PC Gamer
Far Cry 3: Ziggys Mod


I'm bouncing and bumping down a dusty road in Far Cry 3. On my to-do list: nothing, really. There are a couple different plants I'm keeping an eye out for, and a particular animal I'm hoping to spot, but that's about it. I haven't looked at my main map in over an hour, I haven't thought about Vaas or Citra or my friends all day, and I haven't felt a single pressing need to do anything but what I'm doing at this particular moment: bouncing and bumping down a dusty road.

It may sound like I'm playing a game in which I've already completed the main storyline and am looking for some random distractions, but this is actually a new game I've started with the assistance of Ziggys Mod, which has made me realize two things. First, Ziggys Mod should have an apostrophe in it. Second, Far Cry 3, the original version, actively prohibited free-form exploration.

In its original, un-patched form, Far Cry 3 was incredibly fearful that you might stop playing at any moment unless it threw constant reminders in your face of all the things you could be doing. There were notifications about the mission you were on, the minimap was cluttered with icons showing all the plants and loot boxes in your vicinity, and the main map was dotted with even more information. Here's a glider! Here's a collectible! Here's a boat! Here's a good place to find and shoot a boar! JUST DON'T TURN ME OFF, IT'S ALL DARKNESS WHEN YOU'RE NOT HERE!

There are roughly ONE JILLION tweaks and changes made to the game by Ziggy's Mod (screw it, I'm adding an apostrophe), but let me pepper you with a few features that, working in conjunction with each other, turn the game into what I really wanted it to be: a giant open world that doesn't care what I spend my time doing.

Instead of a minimap, a simple compass. It's the little things that make a big difference.

Ziggy's Mod removes the minimap (as other mods have done), replacing it with a simple, nearly transparent compass. With no plant and treasure icons, I rely on my eyes for my looting and gathering needs, which means I'm done with an area when I think I'm done, instead of when the minimap tells me there's simply nothing left to collect.

Adding to the relaxed, do-what-you-want nature of the mod, the entire map world map is completely unlocked from the start, including the second island. All weapons are unlocked and purchasable (including signature weapons), meaning radio towers no longer need scaling (though you are still awarded XP and medical supply-run missions if you choose to climb them). There are no longer any mission-dependent skills, either: you can play Build-a-Brody at your own pace. The wingsuit is yours immediately as well. These changes mean you can completely ignore the main missions for as long as you want (example: forever).

Enemies no longer wear bright red. Smart! Not smart enough to save them, though.

I think we can agree that the crafting system was pretty derpy in the original game. It never made sense that to craft a holster you needed a goat skin, but to craft a second holster you needed two deer skins. I would have thought the solution would have been to remove crafting entirely, but Ziggy's Mod actually increases the requirements: instead of two skins from one animal to make your 'nade pouch, you might need three from one animal and two from another, plus a handful of different plants. And yet, even with Ziggy's Mod doubling down on the derp, it somehow works better than the original.

First, extra slots have been added to the pouches you craft, so you wind up being able to hold more in exchange for the extra work. Second, while the hunting grounds are still shown on your main map, they are non-specific. The little silhouettes of which animal is likely to appear there is gone, so if you're looking for a buffalo, you're not quite sure where to start. I know it may sound tiresome and irritating, but it actually encourages exploration.

I know it's a tough sell, but making crafting harder makes crafting better.

In the unmodified game, what did I do if I needed a tapir skin? I drove in a straight line to the spot on the map that showed the outline of a tapir, I shot a tapir in the face, I turned it into a purse, and I raced back to whatever it was I'd been doing. That's not exploration, that's a fetch quest. If I need a tapir now, I have to go out and find one, on my own. It can take hours, and since I'm not really sure where to look, I look everywhere, and thus end up genuinely exploring the islands.

The overall effect of Ziggy's Mod, I've been finding, is that Far Cry 3 feels a bit more like the better parts of Far Cry 2. I bounce along dirt roads in my car, or tool along rivers in a boat. I get out if I see something interesting or someone starts shooting at me. I take down outposts when I come across them, rather than ticking them off my map one by one. I haven't even considered rescuing my stupid friends from their stupid suffering at the hands of insane thugs. I explore way more. Ziggy's Mod lets me do what I wanted to with Far Cry 3 in the first place: whatever the hell I want.

No more tags on enemies. Bonus: no more stupid squares cluttering the camera lens (what were those?).

Another nice change: the camera, when you use it, doesn't tag enemies with icons. I liked this feature the first time, but without it, outpost battles and wanted missions are more challenging and exciting. Weapons generally have more attachment slots, which is a plus, and they don't reload automatically when your clip is empty, which is a minus until you start remembering to do it yourself, and then it feels more realistic (there's nothing like dry-firing on a charging komodo dragon to wake you up).

Since this mod is for gamers who have already played Far Cry 3 once and want to start a new game, it completely skips the intro, the initial escape from Vaas, and Jason's annoying scaredypants whimpering, and just starts you off with Dennis rudely hammering the first tatau into your forearm. You still have to do the first three things Dennis asks you to: buy your first gun, climb your first radio tower and craft a couple things, but once you're done you never have to see Dennis again.

One note on the first crafting mission: with the extended recipe requirements of the mod, you probably won't have enough to actually complete all the recipes Dennis asks for, but simply trying to craft an item (even if you can't) will satisfy Dennis. And then you're free get on with your exploring.

Thanks for the loan! See you again, um... NEVER ha ha ha ha

Installation: Find your Far Cry 3 directory, make copies of the "bin" and "data_win32" folders, and put them somewhere safe. I do not recommend simply dumping them in a folder called "New Folder (9)" on your desktop, but we both know that's nearly inevitable.

