TITLE: Gaming blindspots
DATE: 6/20/2005 03:33:00 ap.
Frostymakes a spazzy guest appearance, and what kind of guest appearance it is! For those who don't know who Frosty is, he is the grumpy, (old), British person who tends to hate everything and has a great music taste which he so willingly spreads around, and well, I somehow managed to make him write something.
Now, lean back on your chair, take some popcorn and let the man say what he has to say about gaming blindspots!
I'm trying to work out what it is about the later stages of Half-Life 2 that I dislike.
Thinking about it, I'm pretty sure it's the sections where there are enemies in front of me and enemies behind me that do it.
In most of my early gaming, you see, there was total situational awareness. Mario can see the Goombas and the Koopa Troopers and the Hammer Brothers, all over the screen, all the time.
I'm pretty sure this holds true for every single game I played until X-Com, which introduced to me the idea that there could be something there, but that I couldn't see it. The black parts of the screen I was okay with, those were places I hadn't seen yet, I didn't know what was there. My problem came when I saw my first alien, then turned my soldier around. Each of the next few soldiers took a shot at the alien, then turned away to do something else. It happened that at the end of the turn, nobody was looking directly at the alien.
At the start of the next turn, three of my soldiers were dead.
This confused me.
I had seen the sectoid. It was a seen thing. Then it did things. And I didn't see them.
Blew my mind.
X-Com gave me a lot of trouble. Not seeing things was a problem my gaming mind was not prepared to deal with. I still don't check rooms thoroughly enough in games of that type. And I still get shot in between turns by aliens I didn't see.
Fast forward ten years.
Half-Life 2 is progressing nicely, I'm having fun. I'm actually having the most fun I've ever had in a shooter. Half-Life 2 is a fantastic game.
Suddenly, I get to a section where I'm asked to defend a square with entrances on two sides. Look down one road, enemies. Kill them, turn round, more enemies coming down the road on the other side of the square.
I got killed about twenty times getting past that section. Mostly from being shot in the back. By enemies I couldn't see.
Don't get me wrong, I knew those enemies behind me were there. The game's quite obvious about pointing out that there will be enemies coming down these two streets. Not a fault in the game. Also, not something I wasn't expecting after having been shot in the back th first three times. I knew what my problem was, it was the enemies behind me. They were coming up on me while I dealt with the group on the other side of the square and they were shooting me in the back.
I knew what was happening. I expected it to happen. And I couldn't deal with it.
I ended up using cheats to get past that section. Not only that, I ended up needing cheats to get past several similar areas through the rest of the game.
Apparently my gaming mind isn't geared to dealing with threats that aren't obvious and on-screen. I have learned, for good or bad, that the things I need to deal with are the things on the screen that I can see and while I can recognise threats coming from elsewhere, the parts of my brain that deal with the playing of computer games apparently haven't learned this yet.
Now, thinking about it, I haven't played too many games where the threats I face aren't coming straight at me. Most of HL2 is played in areas where the threat is in front of me. Most of most FPS games are like this. In fact, most games are constructed in such a way that I'm only dealing with one great threat at a time, only loooking for that threat to come at me from one direction.
And games that aren't? I can't deal with them.
That's my gaming blindspot. Other people I know can't play driving games without a steering wheel controller. Driving is dealt with with the same part of their brain that steers with a steering wheel. I used to know someone who couldn't play platform games because he couldn't judge the jumping distances. He played Prince of Persia and Abe's Oddysee just fine, now that I think of it. Mario Brothers, on the other hand, was a complete mystery to him. One guy couldn't play Minesweeper by using the left-and-right-click check function. He'd learned to play it without and couldn't play it with. It needed him to use a whole different part of his brain and he would make mistakes he knew were mistakes if he tried to use that control method. I could watch him playing, watch him pause, try not to make the mistake, then click and make it anyway. He knew what he had to do, but his brain simply wouldn't cooperate with him.
Don't think you've got any gaming blindspots? Think you can cope with pretty much anything a game can throw at you?
Check back later.
P.S: What the heck is the left-and-right click check function?
FROSTY DEMANDS REAR VIEW MIRROR ACTION IN HL2.
Also, left/right click check thingy is in Minesweeper, where you flag prospective mines with a deft right-click. More as an aide-de-memoir than anything else.
AUTHOR: Troy Goodfellow
Very nice post. I love the term "gaming blindspot" and think I will steal it.
Personally, my blindspot is RTS. I just can't wrap my head around it, no matter how much I try to click, I fail.
I end gazing at the scenery, I suppose.
Silly Jim. Go to minesweeper, mark the correct number of bombs around any square (with number of course), and click both buttons. If you've got a '1' square, and you selected the square with the bomb, you don't need to open up every individual clean square around it. 'Course if you're wrong, kablamo. It's not a necessary part of the game, just saves time. Silly Jim.