Saturday, July 1, 2017

What if games are being created to grief & cheat you?

Did you ever feel like the odds in competitive games were unfairly stacked against you? That certain things seemed so blatantly, and obviously placed in the AI's or other players' favor that it was more than just a coincidence? Well, you are not alone. It has been speculated by many gamers that certain games are being manipulated for one reason or the other. In Destiny, for example an overwhelming community majority thinks Bungie has purposefully ignored complaints about unfair adjustments, and that through their disregard for the gamer have made things purposefully unfair. Some claim the matchmaking is intentionally geared to pair top tier players against players doing questionable things online. Often times it's the gamers who are calling out Bungie on these things in their forums that see the greatest negative impact to their k/d. Not only that, but Bungie moderators also remove posts that make them out to be guilty, and sometimes ban complainers from the forums entirely.

What if all this goes well beyond Bungie territory though, and into every online competitive game there is? The push for profit has no doubt plagued developers to a point that they are stressed, especially with the harsh criticisms that they receive, and their hours spent slaving over a game's creation. What if said criticism and hate pushed them to the point that they've taken on a disgruntled employee stance? What if they are metaphorically taking a piss in your lemonade, or metaphorically jizzing on your mayo covered burger? Secret sauce b*tches!!! The truth is anyone, regardless of business position, can become so obsessed with their job related issues that they'd be inspired to take it out on the paying customer as a blunt, "F*ck you!"on the way out. It happens all the time in the world of business, and to varying degrees for varying reasons. Corporate sabotage, and restaurant tomfoolery included.

What about eSports, and it's influence on sales as well? Is it not plausible that eSports could be a faked, and forced tool for hype? How about as a means to make bank while turning their backs on the gamers who made the genre as great as it was? Just look at the failure of Capcom's 'Street Fighter V' home port, and you'll notice how they've desperately tried to revive the game after making the at home version less than likable to most diehard SF fans, because of their push for eSports friendly features. Could they be spotlighting biased eSports matches for hype? To heighten gamers' excitement about the game to the point they are willing to give it a second chance? Spotlighting tournament matches, and Tourney players is nothing new, and quite frankly it could even be possible that the controller to screen footage we think we are witnessing when watching said events is all faked. It would be very difficult to figure out if the tournament players were mimicking the onscreen footage, or legitimately playing. With the eSports sponsors having their hands in the money pool who's to say they aren't intentionally misleading viewers for the sake of potential profit?

Needless to say there are plenty of competitive game genres that you should consider when asking the questions I've been asking. Fighting games are merely one of such potential victims of developers who no longer have the gamers' best interest in mind. Staying on that train of thought though I've noticed throughout the years that many fighting game developers have intentionally added in elements that were unfair. Think about all those nasty boss fights ... "DAMN YOU SHAO KHAN!!!". Also think about the unbalanced character rosters that never seem to get completely sorted out, and that feature characters which might as well be shoot 'em up spaceships. Being a dedicated fighting game player I've noticed some shady sh*t going down in some of the most popular fighting game releases, and even in the not-so-popular ones. The recent release of 'Injustice 2' comes to mind.

While playing 'Injustice 2', in particular, I've noticed some oddly convenient glitches that are almost impossible to spot unless you know what you are looking for. In the Multiverse towers, for example, I've seen some abusive AI behavior in the form of sped up attacks, and direct hits that do not connect. In a versus Brainiac scenario this is made more obvious when you hear his chipmunk voice activate indicating his actions were sped up. This could be passed off as a glitch with modifiers bleeding over into non-modified matches, but with the epic loot at stake and Netherrealm trying to make it a challenge I feel the fluctuations, and AI anomalies in the fights are intentional. Beyond that there are equally convenient times when special move inputs won't result in what was pressed out. Well known, and established Youtubers like Maximilian have complained often on stream how they pressed this or that, and the move didn't come out. I personally can attest to the same.

Imagine if that conveniently whiffed attack meant for the opposing player is also an intentional design put into place to allow less skilled online players to feel like they have a fighting chance. While it could be speculated that the problem lies solely with the player intentionally implemented input lag, or delay could very well be the culprit. The truth is such instances of input lag are fixable if intentional, but developers tend to design games in a way that makes the game either fast paced, slower, easier, or more strategic for different reasons. They don't stop to consider instead what smooth controller functionality could do for a fighting game. Either that or they don't care. With the impact that a smooth controller to screen input could have on the competitive scene things would be night and day in comparison. Skill would shine over a lack of skill. Therein lies the problem though. Fighting game developers are so desperate to make ends meet that they are going against the standards that made them great in order to reach out to a new crowd of gamers. A toxic crowd who wants everything handed to them on a silver platter with ease of access at their finger tips. They want to look like a pro, but not earn it.

The fact that developers like Capcom push for things like eSports focus, and ease-of-access over properly made educational experiences for legitimately dedicated at home players goes hand in hand with the problem that is intentionally making a game less fair. The whole open invitation embedded within the fighting game genre's current direction is geared so much towards attracting those who don't care enough to bother learning the ins and outs that it, in itself is a thorn in the side of fair gaming. In fact it is such an extensive problem that goes well beyond one single issue that it has reached a point where the problems related to the griefing, trolling, and cheating culture also plague the genre on an increasingly threatening scale. The crowd that companies like Capcom seek are in turn ruining the experience for everyone. Both directly and indirectly. Not only that, but a good portion of them are pirating the games, and using modded versions of said games. This alone should be of concern for developers, because once they've run off the legit fighting game community with their poor decisions they'll be hurting even worse for money than they were before. At the end of the day there's a very important decision to be made. Both for competitive gaming fans, and for the developers that create the games that they play. That decision being to either fix what needs fixing, or leave it to ruination. You can't keep making money from a dead genre, and if things keep going the way they are that's exactly what's going to happen. A genre will die off, possibly even competitive gaming itself. People will eventually stop paying for their own grief.

I will close in saying the following ... in a world where money is the focus, and motivation you can bet your bottom dollar that things like this are possible. Whether it be through a disgruntled employee attitude, or a greedy push to promote a product, game developers can, and will abuse the system if they see fit to do so. They are a business just like anyone else, and can become corrupted just as anyone who is so invested in money making can. So the next time something seemingly unfair happens to you in a competitive video game pay close attention to see if you can spot a pattern. Chances are you will.

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