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Kono Talks About ACAH on Twitter


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#1
Nemo KB

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Two days ago, Kono went on an essay-length reminiscence about ACAH. I'm not sure it tells us anything we didn't already know or suspect, but it's very interesting, so I translated it for you guys.
 

As it happens, I’ve been watching more AC5 videos on Nico Nico Douga. I’m up to M27+. Seeing them brings back a lot of memories from those days. It’s just, I’ve been getting forgetful nowadays, like I was old and senile. That makes it all the more compelling to me. Occasionally a very nice comment will float my way. Like, “Well done, well done like a fine steak!”. Hah. I want to make an AC like that again. I really do.
 
I watched ACAH too. Having devoted three years of my life to it, it’s like my beautiful child. I very much remember the hideous amount of suffering this beautiful child caused. I still haven’t recovered in the years since, and if nobody believes me, then I’ve got only myself to blame. Three years I spent. First, panic. I came to a state where I was constantly pleading “you have to understand!” That time is still very prominent in my mind.
 
And after that, panic. That was the time when everyone was simply incredulous. Internally, publicly, among fans, turning as though in the blink of an eye, people threw around recriminations and baseless accusations that seemed overflowing with rage. In-house, so to say, some were sympathetic, and they supported me as together we struggled.
 
Basically, all my time attached to the post we call “producer” could excuse nothing. It was all “it’s your job to accept responsibility,” and eventually “only you could possibly accept the blame.” So while everyone was damaged by the whole thing to a greater or lesser extent, in the end, I “faced it alone.” Like I promised I would.
 
Now, when I look at ACAH, each and every asset, each element of the production, the presentation, it’s all very well made, and it all feels wonderful to me. Only, we failed to get across our intent with the product and communicate. In evaluating the game - the pros and cons - there’s things both good and bad, but if you think about it at the concept level, it’s like a totally different product.
 
The response was, especially after the “attacks,” not to run away, but rather ideas even to the extent of a “patch to restore the conventional mechanics,” but - as I said in no uncertain terms - it was a tumultuous time. It’s with sadness that I understood “nothing would be accomplished in such a superficial manner.”
 
Really though, their feelings were beyond the understanding of the people who came to lead the production staff. Well, not quite, surprisingly, they were overburdened by their own feelings as well. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, with ever so many excuses, outside circumstances, and various mistakes piling up as they did, of course things end up as they did, and if I try to change my perspective, while certainly there are even be people who came to praise us, the fact of the matter is, “just what do the majority feel, when faced openly and honestly.” It’s a soul-wrenching truth that can’t be escaped. I have to admit to that much. So, even though I’ve come back from then, it’s a fact that I needed the intervening years to see.
 
Ah, well, it’s best if failures like that don’t happen at all, but it’s also true that it was a very valuable experience. Indeed, two pieces of content came out of ACAH, and if ACAH hadn’t happened, then those two things wouldn’t have come to be. This is also a fact. And now, distanced, it also made what's important clear again.
 
And yet, make as many good things as you will, it’s also a fact that for the continuing survival of the company, you have to make good numbers.
 
When it comes to a niche title, something has to be done to reach out to more people and raise the profit limit. That is, this is what was imposed, or rather, this is the demand of the market’s current condition, which, once made apparent, was a necessity to follow. The cost of niches is continuing to multiply, but if we kept making similar things, we’d continue to be successful. That is, this was also an ideal, but we got half what was expected. Maybe half.
 
Bygone days and talk of predictions don’t mean anything before the facts, do they? If that were true, maybe things would have gone well, and maybe things weren’t so great before, but back then, nobody knew the facts of the matter. One can only guess. There isn’t any sort of right answer.
 
I watched AC5 and ACAH, and it inspired a lot: thinking about those times, about afterwards, the worrying, the tears of regret, and now I’m forgetting about it all. Heh. I’ve written at length, but, well, there’s nothing left to say, and now you know the facts.
 
