by Eric-Jon Rössel Tairne
Back in my review of Daniel Remar’s Hero Core, I ruminated on the game’s unusually dignified management of the player’s progress. After the first ten or fifteen minutes, nearly the whole map is available to the player; from there the player’s exploration is bound and guided only by the logistics of the terrain and natural risk assessment.
Since games have gotten complex enough to involve multiple action buttons, large persistent maps, and countless variable flags, developers have done their best to keep the player from getting too far, too fast; from wandering outside the proscribed zones where the designer has accounted for all variables, or feels that the player can safely wander without getting frustrated or confused. Part of the idea is to to pad out the play experience, allowing the designer to spin a sense of scale and scope from a relatively small amount of material. Part of it is damage limitation, either for the player’s or the developer’s ostensible benefit.