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Some Memes for Oni

I just recently finished playing Oni, and thought it would be neat to make a list of all the memes I developed while playing it, while they're still fresh in my mind.

In case you're not familiar with it, Oni is a computer game, an action game containing a “blend of hand to hand and weapons combat”, as it says on the box.

I'll present the memes as a set of bullet points with occasional prose commentary. The commentary will contain memes, too, of course, but those memes won't be ones that apply directly to the game. I've tried to organize the memes into categories, but it's important to remember that the categories were added after the fact, and are only approximate.

I. Hand-to-Hand Combat
a. Good and Bad Moves

  • The forward kick is a good, generally effective move.
  • The jump flip is ineffective once you're engaged in combat, because the enemy can usually knock you down by hitting you while you're jumping.

I've stated these first two memes as facts, or observations, but I could equally well have stated them as imperatives, e.g.,

  • Don't use the jump flip when you're engaged in combat, etc.

Although the factual meme strongly suggests the imperative meme, I think the two should probably be thought of as distinct. The set of factual memes, for example, can be thought of as defining a science, a body of knowledge free of any implications for action. Not all factual memes suggest imperative memes, but it happens fairly often, often enough that I'll usually omit one or the other to keep the essay short.

b. Different Speeds

  • Some moves are faster than others.
  • If you and an enemy are facing off, and both start to attack at the same time, whoever uses the faster move will hit and disrupt the other's move.
  • Punches are very fast.
  • The sledgehammer heel is a good move because the punches stun the enemy, leaving you time to get off the slow but powerful kick.

Here's a whole train of thought about jumps.

  • As explained in the training level, jumps can be made higher by holding the space bar for a longer time.
  • However, higher jumps take longer.
  • Therefore, jumps can be made faster by holding the space bar for a shorter time.
  • Consequently, jump flips can also be made faster.

Again, although the memes are strongly connected, I'll claim that they should be thought of as distinct. For example, the third meme had to be pointed out to me. I never put two and two together and deduced it from the first two … not because there's anything tricky about the deduction, but simply because I never happened to have both ideas in mind at the same time. Or so I imagine.

c. Fighting on Catwalks

Here's another connected set of memes.

  • Avoid fighting on catwalks and ledges, it is too easy to fall off and die.
  • But, if you have to fight on a ledge, you can try to knock the enemy off.
  • However, if you do, you won't be able to get any items ve might be carrying …
  • … unless ve falls somewhere you can get to.

For knocking enemies off catwalks and ledges, it's useful to know which moves are good at pushing them back.

  • The forward kick is pretty good.
  • The crouching forward kick gets very good distance, when it connects, but it's easy to block.
  • The running throw gets good distance, but it's easy to throw yourself off at the same time.

d. Hitting When They're Down

  • You can hit enemies when they're down.

The above idea raises the question of how you should hit enemies when they're down.

  • The crouching kick can be used.
  • The jump flip seems to do more damage.
  • The sledgehammer heel does even more damage, but may be slower.

Since you have to choose an attack to use, you can only install one such meme as your default behavior. In genetic terms, the default behavior is a locus, while the memes are alleles (see, e.g., The Extended Phenotype).

(Technically, the above is wrong in at least two ways. First, the memes as I presented them are factual, not imperative, and so don't define any behavior. Second, the true alternatives are not the methods of hitting, but rather the strategies for when to apply the methods, for example,

  • Always try to hit with a crouching kick.
  • Try to hit with a crouching kick only if the enemy is slow, otherwise back off.

And so on.)

Here's another alternative that I'll list separately because I didn't consider it as a possible default behavior.

  • You can shoot enemies when they're down.

Finally, here are some other related memes.

  • All enemies recover quickly enough that you can't hit them twice.
  • Some enemies recover too quickly to hit even once.
  • If you use a jump flip in this context, you shouldn't stay on top of the enemy, otherwise you'll get hit when ve recovers.
  • Rolls and cartwheels are suitable escape moves.

e. Dodging

  • Rolling to the side is a good way to dodge.
  • Cartwheeling backward is a good way to dodge and back up.
  • Taking a short step backward will move you out of range of short attacks, notably the standard striker jump-punch combination, while leaving you within striking distance.
  • The sledgehammer heel is a good follow-up.
  • Stepping backward won't move you out of range of long attacks, such as the nuclear tackle; cartwheeling backward is necessary in such cases.

f. Running Away

  • You can run faster than most of the enemies.
  • When in trouble, you can run away and hide.
  • You can also run away, then turn and shoot.
  • With slow enemies, you can run backward and shoot at the same time.
  • The latter is particularly effective with a submachine gun, since the weapon is most effective at close range, and the enemy is at close range for an extended period of time.

g. Miscellaneous

  • You can sneak up on enemies and break their backs.
  • Move from cover just after an enemy has turned to face away from you, so as to give yourself maximum time before ve turns again.
  • The enemies don't turn at regular intervals, so the previous rule isn't completely reliable.

The idea of sneaking up on enemies is pretty obvious, but it's not explicit in the training level.

  • If you can knock an enemy down near a fire, ve will take fire damage even while knocked down.
  • Save hypos until you need them.
  • On the other hand, I suspect that the overpower effect increases your speed as well as your strength, and so can produce a qualitative change in the outcome of a fight.
  • As a result, using hypos to get the overpower effect may be worthwhile when you're fighting a particularly strong or fast enemy.

