Habboi's Blog of Games Design and All Things Awesome!

A Blog made of Awesome and Kittens. ;-)

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Are Games a Chore?

There are times when I'm playing a videogame for a few hours and I think to myself:

"I feel like I've done this already..."

What I mean is, when I play a game that lasts for many hours, I start to notice levels that may have been copy / pasted to extend the length. Another example is that there are also games that actually get you to do the same thing over and over. An example would be Assassin's Creed where you have to assassinate important people in the same way each time.

You have to ride your horse to the city, you then investigate, survey the area and rescue peasants. When you have enough information, you are allowed to assassinate the leader after watching a small in-game clip that pushes the story onwards.

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Assassins Creed despite the fact you do the same thing over and over. In fact a lot of reviewers and players agree that the game does get boring after a long period. This is a problem actually because games are expected to last at least 8 hours nowadays but the problem is that as games have progressed, so has the consumers requirements and demands.

Players expect top graphics combined with unique gameplay that satisfies them and makes them feel good. Others like myself prefer story over graphics and sometimes gameplay.

I think this has to do with open world games that give the player choice. Let's look at the new Prince of Persia as an example. Unlike the older games, the new Prince of Persia lets the player choose where they want to go however this means they could go along one side and then go back and finish the other. The problem with this is, unless the programmers coded a mechanic that detects what areas have been done and what scenes have been watched, they have to keep the scenes pretty dry so that the characters don't mention something that has already happened and so on.

The old Prince of Persia games, I'm thinking of PoP2, felt more interesting because each area had a unique theme, the story progressed in a linear fashion and was generally exciting to find out what happens next.

Now I do enjoy some open world games such as Mass Effect which I've been playing for a good 20 hours so far. The great thing about it is, the game is filled with so much story and closes up a lot of loose holes that would take me out of the story. I really feel part of the games universe because of the deep story narrative and interactive talking.

If developers can find a way to speed up game development then there would be a lot more open world games that are unique and have tasks that don't repeat. Technology such as motion capture is slowly rising and being used a lot more in game studios because of the speed and ease of use. Look at the insane moves used in Devil may Cry 3 for example. I'd hate to animate all that by hand. Of course I'd have to learn the human anatomy first ;)

One more game that comes to mind is Mirror's Edge. I just finished it for the PC and felt it ended on a good length. Some of the levels were a little similar but that's fine since the city looks the same generally. However the team did a good job making each level unique. You jump on trains in one, climb a huge work site, slide down sewers etc. The music was really powerful as well. Made you feel pumped for action. The game is unique because it's the only game I can think of that lets you run across roof tops and do amazing jumping moves in first person. I heard they are making a trilogy and I will buy them if it is true but mainly for the story. No doubt the gameplay will be the same which is fine but they need to think of new locations and create new ideas that make the new games stand out. Otherwise it will feel like a chore.

Lastly, I've noticed that games are a lot more fun if you pace yourself instead of completing them in one day. It's something worth looking forward to the next day and extends the life of the game. Give it a try! I'm looking at you Nikki. (I doubt you'll read this.)

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