Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Do you like Stage Hazards?

1. Yes, they are cool and greatly enhance the stage variety. I find them interesting to navigate.
0
No votes
2. They're okay, I don't mind them. I consider them a legit part of level design.
9
75%
3. I don't enjoy them, they bother me a little bit but it's not a deal breaker.
3
25%
4. They're annoying.
0
No votes
5. Fuck stage hazards, they should not be in games period.
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 12
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Friday
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Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Friday » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:58 pm

I was thinking about this (I'm pretty much a 5) and I wanted to ask how to guys felt about it.

Stage Hazards here are defined as "something persistent that fucks with your ability to control the character or to see the screen."

So things like Ice, Wind, Darkness, Foreground objects, etc. I find a lot of game devs use these types of hazards to increase the difficulty of the stage, but I really fucking hate anything that interferes with my ability to control the character or see the damn screen. I don't find them "dynamic" or interesting at all, just lazy, irritating, and counter-productive to whatever muscle memory I've built up in the game so far.

Specifically, I'm okay with AVOIDABLE shit that fucks with your ability to control your character. Hitting an enemy that "curses" you or whatever, reversing your controls, is a lot better than just an omnipresent stage condition. But even then it's still annoying.

The exception is Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy, which is amazing.

Anyway, this poll isn't about avoidable control fucks or blinding shit, but just persistent effects.
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Mongrel
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Mongrel » Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:08 pm

Depends on the game and implementation, but overall I'll give them a solid meh.
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Niku
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Niku » Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:19 pm

ever since the monsoon level of karate kid on the nes, we have been at war with stage hazards
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beatbandito
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby beatbandito » Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:43 am

Yeah this is far too general. I love stage hazards in party fighting games like Smash Brothers. Which is a party fighting game. For parties.

They're fine in most multiplayer games and have uses in singe player games. But there have been experiences where you can only see a small area around you or need to totally change your controls that have been incredible, and than there's the Zelda 2 foreground trees.
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Thad
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Thad » Fri Aug 14, 2020 11:59 am

I'll go with Sturgeon's Law and say 90% of everything is crap.

Stage hazards usually suck. But every element of game design usually sucks. Look at any brilliantly-executed mechanic and you don't have to look far to see a ton of shitty shovelware titles that do it incompetently.

...You know, I just thought of something. Not too long ago we were talking about this in the context of Mega Man X, and Brent said that the game nudges you to do Chill Penguin's stage first, and that seems wrong because ice stages should come later. I pointed out that, thanks to adding the intro stage, whatever stage you select "first" is actually your second stage, and you've already had a straightforward stage to learn the ropes.

I didn't follow it through to compare to other Mega Man games, but it just occurred to me that if you follow the suggested order in Mega Man 2, that means you take Flash Man's stage second, and that's an ice stage in all but name. And that's after the recommended first stage -- which is the damn conveyor-belt stage.

So there's Mega Man 2, a game that's largely recognized as the best in the series and a shining example of level design -- and it hits you with two stages that fuck with your movement in different ways right upfront.

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Brentai
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Brentai » Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:11 pm

I always started with Wood Man.
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Thad
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Thad » Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:40 pm

Yeah, nobody uses Atomic Fire to beat Wood Man.

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zaratustra
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby zaratustra » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:55 pm

I personally differentiate hazards that modify the control of the character (ice, wind, conveyor belts) and hazards that simply cripple the input/output interface (darkness, obstructions). I'm... actually not sure why. Maybe because one is about learning new controls, and the other is just crippling the player - or because the latter is usually pretty lazy.

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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby LaserBeing » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:03 pm

Really depends on the game. I think the ice levels in Mega Man games are awful, but the ice levels in SMB2 are actually kinda fun. Sure there's a million shitty horror games that use pitch darkness as a crutch to prop up their lame jump scares, but there's also at least a handful of stealth games that turn it into an interesting and dynamic part of your toolkit. I even like the absolute bullshit they start pulling on you in NieR:Automata... but that might just be me

Fuck that windy stage in Ninja Gaiden II though. Miserable weather.



Also I feel the need to point out that Chill Penguin's stage is a snow level, not an ice level. Despite what they look like, none of the platform surfaces actually affect your movement (although the boss does use a wind attack, funnily enough). I hate to be pedantic, but I just couldn't let it slide.
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Brentai
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Brentai » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:42 pm

No, it's relevant. Chill Penguin seems like a mid-game level due to its theming, not due to its actual mechanics.
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Thad » Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:53 pm

Also I feel the need to point out that Chill Penguin's stage is a snow level, not an ice level. Despite what they look like, none of the platform surfaces actually affect your movement (although the boss does use a wind attack, funnily enough). I hate to be pedantic, but I just couldn't let it slide.


