LPing is Hard
Hey, do you guys watch Game Grumps? I do. I love JonTron, I love Egoraptor, and I think their Let’s Play show is great so far. I’m especially loving their playthrough of Sonic 2006. I had no idea how bewildering the game is. It’s like every single level has at least one thing horribly, hilariously wrong with it.
Recently a lot of Game Grumps fans have become frustrated by the Sonic ’06 playthrough. I’ve noticed many comments on Youtube and the GameGrumps subreddit complaining about them missing obvious hints about where to go and what to do, and then getting stuck. Here’s an example from today…
In the episode they don’t know what to do when they get to the water. They know Silver (the character they’re playing as) has telekinetic powers, but they don’t know how to use that to get across a very long jump. They try lifting a crate and moving it across with them on top, but it wouldn’t go far enough, and the crates don’t float above the water, so they just die as soon as their power runs out.
When you first reach that point, Silver says “I think I can knock that structure down.” He says it once, without warning. He doesn’t repeat it unless you die and get to that point in the level again. This happened. I think it popped up a total of three times. What this means is that you’re supposed to throw a crate at the wooden structure-thing far ahead of you, which will knock it down so you can jump onto the platform.
So people on Youtube and Reddit tell them they’re idiots for not noticing it.
Here’s the thing. I used to get angry about stuff like this too. I used to get so frustrated whenever (say) Josh on Spoiler Warning made some stupid mistake or couldn’t tell where he was supposed to go even though it was obvious. It used to make my blood boil. “I know he’s a smart guy, how can he not see this shit?!”
Then I tried making my own LP, and I realized that it’s harder than it looks to us viewers. As a viewer, all you’re doing is watching and listening. Jon and Arin are watching, playing the game, having a conversation with a friend, and making sure they aren’t being too boring for the show. You have to divide your attention between your game, your friend, and your show. If you focus on the game, your show will be boring. If you focus on providing entertainment for your audience, then, well, you’ll make stupid mistakes in the game now and then, as Jon and Arin do.
This is harder than it sounds. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. I have, and I can attest that it requires a lot of practice to make your show anywhere near watchable while also not completely fucking up in the game. But if you’ve never done it, it’s impossible to tell from watching.
Now, as for this particular problem Jon and Arin ran into, let’s consider the following:
- As I said before, Silver only makes the comment about “knocking down a structure” once. Well, once per life spent.
- Most of the tips in Sonic ’06 are vague at best and flat-out useless at worst. And if we’re talking about what Sonic (or Silver, or any other player character) says out loud, well, I can’t tell you how many times he says something stupid and unhelpful. It’s no use!
- This is the first time the game has ever required you to knock down any structure whatsoever.
- The structure is pretty damn far away from the platform you’re on, and it doesn’t really stand out. Hell, I saw Silver’s “hint,” and I wasn’t even sure what they needed to do until they spent several minutes trying to figure it out.
So yeah, if anybody is willing to say this is completely Jon and Arin’s fault rather than the game having bad presentation and horrible design, then I’m not sure what to say to that.
As I said at the beginning, I’m a fan of the show, and I’ll admit that that probably affects my reaction to all this. But I’m also speaking as someone who’s tried his hand at LPing, and I can tell you it’s tough work to do well. It’s easy to think someone is an idiot because he made some stupid mistakes in his LP, but remember that playing a game for a co-commentator LP is very, very different from playing a game by yourself, for yourself.
Also, merry Christmas, I guess.