Created By: Ruuttu on January 29, 2013 Last Edited By: Ruuttu on February 1, 2013

Missing Out

When a game loses half it's charm because the player just isn't paying attention.

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The interactive nature of video games makes storytelling a complicated issue. The player may welcome the freedom given but with great power comes great responsibility. You know, things like not staring at a wall while a massive cinematic explosion is taking place at the opposite direction.

Some players are more prone to this than others, and likewise some games suffer from it more. The massive frustration exists only for that someone else looking over the shoulder of a player completely missing out.

Common issues:
  • Running right past cool props and events.
  • Not using most of the available gameplay mechanics.
  • Not paying attention to the plot, "just playing", then having difficulty to progress without knowing what's going on.

Specific examples:
  • In Portal 2, while GLaDOS is waking up and Wheatley is panicking the player is often fully preoccupied trying to escape. There's even a totally out-of-place concrete wall that just spawns behind the player so they at least wouldn't look that way.
  • The tutorial in Alan Wake will actually let you go if you don't manage to learn the dodge mechanic after a while. An ignorant player will just continue and later hit the wall.
  • Any Fallout game with a player not willing to read. The game session usually won't last very long.
Community Feedback Replies: 7
  • January 29, 2013
    Definitely related to Narrative Filigree. I do have a feeling that we have something like this already, though.

    • The inverse is enforced in Ace Combat Assault Horizon, where every major cut-scene is preceded by a Quick Time Event that makes the player look in the right direction if successful, and ends the game if failed.
  • January 30, 2013
  • January 30, 2013
    I feel like we've got to have something that covers this... somewhere. Anyhoo.

  • January 30, 2013
    Didn't Valve once make an example of some barels being used to stall the player so that they could see a vista after being in some caves?
  • January 30, 2013
    Skyrim is similar to Fallout 3 in that is has lots of spoken dialogue but a player could just click through every dialogue tree to accepts any quests a character might give and then follow the quest marks to accomplish it, all without knowing nothing more of his task than what the quest title reveals. There are also tons of books that mostly do nothing but provide background information.
  • January 30, 2013
    Unknown Troper
    @henke37 That was in Half-life 2 Episode Two I believe. It's mentioned on the developer's commentary. It doesn't force the player to look the right way and it doesn't prevent the player from progressing either. Apparently it still works for most players so it's quite a clever bit of psychological engineering.
  • February 1, 2013
    In Jade Empire, the tutorial at the beginning of the game doesn't tell you anything about Harmonic Combinations, a technique that combines two of you martial arts attacks to kill an enemy instantly. The only in-game information on these combinations is a scroll you can read, but you can easily miss the scroll, or not understand its instructions well enough to use Harmonic Combinations. It's perfectly possible to finish the game without ever learning about or using this game mechanic.