Reasons to Look Around

Reasons to Look Around

Sometimes it pays to get a little lost.

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Well Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was set in North Korea and was just a semi-realistic recreations of North Korean cities and countryside.

However, I still wanted to explore it because this opens up new areas for me to approach various contracts. There are two particular contracts where you need to assassinate multiple targets and you are given a bonus if you do it without being seen.

You could just easily charge in and kill the targets, but if you explore around and look for vantage points it becomes so much more satisfying when you set up on a hill, take a shot with your sniper rifle, get into your civilian vehicle and casually drive past the confused soldiers frantically looking for you.

The game effectively uses the sandbox to allow you to approach contracts how you want and come up with different approaches and possibilities to how you finish the contract.

How curious that you like to follow the traffic rules in GTA. Part of the joy of that game for me is precisely immersing myself in the environment whilst purposefully breaking every rule.

Living life on the darkside - running the reds, getting out and beating someone up then stealing their car because they hit you, when you broke the law. Good times and fun to flaunt the IS/OUGHT dilemma.

The article was excellent, well written and thoughtful. Thank you!

I hadn't even thought of TWEWY until the article brought it up. It's true - I don't even like jpop, but I wouldn't have anything but that music for the setting of the game. Everything from the art style and clothes to the game mechanics matches Shibuya perfectly.

I hope Square does more games like that in the future - I had lost hope in them as a developer before that.

The picture for this article brings back so much pain. That stupid effing area of Dark Souls is the biggest pain in the ass ever! And as a knight it's nearly impossible to get any of the gem lizards in there. Twice I got cursed by those toads. The one time I made it all the way down I was murdered by mushrooms (stupidly). That one area made me lose interest in the game. How sad.

Try looking up the free downloadable game "La Mulana". While it features some pretty archaic mechanics, the oddly detailed archeological ruins can absorb you into it's world. Much like Dark Souls, you have to be observant and careful, because every action you take can have strong effects on the world, and it is often as unsafe as it looks. Of course, this makes it pretty difficult, but it's worth it to find these bizarre worlds. It's easy to get lost just exploring the areas and puzzling out what mechanics you need to use to get the various treasures.

An excellent article. Regarding psychogeography, particularly that of London, I'd recommend the esteemed Mr. Stephen Grasso.
Stephen Grasso's Smoke & Mirrors.

I think that Rift got this right with the artefacts and cairns. Artefacts would be hidden around the world in out of way areas, and cairns would be at the top of hard-to-climb mountains. The reward for finding them was very minimal, but I still felt compelled to look for them whenever I could.

I dunno, I think you are missing something here. While I don't particularly like GTAIV, I'll admit it had a fantastic setting. And while discovering a metaphor for one's darkest thoughts while straying off the path in, er, The Path seems to have a lot more weight to it than to simply go up to a Fake Burger Chain restaurant and finding a few of the employees outside on their smoke break, I'll argue that they are the same thing. In both cases your physical exploration of a landscape led you to discover something that has no obvious physical consequences (and in once case you cannot interact with meaningfully) but with resonates with your emotions in a way the designers intended - thoughtful and personal in one manner, gritty and matter-of-fact in another.

Compare that with Saints' Row the 3rd, a game which generally I liked better than GTAIV, but whose 'playground' approach to design meant that their city was just that, a playground. I took no joy from exploring Steelport because it never felt like a real city, whereas I took greater joy in exploring Liberty City even though I found the mechanics didn't support it as well.

Of course this aimless exploration is something that The Path does very deliberately, while GTAIV does only incidentally, but it's clear to me that they are not different things, just the same thing in different concentrations.

carpathic:
How curious that you like to follow the traffic rules in GTA. Part of the joy of that game for me is precisely immersing myself in the environment whilst purposefully breaking every rule.

I too follow traffic rules in GTA, and if consulted would have advised Rockstar on how bad an idea it was to make you wait to pay for the tolls, since driving NPCs assume you are not following traffic rules and will honk and try to drive past you if you are waiting perfectly in line at a red light.

Heh, even look at something like Assassin's Creed... I couldn't give a crap about the original storyline, I had more fun climbing up the side of buildings for no other reason than I wanted to see the view from the top.

Yay, a reference to de blob! Need to hurry up and finish my playthrough of the sequel.

carpathic:
How curious that you like to follow the traffic rules in GTA. Part of the joy of that game for me is precisely immersing myself in the environment whilst purposefully breaking every rule.

I think the real world setting intensifies the enjoyment one gets from getting up to mischief. I guess it is sort of like in pornography, how viewers tend to prefer it when there is a bit of story to the sex (err, or so I've heard), otherwise the sex comes off as mechanical and passionless. Shooting and running over pedestrians with wild abandon can get a bit repetative, but that is less likely to happen if the pedestrians are characterised or given context. In GTA, you see guys having loud phone conversations in the street, or evangelising preachers outside your house, just like they do in reality. Just by applying that smidgen of the real world, the act of running these guys over becomes far more satisfying.

EDIT: reading back that last sentance makes me cringe a little. I'm not a sociopath, honest!

