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'Losing For The Win' In Games

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the ftw-as-it-were dept.

Games 159

simoniker writes "Designer Ben Schneider (Empire Earth, EyeToy: AntiGrav, Titan Quest) has written a new article exploring the possibility of enticing your players through the power of defeat. From the piece: 'Some of the most memorable moments in games depend heavily on reversals to kick their dramatic arcs forward, from Planetfall to Fable to Beyond Good & Evil to Deus Ex. And yet, as an industry, we clearly have a lot to learn — and a lot to invent. So, then, how do you draw a clear line between player failure and dramatic reversal? It is a question well worth pondering.' In other words, if the game forces the player to get his ass kicked, can the player ever forgive it, or is it the key to some really interesting moments when used in a positive way?"

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159 comments

FTW (3, Funny)

Skadet (528657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030616)

hara kiri for the win!

Re:FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031444)

FTW indeed. Hara is pretty hot.

uhh (1)

President_Camacho (1063384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030630)

Designer Ben Schneider (Empire Earth, EyeToy: AntiGrav, Titan Quest) has written a new article exploring the possibility of enticing your players through the power of defeat.

This guy needs to play Ninja Gaiden. 1.

Re:uhh (2, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030814)

This guy needs to play Ninja Gaiden. 1.
Or Megaman 1 Dr Wiley stage. You bring up an excellent point. In the golden era of video games, it was perfectly fine to make stuff near impossible to complete. Now with so many different games to play, people get sickened if stuff is too tough.

(Aside)That's why I like the leveling concept. If you make a game that's actiony, but make it so bosses and higher levels are incredibly tough, you can always add a leveling concept to the game. Super skilled players will have the fight of their life trying to beat the game in under a certain time. Average players will go back and repeat earlier quests to power up their character. Not many games do this. Only ones off the top of my head are Castlevania:Symphony of the night and River City Ransom. I'm a big fan of action games where you can level your dude too.

Re:uhh (3, Informative)

President_Camacho (1063384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030856)

I'm a big fan of action games where you can level your dude too.

Then you should check out Crackdown [xbox.com] , which comes out next week. The demo is crazy fun.

Re:uhh (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031186)

In the golden era of video games, it was perfectly fine to make stuff near impossible to complete. Now with so many different games to play, people get sickened if stuff is too tough.

I don't think it's the number of games, although it is a side effect thereof. It's because we now realize that there are other ways to make games fun and hard besides making parts of them impossible. Also games can be a lot longer now. Sure, there were games that lasted a long time in the past - but only because you could play a hundred levels of them or what have you.

Also, games were previously like that because of the legacy of arcade games. You made them have very hard points in them so they would eat the quarters of the game addicts. But now we play console games and we want a game that will more consistently be fun. The arcade was about being a badass. The home console thing (aside from network play) is about having fun. I think this is the real reason - they've simply figured that out.

Re:uhh (3, Interesting)

twosmokes (704364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033464)

Arcade games are hard so you'll plunk in more quarters.

Home games are easy so you'll beat it and buy another one.

Re:uhh (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031426)

RTFA. The guy mentions Ninja Gaiden 1.

Re:uhh (1)

harborpirate (267124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034070)

Exactly. Specifically, its in this passage:

"The earliest, simplest method of creating dramatic setbacks in games would be the cut-scene ex machina. One of my earliest memories of this venerable technique is in short clips between levels in the very first Ninja Gaiden, but the same effective ploy can be found in the likes of Diablo II, not a few Final Fantasies, and to wonderful effect in Grim Fandango. It's safe. You are not likely to think you failed in a scene you had zero control over, especially as they tend to take the form of rewards for completing a section of the game."

The author further argues that with less and less narrative taking place out-of-game (cutscenes), that game developers need to develop better ways of integrating dramatic setbacks directly into gameplay in a way the directly conveys that the setback was unavoidable.

Depends (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030644)

1. On whether you learn from your mistakes and enjoy learning that way.

2. On whether that portion of gameplay is well depicted with interesting consequences.

I learned a lot from crashing in flight sim games, for example...

Re:Depends (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034076)

1. On whether you learn from your mistakes and enjoy learning that way.
There are a few songs in DDR that I can't complete after trying each 100 times. My breathing apparatus fails 45 seconds into each. What can I learn from that?

Re:Depends (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035606)

Go see a doctor?

Metroid has a battle at the start (2, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030706)

Super Metroid: You either lose fast to Ridley, or you're super good and he doesn't kill you and he flys away. Either way he flys away.

Sam and Max hit the road(original for 386). If you ride the Cone of Tradjedy, you lose all your items. My friend loaded up a saved game after he rode it, and he couldn't complete the game anymore. I come over his house and ride the Cone of Tradjedy because he says not to ride it, and then I collect all his items at the lost and found.

I think loses and setbacks are ok in games. I mean if you can't lose, its not a game really is it?

Bad past experiences can mold the gamer (5, Insightful)

Kawolski (939414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031360)

Sounds like your Sam & Max playing friend played one too many early Sierra adventure games, especially ones where one stupid mistake will make it IMPOSSIBLE to finish the game and to pour salt on the wound, there's no "game over" when you do it. Typing "give [item] to [person]" usually resulted in the person saying "Hey, thanks a lot! But now you'll NEVER get it back!" If you gave away or forgot to pick up a plot critical item, you're screwed, and you probably wouldn't know it until several hours and saves later when you reached a critical point in the game and you have to use that item. Because you can't go back and get the item, you got stuck and continue under any circumstances and the only solution was to go back to an old save.

Poor game design elements such as this can sour the player on future games where any sort of loss or setback is considered to be the same as "game over."

Re:Bad past experiences can mold the gamer (1)

traindirector (1001483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033976)

Typing "give [item] to [person]" usually resulted in the person saying "Hey, thanks a lot! But now you'll NEVER get it back!"

Could you give an example of this in a specific parser-based Sierra adventure game? I played quite a few of them and never ran into this problem. I'm asking out of curiosity, not as a challenge. I worried while playing them about doing something like this, but it never happened to me. Of course, I wasn't actively trying to make it impossible to finish the game.

I did, on the other hand, get a fair share of "You tried something we didn't think of" errors, but at least those didn't let you wander around aimlessly without any chance of progressing - although punishing player creativity may be just as bad.

