Archive for April 4th, 2013

Is Battleblock Theater the game as good as Battleblock Theater the trailer?

, | Games

The remarkable thing about the Battleblock Theater trailer is that it does nothing to make me want to play the game — egad, that looks like a lot of pointless jumping about — but it’s nevertheless hilarious. It makes me want to get the game on goodwill for the trailer alone.

Of course, I already want to get the game because developer Behemoth amply proved themselves with Castle Crashers, so the trailer’s effectiveness is redundant.

Women in gaming earn less than men

, | Games


Despite strides in the industry for equality and inclusiveness, the salary gap between the genders continues to be an issue according to an annual survey recently conducted by Game Developer Magazine. The data, reprinted by The Border House, shows a wide compensation gulf between the sexes.

Men earn more than women in the same jobs as artists, testers, designers, producers, audio techs, and as business professionals. The only area in which women earn slightly more is in programming, but they account for less than 5% of the positions. There are far less women than men working in the gaming industry at all levels.

It was noted that the data did not include how long the participants had been at their jobs, so it can be assumed that one of the likely factors for the disparity is that women have less tenure as their male counterparts.

Bioshock Infinite’s combat blows

, | Games


Jonathan Blow, the outspoken designer of Braid, has some thoughts about Bioshock Infinite’s combat and regenerating shields in general. This is one of those longstanding debates in gaming like save anywhere or checkpoints, mouse & keyboard or controller, and Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. The fight between people that like regenerating health or shields and the people that like scrounging for health pickups has been going since Halo, but fighting in Columbia seems to have brought the discussion back in a way that I haven’t seen before.

Playing Infinite, I realize that Halo-style recharging shields are actually a huge mistake in shooter design. But all shooters use them now. Since people are going to ask: There are two problems; one is about emotional pacing, one is about gameplay crispness and fairness. With shields, you are always doing okay in the medium and long term. They low-pass filter the emotional high of surviving a tight situation. You can have a tight situation on the order of 10 seconds, but not on the order of 5 minutes, which matters more.

The crispness problem is: In order to provide difficulty, designers now have to overwhelm your shields all the time, which means designing situations that are spammy (get hit from all directions so you can’t process what is going on). These are confusing and not fun. These feel messy to play but they happen all the time because they have to. Or, like Infinite does, have super attacks that take away all your shields at once *and* 1/3 of your health, which feels steeply unfair.

Also, shields train the player to ignore getting hit most of the time, which becomes grating at the end when guys start hitting hard. (You trained the players for one thing but then gave them another!) I think shooters are much stronger experiences when it matters if you got hit. In shield games you get hit all the time, like flies buzzing.

(Credit to Kotaku for putting the tweets into a format humans can read.)