Floyd is an annoying robot that acts like a 5 year old kid. You know, the tagging-along-millions-of-questions little kid? Yea, that one. I immediately got frustrated with the constant messages informing me of his boredom. Floyd, if you are bored then just leave me alone!
Anyways, I realized that the source of my annoyance wasn’t actually Floyd but the game. It had taken me what seemed like a million tries to finally get through all the corridors, halls, and all the other parts of the oh-so-confusing maze. I was taking my frustration out on Floyd. Poor guy! I mean, robot. I realized that if I was a robot who had been turned off and had no interaction with anyone or anything for who knows how long, I too would be tagging along. Needless to say, my relationship with Floyd improved throughout the course of the game. While I still found him to resemble an annoying little kid, I found comfort in his companionship since I was wandering around this abandoned place all by my lonesome.
The discussion of Floyd makes me think about the next part of this blog. If I was a game designer, I wouldn’t include an annoying robot. I would provide my players with a somewhat helpful sidekick. No, not a sidekick who does all the work, but more of a sidekick like Amy in the Dr. Who game. While she didn’t provide the answers to your questions or the way in which to do something correctly, she did provide hints or helpful commentary, instead of “Wait for Floyd!”
Also, throughout the whole course of my playing time, I was asking myself what the purpose of the game was. Having no previous experience or knowledge of Planetfall, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I start on a ship scrubbing away the filth, get stuck in a conversation with an alien ambassador, get yelled at by a higher ranking officer, then die when I don’t take the right steps after the explosion. I was so confused. After several tries, I finally understood that I was supposed to get into the pod, and also the webbing (Yes I died once after not knowing I had to actually get in the webbing). With no instructions, however, I didn’t know why I was even there. As a game designer, I would provide a clear mission, besides scrubbing the ship’s floors.
Another aspect of the game that was frustrating was the NPCs. When the alien ambassador came to me, I thought I was supposed to talk to him. Turned out that he actually couldn’t understand anything that I was saying. Why have the character in the game if he serves no purpose and just confuses the gamer. The higher ranking officer is another example of pointless characters. Getting yelled at is not a memorable part of the game. I didn’t know why I was being reprimanded. In my game, I would include characters that had a reason for being in the game. Maybe they provide some needed background information, point you in the direction to start your gaming experience, or they say something that you use later in the game.
Call me high maintenance because I am demanding helpful sidekicks, instructions or directions, and NPCs with a purpose, but in my opinion, these aspects would make the gaming experience more enjoyable and less of a confusing puzzle.