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Edited by GrantHeaslip

Video games have changed dramatically over the past couple of console generations. They’ve gone from better-looking versions of 8 and 16-bit stories to near-photo-realistic, choreographed adventures that rival cinema in their immersiveness. Gone are the days of dropping the player in a static level and waiting for them to “beat” it — games actively shepherd the player along and treat them as active participants in a living world. So much has changed, yet we’re still collecting doodads like it’s 1985.

The absurdity of this antiquated hold-over hit me a few months ago while playing through a story mission in Mass Effect 3. I was on a rescue mission, and things had gone very bad. A squad member was escorting the rescuee though adjacent rooms that needed to be unlocked on my end (which, I’ll add, is also a tired trope). There was a real sense of urgency — communicated effectively by a decreasing life bar, radio transmissions, and the narrative context — but something was competing for my attention: the upgrade collectibles strewn around the corners and dead-ends of the level.

Of course, Commander Shepard wouldn’t give a passing thought to picking up materials while one of the most important beings in the universe’s life was at risk, and that’s at the heart of what’s so stupid about collectibles: they ask the player to do things the character they’re controlling wouldn’t, and they encourage the player to look at the environment as something that needs to be completed.

I was reminded of this as I started playing Uncharted 2 today. I had a blissful few minutes in which I thought “wait, does this game not have collectibles?”, but my hopes were quickly dashed when I walked up to a shiny light and hit the triangle button. I was no longer just a charming, fast-talking treasure hunter sneaking through a beautiful Turkish museum — I was a charming, fast-talking treasure hunter checking every corner of a level for collectibles.

I want the freedom to move through an environment and not worry that I’m missing something. In games that strive to be immersive, environments should be settings, not challenges in and of themselves. Players shouldn’t be encouraged to create dissonance. There’s certainly a place for collectibles, but not in games that strive to link player and character motivations.

Posted by Bane122

@GrantHeaslip said:

I want the freedom to move through an environment and not worry that I’m missing something. In games that strive to be immersive, environments should be settings, not challenges in and of themselves. Players shouldn’t be encouraged to create dissonance. There’s certainly a place for collectibles, but not in games that strive to link player and character motivations.

You do have that freedom, though. You're the one putting importance on those items. Using your two examples, what are you missing by ignoring the collectibles? PS3 trophies and small boosts to weapons and armor. I could maybe see a point being made about ME3 but if the developers really thought you needed those upgrades to complete the game then they wouldn't make them missable.

Personally I love getting little rewards for exploring the environments and am having a hard time thinking of a game where it was important you got the collectibles.

Posted by Video_Game_King

I'd say the dissonance is only there if the game doesn't go out of its way to justify said collectibles by making them a part of its world. I remember Psychonauts being really good about this, working a lot of the collectibles into the plot. Granted, most of them were toward the exact same end (more powers), but it's the thought that counts...only not in such a mean way, of course.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@Bane122 said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

I want the freedom to move through an environment and not worry that I’m missing something. In games that strive to be immersive, environments should be settings, not challenges in and of themselves. Players shouldn’t be encouraged to create dissonance. There’s certainly a place for collectibles, but not in games that strive to link player and character motivations.

You do have that freedom, though. You're the one putting importance on those items. Using your two examples, what are you missing by ignoring the collectibles? PS3 trophies and small boosts to weapons and armor. I could maybe see a point being made about ME3 but if the developers really thought you needed those upgrades to complete the game then they wouldn't make them missable.

Personally I love getting little rewards for exploring the environments and am having a hard time thinking of a game where it was important you got the collectibles.

I meant to address this in the post but forgot. I did try to use words like “ask” and “encourage”, as you’re right, I’m not being forced to do anything. But that said, ME3 clearly wants you to collect stuff. You’re given gameplay rewards, and (in theory) the game would be harder if you ignored them. If they’re detrimental to the experience, they shouldn’t be there in the first place. Uncharted is better because the treasures are used to unlock stuff, but it still creates the dissonance that I find so problematic.

