F'ing Up Isn't So Bad

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 NEXT
 

Pandora's Tower handles this very well whilst taking the concept of fucking up in a completely different direction. The game's name is not very memorable, so I'm going to call it Nintendo's "Mai Tentacle Waifu Game" (MTWG) which pretty much sums up the entire concept and story.

You can't really fuck up in MTWG so much: pretty much any challenge _can_ be made trivial by treating potions like a heroin addiction. The game mechanics are pretty much Zelda with a hookshot that does all the things YOU'D use it for if given a hookshot in a world with an incredibly loose concept of physics. However, if you take too long in a boss fight, or get greedy with your exploration... a little timer gets closer to expiring and you get treated to seeing an NPC effectively get the shit beaten through her by the tentacle curse at various levels of sadism accodring to how little time was left on the clock, as well as currency penalties in case you don't really pity either of the characters (she smashes up the treasures you've acquired in anger) that you can repay immediately, or let linger (they are capped somewhat by how many valuable ones you've acquired/presented to her).

Ignore this NPC or fuck up too many times without working back to fix the shit you've fucked up, and you get treated to an abysmal ending. Yet the best bit of game design is how the fuckups are framed to always appear to hold more weight than they really do. In reality, as you traverse the game further in, you'll find currency becomes easier to acquire, making repairs easier, and more ways to make up for your mistakes. The game never ends up in a broken state. For every bad ending you get -- and these aren't just game over screens but a handful of actual "you fucked up good and proper" bad endings -- MTWG lets you jump back in and try to fix that mistake. In fact, if you get the almost best ending, they'll give you a leg up on the best one as a reward for beating the final boss.

Great article overall, but that last paragraph is pure gold, and one I believe I shall be adding to my long list of genuine life quotes from Yahtzee, right up there with 'The cruelest thing you can do to an artist is tell him his work is perfect when it isn't'.

TheNaut131:

DVS BSTrD:

TheNaut131:

That's pretty much how I felt during certain parts of the game. Mainly whenever there was a high place I could jump from, something I could jump through, or something I could blow up.

Max Payne 3 had these little things here and there that were just screaming for you to use them. Sure Max, you could hide behind that crate, dodge a few grenades, take out the enemies in this room with some diffulty then do the same for the second wave so you can run up the stairs and across the cat walk to the next section.

OR you could shotgun the fuck out of the guys in front of you, force your way up the stairs while returning fire, finally get to the catwalk shooting at whoever's up there and then bullet dodge off the catwalk as the next wave of enemies enter the room while raining death from above.

It took me about 8 times to actually pull this off.

And it was completely fucking worth it!

Which chapter was that?

Cahpter 5 I believe.

I'll have to try that again. Any exploding barrels? I always miss those.

Interesting, after reading this I started clicking through to other features on the site and ended up reading the extra punctuation on Alan Wake. About two years old, it ended with something very similar:

"Like that cutscene in Alan Wake where Alan flees from the cops as bullets whistle by his head in slightly out-of-place slow motion - let ME do that. There is admittedly the chance I'll run the wrong way or start humping a lamp-post, but then you just shoot my dumb ass in the head. Seriously. I deserve it."

My absolute favorite fuck-up from Max Payne 3 was on the boat level (oh sorry SPOILERS you are on a boat at one point) and there's a bunch of baddies on a level slightly higher than me. so, i shootdodge backwards, taking out all 3 of them in one graceful sweep of dual baretta fire, realizing too late i was sailing slowly towards a lower area i was not supposed to be as i had accidentally jumped right over a railing behind me, causing an ignominious death. Me and the guy watching me cracked up for a good 40 seconds. it was glorious.

Zhukov:
It occurs to me that it would be nice if games could find a way for the player to fail every now and again without getting a game over and subsequent failure-cancelling time rewind.

The Dynasty Warriors games do this to an extent. Usually, within each map there are several sub objectives that you are given. Completing them usually results in the mission being resolved sooner or with more money or xp, while fucking them up results in the enemy forces getting tougher and/or more numerous. But even if you fuck all of them up, as long as you haven't allowed the actual lose condition to occur, you can still brute force your way through the entire enemy army (and sometimes it's more fun that way, too).

The point and click adventure games were great for fucking up, it even seemed to encourage it. I have spent as much time intently pursuing the wrong solutions for those games as I have the right ones, just so I could hear the extra lines of witty dialogue.