Hm, right you are, so nevermind about the environmental hazard part. But I think Brent's point was more that we expected certain things from Mega Man games by that point, and one of them is that you don't do the ice/fire levels early. Whether or not Chill Penguin's level is slippery, you look at it and expect it to be.

Whereas I suppose Flash Man's stage is the reverse -- it's slippery but it doesn't look like it should be, so it's not really an exception to Brent's point either.

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Friday
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Friday » Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:29 pm

As much as I love challenge and difficulty in games, I despise stage hazards because they always feel cheap. When I die, I want it to be because the screen was filled with fireballs and I didn't lead them properly, not because I hit the jump button at the correct time based on position to jump over a gap and died anyway because there was a 40% wind blowing in my face so I needed to hit the jump button slightly closer to the ledge, so taking that into account, I worked my way back to the jump and then this time jumped too late and the game doesn't have much if any coyote time so I fell in the pit, and then I worked my way back and this time I jumped perfectly but the wind, which is on a global timer, shifted and was now blowing 40% forward, so I overshot the target platform and still fell into the pit.

Basically, I hate shit that fucks with my muscle memory and don't consider it valid. If a game is about getting better at the required mechanics and controls while the environment gets tougher, thereby creating a classic curve of difficulty, fucking with the controls feels like jerking the rug out from under me and forcing me back to when I was first playing the game in terms of mastery of the controls.

That said, as others have pointed out, not all Stage Hazards are created equal. I'm more tolerant of conveyor belts than ice or wind, for example, because they're generally a localized thing and they roll at visible, predictable speeds.

Darkness or foreground objects just feel fucking annoying to me. Sometimes it's mostly fine (I don't really mind darkness in alttp, for example) but in games with a day/night cycle that reduces your vision, oh man.
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Brentai
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Brentai » Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:32 pm

I don't generally like environmental mechanics themselves but I appreciate their presence as something that breaks up the monotony of moving at such and such a pace over flat terrain on a march to the final boss. Used sparingly, they're like the carrots in fried rice - not that great, but without them you'd have no crunch.

The one that always gets me is darkness in FPS games, partly because early FPS games were practically one big dark level, and partly because I actually have really good night vision so not being able to see as well through a video game character always feels like a forced disability.
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Mongrel
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Mongrel » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:18 pm

Brentai wrote:I actually have really good night vision

Vote: Brentai
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby Mongrel » Fri Aug 14, 2020 10:22 pm

Day night sequences can be fine. I love playing stealthy and sneaky characters instead of brawlers, which means I'm always looking for games with a tactical approach rather than the muscle-memory masocore stuff. Like Skyrim without a day/night cycle would be both weird and less fun. I like that spooky pre-industrial darkness in games where it fits and isn't just a straight up blackscreen blind effect (yeah THAT'S dumb).

How do y'all feel about scrolling levels (I think they're fine)?
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zaratustra
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby zaratustra » Sat Aug 15, 2020 7:48 am

NO DAY/NIGHT CYCLES ARE AMAZING

LET'S MAKE IT REALLY FUCKING HARD TO SEE ANYTHING YOU DO IN THE GAME FOR HALF THE FUCKING TIME

THIS WILL MAKE IT REALISTIC ESPECIALLY WHEN THE CYCLE IS FIFTEEN FUCKING MINUTES LONG

I HAVE PROBLEMS WITH DAY/NIGHT CYCLES

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beatbandito
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby beatbandito » Sat Aug 15, 2020 8:01 am

Dragon's Dogma kind of does it well. The game tells you directly that going out at night is a bad idea, bro. They want you to not be able to see anything so you faceplant into higher level enemies.

Meanwhile in Dinosaur Crossing: Zero Horizons there's a perfectly fine night cycle where they don't fuck up the contrast. But meanwhile every other conversation mentions something happening or having happened (in) a specific number of days [ago] that ruins any kind of immersion. Day/night cycles are hard to do right.

Then again, Radiata Stories had day/night cycles. There were periods where time wasn't a factor and no characters would mention it, you were just waiting or looking for something for an indeterminate amount of time. And when you're told you have a mission coming up you get a set number of cycles before the story moves you forward. Plus since it's an RPG the actual lighting isn't as important in exploration or combat. And there were full daily schedules for everyone.
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Re: Quick Poll: Stage Hazards

Postby nosimpleway » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:51 pm

The most baffling environmental hazards I've personally experienced?

Cities: Skylines

Vanilla game gives you a nice, clear, sunny view of your city. But then they added, yes, a day/night cycle where there's no ambient light and your city's streetlights must suffice (and also your solar power plants don't work). Then they added fog. And rain. And snow. And probably hail and frogs and whatever since I stopped looking at C:S expansions.

This sim game is pretty cool, but what if we made it fuckall difficult to see what the hell you're doing?

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