The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (January 2023)

  • @dipset I knew we were missing one of the key ingredients to this panel.

  • Response to @Brannox and @ffff0 regarding the length of the game.

    I love the fact that Portal's average runtime is under four hours. I play many games and some of them are way longer than they need to be.

    Games like Portal that start, take a little of your time and finish strong are really refreshing. You get a perfect experience without having to spend extra hours doing repetitive side content in order to see the best parts of the game. Portal gives you it's best, without any added filler content. So the shorter runtime isn't a bad thing in this case.

    There's also a modding community that has created some great stuff for those who want more Portal. Some of these mods are practically their own games and are worth checking out.

    Response to @Brannox regarding replayability.

    It's true that Portal doesn't have much replay value after you finish the game. I don't think this is a problem specific to Portal, it's just the way puzzle games are made. Maybe more random elements would've helped but I believe it would also hurt the overall quality of the game. I wouldn't want to sacrifice any of the aspects that make it special only to make it more replayable.

    Response to @JDINCINERATOR regarding The Orange Box.

    I purchased The Orange Box mostly for the Half-Life games so playing Portal was an afterthought for me. Then after playing Portal I was completely blown away by it. I'm not even a big puzzle game guy but it was easily my favorite game in the collection.

    It's possible that Portal not being the main draw of the collection worked to it's benefit. A short new IP puzzle game with little buzz around it at launch probably would've had trouble finding it's audience but The Orange Box allowed it to reach that audience.

    Although it's a well-regarded collection, Portal is the standout game that received the most praise from critics and it's the only one of those games to receive a follow-up sequel. It may have been an afterthought at release but that's definitely changed now.

    Response to @JDINCINERATOR and @Oscillator regarding the visuals and art style.

    The visuals and art style of Portal do a great job to help tell the story. This game doesn't use traditional cut-scenes so the environmental storytelling has to be extra on point. The quiet, clean, clinical look of the test chambers try to hide what's really happening. The claustrophobic areas make you feel uneasy, and the office windows throughout the game make you feel like you're being watched.

    Eventually, you do start to see more of what's hidden and discover areas that are not meant for you to see. Those environments you traverse towards the end of the game are different and look amazing. It also gives you peek behind the curtains of the test chambers you've previously only seen from the inside.

    Also, The overall look of Portal may seem simple but I think it gives the game it's own distinct style.

  • I only have two questions, which are admittedly pretty late into the cross-examination phase so if you are unable to answer them in time, I understand. Was much busier this week than I anticipated, so that's on me. I will answer questions posed to me in a few hours.

    Question for @ffff0:

    I understand that the game is season based, so my question is how do the characters grow and change from season to season? In other words, are there characters who have changed and grown significantly since the game first came out? Have there been any legitimate character arcs, ongoing or otherwise?

    Question for @Shoulderguy:

    I think Portal 2 is one of the greatest games of all time, and yet when I play the first game I find that its scope is severely limited when compared to 2. The second game takes everything the first Portal does and makes it grander and more expansive. Why do you feel like this game is worthy of being entered into the Hall of Greats over its successor?

  • Response to @Capnbobamous regarding character’s growth and stories evolutions from season to season.

    Character’s arcs do evolve from season to season and this story progression is one of the main reasons why I’m playing this game month after month. Firstly, each season introduces new character whose personality or background collides with many members of existing cast. Their interactions often show familiar characters from a different angle or help them realize something about themselves or others. For example, last season Vantage joined the roster. She is a young girl who grew up with her mother on deserted planet, so her social skills are almost non-existent. Her blunt questions and direct observatory comments when she talked with Fuse and Bloodhound helped them realize that both want to be more than just friends but were scared to take the next step first.

