Icebreaker: Rushing to my Doom

A peculiar phenomenon: sometimes I seem to be unable to distinguish between red and blue. You might think this would be one of the most basic things in the game — even to people with the most common forms of colorblindness, red and blue are so immediately and obviously different that they’ve been adopted as the canonical team colors in multiplayer games. Nonetheless, I’ve rammed into deadly red pyramids more times than I can count. I’m not talking about swerving to avoid a Seeker and hitting a red pyramid by mistake or anything like that: I’m talking about purposefully choosing to smash into them in the expectation that I will be the victor in the encounter.

Sometimes, I manage to shake off this delusion before impact. Occasionally this even happens long enough before impact for my brain to notify my fingers. But the act itself is the result of a state of confusion, and there’s no particular reason for confusion, once entered into, to resolve itself quickly. The source of the confusion is distraction, concentration on a different aspect of the game. I’ll be spending some time herding the Seekers around to destroy green pyramids, when suddenly I’ll run into a cluster of non-green ones. “Cool!” I’ll think, “I can just destroy these myself.” But at that point they haven’t registered in my mind as anything other than “non-green”, so I make a mistake.

Do I also make the opposite mistake, treating blue pyramids like red ones? I honestly don’t know. All that would entail is shooting at them to no effect, rather than getting yourself killed. I tend to shoot uselessly a lot anyway. It’s not quite the sort of game where you just want to keep the fire button held down all the time, because sometimes you want to keep Seekers alive, either so they’ll destroy green pyramids, or just to keep them from respawning in a less convenient place. But in many situations, especially at the beginning of a level, excessive fire doesn’t hurt.

What if it did?

I’m imagining a possible extension to the game: mirrored pyramids that reflect your fire. Possibly you could use them to do bank shots and shoot things around corners, but there would also be a risk of shooting yourself. The fact that diagonal shots are off from the grid lines would make it tricky to make this work, assuming that we keep them in the same orientation as the other pyramids, and determine the angle of reflection in the usual way; to accidentally hit yourself, you’d have to be either really close to the mirrored pyramid, or the shot would have to ricochet more than once. But assume that you got the tweaks right, and shooting willy-nilly posed a greater risk than it currently does. What would the effect be?

Well, obviously there would be less shooting. If you can’t shoot stuff with impunity, you do it less. Or, at the very least, you’re aware of refraining from doing it. And I suspect that this would give the game an even greater impression of puzzliness than it has now, even if the actual impact on gameplay was minimal. I don’t know if it would be a better or worse game, but it sure wouldn’t be the game we’ve got. As in any good shooter, part of the joy in Icebreaker is in just blasting away at stuff indiscriminately, even if you don’t do that all of the time.

1 Comment so far

  1. Andrew Looney on 1 Jun 2010

    Re: Mirrored Pyramids that reflect shots – I actually did create those, they appear in the unfinished sequel. A VERY short run of the sequel was released a couple of years ago when I let encrypt my last working version, but it was only available for the 3DO. You can see a glimpse of shot-bouncing pyramids and other features of Icebreaker 2 in this video:

    Thanks again for your reviews!

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