Portable Gaming, and What It Thought Me About Structure

MOAR STRUCTURE MUN!

Been playing lots on my Vita lately. Most recently Monster Hunter Freedom Unite and MGS Peace Walker. Both these games are structured precisely for the piecemeal type of gaming so well suited for your average morning commute. I enjoy such clear structure a lot.

Then it hit me. Why would only games tailored for portable consumption be created with enough thought put into structure to make them more palatable? Hell - Monster Hunter Freedom Unite offers content for hundreds, if not thousands of hours, yet it never asks for more than 50 minutes of my time at a time.

Most games just go on and on, never ever letting up. Like books with too long chapters. Personally - I find writers like Stephen King much more palatable, because his style offers lots of natural breaks, what I call subchapters. Easy points to put his books down, and pick 'em back up again. That's what pretty much all games are sorely missing (except of course for the aforementioned portable kind of games).

Every game should have as much thought put into structure and pacing, as designers tend to do, when they create portable gaming experiences. Lots of real breaks. Easy points of exit and entry. Making games more inviting and palatable. A great example is Alan Wake, with its hard breaks between chapters. Playing music and credits and all that jazz. Ironically - I remember finding the chapters in Alan Wake altogether too lengthy.

I want subchapters! Put them in every eligible game! Thanks for listening. And here an example of a nice hard break for a real big game.

3 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by believer258

Eh, I've found checkpoints and manual saves good enough. Chapter breaks have mostly been pretty meaningless to me.

This isn't necessarily directed toward you, but isn't it a bad thing when our culture's attention span is so short that fifty minutes is considered a long time to concentrate on one thing?

Edited by Seppli

@believer258 said:

Eh, I've found checkpoints and manual saves good enough. Chapter breaks have mostly been pretty meaningless to me.

This isn't necessarily directed toward you, but isn't it a bad thing when our culture's attention span is so short that fifty minutes is considered a long time to concentrate on one thing?

Anything past an hour without a break is considered *bad* for you, these days. Regardless of what you do, breaks are encouraged, lest your performance will suffer. Learning how to take an efficient break is *Savoir-Vivre* - a real life skill. It's harder than you'd think.

If you consider taking a break as doing nothing and being lazy, you're wrong. It's actively doing nothing, and it's the opposite of being lazy. It's ensuring high performance.

Posted by Pezen

I really liked Alan Wake's chapter design. And though I never found them too long, I can emphasize with the notion of getting sub chapter type breaking points in a story. Because there's a real difference between a naturally designed sub end point than you sitting there going "I just need to find a place to save". Because the latter has you playing probably longer than you need to only to quit, and at that point you're not really focused on the game anyway.

That's a big reason why I never really clicked with a lot of portable games, they just mimic console sized games too much to the point where I just don't feel compelled to play them and have as a result migrated to iOS for my portable gaming as those games are designed to be played in a much shorter time span. Which is also probably why Street Fighter Alpha 2 was constantly in my PSP above any other title, it just fit the "pick up for a few minutes" sort of play.

However, I don't think console games with such breaks would keep me from actually playing for too long in a stretch anyway, because I tend to be pretty bad at taking breaks. Unless it's breaks from something that's boring.