Fri 8 Aug 2008
A co-worker of mine (we’ll call him Coyote) and I had a friendly discussion the other day about multi-player games. I was arguing that any game can be “fun” and “at least playable” if you played it in multi-player with friends as long as there weren’t any negative outside factors (such as lag, broken controller, sun in your eyes, etc..). We decided to put this theory to the test.
What better way to prove any game could be fun than to pick a game that was on almost every “worst games of all time” list ever written? So what lucky game did we choose? Why Daikatana of course! Haven’t heard of it? A short history is perhaps in order.
John Romero was a crazy Game Designer who was part of the team that made Doom, Doom II, Quake, Hexic, Heretic, and other great games. He bought a Ferrari, dated a girl who posed for Playboy, and generally behaved like a Hollywood superstar. Some of ID Software’s other great talents including the brilliant John Carmack became increasingly annoyed with John Romero’s work ethic. Due to this controversy, Romero decided to split and make his own company which he called Ion Storm.
Long story short, 3 years in development and many staff quits and engine changes later, Daikatana was released and universally declared to be total garbage. I had, of course, read about the entire charade at the time and so avoided the game. My friend Coyote, however, bought it. Now you don’t have to wonder why I’m not using his real name!
Now back to the experiment. Could Daikatana be fun? We weren’t looking to crown it and nominate it for game of the decade or anything like that, all we wanted to do was say that we had enjoyed it more than we would have enjoyed staring at a wall or watching golf on TV. Strangely, we ended up not agreeing.
The game was a pain from the get go. Even the installation was a hassle. Keep in mind the game is 8 years old, that’s an eternity when it comes to PC hardware specs. By all rights, it should have been FLYING on my PC instead of taking forever to load. It’s as if the loading was timed. Coyote said it took just as long for it to load on his old PC as it did on our new ones!
I don’t even want to tell you about my quick single-player test run but suffice it to say the hardest enemies I faced were frogs and mosquitoes. Did I mention I couldn’t stomach more than 5 minutes of it? I can’t believe I even lasted that long. But the single-player wasn’t the part I was testing (thank God).
The multi-player mode was worse than I expected but so much better than the single-player mode that it actually made me feel relieved. I did commit to playing it for my lunch hour and that hour lasted long enough. Was it fun? Not really. The maps were far too big and so repetitive you stepped out of a room and into another room that looked just like the first one! It was like playing Portal all over again except there were no Portals and no way out! Not to mention no cake.
What’s worse, when I finally saw Coyote the frame rate (I assume since we’re on a dedicated T1 LAN and so couldn’t lag for any other reason) dropped so low that it was impossible to predict where he was. We were pretty even in terms of deaths until I figured I had a better chance putting away my gun and just swinging my Katana wildly in his general direction. I won but I didn’t really feel like a winner. Was it more fun than staring at a wall? Maybe for the first 5 minutes, yes, then I would have welcomed the wall with open arms … at 200 km per hour even.
So what did Coyote think? This is what he had to say:
“I dont know about you but I ascended to a greater spiritual level. A new way of thinking, my mind has been changed forever. You know, that feeling of deep understanding. The feeling of perceiving the real truth in things.”
Yes, sadly Coyote lost his mind playing Daikatana. Thank you for reading…
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