Saturday, June 29, 2019

What this is all about, and probably why you're here.

Sometime back in 2015 I had an idea. Play all the first-person shooters from the '90s. So I did, wrote it down as a list. Never released it anyway. There wasn't much point to it looking back, I only finished about 10 games and played the rest briefly. Most of my statements were about whether they were good or bad. So I put it out of my mind.

In 2019 I started reading The CRPG Addict, a man blogging about his journey through every RPG released on a home computer. It was an interesting read, and then it reminded me of that list. I should do that list properly, I thought to myself. So I began plotting about doing the list again, this time in the same format as the CRPG Addict. With all the FPS, up to a certain point. I decided it should be about all shooting games, and then it sort of ballooned into first-person RPGs, racing games and survival horror games. Further, I actually have been cutting things like clones or even a shot at getting 10 points. Its insanity, its very obvious why this particular breed has never been tried before.
I also sometimes play games that aren't shooters or mention stuff that I myself worked on.

To this end I thought up 10 categories I feel are important to a shooter, and rate them each on a scale of 1 to 10. You shouldn't consider this rating the same way you would on the usual rating system. Ratings above 40 are exceedingly rare, and even ratings in the 30s aren't too common. 30s are closer to a 7 on the usual 10 point scale that most publications use, and anything higher is something good, and anything lower is...not.

What are used to shoot enemies. I like either a wide selection, or a handful of very well-made weapons. However, the game with the widest selection possible is completely pointless if they all feel the same or I don't have reasons to use more than one.

The things I am supposed to shoot. They should either be a wide variety, each feeling different and covering a different niche, or very well-made enemies. With a focus on their AI.

The things that I don't shoot or are shooting along with me. AI is primarily a concern, since it doesn't really matter how many different kinds of civilians there are.

Where you shoot things. I tend to like levels with something clever going on, either in puzzle design or in the layout itself. To a certain extent what it looks like is covered here too.

Player Agency:
How well the player controls. I don't overly criticize old games for failing to live up to modern control standards, but if its awkward to control, its awkward to control.

There are several things this can describe. Build Engine style level interactivity, just messing around and things actually happen. Adventure game style, look at this, use x item on y object. Puzzles tend to be partially handled by this.

The mood of a game. Its not quite the audio-visual content of a game, but it is closely related. Does it impart the feeling of walking through a beautiful meadow, or that gothic mansion? Is that a feeling I want to feel?

How it looks. I don't give points for nostalgia, but at the same time I appreciate what someone with limited resources and resolution can do, especially if it looks gorgeous.

What is my motivation? Does the game have multiple pathways to completing the game? Neither of these things are completely necessary, but I do like it when I have something interesting in this category.

How it sounds. I generally treat the each as half of the category. Good sound design and good music generally feel at odds to me.

After that, I tally up the total, and then talk about other reviews, bringing up anything I didn't, commenting on whether or not they finished it. Despite usually playing games that take under 10 hours, I find that most reviewers don't. Even I have a roughly 50% chance of finishing a game, but its something I bring up, because that's important. Whether or not I, someone who decided it'd be a good use of my time to play all these games didn't finish a title, is pretty important advice, as it is with people who got paid to do so. I also bring up technical issues and emulation issues one might find playing these old titles. Its surprising how many titles have given me grief in this time period.

I write this revision in late 2021, and I think it took me a while to find a good writing style. I can't say I've ever felt too good about writing text let's plays, but I've gotten into a good groove doing the actual reviews. Perhaps that's just because doing text LPs on shooting games was a fool's idea. The first 16 or so games had a very awkward style that I've been trying to rewrite, but I hope you'll stick with me past those.

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