Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Random Shots: Learning To Drive

  • I was never in a rush to learn how to drive. All through high school, I could get anywhere that I wanted on my bike. Everything in the midsized Central Valley town was easily within reach with no need for a car. The closest I ever came was driving the customized pesticide sprayer through my grandfather's plum orchard. So when the time finally came for me to learn how to drive, I had a lot of questions. And of course, I didn't even know which questions were important or not. I remember asking him how the accelerator worked. Did the amount depressed set you to a certain speed or did it work some other way? Eventually I figured it out. Driving is second nature to me now. But it took time and patience to learn the skill.

  • Every so often, I pop SSX back in the 360 to give it another try. Unfortunately, SSX is not a drop in, drop out experience. The developers' goal was to make the game much more skill based. They certainly did that. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember SSX 3 as a game I could drop in and enjoy, though I'm questioning that now. Was it drop in fun because I was over the learning curve? I don't think I've even approached the curve on SSX. I start the game, flail around wildly, finish last, then give up.

  • I had a similar problem with Skullgirls. I had trouble pulling off the moves in the tutorial. There was no way I could take on the single player mode. Not that I didn't try. The very first opponent, the one you can usually button mash past in other games, cleaned the floor with me. On a difficulty that they labeled "Sleepwalk." Maybe an EVO competitor could sleepwalk through it, but I had little idea what to do against the AI.

  • Games like these are absolutely intimidating to me. After trying them out, I can see the long climb I have to achieve any proficiency with them. And until I feel proficient, I won't actually be having any fun with the game. I'm sure that mastering them will be quite an achievement. But when faced with that deep of a time sink, I'm not sure that the return on my investment will be any greater than any of the games that I could jump into and enjoy now.

© 2012 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. I'm of a similar mind. I recently bought a PSP and a handful of games, and I have to be careful how I approach them. Sure, The Final Fantasy Tactics and Joan d' Arc tactical RPGs will have core tactical considerations that will translate between games, but they each have enough quirks that I don't want to be jumping between them.

    Even more pointed is the difference between Final Fantasy Crisis Core and Kingdom Hearts, Birth by Sleep. I'm really having fun with KH at the moment, but CC beckons... until I read the instruction manual. It's *just* different enough that I don't want to be training my muscle memory between games.

    More trouble than that is jumping between consoles. The PS3 and XBox sort of play nice with button placement, but playing a Nintendo system in between just means confusing your muscle memory, even in something as simple as which button is "accept" and which is "cancel".

    ...and beyond that is the evil that is working in 3D applications. Trying to go between 3DS Max and Maya is hair-pullingly annoying, and if you have to work with Wings, Blender or worse, proprietary stuff like Nintendo or Microsoft apps... it's enough to make a migraine seem like welcome bliss.

    So yeah, that skill/usability curve really can make or break the experience.

    1. I'm very much in agreement. I don't play the games, but I know that the different controls for first person shooters drives people crazy.

      It's reasons like this that I prefer turn-based games. I prefer to have time to think about my choices and how to input them into the game. Games with a shallow learning curve get a pass from me as well. :)

  2. I used to love fighting games, but I had to give them up after breaking multiple controllers and a couch (sadly true). Driving games just frustrate me to death, I think I might enjoy them if I went all in and bought a wheel, but controllers just don't fit how my brain works when I see a racetrack. I'm constantly over-steering.