I have a Brad-esque desire to collect stuff. It’s not to the point that I can’t let it go — I’m not hoping to get the 100% (or even 80%) treasure completion trophy in Uncharted — but it’s strong enough that I need to at least try. It’s not entirely rational, but it’s who I am and it will take some time to change. I’d rather games not play to that instinct.

Edited by SuperWristBands

I feel you. I was playing through RE:Revelations and there was a count down timer and the game telling me to get the eff outta there and I was all like, "gimme a sec, I gotta scan all the corners of the room and any suspicious looking objects. Don't wanna miss a hand print!" (hand print being the game's collectable).

I've been better at getting myself to ignore collectables if they are only tied to achievements/trophies but I don't want to miss any items I may get from collecting them... even though I don't want to collect them, I just want the item. I, too, also feel super relieved when games don't have collectables or if they have them, then not many. Anarchy Reigns did collectables in a way I totally got behind. I had fun running around the level looking for them and there weren't many (five per level and the levels weren't very large), they stood out well and it kept track of how many you had.

Edited by nintendoeats

I basically agree with you. It comes down to the difference between rewarding an action and punishing abstaining from that action. I approach it like this:

If the difficulty of an action is greater than or equal to the thing the player gets, then it is a reward and will generally be ignored by players who aren't interested in the action.

If the difficulty of an action is smaller than the the thing player gets, then it is a no-brainer and you are effectively forcing players to do it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is for collectibles in a heavily story-driven game.

On a side note, the value of the reward is relative. A 1% increase in health doesn't mean much in an easy game so the player won't bother doing anything difficult for it. In a really difficult game, the player is usually going to go through a lot for any tiny benefit.

An alternative solution is to not give every game a goddamn upgrades system.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@Video_Game_King said:

I'd say the dissonance is only there if the game doesn't go out of its way to justify said collectibles by making them a part of its world. I remember Psychonauts being really good about this, working a lot of the collectibles into the plot. Granted, most of them were toward the exact same end (more powers), but it's the thought that counts...only not in such a mean way, of course.

Agreed. I’m willing to accept that my compulsion to collect everything isn’t entirely the developers’ responsibility, but I’d at least like the collectibles to make sense within the game world.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@GrantHeaslip:

Of if they don't, at least de-emphasize story/world-building. That's partially why Sonic and Banjo-Kazooie can get away with it: the story's not the focus, so a narrative dissonance can barely form.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@nintendoeats said:

I basically agree with you. It comes down to the difference between rewarding an action and punishing abstaining from that action. I approach it like this:

If the difficulty of an action is greater than or equal to the thing the player gets, then it is a reward and will generally be ignored by players who aren't interested in the action.

If the difficulty of an action is smaller than to the the thing player gets, then it is a no-brainer and you are effectively forcing players to do it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is as for collectibles in a heavily story-driven game.

That’s an interesting way of looking at it.

@nintendoeats said:

An alternative solution is to not give every game a goddamn upgrades system.

I’m don’t think the upgrade systems are the problem (though I do generally think they’re over-used) — it’s the way they’re implemented. If ME3 just gave me a bunch of upgrade items I “salvaged” at the end of a mission, that would be perfectly acceptable.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@Video_Game_King said:

@GrantHeaslip:

Of if they don't, at least de-emphasize story/world-building. That's partially why Sonic and Banjo-Kazooie can get away with it: the story's not the focus, so a narrative dissonance can barely form.

Exactly — that’s basically what I was getting at with “in games that strive to be immersive.” In “gamey” games (for lack of a better term), all bets are off — they’re just about creating fun and rewarding gameplay systems.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@GrantHeaslip said:

“gamey” games (for lack of a better term)

Gameplay-focused (as opposed to narrative-focused)? Or ludologically-focused if we want to be completely pretentious about this?

Posted by EchoEcho

I can completely see where you're coming from, and empathize. I get pretty paranoid about missing collectibles while going through an area, and obsessively check every nook and cranny -- sometimes more than once. But I don't get the dissonance issue that's at the heart of your argument, because I simply don't have any trouble separating what I'm doing as a player from what the character I'm controlling might or might not do as a person within that world or narrative.

