Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
On Difficulty Levels

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 13 Jul 2010 12:00
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I realize that there may be an immersion issue with being able to wave a magic wand and either cripple or beef up the entire cast, and having the option constantly there may tempt lazy players to chicken out of something that's well within their abilities if they'd just concentrate for five minutes. It's like switching on Noclip to find the path you're supposed to take; you tell yourself it'll be just this once, but the shame stays with you. So my suggestion is this: let us change the difficulty once, and only once, throughout the course of a playthrough. Either up or down. You could even do it within the context of the story. An allied NPC offers to help by poisoning the baddies' water supply or something, and you get a dialogue choice: give them the go-ahead, turn them down out of some bullshit about fighting honorably, or make some dismissive cocky remark that hurts the bad guys' feelings so they really knuckle down to give you a challenge from now on. That'd do the trick, right? And then if you find you need to shift the difficulty down even further, then that's probably the sign that you should go back to Super Princess Peach, junior.

"When are you going to give another update on Fun Space Game: The Game?"
- A whole mess of readers

Okay, admission time. Fun Space Game: The Game seems to be on a bit of a Fun Space Hiatus: The Hiatus. I just haven't worked on it in a long time because I became interested in something else. This is how I work on my hobby projects (and make no mistake, this is a hobby project - if I had a contract with the XBLA or whatever I'd probably be able to stay focused), and it's why I should probably have stuck to my usual policy of not telling anyone when I'm working on a game. For every game I've ever made, I've had three or four unfinished ones on the go. Which project will engage my interest long enough and often enough to actually get finished is a matter left entirely to fate. I can't afford to spend my dwindling hobby time on projects that aren't currently engaging my interest. I've got another AGS adventure game and a Game Maker 7 sequel to Art of Theft languishing neglected on my hard drive as we speak, too.

Fact is, now that FSG:TG has let me adequately familiarize myself with Unity3D, the fuller potential of the program has been opened up to me. I still think there needs to be another fun, pulpy space flight game like Star Control 2 to counterpoint the weary dryness of modern space games like EVE Online, but from my recent experiences with Alan Wake and the trailer for Silent Hill 8, it's become equally clear that games are also crying out for more genuinely scary games; games with subtle, underplayed scariness without expensive action sequences or bombastic orchestral scores spoiling the atmosphere. So that's what I've been playing around with of late: Actually Scary Game: The Game. A simple first-person adventure like a mix of Tex Murphy and System Shock with an emphasis on simple but effective scares. Maybe when I play the next Mass Effect sequel my thoughts will return to Fun Space Game, but for now this is what's firing my cylinders.

I apologize for giving the impression that FSG was where my affection solely lay, but what can I say, I'm a whore. But if I give any game development insight in the future, it could be for any one of these projects: Fun Space Game, Actually Scary Game, Non-Serious 90's Style Shooter Game, whatever. That's if I can find enough time to work on any game project as well as my second novel. The creative life, she is a bitch.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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