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Stubbs the Zombie - or -


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#1 electricdawn

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 10:34 AM


Ok, first I would like to say, that I just installed the demo of Stubbs the Zombie from the Inside Mac Games DVD on my Intel iMac. It seems to be pretty cool, although it runs kinda bad, but I guess I can't blame Wideload for that. What really ticked me off though, were the two following things, that shouldn't come up in a game coded in the 21st century:

1. I can't set my keyboard controls. C'mon, this is no longer the nineties! I can understand that this game was programmed with only (and I mean only) consoles in mind, but please, there's still a lot of computer gamers out there, and, I hate to say it, a lot of them are LEFTIES. OMG, that must come as a shock to you, Wideload. Yes, it's true, really.

And please don't tell me, ah, yeah, well that's the DEMO version. Well, my reply would be, if you want to sell a car, would you leave out the steering wheel on the test drive? "I mean, the steering wheel, you see, it will be totally like, in the car when you buy it, but unfortunately, well, we couldn't put it in the test car..."

Lost Sale!

2. I can't save games when I want or where I want. Hello? Again, this is no longer the nineties. Even consoles have hard drives. Use them! You may not know, but a growing minority (soon to be majority) of gamers is beyond 30 years old. It's true. You know, I'm 44 (approaching 45 at an alarming rate), I'm not so fast as your obvious target audience anymore. I need to take a break once in a while, relax, save, before I enter that friggin' room full of trigger happy scientists...But noooo, Wideload doesn't allow me to do that. Guess what?

Lost Sale!

Ok, seriously. When will game developers realize, that there is a fast(!) growing market of older gamers like me, who have a lot of money to blow btw, who passed Rigor Mortis, and are of course not as nimble as they used to be and may be even lefties or just like to configure the controls the way THEY like it?

Thank you for your time.
/Rant


v/r, E.

#2 Quicksilver

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:23 AM

I don't think that a lot of people are going to sympathize with you, and it seems a little lame to say "lost sale" over the issues you're bringing up.

Checkpoint saving isn't something that developers do when they don't have a hard drive--it's a game design decision.  I (and apparently quite a few studios) think that the ability to save/load anywhere takes away from the fun of the game for people that tend to be paranoid quicksave/loaders, and makes it possible beat the game and still truly suck at the end.  I might not be the best indicator of difficulty (top 500 in Halo worldwide), but I thought that Stubbs was easy on the second-highest difficulty level due to Stubbs' regenerating health ability.

I'm ambidextrous, and it's really not that hard to use the standard WASD setup with your right hand for a few minutes, since the retail game allows you to reconfigure keyboard controls (haven't checked the demo).
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#3 electricdawn

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:37 AM

@Quicksilver

Well, to me, these points are sale killers. To me, Stubbs is not the "OMG-must-have" game, that I absolutely have to have. With my issues not solved (which should be easy to do anyway) I rather don't buy the game, than get frustrated to no end.

Just because you are the Halo killer and you're ambidextrous(sp?) doesn't mean that the majority of people are like you, right?  :happy:

And I really, really hate forced savepoints. BTW, why do you care, if I beat the game the way I like to, and why do you care if I suck? I absolutely do suck, but why should it be of your concern? After all, I'm the customer, it should be my prerogitive(sp?) how I beat a game.

Guess what? Still lost sale.

vr, E.

#4 GlendaAdams

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:54 AM

Mostly all I can say is that I'm glad you were able to try the demo and find the game wasn't quite what you liked before buying it.  We prefer that the demos sell games, but there is also something to be gained from steering unhappy users away from games they'll be disappointed in.  We don't gain anything by having customers unhappy with their purchases. Unfortunately a game can't be everything to all people.

As far as the save anywhere vs. save points feature, that is integrally designed into Stubbs, and not something that is easily changed.  

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#5 electricdawn

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 01:44 PM

View PostGlendaAdams, on March 27th 2006, 07:54 PM, said:

We don't gain anything by having customers unhappy with their purchases. Unfortunately a game can't be everything to all people.

As far as the save anywhere vs. save points feature, that is integrally designed into Stubbs, and not something that is easily changed.  

Glenda

Glenda, thank you for your reply.

I can't quite concurr with your points. Stubbs would have been a sale, if not for the botched controls and the fact that it has save points. Now I hear that you can set the controls in the retail game. Why can't I do that in the demo?

Ok, one point down, still one to go.