    Besides interactions with the newest Legend, many existing storylines and character relationships are also progressing with each new season. For example, Wraith was in the game since launch and her past was a mystery even to her. During season 2 we’ve learned that voices in her head that warns her about the danger are actually other Wraiths from different dimensions. In season 5 she was unwillingly enlisted as group’s way into other dimensions where most of the cast was looking for an artifact that can kill Revenant, and in season 6 other Legends helped her to learn a few things about her past. When season 8 started we’ve learned a lot about her first few days after she arrived in this dimension and how she was desperately trying to figure out who she is. During season 9 she and Bangalore (also in the game since launch) had an honest conversation that helped them to get over their animosity and agree to help each other. In season 12 she obtained evidence suggesting that Bangalore’s brother had died. She brough the news to Bangalore and were there to support her. In season 13 Bangalore’s brother was found to be alive, which also led Wraith to meeting someone who knew her real name. She also discovered that she was in charge of experiment that turned her into who she is today.

    Then I want to mention that some characters had story arcs even before they became playable Legends. For example, simulacrum Ash first appeared in Apex Legends in season 5 as a broken shell, whose head other Legends were assembling to get important intel from her memory. In season 6 she was staying with Pathfinder until Apex Games’ commissioner contacted her. In seasons 7 and 8 we’ve learned a lot about scientist Ashleigh Reid who lived almost 100 years earlier. In season 9 Ash became an overseer of Arenas, and through her interactions with Horizon it became obvious that she knows something about Horizon’s past. In season 10, Horizon cracked Ash’s mind and learned that when Ashleigh Reid was mortally wounded she agreed to transport her mind into simulacrum Ash, but the process caused the split of her personality and her “more evil” side took over. And in season 11 Ash had joined the roster.

    To answer your question about character’s growth – there are many characters who are not the same people we saw initially. Caustic was a sociopath running lethal experiments on human beings, but his continuous interactions with Wattson and his reunion with his mother pushed him significantly towards being humane. Wattson was found by other Legends when she was hiding beneath a table in despair – now she can take a stance and fight hard for what she believes in. It took many seasons for Bangalore to figure out that she is attracted to women, but now she knows. Crypto was paranoic and did everything himself, now he trusts Wattson with his live and relies heavily on her. And relationships change drastically too – Lifeline and Octane were friends since childhood, but their recent actions had burned that bridge.

    One last thing I want to say is that while many story arcs are ongoing, some do reach conclusions and lead to a brand-new narrative adventures. Pathfinder wanted to find out who created him and why since game’s launch – he learned everything in season 8 and is now looking for “his child” - another robot that was created from his spare parts. Bangalore wanted to find her brother and she did it in season 13, but the reunion wasn’t as happy as she hoped. Rampart’s weapon shop was burned down – for a while she had to operate from Mirage’s apartment, but in season 10 she opened up her own place. So while there is a lot of lore and you may not get all reasoning without reading a wiki if you jump into the game today, you will not be completely lost, and should be able to figure out "who is who" pretty quickly.

    To summarize, there are numerous legitimate character arcs both ongoing and completed, and characters and their relationships do evolve from season to season. Many people beg for Apex Legends anime not because they want to get more story, but because what’s already there will make an incredible TV series.

  • Alrighty here are my responses. For the sake of the aggregation list, I am going to answer them each in a separate post.

    Response to @Brannox’s Questions

    1. I think the sports work because they are part of a package deal. I don’t think they would necessarily cut it if they were sold separately. However, I don’t think they should have to. Wii Sports gives you five sports to choose from, each of which are very fun in different and unique ways. They don’t have to stand as individual games because they are designed to be part of a collection. It is that variety that allows Wii Sports to work so well. You’ll do a few rounds of baseball, have a blast, and then switch things up and give golf a shot. None of the sports could possibly overstay their welcome because you can always switch to a new sport, and with each sport comes a new challenge and a new way to have fun. So to answer your question, no they would not work if sold separately, however they make a wonderful game when packaged together.

