Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Off the Rails

I'm all for
open-ended game design.

I love sandboxes, both real and virtual.

I used to play obsessively with Legos, building impossible vehicles and enormous fortresses, then smashing them and starting over.

Which is why videogames that offer lots and lots of choices appeal to me.

Of course, a sandbox has constraints, too. If the whole yard were sand, I wonder if it would have the same appeal.

I remember the game Silent Service II. This was one of my first computer game experiences. The great thing about it was that you could begin any year of World War II and go pretty much anywhere in the Pacific. Different years opened you up to different tech and levels of enemy activity.

The gameplay wasn't open-ended, per se. It would definitely end. But the approach to playing could vary wildly.

Do you flank the destroyers, sink the cargo ships as quickly as possible and then cut your engines and hope to avoid any depth charges? Or do you engage the destroyer, put a whole heap of torpedoes in its hull, then surface and use the deck gun to finish it off, allowing you to sink the cargo ships at your leisure?

I remember some tense battles. I remember trying desperately to sink the Yamato, pulling desperate maneuvers and experimenting over and over until, just barely, I succeeded.

This post isn't meant to make any kind of statement about video game design or how to make a good game or what a game is or anything of that kind. It's just a reminiscence and a general statement of affection for games that function as toys.

No comments: