Alrighty, it's been awhile since I've done any sort of article write up. Scribblenauts has been RIPE with news and info lately and it's been hard to squeeze anything in. However, I've had the idea for this article for a couple of weeks now, and I think it's important enough to take the time and write it.
Readers, this is an intervention.
Scribblenauts? It won't be as good as you're expecting.
Now, it might be more than a little weird to hear that from the owner of a fan site. But even if you think I'm trolling, believe me, it's for our own good. Hype? It ruins games. It raises expectations to astronomical levels, and even if a game IS good, if it doesn't live up to the image people created in their minds, it will be seen as a failure. The best example I can give is Spore, a game cited as "revolutionary", which was met with a brief burst of activity before everyone decided they hated it. They didn't hate it, not really. They were just upset that it was a different game then they hyped it to be.
In an attempt to help us all be realistic I've decided to bring a semi-frequent feature to the site. Each time I plan on examining one flaw of Scribblenauts. Something to bring it down to earth. Or I might dispell some hopes or wishes people have for the game that we know just won't happen.
Without further rationalizing, let's get on with today's topic.
You're going to be seeing a lot of repeats. A lot of repeats.
Scribblenauts has a great tagline, doesn't it? Write anything, solve everything. It embodies the image of the game and really drives the point home that you really can write any object you can think of and it'll pop into the game.
Well...not exactly. See, though the game boasts "tens of thousands" of words, we can't help but wonder how many OBJECTS they point to.
For example, typing "Crate" and "Box" spawns the exact same object. Now that makes sense, right? You can count the differences between those two on one hand. But there are some repeats we already know that don't make a whole lot of sense. Take this for instance...
all produce the same white skinned, gray hair individual with a suit.
We know that fact from various previews and videos we've seen. Now I guess you could argue (rather humorously) that you can ALSO count the differences between all those people on one hand...but social commentary aside, some gamers are bound to be disappointed. After all, us Americans know just how (stereotypically) different Republicans and Democrats are. The fact that we won't get to fiddle with that is a bummer.
But taking that further, we can make some pretty safe assumptions. I'm willing to be...
all point to this guy as well. Already we're seeing a possibility of a single object having close to a ten or so words all pointing back to it.
Now, again, some people might not think that's a big deal because there's not a whole lot that's TANGIBLY different about them. However, going further, we can find words that are barely linked together that point to the same object.
"Pot of Gold" doesn't give you a pot of gold. It simply gives you a gold bar. "Blood" doesn't give you blood. It gives you a bat (creature). "Treasure" doesn't give you mounds of riches or valuables. It gives you a single diamond. "Epic Fail" doesn't give you some hilarious internet meme object. It simply gives you a nuclear explosive, just like if you typed in "Nuke".
I think you see where I'm getting at here.
We're still going to be surprised at what objects ARE in the game. A lion is different than a tiger, and they're both different than a liger (yeah, that's in the game!). But I guarantee you're going to run into at least one object that's a repeat that you didn't expect. Imagine the guy who tries to make an epic fight between a Republican and a Democrat while the President cheers them on...only to realize he just spawned 3 copies of the same person.
One thing I definitely need to make clear: I don't blame 5TH Cell even a little bit for any of this. To even write this article is an exercise in nitpicking, and I know that. I don't seriously think these things detract from the game very much.
But some people - and with the hype train in full throttle, I'd warrant to say a lot of people - probably think that every word they type will map to a different and unique word. This will not always be the case, and I think we need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that one object can be shared across dozens of words, even if those words aren't closely related.