By Eelcire 12 Comments
In playing a game, more than likely you will eventually come across a side-mission or scripted event. This side-mission or event lies in wait until you, the player, trigger it.
Imagine this scenario: You are playing a game and have just been tasked to getting a herb located in the mountains or else the blacksmith in town who can craft your special weapons dies. So what do you do? Time to level grind for a bit during this side mission while the game sits and waits for you to return with the herb to continue the side-story. Several hours later (probably several days in game time) you return to the town with the herb, heal the blacksmith, and you get your special weapons.
What should happen? So you spend a few hours level grinding and return with the herb to heal the blacksmith. Only this time you spent too long in grinding, the blacksmith died, and no one else knows the secret for making your special weapons. All is not lost however! Prior to triggering the side-mission the game auto-saves and now you have two choices: lose all the level grinding you did, but get another chance to get the herb and save the blacksmith or keep going on with your higher levels, but losing out on finishing this particular side-mission.
Too often, games present challenges for the player that don't really punish indecisivness or taking too much time. Instead the game just sits there waiting for the player to finish before it continues. Imagine near the beginning of Bioshock, just after Jack injects himself with a plasmid for the first time. You use your newly aquired electrobolt to trigger the door and walk though; suddenly you see the plane that had sunk earlier crash into the corridor and the door you just walked though locks behind you. Glass is beginning to crack and leak and through the murky water you see a parallel corridor implode from the pressure of the sea.
These scripted events work to build a sense or urgency for the player, and for their part works well. However, as a player I could just sit in that corridor all day and the game will just wait until I have move into the next room. What should happen is that after a certain amount of time, the corridor you're passing though should finally give way and implode, whether you are still in it or not. Should you still be in the corridor when it does implode then it's game over, load up the previous check point or save.
Environmental interaction is another lost opportunity, though this may be due to budget restraints and hardware limitations. Bioshock again, this time in a room with large vaulted ceilings and huge windows showcasing the ocean floor below. As a player, you have a rocket launcher and continually fire it at the window. Eventually the glass should begin to crack and finally buckel under pressure and break, flooding the room.
It is understandable that not everything can implemented with this current generation of hardware, PCs included. However, I would like to see game development step more in this direction, where side-missions and scripted events have negative repercussions for not following though correctly. Games as a medium are about interaction, that is what sets them apart from other entertainment; and part of that interaction are the wrong choices the player may make. Think along the lines of the original Dragon's Lair: there are multiple outcomes in each room that face Dirk. Now add to that more direct player control; sure your could do many different things in this room, but not all things you do will let you leave alive.
Just wanting to see more negative repurcussions in player interactivity.
Take too long to finish a side-mission, you won't be able to finish it; blow a hole in the wall holding water in, you drown.