Issues in Gaming that Need to be Addressed

Emcee_N

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Silvanus said:
StreamerDarkly said:
You might be surprised to learn that not giving a toss about identity politics in games doesn't equate to not being able to handle discussion on the topic. It would be more accurate to say people have grown tired of the vocal minority of social justice advocates blowing the trumpet about how fucking paramount it is.

You're right, it doesn't equate to it. Disagreeing about what matters is fine and dandy. Lately, though, have been these calls for social commentary or storyline discussion to be removed from reviews and gaming articles and such, which... well, goes beyond disagreement. It becomes a demand that gaming journalism must reflect what you[footnote]The general 'you'.[/footnote] want, and screw everyone else, with their different priorities.
Personally, I'm fine with social commentary in the gaming industry, but a review doesn't leave enough space for something in-depth, and unless it's particularly egregious shouldn't be the focus of a review of a game that has redeeming features in actual game quality - especially in an industry currently so (unhelpfully) focused on Metacritic scores. And therein lies the real problem. And we're complicit in that too. Everyone who's looked at a "9" on an excellent but non-AAA title and gone "pff so this s better than halo? lel". Everyone who's taken 1.5 points off a game because it's "not for everyone" (translated: not the big genre of the generation, i.e. not a platformer in the 90's or a Call of Battlefield today). The fact is we spend most of our time comparing apples with oranges with bacon and complaining when the comparison doesn't turn out to everyone's satisfaction.
 

Silvanus

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Emcee_N said:
Personally, I'm fine with social commentary in the gaming industry, but a review doesn't leave enough space for something in-depth, and unless it's particularly egregious shouldn't be the focus of a review of a game that has redeeming features in actual game quality - especially in an industry currently so (unhelpfully) focused on Metacritic scores. And therein lies the real problem. And we're complicit in that too. Everyone who's looked at a "9" on an excellent but non-AAA title and gone "pff so this s better than halo? lel". Everyone who's taken 1.5 points off a game because it's "not for everyone" (translated: not the big genre of the generation, i.e. not a platformer in the 90's or a Call of Battlefield today). The fact is we spend most of our time comparing apples with oranges with bacon and complaining when the comparison doesn't turn out to everyone's satisfaction.
That's true, and I'd be happy to do away with Metacritic scores, which seems to be the way the winds are blowing.

But social commentary, that's pretty important for the journalism that surrounds an art form, if it's to grow. Perhaps reserve it for its own column rather than sharing space with gameplay review... but that's a matter of taste, honestly.
 

Vigormortis

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DoPo said:
It still amazes me the attention to detail the team at Valve put into doing the AI for the original Half-Life. It's mind-boggling that AI, in general, hasn't come too much farther since the late 90's/early aughts era.

Hell, even the Roaches had their own AI behaviors.
 

Reyold

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shrekfan246 said:
I'm really interested in scrutinizing and talking about the narratives of video games. I'd like to examine them in greater depth; pull them apart and dig into what makes them work or not, or identify what sort of cultural influences they've pulled in to craft their worlds, or extrapolate what sort of implications they think certain ideas might have on society. I find it incredibly difficult to actually do that, however, because there really aren't a lot of people actually looking at them with that sort of critical eye. People throw massively overblown tantrums whenever somebody tries, and they cry out for us to "Just get back to the games", as if talking about the bloody writing has nothing to do with the game.
I wonder if those same people would still consider games as art. If that's true, why shouldn't we analyze them? People do that for other forms of media. If games are an art form, shouldn't they deserve the same treatment?
 

shrekfan246

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Reyold said:
shrekfan246 said:
I'm really interested in scrutinizing and talking about the narratives of video games. I'd like to examine them in greater depth; pull them apart and dig into what makes them work or not, or identify what sort of cultural influences they've pulled in to craft their worlds, or extrapolate what sort of implications they think certain ideas might have on society. I find it incredibly difficult to actually do that, however, because there really aren't a lot of people actually looking at them with that sort of critical eye. People throw massively overblown tantrums whenever somebody tries, and they cry out for us to "Just get back to the games", as if talking about the bloody writing has nothing to do with the game.
I wonder if those same people would still consider games as art. If that's true, why shouldn't we analyze them? People do that for other forms of media. If games are an art form, shouldn't they deserve the same treatment?
It is interesting to me how the "games are art" discussion seems to have been tabled lately. Apparently, suddenly it's no longer a pressing issue to debate whether they are or are not, even though quite clearly many people want them to continue being treated as toys despite enthusiastically insisting that they're for mature, sophisticated individuals as well.
 

