Ticket: "Resume a game after a long break? The Stations of the Cross (directional)"

Ticket: Resume a game after a long break? The Stations of the Cross (directional)
Bringing together the memorization of the gameplay, the understanding of the interface and the learning of the rules by the players, the accessibility strategy is developed during the first hours of using our video games. Indeed, what we more commonly call "the tutorial" allows you to teach the basics and then the advanced techniques of a software smoothly, step by step. If the old games from the arcade did not need these sequences to understand how they work, the observation is different with the works of today. Equipped with complex mechanics to be executed through joysticks made up of sixteen buttons, video game productions can be learned. And, after a while of non-use, forget about themselves. A problem that some industry giants are starting to take seriously, and rightly so.

Oblivion is a gigantic pixelated ocean

When an adventure is put aside and then resumed a few weeks / months later, it can sometimes be difficult to find your way around. We may have forgotten both elements of the script and some cogs that govern the universe of the title. Who hasn't found themselves circling all over the place, approaching all the NPCs in an attempt to remember their purpose? Who has never faced a peak of difficulty caused by simply neglecting a feature taught earlier in the adventure? When a game is on standby, its lines tend to fade from our memories. Although development studios take special care in the first few hours of their creations by teaching them the right step-by-step strategies, they have a harder time finding a way to help the player when the latter has forgotten items through fault. 'a prolonged interruption. And this is quite normal, since it is difficult for the machine to understand why an adventurer is going around in circles. Is he exploring? Is he looking for the solution by having all the elements at his disposal? Did he forget that throwing a bomb at a cracked rock will get him through? At a time when booklets are no longer provided in the boxes, refreshing your memory is no longer so easy.

Let's take a title like Okami whose HD remaster arrived in 2017 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. If you started it several years ago and want to resume your save with backward compatibility, you might run into the quest log. The observation is the same with the remake of Resident Evil released in 2015 on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One: it is complicated for the player who has put the adventure aside to remember the places and the current objectives. . Many genres are potentially affected by this problem, such as RPGs, Metroidvania (Hollow Knight), JCC (Magic: The Gathering Arena, HearthStone), puzzle-games with advanced mechanics (Portal 2, The Talos Principle) or again the Point'n Click (Ace Attorney). Recently, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim perfectly illustrated the complexity of taking over some 100% solo titles after a break due to its scenario based on 13 stories that intersect in different timelines.

Today, although the situation has changed, it must be recognized that the richer the universe and the more actions, the more fatal a long pause can prove to our ability to continue an epic. Those who have tried to pick up The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Red Dead Redemption II after a few months without having touched them know what we are talking about: the challenge is quickly overwhelming. For developers, the balance is difficult to find. Shadow of the Tomb Raider and its help screens visible until the last hour of the journey, for example, quickly annoyed some adventurers who felt they were too caught up in the hand. Nowadays, many Western RPGs offer codices as well as fairly precise markers in order to provide information on how to progress. But reading pages of information on your screen, even to refresh your memory, is far from fun. While software over the years has come up with various subterfuges, such as quick summaries and helpful gameplay reminders during loading screens, no quick fixes have yet been found. Behind the scenes, however, some giants seem to be looking for it despite the complexity of the task.

Zapping Generation

If we feel lost after relaunching a game that has been paused for a long time, the satisfactory solutions are rare. It is always possible to start over from the beginning, of course, but as the backlogs grow long, starting all over again isn't necessarily a wise answer. There is then the possibility of going in circles, hoping that the mechanics will come back to us. According to an article published on the US site Vice dated November 30, 2020, Sony is interested in the issues that prevent users from returning to a single player game. Still according to the site which quotes an internal document belonging to the Japanese company, a survey would have highlighted the fact that if players did not relaunch certain titles, it was simply because they had forgotten what they were doing. had to do, pointing to “the difficulty of getting back into it”. The group to which we owe the funding of The Last of Us would also have concluded that in everyday life, games are done in small sessions because of work, children, “or all of those things at once”. “Often, free time fits between obligations. An hour before bed, a 30 minute break between homework, a few minutes before an online game ”we can read. If the observation recorded here is far from being false, it tends to ignore the drastic evolution of our practices.

More than the way of managing our adult lives, it is above all our video game consumption habits that have changed in the space of a few years. At a time when Steam collects the humble bundle, where Epic Games offers games, and where Game Pass like PlayStation Now allow access to hundreds of titles for a monthly subscription, it has never been more ordinary to move from one adventure to another. The supply is plentiful, yesterday's and today's apps are plundering. It's common to start an epic, move on to another adventure the next day, and then return to your first love a few months later. It therefore becomes necessary to find a solution for those who start and then continue / finish a journey after a long interruption. Of course, video games are not the only medium to face this strange phenomenon. It is the same with television series and books. With the only exception that a program on Netflix or a literary work accessible through Kobo Plus only asks to remember the story, where the video game brings additional layers (rules, gameplay, interface). A simple summary of the events, while welcome, is therefore not sufficient.

To believe the indiscretions that would emanate from our giants, find a way to involve a user again within a single player adventure that it has not launched for several weeks could be one of the challenges of tomorrow. Faced with the emerging ways of consuming video game epics, improving the retention rate of more or less narrative titles is important. In 2021, it may be necessary for the big brands to embrace the idea of ​​a “re-accessibility” strategy so as not to lose the large number of players foraging for good.

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