Zhukov:

Ragsnstitches:

Zhukov:
It occurs to me that it would be nice if games could find a way for the player to fail every now and again without getting a game over and subsequent failure-cancelling time rewind.

What about a system similar to Bioshocks Vita-Chambers? The way they work is that, even if you fuck up, the game world continues on and you simply respawn in another location, the world still been afflicted by the fuck-up you caused earlier. Unfortunately that can't work for every game (and there are those who think that Vita Chambers didn't work for Bioshock anyway).

I was one such person. I always played with the vita-chambers turned off.

The problem with those and systems like them is that they remove the consequences for fucking up. They don't even penalise your progression the way a checkpoint or quickload does.

A perfect system would allow you to fail, penalise you for it, but then (at least in the case of a non-terminal failure) allow things to keep going without compromising the narrative... somehow.

The only example I can think of is losing a battle in a strategy game. You suffer a failure, but the wheels keep turning. However that sort of thing can't really be adapted to other forms of gameplay.

Well, System Shock 2 did it quite nicely by making them fairly spread apart and deducting a monetary penalty for using them.

"I maintain nonetheless that yin-yang dualism can be overcome. With sufficient enlightenment we can give substance to any distinction: mind without body, north without south, pleasure without pain"

Actually this is a problem I have with Skyrim/Oblivion. Their auto-levelling crap means that there are no truly dangerous or truly safe places (outside the towns where enemies can't exist). Both games are mainly about exploration and avatar growth, but since there's no real difference in how dangerous any place is, all exploration is purely audiovisual. "Go here because it looks cool" isn't as good as "go here because it looks cool, it's really dangerous and it has a great sword". The growth is similarly hampered because there's no going through somewhere that used to be really dangerous and judo-chopping everyone without breaking a sweat.

Nice article. A little late to the party though. Most people who play strategy games and stealth games already know all this.

A game I had encountered relatively recently is Happy Wheels. It's a free flash game where you maneuver a rag doll character on some sort of vehicle towards an ending goal. But the real point of the game is to fuck up. The characters are incredible fragile and tend to lose limbs with great spouting founts of blood at the slightest provocation. Most of the levels are user-made and thus poorly designed and blisteringly unfair. That is exactly what you want. It needs to be unfair so you can get through by the skin of your teeth with only half your limbs or to die is a great, red cloud of fluids and body parts. The most interesting things happen when you fuck up and let you laugh at your own ineptitude. There is no possible way to do well in this game. The controls are shit. The level design is shit. Getting through to the end is not really your goal. It's just there to point you in a direction and get you moving.

Letting the player fail in gameplay is a great idea, but I'd really like to see more games that let you fail narratively and still keep going.

Like, if you don't make it to the closing door to the enemy base in time, you'll need to find another way inside. And if you don't kill all the baddies before they drag the hostage away you get an extra car chase mission. If you lose the boss fight he gets chased away by reinforcements before he can finish you and the game continues, but you'll have to fight him again later in an even tougher boss battle. Etc.

Basically, dynamically change the story a small amount based on how successful the player is. Let the player fail 3 or 4 times before giving them a game over so they feel they have to reload the moment a quest objective is missed.

I only know of a few games that do this. Heavy Rain was mentioned above, Deus Ex, and I heard that Borderlands 2 will have this feature. Anyone else know of any more games like that?

You mean like in Halo when you try to jump out of a falcon to jack a banshee and end up smacking face first into the ground...maybe I should talk about something he actually knows about.

DVS BSTrD:

TheNaut131:

DVS BSTrD:
Which chapter was that?

Cahpter 5 I believe.

I'll have to try that again. Any exploding barrels? I always miss those.

By the docks there were a bunch of them, right next to where enemies were taking cover. ...which I somehow managed to miss the first time around. It wasn't until I replayed a few certain sections that I said, "Wait a second, those yellow things are gasoline tanks!"

Last summer, I tried to have a girlfriend. I soon realized that I actually have no emotions, not even love, and the relationship drifted away like Clint Eastwood after he's killed all the Mexicans. Afterwards, I realized that I'd learned much more about myself and the way I interacted with the world than I would have if it had actually worked out. And now I know how to do things better next time. So yeah, fucking up is great. Fucking in itself is great too, I'm sure, but due to numerous fuck-ups I haven't gotten to that point yet.

Confucius say "bad decision make good story."

Yes, I agree a lot with this I once tried to make my own dota map in war3 and for some reason it never felt very fun to play. Later when I then tried the real dota map I learned that the reason it was fun is because all the actions where skills shot(click on ground) instead of click on character, this way in a dota game you could fuck up your moves while in my game the moves would always work which in turn also made everything very sterile and inorganic. This is one of the most important lessons to learn about video game design.

