Easy Should Be Easy

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If the good, old, simple and easy games taught and entertained us so well, why don't the new players play them and reap the same benefits, then join us in playing complex and highly challenging games?

Why must newly made complex and challenging games be watered down to give new players - who will, if they like games at all, become seasoned gamers in no time and then suffer from the diluted and dumbed down games like we do now - a piss-weak sense of accomplishment?

you're right, on the whole, but I think Bioshock was a great stepping stone into hardcore gaming as it was...

maybe if the map has been clearer, but the vitachambers in Bioshock made dying not a real problem.. You weren't forced to reload any progress you made, and there's nowhere in the game with an unlimited number of bad guys, so if you kept working at it, you could fight your way through eventually, even if you died a bunch

On the easiest setting, the Big Daddies were decent challenges for newer gamers.. maybe a little tough, but again, victory was only a few vita chamber visits away.

I wasn't interested in shooters at all, but then I decided to play Bioshock, now I love them.. but I do agree - most gamers know the basic rules of how games are made and played.. and easy mode could stand to be a little easier in most cases.

Mr.Pandah:
Snip

You hit the nail on the head controls are one major sticking point with new people. I can play any fps and the dual analog controls are just like breathing, I can jump circle strafe and track any target without thinking. My GF plays halo and its a chore for her just to walk straight. She wants to learn to play COD cause she thinks it looks fun but even on easy its to hard, because she has to stop adjust her aim shakily and finally hit a guy only to be murdered by the other 3 shooting her not to mention trying to add picking up weapons use melee and reloading in the mix. She can do racing games cause its L1 R1 and left stick, easy concept easy execution. Same with Sims and things like spyro. But things we as gamers take for granted are nigh impossible. Many FPS's need an invincible mode because anyone whos never played is at a complete loss as far as ability, I mean how do you get someone interested in a game when it has 12 buttons and differing actions for each depending on context, most just end up putting it down, and I can't say I blame them.

I play quite a few games with my 4-year-old and would love to see an optional "little tyke" mode. It would be kind of like invincibility, but it would have jumping that automatically leaps you to the other side and when you get hit, you simply get knocked back or stunned temporarily and never hurt.

sneakypenguin:

Mr.Pandah:
Snip

You hit the nail on the head controls are one major sticking point with new people. I can play any fps and the dual analog controls are just like breathing, I can jump circle strafe and track any target without thinking. My GF plays halo and its a chore for her just to walk straight. She wants to learn to play COD cause she thinks it looks fun but even on easy its to hard, because she has to stop adjust her aim shakily and finally hit a guy only to be murdered by the other 3 shooting her not to mention trying to add picking up weapons use melee and reloading in the mix. She can do racing games cause its L1 R1 and left stick, easy concept easy execution. Same with Sims and things like spyro. But things we as gamers take for granted are nigh impossible. Many FPS's need an invincible mode because anyone whos never played is at a complete loss as far as ability, I mean how do you get someone interested in a game when it has 12 buttons and differing actions for each depending on context, most just end up putting it down, and I can't say I blame them.

Exactly.

Some games should be only for the hardest of hardcore, the leetest of the leet.

I would say I love you for that, but it might sound creepy. So instead, I agree wholeheartedly, old bean, and I wish you continued success in your endeavours. There: Far more British.

That was really insightful... thank you, my dear Susan.

"Some games should be only for the hardest of hardcore, the leetest of the leet."

/me looks up from Victoria: Revolutions and says hi

Seriously, though, I got the full brunt of just how crazy some genres are as far as being impenetrable to new players when I tried to explain the gameplay mechanics of Rome: Total War (what I consider a simple game) to my wife, who plays World of Warcraft and Team Fortress 2...and she was baffled. Completely lost, in fact (and she's good at Starcraft, so it's not like she's never played an RTS before.) She just couldn't wrap her mind around the turn-based part of the game...and heaven help her if she tries to grok what I'm doing in a Paradox game.

Funny you should mention a "where should I go now" button, because I've beat ODST a couple days ago, and they had that in there. (If you push up or down on the d-pad it shows a marker where your next objective is). And even I used it a couple times, though it was always when I was standing not 10 feet away from a switch I didn't know I was supposed to push.

The Rogue Wolf:
-snip-

Thank you! I'm a relatively hardcore gamer (I always start on hard mode instead of normal), but I still feel that what you said is true. Casual gamers aren't the end of the world, it's a good thing to have more people interested in my favorite hobby, and making it grow.

As for the suggestion of making an incentive to play the harder difficulties, it makes me think of Metal Slug... 6, I think it was? Anyway, it had two difficulties, easy and hard, but if you played easy mode, you weren't able to do the last level. Obviously a solution like that wouldn't work for anything other than a very arcadey game, especially not anything with a good story, but the idea is solid.

