Exploration and Scene Based Gaming

Gamers can be classified into several categories. I happen to fall into the “Exploration gamer” stereotype, meaning that although I enjoy a challenge, I’d rather face an easy, interesting boss and stroll through lots of interesting locations than have to analyse the strategy of a ridiculously hard (yet dull) boss to proceed. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this preference either; I just happen to really enjoy games like Seiklus and Knytt Stories more than others might. Even in World of WarCraft or the Elder Scrolls games, my default gameplay activity is to actively avoid combat and just wander around to see everything. (Why yes, I do enjoy playing as a rogue. Thank you for asking.)

The gaming habits of others may differ. (Yes, this post is in response to that one. Go read it.)

The problem with being an exploration gamer is that I’m quite likely to give up way too soon on a challenge and play something else or use cheat codes if I just can’t get past a certain point in the game. This tendency is exacerbated by my sudden decrease in time upon arriving at college. It doesn’t make me any less of a gamer, it just means I want something different out of a game than you do; “the scenery, the story, the poetry of movement”, if you will. I watch intro movies, for goodness sake. πŸ˜‰

This being said, while the Nintendo patent for scene based gaming mentions the “experience”, I don’t really think it’s aimed at exploration gamers.Β  No, the patent seems to be aimed at casual gamers who would be unable to complete the game otherwise. At certain points, Zelda really is just a lot of fun to watch. The puzzles can be/are frustrating for the casual market they’re trying to cater to, though. This video walkthrough system sounds very similar to what was implanted in the puzzle game Professor Fizzwizzle, which was loved by both casual gamers and hardcore puzzle solvers. Hopefully this is a sign that Nintendo is going ahead with what aging Zelda fans have wanted for a while: much harder puzzles.

Think about it. Miyamoto has said the franchise “does need some big new unique ideas.” With new ideas will hopefully come an increase in difficulty; an important factor which seems to have been declining in recent releases. Whether the reduced difficulty is perceived or actual is up for discussion (repeated use of common metaphors and concepts may make new titles seem easier to players who have been through several installments in the series already), but people who like a series are likely to play multiple installments of it.

But I digress. If scene based gaming means that Nintendo can make games significantly new, different, and harder without loosing the casual audiance they currently cater to or the old school gamers they attracted in the first place, so much the better.

So what if casual gamers want to watch Zelda like an overpriced DVD? As long as the core gameplay is intact for everyone else, I don’t really see the fuss about scene-based gaming as anything more as elitism.


4 Responses to “Exploration and Scene Based Gaming”

  1. 1 phanboy_iv January 13, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    I agree with that up to a point, the issue is that often the quality of the core gameplay is compromised in order to spend more time and money on the “experience”.

    If both groups could be made happy, sure, I’m okay with that. I love visually interesting and well-presented game quite a lot, in fact I consider these things crucial to the definition of a really great game. And I also like solid core gameplay. What actually ends up happening most of the time, however, is that you get one and not the other. Usually one of these aspects is focused on to the detriment of the other, and that’s where we get problems. Bioshock seems to be a good example of this, from what I’ve played and read. The Elder Scrolls series seems to be slowly sliding down this slope as well. BioWare’s Mass Effect is also a casualty of this trend.

    Like I said, both are crucial, both are important. But in reality, too much focus is given to one or the other. Right now there’s a trend towards the experience side, and gameplay is suffering, at least in the mainstream.

    And Fizzwizzle is a bad example, because the core gameplay is quite solid to begin with.

  2. 2 James January 13, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Fizzwizzle is an excellent example precisely *because* the core gameplay is solid. Nintendo games are historically renown for having solid core gameplay and, when used properly, scene based gaming can only enhance the solid base.

    Super Smash Bros. Brawl was developed (and delayed, at least two or three times) by a team which has played man-*years* of prior games in the series. Super Mario 128 had been in development as the true sequel to Super Mario 64 -in various forms, including “rejected” concepts which surfaced in Super Mario Sunshine and Pikmin- since the N64 roamed the Earth. (We’ll never play 128, by the way; Galaxy inherited much of the technology and is probably the closest we’ll get.)

    Nintendo knows what they’re doing, and they’ve acknowledged that future Zelda games need to be mixed up a bit. From any other developer this patent might have been worrying, but these guys have a long track record of doing lots of experiments (and throwing out or postponing undesirable results) in search of the elusive perfect core. If anyone can make this concept work without compromising the game, they can.

    [/fanboy] πŸ˜‰

    By the way, I’ve been talking about Zelda since that’s what they used in the line drawings in the patent, but that could be a red herring. As far as we know, it could be something completely different. πŸ™‚

  3. 3 james February 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    i couldn’t agree with you more. you have a great taste in games. Seiklus and Knytt are my two favourite games. I’m trying to find some similar ones for my little linux laptop whilst traveling.

  1. 1 Gameplay/Game design Blogs « GameThing Trackback on January 9, 2010 at 7:10 am
Comments are currently closed.

RSS Status

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.


Creative Commons License
This stuff is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

%d bloggers like this: