I tried to like Floyd, I honestly did.
While playing Planetfall, I came up against a lot of difficulties because I was playing on a Mac. I had to spend a lot of time trying to find versions that would work on the interface, and finally I downloaded a Frotz that worked and used the download file from TLearn and opened it on my computer. Ok, got past that hurdle. I played the game using just the map at first, and was totally lost. I had no idea what to. I succumbed to the walkthrough and got all the way to where you first turn Floyd on. After that, I had a long string of bad luck in the real world getting locked out of my friend’s room where my computer was and had to wait a pretty long time to get back to it. When I finally got back to opening the Frotz and starting the game where I left off, EVERYTHING I had done was lost. My mood was not happy.
I mustered up the strength to go through the first few stages again, and then came Floyd. My patience was already at its lowest and Floyd just seemed to keep nagging at it and making it worse. His stupid unimportant remarks about how he doesn’t want to be alone, or how he’s going to go explore, or that he wants to be tickled just took up space on my computer screen. I regretted turning him on, but the walkthrough told me to. If only I knew…
Eventually the program crashed and I was unable to restore anything I had done or revive Planetfall altogether. I kind of felt relieved.
After taking a break from the game and reading Meretzky’s take on Floyd, I can definitely see how Floyd could be likable. He’s kind of the comic relief of a dark-feeling game. He sort of keeps the mood lighter and makes funny remarks. I think for me, he was just the last straw of my emotional state at that point in time so I really didn’t like him. I’m sure that if I was in a better mood and not so agitated that Floyd would have seemed more enjoyable and less annoying. With all of the other players that have played Planetfall, Floyd’s likeness has also varied. Some think he’s amazing and cried at his death, and others were unemotional when his time came.
I really liked Floyd’s portrayal in the second article about the point of view of the main character and how Floyd is annoying to him when he’s around, but is lonely when Floyd is gone. Perhaps that point of view transposed to real players when they interacted with Floyd. He is definitely a character where players either love him, hate him, or don’t really care, and Meretzky seems to acknowledge all of these emotions towards Floyd. I guess Floyd’s character is similar to C3-PO in Star Wars. He tends to add flavors of comic relief, but some viewers just hate his character and see him as annoying. I really think it just depends on the viewer and their mood at the time of being exposed to the medium. When I was little I thought C3-PO was hilarious, but now, he seems chatty and gimicky.
It’s tricky to try to make a game like Planetfall more interesting without adding a visual component. However, if I was going to try to make a single-player adventure game more compelling without graphics, then I might go after the other senses.
Perhaps the player could wear helmet that blocked out all other sound and sight except for the words of the game so they’re completely immersed in the game and not distracted. Then, when certain things happened or appeared, there could be sounds, smells, and maybe even things felt that made you feel like you were actually there. Then the visual part of the game would be in your mind.
If the game was made like this, it would definitely be expensive and bulky. To accomplish feeling certain things, there would have to be some sort of crazy seat that the player would have to sit in, or some kind of suit. I guess it would similar to rides and attractions at Disney World where the entertainment comes in being interactive with whatever is happening. Maybe instead of typing commands, there could be voice recognition and the player could actually feel as though they were consciously making and acting on their own decisions.
As far as an NPC goes, it’s difficult to try and make them not too gimicky but also likeable. It doesn’t have to be liked by every player, but tolerable. I actually kind of like the way that Floyd was integrated into the game, but perhaps maybe have him not say a remark every time something happens (or maybe not have him speak in the 3rd person either…). Perhaps with the NPCs they could be more emotionally linked to the main character so there is an incentive to have them around and alive. It’s a tricky aspect of the game to perfect, and I’m just speculating.
Overall, my experience with Planetfall and Floyd could have been a better one, but it is what it is. I won’t take it personally. Now to save and go do something dangerous!