The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus Young

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The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus wants us to stop fighting and get along.

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bjj hero

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The push for more sales really has made games easier and less complicated. It is the same reason instruction manuals have died a death. People don't want to have to read and learn in order to play so it has to get more simple.

RTFM used to be a staple reply online. I can't remember the last time I saw it though.
 

Traun

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You are correct(ahh...the level design of Heretic,Hexen...Dark Force), however I disagree on one of your points. I believe that the niche market is big enough to support developers, yes they aren't going to sell 10 million copies, but they can sell enough to be comfortable.
Example being Team ICO and CDProject Red - they are selling games for (relatively) small audience and they've been successful, same as the guys with Amnesia. There is a market for everyone, and I believe that sooner or later we will realize that. The market for games with "wide appeal" is over saturated, it's just a matter of time before publishers decide to be more flexible with their money.
 
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Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
 

Traun

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bjj hero said:
The push for more sales really has made games easier and less complicated. It is the same reason instruction manuals have died a death. People don't want to have to read and learn in order to play so it has to get more simple.
This is a falasity. Manuals have died because companies don't want to invest money in manuals, a game without an Ultima/Wizardry style manuals cost around 2-3$ less to the developer. Not to mention that an engaging tutorial is way better than any manual.

draythefingerless said:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.
Hard and Very Hard difficulty do nothing but crank up the numbers of health/ammo your opponents have, which doesn't really help since enemies fallow the same pattern. As long as you know what the A.I. is doing, and it doesn't take long to figure it out, you're in the safe. Challenge can come from more things than enemies.
 

FieryTrainwreck

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Playing through DA2, I really am struck dumb by how much they hold your hand these days. They honestly don't let you figure out ANYTHING for yourself anymore, which is a shame.

The side quests, for example: you pick up a random item of no particular importance - other than the nifty little arrow next to the name, indicating it is a quest item. You've now got a journal entry that tells you exactly where to deliver said item. It's also on your map. And when you happen upon the target NPC, he or she will have a giant arrow over his/her head.

This isn't an MMO. The quests aren't supposed to be an annoying race against the clock, mere obstacles between me and a max level character ready to participate in the "real" game. The quests are supposed to comprise the desired experience.

TLDR version: Damn you, WoW.
 

geizr

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The problem with trying to make a game with ever widening appeal is that very quickly it tends toward appealing to no one. It tries to do everything for everyone and ends up doing not enough of anything for anyone at all. I think it would be better for developers to have a diverse portfolio of games, where each game appeals to a specific market or demographic, as opposed to trying to make that single killer, one-size-fits-all game.

I would also throw out there that I think game developers need to get away from the triple-A game mentality. It's just not a sustainable model at this level. It was successful back in the early days of gaming because you would only get 1 or 2 out of the year. But, now with developers trying to make them like mana raining from heaven, the whole machinery of it all is overburdened and breaking down. The games are becoming too costly, the overall quality of the experience is degrading(because they're being rushed), and gamers just don't have the time and the money to invest in so many. You just can't mass-produce these things.
 

Shamus Young

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Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.


Other than that, pretty solid point. No, not the "stop fighting and get along" point. The point where games becoming easier is a result of the success of the industry.

But good luck getting people to understand.
 
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FieryTrainwreck said:
Playing through DA2, I really am struck dumb by how much they hold your hand these days. They honestly don't let you figure out ANYTHING for yourself anymore, which is a shame.
Its most apparent(for me at least) with the items you give your companions. In the first, you had to guess who would like what. Or you would know what they liked, if you took the time to talk about them. You basically had to know stuff. Now its just "THIS ITEM IS FOR THIS COMPANION. GO THERE AND GIVE IT TO HIM/HER."

Just made me sad.
 

Worr Monger

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draythefingerless said:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.
This does work in some cases. But some games can be annoyingly hard if you crank it too far.

Like he said about New Vegas. I jumped into that game on hardcore cause I liked the mechanics and it created a greater challenge. To me it seems a lot of Hard & Very Hard modes do nothing but make enemies stronger, and make you die faster.... which seems like a lazy way to create a bigger challenge..
 

razorangelwings

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When it takes millions of dollars to produce a game, developers want to make sure that the game sells as well as possible. Thus most big-budget games have difficulties and complexities averaged down to the lowest denominator. I feel like the last, and thankfully growing, bastion of more involved gameplay and more risk-taking lies with smaller indie developers. They don't have millions to lose on a badly received game, and are able to work with smaller, more coordinated teams. Hopefully as the indie market grows and more talented people turn to indie gaming, classics in the same vein as System Shock, XCom, or Ultima Underworld will start appearing again.
 

Shamus Young

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I played PoP [ The Cell-shaded ] one but I didn't feel it was casual at all.

I enjoyed the narrative/scenery/dialogue/characters so much, I was simply having fun doing it all. Experiencing connection with Elika since she is the only soul left.

At any rate, I enjoy the depth and customization of the X3 franchise. I like both spectrum but sometimes, a bit tweaking and removing the fluff that isn't needed can be a good thing too!
 

Cipher1

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I would have to agree about Civilization 5 it didn't feel simpler or easier to play than Vanilla Civilization 4 just different but I guess the great thing about Civilization is if you dont like something about it just mod it XD
 

Traun

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poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.
He has a point. PC games haven't been mechanicly challenging...ever...Wizardry, Might and Magic and Ultima are hard if you don't know what to do, but as long as you figure it out you are fine.

On the other hand knowledge won't get you through Contra or Ninja Guiden.
 

BioTox

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This is what happened to WoW in the long run. They wanted more people to be able to enjoy MMORPGs but didn't want players to think they had to sink countless hours to get anywhere. They also managed to keep the 'hardcore' players entertained by making the very difficult raids and achievements for doing crazy things in those raids.

I am sure a lot of people are going to hate that I said WoW but you can't deny their numbers. They have figured something out and it is working.
 

Shamus Young

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Traun said:
poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.
He has a point. PC games haven't been mechanicly challenging...ever...Wizardry, Might and Magic and Ultima are hard if you don't know what to do, but as long as you figure it out you are fine.

On the other hand knowledge won't get you through Contra or Ninja Guiden.
First off, you're comparing RPGs to action games, which is just dumb.

Second, I never argued anything about how easy PC games are. I argued against the apparent "pc-based casual crowd" that gets the blame for games becoming easy, which is unheard of for me.
 

manythings

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bjj hero said:
The push for more sales really has made games easier and less complicated. It is the same reason instruction manuals have died a death. People don't want to have to read and learn in order to play so it has to get more simple.

RTFM used to be a staple reply online. I can't remember the last time I saw it though.
That extra credits episode about tutorials is right though; people DON'T want to read about a game, they bought it to play it. When it's done right the instruction manual is unnecessary.
 

Wolfram23

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Well, I mostly agree except for one thing. I'm not saying it's the "console's fault" BUT! The technical limitations of the platform do force certain changes in game design. Primarily less opennes. I don't have the link now but the Crytek CEO once said (it's on youtube somewhere) that to go to consoles they would have to greatly reduce the playable area because there's not enough system resources to stream in all the data for a large environment. A game like STALKER just wouldn't really work well on console.

Although I'd like to make a caveat to that! We do get some open games like GTA 4 and Red Dead and Fallout, etc. How? Well, they have to sacrifice some graphics quality. I think it's a great sacrifice to make for gameplay, but with the caveat that only so long as they include high detail settings for PC gamers.

Crysis 2 had to look good, so they were forced to sacrifice. Fallout NV definitely doesn't look remotely as nice as C2, but it's nice enough and has a great environment. Actually in my PC version with a few mods it probably looks about as good... HD textures, enhanced bump mapping, of course lots of AA. Yeah baby.
 

Slycne

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poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.
Where do you see the casual crowd coming from then if not the PC?

The PC will always have one of if not the biggest concentration of casual gamers because of its near nonexistent barrier of entry. Almost everyone already owns a PC, where as the simply act of needing to go out an purchase say a Wii puts a gap between interest and acquisition.
 

Booze Zombie

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Things are being simplified so more money is made... but there will be a point at which it's so simple that even someone new to the experience is like "wait, that was it" and then's when the developers start backing up, going "wow, even newbies are complaining about this game being easy".
 

Shamus Young

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Slycne said:
poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.
Where do you see the casual crowd coming from then if not the PC?
I see the casual crowd on the PC as a side-effect of casual games becoming widespread. On consoles, that is.

I have yet to see anyone blaming PC gamers for AAA console games becoming easy and simple.
 
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poiumty said:
Slycne said:
poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.
Where do you see the casual crowd coming from then if not the PC?
I see the casual crowd on the PC as a side-effect of casual games becoming widespread. On consoles, that is.

I have yet to see anyone blaming PC gamers for AAA console games becoming easy and simple.
Well there's the thing Zynga is doing on Facebook. Thats all I can think of though. I hear complaints like "companies are trying to catch the farmville-tards" every now and then.
 

Dorkmaster Flek

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Amen to the sliding difficulty mention! Very interesting approach from Fallout: New Vegas. Even though the game was a buggy pile of turds, that's a great idea. That's exactly what we need more of in games. Let you be just as "hardcore" as you want with it.
 

Slycne

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poiumty said:
I see the casual crowd on the PC as a side-effect of casual games becoming widespread. On consoles, that is.
I don't think that's the case. The casual console games market really haven't caught on until recently(you could point to it really taking off in 2006 with the Wii), where as PC casual gamers can trace back to Minesweeper and Solitaire(early 90s), started rising in scope with the advent of Flash(mid to late 90s) and has really started expanded as they have begun plugging into social networking, see Farmville's apparently 62 million active users.

I have yet to see anyone blaming PC gamers for AAA console games becoming easy and simple.
Mention Farmville and you'll get PC and console gamers alike complaining about how games are becoming easier to cater to a wider crowd.
 

Shamus Young

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So...we should blame casual gamers and new gamers? Why shouldn't we flame the Wii which brought in the biggest chunk of each of these demographics, then?

Truth be told, I don't blame console gamers. I blame consoles. At least the newest generation of them. Up until and as far as the PS2 went, you could find console games which were sufficiently difficult/complex. Not incredibly so, but still sufficient. Not the case with this generation. And I do blame a lot of it on Nintendo/the Wii for showing other companies that the biggest profit to be had isn't in appealing to gamers, but is instead in appealing to non-gamers. And thus the money trail led Microsoft, Sony, and nearly all who develop for their consoles astray. That's really all there is to it.
 

Shamus Young

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Irridium said:
Well there's the thing Zynga is doing on Facebook. Thats all I can think of though. I hear complaints like "companies are trying to catch the farmville-tards" every now and then.
Slycne said:
Mention Farmville and you'll get PC and console gamers alike complaining about how games are becoming easier to cater to a wider crowd.
Farmville, however, became popular only after such a term as the "casual crowd" was solidified. There was the huge advent of the Wii before that. You can't really attach Solitaire and Minesweeper to any type of demographic. Every PC gamer has played those.

Again, I've yet to see anyone blame Farmville for easy games. Mostly because games were already starting to become dumbed down way before Farmville was recognisable.
 

Waaghpowa

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world of warcraft is a great example of developers designing games to attract as many people as possible. Back when it came out, it was very difficult, they slowly turned down the overall difficulty in the Burning Crusade. Wrath of the Lich came along and it was so easy you needed very little as far as strategy to complete and encounter, by comparison. A lot of people blamed the casuals for it because Blizzard wanted to appease the people who still paid to play, but played the least. At least with Cataclysm, Blizz has admitted that their changes in Wotlk were a mistake and have currently changed the game appropriately to a happy medium of difficulty.

I would also like to note, the new "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" will feature a difficulty known as "Deus Ex", fun :D
 

ReiverCorrupter

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Traun said:
You are correct(ahh...the level design of Heretic,Hexen...Dark Force), however I disagree on one of your points. I believe that the niche market is big enough to support developers, yes they aren't going to sell 10 million copies, but they can sell enough to be comfortable.
Example being Team ICO and CDProject Red - they are selling games for (relatively) small audience and they've been successful, same as the guys with Amnesia. There is a market for everyone, and I believe that sooner or later we will realize that. The market for games with "wide appeal" is over saturated, it's just a matter of time before publishers decide to be more flexible with their money.
It all comes down to development costs. I'd love to see Halo Wars 2, because I like the cut down fast paced RTS gameplay, but that's an extreme niche market so it probably won't happen. But if they make it easier for developers to produce games, I think you'll see a lot more niche games.

When we reach photo-realism development will shift back into gameplay and we'll see a lot more experimentation and a lot more niche games. Development costs will go way down too, and games will start to get cheaper.
 
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I dunno if it's really about gaming anymore. It's about our core shifting from people willing to work at things to people demanding to be spoonfed things.

What are the games we enjoy the most? Minecraft, HALO, Half-Life... Are any of them "easy"? Nope
Is Peggle "easy"? Well...it's simple, but it's not easy.

But some of the more recent games? Try failing on them. Try really hard not to win, while still learning.

It's really tough not to win. Even on Street Fighter IV, with my first character, I leapt through the first eight characters with a simple series of commands.

Then up pops Seth. SLAM SLAM SLAM. Dead.

Ok...new tactic. SLAM SLAM SLAM. Dead.

Ok, redo the tutorial. SLAM SLAM SLAM. Dead.

So, most of this game it walks me through, and then to artificially inflate it, it sets me up against a baddie that can only be beaten by grinding skills?

Isn't that just like Civilization, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Modern Warfare, Bioshock and all the other recent games?

I think that's where the accusation of dumbing down comes from. Triple A titles have used Gamification to realise that you have to make the start of the game stupid and then stick an insurmountable wall in the way to lengthen playtime. Whether that wall is 1337 multiplayers, level relative bosses or simply collecting rings.

And this whole thing started very early on. But on those games were we climbed the insurmountable wall, we love them - because we spent time on it, beating them.

So we've been the ones asking for the dumbing down, but who "we" are has been changing since the hobby went mainstream. And it's only because it's mainstream that we have all the games to choose from.

But I will agree with Shamus, no blaming each other over it. This is a far more prevalent attitude than just gaming.
 

Shamus Young

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Shamus Young said:
Experienced Points: The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus wants us to stop fighting and get along.

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Thanks for this article and I agree with large parts of it and you are one of the constant influences that make me come back and engage "this site" besides Yahtzee, but I think if there has to be one single entity to blame for all of this it would be Microsoft xD

We've had consoles before and they were more "Mass Market", hell I'd argue more people bought some of the games on the NES/SNES like Super Mario Bros. (ticked at about 40 million sales) and Super Mario World (at about 20) than they do nowadays with the likes of Call of Duty and Madden



and I've really liked these games, I've enjoyed them and still do... each console had its own "identity" and type of games... there was Nintendo with their quirky jump&runs, beat'em'ups and general co-op games like Mario Kart, Turtles in Time, Street Fighter etc., there was SEGA with Sonic and an obscene amount of Ninja games. The Playstation came and introduced largely Japanese based games (especially JRPGs) and there was the PC with its Shooters, Strategy games, Simulation and awesome LucasArts/Adventuresoft/SIERRA titles.

The one variable that came into play and overthrew that balance was Microsoft with their introduction of the XBoX in 2002 and flinging money all around as if it was feces to do certain things like steal away PC developers to develop for their "exclusively" for their platform as well as buying off console developers (say RARE) to do the same. What they did with all those newfound assets is a homogenization of all of them and introduction of the "mass market" as we know nowadays (and others followed although Nintendo is still luckily somewhat struggling against it, for which I respect them), even the Japanese market bought itself into the Western market and tries to "westernize" its games for a broader audience.
On that note, this article was funny :p http://www.hiwiller.com/2010/04/29/if-mario-was-designed-in-2010/

What Microsoft also did, which wasn't (imo) to any lesser extent... let's say "defining" for the industry in the last few years is promoting paid DLC "Microsoft was the first company to charge for downloadable content, with the 2002 video game Mech Assault."(even though some companies say Valve didn't want to and complained about it... but Microsoft wants its part and Microsoft better gets it) and the introduction of a base payment if you want to play "Online".

Luckily there are still indie and (eastern) european influences nowadays that cater to any one of those "marginal" demographics (as there are non-blockbuster movies and music out there) like Super Meat Boy (that is streamlined in its design process, but not in its difficulty) or King's Bounty, Minecraft, Magicka, Machinarium etc. and lately they are showing more and more that people are craving for that kind of experience (even with near to no financial investment and advertisement) and they can make huge money.
Personally I'm a lot more likely to buy such titles (also because they're more moderately priced) than any of the "AAA corridor shooter" titles.
 

Woodsey

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Agreed for the most part, although I'd argue the relevance of the BioShock and System Shock comparison, considering they're in different genres almost. I'm not sure who the first group was to coin the whole 'spiritual successor' thing when it came to BioShock, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the developers. BioShock's a shooter, System Shock is much more of a mix.

For some games, the supposed "dumbing down" that they've endured is really just the result of a clearer vision, Mass Effect 2 being the prime example.

As for the console wars, I would hope that when we PC gamers talk about games being dumbed down for consoles, we mean the consoles themselves, and not the people who play them.

What's most important with this whole thing is that developers establish a proper difficutly curve, and decent (and short) tutorials. As long as its accessible to begin with you can progressively get more and more complicated.
 

Shamus Young

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Well more games than ever befpe are now made, i think there are as many 'hard' games as there ever were it's just they moved out of the mainstream about a decade ago and were superseeded in visibility by a lot of more acessible, mainsteam titles rathwer than replaced by them.

Lets take a look on the PC. There are still plenty of games with pretty head-crushing depth in them. Sins of a Solar Empire[footnote]depth isn't the word, who knew that selling metal on the stock market could be almost as exciting as shooting massive space-ships with even bigger ones on a galactic scale?[/footnote], Mount and Blade series, The Witcher, STALKER series, ARMA series etc etc. They are out there and they hjave an audience supporting them. Go forth. Play.

Why do people get so pissed off at mainstream games? Why not put that energy into seeking out more suitbale games to your interests. Its like people getting pissed off at chart music that obviously wasn't created for them, it's nonsensicle.
 

Slycne

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poiumty said:
Farmville, however, became popular only after such a term as the "casual crowd" was solidified. There was the huge advent of the Wii before that. You can't really attach Solitaire and Minesweeper to any type of demographic. Every PC gamer has played those.
Still like I said, the casual market was already strong on the PC before Farmville or the Wii. It really emerged in the mid 90s on the PC with the advent of Flash(the widely popular Bejeweled started in 2001 as a Flash web game) and all various internet gaming portals. Pretty much every major provider or brand had their own - AOL, MSN, Yahoo, etc, and that in addition to all the other sites that existed, like BigFishGames and Pogo.com.

These all came to fruition long before the Wii and I don't see much of a case being made for a strong console casual gaming crowd before that system.
 

Mr. Omega

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There is a line between making a game "simple" and making a game "dumb".

Making it so that you don't need to memorize what EVERY SINGLE KEY on your keyboard does and limiting it so that you can just use a few keys and still do just about everything without having to go through a sea of menus? That's "simple".

Making it so that there area few keys that do everything and then every few minutes going "HEY! REMEMBER THAT KEY? IT DOES THIS! IT DOES THIS! REMEMBER? YOU PROBABLY DON'T REMEMBER, BUT THAT KEY DOES THIS, AND THIS'D PROBABLY HELP RIGHT ABOUT HERE! REMEMBER?", thinking the player is too stupid to figure out what action would help. That's "dumb".

