We keep coming back to the question of “Did Simon need to be such a dummy?” Which leads you to the question of “Who was this game designed for?” The problem facing the design team is that there’s a huge difference between people who read sci-fi novels and people who get all their sci-fi from television.
I’m reminded of the time we showed off Good Robot at a trade show. Everyone played through one or two levels before they died and walked away from the game. But then one guy completely destroyed the demo. Instead of reflexively running from bullets like most people, he held his ground and weaved between them. He was obviously a fan of bullet-hell shooters, and so our game was completely trivial to him. He plowed all the way through the entire gameWhich wasn’t done, so it was maybe half the size of the completed version. The game was also much easier at that point. on the first try.
This led to a question, “Who is our game for?” This guy is obviously our core audience, but anything that’s fun for him is going to be impossible for everyone else. Do we tune the game to appeal to the most likely fans, or to the masses, where we might have some prayer of making money? And really, somehow we’d like it if the same game could satisfy both groups.
I guess I’d feel better about Simon’s apparent slowness if I got the sense that a large number of people needed the extra explanation. I can imagine a scenario where a bunch of relative sci-fi newbies were working with the mental model of (say) consciousness working like a “soul”. They begin with the assumption that there can never be more than one version of you at a time, and they never examined the idea of what would happen if you could copy a brain. Maybe those people needed the extra hand-holding not just to explain how a mind-copy works, but to disabuse them of their original assumptions.
There’s going to be a massive difference between people who have never been exposed to these ideas before, and people who have read dozens of different versions and detailed explanations of this over many sci-fi novels, to the point where the core concept is now boring and needs to be mixed with some other idea to be at all interesting. Maybe the developers were thinking, “Better safe than sorry” when it comes to explaining the premise that drives the conflict.
Still makes him annoying, though.
 Which wasn’t done, so it was maybe half the size of the completed version. The game was also much easier at that point.
Quakecon Keynote 2013 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Steam Summer Blues
This mess of dross, confusion, and terrible UI design is the storefront the big publishers couldn't beat? Amazing.
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
The Biggest Game Ever
How did this niche racing game make a gameworld so massive, and why is that a big deal?
Good Robot Dev Blog
An ongoing series where I work on making a 2D action game from scratch.