    2. Wii Sports is a casual game through-and-through. It’s not really designed for three hour long gaming sessions, it’s more designed as something that is really easy to pick up and put down whenever you want, so whilst I understand complaints about it only having five sports, I think that fatigue you mentioned only comes from playing for advanced periods of time. In my opinion, five sports is perfectly adequate for what the game is trying to accomplish, and in fact I think adding more would have possibly lessened their quality. Take Wii Sports Resort, for example. Now, I enjoy Wii Sports Resort quite a bit, however it is bloated with too many sports, and as a result there are quite a few that are forgettable and uninteresting. Wii Sports completely avoids that issue by focusing solely on the five sports, making sure that each one is as fun as possible. Resort sees Nintendo’s attention getting spread too thin, whereas in the original they are able to devote all of their energies into making these five sports great. And they are great. Wii Sports is a smaller package, I admit, however it is because of that that it’s the perfect casual game.

  • Response to @ffff0’s Question

    Great question. I think Wii Sports has plenty to offer to a group of seasoned gamers, and I think it works pretty well as a solo game as well. I truly think Wii Sports can be fun for everybody. It is simple, yes, but it’s far from boring, and it offers an experience that can be just as enjoyable to a hardcore gamer as it is to a grandmother. One of the people that I often played the game with was my older brother, somebody who had been playing games for as long as he remembered. He and I would play it all the time, both of us being well familiar with video games and yet still having a blast with the game’s simple pleasures. So to answer your question, I think a group of seasoned gamers can have a blast with it. It’s just fun, plain and simple.

    As for playing by yourself, I often did that as well! The game’s mechanics are inherently fun regardless of whether or not you have somebody to play with, and I remember being adequately challenged by the AI as well. The game is certainly better with people, I won’t deny that, but it is plenty of fun if you want to tackle it solo. I’ve found that it can also be a very relaxing experience when played solo as well. The stakes are very low, there’s not a lot of buttons or anything like that to worry about, it’s frankly soothing.

  • Response to @JDINCINERATOR's Questions:

    1. Absolutely not. I see nothing wrong with offering games to a wider audience, and I think it’s rather beautiful that the game was able to bring in so many people who had never touched a game before. I fail to see how a longtime Nintendo fan could possibly have been impacted by this. I think games that appeal to more than the hardcore gamer should be applauded. Besides, it’s not as though Wii Sports ushered in a movement where games stopped appealing to gamers. I don’t think there has been another game since Wii Sports that has attracted such a casual crowd. There is a game for everybody, it just so happens that this game appealed to a wider demographic. Nothing wrong with that.

    2. I think I covered a lot of this in my answers to Brannox and ffff0, so I’ll offer a relatively quick response here. I think the game’s appeal is in its lack of complexity. You mention it as having not a lot of meat on its bones, but I think that kind of misses the point of the game. It’s not designed to be a large, expansive game, it’s just meant to be fun, and it is. It’s really fun. So you’re right in that it does not have a lot of mechanical complexity, but I think overcomplicating it would lessen its appeal. Sometimes you want to have a nice, casual game that does not require much of you, and Wii Sports offers just that. It has served as a party game for millions of families because of its simplicity. It has connected with millions upon millions of people for that very reason. For the single mom, who has come home after a long day of work and sought to relax with her kids, Wii Sports’ simplicity gave her that outlet. For the eight year old who seeks to play a video game with her older brother, one in which they are finally on a level playing field, Wii Sports is there. For the grandfather who wants to finally understand his grandson’s favorite hobby, Wii Sports gives him that opportunity. So yes, it’s simple, but it’s that simplicity that allows the game to work. I am a seasoned gamer, and yet there is something remarkable about Wii Sports’ purity. I am drawn to it in the same way the people I mentioned might be drawn to it. I love games that offer a lot of mechanical complexity, but I love that Wii Sports doesn’t. It works because it doesn’t.

