If a few years ago, in the beginning of the modern game era, we thought that we were really smart or video game gods if we got through a certain level or beat a certain boss, nowadays things have changed a little. Players have come to the realization that it’s not really their extraordinary skill that makes them win certain battles. It’s the wish of the developers. Those little tricks they use to make the player feel good and have faith in himself. This is why, recently, some video game developers revealed some of their secrets to the world, via Twitter.
Tricking the player
In Surgeon Simulator we hid many features to incite curiosity: for instance, if you dial your real phone number in the game, it calls you.
— Henrique Olifiers (@Olifiers) September 3, 2017
Dark Souls 3 bosses follow a specific time signature along with the music for their attacks, the hardest boss in the game breaks this flow.
— Sean Likes Bees (@OxyOxspring) September 1, 2017
One of the first games that came into discussion was Bioshock. Ever wondered why those first bullets of the game never managed to hit the player? No, it’s not because everyone is extremely skilled at dodging them. It’s because the developers programmed those bullets to always miss. We must acknowledge the fact that this was indeed a very encouraging move. It cannot be fun to suddenly die by a bullet right in the beginning of a game. It makes you to never want to play that game again.
Also concerning Bioshock, the sequel this time, the game’s director said that those Big Daddies would start moving much slower when you have your back turned on them. This is because they wanted to avoid the player’s sudden death by the huge drill arm. This discussion began when the design leader for Earthlight, Jennifer Scheurle, asked developers to share the favorite tricks to fool the players. Another good example concerns games like Doom or Assassin’s Creed. That last bit of life always lasts more than it should, in order to give you a chance to heal and continue the game.
Hellblade started it all
It’s very interesting that the idea for this discussion came to Jennifer from the recent game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. In that game, the player receives a warning in the beginning. It’s saying that dying too many times will make Senua lose her mind and the save data will be completely erased. Well, many people proved that this permadeath thing is not actually true. However, it doesn’t have to be. It just needs to make the player believe it is, in order to add more meaning to the entire narrative.
Image source: flickr