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Things You May Have Missed: Do Games Lack Memorable Landmarks And Compelling Openings?

N'Gai Croal of Msnbc writes: "This entry comes from the September 17th-20th edition of our Vs. Mode exchange with MTV News reporter Stephen Totilo, wherein we discussed the games BioShock and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. During our email conversation, Totilo pointed out that the vast majority of videogames don't have memorable landmarks or locations, an observation that has already generated discussion. We replied that most games also lack memorable openings, and suggested that perhaps the two problems were connected, which led to an interesting chat about the ways in which sequels manage the abilities and the gear that a player character had in the previous game. Read on".

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Jdoki3731d ago

I agree with this. There's a lot of iconic game series and characters, but few memorable locations.

I guess gaming is more about moments, rather than places. Possibly because in most games we are focused on our characters and the situations we are thrown in to. Also, it's hard for developers to direct players in specific ways outside of cut-scenes... A player may pass a spectacular landmark a hundred times, but if their attention is not directed towards it then they may not fully appreciate it.

If games forced a little more reality on us, such as removing mini-maps it might make us, as gamers, look at our environments more and force developers to create more memorable landscapes.

Also, there's so much generic rubbish in games... how many Adventure games have a 'fire level', 'snow/ice level', 'jungle/green level'. How are we supposed to remember and appreciate the landscapes/landmarks when they are usually so generic.

Rooftrellen3731d ago

Two games (ok, one franchise, one game) comes to mind when I think of memorable landmarks.

First, Zelda, ever since it hit 3D, has been doing well with keeping me interested in where things are because many of the places are so memorable. Ocarina of Time, ever play though I did of it, I always looked forward to getting into the Gerudo Fortress. yeah, almost every game has a desert, but what makes the landmark memorable isn't how it looks, but what you associate with it. Escaping from the fortress was the highlight of the whole game!

In fact, if Zelda teaches us anything, its that you don't need something to look great to remember the landmarks well, but you do need something to remember them by. A castle is a castle is a castle no matter how many ways you slice it, but when you play a whole game in or around the castle, as in Mario 64, you'll remember it more than any others, and when you spend half your time in a water temple with one large central structure, you'll likely remeber (and dread) the water temple in Zelda.

The other one I can think of is Skies of Arcadia. Landmarks were a vital part of that game, and, more often than just going straight from place to place, I would sail around the world by the various landmarks, just because I knew what direction to go to get to other places by the landmarks. Late in the game, when most of the sky rifts are gone, I found it hard to find my way around, because they were actually one of the landmarks I used.

There are two reasons for this one. First, you didn't have a map while traveling, so this random floating rck with a certain shape had important navigational purposes, and, perhaps more importantly, the systems of discoveries gave me a reason to remember them as landmarks. Spend hours hunting down a few discoveries, and you'll remember them, and the little story about them, well.

The thing that is harder to explain is the towns seem so memorable as well. Hortaka and Yafutoma, specificly, I could map out the whole villages right now, not having played it at all for months, and they're both rather complex places. However, for some reason, they stick out in my mind.

I think, likely, it is again what happens there. I can easily remember landmarks in games that have some significance to me, but it seems few games try to make me remember a place for more than just how it looks, when we need to be firmiliar with landmarks, and they need to have some significance, for them to be memorable.

Captain Tuttle3731d ago

one of the smartest gaming journalists out there...he views gaming as important and legitimate as films. He always writes quality stuff and makes me think about the industry.

Good article.