Monday, December 21, 2009

Modern Warfare 2.1.2 - D&I Ideas

This is the fourth part of a multi-part Modern Warfare 2 review.

Disclaimer: as in other reviews, I consider design solutions to perceived gameplay problems below. They are shared without knowing whether others experience the same problems or that they would even be feasible during game development, but I greatly enjoy thinking about design in this context and discussing it regardless.

Death & Immersion Ideas
In the last installment, I mentioned how awesome the Modern Warfare experience is when playing the role expected of me, but that I often instead feel like I'm going through the motions, dying repeatedly until I stumbled upon what the designers want me to do.

One problem mentioned was that I have difficulty reading my situation in the chaos, which led me to consider making the actions I'm supposed to take clearer in each scenario. For example, the designers could ensure the voice of my commanding officer is always clear, or paint better markers on the screen to lead me, or give me clearer introductions to combat situations with fly-throughs. But this seems a bad idea since being lost in the chaos of war can be an important part of the combat experience, and it does little to address my other big disruption, which was to follow my gamer habit of "doing my own thing."

Upon further thought, I wondered if a better idea was to simply alter my expectations at game start, giving me the mentality of a soldier. Again, if you have a design pill you know players will have to swallow (e.g., dying muchly) then introduce it early; if the success of your players lies in ignoring their game habits and obeying orders then introduce that up front as well.

The training course at the start of Modern Warfare should not just teach me how to use the controller and manipulate weapons, but how to focus on commands. If it featured an officer whose commands meant life or "training-course death" -- who reinforced, out-loud, with in-game commentary that focusing on commands in the thick of combat will determine your ultimate success or failure -- I think it would help me understand the rules the designers want me to play by and help immerse me in the Modern Warfare experience.

For the following installments, just a quick comment on story, and then on multiplayer and reviews.


  1. This brings to mind scenarios where i'd hear "Roach go... the...and..." and that was it, i'd have to move on from there. Sometimes the commands are either not said loud enough or the hailstorm of grenades, rpg's , flashbangs, and bullets tend to keep my eyes and ears more focused on not getting killed rather than following commands. It was a little weird completing a whole level and not recalling a single reason as to why we were there or what we were doing coz the guns were a hell of a lot louder than the words.

    Ignorance is bliss I guess, and you've managed to jack out of the matrix. I never gave the whole dying early and frequently thing a second thought till I read your earlier post.

    P.s how did the guys at Rocksteady have enough time to create a second Arkham Asylum, didn't think they'd be done counting their chips by now?

  2. Hehe. Who knows where they are on Arkham, really, but if a team is doing rather little to core gameplay then it's a lot simpler to iterate on quickly. Going fast may actually benefit them, since how much an audience expects a gameplay experience to bring something new to the table is probably linked to how long it's been since they last played it. Ha, and whether or not it has multiplayer (e.g., L4D2).