The devil is in the details

November 29, 2006 by Tim

I want to talk for a moment about some game features I’d like to see more of.

For me, most of the time, it’s the details in a game that really make it shine. I mean all the obvious stuff like good graphics, good controls, good story, etc, are a given. I mean we all want those things in any given game. So if two fairly similar games have all that, then what sets them apart? For me, it’s the details.

Most often the details are completely irrelevant to gameplay, they’re just little additions that make the game better in some way.

For instance, one of the details I love in games is stat-tracking. Spider-man 2, on the Xbox did it, The Godfather does it, Superman Returns: The Game does it… I think Hulk: Ultimate Destruction did it. It keeps track of some of the most ridiculous stats in the game, but I love it. And it doesn’t have any effect on gameplay.

In The Godfather, I can see how much distance I’ve travelled on foot, how far I’ve driven, how many mobsters I’ve killed and what families they’ve been from. I can see how many times I’ve been arrested or sent to the hospital, how many bullets I’ve fired and how many hit their target. As I said, this stuff is entirely irrelevant, but after you’ve put 30 hours into a game, it’s just really neat to check out your cumulative progress in some of that stuff. So I really enjoy when games throw that in there.

Another feature I’d really like to see used more is what Rainbow Six: Vegas did with the Xbox Camera- letting you put your face in the game. Now I think this worked with RSV because of the graphical style of the game. Your face on the characters bodies didn’t look out of place. In certain games, like Gears of War, where everything is super detailed and rendered, something like this wouldn’t fit. And I certainly would want it used appropriately for the game. For instance, I don’t want Master Chief to take off his helmet in Halo 3 and then see “Hey! It’s me!”. That doesn’t fit with the atmosphere of the game at all.

But for multiplayer aspects of games especially, I think it’s a really neat feature. You and clip of bullets into their best friend’s face?

I think it would be a neat feature in a game like Crackdown. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this game… it was certainly flying underneath my radar until recently. But the concept is intriguing. It’s got co-op in a sandbox sort of genre, but you aren’t attached at the hip like most co-op games. You can separate and do missions entirely independant of eachother, if you want.

Also picking up and throwing cars is always enjoyable.

I also want to give a big thank you to Adam, who was the winner of that auction benefitting the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The auction was a huge success, and I’m grateful for Adam’s generosity. Your books are en route, Adam!

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