A couple of days ago, Jennifer Scheurle - game design lead at Opaque Space - sent out a tweet.
Using Assassin's Creed and Doom as an example (both games “value the last bit of health as more hit points than the rest of it to encourage a feeling of *JUST* surviving”) - as well as Hellblade’s permadeath myth - Scheurle set out to find out what “brilliant mechanics in games are hidden from the player to get across a certain feeling.”
Here’s our list of the best PC games.
Bossa Studios’ co-founder Henrique Olifiers replied, stating: “In Surgeon Simulator we hid many features to incite curiosity: for instance, if you dial your real phone number in the game, it calls you.”
When pressed if this was real, Olifiers says: “True. And it plays a message integral to unlock a hidden level. God, I hope the dial-out server still runs!”
Jane Ng, lead artist at Campo Santo, added that, in Firewatch, “a player not responding to dialogue prompt is a noted choice.” That might not seem like a big deal - after all, Telltale’s been doing this for some time - but in Firewatch’s case, refusing to respond is not explicitly given as a choice. And yet the game translates it as one. As Ng says, “it helps create a feeling that ignoring someone has social consequence and the other person is ‘real’.”
And BioShock 2 director, Jordan Thomas, confirmed that in BioShock, the speed of Big Daddies was intentionally slowed down if you were facing away, to ensure you didn’t “die confused.”
For more behind-the-scene insights, check out the full Twitter thread.