Making it so that if you die 8 times, you can skip the level, if so you chose, or maybe ramp the difficulty down? That's "simple".

Offering it the first time you die? That's "dumb".

Not having over 100 troops that really only have 10 functions, with some that are so situational that most end up useless, but make navigating menus hard? That's "simple".

Making something where the best strategy in ANY situation is "run first, shoot gun, die, respawn, repeat until enemy is dead"? That's dumb.

Remembering gamers only have 10 fingers? That's "simple".

Assuming gamers only have 10 IQ points? That's "dumb".
 

Shamus Young

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
Wooooow...it just hit me how true that is. I mean, that looks exactly like the progression in Black Ops. Seriously, that IS Black Ops. Get rid of all the shit around you, this is EXACTLY the same type of progression in Black Ops. Even Games like Gears or War, Halo, even Half Life 2 are formed like this. Sure, you can look into this area or that area but they just end. You've gone through this entire section that doesn't go anyway else. Best example: Bioshock. It's literally nothing but a bunch of hallways! In older game, like the original Half Life you had no clues, no hints, you just kept going. You had a bunch of different routes; their were a few dead ends, but most route either converged or the dead ends could be overcome. (sending a tram through a barricade) In Bioshock you're constantly being told where to go. To go to places you would have eventual found simply by reading the sign on a door! I mean look at this: http://www.combatsim.com/memb123/htm/2007/09/bioshock-p2b-14.jpg It looks complicated but it's just a bunch of interconnected hallways leading to rooms that go NOWHERE!!!

Edit: Oh and if there was an alternate route, you'd have to wait till a CUTSCENE to actually use it.
 

Shamus Young

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Straying Bullet said:
I played PoP [ The Cell-shaded ] one but I didn't feel it was casual at all.

I enjoyed the narrative/scenery/dialogue/characters so much, I was simply having fun doing it all. Experiencing connection with Elika since she is the only soul left.
You actually had fun with that game? Wow, I Didn't get past the second level. Doing nothing but acrobatics and fighting ONE GUY per level got boring very fast. Forgotten sands was pretty decent though. That was the biggest problem for me, the lack of combat, and the very rigid boring nature of that combat.
 

Shamus Young

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I love how in every Experienced Points, Shamus Young slips in a reference to how he thinks video games are too hard. Farmville, anyone?

And trying to take the arguing out of the internet is like trying to take the drunk out of Lindsay Lohan or the clueless out of Barack Obama or the Tiger Blood out of Charlie Sheen. It's just not gonna be the same and it won't be as much fun.
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

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I don't blame consoles at all, or console-lovers, or PC lovers either. I blame the infatuation with "best graphics evar". The race to have the best looking game seems to be more important than the content for the most part. And the high end graphics needed to play tends to limit the actual gameplay by either console or the PC owner's wallet (I don't know about the rest of the world but I can't afford a $300 video card every 4 months just to play at the max settings of whatever game came out yesterday).
Ok I might be making grandiose statements but its a problem.
Minecraft is an example of a decent game (I'm not going to go into detail, its STILL IN BETA PEOPLE) with minimal graphics. Seems more like the content is the most important feature rather than the look of the game.
RDR and GTA 4 are also good examples of trading off graphics for gameplay though there are parts of those games I'd give up for some tweaks to the engine so world objects don't randomly appear because I drove/rode my horse a bit too fast for the engine to keep up...
Blame developers in the end, or marketers... whoever's call it is to sacrifice content for look. And maybe blame NVIDIA/AMD for making graphics cards every 2 weeks (lol).
 

NickCooley

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The blame (for lack of a better word) lies solely at the feet of developers, not consoles, PC's, Casual or "Hardcore" or any other stupid group the mouth breathers care to think up. Anyone telling you otherwise is stirring shit. (It's a box of wires and circuits ffs not a religion, how petty can you get?)

But I'd happily stick with FPS's as they are now instead of the old "find the key, kill the doods, find the key, kill the doods, find the key, kill the boss, repeat" How I played Doom and the like when I was a nipper I don't know, going back now it's just tediousness in pixel form. And for all the complaints about modern day shooters, of which there are many and a lot of them justified I'd rather dangle my Jacobs in a vice and spin the handle till I pass out than go back to the endless slew of WW2 shooters.

Mind you, what they did to C&C was criminal, oh Kaine, how I miss thee.

So the point I'm trying to get at here, in my own convoluted, round about way is that while games may be getting easier difficulty isn't the only measuring stick of quality. Sure games in the past were more of a challenge and that brought out some true classics there were still about an equal amount of shitty games as there are today. Oh yeah and the whole fanboys are tards thing, can't forget that.
 

Shamus Young

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ZeroG131 said:
Best example: Bioshock. It's literally nothing but a bunch of hallways! In older game, like the original Half Life you had no clues, no hints, you just kept going. You had a bunch of different routes; their were a few dead ends, but most route either converged or the dead ends could be overcome. (sending a tram through a barricade) In Bioshock you're constantly being told where to go.
I've never understood the appeal with bioshock myself. People say how great the atmosphere is, blah blah blah, but it's just a tunnel crawl with underwater backdrop instead of bricks. And the enemies are all samey-same, and the boss battles are not every engaging because they can fought at a time of your choosing. Compare this to Half Life where that big badass in the tunnels comes at you and you've got nothing to do but run the hell out of there.

To be fair, the old games are basically tunnel crawls too. The difference is there's backtracking, certain doors only open at certain times. But they did have more latitude.

Traun said:
He has a point. PC games haven't been mechanicly challenging...ever...Wizardry, Might and Magic and Ultima are hard if you don't know what to do, but as long as you figure it out you are fine.

On the other hand knowledge won't get you through Contra or Ninja Guiden.
Hahaha. Yeah right. Contra is ALL ABOUT KNOWLEDGE. Those side-scrollers are pure memorization puzzles, which bad guy is where, what's the best way to approach it. How does the boss attack, etcetera. Ultimately however you're comparing turn based RPGs to platform sidescrollers. Compare contra to something like Joust, or Load Runner, or Pit Fall, there are lots of similarly hard computer games. OR heck one of my personal favourites, Rescue Raiders. Man I love that game. Too bad our copy was corrupted and it would crash after the fourth or fifth level. Heck you want a hard PC game, play the original Castle Wolfenstein. Not the FPS, the top-down game. When an SS Guard starts chasing you, you'll learn the meaning of hard.

bjj hero said:
The push for more sales really has made games easier and less complicated. It is the same reason instruction manuals have died a death. People don't want to have to read and learn in order to play so it has to get more simple.
Manuals used to be about more than instruction booklets. I didn't read the Ultima IV Quest for the Avatar manual for instructions, I read it for the fluff, for the bestiary. It had original artwork. Stories, history. Not just screen caps and some irrelevant blurb. Ultima IV came with two pseudo-cloth manuals, a hotkey sheet, a metal ankh and a cloth map. What do we get now days? A pamphlet with recycled game art and terrible lay out. I'm not surprised no one reads the manuals anymore.

A manual used to be something you read on the couch when you're not even playing the game, it was like a book. Not the crap we get today.
 

Mouse One

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There's difficulty, and there's "dumbed down". Difficulty can be achieved simply by having tougher enemies (more hit points, more powerful attacks), debuffing the player's abilities, speeding up the gameplay, removing "hail mary" items like health packs/potions, etc.

Dumbed down is more about reducing player choice. If before, a player had three corridors to waltz down, and now only has one route, it's dumbed down. If a player could design a character with 30 options before, and now only has four (all of which will be maxed by game's end), again-- dumbed down. If a player could talk to twenty NPCs before, but now can only talk to the one with the big flashing arrow over his head...you get the idea.

The diff is that the former is easy to design, and moderate with a slider on the options page. The latter is fundamental game design.

But. How much of that reduction in choice is real? To echo the Extra Punctuation video on the "Illusion of Choice", if there is really only one or two optimal builds for that character with 30 odd ability choices, is it really that different from our streamlined game? If talking to all those NPCs only results in a few throw away lines that contribute nothing to the narrative, perhaps it is really no different than the game with the flashing yellow arrow over the guy you really need to talk to, except in time wasted on repetitive uninteresting gameplay.

I was struck by Dragon Age 2's FedEx missions. Yes, they were silly. You find an item and immediately know who to give it to, and that someone was typically on your way to an actually interesting plot point (unlike said FedEx quest). But isn't that what FedEx quests really boil down to? I don't think the answer is to do quests like DA2, but neither do I think that those quests contribute much in other games.

Perhaps the real answer is not to return to the Byzantine game mechanics of days past, but to focus on new and better forms of gameplay. Streamlining a game down to "push button, save princess" is no good. But neither is "push 300 buttons, save princess". There's ways of challenging with simple game mechanics (Portal, anyone?), after all.
 

Hyper-space

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Mr. Omega said:
Making it so that you don't need to memorize what EVERY SINGLE KEY on your keyboard does and limiting it so that you can just use a few keys and still do just about everything without having to go through a sea of menus? That's "simple".
Oh god this, this is pretty much the crux of most older RPG's (such as Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment etc). For example, memorizing spells in Baldur's Gate 2: to learn a spell you first have to find a scroll, then you open up your inventory (menu count: 1), right click the scroll (menu count: 2), click memorize (menu count: 3), rearrange the spells, open up yet another menu to rest (menu count: 4) and watch a small clip of a couple of beds. Holy shit, thats 4 unnecessary menus and a small cut-scenes which add nothing to the experience and there are no penalties for resting whenever.

If i were to re-make the system, i would make it so that you would first find the scroll, then just open up your spellbook (menu count: 1) and put the scroll into an empty slot and then find an inn or set up camp and rest. This would reduce the menu surfing to just one menu and make it so that resting actually requires thought and not just clicks.
 

Zay-el

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

To be fair, even back in the day I often found myself getting incredibly frustrated with levels that just would not end, EVER. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith was amongst the worst offenders. Not to mention that with the big levels, they artifically lengthened the gametime of each as well, with keys, levers and all that stuff. I'd rather take something in between, perhaps branching levels or such.
 

Lancer873

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I think that one of the best ways to reconcile this is through optional side-challenges, the sort you'll find in LittleBigPlanet or LocoRoco. The main path is actually fairly easy, but there are several branches where you'll find huge challenges with great rewards, and there's also rewards for doing it well (like not getting hurt/killed, or beating the level quickly). I've always thought it's the best way to bridge the gap between the casual and the hardcore. I've helped dozens of less experienced players get the tougher optional prizes in LittleBigPlanet, and I've also met plenty of experienced players that are clearly hardcore like myself. Acing levels in LBP (1 and 2) is a fun and crazy challenging feat, but you don't have to do it at all if you don't want to. If you do it, though, you can get some of the best prizes in the game (like the "paperboy" costume in LBP2, or the original sackboy concept in LBP1). It encourages challenge without forcing it on the player, so the casual can train his way up to the hardcore if he wants, or just get through the levels if he's only interested in having fun.
 

RA92

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Am I just seeing PC and console gamers agreeing with each other for once (other than calling the Wii a bag of dicks)? Shamus, you've done the impossible. Kudos. This article will be referenced quite a lot in the future.

I remember the old days when each platform (PC, Sega, PS and Nintendo) used to give us entirely different gaming experiences. Now, all we get are watered down multi-platform titles.

draythefingerless said:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.
A 'hard' mode neither changes enemy AI (just increases the HP) nor linear level and gameplay structure.
 

Hristo Tzonkov

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What's worse is that it's getting increasingly hard to pick up an old title you know and love.Mainly because a dumbed down title means a cleaner design and less bugs.I mean cmon how much time do you spend modding Fallout 2 before you start playing it just to have a non raging experience.Dumbing down isn't that amazingly bad.I think the achievements are what's bad...The hard difficulties are mostly gimmicks and are easily doable so people can get more achievements.If you wanna play casually play on casual.I like my hard difficulties merciless to your every mistake.Hence why there was a quicksave.Notion on the was.
 

lawdjayee

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I like the way Shamus brought two the PC and console "dumb down" arguments together; they are rarely in the same place at the same time. The use of the term "dumb down" I've always thought to be revealing, tho; the criticisms come from people who like to think of themselves as smart, and like to flatter themselves that succeeding at a game testifies to their intelligence.

I think he mistakes causation. People who make games wanted, like good capitalists, to profit from their labors as much as possible, and to do that they needed to appeal to a broader and broader audience. Developments in graphics technology weren't natural or inevitable; they were required to show those who were not enthusiasts what the heck they were actually doing, to compete with film and television. The larger budgets made design by committee (in both its best and worst senses) inevitable; as did the involvement of major players in the technology industry who now dominate the industry.
 

Dastardly

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Shamus Young said:
Experienced Points: The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus wants us to stop fighting and get along.

Read Full Article
This isn't a new concept. Games used to have ways of making the game harder on yourself. Back when games had fewer moving parts, it was as simple as "Go to Menu - Increase Difficulty - Monsters now have more health and stronger attacks and appear in larger numbers." And that was it. Ta-da.

A lot of developers are still stuck in those days. One enemy is too easy, so we'll give you two or ten. Difficulty is just a matter of adjusting the magnitude of existing game elements, throttling a couple numbers in the mix up to 11, and voila.

New Vegas is a great example of games using a sort of "modular difficulty." There are game elements present that you might or might not use. The more you choose to use, the more challenging the experience. Want easy mode? Play it on normal mode and put your skill in Energy Weapons. Want a bit more challenge? Try melee. Still more? Move to hardcore and use guns (with all that weighty ammo). Not satisfied yet? Melee in hardcore mode, and go do all those side quests.

There's another type of game that has used this sort of modular difficulty for a long time: pen and paper RPGs. The best GMs are the ones that tailor the mechanics to the group--use this rule, ignore that one, keep track of this stat, but completely dismiss these. They allow the players to determine the level of challenge and micromanagement of the game. The manual is just a sourcebook, not a Bible. The writers weren't afraid to create rules that only a small minority of the players might actually use, but they'll be there if you want them.

But with tight budgets and timetables, developers are generally unwilling to spend time creating any modes or mechanics they're not utterly convinced will see constant use. They don't want to "waste" the time including mechanics for creating your own handgun ammo if they're not going to just plain require everyone to use it... which means most of these potential tools are left out of the box.
 

Zom-B

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This is why traditional table top board games will never die. One person can come up a with a good game, make a prototype and have a successful game made out of it. It could even be self published. I'm not saying indie video game developers can't or aren't doing the same thing, but it's far easier to make a deep, complicated, confusing, smart, thoughtful, bewildering game out of tokens and dice and paper and cardboard than it is to code a similar game with all that entails. (Or so I assume, not being a programmer myself. But anyone can sit down with an idea and cut shapes out of paper or cardboard and roll dice and think up rules)

Even digitizing those components of those games for use on something like Microsoft's Surface display will be easier than producing a full fledged video game.

And this makes me happy.
 

WanderingFool

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
I honestly dont think either of those are truly appealing. While the "corridor" shooter maps are limiting, the large area maps are practically made to take as long as possible, by having a key open a door on the other side of the map, which said door belongs to a room with a key to another door on the other other side of the map.

I think what needs to be done is a shooter that features the best of both designs. the open roam of the older maps, and the constant progress-pushing of the new "maps".

Also, I think we need to have more developers drop the photo-realistic graphics quest and instead use a more artistic approach, like Borderlands and their cel-shading, comic book effect. Graphics should not be item #1, despite what some may say. While bad graphics may hinder the experience, decent, okay, good, and great graphics are just as good, and take less time and money than, "OMGZ DIS ARE AWSUM GRAPX!!1!"*

*[sub]IDK, I tried to mimic the style of... hell what are they even referred to now?[/sub]
 

danhere

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I played Splinter Cell: Conviction when it first came out on Normal difficulty. Last week, I replayed it on Hard difficulty only to realize that the only difference is the amount of hits you can take before you die. The AI stays the same, upgrading weapons isn't any harder (in fact, there is only so much that you need to upgrade).

This all comes from the fear of innovation. Sure, the games that are being released look a lot a like, but developers are also unwilling to experiment with variety within a game. When the difference between difficulties is just the damage you take, there's a problem. Any other changes usually come through making the game more of a grind. Hardcore mode in Fallout:NV is a good example of making things more difficult through a twist; the gameplay changes significantly in the process. I can't imagine something like this taking up drastically more development time either, since the majority of the game remains the same. However, it does expand options for the player.

The opposite is true as well. Games need to be accessible to more people in order to progress as a medium. After all, books, movies, and television all have target audiences of different demographics and it is all because they were adopted on a mass scale. Grandma won't be playing Dragon Age anytime soon (and Mom won't be playing Dead Space, or at least that's what EA tells me), but thinking about the expansion of the medium on a smaller scale is definitely important. I recall the YouTube videos that were posted on this site a month or two ago of the dad playing Portal. That's definitely a start. Portal isn't a very demanding game, but proves to be extremely engaging. And to give people more options, Valve included those challenge and advanced maps for people who felt like they could have gotten more from the game.
 

JimmyC99

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Because the game market is now so HUGE with lots of varying and sometimes overlapping demographics, a developer, which while they want to make a good game, they also have to make money, everyone needs a salary you know, and publishers need to know that the money there spending will be recovered and improved upon that's natural and acceptable we live in a capitalist society after all. but you cannot please everyone all the time, ever. lets take DA2, a game that seams to have bombed. but I'm sure more then half of people who bought it liked it some may have considered it a great game, I do and I adore DA1 and KoTOR ect. but its the Vocal Minority who appear on forums. social networking sites ect. and blow an entire idea of a game out of proportion. the metacritic rating cant really be accepted as it seamed to have been "Amazon Bombed" following the dev who rated 10/10 fiasco.

Good news travels.
Bad news travels at light speed.

(this is ripped from my Facebook post so if you get dejavu i'm sorry)
 

Shamus Young

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
Depends,
How fast can you run it?
 

draythefingerless

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
Am I just seeing PC and console gamers agreeing with each other for once (other than calling the Wii a bag of dicks)? Shamus, you've done the impossible. Kudos. This article will be referenced quite a lot in the future.

I remember the old days when each platform (PC, Sega, PS and Nintendo) used to give us entirely different gaming experiences. Now, all we get are watered down multi-platform titles.

draythefingerless said:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.
A 'hard' mode neither changes enemy AI (just increases the HP) nor linear level and gameplay structure.
you seem to be speaking of a particular game, or games, instead of gaming as a whole. i know a lot of games where these difficulties kill you. A lot. I would also like to know how games were harder back then. I know some were harder by level complexion, but apart from that, they were harder for the same reasons youre saying now. Lower HP, HIgher HP for enemies, more use of one hit kills, thats about it. In fact, speaking of enemy AI, to assume that AI 10 years ago was ANYWHERE near complex as what we have today, is near insulting. To some people.
 
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Woodsey said:
Agreed for the most part, although I'd argue the relevance of the BioShock and System Shock comparison, considering they're in different genres almost. I'm not sure who the first group was to coin the whole 'spiritual successor' thing when it came to BioShock, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the developers. BioShock's a shooter, System Shock is much more of a mix. .
Ken Levine said Bioshock would be a spiritual successor to the System Shock series. So yeah, it was the head dude(of both Bioshock and System Shock).

