29 July 2013

And That Was The Second Time I Died...

Not exactly a pleasant experience, but a good learning one. I lucked out and ended up rolling some fairly strong stats. Combat was only problematic when it came to fighting more than one opponent, but once you get a rhythm going becomes fairly intuitive. I may be completely misreading something, but it’s silly that your initial stat values aren’t supposed to increase even if you have items that add to them (isn’t that the whole point of items and weapons, or leveling in general?). I died twice not from failing in combat, but from trying to take on any main characters, including the main villain (or one of them, anyway). Moreover, the book seemed to keep sending me back on the task of finding the thieves’ guild, which was how I died the first time. It was like that Bill Cosby routine about the Lone Ranger, “Tonto! Don’t go to town! They’re gonna beat ya up again!" I would make the choice not to go, get jumped by something else, then practically get flatout told, “Look, just go to the Thieves’ Guild!" I mean, I think I know what I’m supposed to do in order to not die by poisoned crossbow bolt, but I really didn’t feel like going back down that same windy, linear path to basically get into a situation where I’d have to break character and let the book lead me by the nose through its one (UND PRECISELY VUN) correct path. I had this same problem with a D&D-themed interactive DVD, where it mentioned all the possible outcomes, only to reveal all but one as instant death and add insult to injury by all the character-building moments coming by way of making the totally out-of-character choice. You literally learn more about you when you’re not yourself. I want to say that’s some deep, philosophical thought experiment, but it simply reeks of bad (though more likely lazy) game design. In Fighting Fantasy’s case, I guess thinking in terms of alignments is simply too inflexible for its linear narrative… which doesn’t sound nearly as deep as the DVD’s issue. 
I guess the lesson to take from this is that books and discs make crappy DMs. Also, if you’re designing anything interactive that asks role-playing of its player, have more than one good ending. Otherwise, you may as well save time by having the player guess what number between one and ten you’re thinking of. If they win, they get to jam the dice up your nose and headbutt you to see if they’ll go flying out your ears. If you want that to happen, test your luck. If you know better and don’t want to sniff dice, add 2 skill points and take five to come up with some better options for the player.

Goodnight, and good lu—er… Turn to 400.
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