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The Short Memory of Game Design 123

Gamasutra has another piece in Ernest Adams' ongoing series Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie! This week he looks at the terrible long-term memory the game industry suffers from. Because of fast turnover within company ranks, games released by a single studio can consistently make the same bad design decisions over and over again. From the article: "Which is worse: A game that introduces its features sparsely but regularly, or one that gives them all to you at once and then never gives you another one? I would much rather play the former. Obviously this will vary somewhat by genre, but offering up a new twist every now and then will certainly help to keep the player's interest. Too many games turn into a boring grind in the last third or so, and the player has to slog through it if he wants to see the ending. We didn't get into this business to make boring grinds."
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The Short Memory of Game Design

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  • Water levels (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 10, 2006 @02:50PM (#15692868)
    If you dive down to a lower level and get out into the air down there... why doesn't that space just fill up with water?

    Perhaps that space has a higher air pressure than outside?
  • Honestly I was expecting way more from his because I have read some of his articles before and many times he seems on point. But here is a list of his credits for your perusal.

    Published Games

    RabbitJack's Casino for IBM PC (1989-91)
    Third Degree for CD-I Player (1992)
    John Madden Football for 3DO (1994)
    Bill Walsh College Football for Sega CD (1995)
    Madden NFL 97 for Sony Playstation, IBM PC, and Sega Saturn (1996)
    Madden NFL 98 for Sony Playstation and IBM PC (1997)
    Madden Football 64 for Nintendo 64 (1997)
    Madden NFL 99 for Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64, and IBM PC (1998)
    Michelle Kwan Figure Skating for IBM PC (1999)
    Madden NFL 2000 for Sony Playstation, Nintendo 64, and IBM PC (1999)

    Unpublished Games

    Takeover for IBM PC (1991)
    Dungeons & Dragons for the CD-I player (1991)
    Baseball '93 for IBM PC (1992)
    Wildfire! for IBM PC (1993)
    Baseball for Sega Genesis CD (1995)
    Psychic Warriors for IBM PC (1998)
    Genesis: The Hand of God for IBM PC (1999)
    Dungeon Keeper 3 for IBM PC (later retitled War for the Overworld) (2000)
    Theme "X" (2000)

    To me personally this credit list doesn't seem very impressive from design aspects. Perhaps he made a name for himself in the industry with his consulting work.
  • Re: catchup system (Score:4, Informative)

    by DocSavage64109 ( 799754 ) * on Monday July 10, 2006 @04:58PM (#15693769)
    City of Heroes and City of Villains have a system where either the higher level character can temporarily be a lower level or the lower level character can temporarily play as a higher level when teaming. It makes the game fun and playable for both the hardcore and the lite players in our guild.
  • by smbarbour ( 893880 ) on Monday July 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#15694093)
    I agree, I have some "friends" (in that online-only, don't-know-your-real-name sense) that I've power-levelled in a game who are now 20-30 levels higher than I am.

    Most games would have a great benefit from an experience-boosting effect for more casual gamers. Something along the lines of 5% per offline-day for 1 hour per offline-day (to a max of 5 offline-days - 25% bonus for 5 hours). Some people would think it is unfair, but the advantage is that "casuals" could try to keep up the pace with the "addicts", the disadvantage is that you don't have as much loot to show for your progress.

    I always have a great time when partied, but when I'm offline for extended periods of time, while they aren't, it becomes counter-productive for them to be in a party with me, and it becomes especially counter-productive for me in some games where the experience is distributed by level (with the higher level getting more due to the higher need for experience points) up to the point where all of the experience is going to everyone else in the party.
  • ### It's about time the issue of captioning is getting press. I'm hearing-impaired and captions are vital to me.

    Captions are also very important for non-native speakers, average school english might be enough when you have a non-accent english speaker, but as soon as a game adds some accent it gets a heck of a lot more difficult to follow, if the game has environmental sound or badly balanced volume for speech and other sounds it gets often impossible to decipher what people are saying. One game which solved the issue very well was Fahrenheit, it not offered subtitles, but allowed you to switch freely between all available languages independly for subtiles and audio, so if one wanted english audio with german subtiles, no problem, most other games often either only allow to set both subtiles and audio at once or even worse, only come with a single language to begin with, in days of the DVD thats really not excusable, there is more then enough diskspace available.

    Another benefit of subtiles is that they allow you to easily skip through dialog while still allowing you to know what the person would have said, this is especially nice when one ends up running into an already heard dialog again. Luckily most adventure games have allowed this, but many other genres still allow little freedom when it comes to skipping through cutscenes and dialog.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison