July 10, 2006


The OFFS system.

I view this system as tangentially related to the Time To Crate mechanic. Whereas TTC is scientific and objective, OFFS is more subjective by nature.

It came to me recently, as I read a discussion thread about Half-Life 2 and its "Episode 1" expansion chapter thingie. I enjoyed the latter a lot--it was very much Half-Life 2 again, but sort of concentrated--tighter setpiece battles, with less dull bits in betwee, whereas Half-Life 2 had setpieces that tended to go on at least a little longer than they should have (or a lot longer, in the case of a certain airboat chapter), with longer sections of rail between them. And it hit me what the difference was--Episode 1 took a much longer percentage of the experience before I thought, "Oh, for fuck's sake" and either quit, or was strongly tempted to. That reaction is, of course, OFFS.

OFFS is rarely about actual difficulty--it's much more often about tedium, the unenjoyable moments you, as a gamer, need to slog through to get the box to dispense another sweet, sweet food pellet. Pace isn't necessarily a good predictor--there are deliberately slow-paced games that avoid tedium, and frantic ones that don't. OFFS is all about those moments of deep mental sigh that accompanies, again, Oh, For Fuck's Sake. Get on with it. Or, yes, yes, I know already. Or, stop talking and let me play!

Unskippable cutscenes have a high rate of correlation with OFFS. This is predictable by considering the steady-state of the rest of shiny entertainment media--movies and television. Think of how mediocre and unentertaining most of it is. Most of that has more directing talent put behind it than videogame equivalents.

posted by Gar @ 4:46 PM
My vote for game with the highest OFFS quotient goes to anything with "Final Fantasy" in the name.

Mind you, that doesn't mean they're all bad, they're just all full of OFFS.
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