Geez, this is some pretty dark and heavy stuff.
 
I wrote about a lot of things, but until the release of this one particular thing, there’s a lot that’s more lurid that I can’t write, so there’s more a creator must suffer. Producers, directors, and everyone else involved must suffer in their own way, I suppose. There are things with which others should not concern themselves.
 
Right now, I imagine there are those with a lot of the same sort of troubles, failures, and distresses. I think this is certainly the case, in so far as, even through their troubles, they have no choice but to face front and march on. And, it’s just that, soon it may be that nothing can be done, that over the course of years, gradually, we won’t in fact be able to go back. Is what I was thinking.
 
I said “It was a tumultuous time,” because at last after all these years I feel like I can permit myself to experience it all with a cramped smile, and it was in pretty much that mood that I wrote all of this. In these reflections, I addressed the topic of AC and it got way too heavy, and my own tension has been eased. Which was exactly the point. *bitter smile*

 

Clearly this is very personal territory for Kono, but what have we learned?

 

Well, for one, that ACAH wasn't so much trying to get the CoD audience as it was trying to get any sort of audience outside the normal AC fans without straying too much. I suspect that the CoD-like mechanics - the quicktime events, the SONIC SPEED DESTRUCTION SHOOTING, etc - were there because they wanted it to be exciting like CoD, not because they wanted its audience.

 

This is a reasonable response to a continuing problem in Japan for all sorts of media: that is, how to make money on niche products that are continually diverging. Japanese or otherwise, AC fans are a sort of otaku, after all. ACAH tried to widen the niche. ACI went the opposite direction.

 

Second, that ACAH's failure was not gentle, and that it sounds like Kono was very lucky to come away from it with his job. We all knew this thing did not do what NamDai wanted, but it sounds like it might've flopped worse than even we thought.

 

Those "two pieces of content" he's referring to are probably ACI and the arcade booth. What's interesting is that this implies ACI was probably a direct response to ACAH. I had always imagined that it was Kono himself that lobbied for the game getting made, but maybe that wasn't actually the case.

 

Now, it's easy to read this and think "lol Kono still thinks that the game's failure was due to it being not Ace Combat rather than fundamentally untenable gameplay ideas," but let's consider it more closely. It's unreasonable to expect Kono to enumerate every single element that didn't work about the game when that isn't the focus of what he's trying to say. In the end, he takes responsibility for the fact that he made a game that pretty much nobody liked, and that's in and of itself pretty bold.


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#2
PositronCannon

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I'm not entirely unsympathetic towards Kono (just keep him away from anything involving gameplay design), and it's commendable that he owns up to the fuck-ups, but honestly, when he says something like...

 

Now, when I look at ACAH, each and every asset, each element of the production, the presentation, it’s all very well made, and it all feels wonderful to me. Only, we failed to get across our intent with the product and communicate. In evaluating the game - the pros and cons - there’s things both good and bad, but if you think about it at the concept level, it’s like a totally different product.

 

 

...I can't really read it as anything other than "B-BUT YOU JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT!" as opposed to "Yeah, we fucked up". It also reminds me of the people who say stuff like "AH is a good game, but a bad AC game" or "It'd be more popular if it didn't have AC on the title", both of which make absolutely no sense.


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cegc135

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I'm not entirely unsympathetic towards Kono (just keep him away from anything involving gameplay design), and it's commendable that he owns up to the fuck-ups, but honestly, when he says something like...

 

 

...I can't really read it as anything other than "B-BUT YOU JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT!" as opposed to "Yeah, we fucked up". It also reminds me of the people who say stuff like "AH is a good game, but a bad AC game" or "It'd be more popular if it didn't have AC on the title", both of which make absolutely no sense.

Exactly, it's similar to Steve Job's response to the iPhone 4's Antennagate problem in 2010: "You're holding it wrong".

 

I don't exactly hate Assault Horizon, the ideas were good, they just needed to be thought through more and better executed... And I'm really tired of them sucking up to the US in almost every title since AC04 and demonizing Russia and countries alike.