By the way, I love your avatar, wolves are far and away my favorite animal.

Dottie:
-snip-

Good for her. She had a natural aptitude for it. It happens. I have a friend who loves video games, and has been playing them for years, and loves shooters, but is very bad at them because she has a hard time separating movement and looking in her head, and this using the two thumbsticks throws her off. Admittedly, adding the things mentioned in the article wouldn't help my friend in any way, but that's not the point I was trying to make. What I was trying to say is that different people can become skilled at games at different rates. I think you missed a major part of this article, which is that these changes would only apply to easy mode. Not even normal. No one is suggesting making games in general a lot easier, just making easy mode very easy. (Or hell, possibly a separate "very easy" mode).

And now let me relate to you a story similar to your own, only the exact opposite. Years ago, my mom, trying to take an interest in what I was doing, tried to play Perfect Dark. She was completely overwhelmed by pretty much every aspect of it. And she gave up at it after a while, despite my attempts to teach her what I knew. That's the kind of person these sorts of changes would be aimed at, people who have no natural aptitude and really need to learn the ropes, and which have no prior experience with video games. Not one or the other, but both. Not all games should have a mode like this (which was noted at the end of the article), but the ones that hope to at least interest the casual crowd should.

I've got to say, I'm not sure I agree with this.

Bear with me for a moment if you will. Why should we, no, not just us, but a game developer, be catering to a demographic which is unlikely to ever play or even be interested in your game?

Let's be honest here. Games are for gamers. Developers realize this, they make games for gamers. They don't need to search for a market, they have a market. A lucrative market, which will make them money if they play their cards right and make a good game. Why waste time, expenses, and resources on people who will in some cases probably, and other cases certainly never play your game? It's absurd from that point of view! You know who wants your product, you don't need to convince others to do that. In fact, your customers will be doing that for you. This is why games usually don't have TV commercials, while a movie will always have that sort of thing. A lot of gamers may watch TV, but why spend your money on advertising when your customers (Fanboys, even) are often evangelical about your product and try to get others to play it? To be more on-topic, why would you bother making a game annoyingly accessible for your veteran players, your bigger market, when your veteran players are likely to simply TEACH your newbies to play it.

Furthermore, why should we, the gamers, bother with casual gamers and non-gamers? Why should we try to expand our medium to the rest of society? What have they done for us? It's not only annoying when we talk about our games to people who don't know what they are, but games have had a bad media reputation. Our games get blamed for school shootings, and we, in turn, become suspects for those sorts of violent outbursts when we are hardly prone to them. Society as a whole has branded gaming as less of an art form as it really is. The obvious solution, the one that this article discusses, is that we simply become more caring and sharing, more open to people who don't game. To get them to give our games a chance. But, the problem in that is really that right now we're dealing with an age group that doesn't want to do that. Gamers are generally of an immature age. This is obviously apparent in the online interactions between gamers. The racial slurs, the gay bashing, the complete lack of comradery.

We are justified in our anti-socialism. Many of us who play games find solace from the outside world in them. They are our escape, the very idea around this entire site. If they are to stay our escape, we have to be vigilant. By bringing the outside world, the people and situation we seek to get away from in our games, we lose a small bit of significance in the whole thing.

Many find that "difficulty settings" are the solution. While I don't have a problem with difficulty settings at all, I like to start out my adventures on the easiest difficulty. See, I'm not a casual gamer, but I like an easy ride. I like to blast through my enemies and feel powerful. Sure, I am also a completionist. So, if there is incentive, I will beat the hard mode of a game with relative ease, but if I have no reason other than to make my game more frustrating, then I'm not going to do something silly like that. I am certainly not the only one who holds this opinion about games, either. I think many of us do. Not all, of course not, but I think a fair number of us would generally agree that frustration is not a positive thing and hinders the overall experience. (Yes, there is that moment of accomplishment, but that moment is just that. A moment. In comparison to the minutes, hours of frustration.)

Personally, I don't mind if more people begin to play games. This isn't the problem, the problem lies in that I don't want my games to cater to those people rather than me. I want my games to be challenging, thought-provoking, and fun, and these things can be damaged, swept away even, with the suggested methods in this article. As an example, I'll take the game Fable. In Fable, when you are low on health, your guildmaster will remind you that you are dying. Rather annoying when I'm fully aware that my health is low, I am simply saving my "potions or food" for when I really need them. As someone who is socially inadequate, Video games are my escape from people who don't accept me, usually the same types of people who aren't open-minded to gaming. Don't bring a good thing to it's knees by catering to the opposite demographic. We can handle getting other people to play them and become good at them, the developers don't need to help us. They have enough to worry about simply making a fun, high quality game without dumbing everything down for people who don't get it.

