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Andrew Kauz avatar 7:39 PM on 05.08.2009  (server time)
The Lock is Broken

We players sure put up with a lot when it comes to game design, and playing through Silent Hill: Homecoming has been a constant reminder of this. It has been an invariable truth in the Silent Hill history, and itís both understandable and extremely frustrating.

The impenetrable door.

I think the problem is especially noticeable in the Silent Hill franchise because there are just so damn doors. Whether itís the glass doors of shops covered in nothing but ash or the flimsy wooden doors that line the halls of every indoor environment, doors are everywhere. And you want to open them. The game, however, has a different plan for you.

In the vast majority of player-door interactions, youíre instead met with a message like ďThe lock is broken. It wonít budge.Ē or the decidedly more vague ďThe door is jammed.Ē After all this time, Iím tempted to let the game make its little red squiggly line over the door on my map and be on my way.

But I canít help but consider the ridiculousness of it all, especially when paired with the justifications that a game gives me for why it will not allow me to progress through these doors. Perhaps if the door were simply noninteractiveóno message, no sound effectóthen Iíd be able to accept it more readily. But the game opened the door to this sort of critique by, rather than attributing these locked doors to the limitations of game design, instead decided to give me a ďrationalĒ explanation thatís as thin as the wooden doors that my huge fucking axe could cut through like paper.

Yeah, this isnít axeproof.

The simple solution for Silent Hill: donít put a door there. Will it detract from the game experience that much if a few doors are instead converted into walls? I doubt it. Unless youíve got two doors in a massive hospital, I think all will be well.

Of course, outside is a different story. You canít have a town with no doors, windows, or gates of any kind. But, for some reason, I donít give a shit about these placesómostly because the game doesnít tell me to give a shit about them. These little shops arenít marked on the map, nor do their doors stand out, in terms of their artistic appearance, as interactive objects. Iím happy to pass them by.

OK, thatís a door that knows the deal.

Itís easy to lay the blame on the innocent doors themselves for their many lock failures or their propensity toward jamming for no apparent reason, but the real culprit is higher up: the doorís creator. For it is the doorsmith who so readily put that door there with reckless abandon, effectively littering the environment with the dregs of the door population.

I, for one, refuse to stand by and watch as doors are relegated to such a low status. After all, what the fuck is a door if not something to use in order to pass from room to room? Please, developers, give doors back their purpose. Let us open them, or give them a damn good reason for their failure.

Proof of concept.

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