Do you like discovery?

Started by the-pi-guy, Jun 19, 2022, 10:32 PM

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the-pi-guy

A lot of games handle it differently.

Elden Ring: a lot of people were in love with the fact that Elden Ring had no quest logs. Just throws you out into the world with a few vague directions.

ME3 seems to give a starting point for the missions, but then it doesn't seem to be helpful after that.

Skyrim gives you an end point for pretty much everything. There's nothing to figure out.




I have mixed feelings. Discovery is often good, but it can also be annoying. It isn't fun if you obscurely put a mechanism somewhere just to have a player spend 10 minutes trying to figure out what to do.  

kitler53

discovery is the core of puzzle games and why I love them. 

outside of puzzle games I feel like discovery isn't done well.  

I think the core problem is scale.  a puzzle, once the solution is discovered, typically take under a minute to execute. 

open world RPGs, where discovery mechanics are most prevalent, may require hours to execute.   the good/bad of the quest log is it tells you what to do but also reminds you of what you were doing. 
          

Legend

Discovery is one of my favorite elements of games but it's often done really poorly.

Elden Ring has great discovery in theory but it's executed super poorly from what I've seen. Normal things like a quest log essentially exist but they're obfuscated from the player. The "correct" way to play is to predict what the designers were thinking and do what the devs intended. For example I think most players can relate to playing in the wrong order where they do a really difficult area too early or a really easy area too late.

A much better example is Outer Wilds. It has a quest log that keeps track of what you discovered and teases where you should explore next, but it never tells you what to do. There is no wrong way to play the game and every path through the solar system is equally rewarding. Also I ignored the quest log and was able to play the game without missing out on anything.

I also liked discovery in Deathloop. The quest log broke so I did the last half of the game on my own, which was very fun. Like Elden Ring it was just obfuscation, but the directly stated goal and lack of punishment made it feel great.

BOTW has great discovery. Most quests tell you the basics but don't give you an exact list of things to do. I love that the main quest is just "Defeat Ganon" with no additional info.


In Hapax it's pretty much nothing but discovery. Players have a clear goal, to escape and get back to Earth, but the execution of that goal is completely up to them. Right now all I have are a few basic hints in the pause menu to remind players to think beyond most video game tropes. Based off feedback in the future though I might add an outer wilds like objective tracker for casual players.

discovery is the core of puzzle games and why I love them.

outside of puzzle games I feel like discovery isn't done well.  

I think the core problem is scale.  a puzzle, once the solution is discovered, typically take under a minute to execute.

open world RPGs, where discovery mechanics are most prevalent, may require hours to execute.   the good/bad of the quest log is it tells you what to do but also reminds you of what you were doing.

In general the game needs to support trial and error without punishing the player. If it takes too long to execute a solution then I'm going to be afraid of experimenting and board at the end.

In an open world game if it takes too long to travel between destinations, I'm way more inclined to pull up a guide when I can't find what I'm looking for.

the-pi-guy

In general the game needs to support trial and error without punishing the player. If it takes too long to execute a solution then I'm going to be afraid of experimenting and board at the end.

In an open world game if it takes too long to travel between destinations, I'm way more inclined to pull up a guide when I can't find what I'm looking for.
I think the core problem is scale.  a puzzle, once the solution is discovered, typically take under a minute to execute.

open world RPGs, where discovery mechanics are most prevalent, may require hours to execute.   the good/bad of the quest log is it tells you what to do but also reminds you of what you were doing.
I think this is the big issue.


I think when it starts feeling like "Discovery" is actually getting in the way of the game, that's when it stops being fun. If you have to spend 20 minutes, or even hours trying to figure out what to do or where to go, that's not fun.