This is how a seemingly harmless, pretty useless feature can provide amazing gamer experience & great stories

Last night, my bro and I played a fierce NHL ’12 match (PS3, mics on). The match was really tough, first I managed to get 2-0 lead, then he managed to get even to 2-2 and even take lead 2-3. Few minutes before end of the game I managed to score 3-3, so it was time to play overtime. The next one to score wins the match.

Overtime was tough fighting as well. Luckily, my bro got penalty and I managed to rule the match in his area. I managed to trick defenders, pass to superior forwarder while goalkeeper was on ice. My attacker had clear shot, nothing could possibly go wrong.

…except stick broke when he took the shot.

Goddamn broken stick! The stick went to pieces, puck went to corner where my bros defender got it… passed to one of his attackers who got break-away situation and scored overtime goal. He won 4-3 on overtime.

So, the tiny feature that made the difference:
NHL ’12 (I think it was introduced in NHL ’11 though) has this new feature that there’s small chance your player’s stick will break when he takes a shot. It doesn’t happen often, but it does every now and then.

If there wasn’t this feature, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. I would have won the game and it would have been yet another played match, forgotten.

But thanks to that stick break, there’s now drama. There’s a story to discuss (or “laugh” like my bro puts it). Seemingly minor feature “stick can break” made a huge difference. I thought I had certain win… and then boom, my dream was broken.

Amazing thing.

Is there such minor, tiny – almost “useless” – features that your game could have? Features that can generate new kind of gamer experiences?

One thought on “This is how a seemingly harmless, pretty useless feature can provide amazing gamer experience & great stories

  1. One I’m familiar with? Tripping in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I happens often enough, although the more you play the less and less you notice it ever occurring. Makes for some moments, like say when you trip into someone’s fully charges smash attack (the equivalent of an EX super in another fighting game? I’ve never given much thought to finding parallels in the mechanics before). There’s even a banana peel item that forces someone to trip if they get hit by it or walk over it, and a character that can always spawn bananas. The only issue? Competitive gamers loathe random systems like that. And Brawl was desperately wanted by it’s community to improve on the competitive aspects in Melee (some of those aspects put in there unintentionally, or at least without much thought to their use and implications). Anyway, that’s what I learned as the price of drama, a whole swarm of people on the Internet, often not the ones you’re used to seeing this from, enraged or bitter over your favorite game.

    I wonder if they’ll do anything about the blue shell in Mario Kart.