By vidiot 13 Comments
Gaming habits and bragging rights I don't think I'm going to finish Black Ops on veteran.
Perhaps another time, when I have a small break between games. Right now my main focus has been finishing up Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, Nier, and Sly 3, all of which I am taking my sweet time with. ( LBP2 is probably next on my gaming list.)
I slowly digest games, I can make an eight hour game become a week or more. I like this methodology and when I purchase games, I try to implore myself that I must take a long time to finish them.
I think in some-respect, that's one of the factors why achievements appeal to me. I like achievements that make me explore every nook-and-cranny in a game. Assassins Creed might have a bunch of misc junk you have to collect, but I'm exploring through area's, I wouldn't usually check out.
I remember playing the first Halo and having the ultimate bragging rights when a friend would stop by. We would boot-up the game, then check the level-select and show each level emblazoned with a Legendary difficulty logo. I probably didn't recognize it at the time, but such interaction is an extension from our primordial gaming roots.
The High-Score on an arcade machine, that general moment where we check something that someone able to accomplish. It's no surprise that social networking and the internet elevates such bragging rights in a very organic manner. There was this person on TV talking about how people "perform ourselves" on web sites that have open forums, which makes sense when you stop and think about it. For example, you might not believe this, but I do act very humble in real-life. Unlike here, I don't necessarily plaster my ego on readers faces, as if it was some palpable matter.
It just makes sense that achievements are so intertwined with social media/internet. We broadcast our bragging rights, in conjunction with our own self-indulged advertisement. I don't mean any of this with a negative connotation, just an observation about why achievements have worked so successfully from a player perspective.
Where it goes "wrong"? My major fault with achievements is when difficulty get's confused for monotony. Is beating Black Ops on veteran require skill? How do we come to a consensus that having "skill" in a singleplayer game means? During the first level of Black Ops while you are off trying to assassinate Castro, you are required to rappel down a cliff via a pre-scripted action.
I died ten times.
The problem comes from an enemy placement on the bottom of the cliff. Friendly NPC's come to your aid during this sequence near the bottom, but none of the allies in CoD games, or most shooters, really do anything. When you hit "X" to rappel, you are stuck in a canned animation, incapable of defending yourself. I tried valiantly to spot the single enemy who kept striking me down before getting to the bottom of the cliff, but could not spot him. On the eleventh try I rappelled, and this time the enemy didn't have time to immediately kill me out-right. Why? I have no idea.
It's times like this when I question difficulty achievements, when your increase in difficulty is akin to a roll of a dice, versus something more substantial. I get the feeling like I'm grinding because of some developers lack of foresight.
It's when the achievement, or trophy, butts-heads with your overall enjoyment of the game when I get turned-off. If the achievement alters my overall appreciation for a game. Did you notice that Black Ops has a return of the endless re-spawning enemies? On Veteran you will.
It's a difficult tight-rope to cross, because "difficulty" is a such debatable concept. For those of us who remember the original Nintendo-era, or farther, this conception of difficulty becomes far more complicated. Days forgotten trying to figure how to get through the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and getting myself destroyed day after day. These days we would look at such insanity as bad game design.
Gaming roots What's funny is that we put all our focus on talking about pushing new technology, design and new experiences: and yet so much has stayed the same.
A hail of gunfire is peppered around me. The noise of skimming bullet's play out like a crescendo of controlled anarchy, becoming louder as I make my way to the origin of the firefight. Woods stops and holds his ground while I advance, a flurry of bullets fly at my face...distorting my vision...
"YOU'RE GETTING SHOT UP!"
The million dollar budget for the production falters, a grenade bounces off of Woods and explodes, he shakes off the explosion of a grenade. Like Wolverine my previous shot-gun round to the cranium apparently is all but gone, and without a second thought I mow-down everything around me down.
No different from something akin to playing Metal Slug, or something even older. Something more archaic. The level comes to it's end, I obtain my "high-score" (achievement) and move on.
It's funny what has changed: How we now try and regulate the difficulty of what used to be "normal", to something optional.
What's stayed the same: How High-Scores have evolved into achievements.
Yet when it comes to presenting (<-Keyword there) the concept of damage, we haven't done anything new since gaming's inception.
Perhaps our use of health-pick ups allowed us to compartmentalize how much punishment a videogame character can take.
One can argue "It's just a game!!!", yet I think back at achievements and high-scores.
Sure, achievements are not perfect. Developers abuse what qualifies as achievements all the time.
Although what was a relatively dead concept from gaming's roots: The basic act of broadcasting and boasting your accomplishments, was revitalized to a more modern era. I don't think you can go farther than that in gaming when it comes to base concepts: The evidence of "winning".
Yet with all our technological muscle, we are still stuck in, at least what I personally feel: A very primitive way of presenting violence being inflicted on player characters.
The evidence of "losing". We don't play with cubed pixels as characters anymore, and the idea of a human being being shot a billion-times, breathing heavily and having all of his wounds simply "disappear" confuses me.
I don't have answers to "fix" this "problem".
Nor do I advocate if a solution would be found, that it should be applied in an absolute manner. Just something to think about.
A reminder that while the Halo's regenerative health mechanic works wonders, it made sense in the actual concept of the world of Halo. (Last time I checked, a modern solider doesn't have access to a futuristic regenerating shield.)
And perhaps more importantly: A reminder that even the most base concepts of gaming, can change in conjunction to the context of today.