Open the Ziggy's Mod zip file and drop the new "bin" and "data_win32" folders into your Far Cry directory, and when prompted, overwrite the original files, then start the game. And, if you decide to complete the story missions, say hi to Vaas for me. I haven't seen him in a while, and I don't plan to.

Relevance? None. I just like killing these jerk birds because they are jerks.
PC Gamer
face_off_boss


In this week's Face Off debate, Tyler goes left, then right, then left again to dodge Evan's precisely timed barrage of attacks against traditional boss fights in modern games. Are they an outdated trope which should be reserved for arcade-style experiences? Is there some common ground, where boss fights and modern ideas can coexist?

Read the debate below, add your argument in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Tyler, you have the floor:

The Debate
 
Tyler: Why shouldn't games use a tried-and-true design template? Here’s an analogy: you spend a semester learning, then face the ultimate challenge in the final exam. It’s hard. You might have to repeat it again and again to pass, but it makes earning the right to advance to the next level meaningful. My degree would just be a piece of paper if I passed on attendance alone.

Evan: Thanks for comparing bosses to school exams, something universally disliked by mankind.

Tyler: I know, but see, what I’m saying is, because tests and bosses are- OK, fine. I guess I didn’t do myself any favors with that analogy. But are you just going to critique my rhetoric?

Evan: Let’s try this again, with less sarcasm on my part. So you’re saying that without a demanding test punctuating a player’s progression, being told “You won!” or “You advanced to the next area!” by a game isn’t as meaningful. Correct?

Tyler: I’m not saying games need boss fights to create meaningful progression, but the old-school structure still works where it’s used well. Bosses get the big set pieces—the explosions that would just be worn out if they weren't a sparingly-used reward. They can be crazy, huge, monstrous things. They can seem insurmountable at first, and when you turn one to dust, you are the hero. You’re Bruce Willis at the end of Die Hard. Happy trails, Hans.

Evan: I see bosses as an antique trope. They’re a lazy roadblock-in-antagonist’s clothing, and I think designers generally use them out of convenience or tradition, and not because bosses are the best or most creative way of structuring a game. Plenty of modern games have used bosses in a way that feels completely out of place—BioShock’s pathetic end boss was one of the only stains on one of the best games of the era. Ken Levine has admitted this.



Tyler: You’re right, mecha Andrew Ryan was too conventional for BioShock. That was an avoidable error—Wolfenstein 3D wouldn’t have worked if it built to not a fight with mecha Hitler, but BioShock? BioShock should have ignored tradition. That doesn't mean design traditions are universally bad or lazy, though. They give us historical learning to draw from, and that’s valuable.

Iterating on a design only leads to better versions of that design—not in every case, but over time. We’ll only get more and more amazing boss fights, and I’m happy to allow for some failures.

Evan: But designers aren’t iterating, they’re regurgitating. For the most part, bosses are still being implemented in the same form they were 10 and 20 years ago. What would you cite as an example of a great modern boss?

Tyler: Dark Souls, all of them. Sorry, is that game too “antique” for you?

Evan: Actually I’m glad you bring it up, because Dark Souls demonstrates what I’m talking about. The fun I had fighting its bosses relied on difficulty more than interesting design. Dark Souls is saying: “You’re fragile, so let’s make you fight things that have a bunch more HP and do more damage than you. Boss: DESIGNED!”



I don’t find that totally unappealing, but it’s mechanically mundane: pattern recognition, timing, and fighting an enemy with an enormous hit point bar isn’t tried-and-true--it’s overdone. That template originated in in the 2D arcade games of the ‘80s and grew ubiquitous through the console games of the ‘90s. Do we really want games that are just a series of homages to the techniques of the past, or do we want new ideas and new experiences?

Tyler: We want both! And sometimes we want a combination. We can want whatever we want. Alright, that last one isn't a very good argument, but how about this: it’s true that the best examples of boss fights come from arcade-style games and Japanese console series, making a “modern” PC-centric argument more difficult, but even Valve draws from that collective design learning. I thought Portal and Portal 2 climaxed just fine, and those are plenty modern.



Evan: I remember enjoying the ending of both games, but I think I was enjoying the narrative execution more than what I was being asked to do with my mouse and keyboard. Glados and Wheatley are both entertainingly written, and both Portals incorporated original, lyrical songs that provided as a surprising payoff for all your hours of brain work. But as an activity, as a test, I’m not sure if I’d call Portal and Portal 2’s bosses stimulating.

How to beat the end of Portal 2:

Stand behind a pipe as Wheatley fires a bomb at you. This will break open the Incredibly Obvious White Gel Tube.
Put a portal in front of you, and put a portal on a surface that faces where Wheatley’s shields aren’t. Stand there.
While Wheatley is stunned (because it wouldn’t be a boss if they didn’t have a “paralyzed” state), retrieve the cores and then just like, walk up to him.
Repeat.

It does a lot of the work for you--you don’t even have to consider where to place the gel, which was something Portal 2 taught you how to do over and over. It was a narrative success, but if we’re judging bosses by their test-like traits, I’d say it was a pretty easy exam.

Tyler: You’re right, boss battles tend to be exercises in pattern recognition and repetition. They require a binary win/lose state, and winning in one shot would be a bit anticlimactic, so you wear them down in stages. But what about Half-Life 2: Episode 2? That wasn’t a standard pattern-based test, it was a whole level. Conceptually, is that still a “boss?”

Wait. No. I’m unplugging my keyboard and walking away before I turn this into a semantic argument about “what is and isn’t a boss.” I’ll plug it back in after I’ve sat in the corner thinking about what I’ve done for a minute.

