kitsunebi77

Just watch, don't play

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I used to wonder what the point of all of the Let's Plays and playthroughs out there were.  Why would someone else want to watch someone else play a game rather than play it themselves?

Except I just sat through a 55 minute playthrough of the 2011 HD remake of Sonic CD and I feel just fine about it.

The truth is, I don't really enjoy Sonic games.  Or most 2D platformers.  Not anymore.  I liked platformers well enough as a kid, but I get no pleasure from them now.  And I never even played Sonic back then - my only experiences with Sonic up to this point are playing through the Master System and Genesis versions of Sonic 1 & 2 as an adult, which I basically did just to cross them off my list of games I figured I should play.

But Sonic CD is a different beast and requires much more careful exploration and planning in order to get the best ending (which I would naturally have to get if I was going to bother at all), and looked like it would require a more significant investment of my time.  So after fiddling with the first couple of worlds, I decided to watch a (near perfect) playthrough instead, and all I could think when I was finished was how much longer than 55 minutes it would have taken me to do the same thing, and how grateful I was to NOT have spent all that time beating a game I didn't really enjoy in the first place.

So, I don't know.  Maybe I still feel that there's no point to watching playthroughs  of games that you might actually enjoy if you played them yourself, but I can see their value.  Sonic CD is a very well-designed game, and watching someone who knew what they're doing play through it was oddly captivating (mind you, I still can't stand let's plays where the player talks through the entire thing - this playthrough was commentary-free, thankfully).

 

Does anybody else out there watch other people play games rather than play them yourself (yes, I'm talking to YOU)?

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I will often watch Twitch streams to see pros play First Person Shooters or Fighting Games. Sometimes doing this will actually make my own gameplay improve.

 

PS: I never liked Sonic either. I didn't think the world designs were on par with Super Mario.

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Yes, I love watching these!

I generally use them for games I don't own, have little expectation of an ability to play myself, or for genres that I'm not very good at (I love RTS and turn-based strategy games, for instance, but I'm terrible at them so watching someone who's actually competent play their way through Command & Conquer or Gemfire is a treat). For games I am good at or just enjoy playing, I will occasionally watch speed runs just to see how badly some games can be broken without resorting to save states and cheat devices.

Actually a little terminology may be helpful.

A "long play" (or longplay) is generally a start-to-finish run of a particular game with no commentary. The World of Longplays YouTube channel is an example of this. Exceptionally long games like RPGs are often broken up into multiple multi-hour videos, and occasionally they will be edited for the purpose of slicing out random battles with enemies that have already been fought or 'grind' segments where a player is just powering up to be able to take on the next boss, but otherwise they are the full game experience.

A "let's play" is also a start-to-finish run of a game, but with either the gamer or someone else providing voiced or text-based commentary and/or reaction. Kikoskia's YouTube channel is an example of this. There are two categories of Let's Plays, normal and Blind, and each are popular for their own reasons. Normal let's plays are usually done by people who already have experience with the game: they've played through it once, they know where to go, and they're like tour guides leading us through a specific title. The upside is there's little down-time in a normal let's play since the player is practiced and knowledgeable about where to go, and the commentator often telegraphs and foreshadows things so the viewer knows to pay attention to them. They're rarely caught by surprise unless the game itself is built on random elements, like Dwarf Fortress, Dungeon Hack, and so on. Blind, on the other hand, means the person playing the game is experiencing it for the first time; these are especially popular with horror games, because half the fun is seeing the player shit himself after a horrible experience. The downside of a Blind let's play is that sometimes the players get stuck on a puzzle, backtrack because they missed an item, or simply don't know what the next step is. It's doubly frustrating when you can tell what they're doing wrong, but you have to sit there for twenty minutes before they realize where they missed a certain key or whatever. I much prefer normal Let's Plays for games I've already experienced, and because the player's knowledge makes them more entertaining. Truly fun Let's Players make you believe they're actually in the shoes of the character they're portraying, something Kikoskia's quite good at in, for instance, his Doom 3 Let's Play.