As games get bigger? Looks at Daggerfall, looks back at article. Yeah right.

I agree with this article. I have always found the GTA games the best for inspiring exploration... but not only that, I also found myself settling into routine quite often, as I transited to certain areas of the game. For example driving back to your safehouse you tend to have set routes you take, ehrther its to avoit traffic, or whether you just like hitting the boxes in that certain allyway, you do it!

I also liked the fact you were always rewared for going off of the track! Like seeing something interesting to climb over like an old shell of a burnt out building will often allow you to find a hidden weapon cache or something!

As though I can understand the Skyrim always guiding you comment, I don't nessessarily agree with it... I find that even though the caves and mines and stuff are so linear, exploration, and discovering things yourself always pay off... each has their own story, but it's not always obviously told to you, and its the subtle things that you find that are the most rewarding!

seule:
Heh, even look at something like Assassin's Creed... I couldn't give a crap about the original storyline, I had more fun climbing up the side of buildings for no other reason than I wanted to see the view from the top.

this. after i finished the main storyline i though "screw it" started a game anew and spent 40 hours just going around the cities.

That being set, i once played a game of GTA III in which i tried to follow every rule possible. traffic lights, murder, stealing, ect. i only stole parked cars, and only if necessary. i murdered only when mission required it. it was.... a different experience. and in the end my criminal rating was just a newbie. the game was clearly designed to be played with criminal mind. still it was fun looking at how environment reacts (though it did very little). it would be interesting to try it in a game that has more interactive environment..... but there is none.
like take the GTA again, make limited number of cars/civilians, make them slowly increase in numbers over time. but if you destroy all pick-up trucks you wont see any for a while, then the police can also be altered with static amounts, while it does allow some abuse (kill all officers, save, profit) it would make the world feel more alive as it would react to your actions.

I think GTA made a wrong turn by adding a GPS. The first GTA, the top-down 2D one, felt more open to exploration. Exploration became a reward in itself because being familiar with the cities made car chases and getaways easier. It created a familiarity and appreciation of the city that the other games didn't achive for me.

A dotted line or an arrow can take so much away from the experience sometimes.

Strazdas:

That being set, i once played a game of GTA III in which i tried to follow every rule possible. traffic lights, murder, stealing, ect. i only stole parked cars, and only if necessary. i murdered only when mission required it. it was.... a different experience. and in the end my criminal rating was just a newbie. the game was clearly designed to be played with criminal mind. still it was fun looking at how environment reacts (though it did very little). it would be interesting to try it in a game that has more interactive environment..... but there is none.

Thats my experience as well. It really is very hard to play law-abiding citizen in GTA, it obviously isn't meant for it. In contrast the two Mafia games encourage sensible driving, which in turn makes car chases harder and more satisfying. When danger is the exception and not the norm, it feels more dangerous.

Complstely agree with the guy above me (potato head avatar), one of my best memories of Shadow of The Colossus was when i was on my third playthrough and i discovered a huge expanse of green meadows and seaside cliffs that i had never seen before. I travelled towards a large tree in the distance that was guarded by treacherous leaps across a ravine and a small mountain path. When i reached the tree it was brilliant, not only could i see for miles in the direction i'd come but there was a cave under the tree. I left my horse near an altar at the mouth of the cave and walked inside, i could hear the sounds of bats. Bats! I never knew there were bats in this game! It felt like i was the first person to ever find this place, what could possibly have been lost in here for countless eons?

Alas, i felt crushed with dissapointment. it was an alternate route to the sandworm colossus. He isn't even a good one.

I've only had that feeling in fleeting moments while in skyrim in places i'd never been before, but skyrim is just so big and horses are rubbish when you have to get off to fight Pack of Wolves That Go Down In One Hit #73845 every ten seconds. Fast travel is so convenient, and if you've never been to a city before you can just get a carriage. Oblivion did this much better, you leave the sewer and set off on your journey, all you know is "follow the red arrow" and so you follow...

...And follow, and follow, and follow...

I remember back in the day, one of my favourite things to do in Metroid (the original, of course) was to pull out a random password from my big book-o'-passwords, pick a direction (usually in Norfair), and just get lost. I didn't even care if I found any items or areas, just exploring this massive planet was the real excitement for me. It saddened me the first time I loaded it up and realised that I knew the whole game backwards and forwards now, I knew all the maps by heart, and it wasn't possible to do this any more. I knew the game too well.

Mostly good. I disagree with your take on GTA4.

I used to spend hours just driving around Liberty City on Hawg. Sometimes I would take an off road bike and putt around the various by ways and find things I had never seen. The first time I did anything like this I had seen an Armored Car up by one of the prison streets. I found a driveway where I could back in and watch an intersection and wait for another Armored Car. Cars came and went. There were accidents, one leading to a fight that ended with some random driver getting shot. I was still in the driveway looking for my portable piggy bank and some dude is laying dead in the street in front of me. Welcome to Liberty City. I stayed and eventually, well look here! An Armored Car. Now I just had to figure out how to crack that sucker open. Good times.

 

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