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Video game players all have ADD.
They move from one thing to another without
the basic ability to focus on anything for

more than 30 seconds.
Like moths to a flame and pigeons to gun-fire,
they flock to the brightest lights and the

loudest sounds without clear rhyme or reason.
Now, clearly, if you're a gamer yourself,
you know this statement, basically everything

that I just said, is false.
So, the question is: Why is almost every AAA
open-world game designed as though these things

were true?
Don't think that's the case?
Well, I actually have numbers to back this
up.

You see, I've made videos where I time out
the space between individual instances of

interesting events.
Basically, I play a game that is focused on
exploration and then plot on a graph how frequently

the game catches my attention.
I've done this with games such as The Witcher
3, Breath of the Wild, Fallout New Vegas,

and of course, Red Dead Redemption 2.
For the Witcher 3, the average time between
moments of interest was 32.2 seconds; for

Breath of the Wild, it was 41.8; and for Fallout
New Vegas, 48.8 seconds.

This all fell in line with expectations, specifically
because in open world game design there's

a concept known as “the 40-second rule”
whereby developers try to ensure that there's

always something interesting happening at
least every 40 seconds.

And they live by this, most open world games
that I've tested hold to this rule.

By the way, if you have a game you want me
to test, leave it in a comment below because

I'm uncreative and rely on your ideas.
But yeah, almost every single modern AAA open
world game adheres to this rule; however,

Red Dead Redemption 2 bucked this trend.
When I analyzed its density, I found that
the average time for Red Dead Redemption 2

was close to double that of its competitors.
Now, an average of 80 seconds vs. 40 seconds
may not sound like it is significant, but

it very much is.
Doubling any stat in game development is a
major decision.

Imagine if in Ring of Elysium or Blackout
or Fortnite (yes, I said Fortnite, bite me),

or even Apex Legeneds, what would happen if
these games' developers doubled the damage

output of the game's most frequently spawned
rifles?

It would throw everything into chaos.
Or imagine if in Skyrim or a Fallout game,
Bethesda added a perk that made it so the

player could travel at double the speed, or
half the speed.

It would fundamentally change the way that
players explore.

And in Red Dead Redemption 2, doubling the
space between moments of interest greatly

affects the gameplay loop.
But before we dive into that, let's step
back.

Rockstar is phenomenal, specifically within
the Red Dead series, at making players feel

empathetically attached to the player character.
Now I don't mean empathetically attached
like you feel when playing The Last of Us-

Glass Cage of Emotion Bit
Rather, Rockstar focuses on what I will call

Gameplay Empathy.
Now before you comment, yes, I completely
made up that term, and I'm sure that others

have discussed a similar concept, but what
I mean by it is that they try to make the

player feel the same way as the character
they're controlling by way of the gameplay's

design.
They do this by making sure that both the
player and the character are experiencing

the same emotions, feelings, and sensations
while performing a given activity.

The clearest example is exploration, a cornerstone
of these games.

If you haven't played the game, you may
not know what this is like, but Red Dead Redemption

2 has a very unique ability to cause players
to lose themselves within it.

You see, the game doesn't allow you to fast
travel from your map from city to city.

Instead, if you want to fast travel, you must
go into a town, find the stage coach, and

then pay them to take you to one of a selection
of cities which may or may not include the

one you're looking for; and furthermore,
Rockstar didn't put a minimap on screen

while you are selecting which city you want
to travel to, which seems like a mistake until

you realize that this too was done intentionally.
You see, by not putting a minimap on the screen,
in this specific instance, it forces the player

to learn the map and the names of the cities
in correlation with their relative locations.

It's a small detail, but it makes it so
the player learns the names of the areas within

the world they are exploring.
Now, was this really necessary?
Maybe not, certainly some players, possibly
even a plurality, will know the names of the

cities and be able to point them out on a
game map with ease; however, for those players

who weren't paying attention and memorizing
imaginary cities' names, this is their time

to learn because if they don't they'll
end up selecting a random town and they'll

land in a foreign area far from where they
needed to go.

This is just one of a plethora of tiny examples
of how Rockstar crafted this experience around

forcing you to become engrossed in the world.
When you want to purchase an item in the general
store, you can either walk through the store

and buy the item off of the shelf, or you
can go through the store's catalogue which

is not made of a series of flashy menus but
rather actual paper.