I kinda agree with this.
The most fun I had on Resident Evil 5 was when my friend and I were playing co-op. There was a part where the floor gave out and you had to hit a button to land properly or you would lose some health. My friend does a perfect landing while you can see me land with a belly flop right beside him.

I don't often gush like this but I wholeheartedly agree. The greatest example still fresh in my mind at the moment is Skyrim. Skyrim has many pre-baked "super awesome" finishing moves were you clip your sword though an enemy or chop their head off or blah de blah. They all wither into insignificance after the first time a giant clubs you into a low orbit. It's you and the game fucking up in perfect harmony and it is beautiful.

Good points. Invisible (protective) walls are a good example of this. If you have the urge to do acrobatics on a railing, when you should just be moving forward, you should also meet the possibility of your character falling into certain death.

While I agree with Yathzee in theory, I don't think anyone actually shares in the fuckups of their player avatar. Nope. It was definitely the controls, lag, my cat walking in front of the TV or looking at me funny from across the room, that fucking irritating noise from somewhere that I can't identify, or the game being a stupid fucking piece of shit that the developers should commit suicide for unleashing on an unsuspecting public.

Altered Nova:
Letting the player fail in gameplay is a great idea, but I'd really like to see more games that let you fail narratively and still keep going.

Like, if you don't make it to the closing door to the enemy base in time, you'll need to find another way inside. And if you don't kill all the baddies before they drag the hostage away you get an extra car chase mission. If you lose the boss fight he gets chased away by reinforcements before he can finish you and the game continues, but you'll have to fight him again later in an even tougher boss battle. Etc.

Basically, dynamically change the story a small amount based on how successful the player is. Let the player fail 3 or 4 times before giving them a game over so they feel they have to reload the moment a quest objective is missed.

I only know of a few games that do this. Heavy Rain was mentioned above, Deus Ex, and I heard that Borderlands 2 will have this feature. Anyone else know of any more games like that?

Games with bad endings when you don't know how to achieve the bad endings could be an example.

Silent Hill 4 comes to mind if you get a bad one in your first playthrough.

But it is a kind of extreme example.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Like in all those opening cinematics from Devil May Cry or Bayonetta in which the player character figuratively jerks off into the camera while you sit and watch or go make yourself a rum and coke.

I just want to point out that while Bayonetta/DMC are bad examples in that context, they're gameplay the exact opposite of what you're complaining about. Barring Bayonetta's boss fights and some of DMC 4, the combat is totally organic. If you want to do something cool, you better damn well know how to do it. I kinda wish the boss fights would go back to being like that too *sigh*

I enjoy self-imposed challenges and attempts to screw things up on purpose. For instance, in Fallout New Vegas, I attempted my own "retard run", where I'd conciously pick all the worst possible options in any given scenario. That includes convincing Boon to murder his best friend (and then admitting you did it for no reason). It means interrogating the centurion until he's willing to talk, and then punching him to death before he can finish. It means letting the monorail explode, letting Kimball get murdered, and allowing a suicide bomber blow up the Van Graffs.

There is so much game there I wouldn't have got to see, because I'm not accustomed to selecting the obviously terrible choices.

My favourite fucking up though happened in Fallout 3. I had to rescue children from a slave camp, but the slavers wouldn't let me enter until I earned their trust. They assigned me the task of enslaving certain individuals. Unfortunately, the woman I had to enslave had already been taken prisoner by super mutants. So, to summarise, I had to save the woman, enslave her, and finally free her again when it came to rescuing the children in the end. The fucking up came when I tried to enslave her once more, for old times sake, and her head spontaniously exploded.

"Final Fantasy choreographed zero-gravity swordfight taking place on the side of a nuclear missile as it speeds towards the puppy kingdom"

Ok... visualizing it... that sounds CRAZY AWESOME!!!

OT: I think it matters most that the fuck up to success ratio that the game gives the player is balanced. NOBODY likes it when a game is so frustratingly difficult that it takes dozen tries to get past just the game's first boss, yet a game where you have practically no chance of ever fucking up is also boring, as Yahtzee said.

Oh, and Yahtzee? Why oh WHY did you have to mention eating lots of Cadbury Creme Eggs?!? Now I'm hungry for CCE right now! What's worse, I can't get any CCE for a while! CURSE YOU!!!

