Number Four: Adventures with Planetfall

I’m not gonna lie, I totally didn’t mind Floyd. He kind of reminded me of a bumbling puppy or a robot version of Walter Bishop or a space version of Dobby. Also Jar Jar Binks whenever he talks which is pretty annoying, but honestly as long as he doesn’t talk and just kind of “tells” me about how he helped someone sharpen a pencil, then that’s great. Besides, if robots are supposed to be so helpful, why can’t we program them with better grammar usage? That just seems obvious to me. Floyd and I are very close friends indeed. He followed me loyally through those annoying trips up and down that stupid elevator to fill the funnel with the different color liquids. I even gave him a pet. Anyways, at the point that I stopped playing, Floyd was still on my good side. Now that’s not to say that as time goes on that he wouldn’t get on my nerves, but for now, he’s just as silly as Walter.

 

I kept imaging Floyd looked like Wall-E, so maybe the cuteness of him in my mind made him less annoying

 

For me, to make a game compelling, I need to have an objective. I really, really hated just wandering around and having absolutely no clue what I was supposed to do. If I had just an objective like “find the access cards for the elevator,” that would have been splendid. I’m very much not an explorer type of gamer. I like accomplishing goals, getting to the end, solving the puzzles, but I get extremely frustrated when I have no idea what puzzle it is that I’m supposed to be solving. I don’t think that’s something too horrible to ask. Just give me a goal and I can probably figure out how to do it. A game just isn’t compelling if I have no idea what I’m doing.

I think the descriptions were also compelling in the game too. They were kind of snarky and silly and left me wanting to play more to see what other descriptive terms they were going to have. For instance, once I typed “hit red button” and it said “I’ve known strange beings, but attacking red buttons??!!” Oh witty, computer.

I found that I really didn’t like being alone in the game and make that’s why I was so receptive to Floyd’s presence. When I do play games, I’m used to having other characters in the games that I either get help from, get objectives from, or rescue from some peril that they’ve gotten themselves into. It was rather lonely trying to figure out all of this stuff by myself. I would have liked to introduce other characters to make it more compelling.

As for those NPCs, I think it’s really nice to give them personalities. I mean, if they’re just there to give up objectives, that’s kind of lame. But when they have personalities, even slightly annoying ones like Floyd, they give the game a sense of personality, along with the characters. It adds warmth to the game. I would also like to talk to the NPCs. I could just “talk to Floyd” and he would get so excited that he would knock things over and just giggle himself into silence. As flattering as that is, I think characters are more compelling when you can actually interact with them rather than them just give objectives or just be there to offer some comic relief.

The only way I can think of technology expanding text-based games is through an unlimited vocabulary and perhaps some kind of creepy AI NCP that responds to you through real conversation. That would be both awesome. And really creepy. And I’m not quite sure which one outweighs which. Anyways, other than those two things, I’m not really sure how technology could improve these games since they’re non-visual. There’s only so much technology can do with prose. But I’m looking forward to see what advances do come out with these games and how they’re being improved with current technology.

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