Game-related ramblings.

Tag: Bioshock

History Lessons: System Shock

In 2007, 2K Boston (now known as Irrational Games) released Bioshock, which proved to be a big hit. I wanted to play it but I didn’t have a good enough PC at the time. But as I read more about the game I learned that it was a spiritual successor to System Shock 2, a game I’d heard many good things about but had never played. So I figured I’d find a copy of that and try it first. But then I decided I should really start at the beginning, and try the first System Shock game. I didn’t know much about that one, other than that it was much older, having been released in 1994. I was able to find a cheap used copy on eBay, got it running pretty easily in DOSBox, and gave it a go.

I was not prepared.

On Tutorials

It used to be that, before playing a game, you had to read the manual. Otherwise you’d have no idea how to play, or what was going on. Today, no one reads manuals, although they are still included with most games. Instead, the games themselves teach us how to play; when you load up a game, the early sections introduce the main game concepts and explain the controls, so you can get playing even if you never touched the manual.

This is a great idea. It removes a barrier to entry for games, letting anyone jump in and have fun without having to prepare first. But there can be definite downsides, which are not always considered when a tutorial is implemented. One of the foremost is that when a tutorial is integrated into the beginning of a game, it can significantly detract from the game’s atmosphere and narrative by interrupting it with instructions to the player.

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