Airtight Games still has time to wrestle with an apparently common problem: gamers not using all of their abilities in a game.
One of the themes of my day yesterday was the idea that gamers often ignore or under-utilize the abilities that games give them.
This is common. Or at least it seemed so yesterday.
My work day more or less began with a meeting with producers at Capcom. One of them, Shana Bryant, let me play some of the jetpack shooter Dark Void. Sometimes the game involves jacking UFOs and playing the game like it was like the Dark Void developers' previous work, Crimson Skies. Sometimes it plays like the a video game Rocketeer.
And sometimes it plays like Gears of War, as the player snaps their hero Will to cover and shoots through gun battles. That's when a bad habit kicks in among players testing the game. They're so used to navigating a firefight on foot from cover point to cover point like Gears' Marcus Fenix that they forget what's on Will's back. "We want to remind people that you have a hover pack," Bryant said. "Don't forget to use it."
That's the whole point, play-testers. Press the Y button to hover above your cover, then drift down behind the bad guys and shoot them in the back.
Bryant recognizes that the burden of jetpack encouragement is on the developers. They need to make players want to use that jetpack, maybe even need to use it instead of rolling and dashing from cover point to cover point. One of the reasons for players to put the hovering and flying options out of their mind was because of the problem our Brian Crecente discovered during a maverick play session in Monte Carlo — "Death by Touching." Will dies almost immediately if he even lightly brushes into walls and ceilings while jetpacking via the Y button. That problem is already being addressed so that players, in Bryant's words, no longer "associate the y button with the death button."