Easy Should Be Easy

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problem is the additional info and hints should be switchable in menu or only in easy mode, not the thing with PDA help in tomb rider underworld. but having game adapted for noobzors would meand to teach them how to move through the world, some tactics and that one button can have different functions on occasion.

Playbahnosh:

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!

Thank you, I know I'm a genius :D

Puddle Jumper:

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 :)

Here's the problem with your analogy -- no, a white belt can't possibly compete in a black belt tournament, because that involves other players. In what I'm suggesting, no-one is being affected but the new player.

As for the X3 argument, Play -- you may not have been familiar with games of that ilk at the time, but you were familiar with games in general. Whether or not you realize it, this gives you a huge leg up on understanding and conquering any game that's put in front of you.

Now, if you're suggesting that implementing these features would necessarily take time away from creating a full-bodied experience for the experienced player -- if we're being realistic about developer resources, you're absolutely right.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that that wasn't the case. That developers could implement all of these ideas and more to make games more accessible for new players without taking anything at all away from the "real" game. The pro gamers (so to speak) get the exact same experience they would if the newbie features weren't even there at all. (Yes, it's a stretch, but roll with me on this one.)

Then what are your thoughts?

Susan Arendt:

Here's the problem with your analogy -- no, a white belt can't possibly compete in a black belt tournament, because that involves other players. In what I'm suggesting, no-one is being affected but the new player.

Now, if you're suggesting that implementing these features would necessarily take time away from creating a full-bodied experience for the experienced player -- if we're being realistic, you're absolutely right.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that that wasn't the case. That developers could implement all of these ideas and more to make games more accessible for new players without taking anything at all away from the "real" game. The pro gamers (so to speak) get the exact same experience they would if the newbie features weren't even there at all. (Yes, it's a stretch, but roll with me on this one.)

Then what are your thoughts?

It's possible to do, but impossible to make because of time and money. But still the point is that rookie gamers need to start with the basics and work their way up. Not start with a FPS or whatever that's targetted at more experienced gamers.

Puddle Jumper:

Susan Arendt:

Here's the problem with your analogy -- no, a white belt can't possibly compete in a black belt tournament, because that involves other players. In what I'm suggesting, no-one is being affected but the new player.

Now, if you're suggesting that implementing these features would necessarily take time away from creating a full-bodied experience for the experienced player -- if we're being realistic, you're absolutely right.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that that wasn't the case. That developers could implement all of these ideas and more to make games more accessible for new players without taking anything at all away from the "real" game. The pro gamers (so to speak) get the exact same experience they would if the newbie features weren't even there at all. (Yes, it's a stretch, but roll with me on this one.)

Then what are your thoughts?

It's possible to do, but impossible to make because of time and money. But still the point is that rookie gamers need to start with the basics and work their way up. Not start with a FPS or whatever that's targetted at more experienced gamers.

Why? Saying they need to "work their way up" assumes that gaming is something they want to improve at. And those who do naturally will improve. They'll try harder, they'll hone skills, and eventually get better. Which is all fantastic for them.

But not everyone who would enjoy playing a game necessarily wants to be a better gamer. Those are the folks I'm talking about. And they shouldn't have to. Games of all kinds -- not just the ones currently aimed at the casual crowds - should be enjoyable by all kinds of people. Again, the last thing I want is to take anything away from people who make gaming an important part of their life. I think gamers should be rewarded for their efforts. They put in the time, they should be able to feel good about that.

Susan Arendt:

Puddle Jumper:

Susan Arendt:

Here's the problem with your analogy -- no, a white belt can't possibly compete in a black belt tournament, because that involves other players. In what I'm suggesting, no-one is being affected but the new player.

Now, if you're suggesting that implementing these features would necessarily take time away from creating a full-bodied experience for the experienced player -- if we're being realistic, you're absolutely right.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that that wasn't the case. That developers could implement all of these ideas and more to make games more accessible for new players without taking anything at all away from the "real" game. The pro gamers (so to speak) get the exact same experience they would if the newbie features weren't even there at all. (Yes, it's a stretch, but roll with me on this one.)

Then what are your thoughts?

It's possible to do, but impossible to make because of time and money. But still the point is that rookie gamers need to start with the basics and work their way up. Not start with a FPS or whatever that's targetted at more experienced gamers.

Why? Saying they need to "work their way up" assumes that gaming is something they want to improve at. And those who do naturally will improve. They'll try harder, they'll hone skills, and eventually get better. Which is all fantastic for them.

But not everyone who would enjoy playing a game necessarily wants to be a better gamer. Those are the folks I'm talking about. And they shouldn't have to. Games of all kinds -- not just the ones currently aimed at the casual crowds - should be enjoyable by all kinds of people. Again, the last thing I want is to take anything away from people who make gaming an important part of their life. I think gamers should be rewarded for their efforts. They put in the time, they should be able to feel good about that.