Evan: Yeah, I agree that it’s pointless to argue whether Half-Life 2: Episode 2’s incredible sawmill/Strider showdown is or isn't a boss. Mostly I’m interested in encouraging designers to throw out the notion that bosses or “tests” or endings require something like a binary win/lose state, or that they have to replicate something players already understand. I like that Left 4 Dead’s crescendo events make it possible to win and lose simultaneously--you or a teammate might’ve died, but if one person completes the finale it’s considered a success.

Mainly, I don’t want any more Human Revolutions. It was a legitimate tragedy that the reboot of one of the defining, agency-driven games of our time reverted to “let’s put the player in the room with a guy that they stun and then shoot until they kill him.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKuLO1WeuTg

Tyler: You’re right again, but I don't agree with a universal conclusion. Yes, “shoot until they die” is out of place there (and no fair using Human Revolution, which had bad boss fights for many reasons), but even so, I want to face the villain, and sometimes I really just want to win the fight. The hero’s journey, and all that! There’s a place for challenging the idea of binary win/lose states, as in L4D, but there’s also a place where John McClane shoots the bad guy, and it’s a place I’m not done visiting.

I don’t want to miss that confrontation because we're just too sophisticated for traditional boss fights. True, there are better ways to handle that confrontation, and that’s the experimentation I want to see.

Evan: “The hero’s journey, and all that” is exactly what I want more designers to deviate from. Not to derail our discussion about bosses, but I’m sick of being everyone’s savior.

Now that i think of it, Far Cry 3 represents one of the recent attempts at iteration on boss design. It’s an open-world game with maybe last year’s best villain, but Ubisoft’s solution for bringing you face to face with Vaas and other big bads was throwing you into these frustrating, (and I hate to use it like it’s inherently a bad word, but) linear, drugged-out hallucination sequences. Why did they do that? Because they wanted the player to have this prolonged encounter with the villain, and a dream sequence creates this context where they can bend the rules and allow the player to shoot the villain a whole bunch of times before they die.

Tyler: You sure have a lot of examples of bad boss fights, but they don’t add up to a rule—and at least Far Cry 3 tried to justify its boss confrontations a bit differently, even if it didn’t succeed.

And on your first point, sure, things can get really interesting when we deviate from archetypal hero narratives. What if I’m just a person in DayZ, on an island with zombies, what do I do? Fascinating, and I can’t wait for more. But why can’t we have both? We don’t have to stop saving the world to also find out what happens when we can’t save the world, or when the final boss is actually Jonathan Blow’s internal emotional struggle.

Evan: It sounds like we’re approaching something that resembles consensus. I think we’re both interested in boss encounters or “difficult trials” that are built on new ideas. I guess part of my criticism stems from the idea that Western game design has won out over Japanese game design over the past 10 or 15 years, and that bosses represent a dated trope that was perpetuated a lot by Japanese games.

I’m especially frustrated when well-funded projects, staffed by dozens of talented people, rely on templates like locking you in a room and throwing a single, durable enemy at you.

Tyler: Have you played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater? I know, another Japanese console example, but I think The End is a brilliant modern boss fight—it’s a sniper battle, a long back-and-forth which can be won with a kill or non-lethal takedown. That’s the kind of boss fight experimentation we need more of in PC games. We don’t need to do away with them altogether.



Evan: I’m a closet Metal Gear Solid fan, so I’m not going to fight you on this one--The End works for the same reasons HL2: Ep. 2 does--Konami built a whole, intricate level around that character, imbued him with some unpredictable behaviors, and the result was this interestingly-paced jungle hunt that didn’t simply have one solution, yeah. A lot of MGS’ bosses do rely on some tropey pattern-recognition stuff, but he’s one of the best examples of combining “Japanese difficulty” and Western sensibilities. There’s a lot of that in what Kojima does.

Tyler: Yeah, we’re at least within sight of each other now (nice hat, by the way). Neither of us mind having that big confrontation, or even sometimes sticking to narrative tropes, we just want cleverer approaches. That is, we don’t want designers to force traditional boss fights into otherwise non-traditional games.

We want them to design climactic experiences that make sense, and “dodge, shoot, dodge, shoot” can be fun, but it only works in games wholly designed in that arcade style. When you force it into something like BioShock or Deus Ex, it’s a mechanical and narrative let down.

Evan: Ratified.

That's the debate! As always, these debates are exercises meant to reveal alternate view points and cultivate discussion, so continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for more opinions from the community.





@pcgamer I hated ME3. Without boss battles, the story was basically about fighting mindless enemies 4 cutscenes. And Kai Leng don't count.— Nathan Hansen (@NathanHansenWDN) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer outdated. but also fighting endless waves, survival style is boring too.Simply, keep "boss" fights at random times throughout.YAY— derps | ADLT (@Batou079) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Dark Souls did it well. Bioshock did it well. I like the idea of roaming boss fights with the black knights and big daddies— Nicklaus Lacle (@NLacle) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Like anything else, boss battles have a place if they fit the game. They are often overused and obvious, though.— Ben Price (@bk_price) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Japanese-based games have it on tight, I don't see much from NA titles.— Abdelrahman Al Amiri (@_Bu3ouf_) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Boss battles are a needed mechanic but also needs to be well implemented using the games key features e.g. Zelda style or DMC!— Russell Jones (@RusDJones) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Bosses are essential.The problem is every boss is the same now, people don't put the effort into creating original fights anymore..— Niek Kerssies (@KIPKERssIEs) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer The Boss is the one unique super baddy that gives us the challenge I seek in a game, otherwise its just CoD— Zack McCloud (@ZackLynx3187) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer depends on the game's style. A bit outdated. only not that bad. but don't really need it anymore if the gameplay is strong enough.— Tony J. Vodka (@tonihato) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Yes Boss battles should be the climax of a game - compare Hitler Robot of Doom vs UN victory in Civilization 3— Logun (@Logun0) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer For something like a Strider or Reaper I think yes; otherwise, I feel it's outdated, as games like Mirror's Edge or Far Cry 2 show.— Davehonored (@david_shea) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer No tool in a writer's box is ever obsolete, but just as hammers aren't for fixing electronics, not every game needs a boss battle.— Jacob Dieffenbach (@dieffenbachj) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer @deadspace is doing this right. Minibosses that sometimes prove more intense than the "end boss", it's about nonlinear progres— CosmicD (@CosmicD) March 20, 2013
PC Gamer
face_off_boss


In this week's Face Off debate, Tyler goes left, then right, then left again to dodge Evan's precisely timed barrage of attacks against traditional boss fights in modern games. Are they an outdated trope which should be reserved for arcade-style experiences? Is there some common ground, where boss fights and modern ideas can coexist?

Read the debate below, add your argument in the comments, and jump to the next page for opinions from the community. Tyler, you have the floor:

The Debate
 
Tyler: Why shouldn't games use a tried-and-true design template? Here’s an analogy: you spend a semester learning, then face the ultimate challenge in the final exam. It’s hard. You might have to repeat it again and again to pass, but it makes earning the right to advance to the next level meaningful. My degree would just be a piece of paper if I passed on attendance alone.

Evan: Thanks for comparing bosses to school exams, something universally disliked by mankind.

Tyler: I know, but see, what I’m saying is, because tests and bosses are- OK, fine. I guess I didn’t do myself any favors with that analogy. But are you just going to critique my rhetoric?

Evan: Let’s try this again, with less sarcasm on my part. So you’re saying that without a demanding test punctuating a player’s progression, being told “You won!” or “You advanced to the next area!” by a game isn’t as meaningful. Correct?

Tyler: I’m not saying games need boss fights to create meaningful progression, but the old-school structure still works where it’s used well. Bosses get the big set pieces—the explosions that would just be worn out if they weren't a sparingly-used reward. They can be crazy, huge, monstrous things. They can seem insurmountable at first, and when you turn one to dust, you are the hero. You’re Bruce Willis at the end of Die Hard. Happy trails, Hans.

Evan: I see bosses as an antique trope. They’re a lazy roadblock-in-antagonist’s clothing, and I think designers generally use them out of convenience or tradition, and not because bosses are the best or most creative way of structuring a game. Plenty of modern games have used bosses in a way that feels completely out of place—BioShock’s pathetic end boss was one of the only stains on one of the best games of the era. Ken Levine has admitted this.



Tyler: You’re right, that was too conventional for BioShock. That was an avoidable error—Wolfenstein 3D wouldn’t have worked if it built to not a fight with mecha Hitler, but BioShock? BioShock should have ignored tradition. That doesn't mean design traditions are universally bad or lazy, though. They give us historical learning to draw from, and that’s valuable.

Iterating on a design only leads to better versions of that design—not in every case, but over time. We’ll only get more and more amazing boss fights, and I’m happy to allow for some failures.

Evan: But designers aren’t iterating, they’re regurgitating. For the most part, bosses are still being implemented in the same form they were 10 and 20 years ago. What would you cite as an example of a great modern boss?

Tyler: Dark Souls, all of them. Sorry, is that game too “antique” for you?

Evan: Actually I’m glad you bring it up, because Dark Souls demonstrates what I’m talking about. The fun I had fighting its bosses relied on difficulty more than interesting design. Dark Souls is saying: “You’re fragile, so let’s make you fight things that have a bunch more HP and do more damage than you. Boss: DESIGNED!”



I don’t find that totally unappealing, but it’s mechanically mundane: pattern recognition, timing, and fighting an enemy with an enormous hit point bar isn’t tried-and-true--it’s overdone. That template originated in the 2D arcade games of the ‘80s and grew ubiquitous through the console games of the ‘90s. Do we really want games that are just a series of homages to the techniques of the past, or do we want new ideas and new experiences?

Tyler: We want both! And sometimes we want a combination. We can want whatever we want. Alright, that last one isn't a very good argument, but how about this: it’s true that the best examples of boss fights come from arcade-style games and Japanese console series, making a “modern” PC-centric argument more difficult, but even Valve draws from that collective design learning. I thought Portal and Portal 2 climaxed just fine, and those are plenty modern.



Evan: I remember enjoying the ending of both games, but I think I was enjoying the narrative execution more than what I was being asked to do with my mouse and keyboard. Glados and Wheatley are both entertainingly written, and both Portals incorporated original, lyrical songs that provided as a surprising payoff for all your hours of brain work. But as an activity, as a test, I’m not sure if I’d call Portal and Portal 2’s bosses stimulating.

How to beat the end of Portal 2:

Stand behind a pipe as Wheatley fires a bomb at you. This will break open the Incredibly Obvious White Gel Tube.
Put a portal in front of you, and put a portal on a surface that faces where Wheatley’s shields aren’t. Stand there.
While Wheatley is stunned (because it wouldn’t be a boss if they didn’t have a “paralyzed” state), retrieve the cores and then just like, walk up to him.
Repeat.

It does a lot of the work for you--you don’t even have to consider where to place the gel, which was something Portal 2 taught you how to do over and over. It was a narrative success, but if we’re judging bosses by their test-like traits, I’d say it was a pretty easy exam.

Tyler: You’re right, boss battles tend to be exercises in pattern recognition and repetition. They require a binary win/lose state, and winning in one shot would be a bit anticlimactic, so you wear them down in stages. But what about Half-Life 2: Episode 2? That wasn’t a standard pattern-based test, it was a whole level. Conceptually, is that still a “boss?”