Edited by cegc135, 18 February 2015 - 12:32 AM.

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#4
SlyCooperFan1

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...I can't really read it as anything other than "B-BUT YOU JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT!" as opposed to "Yeah, we fucked up".

But... isn't that exactly what he said?

we failed to get across our intent with the product and communicate.

He said that, in concept, the game was so much better than how they had delivered it, and the delivery was what led to its apparently-horrendous failure.

This is actually a little heartbreaking to read. Imagine being in his situation. I hope whatever they've got planned down the pipeline will be executed better than Assault Horizon was. Infinity's getting there, but it's got its own mishaps, we all know that. Game development, after all, is a gradual learning process.
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Skope Hogan

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He said that, in concept, the game was so much better than how they had delivered it, and the delivery was what led to its apparently-horrendous failure.

I have a bridge to sell you.
 

And I'm really tired of them sucking up to the US in almost every title since AC04 and demonizing Russia and countries alike.

USA

USA

USA

USA

USA


Edited by Skope Hogan, 18 February 2015 - 12:13 PM.

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#6
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But... isn't that exactly what he said?He said that, in concept, the game was so much better than how they had delivered it, and the delivery was what led to its apparently-horrendous failure.

This is actually a little heartbreaking to read. Imagine being in his situation. I hope whatever they've got planned down the pipeline will be executed better than Assault Horizon was. Infinity's getting there, but it's got its own mishaps, we all know that. Game development, after all, is a gradual learning process.

 
xhVl4V1.gif

Edited by FREE THE [email protected] 1, 18 February 2015 - 12:14 PM.

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Nemo KB

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There are a few places where he's a bit ambiguous, but ただ商品戦略[…]、伝え方を失敗したね is definitely talking about communicating their intent, not executing it.

 

Though - maybe this didn't come through in my translation - the subtext was definitely "yeah, this was never going to be a good idea." Note that what he praises is the technical and art aspects, not mechanics, story, or overall vision. The rest production team did a good job, he means to say. So when he accepts responsibility for nobody liking the game, he accepts responsibility for those things too.

 

It may seem like a leap of logic, but that's no fault of mine: that's just Japan.


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PositronCannon

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Note that what he praises is the technical and art aspects, not mechanics, story, or overall vision. The rest production team did a good job, he means to say. So when he accepts responsibility for nobody liking the game, he accepts responsibility for those things too.

 
Yeah, and I don't even disagree with him on that. AH does look pretty cool  (okay, if we get technical the actual textures etc aren't that impressive plus GREEN AND GRAY but I'm willing to be lenient since there's barely any games like this that focus on planes anyway) and I still have no problem admitting I actually enjoyed most of it on my first playthrough. It's just that considering what seem to be Kono's priorities when it comes to game design (exemplified by AC5 even without going into AH), I couldn't help but read it as an excuse in the sense of AH actually being a good game just because of the presentation aspects. But yeah, that's probably just my bias.
 

This is actually a little heartbreaking to read. Imagine being in his situation. I hope whatever they've got planned down the pipeline will be executed better than Assault Horizon was. Infinity's getting there, but it's got its own mishaps, we all know that. Game development, after all, is a gradual learning process.

 

I wouldn't say it's about learning, considering the amount of quality content that PA has created through the years (even with some people inevitably leaving and new blood coming in as in every dev studio, I doubt it's changed that much). More like the problem with AH was one of concept from the very beginning, caused by the publisher's demands ("reach out to a wider audience", etc). Same with ACI really, even if a far better game, just not "publisher demands" as much as "here's your shoestring budget to save your shitty dying series with" and thus flawed F2P model with rather little content.

 

Of course it could be argued that they could have tried appealing to a wider audience in a different way, something that worked better than the pseudo-interactive movie that AH was, but I honestly can't blame the devs regardless. I sure wouldn't know what the hell to do in that situation either.


Edited by PositronCannon, 18 February 2015 - 07:48 PM.

