Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Squash This Trend

I absolutely hate the recent trend of putting "reaction events" in games. Maybe they're called Quick Thinking Events or Press Stuff Sequences. The shit like in Resident Evil 4 when you're walking along and they switch to a cutscene of a boulder and at the last second they tell you to press 'A'. You don't and you get the honor of watching a death sequence and then wait to reload your game.

It's lazy and boring and not fun at all. Simon is not a fun toy, not for more than five minutes, after which it is a nuisance.

There is no reward. Either you have fast enough reflexes or enough patience for unnecessary repetition.

These are barely tolerable in God of War, and even then there's no reason to use them more than once or twice, not all through the games.

They absolutely ruined Fahrenheit. Here's a sequence made of twelve different timed button presses, if you miss one you die and have to start all the way at the beginning, have fun. Not much of a loss, because the game itself was shit.

They may as well put electrodes on controllers and administer electrical shocks every time you miss one of those button presses. At least it would get my adrenaline going.

My most recent encounter was in the Jericho demo, an okay shooter capped by a Pres Butan sequence that added nothing to game except a chance to reload and try it again. Easy enough, but pointless.

The grandfather of these sequences is the Dragon's Lair laserdisc game. This game was not fun. It was cool to watch if you had a friend with perfect recall to play through the whole thing, but it did not provide enjoyment in a traditional sense.

Stop doing this, designers. You do not want to rely on either of these two variables to keep people interested in your game: Reaction time or Patience.


Chris said...

I hate this too. I tolerated the Quick Time Events (QTEs) in Shenmue because of that title's general originality - but it wasn't a good idea then, and it still isn't now.

Here's the problem. QTEs seem to be worth including for two reasons: (1) it makes cut scenes interactive (which is presumed to be a good idea) and (2) they provide an additional source of fiero.

Well, it's true that they are an additional source of fiero - but any additional source of fiero is an additional source of frustration as well! In the case of the QTEs, my suspicion is that audience research would reveal that the frustration outweighs the fiero, although I can't actually prove this at this time.

However, as a player, I am dead against this trend, and hope we can stop it in its tracks by being sufficiently indignant about it.

Best wishes!

Johnny Pi said...

I'm glad you agree and it's good to see greater analysis than my ranting.

It think the real trick is discerning between positive and negative frustration, though I'm not sure you could assign metrics to something so subjective.

I think what I hate most is that they are pass/fail. In a traditional puzzle, there is margin for error. I might get frustrated by a mistake, but I can take it in stride or adjust the way I play. Reaction tests provide no options whatsoever.

I actually think Metal Gear Solid had an interesting idea of making cutscenes slightly more interactive by giving you some control, but it wasn't necessary. No tasks involved, just an exploration of the scene - I find I actually pay attention more in those situations b/c the game hasn't broken the flow of interactivity.

Chris said...

Yes, I almost mentioned this kind of interactive cut scene myself - where you have control of the camera, which gives you the illusion of control.

As for positive versus negative frustration, I wonder if there really are different kinds of frustration, or if this is simply a threshold thing - we can tolerate a little frustration (especially when "paid for" by other rewards) - it's just when the frustration goes over the top that it becomes negative.

Anyway, out of time. :) Best wishes!