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Default Games with under-utilised gimmicks

February 16th, 2015, 21:33
I can't remember what got me started thinking about this. It might have been one of the many articles on Peter "Trust Me, This Time I'll Deliver!" Molyneux and Godus. Something put the idea of games that had something, a gimmick or unusual gameplay mechanic, that didn't seem to get used as well as it could have into my head.

I'm not talking about games you don't like because they're not like one you like better or that don't live up to some hipster gamer ideal, working only with a certain model of TurboGraphix16 controller or demanding fluency in 18th century Japanese to properly experience the designer's vision. I'm thinking of games that do something, but that either didn't do much with it, or where the game itself wasn't developed as much as it could be.

Hinterland's a game like that. For people who don't know it, it's a mix of an action RPG and city builder. You start out with your hero, found a village, and recruit people to live there. Some of those people are really only good for providing resources and some have special skills to make them useful adventurers, but you can recruit anyone and take them with you. So do you risk your blacksmith in a raid on some goblins, or take the pig farmer and lose some food production until you get back? As you get money, renown, and access to resources, you can upgrade your home and the other buildings in the town to get cooler stuff.

Tilted Mill was quite open about it being a test to see what they could do with it, and it's pretty fun for what it is, but it's not much more than a browser game. I'd love to see that concept taken and developed a bit more. It would need more depth in town development and setting and some better, slightly less frantic combat, but I think it has the potential to be a lot better. Since it doesn't fit into an established niche I can't see anyone taking much of a risk with it, though.
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February 17th, 2015, 11:27
Well, I saw there was no reply - so I felt bad and wanted to contribute

Hehe, just kidding.

I'm not sure it would qualify as a gimmick, but I'm sure we all remember the massive disappointment called Tresspasser, right?

Well, as much as that game ultimately didn't work - I was quite fond of the experiment with the interface. I thought it was a concept full of potential. The idea that you're controlling your individual hands and you pick up stuff in a natural way.

I think, with enough work and thought put into it, it would be a great immersion aid for games like System Shock and Underworld. I believe Arx Fatalis attempted "something" like it, but not quite as extensive.

I guess Tresspasser scared away developers from using it again.

That, or maybe I'm crazy and the concept really is horribe and can't ever work?
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February 17th, 2015, 11:33
Hinterland, the game and not superb welsh TV series (yeah, I bet it's so exotic noone even heard about it), goes into Westward series direction but does it a bit different. While in Westward you'll go fightin' mobs with recruited cowardish deputies who'll whine not to send them into combat , Hinterland says go with pheasants…
Whatever. The difference is not just the lack of story, while combining RTS and RPG, Hinterland feels more grindy. I'm not saying there is no grinding in Westward, but it doesn't feel annoying.
I got bored with Hinterland fast unlike Westwards (just to say I didn't buy W4).

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Last edited by joxer; February 17th, 2015 at 11:47.
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February 17th, 2015, 17:54
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Well, I saw there was no reply - so I felt bad and wanted to contribute

Hehe, just kidding.
Well, I thought it might be the sort of topic people might not have an immediate response for, so I didn't really expect a rush of replies. Plus I've offended the unusual controller crowd.

I can't say I remember Trespasser, but it came out during a gap in my up-to-date gaming years. I've never been a huge fan of that sort of control-scheme, but I can see the appeal in experimenting with it. I find the abstraction of pushing a button to do something feels more natural than trying to recreate an intuitive movement by some awkward control scheme. The fumbling box opening mechanic in Penumbra (and was it in Amnesia, too?) really took me out of the moment.

That's why I hate motion controls and the whole virtual reality movement concept. I really don't want to wave my hand around to swing a sword or move my legs to make my avatar drunkenly stumble off to the left.
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February 18th, 2015, 08:46
Originally Posted by Menigal View Post
That's why I hate motion controls and the whole virtual reality movement concept. I really don't want to wave my hand around to swing a sword or move my legs to make my avatar drunkenly stumble off to the left.
I'm the same way. That's one reason I never liked the Nintendo Wii and didn't really enjoy the few decent titles it did have.
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February 18th, 2015, 10:43
I think such things have a lot of potential when it comes to immersion, but I've yet to see a great implementation of it.

The more things I can get that will help me feel like I'm not actually playing a game, the more I can get lost in a world.

That said, I hate gimmicks - and it should never be tedious just because. It needs to be a balance between realism and workable gameplay.

I absolutely despised it in Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit - both of which tried to make the most trivial tasks into a battle with your control device.

That's NOT what I'm looking for
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February 18th, 2015, 11:38
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I absolutely despised it in Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit - both of which tried to make the most trivial tasks into a battle with your control device.
As I have just replayed Fahrenheit on the iPad (mostly using a game controller to make it somewhat bearable) I am reminded of this … I loved the story and atmosphere and music, but the game constantly reminded me of the frustration I felt playing it a decade ago.

Not a fan of gimmicks … just like solid gameplay and a reasonable story or reason for my character to exist.

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February 18th, 2015, 12:29
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I'm the same way. That's one reason I never liked the Nintendo Wii and didn't really enjoy the few decent titles it did have.
I think it's ok for couch-coop games to play with my wife, and the motion control's fine for things like bowling or the insanity of, say, Ravin Rabbids. Something like Zelda's pretty much unplayable with them, though.

Not a fan of gimmicks … just like solid gameplay and a reasonable story or reason for my character to exist.
Well, I don't mean just gimmicks. This includes unusual gameplay concepts, like Hinterland's mixing of action RPG with city builder, too.
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February 18th, 2015, 20:28
Beyond Good & EVil is the ONLY game I know of featuring a - camera.

