The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

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Problems of the future: Door latency

In the future, we won’t have normal old doors with knobs. We’ll have doors made out of radial metal wedges. And they won’t just sit there, held closed by Newton’s first law – oh, no. Because this is the future, and you can’t expect us to push the doors open like goddamn cavemen. Instead, the doors will be designed by super-smart future engineers so that they’re constantly attempting to rip themselves open. The doors don’t just sit there, you see; they’re always trying to open for you. We’ll solve that problem of sometimes wanting the door to be closed by containing them in a force field that holds them closed. And we’ll make it so if you shoot the force field with a death ray, it shuts off for a few seconds and the door yanks itself open. This is the sensible future approach to doors, and it has only one flaw: the doors will suffer from intermittent latency and sometimes take up to fifteen seconds to open after you shoot the force field with your death ray.

This is one of the insights I’ve gleaned from playing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The full review is forthcoming, but I wanted to use this column for complaining about the ways it really pissed me off. I mean, don’t get the wrong idea; the game’s decent. I’ve played worse. But it has a few little annoying touches that drive me completely up the wall, and the door thing is one of them. I don’t know what’s behind it – does it have the World’s Slowest Renderer and actually need all that time to draw what’s behind the door? Is this intentional? Is it "value-added slowness" to drive up the play time so it seems like a longer game? I don’t know. All I know is that it really gets on my nerves.

The other little nitpick I’d like to throw in is about the ending. I guess you could consider this a spoiler, so maybe don’t read it if you’re anal about things like this. After the final boss, there’s this scene where it tries to build up some pathos by making it look like Samus didn’t survive. There’s this long pause and some mobs are like "no sign of Samus’ ship" and all that. Now, the scene doesn’t bother me because it’s totally pointless and manipulative – welcome to video game endings, boys and girls. No, what bothers me about it is that here we have the designers – the same designers who made the whole Prime series, mind – writing a series ending with a suspenseful "oh no maybe the hero died" scene.

They evidently forgot that the Prime series is a fucking prequel series. It comes before the other Metroid games. Anybody who is aware of this – a set that, apparently, doesn’t include the game’s developers – is going to get no deep emotional impact out of the gratuitous pathos scene. Unless incredulity counts as an emotion.


January 24th, 2008 Posted by | Games | no comments

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