I absolutely agree with you, that it is certainly not Aspyr's fault that there are save points in this game. It is a game design issue. Wideload seems to think and Quicksilver confirms, that I'm obviously a minority. Obviously people like to do the same fights over and over and over and .... ok I stop.. just so that they can get to the save point. Weird, I was so sure that I wouldn't be the only one out there that is over 40 and not so quick on the draw, and also is not thrilled by the thought that Wideload decided that battling the same scene over and over...and over...again is supposedly fun. No, thank you.

Ok,IMHO it is Wideloads fault, because it would make the game more accessible for people like me, but in the same way it wouldn't stop people like Quicksilver from breezing through the game in "Hell" mode, without saving once. Save anywhere is a win for everybody. Why can't it be like that?

I still say, bad move, lost sale.

v/r, E.

#6 txa1265

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 02:13 PM

Remember that Stubbs *is* a multiplatform game, including console, and that the overwhelming majority of gamers and game $$ are console based.  And consoles tend to univerally use checkpoint saves, even if they also allow save-anywhere systems.

My biggest issue with those systems is when they are so console centric that they center around saving based on things that are hard on consoles (often easy on PC) and not at platform-correct moments.

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#7 Quicksilver

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 02:14 PM

I'm not some crazy uber player (at least, I don't think so) . . . sorry if I made it sound like that.  I definitely understand the frustration of going through a fight over and over again, but if one technique isn't working, why not try another?  With Stubbs, you always have a huge amount of flexibility (so long as you don't work youself into an impossible situation by neglecting to eat enough brains to fill up your abilities).  :)
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#8 the Battle Cat

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 03:15 PM

Checkpoint saves were the thing I hated most about Halo, and by inheritance, Stubbs the Zombie.  Bungie likes to control your saves, forcing you to span a distance or a set of fights before you can save again.  That's why they went with this rather than a full save/quick save system in Halo.  Marathon had a better system for forcing restricted saves on a player, the pattern buffers.  My problem with the checkpoint saves is that you are stuck with where ever the witless program saves you.  You can be in the most precarious of predicaments, or you can be forced to run back multiple times to redo something because you can't do it once RIGHT and save it.  The pattern buffers allowed you to choose your timing, their location made you fight the fights to get to it so Bungie could control the difficulty.  You always knew when you were going to save (no unmarked checkpoints) and you had the option of suiciding and trying again before you saved.  Stubbs will save your ill-begotten progress even though you missed with every single gut bomb and accidently killed your own hand by only taking one mysterious step onto an unidentified checkpoint.  It totally sucks eggs like a farm dog.  

It's not a deal killer for me, but I absolutely do NOT like checkpoint saves.  I hate just about everything that is "dumbed down".  It's the worst idea ever for a save system.  It stifles experimentation, and the absolute joy of doing something knowingly stupid because you can just restore without accidently saving.  With user controlled saves you can also save spots you want to go back and goof around in, replay a certain thing that you thought was super fun, or for what whatever reason... but it is YOUR reason and not an invisible spot's reason.

Though I realize Stubbs was stuck with the Halo save system, it would have been better if you could have gone to any predetermined place and saved your progress Marathon style.  A hearse parked in the street, a mortuary, a grave stone, a casket, a corpse, any number of supernatural "zombiesque" totems that you could save your progress with.  These things Wideload could have scattered about the maps where they felt were appropriate.

The LEAST Wideload could have done was to clearly mark the checkpoints.
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#9 Quicksilver

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 04:32 PM

I agree with your frustration tBC, but I still love the idea of unmarked automatic checkpoints for savegames because it's much more immersive.  However, you're right--the fact that you can't see the checkpoints coming up AND the fact that games like Halo only keep track of your latest save is significantly flawed.

If you've ever played Homeworld 2, it does a great job of archiving all of your old checkpoint saves automatically (the load screen gives you a giant list of all of the saves in each level), so you can go back and start over if you screwed something up too much to use your current save.  

I'd love to see Halo's transparency, Homeworld 2's method of archiving all of your saves (which fixes Halo's biggest problem), and a proposed new feature: the ability to have two shots at saving your progress at the latest checkpoint.  I'd like to be able to pass through your most recent checkpoint again to have the game save another copy of my progress there.  Once I hit the next checkpoint, the game keeps the savegame that I used to reach it and tosses the old one (thus, keeping the best save).  Does that sound like a good idea (feel free to shoot it down--I'm looking for a debate here ;))?
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#10 No One

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 06:28 PM

View Postthe Battle Cat, on March 27th 2006, 02:15 PM, said:

It's not a deal killer for me, but I absolutely do NOT like checkpoint saves.

