A Gaming Musing: Inconvenience VS Difficulty
Ever felt how annoying it was to climb a 10-storey tower, only to have to manually climb back down after beating the final boss on the last floor? Ever felt how annoying it was to walk 2 miles away from the door to the boss area just to reach a save point? All of these are incredibly inconvenient game systems that may had slipped the game maker’s mind or may be deliberately set up.
From my gaming experience, I noticed a few games with a bit more inconvenience then other games, major examples being RPGs. In RPGs, there will always be “healing areas” throughout your journey to soothe your pain, or more literally, to heal your HP; it can be a clean waterfall, a tent, food, inn – places which can replenish energy can be counted as one. I find it ironic however that the effects of these healing areas seem to be different in it’s effectiveness from game to game. In some games, healing areas can heal HP, recover from status effects and can even revive while some healing areas from other games can be as limited as only healing a portion of the HP without the ability to cure status effects or revive, which can be quite inconvenient at times. I remembered one day when I was replaying one of the older Final Fantasy game, I “healed” at a fountain thinking I was ready to face the boss in the cave, only to find out I was still poisoned.
Healing areas aside, there is also a matter of navigating. When you finished navigating an area, defeated a boss, and basically finished up with your business in whatever area you are in, say a forest or dungeon for example, it gets incredibly tedious when the game does not “automatically run back” to the world map for you, and you had to control it yourself. An inconvenience I experienced in games like Breathe of Fire, and can be slightly annoying at times. There are always alternatives to this however, like having short-cuts back to the outside world map, or to use an “auto-travel” system, and games that apply such system does make it slightly more convenient.
Location of save points too, is another element which effects the convenience of a game. You are fine, of cause if the save points were usually located just before each boss areas, but whose to say all save points in the game will be so convenient? Unexpectedly, you could be running several areas back away for 30min away from the boss area just to reach a save point. There are quite a lot of games with this inconvenient problem, and the latest one I experienced, was Ninja Gaiden (Sigma), before beating the very final boss of the game, there were no save points nearby, and I ended up not saving and just tried my luck with the final boss.
Last but not least, the structure and design of the game too. For example, Final Fantasy XIII. For a huge chunk of the game in the beginning, you gain no CP (exp equivalent) nor gil from battles – completely no incentive in grinding, which is a magic of most RPG games old or new alike. Also, whoever thought it was a good idea introducing us a massive world map (or something akin to it) in the form of Gran Pulse out of the blue, while suddenly blasting us in the face with 60 available side missions all in one moment? What’s worse, the game just had to do that when it’s about to end; quite draggy and inconvenient. Slightly unrelated, the lack of a New Game+ was odd, considering how common it is to implement it into their games nowadays.
From all the above examples, it all boils down to one word: inconvenience. However, “convenient” games don’t necessarily mean it’s easy. Instead of creating annoyance and inconveniences, games can increase their difficulty by creating relevant challenging puzzles or challenging bosses at the same time while making it “convenient” for their gamers.
What do you think about “inconveniences” in video gaming?