I think this demo / trailer / teaser thing ran out of ideas after about half an hour. At this point it’s just being obtuse. Like, if Chris wasn’t reading from the guide, how would we possibly know what we’re supposed to be doing? We have no character, no goal, no context, and no direction. That’s fine in this case, since it’s not supposed to be a game. I’m not asking for cutscenes or anything. But it does need to let you know what your goal is or when the demo is over. I can’t imagine I would have ever found that pencil-point hole on purpose. I would have stumbled around, growing more restless and annoyed, wondering if the demo was over or not. Instead of ending on the high note, I would have been pissed off at the dumb game that wasted a half hour of my time.
Also, let’s think about these controls. We have one button: Zoom in. We don’t need to select weapons, aim, shoot, reload, open inventory, toggle flashlight, interact with objects, crouch, jump, or sprint. We have over a dozen available inputs, including the convenient and familiar face buttons. But no, we’re going to bind our primary means of interaction to holding down the right stick. I’ve had to do that before in games, and I know it’s incredibly uncomfortable. That’s a pretty egregious sin from an interface standpoint, but then making the little cutscene reset when you stop pressing down on the stick is where it goes from uncomfortable to infuriating.
THIS is the Kojima influence I was worried about. I’m sure the thinking is, “Hey! It’s uncomfortable to depress the stick, just like the character would be uncomfortable looking through the hole. And it’s tense, because you’re always worried your finger might slip and you’ll have to watch it again. And you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing, which makes it mysterious like Silent Hill.” That’s pretty standard Kojima thinking: Make something incredibly obnoxious and then use a complete confusion of in-game and out-of-game logic to justify it. I know this is his shtick, and I know I’m risking the wrath of his fans by even bringing it up, but this sort of thing drives me nuts. I don’t begrudge Kojima his particular style and I’ll admit it’s made the Metal Gear series a powerhouse with an army of enthusiastic fans, but this is not what I’m looking for in a Silent Hill game
I don’t want to be thinking about the controller at all. If I have an emotional connection with my avatar then I’m perfectly capable of empathizing with them without needing to contrive a bunch of immersion-breaking gimmicks. These two feelings are mutually exclusive…
- I am trapped in a psychotic hellscape, and the only way to escape is to go deeper in by looking through this pinhole and facing whatever nightmares this world has to show me.
- Ow. My finger is uncomfortable and if I adjust my grip I might slip and waste a bunch of my time watching this again.
….and the first one is a thousand times more potent than the second. Moreover, Silent Hill is pretty much the only series that’s even willing to attempt that sort of thing. All the other AAA spook games have turned into shooting galleries and quicktime button-mashers.
Having said all that…
Meh. I gripe, but it’s not actually a big deal. This is a demo for an idea that might become a game someday, and the final product might not look or play anything like what we’ve seen. There’s no point in getting worked up about any of thisHe said, once it was too late.. We wouldn’t have bothered with it, except we wanted something low-stakes to test our recording setup.
We’ll finish up the demo (sort of) in the next episode. Next week we’ll go back to Marlow Briggs. After that, we’ll launch the new season.
 He said, once it was too late.
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Diablo III Retrospective
We were so upset by the server problems and real money auction that we overlooked just how terrible everything else is.
A look back at Star Trek, from the Original Series to the Abrams Reboot.
Batman: Arkham Origins
A breakdown of how this game faltered when the franchise was given to a different studio.
Best. Plot Twist. Ever.
Few people remember BioWare's Jade Empire, but it had a unique setting and a really well-executed plot twist.