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Era Di Cate

"Special" and/or "magickal" "vision" modes in games.

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A lot of modern gaming elements are being discussed, yet I haven't witnessed any sort of discussion over "special vision modes" in games.


At least on PC, the game would tell you to press "V" or any other button to activate a special "sight", "vision" or "eye" where suddenly everything is blurry and dark sans items, NPCs and occasionally mechanisms, doors and traps which become highlighted. I guess this is useful for relaying info on positions of this and that, but is it really that neccesary?


Can such a element be replaced with something else? With what would you replace it (if you would like to)? Can this element be used in FPS games more effeciently? Also when did this trend start to get used?

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Or that broken weapon in Perfect Dark that has a X-ray vision and kill anyone easily?

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Night Vision. Batman's Detective Vision. Riddick's eyes as someone mentioned.

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I hate it. It seems like most of the new action/adventure games have something like it, where it reveals all of the stuff you can interact with or pick up. Modern point-n-click adventure games have the same thing. It seems like a response to people disliking "pixel hunts," but I think it's the laziest solution possible, and it ruins a lot of things that are great about these games.


There are a couple driving factors, I think:


- It started to become difficult to find stuff in the super-detailed 3D environments

- Modern games focus a lot on collecting stuff, completionist achievements, etc


There are huge, detailed, beautiful environments, but there's not a lot to actually do in them except collect garbage and find the next fight or story trigger, so we're given a way to easily ignore the beautiful environment to find the next shiny thing that we're presumably interested in. Because god forbid we get delayed or have to explore the environment carefully!




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Most game designers don't care anymore about good level design that enhances the gameplay.

They just make beautiful landscapes, so that you can just look at them and admire the view. Placing enemies and items must be a second thought now.

And what happens if they placed an essential item randomly, somewhere in the game world? Do they change its position, to somewhere more justifiable? No! Do they use small cleverly placed hints, in order to help the player find the item, without taking away the pleasure of self-achievement? No! Do they let the players explore a bit and have fun getting immersed in the game world during the search? No!


Just use X-Ray and all our problems will be magically solved!!! Good game design??? Pffft! Who needs that???


Now back to the topic again, the first game I remember playing, that had special vision was Assassin's Creed, with the Eagle vision, if I am not mistaken. In AC2, I think there was a mission, where you had to search a small circular area for a particular person. But the person wore the same clothes with 100 other NPCs. So, did they place slight hints, like I suggested above (the target could be programmed to say something if you passed near him and you could recognize him or he could have a slightly altered uniform)? No! Just put Eagle vision and highlight him!!!

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Half way on this one.


In some games special vision might help the player plan their next moves if the game doesn't want to have the player sit in front of a map for 15 minutes trying to figure out everything. A stealth game where the protagonist has to carefully plan his heist/robbery/assasination/sabotage might be interesting to some people, but there are people who want to do it cinematic style and have the protagonist just know what is in the next room, pretending that the protagonist planned it all out beforehand even if the player didn't, in order to follow the story and learn more about the lore on the go.


In TES games, the "magickal vision mode" was activated through spells and powers, in my opinion a proper way to present both a advantage and a challenge. In most games, the special vision is activated by a button press and is indefinite in usage. In TES case, clairvoyance or night vision spells costed magicka and did not last way too long, which could have been used for fireballs or healing spells as well, so there is the investment element.


Then there is the argument that the "special vision" is making games too easy. As I had said, most of these are provided for the cinematic purpose of the game, having the protagonist recognize the important object or NPC much like how movie characters do it ("There is that guy over there"). In most games these are optional, like how you don't have to use "Dark Vision" in Dishonored games at all.


However most of the annoyance comes from having "special vision" becoming a essential element to the game, having the player literally fail his mission from not identifying his target even if it is the same target every time. Some games avoid such ass-pullery by randomizing, but even sometimes letting the player figure it out on their own might be a better idea, but not always.


In my overly humble opinion, the ideal "special vision" is:

- completely optional

- worth investing

- progressively upgradable

- possessing a balanced reward/risk ratio with every usage

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