Foehunter82

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shrekfan246 said:
Reyold said:
shrekfan246 said:
I'm really interested in scrutinizing and talking about the narratives of video games. I'd like to examine them in greater depth; pull them apart and dig into what makes them work or not, or identify what sort of cultural influences they've pulled in to craft their worlds, or extrapolate what sort of implications they think certain ideas might have on society. I find it incredibly difficult to actually do that, however, because there really aren't a lot of people actually looking at them with that sort of critical eye. People throw massively overblown tantrums whenever somebody tries, and they cry out for us to "Just get back to the games", as if talking about the bloody writing has nothing to do with the game.
I wonder if those same people would still consider games as art. If that's true, why shouldn't we analyze them? People do that for other forms of media. If games are an art form, shouldn't they deserve the same treatment?
It is interesting to me how the "games are art" discussion seems to have been tabled lately. Apparently, suddenly it's no longer a pressing issue to debate whether they are or are not, even though quite clearly many people want them to continue being treated as toys despite enthusiastically insisting that they're for mature, sophisticated individuals as well.
There needs to be a neutral site setup for discussions like this. One that isn't bound by ad revenue. At least then, the people that don't want to discuss it don't have any real ability to stop the discussion.
 

someonehairy-ish

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I like the fact that people are commending FEAR for its AI. It's funny, the AI in that game is so good because it's actually based on super simple principles. When there are multiple enemies around, they'll try to a) spread out and b) circle round the player. That's all you need for them to seem like they're intelligently flanking and stuff on purpose.

I mean, yes the maths is still probably really godamn complicated. However it's a hell of a lot easier than programming actual 'intelligence' though, and there's not really any excuse for developers not to be capable of it.
 

unbias

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Fappy said:
So a decent number of users have recently expressed their joy that the Escapist is moving away from sociopolitical commentary and it got me thinking: what are some of the other issues we're still facing in gaming beyond identity politics? Just because the site will no longer weigh in on the social or political influence of games doesn't necessarily mean they won't still analyse the medium with a critical eye (I hope). I can think of a few big challenges the industry's facing right off the top of my head, like the ongoing abuse of DLC policies, lack of sufficient QA for AAA releases and the overgrowth of early access and crowd funding; but I think most of us are fairly cognisant of these kinds of issues.

What I want to know is what you think needs to be addressed. What lesser known or possibly glossed over issue do you think needs urgent attention? Why? Do you think this site has the means to pursue and possibly shine some light on this problem?

We get trapped in trends pretty easily around here, so it would be refreshing to discuss some lesser known issues.
A lot of these are a case by case basis. Bad QA from AAA can only really be dealt with as it comes out. I think the most important thing is fighting the pre-order culture in video games. I think reducing this and taking a wait and see approach would force the pubs to take QA more seriously. Until this is fixed, all we really can do is rely on places like this and people like totalbiscuit to warn us of problems, like with Assassins Creed and ect.

As for DLC practices, a lot of this is going to have to be a consumer decision, however not everyone has the same opinion as others on DLC. For instance, my only issue with DLC is on disc, micro transactions in $60 dollar games, and making us pay for cheat codes in games(although to be honest, as a PC gamer, this does not really effect me). Same goes for early acces really. Nothing wrong with it existing, but encouraging consumers not to jump in on it as much would probably go a long way.

With that said though, with every success of early access, we hear of many more failures, so maybe early access is taking care of it self, through consumers becoming more aware(same with DLC). With places more and more moving away from identity politics again, these sites should be able to be consumer advocates more and more.

But, imo, I think more communities need to be highlighted in the game space, from websites. I would like to see more FGC(fighting game community) stories, more MOBA stories, and eSports stories as well. There is a huge market for it, with a lot of diversity in these communities, so everyone wins.

I'm hoping sites like the escapist talk to people like Maximillian and Gootechs for the fighting game community, to bring more awareness to it, as well as other names in the MOBA and eSports community. Would be amazing to see these get a lot more attention and most sites are not equipped to deal with them, imo.
 

Phoenixmgs_v1legacy

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2 main things need to get better in gaming:

1) Writing is just shit in gaming. I want to be pulled in by good stories and characters but that is a rarity. Too many games try to be all serious and just fail horribly at it. If you can't write, then at least go Platinum's route and make games with funny B-movie style plots and characters, at least it's entertaining.

2) Artificial Intelligence. Basically what tippy said:
tippy2k2 said:
I don't know if this is what you have in mind or not but I'm going with it and there's nothing you can do to stop me! Wha ha ha haaaaa!!!

