The fun in limitations...

ChazChaz Posts: 385Administrator
So I've just watched the Anthem trailer. Clearly an answer to Destiny because when it comes to the FPS market, EA are nothing if not persistent on riding Activision's coat-tails. Anyway, here's the trailer:

It looks... fine.

I mean okay, it looks absolutely bloody gorgeous. Obviously this has been Bioware's 'A' project for a long while and it certainly shows (assuming they're not pulling a Ubisoft circa 2015). But visuals aside, something made me feel that this game looks a little dull.

Wizzing around like superman looks like it could be a lot of fun, but I've always felt like this takes away any challenge from traversal. It makes the terrain feel very inconsequential and meaningless since the easiest way to traverse it is to avoid it entirely. There's a reason most games limit you in this manner and make it feel that flying over the map is a well earned bonus. In Ghost Recon Wildlands, piloting is a difficult skill and there are plenty of anti-air obstacles to contend with. In No Man's Sky you have to find and conserve fuel. Anthem made it look like you can just fly around from the get go and this doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me.

What examples can you find of a limitation on the player being fun?

A prime example of mine would be Dark Souls. In multiplayer you had a very limited way of communicating with whomever you're playing with, or against, in that there was no voice or text chat. The only real way to communicate with your partner or opponent is via pre-built emotes. Use of these emotes created a sort of immersion in a mode where communicating with a partner will usually dispel it. (Ever played a horror game co-op?)


  • lightlight Posts: 290Member
    When so much money and attention is spent on a nice, polished overworld like that it makes sense to ask whether it'd better have a bigger impact on play. If we've learned anything from superhero movies it's that more power means less caring when cities are decimated.

    On the other hand I'd argue that while Spider Man has some of the greatest freedom of movement, his world is where we feel landscape the most because his means of traversal is in a word, cool.

    This implies that flying through the air as in the Anthem trailer above is actually not very cool, despite the fact that it clearly looks like it's trying to be. The character maintains complete dominance of the landscape. There is no sensual contact with an earth that is beautiful... A beauty which the developers at Bioware have evidently lost themselves drooling at.
    Drake Bell!
    Darklurker - Ana - Davey Wreden - Niles - Catwoman - Thwomp - Zazu
  • TaciturnTaciturn Posts: 42Member
    A few years ago I found a neat indie title where a team of players is given a random assortment of weapons to fight against the zombie apocalypse. The notable limitation here is taking away any semblance of class customization. Due to this, every round calls for a re-evaluation of strategy. A team could be purely comprised of medics or maybe the best players spawned with lousy guns. These fun, sub-optimal scenarios are less likely to happen if everyone optimizes their loudout in the same way that flying in Anthem might replace other less effective (and perhaps more interesting) modes of transportation.
  • SeggiSeggi Posts: 157Member
    100% agree, I've though for a while that limitations, especially of a player's ability to traverse geography, can make it that much more meaningful. I mean, think about the cultural connotations we have toward mountains - they're imposing, immovable obstacles, and especially when it comes to huge mountain ranges in populous areas like the Alps they make up significant parts of the boundaries that delineate human societies/different cultures. Geography is something we might be inclined to ignore because we *can* with the internet, but for thousands of years the limitations it's imposed have been an unavoidable aspect of society, and to ignore the importance of that in favour of player convenience is, I think, really unfortunate.

    For a well analysed, concrete example of the value of player limitations like these I'd recommend the Super Bunnyhop video on Morrowind. I also think one of the more popular Skyrim mods, Frostfall, is an instructive example - it forces you to adjust your behaviour based on your location, and gives that location a sort of antagonistic role to play in turn.
  • lightlight Posts: 290Member
    Dang it, I wanted to be the first person to talk about "Characterization Through Mechanics" by doing an in-depth breakdown of the characters in Overwatch.

    Anyway, this video argues that mechanical limitations are the most prominent force affecting the way we get a grasp of our characters through gameplay.

    I'd also add it's how protagonists who only speak during dialogue options have their own characteristics. I'll never forget when Ryuji got kidnapped in Shinjuku and the 5 protagonist was essentially like, "have fun dude".

    I think If I end up doing that analysis of Overwatch wouldn't be supporting Farland's thesis. It's not just what's impossible, it's also what is given as positive features in play, and synergies that lie within those features, that make the player character who they are. And sometimes more freedom can mean deeper characterization.
    Drake Bell!
    Darklurker - Ana - Davey Wreden - Niles - Catwoman - Thwomp - Zazu
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