I'm really looking forward to this game. I think the art direction looks good and I think the gameplay looks solid. That said, the real reason I'm starting this thread is to rant about one thing I'm seeing in the videos that really kind of bugs me. It's the contextual highlighting. It's causing something of a stir on the official channels as to whether it should be optional or configurable, and I have to say, I'm starting to agree with those who say it should be configurable ideally, or at least optional. As far as I can tell I've identified three kinds of indicator highlighting:
For those who haven't seen it, here is the "Multi-path" video that all of the below screen grabs are taken from:
So, Here's where I begin my rant. I'll be posting these images in the order in which they appear in the video, and giving my thoughts. I don't want to give people the wrong impression. I'm really looking forward to what I think is a great looking game. It is because I'm anticipating the release of this game so emphatically that I would bother to write this article at all. I have a genuine concern for an aspect of the game that has been shown thus far, as do many in the community.
So, let's get to it then...
So, let's jump right into it. You can see (if the image scaling hasn't made it too hard for you) that the ladder down at the left side of the ledge is highlighted, despite the player not actually crossing it with the crosshair.
Here we see the effect of the highlighted ladder as Adam Jensen descends it. Personally I feel that this has a Jarring effect when seen in motion.
This shot shows the highlighting on the boxes. I would argue that these boxes are too far away for this highlighting effect. Due to lighting / fog conditions, I might not have even known the farther box was even there without the effect. I can understand using the Highlighting effect on the closer box, as the player is almost in range to pick it up, and might decide to do so. The far box however appears to be 20 to 30 feet away (unless the FOV is deceiving me) and I feel too far to warrant the highlighting effect.
This is another example of the, in my opinion, jarring effect of the highlighting. It almost looks like the player is also highlighted, but this effect is seen only on the gun when in front of the door with the highlighted effect. Personally I think this is kind of ugly, and that the highlight effect should apply only to the objects, and be left off of the weapon.
"...but if you look carefully you might find a completely different route ... This shows exactly why exploring is so important in Deus Ex. You never know how you will end up solving your objective." That is what the narrator says to us at just about this point in the video. The problem is that there isn't a chance to "find" a completely different route. As soon as we're off the beaten path, a brightly glowing ladder shines out for us, letting us know that this must be the way to our alternate entrance.
Once up the ladder, before we are confronted with the problem of turning off the electrical hazard, we are shown the solution in a brighly highlighted, obviously interactive display. In fact we see it awkwardly shining through a fence and several feet away.
It becomes obvious that there is a range limit to the object highlighting. This shot has the player looking down from far above at the area shown in one of the previous shots, with none of the object highlighting.
Here is another example of the Doors / Vents brand of Highlight. Note that in this shot, the player crosshair has come nowhere near the vent before it lit up. This bothers me because as the player turns the corner, attention is immediately and obviously drawn to the vent cover, rather than allowing them to discover it. This is a fairly basic area, and the vent cover is probably fairly obvious even without highlighting, but it certainly concerns me that the sense of discovery could be lessened in other, more obfuscated, parts of the game.
Here's a last example of the Boxes / Objects highlighting. I just can't help but feel like I shouldn't be seeing the box lit up like that while observing from many feet above, and looking through a grate.
My ultimate hope is that this gets toned down. There are only three suggestions that I would make.
That said, I really can't wait for this game, and will be carefully counting the seconds until it comes out in August.
catagories: game, commentary, deus ex, human revolution, impressions, contextual highlighting
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