Even Duck Game’s Creator Doesn’t Know How to Impress the Computer

Duck Game

Duck Game

If you’re a fan of the fast-paced, 2D arena shooter Duck Game, you know full well just how difficult it is to impress the AI judge at the end of a match.  No matter what kinds of maneuvers you and your fellow players manage to pull off, you’ll rarely see the computer respond with anything other than “ughhhh”.  Well, you and your friends can stop feeling so bad about your waterfowl skills, because even the man who made the game doesn’t know how to impress the judgmental AI.  In an interview with Youtube channel Super Bunnyhop, Duck Game‘s creator, Landon Podbielski, admits that he can barely figure out how to get the higher ratings that the computer judge has to offer any better than your average player.  For him, even getting the computer to call a match “mildly entertaining” is a rare occurrence despite there being dozens of better results to get.

The issue came from a great deal of tweaking with what it finds impressive and how easy it is to impress.  There are countless bizarre and obscure maneuvers you can pull off to raise your coolness score, but the randomness of the game makes opportunities to try and perform many of those moves, much less actually pull them off successfully, fairly rare.  Podbielski has never been able to get the AI to grade matches in a way he’s comfortable with as it always leans toward being too harsh or too generous.  He settled on the more sarcastic version seen today as it plays more to the humorous side of the game, but he does plan on patching the game in the near future to make the AI ease up a bit.

What’s the best score you’ve gotten on Duck Game?  How do you feel about Duck Game‘s strict computer?  Do you actually enjoy the criticism, eagerly await the expected patch, or just shrug it off entirely?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Indie Spotlight: Kick and Fennick

If I haven’t said it anywhere publicly before, I’ll say it here: Playstation Plus is amazing! Every month I get at least 2 new games for each of my Playstation consoles for free. Sometimes, I get games that I heard of but never had the chance to play or I’ll get an indie game that I never heard of. Earlier this year, the indie game I didn’t hear of was a game on PS Vita called Kick & Fennick. I downloaded it because the image caught my eye as looking cute and I thought it could be fun. What I didn’t expect is that this game would become a contender for my personal Game of the Year.

This game is a has a simple premise, a small boy named Kick wakes up in what looks to be a post-apocalyptic/1984-esque world. Kick gets saved by an even smaller robot named Fennick who has a dying battery. The two, along with a big gun, then go off an adventure to the Core Tower to fix up Fennick.

The gameplay is a sidescrolling platformer where you use a giant gun to destroy robots and launch Kick like a tiny cannonball. The simplicity is shocking, because I’ve never played or heard of a game that has a mechanic like this through the majority of the game. It opens the game up to have tight, well developed levels, which bring the difficulty and the fun. It reminds me of an old school Rareware game in all of the best ways.

Throughout each level and world, it gets progressively harder and you have to really think about how to make each jump. It’s really interesting to have a platformer where you have to think strategically about how you get from one platform to the next. The levels also never overstay their welcome, which is something a lot of games fall into the trap of.

If I had one complaint, it’s with the combat. When Kick shoots an enemy, he always gets knocked backwards a bit. It’s not a flaw in the game design, because it’s clearly meant to be like that, I’m just saying it got a little frustrating. However, whenever you die in this game you never feel like the game cheated you. Since the player has to strategically make all of their jumps, the only person to blame is themselves. Despite the “meh” combat, everything else is amazing!

This isn’t a review, I just want to shine some light on a great game, but if it was I would give this game a 10/10. It’s a charming game made by a rad developer for a system that needs more great games. If you have a Vita, it is currently $7.99 on PSN and is totally worth every penny. As a side note, if any of the people from Jaywalkers Interactive are reading this, please know that you now have a ride or die fan in me because I completely adore this game. Good luck with everything, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for you guys!

The Problem With Proteus

Proteus

When Proteus was made free with Playstation Plus, I immediately swooped in and downloaded it. I am not only an avid gamer, but a self-proposed open-minded gamer. I will try anything, and I generally like to sink my teeth in before I conclude with a final opinion. That said, occasionally a game strikes me so rapidly and so fiercely that I needn’t delve deeper, as the way in which it presents itself is abundantly clear, for better or for worse.

Proteus made me feel overwhelming annoyance with not only the developers that created it, but with a certain recent trend in this industry. Proteus is hardly a game, it is not an ‘experience’, it is simply shovelware that serves no purpose except for the ‘deeper meaning’ that the developer has tried oh so vehemently to shove down your throat. It’s pretentious at best, and the movement of ‘art game experiences’ needs to either expand to have real purpose, or stop.

0-07-b-daynight

A quote directly from the official Proteus website states that the game is based around discovery and exploration, but I feel that I must ask one simple question. What are you discovering exactly?

In Proteus, you walk around a randomly-generated island that, when the objects therein are approached, present different, distinct audio ques. The idea is that as you are traversing the land, the soundtrack will develop and change depending on what you, the ‘player’, do.

For example: walk up to what appears to be a frog, and as it jumps, a sequence of sounds emerge, all of which coincide with the overall soundtrack that the world itself gives off. Each object, from pieces of grass to animals, have their own sound.

Beyond simply walking and approaching objects, there is absolutely nothing to do in Proteus. Once you have installed and turned on the game for the first time, you will have understood absolutely everything this ‘game’ has to offer. It’s charming at face value, and the sounds and art are as beautiful as they are endearing, but it wears thin within mere moments. A game cannot survive on the way it looks or the way it sounds, it needs much more than that.

With a game that is based on exploration, you need purpose, you need drive. There has to be something subconsciously (if not bluntly) telling the player to progress, and simple sounds and cues will not do that for anybody. My favourite example of an art game done correctly, Journey, excelled at exploration and discovery.

journey

We’re given brief glimpses into the world of Journey. We see a mountain with an almost blinding incandescent light. We’re not told why we must seek answers at the mountain, and we’re not beaten over the head with exposition. Instead, we, as gamers, are intrinsically driven (and encouraged masterfully by thatgamecompany) to seek the unknown. Journey offers one single visual cue that will encourage anyone to trek the land, but Proteus offers nothing.

You will never find answers for your journey (no pun intended), nor will you have some reveal or reward for your dedication, you will only ever be offered audio cues, and slight objects to behold, and this is the problem.

What were the developers of Proteus trying to portray? what message was being given? I, as much as I attempted to find answers to these questions while playing, could not find a single hint. The only thing that I felt playing Proteus, was that they managed to create the most bare-boned, shallow ‘experience’ that I’ve yet to play on the Playstation 3.

Proteus-2013-01-04-96uPuB63525082-0001

Proteus is no Journey, it is no Minecraft, and unlike those two experiences, it has no message, reward, or goal. It exists, much like the empty and uninspired world that the game presents, and we have absolutely no reason to ever set foot in it.