Sunday, April 19, 2015

Including game mechanics you hate.

Some thoughts, while thinking about how certain game mechanics are going to work in Noaika,

One thing I often think about when it comes to game design, is to what degree you should base things around what you like yourself. In terms of H-content, I try to balance what fetishes I include despite being indifferent about some of them, but I never include anything that I hate. So what about game mechanics/elements I don't like?

For example,

1. Stealth sections with instant fail-states. (control is taken away via cutscene)
2. Games that force you to switch away from the main protagonist, or the one that you chose. (when the game follows someone else for a while)
3. Long games with alternate choices or routes, but not way to access them without replaying everything from the beginning.
4. Escort missions.
5. On-rail shooter sections.
6. Long stretches of walking from place to place in environments that used to contain something, but don't anymore.
7. Set pieces that are just time consuming. (giant ladders, long hallways)
8. Animations for mundane or repetitive tasks, that are long and drawn out. (Opening doors)

With some of these, not only do they annoy me, but in many cases they make the experience far worse. But the question is, as a developer, should I ever avoid certain game mechanics not because I think the concept is flawed, but because I don't like them?

In the case of Noaika, the game mechanic in question is whether or not I should include branching content. That is, stuff that you can only experience if you play the game more than once. Personally, I like being able to do everything in a single playthrough, and so it always annoys me when I play a game with decisions that will effect the game on a gameplay level later.

For example, say you're introduced to two characters, and you have to choose one to come with you. You choose the one you like, only to realize later that if you had chosen the other one, a character you like way more would have joined you, and you would have to play the game over again if you want to see it.

With Noaika, many times it's crossed my mind "I could make it so if you don't do this, or don't kill this monster by this time, it turns into this, or does that", simply because it would be interesting, and make the game a bit more dynamic. But at the same time I know that as a player I hate the constant feeling that I'm going to regret all of my actions later. Hell, with some games I end up checking a guide simply because I want to make sure that I'm not going to miss out on certain content by making a certain choice, since I only play through most games once.

I suppose the answer is to consider what I like about a mechanic and what I hate about it at the same time, and try to come up with an alternative (For example, the way visual novels let you skip ahead to choices). But I still find it interesting that you end up considering mechanics that sound good to you as a developer but not as a player -__-