Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dummy Lights

One of the things that frustrates me in games is dummy machines. You know, things that are just decoration, like machines in a game like Fallout or Doom 3. I'd like to go up to them and push buttons, just to see what happens. But I can't! Of all the 1000s of machines in the virtual world, only one does anything and all it does is open a door. What a lost opportunity. Even if the machine just made a bunch of mechanical gibberish noises and flashed lights at me it would be something to engage in some way. I do have to give Bethesda credit though, their furniture actually does work. One of the great tragedies of the failure of Uru (the online Myst game) was a lost opportunity for engagement. And I'm not talking about the puzzles. In the central multiplayer hub space there was a rock/papper/scissors-like game and balls you could kick around. This could have been a whole new area of MMO interaction. But it was only an afterthought. I like the idea of toys and games inside the virtual world, it's a shame it hasn't been explored in any meaningful way.

Anyway, these are the things interesting to me, not finding the red card key to open the door marked "WARNING DO NOT ENTER!" People have been trained to look for the "bare metal" so to speak. The base mechanics and how to exploit them. The whole problem solving mindset has caused this. Mechanics are the enemy of immersion. The more they intrude the less the virtual world matters.

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