If I spend ten minutes searching a room for collectibles in Mass Effect while someone's life is supposedly hanging in the balance, I don't think "Man, why is Shepherd poking around looking for weapon upgrades when he's supposed to be rushing to save someone's life?" Because in my internal version of the narrative, he didn't -- you might say that "canonically", as I'm interpreting the story in my head, Shepherd arrived at the site of the mission and got straight to the point, even if I, as a player, did not. Perhaps some people have a harder time making that separation and being comfortable with it, I dunno. It's just never been an issue for me.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@Video_Game_King said:

@GrantHeaslip said:

“gamey” games (for lack of a better term)

Gameplay-focused (as opposed to narrative-focused)? Or ludologically-focused if we want to be completely pretentious about this?

I’m not entirely clear on what the distinction is since I just Googled “ludology”, but I think it’s a narratology/ludology distinction I’m making. Mass Effect and Uncharted games are more about creating an immersive world and compelling narrative, while Banjo and Sonic are more about creating engaging gameplay systems. It’s obviously not an either-or thing — I think Banjo Kazooie also has a neat world — but different games strive to do different things.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@EchoEcho said:

I can completely see where you're coming from, and empathize. I get pretty paranoid about missing collectibles while going through an area, and obsessively check every nook and cranny -- sometimes more than once. But I don't get the dissonance issue that's at the heart of your argument, because I simply don't have any trouble separating what I'm doing as a player from what the character I'm controlling might or might not do as a person within that world or narrative.

If I spend ten minutes searching a room for collectibles in Mass Effect while someone's life is supposedly hanging in the balance, I don't think "Man, why is Shepherd poking around looking for weapon upgrades when he's supposed to be rushing to save someone's life?" Because in my internal version of the narrative, he didn't -- you might say that "canonically", as I'm interpreting the story in my head, Shepherd arrived at the site of the mission and got straight to the point, even if I, as a player, did not. Perhaps some people have a harder time making that separation and being comfortable with it, I dunno. It's just never been an issue for me.

I get where you’re coming from — I do the more-or-less the same thing in practice — but I don’t think we should have to.

Posted by believer258

You leave my collectibles alone, you!

Story driven games can have good collectibles. I think they're a great gameplay mechanic that has stuck around because they encourage and reward careful playing and exploration. Dead Space and Bioshock are two examples of narrative-driven games that would feel like husks of what they are if they didn't have you scrambling to collect anything and everything that you can. Why? Well, because it adds to the atmosphere. Imagine Dead Space if it just spoon-fed you pre-determined upgrades and ammo only dropped out of enemies - that would really harm the atmosphere.

You are right that you shouldn't have collectibles in any scenario that's supposed to feel rushed, but that shouldn't be the case most of the time.

Also:

@EchoEcho said:

I can completely see where you're coming from, and empathize. I get pretty paranoid about missing collectibles while going through an area, and obsessively check every nook and cranny -- sometimes more than once. But I don't get the dissonance issue that's at the heart of your argument, because I simply don't have any trouble separating what I'm doing as a player from what the character I'm controlling might or might not do as a person within that world or narrative.

If I spend ten minutes searching a room for collectibles in Mass Effect while someone's life is supposedly hanging in the balance, I don't think "Man, why is Shepherd poking around looking for weapon upgrades when he's supposed to be rushing to save someone's life?" Because in my internal version of the narrative, he didn't -- you might say that "canonically", as I'm interpreting the story in my head, Shepherd arrived at the site of the mission and got straight to the point, even if I, as a player, did not. Perhaps some people have a harder time making that separation and being comfortable with it, I dunno. It's just never been an issue for me.

This. If the game isn't giving me any visible timer, then I feel no dissonance at all from searching every nook and cranny while someone's life is on the line three rooms over. I just never think about it while playing.

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Posted by GrantHeaslip

@believer258 said:

You leave my collectibles alone, you!

Story driven games can have good collectibles. I think they're a great gameplay mechanic that has stuck around because they encourage and reward careful playing and exploration. Dead Space and Bioshock are two examples of narrative-driven games that would feel like husks of what they are if they didn't have you scrambling to collect anything and everything that you can. Why? Well, because it adds to the atmosphere. Imagine Dead Space if it just spoon-fed you pre-determined upgrades and ammo only dropped out of enemies - that would really harm the atmosphere.

