- Jul 22, 2014
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As with many things, I don't really feel that it's the actions themselves [going through a dungeon, sneaking around, and so on] that are at fault; it's how they are integrated into the story and game as a whole that's important.
"The Senator and I are in vigorous agreement!" - H. Clinton
Neither of these hypothetical situations feel all that great to me. The first is an obvious roadblock, and one that doesn't have anything to do with how the main issue at hand [the seas being stormy] gets resolved. The second, though being a bit better, also rubs me the wrong way, as it implies that there isn't all that strong a reason for the player to be traveling to begin with
I didn't ever mean to imply, in my example of removing the roadblock (by not having the port town / not initially mentioning the Holy Gem at the other side of the ocean), that the player has no strong reason to be doing something. The player should always have a strong reason to be doing whatever it is they are currently doing. In fact, this is at the core of my entire philosophy on roadblocks - weakly-justified ones make the player feel like they don't need to be doing what they're asked to do, because there is realistically a much easier and better solution that the game is just ignoring.
[Also, what's stopping them from hiring a boat and just wandering around the oceans simply because they can, for one? They know RPG plots will wait for the player]
The simple fact that there are no places to explicitly hire a boat and no reason given to think about the need to hire a boat before it's time to do so. It's the same logic as why FF7 players didn't think about "why can't I leave Midgar" in the first 5 hours of the game. You didn't come across a checkpoint with a guard that said "you can't leave"; you didn't come across any obvious roadblock. You didn't hear too much about there being a whole world outside of the city. You simply did engaging things inside the city, and accepted it as the setting for your story and gameplay. Then, only when it comes time to leave, you're told to travel to Kalm, and in doing so you get to see that there's this whole world out there to explore that you didn't even know about.
I think for the most part we agree; I'm totally on board with the idea that an activity's integration into the larger game and especially the narrative are crucial to making that activity feel satisfying. I'm taking it one step further and saying that the immediacy of a given objective (for objectives like "travel to X", as opposed to obviously large-scope ones like "defeat the evil overlord") also furthers that goal.