Same here. What I really hate is the imposition on my time. Checkpoint systems tend to assume I have all the time in the world to complete the game. It's annoying when I have only a limited amount of time to play, or may be interrupted at any moment. A lot of games seem to run you through these long sections of difficult fights. I was playing this one game before bed. I had made my way through a bunch of hard fights, but the game was giving me no clue how close I was to a checkpoint. After some time of playing, I realized I would get no sleep if I didn't stop now. I killed the power and lost hours of work. And then it hit me, it had become like work. Instead of making the game more "fun" it had turned it into a job. I don't want to have to put down games as some sort of daily checkbox item to be filled in. I want to be able to play when the fancy strikes me, and stop when I get bored or have something else to do.

I always liked the games that at the very least had a pause save. It would let you save at any time, and then delete the save when you loaded it. At the very least I can put the game down when I need to. (I still prefer save at any time though.)

#11 the Battle Cat

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 07:23 PM

View PostQuicksilver, on March 27th 2006, 02:32 PM, said:

I'd love to see Halo's transparency, Homeworld 2's method of archiving all of your saves (which fixes Halo's biggest problem), and a proposed new feature: the ability to have two shots at saving your progress at the latest checkpoint.  I'd like to be able to pass through your most recent checkpoint again to have the game save another copy of my progress there.  Once I hit the next checkpoint, the game keeps the savegame that I used to reach it and tosses the old one (thus, keeping the best save).  Does that sound like a good idea (feel free to shoot it down--I'm looking for a debate here ;))?
That is a huge improvement over the current system, but it still locks you out of the "get stupid" and "experiment" phases of the game.  I don't want to fight for half an hour just to get to the spot where I need to be in order to do something suicidally dangerous or especially impossible only to instantly fail and fight another half hour to get back and try again.  It takes a lot of fun out of the process of owning a game, and turns it into work like No One said.  Stubbs has a LOT of places that would be fun to revisit and goof around in that are essentially out of reach to me because of the save system.

And by the way, this is in the wrong forum.  Stubbs the Zombie is an Action game.  Thanks and a tip O the Cat Hat to Batcat for pointing this out to me.  ;)
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#12 Lord Brixton

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 03:36 AM

When I first read this I must confess I thought that the original poster was too negative - mainly because my Marathon loyalty is so irrationally strong that I thought Terminals=OK, therefore Checkpoints=OK too.

Before I made a fool of myself & posted though, tBC pointed out my error. Terminal-based saving is way more flexible & user-friendly than no-option checkpoints. It's just one more example of how Bungie got it right first time and that Halo was, for all its graphical coolness, something of a step back.

I still haven't played Stubbs - If I'm not sure about a game I often wait until the price drops a little - but having recently banged through Halo again the checkpoint thing can be a little irritating & there's no reason to suppose that it won't be a little irritating in Stubbsy too.

I agree that the "play-save-play-save" style of gameplay is kind of lame (although I would never have completed Call of Duty without it) but Checkpoints should definitely be visible in-game to enable you to run back & resupply etc. before commiting to a save.

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#13 txa1265

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 07:04 AM

I would also rather have more control over saving ... I like games that (like Jedi Knight II) have checkpoints, autosave at beginning of level, and *still* allow quicksaves and full saves anywhere *you* choose to save.

Then there is also something like Soldier of Fortune II, where you can customize the number of saves per level ... I love the ability to force that discipline on yourself!

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#14 Batcat

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 08:50 AM

View Posttxa1265, on March 28th 2006, 07:04 AM, said:

I would also rather have more control over saving ... I like games that (like Jedi Knight II) have checkpoints, autosave at beginning of level, and *still* allow quicksaves and full saves anywhere *you* choose to save.
Ditto. Checkpoint saving is something I can cope with, but I prefer flexibility... I can live with it in Halo, which generally has well-chosen save points, but even there it could be improved. Too long between checkpoints does make experimentation and wacky fun more difficult.

Checkpoints can't really be marked as they're multiparametric. Sometimes only one parameter is in play, such as location; but even when you stay in one place, other parameters can literally come into play and put you thru multiple saves without ever moving- it's game progress as measured multiple ways, not just physical progress, that determines this. This can result in baffling, tho not unpredictable checkpoints.

Multiple Halo plays have given me good intuition as to when the game will save. Sometimes I'm quick enough to head off an imminent unwanted save.

It's not true that the Halo engine tracks only the most recent checkpoint. Halo PC and Mac are built off Xbox Halo, as is Stubbs and (in modified form) Halo 2. On PC, in 1 you can exit your current game without completely quitting the app, and the game gives you the option of selecting any saved game to [re]enter, including the last two checkpoints. Halo 2, quietly, lets you go back two checkpoints- if you die 5 times fairly quickly, including suicide, you'll revert to two checkpoints back. The 'replay cool parts' aspect is made easier by substantially shorter levels in H2. (This reminds me of another reason I dislike consoles- limited resources only allow 1 saved checkpoint per player profile per game. If I like a cool part of H2, I can only save one per player profile, period. This alone keeps me off consoles for primary gaming).