Ammo makes more sense to me, as it works narrative-wise. Collecting ammo is exactly what the character would be doing in that world. Even the upgrade collecting sort of makes sense, and considering it’s a slower-paced, more personal story, there’s less dissonance in my mind.

(I should probably have titled this “Collectibles can create dissonance.”)

Posted by Slag

I dunno I kinda like collectibles.

I like exploring environments and looking for things. Afterall what is the value of a detailed environment if all you are doing is running through it?

At least if you are hunting for shiny things you get to appreciate the environment quite a bit more, suspend disbelief a bit and feel like you are somewhere.

That being said, the mechanic is undeniably horribly abused to death. It's far too often stuck in as cheap content filler or in the worst cases (lookin at you Dragon's Dogma) really terrible DLC. Or as mentioned by others here, stuck in sequences where it violently disruptively counteracts the natural gameplay (e.g. chase sequences).

Posted by Lord_Xp

No one is forcing you to obtain collectibles. I think it just adds additional challenge to the game. Can you complete this urgent quest AND get the shiny thing alllll the way over there and beat the level. If anything you could beat the game then go back and collect the shiny things. I love searching for hidden gems and treasures in every game I play. It gives the game I play a more mysterious feel and gives me that urge to search and get that satisfaction of finding something hard to find in the first place. Just my opinion though.

Posted by Zebracal

I do get your point regarding this matter, I do sometimes feel that they sometimes become a hindrance, I felt this way while playing tomb raider and gears of war. But then again, no one is forcing us to get all the collectibles (unless it will require you to unlock a achievement)

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@Slag said:

I dunno I kinda like collectibles.

I like exploring environments and looking for things. Afterall what is the value of a detailed environment if all you are doing is running through it?

At least if you are hunting for shiny things you get to appreciate the environment quite a bit more, suspend disbelief a bit and feel like you are somewhere.

That being said, the mechanic is undeniably horribly abused to death. It's far too often stuck in as cheap content filler or in the worst cases (lookin at you Dragon's Dogma) really terrible DLC. Or as mentioned by others here, stuck in sequences where it violently disruptively counteracts the natural gameplay (e.g. chase sequences).

If a game has nice environments, I tend to look at them regardless. I’m playing through Final Fantasy XIII, and often stop and pan around simply because it’s a great looking game with amazing art direction. It’s got pick-ups, but they’re in noisy, floating orbs, so they’re pretty tough to miss. I’d argue that looking for collectibles makes you appreciate the environments less, as you’re stuck scanning them for stuff, not taking them in.

@Lord_Xp said:

No one is forcing you to obtain collectibles. I think it just adds additional challenge to the game. Can you complete this urgent quest AND get the shiny thing alllll the way over there and beat the level. If anything you could beat the game then go back and collect the shiny things. I love searching for hidden gems and treasures in every game I play. It gives the game I play a more mysterious feel and gives me that urge to search and get that satisfaction of finding something hard to find in the first place. Just my opinion though.

You bring up an interesting point: if the collectibles are genuinely hard to get and involve real risk-reward (not just busywork), they can at least be good mechanically. That sort of ties into the challenge/no-brainer distinction brought up. I don’t think that makes including them worth it in a narrative-driven game, but it’s a redeeming quality.

@Zebracal said:

I do get your point regarding this matter, I do sometimes feel that they sometimes become a hindrance, I felt this way while playing tomb raider and gears of war. But then again, no one is forcing us to get all the collectibles (unless it will require you to unlock a achievement)

Yeah, the dog tags in Gears of War were pretty annoying if memory serves.

Edited by project343

I think the audiotapes from Bioshock and lore books in any RPG work wonderfully. Why? Because aside from their hard-rooted narrative justification in the world, they also coincide with exactly what you do in those games: scavenge the environment for resources. It doesn't feel like an active disruption of the core gameplay loop.

If collectibles were acquired via killing monster types in particular ways in Gears of War, I think this would be a completely different story.

Posted by TobbRobb

I generally hate collectibles, because no one does them correctly. Just throwing stupid shit out in a level that was designed beforehand for other reasons is just distracting and annoying. It totally breaks atmospheric games like Alan Wake or Mass Effect and games with a good sense of urgency otherwise gets so hampered by it that its not even funny.