Wait. No. I’m unplugging my keyboard and walking away before I turn this into a semantic argument about “what is and isn’t a boss.” I’ll plug it back in after I’ve sat in the corner thinking about what I’ve done.

Evan: Yeah, I agree that it’s pointless to argue whether Half-Life 2: Episode 2’s incredible sawmill/Strider showdown is or isn't a boss. Mostly I’m interested in encouraging designers to throw out the notion that bosses or “tests” or endings require something like a binary win/lose state, or that they have to replicate something players already understand. I like that Left 4 Dead’s crescendo events make it possible to win and lose simultaneously--you or a teammate might’ve died, but if one person completes the finale it’s considered a success.

Mainly, I don’t want any more Human Revolutions. It was a legitimate tragedy that the reboot of one of the defining, agency-driven games of our time reverted to “let’s put the player in the room with a guy that they stun and then shoot until they kill him.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKuLO1WeuTg

Tyler: You’re right again, but I don't agree with a universal conclusion. Yes, “shoot until they die” is out of place there (and no fair using Human Revolution, which had bad boss fights for many reasons), but even so, I want to face the villain, and sometimes I really just want to win the fight. The hero’s journey, and all that! There’s a place for challenging the idea of binary win/lose states, as in L4D, but there’s also a place where John McClane shoots the bad guy, and it’s a place I’m not done visiting.

I don’t want to miss that confrontation because we're just too sophisticated for traditional boss fights. True, there are better ways to handle that confrontation, and that’s the experimentation I want to see.

Evan: “The hero’s journey, and all that” is exactly what I want more designers to deviate from. Not to derail our discussion about bosses, but I’m sick of being everyone’s savior.

Now that i think of it, Far Cry 3 represents one of the recent attempts at iteration on boss design. It’s an open-world game with maybe last year’s best villain, but Ubisoft’s solution for bringing you face to face with Vaas and other big bads was throwing you into these frustrating, (and I hate to use it like it’s inherently a bad word, but) linear, drugged-out hallucination sequences. Why did they do that? Because they wanted the player to have this prolonged encounter with the villain, and a dream sequence creates this context where they can bend the rules and allow the player to shoot the villain a whole bunch of times before they die.

Tyler: You sure have a lot of examples of bad boss fights, but they don’t add up to a rule—and at least Far Cry 3 tried to justify its boss confrontations a bit differently, even if it didn’t succeed.

And on your first point, sure, things can get really interesting when we deviate from archetypal hero narratives. What if I’m just a person in DayZ, on an island with zombies, what do I do? Fascinating, and I can’t wait for more. But why can’t we have both? We don’t have to stop saving the world to also find out what happens when we can’t save the world, or when the final boss is actually Jonathan Blow’s internal emotional struggle.

Evan: It sounds like we’re approaching something that resembles consensus. I think we’re both interested in boss encounters or “difficult trials” that are built on new ideas. I guess part of my criticism stems from the idea that Western game design has won out over Japanese game design over the past 10 or 15 years, and that bosses represent a dated trope that was perpetuated a lot by Japanese games.

I’m especially frustrated when well-funded projects, staffed by dozens of talented people, rely on templates like locking you in a room and throwing a single, durable enemy at you.

Tyler: Have you played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater? I know, another Japanese console example, but I think The End is a brilliant modern boss fight—it’s a sniper battle, a long back-and-forth which can be won with a kill or non-lethal takedown. That’s the kind of boss fight experimentation we need more of in PC games. We don’t need to do away with them altogether.



Evan: I’m a closet Metal Gear Solid fan, so I’m not going to fight you on this one--The End works for the same reasons HL2: Ep. 2 does--Konami built a whole, intricate level around that character, imbued him with some unpredictable behaviors, and the result was this interestingly-paced jungle hunt that didn’t simply have one solution, yeah. A lot of MGS’ bosses do rely on some tropey pattern-recognition stuff, but he’s one of the best examples of combining “Japanese difficulty” and Western sensibilities. There’s a lot of that in what Kojima does.

Tyler: Yeah, we’re at least within sight of each other now (nice hat, by the way). Neither of us mind having that big confrontation, or even sometimes sticking to narrative tropes, we just want cleverer approaches. That is, we don’t want designers to force traditional boss fights into otherwise non-traditional games. We want them to design climactic experiences that make sense, and “dodge, shoot, dodge, shoot” can be fun, but it only works in games wholly designed in that arcade style. When you force it into something like BioShock or Deus Ex, it’s a mechanical and narrative let down.

Evan: Ratified.

That's the debate! As always, these debates are exercises meant to reveal alternate view points and cultivate discussion, so continue it in the comments, and jump to the next page for more opinions from the community.





@pcgamer I hated ME3. Without boss battles, the story was basically about fighting mindless enemies 4 cutscenes. And Kai Leng don't count.— Nathan Hansen (@NathanHansenWDN) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer outdated. but also fighting endless waves, survival style is boring too.Simply, keep "boss" fights at random times throughout.YAY— derps | ADLT (@Batou079) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Dark Souls did it well. Bioshock did it well. I like the idea of roaming boss fights with the black knights and big daddies— Nicklaus Lacle (@NLacle) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Like anything else, boss battles have a place if they fit the game. They are often overused and obvious, though.— Ben Price (@bk_price) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Japanese-based games have it on tight, I don't see much from NA titles.— Abdelrahman Al Amiri (@_Bu3ouf_) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Boss battles are a needed mechanic but also needs to be well implemented using the games key features e.g. Zelda style or DMC!— Russell Jones (@RusDJones) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Bosses are essential.The problem is every boss is the same now, people don't put the effort into creating original fights anymore..— Niek Kerssies (@KIPKERssIEs) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer The Boss is the one unique super baddy that gives us the challenge I seek in a game, otherwise its just CoD— Zack McCloud (@ZackLynx3187) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer depends on the game's style. A bit outdated. only not that bad. but don't really need it anymore if the gameplay is strong enough.— Tony J. Vodka (@tonihato) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer Yes Boss battles should be the climax of a game - compare Hitler Robot of Doom vs UN victory in Civilization 3— Logun (@Logun0) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer For something like a Strider or Reaper I think yes; otherwise, I feel it's outdated, as games like Mirror's Edge or Far Cry 2 show.— Davehonored (@david_shea) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer No tool in a writer's box is ever obsolete, but just as hammers aren't for fixing electronics, not every game needs a boss battle.— Jacob Dieffenbach (@dieffenbachj) March 20, 2013


