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Making A More Challenging Game
"Hey! Listen! Look--" Shut up! Ever had that moment? If not, you should try it sometime! It makes for some great memories. This applies to all video games. I will put the video where I got the idea for this article at the very end (it is hilarious, and explicit). So if you want to hear my thoughts on how game developers should start tackling games, read more after the jump!
As a gamer, I expect certain things from all video games. I expect a great story, memorable music, well rounded characters, and all that sweet filling that makes a video game amazing and fun to play. As an "experienced" gamer, I expect the game to flow at the right pace, and to know that I'm not a 4-year-old kid who doesn't understand how to play the stupid game. Remember in Skyward Sword, that if you got confused or lost you could easily look for answers and directions in-game? Why? Why is that necessary? If I get lost or confused, it's because the game /should/ make me feel lost or confused. I had this same conversation and a friend told me, "but then I'd just go online if it didn't help me!" Now imagine me with a blank stare for about 15 minutes straight, like a rock. Don't you (the reader) dare tell me the same thing. Back in the '80s (I was born in '94, mind you) there was no "Internet". I dare you to play the original Legend of Zelda without a map, without the Internet, and solely with a pencil and paper if needed. This works best if you have never played it before, like when I first played it. You cannot beat the game in one day like that (on average), but people loved it. That is what started the love of Zelda games for the next 25 plus years.
Now, what does this have to do with tutorials? Everything, and I mean everything. There were no tutorials in the first Legend of Zelda. Only old men in caves telling you where to go, and the overworld map was blank! Nowadays, the game spoon feeds you information so that you can't possibly get stuck. Unless you are stubborn like me, and like to enjoy a good, challenging game, then you don't use the lifelines and you actually play the game. In Ocarina of Time, Navi was your lifeline. I'll admit, I actually loved Navi at times. She gave the names of enemies, and... gave me the names of enemies... That is the only useful feature she really had. I haven't played it in years, but she seemed to also tell you how to find the enemies weak spot. *Blank stare.* She also did so early on in the battle. *Blank stare.* All right, if I'm battling a boss for two hours thirty-five minutes and fifty seconds, you can tell me how to find the weakness to the boss. If I'm battling for 10 seconds and you're already telling me how to beat the boss, I deserve to feed you to the boss for treating me like a stupid little kid.
Anyway, my main point behind this article is that game developers should cut back on tutorials. How much so? Personally, I say get rid of all tutorials in the game. If you (the reader) do not know how to play the game, there is this magical thing called a "manual." I got The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (on Wii U) for my birthday, and you know what the manual is? It's a piece of paper that shows the controls on one side, and the other side advertises the October 2013 return of The Walking Dead on AMC. That is it, nothing else. I haven't played the game yet, but I will love the game solely on the basis that it has no tutorials if that is the case. Not sure how to shoot that crossbow? Check the manual! Not sure how to run, but you can walk? Check the manual! Not sure how to lock onto the Kokiri girl on top of the shop? Check the manual, not tell me what button to press in-game!
Lastly, it may just be me, but that event in Ocarina of Time with the girl on the shop... When a character tells another character to press a button... If I told you to press the "L" button to talk to folks far away, would you still think I'm sane? Insert "blank stare" here. It should be clear by now, tutorials have gone out of control to accept all types of gamers. Some tutorials in specific situations are fine, such as how to use a move that takes 15 button presses to perform. In Tales of Symphonia, it would prompt me when a tutorial came up. My first time playing it I used the tutorials, then I had to restart (seven hours in, not fun) and I declined to see the tutorials. Not only does it make the entire game more replayable, but it allows me to flow at my own pace. The tutorials are also logged in this nice in-game book that is always with you, which is more useful than forcing me to do it once in full! Super Metroid also has a few tutorials when you grab a new item. When you get the morph ball, however, you are expected as a smart human being to understand how to use it without any direction. Instinct, experience, and common sense all play a role in when and where a tutorial should appear. If a little kid doesn't get it, but everyone else does, forget about the 1%.
I hope I got my point across. If the developers do it right, tutorials can be a great tool. Too many developers are stringing the tutorials into the story and gameplay and forcing the player to go through them. I can only hope that one of the future Zelda games will go back to this lack of tutorials. It isn't necessary to spoon feed us gamers that know what we're doing. Developers should have a concrete demographic, and stick to it. I don't want to be grouped with the old woman down the street who needs the tutorials, I want to be given a game that I can play with my own knowledge. That is the type of game we need today, and that is the way of thinking that got us this far.
Viewers be warned this is slightly explicit, but it sends the point home in the first five minutes. The whole video shows much more detail, and it does it right.