  • Alright, it's been a week and so the Cross Examination phase is now over and it is time to DM me your votes! As a reminder, here are the rules you need to follow:

    1. Only those who brought a game can vote.
    2. You must choose your top 3 picks, with your first place game getting three points, second place getting two, and third place getting one.
    3. You may not vote for your own game

    I strongly encourage you to go back and look through everything before you make your decision, and I have updated the aggregation post in the main topic in order to make that easier for you. For the sake of transparency, I have also already voted to make sure I'm not influenced by your picks. I will reveal the winners after I have received all of the votes.

    A sincere thanks to all of you for participating, and I'll see you when I have your winners.

  • Hello everyone. Now that official parts are over, and you’ve submitted your votes I want to tell a story about creation of my presentation.

    I nominated Apex Legends at the very first of our Hall of Greats, and since it wasn’t dead last, I’ve decided to make another attempt sometime in the future. During last summer I’ve started entertaining idea of joining “Play with Us” tier on Patreon which meant that I would be also eligible for “Golden Voice”. I’ve began to think about possible usages of such privilege, and eventually it came to me: I will make a video presentation for Apex Legends for Hall of Greats and let Brandon narrate it. Initially I was planning to do this in spring of 2023, but then I’ve started to worry that I might miss the opportunity if Brandon will stop doing this, so at the very end of September I’ve decided to speed this up and target January’s Hall of Greats.

    “Golden Voice” works very similar to “Community Showcase” – you send your submission, and it gets voiced by the end of the month. You are not there during the recording and can’t provide any input or make any changes. Also my presentation required twice more than the word limit would allow so it would take me two months to get the VO. This meant that I would need to write and submit my script in early October, but I will get full VO only by December and I will not have time to for a second attempt. I never had to lock my scripts months in advance, and I never wrote a script for voice actors to read, so writing it was a completely new experience for me. And it wasn’t just about locking the script – I needed to decide that early on if I’ll be using any in-game voice-over, because those clips would consume my 5-minute budget leaving less room for Brandon’s VO. Plus, I could only guess how slow or fast he’ll read my lines, so I had to either write a script that has cut-able sections, or have another plan to fit everything in 5 minutes. I’ve decided to leave a bit of room (write less) and speed up voice track if that would not be enough (thankfully that was enough).

    At least the writing itself wasn’t that hard. My Apex Legends playtime was approaching 2000 hours mark and I could rely of my previous Hall of Greats submission to determine what I needed to talk about. There definitely was a challenge of how to say it however – I needed to convey my passion for this game though narrator’s voice without making it sound like the narrator is sharing his own experience. And I also needed to keep in mind that I will require to show some footage for every statement I make, some of which may be impossible to capture. Took me a week, but I’ve got the script which I was happy with.

    Then it was a waiting game. Well, not exactly - I knew that certain footage (like limited-time modes) is a missable opportunity, so I kept the script in my head as I was playing the game for fun or to capture clips for the next Community Showcase. I was also listening to game’s soundtrack to pick songs that will be the best fit for each segment (you may not suspect it, but Apex Legends has hours and hours of very good music). For introduction and innovations segments I’ve picked track called “Ascension”, since it’s the theme of the season which introduced Horizon, whose smartness made many lives so much better. Discussion of story and diversity would be accompanied by Loba’s theme, who is my favorite character and is also bisexual. For gameplay I’ve chosen “Boosted” from the season when Rampart was introduced, since she loves fighting. And final paragraph will be scored by “Legacy”, because what else can it be? I knew that no one would notice this, but my love for this game simply required to put that much care into its presentation.

    Then November came and I’ve got a royal present – Brandon said that he liked my script and decided to ignore word limits and read it all in one go. And he did incredible job voicing it. The very next weekend was spent entirely on audio editing. The VO itself wasn’t a problem but editing music to fit the VO it wasn’t written for turned out to be a nearly impossible challenge. Chosen tracks didn’t have loops, yet I needed them to become longer or shorter, grew in scale at the right moment all while keeping them sounding naturally. I’ve timed this after the fact – it took me 11 hours to do so. But I’ve managed to achieve what I was going for, or at least I hope I did. Go back and listen to my presentation and try to guess how many cuts music tracks have. The correct answer is 17, and if you were lower than that – I’m happy.

