In Defense of Hepler Mode

Shamus Young

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In Defense of Hepler Mode

Shamus offers support for a "Hepler Mode" in games.

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Zen Toombs

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Maybe instead of adding Hepler Mode, developers should make games where the story and gameplay are in harmony instead of competition. But if Hepler Mode is possible - if combat is nothing more than an obstacle between cutscenes and nothing you do in a fight will have consequences later on - then I don't see any reason not to give players the option.
I completely agree. I personally saw no problem with Helper's comments, and agree that the reaction was... well, to call it overblown would be an understatement. While I would probably never use "Helper Mode" if it was available, it would be useful to have.

I think that Mass Effect 3's "Narrative Mode" is close enough for most purposes though.
 

Dastardly

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Shamus Young said:
In Defense of Hepler Mode

Shamus offers support for a "Hepler Mode" in games.

Read Full Article
I'll go you one further and say that, while the hybrid "storyplay" method is more streamlined and organic, even that's not an either/or deal.

Take movies. I love a good horror-comedy, but that doesn't mean I want all of my horrors to also be comedies, or vice versa. Sometimes I want pure distilled horror. Sometimes I want straight-ahead comedy. And yeah, sometimes the combination is just what I want.

Artsy-fartsy comparison follows:

Opera has fallen out of favor over the centuries, basically replaced by the modern musical. In opera, the idea was for the singing and the story to seamlessly combine... and instead, you got the arias (the musical numbers people really wanted) separated by spans of recitative (the more 'talky' parts, far less melodic or catchy). Recitative moved the story forward through dialogue and exposition, while arias were the payoff. And that formula stayed and stayed.

Why? Because audiences liked that better than the operas that tried to do both throughout. But even then, when it finally occurred to folks to just make the recitative sections spoken dialogue, audiences liked it even better. Why? Because they want their story to be story, and their songs to be songs.
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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If someone enjoys their entertainment in a different way to me they are doing it wrong, they are a lesser form of life and I hate them.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... gamers! See below for working examples.

...

Oh, and agreed on the desire for intertwined story and gameplay.
 

Zen Toombs

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Zhukov said:
If someone enjoys their entertainment in a different way to me they are doing it wrong, they are a lesser form of life and I hate them.

People, ladies and gentlemen.
I fixed that for ya. ;p

Dastardly said:
I'll go you one further and say that, while the hybrid "storyplay" method is more streamlined and organic, even that's not an either/or deal.

Take movies. I love a good horror-comedy, but that doesn't mean I want all of my horrors to also be comedies, or vice versa. Sometimes I want pure distilled horror. Sometimes I want straight-ahead comedy. And yeah, sometimes the combination is just what I want.

Artsy-fartsy comparison follows:

Opera has fallen out of favor over the centuries, basically replaced by the modern musical. In opera, the idea was for the singing and the story to seamlessly combine... and instead, you got the arias (the musical numbers people really wanted) separated by spans of recitative (the more 'talky' parts, far less melodic or catchy). Recitative moved the story forward through dialogue and exposition, while arias were the payoff. And that formula stayed and stayed.

Why? Because audiences liked that better than the operas that tried to do both throughout. But even then, when it finally occurred to folks to just make the recitative sections spoken dialogue, audiences liked it even better. Why? Because they want their story to be story, and their songs to be songs.
Wonderful history-slash-psychology lesson. I greatly appreciate it.
 

Rad Party God

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Feb 23, 2010
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I definitively could've used some of this in the first Witcher, that game is boring as hell, up until you get to the decision makings and exploring the world.

Some people lambast me for this, but I don't like Baldur's Gate, yet I love the first two Fallout games. The story of BG seemed interesting and it was actually pretty fun to explore... until you had to fight something. I hated that the game was way too random in battles and I didn't know many things, even if I read the instruction manual several times.

Exactly the same for Dragon Age and, sometimes, for Mass Effect.

Admitedly, this mode wouldn't make any sense for a game like Contra or Metal Slug, that's the whole point of the entire game, but for an RPG, it could make lots of wonder.

In fact, maybe something like Asura's Wrath, making it an entire "interactive anime" or an "interactive movie" of sorts, skipping the battle sequences entirely and only leaving you up to making decisions and talking to other characters.

I like the idea.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Pretty much all Bioware games would be improved if you could skip the combat. Since combat in most Bioware games is pretty bad.

Hell, it seems when given the option, plenty of people will gladly jump on the chance to skip shitty parts of a game. [http://dragonage.nexusmods.com/downloads/file.php?id=816].

