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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tweaks I'd Make: Super Monkey Ball, Team Fortress 2, Red Steel

There's a combination you'd probably never see in a sentence. They happen to be the games I'm alternating through whenever I get the chance.

No, I haven't played Portal yet.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
This is a Wii title The Brother recommended, and I'm quite glad he did. It wouldn't normally have made my radar and it's really a ton of fun. The tilt-a-ball play of the single player suits the wiimote perfectly and they have a barrel full of multiplayer mini-game modes.

What would I tweak? Honestly I find the boss fights pretty jarring. I just spent ten minutes trying to rotate from A to B and now I'm worried about targeting a beak?

On the multiplayer side - I wished they had shaved down the number of games and increased the framework around it. Why don't all of these minigame collections allow you to log in a group of people once and then perform some kind of tournament mode?

Red Steel
Ah, poor Red Steel. So ambitious, so the target of kicks and jibes. So deserving of it too. Weird as it might sound, when I play this game I just wish they had made it a rails shooter. The level design is very reminiscent of them anyway and it would instantly resolve the control problem. The sword play essentially is on rails anyway - so why not make the whole game follow suit?

Team Fortress 2
There's an old IT saying - this network would be fine if it weren't for all the users. Goes for online games too - these teams would be fine if it weren't for all the players. The biggest problem online games, and especially team based ones, have is that they run counter to human nature.

Case in point - last night the red team was just getting trashed. Our highest scorer was like a third of half the other team. Four of our number hadn't scored at all and two of those had just joined. So what does the new guy do? He complains about how much the team sucks and then flips over to blue. Wow, what a strategy - when you can't win - just hit a key and bam! You're a winner.

Or a point whore. I've seen it multiple times. One team is just overwhelming the other, and mysteriously people from the losing team either disconnect or magically appear in a different color.

This problem has always existed and was, when not chasing cheaters, one of the key problems that existed with administrating a Counter-Strike server. When do you try and balance a team because the game has gotten so off-balanced that it just isn't fun for half the players. Not easy for a human, and hence certainly not for a server - but that doesn't mean in the last five years people shouldn't have been trying to solve it. When a match goes 5-0 in under twenty minutes and the top five guys on one team have five times the score of the top five guys on the other team? Time to mix up the teams.

And there should be a flag to make that mandatory - because trust me, you can't generally trust the players.

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