Image Image Image 01 Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Scroll to Top

To Top

2010 December

Fullerton Exercise 1.2: D.O.A.

“Take one game that you’ve played that was D.O.A. By D.O.A., we mean “dead on arrival” (i.e., a game that’s no fun to play). Write down what you don’t like about it. What did the designers miss out on? How could the game be improved?”

D.O.A.: Infinite Space

This is an interesting question for me because I haven’t played a D.O.A. game in a long time. Most games I play are vetted through reviews, and games I don’t enjoy I won’t play long enough to critically engage with (something that will have to change.) One game I thought I’d thoroughly enjoy was Infinite Space for the Nintendo DS. Supposedly archaic in presentation, but full of customization, I assumed it would be a system I could dive into and find hours of interesting strategic depth.

The depth of character customization was indeed there — you could build and refit your ships with a wide plethora of modules, upgrades, weapons, and crew. Where Infinite Space failed was in the combat these customizations were meant to support. It was far too simplistic, involving almost no strategy, and at times felt like a rock-paper-scissors experience. What a horrible disappointment. All the customization in the world can’t save the mechanic it supports if it’s terrible.

Infinite Space needs a much improved combat system worthy of the back-end ship customization it offers. Combat should be moved to a 2D instead of a 1D plane, and should take more advantage of positional tactics to allow the player to develop a unique strategy. Weapons should be more complex to offer more genuine risk-reward options to the player. Weaknesses and strengths for various fleets should be introduced to force the player to adapt new strategies.

The game is also invariably text-heavy. This doesn’t bother me, but I can see where it would bother most. While casual conversations at various taverns around the galaxy should be a wonderful opportunity to introduce flavor (Mass Effect achieves this well,) Infinite Space wastes the opportunity, providing flavorless texts the player must slog through to ensure they don’t miss quest options. Cutting the chaff from the writing and directing the player to quest opportunities would streamline the game and make it a much more fluid experience.