Thursday, July 5, 2012
Design VS Fun.
I was reading a forum topic about an H game the other day. In the topic, some of the players were complaining about the fact that the main character couldn't run.
The first thing that came to mind was that the player's movement was limited in order to complement the design. After all, there's a big difference between something like Castlevania, where you can't jump over most enemies, and Mario, where you have more freedom of movement but cant take as many hits. Hell, if you could just run and jump over everything in Castlevania like you could in Mario, you'd probably finish the game in a flash, and all it's subtle design considerations would be blown out of the water.
Of course, none of that really matters to a player when the first thing they think is "I want to run". Would they enjoy that H-game more if they could run, even though it would kill the design as intended by the developer?
This got me thinking about design in general, and how what I look for in a game has changed over the years. I used to like games where your character could do, for lack of a better word, "cool" things. Freedom of movement, fast paced combat, acrobatic moves, what I was looking for in a game wasn't sleek design or challenge, I just wanted to do things that seemed cool and fun to me. Anything that wasn't just going around and hitting stuff with a single attack, like Casltevania. As a kid, if you asked me if the original Castlevania would be better if you could run around doing flips in the air, attacking in multiple directions and doing multiple hit combos, I would have thought it would be way better.
Now, however, it's the opposite. Anytime I see something with more linear and refined design, it's like a breath of fresh air. I want every hit to count, I want every part of a level to be there for a reason, I want to have to think before I approach any obstacle. I'd play Castlevania Rondo Of Blood over something like Symphony of the night any day.
Yet, as a game developer I need to keep in mind that it's not all about super refined challenge-based design. Sometimes people just want to do fun stuff. Sure, in Mario you don't need to jump on a bunch of koopas in a row to get a 1-up, but you try anyway because it's fun and satisfying in and of itself. You throw a shell up in the air and then catch it again, hitting 3 enemies out of the air, even though they posed no threat, not because you had to in order to proceed, but because it was just fun.
It seems that achieving the perfect balance between what the player wants to do, and what you want them to do is the real challenge. Balancing the challenges players present themselves with and the obstacles you set before them, and making the means to overcome either fun and satisfying. I've yet to do something like that.
*Thinking out loud concluded*
Posted by Kyrieru at 5:45 PM