Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Where have I been?

I don't know!

Oh wait, yeah I do.  That whole crunching thing.  Well, that's done with now, at least for this week.  After that, anything goes (and probably will).  It wasn't too bad, but I'm glad it's over.

I did manage to finish off two games during it, with Half Life 2 finally getting finished and Lego Indiana Jones getting played all the way through over this past weekend.  That one actually got finished at 100%.  I think that's the first game in my life that I've gotten to 100% on, in the subset of games that give you a completion percentage, usually because of copious hidden goodies.

I got to thinking about why I felt the desire to finish this particular game to 100%, while I haven't with others.  I think there's a few factors.  First, the way that you find hiddent things is to go back through the stages a second time with abilities you didn't have the first time, giving you access to areas you had seen the first time through, but couldn't get to.  That's a mechanic that plenty of other games, like the Metroid and Zelda series, have used before.  

Where the Lego games differ is that they also tell you explicitly that there are 10 of one type of goody and 1 of another hidden in each level.  Why is that important? Because it gives you explicit goals to fulfill and a set area in which to search.  In other games, like Grand Theft Auto, they might tell you "there are 100 packages hidden in the city", and only award 100% completion for finding all of them.  How is that different? The goal in GTA is far less attainable or trackable. 

Here's an example.  Let's say I told you to find 100 hobos in all of Boston.  You go out and find 90 hobos.  Now there are only 10 left, except that you have to look through every inch of the entire city to find those last 10.  That's a pain in the ass, since those hobos could be anywhere from the Financial District to JP, or anywhere in between.  Contrast this with the Lego game.  In this case, I'd tell you that there are 100 hobos in the city, 10 in Allston (camoflauged to look like BU kids), 10 in JP, 10 on the Common, etc.  If you've found 90, you can look at how many you've found in each area to figure out where you need to look for the last 10.  

In addition to making things easier on you, you get the side benefit of having a series of small victories ("Yay, I found all the hobos on the Common!") as you progress toward the big goal of finding all Boston's hobos.  In GTA, you get the frustration of not knowing where the last 10 hobos are without the breadcrumb victories.  Of course, at the end of the day,  you have to figure out what to do with 100 hobos, and the inevitable questioning of your life's direction that brought you to your current occupation of hobo hunting.  I would suggest a bath, and then starting the reality series "America's Next Top Hobo."

In other news, kt is still buried under schoolwork.  Once she'd un-buried herself, we'll resume our regularly scheduled Sunday movie days.

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