The Memory Formula
by, 03-06-2011 at 07:49 AM (1244 Views)
Having played video games for 2 decades now, I feel as though I have a certain learned authority that I have acquired over years of playing both the real winners, and true stinkers. It seems that as games as a medium evolve, their potential to inspire a certain kind of awe grows, while their limitless potential to truly suck rocks never diminishes. A classic title that excelled, still does today and you can go back and replay it, and some of that old nostalgic feeling envelopes you in a warm blanket of the first moments you discovered its secrets. A game that failed miserably, is remembered through a kind of rosy lens of lost time, that hazes its many pitfalls into a general malaise of just being bad.
Take for example, Stadium Events. Brought to my attention by our own Dhalamar, a copy of Stadium Events is selling on Ebay for half a million dollars. To explain, I'll use an excerpt from the Ebay listing itself.
• In 1987 Nintendo purchased the rights to the Family Fun Fitness pad from Bandai as well as the rights to Stadium Events. After the purchase, Nintendo ordered a recall and almost *none* of these titles survived. NINTENDO NEVER INTENDED ANY COPIES OF THIS GAME TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF CONSUMERS!
The game was bad. Like holy crap bad. I had a friend who's father was the general manager of a Toys-R-Us when this came out, and he had a copy. The pad had shitty controls, the game was very poorly made even for the time, and all in all, it was an attempt to make the Wii Fitness board roughly 18 years too early. However, at the time, bad gaming was a strange idea at the time. At that age, you have no real meter of manufacturing standards. Things like quality of play were years ahead of me, and as such I just thought I sucked at it. It also didn't help that I was a fat kid and got a stitch in my side just watching people play. It was just a bad game, period. However, now it being a bad game has lead to a single copy being worth more than my parents house.
Skipping ahead a few years, we look at what for me is the quintessential bad game, Quest 64. Now, as far as I'm concerned, someone should have been shot for having made that piece of crap. It had terrible controls, a poorly designed engine, was prone to freezing, and had a difficulty scale that was well beyond its simple nature as a game. It was just a bad idea from the get go. However at the time, it failed to impress upon me in comparison to other games its actual level of fail. I didn't think to judge it on the scale of a Zelda 64, or the PSX's Alundra. it was just a bad game, and it got traded away and forgotten.
Now, we look at the other side of the spectrum. It is generally a rule in my house that the third (American third) Final Fantasy game is above reproach. It and Chrono Trigger represent the pinnacle of RPG crafting on the SNES. Unlike the games that sucked though, I could have told you exactly why it was I liked it so much at the time. From music, to story, both titles had a wonderfully crafted ambiance that progressed with you through the game, even until the finale. I go back, from time to time, and replay those games if for nothing else to reaffirm how much I care for them as parts of my gamer persona.
Why the good ones stick and the bad ones don't, has a lot to do with why we as players game in the first place. For example, Biohazard was a pretty shitty fighting game on the PSX and N64. Its controls were sloppy and the AI was either dumb as a post or very hard to beat, and had no real middle ground. I will always love that game, because one day while playing it, I accidentally sliced off my friends head in the middle of a match. No explanation, it just happened. be both kind of sat there, dumbfounded for a second, the gravity of the decapitation beginning to sink in. We discovered after, that just about every character had a few dismembering moves, and began to learn how to accomplish them to our mutual glee and amusement. While the game itself is indeed a bad game, I will always have a fond place in my heart for it, and as such its level of sucktitude is minor in my mind.
Now, the opposite of that is a game that everyone else enjoys that you don't. I feel that I stand in a very small minority in my dislike of Starcraft, new and old. I recognize that its a superiorly crafted game, and that it appeals to a number of people, I just don't happen to be one of them. It, to me is the gaming equivalent of Tuna Casserole. Lots of people eat that dish day in and day out, but I hate it so bad I want to punch people in the face for even bringing it up around me. The mere sight of a plate of it is enough to send me scurrying out of the room on in search of a reinforced bathroom to heave my distain into the nearest toilet. That is not too much unlike how I feel about Starcraft. Again, I know that puts me in the minority.
Taking all this into account, I feel I have discovered the formula for how a game leaves its mark on you, and I present it as follows.
(Hype X Experience with game + Public Reception + Number of times you owned its ass / Problems with game - Personal issues X number of times you died because it was being a dick) = general level of rememberance.
Now, take that number and divide it by the number of units of currency you spent to buy it, and then multiply that number again by the number of hours you roughly took to complete it the first time. The final sum of which is a near approximation of the level of reception you had with the game.
Here are some values to give you a good start.
Hype is generally decided by viewing a games Metacritic score. Experience is a 1-10, as is Public reception. Check old reviews for the score. Everything else is personally quantifiable.
So using the formula for Chrono Cross-
94 (metacritic) x 10 + 9.5 + 20 or so = 969.5
3 - 0 x 5 (conservatively) = 64.6 Rounded up.
I didn't pay shit for the game, as I got it hand me down style, and it took me about 25 hours in total to complete.
My final sum is 1615. Generally anything over say 1000 is great, and anything below 500 is normal, so as you can see, I friggin love that game. If you crack negative numbers, thats a real stinker. Post your scores with other games in the comments here. This is an experiment to attune the formula, so its not final.