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#9
cegc135

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This whole thing reminds me of two videos by Gaijin Goombah in which is he talks about how Japanese developers do not understand US audiences. Sure, there intention to reach to wider audiences with Assault Horizon was there, but to me they failed to understand what the western gamer wants in a flight shooting game, especially from one that basically shaped the entire genre.


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Razgriz67

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...I can't really read it as anything other than "B-BUT YOU JUST DIDN'T UNDERSTAND IT!" as opposed to "Yeah, we fucked up". It also reminds me of the people who say stuff like "AH is a good game, but a bad AC game" or "It'd be more popular if it didn't have AC on the title", both of which make absolutely no sense.


What's hard to get? Having a certain name in the title gives people a certain expectation in the game. And when it falls short people get rally ticked off. Give it another name (especially if it's a new IP) and the expectations goes straight down.

Example if say Infinity Ward makes a COD game people expect there to be 90% or more of running and gunning.

But if you replace half of that with say racing people will immediately start ejecting cuse its not what they wanted/expected. Give it a new name and the ejecting almost vanishes

This whole thing reminds me of two videos by Gaijin Goombah in which is he talks about how Japanese developers do not understand US audiences. Sure, there intention to reach to wider audiences with Assault Horizon was there, but to me they failed to understand what the western gamer wants in a flight shooting game, especially from one that basically shaped the entire genre.


Thinks it's another case similar to Nintendo. Not enough of them have visited the states for a long enough period to understand our needs. It's a shame really you probably only need 10-25% of the crew to do so, would of been a bit costly but man would the margins look a whole lot better and they would stay that way for a much greater amount of time

Edited by Razgriz67, 19 February 2015 - 01:52 PM.

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PositronCannon

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What's hard to get? Having a certain name in the title gives people a certain expectation in the game. And when it falls short people get rally ticked off. Give it another name (especially if it's a new IP) and the expectations goes straight down.

Example if say Infinity Ward makes a COD game people expect there to be 90% or more of running and gunning.

But if you replace half of that with say racing people will immediately start ejecting cuse its not what they wanted/expected. Give it a new name and the ejecting almost vanishes

 

Yeah, and that's people's own fault for having expectations based on a name. I don't know, when I rate my enjoyment of a game I don't think about the name it has on the cover, and I don't know why people do. Some really skewed standards and bias would have to be applied for a game to suddenly go from bad to good just for not being part of a series. I don't rate HAWX based on the fact that it's not AC, I rate it based on what I expect from a flight action game in particular and a game in general. AH's main flaws regarding the little impact that player actions have on the game would be flaws in any game as far as I'm concerned, not just AC.

 

The problem with your example (apart from being highly implausible) is that it says nothing about the quality of said title. Maybe it'd turn out to actually be really good, if only completely mistitled. For the people who dislike AH just because of change, it could be valid. But that's not where the issue lies for me and other people, because you can change things all over and still have a good game. And let's not go into the whole lot of people who complained that the series was stale and needed change... then again, >gamers >knowing what they want

 

So yeah, I understand what they mean by that, I just think it's dumb as hell that it works like that.

 

tl;dr people and what is logic


Edited by PositronCannon, 19 February 2015 - 02:26 PM.

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#12
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Yeah, and that's people's own fault for having expectations based on a name. I don't know, when I rate my enjoyment of a game I don't think about the name it has on the cover, and I don't know why people do. Some really skewed standards and bias would have to be applied for a game to suddenly go from bad to good just for not being part of a series. I don't rate HAWX based on the fact that it's not AC, I rate it based on what I expect from a flight action game in particular and a game in general. AH's main flaws regarding the little impact that player actions have on the game would be flaws in any game as far as I'm concerned, not just AC.

