I have noticed a horrible trend in game design while playing with my XBox 360. This is obviously a marketing-led game design decision – shades of New Coke.
The trend has to do with giving the player EVERYTHING in the game in the first five minutes, and then taking it all away and making the player earn it back.
This horrible design technique (which I call Riches to Rags to Riches) was evident in Need for Speed and Kameo. In Need for Speed, the player starts out with an awesome fast car, great nitro boost, great tires, etc. Five minutes later, it is taken away and you have to start over with a crappy car. Kameo, which is a really lame game in almost every other way, also uses this horrible design technique of giving the player all powers and abilities right in the beginning. A few minutes later, your “evil” step-sister, or some other lame plot twist, takes all your powers away.
Obviously, much of the player’s classic incentive for building up their character is taken away if they already know what it is like. Need for Speed tries to replace that motivation with some fictional “revenge” where you have to impress some bloomy girl and beat this bloomy guy because he is a jerk.
Imagine if you spent the first half our in Diablo with all the best armor and the best weapons? But I can see the Dilbert marketing department sitting around saying, “We have to get them hooked, so let’s go ahead and rip up the whole game design and create a stupid fiction to trick the players.” Sorry, it doesn’t work!
FMV’s sweet comeback now with Ultra-Bloom to Mask Bad Acting:
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