Unfortunately, the Stubbs demo showed me checkpoint saves are even more hurtful to Stubbs than Halo. The latter at least has elements that make replays more fun, or bearable; Stubbs relies more on elements like humor for its charms- and that can wear thin on your eighth try thru a tough section after a botch like

Quote

Stubbs will save your ill-begotten progress even though you missed with every single gut bomb and accidently killed your own hand by only taking one mysterious step onto an unidentified checkpoint.
After that, hearing the umpteenth approach of even a barbershop quartet wears thin- and no cheat codes, nothing with which to bypass such tedium. Design integrity and purity are good, but geez, it's my game to play, my life. There should be some recourse in extremis.

I'll probably get Stubbs at reduced price, but there were enough neg elements that all my efforts to like the game enough to buy haven't been enough at full retail. Maybe soon.

#15 electricdawn

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 11:20 AM

Thank you guys, this is exactly what I was looking. You even came up with problems that I forgot. It IS a fun killer and really seems like work, when I have to do the same tedious thing over and over again.

I actually emailed both of Wideload and Aspyr, and I got a reply back from Alexander Seropian himself. Whoowhoo. As a Marathon fan myself, I feel a bit enlightened...  :lol:
I hope he reads this thread, because you have added much better arguments against this system then my original post.

v/r, E.

#16 Eric5h5

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 12:37 PM

View Postelectricdawn, on March 28th 2006, 12:20 PM, said:

I actually emailed both of Wideload and Aspyr, and I got a reply back from Alexander Seropian himself. Whoowhoo. As a Marathon fan myself, I feel a bit enlightened...  :lol:

Well? What did he say??

Ignoring the checkpoint debate, what about the keyboard controls?  Apparently the real thing is customizable, which is good.  Not sure why the demo isn't (that sort of thing really ought to be trivial to include, no?), but it's not that big a deal to me personally just because I wouldn't change them much anyway.  But at the very least, if the demo's not going to have customizable controls, then the readme should accurately tell you what keys do what actions.  Because as it stands, it doesn't.  :)  Took a bit of trial and error....

Overall though, I have to admit that because of the demo I'm leaning toward getting this game after all.  On paper, the concept didn't grab hold of me and vigorously shake me, saying "you gotta buy this game, dude!"  I'm all for different concepts, for sure, but zombies...well.... But, you know, it IS pretty fun.

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#17 the Battle Cat

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 03:26 PM

View Postelectricdawn, on March 28th 2006, 09:20 AM, said:

I actually emailed both of Wideload and Aspyr, and I got a reply back from Alexander Seropian himself.
Well tell us what he SAID you chittering Pfhor Looker!!

View PostEric5h5, on March 28th 2006, 10:37 AM, said:

Ignoring the checkpoint debate, what about the keyboard controls?  Apparently the real thing is customizable, which is good.  
Yes, in the full game the keyboard controls are fully customizable.
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#18 teflon

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 07:00 PM

View Posttxa1265, on March 28th 2006, 02:04 PM, said:

I would also rather have more control over saving ... I like games that (like Jedi Knight II) have checkpoints, autosave at beginning of level, and *still* allow quicksaves and full saves anywhere *you* choose to save.


yeah, but then you need to get a proper system to catalogue all the save games. you need a user saves menu, a auto saves menu, and a beginning of level menu. or even a cascading set of menus: choose the level, get the auto saves and level start options, go right/left instead of up and down and you get the user saves.

also on the choose level menu you could have a recent saves option, at the top of which is a quick save and then the last 5 saves.

some would say that that is complicated. i say its preferable to, and more intuitive than, scrolling down a ridiculously long set of saves with only a small thumbnail as your guidance to what the save really is...
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#19 Batcat

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 08:56 PM

It's been done, and done well. The real trick is when the game engine itself makes it totally non-trivial.

Perhaps Brad O., who ported the JK games, could chime in on this.

#20 txa1265

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 09:20 PM

View PostBatcat, on March 28th 2006, 09:56 PM, said:

Perhaps Brad O., who ported the JK games, could chime in on this.

Obviously I can't speak for Brad, but I can only imagine that attempting to 'reinvent' the save system on a game port would be horrendously difficult and fraught with potential bugs.  Because most of my 'dual platform games (games I have on Mac & PC) do everything the same on both.

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