Like, if I'm playing a rollercoaster shooter or something, I just wanna run through and kill shit. Don't break the pace by making me hunt for stuff. Exceptions to that would be Dead Space or other games based on scavenging for ammo/stuff that adds to the atmosphere.

Now, I don't always hate hunting for stuff. I'm actually a big fan of searching every nook and cranny for cool shit, but I want to find you know. Cool shit. Not a stupid bracelet or feather or some other arbitrary bullshit to pad out my stats screen or gamerscore. There are a few strict guidelines for me to enjoy the hunt, but when they are met, I'm having a blast.

  • The game must be fun and fluid to control and provide a pleasant way of moving around.
  • The level design must have been made to accomodate secret hidey holes and stuff. That means to ACTUALLY THINK FIRST.
  • The secrets must be useful and/or interesting. Weapons/Upgrades/BonusLore/EasterEggs.

Example game: Symphony of the Night. Also known as one of the best games of all time and in my personal top 3, and the collecting and hunting for secrets is a large part of the reason!

Posted by Demoskinos

The real issue here is what brad was talking about where sometimes you can't tell which path in a game moves the story forward and what one is the dead end with treasure. Ni No Kuni is already driving me nuts. Im seeing chests everywhere that I have no idea how to get. MUST. COLLECT. EVERYTHING.

Posted by Slag

@GrantHeaslip said:

@Slag said:

I dunno I kinda like collectibles.

I like exploring environments and looking for things. Afterall what is the value of a detailed environment if all you are doing is running through it?

At least if you are hunting for shiny things you get to appreciate the environment quite a bit more, suspend disbelief a bit and feel like you are somewhere.

That being said, the mechanic is undeniably horribly abused to death. It's far too often stuck in as cheap content filler or in the worst cases (lookin at you Dragon's Dogma) really terrible DLC. Or as mentioned by others here, stuck in sequences where it violently disruptively counteracts the natural gameplay (e.g. chase sequences).

If a game has nice environments, I tend to look at them regardless. I’m playing through Final Fantasy XIII, and often stop and pan around simply because it’s a great looking game with amazing art direction. It’s got pick-ups, but they’re in noisy, floating orbs, so they’re pretty tough to miss. I’d argue that looking for collectibles makes you appreciate the environments less, as you’re stuck scanning them for stuff, not taking them in.

I get what you're saying but I still disagree. Not talking about you personally (as everyone is different. I look at environments too, I like looking at plants up close especially), but what the general populace does on average.

There are all sorts of studies to show the faster you move through an environment, the less you notice. It's used in everything from Retail to Architecture to Road Signs. The faster you are going, generally the more movement and larger the item has to be it be noticed.

I'd argue the reason the pickups in FF Xiii were designed to be noisy, floating orbs is because of the "corridor" design in that game. Otherwise the player would zoom right by many of them, which since Final Fantasy is usually not intended to be a "tough" game is probably not a good thing in Square's mind. In past Final Fantasies treasure chests were certainly not as blatantly obnoxiously obvious, since they didn't really nee to be.

However if those pickups weren't there, the player would essentially have no reason in that game to ever pan the camera other than straight ahead. That being said I do think there are far more effective ways to engage the player with the environment. I personally believe light environmental puzzles and traversal obstacles help you notice the world more than about anything else. It was subtle but I felt the fact that you climb obstacles and jump in Dragon's Dogma, helpe make it's world feel infinitely more tactile than your typical JRPG.

That's one thing I love about Platformers, is that you really have to take in where you are since the environment is the game

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@Slag said:

I get what you're saying but I still disagree. Not talking about you personally (as everyone is different. I look at environments too, I like looking at plants up close especially), but what the general populace does on average.

There are all sorts of studies to show the faster you move through an environment, the less you notice. It's used in everything from Retail to Architecture to Road Signs. The faster you are going, generally the more movement and larger the item has to be it be noticed.

