October 7, 2010

    When Gameplay is forgotten: Alpha Protocol

    First off, I’m starting this not as a way to slam Alpha Protocol.  Being in the industry I know the hurdles developers face and insane deadlines given by publishers.  During the final “crunch” of a game or just drama in the studio things get lost in the shuffle.  OR your in development of a game for so long you loose sight of things.  Things that is so blatantly obvious that as soon as you get a good solid day of rest you find that you forgot the huge elements that are forgotten in some games, the twin brother of Story… Gameplay.

    Focus testing does a good way to counteract this, but if you use college students or QA they just tell you what you want to hear…MOST of the time.  I don’t’ want to rant on this much longer but I can possibly see what happened to Obsidian’s game.  They lost track of the almighty gameplay.

    So with that said I want to start with the good things about Alpha Protocol.   Conversation system was great the building of my character felt cool also.  I felt that everything I did in the conversation truly would change my experience.  The development and tweaking of my character felt good and I liked the choice given.  And to end it out the story was interesting and I really wanted to see the end of it.  But I barely made it…due to the fact that the story was not backed up by good minute to minute game play.  The gameplay and presentation was really bad.  I felt that sneaking around was a joke. That if I tried to be a soldier I would get mowed down and the cover system was extremely broken.  It took this fun and well crafted story and made it almost impossible to get through it all because of the broken mechanics. 

    And maybe this is my transition into the whole story vs. mechanics question that seems to be talked about… it’s even…a tie… a draw. I don’t know why people don’t get that without an appealing story or subject matter people are not drawn to it.  But then comes the gameplay part. I can’t get through this fantastic story with a terrible mechanics…its like reading a story with smudged words that aren’t legible.  And there lies Alpha Protocol… A great story but no good means to get through it.  Gameplay is huge! I dare say to me more important! A tad… haha hmmmm.  I need some whiskey to get over this one, I just contradicted most of this post.  My brain hurts and good stuff needed. Jameson Whiskey.


    Alpha Protocol is a C-

    Alpha ProtocolGame DesignGameplayWhiskeyJ.J. Williams