Anyone that truly knows me, knows I have a massive problem when faced by percentages. I get clammy, disoriented, then I lapse into an unholy fit of focus. Thoughts fly through my mind, “not again,” “that could be 100,” and “whoever created the percent symbol is a genius.” Coping with it not moving is not an option. Walking away, definitely not an option. It must be conquered and it will be conquered by me. The left side of my brain rejoices, while the right side says, “Oh crap, not again.”
What brought this up is work. We implemented a percentage into our system and now it haunts me in good and bad ways. (Ambiguous enough?) It did bring up games in my head, as does everything. What is it about seeing my status, that gets me through the game? I am 3 times more likely to finish the game if I have that goal. (Scientific poll with myself.) Games, such as Morrowind, fall to the wayside, because I am unable to grasp a foreseeable goal. My LinkedIn profile is even at 100%, because I couldn’t let it sit at 95%. It made me sad.
The question really is, does this help gameplay? Is this something that enhances the player’s experience, or does it throw your game into a pile of other games that have to be completed for completed sake?
I prefer the status bar, because it helps me visualize my progression. There is a need to know I am being productive in my environment and I want to see by how much. I felt very accomplished plowing through 33% of Jak and Daxter in one sitting, but I wouldn’t have known that unless they gave me all the tools to see that progress. How many orbs do I have from that one area at the beginning of the game. There are a lot of games that have managed to get so complicated that they require the status bar, or the player would never know what they are missing. Confusion and irritation would take over and the game would end up at the wayside.
I think what it comes down to is the player’s preference in how they want to perceive the game world. How detached from the reality of the game do they want to be. Do they want the game broken down into goals for them, or do they want to have a playpen where they create their own goals for an infinite amount of time?
At least we don’t have percentage bars on our lives. That would be depressing, and raise the question, “Why is yours going 4 times slower than mine?”