Re:Bad past experiences can mold the gamer (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035780)

I can't do a Sierra Example, (oh, wait, I can. Leisure Suit Larry: Looking for Love in all the wrong places) but I did manage to do this in "The Dig" (and it's supposedly impossible for this to happen) But I got it truly stuck. A crystal that you have to use to lure out a thieving critter ended up getting used in the control panel just a bit before it's time, and once it's in there, you can't get it back. I read the walkthrough, found the screwup, and reported it to LucasArts. I got a free t-shirt from them.

Re:Bad past experiences can mold the gamer (1)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035828)

I seem to recall that Leisure Suit Larry 1 did this. And it's not like it was the only Sierra game where you could easily get the game into an unwinnable state. I remember that Space Quest 1 had a particularly obnoxious example. A guy would come along early in the game and offer to trade you something for one of your items. If you said yes the first time, you wouldn't get the jetpack, so you could complete the game all the way to the end when you'd suddenly need the jetpack to solve the last puzzle. Of course, you'd have no idea that you missed it way back in the beginning, so you'd probably have to ask someone for the solution, then play the whole game again, making sure you get the jetpack. But don't refuse to trade him twice, or you don't get diddly squat and lose anyway. I always thought this was a particularly stupid, unfair puzzle.

Re:Bad past experiences can mold the gamer (1)

LocoMan (744414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037034)

I do remember that in king's quest 4 you had to save an ants colony from a dog that was digging, and later a bee colony from a bear that was trying to get their honey. You had two items you could throw at the dog, an old shoe or a fish, either of them would hit the dog and make it run away, but the bear only left the bees alone if you threw him the fish, so if you used the fish at the dog instead of the shoe, it would be impossible to finish the game since later in the game both the ants and the bees helped you continue.

Re:Bad past experiences can mold the gamer (1)

LocoMan (744414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037044)

eeer.. make that king's quest 5... king's quest 4 was the one with Rosella as the main character (that one also had quite a few times where you could get stuck too if you hadn't picked everything you needed before going to the main baddie's castle).

Re:Bad past experiences can mold the gamer (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035958)

It's worth noting that many early Adventure games are like this, even those from Lucas Films Games (or whatver they used to be called).

How about TIE Fighter? (1)

Rimbo (139781) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032686)

Remember TIE Fighter, when you get to go clear a minefield in an unshielded craft... and then your wingmen turn on you? And you while you run for your life, you have to also identify who's on board that shuttle heading towards the Calamari Cruiser?

If you played it, you remember it. And it might even be one of your favorite gaming moments of all time.

I can think of a couple of other great dramatic reversals:

Ultima VI, when you realize that the Gargoyles aren't evil, but are after you because you're destroying their world.

Starflight, when you realize why stars are going nova.

damn (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030710)

Planetfall

I still get misty-eyed over Floyd.

Re:damn (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031804)

indeed. Found a copy of Planetfall floating around on an old hard drive just the other day -- should give it a go again, see if I can remember the way through. :)

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034618)

I remember sitting at the Apple //e, crying my little 11 year-old heart out.

chrono trigger (1)

Drantin (569921) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030714)

What, like in Chrono Trigger where you had to let Crono die?

Re:chrono trigger (1)

shadowcabbit (466253) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030954)

Technically, that's a bad example because in New Game+ playthroughs, it's possible to win that battle and end the game early.

I personally think the dramatic reversal is overused in games. "I've just had my ass kicked by the player, but little does he suspect that that was only my shadow/I haven't used my trump card/I'm going to kick his ass anyway."

Re:chrono trigger (1)

Frumply (999178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031350)

"I've just had my ass kicked by the player, but little does he suspect that that was only my shadow/I haven't used my trump card/I'm going to kick his ass anyway." But all the fanboys bitch and whine over an incomplete game if that doesn't happen, as was shown with all the people who believed there HAD to be some way to revive Aeris in Final Fantasy VII.

Re:chrono trigger (1)

Darkinspiration (901976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034438)

Hey, don't diss aeris, She was my best chara, I gave her the best weapons mony could buy, the best armor, the best materia. I was so mad when she got murdered that i killed sephiroth with the godamed nail bat, NAIL BAT. I hope to god he felt every nail....

Re: chrono trigger, character demise (1)

mr_popo418 (1064844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034612)

takes me back to final fantasy 4: while the script is admittadly sophomorish, your friends drop off left and right and the final battle is unwinnable without the 'crystal' item. it adds dramatic impact.

Re: chrono trigger, character demise (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034926)

Yeah but then they all come back in the end. It was pretty corny.

Re: chrono trigger, character demise (1)

mr_popo418 (1064844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035364)

sophomorish, i know. a few of them actually stay dead.

Re:chrono trigger (1)

ifrag (984323) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037056)

At least when Yuffie steals all your Materia you CAN get it back. That part pissed me off like crazy.

Re:chrono trigger (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037366)

Oh, I totally agree. Or how about this little cliche: "My mission is to collect X number of doodads, held by various powerful monsters/gods/etc and install them in a temple/machine/other plot device to prevent an all powerful monster that cannot be destroyed by anything on this earth from coming into creation. Even though I did everything right, and the entire game everyone has been saying the world will end after this guy comes into creation, the guy is born anyway (insert contrived plot element here) and I have to fight him as a super end boss. Only it turns out he's actually been totally hyped up, since one dude with some skillz can kill him afterall."

For more examples of this plot, see...about 50% of all games made for any platform. Just once I'd like to race to that temple and just seal a gate like I'd been excited about doing the whole game, ending the game there. Sure, I know that goes against the "every game needs a giant endboss" aspect of gaming...but when I spend 25 hours collecting a bunch of crystals to seal some gate and then get a "just kidding! those crystals don't work!" the game makes me feel like the entire beginning was kind of a waste of time.

final fantasy 3/6 (1)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035158)

what about getting general leo back? did anyone figure out that secret? ;-)

what good is a game if it doesn't try to toy with your emotions by developing a character and then killing them?

Re:final fantasy 3/6 (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036442)

It's a cheap way to make someone think something was 'good', I realised I usually think of a movie as a 'good' one if someone dies even though I don't want them to. Not played so many games where a similar thing happens, though I remember being pissed at Deus Ex for not being able to win some fights (though I think my brother said it's possible to win them, he played that game a lot, and didn't use 'realistic' hardness the first few times, maybe not at all)

FreeSpace II (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030798)

I remember a old game called FreeSpace 2, a many of time you would lose a to a over powered mothership, but you would come back later with a squad of ships and kick some ass! i always loved being in the moment trying to servive the battle, and find out i was ment to lose, i love that feeling, they should use it more, (The FPS Games should do this alot)

Re:FreeSpace II (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030868)

The FPS Games should do this alot

Like when you say no to the man in the suit at the end of Half Life. That was fun.

