Consistency of Play

| Thursday, October 20, 2011
Some people don't like that WoW starts off with success based on how you play. Then comes raiding, when your ability to play your class still matters, but progression is based on learning new dances, mostly meaning standing in particular places at particular times. They don't seem to think this is much fun.

They might be wrong. It could be that the problem is not the dancing, but raiding, that they as individuals have done it for too long. If they think the learning has shifted from class-based to dance-based, maybe they've just played that class for too long. Dancing may not be the problem at all.

I think they're right, though. I've found a similar pattern in other games. The core gameplay is one type, but some bits of content radically shift away from that.

Poor Rogues
Rogues may have it the worst. The sneaky types, maybe rogues, bandits, assassins, people who are supposed to be in shadows. For much of the game they can sneak. Much of the time they can stay hidden, strike for quick kills, and then vanish. Then come the bosses.

Bosses like to ignore stealth rules. They know where you are unless you're lucky and the devs specifically scripted the boss to be "dumb" and not always know where you are. Apparently not being omniscient makes you stupid. What all this means is that what your role is based on: quick damage from shadows, often with poor defense and health, is ruined. Rogues in WoW may have it the worst, but I have never run into a game that handles sneaking well when bosses are involved.

Minigames are stupid
I don't like minigames much. Maybe some here and there, as an idle distraction, but not much past that. I like to play the game I signed up for, not some gimmick that someone tacked on top of it.


If it is an RTS, I want base-building. I want to build buildings and units and if we're feeling really fancy, have upgrades and technologies. But the buildings and the units are essential. Given this, I don't like missions that give me a few units and tell me to navigate some strange maze of unusually well-planned and perfectly-timed traps. Does it require greater tactical skill to manage them perfectly with no economy giving room for error? Sure. But that doesn't make it more fun. Can you imagine a multi-player Starcraft game where everyone starts with a dozen random units are are told to duke it out? That might be cool, once or twice, but eventually it would get boring and annoying and we'd want our base-building maps back.

Economic management, so-called macro, is critical. Managing production and gathering, expanding well, getting units to where they need to be, these are critical to the gameplay, even before anyone has started shooting. It's like the American Civil War, in which big government accountants crushed the Confederacy, not through martial prowess, but through industrial might.

Splinter Cell
I like the sneaking aspect of the series. I like the finding paths through areas and better ways to kill everyone. I like when there are no bullets leaving enemy guns. Shadows and stealth.

The semi-recent one, Splinter Cell: Conviction is a fine game. I like some of the new mechanics and it was definitely worth whatever discounted price I paid for it. And at times it even gives a sneaky twist to the shootouts, with some shadows and enemies who remember last positions rather than just where I am always. But then there are the levels where I get dumped into a shootout. There is cover, but not much concealment, and of course since it is the middle of a fight, everyone has their flashlights out, so even if there was any space for hiding, I couldn't. These fights piss me off.

Let there be shadows! This doesn't mean that shootouts are bad by themselves. I've played FPS that were just constant bullets with barely any cover and they were fine. But those were what was consistent with the game. So within these games, it is often the sneaking levels that I enjoy less, and the vehicle fights even less than sneaking, such as the "we'll drive a truck and turn constantly so you can't aim, now shoot the tanks with perfect aim and hitscan shells" or the classic "enemy aircraft are coming, use this anti-aircraft gun with a painfully slow turn rate or we'll all die."

Last Bold Type
There is nothing wrong with a different play. Variety is nice. But when players expect, and are almost consistently given, one type of play, and then are randomly or unexpectedly pushed into a significantly different way of playing, that can be a major turn-off.


Bronte said...

HA! I never thought of that. All boss fights in WoW are like boss fights for a stealthy player in Deus Ex: Human Revolutions.

Pathak said...

Hells yes. Assassin Creed Brotherhood shat me to tears with the change in controls during the timed runs.

Post a Comment

Comments in posts older than 21 days will be moderated to prevent spam. Comments in posts younger than 21 days will be checked for ID.

Powered by Blogger.