The Finer Points: Scripted Losses are Bad Game Design

I’ve ranted on Twitter a couple times about scripted losses in games, and a fair number of people still seem to think they’re pretty decent ideas, so I thought I’d get into the meat of what makes them poor design. The bottom line is they violate too many of player’s expectations in a lot of ways developers probably don’t even realize—like many issues in gaming, it’s really easy to overlook when you know what’s going on, but when you don’t, hoo boy.

Losing Sucks

So this isn’t news. But I think game devs underestimate just how a sudden loss can affect players. Allow me to tell you a story from my youth. From the ancient times, when all games were pixels, and “multiplayer” often meant taking turns in a single-character platformer or just plain ol’ watching a friend play a single player game all day.

I was playing Chrono Trigger with a friend on my Playstation, a bit late to the game. He had beaten the game on SNES before I had even played, but he didn’t want to spoil the game so I was going in fairly blind. The only RPG I had played before this was Super Mario RPG, at that same friend’s house. I never owned a copy.

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On pace and walking simulators

pace
noun
1. a rate of movement, especially in stepping, walking, etc.: to walk at a brisk pace of five miles an hour.

2. a rate of activity, progress, growth, performance, etc.; tempo.

While playing TIMEframe I found myself thinking–isn’t this a bit slow? As a “walking simulator” (forgive my use of the term, I don’t mean it derogatorily), TIMEframe’s primary input is, yes, walking. And I began to notice something about the genre: they really all are quite slow–very much walking sims and not running sims.

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