Really more of a slightly altered opinion, illustrating the pitfalls of catering to cataclysmically low attention spans.

  • harmonic
  • 07/03/2007 12:00 AM
Let me start by getting all the politically correct wishy-washy disclaimer crap out of the way. Just a warning, this is more of a philosophical discussion than a bullet-point of specifics.

I admire Brickroad's thoughts on game development. Clearly his talent with dungeon design is reflected in his Kinetic Cipher franchise, and in the opinions of the community. There are great tidbits of wisdom in most of his articles. If 95% of the community lived, slept, ate, drank, breathed those articles for a week, the state of indie RM games would dramatically improve to everyone's benefit.

Now then. Onto the real content.

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist doomsayer, I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that mainstream society (which includes the author and any reader of this article) has, in essence, no attention span. The United States, of all industrialised and even marginally industrialized nations, has the most abysmal genepool in terms of intellectual and cultural richness. With a variety of factors working to relegate the average American into a scared, obediant, lobotimized zombie, attention span is essentially a novelty in this postmodernistic world.

Why go into a giant, socratic soapbox rant you might be asking? Just a wake up call. Just like a fish unaware that the most immediate and obvious factor of its environment is water, we are so integrated into the zero attention span culture that it has become our "water," or homoginzed constant state of being. Therefore, we don't notice it. We don't notice that in our every day activities, which for this crowd includes a LOT of gaming, (which is just fine) our general lack of attention span shines through.

I'm only twenty-five years old, but in terms of gamers, I'm a geezer. I remember the days when gamers were a vast minority. We were total nerds. We played games with a true passion for the essence of the story the developer had to tell. Well, I did anyway.

Perhaps this is why folks in my generation have such a fond love for games such as Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger, and Secret of Mana. With the advent of Final Fantasy 7 came the transition of RPGs into the mainstream of gamers. Somehow, for some reason, game development now feels like a soulless venture.

Games are there to entertain you. But what is entertainment?

It can be anything from satisfying your most immediate, most whimiscal, most banal and primal need for fun... to a long-lasting experience involving a deep new world to discover, characters to grow to hate or love, secrets to unveil.

Brickroad's article is correct. Most RPG intros suck. That's because they don't focus on drawing the player into the story that the developer has to tell. The author could have the most beautiful and unique snowflake of a creative mind to ever grace the earth, but if they engineer the game incorrectly, as Brickroad tries to avert, it's a moot point.

Therein lies the essence of the problem. Brickroad paints a picture of the average gamer as a drooling dolt, only able to see 2 inches past their face, barely able to grab their behind with both hands simultaneously. Well, unfortunately, Brickroad is again correct, for the most part.

"Why did you even write this article if you agree with everything he said?" Good question.

I want to inspire a different attitude than the extremely immature, harsh, impatient, and moronic average gamer that BR illustrates.

I'm not sure if the community fully appreciates the ability to create these interactive novels we call RPGs. What a wonderful gift, even if the graphics and coding capabilities are woefully archaeic in comparison to the cutting-edge commercial developments.

Don't put a game down after 5 minutes. (Unless it's spouting off pretentious gibberish and nonsensical graphical cutscenes.)

Don't put a game down after 15 minutes. (Unless you STILL haven't acquired control of the hero.)

If the author is giving you a lot of text... please at least try and make an effort to read it. There's a lot to be said for REALLY good dialogue. Ever read a book? Books are only dialogue, and some people actually read those front to back nowadays.

In conclusion, do follow brickroad's excellent advice in the smoothly-engineered creation of intros. But as a player, don't follow his lobotimized-gamer stereotype. Be deep. Be a nerd. Try to see into the author's heart and mind. (If they bothered to put those two things in their game.)


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Asking You're Opinion: I've got a great game, but for the first 15 minutes, you don't have controll of your hero totally, but it alternates. Send me your opinion on that in the mail.

Ps: The Game Is Shreds Of Time, And The Demo Can Be Downloaded. Try it, see how you like it...
Good thoughts you have here. I especially agree on how people should hold off before putting a game down. Given that we get these games for free, it shouldn't be too much to ask to bear at least a half hour or so to test the waters? Five, or even fifteen minutes is hardly enough time to judge an RPG.
I must honestly wonder if it took you longer to type this rant of an (admittidly true) article than it would have taken to make a game that exemplified the virtues you speak of.
I liked the comment about how you should at least try to read all the text. The project I'm working on atm has quite a lot of text (mainly comedy) and I would hate that players would not explore, find this text, and not laugh.
i quite agree, the appreciation of a games story and dialogue along with the storyline are what have shaped my gaming life. RPGs even though are made to test ones tactical ability have also traditionally been about vivid stories. if you cant appreciate the finely worded art work of a story one has to tell, go back to basic stratergy games or shoot em ups.
Damn, was I stupid three months ago.
It's so great to hear people speak so passionatly about their crafts and desires. I agree with harmonic in the way that we should try to take time to appreciate the art rather than glancing at it and just briefly judging it. Although I think this is down to lazyness. I magority of mediums just dont seem to try anymore.

Its not as if all bases have been touched on so why bother? There are some really talented designers out there still trying to make a difference and I say goodluck and godspeed!
Rpg games must have an intro, It is important to tell the player what is he going to do...TO TELL WHAT HIS ROLE IS.
We don't need to care about the 12 years old Moronic hyper kids, Who just want to tap the controller like how a chipmunk chews on a nut.
If they are not intrested in a story, just action, well go and play tekken or cod.
Nuff said.
Damn, was I stupid three months ago.

Damn, was I stupid seventeen months ago.
Damn, was I stupid three months ago.
Damn, was I stupid seventeen months ago.

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