Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Short and Sweet Intro

Every gamer knows the feeling. You’ve just bought that shiny new game. You start the game and what occupies your next hour, shiny graphics and fantastic gameplay? No, the long and tedious introduction, which is all you have to look forward to seeing. In many ways, it’s one of the things Final Fantasy has always done so well. The first five, ten, fifteen minutes were train heists, airship escapes, or some other high-octane event guaranteed to get your blood pumping. Nothing kills the new game high like spending the first hour of gameplay constantly interrupted by one tedious how-to after another. The majority of gamers don’t finish games, I am not saying the intro is entirely to blame, but developers put time and sweat into a product that most gamers never finish. It is imperative then what gamers do play, is as finely tuned as possible.

Unchained Blades is the perfect example of the problem. The game is complicated, there is no question; it has multiple systems and every few hours present another insanity roll in difficulty. First person dungeon crawlers belong to a niche genre in the first place, when a good one comes along, this is usually when you get gaming enthusiasts who don’t normally play the genre. Rather than stack ten or more different systems together, the smarter play would be to spread them out over a few hours. Give the gamer time to learn one system before pushing forth a new system. Unchained however, teaches you ten systems in half an hour. Even if the gamer remembered them all, it’s like cramming for a final exam the day before the test, pointless. Add this to a game already difficult for a newcomer, a past time where the majority of participants don’t finish the finished products, staggered levels of increasing insane difficulty levels, and what you have is a disaster in the making.

A great game should always be finished, that the truly great games aren’t, is a tragedy. It’s not enough to make something great, it needs to be consumed to its full extent. A great concerto never listened to, the perfect meal never tasted; what a waste it would be for them to be thrown in the trash untouched. What is more, a great game never finished prevents the gamer from fully enjoying the work, and lowers the chance that a gamer is a repeat buyer. A developer’s job isn’t finished with a well-made game that sells a million copies, a developers job is done when every gamer sees ‘The End’.

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