First blogging away from home. All two miles of distance.
My best session today was ten sessions long. The problem with GDC is that, even when you know the speaker and the topic, sometimes you don’t get you what you’re looking for. Or the speaker has a bad day, whatever. What’s one answer to that? Shorter sessions. For the second year in a row, I attended the the microtalks panel: Ten speakers, five minutes each.
Tracy Fullerton’s talk on difficulty was interesting. As was Clint Hocking’s rock-throwing at reviews in games. But for information density per second, I enjoyed N’gai’s examination of player controlled difficulty: sometimes overt and sometimes as a dynamic response by the game. There’s obvious value and applicability in letting the player choose difficulty, even in multiplayer (Gears 2), but what interested me was how else you could systematically layer in difficulty without just tweaking numbers and AI reaction times.
Best example? Ratchet and Clank. Die in the game, and you respawn, of course, but so have the power-up bolts. And you still keep the bolts you’ve already earned. Unlike our usual expectation where the hard core player is the only one to embrace repeated content and grab collectibles, here the power-up wee factor means that the guy who dies doesn’t feel so bad, and the extra power-ups mean an easier experience as he goes.
PS: I love Metal Gear, including MGS4. And what was my favorite takeaway from the Kojima keynote? The stealth genre was born out of a sprite limitation on the MSX.