However, for, say, Bioware games (or RPG's in general), they could just give us a way to skip combat through dialog. Like, say, you get ambushed, leader starts gloating, you use your super-awesome speech skills to persuade him/her to back off.

Bam, combat section skipped.

Really wish Bioware, and more developers for that matter, let you do that. Let you really exercise that speechcraft and charisma score. Of course some people you may have to fight no matter what, but you could still talk to them first, and whittle down their confidence and moral to make them easier to fight. Maybe have a button that let you throw combat taunts of your own. Or something.

KOTOR 2 played with this idea. Only with Sion, but still. HK-47 tells you the best way to kill a jedi (or sith) is to mess with his/her mind. Erode their confidence. You could do this with Sion, and his skills would decrease, and you'd eventually talk him into dying (or "letting go").
 

rtisan

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Personally, I refuse to call it "Hepler-mode" and will call it a visual novel instead. I love visual novels (mostly those from Japan with English translation)!
 

Sabrestar

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rtisan said:
Personally, I refuse to call it "Hepler-mode" and will call it a visual novel instead. I love visual novels (mostly those from Japan with English translation)!
That's pretty much it, right there. The visual novel-type game is more fun than a lot of self-professed "hardcores" think it is. I'm rather fond of them, especially at this point in my gaming life.

The main reason I haven't done a lot of Mass Effect playing has been because I'm not much of an FPS fan, and I want to hurry through that and get to the parts that are more fun for me. If there can't be a skip-the-combat setting, maybe at least a make-the-combat-super-easy-that-even-someone-like-me-can-do-it would be a decent compromise.
 

-Dragmire-

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Mar 29, 2011
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Anyone remember the new game plus feature in Crono Cross? They added fastforward to the combat animation and world movement. Made the game so much easier to replay for the story. Wouldn't work well with real time combat though, then it'd be a difficulty spike feature...

I'm playing through Xenosaga again and I could really use that feature. Granted with its' 80% cutscene to 20% gameplay ratio, I wouldn't be skipping/fast-forwarding much.

EDIT:

'Hepler Mode' seems like it would be best utilized as a new game plus feature. For people who are struggling with the combat, easy mode should be there for them.

This scenario just feels... off to me(unless previously played):

Main Character: All right team, this fight will be tough but I beweeve in you!

skip battle

Main Character: Whew, it was tough but we did it. Way to Go! (got SPEAR'S Orb!)

Player:...


The impact of victory is lessened or removed if the player never played it before. Repetition is tedious so I can understand not wanting to replay the combat in certain games.
 

Hulyen

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Wasn't this pretty much in LA Noire, where it was praised/generally ignored depending on who you talked to?
 

-Torchedini-

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Hepler Mode is fine by me but is it still a game then. If you are skipping the combat then it simply becomes an interactive movie or the stories that appear on here sometimes.

I don't mind Hepler mode, maybe I had finished ME1 instead of skipping that one and going to 2 and 3, but all the 'Game' elements are gone then.

Also I want to raise the point that if you don't play the game how do you become invested in the story ? In books its fairly simple because you're using your own imagination.
 

Shamus Young

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Shamus Young said:
My own take is that this was less about the gaming community being full of sexist monsters, and more about the condition of the community at Reddit, where the initial thread took place.
You would be wrong about that, it has a lot more to do with the rage over Dragon Age 2 (including being called "The best RPG of this decade" with "The best RPG combat ever." as well as "A pinnacle of role-playing games with well-designed mechanics and excellent story-telling, Dragon Age II is what videogames are meant to be." by this very site while one year later Retailers are refusing to carry it [http://www.gamebanshee.com/news/107364-dragon-age-ii-ultimate-edition-wont-exist-due-to-retailer-disinterest.html] and its Add-On was cancelled due to lack of interest), Mass Effect 3 and the general business practices and industry-destroying ways employed by EA that no game journalist seems to care to talk about, nay... consumers being even outright mocked [http://www.nitrobeard.com/home/2012/4/4/being-rude-1.html] by them as being "entitled", a "whiner" or any number of things...
If that left a lot of people in the industry feeling "dismayed", just imagine what the constant barrage of PR, lies, shilling, whitewashing and "10/10 GOTY!" awards for every single "AAA" hype release makes people outside of the industry feel like.
And it's not done yet, it'll happen again and again till it is properly dealt with by press or the industry.

