I’ve been reading Cliffski’s blog for a long time (it’s a strong candidate for a Blogs I’ve Read post). I think one of the major reasons I like Cliffski’s blog is the way in which we agree on a lot of things. I was reading it recently when I saw his Bite Sized Hardcore manifesto.
I’m now part of a generation which doesn’t have as much disposable time as we did when we discovered computer games, be it kids, wives or other significant interests – the most common thing we need is some personal time with the TV, PC or iPad. I definitely lean towards enjoying games typically described as hardcore, but I no longer have the time to perfect my skills – the last time I got in-depth good at anything was during a lot of free time before my little guy was born. My compromise is to skip a few hours of sleep each week to play games instead so any time spent playing games is important to me.
How long does it take?
Having only just finished Dead Island, I was surprised a few days before when I got the How many days exactly? trophy indicating 28 days of play and I still wasn’t done. Although I’ve previously covered the dilemma of having lots of games left to play, I do like to explore, collect the collectables, kill everyone that needs killing and try to complete as many side missions as possible. Thank God I know that Skyrim auto generates missions before I got caught out being unable to stop playing it!.
I do have to be careful about the games I choose to play. There’s a lot of games that fit into the bite sized hardcore category and I know that I’m going to keep looking for them. One thing keeping me away from uber-hardcore games like Demon Souls and Dark Souls is the possibility of having a gameplay session with a net result of zero. A the other end of the scale though, I’m not averse to playing something shallow but very shooty-shooty like Bulletstorm.
The Tales of the Rampant Coyote blog later followed up Cliffski’s post. His additional point 9 (No arbitrary save-game restrictions!) is possibly the biggest problem I have to deal with when trying to fit in a gaming session – when can I stop!? After a certain time, I have to spend part of my attention watching for the “saving now” or “checkpoint reached” notification so that I know I can stop. Even after I think I’m safe and the save has just completed, I still get the “All progress since the last save will be lost” scary warning. One thing I have to say having just started Uncharted 3, I’m happy to see that it tells you time since the last save and avoids the warning.
This makes me think back to the suspend/resume behaviour of my PSP which I’d love on every platform on which I play (I think Mike Acton has said something similar previously). In fact, I’d prefer a session model where I can select a session when resuming, so that playing a Bluray or swapping to another game to play with my son means that I can still come back to zombie smashing when I have time and don’t have to lose where I was for playing something else quickly.
I think downloadable content (DLC) is in a position to take advantage of this part of the population. Being aware of the time required to complete a game means that DLC for an already known and loved game can take priority over picking up a new game. On the other hand, Game Guilt is something that stops you from picking up new things, and every time I see DLC, I wonder how long until the Game of the Year edition, bundle or price drop is going to happen.
A hardcore gamer says what?
There’s a couple of other bullet points I’d like to add to the manifesto:
- Let me change the controls to any configuration I want. I have a certain level of expectation when it comes to playing first person shooters and that starts at the controls. My hands already expect crouch, reload and throw grenade to be in the same place but they’re the ones that typically seem to change position and if they’re unchangeable, that makes for a pain in the backside while playing.
- Subtitles please! My late at night playing means that I need to keep the TV low and suffer the volume differences between gameplay, gunfire, voice and cutscenes. Subtitles means that I can always track what everyone’s saying while also enjoying spelling mistakes and seeing how the speech of racial stereotypes has been transcribed!
- I could possibly live without subtitles if the audio was better balanced in a lot of games. The audio options that vary the levels for different sounds can be helpful if you’ve got time to play with them, but I think it would be better if they started off right and you just used them to actually vary the volume if required.