Keep the games about the gamers.

"A new player is almost instantly overwhelmed by what he or she doesn't know. It's a daunting and sometimes humiliating experience. Nobody enjoys feeling stupid or inadequate and all too often, that's exactly how games make new players feel, even on the supposedly Easy setting. Now, some of you out there may think that so-called "casual" players have no business playing games if they're not willing to put in the effort to become good at them, but that attitude is elitist, exclusionary, and just plain mean. Do skilled players deserve to be rewarded for the time they've spent honing their skills? Damn straight, they do. But that doesn't mean that someone who hasn't had the opportunity or desire to achieve that level of excellence shouldn't also be allowed to enjoy a truly wonderful and exciting form of entertainment."

Now transport that to the music industry and you understand why there's so much fanboy rage and only bands with good promotion get anywhere.

WE WANT MORE INDIE METAL!

The good:
the article recognizes games are getting easier and easier

The bad:
1 we already have in-game tutorials
2 often the first unskippable level is the tutorial (worse)
3 the problem shouldn't be lack of knowledge, like jumping on heads or health bars.
This stuff is always explained. You have to be a retard to not grog basic game mechanics of a platformer or a shooter.
4 unless the game assumes you already know D&D or something, the only valid excuse for a newbie is not having the precise skill with a controller or mouse yet
5 why should WE care about the casuals? We need new blood for the hobby to survive, yes, but the new blood is always kids, who are fast learners anyway, NOT casuals.

I think more games could benefit from the way difficulty is handled in Forza. Rather than just having discrete difficulty levels, the difficulty can be configured in multiple different areas to allow people to build their own difficulty level.

One of the earliest examples of this I remember was System Shock (the first one), which had four difficulty areas, Combat, Puzzles, Plot, and Cyberspace, where each one basically had difficulty levels ranging from 0-3, where 0 was "Off" and 3 was "Ow" (so, for instance, setting the Plot to 0 caused the game to go into free-roam mode, so you could wander the station at will with no keycards or plot roadblocks, whereas setting it to 3 put all the roadblocks in and a time limit for the whole game)

Of course, it would make balance a damn sight more tricky than it already is, but would enhance the experience for a lot of people.

Tears of Blood:
*snip*

You just spewed out some of the most common misconceptions about games. One after another and without any attempt to even back it up.

http://www.euromonitor.com/Eurogaming_video_gaming_transcending_traditional_demographics_in_Europe
http://theschwartz.wordpress.com/2006/10/09/shifting-gaming-demographics/
http://www.fims.uwo.ca/NewMedia2007/page301161454.aspx

Have a read of those, just a few of many articles going over the demographics of gaming. Developers are well aware that their target audience isn't actually teenage boys.
The shift away from the traditionally perceived teenage boy gamer has accelerated dramatically, 'hardcore' gamers actually make up only a small percentage of the people playing games. Somewhere in the area of 10% from the studies I have seen.

All recent studies have pointed towards one thing: the average gamer is in his/her mid thirties, that around 40% of gamers are female and that the fastest growing demographic in gaming is the 50-64 year olds.

Many games already have help/hint buttons, many skip deaths altogether. Games were never about sweaty teenage nerds in their basements. They have and always will be about entertainment, just like any other form of entertainment. Your elitist views would cripple any developer.

Tears of Blood:

Go ahead and disagree with my insights, but either rage about my quietly somewhere else or disagree civily, you cretin.

I would regard my post as very civil, given that I never accused you of anything, except your lack of supporting argument.

Loyal customers are very important, but just as its important to maintain your customer base with good service and high quality its important to grow your customer base by making your product accessible and marketing it properly.

If you would actually like me to go into detail I will tear apart every point you made in your original post, because you are wrong, we have hard facts that show you are wrong and I am inclined to do so.

Have a nice day.

Edit: May I suggest another link, http://www.google.com
Do some research, I was unable to find the exact websites shown in my Games Design course but I'm sure you can find relevant data to support your argument.

Ushario:
I would regard my post as very civil, given that I never accused you of anything, except your lack of supporting argument.

Loyal customers are very important, but just as its important to maintain your customer base with good service and high quality its important to grow your customer base by making your product accessible and marketing it properly.

If you would actually like me to go into detail I will tear apart every point you made in your original post, because you are wrong, we have hard facts that show you are wrong and I am inclined to do so.

Have a nice day.

Yes, because the words spewed, elitiest, and crippled absolutely have positive connotations. All the time. Totally. Are you familiar with the term "tone?" It exists, even in text, you know.

You're free to go ahead and waste your time proving me wrong, and you may back it up with more links to backwater corners of the Interweb, which may or may not prove effective in making me seem like I'm wrong, but the fact of the matter is that I've got a valid point of view that everyone is free to ignore. Including you.