It's just a classic example of pent up rage and frustration built up over years and years of being both mistreated and ignored directed at a convenient target (however wrong that may be). It's also why EA just won the "Worst Company of America 2012" Award...

Now that the storm is passed, I want to backtrack and actually talk about her proposal, because it doesn't seem that outrageous to me. All she's asking for is a way to skip combat sequences. Call this gameplay option "Hepler Mode". I mean, people who don't like the story can skip cutscenes. If you're watching a movie at home you can skip right to the car chase, the kung-fu fights, the sex scenes, or whatever it is you want. This is entertainment, after all. Would you walk into your friend's house and forbid them from fast-forwarding through a movie because they're "watching it wrong"?
As for what she said, no it's stupid. If someone wants to skip parts of your games (which extends to movies too really) or if parts of your game can be skipped you did it wrong and fail abhorrently as a game designer, go back to the drawing board and try again instead of introducing "skipping modes" or try not structuring your game around "combat sections", "cinematics sections" and "story/talky sections" or just make a movie instead.
 

Darkmantle

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This idea would make the achievement system essentially worthless, wouldn't it? Like, I could skip the combat and cinematic sections, couldn't I just achievement whore every game?
 

Prof. Monkeypox

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Wait, *that's* what people were angry at Helper for?

Based on the vitriol, I assumed she must have been responsible for ME3's ending or something.

Wow, also, yes "Helper mode" seems like a decent idea for some games.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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Sep 8, 2011
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It wouldn't have been such a bad statement to make if she was a good writer. But she's one of those idiots who thinks that Twilight is cool. And she's awful with Bioware fanbase. My new mission in life is to earn enough money to buy a controlling share of EA, fire that stupid ***** and set Bioware on the right track of making great RPG's again.
 

Smiley Face

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-Torchedini- said:
Hepler Mode is fine by me but is it still a game then. If you are skipping the combat then it simply becomes an interactive movie or the stories that appear on here sometimes.

I don't mind Hepler mode, maybe I had finished ME1 instead of skipping that one and going to 2 and 3, but all the 'Game' elements are gone then.

Also I want to raise the point that if you don't play the game how do you become invested in the story ? In books its fairly simple because you're using your own imagination.
The same way people get invested in television, or movies - and also books, because frankly, I'm not invested in books because I'm so personally attached to my ideas of the characters/environment/whatever, I'm invested in them because I'm finding the various elements of the story to be Interesting - same with games. Yeah, this would allow the removal of gameplay elements, but for the people who pick this option, those same elements can actually detract from their investment in the story.
 

Shamus Young

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I love the idea of a Helper Mode. In a story-driven game I'm there for the story, and unless the gameplay is really, really good it's really just something I put up with. I'm not saying I'd never play the gameplay. I'm guessing I'd play with it a lot. But whenever I stop playing games because I didn't finish it it's always, always because I got sick of the gameplay. Even if I've been really into the story up to that point.

Darkmantle said:
This idea would make the achievement system essentially worthless, wouldn't it? Like, I could skip the combat and cinematic sections, couldn't I just achievement whore every game?
Uh, I'm not really sure what the achievement system has to do with this? If you mean "You unlocked this chapter!" achivements, this could be solved very, very easily. Just tie the achievement to the last boss or door or something. Problem solved.
 

Farther than stars

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I find it hard to agree with Shamus Young sometimes (and those are the good days), but for once this column makes complete and unequivocal sense. I completely agree that the gameplay and story should be blended (I freaking love Fallout and Half-Life) and although I would probably never use it, I don't see any harm in the option for skipping combat to exist. Hell, I love Mass Effect for its story, but I can't say that the gameplay is particularly inspired. If there are people out there who might want to skip through the combat sections then who am I to judge? Also, it's a pretty odd state of affairs that gaming is the most technically advanced medium out there and still it's the only one where the consumer is (usually) forced to experience all of it if they want to move on to the next section.
 

draythefingerless

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I agree with you for the most part.

One minor correction thou. A game is gameplay. Gameplay is challenge for entertainment. if you do not have challenge for entertainment, you do not have a game. this is not opinion or subjective. this is the definition of a game. you can be artsy and interpretitive all you want, but you will be wrong.

that is not to say i do not like stuff that takes away gameplay, or that i am against this behaviour of the skip button. im all for it. if you played my game n dont wanna bother with combat again, ill add a skip button.

personally, if someone is trying to skip parts of your game, thats a flaw of your game.
like you said, skyrim n such games cnanot be gameplay skipped because they fuse with everything else. to like skyrims story, you have to like its gameplay.