We've reached the end of the "Appraising the Art of Combat" article series. I should say that I am not done analyzing video game combat. Expect the terms and concepts established in this series to permeate my writing from here onward. The reason I'm ending the series is because I believe I've thoroughly covered enough examples to highlight each new term/concept. I planned on writing about many more games, but I'll probably get around to them in the near future. Here's the short list:
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 bosses
- Metroid: Other M vs Shadow Complex
- Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes vs Planet Puzzle League vs Tetris DS: Push.
- Devil May Cry vs Ninja Gaiden vs Bayonetta vs Zelda
- Viewtiful Joe
Before I close, I'll highlight a feature of Bomberman Blitz for the DSi that isn't a comeback mechanic. This feature rewards the playstyle that works best for all players in the match. (Adam Smith was wrong and John Nash knows it). Free-for-alls work best when each player does what's best for themselves and the group. This "governing dynamic" that emerges from the human dynamics is hard to understand intuitively let alone convince others to abide by. So to help communicate the "soft rules" that the designers want the players to play by, points can be used to as a behavioral guide.
So in Bomberman Blitz online ranked battles, if you play well enough in the developer defined playstyle you'll increase your overall score even if you lose the match (failing to get 1st place). Your online rank is based on how many points you've earned. Earning points is always good, and the game breaks down what it gives/takes away points for. Some examples include...
- 1st place winner +120
- survivor +50
- defeated somebody +70
- got item +13
- bombs 100% effective +50
- shortest Time yet +30
- quick conclusion +20
- win vs 4+ rank higher +250
- threw most bombs +15
- #1 among defeated -30
- defeated by somebody -50
- bombs 50-79% effective -10
Just based on this incomplete list, it's obvious that the developers reward players for winning, conservative bomb use, using bombs to destroy blocks/defeat another player, and using special abilities like the THROW bomb powerup. If you don't want to learn this scoring system, then just focus on winning. That never fails to net you positive points.
It's important in a FFA to give players something to play for when they can't take 1st place. Mario Kart uses a point system that gives racers less points the further away they place from 1st. So when you can't win it all, you can at least focus on getting ahead of the racer in front of you. Zelda: Spirit Track battle could certainly use a system like this.
Though combat against computer AI is legitimate, I can't help but think that like art, it's human interpretation and freedom that is the most interesting and difficult part of the experience to understand and control.