 

The problem with your example (apart from being highly implausible) is that it says nothing about the quality of said title. Maybe it'd turn out to actually be really good, if only completely mistitled. For the people who dislike AH just because of change, it could be valid. But that's not where the issue lies for me and other people, because you can change things all over and still have a good game. And let's not go into the whole lot of people who complained that the series was stale and needed change... then again, >gamers >knowing what they want

 

So yeah, I understand what they mean by that, I just think it's dumb as hell that it works like that.

 

tl;dr people and what is logic

I agree, don't think that taking the Ace Combat from Assault Horizon would have made a difference, if anything, people would have ignored it even more because they would have seen it as a newcomer, and those hardly get any attention these days (every major game now is a sequel or prequel). The game is not as good, it's the same as when writing a song, no matter how much work you put into it, if a song is bad, it's gonna be bad regardless, and as I said, I don't hate it ACAH, I don't think it's bad, but it's certainly a subpar title compared to previous games.

 

Infinity is further proof (and supports PositronCannon's point which I bolded in the quote) of how programming and direction can completely change things as Infinity is Assault Horizon but with the gameplay mechanics and heavy influence (or should I said a tribute) from PS2 titles plus a few new things. Assault Horizon on the surface (meaning assets, graphics, etc) is the most beautifully done AC yet, but the inner workings of the game are the worst, not Ace Combat Advanced worse 'cause that's on a mobile console level, but it's the worst in console titles.

 

I'm not saying Infinity is one of the best Ace Combat titles, far from it, but it shows how shifting the gears and direction of a game cna give an totally different outcome while using the same assets. Think of Infinity and all the ways that game could have gone after having had a game like Assault Horizon, they decided to go back to a safe zone, milk already proven assets from past games and carve some novelty without straying from said safe zone.

 

As for gamers (especially the average gamer) knowing what they want... I'd debate that, I've seen people complain over and over about their favorite games needing changes and suffering staleness, and the moment they get it, they'll STILL complain... same with smartphone users, they want changes in the UI, new features, they get it and boom! Still complaining. I've been around for a long time now, and I remember seeing people here complaining of how Ace Combat had gotten stale with the same story over and over, of one pilot saving an entire continent or country from a war they were losing while facing superweapons loL! PA gives us a totally different thing (albeit weak and with a dead horse of a story), and what did they get? A proverbial slap on the wrist because they didn't change things in the way their fanbase would have wanted, they evidently wanted to cater to the US audience far more than Japan's but forgor to do proper research to make it more "wordly", the end result? Flopping hard in their home and getting similar results elsewhere, no wonder they do so many Japanese stuff and offer so much exclusive shit to Japanese players in Infinity now.


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Interesting read. I have been looking for some insider insight in ACAH. I picked up ACAH off a pre-order the day it came out, and played it as soon as I got back from the store. The first mission turned me off right off the bat. The QT events were too much. Then came the helicopter gunner mission, which I was further disappointed because it felt all too similar to CoD. Figuring the QT events and helicopter gunner missions were over (understand I was in AF technical training back then and never really got a chance to sit down and watch trailers so I didn't know what to expect), I waited for the 3rd mission. I was mildly impressed with the accuracy of the Airman Battle Uniform textures but disheartened by the lack of Strangereal. Then came the helicopter mission, which was unbearable for me. And to this day, I still haven't played it beyond that and it is the one and only AC I didn't beat 20 times over.

 

Honestly, I think they made a grave mistake straying from the tried and true formula: Strangereal, superweapons, dramatic Japanese story, and  of course tunnel missions. Thats what I had came to expect and love of AC. I think the hardcore fans (or otaku as Nemo puts it) weren't exactly begging for a revamp and I hardly heard complaints of the series going stale. The big review sites still gave AC6 top marks and it was the same formula that had been put in the works since AC2 on PSX. 

 

I will admit I'm still a little dismayed that Infinity is a FtP game and takes place on Earth (with half a dozen or so Stonehenges nonetheless) but it's a step in the right direction away from Dogfight Mode QT events. I think NamBan would find success sticking to the original recipe rather than reinvent the wheel (a successful, best selling one at that). 


