Wednesday, April 30, 2008

They Don't Teach This at MIT

If you are a game designer, you owe it to yourself to read this blog. It is a journalistic recording of a "non-gamer"'s first time playing the original Half Life. I find it illuminating that one of our medium's pinnacle titles fails in many ways to communicate itself to players who haven't developed a subconscious appreciation of, or blindness to, common tropes. In defense of Valve's masterpiece, it could be said that the confusion that the player must feel when evacuating an underground research facility suddenly infested with alien creatures is in phase with Gordon Freeman's own disorientation. It could also be said that a majority of the human race would not think to look for conveniently placed air vents just large enough for a full grown man in a hazard suit to crawl through at every dead end.

I found myself in a big elevator, got the message that I was entering the "office complex" and entered that area. I found a medical pack on the ground, at least I thought it was this as my health went up a little bit. A laser type thing came down from the ceiling and immediately zapped me.

I stopped here because no matter how I tried to get around that laser I kept dying. Crouching and running, running fast, jumping ... nothing worked. So I stopped.

I'm not grasping the big picture of where exactly I'm going in this game but I hope I'm not backtracking. Wasn't the office complex where this all started? We'll see if I can figure my way around this next time and figure out where exactly I'm going.

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