@pcgamer @deadspace is doing this right. Minibosses that sometimes prove more intense than the "end boss", it's about nonlinear progres— CosmicD (@CosmicD) March 20, 2013
PC Gamer
Dishonored Bafta


Alternative headlines include "Dick and Dom SNUBBED in Online - Browser category", "Black Ops II not deemed most innovative game of the year - internet pitchforks rest easy", or just, "Journey wins pretty much all the other bloody awards, to the chagrin of PC-centric news writers". Still, there were some wins for games that PC owners could play. As well as Dishonored's top award, shiny trophies also went to The Walking Dead, XCOM and Far Cry 3.

Full list below. Winners in bold.

Best Game

Dishonored
Journey
Mass Effect 3
The Walking Dead
FIFA 13
Far Cry 3

Action

Far Cry 3
Hitman: Absolution
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Halo 4
Mass Effect 3
Borderlands 2

Game Innovation

The Unfinished Swan
Fez
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Wonderbook: Books of Spells
Journey
Kinect Sesame Street TV

Artistic Achievement
Journey
Halo 4
Borderlands 2
Far Cry 3
The Room
Dear Esther

Audio Achievement

Journey
Far Cry 3
Beat Sneak Bandit
Halo 4
Assassin's Creed III
Dear Esther

Mobiles & Handheld

The Walking Dead
LittleBigPlanet (Vita)
New Star Soccer
Incoboto
Super Monsters Ate My Condo
The Room

Online - Browser
SongPop
The Settlers Online
Merlin: The Game
Runescape
Amateur Surgeon Hospital
Dick and Dom’s HOOPLA!

Online - Multiplayer

Journey
Assassin’s Creed III
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Need For Speed Most Wanted
Halo 4
Borderlands 2

Original Music

Journey
Diablo III
Assassin’s Creed III
Thomas Was Alone
The Unfinished Swan
The Walking Dead

British Game

The Room
Need for Speed Most Wanted
Forza Horizon
Dear Esther
Super Hexagon
LEGO: The Lord of the Rings

Performer

Danny Wallace (The Narrator) - Thomas Was Alone
Nolan North (Nathan Drake) - Uncharted: Golden Abyss
Melissa Hutchinson (Clementine) - The Walking Dead
Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett) - The Walking Dead
Adrian Hough (Haytham) - Assassin’s Creed III
Nigel Carrington (The Narrator) - Dear Esther

Debut Game

The Unfinished Swan
Deadlight
Forza Horizon
Dear Esther
Proteus
The Room

Sports/Fitness

New Star Soccer
Forza Horizon
F1 2012
Nike+ Kinect Training
Trials Evolution
FIFA 13

Family

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Minecraft: XBOX 360 Edition
Just Dance 4
Skylanders Giants
Clay Jam
LEGO The Lord of the Rings

Story

The Walking Dead
Journey
Far Cry 3
Thomas was Alone
Mass Effect 3
Dishonored

Strategy

XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die
Diablo III
Great Big War Game
Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai
Football Manager 2013

Game Design

Journey
Dishonored
Far Cry 3
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Borderlands 2
The Walking Dead

Fellowship
Gabe Newell

And if you'd like to see the various people involved in the above games accept their golden face masks, you can do so via this video of the event.

PC Gamer
A crude metaphor for the PC gaming community
A crude metaphor for the PC gaming community

Ubisoft recently expanded their Uplay Store catalogue to include third-party publishers like EA and Warner Brothers. Their next step on the road to being a competitive force in digital distribution is more an act of contrition. The publisher realises it needs to improve its perception among the PC gaming community.

Speaking to MCV, Ubisoft's worldwide Uplay director, Stephanie Perotti, says, "Announcing all these partners for Uplay and a wider choice of PC games, it shows our commitment to PC, and we want to improve out relationship with the PC community."

"We are always seeking to improve. We took a lot of that feedback on board. With every game on PC we are improving. Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed III on PC were very high quality."

What Perotti doesn't mention is Ubisoft's Uplay infrastructure, which, I'd imagine, was responsible for a lot of the PC community's animosity in the first place. Removing their always-on DRM requirement was an important and welcome step, but the Uplay launcher can still act as a barrier to easy game access.

Offering consumers a choice of digital shopfronts is great, but I'm yet to be convinced that Uplay currently provides a feature-set that justifies the service's rockier patches.

Hey! You guys are a community of PC gamers! How do you feel about Ubisoft's new-found affection?
PC Gamer
Uplay SimCity


Some weird cosmic alignment must be taking place today, because a number of EA games—including the sparkling Crysis 3 and pre-orders for SimCity—showed up on Ubisoft's Uplay store. It's no less strange on the digital shelves of EA's Origin, where Assassin's Creed III and Far Cry 3 sit prominently on the store's splash page. What's going on? As Ubisoft announces today in a press release, it's all part of expanding third-party support to bring titles from various developers.

