Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bad Idea - Limited flashlight batteries

A rubbish battery
Question: What do Gordon Freeman, the protagonist from FEAR, and Master Chief circa Halo 1 all have in common?

Answer: Despite being equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and armour, they're all hampered in their efforts to save the world by being given flashlights powered by the quality of batteries that you'd expect in the remote control for a cheap DVD player. You know, the sort that has a fake power meter on them.

I'll never understand this design decision in a game. It doesn't add any tension, it's just annoying. You've obviously decided at some point to make a level in your game that's so bloody dark that no-one can see where they're going. Fine, you're already probably an idiot, but whatever, maybe it genuinely does add to the atmosphere of the game (like in Condemned). So the player needs a flashlight to navigate. But there's the thing, when their flashlight runs out, players aren't going to barrel on in the dark (because they might miss something, or get lost), they're going to stand still until the blasted thing recharges.

Thankfully rubbish batteries seem to be doing the way of the instant death trap in games, even HL2:Episode 2 increased your battery's lasting power considerably (though with no real explanation in-game, which is a bit odd for Valve, maybe they just wanted to gloss over their previous mistakes without drawing attention to them), and ever since Halo 2 Master Chief has had as much battery life as he needed.


Anonymous said...

One possible reason: prevent the player from just leaving it on for the entire game

FreakyZoid said...

Could be. Though Halo 2 solved that problem by having your flashlight switch off whenever you went back into a well lit area (though it didn't switch on your light automatically, which would have been nice).

Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog .Setting the backlight to “always on” will significantly reduce your ipod replacement battery life. Only use the backlight when necessary.

Anonymous said...

Hah, spambot fail. iPod backlight/ Lern2 parse. :P