Thursday, February 17, 2005

Environmental Hazards

Does anybody
remember Disaster Report?

It was a pretty low-rated adventure - no guns, heck, no weapons that I remember and about three enemies.

So why do I still think about the game?

It was the first game I'd played where the primary conflict was of the player-character versus the environment.

Your character wasn't fighting against anything, but through observation had to respond to different cues in the physical surroundings to determine how to react.

Disaster Report wasn't a flawless implementation of this idea. At times it was far too slow - more of an adventure game than action. A lot of challenges were telegraphed to the player through obvious visual effects.

Still, I'd love to see this idea used again. I can imagine the Source engine making a game like this exquisite. Supports crumbling, buildings crashing into each other, a highway buckling and swallowing cars into the earth.

A game about a natural disaster could be inspirational. What if the player took the role of rescuer?

Quick Design Summary:
The sleepy California town of Freedale is only five miles from a site where a long-dormant volcano has just become active. Micro-quakes are sending mudslides toward town. Lava flows are coursing through the countryside. You are a writer spending time in a country cabin to work on a new novel when the rumble of the volcano coming to life send you out into the woods. With your 4WD utility vehicle and a host of other tools you must start on a journey through the woods and into town, warning people, helping people and getting people to safety.

One of the key elements in this type of game could be small areas of randomized disaster elements. A landslide could knock out a bridge or divert and knock your vehicle from the road or simply coat the road. Fire could be blown into an inferno or, with your character radioing fire crews, be doused by helicopters.

I'm not saying I wish that natural disaster adventures would become a new trendy genre until all the originality is drained from them and we're left with the same game being rehashed every year with a pretty new shell.

I'm just saying that videogames handle the Man vs. Man conflicts well, the Man vs. Environment conflicts not so often and the Man vs. Himself conflicts, well, almost never.

I wonder what would be considered a Man vs. Himself conflict in a video game (maybe the Light vs. Dark side decision-making in KOTOR pts. 1 & 2?).

No comments: