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LONG BLOG

My Rival, My Nemesis

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I've been playing a good amount of Geometry Wars 2 lately. It's my go-to game when I don't feel like playing anything else or don't have time to settle down into another game. GW2 has the unique properties necessary to put me into a kind of trance when I play, in which muscle memory is doing a lot of the work, maybe 70% of my brain is intensely focused on following the action, and the remaining third is roaming harder than a Sprint phone in Australia.

I think this portion of my brain has some kind of paranoid streak, because lately I've been thinking that the game is out to get me. Just at the height of combat as I'm doing really well, it'll throw me a ridiculous curveball that I'm totally unprepared for. I was playing Evolved the other day, and in the middle of all kinds of craziness, the game whipped out--I kid you not--three full-side spawns of orange arrows. If that's not cruel, I don't know what is.

Anyway, so that got [that part of my my mind] thinking... what if games had the kind of AI necessary to play against you strategically? I really like the setting of a game like GW2, where none of the enemies themselves have particularly interesting AI, but where the game is like a conductor, pitting them against you in ingenious ways. This is in marked contrast to games like Gears or Halo, where the individual enemies are expected to show some intelligence (grouping, flanking, etc.). In those, you play against enemies in the game; in this, you play against the game itself.


Same game, different skin.

I like the feeling that the game is sparring with me. That it's reading my moves and patterns and forcing me to change them, to adapt. If it were smart enough, it could do this for any level of difficulty, tailoring the cleverness of the response to the difficulty the player chose. If I were a beginner at the game, it could start me off with all pinwheels and pink squares. For flavor, it could throw in blue diamonds. When it detects that my speed at tracking and killing them has surpassed some threshold, it changes the mix of enemies and patterns of spawns.

It's now kind of a dream of mine to play a game that, once you start to understand how it works, takes on a kind of sentience, like a partner, a rival, or even a nemesis. It pushes you to do better. It trains you to overcome your weaknesses. And by following its lead, you come to realize that the game understands how you play.
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About knutafone of us since 6:45 PM on 03.01.2010

Facts:
I'm a dad in my thirties.
I work for MS on the Xbox, making features and fixing bugs.
I have a cat and two dogs.
I sometimes make Twitter bots: 1, 2, 3

Frontpaged
Groundhog Day: Wave After Wave, This Is My Ocean
Obscurity: Nobody has ever heard of Lemmings

Currently playing
Stephen's Sausage Roll
Obduction


Favorites:
Dark Souls
La-Mulana
Geometry Wars 2
Burnout Paradise
Rayman (original, Origins, Legends)
Tetris Attack
Windwaker
Metroid Prime series
Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 3
Descent 1-3
Bayonetta
English Country Tune
The Witness


Other places you might find me:
Twitch.tv livestream (PC indie games and Dark Souls)
knutaf on YouTube
@_knutaf on Twitter
Occasionally, I am part of a podcast
I watch a fair bit of anime.
I sometimes listen to music.
Xbox LIVE:knutaf
PSN ID:knutaf
Steam ID:knutaf


 

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