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Paranoia anyone?

Musings on where to draw the line between expected in-game memes and introducing the player to the new and nifty...

Paranoia, anyone?

Anyone out there remember playing Paranoia?

GM:  “If you’re a commie and you know it, clap your hands……”

GM:  “Shoot him.”

I’m starting to think it was excellent training for playing some of the new breed of videogames.  For example:  Right now my husband is playing Dead Space.  I’m sitting at my laptop working (which of us is having more fun?  Well, our overused 360 just locked up again, so I think I may be the winner there).   

He walks into a dark and scary place…  Okay, that can be just about anywhere in the game, but the floor is littered with bodies.  Without provocation, he goes through and stomps the living s*&$#t out of each and every one (major ick, but beautifully modeled and textured ick!).  Now, at that moment my brain was going, “man, what kind of sick monkey are you, stomping these poor, dead crew-members into paste”.

Turns out, however, that there was a method to his madness.  Within the space of a few minutes he gets jumped by a crew of baddies, one of whom just happens to be one of the alien critters that reanimates the corpses into undead alienspawn killing machines.

So as a game designer, I have to ask myself.  At what point to we have to start getting cleverer with the game design?  To my corpse-stomping hubby, a room full of bodies pretty much told him exactly what was coming at him next.  Being able to circumvent the problems or puzzles (or scythe-handed meat-puppets) kindof defeats the purpose of putting them in there in the first place. 

But on the other hand, if you don’t allow that sort of foreshadowing to occur, the player is going to feel betrayed, right?  It seems to me that we are walking a very thin line between sticking with established conventions in game scenarios and training the player to accept new and exciting things without ruining the fun of the game.

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