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Depth in Action games and games in general

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1 Depth in Action games and games in general on Sat Jan 27, 2018 8:07 pm

Depth: The number of experientially different possibilities OR meaningful choices that come out of one ruleset.

For reference, please make an effort to understand what has been said here, it can be a heady subject but were all learning together:

Notice the shared terminology? a criteria needs to be set to judge depth by, this is substantiated by fact, as in the actual proof of what you can and can't do in a game on a mechanical level, then the meta is the player making use of these facts, the decisions they can make with them allows for depth.

Some games have depth, others have more or less, or actually none at all. Its not all equal, that's faulty logic. The less meaningful choices that come out of one ruleset, the less depth, because fewer decisions you can make that alter the gameplay exist. Its that general.

Its more academic and scientific than you may think, its rational, not emotional, depth is a mental activity of using the possibilities presented from that ruleset to make more meaningful useful decisions. You don't feel depth, you think it. There's a reason why its game design, there is actual design to it.

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I don't know. Some points I don't agree on or didn't make sense to me. Is Vanquish really considered to have less depth than their other titles?

It's too much info and I get bored listening and the balance stuff I don't really care for.

Depth: The number of experientially different possibilities OR meaningful choices that come out of one ruleset.

as in the actual proof of what you can and can't do in a game on a mechanical level, then the meta is the player making use of these facts, the decisions they can make with them allows for depth.

The only common theme I see is how much you can do.

So is it all about number of actions you can perform? In that case yeah, DMC4 would probably be on top. But what about less actions and totally different mechanics. What about tons of actions with more than 50% being just 'shit you can do' rather then actually necessary? Like that DMC guy who praises 4 and shits on everything else with comments like "You can defeat and enemy in 1000000 different ways".

What if the game doesn't take huge skill like Okami, but has tons of combat options?

Sorry, but I the stuff in these videos has never even crossed my mind. I just don't think like that and was bored to death. No one ever argues this stuff. It's always about number of attacks/weapons available deciding whether a game is good or not.

I forgot, you asked me what I consider a shallow game. I try to avoid trashing games I think have less value in whatever area, but I'll talk about Remember Me.

I actually quite like this game, and didn't mind the combat but it's very simple. You have a lot of moves, but none of them mean anything because of how the system works.

You set them into a slot and then just tap the button to perform them. There are all kinds of punches and kicks, but because the character automatically closes distance, and the timing of every move is the same, none of them are unique. You have to press the attack button just as your attack connects to lead into the next. The timing is lenient too.

It's kinda like Batman, where you dash from enemy to enemy knocking them down, except in RM you don't dash around, you just beat down a single enemy and dodge as needed.

The main aspect though is how you have all these different looking attacks, yet they all have the same property, to do damage. This jumping spinning kick is the same as this simple jab. There's no speed or range difference.

If I had to define a game as shallow, it would be this. There are a small amount of other combat options but nothing huge.

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3 Re: Depth in Action games and games in general on Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:20 am

Even there I might disagree, depth in Remember Me is not in the combat but in the numbers behind it. You have selection of Super Essens, which need meter to be used. One is you entering 'super you' mode (kind of like Devil Trigger) where your moveset is replaced by a default one and each attack deals more damage than the last. It has a cooldown of 60 seconds.

Now one element of depth here is that you can build a combo made out of cool-down reducers, use this 3 times and you have the ability to use the Super Essen again. Slowly your strategy for big fights is to chain combos together and keep yourself in your 'super you' mode as much as possible; that's the depth of one strategy.

You can also focus around another Super Essen, the Bomb which includes a full i.framed dash to grab a foe and hook a bomb onto him and then dodge away. Setting up enemies so that they are all hit by the bomb is very satisfying.

Remember Me is, as you can see, all about the Super moves, not the regular attacks (which are all samish). 

