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One of the main theses behind WiiHD is that looks aren't everything in a game. Even with beautiful games, the wow factor typically lasts a few moments, with occasional renewed bursts of interest when you come across special environments, and then even the most graphics obsessed gamer has moved on to how the game feels to play.
So this Gamasutra article, titled "Looks Aren't Everything" caught our attention. Now understand, it's a sponsored piece, and parts of it read like a used car salesman pitch (for intel). Otherwise, it makes some great points about intuitive design and interface, as well as how and why we're becoming more demanding on that front than we used to be.
It has to do with expectations. Realism was not a factor in the old 8bit gaming days, so we easily accepted the limited rule set of those environments. As graphical realism has increased — as the game world began to look more and more like the real world — we've come to expect real world behavior to match, and we are often disappointed.
WiiHD thinks this metric could explain why average consumers have been less hard on Wii games this generation than they have on PS360 games: 1) Wii graphic design often eschews realism in favor of either stylism, or flat-out cartoony effects, and 2) Wii's hardware interface provides more real world behavior than a gamepad. So Wii sets the expectations lower with visuals, and then matches them better with interface.
This expectations metric could also explain one reason there is so much dissatisfaction with the Wiimote pointer from former lightgun lovers. It looks and feels like a lightgun, from a distance, but it doesn't act like one. Despite the manifest advantages of the Wiimote over both a lightgun and a gamepad, I've watched many a gamer grab one expecting it work like the original NES Zapper or an arcade equivalent, find that it isn't the same, and go back to dual analog for all their first-person needs.
It's confounding, but it makes sense in a sad kind of way. If you're marketing a shooter on Wii, this might be a paradigm you want to pay attention to. Get the expectations right.
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Gamasutra and Expectations
page revision: 4, last edited: 18 Jul 2008 19:47