Edit: I really don't care enough to go searching for sources. This isn't a term paper, it's a forum. An escape, if you will, from that kind of crap.

Video games have been fine for years without a "game playing itself praxtically" mode. Near enough everyone sucks at trying something new when they 1st try it. Making it pathetically easier is just patronizing and makes it boring.

I might add, this sort of thing is why most games have a little something called a tutorial, and an instruction manual.

Please don't let another Wii come out of the woodworks.

Tears of Blood:
*snip*

If you expect to be respected and for your opinions/views/insights to be taken seriously on a forum then you must provide a backing argument. Which must be more than 'yea well I think X!'.

Your viewpoint can be described as nothing other than elitist, you don't want casuals ruining your games. I used the word cripple in context, any developer would be crippled if they ignored usability and new gamers. Blizzard didn't get rich by catering only for elitist gamers and that wasn't an accident.

It can hardly be said that you didn't spew out that diatribe of a post, you did no research, merely vomited forth your misconceptions regarding the gaming industry.

God damn newbies screwing up our forum! With their lack of posting they never develop the skills necessary to support their posts. Its only stupid kids that are new anyway! We should make it harder to sign up to the escapist, you know, gaming tests. Yahtzee needs to make another game, which newfags must complete in a certain time in order to sign up. The escapist doesn't need new people here reading their articles and viewing the adverts, which makes the escapists money but stuff money we're the hardcore forum goers here!.

For those that missed it, its called sarcasm.

Tears of Blood if you wish to discuss this further move it to PM please, we have derailed this thread far enough already. I'm all too happy to educate you on the demographics of gaming, I have been studying them for a couple of years now after all.

That's why we have tutorials, training stages and the manual :)

Ushario:
*Snup*

Not derailed at all. It is exactly the point. The comments are for discussion. It's pertinent to the article.

However, I'm really not interested enough to debate with you any longer. We have differing views, nothing you or I can say will sway the other.

Good night.

I don't think anytime soon, a game like Bioshock should be someone's first game. It seems to me that there are enough games that anyone can adopt to, at least on Nintendo platforms. Take my six year-old cousins for instance. They are playing New Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart DS and Bolt (PC). That is easy enough for them, and will in time give them the kind of experience that makes them able to play more complex games.

I agree that hints could be useful though. even as a skilled gamer, I often found myself not quite sure what to do next. Therefore, I like such games as Paper Mario when you can pay for a hint from one of the wizards.

Get off my lawn! Damn kids...

It seems like I'm with the "hardcore" bunch on this one. Rules are there for a reason. If you lower the bar for the new guys, they will never learn to play for real! And they will eventually ruin the game for those who learned to play the hard way. Yes, you have to study the rules and practice a lot. Video games are much like sports. If you want to get into sports, nobody will lover the basket in basketball or remove the net in tennis for you. You need to learn to shoot hoops and hit the ball over the net if you want to play. You need determination and practice. In gaming, if you want to get into FPS games, you need to grasp the basics of WASD, aiming, in-game physics, and the basic concept of the game (shoot gun, mans fall down). If you are not able or not willing to do that, then you are not fit to play FPS games, just like not everyone is fit for playing basketball or tennis.

The great majority of people who whine about games being too hard or too complex, doesn't even put in a real effort to learn to play. If you put down the controller after five minutes of trying to play Halo3 for the first time, and say "meh, it's too complicated", then you'll never learn to play anything. If you want instant gratification, go play Peggle or something. You need to put in some effort, and that alone scares the shit out of many little brats who always want something for nothing. That's why it aggravates seasoned players to see their games getting dumbed down to their level, just to get some more profits.

Puddle Jumper:
That's why we have tutorials, training stages and the manual :)

They help, but may not be enough. Take an FPS as an example. A tutorial and/or a training stage can teach a newbie how to shoot, how to dodge and how to take cover, but not how to do multiple of those things simultaneously. This will take time to learn and how much time it takes will depend a lot on the newbie in question. Repeating a tutorial or a training stage will not help much. A newbie may dodge and aim better the second time, but if he didn't learn how to do both at the same time, he will not do so when repeating the tutorial either. Tutorials and training stages does teach people the basics, but they are not geared towards encouraging people to try new things. You could make it so that the tutorial requires the newbie to learn performing multiple tasks simultaneously, but then you could get a scenario where the newbie can't get past the tutorial.

All skills the tutorial couldn't teach must be learned by playing the game. Once the tutorial is done, the newbie has to play a few stages which he can pass by applying the basics. Then once he committed the basics to muscle memory, the game can start throwing in situations where you're required to use multiple of those basic skills simultaneously. However, someone who already played FPSes before don't want to play the game that way.

