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TechnoGoth

Failure notification causes frustration?

3 posts in this topic

I was playing a new life sim game last night similar to the old princess maker games. In it you choose 2 classes to attend each week each class increase one of about 60+ different skills. You also choose how to respond to different in game events.

The game has an interesting system where by it does skill checks during event that provided either additional information or additional choices. It also does skill check to see if you succeed at a choice. But one mechanic in the game I found caused me a lot of frustration. The game shows a little background pop if you passed or failed any skill check along with the what skills were checked. It doesn't tell you what score you needed just the skills and if you passed or failed. But I found this really annoying and caused me to restart several times. Very few choices are game over decisions but I found that seeing that I had failed a test made we want to restart as I must have built my character wrong. I found it rather frustrating as I played.

What do other people think? Is seeing that you failed a skill check good or bad? Would you rather not know when you failed and only see successes?
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I think most people would rather know why something (did/didn't) happen than wonder why they weren't getting results. Your frustration might not be the notification, but that you're a "perfect playthrough" kind of person. You go a little deeper with your preparation so you expect to succeed nearly all the time.

It's also one thing to fail a check, but another to feel that you're now missing the opportunity behind the roll. It sounds like that type of game offers many opportunities knowing that the player will miss a few here and there. But perfect players despise being told they missed out when they [i][u]should[/u][/i] have passed. Why else did you put all those skill points in!

I know I can get frustrated in a strategy game when a unit misses an important attack... 90% is [i][u]almost[/u][/i] perfect, right? So why'd he botch it now of all times, it's so [i][u]unlikely[/u][/i]!.....completely forgetting that they've attacked a dozen times this map already. That number's gotta come up sometime.
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I think that unless you're going for a system where passing skill checks is a kind of bonus rather than a core game mechanic, its best to show the notification. I do think its pretty bad not to show you the score required to win, assuming the skill score is something you can work to change in the game.

There is another interesting thing here: The game is a life simulator; it contains a system that allows you to create unique characters. That uniqueness is dependent on the player not having all the attributes that the system provides, yet as a player you are still compelled to gain all those attributes, rather than "live" in the game as that person. You feel compelled to restart to get a perfect score, yet that contradicts the purpose of the system, which is to allow unique lives to exist within it. Somehow, the game works in such a way that you end up focussing on the system rather than on the character.

I wonder if it is possible to create game systems that avoid this tendency. Can we create game mechanics that are still playable, yet elude full concrete intelligibility? Our real lives are surrounded by an unknowingness and sense of possibility quite different from the skill trees and other game mechanics we use to represent ourselves in games. Can we make the player focus on character by mystifying the game mechanics that make the character possible?

Maybe I'm missing the point, and that lack of unknowingness is what makes games what they are?? Interesting questions.
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Can you choose to attempt the activities that prompt skill checks, especially the game-over ones? If so, I think that I'd rather not see the required skill levels to pass. Life sim games are based around developing your character and then seeing if he or she is good enough to do certain things. Seeing that you need a 50 in Charisma to accomplish thing X takes most of the sim out of it.

If you can't stand not knowing if you'll succeed in advance or just hate failing any checks at all then cheat, or find a wiki with the info you need.
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