Tag Archives: game
Evening all. Sorry for no post last week. My dog had a run in with a particularly sharp tree so most of my designated writing day was spent in a veterinary surgery. (She’s fine now incidentally. Just got a new battle scar to show off.)
Ok, so now that moral choice systems are about as prolific in gaming as jump buttons, I’ve been thinking a lot about the level of emotional investment people put into games that they, through their own actions largely define. How much do people care about characters in a story that they have a level of control over?
While noodling over this question, I came up with a hypothetical scenario and I’d really like to see what you (yes, YOU!) as gamers would do in this theoretical situation.
Imagine you’re playing your favourite computer game that features some kind of moral choice system. Now imagine that there’s a character in it that for whatever reason you find very compelling and/or entertaining to be around. Maybe they’re a love interest in the game or maybe they’re just a relatable, well written character. So you play the game all the way through, new pixelated best friend in-toe but just as you come to the end of the story and the boss fight/last mission/final objective is well under way, you’re put into a situation. A disastrous, inescapable situation that for whatever reason has left you with one final choice. Either you leave your favourite character to die to save yourself or you sacrifice yourself to save them.
how does this situation play out in a video game format for you?
See you next week!
Evening all. Sorry for no post last week. My internet decided working was too main stream. Anyway, on to this week’s jazz.
Over the years, I’ve heard plenty of people complaining about plot holes in games. Usually they’re justified complaints, the mistakes of lazy writing from un-invested writers. Some of the time however, what people are talking about aren’t strictly plot holes but instead unavoidable necessities of making a game playable.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand plot holes but when it comes to games there has to be a level of leeway to make games work and prevent the story from being bogged down in endless exposition.
Take Halo for instance. Throughout the game, every character keeps going on about how you’re the only one who could ever conceivably complete these insurmountable tasks before you, completely ignoring the equally skilled clone stood to your left if you’re playing co-op. It doesn’t need to be explained in terms of story so it’s not. You’re playing it with your friend so that’s why there are two of you. It’s just one of those things that you’re not meant to think about too much like double jumps or health packs.
So here’s the actual question. Can you think of a time when a game took this leeway too far? At what point do unexplained game mechanics become detrimental to the story and what games have done it?
So what do you think?
See you next week!
Ok, disclaimer. At time of writing this I’m ill which turns me into a massive drama queen so all the little things that aren’t really that bad become apocalyptic, catastrophic, calamities and that’s where this post is coming from. Enjoy the over-exaggeration!
I’m a fan of the Mass Effect series and being one of those mental arty fans, I came up with a few ideas of characters for the Multiplayer component of the game. For a bit of cheap gratification, I decided to throw up the designs on the Mass Effect forums which sparked a flurry of creative character design from the community and a fun time was had by all.
In the mist if the merriment, someone made a joke about adding a Volus biotic god. Quick bit of context. In Mass Effect, Volus are dumpy little comedy relief aliens, Biotics is basically space magic and the whole joke was a reference to this scene in Mass Effect 2:
And I had a good laugh at this, the first time. By the 8th time someone said it, the joke was starting to dull a bit. By the 26th time, I was starting to get the feeling that people weren’t actually joking. After a quick search I found out that people had been asking for this for a while. They wanted characters that are essentially fat Umpa-Lumpa’s that sound like Eor with a cold adding to a fast-paced multiplayer game, which seemed a bit silly. Not that this mattered, these were just the words of forum members, not designers. It’s not like this character was going to be added to the game…… So then the character was added to the game and this is when a touch of concern for Bioware’s decision making processes started to creep in.
I’d usually just assume this was a happy coincidence and the developers had decided on this character on their own. A bit odd adding a comical character to a multiplayer that they’ve been playing straight so far but whatever, they’re the developers. I wound usually assume this but considering the degree to which Bioware has flip-flopped in the past, I think it’s safe to assume that there’s a correlation.
And if that’s true, it effectively means that they’ve added the equivalent of a Ewok on the basis of a situational joke from the last game because the fans thought it would be awesome. No matter how I try to spin it in my head, listening to the fans in this case doesn’t seem like a good idea.
I’ve said on numerous occasions that you have to respect your fans, which will always be true but you also have to keep in mind that your fans are a group of individuals. Individuals that aren’t necessarily all games designers or story writers. They don’t all care about playability or balancing, a many of them will only care about what they personally want to see in the game.