I'd argue the reason the pickups in FF Xiii were designed to be noisy, floating orbs is because of the "corridor" design in that game. Otherwise the player would zoom right by many of them, which since Final Fantasy is usually not intended to be a "tough" game is probably not a good thing in Square's mind. In past Final Fantasies treasure chests were certainly not as blatantly obnoxiously obvious, since they didn't really nee to be.

However if those pickups weren't there, the player would essentially have no reason in that game to ever pan the camera other than straight ahead. That being said I do think there are far more effective ways to engage the player with the environment. I personally believe light environmental puzzles and traversal obstacles help you notice the world more than about anything else. It was subtle but I felt the fact that you climb obstacles and jump in Dragon's Dogma, helpe make it's world feel infinitely more tactile than your typical JRPG.

That's one thing I love about Platformers, is that you really have to take in where you are since the environment is the game

I’m not claiming FF XIII is a model, I’ve just got it on my mind. I just started Uncharted 2, and while I’ve basically decided (or am at least trying) to not worry about finding treasure, I’m looking around in much the same way.

I like that line about how in platformers, the environment is the game. It makes me wish more 3D platformers were made these days. I’m sitting on a copy of Ratchet & Clank Collection and grabbed Jak 1 for $3 on PSN last week — I may sneak one of those games in once I’m finished my current crop.

Posted by Undeadpool

I think, somewhat ironically, Alan Wake had both the best and worst examples of collectibles. The pages were both consistent with AND added to the narrative/character as were the tourist locations (and weren't usually placed THAT far out of the way), but both of the other ones (coffee thermoses and...I can't even remember the other) which were usually placed FAR outside the main path, and often had to be collected during chase sequences, which SHATTERED the flow.

Yes, the argument could be made that I could just ignore them (I did), but that being the case: why put them in THOSE spots in the first place? The ones that are far out of the way? Fine. But the ones you had to go out of your way for WHILE being chased down either by enemies or the Darkness wave that would just instantly kill you? That's...just bad design.

Edited by Dark_Lord_Spam

As someone who has gone out of his way to collect every arbitrary token in every game I've played, I both can't come to terms with your point and absolutely understand that games need to evolve collectibles beyond the meaningless, outdated, garbage-combing mechanic they've so often become. Your point about Mass Effect doesn't resonate so much with me, though, I guess because finding upgrades like that just seems like the equivalent of gearing up in an RPG or opening a chest in Zelda. Those design structures certainly have major flaws, but it feels like a different issue entirely.
 
An aside: I'd like to extend a very heartfelt "fuck you" to whoever placed collectibles in the following games for hundreds of wasted (?) hours: 

  • THE MOTHERFUCKING PROGENITOR: Donkey Kong 64 (incidentally, also my favorite game)
  • basically any recent Mario title
  • Kirby 64
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn
  • Animal Crossing
  • The Hobbit
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl (yeah, this deserves a separate entry)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon
  • the Jak and Daxter series
  • the Ratchet and Clank series
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • the Assassin's Creed series
  • the Batman: Arkham games (though they did more than most to make the items relevant and exciting)
  • Brutal Legend
  • Enslaved
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • inFamous
  • Red Dead Redemption
  • the Uncharted series
Posted by TrashMustache

i get where you're coming from but then again, whatever, don't pick up the collectible then ^^

Online
Posted by Rabbitsuit

Never been a fan of them either. Still waiting for developers to create an achievement/trophy for avoiding every single collectible in the game. It would be a great missable achievement. Not sure what it'd be called.

"Not now, I'm busy"

"Better things to do"

If we're talking about Remedy, maybe it can be called "I'm cutting back on Coffee."

x360a and PS3t are making the trophy list for the upcoming game by Codemasters, GRID 2. Racing game though, so not much hope for that to pop up.

Posted by Coombs

I luv my collectible doodads if not for them most games would only have maybe 8 hours of gameplay and then go to the shelf to die.

If a game has a storyline that can take 20+ hours and hold my attention the whole time then sure I don't care that there's nothing to collect.

Posted by Castiel

I agree with you to a certain extend, only collectibles have never meant that much for me. I can easily play a Uncharted game and not try to get every collectible, I have beaten both 1 and 2 several times and I still haven't found every collectible, simply because I don't care about them.

