Over this fine Thanksgiving break of ours, I played a fair amount of video games. I effectively had to, as I was the only one of my friends who was home from college for a solid three days. What did I play, you might ask? Well, for a while I cracked open a few of the new games from this jam-packed holiday season, notably Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect (which are both plain amazing, for anyone who’s wondering). However, I also decided to go back and try to beat a few of the games that I lost interest in through the past year or so. As I started to do this, though, I realized a major flaw in some of the games’ designs – I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do next in order to advance the story. There was no place to find a reminder, no journal, no handy quest-tracker like in WoW or LotRO, and I was absolutely lost.
I feel like far too many video games these days don’t take into account the fact that people might take a more casual approach to playing and take break and forget about what they’re supposed to do. It’s something that I’ve never really noticed it before because, generally, I play a game from start to finish usually within a one week period. And I’m sure that most of the casual gamers out there aren’t able or willing to play a game day to day like that. These breaks they take cause a loss of memory of what’s supposed to happen next. In fact, breaks of all kinds tend to make people forget about their usual responsibilities – like Thanksgiving breaks with blogs. If Neverwinter Nights 2 didn’t already have a nifty quest-tracker type of design element, I would suggest for us to somehow create prompts throughout our own game, through dialog with the NPC’s or something, to remind people what they’re supposed to do next so that they don’t end up running around the Malecasta’s castle aimlessly after having dispatched the six guards some weeks ago.