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I kind of got this vibe from it

 


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I kind of got this vibe from it

 

Yo dog, I heard you liked Ace Combat. So I'm gonna tell you your not playing Ace Combat While you place Ace Combat.


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I really had no idea why AH is getting this much hate. Its aim was to appeal to a wider audience, not only the AC fanbase. Sure it may not have the finesse of the older games, but it tried to be different from the other games in its category. Its not appealing to the COD enthusiast with it's linear shooting style but to plane enthusiasts and gamers alike. Also, you gotta admit the graphics have improved a lot from the previous games and the cinematic are great. Yes, it might have that "Russia is evil, US is supreme' cliche but its already common in many other games other than COD, so doesn't it make those games like World In Conflict bad as well? And there's the DFM, which is receiving the most hate. I agree that it might be too overused in the game,but I disagree that it was the main problem with the game as it could have been left a little more optional. I personally feel the DFM makes the game more exciting and  you can look at how much effort PA made into the plane Designs and the full cockpit Interior which you gotta commend them for.I have no problems with the ASM and CRA in all, just that they might have emphasized too much on DFM.

 

All in all, Kono is right in saying that AH was his 'beautiful child' and that Im glad that they made it. Say all you want, but I like AH a lot, especially when Im rocking F-15C Cipher in  Capital Conquest

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=foI1baadkvk

 

This pretty much summarises my views on AH


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#17
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This pretty much summarises my views on AH


So the implication here is, you've never played the past games and you only played through it one time?
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So the implication here is, you've never played the past games and you only played through it one time?

Yes its true I havent played the past games but I know how good they are and did endless research on them through Acepedia and Youtube walkthroughs by Tomcat171 because I was hooked on AC after just playing ACX. And no, I played through AH countless times since buying the PC version last year with all the DLC. That was till my my computer went kaput just as I got my Mobius Callsign and paintjob for the F-22. I miss the game so much, that is why Im saving up for a new laptop so I can play it, War Thunder and MW3 all I want


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and MW3 all I want


While I don't agree with some of what you said about AH, you definitely have good taste in CoD games.
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#20
PositronCannon

PositronCannon

    very likely to be not ded

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I really had no idea why AH is getting this much hate. Its aim was to appeal to a wider audience, not only the AC fanbase. Sure it may not have the finesse of the older games, but it tried to be different from the other games in its category.

 

Being different isn't an excuse when that means being stripped of most gameplay value and replayability. It's not about "finesse" and more about "are my actions as a player actually having any effect on the game, or am I just being put on an amusement park ride?"

 

Its not appealing to the COD enthusiast with it's linear shooting style but to plane enthusiasts and gamers alike.

 

Well, it is true that most "gamers" nowadays seem to not care much about gameplay and rather about HOLY SHIT DID YOU SEE THAT AWESOME SETPIECE I'LL FORGET ABOUT IN 10 MINUTES AND NEVER PLAY THIS GAME AGAIN? Aside of multiplayer, anyway. COD campaigns can get away with this since the multiplayer is (sometimes) at least decent, something which AH can't claim about itself either.

 

Also, you gotta admit the graphics have improved a lot from the previous games and the cinematic are great.

 

Except AC6 looked better. It's not all about technical aspects, there's also art direction where AH is basically GREEN, GRAY AND EXPLOSIONS.

 

And there's the DFM, which is receiving the most hate. I agree that it might be too overused in the game,but I disagree that it was the main problem with the game as it could have been left a little more optional.

 

 

 

DFM is only half of it. It's the combination of that (the TGT Leads and bullshit like Markov in particular) and the extremely linear and scripted mission structure. If you're okay with a game where missions play almost exactly the same way every time you play them, when the campaign is only a few hours long to begin with, then that explains why you'd have no issue with AH. I for one expect such a game to have some replayability.

 

you can look at how much effort PA made into the plane Designs and the full cockpit Interior which you gotta commend them for.

 

Again, AC6 is that way >>>>>


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