Re:FreeSpace II (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030926)

no i would say more like the panic feeling you get when you are trying to win. then comming back with a bigger force and making them panic!

Re:FreeSpace II (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031042)

That doesn't move the story forward at all, though. Probably a better example from the same game is when you get captured by the marines, lose all your gear, and get thrown in a trash compacter.

Re:FreeSpace II (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031194)

add more depth tho, there was a whole thing behide this

Re:FreeSpace II (3, Interesting)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032230)

If you're going to use Half-Life as an example, I don't think the "end choice" is much of a parallel.

I mean, whether you go out the tram ("yes" to G-Man's proposal) or say put ("no") is only a slight difference in the final cutscene. Saying yes only gets you to the credits sooner; saying no gives you “a situation you cannot possibly win” and also goes to credits. It's the same thing, just two different flavors.

I still think it's in there... let's see... [/me rummages about]

Here it is; at the end of the chapter, Apprehension, the final "scene" pits you against a room full of cloaked assasin-like chicks. The only logical way to proceed is through the large loading-dock doors (...opened by a lever on the top platform; a deadly path unless you get the assassins first.)

As you proceed to the last logical doorway, you see a first-aid station on the far wall. The player has made it through some terribly punishing challenges and is likely thinking, "Oh, yes! I get health now!" (I know I did!)

Walking straight towards it, the lights go out, there's some sounds of a struggle, then the chuckling comments of a clever pair of enemy Marines. You're caught ...and it's an essential part of the story.

Remembering when I played this the first time, it looked like that was it. Game over, you get pummeled. I kept thinking to myself, "What did I do wrong? How do I avoid this after restoring my last savegame?"

Watching in anticipation of the final credits, I realized that I was still playing! The James-Bond-diabolical-slow-death garbage compactor was a puzzle you had only 30 seconds to solve. It was exhilirating! I felt like I'd been given another chance.

In a nutshell, I loved it. It felt like the game had started anew. Brilliant!

Now the question is, how to apply this experience to other games without looking like a knock-off of Half-Life?

Re:FreeSpace II (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033434)

Thats the best way to explain what i was looking for! i love games like that

Re:FreeSpace II (1)

redneckblues (1045788) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034560)

In Hitman: Blood Money, at the end, you are supposedly dead. But then, you hear 47's heart beating, and if you happen to move the sticks around, you can revive yourself and kill everyone. It was a nice touch.

MOHPA + FEAR (1)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036262)

(The FPS Games should do this alot)

It would've been nice to know that was the intention in the first scene in MOHPA - you do a beachhead assault, get to the beach and are hiding under a bridge, and no matter what you do, a grenade frags your ass. This is, I think, the first in the MOH series that used that tactic, so I wasn't expecting it and got a little pissed that the grenade was unavoidable.
It was better done in FEAR when the main badass thumped you round the head in the opening mission - shame the end of the game sucked.

Flood. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18030898)

The most evil end sequence ever.

Playing for the Lottery (1)

Rethcir (680121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031016)

This reminds me of sports drafts. For example, the Celtics are vying for the worst record in the NBA this year, and if they get it I'll be glad because they will have a high chance of getting the #1 draft pick. So it's just as fun to watch them toil and lose games.

Re:Playing for the Lottery (1)

GammaKitsune (826576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034652)

I'm afraid I never learned any jock. Can anyone parse this for me?

In Soviet Russia (1)

Vacardo (1048640) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031048)

Game Wins You!

This seems to be common in RPGs (4, Funny)

llevity (776014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031258)

There's always the indefeatable boss that you're supposed to lose to. But hey, surprise, instead of a game over screen, your hero is knocked unconcious and the game goes on.

I really hate those. I end up using all my consumables trying to stay alive and win, only to be meant to lose, and end up wasting all my potions.

Of course, the other side of this is when I suspect this is the token unbeatable boss, I don't waste any potions, and just lose on purpose -- oops, game over. I guess this wasn't the token unbeatable boss.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031518)

Don't worry... Usually the undefeatable boss is one you have to defeat in battle but lose to in the cut scene following that battle, regardless of how well you actually fared.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035638)

Depends on the game. I heard in Grandia 2 it was actually possible to beat the supposedly undefeatable boss but the game would just continue as if you lost.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031550)

One game had a boss who could be killed, even though he was meant to kill you. If you killed him, the game just went on like you had been killed.

I'm all for situations where your character doesn't actually die when you get killed, but the game should have the flexibility to handle both scenarios. Otherwise, it should just stick to "death == game over".

The really good RPGs have worlds/storylines which adapt to the choices made by the character. Sometimes they can have a significant affect on subplots (e.g. Fallout/Fallout 2), sometimes it has a real impact (e.g. Phantasy Star III), and sometimes its just a temporary thing which guides you back onto the 'main track' of the story.

So handling this type of thing really shouldn't be that difficult. Want character to be sans items even if he wins? Fine - show a cut scene where he defeats the boss, but drops his items. (But be sure to reward the player in some way for his win.)

But this is a bigger problem, I think. I want RPGs to follow one rule: If the player is not in control, don't give the player control. I'm talking about Final Fantasy-style "cut scenes" which require the player to continually mash a button to keep the dialog going. The setback thing is the same thing. The player isn't really in control of what is going to happen, so what is the point of letting him play? Just make it a cut scene and be done with it.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034140)

I'm talking about Final Fantasy-style "cut scenes" which require the player to continually mash a button to keep the dialog going. The setback thing is the same thing. The player isn't really in control of what is going to happen, so what is the point of letting him play?
Because not everybody can read as fast as the developer expects.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035654)

With japanese Rail Playing Games those loss battles are often crucial to the plot and winning would mean a critical villain of the game would die (or have to pull the whole "I'm running away and there's nothing you can do" trick). Even if he doesn't die those battles are meant to tell you that you have to become stronger to beat that boss, if you can already beat him all the following quests about gearing up to beat him would be pointless.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

Swifti (801896) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031724)

Chrono Trigger probably demonstrated the best way to implement this. Make the boss almost undefeatable (Lavos in the Undersea Palace) but if the player somehow defeats him, you either branch the storyline or in Chrono Trigger's case, get one of many secret endings.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033966)

Metal Gear III took this a step further, even:

In MGSIII, There's a part where you actually die, they show the "GAME OVER" sign, and start playing the end of game music, and so on. You have to do something special to get past it, and further through the game.

