Monday, July 23, 2012

7 Great Game Mechanics Ideas (And How Developers Waste Them)

Sometimes the people designing our games have really brilliant ideas, that make gamer thrilled and looking on how clever the guys who had the idea are. But them, some way less clever people decide that they should implement the idea, but instead of looking for the guys who did it right and keeping like that, they decided that SCREW YOU, THAT WHAT WE WANT and give you a piece of crap of the good idea they decided they could 'improve'. And them make it the worst game possible.

7. Quick Time Events.

OK, hold your torches and pitchforks. Quick Time Events. more popular name QTEs, are not that bad at first. See, they are a clever idea so the player can executed a very complex action at ease, even if the action by itself meant nothing. It is a good way to do something cool and thinking it was all the player without making the need for a suit tracking all your movements or a controller with 200 buttons. God Of War made it right, with the QTEs being rewards to the gamers. You only start one after you have weakened the enemies enough through traditional gameplay. In common enemies, you usually are rewarded with a brutal final blow. And they even give the gamers space enough to screw up a few times. Which is great, specially in the first time you have to pull it off. Other games...

How They Screwed Gamers:

By making messing up with one of those damned random, unexpected buttons appearing in your screen, an automatic game over if you fail. Games like Resident Evil 4 give you no space for mistake. You must keep watching the cutscene with all your attention, controller firmly in hand, or at any moment a flashing button that you miss will cost you a lot of work. And most game makers decided to keep it that way, frustrating millions of gamers who lack the psychic ability to predict random button presses.

6. Cutscenes

Let's admit it. If you have being gaming long enough, a cutscene was the biggest reward you could get. In a time where most games had barely distinguishable as humans sprites, cutscenes, usually way better than the in-game graphics, were amazing. Not only  that, cutscenes finally allowed gamers to have story in their games, not just in the paper manuals. In fact, cutscenes basically changed videogames from sophisticated toys to a form of media.

How They Screwed Gamers:

And them some game makers decided that cutscenes were all a game needed. And we got stuck upon lengthy segments of non-interactive short movies, with controller resting in our laps, taking time we would be prefer to be playing. While I don't think cutscenes should be done for, I think some people need to understand that if we gamers wanted to see movies, we would just do that, and cheaper than buying a game. So, keeping the amount of non interactive scenes short, sparse and interesting would not make us hate your games. Oh, and nobody like unskippable cutscenes, especially when we died by the fifth time over that cheap boss fight.

5. Boss Fights

Back to the arcades, boss fights had a way higher meaning. being able to get to a boss with one coin would put you in the badass hall of fame in the time. Or finishing him off in a certain amount of time. Because of that, most bosses were hard, but had patterns and ways to dispatch them out with a bit of patience and skills. Some were out right awesome and people would have a great time fighting them.

How They Screwed Gamers:

By forgetting that it should be fun, not a chore and an exercise in luck. I have lost how many times I have lost a boss fight not because I wasn't powerful enough or bad equipped, but because every time I was almost defeating the damn boss, the damn cheater decided to randomly pull out an all-powerful, one-hit kill out of nowhere and pulverize me. And when you try again, this time expecting the powerful attack, saving resources for it, it does not come. Unless you have used the damn potion or heal spell and them he decided to use the attack. Oh, and a boss fight should not take an hour to be done without the possibility of saving mid fight. We may be gamers, but we have things to do too.

4. Customizing our Characters

Being able to make the main character of a game look like how you want is great. It can look like you, a favorite character from other game or media, just something you thought it was hilarious only to regret it the moment you remember you have to watch this ugly monster you made during dozens of hours. It also make the character feel like yours, not just a character you watch, but your character and his adventure.

How They Screwed Gamers:

By making the damn game in first-person, watching his back all the time or making him use a damn helmet all the time. Skyrim make you loose a great deal of time to create a character he is not ugly. And them you never will see its face ever again. Not in conversations, not in battle, not ever. And the fact that you can't take your helmet off  piss me. Bioware corrected this mistake in Mass Effect 3, allowing your customized Shepard to be seeing without the helmet in conversations. But many other games, customizing characters is just a waste of time.

3. NPC companions

Adventuring can get lonely, specially in single-player games. Having some trustworthy NPCs walking with you help the game to have a more realistic feel, while providing a more fun experience. Listening to your NPC friends shouting and fighting at your side can feel a great time. They may even save your ass if they are done right and provide some tips about how to deal with the situation.

How They Screwed Gamers:

Or they will always get in your, need to be saved, using resources in the wrong times, getting in front of your shots, not healing you or hitting the target. Damn, some of them aren't worth even as bullet sponges. you would be better alone.

2. Episodic Content

The idea is great on paper. You make just a part of the game, sell it cheaper to gamers, who will probably buy way more copies since it is cheaper and with an already established fan base, you sell the rest of the game a piece at time, selling way more copies than if you sold an entire game. During the first time I listened about episodic gaming, it seemed that all games would go like that and everyone would be happy. Gamers would save money from bad games, developers and publishers would know if they had a sure hit or a sure miss in their hands. A lovely dream.

How They Screwed Gamers:

They discovered that developing part of a game is as costly as developing all the game. See, making the engine and the gameplay is like 50% of the game anyway. Creating the environments and story is the rest. A big game would suck almost as many resources to have just its first part made than making the whole anyway, and that is why most gamers using the episodic format are simple games when compared to the kind of games people was expecting to benefit from the format. And we all know a case were people are still expecting the conclusion to a certain episode.

1. DLC

The tempting idea to have even more game after you finished what you had, paying cheaper for it and extending your adventure. There is nothing not to like about DLC!

How They Screwed Gamers:

By making DLC being just codes to unlock disc content, many of them useless customization items that make no improvements in gameplay or by dividing the community. That is how you get a cool idea and change it in a piece of shit.

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