II. Weapons
a. In General

  • You can often catch enemies while they're reloading.
  • If you catch them just after they've reloaded, but before they've fired, you'll be able to take possession of a full magazine when the fight's over.
  • The first enemy shot will often be wild.

b. Charging

  • Avoid charging an enemy armed with a submachine gun; you can't dodge it, it is guaranteed to hurt.
  • Once you get the timing down, it's easy to charge a plasma rifle without getting hit, just dodge left and right while moving forward.
  • It's OK to charge a scram cannon, because the rounds do less damage up close.
  • It's possible to jump over scram cannon rounds as they converge on you.
  • It's usually possible to charge a mercury bow without getting hit, as long as you can reach the enemy before the weapon recharges from the first shot.

c. Indirect Attacks

  • The explosive SBG can cause damage around corners, especially when the trigger is held down to let the shell bounce.
  • On the other hand, the bouncing shell will alert enemies, causing them to move toward you and away from the shell.
  • The phase stream projector can sometimes be fired around corners by reflecting the beam off walls.
  • A screaming cell obeys line of sight, and won't go after an enemy if the enemy is around a corner from where the cell is.
  • However, the shell fired by the screaming cannon travels for some distance before it detonates and releases the screaming cell, so your line of sight is not the relevant one.
  • Thus, by appropriate placement, the screaming cannon can effectively be fired around corners.

d. Miscellaneous

  • The basic pistol is a good, accurate long-range weapon. (This is good game design, that the basic weapon remains useful.)
  • A direct hit with a SBG round will kill almost anyone instantly.
  • When a phase stream projector runs out of ammunition, you can attack with your hands without putting it away.
  • With a van de Graaff pistol, you can stun enemies and then push or throw them, especially over ledges.

III. Exploring

  • You can jump up onto things and find goodies … I mean, items.
  • You can jump on gray rectangular generator boxes via the slanted face.
  • You can jump on electrical junction boxes attached to walls.
  • You can jump on large control panels via the little shelf that runs around them.

The above make a good example of generalization and specialization. The first meme, that you can jump onto things in general, is presented in the training level, but there's still a little “aha!” that occurs whenever you discover one of the specialized memes. I didn't discover the last one until quite late in the game.

Anyway, the point is, the generalized and specialized memes are distinct. Although there are strong connections between them, it is possible to have either one without the other.

By the way, the next-to-last meme, above, is really about getting places by jumping onto things, not about finding goodies, but the “aha!” moment was too similar for me to categorize it any other way.

  • You can sometimes break windows and go through them.

IV. Exploiting Flaws

  • If you're unarmed and facing an armed enemy, you can let ver see you, then duck back behind a corner or obstacle until ve gets close. The enemy will foolishly come right around the corner, so you can pop out and engage ver in hand-to-hand combat without taking too much weapon damage.
  • You can sometimes get enemies to fire until they run out of ammunition.

Here's another whole train of thought.

  • Dropped weapons vanish after a fixed amount of time.
  • However, the timer resets if the weapon is picked up briefly and then dropped again.
  • As a result, although you can only carry one weapon, you can keep another at hand by periodically coming back to pick it up.
  • Use the above method when you've just about run out of one type of ammunition, and have found a weapon that will take the other type.

The enemies aren't always alerted by things you'd expect to alert them, which is fortunate, since otherwise you'd often get whole crowds of enemies converging on you.

  • When possible, it's safest to fight only one enemy at a time.
  • Enemies aren't alerted by shots that don't go near them.
  • Enemies aren't alerted by other enemies running past them toward you.
  • You can sometimes shoot and attract one of a pair of guards.
  • If you crouch behind an enemy who's been knocked down, ve sometimes won't see you, and won't bother getting up. Strikers will say “scanning the area” while lying flat on the ground.

That last one isn't useful, just funny, but I'll still pass it on to you.

  • Luring enemies through a save point one at a time is not entirely productive, because when you do eventually pass through the save point, the saved game won't record the fact that the enemies have been lured away. If you restore the game, you'll have to fight the enemies again.
  • If you shoot an enemy with the screaming cannon when ve can't see you, or can't get to you, ve will just stand there and take damage, instead of running away as any sensible person would.
  • If you run around randomly or in circles, any enemies you're fighting will run around behind you, instead of, say, fanning out to catch you.
  • While running, you can occasionally curve around and get in an attack, usually without getting hit in return.
  • The forward punch and running lariat work particularly well.

Well, that's the end of my list of memes. I do have a few general comments that didn't fit anywhere else, though.

First, I expect that anybody else who's played the game will have developed more or less the same set of memes. The memes are strongly implied by the game, just as factual memes imply imperative ones, and specific memes imply general ones.

Second, some of the memes I've listed are completely specific to Oni, some are relevant to other, similar computer games, and some are quite general, for example, the idea that when in trouble, you can run away and hide. By the way, there are certainly memes that are even more specific, memes that apply only to specific enemies or levels; I just haven't included them here.

Finally, I suspect there is something to be learned from thinking further about the difference between methods and strategies. For example, it seems unlikely to me that I actually have a single large strategy meme that I invoke when I'm wondering what to do when an enemy is down. More likely, I have one method meme for each of the various methods, plus some kind of conditional wiring that makes the different methods fire in different situations. Just a thought.


  See Also

  Alleles and Loci
  Convergent Evolution
  Some Memes (Rubik's Cube)
  Some Memes (Tempest)
  What Would Memetics Look Like?

@ April (2001)