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Here's why players can complete Tacoma by standing still

August 11, 2017 | By Chris Kerr

August 11, 2017 | By Chris Kerr
More: Console/PC, Design, Video

In Tacoma, a sci-fi narrative effort from the creators of Gone Home, you can finish the game by exploring every inch of a space station and piecing together clues to find out what happened to the long-lost crew. 

But you know, if that sounds like too much hassle, you could always just stand still and patiently wait for the game's data transfers to finish up. It should only take around nine hours. 

Af first, it might sound like a funny little easter egg for players who take their in-game job way too seriously, but we asked the Tacoma's level designer Nina Freeman why the strange mechanic made the cut. As it turns out, it actually serves a pretty valuable purpose. 

"I'm glad you asked me this. I was really, really heavily involved in the development of that specific part of the game, which we call the 'sync device'," she explains. 

"Early on in development when we were play testing these specific areas, we didn't have the sync device yet. We had more locks and keys at that point, and passwords and stuff that would let you explore different rooms and areas."

Soon though, the team realized that making players hunt down keys actually encouraged them to ignore the story beats around them. After all, why should they care what's happening in an AR scene when progression is tied to a set of locks and keys? 

"[Playtesters] were just going 'okay, I'm looking for that thing to pop up in the world to give me the key so I can look at the next cool area.' Because you don't really find codes in the character moving around, right. That's just story stuff we want you to engage with," continues Freeman.

"We were distracting the player from what we want them to be paying attention to. So then we asked how can we make it so players can't go literally everywhere at one, without having them want to just scrub these AR scenes for keys? 

"After that conversation we brainstormed and came up with the idea of the sync device, and yes you can finish the game by sitting in front of it and watching it tick up to 100 percent, but if you go explore the wings it goes faster."

You can hear the full conversation by watching the clip above and checking out the full stream. After that, why not follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for even more developer insights and gameplay commentary.

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