Mr. Statistic, meet Mr. Integrity

Let me get this one fact out: every time I hear “balancing”, and that word is connected in any way to an RTS game, I cringe. A lot. No, much more than that. I cringe like a gentleman who is about to eat his food, only to realise there’s a dead, bloated fly on his spoon.

Do most of the folks who try “balance” out a strategy game ever got any input whatsoever in how the particular universe of that game works? Let me just pop out some of the more popular franchises in RTS gaming:

Company of Heroes

Dawn of War 2

Warcraft III

All these three have been through numerous patches, and thus numerous “balancing”, yet with each and every patch it feels like it’s no longer a game that I thought it would be. To be more specific, every in-game faction/group/whatever no longer follows the original descriptive metadata that it was suppose to follow.

What I’m saying is, a Space Marine Battle Brother is no longer an Angel of Death to the player.

No, Space Marines no longer feel like they count. A Space Marine loss feels like just another statistic.

German tanks no longer possess a great range of attack.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t German tanks suppose to have superior optics that enables them to pretty much snipe opposing tanks?

The structural integrity of a Human Guard Tower is pretty much just another standing meat shield.

Image courtesy of koelndorfer

I just… don’t know where to start. How is a building suppose to have, by logic, an armour type that’s similar to an armour-plated human?

Perhaps it’s just me, but I really, really want strategy games to be more than a cold and calculated thing. I want it to be emotional, I want a strategy game to break me, then rebuild me or better still, suck me in so much that I would role-play as how a commander of a particular faction would.

If I were to play as the Tyranids, the game would motivate me to command my army as if I were cursed with a hunger that drives me bestial. If I were to play as Chaos the game would motivate me to engage in acts of dickery and douchebaggery. If I were to play as the Necrons the game would motivate me to play as if I just woke up at 6 a.m., only for my eyes to be assaulted by sunlight.

It seems to me that developers are focusing more on a statistically fair game rather than making the player enjoy playing a particular faction or unit for what it is. It’s like Formula 1 once again! Bloody hell…

Which brings me to another issue to rant about too! Why is it that the gameplay mechanics from different factions FEELS THE SAME?!

Shouldn’t Chaos require resources through ritual sacrifices (of enemies or civilians) and other mumbo-jumbos? Shouldn’t Tyranids be getting their resources by the (any)things they eat? Shouldn’t Eldar be obnoxiously snobbish that they would only unleash their entire arsenal when they experience how much of a threat the enemy is?


Ok, ok. Time to cool down.









Right. I would prefer if the devs would “balance” an RTS gameplay within context of the universe’s descriptive metadata. Balance it in such a way that it is still very clear to both new and old players why a certain faction in so special and unique. So game devs, please? n_n


The Human Car

Yes, cars are becoming grumpier by the year. I loath it. I think it started with the R34, but I’m not too sure. All I know is that Nissan made the neutral, calm & collected R33 grumpy. And so the pop culture follows suit, from other sports cars (which makes sense), to saloons, hatchbacks, SUVs, MPVs and the lot (which doesn’t make sense). Thank God we still have the likes of Bentley and Rolls Royce to keep the neutral faces for our motoring world.

red r33

Vanilla looks good, this one looks great, the Blue Calsonic looks the best, like some sort of an embodiment of a blue, straight-six skull demon.

Have I mentioned that I loath SUVs? I’m driving one, though I believe it’s a proper 4×4 than others, I still loath using it on urban roads.

[Nope, not gonna show you what an SUV looks like, because it’s bloody everywhere.]

Also, I’ve found a more appropriate word to describe the Aston Martin range (bar the Cygnet and Rapide), absolutely romantic.


Except this one. It looks like a pregnant boat/whale.

Why do some gems get ignored?

It always bothers me when an originator gets less praise and recognition it deserves over those that precedes it. Take a look at Metro 2033 for example:

Did anyone ever bothered to notice the hidden moral experiment that this game offered? I haven’t seen any reviews that ever mention the subtle intricacies that Metro 2033 offer in terms of morality and free will. Well, at least other than the review from Thurot. Beyond that? None. Not even from Extra Credits Annoyed.

… and then we have Spec Ops: The Line …

Look, as a game that tries to exploit the psychological issues of  gaming culture, its good. But compare it to Metro 2033? Brash, unsubtle, almost vulgar. I say that because the amount of praise and recognition I’ve heard for it is just ridiculously disproportionate.

So what did Extra Credits say?

*a whole bunch of praise for its capability exploit and judge you as a gamer psychologically*

And what about IGN?

it’s about you, the effects of your actions, and events that are out of your control

So here we see SO:TL from 2012 getting the appropriate praise for what it had done. Yet, looking back to 2010, it is just unfair to see Metro 2033 not recognised for what it is.

Let me ask you again …

Why are the ‘firsts’ forgotten? Especially when Metro 2033 had executed it with such professional subtlety that one would think Milgram or some other social scientist was making an experiment on the gamer culture. Is it because it didn’t involve enough ‘American’ characters? Is it because it’s a PC-only game? Is it because of the public’s attempt to put Metro in the perspective of “another on-rails FPS shooter”?


Let me make a short clarification to some of my statements above.

I say SO:TL is brash … because its only route to redemption is to stop playing the game completely. It’s just too damn deterministic. No doubt this game leaves a bitter taste on gamers who want to find a better alternative path. By ‘bitter’ I mean ‘I can’t believe I’ve spent BND$88 on this thing expecting the ability to choose my moral path, only to find out it really is on-rails’.

I say Metro 2033 is a better moral-testing game because it offers redemption within the gameplay it self.