I don’t think I am alone when I say I have a ton of games in my library that are half-played. I had every intention of beating the game when I started, but something else came up; work, a child, another personal game, a review game, nose-hair trimming day.. whatever. The point is, I know I want to come back to that game, I just don’t have a lot of time.
Looking over at my collection now, I can see games like Viva Pinata, Burnout Paradise, Lego Indiana Jones, Assassin’s Creed 2, and Condemned 2 as games that I haven’t yet beaten and am some amount of the way through. Never mind the fact that I have several on the block that I am in a second or third play through on for story purposes (Mass Effect 2 or Dragon’s Age: Origins, for example). Clearly, I have a lot of different storylines, control setups, character builds, and ingame relationships that I know I don’t remember.
I realized this was an issue when I tried to get back into Assassin’s Creed 2 recently. I am probably midway through the game, and realized I have no idea what’s going on, have an arsenal of moves I don’t remember how to use, and several cities that I am not sure I have or have not visited. It is making it very difficult to get myself back into the game when I am just following blinking icons in hopes of getting enough from the missions to remind myself where I am at. Let’s not forget that I’m back to using basic attacks when I know my character knows more moves than what I’m doing, and you have a recipe for someone to move on to another game out of frustration (because restarting means redoing the hours already put in, and since the reason I left the game in the first place was because of time restraints, that’s really not an option either).
Which got me to thinking. Every game time stamps their saves. Would it be that difficult to throw a little code in the there that checks that time stamp and, if it’s been over a month, half a year or half a decade since the player had last played, a prompt comes up asking if they would like a plot recap, or a moves tutorial to remind them what the heck they was doing and how they were doing it. Deadly Premonition has a “Previously” every time you load your game, just to make sure you’re up to speed (and considering how whack-a-do that story is, and the likelihood that it may lose its audience from time to time, that’s a really good idea), so this isn’t something radical I’m coming up with.
In giving me the option, you don’t impose the recap on players with better memories than me, but it would make it easier for everyone to revisit their favorite games after a few months (or years) have passed, and get back into the game that those studios worked so hard to produce.
Yes I know there’s often a “move list” buried in the options that describes every move, but having a tutorial allows me to practice on the fly, and is the reason the first 30 minutes of every game now-a-days is essentially a training program for the game: people learn better when they perform the actions, not when they read off a list.
I realize that in a tight budget world, with finite times for production, adding in a “hey dummy, thanks for leaving our game, here’s what you’ve missed” section is an afterthought, if a thought at all. But today’s gamers aren’t all kids anymore. I know I’m in a majority of gamers with a family, job, and social issues to attend to and my time for gaming is less than it once was. I don’t have the luxury to play a game for 24 hours straight like I used to (Thanks to Everquest for that record). So when I come back to the game, I don’t want to wander through menus or, worse, start over just to understand what’s going on. I would like a 2 minute recap, and a 5 minute tutorial of the moves I know, and bam, I’m back in the game as if I never left.
Until then, I’ll be left with with a library of games that, until I find a time machine, win the lottery, or ditch friends and family and become a shut-in, will likely be left half-played indefinitely.
What do you think? Do you have a hard time coming back to games months later? Are there games out there that do a good job of getting you back? What games are most in need of this kind of feature?