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Blog: "Why Trial and Error will Doom Games"
gbee Offline
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RE: Blog: "Why Trial and Error will Doom Games"

What really breaks immersion for me is the type of trial and error that you didn't directly cover in your article, where the game mechanics allow the player to do things that the programmers did not account for. There were instances of this in Penumbra and Black Plague but really it's common to most games. I'll try to explain what I mean with fictitious examples as I don't mean to start an argument over what was or wasn't possible in a particular game.

The most common example is invisible walls, you jump/climb up on some objects to reach a point or pass a barrier but you can't because this wasn't what the developers wanted you to do, maybe the map doesn't extend in that direction or they wanted you to solve a puzzle or force a confrontation to progress.

Another example is where an action taken in one place to solve a problem doesn't work in a similar way elsewhere. You can break open a heavy reinforced door with sufficient force in one instance but ordinary internal doors elsewhere remain impassable without a key. Substitute door for any item, event or puzzle.

One of the hardest to solve instances of trial and error results from the sort of puzzle solving used in games like Penumbra. You are expected to achieve a task by performing a series of actions with specific items in a strict order. A -> B -> C -> D. The player may see a way to reach the same goal in a different way, with different items or actions A -> K -> D, but although it might have worked in the real world the game mechanics won't allow for it. e.g. If the action calls for a thin/narrow implement you have to use exactly the one determined by the developer and not any of the ones already in your inventory, or even there in the same room.* This is both frustrating and a real immersion killer.

* Ok, so I had a Penumbra/Plague puzzle in mind there, the key in lock/newspaper one, IIRC you had to use a screwdriver but there was a scalpel on the table by the door which seemed perfectly sized but after trying for 5 minutes I realised it wasn't the tool I was _supposed_ to use. The same probably applies to the newspaper, you had picked up lots of sheets of paper by that point but only the newspaper would work.
04-19-2010, 10:16 PM

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RE: Blog: "Why Trial and Error will Doom Games" - by gbee - 04-19-2010, 10:16 PM

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