> depth in general
For me, and I've said this quite a few times so I'll leave it at this before I write the article on it, depth is the amount of options you have and the different effects each option has on the overal combat/encounter. If you have a ton of combat options, but they all do the exact same thing, then it quickly becomes a test of optimasation until you find the move that deals the most damage in the least amount of time. Nioh suffered greatly from this, as nearly all moves (with the exception of maybe the Kusari-gama) did the same: deal damage. They didn't do knockdown (mostly) and they didn't approach the target or have special features. This is why most pro-players of this game just spam the same move, because they've optimized it.

So yeah, the different applications of each move, that's the real kicker. This is why games like Batman do have depth, because sure the main combo is bland and just deals damage, but you have pulls, freezes, stuns, instant-kills, ranged projectiles - a whole plethora of moves that don't kill but have other applications.

> Shallow game
It is rare for me to find one, but if I had to name one game in which I found the combat to be Shallow it is probably Assassin's Creed. There are no setups, no real combos, the parry is way too good. Sure you have a lot of options, to the point of having a hand-to-hand move with disarm features, but there is just nothing substantial to be found I feel. But even that can be entertaining to me if I'm in the mood for it.

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4 Re: Depth in Action games and games in general on Sun Jan 28, 2018 11:05 am


I was going to mention the super options but just ended up focusing on and isolating the basic attacks.

Batman - You should do an article focusing on this game. I've lost count of the amount of times Ive seen it trashed for having 'one button combat', mash counters and no variety.

Yeah at best we could find a game with less options than another. But I dont think the number of options make a game inferior. It seems to me it's the mechanics that carry eveything. Shinobi is the perfect example. El Shaddai is another. Onimusha too.

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5 Re: Depth in Action games and games in general on Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:54 pm

Batman is high on the list but, like Vanquish, scary for me to write about since I hold them so dear since I'm also a huge Batman fan in terms of comicbooks having spent more than 10.000 euros on comics over my life at the very least. So I want to do it justice.

In terms of the buttons itself, Remember Me is empty I agree. The moves have no unique features, all have the same frame-data etc. The customisable moveset is a fun idea but poorly done, especially since there's no real mode to go 'ham' in with a fully decked out Nihilin.

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Meanwhile, that silly DMC Vs Souls topic rages on lol. I can't understand this people.

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I dare not read into that topic, it is just twenty plus people screaming their opinions hoping to be heard. There is no talk, no discussion, only forcing each opinion on the other - I'll skip going there.

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Change the number of people and you have the perfect description of gamefaqs lol.

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This is all taken from the above article on this site:Critical-Gaming:

Tons of great game design info from Richard Terell(KirbyKid) if your aware of them.

Critical-Gaming wrote:Interplay is the back and forth encouragement of player mechanics between any two elements in a game. Put simply, interplay is where actions and elements in a game aren't means to an end, but fluid opportunities that invite the player to play around with the changing situation.

The easiest way to think of interplay is offensively/defensively or in counters. Consider two elements of a hypothetical action/fighting game. The first element is the player's character, and the second is an enemy. If an enemy can attack you, does this attack/enemy have a way to be countered? What happens when you counter the enemie's move? Does the enemy die, does it reset itself, or does the situation change? If the situation changes, is the enemy still a threat? If so, can you counter the new threat? And the cycle repeats.

Once you have run out of counters between the two elements you're examining, it's easy to map out which mechanics were used at each level, what kind of mechanics were used, and what additional elements were involved in the situation. Only with all of this information can the interplay of two elements be accurately described. The greater the level of interplay involving higher (more primary) mechanics and level elements, the deeper and more dynamic a game is.

Examples(I’ve cut out a super mario boss example, its the only other example but it’s quite long):

Critical-Gaming wrote: Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

All the bosses in this game are designed with a well balanced amount of interplay that allows the player to constantly flow with the action instead of waiting around for weak spots to reveal themselves.

Even in this relatively simple boss Torch Tusk, players can utilize throwing explosive pineapples offensively to counter the boss attacks of fireball projectiles and lasers. When Torch Tusk is taking in air to shoot the fireballs, players can throw a pineapple so that it gets jammed inside of its tusk. Players can also stop the laser by hitting Torch Tusk with a pineapple while its discharging the beam. At the same time, the boss can counter the player's only offensive option by intercepting an incoming pineapple, letting the small flame walls detonate the planted pineapples, or blasting them with the laser beam.

