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    1. Beat Saber (& the Oculus Quest 2)

      The first time I saw beat saber was this gameplay video in 2018 and I immediately fell in love with it. I adored the concept and wanted to play it so badly. There's a VR arcade close to my place,...

      The first time I saw beat saber was this gameplay video in 2018 and I immediately fell in love with it. I adored the concept and wanted to play it so badly.

      There's a VR arcade close to my place, where I actually played Beat Saber for ~30 mins last year. Lots of fun! And last week, I bought and received an Oculus Quest 2 and finally played it by myself.

      First of all, god damn that is a good game. It's perfect at making you feel like you're naturally good at it, too. Or maybe I actually am. With only ~4 hours of played time I'm doing hard or expert on most new songs with faster song mode (+20% song speed). Which has this weird effect of making me feel like that's the natural pacing of the song… super, super weird when they are ones I already know, as now the version I know feels slowed down.

      The campaign felt short and a bit too easy, with one exception (1-hand expert $100 bills with max 4 misses… spent 2 days on that. Looks like I'm not the only one having problems with it). Though it's been frustrating in places; I find the whole "you need to make at least x mistakes to win this level" pretty ridiculous. Min/max movement is an interesting mechanic but I'm not fond of the execution.

      I have some frustrations with the game. No replays I can save to show off the most awesome combos. Hit detection feels way off on some levels. I haven't tried online mode yet, pretty excited about it.

      But god daaaaamn it's an awesome game. I'm finally playing something again! I haven't really played any video games since … shit, almost two years. And the workout you get is fantastic. I am finally getting a handle on my lockdown atrophy.

      Ben Brode once said: "Make your games super easy to get into. The longer it takes me to get into your gameplay, the less interested I will be in playing your game. Except for Beat Saber: I will jump through any hoop just to play that."

      And that brings me to the Oculus Quest 2. I was a 2020 original Oculus Rift kickstarter backer. I actually tried the first dev kit. A pretty awesome and unique feeling, but all that for shitty resolution, motion sickness and 4 cables hanging off your head.

      Well, it's all gone. Integrated audio, fully wireless, good resolution, no cables, no base station, no PC required. And the features just blow my mind. IR cameras to detect objects around you, the guardian mode with its virtual barriers, the pass-through mode which lets you see outside the oculus without removing it (killer feature). Casting support so it's easy to show your gameplay to friends in the same room. Oh and hand detection?! This is some Star Trek shit.

      I recall my reactions to touching and playing with the first iPhone: "Wow, this is game-changing." - Such is my reaction to the Oculus Quest 2. VR is now a console that is, frankly, cheaper and less intimidating than owning a playstation-type console or some such (after all, you need a TV for those). It's on the same level as the Nintendo Switch. I know a lot of people who are greatly intimidated by VR and this removes almost everything scary about it.

      Incremental progress is weird; sometimes you stop following the various upgrades in a field and suddenly you catch up and it's mind-blowing.

      The problem with the Quest 2 is still the lack of true killer games. Right now, I bought a $400 Beat Saber game… though, it's still worth it. Like Ben said: any hoop.

      (I also got The Room VR because I'm a sucker for these kinds of games and it came highly recommended)

      12 votes
    2. esoteric board game rules templating review, please

      I'm working on a card game that would arrive to your home without a rulebook, but I'm having a comprehensibility problem. Below is some basic rules text for this game. If you had enough time to...

      I'm working on a card game that would arrive to your home without a rulebook, but I'm having a comprehensibility problem. Below is some basic rules text for this game. If you had enough time to decipher the below, do you believe you could understand its meaning? Are there any words which are too obscure?

      Join a game by selecting a central objective from among its currently apparent contests. Catch a turn from wherever to start playing then describe your plan aloud to the group. If anyone agrees that your plan is valid (legal?) then they can accept you into the game as their second. Anyone else who wants to join at this point may also join/rejoin as your teammate.

      Contests are tensions between two scales which can be described by consensus. For example, imagine I'm 1v1 with Ah while you are on a team with Bo and Ci against Du. Imagine Du sees that the tide is not in their favor, and decides to jump ship to the other game. They may do so at any time by admitting they want out of their losing position and describing which team in the other game they would like to swing over to join (My team or Ah's.). Bo, Ci, and you are left in the boat without an opponent. This may cause a crisis (see "Crisis Card").

      Farewell, I am off to prepare lunch for a child.

      4 votes
    3. What are some games that work on the player's intent?

      Today I rewatched the Game Maker's Toolkit video on Celeste: Why Does Celeste Feel So Good to Play? I recommend watching the entire video (and all of GMT's other content), but there's this...

      Today I rewatched the Game Maker's Toolkit video on Celeste:

      I recommend watching the entire video (and all of GMT's other content), but there's this fascinating point in the video, around the eleven-minute mark, when one of the developers of Celeste says "It's like working on the player's intent rather than making it a precise simulation".

      What the developer is talking about in this quote are a few hidden features of Celeste that make the game more forgiving. For instance:

      • The player can jump even a few frames after they have left a platform
      • Dashing into a corner will gently curve the player around the corner rather than bringing them to a hard stop
      • If the player tries to jump just a few frames before hitting the ground, the game will recognize their intent and perform the jump automatically once the player hits the ground

      That last point is the most blatant example of what I am talking about. The game "realizes" what the player is trying to do, and allows them to do it, rather than punishing them for being off by a few frames/milliseconds. In this way, Celeste works on the player's intent, rather than sticking to the hard rules of its simulation.

      I think that's a really fascinating and powerful idea, but I would also be very surprised if it were actually something new and unique.

      So I wanted to ask, are there any other games that work on the player's intent? How exactly do they do it? Do they make the experience more forgiving like Celeste does, or are there any games that recognize the player's intent, but somehow make the game more difficult as a result?

      Finally, just because I am curious, in what ways, both in and out of gameplay (such as interface design) could "working on the player's intent" be used to improve game and software experiences?

      18 votes
    4. What's a noteworthy game that you never see mentioned anywhere?

      Maybe it's a random itch.io find; maybe it's a minor title from a long forgotten console; maybe it's a dev project your friend asked you to play test. Whatever it is, you think it's neat, and you...

      Maybe it's a random itch.io find; maybe it's a minor title from a long forgotten console; maybe it's a dev project your friend asked you to play test. Whatever it is, you think it's neat, and you never see it mentioned anywhere.

      Tell us about the game -- what is it? Why is it noteworthy? Do you think it deserves more recognition than it's gotten? Why do you think it's as hidden away as it is?

      21 votes