Let’s talk about buffers — things that spread a game out, extend it, while not being terribly fun themselves. Let’s talk about genocide.
For starters, let’s talk about JRPG COMBAT. In many games under this genre umbrella (you know what I’m talking about! I don’t really need to explain what I’m talking about, right? and though I may generalize I accept that some people don’t mind it. okay? let’s carry on :3), combat is simple and easy and effectively the same thing over and over, lacking excitement, a ‘buffer’ to the ‘fun’. Boss fights might be more fun, but they can’t happen all the time. The story is great but needs to be spaced out. Perhaps there are some puzzles to be solved, but they might just be buffers too.
However, these actions aren’t the worst offenders. People don’t like buffers, as evidenced by people saying we do not like grinding, and not so many people standing up to defend the fun act of grinding. Grinding is possibly one of the worst buffers to fun, where the ‘fun’ is leveling up or, in general, progressing. Farming (item farming) can be a buffer too, the ‘fun’ being ‘getting a lot of money, and/or the rare item you wanted’.
There is a problem: people find different things ‘fun’. How can we banish buffers if we don’t even know what they are?
There is a solution: don’t half-ass parts of a game, or rather, pay attention to every moment and every aspect, to the extent that you can. Be aware of the existence of buffers and be aware that you, too, can fall victim to their alluring promises of doubling or tripling your game’s length. For the record, I don’t think this is a problem within ‘indie’ games for the most part (I use this word tentatively), but that’s not to say they are immune.
I don’t know when this started being a problem, and I don’t know if it has started to stop being a problem, but the problem of buffers exists and will continue to exist.
The real problem is that a game will always have peaks of excitement — and therefore everything else is in danger of falling into ‘boring buffer’ territory.
THINGS THAT MIGHT BE BUFFERS:
- Repetitive actions, such as fighting the same weak enemy over and over again.
- Actions without interaction (ones that are not fun, not challenging, and present no choice), such as walking a long path (especially several times, for example if you die?) or climbing across walls for a long time, slowly
Wow, that’s a real short list… but it covers a lot. There are other things I’d love to say are not fun for sure but right now I am talking about buffers.
Okay, so, I think I’m done. Get rid of grinding. Shear walking long distances through bland terrain. Remember even the most mundane of choices, of interaction, can be appealing; there’s a reason why people jump through megaman doors, and why people jump up and down while walking across straight expanses of land even though it doesn’t do anything. Last of all, remove times when the player is doing the same thing, for the same reward, all the time. Forever.
Good riddance, buffers; off to the halls of Mandos with you.