And those various developers are:

Warner Bros. Interactive
1C Company
bitComposer Games
Bohemia Interactive
Encore Software
Focus Home Interactive
Freebird Games
Iceberg Interactive
Nordic Games
Paradox Interactive
Recoil Games
Robot Entertainment
Telltale Games
Torn Banner Studios

Ubisoft also says plunking down $20 or more on Uplay through March 4 nets you a free copy of Driver: San Francisco, From Dust, Might & Magic Heroes VI, Rayman Origins, The Settlers 7 or World in Conflict.

What say you? Are we all seeing the stirrings of stronger, teamed-up competition for Steam and GOG?
PC Gamer
Far Cry 3 Vaas thumb


Ubisoft have revealed their plans for upcoming Far Cry 3 updates. Changes will include a new difficulty mode, extended custom map features and, most interestingly, the option to reset all of the game's Outposts. Available after completing the game and capturing all Outposts, the reset option will let the pirates move back in, causing each one to become hostile again. It's not quite as elegant a solution as the PCG podcast's Eternal Twist DLC idea, but is still a welcome extension to Far Cry 3's best bit.

Also incoming is the harder Master difficulty setting. According to the game's community manager, "Seasoned veterans will find themselves challenged by more aggressive wildlife, tougher pirates, and more deadly privateers. Your skills as a master of the Rook Islands will be tested."

Finally, changes are incoming to multiplayer, too. Specifically to how you find custom maps. A new rating system will let you give feedback to user-rated battlegrounds, including an overall rating as well as specific ways in which you think a map could be improved. Map authors will also be able to beta test maps, allowing them to spectate while testers fight it out.
PC Gamer
Far Cry 3 Vaas thumb


BAFTA have released the nomination shortlist for the upcoming 2013 round of their Video Game awards. PS3 exclusive Journey tops the nomination leaderboard - it's up for eight categories. But Telltale's The Walking Dead and Ubisoft's Far Cry 3 aren't far behind, receiving nods in seven and six categories respectively. There's also strong indie recognition. Dear Esther is nominated for five awards, Thomas Was Alone for three, and both Proteus and Super Hexagon both receive a mention.

The ceremony takes place on March 5th, and will streamed live on Twitch.tv. Tune in to find out if we live in a world where CoDBlOps2 can be given an award for "Game Innovation".

Full list below:

Action
Borderlands 2
Development Team
Gearbox/2K Games
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Development Team
Treyarch/Activision
Far Cry 3
Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methe
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Hitman: Absolution
Development Team
Io – Interactive/Square-Enix
Mass Effect 3
Development Team
BioWare/EA

Artistic Achievement
Borderlands 2
Development Team
Gearbox/2K Games
Dear Esther
Robert Briscoe
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Far Cry 3
Jean Alexis Doyan, Genseki Tanaka, Vincent Jean
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games

Audio Achievement
Assassin's Creed III
Mathieu Jeanson
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Beat Sneak Bandit
Simon Flesser, Magnus "Gordon" Gardebäck,
Simogo/Simogo
Dear Esther
Jessica Curry
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Far Cry 3
Dan Hay, Tony Gronick, Brian Tyler
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Best Game
Dishonoured
Development Team
Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Far Cry 3
Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methè
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
FIFA 13
David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy
EA Canada/EA
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Mass Effect 3
Casey Hudson
BioWare/EA
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

British Game
Dear Esther
Daniel Pinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Forza Horizon
Development Team
Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios
LEGO: The Lord of the Rings
Development Team
TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Need for Speed Most Wanted
Development Team
Criterion Games/EA
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
Super Hexagon
Terry Cavanagh, Niamh Houston, Jenn Frank
Terry Cavanagh/Terry Cavanagh

Debut Game
Deadlight
Raul Rubio, Luz Sancho, Oscar Cuesta
Tequila Works/Microsoft Studios
Dear Esther
DanielPinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Forza Horizon
Development Team
Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios
Proteus
Ed Key, David Kanaga
Twisted Tree Games/Twisted Tree Games
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
The Unfinished Swan
Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary
Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Game Design
Borderlands 2
Development Team
Gearbox/2K Games
Dishonored
Development Team
Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Far Cry 3
Patrick Methè, Jamie Keen
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Development Team
Firaxis/2K Games

Family
Clay Jam
Chris Roem Iain Gilfeather, Michael Movel
Fat Pebble/Zynga
Just Dance 4
Alkis Argyriadis, Matthew Tomkinson, Veronique Halbrey
Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Jon Burton, Jonathan Smith, John Hodskinson
TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
LEGO the Lord of the Rings
Development Team
TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Minecraft: XBOX 360 Edition
Development Team
Mojang/4J Studios/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade
Skylanders Giants
Paul Reiche, Fred Ford, Scott Krager
Toys For Bob/Activision

Game Innovation
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Development Team
Treyarch/Activision
Fez
Development Team
Polytron Corporation/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Kinect Sesame Street TV
Development Team
Soho Productions/Microsoft Studios
The Unfinished Swan
Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary
Development Team
Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Wonderbook: Books of Spells
Development Team
London Studio/ Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Mobile & Handheld
Incoboto
Dene Carter
Fluttermind/Fluttermind
LittleBigPlanet (Vita)
Tom O'Connor, Mattias Nygren, Lee Hutchinson
Tarsier Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
New Star Soccer
Simon Read
New Star Games/New Star Games
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
Super Monsters Ate My Condo
Development Team
Adult Swim Games/Adult Swim Games
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

Online - Browser
Amateur Surgeon Hospital
Development Team
Mediatonic/Adult Swim Games
Dick and Dom's HOOPLA!
Adam Clay
Team Cooper/CBBC
Merlin: The Game
Development Team
Bossa Studios/Bossa Studios
Runescape
Development Team
Jagex/Jagex
The Settlers Online
Christopher Schmitz, Guido Schmidt, Rainer Reber
Blue Byte Software/Ubisoft
SongPop
Olivier Michon, Thibaut Crenn, Daouna Jeong
FreshPlanet/FreshPlanet