Yes, a camera. You get your financial income by this;
but not only this, you kind of spawn a huge civil unrest / protest movement with it !

It's kind of an predecessor of the current use of iPhones in current civil protests …

And the message of Beyond Good & Evil is extraordinarily unique in modern gaming, too … No "become bigger, more fearsome, slaughter your enemies !!!" thing.
No. It's simple : Show the people what the world really looks like."

Of course it didn't sell.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 18th, 2015, 21:39
Lula: The Sexy Empire springs to mind.

What? Am I the only one? Crap.
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February 19th, 2015, 00:55
Battlezone 2: Combat Commander

The only game Ive ever played that you play it from first/3rd person view AND traditional god-view RTS style. So great to be able to get a big RTS battle brewing, then jump in a vehicle and take part in it. All vehicles pilotable, all buildings able to be enetered. Jump on a stationary turret gun and defend your base from an onslaught. Snipe an enemy pilot, then go jump in his vehicle and battle them w/ their own weapons til it explodes, eject, then call in for on of your pilots to come pick you up.

Seriously, one of the best and unique titles Ive played to this day, no game replicates that xperince.
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February 19th, 2015, 03:54
Bushido Blade

"Realistic" deadly sword fighting game: no health bars, no silly over the top action moves. Each fight felt quite nerve-racking because even one sword strike could be the fatal one or atleast it usually was enough to cripple your samurai which meant a serious disadvantage.

Each fight was like a match of chess. One wrong move and your opponent could just destroy you. Both opponents searching for weaknesses in eachother and looking for a possible opening to end the fight with one fatal strike. Or alternatively maybe start the fight by crippling his opponent's sword arm…

Aside the sequel (bushido blade 2) there is no other game like that.
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February 20th, 2015, 13:38
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
Lula: The Sexy Empire springs to mind.

What? Am I the only one? Crap.
I've heard of the game, but never played it. Adult(ie, sex)-oriented games are a bit of a missed opportunity. I don't mean the weird sort of thing you might stumble on when you're looking at Flash gaming sites, but games like Leisure Suit Larry, which weren't pornographic. Games that stood up on their own, but had a bit of fun with more risque topics. These days we get the odd sex scene, maybe with exposed human body parts that'll bring more bad press than an exploding head, but I can't see anyone but the smallest indies taking on anything more "adult" than that.
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February 20th, 2015, 13:53
Lula is a great old adventure. Yes, it's about porn industry. But it's well done.
Was, as sadly, like most of old games… I wouldn't play it today. Needs a remake/reboot.

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February 21st, 2015, 18:45
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Beyond Good & EVil is the ONLY game I know of featuring a - camera.
I remember doing that! I could swear some other game did it, too, though. Unfortunately, I can't remember what game. Arg. That's going to bug me for the rest of the week. Thank goodness I read it on Saturday!

In the "…game itself wasn't developed as much as it could be" category - X:Rebirth's small talk would fit. It's basically just the good old dialog tree with a trigger event. You pick what you want to say then a little bar pops up and you try to click your mouse at just the right time. Hit close to the right time and you say the line fine, miss and he's a bit short but still says basically what he should, miss by a lot and he stumbles through the line.

Unfortunately, the game only has maybe half a dozen of these dialog trees and keeps using the same ones over and over. It quickly becomes an outright painful process. Plus the trees are pretty short so that saying a couple of semi-intelligent things to a character will convince them to trust you completely. Blah.

But I think the basic idea could be a very good one. JRPGs typically have a bunch of NPCs standing around and each one will have one or two lines of dialog to give. Instead of quantity, go for quality and have just a few NPCs that use a system like this to give some perspective on what you've been doing. Player characters with high charisma (or clothing the NPC likes or whatever) could have the trigger event be easier than the low charisma characters, too, instead of just flat out killing dialog options because the PCs stats aren't up to it. You could throw in some risky dialog options, too, like veiled insults that might get the NPC to laugh if delivered just right but would turn them pretty hostile if missed.

I think the end result could impart all the feelings of the community like we get in those JRPGs but it would do it in a way that would let you "get to know" a few of the people with those feelings. You could actually weigh whether or not you wanted to risk a given dialog option, too, instead of just mechanically going through the whole dialog tree. I bet you could add a good bit of depth to a game with a system like this.
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February 21st, 2015, 20:30
I liked the Moredehl word lock puzzles from Betrayal at Krondor. I don't remember anything like that since.
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February 22nd, 2015, 13:34
Originally Posted by joxer View Post
Lula is a great old adventure. Yes, it's about porn industry. But it's well done.
Was, as sadly, like most of old games… I wouldn't play it today. Needs a remake/reboot.
There are several "Lula" games out there. The first ones were made or published by CDV, the company fully responsible for the title "Divine Divinity" as well as for the title "Sudden Strike". They obviously loved alliterations at that time (as "LuLa" it one in itself, too).

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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February 25th, 2015, 06:21
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
Beyond Good & EVil is the ONLY game I know of featuring a - camera.

Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
I remember doing that! I could swear some other game did it, too, though. Unfortunately, I can't remember what game. Arg. That's going to bug me for the rest of the week. Thank goodness I read it on Saturday! .
Anachronox. Bioshock.
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February 25th, 2015, 19:38
Oh, I never played them. Thank you.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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Yesterday, 02:50
I played both. Bioshock was the one on the tip of my lobe, though.
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