Thanks to the community, I discovered a ton of new games lately. The variety of games out there is phenomenal. It’s a mystery how gamers can find their way through all of these. Fortunately for us, we have some reference points, some basics that are pretty much the staple of every game. Some people call it “Video Game Logic” or “Gaming Rules”. I call it familiarity.
No one can deny that long time gamers have an incredibly shorter learning curve than newcomers when trying out a brand new game. We also tend to find tutorials long and boring even though we still learn a couple of things in them. In the end, it’s just a question of “syncing” with the game mechanics and “immersing” in the game’s physics. It only takes a couple of minutes to figure out how the playable characters move and understanding what the game requires you to do.
Take shooters for example. There are many types of FPS games out there, but judging from the first few enemy encounters, and of course the advertised game type, you can pretty much guess if the game expects you to use tactics or just flat-out charge the army in front of you. Once you take in the types of guns and what seems to work best for you, you’ll probably keep a main configuration until the end. In short, every game will give you options, but these options are found in all games. You’ll surely use a similar strategy when playing Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, furthermore, the configuration of your character in Call of Duty might remind you of your favorite Master Chief setup. As for control, even though you switch from “analog stick button” zoom to “L trigger”, syncing your brain with the right button to desired movement usually takes only a couple of minutes.
But, familiarity goes even deeper in the game mechanics. It generally reaches out to “strategies” or “rules” also. I’ll be very surprised if, when facing a water based enemy, you use a fire attack before a lightning attack. Sure some games defy that logic, others don’t even use it, but even when it’s not used, water still has a lightning weakness in our minds and we will continue to try to melt ice with fire. These same rules teach you some basic objectives like having to kill all enemies in a room for the door to open or touching all colored tiles on the floor only once.
These familiarities are often spread throughout a specific genre of games. For example, in RPGs, there is always something behind the waterfall. Additionally, if you see a fork in the road and one of them has a trail, don’t follow it yet; you’ll get something good at the end of a dead end. If someone gives you crap that seems worthless, it will be traded a hundred times for the best weapon.
Then there are platformers with their secrets. I had never played a Rayman game before, but when I played Rayman Origins, it had such a strong Sonic and Donkey Kong Country feel to it that I barely missed any bonus room. The hard way is always rewarding and there is never a vine or a platform for no reason. The repartition of the secrets in a stage is also usually fairly balanced.
Finally, the gaming logic most of you are familiar with is probably within the same franchises. A good example is in the Zelda franchise. As with most multi-tool games, new enemies specifically designed to utilize your new assets seem to pop up fairly regularly. As old gamers, we know that if you get the hookshot, you’ll have to hookshot a lot of enemies; same thing goes for the bow, the boomerang and the shield. But for people trying out Twilight Princess (from a personal experience) it might not be the obvious solution. So you give them a hint and when they ask if you played this part, you answer “No, Zelda games are just like that.” Of course, that makes you look like a total geek and you end up rejected and alone...
Until you buy a new multiplayer Mario game! So you play with your girlfriend and her friend and decide that in a specific world, you should jump in between those bricks for some reason and end up with a growing vine taking you to a bonus section. Then these scared eyes stare at you wondering how the crap you managed to find this on your first playthrough leaving you with the only answer you can think of: “That block was suspicious”. Realizing you have freaked out your friends a bit, you try to suck for a little while, until you “accidently” hit an invisible block containing a 1up. Then, ironically, it's game over for you...
So there you have it, familiarity surrounds us in every game. Like campers in the wild, we find our North Star and head to the nearest river to follow it out of the forest. When lost, we look at the trees for moss and on the ground for berries and mushrooms. Campers, forests, stars, berries and mushrooms, sound familiar?
Well see ya next time people who have subbed to me and other people I gracefully try to not threathen.
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