Developers/Publishers...look, I get it. This doesn't show up in screenshots and it doesn't look sexy at all but...

Can we please focus on the Intelligence part of AI? You've got Artificial down to a T but that stands for more than one word you know...

I can't remember the last time a game actually out-smarted me. I can think of games where it outplays me because it can break the mechanics while I can't (sport games/racing games). I can think of games where it just makes the guys stronger and a bigger pain in the ass to fight (uh...like...everything). I can think of games where the computer just becomes more skillful than even the greatest athletes in existence (fuck you Jackal Snipers in Halo 2's Legendary Mode!!!).

Maybe it's my fault for not playing the right games but I swear, it's hard to find a game that fights like a human. Why can't Madden realize I'm running the same play every time and adapt to stop it? Why can't when I duck down under cover in a shooter that the AI doesn't advance forward since it's enemy (me) is busy cowering (or at least throw a damn grenade my way)? Why can't the AI attempt to flank me? Why can't the AI use deception to make me think it's one way and then it shows up on the other side?

Why have I never lost a game and tipped my hat at the computer for outfoxing me?
---

RJ 17 said:
Someone around here made a topic insisting that games don't really cost $60 because if you don't like them you can re-sell them for about $40. There was something about a $5 gift card from Target in there, so in the end he said that games really only cost $15-$20. I pointed out that, in the case of an incredibly short game - and proceeding under the assumption that you dislike such a short game and intend to trade it back in - that can be completed on a single Saturday, you're literally just pissing away that $15-$20 on an experience you didn't fully enjoy. Furthermore, if you buy a game, complete it, and sell it back in anything less than a week, you're essentially just renting the game for $15-$20 which is absolutely ridiculous considering you could actually rent the game for much cheaper and be rid of it in the same timeframe if you don't like it.

His rebuttal included an assortment of attempts to change the subject of the discussion, and when I wouldn't allow him to deviate from the topic at hand, he kinda stopped responding to me. :p

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if I'm going to pay $60 for a game, I expect a bit more value than a single weekend's worth. Otherwise why not simply rent the game instead and save a lot of cash?
What are you talking about? Even the shortest games take me at least a week to beat. I don't have time to play 5+ hours straight. I'd rather not feel rushed to complete a game faster to save $$$ on renting. I like to complete games comfortably at my own pace, possibly play through them again if I really liked the game. It does take me a good few weeks to a month to beat like a 20 hour game. I've had The Order (which I paid $50 for, not $60) for 2 days and I'm only at Chapter 6 I think, the game is longer than 5 hours on your 1st go. I probably won't beat the game until next weekend, which will be at least 7 days. That would cost $21 to rent from RedBox, how the fuck is renting cheaper? There's really only that and Gamefly (obviously) in my area, there's no Blockbusters or Hollywood videos anymore. And if you do beat and sell a game super fast (in a few days), your getting more than $40 for it FYI [http://www.ebay.com/itm/The-Order-1886-Sony-PlayStation-4-/261786334887?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cf3ae76a7]. You can have a game for a couple months and get $40 when selling it. Where the fuck can I rent a game for 2 months where it only costs me $20?
 

briankoontz

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shrekfan246 said:
Quadocky said:
The regressive nature of gaming discourse. Reading average users championing the ideas of judging games piece by piece with numbered scores has made me so very very sad. Or people being adverse to anything remotely political in relation to games. (Deus Ex for example is pretty damn subversive, yet nobody really talk about it in that regard so much as to praise the open level design.. and not much else)
All in all, it makes me sad more than anything else. I'm sad that there are people who are my age--still relatively young--or even younger than me who have such a twisted view of what criticism is and should be. I'm sad that there are people who have been reared in internet echo chambers who can't handle having their little bubbles popped. I'm sad that people think the "roots" of gaming press in general and The Escapist in particular just ignored sociopolitical commentary as if it didn't exist at the time (when The Escapist was already publishing intense articles about things like "women in games" a decade ago). I'm sad that people think pretending said commentary doesn't exist will constitute "progress".
This is nothing new and is not exclusive to these forums. Some of us have been talking about cultural, social, and political issues in gaming for a decade and a half and wherever we go there is massive push-back against the very process of having those kinds of discussions. The old boys club of gaming wants a sterile, "apolitical", what they view as "pure" discussion of gaming which involves little more than "loved the graphics!" and "fun gameplay!"

I completely agree with Quadocky's point about Deus Ex - when I talked about that game on the Quarter to Three forums a couple years after the game came out it was as if I was talking to myself - the others were only too happy to praise the multiple solutions per level gameplay but refused to get into discussion of the narrative or any relation between that and real-world politics.
 

