Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Two World: Epic Edition - 20/20 hours

Towards the end, I got strangely addicted to this game. Thanks to stacking items, I got my stats up to a ridiculous level and was chewing through enemies at a prodigious rate. It was both a nice change of pace from the early game and an incitement to grind even more, in the hopes of becoming truly invincible.

I think the main thing I'm going to take away from Two Worlds is that video-game genre is very powerful. In many ways, Two Worlds was extremely flawed, perhaps even fatally so. Yet I found myself enjoying the game more often than not. And that was almost entirely on the strength of its genre. Exploring a large open-world, fighting monsters, raising my stats with experience points, and selling loot are such intrinsically compelling activities that the makers of a game would have to actively screw things up to make their game unenjoyable.

And there were times when Two Worlds came close. I really did not care for kiting a whole horde of enemies, being forced to dance around a health or mana shrine while I whittled them down. It looked ridiculous and it felt unfair (astonishingly, this held both when I lost and when I won). It sometimes got annoying to have to teleport back to town several times per battle just because the enemies dropped more loot than my inventory limit.

On the other hand, maybe I'm being too dismissive of Two Worlds' accomplishments. I've often wondered why people made "bad" video games. I'm not talking about things like voice acting or art design or anything artistic like that, I mean games that flubbed their fundamental mechanics. Like a platformer where the jump button was unreliable or a racing game where your car doesn't follow the normal laws of physics. Are these not solved problems? Can you not just build on the work done before and use a reliable, proven formula as the basis of your game?

There's a lot of talk about "games as art," but what about "games as technology?" Is it wrong to talk about game mechanics in terms of "progress?" When I say that Two Worlds doesn't screw up the basics, am I just taking for granted its place on a technological curve? Does the stuff that works about the game work because it was built from the ground up by a dedicated team or is it simply the legacy of decades of advancements in the rpg genre?

I don't know. I know that game engines exist, but my understanding of the concept is nebulous at best. Once you start with the engine, how much more do you have to do after that? A lot, I'm guessing, but I don't really have a good grasp on how it works. How much margin for error is there?

Which is to say, it's almost certain that the parts of Two Worlds that I liked were the result of a talented and passionate team working their asses off to make the best game possible. But then, so were the parts I didn't like.

So, I don't know what sort of conclusion I'm reaching for here. Making video games is hard? It's kind of sad when people try to create something great and it doesn't quite work?

It's clear that Two Worlds had a lot of ambition, but landed far short of the genre-defining classic they were obviously shooting for. Is that such a bad thing, though? Can I not admire the industry and creativity that went into making it while never actually wanting to play it again?

1 comment:

  1. "Towards the end, I got strangely addicted to this game."

    My first thought? Stockholm Syndrome. ;)