Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
How would you do it? What would you change about the heartbeat
sensor to make it interesting again without cutting it altogether? Take a
moment to think about this before reading on.
Infinity Ward's designers fixed the sensor by adding two key limi-
tations. First, the sensor doesn't work on enemies who have the Ninja
character perk. This means that just because the sensor says nobody is
there doesn't mean nobody is there. Someone with Ninja could still be
there, so the player must think and decide whether someone with Ninja is
around a corner before he turns it. This also adds another layer of strategy
at high skill levels: a smart player will remember who and how many of his
adversaries are using Ninja and calibrate his assumptions appropriately,
perhaps even giving up the heartbeat sensor entirely.
Second, the sensor does not show enemies' locations continuously.
Rather, they're seen as periodic blips, once every 3.5 seconds, like on an
old-style radar screen. Between pulses, the sensor displays nothing. This
means that even when he has someone on the sensor, the player must
make a mental effort to figure out where the enemy has moved since the
last blip. And in Modern Warfare 2 , a skilled opponent can easily flank and
kill you in that time. Again, this adds another layer of strategy: skilled
players will realize when they're being tracked on heartbeat sensors, and
deliberately start moving to avoid being where the blip says they are.
These limitations make a world of difference in how the sensor plays.
And that difference was made without changing any mechanics interac-
tions at all. Weapon damage, movement, and environments are all the
same as before. But by dialing a torrent of information down to a slow drip,
we create entirely new classes of decisions and strategies.
Information glut isn't so much a failure as a missed opportunity.
Nothing breaks when there is too much information. Testers don't get
confused and cry for help. In fact, the game hums along too smoothly
because they understand everything. That's why often, the hardest part
about tackling information glut is realizing that it's happening in the first
ways to HiDe infoRmation
We've seen how when the player knows everything, decisions disappear
due to information glut. At first this seems to imply that decisions are only
possible in what are known as incomplete information games .
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