This kind of offensive interplay keeps the momentum high because the player always has something they can do to gain an advantage. Because the player's only offensive option is using the pineapples that are located at the exposed top and bottom platforms, the player is more likely to move around the field platforming in a variety of ways.

Interplay doesn't have to reach any particular level in order to be interesting, useful, and well designed/integrated with the rest of the game. Just having multiple one step interplay elements can build exciting and rich gameplay experiences.

Viewtiful Joe's enemies and bosses are action packed because of the high amount of interplay in their design. Though the level of interplay doesn't typically go past 2, the mechanics involved in the interplay are all highly interconnected. A single attack from a boss or enemy has at least one obvious counter. At any time, players can use their special fx powers to speed up time, slow it down, or zoom in the camera to adjust the difficulty of executing the counter in real time. In other words, if an attack is too fast for a player, they can simply slow down time to make things easier. But as the enemies and attacks begin to layer together, things get more complicated. All the while, the energy that Joe needs to stay powered up drains away. When Joe is all out of energy, he not only losses his super powers like his fx powers and his double jump, but he takes more damage as an "ordinary joe." During the most exciting battles, players are fully engaged in the push-pull inter-gameplay.

Some examples of interplay can branch from a single point. Take Squirtle's withdraw attack from Super Smash Brothers Brawl. With this move, Squirtle tucks himself into his shell and slides forward. While inside his shell, Squirtle cannot take damage. Also, the moving shell can hit objects and opponents for a weak attack. With these two properties, this move could have been unbalanced because of its offensive and defensive abilities. Fortunately, counters were built into this move that comply with form fits function. Opponents can strike the shell to counter its trajectory. Though Squirtle won't take damage, he will slide in the direction of the attack according to the strength of the attack used. So it's possible to smash the shell off the stage so that Squirtle has to extend himself just to recover back to the stage. Opponents can also counter the move by jumping on top of the shell Super Mario style. When this happens, Squirtle is flipped on his back helpless as he struggles to turn himself back over. If all the moves, especially the stronger ones, had this much interplay, Brawl would be a much better game.

Closing thoughts:
Critical-Gaming wrote:If an individual game action or element is analogous to a musical note, then interplay is how the range and variety of notes are created in a videogame. Long held notes, short notes, syncopation, grace notes, and runs up and down a scale are analogous to game mechanics like charging a bast in Megaman, small jumps in Mario Bros., countering in Ninja Gaiden, angling an up-B recovery move in Smash Brothers, or riding down an icy mount in Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. Interplay is how the music of a game can move beyond simply recognizing the situations to use a mechanic, executing the mechanic, and moving on.

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10 Re: Depth in Action games and games in general on Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:12 pm


When this happens, Squirtle is flipped on his back helpless as he struggles to turn himself back over. If all the moves, especially the stronger ones, had this much interplay, Brawl would be a much better game.

The problem with comments like this, while they might be true, is that you can add this comment to absolutely ANY game in existence. I bet Brawl is already a great game with tons of in-depth mechanics.

I find that site way too complicated. Couldn't really follow what the guy is getting at. I just don't think in these terms I guess. I'm a simple peasant. Though I understand what you mean by interplay.

Shit, this means Knack 2 really is a super deep game lol.

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11 Re: Depth in Action games and games in general on Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:21 am

Fun site, will have to delve into it further. But be mindful of taking words of others as gospel, it is easy to grab a piece of text and say "see, it is noted here, thus it is correct" but that is missing the point. Stinger Magazine is also just me trying to be objective, but in the end it is still all subjective.

On the topic at hand, I think you've been overly self-negative here Birdman in terms of this discussion. You call yourself a simple peasant and such, we all know that's not true. You know your stuff, you love the genre and games within it, that's enough for me. It's why I made the note that depth is personal. You find it where you want to find it.

Also, Brawl was horrible haha, at least as a competative game (though it is the only game I really played at a high level enough to earn money with it, to my shame).

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