Username Redacted

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I would like to extend the criticism of AI to fighting games where, and this is coming from someone who doesn't think that they're especially good at such games, it's been years since I've felt challenged by a fighting games AI. The closest game that's managed that is 'Dead or Alive 5' and that's just because the computer is an input reading whore (the game has a counter system...)*. I would like the enemy AI to at least be a reasonably facsimile of a human being with working opposable thumbs. I want to be able to practice against something resembling live competition without either driving 1+ hours to said live competition or throwing myself to the howling chimps that represent online competition.

Now to add my "Issues" that could stand to be addressed.

1) Developers it's 2015. The bottleneck for smooth online play should IMO be the speed of my connection. It should not be your half-assed two tin cans held together with string sorry excuse for netcode. It also wouldn't hurt to put in fail safes that prevent people from trying to play twitch reflex type games over a wireless connection.

2) Again developers it's 2015. There's no excuse for UIs as shit as some of the ones I've seen recently. I'm actually like Dragon Age: Inquisition so far but I can practically hear the gears stripping whenever I try to maneuver around its various menus. Skyrim's UI, the game that Bioware is aping here, is better than this and it was still shit enough that a UI overhaul is the most downloaded mod for that game. At least it had in menu hotkeys for switching between the different sub-menus in addition to allowing you to have more than one active objective at a time.

*Some amusing fighting game AI exploits:
1) Street Fighter IV - Ibuki: If she's near you she will, for some reason, do nothing but her crap unsafe uppercut allowing you to beat the hell out of her once you've closed the distance. This is on the hardest difficult BTW.

2) Street Fighter IV - Boss Seth: Has a nasty habit of using focus attacks way too close to the player such that any character with a decent armor breaking move can pretty much just steal his lunch money off exploiting this alone. Guile, Decapre and Cody are good choices for this.

3) Guilty Gear Xrd - Boss Ramlethal: If you're having a lot of trouble with this character a good hail mary tactic is, when she uses her super long animation with super long recovery beam super outside of the corner, to get behind her, activate instant kill mode and then take a swing at her during her recovery. There's a reason that human players using the normal version of this character don't use this move.
 

Mikeybb

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Silvanus said:
DoPo said:
again, when the AI doesn't operate on the toddler logic of "If I don't see you, you don't exist" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0WqAmuSXEQ]
Tsk, that's not what that's about. Civil Protection officers just really, really like paint thinner (or whatever is in that bottle), and would prefer it not be harmed.
All I can imagine is the Officer looking at gordon holding the bottle infront of his face, then looking at a photo, then back at gordon and thinking;
"well, he's wearing the suit, but the guy we're looking for doesn't have a bottle of paint thinner for a face..."
"delicious, thirst quenching paint thinner."
"mmm."


It's like the 'baskets on the head' trick in Skyrim that people used to do in a way.

Part of me laughs at the stupidity of it all, but at the same time I'm impressed that the AI is clever (maybe complex would be a better word) enough to be able to ask "can I see the player?" in situations like this.
Granted, I tend to compare it to the good old days of npc actions were significantly more primitive.
 

Vigormortis

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Having thought on it a bit more recently, I'd like to address one of the bigger, looming issues with the current state of the industry.

Bloated budgets.

There's nothing inherently wrong with producing a game on a exuberantly bloated budget. Film studios do the same and there's nothing inherently wrong with it there either.

The issue comes when the big publishers like EA, Ubisoft, Capcom, etc, convince themselves that the only way to make a successful, mass-market appealing game is to produce the titles for tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. This leads to scenarios where a title is considered "a flop" because it fails to reach over five million unit-sales within the first month of release.

This is only exacerbated by many publishers drive to make the next Call of Duty.

There's room for bloated-budget games in this industry, but for fuck's sake, publishers, you don't need to make every game with a bloated budget.

Sometimes, smaller IS better.


shrekfan246 said:
I'm really interested in scrutinizing and talking about the narratives of video games. I'd like to examine them in greater depth; pull them apart and dig into what makes them work or not, or identify what sort of cultural influences they've pulled in to craft their worlds, or extrapolate what sort of implications they think certain ideas might have on society. I find it incredibly difficult to actually do that, however, because there really aren't a lot of people actually looking at them with that sort of critical eye. People throw massively overblown tantrums whenever somebody tries, and they cry out for us to "Just get back to the games", as if talking about the bloody writing has nothing to do with the game.
I've always wanted to have those discussions. It's one of the primary reasons I became so enamored with the craft of video game production at an early age. Even with relatively simple stories like one might see in Doom, there are lessons to be learned about the unique methods and structures of narrative design only possible in video gaming.