Why play something great when good sells better? I guess that's the motive for gaming companies.

Yes, casual gamers are being catered because the rise of certain games intrigue them. However, I doubt that casual gamers would want to play complex games when simple games that provide little rules. 74% of the casual gamers are females. Anyone want to convince them playing a great game?

A few points:

Games are for gamers? But my point is that everyone can be a gamer, with just a little consideration. Nothing is being "watered down," merely made more accessible for newbies.

I also didn't necessarily mean the "What Should I Be Doing Now?" button to be taken merely as a "go here" feature. Plenty of games do a find job of pointing you towards your next goal already. I was thinking (in addition to that) it could provide advice on basic strategy -- making sure you're healthy and well-equipped before going into a boss fight, suggesting you talk to certain NPCs for side quests, that sort of thing. Game mechanics that you and I have learned over years of playing, but which new players might not know exists. If you've never, ever, played an RPG before, would you think to break the pots or open the chest of drawers? Quite possibly not.

Many of you seem to be missing my key point that there are people out there who want to play games -- complex, thought-provoking, beautiful games -- but are intimidated by how much they don't know. And who are we to say that they have to learn to play the "right" way before they're allowed to enjoy those games? It's unfair to suggest that someone has to become as skilled as you in order to be able to enjoy the same things.

Also, none of these ideas need to affect the game experience for more skilled players at all. You'd never even see these features, because you'd be playing on Normal or Hard.

I do agree that implementing any of these ideas does put a larger burden on the developers, and that an easier course of action is just to keep churning out minigame collections or to just completely ignore this overlooked demographic. But that's not the better option, in my opinion.

veloper:
The good:
the article recognizes games are getting easier and easier

The bad:
1 we already have in-game tutorials
2 often the first unskippable level is the tutorial (worse)
3 the problem shouldn't be lack of knowledge, like jumping on heads or health bars.
This stuff is always explained. You have to be a retard to not grog basic game mechanics of a platformer or a shooter.
4 unless the game assumes you already know D&D or something, the only valid excuse for a newbie is not having the precise skill with a controller or mouse yet
5 why should WE care about the casuals? We need new blood for the hobby to survive, yes, but the new blood is always kids, who are fast learners anyway, NOT casuals.

Assuming someone who doesn't instantly grasp game mechanics to be "a retard" is simply ignorant. We're talking about people with no reference points -- why on earth should someone know that you could jump on a goomba's head if they've never seen the game played before? It doesn't make any kind of logical or real-world sense. Jumping from one platform to another, sure that might be something one could instinctively grasp, but collecting random geegaws to earn an extra life? It's a convention of the genre, certainly, but until you learn it, you have no reason to expect it.

I agree that tutorials should be skippable -- I'm not trying to diminish the experience for more skilled gamers. But your disdain for people not like you is elitist and insulting. "Sorry, folks, you can't learn fast enough for my liking, you don't get to play."

Crystalgate:

Puddle Jumper:
That's why we have tutorials, training stages and the manual :)

They help, but may not be enough. Take an FPS as an example. A tutorial and/or a training stage can teach a newbie how to shoot, how to dodge and how to take cover, but not how to do multiple of those things simultaneously. This will take time to learn and how much time it takes will depend a lot on the newbie in question. Repeating a tutorial or a training stage will not help much. A newbie may dodge and aim better the second time, but if he didn't learn how to do both at the same time, he will not do so when repeating the tutorial either. Tutorials and training stages does teach people the basics, but they are not geared towards encouraging people to try new things. You could make it so that the tutorial requires the newbie to learn performing multiple tasks simultaneously, but then you could get a scenario where the newbie can't get past the tutorial.

All skills the tutorial couldn't teach must be learned by playing the game. Once the tutorial is done, the newbie has to play a few stages which he can pass by applying the basics. Then once he committed the basics to muscle memory, the game can start throwing in situations where you're required to use multiple of those basic skills simultaneously. However, someone who already played FPSes before don't want to play the game that way.

You're saying that rooks would be to dumb to know that they can combine moves ... yeah, sure xD

Susan Arendt:

Many of you seem to be missing my key point that there are people out there who want to play games -- complex, thought-provoking, beautiful games -- but are intimidated by how much they don't know. And who are we to say that they have to learn to play the "right" way before they're allowed to enjoy those games? It's unfair to suggest that someone has to become as skilled as you in order to be able to enjoy the same things.

Unfair? Hardly. Say, if you want to play basketball, (in the NBA, just because it looks fun), would it be unfair to expect at least a good level of basketball knowledge and experience? I don't think so. If you want to play on the Australian Open, would it be unfair to expect a good level of tennis experience? No. Before you can play the "real" thing, you have to learn how to play.

