I wrote half of this up earlier and decided not to post but fuck it.
I think mechanics are interesting by themselves, and let's say you did replace the planes, tanks, and buildings of Ketsui with abstract shapes or, as zinger suggested in another thread, with random Google images... the game would certainly be a lot worse but it would still be immersive. But really, you just have to look at how icycalm praised the scoring system (inc. loops and true final boss) in and of itself in his 2007 review. Whether he's now changed his mind or not (aspie miracle cure?), there's obviously some palpable joy in unraveling and mastering that arbitrary system, aesthetics aside.
Saying that the game would "be a lot worse but it would still be immersive" seems a bit disingenuous; immersive compared to what? Every game is immersive to some degree, but Ketsui Google Label sure as hell wouldn't be compared to the original, and maybe not even compared to a mediocre shooting game.
And you're right in that there's still some joy that can be gained from the arbitrary systems, this is even something mentioned in the quotes I posted. That doesn't invalidate the point that there would be even more
joy if the arbitrary system was...well, less arbitrary, and even inconsequential in the big picture. The point is to make the game's complete ruleset
as harmonized and unified as possible, not just one "side" or the other.
(Also, aesthetics are a motivator in scoring as well, even if to a much smalller degree. I mean, why do you think score runs have multipliers flying around everywhere, etc.)
Ironically, the people it most easily convinces are guys like zinger, who seem more interested in getting approval from others ("Thank you, icy, for showing me my aspie ways!") than simply enjoying games for themselves.
zinger posts thanking icy for clearing up issues for him and helping him enjoy some of the games he loves the most that he has since joining the Shmups forum (that would be around 2005 or earlier, going by join dates) -- "enjoying them for himself," as you put it yourself -- then adds a small joking comment at the end, and you conclude from that exchange that he is a poser-drone mindlessly trying to gain icycalm's approval for... uh... what end, exactly? I think you've brought this up multiple times now, so what exactly do you think the people who support his ideas are trying to gain from this? Do you really think that, say, Alastair is so insecure with himself that he feels the need to instantly jump to the closest controversial opinions on videogames and "parrot" them, for the sole purpose of "doing the good work of his master" or some such crap? I mean, I won't deny having a few personal insecurities (don't think I've ever said anything about them here tho), but not nearly enough to put in the time and effort to do something like that on an Internet forum with the sole motivation of "getting in with icycalm," and from the limited interactions I've had with him Alastair seems like a generally good-natured, smart, and honest person, so I doubt he'd do that either. And if he and other people like him were only trying to gain others' approval, then wouldn't the pile of condescension they receive from others make them...do as the others say? Especially if some of those others can sometimes be as abrasive (or more) as the person who the ideas "originate" from (just look at that Shmups thread for proof) -- if it was just about covering up insecurities and hiding behind a shell, then what exactly makes one shell more appealing than another?
Maybe the appeal is in the ideas themselves? Not the glorious prospect of "essentially being a proxy for someone else," as JWK5 put it? Maybe the reason the person's thought tends to reflect (serve as a "proxy" for) the other's is because overall the person agrees with and has been influenced by those ideas when forming his own
conclusions, based both on the theory and the practice (his own personal experiences), not because they're a droneparrot who's just out to get the highest score in iceproval points so they can receive an extend in art history books by being briefly mentioned in the Genealogy for a line or two? I mean, just food for thought here...
Anyway, how many ideas do I have to arbitrarily disagree with to get out of the "submissive" bracket, and how many "IMOs" do I need to add per sentence to get out of the "smug" one? Do I have to stop using em dashes (em dashes and semicolons are the best punctuation marks) because he does too? I guess I should be aiming for the low score on this one? Also have you ever seen a "born-again religious person" who's "constantly seeking approval from others" at the same time? I know I haven't, but then again I don't have much experience with either type of person!
And the fact that you can discuss score (OR survival strategy, mind you!) doesn't show that score breaks immersion - it really just shows you that games can be so interesting that when we're forced to return to our normal lives we want to share them with others.
Your statement is right, but I think you missed the original point. It isn't the fact that you can discuss scoring strategies; it's that the players seem so eager to spoil
themselves on that strategy. I mean, imagine if someone came up to you while you were stuck on a hard part of a (let's say turn-based strategy to make the analogy a bit easier, since execution skill isn't as huge a factor, though this still applies perfectly to action games) game and said: "here is how you beat this boss, you have to do this
" and just showed you the complete process. If you were enjoying playing the game, then wouldn't that basically ruin the experience of discovering these things for yourself? Isn't that pretty much the definition of a spoiler: it ruins the experience of discovering a part of something for yourself?
So the question is, why would someone intentionally go and spoil themselves on what's apparently supposed to be the most crucial aspect of a shooting game? Well, the obvious answer has to be that they aren't really enjoying the discovery of these aspects as much as utilizing them once they already know them (which is where the tables come in, etc.) The reasons for that might vary -- the strategies might be too hard, they might be too esoteric, they might be completely counterintuitive and make no sense at all which makes one wonder how anyone
figured it out, etc. -- but there's no other explanation I can think of for the general sentiment.
So, if the players on a leaderboard for a 'playing for score' game are 'aspies', then Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are 'aspies', too, for swimming and sprinting, respectively.
Did you read the essay fully? This is addressed, and Phelps is even mentioned a few times.
btw: do people actually play stuff like cave shooters for "atmosphere?" because idk, i cant really see 99% of the shmups i've played as anything but almost completely abstract.
When I talk about "atmosphere" here I'm using it in a general sense of "wanting to see what happens next," which presumes that what happens next is worth seeing at all (and playing
at all ofc, but that's not the main point of "atmosphere") in the first place. I mean, why do you think so many of the best arcade games have great audiovisuals (good-looking stages, catchy soundtracks which you won't get easily tired of listening to, etc.)? I've always thought it's because, in order to prevent the player from getting tired of struggling against the same stages and giving up, they pretty much have
to. "If you think this
is cool, just imagine what you're going to see next," etc.
Now, last time I checked, what I'd consider to be a world class player is one who can hold their own in scoring against the absolute best, getting within 80-90% of the world record on a given game. And of course, Icyclam is nowhere near this figure in ANY game. So essentially, he wants a game that he wouldn't even be able to play himself due to it being too hard.
Why does someone need to be able to "play a game" from the start to enjoy it, exactly? And how do you know that he won't be able to keep playing over time until he can
beat it, etc.? Wouldn't the fact that the "scoring" mechanics are integrated more fully give you more motivation to learn how to use them and come up with strategies yourself while playing? I mean, even if you're going to argue that he won't be able to beat the game he wants to play (thus invalidating everything he says?), that doesn't mean he can't enjoy it? Isn't a main point of the article that you enjoy playing through games most the first time, i.e. before
you beat it anyway? Why do I keep phrasing my points as questions in this post?