Zorba the Hutt (zorbathut) wrote,
Zorba the Hutt

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a plea for unlockable games

So I've got this game called Gotham Project Racing. It boasts "over 26" (probably 26) "high-performance dream cars" and "more than 200 circuits". From system-on to start screen takes a minute or two to set up your player, and you are rewarded with the ability to play no more than twelve races with no more than three cars, all of which suck. The races do not suck, which is lucky because you'll be crawling down them at a paltry 60mph, unless you choose the car that doesn't steer, in which case you might reach 70 before you hit a wall and start doing zero.

Now let us say, for argument's sake, that you choose the standard Race Lots Of Cars races. You have the first difficulty, labeled "easy", and you have four races, which, while not *easy* as such, aren't exactly *hard* either. Let us say you do well and get 1st or 2nd in all of them.

You are now rewarded with four *more* racetracks.

This is known as "progress".

These tracks, however, are significantly harder, so you decide to go back and do the first races better and get gold. Upon completion you are rewarded with no less than two brand-new cars, straight out of the shop, which suck slightly less than your old three.

If you should get tired of doing straight races - which is likely to happen - you can go to another type of race, such as the strangely named Kudos Challenge. I should explain about kudos. Kudos are, to all intents and purposes, Style Points. You get kudos for doing slides and two-wheelers and air and for passing other cars without accidentally, say, slamming into an inconveniently placed bridge. Now the cool thing about kudos is that they accumulate. Let us say I do a nearly perfect job in a race and rack up 400 kudos, which is a very large amount, but I wish to retry it. That's okay! Those 400 hard-earned kudos go into a Global Kudos Repository, which keeps track of how many kudos I have gotten in my lifetime.

Now some time along this you will get a message. It will say that you have earned 1000 kudos and are rewarded with a new car.

So that's *six* cars.

As of this writing I believe I have seven cars - one more for beating a better car in a one-on-one race - and something to the order of 20 racetracks. I've got a long way to go, yes, but this is Progress.

This is something missing in many many many many modern games. I am Accomplishing something. Something which will not go away if I should decide I want to play an older race, something which I will not be obsessive about being perfect on. In fact, there are many races I *cannot* get gold on right now. It is impossible. That's OK too. I'll get bronze, get a better car, *then* come back and get gold.

When was the last time you found a game that let you keep going back and improving your past scores, and - even better - unlocking new things because of it?

Now: imagine this.

Take X-Wing. Or TIE Fighter. Your call.

Now do this to it.

You start out with one or two fighters. Maybe the X-Wing and the TIE Fighter, in this case. You can do Real Missions (tm) to increase the plot and unlock some new training missions ("We've recaptured our shipyards at Hoth, and the training facility is now open.") You can do Training Missions to unlock new fighters, new upgrades, new payloads. Want a TIE Defender with a nuclear warhead? Fine by me - as long as you can fight your way up to it. And of course any ship you get can be imported into a previous mission and tried out.

And now you can do missions *better*. That mission you couldn't pull off that involved capturing four ships? Now you're faster. Now you're better. Now you have bigger guns. Now you can disable all four of them before they've even considered that maybe hyperspacing out would be a good idea.

And now you've just unlocked a set of four more missions.

Would this be cool, or would this be cool?

I don't know about you, but I don't want the entire game laid out in front of me like a roadmap. I want to *fight my way through it*.
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