There is no way of avoiding this scene-- you have to do it. It's a basic part of the story.

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034118)

Imagine how evil MGS4 will be with tilt control.

A passage from a future FAQ:

At this point you'll encounter Psycho Mantis' son, and he'll kill you instantly. At this point, you have to throw the controller, flipping it multiple times in the air. This will literally make you spin in your grave, which will cause some sort of ironyquake*.
"Damn you, Kojima!!"

* The FAQ writer has a distorted definition of irony

Re:This seems to be common in RPGs (1)

mjhacker (922395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037348)

The game Xenogears made extensive use of the unbeatable boss. At the top of my head, I can think of about 5 times that you can't win a battle, and there are probably more. Of course, I doubt that the game would have been able to give the player as much drama without them... I personally enjoyed having my ass handed to me, especially when it advanced the story, which is the whole purpose to an RPG. No story, no game.

Mmmm, Absolute Zero (1)

Ygorl (688307) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031284)

Absolute Zero was a great cinematic space combat game from, oh, ten years ago... It had, for its time, a whole lot of options - you could choose which vehicle to use to complete a level, how it was outfitted, etc... It also had several different characters that you could play as. There was one point where you blew up a giant alien mothership thing by crashing into its core (sacrificing that character) - I'm not sure if you had to do it that way, or if I just got tired of shooting at the damn thing, but it was the end of Wassem Bokai. Lots of fun.

remember the Gold Box games? (1)

abbamouse (469716) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031332)

Ugh. I remember how the Gold Box sequels -- Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, etc. -- used to do this to the player at the begiining of the game, so you wouldn't get any of the cool items they'd handed out like candy in the previous installment. It got old really quick. I'm trying to recall whether BG2 pulled this same stunt with imported BG characters. Does anyone remember this?

On the other hand, I rather liked Quake 4's use of the dramatic reversal.

Re:remember the Gold Box games? (1)

IthnkImParanoid (410494) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032168)

I never played BG1, but I do remember some text from Imoen at the beginning of BG2 that said, basically, "He took all our stuff, I don't know where it is, so I guess we'll have to make do with whatever we can find." I assumed this was a way to hobble otherwise uber imported characters.

Re:remember the Gold Box games? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032294)

Not at all for BG2, since BG2 started your characters at about the level range you would need to compete in that first dungeon, your characters from bg2 should at least have their stats and skills.

However, if you were kidnapped by a crazy amoral elvish outcast, i'm pretty sure he'd take your gear too.

heh

You will get killed on this ride (5, Insightful)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031362)

What I call a "plot loss" in a video game works once in a while, but definitely needs to be done in moderation. For example, if it's obvious to a seasoned gamer that you will lose a given battle/challenge/etc (needed for a plot element), then it's not as much a hassle. As in, if it's clear from the get-go that you're drastically outclassed by your foe, he/she/it/they has/have no obvious weak points, and/or the battle is blatantly unfair and is over with quickly, it's cool, many gamers will understand this. Even if it's not so much an extreme outclassing, if it becomes clear that you seriously won't win this and this is the way the story unfolds, that's acceptable.

The problem comes if there's no hint to this. Or to put it in other terms, if the game is toying with you. As in, a battle seems to otherwise be fair and "normal", all your attacks and/or moves appear to be behaving properly (i.e. they appear to "hit", not "clang off harmlessly"), but whatever you're challenging just always seems to have a slight edge in that it plain and simply will not lose. Case in point: The field runner in Ocarina of Time. Link is challenged to a race across Hyrule Field. You're never given any impression that this is a fixed race, there's no way to "unfix" it (i.e. this isn't a plot situation where Link has to uncover a cheater), and the only way to discover this is by giving up, wasting your time empty-handed (or use a cheat device, which reveals the problem when he claims he won with a time of -1 seconds). Things like this could easily be taken as direct insults to the player, worse if the player unloaded all or most of a difficult-to-replenish or non-replenishable resource (expensive healing potions, stat-boosting effects, rare one-time attack items, etc) in the process.

So all in all, sure, it works once in a while. Just don't insult the player in the process.

Re:You will get killed on this ride (1)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031442)

I've definitely dealt with AIs that won't lose at any cost. Hell, I've found bugs in games thrown up by a desperate AI. I think that like in "Wargames" some AIs need to be toned down just a bit. It's hard to convince gamers that fantasy isn't reality when you see AIs go to great lengths to win something that they'd normally lose (feels kind of like a "survival of the fittest" scenario). Excessive meta-game activity is a sure sign that things have gotten out of hand. Arguably, virtual currency and item trading falls into this category, though those things don't make me nearly as angry as being cheated out of something I won fair and square.

Sorry if this didn't make much sense, but I spend too much time playing fantasy RPGs.

Re:You will get killed on this ride (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035698)

Personally, I always feel like these should either be unplayable or of alternative goals. Getting overwhelmed by a Zerg swarm in the beginning of Starcraft still felt like your side was losing ground, even though you "won" the battle by surviving for just long enough to retreat before getting swarmed all to heck. Your character committing suicide in Final Fantasy III was dramatic even while you had achieved the fishy goal set out for you.

I know many gamers who have managed to "beat" unbeatable creatures [corante.com] . Online games are notorious for this, but even in single-player console games you can frequently find a way that you can or should be able to defeat bosses that otherwise would be undefeatable. Either standing in the right place while defending, or finding a weakness in the pattern, or stocking up on 999 health potions before you leave town... Players will find a way to beat challenges that you put in front of them. That's what they do. If you don't intend the challenge to be achieveable, don't tell them to do it. Or make it achieveable with a very tough battle for a tweaked plot arc and a better ending.

Ben's stuff is usually very good in this respect, in that he makes it damned clear that "something not normal" is going on. But there are other ways to do this (and other ways he has done this in the past).

Half-Life anyone? (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031462)

I thought it was pretty cool when the cleanup team managed to get Gordon into a closet and knock him over the head. It also made for a good transition to a different part of the game.

