So, for my university subject called “Fundamentals of game design”, 15% of my mark is blogging about games. How do you fit into this, you may ask? You’re reading a blog, which happens to be mine. And as luck would have it, today is the day that I decided to get some work done.

Game 1:

X2: The threat

Admittedly I’m starting with all my best specimens of good and bad game design. X2 just so happens to be my best specimen of horrible game design. And I will tell you why.

X2 was developed by an independent studio, and as a hardcore gamer myself I will never value graphics over gameplay, so when I first started playing it I was able to overlook the fact that during the opening cinematic the player models had about as many polygons as limbs.

No, the greatest failing of X2 is the game design. There is an introduction and tutorial, yes, but the necessary keys for each command aren’t actually dictated to the player during them. Instead, each time they have to search through the vast amount of controls for the desired command. Then, after this impenetrable tutorial, they are met with their first mission. “Fly four systems away, and back, without engaging in anything interesting in between”. The fact that they had to include a time accelleration feature should’ve said something about how unstimulating their game was. Engaging the player in a menial task is hardly the way to interest them enough that they will play further.

Also, it may sound petty, but inventing your own time measurement system, each unit of which ends in “zura” (eg. tazura, kazura, mazura) is NOT immersion. It is not a way of texturing your universe, it is a way of confusing the player and making them constantly aware that they’re not in a familiar environment. Presumably each such unit was equivalent to seconds, minutes and hours, but after a short while of determinedly trying to make sense of this system, I was unable to due to a number of contradictions, and concluded that the script itself confused the system. As a result of this, every following cutscene was confusing. Not that I watched many more of them, however, because the game didn’t think it was necessary to autosave before my first combat encounter of the game. As such, when I perished in flames I would’ve had to have done a whole lot more flying through space with time accelleration on, reading a book, if i wanted to continue. I rage quit at the thought of this.

The most amazing thing about X2 is that they actually made a sequel, which means that the bribe they paid that reviewer must’ve really paid off.

Incidentally, anybody who knows the identity of that reviewer, or has information on his whereabouts, is encouraged to inform me so that I can beat the crap out of him and get my twenty bucks back. And four hours of my life.