By the balls of Ra, this argument returns!

As a designer, your job isn’t to be a control freak and force things on the player. It’s to create something that allows the player to have fun. House rules are not a bad thing.

Remember the days of Smash Bros. Melee when the competitive scene started to discover the “wonders of wave dashing”? Of course you do, everyone played Smash Bros. at least once in their life to get to know the asshole competitive scene running amok on Smash Boards. Everyone who has dealt with them has come to this particular mindset of “PLAY THE GAME THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE PLAYED!”. I’m assuming most are aware of the “completely unnecessary rules” set by smash players when concerning their tournaments in which items are completely banned as well as certain stages. At most, you would only find people playing on Final Destination.  The attitude against the competitive scene was overwhelmingly negative, you could find so many youtube videos and rant blogs decrying their ways. Their motto was “learn how to deal with situations in a game”. Of course, this kind of mentality was echoed by Nintendo and Sakurai themselves, and thus we get….

POISON! This game with drastically altered physics made players more dependent on items than ever before, and the game was still an unbalanced turd.

But aside from the that, It’s always been in gamer’s nature to level the playing field to his or her own distinct advantages. People don’t want to feel powerless, so they tend to destroy that which reduces their power. If given the option to do so, damn sure they will use it.

As the designer, the question you should ask is why would you give a damn? Your job is to deliver customer satisfaction regardless, not be a dictator of how a game should be played. Let w/e competitive scene exists deal with balancing issues. I tire of the new fad of game developers wanting to co-opt the pathetic competitive scenes of their respective fighters, as if they wish to be seen as some sort of expert on peerless fighting game design. I blame this on Capcom as they’ve become the mascots of EVO where the Eventhoes ride them like rodeo shows. Why a developer would care about a “competitive scene” is mind boggling. The goal should be to attract as many people to your game, not cater exclusively to the TF’s.

The fool who wrote this advocates dictatorial game design on the grounds that it won’t divide the player base. In a bitter taste of irony, he is siding with those that would be deemed “scrubs” by Smash players for advocating the removal of the option to turn off items. As if player preference was ever evil!

Items are an integral part of balancing Smash Bros characters, kind of a global move-set that homogenizes the characters. Take items out and you end up with the current Smash Bros competitive scene, which is playable with only 8 of the 26 characters on 5 of the 29 stages.

Anyone who’s played Melee knows this is bullshit. Even with items set on, a good Shiek would still decimate a good Bowser. Speed plays a much bigger role in advantages than items, and the slower characters tend to get shafted (sans Ganon). Items really do nothing more than add randomization to matches, which can be upsetting to people who were playing well vs those getting the taste smacked out of them. They don’t balance out characters. At all. What they really do is screw up the players themselves. I don’t know about Team Fortress or Beer Pong.

But if I had it my way, I would turn off that fucking Ultra Combo shit in SF4. If I’m doing the ass kicking, the guy’s who’s ass is getting kicked should NOT be fucking rewarded! But that would be evil because it would fragment the player base. I don’t give a fuck about the other player’s, I know that shit would piss me off and I want it the fuck removed!

You know what other options we could remove? Customizing Controls! Yeah! Lets play shit like Castlevania Mirror of Fate on the Bread Slice and get stuck using the thumb tac of a flat analog for all movement while the D-Pad is used for inventory access… and have the audacity to have a DOUBLE TAP MOTION on the thumb tac… to RUN! Thumb tac feels like shit to control in 2D (as do all analogs) and they want me to use that to do what!? Double tap.. to run! And I can’t change that!

Fuck you, Heru! It’s the way the game was meant to be played!

For reference, David Sirlin is cited. For those who don’t know, he’s a competitive Street Fighter player/colossal douche bag who wrote a pretentious book called “Playing to Win” that thinks the reader is a borderline retarded shithead who doesn’t know what a “throw” is, and practically made the “scrub” term infamous. Nevermind that David Sirlin isn’t even a good game designer to begin with (who’s resume only contains tinkering with SF2HD and Super Puzzle Fighter, several game ports and possibly Sonic Rivals) making it a bit of an oxymoron to apply his theories to the concept of video game options being “evil”. Essentially, the “scrub mentality of grafting rules into a game for their own benefit” IE “stop using fireballs, you cheap spammer”, that kind of shit. But, if a game allows you to generate your own rules for specific match ups (no items or w/e), there is no scrub mentality going on. The game designer is allowing the player to call the shots. IE, there is no mental grafting of rules going on, the rules are allowed to be generated. As such, Sirlin’s definition doesn’t apply.