Same with games. If you want to play complex games, because they look fun, first you have to learn how to play. Period. Yes, they have to learn to play the "right" way before they can enjoy those games. It's not "allowed to" it's "can". The good players are not keeping anything from the newbies, simply expecting a little effort and determination on their part. There are megatons of learning material, tutorials, guides and FAQs available for most games on the interwebs. If you know the basics, let's practice a little. Nearly every game in existence has a tutorial level or practice mode where you can learn to do basic things. When you are confident in using the basic controls, you can move on to the real game. It's that easy. It's not a movie, you have to put in at least a little effort before you can enjoy video games. It's not rocket science!

The problem is, people nowadays are too lazy to put in any effort, they want gain without pain, something for nothing. That's not how video games work. Like I said, video games are like sports. I'm all for making it easier for newbies to learn how to play, but whining because they want to enjoy them without putting in some effort is maddening. If you, in fact, don't want to put in any effort, then use cheats, trainers and walkthroughs. They are freely available. But that is taking the game out of video games...

Playbahnosh:

Susan Arendt:

Many of you seem to be missing my key point that there are people out there who want to play games -- complex, thought-provoking, beautiful games -- but are intimidated by how much they don't know. And who are we to say that they have to learn to play the "right" way before they're allowed to enjoy those games? It's unfair to suggest that someone has to become as skilled as you in order to be able to enjoy the same things.

Unfair? Hardly. Say, if you want to play basketball, (in the NBA, just because it looks fun), would it be unfair to expect at least a good level of basketball knowledge and experience? I don't think so. If you want to play on the Australian Open, would it be unfair to expect a good level of tennis experience? No. Before you can play the "real" thing, you have to learn how to play.

Same with games. If you want to play complex games, because they look fun, first you have to learn how to play. Period. Yes, they have to learn to play the "right" way before they can enjoy those games. It's not "allowed to" it's "can". The good players are not keeping anything from the newbies, simply expecting a little effort and determination on their part. There are megatons of learning material, tutorials, guides and FAQs available for most games on the interwebs. If you know the basics, let's practice a little. Nearly every game in existence has a tutorial level or practice mode where you can learn to do basic things. When you are confident in using the basic controls, you can move on to the real game. It's that easy. It's not a movie, you have to put in at least a little effort before you can enjoy video games. It's not rocket science!

The problem is, people nowadays are too lazy to put in any effort, they want gain without pain, something for nothing. That's not how video games work. Like I said, video games are like sports. I'm all for making it easier for newbies to learn how to play, but whining because they want to enjoy them without putting in some effort is maddening. If you, in fact, don't want to put in any effort, then use cheats, trainers and walkthroughs. They are freely available. But that is taking the game out of video games...

But we're not talking about playing in the NBA, we're talking about playing in your back yard. Or perhaps the local gym. And in basketball, the core concept -- put the ball in the hoop -- is simple to grasp, but the nuances of strategy, pick and roll, and so forth aren't going to be learned in an afternoon, or even a few weeks. You're saying you're not even going to let someone on the court until they've mastered every nuance of the game. And yes, that's just plain unfair.

And I never for a moment suggested that new players shouldn't have to put in some effort. But simply learning how to work the controls -- which I assure you, is quite difficult for a new player -- is putting in effort. Learning to navigate in 3d space is effort.

Yes, games should still be an experience, no matter what your skill level. You should still have to exert some kind of influence on the game world. Nothing I suggested disputes that. I absolutely agree that new players should still have to play the game, but I see nothing wrong with also providing them a few extra tools to help them through the experience.

Puddle Jumper:
You're saying that rooks would be to dumb to know that they can combine moves ... yeah, sure xD

Not to dumb to do it, but unable to. It may sound absurd to you, but for some the act of moving the crosshair to a moving enemy and keeping it there requires a conscious effort. Likewise, if a rocket is heading towards a newbie the newbie may actually have to concentrate on dodging, something en experienced player makes effortlessly and often even without thinking. This means that if the newbie is forced to dodge a rocket, the crosshair will be off the enemy and chance is the newbie will have a problem getting it back unless the rockets stop coming and he can stand still while aiming.

My social life is such that I do encounter a lot of people playing for practically the first time. Things like what I described happened all the time. It is hard to do two things which requires conscious effort simultaneously. The reason good FPSers can shoot/switch weapon, dodge and make decisions simultaneously is because their brain outsources most the tasks to the subconscious level. If for example an enemy appears right in front of them, the act of backing off while switching to the shootgun, or whichever weapon is best for close range, is done as a reflex and not as a conscious effort.

Susan Arendt:
But we're not talking about playing in the NBA, we're talking about playing in your back yard. Or perhaps the local gym. And in basketball, the core concept -- put the ball in the hoop -- is simple to grasp, but the nuances of strategy, pick and roll, and so forth aren't going to be learned in an afternoon, or even a few weeks. You're saying you're not even going to let someone on the court until they've mastered every nuance of the game. And yes, that's just plain unfair.