Online - Multiplayer
Assassin's Creed III
Damien Kieken, Mathieu Granjon, Yann Le Guyader
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Borderlands 2
DevelopmentTeam
Gearbox/2K Games
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Development Team
Treyarch/Activision
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Need For Speed Most Wanted
Development Team
Criterion Games/EA

Original Music
Assassin's Creed III
Lorne Balfe
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Diablo III
Development Team
Blizzard Entertainment/ Blizzard Entertainment
Journey
Austin Wintory
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Thomas Was Alone
David Housden
Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell
The Unfinished Swan
Joel Corlitz, Ian Dallas, Peter Scaturro
Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

Performer
Adrian Hough (Haytham) - Assassin's Creed III
Danny Wallace (The Narrator) - Thomas Was Alone
Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett) - The Walking Dead
Melissa Hutchinson (Clementine) - The Walking Dead
Nigel Carrington (The Narrator) - Dear Esther
Nolan North (Nathan Drake) - Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Sports/Fitness
FIFA 13
David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy
EA Canada/EA
F1 2012
Development Team
Codemasters Birmingham/Codemasters Racing
Forza Horizon
Development Team
Playground Games/Turn10 Studios/Microsoft Studios
New Star Soccer
Simon Read
New Star Games/New Star Games
Nike+ Kinect Training
Development Team
Sumo Digital Ltd/Microsoft Studios
Trials Evolution
Development Team
Antti llvessup, Kim Lahti
RedLynx/Microsoft Studios

Story
Dishonoured
Development Team
Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Far Cry 3
Jeffrey Yohalem, Lucien Soulban, Jeffrey Yohalem
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Mass Effect 3
Mac Walters
BioWare/EA
Thomas was Alone
Mike Bithell
Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

Strategy
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die
Development Team
From Software/Namco Bandai Games
Diablo III
Development Team
Blizzard Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment
Football Manager 2013
Development Team
Sports Interactive/SEGA
Great Big War Game
David Moss, Steve Venezia, Paul Johnson
Rubicon Development/Rubican Development
Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai
Development Team
The Creative Assembly/SEGA
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Development Team
Firaxis/2K Games

BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in association with Dare to Be Digital
Pixel Story
Martin Cosens, Thomas McParland, Ashley Hayes, Benhamin Rushton, Luke Harrison
(Loan Wolf Games)
Project Thanatos
Hugh Laird, Andrew Coles, Thomas Laird, Alexandra Shapland, Thomas Kemp
(Raptor Games)
Starcrossed
Kimi Sulopuisto, Vili Viitaniemi, Minttu Meriläinen, Petri Liuska, Andrew MacLean
(Kind of a Big Deal)

Given that they've been recognising games for a few years now, shouldn't BAFTA update their acronym to reflect the fact? BAFTGA, maybe? BAGFTA? Perhaps not.
PC Gamer
Assassin's Creed


PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: calling all Tapirs, please be on guard. Ubi have revised their yearly profit estimates up to somewhere between 90 and 100 million Euros after better-than-expected sales late last year, and are going to need a much bigger wallet.

Gamasutra report that Assassin's Creed 3 shifted 12 million copies in the meatspace and online which is 70% more than AssCreed: Revelations managed. Far Cry 3 sold 4.5 million. A "much higher-than-expected performance," which means "fans certainly won't have to wait four more years for the next Far Cry."

The next Assassin's Creed was also briefly mentioned. It'll apparently take place in a fresh setting and star a new hero. So much for Connor, then. Requiescat in pace, brusque angry hatchet-dude. I will remember you always, apart from your face and everything you said and did.

That's all the info for now, but there's still time to honour Haiku Friday with a brief but moving summation of all our hopes and dreams for Far Cry 4.

Jason Brody-bot,
Turns dinosaurs into bags,
Stabby stabby stab.
PC Gamer
vader 2


Vaas embodies the savagery of Far Cry 3's Rook Islands. The unbalanced pirate boss is one of the stand-out villains in recent memory. In an interview with IGN, Ubisoft Producer Dan Hay compares Vaas' memorable presence with how Darth Vader commanded attention whenever he appeared.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

"You think about that opening scene in Star Wars," Hay says. "What you think is a huge ship is going by overhead, and then it's absolutely dwarfed by a massive ship. Then everything inside it is white, and the rebels are holding against the door. It blows up. They just had a firefight going on, and when it’s all over, in walks this guy who’s head-to-toe in shiny black. That moment is galvanized in your memory as a kid forever. For us, our focus was giving that same taste for Vaas and making sure that it’s short, sweet, and about craving more of it."

Also in the interview, Far Cry 3 Lead Writer Jeffrey Yohalem, explains why Ubisoft decided to let players kill Vaas halfway through the game. Yohalem, who's made several attempts to clarify the meaning of the game's story in interviews, says that Vaas' sudden death halfway through was totally intentional. The decision was driven by, of all things, Virginia Woolf’s 1927 novel To The Lighthouse and its offhanded mention of the death of the main character.

"She dies in the middle kind of parenthetically," Yohalem says. "The whole book is going, and you get to these parentheses in this middle portion, and she’s dead. The rest of the book is about the absence of her. That is so daring. And we did it. I think that it's hard for some people, but at the same time, you also want that kind of a character to take a bow when everyone wants him the most. You never feel that in a game."

Missing Mr. Mohawk? Fear not: Vaas lives on as a reskin mod for Grand Theft Auto IV.

You can read the rest of the interview at IGN.
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