A "speed run" is an attempt to complete the game as fast as possible, sometimes with conditions imposed to make it more interesting, but often it's a pure race from the title screen to the closing credits. Usually these runs are the result of people playing games to death and a community surrounding them coming up with new strategies that shave time off the current record results. I like watching Speed Runs of games I'm familiar with, because knowing the mechanics or what should normally happen makes it easier to understand just how (and how badly) the runner is breaking the game. There's a sub-category of speed run called the "TAS", or Tool-Assisted Speedrun, which uses emulators to play the game literally frame-by-frame to control the timing of button inputs and random number generation to produce optimal results that would be either extraordinarily difficult or impossible for a human player to pull off. TAS runs are amusing because the TAS player/programmer can showcase inhuman reflexes, show off hit detection boxes, earn critical strikes on every enemy, fire weapons so optimally as to never waste a single shot, and similar stunts (as showcased by this absurd TAS for Gradius on the NES).

I often will have one of these open in a different window when I'm chatting with friends online, just like some people leave a TV running in the background while they're doing other things. :)

*huggles*
Areala

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I don't think I could watch a blind let's play of a horror game and take the player's reactions seriously.  They would either react naturally (which would probably mean they clam up and go silent, which is what people DO in truly tense situations), or else they would be way over the top, like those annoying #%$^ers in those movie trailer reaction videos, which are my Most Hated Thing Ever.

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I watched a summary review of that remake with a side by side comparison and it looked like they cleaned up some of the art lines around the objects and sprites  but I did not get the feeling I would get if all the worlds were reinterpreted and remodeled with a modern workstation before exporting to whichever console was new in 2011.

As for a debate between Mario and Sonic they come from two different design goals.  Mario is a part of Shigeru and Nintendo's tome and the other was a marketing goal to compete with Nintendo's mascot.  In 1991 and with Sega's perseverance they survived the shortage of available game programmers Nintendo created by preventing developers from licensing their games to any other manufacturer.  They packed in a decent game for not really much more money to tide you until you could purchase the first EA NHL.

A streamer is anyone who broadcasts on a public server the live recording of them playing a videogame but they usually have other novelties such as music request and topic discussion while you get to see a professional with multiple hours of experience expedite the leveling system and give you an idea of what this game will be like before you spend money or waste a weekend finding out you wasted $50.   Let's Play has a condition requiring the producer to have prepared delivery which includes writing lines and possibly rehearsals before broadcasting or recording.

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I've only ever watched one Let's Play, and that was of the game Mickey Mania for the Genesis. The only reason i watched it was because the guy playing through it was John Burton, the founder of Traveller's Tales and the main programmer for the game. So as he played through he explained how they achieved many of the visual tricks they did.

Those kinds of Let's Plays I can watch all day. The rest I have no interest in.

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i picked up a copy of Captain Rainbow for the Wii. this game was released only in Japan, but i always thought it was neat. My Wii isn't modded, so i can't play the game. I've been watching a video of a full playthrough as a way to play but not play. 

other than that, i'll catch some speedruns now and then, but that's about it. i don't really understand the Let's Play style of videos either. 

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I can binge GDQ speed runs like they're going out of style.  Watching amazingly talented game players while raising money for charity - what's not to like?  I'm a huge fan of the Mario Marathon online fundraiser as well - have been for years.

Otherwise, I'm not big on watching versus playing.  I have considered long plays of games I never seem to have the time for though.

 

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I can definitely understand the advantage of watching another complete a short game that sparks ones curiosity (like sonic CD), or relate to the amusement of watching some extraordinary feat, such as a speed-run through an old favorite.  But generally, I do not derive much satisfaction from watching videos of video games being completed, and therefore do not often watch that sort of thing.  However, the work I've been doing recently is sedentary, and does not always require my 100% attention, so I have plenty of occasion to play videos and pay a casual attention to them.  I recently "watched" a video series of Final Fantasy IV played from start to finish.  I couldn't imagine focusing on the videos the entire time!  For me, the videos functioned as something of an hourglass, and a mild amusement when important battles occurred....Also, the familiar music & video game sounds are relaxing to me.

I can only assume that most people are watching these videos to help guide them through tough spots in games that they are playing.  Seems like a great successor/supplement to the print guides of the past.

Edited by consumer

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