Exactly! See, that's the difference between hardcore games and the more casual games. Shooting a hoop is an easy concept, just like Peggle or Sonny. That's playing in the back yard. But, say, CoD 5, Halo 3, Neverwinter Nights and X3: Terran Conflict is like the NBA. This isn't "not letting them on the court". Sure, you can try and play in an NBA game, but all you going to experience is disgrace and failure if you don't know your basketball. The "back yard" is the training levels, the practice rounds and the occasional game with some friends who are on the same level as you. But until you grasp the basic concept and controls of a given game genre, be it FPS, RPG or whatever, you simply won't enjoy it no matter how much you want it, and it's not the game's fault. These games, at least the main missions, take basic knowledge of the given genre for granted, and they have a difficulty curve upwards. So if you can't complete the fist few levels, you most certainly won't be able to complete the rest. You have to learn to walk before you can run...

Yes, games should still be an experience, no matter what your skill level. You should still have to exert some kind of influence on the game world. Nothing I suggested disputes that. I absolutely agree that new players should still have to play the game, but I see nothing wrong with also providing them a few extra tools to help them through the experience.

Those tools already exist, and have existed since the dawn of video games! Tutorials, training levels, trainers, cheats...etc. These are all there to help those who are not that familiar with a given game or stuck at some point. Hell, sometime even I use trainers or walkthroughs if I'm stuck or frustrated at some point in a game, it's nothing to be ashamed of, but not without trying my best to overcome the obstacle first.

An example is my tough love with X3. I saw some of my friends play the game, it looked awesome, and they made it look easy. They built huge factory complexes, automated traders, conquered entire star systems, and they flew around with an entire fleet following them and doing their bidding. So I went, bought the game and started playing. Needless to say, after two hours of desperate trying I stood up as a complete failure. The controls were a nightmare, I was unable to control my own ship, let alone a fleet, and I even failed to complete the very fist mission in the game. So what did I do? At first, I threw up my hands "meh, this is too hard", I uninstalled and the game's case just sat on my shelf, gathering dust for months. But after a few sessions of me watching my friends play the game and having tremendous amount of fun, I said "no way I'm gonna be left out", I buckled up and went to work. I went online, spent an entire night hunting for guides, FAQs and even got some trainer scripts for the game. Then I spent countless nights just flying around, trying to gain control over my ship, then I went on to figure out the rest. A few weeks in I built my first station, then I got another fighter flying in wing with me, and the rest is history. After I got better in playing the game, I realized, that there is no way this could've been done easier. The controls are complex for a reason, to complement the complex gameplay. Now I'm one of the best X3 players in the neighborhood. All it took is some brains, determination and practice.

We don't need more tricks, watered down gamepleay and built-in clutches for new guys, those are already around, all you need is a little effort.

You still don't get it. You're already a gamer. So, yeah, if you want to get better at a game, all you likely have to do is try. It just isn't that simple for someone completely new to the experience. A tutorial about what button does what doesn't help someone adjust to moving their character with a pair of sticks.

It's just not as simple as "a little effort" for someone who's never, ever, played a game before. (Or perhaps at most played Solitaire on their PC or Tetris.)

Ok, ok, let me put that to the side for the time being. You seem to be saying that if people want to play, they should have to (if we're continuing the sports metaphor) train enough to be as good as an NBA player.

Why?

Why can't a dabbler, someone with no interest or ability in EVER getting that good, be allowed to play the same game as you? Not in multiplayer, certainly -- that wouldn't be fair or fun for either party. But why can't they have a setting that lets them play the game in a way that's entertaining and fun for them, despite their low skill set? It doesn't impact your game experience at all -- you'll still be playing the good, old-fashioned way.

Susan Arendt:
You still don't get it.

Wait, wait. It seems like we have a communication problem here, Susan. I'm all with on the subject of making it easier for new people to get into gaming. We just have differing ideas about the "how".

You're already a gamer. So, yeah, if you want to get better at a game, all you likely have to do is try.

See, that's why I cited that example about me and X3: Terran Conflict. Yes, I'm a gamer now, but I did not become a gamer in one night! And I certainly didn't become a gamer without hardship and practice. I learned to play different kinds of games over long long years of wasted nights, cursing and mountains of snacks and Coke. It's called commitment.

I never ever played X3 before in my life. The closest I got to space sims is GalCiv and Freelancer. But X3 is light-years ahead of those in both complexity and controls. Like comparing a kite to a space shuttle. You could control Freelancer with just the mouse and a few buttons, but for X3, two keyboards wouldn't be enough, not to mention the labyrinthine maze of menus, scripts and options. And yes, I had to learn how to play Freelancer too, that was my first ever space sim, and yes, it was hard, but guess what? I practiced, and it worked.

