My buddy was telling me to check out Gran Turismo PSP from a technical standpoint, and I remembered that I played some big chunk of that game back when it was new, but for some reason didn’t get into it as much as I did with 4.
Loaded it back up and enjoyed it for a bit , but then rediscovered why I didn’t stick with it. Aside from the set of ‘driving challenges’ (basically equivalent to the usual license events, but just more), the game has no predefined race events. No “only Japanese cars from the 70s or earlier” type stuff to motivate getting a specific car and using it. You can choose any track, choose time trial, race, or drift challenge, set the number of laps, and earn credits based on the result. You can confine to have only opponent cars from the same manufacturer, but sometimes if you’re driving some oddball tuner that can just mean 4 of the same car. Clearing races let’s you unlock higher AI difficulty for each track, and it’s unclear to me if that setting alone determines the caliber of car your opponents drive or what.
The point being, the game is mechanically sound and enjoyable, but presents few latch points for anything but a ‘completionist’ mindset. I was poking around online to see if someone maybe ever made a ‘challenge generator’ that would just spit out ‘car type A on track x for n laps’ to provide some external framework. No such luck; of course I can just decide to do whatever, but with no “self” represented in the game, setting an arbitrary goal is a bit lacking. In contrast, I find some role playing open survival games to have enough narrative traction (“oh I’m going to try to build x here”) to facilitate that self-structured play.
What are games in your experience that would benefit from some form of external challenge/objective-setting device?
I am somewhat distinguishing this from “fun alternative gameplay styles” (eg nuzloc or whatever), rather games who lack some form of structure, onto which an external framework may prove enhancing.
Aside on a contrasting scenario:
One reason I like the 3DS game Fantasy Life so much is that it has an endgame ‘objective’ loop that is varied enough that if I want to sit down and ‘accomplish’ something, it always gives me a framework, even after I’m thoroughly “done” with the game. It all is effectively just a means of burning time, but without that goal mechanism the game would have just ended for me. It always struck me as very thoughtful/generous of the developer to put in some means of continuing to get “mileage” out of a game that is just a one time purchase, at a part of the game that only those players who have been enjoying the ride sufficiently would bother reaching / get to see. It’s not “the story” but just a continually updated “how about this?” suggestion. There is also some line in this direction over which we enter into gatcha compulsion - I’m interested on staying well inside of that line - boundaries for creativity!