Zay-el said:
To be fair, even back in the day I often found myself getting incredibly frustrated with levels that just would not end, EVER. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith was amongst the worst offenders. Not to mention that with the big levels, they artifically lengthened the gametime of each as well, with keys, levers and all that stuff. I'd rather take something in between, perhaps branching levels or such.
WanderingFool said:
I honestly dont think either of those are truly appealing. While the "corridor" shooter maps are limiting, the large area maps are practically made to take as long as possible, by having a key open a door on the other side of the map, which said door belongs to a room with a key to another door on the other other side of the map.

I think what needs to be done is a shooter that features the best of both designs. the open roam of the older maps, and the constant progress-pushing of the new "maps".

Also, I think we need to have more developers drop the photo-realistic graphics quest and instead use a more artistic approach, like Borderlands and their cel-shading, comic book effect. Graphics should not be item #1, despite what some may say. While bad graphics may hinder the experience, decent, okay, good, and great graphics are just as good, and take less time and money than, "OMGZ DIS ARE AWSUM GRAPX!!1!"*

*[sub]IDK, I tried to mimic the style of... hell what are they even referred to now?[/sub]
Oh trust me, I know. The old ways are not much better. But I'd rather have them then what we have now. But of course a hybrid would be great. Or perhaps the old way with less stupidity(keys, levers, ect.).

HankMan said:
Depends,
How fast can you run it?
If I really tried with my eyes open? Probably 20-30 minutes. Time also varies based on the difficulty(the easiest has no enemies, the hardest has infinitely respawning enemies, everywhere).
 

draythefingerless

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Worr Monger said:
draythefingerless said:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.
This does work in some cases. But some games can be annoyingly hard if you crank it too far.

Like he said about New Vegas. I jumped into that game on hardcore cause I liked the mechanics and it created a greater challenge. To me it seems a lot of Hard & Very Hard modes do nothing but make enemies stronger, and make you die faster.... which seems like a lazy way to create a bigger challenge..
Explain to me how they did it in the past. And again, along with another one who replied to me, you seem to be speaking of a very specific game or games. Games in the past were harder for those very reasons, at least the ones that have those elements. AND the occasional level complexion. One of the few genres i can unanimaly say has gotten easier, is side scrolling. Apart from that, all ive seen is games having Normal difficulty be....normal, as opposed to stupidly hard. Speaking the general sense.
 

Jumplion

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I don't like the word "dumbing down" as that assumes that everyone has just gotten stupider (I misspelled stupider when I typed it...), and I guess I have more faith in humanity than that. Most games are becoming more "simplified", and an unfortunate result of that can be "dumbing" or watering down the whole experience. I think developers just need to trust their audience more.

I think a prime example of "oversimplification" for me was the change between Mass Effect 1 and 2. The first one I thought was great, even if it did have some gameplay issues (and even if the Mako was bouncy as fuck). The second one, however, I think BioWare overreacted to the complaints and drastically simplified, though not quite watered down, the overall experience.

In Mass Effect 1, I never really noticed that I was unloading shot after shot, and it felt varied and epic in a sense. In Mass Effect 2 I noticed that all I was doing was unloading clip after clip after clip, and that's all I felt I was doing in fight after fight, with nothing to break up the monotony. That, I think, is oversimplification, and it's dangerous when a developer doesn't give their audience enough credit to assume that they can't manage a simple inventory or pilot a helicopter.
 

Jumplion

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
While that's obviously for comic effect, I would have to say that the current design of FPS maps are more linear but they provide more ways to approach a situation. With the old DOOM maps, as others have said, you could only enter a room with a key that was behind another room that needed another key, so you had to go in precise order and know exactly where and when to shoot (as you can do with your eyes closed :p). Current FPS maps (at least the good ones) offer more variety in how your shoot something, at least.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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Jumplion said:
While that's obviously for comic effect, I would have to say that the current design of FPS maps are more linear but they provide more ways to approach a situation. With the old DOOM maps, as others have said, you could only enter a room with a key that was behind another room that needed another key, so you had to go in precise order and know exactly where and when to shoot (as you can do with your eyes closed :p). Current FPS maps (at least the good ones) offer more variety in how your shoot something, at least.
Yes, but current maps completely killed exploration. As I said above, I'd be more than willing to accept old-style maps with the stupidity taken out. If current FPS's used the old-school design(but without the stupidity of levers, keys, ect.) they could flesh out their worlds without needing massive info-dumps. Which means less text to sift through and less people endlessly droning on about stuff.

It would give a sense of discovery(nobody told you about this stuff, YOU found it out on your own). It just offers plenty of great things.
 

Mantonio

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Thing is, developers (and gamers) seem to think that unless your game sells millions of units in the first week, it's a complete flop. And that's just not true.

Also, why SHOULD they have to appeal to a wider and wider audience? This ties in with my first point, they don't need to to be successful, and indeed they perhaps in most cases have to specifically not do so if they want to fulfil their artistic vision free of the stifling compromise of publishers and marketing.

You try to appeal to everyone, and more often than not you end up making a game that's disappointing for everyone instead.
 

Mantonio

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ZeroG131 said:
Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
Wooooow...it just hit me how true that is. I mean, that looks exactly like the progression in Black Ops. Seriously, that IS Black Ops. Get rid of all the shit around you, this is EXACTLY the same type of progression in Black Ops. Even Games like Gears or War, Halo, even Half Life 2 are formed like this. Sure, you can look into this area or that area but they just end. You've gone through this entire section that doesn't go anyway else. Best example: Bioshock. It's literally nothing but a bunch of hallways! In older game, like the original Half Life you had no clues, no hints, you just kept going. You had a bunch of different routes; their were a few dead ends, but most route either converged or the dead ends could be overcome. (sending a tram through a barricade) In Bioshock you're constantly being told where to go. To go to places you would have eventual found simply by reading the sign on a door! I mean look at this: http://www.combatsim.com/memb123/htm/2007/09/bioshock-p2b-14.jpg It looks complicated but it's just a bunch of interconnected hallways leading to rooms that go NOWHERE!!!

Edit: Oh and if there was an alternate route, you'd have to wait till a CUTSCENE to actually use it.
To be fair, Half Life 2 never endeavours to be open world. It's designed to be linear to better tell the story. Sure you can say it's just a bunch of corridors, but you could probably say the same about most games if you simplified it enough.
 

Jumplion

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Irridium said:
Jumplion said:
While that's obviously for comic effect, I would have to say that the current design of FPS maps are more linear but they provide more ways to approach a situation. With the old DOOM maps, as others have said, you could only enter a room with a key that was behind another room that needed another key, so you had to go in precise order and know exactly where and when to shoot (as you can do with your eyes closed :p). Current FPS maps (at least the good ones) offer more variety in how your shoot something, at least.
Yes, but current maps completely killed exploration. As I said above, I'd be more than willing to accept old-style maps with the stupidity taken out. If current FPS's used the old-school design(but without the stupidity of levers, keys, ect.) they could flesh out their worlds without needing massive info-dumps. Which means less text to sift through and less people endlessly droning on about stuff.

It would give a sense of discovery(nobody told you about this stuff, YOU found it out on your own). It just offers plenty of great things.
Depending on how it's handled, sure. It's versatility vs. variety (if that makes any sense whatsoever), either have a versatile linear corridor so that you can discover new strategies, or go through a huge map where many areas will be unexplored or ignored. I think it borders on a sandbox approach, and some games just aren't meant for that. Obviously, there's nothing stopping these two aspects from merging together, they're not completely separate entities.
 

JET1971

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I would like to mention some of the arguments and flaming that happens from a PC exclusive players point of view is sometimes in the interest of console players on the subject of dumbing down a game for consoles. it may or may not be true but I feel that publishers like EA think that console players are drooling basement dwelling mouth breathers who would be overwhelmed with a few features that PC games have had for years upon years such as a simple server lobby.

when many PC players complain and say they are dumbing down games for consoles they are not saying the console players are dumb we are saying the developers and publishers are saying that. we PC players want more features and content, or improved features we already have. and we are more than happy if console players got those same features. we are annoyed when features are removed for the sake of consoles rather than features added to console for the sake of PC. many console only players should back PC players when they complain about the dumbification of cross platform games instead of calling them PC elitist.

I guess my point is when in a forum as a console player and a PC player is complaining about the game being dumbed down for consoles, back the PC player up and demand the features too!

another thing on this topic I think developers should be doing is take a look at the game you want to make and where it should be as for player base that you want to buy the game. hardcore gamers? casual gamers? and build the game acordingly to the player base you are targeting rather than target everyone. case in point you dont make feminine hygine products for men so dont make casual games for hardcore players and hardcore games for casual players.
 

RA92

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draythefingerless said:
In fact, speaking of enemy AI, to assume that AI 10 years ago was ANYWHERE near complex as what we have today, is near insulting. To some people.

Newer games don't necessarily have better AIs. Compare the AI of Crysis 2 and Half Life 2. The Crysis AI might have more complex scripted behavior, but HL2 has overall better AI (never saw one running against the wall or circling idiotically), even though it was released around 7 years earlier.

Even more blatant is Half Life's AI. I have yet to see a recent FPS whose enemy AI tries to dominate you as aggressively (through out-flanking, suppression fire, flushing you out of cover with grenades, etc) as HL1's Marines did.
 

draythefingerless

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
draythefingerless said:
In fact, speaking of enemy AI, to assume that AI 10 years ago was ANYWHERE near complex as what we have today, is near insulting. To some people.

Newer games don't necessarily have better AIs. Compare the AI of Crysis 2 and Half Life 2. The Crysis AI might have more complex scripted behavior, but HL2 has overall better AI (never saw one running against the wall or circling idiotically), even though it was released around 7 years earlier.

Even more blatant is Half Life's AI. I yet to see a recent FPS whose enemy AI tries to dominate you as aggressively (through out-flanking, suppression fire, flushing you out of cover with grenades, etc) as HL1's Marines did.
Again, a very narrow choice of examples. AIs have many formats. And yes, ive seen a lot of games that do that. post Half Life. And if you didnt notice, Marines only had THAT programming of thought. They wouldnt adopt other attitudes. Basically it was, Hes in far cover, toss grenade, hes close, melee. Also, most of the more complex fights in Half Life , were half-scripted, aka, you reached a certain part, game would tell enemies to go here or go there. Other cases of the out flanking was just them looking for cover. There was no suppression fire in Half Life. Only plain regular "imma kill you" fire. Kinda hard to have suppression fire if there is no squad/army/battalion to suppress... Half Life is a great game, but dont make it to be more than it is.

Also, i have seen cases of enemies running into walls or doing stupid stuff(oh lol let me run directly at him shooting, i wont get killed at all :D) in Half Life 2. If anything, the ceph in Crysis 2 are quite intelligent(if they spot you). The way they maneuver around the terrain(completely non scripted) is quite clever.
 

Waaghpowa

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Mantonio said:
To be fair, Half Life 2 never endeavours to be open world. It's designed to be linear to better tell the story. Sure you can say it's just a bunch of corridors, but you could probably say the same about most games if you simplified it enough.
The difference being that Half life never felt linear, and would allow you to explore to an extent, possibly finding special locations that help to tell the story of current events.

Irridium said:
Yes, but current maps completely killed exploration. As I said above, I'd be more than willing to accept old-style maps with the stupidity taken out. If current FPS's used the old-school design(but without the stupidity of levers, keys, ect.) they could flesh out their worlds without needing massive info-dumps. Which means less text to sift through and less people endlessly droning on about stuff.

It would give a sense of discovery(nobody told you about this stuff, YOU found it out on your own). It just offers plenty of great things.
The lack of exploration is a big problem, too many fps's try for that cinematic thing which gets tiresome once it's done one hundred billion times.
The original Crysis is a good example of giving a certain level of freedom while sticking to a linear path. The environments were large enough that you could explore in order to find a different angle of attack, but ultimately led you to the same conclusion.
 

RA92

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draythefingerless said:
Also, most of the more complex fights in Half Life 2, were half-scripted, aka, you reached a certain part, game would tell enemies to go here or go there.

The single player campaign is a bad place to judge HL2's AI due to it's linear structure and scripted fights. It's better to try it out in Gmod.
Other cases of the out flanking was just them looking for cover. There was no suppression fire in Half Life. Only plain regular "imma kill you" fire. Kinda hard to have suppression fire if there is no squad/army/battalion to suppress... Half Life is a great game, but dont make it to be more than it is.[/quote]

HL1 Marines couldn't fire when they moved. The other marines used to lay down fire to support the ones outflanking you.
 

Namewithheld

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I pretty much agree with the entire article...EXCEPT that SHODAN, while scary, was just a riff on Hal9000 for me. The overarching plot was a fairly simple sci-fi horror one. It was done REALLY REALLY WELL. Don't get me wrong: SS2 has one of the creepiest, most immersion filled plots ever, and the twist was awesome.

But Bioshock's plot had all of that, except the villain was actually somewhat tragic, as you see his optimistic beginnings and descent into madness and betrayal of everything that he had once believed in. And more, the twist in THAT game deconstructed the very concept of the whole FPS genera.

Yes, SS2's gameplay was better. But I still prefer Bioshock 2's story.

Now, I'm going to replay both, because they were regoddamn awesome.
 

Zay-el

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Irridium said:
Oh trust me, I know. The old ways are not much better. But I'd rather have them then what we have now. But of course a hybrid would be great. Or perhaps the old way with less stupidity(keys, levers, ect.).
I'd go with that no problem! Perhaps even some 'sculpuble' levels, in which if you behave badly with you weapon, say, misfiring a lot and shooting pillars, part of the level might collapse, forcing you to take another route. In case that's not available though, I could still go for simply somewhat bigger levels, WITHOUT the tedious backtracking. Let's be honest, Doom had huge levels, but how much shorter would they have been, WITHOUT keys and levers? I can accept some fetch-objectives every now and then, but only until it doesn't pad it out TOO much.

I think most devs just really scurried into the other end of the spectrum, actually, rather than finding that golden middle road.
 

WanderingFool

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Zay-el said:
Irridium said:
Oh trust me, I know. The old ways are not much better. But I'd rather have them then what we have now. But of course a hybrid would be great. Or perhaps the old way with less stupidity(keys, levers, ect.).
I'd go with that no problem! Perhaps even some 'sculpuble' levels, in which if you behave badly with you weapon, say, misfiring a lot and shooting pillars, part of the level might collapse, forcing you to take another route. In case that's not available though, I could still go for simply somewhat bigger levels, WITHOUT the tedious backtracking. Let's be honest, Doom had huge levels, but how much shorter would they have been, WITHOUT keys and levers? I can accept some fetch-objectives every now and then, but only until it doesn't pad it out TOO much.

I think most devs just really scurried into the other end of the spectrum, actually, rather than finding that golden middle road.
What I think would be a big step, is to keep the actual linearity of direction, but add different ways to get there. For my example, watch one of the DE:HR videos showing the different ways to complete a given objective. You want to get the job done quick? Grab a grenade launcher and blow shit up. You want to sneak in and not waste time fighting? Use stealth and sneak pastor subdue the guards, maybe cut the security connection so no alarms can be sounded. If developers were to simply add choice in how to tackle a problem, than simply telling you how you must proceed, I think things would probably get better pretty damn quick.

*Edit*

Actually, here is a video.

 

DanDeFool

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bjj hero said:
The push for more sales really has made games easier and less complicated. It is the same reason instruction manuals have died a death. People don't want to have to read and learn in order to play so it has to get more simple.
Well, now we have tutorials. Back in the days of big, colorful manuals, games didn't have tutorials, either because there wasn't enough space on the distribution media to add one to the game, or they just didn't bother (because they were going to include a big, colorful manual).

Frankly, I kind of like the fact that games have gotten more accessible; it means I can play and enjoy more types of games. I remember trying to get into FA-18 Strike Eagle, an early air combat simulator. You literally have to learn how to fly a fighter jet just to be able to play that game, let alone finish it. I don't want to have to spend days or weeks mastering the mechanics of one game before I can even play it.

And we certainly don't need any more "Nintendo Hard" games that most of us mere mortals can't even finish.

As usual, I agree with Shamus. What we need are games with more scalable difficulty, greater depth for the players who want it, and more open-endedness for everyone.
 

Shamanic Rhythm

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The biggest problem with the whole 'games are being dumbed-down' debate is that it tends to confuse difficulty with streamlining the interface and level design. Those are completely separate concepts which nevertheless feed back into the overall experience a player has with being 'challenged' by the game, but they're not usually the determining factors in how easy a game is. I've been playing games for about a decade now, and I don't think games have gotten any easier to complete.

An extremely complex interface contributed to Baldur's Gate II being a very challenging game to master, for instance, but I don't think complicating the player's interface to increase difficulty should be considered good design. It's like trying to play tennis with ropes attached to your every limb. Dragon Age II is a much easier game to play because the interface has been refined so it's a lot easier to find the fireball spell when you really need it, but at the same time, they've simplified the interface so much that most items no longer have a distinct portrait, taking much of the flavour out of the world. This doesn't really affect the difficulty, but it nevertheless gets lumped in with complaints that the game has been 'dumbed down'. In my mind it's more a case of lazy design.

As Samus points out, this mindset is primarily due to people having the perception that developers want to target a wider audience and are consequently making the game easier to get more people involved. I don't think that's the case, devs will always want more people to get involved, but publishers want them to get games out much faster than ever before, so they don't have time to put in complex game mechanics. Because of publishers, the dynamic has shifted away from 'huge game with 3-5 year development cycle' to 'game with 1-2 year development cycle with extra DLC'. Publishers love DLC for obvious reasons, but in developing extra DLC the devs can only really offer more scenarios for existing mechanics: they can't really make the game mechanics any more complex.

For those of you wanting something succinct to take away from this: gamers aren't to blame for the changes in design, corporatised publishing companies are.
 

templargunman

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I actually found hard mode in new vegas pretty easy, I just had to tolerate a slightly less healthy character, it didn't effect enough of the game to be actually hard. I didn't even notice it was on most of the time.
 

bassdrum

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I think that, at least to some degree, it's important to factor in development costs when you consider the 'dumbification' of games. Sure, accessibility is becoming more and more important as time goes on, but there's also the very real fact that the costs associated with making a game are ballooning. Back when Doom came out, games were developed by pretty small teams of people, and many art assets were still sprite based (and what true 3D elements there were were all pretty simple). Now, todays games are made by significantly larger teams (all of whom have to be paid, obviously) who are working with significantly more intricate details. This is a large part of why we're seeing more linear games with fewer enemy types in them: each branch in a path is another whole area which needs to be fully detailed and fleshed out, and must look and play differently from the other path. This takes a lot of time and money. Plus, putting a full menagerie of enemy types in involves actually MAKING those enemies, which means making the models, the animations, the sounds, setting the values (i.e. for damage, health, etc.)--even more time and money.

I'm not saying that this fully explains the simplification of games, its just that rising costs (in terms of both time and money) mean that streamlining is an effective way of getting the product out to the people who are going to pay for it sooner and at lower cost (and, as Shamus points out, there's the added bonus of accessibility, adding more potential customers, meaning more profit). Therefore, costs go down, consumer base grows, and anybody with a basic understanding of business can tell you that that's generally a good thing.

