Saturday, September 25, 2010

Challenge doesn't need a penalty? What if it's for exploration of an aesthetic?

Ready, Set, Crow!

I read an interview in the Australian game magazine 'Game Informer' on bioshock infinite with Ken Levine, Irrational president (I love how that title comes out) and Irrational creative director (love that one too!).

The question
In Bioshock, vita-chambers essentially made death inconsequential. Is that mechanic changing in Bioshock infinite?
The responce
My feeling about the vita-chambers was this: I think they set a certain tone for the game in twerms of how it felt and the progression. It was not a game about dying and restarting. It was a game about experiencing the feeling of being in Rapture. Certainly there are arguments to be made about whether there was enough disincentive to get killed.

I think that's a reasonably legitimate concern. I would say that it's unlikely we'll have the exact same approach we use in Bioshock 1 as it shipped - without any option to turn it off or any penalty.
Notice the penalty.

Now the first thing I thought was that they were reconsidering supporting gamist play to win/play against something that, through penalties, might be too tough for you to complete (not everyone can climb everest).

But then I realised I was projecting my ideals into it. No, why he's considering a penalty for 'death' is to further the experience of being in the setting he's making. The penalty, atleast to his mind, is possibly necessary to the aesthetic of the experience. Here's a post of someone trying to weve a mechanic into the aesthetic of a game, as an example.

Now the funny thing is if he's considering it because of fans who actually carry my idea - a hard game. Where a penalty is the thing that might stop you getting to the end. Like, alot of people might be able to climb a cliff - it's when you put several in a row (like everest) that it becomes an even bigger thing. Anyway, that's a real crossed wire - if he's into some sort of 'experience the aesthetic' but the fans here are into a hard game - they just want two different activities. Each of which just gets in the way of the other - and even if you compromise, your just doing one or the other activity to a lessened extent, in a sort of nerd fallacy attempt to include everyone.

But the main point was : Penalties - part of the explorers experience, perhaps?

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