Game Development Reference
the designers to get the best of both worlds by recognizing and rewarding
every degree of stealth and cleverness that players can express.
Just as we can present different degrees of success, we can also present
multiple degrees of failure.
For example, if a player doesn't make the jump across a gap, we can
let his character grab the edge and slowly pull himself up. His progress is
slowed, but the game goes on.
In another game, instead of having a player's AI ally die when at-
tacked, he can become incapacitated. This way, the player can revive him
and continue play at some cost of time and resources.
The spectrum of success and failure can stretch elastically far above
average performance, and far below, without the game having to end and
declare victory or defeat at any point. Every additional amount of headroom
and legroom we put in the elastic spectrum of a game means another
group of players won't be subjected to a frustrating failure or a boring skill
Training systems help players get past the skill barrier quicker. Tutorials,
text messages, audio instructions, and hints embedded in the game world
all serve this purpose.
But there's danger in training. Some poorly designed training sys-
tems bombard the player with instructions, pulling his mind out of the
game. Others act like overprotective parents, telling the player exactly what
to do at every point, leaving him feeling controlled and impotent. All of
this interferes with the rest of the experience.
Good training is invisible.
The best training teaches without the player ever noticing. There are
several ways to achieve this.
Some games thread training into the narrative. For example, in Call of
Duty 4 the player inhabits a soldier being newly inducted into an elite unit.
As he runs the unit's obstacle course, the commander shouts instructions
on how to surmount each challenge. The course is a tutorial dressed up as
a story sequence, and it works on both levels.
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