Regardless, in the end, it all comes down to decisions made by the developers which has very little to do with one group or another (you know, like PC or console gamers). In fact, in many ways it has absolutely NOTHING to do with how we play the games, but entirely with what makes them easier and more cost effective to make--for instance, I don't think that Bioware actually expected players to need (or even want) them to make Dragon Age II with only a handful of caves (which they recycle constantly), but by reusing variations of the same cave as many times as they did, they may have cut thousands of dollars and months of development time off of the game's overhead costs.

It's not a matter of accessibility or marketing to one fan base or another, it's just business.
 

bushwhacker2k

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Shamus said:
As the number of people who play videogames has grown, developers got the cash to make ever more expensive games. But that means they have to sell more copies, which means they need wider appeal, which means they can't aim at small markets like people who like complicated leveling systems and inventory management.
Pre-CISE-ly.

This is why I can't target any single group, because every group partially responsible for games becoming less innovative and more simple is justified in some way.

I really do hope gaming becomes more universal, then we can all go back to trying to make things interesting as opposed to accessible. I don't dislike games being accessible for the masses, but I don't want innovative games that aren't super player-friendly to suffer for it.
 

draythefingerless

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Raiyan 1.0 said:
draythefingerless said:
Also, most of the more complex fights in Half Life 2, were half-scripted, aka, you reached a certain part, game would tell enemies to go here or go there.

The single player campaign is a bad place to judge HL2's AI due to it's linear structure and scripted fights. It's better to try it out in Gmod.
Other cases of the out flanking was just them looking for cover. There was no suppression fire in Half Life. Only plain regular "imma kill you" fire. Kinda hard to have suppression fire if there is no squad/army/battalion to suppress... Half Life is a great game, but dont make it to be more than it is.
HL1 Marines couldn't fire when they moved. The other marines used to lay down fire to support the ones outflanking you.[/quote]

i misstyped, i meant Half Lifes AI. Not Half Life 2s. Even then, saying The single player is a bad place to test it isnt really a supporting argument. :/

And thats pretty lame...they didnt fire to support the ones outflanking you, they fired cause they were trying to kill you. I assure you this happens by nature of the game, not by intent of the AI. Some are moving while some are shooting. If they all decide to move at the same time, no one is shooting you. In fact that happens when you have fewer enemies, or when they are entering an area.
 

beema

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Yes yes and more yes. Excellent little article.
I think as humans we are always looking for some other group of people to blame for our problems. It exists in every facet of society and every period of history.
It's just a shame we waste all this angry energy on eachother when we could be using the energy to make things better in some way.

Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

LOL
that's awesome man (and yes very appropriate). Where is it from?
 

pandasaw

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Jumplion said:
Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
While that's obviously for comic effect, I would have to say that the current design of FPS maps are more linear but they provide more ways to approach a situation. With the old DOOM maps, as others have said, you could only enter a room with a key that was behind another room that needed another key, so you had to go in precise order and know exactly where and when to shoot (as you can do with your eyes closed :p). Current FPS maps (at least the good ones) offer more variety in how your shoot something, at least.
Linnearity is not always a bad thing. Saw this video on the same subject at G4tv and I agree with it 100%.
http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/711199/crysis-2-linear-and-loving-it-sesslers-soapbox/
 

Scars Unseen

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Jumplion said:
I don't like the word "dumbing down" as that assumes that everyone has just gotten stupider (I misspelled stupider when I typed it...), and I guess I have more faith in humanity than that. Most games are becoming more "simplified", and an unfortunate result of that can be "dumbing" or watering down the whole experience. I think developers just need to trust their audience more.

I think a prime example of "oversimplification" for me was the change between Mass Effect 1 and 2. The first one I thought was great, even if it did have some gameplay issues (and even if the Mako was bouncy as fuck). The second one, however, I think BioWare overreacted to the complaints and drastically simplified, though not quite watered down, the overall experience.

In Mass Effect 1, I never really noticed that I was unloading shot after shot, and it felt varied and epic in a sense. In Mass Effect 2 I noticed that all I was doing was unloading clip after clip after clip, and that's all I felt I was doing in fight after fight, with nothing to break up the monotony. That, I think, is oversimplification, and it's dangerous when a developer doesn't give their audience enough credit to assume that they can't manage a simple inventory or pilot a helicopter.
A couple of things:

1) I hope that the irony of using "stupider" in a post decrying the use of the phrase "dumbing down" is not lost on you.

2) If "dumbing down" implies that the audience is dumb, is it really any better to imply that the audience is simple? (hint: irrelevant since neither "dumbed down" nor "simplified" are describing the user)
 

Ericb

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

Oh, it's more then appropriate, it's the perfect visual analogy.

Irridium said:
Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
The first one is sad, by far.

The second, not at all as it was and is a stimulating level design.

bushwhacker2k said:
I don't dislike games being accessible for the masses, but I don't want innovative games that aren't super player-friendly to suffer for it.
This is very much my take on it and precisely why it is terrible that there so many self-titled "hardcore gamers" who immediately shun attempts to step out of the current game design box.
 

Jumplion

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Scars Unseen said:
1) I hope that the irony of using "stupider" in a post decrying the use of the phrase "dumbing down" is not lost on you.
I misspelled "stupider" the first time around...

2) If "dumbing down" implies that the audience is dumb, is it really any better to imply that the audience is simple? (hint: irrelevant since neither "dumbed down" nor "simplified" are describing the user)
"Dumbing down" implies that the user is stupid or too dumb to know what to do.
"Simplifying", while it can be seen as the same thing, I think it's more streamlining and making the game approachable. You can still have a streamlined, approachable game that has depth and complexity to it, it's just pretty difficult.
 

Callate

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All right, let's take System Shock 2 for a second. Because quite frankly, if there's one thing that pisses me off, it's the ongoing critical worship of that "great under-appreciated work of genius" that was SS2..

Great atmosphere? Sure. Intriguing and innovative blending of genres? Absolutely. Some nicely-conceived set-pieces? Definitely. Memorably fiendish nemeses? Certainly.

But it wasn't just "hard". It was home to some incredibly bad design decisions. Decisions that a better-constructed and playtested game would have sanded off. Decisions that made it both far worse and far less accessible than it needed to be.

A few examples:

Increasing the protaganist's agility caused your movement speed to increase; this increased movement speed meant you could hurt yourself running into a railing. Because nothing says "agile" like a hero who breaks his nose running into a wall.

If the protaganist is poisoned, they keep taking damage until you use an antidote or die. At least one segment of the game is happy to drop you into an area right on top of things that can poison you with a single hit.

Opening crates involves playing an incredibly dull little game (one which makes Bioshock's "Pipe Dream"-alike look like a thrill ride) that costs the player "money" on every attempt. There's no way to know if the contents of the box are worth that cost. The player plays this game about a thousand times.

Several of the game's missions require retracing one's steps. Those steps are populated by infinitely respawning enemies, many of which use firearms. Despite this, chances of getting either a usable weapon or a single bullet from any of these enemies is minuscule.

The "big bad" at one point reveals that she is capable of retracting the "experience points" she's been issuing to you. This never comes up again.

Both of your major enemies want you on their side. Actually joining forces with either is not an actual option, which makes the story segments spent on these notions something of a waste of time.

The instruction manual raves about how important it was to the designers that psionic powers not be "just another gun". Then they made ammunition and weapons so scarce that the player would often be slitting their own throat to use those powers any other way, especially given the skill points and resources they had to give up to acquire and use those powers.

...I could go on...

In summation, System Shock 2 is kind of like an intricately carved wooden marble maze that may give you splinters when you pick it up and has the occasional propensity to drop your marble into a crevice from which it can't be retrieved. Bioshock is like a simpler maze made out of smoothed glass- it will never cut you, it will never lose your marble, you can see the work that went into it from every angle but at the same time it's never going to be as difficult because the end is always in sight. They're different experiences, but I spit at the idea that SS2's is intrinsically superior.

To bring this back into the main thrust of discussion: I absolutely agree that we should continue to demand complex and fulfilling experiences from games, and "call out" designs that take beloved genres and franchises and make them simpleminded for the sake of making them accessible.

But we shouldn't automatically assume that every time a corner is rounded off, it's to a game's detriment. There have been some improvements made to the games we love as well. A modern FPS map may be a lot less obviously complex than one from Doom seventeen-plus years ago, but I don't think anyone is clamoring to return to maps that were, despite some trickery to seem otherwise, two dimensional. Games like Half-Life slowed the action down and showed that the genre didn't have to author nothing but simpleminded shoot-em-ups. The rebirth of the whole adventure genre has come along with some recognition that hunting for one pixel or selecting one of seven different kinds of screwdriver from a ridiculously huge inventory was never what attracted people to those games.

The fanboy's glass is always going to be half empty, and I say that fully aware that I have my own fanboy-ish blind spots. But of all people, game players at the bleeding edge of technology should have some perspective on how silly it can be to blindly cling to traditions.
 

Scars Unseen

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Jumplion said:
Scars Unseen said:
1) I hope that the irony of using "stupider" in a post decrying the use of the phrase "dumbing down" is not lost on you.
I misspelled "stupider" the first time around...
Ah. I see that it is, then. Never mind.


2) If "dumbing down" implies that the audience is dumb, is it really any better to imply that the audience is simple? (hint: irrelevant since neither "dumbed down" nor "simplified" are describing the user)
"Dumbing down" implies that the user is stupid or too dumb to know what to do.
"Simplifying", while it can be seen as the same thing, I think it's more streamlining and making the game approachable. You can still have a streamlined, approachable game that has depth and complexity to it, it's just pretty difficult.
I really don't see how one term is better than the other. If you are looking for a word to describe the effect, either works. If you are trying to use the phrase to imply something about the audience, then they fail in equal measure. If you are wanting to invent a term that works for both, perhaps "mainstreaming" would be a better choice.
 

panosbouk

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The argument about hard modes isn't valid at all. Games are mend to be played on normal mode. This is how they should be judged. Never talked about how the game works on easier mode but suddenly we came at a point saying if you want the full game play on hard.

I don't agree that games evolution made them easier. They became easier for the developers.

On FPS games health restore as mentioned as well on Extra Credits here on escapist, makes the designers to work freely on what they will put for your next encounter. They don't have to take in consideration factors as your health bar, armor bar etc, so they can put a balanced encounter on the next room.

On RPGs now I encountered the worse scenario. Still not a simplicity to the game "evolution" in general but a design choice. Dragon Age 2 gives you a total party of 4 to control. But you can only use the gear you find (chest, boot, gloves), on your main character. You can upgrade them from shops but they get a fixed upgrade for the specific char. I don't believe in that case even the more "casual" player find it appealing.

The simplicity that overcomes games now takes away the mechanics that made them the medium that is today. Instead going forward as an independent medium goes the wrong way and soon we will see nomination in the Oscars. And yes this is bad because games are not movies although they going that way.

I would like to close with this. I remember the game Sevenrace, an action RPG, that it's combat mechanic was dodge, block, and for attacks you combined keys to make the moves, now I press a single button and see stuff happens on my screen.For me that's not moving forward but even more backwards.
 

Azaraxzealot

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games being easy will never make them less enjoyable to me. i go for the spectacle and story, not for the challenge

if i wanted a challenge i'd play starcraft in korea.

i want to have fun, and fun is not training myself with endless hours of videogames so that i can "enjoy" them when they're fucking ridiculously hard
 
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WanderingFool said:
*Edit*

Actually, here is a video.

I really hope everything isn't highlighted in the final game. Otherwise it completely defeats the purpose of exploration.

You can't find your own way when you highlight everything.
 

shaderkul

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FieryTrainwreck said:
Playing through DA2, I really am struck dumb by how much they hold your hand these days. They honestly don't let you figure out ANYTHING for yourself anymore, which is a shame.

The side quests, for example: you pick up a random item of no particular importance - other than the nifty little arrow next to the name, indicating it is a quest item. You've now got a journal entry that tells you exactly where to deliver said item. It's also on your map. And when you happen upon the target NPC, he or she will have a giant arrow over his/her head.

This isn't an MMO. The quests aren't supposed to be an annoying race against the clock, mere obstacles between me and a max level character ready to participate in the "real" game. The quests are supposed to comprise the desired experience.

TLDR version: Damn you, WoW.
Exactly. And the way they rate the loot you pick up left me gasping for air in disbelief! You gotta be kidding me...seriously?! " Ooooo...I just picked up two magic staffs and I don't know which one is better, I don't have time to look at the stats and decide, I just wanna kill stuff. Oh, ok. One has three stars and the other has four! Yay!

Seriously.
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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The platform wars always muddy the issues. Are FPS games getting simpler? Well obviously because [insert platform here] gamers are drooling idiots who need the experience to be easier!

This is probably happening to make gaming more accessible to the newer generation but why they can't make hard mode hard baffles me. Have different sized maps for the different difficulties! Leave the accessibility factor at easy!
 

Jumplion

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Scars Unseen said:
I really don't see how one term is better than the other. If you are looking for a word to describe the effect, either works. If you are trying to use the phrase to imply something about the audience, then they fail in equal measure. If you are wanting to invent a term that works for both, perhaps "mainstreaming" would be a better choice.
Eh, more semantics on my part. Mainstreaming is an interesting word aswell, could also apply to certain situations.
 

The3rdEye

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"Old-school PC gamers are always willing to tell you about how shooters used to have management of multiple resources - armor, health, and ammunition for ten weapons. Now we have a single "life" gauge that fills up on its own, and three weapons. Combat used to take place on sprawling levels with branching paths and multiple routes. Now they have linear railroad paths. The old menagerie of monsters has been replaced with "solider with gun A" and "soldier with gun B."
Even among console fans, there is blame to be spread around. PS3 fans sneer at the frat-boy Halo demographic of Xbox players. Xbox owners laugh at the dumb jocks who bought a PlayStation and then buy the same Madden and Tiger Woods games, over and over, every year. Both sides are filled with burning contempt for the giggling, clueless, inept Wii players and their affinity for heaps of shovelware.
It's possible that within every lie is a kernel of truth but all the same why repeat this sort of thing? How do we move past it if you keep putting it in front of us? At the same time this is all coming from someone who apparently grown up with games, which in itself can be problematic. No matter how awesome a game is, no matter how great the experience is, it's never going to your first. You're not going to remember the crappy controls, the terrible art, the poor scripting, you just remember the first time X happened and blew your mind.

Games as a whole aren't getting "dumber", the industry is getting scared as hell and neurotic. There is a HUGE amount of momentum driving things forward; technology, the maturation of the 1st gen console gamers with their increased disposable income, the possibility of tackling subjects and stories once thought to be material solely for books and movies and of course the money. The prospect of taking a leap and either allowing themselves to be hard on the player or to present the player with something that they don't like and therefore losing a sale over it is terrifying to them as a business. To compound the problem, we the consumer further complicate things with our random acts of rage from fans and 'haters' alike and most of all we keep putting the blame on everyone but ourselves.

Quite complaining that X-com is not Enemy Unknown, that game has already been made and any attempt to reproduce it will inevitably fall short because if it's different, there will be some who "hates" it. Stop saying that a game is "bad" or "broken" simply because you didn't enjoy it. [footnote]I have seen titles for numerous DA2 threads, but have not read a single one because despite what others dislike about the game, and despite what I myself dislike about the game, I still enjoy it. I'm not going to call NFS:HP a "poorly designed game" because the actual Hot Pursuit events only comprised 1/4 of the content, and I won't say FM:E was "broken" because I never did get my pre-order content. I WILL call them "insanely fast-paced and cathartic after a day in rush hour traffic, although rather short in my favorite event" and "A nice way to tide me over until AC5", respectively.[/footnote]Instead of filling forums with vitriol and outbursts of "That's not canon!" and "What the hell!? Are you stupid?!", where are the words of encouragement? What reason does the industry have to relax and allow itself to be innovative when the people with the mic are saying things like this:

I'm going to continue to rail against trends that make the hobby less fun for me.
I think the best approach is for games to offer enough flexibility to appeal to people of different tastes
 

King Toasty

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Games are getting dumber? No, I really don't think so. Perhaps a few big FPS titles are, but there is no way gaming in the whole is getting stupid.
 

Something Amyss

Aswyng and Amyss
Dec 3, 2008
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Shamus Young said:
Experienced Points: The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus wants us to stop fighting and get along.

Read Full Article
Them's Fightin' Words!

>.>

It's certainly interesting to think about how simplification can creep up on you. I only miss "hard" sometimes, though. "Nintendo Hard" was overrated, but it annoys me when I cakewalk through a game. Seems to be happening more and more often.
 

rembrandtqeinstein

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bioshock was a worse game in almost every aspect than system shock 2, except for number of pixels on the screen

the gameplay was insipid, the reveal was uninspired, and the ending was obviously rushed
the pipe dream hacking minigame never should have made it past the drawing board

not having to manage the physical aspects (weight volume) of your inventory disconnects the player from the world built in the game

having the vita chambers put you back at no cost and a full "mana" bar make dying over and over again a viable strategy rather than a punishment

my complaint wasn't that bioshock was simpler than system shock, my complaint was that it was WORSE and yet it was lauded like the second coming

modern gamers really don't know the difference between "good story" and "has a story"
 

Twilight_guy

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Nov 24, 2008
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I think that there is a problem in assuming the general notion that popular == bad. That a very art snob approach to the whole thing and short sighted since popular things can be good. Games are plagued with elitists and and equivalent of art snobs, who frown on popular. The inaccessible art critics who look at a blue line on white canvas and call it brilliant while saying that a landscape is just too obvious, yeah that this argument in painting form. Its so frustrating to try and take everything with a sense that no side is "right" and try to see the evolution of the process rather then condemn what I hate about change while everyone is decrying the slightest thing. Games change they have been for a long time. Its perfectly fine to say what you don't like and say why bet there are far too many blanket hate statements made without thinking about the neutrality of change. Change is not bad or good its a result of the market stresses and popular culture. There seems to be so little separation of "I'm not having fun with this, lets discuss why and try to affect a change to rearrange the market" instead of "they changed it, now it sucks". I dunno maybe I'm just giving the world too much credit and trying to separate myself or maybe I'm too diplomatic but I can't bring myself to hate or despise any change. Its far more interesting to watch the hate and see from whence it bubbles.

Anyways, back to the point. Games change. The culture of gaming changes. Games used to be a niche group now everyone and there grandma plays games. You can't expect things to not shift dramatically. You also can't expect every game to please everyone. I'm sure they is at least one game that you'd like this year because I know there there are people who think like you somewhere that made that game because they though it was fun like you did. I am also sure that for every game you hated, someone though it was fun. In a diverse market such as gaming not every game will be one that you will like games are made for all sorts of peoples and reasons and they suited for a mosaic of groups and interests. Gamers seems to think far too often that every major game is meant to please them personally. It's not. Some might please you and others don't. Its hard to universally say "this was bad." If there is a market for a game, and a whole forum of people complaining constitutes a small market, someone will make the game. The masacore audience proves that. It's more a matter of finding who is making games for you and being happy with that. There are no blanket "games" statements. Anyone who says anything about the industry as a whole is sticking their foot in their mouth because its a market so huge that you can't know everything. If you say "games are getting dumber" it is inevitable really the statements "these games that I saw and remembered are getting dumber" There are other games that you never saw and evaluated and there are games that were fine and thus didn't make the impact that the games you disliked did. I dunno what the problem with gamers is that they must be so volatile and open to destruction rather then construction but I want to live to see the day where for every negative forum thread about hating something there is a counter thread about ways to improve the problem or minimize its impact. Ugh, whatever. For some reasons Shamus's stories always seems to be be spewing bile at someone. I gotta find something less intensively negative from him to change that mental image.
 