Captcha: cherry on top

Yes Captcha, somebody give me some Cadbury Creme Eggs! Pretty please!

I have two favorite fuck ups, the first was in Hitman: Blood Money (the king of OHSHITOHSHITRUNRUNRUNRUN!). It was in the theater mission while I was still poking at the system. I left an explosive right outside the door where my target would come out of, though much to my surprise a little 4 foot potted plant didn't quite cover me and the guards started shooting me. I got some distance and noticed that my target was RIGHT on top of the bomb as he was being escorted out and BLEW THAT MOTHER SKY HIGH! Along with a group of fleeing tourist. Probably some mothers in there too. Wasn't terribly professional, I know.

Second was the original Assassin's Creed. I was trying to kill a doctor or someone, I don't honestly remember. I hid inside a group of monks until we got close and broke off for a little stabby stabby until OH NO one of his patients decided he was going to twitch his way between us. Cover blown, guards everywhere, after killing about three people I realized my target was already about three blocks away. "Should I restart?" I thought to myself, followed by an "Ehhhh fuck it" and I started bolting after the guy. Starting climbing buildings and running past archers until I had him in my sights. He jumped off the building onto the street and I jumped to another building, ran along side him, and LEAPED on top of him. Missed. Got hit by a few guards and started throwing knifes at the dude. After about four in his back he decided he was done moving and FINALLY stabbed him, as stabbing seems to be the only way to kill important people in the AC universe.

Stealth games are fun.

Zhukov:

Ragsnstitches:

Zhukov:
It occurs to me that it would be nice if games could find a way for the player to fail every now and again without getting a game over and subsequent failure-cancelling time rewind.

What about a system similar to Bioshocks Vita-Chambers? The way they work is that, even if you fuck up, the game world continues on and you simply respawn in another location, the world still been afflicted by the fuck-up you caused earlier. Unfortunately that can't work for every game (and there are those who think that Vita Chambers didn't work for Bioshock anyway).

I was one such person. I always played with the vita-chambers turned off.

The problem with those and systems like them is that they remove the consequences for fucking up. They don't even penalise your progression the way a checkpoint or quickload does.

A perfect system would allow you to fail, penalise you for it, but then (at least in the case of a non-terminal failure) allow things to keep going without compromising the narrative... somehow.

The only example I can think of is losing a battle in a strategy game. You suffer a failure, but the wheels keep turning. However that sort of thing can't really be adapted to other forms of gameplay.

Many semi-stealth games have a quite effective way of handling this. The most notable attempt would be the Hitman series, where your fancy-pants ninja approach of assassinating your target by dropping poisoned fish on him while dangling from his favourite chandelier is quite liable to fail - and plan B involves guns. Lots of guns.

There's also dark/dead souls, with its "shadow" mode if you die. I can't really comment though on well it actually works, as being a member of the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race means I haven't had the chance yet to play it myself.

Zhukov:

Imp Emissary:

Zhukov:
[snip]

I think adding in mechanics that you can succeed/fail at without having to die directly because of the failure is the best way to go.

Some games do that, at least kinda.

There's this one bit in Human Revolution where you have to protect Malick, your pilot. If you don't dispatch the enemies in time she dies, but the game keeps right on going.

Of course, that doesn't stop people from quickloading the failure away, which is exactly what I did.

I played non-lethal the first time through, and just bugged out and sprinted across the construction site to the elevator, thirty minutes later I was looking for an old save because letting Malick die without even trying to save her was...an unpleasant feeling.

I see where you are coming from, and am reminded of X-Com (obviously) and also the "good" Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon games. With X-Com of course failure was always an option but not an end game state. While in Rainbow Six you could fuck up and lose an entire fire team and yet still complete the mission. I still remember one time in Rogue Spear finishing the final level after losing both my assault teams and only having a sniper left. Recovering from fuck ups is really what is needed. To often fucking up just results in a game over screen.

Zhukov:

Shjade:

Zhukov:
The only example I can think of is losing a battle in a strategy game. You suffer a failure, but the wheels keep turning. However that sort of thing can't really be adapted to other forms of gameplay.

Nor does it do what you're suggesting you want to have happen here. Losing a battle in a strategy game may not cause you to get a game over at that instant, but the long-term ramifications of that loss are likely to cause you to lose five, ten, twenty minutes further down the line.

Delayed game over is still game over. You're already dead even if you haven't accepted it yet.

Which strategy games have you been playing?

If losing a single battle loses you the entire game then they obviously weren't very good ones.