Ignoring a vocal minority of your fans doesn’t make you a bad artist if those fans ideas aren’t good from a game-play/storyline/established-cannon point of view and doing every single thing that they say isn’t gonna make things better in the long run.
Yes, you should listen to your fan base, just remember that they’re not you design team.
Alright, bitching accomplished. Now I’m going to go pass out.
See you next week!……… maybe. I might still be asleep.
Evening all (or morning, I have no idea where our readers are)
This week I just wanted to bring a very interesting documentary to your attention called “Indie Game – the Movie”. A documentary about the successes and stresses (mostly stresses) of developing your own computer game. I’m pretty sure most of Uberfriendship has seen it by this point and it’s a fascinating look into the mentality and motivations of an indie developer.
I thought it was good. You might too
See you next week!
PS. The music in it is pretty superballs too and it was made by this guy
Back in the early days of buying video games, one of the methods to ensure you’d be getting your copy of the newest and greatest titles on launch day was to place a pre-order at your local store.
Pre-ordering proved to be such an effective means of guaranteeing a game for a consumer and a sale for the retailer, that competition for pre-orders began amongst retailers, using “gifts” as incentives.
Some chains offered in-store product such as a strategy guide for the game, while others offered more specialty items from the game publisher such as posters, t-shirts, lunch boxes, bobble heads, and even limited edition “cells” of the game’s characters.
These were all effective in there own way as it got to the point where a gamer would pre-order from the location that offered the most intriguing incentive. But NONE of these pre-order items had any effect on the actual game being bought.
We are in the age of Incentive Game Content. A time in which ‘when’ and ‘where’ we buy our games actually affects the gaming experience.
It started off innocently enough, pre-ordering Little Big Planet from various locations would get you a code to download a costume pack based on Heavenly Sword or God of War. Gamers could play as Sgt. Johnson in the Halo 3: ODST Firefight mode if they pre-ordered from EB and Gamestop locations.
And as nice as these bonuses were, they didn’t make or break the game experience as the exclusive content was cosmetic and had no effect on the player’s states or abilities.
Then came the baseball bat.
A whole campaign for Left 4 Dead 2 made a big deal about pre-ordering the game in order to get the baseball bat as an exclusive item. The baseball bat was NOT a cosmetic skin replacing any of the other weapons; it was a fully realized independent melee weapon, as much as the axe, katana and chainsaw, all of which directly effect game play. This being the case, you, the gamer were missing out on part of the full game experience for not pre-ordering.
Now it may be a little too dramatic to say that even though gamers paid full price, they didn’t get the full package, just for missing out on one item. For all we know, Valve may make the baseball bat downloadable later on, or included with a future map pack.
But this is only the beginnings of Incentive Game Content, just think of what else could be withheld from consumers and saved as an incentive to help increase pre-orders:
- character abilities
- entire levels
- alternate endings
- gameplay modes;
All of these elements, which have traditionally been included in the full game for everyone to enjoy would now make great incentive content to be pre-ordered. Some of them already have.
In the case of Army of 2: The 40th Day, EA put up the Extraction game mode for a one month ransom, in that gamers would only get to play the mode right from the release date if they pre-ordered from participating retailers. All those who hadn’t would have to wait a month for no real reason.
Now let’s step back a second. WHY is it necessary to withhold a games four player “Horde/Firefight” style mode from the masses of gamers? Shouldn’t EA want people to start playing it right away to build a strong online community? Wouldn’t it also lead to greater audience interest in a 3rd installment?
The idea of content being withheld from the masses to create pre-order incentive rings similar to the scare that cropped up in the early days of Xbox Live DLC, which the Oblivion horse armor stirred up. Essentially, people believed the added armor to be content that should have been available in the full game, but was instead held off for later purchase.
Admittedly, this DLC model is a great way for a finished product to gain more revenue after initial sales, but it’s a shame that the model has reversed order and now intentionally removes elements from a full game experience even before the game is released.
So what’s next for Incentive Game Content? Well, if you want your character to have the exclusive ability of “jumping”, you’ll have to pre-order at Gamestop, but if you prefer “running”, pre-order at Best Buy. For those of you who didn’t pre-order, no worries, just wait a month and the game’s “fun mode” will become available to all.