Friday, January 02, 2009

Little Big Planet and a few other notes....

My XBOX profile says I haven't been gaming, but that's not true. Stacey and I have been playing her copy of Little Big Planet on the PS3 for the past few days/weeks. I really think Media Molecule did a fantastic job with this title. Beautiful graphics, fun gameplay, well balanaced puzzles, interesting experiences...its been a joy. I just keep thinking to myself after playing 'wow, i really had fun tonight'. I like how easy it is to customize your character, which seems silly but is actually done in a really fun way. I also like the way they motivate you to get involved with others in special sections of levels that require x2, x3, or x4 people to accomplish them. Not too manyubut a few. Haven't played much with the user generated content but would expect it to be pretty fun.

One thing that can be frustrating is the 'do entire level over' problem that annoys me when any game developer does this. They have checkpoints with limited number of tries. Unfortunately, these are not proportional to the number of players, you get so many restarts, usually 4, no matter how many people are playing. In some sections, you get 8. I understand they need to do this for the challenge, but once again i'd like a 'employed, unemployed' option that allows those of us with full time jobs to complete the game in a reasonable amount of time and not repeat the same game mechanic 20 times for 5 minutes just to clear that one little hurdle at the 95% of the level completion. Can't game developers spend the 20 minutes it takes to create an adaptive solution to this? (more 'restarts' each time, lower boss hit points after 20 tries, whatever).

Grand Theft Auto IV was so bad at this (great game, just this one thing i consider a bug in the design) was that I spawn in the city 20 miles (author exaggeration) from all of the next 3 possible quests. Dying means I spend my valuable meatspace lifespan repeating 5-7 minutes worth of tedium before getting to the quest. They should have called it Groundhog Day, the game :) It caused me to stop about 40-ish% of the way through because i couldn't stand the monotony. Monotony is the enemy.

In summary, we are loving Little Big Planet, its great fun.


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KimPallister said...

uh oh. You've got comment spam.

Anyhow, the difficulty thing you mention is a hot topic of discussion amongst gaming press these days. The issue is that there's a camp of press & consumers that *WANT* it to be hard. They enjoy the feeling of having 'earned' their way to the end. Providing a path to easily get to the end, even if optional, detracts from being 'one of the proud few'.

At the end of the day, it comes down to trying to serve two masters. It's worth noting that many genres (flight sims are a great example) spun themselves into nichedom by continually complicating things for the minority of enthusiast influencers, at the expense of making the game inaccessible to new users.