I rush almost everything I do. It’s a bad habit and I am sure that my writing would improve if I just took more time over it. In fact I normally write something and post it immediately. Not really a professional way of doing things. The question is can you rush playing a mod?
We all do things are different speeds and levels of concentration. Besides driving and eating I normally do things pretty fast. I accept that the quality of my “work” is lower than if I went a little slower but it just seems my natural speed.
When I used the word “work” I put it in quotation marks because I’m not just talking about work itself but anything I am doing. Reading is a prefect example because I definitely read too fast. I jump and skip words and there’s little doubt I occasionally misunderstand something. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one either.
In my defense I normally do this when I am really enjoying a book and want to find out what happens next. You don’t know how hard I try to control myself. Near the end of each chapter I have to cover the words with a small piece of paper othewise I simply jump to the last two lines. (I do go back and read the other lines though).
After having spent about two hours playing Old School I noticed that I was probably doing exactly the same thing. I have been aware of my playing speed before but with this mod it was much more evident that I was simply rushing. It might have been because I really wanted to finish it before I posted it on the site, but I don’t think so.
I believe it was due to the style of gameplay and even the layout of the levels. For those that haven’t played it, the gameplay consists of finding a large, coloured key and then finding the correct door. In fact it’s even easier than that because there are four colours and all the doors have a coloured lock that corresponds to the key required.
Now, the author of the mod has included secret areas and this may go some way to stopping the rushing but not in my case. I found the secret areas many because I was looking for the keys. The secret areas contain some health and ammo but rarely anything of real value, as there is always plenty of health and ammo around the levels anyway.
This got me thinking whether when I play I simply rush to reach the next area. The answer was yes and in fact I think my problem goes back a long, long way.
Possibly before many readers were even born I remember playing a game on either the Atari or Amiga called Deflector. The purpose of the game was to manipulate a laser beam from one part of the screen to another. It’s a simple concept that has been adapted in many games; Plumber being a good example.
I rememeber playing the game all night and reaching the 100th and final level at just before 6:00AM. What drove me was not the enjoyment of finishing or beating each level but simply the desire to see the next level. It wasn’t the journey that hooked me but the destination. I honestly believe that if I had had the cheat codes to view each level I probably would have just entered them, looked at the level and turned off the game and gone to bed at a sensible hour!
I’ve definitely changed over the many years between then and now because I expected to feel the same desire when I played Portal. However, I got a little bored and only finished the game because CubeDude89 kept nagging me.
I’m not saying that I have lost that desire to see what’s next, it’s just that if the gameplay required isn’t fun then I will now stop, whereas in the past I would have probably continued. The desire to see the next level was stronger than the enjoyment I got from actually playing. That balance has shifted now.
Going back to Half-Life 2, I think that when I use a vehicle I probably rush through a level, I assume that the designer wants me to pass through areas quickly. WHy give me a vehicle otherwise? But then my suspicion kicks in and I think maybe it’s a double bluff and I should go really slowly in case something cool is hidden.
Which brings me on to the mappers themselves. I wonder how many actually consider the playing speed of the players and try to exert some control over that? Perhaps that would be a good training exercise for designers. Design a level that without explicit actions, forces the player to rush through. How would you do that? Layout? Lighting? NPCs? Enemy scripting?
Now do the reverse. How would you stop a player from rushing through a level? Certainly you could block their route but that’s too easy. I’m thinking more about subtle methods. Perhaps some mappers could enlighten us meer players!
Without doubt music plays a huge role in setting the scene and priming the player but there must be more to it than that.
I challenge you, the player, to stop and think next time you play a game, mod or map. Are you being controlled by the game or are you controlling the game?
Look carefully at how and what you do. I suspect that most players play faster than they should. Partly because of the idea that finishing a game, mod or map faster than others is somehow linked to skill. The faster you finish the better the player you must be.
It’s an understandable concept. How many sports do you know where being the slowest is the best? None that I can think of. Certainly not all sports are time related but many are.
So, the next time you find yourself starting a map or mod, breath deeply and say to yourself I am in control. I will play at my speed.
Remember, enjoy the journey not just the destination!