The "homework assignment" - as it were - is nothing really complicated, and actually focused on a sort of narrow field in the genre. The episode said Starcraft, but it actually makes more sense to look at the phases of any RTS game in general: gather resources, explore map, initial harassing, expand base, have more fights, make upgrades,... mix them up, rinse and repeat. It's pretty transparent how a RTS applies variety into its pacing. A Real Time Tactics (RTT) game, on the other hand, throws out resource gathering and base building and just go straight for the battles. How do they establish differences in kind from that perspective? Well, that's the real challenge now, isn't it?
Oh, and it's funny how the episode was talking about differences in kind in multiplayer games then all of the sudden brought in "fancy cutscenes" and "puzzles that remap what the controller do". Those things are mentioned as if they are bad trends in multiplayer games. Obviously a straw man argument (it cannot be a bad trend if it can't be a trend in the first place).
I don't think they implied that. I interpreted it as, cutscenes and puzzles that remap the controls are ways that single-player games add differences in kind, but multiplayer games don't generally have those, so how do multiplayer games create differences in kind?
And suddenly I understand why there's an insistence on throwing stuff like combat flight simulation, or whatever, segments into JRPGs, though would argue that that's a poor use of differences in kind.
Yeah, that's a poor use of differences in kind for not only JRPGs, but just RPGs in general. Bioware is the worst at this kind of thing with all of the mini-games in their game: Ebon Hawk rail-shooter (KOTOR), Mosquito shoot-em-up (Jade Empire), Mako driving (Mass Effect), planet mining (Mass Effect 2).
I actually love it when games do this. The problem with all these examples besides the Mosquito shoot em up is that they are either horribly executed or just bad ideas in general.
The same for the video COD4 was the only one I played and I found it was always the same and a pretty boring and at best mediocre game in general that I quit after 3 hours because of that. It only had 2 kinds. Either boring scripted scenes with annoying set pieces and a horrible story or shooting at the shooting range with the targets firing back. BOPS 4(?) on the other hand actually looked interesting and diverse.
One thing I can say about COD4 is that it's probably one of those games that won't stand the test of time very well, and 6 years after the game's release, it seems the effect has already started. 10 years from now on (which would be 2023), people looking back at it and all they see is the accumulation of military tropes that influenced so many video games not just in the FPS genre (yep, totally influenced other genres). Oh well, as well-made as COD4 is, we probably won't miss the trend that follows it. After all, I won't mind this shooter subgenre suffering the same fate as the FMV genre (started by Dragon's Lair, which was amazing, then quickly stagnated after that), which to be frank, is what modern military shooters are gradually resembling these days.
This video reminds me of how much I love Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, because of how unique and different each chapter is, and how each of them has a different "feel" to them. It's probably my all-time favorite game for that reason.
Also, even though I don't like first-person shooters, I feel like just by watching that mission from Modern Warfare, bit-by-bit, was very entertaining. By contrast, I heard about how the game keeps switching between different ways to play from Yahtzee's review of the game, and looking at it, it just feels crazy!