    The rest of November and most of December where also spent on playing the game and capturing footage. There were easy shots, like illustrations of ping system – I just needed to turn on subtitles and play for a couple of hours. There were lucky opportunities, like in-game tease of a new map that ends with a panoramic shot on a “welcome to the new home of the Apex Games” banner – perfect footage for the “and it’s absolutely deserving to enter Easy Allies forum’s Hall of Greats” finale. I’ve got help from Damiani – our play session gave me footage of assisting new players. And thanks to the large number of attempts, I’ve got combat footage where I’m not looking terrible. The only thing that was missing were the shots of playing in a tournament.

    When I was writing about tournaments in my script I wasn’t even thinking that I will be able to show my gameplay – I planned to use something from the recent world championship. I mean, who am I to dare to compete in the same lobby with truly amazing players. I knew of course that tournaments are not just for the top of the top – for example, PlayStation is running its own competition just for PS4 players – but it still felt like an unreachable thing. But the desire to close this last gap was there, so I’ve started to look for an opportunity.

    In December I’ve learned that one of ex-e-sport players is planning to run a tournament for her Twitch viewers. I’ve decided to apply. To my surprise I’ve got selected to participate. To my shock, I even played decently and thanks to having great teammates we’ve scored a victory in one of the matches and got fourth overall (I’ve also learned that it feels great when the caster says your name and “clutch” in the same sentence). Now I had all the footage I needed.

    January was video editing time. A couple of pick-up shots were required, but they were mostly of menus and took minimal effort. The editing itself was also straightforward as I’ve already assembled everything in my mind. Took me 10-15 hours to complete, but only because I wanted perfection and was spending a lot of time on 100ms adjustments.

    And once the video was rendered, I had my presentation. Was it victorious or not we shall see. But one thing is certain – I’ve put everything into making it and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.

  • @ffff0 Now that's passion. :-)

  • I must say at this point that I thought picking Rayman: Legends would bring some spice to the Hall of Greats. What I didn't know was the level of competition I'd be facing. It's like I went in to give a jet engine a kiss before it blew a fireball in my face-cos that's the sheer power of the competition I'm up against.

  • @jdincinerator said in The EZA Forum Hall of Greats (January 2023):

    I must say at this point that I thought picking Rayman: Legends would bring some spice to the Hall of Greats. What I didn't know was the level of competition I'd be facing. It's like I went in to give a jet engine a kiss before it blew a fireball in my face-cos that's the sheer power of the competition I'm up against.

    Enthusiasm can potentially count for a lot.

  • @ffff0

    It was great use of The Golden Voice. If there is any way to promote your video on various platforms, I'd do it. You make a really good under-appreciated point about Apex's ability to allow communication in a tactical game without needing to speak.

    I used to play SOCOM back in the day. About as tactical as it can get. We were all mic'd up for the sake of team communication. And that was a fantastic part of the experience. But I can easily see that being intimidating for certain people. We're trying to play a game, not win an actual war. So Apex really broke barriers with the 'Ping' and it goes a bit under looked. Battlefield had the 'Spotting' system but I don't think it was invented with the same intention.

  • @dipset Thank you. Feel free to share this video with anyone you want. I plan to submit it to Community Showcase when there will be no allies besides Damiani (March?), or when I finish doing videos for every Legend (December?).

  • I just wanted to let y'all know that I have received all of the votes, but it'll take me a couple more days I think before I'm able to do the reveal. Tomorrow and Saturday are both very packed for me, so it'll likely be on Sunday. Sorry to keep you in suspense, but I also didn't want to keep you in the dark as to what's going on. See you then!