Idiot kids... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037040)

I remember overhearing two kids talking about that.
One complained who he was just stuck in that dark room.
The other kid then instructed him to turn off the god mode.

I swear to god - kids just keep getting dumber and dumber.

Planescape: Torment (2, Insightful)

rpw101 (990890) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031484)

Planescape had some sequences like this - seeing as how you're immortal, dying can be used as quite a useful plot device or puzzle element! It does take a little while to get your head around dying on purpose though.

Dead Rising ... somewhat similar (2, Interesting)

jchenx (267053) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031708)

First of all, Planescape: Torment ... awesome game. It arguably sports the best plot/story in an RPG ever. Just wanted to get that out of the way. :)

It does take a little while to get your head around dying on purpose though.
Dead Rising has a similar purpose (dying on purpose). The main character is definitely not immortal. However, upon dying, you can choose to either reload from your last save point, or "save and quit" which actually saves your current stats, quits the current game, and forces you to restart from the beginning.

At first, it sounds dumb. Why would you ever want to replay parts of the game again? For a long time, I resisted doing this. However, the game got extraordinarily difficult after a while, and I eventually got myself locked into an unwinnable situation: I had saved the game at a certain part of a mission, and there was literally not enough time for me to complete it in time, thus forcing a "game over" scenario every time. Grudgingly, I accepted my fate, and did the "save and quit" method.

Surprisingly, I had a blast going through the beginning part of the game again. Having your skills carry over (which in Dead Rising equates to some very important things such as health, stats, special moves, and item capacity) made the initial parts of the game a LOT easier. And since I had a good idea of what was going on, I could position myself to "be in the right place at the right time". Thus, this second playthrough ended up being a lot different than my first run.

I almost think that Dead Rising was designed so that the player would have to restart over at some point. However, it's too bad that this was not messaged appropriately. I have a friend who quit the game, complaining that it was "impossibly hard", since he refused to restart the game over.

Re:Dead Rising ... somewhat similar (1)

slaida1 (412260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036374)

Like your friend, I'd probably quit it, too. If game is designed to force player restart then the game world should go on and not reset when restarting. Otherwise it feels like a cheap trick to force same content again instead of making effort to create continuous story.

Great for Learning (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031494)

This comment does stray a bit from the scope of TFA but I will say that growing up for some reason I've learned to enjoy the comeback win. I root for the underdog. If a game can be constructed to enable losing before the win then it could be very dramatic and enjoyable for anybody willing to give the comeback a chance.

My anecdotal evidence regarding my nephew (almost 15) that is an only child would probably give up on a game like this as would, perhaps, many gamers. It would be a good learning experience for anybody (especially a child) to continue through the loss to get to the win. Although not quite as dramatic and not the topic of TFA, a sports title could be a great example of the loss before the win to make an enjoyable game. When playing with my nephew Madden Football he will totally give up even if he's winning when I intercept or recover a fumble. To me, as with the author of TFA, I find much more enjoyment and fulfillment from a late 4th quarter comeback from behind to win in Madden Football. I also sometimes play as the lower ranking teams just because. Whereas many of the people I play against will refuse to play as any team other than the top ranked few. I would assume they would not like a retreat scenario in a dramatic game.

Losing for the win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18031764)

World of Warcraft does this well - the first up against a raid boss he utterly destroys the group, but one of our shamans stands up, resurrects another healer, they each rez another, and pretty soon we're ready for another go.

I vividly remember the feeling that this thing we were fighting was *huge*, but that as a group we were nigh on unstoppable. Good times.

Then the grinding really kicked in, and I quit, but that's another story.

Games that have tried to incorporate this (2, Interesting)

Pentapod (264636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18031994)

Very interesting observations, and quite correct, there aren't many games I have played lately that incorporate an element of loss.

The one exception that springs to mind is, surprisingly, EverQuest 2; there are a couple of quests/events where I feel the SOE team have actually incorporated losing into the storyline very effectively.

The first I can think of is a more minor one - if your character chooses to betray his home city of Freeport to go and live in Qeynos (or vice versa) you embark on a quest series that leads you into sabotage work against the city you wish to leave. The spying/sabotage missions ultimately culminate in your inevitable capture by the city guard. Your companions are killed and you are left for dead, eventually smuggled out and revived by sympathizers from your destination city. While not a final defeat, you progress through the increasingly dangerous sabotage missions knowing that eventually your actions will be discovered, and there is no way to complete the betrayal quest without this "failure".

The second quest involving failure was a special limited-time quest that ran last year prior to the Echoes of Faydwer expansion release. The EoF expansion reintroduced the influence of the deities to the game world, and as a foreshadowing of this, there was a limited time quest players could do for the prophets foretelling the return of each god. The quest for Innoruuk (god of Hate) involved a magic spell that sent you back in time to assume control of one of the key figures in an important historical battle during which the forces of good and evil were attempting to capture a particularly important magical scroll. The aim of the quest, you were told, was to alter history and retrieve the scroll for the benefit of Innoruuk. As you entered the quest, your class, level, equipment, everything was altered so that you appeared to be the dark elf shadow knight in the historical battle. The quest involved commanding your troops to attack the enemy, and fighting your way to the member of the "good" side who had the scroll required, and then escaping with the scroll.

The quest, however, was written so that it was impossible to win. It was not possible to alter history. While you could complete the first part of the quest and make your way to your target, reinforcements from the good side (extremely powerful, undefeatable ones) arrived before you could complete the mission. The quest forced you to watch as all your army was decimated by the arrivals, and then you also. Interestingly, one of the "good" gods gave the reverse of this quest, where good aligned players played an ally of the target the evils had to assassinate, and were equally unable to "win" the scenario (although reinforcements arrived, it was not in time to prevent the assassination of the guy with the scroll, etc.)

In these quests the EQ2 designers got around the feeling of personal defeat by setting the quest in a historical "flashback", yet also avoided the setback being entirely cut-scene narrative with no player involvement whatsoever. The resulting quest was very powerful and exciting.