Well, in game paper…
Or perhaps the most obvious and widely memed
example would be the key mechanism by which

the traversal in this game operates: the horses.
When riding your horse in any other open world
game, let's say Assassin's Creed Odyssey

since it came out around the same time, when
you traverse the world, your horse intelligently

navigates the paths, rocks, and valleys, all
by way of its AI which steers it away from

head on collisions, falling off cliffs, and
general hilarity.

In Red Dead, one of the first things you'll
learn while playing is that the horses in

this game do not play by these rules.
Like, at all.
If you so much as nick a tree branch, you
will be thrown from your horse while it writhes

on the ground like Michael J Fox break dancing.
Initially, I thought that this was just another
Rockstar game mechanic that existed just because

it could.
However, after thinking about it, I realized
that the fact that your horse is gravitationally

challenged actually plays heavily into this
Gameplay Empathy design.

How?
Well, when playing through Assassin's Creed
Odyssey, you'll notice that the map is freaking

huge.
Now, normally, bigger is better, but when
it comes to a game's map, it can be a blessing

and a curse.
Specifically, when navigation and traversal
are not highly efficient, it can lead to a

trudge when you explore as opposed to a fun
and interesting experience.

This inefficiency can take several forms.
For instance, if I'm running around the
west part of the map in Odyssey and then my

quest tells me to travel to the opposite side
of the map several in game kilometers away,

I'm going to be faced with a choice.
Ideally, I would have so much fun traveling
through the game world that I would be thrilled

to be presented an excuse to do it for half
an hour to reach the other side of the map;

however, an ideal situation this is not.
Most likely, I would instead feel frustrated
and conflicted, because I *should* want to

travel there on my own but will likely just
fast travel to the closest point instead.

For many this is an afterthought if it even
becomes that.

Most players fast travel everywhere without
thinking about what is actually happening.

When you fast travel, you are willingly and
often joyously skipping past part of the game's

fundamental design and gameplay loop in order
to get to another part of the gameplay loop

that is more fun.
And I know what you're thinking, why can't
fast travel be integrated as part of the gameplay

loop?
Why is fast travel just bypassing it?
Well, it can be.
My argument is that it shouldn't be, at
all.

Clearly, most fast travel systems consist
of pulling up a map and then clicking on the

area to which you want to travel.
Then you sit through a loading screen and
appear on the other end standing as though

nothing happened.
This is a huge missed opportunity.
An opportunity of which Red Dead Redemption
2 took full advantage.

And this is where we tie back into the first
example of the fast travel system employed

in the game.
They didn't just try to spruce up the loading
screens or add narrative recaps to them like

The Witcher 3, but rather, they made it incredibly
inconvenient to do and incentivized traveling

yourself to the extent that, according to
a recent poll I conducted, only 8% said that

they often fast travelled.
This is a huge success for Rockstar and I
don't think it's receiving enough credit.

And this is where the crux of this video's
thesis lies.

I believe that it is very clear to anyone
looking for it, that Rockstar has fundamentally

shifted the way that open worlds treat their
players.

They showed that emptiness and a lack of hand
holding can actually feed the gameplay experience,

not hinder it.
Sure, the game still has some major problems,
problems I intend to tackle in my upcoming

long form critique of the game, by the way
make sure to subscribe so you see it when

it comes out.
However, just because the game has some issues
does not mean that the entire game is unworthy

of praise.
Simply put, Rockstar proved to other developers
and to us, the gamers, that it's ok to have

some empty space in your game; that it's
ok to leave the player alone with their thoughts;

and that it's ok to leave the player to
their own devices in making their experience

what they want it to be.
It's a style of open world design that forces
the player into a state of Gameplay Empathy

for the protagonist and that also embraces
freedom across the board.

It's a revolution, and one that we will
be seeing the effects of over the course of

the coming years.
To me, it is clear, Red Dead Redemption 2
really did do something incredible.

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'碧血狂殺 2' 另人驚奇 ('Red Dead Redemption 2' Did Something Incredible)

270 分類 收藏
Lon Lv 發佈於 2019 年 2 月 21 日
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