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“Good Morning Mr. Tawodi, how can i help you? What’s your problem?”
“When i see a button…i have to…push it!”
“And…this is a huge problem for you?”
“Oh, it wasn’t all the time! Everyone did it! Freeman, that Doom guy…sometimes we even shot at buttons!”
“So, where’s the problem? Seems to work pretty well for you guys!”
“I…i…don’t know! Suddenly buttons became evil…i prey to god that this stops…”
“Ok Mr. Tawodi, we’ll continue at this point the next time. This session was without charge like always, but feel free to push this button if you want to support us with a donation of 500$.”

During my gaming carrier i pushed, shot and jumped at every button i saw in a game. It always opened me a way to a new level, an item or a princess. But then I’ve played Prey and all suddenly changed (if you don’t know the game: buy it!).

1st Example
Prehistory: Someone was just killed by a big machine, someone stopped the machine (but too late) and then you get this scene…

Source: Prey

A Button !

Our typical gamer-reaction would be to push it. But let’s see what actually happens in the game:

Warning! The video below contains gore, blood and torture!

I didn’t embed the video directly to avoid any tracking from Google and complications with the DSGVO.

Thanks genius, you activated the killing-machine again! It’s hard to see, but there’s an unlucky guy hanging in the back of the scene. I really like that my character comments the scene. But this isn’t the only part where the game fools you.

2nd Example
Here the game shows you another appetizing button…

I didn’t embed the video directly to avoid any tracking from Google and complications with the DSGVO.

…which calls the alarm! I really like when games showing me, that sometimes my in-game behavior is a bit stupid. In real world i never would run into houses and loot all the boxes, destroy a locked door or push every button in range. But since you don’t have any disadvantages in most games, we all just do it.

So sometimes it’s good to be remembered that some of those action can end up kind of messy. Even in-game.

10 thoughts on “Prey – Evil Buttons

  1. cherweg

    May I Propose the following therapy to cure your Button Problem
    Be assured that these Buttons will never threaten to stab you and, in fact, cannot speak. In the event that the Buttons do speak, please disregard their advice.

    Also TSP has some interesting Windows.

    1. Simon Post author

      Hehe thanks for the therapy :) I would like to play the game anyway and will have a look at the windows then :) Thx for the hint!

      1. cherweg

        About that Window part:
        I was lied to you there is nothing especially technical about them, just source engine.
        Maybe you’ll know what I mean, after you finished the game and got all the Steam achievements*.

        *Falls man das überhaupt jemals kann.

        1. Simon Post author

          When i’m old and don’t have to work anymore, i’ll try to get all achievements. And all in WoW :)

          1. Alice

            I second that! You should DEFINITELY take a look at TSP! It has some really interesting perspectives on game design and, as in prey, makes you think about how stupid some of the things you do in-game really is.

          2. Simon Post author

            Will do. I even already have it in my Steam Lib! Hopefully i’ll find time in the near future to have a look on it :) Thanks for your comment!

  2. nate

    The first evil button I saw was in Quake 2, which predates Prey by a bit. Several levels had alarm buttons that would open monster closets and alert nearby monsters. When alerted, some monsters would make a beeline for the alarm button– a sort of DPS race. But even after the monsters were all killed, the player could still set off the alarm. But strangely, the effects were always subtle, and it took me at least one play through before I even realized that the buttons were alarms.

    1. Simon Post author

      Thx for the comment! :) i didn’t know that. But no Wonder because i wasn’t allowed to play those shooters when i was little :)

  3. Phil Strahl

    Looks like I am late to the party but I just like to add my 2 cents to the topic. Recently I played a game titled “Please, Don’t Touch Anything” (Steam Page) which also prominently features a big red button you’d just love to push.

    I think, buttons in games are the prototype of interaction. You get players to press something and it’s nice because it’s a binary choice, you can’t half-press a button 99% of the time. Psychologically it’s not even that, because as a designer, you can assume that players will push any button they come across, especially when they are labeled with “Don’t Push Button!” ;)

    Design-wise, it’s a lazy choice but oftentimes it’s just necessary. You can’t implement an animation of the player character manually opening a sci-fi airlock by pulling levers, wheeling valves and whatnot. “Just have a button”. Perhaps this also reflects what the player is doing while playing the game, s/he’s literally pushing buttons all the time.

    Apologies, that comment got a bit long. Next up, let’s re-evaluate the use of crates, keys/key-cards and fetch-quests in our games :)

    1. Simon Post author

      Hehe but key cards are kind of “out” in modern games, right? Maybe they’ll experience a re-launch in some indie games but in AAA titles you barely find ’em, or do I miss something? Crates a pretty good covered already, i remember some articles praising the crates but I could only find this one: http://www.gamesradar.com/gamings-9-most-important-crates/

      I’ve already an issue I’ll add to the GDT section soon ;) Hint: It’s something about Diablo2 & Baldurs Gate.

      Thanks for your comment! It’s never too late to come to the party :D


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