Today I’d like to talk about something different and perhaps a bit less scholarly than my previous posts. I want to share with you some gaming experiences I’ve had and an idea that my friends and I call “Gamifying your Play Experience.” Have you ever set additional constraints or rules to yourself in a video game? Ideas like, “I’m only going to play non-lethally” or “My character will never use Magic.” I think that adding these types of limitations can add a lot to the experience, and specifically how much you personalize the game..
Which is all interesting but what made my character really intriguing was that I didn’t want him to be Dovahkiin (the main protagonist in the game). My way of accomplishing this was that I never initiated the first quest in Whiterun (one of the cities in the game). Since I never started this mission, within the game my character never pursued the Dovahkiin quest line and there were no dragons spawning in my world. The very thing that Skyrim was marketed with, didn’t exist in my game. My world wasn’t plagued by Alduin (the main antagonist), and I was just a dude. Oddly enough this was the playthrough that really stuck out for me and I put probably another 100 hours into this character that spent the bulk of his time gathering herbs.
Recently I started playing Farcry Primal, and a good friend was telling me about how she was playing the game with no HUD. As I started looking into the HUD options, I had a lot of questions... “Really no targeting reticule? No interaction prompts??” … “Nope, none!” Inspired by my experiences in Skyrim and more recently Firewatch, I chose to start the game this way. I didn’t want to know what I was missing or become too used to playing this game with a HUD.
Something I noticed with Farcry Primal, and Firewatch after removing the location indicator, was that removing elements of the UI forced me to focus more on the game world and I felt more connected to it… less distracted if that makes sense. Something I hadn’t realized that in other games I use the minimap as a crutch, really ignoring the world around me and navigating purely by it. It’s interesting how a piece of the UI that’s meant to aid the player, could potentially invalidate the work of a good level designer. I’m definitely not suggesting we remove UI/HUD elements from our games, there’s a broad spectrum of users (some more casual than others) and you don’t want to alienate you demographic. Yet there’s something really liberating about having to navigate a world by your wits, actually remember how many arrows you have left in your quiver, or manage a headshot without a targeting reticule.
That’s all I had to share with you today! Hope you enjoyed this post, even if it was more about sharing gaming experiences. I'm still playing around with the idea of doing a post on visual priority next, but we’ll see how it goes! Thanks again for reading!
I make games, I play games... and sometimes I have some thoughts about that.