Flash Games as Proof of Concept

You can have high-budget flash games, but I like that they are often a quick and inexpensive way to explore part of design-space. You can base an entire game around one simple idea or see what happens if you take that idea to its logical extreme. I have highlighted quite a few as they relate to my thought of the day.

This weekend, Kongregate had Ultimate Assassin 2 as a featured game. This is not a particularly good game. It instantiates something I have discussed a few times lately: randomness plus difficulty yields an unsatisfying experience. It can become completely impossible, although in this case it more often becomes tedious (you can wait for 10 impossible minutes to pass for your opportunity to come, although sometimes it really is impossible because three enemies will converge on you and wait). Other times, it is trivially easy, because the enemies’ random pathing works in your favor. You never know if you are doing well or if the game was randomly in your favor, if this level is more difficult than the last or the randomness is just being perverse.

As I said, the randomness is rarely so perverse as to make it completely impossible. If you wait long enough, it will eventually hit a trivially easy configuration. Sitting and waiting for that is not compelling gameplay, any more than repeatedly throwing yourself into the teeth of whatever randomly happens in case this one randomly works in your favor. Either way, you are waiting a fair while before the stars align and you can do anything. I like the concept and the outlines of the design, but the specifics are appalling. Not that non-random would be a lot more fun, since it would be an exercise in memorizing the guards’ pathing patterns, but at least the difficulty would be known and could be progressively increased, rather than leaping about chaotically with a fair amount of “not no way, not no how” mixed in.

: Zubon

If only the “ultimate assassin” thought to bring a gun, like all those guards did.

4 thoughts on “Flash Games as Proof of Concept”

  1. Lol Zubon, I am playing Batman Arkham Asylum at the moment and your description of an unarmed protagonist waiting for a happy coincidence of random pathing to split up groups of armed enemies applies perfectly to this game. Nevertheless Arkham Asylum is a very good game because Batman has enough freedom and enough cool tricks up his sleeve to influence events in his favour.

    1. Yeah, the tricks are important. The tricks in Ultimate Assassin 2 are “run” and “hide,” and those are on timers. And I presume that Batman gets to survive having a mook or two shoot at him.

      1. He does. Punches that do more damage than machine guns also helps to clear a room. Bonus points for hiring goons who would rather watch you combo their buddies and one-shot them as you zoom around rather than, you know, try to fight back.

        Still a fun game, but good thing it’s about 8-10hrs short. 20+ would have been painful.

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