Not every battle will lose you the game, but a single pivotal battle very easily can.

Take Starcraft (or Starcraft 2, either way the principle is the same). Early on in the game you find yourself attacked by a far stronger push than you're expecting. You manage to hold it off, but you take significant damage to your economy in the process, enough so that for the rest of the game you're pretty much behind. Roughly seven to ten minutes later your opponent follows up with a larger push you simply don't have enough units to defend. You lose.

Let's take a long game example instead. Aside from a few scouting skirmishes here and there the game is pretty much even up to about twenty, twenty-five minutes in. One side harassed, the other defended, vice versa, until both sides are pushing 180+ supply. There's a big full-on battle in which one side has a positional advantage and crushes the opposing army pretty handily, but not in a manner so one-sided that they can just keep pushing and destroy the base. It is, however, a significant enough advantage that the supply differential is always in the favor of the winner of that battle from then on, who proceeds to simply strangle his opponent by denying expansions, containing, keeping control of most of the map, and eventually wins a war of attrition.

In other words, winning a single battle can be all it takes to make it your game to lose, rather than your game to win. Assuming both players are competent, anyway. If you're talking about the AI, that's a different ball of wax in which you basically just have to figure out what strategy a given map is designed to encourage and exploit that before the AI cheats enough to kill you, in most strategy games anyway. ;p

charliesbass:
The bit you said at the end there, like we'd never know happiness without sorrow and stuff, I still think chocolate would taste brilliant even if we didn't have broccoli. Broccoli, in no way, affects the taste of chocolate. I think Lindit Bunny's taste better than Cadbury's cream eggs, not because cream eggs are bad, but that Lindit Bunny's are better by comparison, even though I love Cadbury's cream eggs. There doesn't need to be a binary switch between happiness and sorrow, there can be inbetweeny bits, and some inbetweeny bits are better than others. But happiness compared to extreme happiness, I would choose the latter, but it doesn't mean that we shouldn't have happiness because one is better. But yeah, I see what you mean.

that would be all garden of eden again, where there is a simulation of contrast (shooter a vs shooter b) but you would never know about actually well prepared broccoli, and it would be a false joy born of oblivion

Zhukov:
It occurs to me that it would be nice if games could find a way for the player to fail every now and again without getting a game over and subsequent failure-cancelling time rewind.

I find it extremely important for a shooter to let me carry on after a failed mission. In Goldeneye or Perfect Dark, having the game quietly tell me I had failed an objective, but then step back and allow me to take out my murderous frustration on the guards that caused me to fuck up, isn't just cathartic, but in my view a very important design decision. I can let out my rage, calm down, and be ready to try again, all during actual gameplay rather than a death screen.

In Operation Flashpoint, you get a death screen, but there's a nice touch where the camera hovers over your corpse, then gradually pulls back into the sky. If you died during a firefight, if you're lucky you get to watch the whole rest of the firefight play out, and perhaps see who wins the fight without your continued input. I like that.

Woodsey:

That was infinitely more interesting, exciting and tense, than any set-piece dreamt up by one of the many failed filmmakers that seem to have wormed their way into mainstream developer studios.

Yeah, I'll say. I could only imagine the gut wreching tension you would have been under as you dragged yourself through that town, bleeding, knowing there were definitely zombies nearby, looking for morphine.

Arkham City. Make sure you're alone if you try to do a finishing move, or you'll get rupted by an elbow to the face.

when I picked up Max Payne 3 and did a slow motion dive...only to smack my head against a cubicle wall...man that was something!

nice to see Yahtzee picked up on that in the game and saw something in it. I do agree it was pretty hilarious even if I ended up getting shot to hell. plus it fit better with the story considering Max constantly going "oh man I'm so old and stupid but I keep doing this whyy" lol

I remember a moment in one of the Tenchu games. Sneaky stealth ninja games, not like those flying everywhere shooting lightning ninjas we get these days.

Anyway, two guards were patrolling side by side, I knifed one without the other noticing, but missed the second. I chased after him, but he started to turn and was going to see me, so I jumped over his head. He saw his dead friend but missed me completely as I broke him in half before hitting the ground.

It was as amazing as it was impossible to duplicate.

Seems to me that the big difficulty with alowwing you to fuck up (in some major way, not just ending up with a bucket on your head or something) in a game and have it keep going in some way is the sheer amount of planning and work it would take. Every single critical failure point would need to have two (or more) stories created from that point forward, one for success and one for failure.

 Pages PREV 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here