Even the worst game ideas start off as well-meant concepts. Developers include an idea in their game because they felt it was going to improve the user experience in some way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out and even the best implemented mechanics have flaws. This article presents the pitch for aspects of games….and the actual pitch that reflects how the idea worked out.
Pitch: Certain attacks by players and enemies will prevent their target from acting. This allows good players to show off their skills by stopping enemies in their tracks and incentivizes bad players to learn the ins and outs of combat.
Actual Pitch: We can’t punish weak players physically, so psychologically is all we’ve got. We’ll give enemies stun attacks so the player must watch helplessly as their avatar is pummeled to death. By not killing them outright, we dangle the possibility of success in front of the player so that they won’t reload immediately. I came up with this in elementary school when my teacher told us to envision a circle of Hell.
Quick Time Events
Pitch: The players want to do cool things that we can’t always map to the controller. Solution? We temporarily remap buttons to perform those cool actions and notify the player via onscreen prompts. We preserve the simplicity of a single control scheme while keeping the player involved in jaw dropping scenarios without having to work in a cutscene.
Actual Pitch: We give the player on screen button cues so they can desperately look for the next prompt while other people get to enjoy the actual visuals. We’ll also put up the prompts so quickly that players practically have to memorize the sequence and will consistently press the button too quickly or too slowly resulting in their death. Think of it as a more painful game of Simon.
Pitch: The player needs to know they’ve died. This is how they know.
Actual Pitch: Death needs to be even more frustrating and a load/exit screen just ain’t cutting it.
Pitch: We’ve established a brilliant narrative which the player will need to understand to truly appreciate our game. We know it’s frustrating to go through unskippable cutscenes, but the joy they get in the long run will outweigh the frustration.
Actual Pitch: Our artistic vision is way more important than the player experience. Sure, the player will likely die to the next boss, and yes, this means they’ll have to rewatch the same scene over and over again, but that just gives them more time to appreciate our genius. I see no reason why a scene would lose its impact upon repeated viewings by an unwilling audience.
Multiple Form Bosses
Pitch: This last fight is going to be EPIC. Picture this: The player beats the final boss….but he’s not dead! He comes back and he’s meaner than ever! Even after the next death, the boss isn’t done yet! He’s got one more form which is so devastating that the worn out player will have to summon up his last remaining strength to overcome the odds. This is the kind of gaming moment that creates memories that last a lifetime.
Actual Pitch: This last fight is going to be EPIC. At least, if you define EPIC as long and boring. The boss will have a ton of hit points and brutal super attacks, the mentally and physically taxed player won’t have any items or special attacks left, and no one will complain because everyone just expects this. Don’t worry, we’ll shoehorn the fight in, even if it has nothing to do with the plot.
Pitch: Fuck the player!
Actual Pitch: Yeah! Screw that guy!