Posted by haggis

I like to collect but don't obsess. So it's easy for me to ignore them. I typically enjoy them most in open-world games, because the collectibles are a good reason to go exploring. Most of the time, they could be better objects. ME3's upgrades, for instance, never made sense--why would these upgrades just be laying around? I like it when they are objects that tell little stories that flesh out the world, because those gamers more likely to go on treasure hunts are often more interested in backstory.

If the objects are going to be a benefit, it ought to be unusual and convenient--but unnecessary. I liked the Fallout 3 bobbleheads, for instance, because they granted some unique modifiers that were cool but not necessary. As opposed to New Vegas's snow globes, which really only gave you money--not very compelling.

Mostly, though, if a game is linear and doesn't let you go back and revisit areas, it's probably best to leave collectibles out altogether, and give gamers other reasons to replay the game.

Posted by AURON570

Coincidentally, I'm playing through mass effect 3 right now, and I definitely had the same feeling while playing mass effect 2. I kept swirling the camera around, checking for areas that might have new items or credits laying about. It really takes away from experiencing the story sometimes.

Posted by MormonWarrior

How about Alan Wake? They sure handled collectibles well in that game! (not)

Posted by TheMasterDS

Interesting points, not sure that an empty world is preferable to one filled with doodads to find. Historically I think collectibles can help motivate one to explore the world and pay attention to their surroundings though if "explore the world" means "Run around the battlefield you already cleared out and hit A on things" maybe it's the implementation that isn't very interesting as opposed to the core concept.

That said right now I'm not sure that populating a world with doodads is the right way to enrich a world and encourage exploration and keener senses, right now I'm thinking making the world a confusing labyrinth of forks, optional puzzles & nonsense is the way to go about it. The way Fez and Antichamber did it. Also Kirby & The Amazing Mirror. That way the doesn't appear to be worth exploring, it is worth exploring. Exploration gets you more places to explore. It's interesting how it works. I wonder how many other games will explore that in the future.

Edited by Vigorousjammer

I had an experience recently in Sleeping Dogs towards the end of the game which has to do with collectibles.

During "The Funeral" mission, as I was tearing down the steps taking out a bunch of 18k with my buddies, I notice on my map there's a health shrine at the top of that area.I missed it initially because after the previous cutscene, things started popping off and I immediately went into cover.I was already at the bottom of the graveyard's steps, but seeing as how it was the last health shrine I needed to collect them all... I actually went ahead and climbed all the way back up to get it, while all of my buddies were shouting stuff like "rush the front entrance!" and stuff. It was a little odd.

I'm a little mixed on the inclusion of collectibles, though.It's nice to reward the player, but if it comes at the detriment of story elements, it's a little weird.I think it works better in some games than others, however.I especially like it when the collectibles are not tangible things in the world, but something you'd be doing naturally through gameplay... something you wouldn't have to explore the environment for, but instead would just make you play the game in a certain way that could even enhance the experience, and possibly make you feel even more connected to the character. (i.e. doing stunts, getting headshots, etc.)

Of course, some games can do the enviroment-besed collectibles right too. A recent example would be I Am Alive. Based on that world, and your character's motivations, it would make sense for him to be exploring different areas, and scavenging.

Edited by Trylks

That's another reason why Assassins's Creed is such an overrated game.
I usually go through a game without minding about collectibles, and without minding about achievements. Achievements are supposed to make games better, but games were fun before and they still are better without them. The same happened with starcraft and stats about games (won-lost-disc), give nice people some rating system and they will become badmannered point-whores. If a game is good then I go on a second playthrough with some guide to get the collectibles, and that depends on the game and the collectibles. For instance skulls in Halo 3 are interesting (they are game modifiers, that's something that can be used), on the contrary, the terminals are useless...

Edited by Kosayn

I like hidden stuff in games, and I have pondered the fact that putting stuff in a game that you can find and pick up is at the same time one of the cheapest, easiest ways to flesh out a sparse polygonal environment, and also, really hard to do well.

The problem is that there's 80s 90s style hidden stuff, where it's often totally obscure developer references and gag items. The game chugs along just fine if you miss it, and without the internet, you usually did. Then there's 2000s style hidden stuff, where in most cases everything you miss is documented by achievements, and has no actual use or interesting reference to make.