The idea that because items and “seeking arrows” were included, they are integral to the game overall. If the game can be played without those specific features, it shows how versatile the game is overall. Items, specific powers, or w/e are simply there to provide extra advantages. You don’t need sub weapons in Castlevania, but they give you a bigger advantage than without. You don’t need to use Robot Master Weapons in Mega Man, but damn sure you’d have an easier (and shorter) time fighting bosses and enemies. What does a seeking arrow do? Gives the player a slight advantage in killing his/her opponents. That doesn’t make it an integral element to the game, it just gives you advantages. Just like items in Smash Bros. Items only give you slight advantages. As such, they really aren’t integral to the game overall if you have the ability to still defeat your opponent.

This isn’t me advocating the removal of advantages in games overall (who the fuck wants that!?), this is simply an explanation of how game options are no more harmful than justifying game features. No game feature is needed in a game. Then again, video games aren’t needed for entertainment purposes as there are probably better venues of entertainment now than they were back then. All games and their features are something to be DESIRED by players. If you needed seeking arrows to kill opponents period, the game is automatically bad for including the option, because then there would be no point to it. If items were needed to score kills in Smash Bros. then the option itself is worthless and a complete oversight. If items are infact needed to balance out Smash Bros., it’s more than enough to declare that game shit. It’s like the mid counter holds in DOA5U being different for punches and kicks, it’s a lousy crutch to be lazy in balancing or diversifying the characters.

Lets put it this way. I played the FUCK out of Shinobi on 3DS… but I didn’t use any of the specific powers they give you. Earth, Fire, Water, Lighting, w/e. Hell, I think you can turn them off via cheats that I haven’t unlocked yet. 😛 Does that make the power ups integral to the game? No. I can beat the game without them. This isn’t to say I want them removed, mind you. But if Shinobi were to have some sort of battle mode and the option to turn those powers off? Would the game’s scene be damaged in anyway, I wouldn’t know. I’d bet the Earth/Thunder Power would be abused. But I doubt people would up and not continue to play the game. A competitive scene is only as good as the game itself. Options that turn on/off specific advantages make no difference. And that’s all players are really pissed off over. Whether or not they should have the option to shut off advantages if they wanted. If you can win without advantages, then there’s no harm in turning them off. You don’t need them. If you suck ass and rely on advantages to get you through the game, then yes you’re going to hate Towerfall or w/e.

When designing a multiplayer game be aware that by providing game options, through nothing more than human nature, you are giving your players the tools they need to avoid playing with one another. You are actively working against the virality and social effects you are counting on to cultivate and grow a multiplayer scene. This is the danger of game options.

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Game options didn’t stop people from running to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And considering how much Team Fortress crap I see over the internet, I’m willing to bet options didn’t harm that game either. There’s nothing stopping a multiplayer scene from growing except having a shitty or boring game, period. Virtua Fighter has no scene, but also has very few game options, if that means anything. If anything, punishing people for wanting to take out items did more harm to Smash Bros. than anything else. It’s so odd how no one even cares about Smash 4 after Brawl shat the money bed.

If there was anything that was harmful to a multiplayer scene, it would be hardcore competitive gamers who think they are the bastions of good game design “theory” while at the same time causing other players to run away from their narcissism. Competitive types don’t think about growing any scene but to merely “weed out” players that don’t fit into their paradigm. The problem, of course, is that much more recently, game designers (especially Namco) are catering to their whims. Thinking only of the competitive scene made the majority of SNK fighters shit for anyone that isn’t Brazilian. Thinking of the competitive scene nearly killed Tekken, even. It damn sure killed Soul Calibur.

It’s kinda sad how there’s only one detractor in that entire comments section, and everyone is up his ass instead. What’s this bullshit about Ubisoft having “women’s trouble”?