These are just two examples of how current MMO's have incorporated failure scenarios into their play. It's challenging, but clearly possible, and the SOE team at least seem to be aware of the excitement and different perspective that it can bring to a game. I would hope that they will continue to push the boundaries of tradition further, and hopefully other designers will follow also.

deus EX (1)

erbbysam (964606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032142)

One of my most memorable moments from any game that I've played was in Deus EX(which was mentioned in the article) when you are forced to die and wake up in your what amount to your enemies lair. From the very start of the game you are taught how good you should be and then, 10 hours into the game, the game forced you to become evil even though you might not have wanted you. At the time that really brothered me so I went back any played the level a few times and realized that I had to do it.. . This was one of the most original things that made Dues EX so much better of a game then a game where you just play the hero and it really made me want to play it more... just my $0.02

Re:deus EX (1)

Kyune (948300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032390)

That's part of the charm Deus Ex had though, and it runs a bit deeper than that. What you decribed was the experience of finding out that the character (you) are no longer on the side of the fence you had started on. In terms of good and evil, that was better characterized by the way you accomplished the various tasks in the game. For instance, depending on whether or not you actually killed anyone in the first stage of the game, the response to your actions was different at the end of the level.

Re:deus EX (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036516)

Oh yea. But please keep in mind that the enemies you encounter in that subway scene are killable (yes, that includes Anna and/or Gunther). I didn't have the time or inclination to try to actually win the battle (any hits you take past, say 30% health will render you unconscious, making it obvious in an out-of-game way that you're not really supposed to escape). I wonder if... Oh no. Now you've done it. Now I just have to see if it's doable. Thanks a lot, man.

Speaking of losing... you can save the helicopter pilot, but losing makes for a more interesting/emotional story imo.

NWN2 has two, and it sucked (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032354)

If you haven't played the game yet, stop reading. Stop reading anyway unless you are in the mood for a rant.

Okay, you were warned. In Neverwinter Nights 2 you have two "dramatic" moments. The opening act has you partnered with two childhood friends. A male fighter and a female wizard. Both like you start at level 1 and get maybe 1 or 2 levels during the opening act.

Your village is attacked because of you are the destined one. How original. Young farm person at just the right age to go out into the world has evil (wich for some reason has been laying low between the events of the opening credits and this moment) attack your peacefull village of your youth.

There are even in pulp fantasy variations of this you know. Conan was a slave his entire youth. Willow was a mature adult (well he had kids).

Oh well, you are attacked and for no very good reasing you get a cutscene were the girl suddenly decides to help her teacher out (who doesn't even look like he needs help) and gets herself killed. Drama!

Well no. It has everything wrong with it that the poster talked about. You first think it is your fault, then find it isn't and therefore feel only frustration. What a way to kick of an RPG that is supposed to have a influence system. Oh, and the lesson? Well listen to warnings and don't get in over your head. Good warning, except that it never has to be apllied in the rest of the game. You never meet anyone more powerfull then you that you can't handle. You never are asked to let someone more experienced handle a battle OR do a tactical retreat. So what is the point?

But that ain't the only one to snuff it. Later another girl joins your party and voila, she gets killed too. Again nothing you can do about it. Drama? No not really, hell the game doesn't even allow drama. If you really cared about her, you would be a little miffed you don't even get to kill her killer. At all, not even after you have no use for him anymore.

Oh, and the people from your village that survived the first attack? Well, they are killed off too. What? You are the desitned hero, so everyone you grew up has to die so that no stories of you running around with no pants as a kid can every ruin your heroic reputation. It is a rule!

Drama is nice and all, but the simple fact is that YOU are supposed to be in control. So if the game removes control, then anything that happens that you are supposed to be in control about just isn't "real".

Drama can happen outside your control (that is really totally outside your control, rather then just having the game take control) OR because of a choice you made.

System Shock 1 & 2 and the first Unreal did it very effective. Every bit of "drama" had already happened. You were in total control of events in your own time but naturally NOT in control over things that had already happened before your time started.

Finding out that the person whose emails you have been finding has died a tragic dead WORKS when it is clear it happened outside your time. You couldn't have gone faster or anything. So you do not feel cheated by the game. It worked for me.

Do you want to know one of the most dramatic moments in games for me? Planescape Torment, the dead nations, has an undead NPC who has lost her name. You can help her find it or give her a new one. The way that extremely short non-combat, non-fedex, non-runaround, non-loot, quest is told just worked for me. The entire area is nothing short of brilliant, undeads who are not just cannon-fodder, but that element is just damned good as it impressed upon me the sadness of an undead existence, destined to only rot away further and further while only memories remain of your former live.

Brilliant. And nobody dies, no cutscenes take away control. Just you, and an NPC and a few simple lines.

From the days of Wing Commander games have attempted to get me to feel drama by snatching defeat from the jaws of my hard won victory. It don't work for me.

Games are NOT movies. LEARN this developers. 99.9% of stories non-games rely on the "hero" doing stuff YOU would never do because that is the way the writer wrote it to advance the plot.

Some stupid police show recently had a serial killer copy-cat who had kidnapped and killed 2 women already, the police found a survivor of the old killer, so they contact her and then do NOT give her police protection. Cue her being kidnapped. Yeah, right. Wich one of you playing a police officer in that case would NOT have taken that woman under protection, wich is what they did with the other victims on the killers list.

The "fault" is just writer setting the world to his hand without having to worry that the "actors" will play a smarter cop.

Writers are used to beign to dictate EVERYTHING that happens, that is what writers do. In games, the player has to be in some control. Mistakes better be totally outside the gamers control because else you just end up breaking the suspencion of disbelief. I the player am an actor NOT a character in your play. An actor who pays to follow your directions. That don't work on far too many levels.

My favourite example is in Summoner (1)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032452)

It's a central plot device, so it's obvious that it's not the player screwing up. I was going through the game thinking "this is too easy" and then ... BAM. I loved it - it completely rejuvenated the game.

<spoiler>
The central character is taken out and the one character I had available to use hadn't been levelled properly for the tasks she needed to perform. When I got the central character back, he was crippled, and unable to use his most important power for quite some time.
</spoiler>

Star Control 2 : Pkunk (FTW) (1)

unsigned integer (721338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032472)

Haaa-leee-LUJAH!

Myst (1)

75th Trombone (581309) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032648)

if the game forces the player to get his ass kicked, can the player ever forgive it

I know some people who sure as crap won't ever forgive Myst.

Half the internet hates Myst, mostly because they're not clever enough to finish it. (It's lucky they never played Riven.)

Pyst (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034294)

Half the internet hates Myst, mostly because they're not clever enough to finish it.
Instead, they got Pyst [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Myst (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034730)

Finishing Myst requires no amount of cleverness. It's learning what you're supposed to be doing in the first place that is the primary challenge of Myst, and most people are understandably not interested in dicking around, which is basically what the game makes you do.