Posted by YOU_DIED

Would you consider the audio logs in Halo: ODST to be collectibles? Those actually told a better story than the main game did

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@trylks said:

That's another reason why Assassins's Creed is such an overrated game.

I usually go through a game without minding about collectibles, and without minding about achievements. Achievements are supposed to make games better, but games were fun before and they still are better without them. The same happened with starcraft and stats about games (won-lost-disc), give nice people some rating system and they will become badmannered point-whores. If a game is good then I go on a second playthrough with some guide to get the collectibles, and that depends on the game and the collectibles. For instance skulls in Halo 3 are interesting (they are game modifiers, that's something that can be used), on the contrary, the terminals are useless...

Lately, I’ve been trying to simply write off certain trophies right off the bat, or at least once I know enough to understand what they entail. I’ll go for the ones I think I can get, and avoid the ones that I know will require frustration or a significant time commitment.

I’ve broken this rule a few times, but I’ve also decided that if I’m going to need to reference a walkthrough (as you would to get those goddamned Assassin’s Creed flags), I shouldn’t do it at all, because it’s work, not play. This mindset also applies to stuff like getting “kill 50 enemies with [weapon I don’t like]” — I’m not going to worry about getting meaningless rewards in exchange for having less fun.

Stats in a competitive game are kind of necessary though, for better or worse. I also don’t think the appeal of winning in a competitive multiplayer game could be eradicated by not showing win-loss ratios.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@you_died said:

Would you consider the audio logs in Halo: ODST to be collectibles? Those actually told a better story than the main game did

Haven’t played it, but if they have a meaningful story impact, then they’re not what I’m talking about. I’ve got my own issues with telling stories through audio logs or in-game encyclopedias, but that’s for different reasons. There is overlap though, like the way they mess up pacing.

Posted by Trylks

@grantheaslip: I completely agree wrt trophies and achievements, there is some line between work and play that some people seem to be crossing, if a game is addictive enough it can make some people to become workaholics, a good example is farming in WoW IMHO.

It's even worse than traditional workaholism because the progress these people make happens in a virtual world, they are sacrificing time in their lifes for something that isn't even real, in case of normal workaholism at least people progress on their careers and earn some money.

WRT stats, the problem is that I've found very often in the first starcraft that some people, let's say 3 people, would agree to play together, if you happen to be with two other random people chances are these three friends will obliterate the randomly generated team, no matter that one or two people in the random team are better players than the other three, they will lose. That's why stats suck. I think they have fixed this to some extent in modern times by choosing random players that have similar stats and so on, but I still have to see that to believe it.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@trylks said:

WRT stats, the problem is that I've found very often in the first starcraft that some people, let's say 3 people, would agree to play together, if you happen to be with two other random people chances are these three friends will obliterate the randomly generated team, no matter that one or two people in the random team are better players than the other three, they will lose. That's why stats suck. I think they have fixed this to some extent in modern times by choosing random players that have similar stats and so on, but I still have to see that to believe it.

If anything, better use of stats (at least on the backend) would help with that. The core reason people do that is that they like to win, and any solution has to take that as granted.

I’m not big on online multiplayer for that reason though — at a certain point, you’re often forced to start using strategies that win rather than strategies that are fun. If I were more competitive, I’m sure the satisfaction of getting better would make up for that.

Posted by elhav

sometimes Collectibles are about artificialy increasing replay value, when they have no real use ingame(Uncharted 2). The collectibles in Mass effect 3 actualy have some use, yet not actualy needed, giving you the illusion of depth. It fits either when it is done subtly (The glyphs in Journey, for example), or when it's completly lunatic like in donkey kong 64. It's hard to break old habits though :)

Edited by rentacop

Trophies really have changed the way I play games. I do enjoy trying to platinum games that require skill but hate the collectibles filler that's often required. It'd be so much better if games only had like 5 or 6 trophies that were all skill related.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

I too am one who looks in every nook and cranny looking for a game's collectibles and even though I want to ignore them I can't help myself and must go off the main path to see what's out there.