JMeganSnow

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If you've ever read The Long Tail, it talks about the gradual reversal of this trend in some industries over the past few years. Games, however, are still in the apex stage of the Blockbuster model--except for "casual" games, which are starting to capitalize on the Long Tail.

But it's hardly a unique situation to games. When there's only the local grocery store to shop at, they stick with the blockbuster items like generic white flour because that's what the most people will buy. Their cost of entry is high, their scope is small, they have to go with what works.

AAA titles have enormous costs and not-so-enormous scopes. Que stagnation and going with what works.
 

justnotcricket

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Apr 24, 2008
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Akalabeth said:
Straying Bullet said:
I played PoP [ The Cell-shaded ] one but I didn't feel it was casual at all.

I enjoyed the narrative/scenery/dialogue/characters so much, I was simply having fun doing it all. Experiencing connection with Elika since she is the only soul left.
You actually had fun with that game? Wow, I Didn't get past the second level. Doing nothing but acrobatics and fighting ONE GUY per level got boring very fast. Forgotten sands was pretty decent though. That was the biggest problem for me, the lack of combat, and the very rigid boring nature of that combat.
I would agree with Akalabeth that the combat in PoP (cell shaded flavour) was total arse, which made it a good thing that you didn't have to do it very often. I also agree with Straying Bullet, however, in that the the game was fun. For me it was just the sheer joy of swinging and flipping and parkour-ing my way around pretty levels. Admittedly, it was the first PoP game I had ever played, so perhaps I didn't have any preconceived expectations of how things should be, but at the same time I had no nostalgia bias, and so I can say that as someone new to the series (?) it genuinely stands up on its own if you like exploring a pretty world in flippy, swingy PoP style. As a veteran of Tomb Raider exploration, the feedom and fluidity of PoP was gloriously liberating. I guess you could say 'oh, well, she just didn't know any better' but at the end of the day, I had fun, and that's the point, right?

OT: I also agree that games have gotten 'easier'...although in some respects that's not necessarily a 'bad' thing. Now, don't get me wrong, I like my games to give me a challenge. However, I measure 'challenge' by more than one ruler, and I believe that there's a lot of fun to be had in 'easy' games if you use your imagination. for example: Pokemon. I like Pokemon, but it has to be admitted that the game (if you can remember 'rock-paper-scissors' and are prepared to do a little grinding) is easy as. However, if you like the game world and the play style, you can jazz things up for yourself by, say, only using water Pokemon, even though this gives you massive disadvantages, and if you play without trading, might mean that you go for a chunk of the game with only two Pokemon until you enter an area that has more. I know, you could still, technically, go for a massive grind-fest and hope to pull through by sheer weight of stats, but I think it's more fun to see how challenging the game becomes if you try to play 'normally' but with a difficulty-steepening 'rule'. Perhaps that's not the perfect example, but it's the one that sprang to mind first.

This is pretty much what's behind the grand tradition of timed runs/no medkit uses etc, right? My sister and I finished Tomb Raider 4, and then played it again with the the rule that we weren't allowed to use anything but pistols (except where the plot required it, like using the laser sight on the desert eagle to shoot targets to open a door), and couldn't use any medkits at all. The difficulty level steepened hugely, but it was so rewarding to figure out all the little tips and tricks to save health and pick away at powerful enemies.

I think the idea in Fallout New Vegas was nice (as others have mentioned here) where you could make things challenging for yourself in a strategic, interesting way, whereas someone who just wanted classic Fallout could also enjoy the game. I think it would be wonderful if more games made things harder by more complex methods than just loading up enemies' health bars and blunting all the players' swords. That way 'hard mode' isn't so much harder as it is 'Strategic mode', and I don't know about anyone else here, but sometimes I just want to go into a game and have button mashy, hack and slashy, superpowered (easy mode) fun. Other times I want to have to think, but sometimes gaming is escapism. ;-)
 

Shamus Young

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Slycne said:
poiumty said:
Farmville, however, became popular only after such a term as the "casual crowd" was solidified. There was the huge advent of the Wii before that. You can't really attach Solitaire and Minesweeper to any type of demographic. Every PC gamer has played those.
Still like I said, the casual market was already strong on the PC before Farmville or the Wii. It really emerged in the mid 90s on the PC with the advent of Flash(the widely popular Bejeweled started in 2001 as a Flash web game) and all various internet gaming portals. Pretty much every major provider or brand had their own - AOL, MSN, Yahoo, etc, and that in addition to all the other sites that existed, like BigFishGames and Pogo.com.

These all came to fruition long before the Wii and I don't see much of a case being made for a strong console casual gaming crowd before that system.
I'm aware that there was a casual niche since pretty much forever. My argument was that I've never seen it have much of an impact on mainstream gaming, either true or just perceived.
 

Dhatz

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games without choice, as illustrated by the famous level layout comparison image is the most pressing concern, other like autoheal, nevverending ammo crates or blody screen so real are pathetic in comparison.

Irridium said:
FieryTrainwreck said:
Playing through DA2, I really am struck dumb by how much they hold your hand these days. They honestly don't let you figure out ANYTHING for yourself anymore, which is a shame.
Its most apparent(for me at least) with the items you give your companions. In the first, you had to guess who would like what. Or you would know what they liked, if you took the time to talk about them. You basically had to know stuff. Now its just "THIS ITEM IS FOR THIS COMPANION. GO THERE AND GIVE IT TO HIM/HER."

Just made me sad.
its ridiculous how you dont even think of asking the companions to choose from what you have.
I suppose games have a lot of stuff yet to be done properly.
 

PurplePlatypus

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Jul 8, 2010
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It?s also because games can be longer now so you don?t need to hold people back to stretch out the experience. Not to mention I think things are becoming slightly more intuitive or at least better explained. I think a certain amount of difficulty was created by needlessly keeping secrets from people.

Of course that isn?t all of it but the difficulty that came from these things can just keep walking as far as I?m concerned. We are better off without it. Now, as for the trend of slapping a big directional arrow on the screen for every little thing, please stop, it doesn?t need to be there all the time for all those things. I think it?s even a bit of a crutch for game developers, how about figuring out ways to direct people in the game effectively rather than just leaving it to the hud?

And I?m glad a lot of games are getting easier if it means people have an easier time getting into them. I think we are at that stages right now were the market does need to be opened up. Maybe one day enough people will be playing them and be introduced to them from early enough we won?t need to do it quite as much. Although it will never disappear entirely, not everyone is interested in stupid amounts of difficulty. However there is a market for both of them and no favors are being done by ignoring that.
 

ItsAPaul

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I do wish more games would have a New Vegas-like hardcore mode, though in that game it just gave you more resources to watch that were generally easy to keep up with (and it didn't hurt that I made a mental note of where beds were before you got to New Vegas). However, I really don't recall Baldurs Gate 2 and some rpgs in that era being especially hard; more involved sure, and completely incapable of being put on a console, but not "harder" per say. Was Magic Carpet really that much harder than Dragon Age guys?
 

ZephrC

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I'm sorry, but simple is not the same as dumb. That is very simply wrong. A simple set of rules can produce quite interesting and deep gameplay, and that's exactly what my personal favorite games do.

Certainly the video game industry is far more likely to err on the side of simple and dumb instead of complex and intelligent than it used to be, but I absolutely, vehemently disagree with the notion that games should be more complex. That's usually just leaving the player to sort out the designer's piss poor work anyway. It's not intelligent; it's just annoying.

Some people like complexity, and that's fine. I'm not suggesting complexity should be outlawed or anything. I'm just saying that if you're one of those people you aren't really what anybody in the industry thinks of as a core gamer, and you haven't been since at least the 90s. You're going to have to get used to the idea that the big AAA titles aren't going to be aimed at you anymore, and there's nothing you can do to change that.
 

Megabobster

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*lols at all the noobs complaining about video games and continues to play ADOM*

Seriously though, ADOM appears to be devoid of any fault whatsoever, besides the fact that it's dead and I haven't ever been able to play it for more than 5 minutes at a time (usually have a friend over when I remember I have it on my computer). Possibly the only faults I can see is the difficulty in distinguishing different monster/item types, but that's not really much of a problem.

For those of you who have no idea what ADOM is, give it a Google! It's a fun roguelike that has gameplay similar to Oblivion or Fallout 3 (haven't really played the other Fallouts, I have the disks somewhere...), but has a rather unique (to say the least) graphics style that allows for more content without worrying about creating custom images or anything. It's a rather old game, though, and I think it's been dead for a while. Also, I probably gave it a fairly crappy review. Just give it a play. (Fun fact: ADOM was the first video game I ever played!)
 

Canadish

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As Mr Omega mentiond above me, there is a difference between "simple" and "dumb".

Though I would like to relabel it "Accessible" and "Thick as pig ****".

It's hard to pin down with words. You know, without writing a whole essay on the subject.
So, as an example, I'll cite two games released at the same time, both sequels to very complex games.

Shogun 2.
Dragon Age 2.

Shogun 2 trimmed the fat. Empire and Napoleon were bold ideas, but Creative Assembly bit off more then they could chew. The map was large but unpolished. It bugged out frequently. There was a crazy amount of unit types. More then anyone could really remember without knowing alot about the history of the time.
So, they went back to focusing on just Japan. The map is a stunning bit of work. The units have been trimmed down to a more balanced and manageable number of different types.
But the core of the game is still there. Its Total War. You CAN just use military. But the depth is still there for you to use your agents in a load of different ways, ambush with your navy, engage in diplomacy. It all just works and feels great (well mostly, it aint a perfect game obviously ~_~)

And then on the OTHER hand...is Dragon Age 2.
It took the large country of Fereldan and scrapped it, instead throwing us into Kirkwall.
The Box City.
Customize your companions? Gone. Bioware likes the FF style better now.
Variety of location? Nope, just Kirkwall. And the same 4 dungeons over and over.
Is it pretty?! Kirkwall is grey, empty and its all strangely box shaped.
Enemies? LITERAL faceless mooks. Hundreds of them. Hawke could charged with Genocide by the end.
Interesting quests? MMO fetch quests. And you get ambushed by 10 bandit hoards along the way. Everytime.
Polished? Battle music playing over death scenes. Falling through floors. Eyebrows eating the characters own eyes.
And etc etc...

The two games are a stark contrast. And I loved the hell out of both franchises already.
Shogun 2 streamlined the game.
Dragon Age 2 didn't just dumb it down. It rushed a lazy, half finished game out the door.
 

Catchy Slogan

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poiumty said:
Traun said:
poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.
He has a point. PC games haven't been mechanicly challenging...ever...Wizardry, Might and Magic and Ultima are hard if you don't know what to do, but as long as you figure it out you are fine.

On the other hand knowledge won't get you through Contra or Ninja Guiden.
First off, you're comparing RPGs to action games, which is just dumb.

Second, I never argued anything about how easy PC games are. I argued against the apparent "pc-based casual crowd" that gets the blame for games becoming easy, which is unheard of for me.
I think he might be talking about the kind of people who play Farmville. Which I don't really think counts. Because of all the people that I know who play facebook games, I haven't known them to move onto other games.
 

Gunner 51

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There's a number of factors at play as to whether or not games have got easier.

Firstly, we are gamers - we are used to similar games because we have played them for years and years. If I were to pick up Crysis 2 - I'll could gun down a horde of troops because of my experience with games like Halo or Doom, I could spot an ambush from experience of games like Dead Space.

Wheras, your average newb would not have this experience to back up their gameplay and would most likely 'die' very, very quickly.

Secondly, a lot of folks are confusing simplification with 'dumbing down'. (Which is a ghastly turn of phrase if I heard one, IMO...)

A game like Mass Effect was a great little game, but when it's sequel had come out - the punishing difficulty was there. I still died a lot on higher difficultie - but at least they got rid of that bulky micro-management stuff that the first game had.

They simplified ME2 and speaking for myself, I had a bit more fun as a result of it. Namely because I don't want to spend ages on inventory screens - just point me to my enemy's throat and let me at 'im.

Dragon Age 2 wasn't quite dumbed down - more badly rushed. I liked the vastly improved combat system. I even liked the fact they got rid of half the spells which were available in the first game, I never used them anyway. (Save for the odd healing and tons of offensive spells.)

Once again, even the inventory screens were trimmed down and all the extraneous and superfluous stuff from the original was excluded from the sequel. So no more Veridian, Silverite, Steel, Iron gubbins - which were nothing more than a palette swapped version of the previous incarnation of said armour. Though this came at the cost of not being able to equip different armours on one's party members.

With the exception of Aveline - because it'd be inappropriate for the Captain of the Guard to suddely wear different armours when on duty. But - I digress.

If games are getting easier, then it is nothing more than to accommodate newer players. And the root cause of this is simply money. If this upsets you this badly, the solution is simple - either stop buying games, or make your make your own.
 

Macrobstar

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poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.


Other than that, pretty solid point. No, not the "stop fighting and get along" point. The point where games becoming easier is a result of the success of the industry.

But good luck getting people to understand.
Dude have you ever heard of popcap and zynga, they are almost entirely PC based
 

Bostur

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Shamanic Rhythm said:
The biggest problem with the whole 'games are being dumbed-down' debate is that it tends to confuse difficulty with streamlining the interface and level design. Those are completely separate concepts which nevertheless feed back into the overall experience a player has with being 'challenged' by the game, but they're not usually the determining factors in how easy a game is. I've been playing games for about a decade now, and I don't think games have gotten any easier to complete.
Streamlining the interface sometimes makes games simpler. If the interface is well done in the first place, the only way to streamline it further is to take away features. By taking away features the player gets less options to achieve the task. With the lack of options difficulty can only be scaled by expecting better execution instead of a creative approach.

In a complex game the difficulty could be a choice between using fireball or ice-storm or even a third approach. In a simple game the difficulty may often be reduced to pressing fireball harder. The simple game can be hard even impossibly hard, but in my experience the complex difficulty is usually more fun.

Extra Credits had an episode about depth versus difficulty. New games often tend to skip on the depth and add cheap difficulty instead.


I agree with Shamus that bashing each other with a 'DUMB' sign isn't going to help. I really wish game designers would also stop thinking we are dumb. So Shamus how do we do that? The focus groups have spoken, they seem convinced we are all pretty dumb.
 

Shamus Young

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justnotcricket said:
I would agree with Akalabeth that the combat in PoP (cell shaded flavour) was total arse, which made it a good thing that you didn't have to do it very often. I also agree with Straying Bullet, however, in that the the game was fun. For me it was just the sheer joy of swinging and flipping and parkour-ing my way around pretty levels. Admittedly, it was the first PoP game I had ever played, so perhaps I didn't have any preconceived expectations of how things should be, but at the same time I had no nostalgia bias, and so I can say that as someone new to the series (?) it genuinely stands up on its own if you like exploring a pretty world in flippy, swingy PoP style. As a veteran of Tomb Raider exploration, the feedom and fluidity of PoP was gloriously liberating. I guess you could say 'oh, well, she just didn't know any better' but at the end of the day, I had fun, and that's the point, right?
Well, personally I like the fighting. Not the exploring. So the cell shaded is going to be very shortly traded in for some credit towards something else. The swinging around on bars and so forth is cool and all, but, I can't hack a game where all I'm doing is gathering orbs. Or I suppose what I'm saying is that exploring is fine, but there needs to be some more to it than that. And in cell shaded POP I didn't find that.

I would recommend you check out the other Prince of Persia games. Another one that has combat and some wall running type of stuff is Blood Rayne 1+2. They're both pretty decent as well (and available on gog.com for pretty cheap).
 

Woodsey

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Irridium said:
Woodsey said:
Agreed for the most part, although I'd argue the relevance of the BioShock and System Shock comparison, considering they're in different genres almost. I'm not sure who the first group was to coin the whole 'spiritual successor' thing when it came to BioShock, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the developers. BioShock's a shooter, System Shock is much more of a mix. .
Ken Levine said Bioshock would be a spiritual successor to the System Shock series. So yeah, it was the head dude(of both Bioshock and System Shock).
Well then he is a fool. Still, different genres; they didn't make a stupid System Shock.
 

Anton P. Nym

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve
 

veloper

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That's a very long piece just to basicly say that the easy, stupid games are not the fault of the consoles.

Most of us still remember the Nintendo hard of old and turn-based tactical RPGs have retreated to Sony hardware.
 

VonBrewskie

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I hear you buddy. I recently made a post on a certain website I shall not name, but is my constant companion via my new phone, that had to do with the PSN going down and why that might be. I was simply looking to start a thread where PS3 owners on the site could gather information and lament our misfortune together in a group. A lot of people showed up to talk, and there was good information to be found...if you could get past all of the Sony*ag this, and Sony*ag that. I didn't realize that my choice in consoles also denoted my sexual preference. I am really tired of idiots crapping up my forums with whatever these "console wars" are supposed to be. Jesus H people. Grow the hell up. None of these corporations give a shit about any of you past what it takes for you to buy their games. Good article.

EDIT:

I love Demons' Souls. It is the first game of the new generation of consoles that has absolutely absorbed my brain and made me lose sleep a la FFVII. There are some supremely difficult games out there. They just don't sell as well as some of the AAA shooters or adventure games that are "dumber". I think many people go to these dumber games specifically to troll the hell out of everyone. It's lame. My favorite minigame these days is the "can I mute the entire list of people in Blops before the round starts?" That's sad man.
 

VonBrewskie

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Anton P. Nym said:
Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve
Fair point. I think that the hallway games with epic cutscenes miss the forest for the trees. Nowadays we either get hallways shooters, or sandbox shooters. Very little left in the middle. I wonder though, about the point you made about the Doom map being less graphically intense. For the machines it ran on, wasn't it still difficult to program those kinds of games? In other words, I remember it took a good long time for Doom 2 to come out. Almost as long as it took for MW2 to come out, yeah? I don't know. I'm really asking.
 

VonBrewskie

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Anton P. Nym said:
Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve
Fair point. I think that the hallway games with epic cutscenes miss the forest for the trees. Nowadays we either get hallways shooters, or sandbox shooters. Very little left in the middle. I wonder though, about the point you made about the Doom map being less graphically intense. For the machines it ran on, wasn't it still difficult to program those kinds of games? In other words, I remember it took a good long time for Doom 2 to come out. Almost as long as it took for MW2 to come out, yeah? I don't know. I'm really asking.
 

Anton P. Nym

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VonBrewskie said:
I wonder though, about the point you made about the Doom map being less graphically intense. For the machines it ran on, wasn't it still difficult to program those kinds of games? In other words, I remember it took a good long time for Doom 2 to come out. Almost as long as it took for MW2 to come out, yeah? I don't know. I'm really asking.
Check out Doom 2's credits. There are, what, twenty people listed? MW2 had over two hundred.

Doom's backgrounds were essentially static, but MW2's were animated. (And animated to better than 60fps.) Doom's colour palate was, what, 256 colours? MW2's was over 16 million. Objects in Doom were textured simply; MW2's were all textured to a high resolution, and were mapped for 3D and self-shadowing to boot. Doom's objects were all static, save for a few special items with pre-scripted animation; many of MW2's objects were dynamic and thus had to be statted out for Havok.

Computer power is an issue only in that increases there lead to increased expectations on behalf of players... which means more time spent creating art assets. Every animated blade of grass had to be made, and by a human being as we don't have computer systems capable of doing that yet.

