I want to challenge a gameplay concept that we take for granted. It’s been on my mind for a while now but starting Half-Life 1 Episode 1 brought it to the forefront of my thinking. The weapons included in a game are one of the most, perhaps THE most, important element of that elusive thing called “Gameplay”.
Okay, having thought about it a little more I want to add some things. I put the update at the top to make it easier to see. If this is your first time reading this post I suggest you start at The Challenge.
When I first posted this idea I was thinking about having every weapon that is available within the game but there are a number of variations possible. For example perhaps you can start with no weapons and by halfway through the game you can collect all of them. For this point onwards you have to discard one at regular intervals. This tackles the issue of enjoying collecting the weapons but also gives the player something to deal with. Another option is to have a maximum number of weapons, for example 3. As you reach a new area you can collect a new weapon, but you have to discard one of the weapons you already have. This idea was formed from reading comments 3 and 4. In fact comment 4 may have been suggesting it! This may have already been used a games. I seem to remember the Ubersolider Demo not allowing me to collect some weapons. I’m not quite sure.
The look, feel, sound and effect can make the difference between an okay game and a great game. We all have our favourite weapons, you only need to see the plethora of articles dedicated to explaining why their selection is the best available. Anyway, every game I have played contained the gameplay standard:
Collect more and powerful weapons as the game progresses.
I think I understand the psychology behind this and to begin with it worked perfectly. However, for me it has become a problem.
As I play a game now I am expecting to get the next weapon upgrade. I know it’s coming, no matter how bad or good I play, it’s going to be there. The weapons get bigger and flashier each time.
As I started playing Half-Life 2 Episode One it became clear this was all I had (At least for now!) and I was slightly annoyed. I don’t like this gun, can’t I have something else? I’m not a big fan of the gravity gun in Half-Life 2. I recognise and applaud its technical achievements but it leaves me bored.
Here is my suggestion:
You start a game with EVERY weapon available. As the game progresses you lose one instead of collecting one.
The levels would need to be designed so that they all can be beaten with all levels and there would also need to be enough ammunition available for every weapon.
The player themselves would make the choice of which weapon to lose rather than the game.
I’m sure there would be a few technical issues to overcome but considering some of the jumps in quality games have made (not just graphics) I’m sure it is possible.
I feel this concept would have the following benefits:
- It would be a natural skill level balancer. Generally the weaker players (That’s me folks!) would choose to lose the least effective weapon each time.
- It would add an element of strategy with very little effort.
- It would allow for more replayability, playing the game with different weapons at different stages.
So, there you have it. What do you think?
15th July 2006
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