Freedom is the problem (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18032726)

A dramatic setback is all nice and good in theory, but more often then not it destroys any immersion instead of creating it. Games are after all about interaction and interaction implies having at least a little bit of freedom. If the setback however comes in the form of a challenge that is impossible to overcome it just comes of as fake, since it violates the very basic rule of giving the player a choice. This is especially annoying when it isn't clear that the challenge isn't beatable and you try and try again to beat it without success. Even worse of course if the challenge that is supposed to be unbeatable actually is beatable and the game then just runs into a void where the dialog and cutscenes completely fail to match the in-game action that just happened. Doing the setback in a cutscene of course doesn't help much either, since it again violates the rules of the game, after all why can't I just revive a killed character with a phoenix feather like it worked in all the rest of the game?

I doubt that this problem can be solved by just a few simple additional cues to hint what the game designer intended, I think the core problem runs much deeper. One thing is simply the consistency of the gameworld, if the game has bonus lives or phoenix feathers you simply can't kill an NPC to create a setback, since in a world where death is an easy problem to fix that just wouldn't be a problem to begin with unless the game violates its own rules.

Another problem, maybe the biggest one, is the hero centric nature of games. The player plays the hero, the man that can fix anything, the man that can accomplish anything. That guy simply must not fail, especially not when controlled by the player. But why should the player play the hero to begin with? Or even be fixed to a single character? The games which I find most interesting are those that don't fix the player to a single character, but instead let the player basically play the story itself, jumping from character to character. This little change pretty much completly removes the need to win, since even the characters death won't put a halt to the story. The only reason why the beginning of Half Life 2 worked was because in the beginning one wasn't the hero, one didn't have a gun or any way to defend himself, all one could do was run and due to the level layout there really was only one way to go. Such a situation wouldn't have worked if one would have had the crowbar, since even the tiniest way to defend oneself can be turned into a very powerful weapon with a bit of load and save (aka. save-cheating).

In the end I think games as a whole must have to change a lot to really make larger jumps in terms of how well a setback can work or in a broader sense in how much the player can get emotionally involved in a game. As long as the player plays a hero with a big gun who saves the world all of that just won't ever really work, maybe in a few limited situations here and there, but not more. The problem is simply that todays games are for most part analog to action-movies, no matter if its a strategy game, a FPS or some third person game, its always running, shooting and killing stuff. You don't see all that much emotional drama in the latest hollywood action movie either for basically the same reason, there simply is no time for that when all the focus is already on the action.

Actually Death is the Problem (1)

harborpirate (267124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034540)

I'd argue that perhaps the biggest problem facing games today is the way in which developers implement the loss condition. Namely death.

Sure, death seems like a very big deterrent for the player. It sounds sinister. "You're dead." Scary stuff. But in games its not really like that. You're not dead, you're simply required to start over from some point before. "Respawn", so to speak. Its like a sort of digital "Ground Hog Day" without the laughs. Some games have dealt with the reason for this creatively, and Planescape comes to mind. Not every game can be in a weird and whacky plane of existence like Planescape though. What this tells me is that developers need to get more creative about loss conditions. In some games this will be easier than others.

For instance, in a WWII game, bullets are flying, bombs are going off - its war and people are killing each other. If you're a grunt and you get shot in the head or hit by close quarters grenade shrapnel, you're dead. Hard to get around that. You might have to make the player anonymous and have him keep "spawning" into new characters, or come up with something similarly creative.

Other games, though, might do better by implementing standard loss conditions where players only become disabled, rather than truly die. If you're hit in the leg, you might survive. Perhaps the enemy captures you, perhaps your buddies pull you out and get you to a hospital. Perhaps you're a jungle troll and you eventually heal yourself and wake up hours later when the battle is over.

The point is, not very many games exist who's primary player induced setback is anything other than death. This industry crutch will plague developers until the mold is recast, and that may never happen. As long as that crutch continues, it will be exceedingly difficult to present the player with unavoidable setbacks that don't feel contrived.

Disabling a player allows the developer to implement a different result in an unavoidable setback. For instance, perhaps normally the disabled player is rescued by comrades in the loss condition. But in the unavoidable setback, the player might wake up in an enemy prison. This works because the player was used to becoming disabled, but the true "setback" now sinks in when the player is presented with required escape from an enemy prison rather than the usual friendly hospital.

This sort of "oh crap" moment is only possible if you've trained the player to expect a certain result and then suddenly juxtapose it with a different one. It works in Half Life 2 because the player enters the game with a certain expectation of the way the game works. The "oh crap" effectively comes in when the player realizes the tables have been turned on them and they're out of their element. A word of caution: This Should Not Be Done Randomly. This sort of situation has to be handled carefully, and the situation that resulted in the true setback loss condition has to be clearly different from situations that the player has encountered before. This vital clue tells the player "Its not your fault, this is the way its SUPPOSED to go down". Without this information, players will feel unfairly penalized.

bastard game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18032728)

OK, this is from memory because I stopped playing NWN after this problem..

There's a demon I need to kill. He's way too powerful for me though. I tried blasting him then teleporting back to the temple. However, something happens where everyone in the temple goes hostile. So I'm already at low hit points when I teleport and then get immediately killed when I enter the temple. I've tried Tenser's Transformation, buffing myself with Stoneskin, globes of invulnerability, etc.. But no matter what I do entering the temple, or even the city of matter, and *everyone* is an enemy.

How the hell do I get past this???

Losing as a strategy (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033264)

What about games where losing in the short term is a perfectly viable strategy towards winning in the long term. Think about chess. That's what pawns are for. Though I am reminded of Overpower (the card game). The object was, over the course of "rounds" of battle, to venture and win 7 missions. A viable strategy near the end game was when you only had one character left alive, to venture the rest of your missions, land one large attack on your opponent, then accept your opponents next attack of lesser value. Your character would die, and the round would end. Your successful attacks would be greater than your opponents sucessful attacks, and you win the game.

Not impossible, just really hard (2, Insightful)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033336)

The best games will have a few moments where it becomes intensely difficult and losing is not Game Over but winning will change the story slightly.

This is akin to the stage clear mode in Tetris Attack (or Spa Service in Pokemon Puzzle League). There is a "bonus" level that's pretty much as difficult as the final boss if not harder, but if you fail it, you just go on to the next level.