The first guy who finds out a way to automate generating high-res art assets* will become fantastically rich.

-- Steve

* and if he can figure out a way to automate the animation of those assets, he'll be able to afford retiring on Mars.
 

Polock

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Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
HOLY SHIT! I know what map that is!

...freaky.
 

Shamus Young

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It's funny, but halo is one of the hardest games out today to beat on legendary. It's damn near impossible to beat on Mythic alone unless you have a buddy or are speed running. It's quite literally one of those "timesink punishers," you say people crave, yet it gets the most flack for being too cartoony or too simple.

It also has some of the more complex level designs in any series and has a variety of tools to get the job done with. It's no Deus Ex on Realism, but it will kick your ass just as hard. Halo Reach and ODST even brought Health back, so you really can't complain there either.

And it's not even the only game that can be really hard. I mean, Call of Duty, 1 to 6, have had the most incredibly infuriating hardest difficulty ever! You only get 3 hits then you're dead, and when the enemy has perfect 20/20 vision and can even smell you, you're riddled full of holes unless you have a split second reaction time.

I'll have to admit Gears 1 and 2 was pretty easy, though... Still fun in that badass, over the top action flick kinda way, but not all that hard if you took your time and got headshots with the boltok.

Anyways, the point is that there are a ton of punishing, difficult games out there. They're not going to make you polish to perfection, but they're gonna push you pretty close to that. This whole argument seems like finger pointing, anyways. People are mad and upset and they want something to blame. I say, enjoy what you can because in the end, you're just a whiny consumer who's handing their money over for entertainment. If you don't like it, stop buying it. No better way to enact change in a money driven industry than to stop feeding it money. You guys are like that newb who keeps charging into enemy territory and feeding the enemy free kills. In the end, the enemy just camps and you never get a good shot at them, but they keep getting your stupid buddy. If you guys keep buying mediocre titles by the millions, or keep lining up to buy the next stamped out version of CoD then they're going to keep producing the same stuff.
 

w00tage

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I was with you right up until this:

"As the number of people who play videogames has grown, developers got the cash to make ever more expensive games. But that means they have to sell more copies, which means they need wider appeal, which means they can't aim at small markets like people who like complicated leveling systems and inventory management."

I see it as more: "As the number of people who play videogames has grown, game company financial executives ramped up their market forecasts and investment proposal numbers, which meant they had to sell more copies to justify the investment. Simultaneously, the rapid improvement of graphics and motion-capture technology allowed marketing executives to position graphics quality and photo-realism as a key factor in sales, mainly because pretty screenshots contribute to advertising (and no one can really argue that a given game would be better if the graphics weren't as good).

And concurrently with those two factors, the video entertainment industry began to see games as a parallel medium, resulting in a crossover industry of people who bring "Hollywood expertise" to the production of video games and are expert at selling themselves to company leadership. And in Hollywood, complex, interesting, engaging movies are rarely big moneymakers (unless they focus on or have a heavy dose of sexual scenes).

This threefold combination resulted in game companies shifting the focus of development from complex or realistic aspects of gameplay (which engage cognition for immersiveness) to realism in presentation and the inclusion of gratuitous sexual elements to create an emotional motivation for purchasing."

And that works for the game industries just as it works for any other entertainment industry - when it comes to entertainment, emotion > cognition for making purchasing decisions. The game industry is now Hollywoodized, and we can expect exactly the same kind of product as we get on TV and the movie screen. And they will always claim "it's what the market wants, the sales prove that".

Edit for tl;dr -
Game company execs found out how to push the "shiny" and "sex" buttons on the money machine.
So yeah. We're doomed :\
 

Mittens The Kitten

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WaaghPowa said:
world of warcraft is a great example of developers designing games to attract as many people as possible. Back when it came out, it was very difficult, they slowly turned down the overall difficulty in the Burning Crusade. Wrath of the Lich came along and it was so easy you needed very little as far as strategy to complete and encounter, by comparison. A lot of people blamed the casuals for it because Blizzard wanted to appease the people who still paid to play, but played the least. At least with Cataclysm, Blizz has admitted that their changes in Wotlk were a mistake and have currently changed the game appropriately to a happy medium of difficulty.

I would also like to note, the new "Deus Ex: Human Revolution" will feature a difficulty known as "Deus Ex", fun :D
What? WotLK was insanely difficult if you did the special versions of encounters that gave special loot and acheivements. Killing Yogg-Saron without the help of the minibosses was something that ONLY the top guilds did.
 

Waaghpowa

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Mittens The Kitten said:
What? WotLK was insanely difficult if you did the special versions of encounters that gave special loot and acheivements. Killing Yogg-Saron without the help of the minibosses was something that ONLY the top guilds did.
Keep in mind I mentioned that the difficulty of completing the encounter was very low, achievements and heroic modes were supplementary and weren't required to see the end content.

Aside from The Lich King Heroic mode, even the heroic versions of the other bosses weren't all that difficult, simply increasing their damage or adding on more elements to the fight which was nothing we found to be extremely challenging. It got especially easier near the end when there was the instance buff of 30% increased damage/health/healing.
 

JET1971

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I really dont see dumbing down of games to have anything to do with a games difficulty. less features and options makes a game dumber. hand holding every step of the way makes a game dumber. linear single path do this to advance because you have someone yelling at you to do it AKA COD makes games dumber. removing features and calling it streamlining is making the game dumber. its the removal of features that were in the previous versions that makes for dumbing down of games.
 

CrystalShadow

don't upset the insane catgirl
Apr 11, 2009
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Ah yes. It does feel like this at times.

Altough, bringing up 'nintendo hard' is an interesting point. (Although I know you have issues with that kind of thing.)

Mario Galaxy 2 is an interesting case there, because a lot of stars are easy to get by comparison to older games, but a handful are still a nightmare.

And quite a few of the green stars require quite insane jumps to reach that are really at the limits of what's possible to pull off.

(Well, short of the levels designed by the kind of people that create those levels like 'asshole mario' which you see demonstrated on youtube. - Mind you, star 242 comes about as close to that as you'd ever really want to try and play through unless you're a gaming masochist.)


But that's a different kind of difficulty, and all those linear shooters and such really are quite tedious after a while.

I always wanted my games to be more flexible, open, and allow you to do more things.

Seems in a lot of cases, modern games have done the opposite.
 

CrystalShadow

don't upset the insane catgirl
Apr 11, 2009
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VonBrewskie said:
Anton P. Nym said:
Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve
Fair point. I think that the hallway games with epic cutscenes miss the forest for the trees. Nowadays we either get hallways shooters, or sandbox shooters. Very little left in the middle. I wonder though, about the point you made about the Doom map being less graphically intense. For the machines it ran on, wasn't it still difficult to program those kinds of games? In other words, I remember it took a good long time for Doom 2 to come out. Almost as long as it took for MW2 to come out, yeah? I don't know. I'm really asking.
Yeah, Doom (and to a lesser extent, Doom 2) are amazing feats of programming skill, but most of the work in creating a game isn't programming, especially not for modern games.
It's the art.

Artists outnumber just about every other member of a modern development team. And, if I've understood certain recent discussions correctly, in terms of workload we are now at the worst possible point in history for developing artwork for use in games;

The hardware is quite powerful, but not powerful enough to allow the use of any arbitrary design without careful optimization.

In the past, technical limitations were so large that artists needed to keep their designs so simple and low detail that the lack of detail stopped it from taking forever.

Now, just about anything can be designed, but an artist will spend much more time on fine-tuning stuff so the game will run as fast as it can, than on actually creating the overall graphical content itself.

Like... Maybe adjusting the placement of a tree slightly so it obscures your view just a tiny bit...
Or removing detail from spots nobody will be likely to get close to...
Lots of little fiddly things that have to be tested over and over.
 

Atmos Duality

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Shamus Young said:
I'd love it if more games tried to split the difference like this and offered old-school depth as well as broad appeal.
That cannot happen at the AAA level anymore.
Niche' appeal scares investors too much.

Niche' audiences we will either get second-rate efforts, or no effort at all while a parade of the same fucking schlock marches by year after year after year.

I liked it much better back in the early to mid 2000s, where all markets were considered, and all genres still had some representation; not just the two or three biggest.
 

RushofBlood52

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While you are right about the success of games being the reasons for these bad trends, I think the success is due to consoles. I think, for example, BioShock has more casual fans playing it on consoles rather than on PCs. Consoles are like pop music while PCs are indie music, if you catch my drift.

I mean, I am pulling this out of my ass. I could totally be wrong. But from what I have seen, that is just how it seems to me.
 

Mittens The Kitten

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WaaghPowa said:
Mittens The Kitten said:
What? WotLK was insanely difficult if you did the special versions of encounters that gave special loot and acheivements. Killing Yogg-Saron without the help of the minibosses was something that ONLY the top guilds did.
Keep in mind I mentioned that the difficulty of completing the encounter was very low, achievements and heroic modes were supplementary and weren't required to see the end content.

Aside from The Lich King Heroic mode, even the heroic versions of the other bosses weren't all that difficult, simply increasing their damage or adding on more elements to the fight which was nothing we found to be extremely challenging. It got especially easier near the end when there was the instance buff of 30% increased damage/health/healing.
It's an MMO, all content was supplementary, a diehard PVPer could easily get what could easily be called a complete experience and never set foot in a raid.
The difficulty curve that went from regular dungeon to heroic special raid encounter was enough so that about any guild could fit somewhere on the spectrum. Besides, the special achievement fights and the basic ones were not the same encounters, and the loot was changed accordingly.
 

Waaghpowa

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Apr 13, 2010
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Mittens The Kitten said:
The difficulty curve that went from regular dungeon to heroic special raid encounter was enough so that about any guild could fit somewhere on the spectrum. Besides, the special achievement fights and the basic ones were not the same encounters, and the loot was changed accordingly.
You may not agree that the difficulty was too low, but not a single person on my realm thought it was hard. Infact there was a post by Ghostcrawler regarding the difficulty of Cataclysm instances in contrast to Wotlk, saying that they made it a mistake and made it too easy.

Ghostcrawler said:
we don't want you to stumble your way to victory. We don't want you to be able to overwhelm bosses without noticing or caring what they're doing. We don't want healers to be able to make up for all of the mistakes on the part of the other players. While at the end of the day, dungeons may just be gussied up loot vending machines, we want you to do more than push a button to get the loot.



Ultimately, we don't want to give undergeared or unorganized groups a near guaranteed chance of success, because then the content will feel absolutely trivial for players in appropriate gear who communicate, cooperate, and strategize.

The fact that they had to significantly raise the difficulty, means that people were unhappy at how easy it was.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2053469
 

Cranky_Gamer

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There are a ton of alterations/additions/subtractions to gameplay mechanics and level design that drive me up the wall, but there's another side to consolitis I think everyone has overlooked that is just as bad (if not worse) and that is the lack of customisation (my apologies if someone has already mentioned this). FPS's are usually my thing, so these examples are problems I've encountered relating to that genre;

Inability to change field of view.
Inability to re-configure keys.
Inability to use more than three mouse buttons.
Inability to change shape/colour/size or even just turn off the crosshair and other HUD elements.
Inability to alter graphical settings, such as anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering and v-sync.
Any other aspect ratio other than 16:9 not supported.
Lack of proper mouse code (I see this much more in third person shooters, to be honest).
Menus systems not designed for a point and click interface.

Now not every game needs all this customisation and not all of the greats did support it, but for the love of God, please someone explain to me why something as simple and useful as re-configuring keys, something that was a standard feature in PC games for well over a decade, when it comes to console ports is a rare and wonderous thing?
 

Panda Mania

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These points seem reasonable. True, I'm not the hardcore gamer, thoroughly experienced with many games played over the years. My first real love was Age of Empires II, for goodness' sake (well, not counting Carmen Sandiego Word Detective :p). But I certainly have seen the flame wars that can explode between the different factions of consumers, and even with my little experience I can see the dumbification manifested in shallow fare, similar to Hollywood's current sequelitis and originality-drought. Both phenomena are tied to money in the industry. Call it Viewers Are Morons, if you will. But yes, dredging up console/PC arguments will do none of us good. The solution lies in somehow getting the designers to do stuff like they did in New Vegas: create some content that's newcomer-friendly, and some that's hardcore-friendly.
 

Toeys

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I dont get the need to produce this article... Dont get me wrong, im not saying it has bad quality.

Thing is though, fanboys are fanboys WHATEVER market you want to talk about. We even have it in politics. Why the hell do you guys over there think you had G.W.B. as president? People will rather defend to death that which comforts them than get some knowledge about what they are talking about. This has probably gone on in some shape or form for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years.

Im not trying to defend the developers either. But as Kotick and others respond; they answer to shareholders. And you can setup rallies, demonstrate your hate against dumb games and you might even get an apology from the developers. They will lie you straight in the face and say that they will create games that fit more to the "advanced" gamers needs. What they will do in any case, is what brings in the cash.


Still there will be some developers trying to make an artwork; just like with the movies or music and whatnot. I REALLY want to fanboy Valve cause of all this... but in the end they just decieve me just as much and i havent really looked up on them properly so i dont even have a clue about what they really stand for.
 

JPH330

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Jan 31, 2010
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poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.


Other than that, pretty solid point. No, not the "stop fighting and get along" point. The point where games becoming easier is a result of the success of the industry.

But good luck getting people to understand.
Most casual games are PC based, dude. Where have you been?
 

Alphalpha

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The3rdEye said:
Quite complaining that X-com is not Enemy Unknown, that game has already been made and any attempt to reproduce it will inevitably fall short because if it's different, there will be some who "hates" it.
The problem I have with the new X-Com is that it has literally no reason to be an X-Com game. The date has been changed; the genre has been changed; the aliens have been changed; the only similarity between the two games is that aliens attack earth and the humans fight back. Under this requirement Halo could be an X-Com game.

Even from a publicity standpoint it doesn't make sense. Enemy Unknown came out in '94: fifteen years ago. You can use popular franchises to branch out in genres (World of Warcraft, the Halo RTS) but most modern gamers aren't going to recall the X-Com name. Probably only people who played it would take notice, and why should they care when the game has no relation to the game they played?
 

zerobudgetgamer

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Mittens The Kitten said:
It's an MMO, all content was supplementary, a diehard PVPer could easily get what could easily be called a complete experience and never set foot in a raid.
The difficulty curve that went from regular dungeon to heroic special raid encounter was enough so that about any guild could fit somewhere on the spectrum. Besides, the special achievement fights and the basic ones were not the same encounters, and the loot was changed accordingly.
First off, the "special achievement" fights, as you so call them, only gave 1-2 pieces of extra loot from a separate loot table. It still had all the same loot as the original encounter; that is, until Heroic modes were implemented.

And for the most part, the issue with WoW right now is that everyone and their grandma wants to be a Heroic raider; NO ONE is content with just running Heroics or just running Normal Raids. There are forum posts up the ass shouting in disgust over how "hard" the regular mode of raiding - and even the heroic mode of dungeons - is, and how they want things to be easier so that they can go in, play with their dicks for an hour with one hand while the other handles the mouse, then magically get epics as awesome as those obtained by people who play the game with both hands. They're a bunch of kids pointing to a cookie jar on the top of the fridge and screaming, and even when someone reaches up and grabs a single cookie for them, they just whine even harder, saying they want the Jar where they can reach it at all times.
 

Shamanic Rhythm

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Bostur said:
Shamanic Rhythm said:
The biggest problem with the whole 'games are being dumbed-down' debate is that it tends to confuse difficulty with streamlining the interface and level design. Those are completely separate concepts which nevertheless feed back into the overall experience a player has with being 'challenged' by the game, but they're not usually the determining factors in how easy a game is. I've been playing games for about a decade now, and I don't think games have gotten any easier to complete.
Streamlining the interface sometimes makes games simpler. If the interface is well done in the first place, the only way to streamline it further is to take away features. By taking away features the player gets less options to achieve the task. With the lack of options difficulty can only be scaled by expecting better execution instead of a creative approach.

In a complex game the difficulty could be a choice between using fireball or ice-storm or even a third approach. In a simple game the difficulty may often be reduced to pressing fireball harder. The simple game can be hard even impossibly hard, but in my experience the complex difficulty is usually more fun.

Extra Credits had an episode about depth versus difficulty. New games often tend to skip on the depth and add cheap difficulty instead.


I agree with Shamus that bashing each other with a 'DUMB' sign isn't going to help. I really wish game designers would also stop thinking we are dumb. So Shamus how do we do that? The focus groups have spoken, they seem convinced we are all pretty dumb.
Yeah, actually DA II would be a case in point example of adding cheap difficulty. Every single fight is just a matter of additional enemies being spawned midway through, testing only your endurance and no meaningful long term strategy.
 

Dectilon

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"Experienced Points: The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus wants us to stop fighting and get along."

Wow, I've never seen a better summary of an article. There's literally no need to read the thing after reading that.

Yeah, that's not happening. You said yourself that you won't stop complaining about the issues you have and pointing out where you think the problem lies, and neither will anyone else. :/
 

Signa

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Here's an idea: How about instead of making only these "dumb" games, you make a few that cater to us "hardcore" crowd just so we have something to sink out teeth into. I for one would not complain about all the easy and simple games if there were any games left for me to enjoy. I'm resorting to going back and playing the games I loved from yesteryear to get my gaming fix instead of looking to the new release section. Face it, I'm an untapped demograph at this point because the industry stopped wanting my business.
 

VonBrewskie

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Anton P. Nym said:
VonBrewskie said:
I wonder though, about the point you made about the Doom map being less graphically intense. For the machines it ran on, wasn't it still difficult to program those kinds of games? In other words, I remember it took a good long time for Doom 2 to come out. Almost as long as it took for MW2 to come out, yeah? I don't know. I'm really asking.
Check out Doom 2's credits. There are, what, twenty people listed? MW2 had over two hundred.

Doom's backgrounds were essentially static, but MW2's were animated. (And animated to better than 60fps.) Doom's colour palate was, what, 256 colours? MW2's was over 16 million. Objects in Doom were textured simply; MW2's were all textured to a high resolution, and were mapped for 3D and self-shadowing to boot. Doom's objects were all static, save for a few special items with pre-scripted animation; many of MW2's objects were dynamic and thus had to be statted out for Havok.

Computer power is an issue only in that increases there lead to increased expectations on behalf of players... which means more time spent creating art assets. Every animated blade of grass had to be made, and by a human being as we don't have computer systems capable of doing that yet.

The first guy who finds out a way to automate generating high-res art assets* will become fantastically rich.

-- Steve

* and if he can figure out a way to automate the animation of those assets, he'll be able to afford retiring on Mars.
Thanks for the explanation! I don't really understand these things very well. I am a laborer for the most part, so I don't know much about computer design. I appreciate your feedback homie!
 

VonBrewskie

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CrystalShadow said:
VonBrewskie said:
Anton P. Nym said:
Irridium said:
Feel this picture is appropriate:



Not sure what's sadder, the fact that FPS's have basically become hallways, or that I can run that DOOM map with my eyes closed...
To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve
Fair point. I think that the hallway games with epic cutscenes miss the forest for the trees. Nowadays we either get hallways shooters, or sandbox shooters. Very little left in the middle. I wonder though, about the point you made about the Doom map being less graphically intense. For the machines it ran on, wasn't it still difficult to program those kinds of games? In other words, I remember it took a good long time for Doom 2 to come out. Almost as long as it took for MW2 to come out, yeah? I don't know. I'm really asking.
Yeah, Doom (and to a lesser extent, Doom 2) are amazing feats of programming skill, but most of the work in creating a game isn't programming, especially not for modern games.
It's the art.