It just isn't that simple for someone completely new to the experience. A tutorial about what button does what doesn't help someone adjust to moving their character with a pair of sticks.

You are absolutely right! That can only be achieved with practice. There is no other way. You have to just sit down and play. Any human being with some basic skill in hand-eye coordination can be sufficiently self-taught in relatively small amount of time to use analog sticks. Better yet, start with keyboard+mouse combo, it's a lot easier, and when you learn the concept of movement in a 3D environment, then go for the analog sticks. But you cannot evade the practice part.

Ok, ok, let me put that to the side for the time being. You seem to be saying that if people want to play, they should have to (if we're continuing the sports metaphor) train enough to be as good as an NBA player.

See? Communication problem. Maybe my examples were a bit polarized, it's my fault. No, I haven't said that if you wanna play basketball you have to be an NBA player. I just compared NBA to triple A video games in terms of skill and experience required. Those games take the basic ability to move around and interact with a virtual environment for granted. Those games won't hold your hand and take you line-by-line through the game saying "now press the forward button. Great! Now turn the mouse to face the enemy. Awesome! Now press the fire button until the mans fall down.." You see what I'm trying to say here?

Why can't a dabbler, someone with no interest or ability in EVER getting that good, be allowed to play the same game as you?

Being "able to" is not the same as "allowed to"! Sure, everyone is allowed to buy, install and play any game they wish, but if they are not able to play the game because they've never seen an Xbox controller or a keyboard in their life is an entirely different matter. You can buy a ball, pro gear, and rent Alamodome to play in, but that won't make you a basketball player. See what I'm getting at?

Let me respond to your question with another question: Why, should they lover the standards of NBA, because you are not a pro player? Wouldn't that be unfair to the rest of the players who learned to play for years?

Not in multiplayer, certainly -- that wouldn't be fair or fun for either party. But why can't they have a setting that lets them play the game in a way that's entertaining and fun for them, despite their low skill set? It doesn't impact your game experience at all -- you'll still be playing the good, old-fashioned way.

There is just one small problem. In order to cater to the beginners, so they can play the game start to finish, the game designers would have to create the entire game so that Little Jimmy could play it. God modes, tooltips, hints and "where should I go" buttons can go only so far, but there are certain elements in games that simply cannot be dumbed down enough to cater to newbies without ruining the game for the "real" players, easy mode or not. Level designs, puzzles, game dynamics, controls...etc. The designer would have to create two entirely different games, one for the newbs and one for the seasoned players, and that's not possible, I don't have to tell you that. There are guides, trainers and cheat that beginners could use to train themselves (hence they're called trainers), but to water down a game just because the guys have difficulty playing it for the first five minutes is just unfair, as you said it.

There are certain games, that are not for beginners, and it's not a scheme to shut out new players, it's a fact that they need to understand. In order to be able to enjoy rich, advanced gameplay, first you need to reach a certain level in experience and knowledge, just like in RPGs where you gather XP to level up. Once you learn the nuances of the given genre, you'll be able to enjoy those games too. New playes shouldn't be offended by this, rather encouraged to learn and practice, like we, old-school gamers did. In StarCraft, there is no Cow Level...

Crystalgate:

Puddle Jumper:
You're saying that rooks would be to dumb to know that they can combine moves ... yeah, sure xD

Not to dumb to do it, but unable to. It may sound absurd to you, but for some the act of moving the crosshair to a moving enemy and keeping it there requires a conscious effort. Likewise, if a rocket is heading towards a newbie the newbie may actually have to concentrate on dodging, something en experienced player makes effortlessly and often even without thinking. This means that if the newbie is forced to dodge a rocket, the crosshair will be off the enemy and chance is the newbie will have a problem getting it back unless the rockets stop coming and he can stand still while aiming.

My social life is such that I do encounter a lot of people playing for practically the first time. Things like what I described happened all the time. It is hard to do two things which requires conscious effort simultaneously. The reason good FPSers can shoot/switch weapon, dodge and make decisions simultaneously is because their brain outsources most the tasks to the subconscious level. If for example an enemy appears right in front of them, the act of backing off while switching to the shootgun, or whichever weapon is best for close range, is done as a reflex and not as a conscious effort.

Truth be told, a rook has no business playing games that advanced. I had to start easy and so do they. It's like asking a white belt to fight in a black belt tournament, it's just not smart :)

Puddle Jumper:
Truth be told, a rook has no business playing games that advanced. I had to start easy and so do they. It's like asking a white belt to fight in a black belt tournament, it's just not smart :)

Fucking genius!! That's what I'm trying to say here, too!

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