If you and others are genuinely willing to do such a thing, you can assuredly count me in.
 

BarryMcCociner

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tippy2k2 said:
I don't know if this is what you have in mind or not but I'm going with it and there's nothing you can do to stop me! Wha ha ha haaaaa!!!

Developers/Publishers...look, I get it. This doesn't show up in screenshots and it doesn't look sexy at all but...

Can we please focus on the Intelligence part of AI? You've got Artificial down to a T but that stands for more than one word you know...

I can't remember the last time a game actually out-smarted me. I can think of games where it outplays me because it can break the mechanics while I can't (sport games/racing games). I can think of games where it just makes the guys stronger and a bigger pain in the ass to fight (uh...like...everything). I can think of games where the computer just becomes more skillful than even the greatest athletes in existence (fuck you Jackal Snipers in Halo 2's Legendary Mode!!!).

Maybe it's my fault for not playing the right games but I swear, it's hard to find a game that fights like a human. Why can't Madden realize I'm running the same play every time and adapt to stop it? Why can't when I duck down under cover in a shooter that the AI doesn't advance forward since it's enemy (me) is busy cowering (or at least throw a damn grenade my way)? Why can't the AI attempt to flank me? Why can't the AI use deception to make me think it's one way and then it shows up on the other side?

Why have I never lost a game and tipped my hat at the computer for outfoxing me?
There's actually a very serious gameplay issue here. It's a very thin line.

Take a cover shooter, let's say the AI employs effective flanking tactics on the player, let's also hypothetically say that AI is capable of having one unit fire while the other reloads so the player is consistently pinned in cover.

To both he experienced and uninitiated gamer this is the scenario where you NOPE right the fuck out of there. Most players in this situation WILL bottleneck themselves so the enemy only has one avenue of approach, this turns the game into a shooting gallery by default.

It's a crying shame but that's just the way we think when we're playing games.
 

LightningFast

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Timeless Lavender said:
One of the things that bother me about gaming is the lack of exotic settings. I am a tad sick of RPG that set at medieval Europe or this "Tolkien" like setting which is high fantasy with Dragons. Basically anything that is like the lord of the ring, Harry potter or even Game of thrones type of setting, they are red flags for me. I also hate Sci-fi setting (Thanks Stars Wars, Star trek or whatever game developers can not stop copying from) NB: This maybe why I am not interested in RPG's as I should.

Settings I would loved to explore in a RPG are:
1) Egyptian/ Middle east
2) Hawaii
3) Inca/Mayan/Caribbean (Amerindians or something)
4)African style

Another thing is the characters and story in general. The reason I play games is to experience a character that I am not familiar with or a setting that I am not accustom to, NOT some generic, boring, "relatable" (apparently people relate to boring, no personality characters) I want diverse characters with interesting stories. So no archetypes, stereotypes or any token characters that showcase the sign of incompetent writers or game designer.

CAP: Yup the reason why some games are so bland is simply the industry
I'd play the crap out of an RPG or adventure game set in the Middle East. So many empires and civilizations have risen and fallen there that it seems criminal we haven't explored the region more. I feel like a game about the Eurasian Steppe could be interesting too, wherein you attempt to lead a tribe and eventually establish some sort of kingdom in Asia or Eastern Europe.

Full disclosure: I have not and probably should play some Prince of Persia games.
 

Rahkshi500

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Fappy said:
I think the main issue a lot of people have is that they don't understand that feminists are allowed to disagree with each other on feminist issues. A difference in opinions doesn't make either one any less feminist than the other unless they have blatantly sexist beliefs. Such is the case with every "ism", really.

A lot of these same people also don't seem to understand why so-called SJWs protect people like Anita. This may surprise them, but most of the people on this site they'd happily give the SJW label don't actually care for Anita's content, nor do they agree with everything she has to say. They defend her on principle because most of her critics seem to want to assassinate her character rather than challenge her assertions.

*Edited a bit for clarity
That is true. Feminists vary a lot different perspectives to different issues, instead of there being a super grand manifesto hierarchy that everyone must conform to. And also surprising to some people, despite her being the poster child for feminists in gaming and pop-culture, Anita is not the be-all, end-all voice for all feminists everywhere.

As for your initial post, pretty much representation and how companies treat their customers are already pointed out. For me personally, since people want more diversity saying that video games are big enough for all of us, I am interested in wanting to know how far will that sentiment extend to.