Saturday, November 9, 2013

The problem with obstacles

Even although freedom is some thing of a buzz words these days in games, most games wants to restrict the player somehow. This is especially accurate for different varieties of adventure games where the player have to be guided along a story path. In this blog post I will call these restrictions "obstacles" and will briefly talk about the numerous style issues connected with these.

Initial out I want to start off out with an instance of some obstacles from Penumbra. In Black Plague, soon after the player as managed to escape from his cell and get to the residential area, we wanted the player to search the area, locate notes and solve puzzles. In order to do so we require to halt the player's progress and this was carried out by a door needing biometric input in order to open. To do this the player must collect some body parts and these are in turn blocked by other obstacles that need to have to be overcome (one more locked door, corridor with gas, etc).

The large problem we have had when designing issues like this is to make the obstacles appear nicely placed, enjoyable and varied. Sadly it usually boils to having some kind of locked door. And as we all know, although fitting, locked doors are not that fascinating. If locked doors can not be used, what can? Beneath follows is a list of some various varieties of obstacles:
  • Object. This is issues like doors, bridges or other man made factors that are blocking the players path.
  • Environmental. There are obstacle that somehow limit the player movement and contain holes, rivers, fires,and so forth.
  • Character. This is usually noticed in old point and click games. Some character is blocking the players path and needs some thing to let the player through.
  • Enemy. A deadly creature of some sort that blocks the player path.
  • Motivation. The player character does not want to continue since of some private issue. Possibly the road up ahead is as well dark.
  • Hidden. The path that the player wants to take is not yet visible. For instance a portal that magically seems right after the some situation has been happy.
I think these fairly significantly sums up all of the obstacles that are found in games. Also note that sum of these overlap, for instance a robot guardian could be classified both as object or enemy.

For games like penumbra the game mechanic sets limit on what kind of obstacles that can be utilized. For instance characters did not operate because there exactly where no genuine dialog method. Other games might have other types of limits. In some games it may well not be a difficulty if the types of obstacles are not varied as it is component of the standard gameplay. In adventure games it is very crucial though, and only possessing one type of obstacles (like often facing locked doors), makes the game feel repetitive and boring.

Soon after releasing Penumbra Overture, we got some critique that the game contained as well a lot of open-locked-door obstacles and attempted tough to repair this for Black Plague. The very first point we set out to do was to the skip simple locked door obstacles and if a door was needed we tried to make it fascinating. In the example above we employed a lock that required human parts to be opened and even even though it was still a lock-and-essential variety of puzzles I consider folks considered it significantly a lot more exciting. The final game nonetheless contained obviously locked doors and we tried to limit this. However, we identified it extremely challenging and exactly where not completely pleased at the finish.

For Requiem we entirely skipped trying to come up with intriguing obstacles and as an alternative focused on puzzles. In Requiem a portal constantly had to opened utilizing some strange orbs in order to progress and this produced the rest of the gameplay a lot simpler to design. At the same time it was apparent this was not excellent for an adventure game and player responses showed this. By utilizing the same type of obstacle all through the complete game a lot of the adventure really feel was lost. This is especially correct, like in Requiem, when obstacles are not portion of the story either.

What are your thoughts on the obstacles in Penumbra? Know any game with actually very good or poor obstacles?

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