Artists outnumber just about every other member of a modern development team. And, if I've understood certain recent discussions correctly, in terms of workload we are now at the worst possible point in history for developing artwork for use in games;

The hardware is quite powerful, but not powerful enough to allow the use of any arbitrary design without careful optimization.

In the past, technical limitations were so large that artists needed to keep their designs so simple and low detail that the lack of detail stopped it from taking forever.

Now, just about anything can be designed, but an artist will spend much more time on fine-tuning stuff so the game will run as fast as it can, than on actually creating the overall graphical content itself.

Like... Maybe adjusting the placement of a tree slightly so it obscures your view just a tiny bit...
Or removing detail from spots nobody will be likely to get close to...
Lots of little fiddly things that have to be tested over and over.
Nice. I appreciate the feedback I've been getting from you all. I don't know very much about game design. I was wondering, do you (or anyone else), think the explosion of indie titles, "casual" games and mobile gaming is indicitive of the fact that a profitable percentage of people will consume titles with less intense graphics but superior gameplay, or is it truly a "dumbing down" of the gaming public, IYO?
 

RandV80

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This is kind of why I hate it how over the last couple of years the 'masses' would trash on fans of the old Fallout complaining about the changes in then upcoming Fallout 3, or for a very similar example in movies the most recent Stark Trek movie vs the old Trekkie's. I don't belong to either of those minorities, but because I'm sure almost everyone has their own niche taste you should at least be sympathetic because it could easily happen to you.

See for example the small scale casual/social networking games surpassing the big AAA titles in profits. If you complained about Fallout 1 & 2 fans being bitchy, but also complain and/or are worried about the rise of motion control or casual games, then you're being hypocritical.
 

Dimitriov

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May 24, 2010
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Wait. Someone actually likes Civ 5? I find that utterly incomprehensible.
 

The3rdEye

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Alphalpha said:
The3rdEye said:
Quite complaining that X-com is not Enemy Unknown, that game has already been made and any attempt to reproduce it will inevitably fall short because if it's different, there will be some who "hates" it.
The problem I have with the new X-Com is that it has literally no reason to be an X-Com game. The date has been changed; the genre has been changed; the aliens have been changed; the only similarity between the two games is that aliens attack earth and the humans fight back. Under this requirement Halo could be an X-Com game.

Even from a publicity standpoint it doesn't make sense. Enemy Unknown came out in '94: fifteen years ago. You can use popular franchises to branch out in genres (World of Warcraft, the Halo RTS) but most modern gamers aren't going to recall the X-Com name. Probably only people who played it would take notice, and why should they care when the game has no relation to the game they played?
Don't get me wrong, I agree with you on all points. What I was implying is that there will be re-makes, impostors and forgeries of XCOM-EU but nothing will ever be able to capture all the good things about the original Xcom series because they've already been done. As for the reason behind the new Xcom game from 2K Marin, my guess is that this is a comparatively large project and it's also their first "independent/original" project. What better way to spread word quickly and surely but to use the title of one of the most loved TBS games of all time? I can see reasons why they would do it, I just don't think they're very good ones.
 

Lord_Jaroh

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Well, now we have tutorials. Back in the days of big, colorful manuals, games didn't have tutorials, either because there wasn't enough space on the distribution media to add one to the game, or they just didn't bother (because they were going to include a big, colorful manual).

Frankly, I kind of like the fact that games have gotten more accessible; it means I can play and enjoy more types of games. I remember trying to get into FA-18 Strike Eagle, an early air combat simulator. You literally have to learn how to fly a fighter jet just to be able to play that game, let alone finish it. I don't want to have to spend days or weeks mastering the mechanics of one game before I can even play it.
That's because it's an "air combat SIMULATOR". For those that just want to fly a plane and shoot crap down, there was Afterburner and their sequels.

I don't think everybody should be able to play every game well, and developers should stop trying to make every game they make appeal to the lowest common demographic just so that everyone will buy their game (but no one will LIKE it...). Those that like the game as it is will go out of their way to try and master it. Those that don't will move on to the next big thing. On a second note, demos need to be accurate in their portrayal of a game, or else there needs to be some sort of "buyer's insurance" so that he doesn't buy a game that he will not like and be stuck with it.

I like games that are hard, challenging etc. Should all games be that way? No. There should be games for everyone's individual taste, not try to homogenize every game. Developers want everyone's money though, and the only way to get that is to make sure that their game has such a low barrier to entry no one can fail to be able to play it. Which in turn makes it to simple for those that want a challenge.

And we certainly don't need any more "Nintendo Hard" games that most of us mere mortals can't even finish.
Certainly we do. There are hardly any of them made anymore, games that require you to master the game to be able to beat it. I wish that there were more of those, just of excelling quality.

As usual, I agree with Shamus. What we need are games with more scalable difficulty, greater depth for the players who want it, and more open-endedness for everyone.
And I would rather see more different games, so those that want a challenge can buy game x and those that want it simple can buy different game y. This way everyone can enjoy their own unique experiences without infringing upon other's style of play. Not everyone enjoyed Megaman 9, and for them there are many other games to play, even in similar style. But to require Megaman 9 to be of such simplistic challenge that everyone can beat it...

That's not to say that games should be without scalable difficulty. To me, that's more of a replayability issue than anything. I want to be able to play the game that I mastered on a harder difficulty setting to give me more of a challenge. It would be nice if developers would put more time and thought into that though and make difficulty more than add x hitpoints to all enemies and have them do +x damage...
 

Espsychologist

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Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden II were both excellent examples of how to make a game accessible (mostly) to new fans and allow gamers who wanted to have their asses handed to them...repeatedly...the option to do so.
 

TheMadDoctorsCat

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Mr. Omega said:
There is a line between making a game "simple" and making a game "dumb".

Making it so that you don't need to memorize what EVERY SINGLE KEY on your keyboard does and limiting it so that you can just use a few keys and still do just about everything without having to go through a sea of menus? That's "simple".

Making it so that there area few keys that do everything and then every few minutes going "HEY! REMEMBER THAT KEY? IT DOES THIS! IT DOES THIS! REMEMBER? YOU PROBABLY DON'T REMEMBER, BUT THAT KEY DOES THIS, AND THIS'D PROBABLY HELP RIGHT ABOUT HERE! REMEMBER?", thinking the player is too stupid to figure out what action would help. That's "dumb".

Making it so that if you die 8 times, you can skip the level, if so you chose, or maybe ramp the difficulty down? That's "simple".

Offering it the first time you die? That's "dumb".

Not having over 100 troops that really only have 10 functions, with some that are so situational that most end up useless, but make navigating menus hard? That's "simple".

Making something where the best strategy in ANY situation is "run first, shoot gun, die, respawn, repeat until enemy is dead"? That's dumb.

Remembering gamers only have 10 fingers? That's "simple".

Assuming gamers only have 10 IQ points? That's "dumb".
Thank you, voice of reason! Brilliantly put. I HATE it when games ("FEAR" in particular comes to mind) assume that I'm half-witted. Which I'm not (despite what my previous posts may have led you to believe.)

I mean, "System Shock 2" used to count as "survival horror". Now "FEAR" does. I trust I've made my feelings on both sufficiently clear (namely, "FEAR" is frustrating, badly designed, with annoying characters, an incomprehensible story and - worst of all - not scary; "System Shock" is probably the greatest game ever made, and its sequel mostly lives up to the original).
 

Who Dares Wins

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"I've burned through thousands and thousands of words comparing Fallout 3 to the original Fallout"
WHERE??? I MUST KNOW!!! I checked Twenty-Sided but I couldn't find anything. If a thing such as Shamus comparing my favorite game of all time to something else I must read it.
 

00slash00

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im glad im not the only one who greatly prefers the original fallout games, to fallout 3 and new vegas
 

JediMB

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FieryTrainwreck said:
The side quests, for example: you pick up a random item of no particular importance - other than the nifty little arrow next to the name, indicating it is a quest item. You've now got a journal entry that tells you exactly where to deliver said item. It's also on your map. And when you happen upon the target NPC, he or she will have a giant arrow over his/her head.

This isn't an MMO. The quests aren't supposed to be an annoying race against the clock, mere obstacles between me and a max level character ready to participate in the "real" game. The quests are supposed to comprise the desired experience.

TLDR version: Damn you, WoW.
Might be worth noting that the delivery quests were basically filler content stuffed in right before they hit their development deadline.
 

Iwana Humpalot

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I personally have no problem whit games gettin "dumber" i actually like it. (As long as you can choose your difficulty level, expect in games like RDR where it really works) And i personally see Fallout 3 way more superior compared to first Fallouts (And this is a type of game that doesn't have soldiers whit A/B gun, if you make a modern shooter and you want it to be realistic, you can't throw those super-huge mutant bosses in them). The more immediate, accessible experience, is not bad. It just makes it faster to learn and enjoy the game, rather than yelling at the game and checking some wikipedia page about some problem you are having, these days you dont have that problem, you can just ENJOY the game as you are supposed to. And if you don't like it, you can go always back to your nostalgic games section and play those games.
 

Angstysquirrel

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If people are complaining about games that are too easy, or hold your hand too much, they should try playing Dwarf Fortress. Unless you have a tutorial or a good friend to help you out, you will have no idea how to do anything. Still an absolutely fantastic game, it's just hard to figure things out on your own.
 

SemiHumanTarget

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Gotta disagree with the "casual" PC gamer comparison. If you're talking about people that play Snake at work or something, sure, I'll give you that. But actual gamers who prefer the PC over consoles, in my experience, tend to play harder, more complicated games in general than console players.

Also, where can I find that Fallout 3/original Fallout comparison? I'm with you there - I love the new ones, but I think the first two were much better experiences.
 

ZippyDSMlee

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Sorry but its a fact, the decline in game qaulity is related to how they have remade and marketed the games not to gamers but mass media zombies who are too dumb to know better. So no I blame bad games that manage to get a profit on consumers and publishers evenly.
 

Aurora Firestorm

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It's about time someone gave System Shock 2 some credit. Everyone who says they think BioShock is awesome needs to step back and play SS2 and then realize that there is a far superior game that needs some mass media fame.

Anyway. Games are indeed getting easier. I swear that even the Chrono Trigger DS remake was easier than the original cartridge for the SNES. I had to grind in the original. In the DS version, I blew through bosses like a hot knife through butter with no extra effort. Sigh.

I still blame the people trying to make core games appeal to casual gamers. Quit it. You're screwing the rest of us over.
 

Stevepinto3

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There is at least one thing I can be thankful for about linear design of levels. Ever remember going through an old game, getting presented with multiple paths, only to pick one and discover it takes you to a boss or something, and locks you out of the other paths despite there possibly being something worth picking up back there? Yeah, that pissed me off.

Apart from that though I don't really see why exploration is just completely cut from most shooters now. The guys at EC said that it was because you don't need to go searching for health packs, but you could still add other things worth searching for (ammo, money, upgrades, etc.).
 

JET1971

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Ill say it again, difficulty and dumbing down are 2 seperate issues. you can make a game thats insanely difficult to beat but theres nothing to it at all as far as content or replayability goes. the 3 standard modes for games is the only thing that should impact difficulty. you like them insanely hard? pick hard mode when you start it. if you like them easy because you just arnt good at games but still want to play then theres easy for you. if you like some challenge but dont like it to be near impossible then normal mode. every game for console or PC should have these choices at the start when you create your character excluding multiplayer only games. Not including the basic three choices for difficulty is dumbing the game down!

in first person shooters a current fad is having a "hardcore" mode. nothing hardcore about it. the normal mode they just gave you more health and large bullet spread. in hardcore there no scope adjustment for elevation or wind affecting bullets that would make it hardcore all it is is what was easy mode in past FPS titles. what happened to armories where you can change weappons or restock ammo? what happened to choosing what your character looks like alongside his role? what happened to medpacks (need for them)? what happened to having all sorts of hidden areas or different paths to objectives? take BFBC2 for example. hardcore is normal mode in older games. you have 4 skills sets that you cant choose what to look like, every map has practicly 1 way to get to the objectives. you have no need for health kits. has less features than BF1942! removing those features is what dumbing down means to me.
 

JET1971

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Stevepinto3 said:
There is at least one thing I can be thankful for about linear design of levels. Ever remember going through an old game, getting presented with multiple paths, only to pick one and discover it takes you to a boss or something, and locks you out of the other paths despite there possibly being something worth picking up back there? Yeah, that pissed me off.

Apart from that though I don't really see why exploration is just completely cut from most shooters now. The guys at EC said that it was because you don't need to go searching for health packs, but you could still add other things worth searching for (ammo, money, upgrades, etc.).
That is dumbing down in every sense. instead of improving the game by allowing you to turn back and try a different route they just dont give you a choice to begin with. thats the dev teams getting lazy and making the game boring with no replayability. HL1 and HL2 linear games in every sense but you could mess around in each area and find all the hidden things. there was health and ammo you needed to find. even being linear they were great games and rich in features. games today you have health regen, every enemy drops plenty of ammo, set paths with nothing else to do. thats dumbing down and making the games have no replayability.
 

Continuity

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Traun said:
You are correct(ahh...the level design of Heretic,Hexen...Dark Force), however I disagree on one of your points. I believe that the niche market is big enough to support developers, yes they aren't going to sell 10 million copies, but they can sell enough to be comfortable.
Example being Team ICO and CDProject Red - they are selling games for (relatively) small audience and they've been successful, same as the guys with Amnesia. There is a market for everyone, and I believe that sooner or later we will realize that. The market for games with "wide appeal" is over saturated, it's just a matter of time before publishers decide to be more flexible with their money.
God I hope you're right, or else things will get mighty dull ^^

But yes, even though there aren't many doing it there are still developers making games for niche markets, we just want to see much much more of that. However the trend seems to be very much away from the niche... It seems that if a company "makes it" in a niche market then their next move is always to make a multi-platform "dumbed down" sequel to really rinse profit out of the masses.

What we want is some artistic integrity in the industry, games made to be good games rather than just games that sell well. hopefully there will be companies that make a living doing that, they're scant few in number at the moment.

Aurora Firestorm said:
I still blame the people trying to make core games appeal to casual gamers. Quit it. You're screwing the rest of us over.
But there's gold in them thar hills!

Sadly.

Personally I hate the fact that FPS and WRPG have gone mainstream, in most cases it has been to the detriment of the games, and I hate to say it, given the tone of the OP article, but a lot of this has to do with adapting for the consoles on multi-platform releases. They're taking core PC games and simplifying them so that they're playable on a controller. Though granted they are doing lots of other horrible things to them too, so only a small part of the blame can be laid at the door of multi-platform release.

Iwana Humpalot said:
I personally have no problem whit games gettin "dumber" i actually like it. (As long as you can choose your difficulty level, expect in games like RDR where it really works) And i personally see Fallout 3 way more superior compared to first Fallouts (And this is a type of game that doesn't have soldiers whit A/B gun, if you make a modern shooter and you want it to be realistic, you can't throw those super-huge mutant bosses in them). The more immediate, accessible experience, is not bad. It just makes it faster to learn and enjoy the game, rather than yelling at the game and checking some wikipedia page about some problem you are having, these days you dont have that problem, you can just ENJOY the game as you are supposed to. And if you don't like it, you can go always back to your nostalgic games section and play those games.
Well thats fine, for you, but the rest of us would like to play some new games too and we'd like them to be content rich.

You have to realise that accessible is great for casual gamers and beginners (a huge market), but its really tedious and content poor for the veteran gamers, who are looking for depth and complexity. Different people will enjoy different things, I have no problem with some, or even most AAA games being noob friendly, I just want there to be something meatier for the rest of us too.
 

Continuity

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poiumty said:
First off, you're comparing RPGs to action games, which is just dumb.

Second, I never argued anything about how easy PC games are. I argued against the apparent "pc-based casual crowd" that gets the blame for games becoming easy, which is unheard of for me.
I think you're missing the point, and I don't know if anyone has put you straight but just in case they haven't:

"pc-based casual crowd" is not referring to mainstream PC gaming, i.e. games you buy in a shop or on steam, he's talking about web games, stuff you play on facebook and the like. That is the huge core of the casual market, the browser game, with their carefully crafted skinner boxes, metrics, and real money purchasable upgrades etc.. hes talking about Zynga an their ilk, very much PC based i'm afraid.
 

Shamus Young

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Continuity said:
Traun said:
First off, you're comparing RPGs to action games, which is just dumb.

Second, I never argued anything about how easy PC games are. I argued against the apparent "pc-based casual crowd" that gets the blame for games becoming easy, which is unheard of for me.
I think you're missing the point, and I don't know if anyone has put you straight but just in case they haven't:
They have tried, and they pretty much repeated what you just said.

"The casual PC market exists". Whereas I wasn't making the case that it exists, I considered it a bit exaggerated to say that they take the blame for mainstream games becoming easy. For one, they have existed since far longer than this dumbing down trend, for two, I personally haven't seen people blaming PC anything for console things.

But it's too much of a bother to continue with this argument when everyone just misunderstands you.
 

mastiffchild

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Traun said:
poiumty said:
Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.
He has a point. PC games haven't been mechanicly challenging...ever...Wizardry, Might and Magic and Ultima are hard if you don't know what to do, but as long as you figure it out you are fine.

On the other hand knowledge won't get you through Contra or Ninja Guiden.
Yeah, you raise an important point-you see that difficulty in games can be down to different things. Some things you can counter, as a player, by learning what the game wants ansd applying that knowledge but the other difficulty is beaten only by skill, luck or a lot of practise to try and obtain the other two!!


As for Seamus' point-isn't he talking about console gamers railing against the games people play by Popcap or whoever on Facebook? I THINK those are the PC based casual gamers he means they talk about dumbing things down. The argument goes that people get into Farmville and then look further into gaming-a LOT of people play games like Farmville and they're often people new to gaming. Devs want these new gamers playing their games and thus don't want either too much knowledge needed to play their next OR too much skill. At least I THINK that's the argument he means-I've certainly heard similar anyway.

The answer has to lie in the difficulty levels and they have to (devs) up both the skill and number and difficulty of game mechanics(i.e knowledge needed) as the levels get harder for everyone to be happy.
 

DanDeFool

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Lord_Jaroh said:
Well, now we have tutorials. Back in the days of big, colorful manuals, games didn't have tutorials, either because there wasn't enough space on the distribution media to add one to the game, or they just didn't bother (because they were going to include a big, colorful manual).

Frankly, I kind of like the fact that games have gotten more accessible; it means I can play and enjoy more types of games. I remember trying to get into FA-18 Strike Eagle, an early air combat simulator. You literally have to learn how to fly a fighter jet just to be able to play that game, let alone finish it. I don't want to have to spend days or weeks mastering the mechanics of one game before I can even play it.
That's because it's an "air combat SIMULATOR". For those that just want to fly a plane and shoot crap down, there was Afterburner and their sequels.

I don't think everybody should be able to play every game well, and developers should stop trying to make every game they make appeal to the lowest common demographic just so that everyone will buy their game (but no one will LIKE it...). Those that like the game as it is will go out of their way to try and master it. Those that don't will move on to the next big thing. On a second note, demos need to be accurate in their portrayal of a game, or else there needs to be some sort of "buyer's insurance" so that he doesn't buy a game that he will not like and be stuck with it.

I like games that are hard, challenging etc. Should all games be that way? No. There should be games for everyone's individual taste, not try to homogenize every game. Developers want everyone's money though, and the only way to get that is to make sure that their game has such a low barrier to entry no one can fail to be able to play it. Which in turn makes it to simple for those that want a challenge.

And we certainly don't need any more "Nintendo Hard" games that most of us mere mortals can't even finish.
Certainly we do. There are hardly any of them made anymore, games that require you to master the game to be able to beat it. I wish that there were more of those, just of excelling quality.

As usual, I agree with Shamus. What we need are games with more scalable difficulty, greater depth for the players who want it, and more open-endedness for everyone.
And I would rather see more different games, so those that want a challenge can buy game x and those that want it simple can buy different game y. This way everyone can enjoy their own unique experiences without infringing upon other's style of play. Not everyone enjoyed Megaman 9, and for them there are many other games to play, even in similar style. But to require Megaman 9 to be of such simplistic challenge that everyone can beat it...

That's not to say that games should be without scalable difficulty. To me, that's more of a replayability issue than anything. I want to be able to play the game that I mastered on a harder difficulty setting to give me more of a challenge. It would be nice if developers would put more time and thought into that though and make difficulty more than add x hitpoints to all enemies and have them do +x damage...

Let me clarify a couple of things.

First of all, you make a good point about FA-18 Strike Eagle. Yes, it is an air combat simulator, and on not really intended to be a "game" per-se. I was just trying to make the point that more complexity in games won't necessarily get us anywhere because more complex =/= more enjoyable.

Second, I may have misused the term "Nintendo Hard", so to clarify, I meant games that aren't just difficult, but unfairly difficult. Games where you die after one simple mistake, are given very few lives, no continues, and after you fail you get sent back to the beginning of the game. In the past, hardware limitations placed a pretty hard limit on the amount of content a game could have (not to mention cost and technical restrictions) so the best way to stretch out a game was just to make it aggressively difficult and very unforgiving. e.g.: Battletoads.

Seriously, FUCK Battletoads...

Anyway, Battletoads aside, many early Nintendo games also had very poor controls and no save or password system. Games like that are just frustrating. Some people get--well, enjoyment is probably not the right word--a sense of satisfaction from playing games like that. I once heard that playing romhacks and games like Battletoads was the gaming equivalent of cutting yourself. Not my words, but I think whoever said that was definitely on to something. Bottom line, that level of difficulty just isn't for most people.

Anyway, that is what I meant when I said we don't need more "Nintendo Hard" games. Being hard for hardness sake (especially if that hardness is bullshit hardness) =/= more enjoyable.

A good example of a difficult game done well would be something like Super Meat Boy. It's hard, and you die constantly, but there are some concessions made for the less-hardcore (i.e. about 90% of everyone who plays games). You die in one hit, but you respawn very quickly, you can skip a level or two if you get stuck, and you never have to start all the way back from the beginning. Another good example might be Cave Story, where, again, there are save points, unlimited continues, and the game is pretty liberal with the power-ups to boot. Hell, even I Wanna Be The Guy is better than most early Nintendo games.

And note, all three of those entries are indie titles that were either released free or at very low cost. Games that are that difficult can only hope for niche appeal, precisely because when most people play those games they just get frustrated and give up. Then they tell their friends that the game sucks and all the game's market appeal dries up through word of mouth.

You CAN'T make a AAA title that is that difficult and expect to market it to a large-enough audience to get your money back. Unless you already have a fondly-remembered brand name and put in lots of blood and tits (like Ninja Gaiden).

I think the main point we can both agree on is that if a dev waters down the difficulty too much then you also get into trouble because then the game isn't challenging enough for anyone to enjoy. Borderlands is a good example of this. I was kind of weirded-out by the fact that you can't select a difficulty level when you start a new game. Later, I discovered that the harder difficulties unlock when you start a new game from a previously completed run; so that's great--the game doesn't start to get challenging until you've experienced almost all the content and there's no way to get around it. Of course, if Borderlands had had a more compelling story or more interesting character interactions it might not have mattered, so low difficulty was by no means that game's only problem.

You mentioned that having scalable difficulty =" bad guys have more health, you have less health, etc.", isn't the best way to solve this problem, and I agree. I think this is where DLC has great potential. You can have the basic game be of relatively moderate difficulty, then release "hardcore" DLC packs which crank the difficulty dial up to 11 through things like level design, AI modifications, imposed gameplay restrictions, etc. Then people who completed the main game and want more of a challenge can keep playing, and those who've finished the main game and don't care can move on to something else.

That said, I think RARE's Goldeneye and Perfect Dark implemented increased difficulty in a very clever way by adding extra mission objectives to each level in the harder difficulties. Maybe that's another good way to approach scalability.
 

justnotcricket

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Akalabeth said:
justnotcricket said:
I would agree with Akalabeth that the combat in PoP (cell shaded flavour) was total arse, which made it a good thing that you didn't have to do it very often. I also agree with Straying Bullet, however, in that the the game was fun. For me it was just the sheer joy of swinging and flipping and parkour-ing my way around pretty levels. Admittedly, it was the first PoP game I had ever played, so perhaps I didn't have any preconceived expectations of how things should be, but at the same time I had no nostalgia bias, and so I can say that as someone new to the series (?) it genuinely stands up on its own if you like exploring a pretty world in flippy, swingy PoP style. As a veteran of Tomb Raider exploration, the feedom and fluidity of PoP was gloriously liberating. I guess you could say 'oh, well, she just didn't know any better' but at the end of the day, I had fun, and that's the point, right?
Well, personally I like the fighting. Not the exploring. So the cell shaded is going to be very shortly traded in for some credit towards something else. The swinging around on bars and so forth is cool and all, but, I can't hack a game where all I'm doing is gathering orbs. Or I suppose what I'm saying is that exploring is fine, but there needs to be some more to it than that. And in cell shaded POP I didn't find that.

I would recommend you check out the other Prince of Persia games. Another one that has combat and some wall running type of stuff is Blood Rayne 1+2. They're both pretty decent as well (and available on gog.com for pretty cheap).
I do wish the combat was better, I have to admit. And better integrated into the progression as a whole. Assassin's creed is a little better for this (although the 'combat' style is totally different), in that you could still 'parkour' your way around a pretty map, but 'combat' instances popped up logically and were satisfying to beat. I guess PoP just hit enough happy buttons that I let it pass. I have actually been meaning to try Sands of Time, if nothing else, since I think I played maybe 20 seconds of it at a friend's place once, and since it seems to be on many whitelists (not just Yahtzee's).
 

JET1971

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If a game company has not figured out how to do easy, normal, and hard scalability with no real changes in the game between each then they should flat out get out of the market and make animated movies instead. seriously all you do is make your game and have the AI set for easy "i did this 100 times" or more mode for the dev team(if they cant waltz through the game they shouldnt be making it) then tone them down for easy mode and up for hard. easy should make the dev team start snoring, hard should make them work. normal should be a walk in the park for the dev team.

I have maps for a mod I did for a game where I was called an SOB for having the AI too good. reality the AI were placed well and the stock maps had more accurate AI than mine, just plopped about randomly. but when i played those maps i was walking through them without getting shot once. all a simple accuracy setting that can be done to have all 3 modes.
 

Shamus Young

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justnotcricket said:
I do wish the combat was better, I have to admit. And better integrated into the progression as a whole. Assassin's creed is a little better for this (although the 'combat' style is totally different), in that you could still 'parkour' your way around a pretty map, but 'combat' instances popped up logically and were satisfying to beat. I guess PoP just hit enough happy buttons that I let it pass. I have actually been meaning to try Sands of Time, if nothing else, since I think I played maybe 20 seconds of it at a friend's place once, and since it seems to be on many whitelists (not just Yahtzee's).
Well the combat in SoT can get a touch repetitive, but it's still satisfying. The second game makes the combat a lot more enjoyable (except for some cheap bosses), but the story takes a bit of a nose dive. Tries to get all hardcore badass. Haven't played the third. And forgotten sands, which is actually the fifth game after the cell-shaded one is also quite good.
 

justnotcricket

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Akalabeth said:
justnotcricket said:
I do wish the combat was better, I have to admit. And better integrated into the progression as a whole. Assassin's creed is a little better for this (although the 'combat' style is totally different), in that you could still 'parkour' your way around a pretty map, but 'combat' instances popped up logically and were satisfying to beat. I guess PoP just hit enough happy buttons that I let it pass. I have actually been meaning to try Sands of Time, if nothing else, since I think I played maybe 20 seconds of it at a friend's place once, and since it seems to be on many whitelists (not just Yahtzee's).
Well the combat in SoT can get a touch repetitive, but it's still satisfying. The second game makes the combat a lot more enjoyable (except for some cheap bosses), but the story takes a bit of a nose dive. Tries to get all hardcore badass. Haven't played the third. And forgotten sands, which is actually the fifth game after the cell-shaded one is also quite good.
I did actually try Forgotten Sands, but I found it, somehow, surprisingly and disappointingly linear. But perhaps I'd been playing too much AC at the time =P Does it get less linear further in? Cos I only played through the first couple of stages before I sort of lost interest.
 

llubtoille

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I enjoy easy games,
if playing a game on easy is any harder than watching a movie, then it's not easy enough XD

Dragon Age 2 did a great job on easy mode, especially compared to Dragon Age 1.
You can beat most (all?) encounters just by sitting back as a healer and clicking 2 buttons.
If I wanted a challenge (which I don't), then I wouldn't have it set to easy / casual mode.

In the past I played a lot of Diablo 2, then I tried playing games like baldurs gate and NWN.
I would end up lost and confused pretty quickly, giving up before beating the tutorial / intro XD

Dragon Age 2 has more or less taught me the basics of these group rpg games, so I'd feel a fair bit more confident attempting those older games now.

Whether Nightmare difficulty is too easy / simplistic... I don't know, haven't tried it, but easy mode is just about right ^.^
 

Shamus Young

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justnotcricket said:
I did actually try Forgotten Sands, but I found it, somehow, surprisingly and disappointingly linear. But perhaps I'd been playing too much AC at the time =P Does it get less linear further in? Cos I only played through the first couple of stages before I sort of lost interest.
Hmmn, no they're pretty much linear.
The least linear one I've played is probably the second one, the Two Thrones I believe it is. After a certain point it allows you to tackle certain areas in whatever order you want. And each area has a bit of flexibility. Though it's pretty linear within that. It's not like Assassin's creed where I believe you basically roam around the city and go kill your guy however you want (I've not played it).

I don't mind the linear games as long as the story and action is engaging. Another example is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West which I just finished. Super linear, but I love the world and the characters are fairly compelling.

I don't know about assassin's creed but that's the problem I've always had with sandbox games. The stories tend to be very boring and uninteresting. Someday I'll give AC a go though.
 

Jyggalag

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I believe a lot has to do with appealing to "causal gamers." It's an intelligent marketing decision to say the least. Making games more and more accessible appeals to a wider and wider crowd.
I also believe that the statement that games are "immature" is becoming more and more relevant as games become easier and easier.
Also, define "easy." Is a game easy because of the execution, (Doing what you want to do via hitting the right buttons and quickly) tactics, (learning different strategies to overcome obstacles as you play) understandable tutorials, the time spent playing, or complexity/the lack thereof?
I suppose every game should have all of the elements completely understandable and allows the player to practice his/her tactical skills. Should the execution be easy? Should a twenty hit combo be simple leaving only room for strategy in fighting games? (Countering is the only one I can think of)
 

justnotcricket

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Akalabeth said:
Hmmn, no they're pretty much linear.
The least linear one I've played is probably the second one, the Two Thrones I believe it is. After a certain point it allows you to tackle certain areas in whatever order you want. And each area has a bit of flexibility. Though it's pretty linear within that. It's not like Assassin's creed where I believe you basically roam around the city and go kill your guy however you want (I've not played it).

I don't mind the linear games as long as the story and action is engaging. Another example is Enslaved: Odyssey to the West which I just finished. Super linear, but I love the world and the characters are fairly compelling.

I don't know about assassin's creed but that's the problem I've always had with sandbox games. The stories tend to be very boring and uninteresting. Someday I'll give AC a go though.
I played Odyssey to the West a while ago too, and while I agreed with Susan Arendt's appreciation of the vibrant colour of the world, I actually felt that the combat was, once again, a little repetitive. This is odd actually; I'm not entirely sure what it is that does it for me combat wise, because I enjoyed the combat in DA:2 and in all the Dynasty Warriors games, so repetitive combat can't exactly be a turn-off for me...a mystery for the ages, I guess! =P
 

Shamus Young

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justnotcricket said:
I played Odyssey to the West a while ago too, and while I agreed with Susan Arendt's appreciation of the vibrant colour of the world, I actually felt that the combat was, once again, a little repetitive. This is odd actually; I'm not entirely sure what it is that does it for me combat wise, because I enjoyed the combat in DA:2 and in all the Dynasty Warriors games, so repetitive combat can't exactly be a turn-off for me...a mystery for the ages, I guess! =P
It's probably the story itself you don't like. Maybe you prefer the context/story of DA and DW so you forgive the repetitive combat because you're into the game, whereas another game the story is not as appealing so you get annoyed by the combat. For example the combat in Bayonetta is probably more varied than either POP:FS or E:OttW but because the story is so obtuse and its frankly, a bit too anime-ish for me, I find it hard staying interested in the game.
 

FieryTrainwreck

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Eldarion said:
FieryTrainwreck said:
TLDR version: Damn you, WoW.
You mean "Damn you, everquest" right?

:p
Not in the slightest.

I played Everquest. Wizard, Cleric, Paladin, Enchanter (still my favorite MMO class of all time). Ground-breaking game. WoW was in a completely different league in terms of both polish and success. EQ, for all of its innovation, didn't sway an entire generation of game design. Blizzard did.
 

Trent_Steel

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Just started Killzone and have to say that in terms of single player at least, this dumbing down really is beginning to suck my enjoyment out of games. There's none of the exploration, fear and excitement of Doom, none of the endlessly replayable fun of Goldeneye or Timesplitters, none of the atmosphere of Half-Life 2. It's just explosions, fist-bumping and linear shooting gallery mechanics. I'm an hour in and doubt I'll go much further.

p.s. I've always seen the 360 - PS3 divide as a fratboy - Otaku thing rather than fratboy - dumb jock.
 

rda_Highlander

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Sincerely to the fiery enemies of "Dumbification".
Play rogue-like. Play Dwarf Fortress. Shut the fuck up.
Thank you.
 

Atmos Duality

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rda_Highlander said:
Sincerely to the fiery enemies of "Dumbification".
Play rogue-like. Play Dwarf Fortress. Shut the fuck up.
Thank you.
Shuffling everyone into one niche' genre isn't going to add depth to the other genres.
 

braincore02

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Man I played a few levels of Battletoads recently, and I certainly don't mind that games have gotten easier. Damn you level threeeee!
 

rda_Highlander

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Atmos Duality said:
rda_Highlander said:
Sincerely to the fiery enemies of "Dumbification".
Play rogue-like. Play Dwarf Fortress. Shut the fuck up.
Thank you.
Shuffling everyone into one niche' genre isn't going to add depth to the other genres.
Well, this certainly applies to all RPGamers and Strategy fans. Super Meatboy-style scrollers should shut up all old-school fans out there and those craving for first-person action - well, Serious Sam HD came out already, and I really don't think that this particular genre was simplified a lot. Regenerating health is stupid, sure, but it's another talk. Also, Crysis 2 is anything but simple.
I guess I just want to say that even if there are many simple games around, and even if your particular favorite franchise turned simple, it doesn't mean that industry as a whole suffering from it.
 

Atmos Duality

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rda_Highlander said:
Well, this certainly applies to all RPGamers and Strategy fans.
No. No it doesn't apply to them.
Nevermind that the term "RPG" is so nebulous that to even include it would encompass a HUGE range of games.
I play rogue-likes and I love them, but I would never compare Nethack to something like, say, Persona 3. I play both of those for very different reasons.

Super Meatboy-style scrollers should shut up all old-school fans out there and those craving for first-person action - well, Serious Sam HD came out already, and I really don't think that this particular genre was simplified a lot. Regenerating health is stupid, sure, but it's another talk. Also, Crysis 2 is anything but simple.
Shooters have over-saturated the market to the point where I don't even think niche' appeal could save them. Just my opinion.
Though I do agree that Super Meat Boy was a step in the right direction, at least from a purely gameplay/design standpoint.

I guess I just want to say that even if there are many simple games around, and even if your particular favorite franchise turned simple, it doesn't mean that industry as a whole suffering from it.
Oh but it is. At least the AAA industry is. The problem stated here is that gamers would like quality production in their titles, but alas, in order to ensure that such a costly production doesn't flop in sales (or rather, fail to meet the exceedingly high revenue/returns the investors are expecting) the developers intentionally dumb their titles down to ensure NOBODY ever feels anything but triumphant, and if they do fail, their loss is minimized.

They've become so addicted to this formula that ANY innovation is being stifled at the source. These AAA game developers don't want to risk the potential loss in desirability, so they follow what works to a T, innovating only if marketing tells them to.

Then there's the painfully stupid line of thought: "older design elements = outdated and useless".
Nostalgia aside, there is much to be learned from older game models. There's a reason why Mario platformers are still selling strongly after 25 years. There's a reason why there are so many more Lets Plays of Megaman and Metroid games than Halo.

(People love to play the Nostalgia Card as a magical copout argument here, but these same people never ask "why did these games work when other games like them failed?"
Why? Because they're afraid of being wrong. And you can never be wrong on the internet.)

Making something accessible does NOT equate to adding quality to a product.

Would Left 4 Dead be even half as difficult or fun if you tacked on regenerating health?
No, it wouldn't, yet that trend became popular because, hey, Halo did it and Halo sold really really well.
 

duchaked

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people people, just play what you want and enjoy it
lol and coversely, sure games like Bioshock are lovely crafted experiences, but games like Halo have co-op and add replayability
gonna be pros and cons to both sides, and not everyone's sitting in front of their computer alone, or on the couch with a buddy, or...etc
 

Grond Strong

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Seems like it's not only the trend with videogames but with all of society now. People want faster, easier, more convenient stuff within the minute and instant gratification. When something is hard, no problem, just quit and complain a little before grabbing something easier. It shows in all of our technology. We see it displayed across billboards and ads. Better! Simple! Easy! Fast! Now, now, now! Videogames aren't being revolutionarily dumb, they're just following suit.

As much as I agree with you, I believe there is a time and a place for everything. A lot of the time, I don't have the time to tackle a hard level with 4 or 5 spare hours because they just aren't there. So to play an easier, mindless game with large rewards for a fraction of the effort before I have to shoot off to work or school can be a great quick escape. I don't think that every game should be this way though. Games die when creativity and imagination cease.

Let's not forget that people do LIKE simple videogames for reasons above and just pure laziness, and they'll pay big bucks for one. As much as we'd like to think that our favorite game developers are making games just for us fanboys, they aren't. These games are blockbusters made to sell big and make you want more so they are made easy on purpose. As far as developers are concerned, it's all about the money. And easy sells.