Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Combat Snob

Well hello there good sir and/or lady, I didn't see you come in. Let me put down this extravagantly sized mahogany tobacco pipe I'm smoking and swap from my reading glasses to my day-to-day gentleman's monocle to get a better look at you. Please, take a seat in one of our grand high-back leather armchairs, make yourself comfortable, perhaps between the ornate marble fireplace and the armoire. That's French for cupboards. If you are here in this place, it can only mean one thing. You're no soft-core softlock sycophant, no drooling dial-a-combo dope, no grinning God of War grunt, nor hapless Heavenly Sword heathen, washing your double helping of quick time events down with a warm glass of flash and false rewards. No! You like your combat systems rich with technical depth and meticulous balance, you are an aficionado of air resets, a connoisseur of cancels and counters, a DMC devotee, a viewtiful virtuoso, a Bayonetta buff, a person of highest class and (soul) caliber, in short; you are a combat snob. Welcome to the club.

For you see, what is perfectly acceptable to a vast majority of gaming demographics will draw bloody tears from the eyes of a combat snob like me. I have accepted that my lofty standards, forged by detailed playthroughs of Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden and Onimusha at a tender age, are not the norm. This might make the level of scrutiny we/I provide seem needless. Not everyone plays combat systems like a combat snob, but not until there is peace between all digital entities, fictional and otherwise, will the need for good combat design die. And let's face it, beating 50 shades of red out of people, robots, zombies, dragons, demons, vikings, minotaurs or whatever with big swords and big guns isn't getting old any time soon. Like it or not there is a continued need for people who truly love and study the art of digital combat design down to its blood and bones, and inevitably this is going to lead to niche elitist “hardcore” desires clashing with the mainstream along the way.. as it does in all genres and aspects of games design. But that doesn't matter. The goal is always improving the systems for everyone, layman AND snob, and protecting them from industry-wide degradation.

In this series “The Combat Snob” I am going to analyse the combat mechanics I liked and disliked in games I have been playing recently. This is partially inspired by the fact I have a terrible memory, and I worry that as the mists of time gobble up my media memoirs I'll start to forget the important new things I learned from games I have played. The ideas and inspirations they had for me as a designer. I'm hoping a cataloguing of those ideas and inspirations here might prolong the delay of my inevitable dementia, or at the least act as the equivalent of Memento flashcards for a blank-brained future Steve when he chooses to revisit his blog a few months or years down the line. Fingers crossed, because I've been told I'm too vanilla for body tattoos and I tend to agree.

Thanks for reading,

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Although I am a game designer employed within the game industry, all of the opinions I express in this Blog are my own opinions, given in a personal capacity, and do not represent the opinions of my employer