Monday, 8 December 2008

Stumbling drunkenly towards climaxes

Graeme Virtue has written an interesting article about play through games. The experiences Graeme had are quite similar to my own. I like playing through games but increasingly, it's becoming less enjoyable.

I'm currently playing through Xenosaga and while I like the story and atmosphere, the limited combat system, forced combat, long gaps between save points and spiking difficulty is disappointing. Looking back, I like how Resident Evil 4 automatically created frequent temporary save points in addition to manually created less frequent permanent save points.

From Graeme's article:
  • But while Ico leads the player deftly toward a conclusion as satisfying as it is ambiguous, many other games stumble drunkenly toward their climax. Random difficulty spikes, murderous end-of-level bosses, poorly chosen save points, illogical puzzles, aimless narrative ... all of these bleed enjoyment from the experience.

  • The way I played these and other barely notable PS2 titles, they all turned into survival/horror games. More often than not, the further into the game I progressed, the greater the sense of isolation. Halfway through, having navigated sloppy, grueling or just plain boring game design (including at least one sewer level), you start to feel very alone. Surely no other sane player would have continued this far. It's an unnerving experience. Further still, the loneliness becomes even more oppressive - clearly the play testers were never involved in this part of the process. If they had been, the game would have to be better, right? You have been abandoned in a game world that doesn't bother to make sense, held together with little more than recycled design assets and arbitrary, invisible walls. It's way scarier than Silent Hill.

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