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Veteran Member - Level 12
This is a very interesting topic unique to Video Games, how much control should the player have. I've seen a lot of people say what they think on the matter and I'm going to share mine. I'll divide this into two categories, gameplay and story.
First off, I think there is such a thing as too much player control. Skyrim had one of the most uninteresting worlds to me, because it was so focused on letting me do everything that it forgot the part where I care. I didn't have any urge to help out the Mage college or the Stormcloaks, because there was literally nothing to make me care, I don't even remember the names of the quest givers. Skyrim doesn't have characters, it has the player avatar and quest givers. Combined with clunky combat I just lost all interest in Skyrim and stopped playing. Being a wanderer needs to have purpose to be compelling, there has to be some underlying reason besides a giant checklist to make open world games work. Yes, I can do everything, now tell me why, and I won't take "because you can" as an answer.
Also, demanding no tutorial is insane, I have no idea where that BS came from. Maybe back when people actually read the manual it was okay, but it's just not today, because nobody reads them. There should be some in game explanation of how everything works, I don't care if it's in the menu screen, I just want to figure out how to play the game without button mashing. Can you imagine playing a Video Game for the first time with literally no explanation of what 'HP' is or how to do anything. Let me tell you, having attended tournaments at the local library for Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart, I wish Mario Kart had a tutorial. I've had to explain the controls to kids playing for the first time on multiple occasions, and it gets annoying after a while.
And I haven't really encountered any examples of controlled gameplay that made me stop playing, mostly because I know it's going to open up eventually and it eventually does. I haven't played that many shooters, which is where people claim it's too developer controlled. So yeah, I haven't exactly had any experiences to talk about with this, just go read some articles on how shooters need to stop with the pointy arrows telling you where to go all the time and pretend that's what this paragraph is.
There have been all sorts of games promoting plot effecting choices made by the players, but it takes skill to do it right. For example, with Mass Effect paying close attention to all of the small details is the best way to enjoy the trilogy, the grand scheme never changes that much, but the very important details do. Player choice works best in character driven stories, Mass Effect was all about the characters to me, so to me, seeing how the characters acted in reaction to my choices was effect enough for me. With player choice, there's the limits of what the developers can accommodate for, the more choices there are, the less of an effect they'll have on the big things like where you go. For example, if there's only one choice in an entire game, then the developers would be able to make everything past that point different, but the more choices there are, the more possible combinations you have to account for. So less choices means bigger impact on the overall plot basically.
I have no problem with stories that involve no choice, as long as the gameplay as fun and has enough choice then I'm in. What irritates me is people saying that no permeant death means no tension, that is total BS. I can list many times where I was worried about a game over and I knew I could just restart the fight. I seriously wonder how anyone can enjoy Video Games if they need permeant death as a motivator to play. It provides more tension for sure, but there would still be some in the first place without it. I liked Kid Icarus: Uprising's plot because it was told through dialogue while playing the game, I'd actually like to see more games like that. Kid Icarus: Uprising had a surprisingly good plot and the delivery of it while playing was a great way to combine a scripted storyline with a gameplay filled with variables.
I know I've ranted a lot about too much player control, but that's because everybody knows there needs to be some. Nobody's arguing for less player control, it's just the quantity and how it effects the quality that starts the arguments. Basically, there needs to be player control, but there has to be direction for it to work. I need a reason to continue playing, or else the gameplay won't have enough time to get me hooked.
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