Up, Super Star! What should be one of the most interesting parts of the game, Ruined Kingdom, is squandered entirely and just a glorified Boss Fight. Not to say Odyssey is a bad game overall, just it isn't remotely as good as people treat it, especially compared to the other 3D Mario games. They don't even let you play as Peach postgame, despite her having her own Cappy equivalent and lots of fun outfits, and don't even get me started on how dirty they did my boy Luigi. Apples to Oranges, but 3D World is easily the stronger game between the two.