I’m not going to lie, I had a bad attitude about this assignment. Video games are not my favorite, and I certainly wasn’t very excited having heard how irritating Floyd was. Regardless, I began playing Planetfall. Emily Gray and I played together, hoping that would make the experience more fun, and it did. The only problem was that WE NEVER GOT TO MEET FLOYD. Here’s how it went down: we started the game on our own, trying countless different tactics and moves, but nothing was working. After getting killed opening the pod door too many times to count, we Googled “Planetfall walk-through.” We used the walk-through to navigate our way, saving the game every 0.035 seconds because we were afraid to lose any progress. Unfortunately that ultimately worked against us; we kept dying of hunger and thirst right before the walk-through said we would encounter Floyd. Apparently we made a wrong move earlier that led us to starvation and saved it; we couldn’t do anything without dying at that point. Frustration.
Since I didn’t meet Floyd firsthand, I read the two articles about the character. I completely understand the character’s presence as both an annoyance while simultaneously being an endearing sidekick. Just from reading the texts and Wiki entries about Planetfall and Floyd, I liked him at first, then quickly became annoyed. Why does he have to ask, “Oh boy, are we going to try something dangerous now?” every time you save the game?! That gets old fast. Then when I read that he died, I immediately felt the sadness of that experience. Floyd reminded me of Donkey, from Shrek. He talks way too much and is entirely obnoxious, but when he’s gone (when Shrek and Donkey are fighting in the first movie), you actually miss him! He was funny and charming, frustrating though he was, and you just know that Shrek (the Planetfall player) was not meant to be apart from Donkey (Floyd).
To make the story more compelling, given today’s greater tech capabilities, I would create more dialogue content for the NPCs such as Floyd. I didn’t interact with him, but just imagining how frustrating his repetitive and obnoxiously peppy responses are makes me want to pull out my hair. I’m not sure making NPCs more memorable is a problem that needs to be addressed; it seems like everyone got a strong impression of Floyd, whether it was positive or negative. I actually think that an NPC’s redundancy makes them MORE memorable, if not more obnoxious. If an NPC becomes too human-like, the player will more easily brush him off as another mundane day-to-day interaction, forgotten as quickly as the “hellos” said en route to class this morning. That’s why I would be careful not to create too many new phrases for Floyd. The trick is to come up with the perfect balance of mechanistic responses with a wider linguistic range.
As far as making the story more compelling, maybe Floyd could have a robot girlfriend? Some level of sexual tension makes every story more entertaining. Maybe Floyd’s robot girlfriend is jealous of all the time her man spends with you, the player. Maybe she tries to sabotage your and Floyd’s efforts to win the game, because she resents you for stealing Floyd’s attention. Adding another integral NPC could add so much more texture to the game. Coupling another NPC with more developed linguistic capabilities would create an overall much more fulfilling game experience.