I disappeared for a bit because I finished recovering from the stress and exhaustion of writing strategy documents and a too-busy April and found enough concentration to go heads-down on a bit of coding. I've finished adding support to remctld for passing an argument on standard input and for accepting arbitrary binary data including nuls in that argument. Now I just need to add a few other pending features for the next release and I'll be ready to release both it and a couple of infrastructure packages.

That ate up most of last week, and then last weekend I made a concerted effort to play video games rather than going directly into non-work volunteer work (like the NNTP draft revisions). It felt like "lost time" at the time, but I think it was the right move and I need to do more of that, since today I'm feeling much more recharged.

Portal is a fascinating game, but not an unambiguously positive experience. It is as brilliant as everyone says it is, particularly in atmosphere but also in puzzle design. However, I think it also has some serious flaws in the frustration arena, not with the puzzles but with the control scheme and with the arbitrary time limits that are tacked on to some of the puzzles. Some of the time limits are necessary for the shape of the puzzles, but others are there only to add tension and do so in ways that for me make those sections of the game very not fun.

I suspect that someone very familiar with first-person shooters wouldn't mind the control stuff as much as I do, but I truly loathe doing platforming with first-person shooter perspective and controls. Only one game (Metriod Prime) has ever avoided the "where the hell are my feet" problem for me. Portal doesn't. Finding the creative way to solve the puzzle is fun. Walking off a platform six times in a row while trying to make a jump is not.

I've almost beaten the basic game, but the addition of a time limit to the final section was such a spectacularly bad game design decision for me personally that I've stalled out there. I suspect I'll go through it since at least one can save at arbitrary points in the middle, but wow, the resulting frustration robbed quite a bit of the fun out of what would have otherwise been a great, atmospheric, immersive scene. I'm feeling really disappointed and a little bit angry about it, since all of the final level leading up to that was absolutely, utterly brilliant and had me ready to fall in love with the story and environment.

I have no objections to other people wanting the time limits, but it sure would have been nice if I could have turned them off. (I recommend Braid as one of the few video games that really Gets This.)

Posted: 2009-05-18 23:42 — Why no comments?

Last spun 2022-02-06 from thread modified 2013-01-04