Sunday, January 11, 2009

Some Thoughts About Dissapointment

Hey everybody, I hope you all had a good vacation, I finally got the chance to do some concentrated effort on my mod, but that's not what this post is about.

Instead I want to talk about disappointment in games. Friends of mine and critics alike constantly harp on the fact that they are disappointed with a particular new release. The reasons vary from the game was too linear, or it wasn't realistic enough, or it was too unrealistic, or it's story wasn't very good. I've done some pondering, and I think it's safe to say that almost all of these sort of complaints stem from a player's expectations of a game. They expect the game, either from previews or screenshots or just hearsay, to perform in a specific way which it does not. Subsequently, they are disappointed with the title and move on.

The problem with this is that you may miss the entire point the designers were trying to put in front of you. It's like walking into a steakhouse blindfolded and expecting lobster, then being upset that they give you a delicious juicy steak. Sure, maybe it isn't a lobster, but gosh darnit it still tastes great.

Okay, maybe that wasn't the best analogy, but you get the idea.

I know a number of people disappointed with Left4Dead because it wasn't enough "Survival Horror" and was too actiony. Valve never set out to make a survival horror game, they set out to make a great co-op game. An equal number of people were disappointed with Mirrors Edge because it didn't do the sorts of things you'd expect a first person game to do. And I'm sure there will be a number of grumpy real time strategy fans when we get our hands on Dawn of War 2 come Febuary 23rd thanks to its bucking of RTS tradition.

What I'm trying to say here is that as players and designers, it is crucial that we go into a game playing experience with a clean slate. I don't think every time you sit down to play you should be analyzing and critiquing constantly, that negates the point of experiencing the game. But you should at least give it a fair chance to stand on its own two legs.