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Should Games Help You Out More?


DJ Sack
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What i mean by that is should game characters help you out with intereacting due to controllers being a bit of a handicap.

For example, when you jump, the character should try their hardest to grab onto the ledge, instead if just hitting the wall and plumetting to their death. If they see enemys they should aim and shoot and always follow them. Or when you weapon runs out of ammo change to a different weapon, or when fighting to actually hit the characters instead of doing a punch punch kick combo in mid air 5 foot away from the enemy.

Its just when playing games if it was me id react to things differently but games dont allow me to do it due to the controls or just refusing, such as if there is a small fire blocking your way, legging it through it, instead of walking up to it and getting hurt.

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But surely such automatic behaviours would result in one feeling detached from the game?

The examples you cite are all different examples of gaming ailments. Automatic lock-ons can be good in certain types of games, but in a standard FPS your basic game premise has been negated. Changing weapons when out of ammo is fairly standard in games now I would have thought. And in the combat scenario, again I'd grumble that it is your responsibility for the character's actions. The character shouldn't have common sense because they shouldn't be a "character" at all - merely the avatar for your own actions.

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But surely such automatic behaviours would result in one feeling detached from the game?

The examples you cite are all different examples of gaming ailments. Automatic lock-ons can be good in certain types of games, but in a standard FPS your basic game premise has been negated. Changing weapons when out of ammo is fairly standard in games now I would have thought. And in the combat scenario, again I'd grumble that it is your responsibility for the character's actions. The character shouldn't have common sense because they shouldn't be a "character" at all - merely the avatar for your own actions.

Exactly what I said.

But longer. And with fancy words.

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Well the way i feel is that say a fps for example, you wouldnt go along shooting at the floor trying to aim, your body would natrually target someone, not perfectly, but it'll be in their general direction. Yet a game allows you to aim everywhere and you have no where near as much control using twin sticks as you do your own arms.

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Well the way i feel is that say a fps for example, you wouldnt go along shooting at the floor trying to aim, your body would natrually target someone, not perfectly, but it'll be in their general direction. Yet a game allows you to aim everywhere and you have no where near as much control using twin sticks as you do your own arms.

But the reason you'd be aiming at someone in real life is because you are instructing yourself to aim at somebody. Encompassing your idea into an FPS would shift the genre completely to either an on-rails shooter, or.. or a film. Controls systems are made as intuitive as possible, and nothing can be done beyond this. Any further help is taking control out of the players hands, for better or worse I guess. You just need to fit a game, an enjoyable experience, around the necessary restrictions of freedom.

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Another example is games characters who just run at walls, and just keep running, or even worse maze like sections where you often get stuck, maybe they should have a bit more emotion and thought and actually try and avoid running into a wall, as no one would ever do that, as mentioned before as well, if there is a platform and they dont grab on.

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It would be a case of how much help is given and when it's implemented. Zelda OOT came out and there were a few raised eyebrows at the auto jump feature. Did it ruin the gameplay? No of course not, it enhanced it allowing the player to concentrate on other aspects as did the enemy lock on feature which is now used in many games including Metroid Prime which could be classed as a FPS, did the character aiming for you spoil the game? No, you just break the lock if you aren't happy with the aim.

Another example is games characters who just run at walls, and just keep running, or even worse maze like sections where you often get stuck

Could this be down to bad programming rather than the character? It's down to the designer come up with new ideas that will push gaming into new genres and gameworlds, maybe giving the player a helping hand could do that. Isn't the rewind feature in PoP a crutch to lean on? The slow mo element combined with lock on, zoom, dodge etc in Viewtiful Joe certainly makes life easier, exciting and crucially, original.

If some of the mundane activities in gaming can be aided by the character then why not? It leaves the player with more time to explore/jump/fight/ etc and might give the designer new avenues of fun to discover.

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I think it definitely depends on the game you're playing - an FPS, for example, would be a bit crap if it gave you generous auto-aiming and platformer would be a bit arse if it did all teh jumping for you.

Actually, scrath that - it doesn't matter what the game is, I think it's even more fundamental than that. I think it depends on what the main theme of the game is - like Tomb Raider and ICO, which were primarily about exploration and puzzle-solving, both games had combat but only in simlified form with aiming assist in Tomb Raider. Zelda 64 was also about exploration, but could easily have turned into a platformer had the game not jumped for you. Mario, on the other hand, is all about jumping, and doesn't give you any help, it's all about you.

Also, a game should strive to not ask of the player that which the interface does not allow, or in cases where this is unavoidable offer generous assistance.

The main aspects of gameplay should be accentuated (for example, the combat of Halo or Zelda 64, the platforing of Mario, etc.) while supplimentary gameplay elements which are less developed (the combat of ICO, etc.) shouldn't be over-exposed - the combat of GTA 3 was far too basic to be a main element of gameplay.

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Good post, Popo. It's often lamented when games try to shoehorn multiple genres in - so you'll have the token racing bit, fighting bit etc. It's usually to the game's favour however when a key gaming principle is accentuated throughout, and developed more than lesser elements. Like you said, really.

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Only if the gameplay isn't hampered. PoP does it well by doing what you are trying to do for you, for example the Prince never runs into a chest high wall indefinitely, but rather will climb it for you. He'll always grab ledges too.

But if Mario were to do that, I'd destroy Nintendo's offices. The best levels in Mario have always been about pixel-perfect timing, for me. I'd rather not lose that.

In another aspect, games should definitely help you see more of the game. If you're having difficulties, there should always be in-built tips. Of course, this'll damage the User Guide market, but GameFaqs already does that.

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I'd like to keep the control as much as possible with the player, but I'd prefer a hints/tips or skip function for particularly tricky bits. A game can 'sense' when you're re-attempting the same thing OVER and OVER again, and should make it easier for you by providing a tip or maybe even the option to skip it. Something I really liked about Chip's Challenge.

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This is probably what got to me about Ico the most. Yorda is totally useless. She doesn't do anything, she's entirely dependent on you. If she could do more, it'd be a bit better, but as it is, she's utterly pathetic and a dead weight.

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Only if the gameplay isn't hampered. PoP does it well by doing what you are trying to do for you, for example the Prince never runs into a chest high wall indefinitely, but rather will climb it for you. He'll always grab ledges too.

But if Mario were to do that, I'd destroy Nintendo's offices. The best levels in Mario have always been about pixel-perfect timing, for me. I'd rather not lose that.

I don't think introducing "try and grab the ledge" would change much to be honest. If Mario did attempt to grab the ledge when he was falling a bit short, it would invariably mean that the "difficult jumps" would be made slightly longer, or the area you had to aim for would be slightly smaller, to compensate.

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it varies from game to game, ico for example would have greatly benefited since it should have been about solving the puzzle, but the executing was sometimes harder. on the other hand this approach would have ruined super monkey ball.

i guess a sign of a good game is one that doesn't need this.

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Adding more 'helping out' features could be interestingly used in a few one off titles, but it shouldn't be a staple. The more control you take from the player, the more frustrated they get with failures that they deem not to be their fault. Obviously it's useful for games where you control multiple units though, as Pikmin so brilliantly shows.

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.::: I think it also matters how a player is limited in it's freedom. Prince of Persia has a very limited set of actions, yet every room in the game clearly communicates how problems can be overcome in accordance with your skills.

It becomes annoying when you can jump, climb and such and simply cannot move past a chest-high fence because you do not have a key for it's door.

Now if the fence was a solid wall and it's door wouldn't have been made from a thin wafer of wood, you wouldn't have a problem with your game.

But as soon as the obstacle shows 'cracks' allowing other ideas to overcome it, the character needs those 'help'-actions in order for the game not to become frustrating or illogical.

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it varies from game to game, ico for example would have greatly benefited since it should have been about solving the puzzle, but the executing was sometimes harder. on the other hand this approach would have ruined super monkey ball.

i guess a sign of a good game is one that doesn't need this.

Ico DOES have a help-system. When you're stuck, Yorda points the way to the solution with her finger. That's how I could eventually crack the seemingly-impossible waterwheel thing.

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I never noticed that before. Just now I spent a good hour on the massive room with the gap in the middle. The last time I played it, a good year and a half ago, I got that far but gave up. Now I have the game again, I stuck at it and eventually worked out what to do.

Could have been quicker if Yorda had been more obvious.

Still, nice touch, that.

As for Mario, he's not an athlete. He's a great jumper but his chubby little arms should remain incapable of anything other than carrying shells and shooting fireballs.

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When you're stuck, Yorda points the way to the solution with her finger.

I don't think I ever noticed that. Brilliant. Another reason to revisit it sometime.

I remember the waterwheel puzzle, but not very well. I find it so difficulty to remember exact puzzles and solutions in games. Do other people find this? It's so irritating when someone asks if I've completed something then want specifics on the individual bit they are stuck on and I can't help them.

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Tricky subject.

When you're stuck:

I'd have preferred PoP's visions to be available when you revisited the save point, rather than played by default, to leave some room for exploration. (Yes - I ended up hitting the skip button - but the help text which *explained some of the controls* whilst also giving away the first 3rd of the game's secrets was unfortunate).

And Metroid Prime's "Solution" system was perhaps taking the "guide" the player principle a bit far.

The sense of achievement isn't as great when you know precisely what to do, and how to do it.

But then - in games like PoP or MP or Zelda, why should it matter how *precisely* you do something? It's all about having the vision (sorry) to think of the solution and then do it which leads us nicely to...

Play mechanics:

Nowhere near enough words have been spent extolling PoP's block pushing - You walk against the block, hit action, move it in any direction you want, at speed.... None of this rubbish "But it wouldn't be done like that in the real world...". Puzzle gets solved. Player walks away happy.

All games should be like this...

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It's okay, I can't remember the solution anyway (of course).

Oh! Actually *spoiler(ish)* If I remember correctly, it's one of those puzzles you think 'that can't be how I'm supposed to do this' then end up realising that was the right way after two hours trying far less likely methods

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It definitely varies from game to game. The trick is giving you enough help without making the game seem boring. In fact some of the best tricks like this are optional - so that they can be turned off by the player who wants to be challenged. For instance autoaim which can be turned on or off, and so on.

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