Author Topic: Time to do away with the Game Over screen?  (Read 1974 times)

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Offline Jeff Rivera

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Time to do away with the Game Over screen?
« on: March 09, 2011, 12:34:17 AM »
At this year's GDC there was lots of talk about it possibly being time to do away with the game over screen and to find new ways to deal with failure states in video games. Some argued that the game over screen was nothing more than a relic from the arcade era when the game was needing to demand more quarters from the player. Since early console games were either ports of arcade games or versions of the games already out in arcades, many of the conventions found in arcade gaming made the leap to consoles.

In our upcoming podcast we're going to be discussing failure states in current games and whether or not the game over screen is necessary. We're hoping for extra input from our blog readers and forum users. We'll read some comments on the show and react to them. If you have something to say on the matter, please post it here in this thread.

If you want to opine, but you don't want your comments read aloud, please specify in your post.

Thanks!
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Offline Pants

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Re: Time to do away with the Game Over screen?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2011, 08:13:43 AM »
Every game should feature the "GAME OVER YEAH!!!" from Sega Rally Championship.

Forever.


Honestly though, I think a lot of current games have gotten so soft that a game over screen wouldn't make sense, why even think about having a game over screen when you respawn with all your current progress a la Bioshock or Prey?  Really no FPS should have a game over screen (nor can I think of any that do off the top of my head).

Games that still feature limited numbers of lives like old Sonic or Mario games should have some sort of game over screen if you lose all of those lives (which are easier now to come by than candy on Halloween). 

Game over screens are essentially gone entirely already with the exception of arcade-type games.  Particularly fighting games still prominently love to tell you when you've failed.
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Offline mathrik

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Re: Time to do away with the Game Over screen?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2011, 11:59:29 AM »
I didn't like the mechanic in Bioshock where it took you back to a healing tank.  It felt cheap and didn't really make sense in the context of the story.  At the end when I found out why it worked for me but not for other people, I still didn't like it.  I forget if it even explained how my body got back there.

I had the same problem with Planescape: Torment.  I would reload anytime I died rather than let the game just put me back wherever with the rest of my party miraculously escaped.

Playing through Mass Effect and Dragon Age, I would often try different approaches to a given combat encounter and it never bothered me to end up at the Game Over screen.

The best I've seen death/game over handled in video games was the way Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time handled it.  "No no no, that's not the way it happened. Shall I start again?"
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Offline Tanooki

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Re: Time to do away with the Game Over screen?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2011, 03:33:28 PM »
I think it needs to stay, it makes sense still in many games.  Those that wuss out and just have you pop back up on the spot with no losses at all or of punishable value it does seem silly to have it at all.

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Offline Jeff Rivera

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Re: Time to do away with the Game Over screen?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2011, 03:44:11 PM »
I'll save most of my comments for the podcast, but I'm on the side of those that think that the game over screen needs to stay. Sure, it can be frustrating, but it introduces threat into the equation. That threat of having to start a level over from the beginning rather than a nearby spawn point causes tension. In my opinion, the satisfaction from gaming comes from overcoming tension.
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Offline Rensa

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Re: Time to do away with the Game Over screen?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2011, 06:44:07 PM »
I think we need to remember to decouple the mechanical penalty - that is, how much gameplay you repeat for failing - from the presentation of the failure (death, "And then they all died and nobody heard from them again" Game Over screen, regeneration, etc.).

I've just finished playing the 2008 Prince of Persia, in which Elika catches you whenever you make an error and returns you to the last flat ground you were on. A lot of people said that that took away the threat as well, but it certainly didn't take away the frustration during long wallrunning sequences. On the other hand, games like the Uncharted series have you die when you die, but they're happy to return you to the last puzzle or enemy wave you were on as many times as you like.

I think the physical penalty element is really important. I don't game design has evolved to the point where we can dispense with ideas like a limited number of lives to accomplish a sequence (or all sequences) and absurd penalties for losing them all, and great games get by without them altogether.

The most extreme - and, I believe, the most effective - example of this is Super Meat Boy (SMB). You return to the start of a level when you die with a hideous splatter in SMB, but the levels are rarely more than 15 seconds long, and the period between hitting the obstacle and getting moving on your next attempt is about to second. This leads to a game where players are clearly happy to throw themselves at sawblades and mountains of salt hundreds - thousands - of times just to beat their friends' times. How many games can you think of where you've been that persistent?

Offline Jeff Rivera

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Re: Time to do away with the Game Over screen?
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2011, 12:50:37 PM »
Good comments so far. We're going to record this show tonight, any more thoughts?
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