In Fire Emblem GC, *minor spoiler* you can flee from the black knight if you're not up to it. It's pretty hard unless Ike has the Aether badge and Mist is on your team, but retreat only makes minor changes to the story, and affects who joins your party.

The SpiderMan/Venom Ultimate Carnage for Genesis/SNES has this part where you're ambushed by multiple boss characters at once. Not sure if you can beat it, but the longer you hold out, the better items you get.

Scripted losses are ok, but generally I only want one near the beginning of the game. Otherwise it gets to be a waste of time, considering your actions have no affect on the outcome. The optional losses are where the real money is though, and it gives developers an opportunity to make really hard parts.

Deus Ex [Spoilers] (1)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 7 years ago | (#18033896)

There was no unbeatable battle in Deus Ex, sure the hotel fight was tricky but it was doable and you can save Paul.

Re:Deus Ex [Spoilers] (1)

zackeller (653801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034976)

You could get captured, though, by Gunther fairly early on, and there was no way out of that.

Gotta get ALL the CGs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034630)

Onii-chan's bad ending [tsunamichannel.com] Yeah, sometimes you have to go down the bad route to get at all of the game content, especially in Japanese dating-sims and their eroge counterparts.

Oblivion (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035068)

This is the problem with Oblivion. The game is always tuned so it's the same level of difficulty. There is no loss... and thus no sense of accomplishment with coming back and kicking ass later.

Wing Commander (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035686)

I remember in WC III when Angel gets her heart ripped out by the Kilrathi. I was convinced that this happened because I didn't succeed at the mission. I must have replayed it tens of times trying to save her. That was a game defining moment, and it's still stuck in my head today.

Source forts: griefing to win (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035734)

Half life 2 mod: source forts - http://sourcefortsmod.com/ [sourcefortsmod.com] [sourcefortsmod.com] -

while playing this game i noticed that as soon as you take out your own defensive fort it will give your team no way to keep alive behind the wall and start attacking the enemy. Alot of time you win this game by giving up on your defensive structures.

To bad alot of time this is called griefing. http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=invalid123 [youtube.com] [youtube.com] shows some of that!

System Shock 2 (2, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035814)

Yeah, yeah, I always whip out the SS2 when people are talking about what makes a game good. Anyway, --spoiler alert-- for anyone who hasn't played it through before.

SS2 has one of the biggest "reversals" in a game ever. You go through the first half of the game clinging to the hope that Polito, the one human who's spoken to you, will be able to help you get out of this mess of mutated humans and haywire robots. That's all shattered when it's revealed that Polito was dead all along, and it's really been SHODAN egging you on the whole time. The second half of the game involves you being her (now witting) pawn as you follow her instructions to destroy The Many.

It's an ingenious plot twist that makes you feel, despite your success in finally reaching Polito('s rotting corpse), like you actually lost. And every success you have ends up feeling a bit hollow as well, because SHODAN told you to do it. It makes the voice logs you find lying around that much more valuable, as you try to cling to whatever humanity you can, because that's the only real victory in sight.

Warhawk? (1)

ThePsion5 (1037256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036206)

Anyone remember Warhawk for the Playstation? The game had several different endings, most of which were achieved by losing the game. In fact, there is no way to win the game without sacrificing the lives of either your pilots or the lives of the larger ship that launches and supports them. One ending even results in the enemy's leader choking to death on a chicken bone as he laughs at your defeat. It definitely made things more interesting...

It's annoying. (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036306)

It's annoying though, when you're forced to not roleplay to avoid being fucked.

For example, in many games some boss shows up early and you're *supposed* to lose, he is strong enough that you'll *definitely* lose.

So, if you're smart you just kick yourself in the groin and go down early.

If you, on the other hand, play your very best, use all your buff-items, quaff all your healing, hold out for aslong as humanly possible. Then guess what ? The game "rewards" you by letting you lose anyway, only now you've wasted all those useful items for no effect whatsoever.

I *hate* that. If I can't win -- waste me in the first attack and make it obvious. (it's fine if it's merely -very-very-hard- to win. It's when it's flat-out impossible that I object)

Wing Commander (1)

jcredberry (1064892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036454)

And what about Wing Commander I and II [wikipedia.org] ???
They even designed a game tree that allowed you to lose certain fights and still ending up winning the whole game. It was an amazing game series, which I liked even more than X-Wing due to this tree.

Game developers are a curious sort (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036520)

I find it quite charming when I read an article by a game developer, such as this one, where they apparently seem to have uncover some secret or special technique that gives them a newly found insight into how to make games more fun or enjoyable. More often than not, these wonderful, brand-new pieces of knowledge are actually commonplace in other art or creative media, specially the age-old, well seasoned, creative outlets, such as literature and storytelling, where most techniques have been honed to perfection for centuries.

But even those bits of insight that appear to be unique to gaming or gameplay still seem obvious and primitive, as humans have been devicing ways to amuse themselves for ages. I recall when I read the article on the game "fl0w", and could not help but think in a very condescending and sarcastic way "you mean games should try to match the players skills and offer a winnable objective, and try to avoid frustrating them? Amazing!"

So, the same as when a Hollywood screen writer "comes up" with something like "Hey, you know what? perhaps we should let the good guy win; I think people will like that.", whenever a developer of games talks about how video games should use dramatic twists to advance the story in an emotionally involving way, my first thought is: Well, DUH! And my reply to such person is as follows: Perhaps those games you cite, along with the many others which have succesfully used such techniques, did not stumble on it by accident, but were a conscious decision of a good creative writer or designer. Perhaps that's why those games are classics and memorable, *because* they did things right. Perhaps you should go out and see the world more, read more books, watch more movies, play more games, and more importantly, talk to gamers more, to find out how other fellow humans interact or integrate with creative works, including games.

          -dZ.

--
        One fish, two fish, red fish, blow fish. [KABOOM!]

Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault (1)

megalomaniacs4u (199468) | more than 7 years ago | (#18037098)

MOH:PA had this dumb feature. You were supposed to get killed on the first level then game flashed back to pearl harbour... Dumbest idea ever. Just like those stupid stealth levels that are out of sync with the game style (RTCW), and totally unnecessary jumping puzzles (JK:JO).

If the dev wants to "kill" me do it in a cut scene and not in place where I have control as it ruins the game otherwise.
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