Updates Wednesdays

Comic 439 - Contradictory game design

Posted on Wednesday, the 9th of December at 12:00 AM, 2020 in 2020

Author Notes:

DanVzare Wed, 9. Dec 12:00 AM, 2020 edit delete
I get it, it's supposed to be creepy. But the thing is, having a loud sound playing while the vision gets all blurry and twisty, isn't scary, it's annoying. And you can't get scared when you're annoyed.
So basically the game design punishes you for staying in the light, because that'll get you killed.
But the game design also punishes you for staying in the dark, because not only will you not be able to see anything, but the game will become increasingly more obnoxious as your sanity meter lowers.
This is obviously to get you to stay in the light, and only go into the dark when you need to.
The only problem is, light = death, dark = annoyed, annoyed > death, therefore logically you should stay in the dark. But if you do that, you'll quickly hate the game more than a room full of screaming toddlers, and therefore turn it off within the first ten minutes. This is not good game design.

The thing is, the sanity meter isn't even needed. Imagine if the Thief games had the same sanity meter?
I can already hear someone saying "Ah, but those are stealth games, not survival horror games", which would be correct. And yet, the Thief games have some of the scariest levels I've ever seen in a video game.
Just take out the sanity meter from Amnesia, and you'll still have the fact that you can't see in the dark, plus you won't annoy the players into quitting for playing the game in a logical manner. Add in the fact that the way low sanity only came across as annoying and not creepy (and it's impossible to be scared when you're annoyed) and it's a win-win for everyone.
It's no wonder why all of the games that copy Amnesia, don't have the sanity meter.

Now, obviously most people must be playing the game the way the developers intended. Which is that light = safe and dark = scary, therefore light > dark. But I approach games with a game designer's mindset. Which means I use logic, coupled with the game mechanics, to determine the optimal strategy. I don't instantly fall back onto what the typical person is expected to do (and if I do, I definitely don't stay there). For example, while most people go onto Mario Kart Wii and assume that automatic drifting is obviously worse than manual drifting because you don't get a boost, I instead look at how the handling changes with automatic drifting to realize it gives automatic inline drifting on all vehicles, therefore providing something better than manual drifting would for most vehicles.
In other words, I'm more sensitive to design choices, and therefore will more likely complain or praise something most people barely think about.