Sunday, April 13, 2008

Question time!

So thinking about rogue-likes made me wonder about this.

So Joe has said when a player checks a walkthrough to breeze through a challenge they didn't want to do it's probably a result of bad game design.

And as far as I can see in order to be a really competitive high quality nethack player (and other games as well, lots of rogue-likes, Kingdom of Loathing, other looser defined examples I'll mention at the end of this statement) you have to draw on the collected experiences and discoveries of lots of other nethack players. And if you are that high-quality of player, they'll of course be drawing on yours as well. There's a similar phenomenon I believe in games like Zack and Wiki, or Professor Layton, where you ought not NEED the help of other players, but you're probably in the same room as friends while playing, and it just makes the game a lot more fun (which games should be, thank you John Kovalic, you can stop repeating that) and uses different skills (socializing and sharing ideas with other people versus hacking your way though alone), and using different skills is a good thing for games.

So what makes those things good and running off to gamefaqs wrong (no matter whether it's because the designer made a mistake or the player is making one)? Sure, there's much more of a reciprocal thing going on the "good" examples, except even walkthroughs get expanded as readers volunteer their own information that they've spaded out.


Joe said...

I think you misunderstood me a little. I'm saying that when a player checks a walkthrough and can use it successfully immediately, it's bad game design. The problem is not that the player wanted a walkthrough, but that the information was immediately useful.

I'm stuck on the Credo boss fight in Devil May Cry 4, despite reading a walkthrough and asking friends about it. I know the basic strategy but I'm not skilled enough at the game to implement. I *wrote* the walkthrough for Senko no Ronde on GameFAQs, and read a ton of English and Japanese strategy advice, but I'm still relatively horrible at the game, even if I can explain dash cancelling.

The problem is the kind of skill-less game design that makes the moment-to-moment gameplay into just token-trading, and rewards you equally well regardless of how you solve it, which is orthogonal to the issue of making sure your content is appropriately challenging without being frustrating.

The only games I'm willing to give a pass on this are traditional adventure games where the skill itself is to figure out the right combination of token-trading - unlike e.g. World of Warcraft, where the token-trading is merely a means to an end, viz, a new level or a +1 sword.

Amelia said...

Well, that's why I left the "probably" there :P As a catchall for the things you didn't mean :P

Anyway, I think the problem of a player wanting a walkthrough is equally bad design. In lots of genres of games if there isn't enough information to guide players through a given challenge, well, there should be for all the the densest players. And if that information does exist game, then it should be interesting enough to pursue that hunting for it in-game is preferable to hunting for a walkthrough.

Ahh...traditional adventure games. I think my next post will be an Ode to/Defense of adventure games.