ON 'PLAYER TAILORING'
Copyright 2008 www.tombraiderchronicles.com
[ September 9th 2008 ]
Lindstrom, Creative Director at Crystal Dynamics,
has expanded on the three aspects behind the concept
of 'Player Tailoring', a feature which will dominate
game-play in Tomb
Raider Underworld. The game is scheduled to
release on November 21, 2008 across Europe.
people in the office suggested that my next blog
should be about how a simple conversation with
Toby Gard resulted in a torn ligament, a splint
on my left hand for three weeks, and ongoing physical
therapy probably until we're done with the game.
seeing as I can't explain the cinematic I was
acting out without spoiling the story, not to
mention that the explanation makes me look pretty
stupid, and you really just want to hear about
the game and not my work-related injuries anyway,
I'll instead talk about one of our new features:
Player Tailoring. There are three aspects of Player
Tailoring, as follows:
first aspect is about immersion. You can separately
choose to display or hide the following types
of meta-information: whether reticules appear
on enemies during combat, whether helper buttons
appear when interacts are possible, and whether
training panels appear telling you how to perform
new mechanics. Some people like having meta-information
displayed to keep things moving along, and some
people dislike the intrusion these meta-displays
represent. Both types of players can have what
second aspect is about physical challenges. Rather
than having a single difficulty setting (though
the game does start out with one that you can
fine tune later) there are multiple settings to
tailor the action elements of the game. You can
set how healthy enemies are (how much damage kills
them), how healthy Lara is (how much damage it
takes to kill her), how much ammunition you can
carry, and how quickly you have to react to saving
grabs when you lose your grip.
reason these are broken out separately is because
players define challenge differently, and everyone
is interested in different types of play. For
example, some players love puzzles but don't like
fighting so much, so now they can turn down the
health of enemies, not because they aren't up
to the challenge of stronger enemies, but because
they want to de-emphasize the role of combat in
the experience and blow through it more quickly
- just a burst of excitement and then back to
the exploration and puzzles.
those people who want less life-threatening combat
don't necessarily want an easy time exploring
so they don't want a free pass with respect to
making saving grabs or taking falling damage.
By adjusting these four settings independently,
players can adjust their experience with respect
to action and danger to their taste.
third aspect is about mental challenges. At any
point a player can call up Field Assistance and
hear Lara give a hint or a task. A hint tells
you, among all the different things in front of
you, which would be a fruitful area to focus on.
A task is something you can do that will advance
you some amount. There is no concept of "When
will my next hint be available?" because
anytime you ask for assistance, Lara will always
tell you to do something you haven't yet done.
is this feature important? Just like I talked
about for combat, people define and seek out challenges
differently. Some people like exploring and fighting
and puzzles, but if they're struggling with a
puzzle, they're ready to get the answer from a
FAQ file on the Internet and get moving again.
Why not make that feature available in an intelligent
way, in the game fiction, where you don't have
to worry about reading a bunch of other spoilers
while looking for the one you want?
only does this feature support people who want
the Tomb Raider experience but light on the puzzles,
it's good for the puzzle hounds because if it
weren't for Field Assistance, there's no way we
could have included so many elaborate and complex
by giving players the ability to control the display
of meta-information, change the difficultly of
individual game elements and not the game as a
whole, and to access puzzle help when they wish
without penalty, a whole lot of people will have
a lot more fun, without anyone's choices affecting
the experiences of other players. That's what
Player Tailoring is about, and why it's the way
of the future.
the one thing the game will not tell you is how
to get anywhere. Field Assistance will tell you
what to do but not where to go or how to climb
there. That's up to you. Good thing Lara has a
sonar device in her PDA, which you can use to
map out the ruins in detail and help you navigate.
That is, if you want to. :)"