In the sunshine-and-rainbows world of unlimited developer resources this is all well and good. But the way you get non-gamers into gaming is to start them off with simpler games, not with making harder-core games more accessible (FFS, look at Oblivion when compared to Morrowind...or even Morrowind compared to Daggerfall. Accessibility must necessarily lead to dumbing down the whole experience, and that---to use the old sports analogy from earlier in the thread---is making NBA players use kid-sister rules.)

I'm all in favor of making games to get non-gamers into gaming. It's why the DS and the Wii print money. And if some people never want to make the leap from rhythm games or "brain trainers" to real games, that's no skin off the marketing department's back because they can just sell more idiot games to more idiots.

But the point is, there was a progression for all of us as gamers. I started out on SimCity, learned Aerobiz, graduated to Uncharted Waters and Civilization, then via Railroad Tycoon 2 and Panzer General discovered how to play games like Capitalism, Rome: Total War, and Victoria. I don't want Trevor Chan or Johan Andersson to give even a moment's thought to the casuals---I love Paradox games and hardcore business sims, but I acknowledge that those games are made for gamers, not for casuals. If casuals want to come along and learn the mechanics of those games, I'd recommend they start with The Sims, graduate via the SimCity Box to understanding how builders work, then applying that knowledge to a Civ-type game and work from there.

The answer isn't "easy mode". The answer is to keep games themselves tiered as "white belt" games and "yellow belt" games and "brown belt" games before people can graduate to black-belt kung fu master games.

sorry, double post due to glitch in the matrix...

SimuLord:

In the sunshine-and-rainbows world of unlimited developer resources this is all well and good. But the way you get non-gamers into gaming is to start them off with simpler games, not with making harder-core games more accessible (FFS, look at Oblivion when compared to Morrowind...or even Morrowind compared to Daggerfall. Accessibility must necessarily lead to dumbing down the whole experience, and that---to use the old sports analogy from earlier in the thread---is making NBA players use kid-sister rules.)

I'm all in favor of making games to get non-gamers into gaming. It's why the DS and the Wii print money. And if some people never want to make the leap from rhythm games or "brain trainers" to real games, that's no skin off the marketing department's back because they can just sell more idiot games to more idiots.

But the point is, there was a progression for all of us as gamers. I started out on SimCity, learned Aerobiz, graduated to Uncharted Waters and Civilization, then via Railroad Tycoon 2 and Panzer General discovered how to play games like Capitalism, Rome: Total War, and Victoria. I don't want Trevor Chan or Johan Andersson to give even a moment's thought to the casuals---I love Paradox games and hardcore business sims, but I acknowledge that those games are made for gamers, not for casuals. If casuals want to come along and learn the mechanics of those games, I'd recommend they start with The Sims, graduate via the SimCity Box to understanding how builders work, then applying that knowledge to a Civ-type game and work from there.

The answer isn't "easy mode". The answer is to keep games themselves tiered as "white belt" games and "yellow belt" games and "brown belt" games before people can graduate to black-belt kung fu master games.

Again, for people who are interested in becoming skilled gamers, you're absolutely right. But there are folks who have no interest in "casual" games because of their shallowness, but would enjoy the more complex stories and characterizations of harder games. And right now, the closest they can ever get to those games is watching someone else play. Seems patently unfair to me.

But yeah, sunshine and rainbows. Devs only have so many resources at their disposal.

Susan Arendt:

Puddle Jumper:

Susan Arendt:

Here's the problem with your analogy -- no, a white belt can't possibly compete in a black belt tournament, because that involves other players. In what I'm suggesting, no-one is being affected but the new player.

Now, if you're suggesting that implementing these features would necessarily take time away from creating a full-bodied experience for the experienced player -- if we're being realistic, you're absolutely right.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that that wasn't the case. That developers could implement all of these ideas and more to make games more accessible for new players without taking anything at all away from the "real" game. The pro gamers (so to speak) get the exact same experience they would if the newbie features weren't even there at all. (Yes, it's a stretch, but roll with me on this one.)

Then what are your thoughts?

It's possible to do, but impossible to make because of time and money. But still the point is that rookie gamers need to start with the basics and work their way up. Not start with a FPS or whatever that's targetted at more experienced gamers.

Why? Saying they need to "work their way up" assumes that gaming is something they want to improve at. And those who do naturally will improve. They'll try harder, they'll hone skills, and eventually get better. Which is all fantastic for them.

But not everyone who would enjoy playing a game necessarily wants to be a better gamer. Those are the folks I'm talking about. And they shouldn't have to. Games of all kinds -- not just the ones currently aimed at the casual crowds - should be enjoyable by all kinds of people. Again, the last thing I want is to take anything away from people who make gaming an important part of their life. I think gamers should be rewarded for their efforts. They put in the time, they should be able to feel good about that.

Musicians can't do Beethoven before they got Row your boat down. They can try, but they'll suck. Just like with games.

In regards for 1, I remember in the early Crash Bandicoot games that, if you died repetedly in one area, you respawned WITH an aku-aku mask (kind of like a mario mushroom in effect), rather than picking them up later

Susan Arendt:
Again, for people who are interested in becoming skilled gamers, you're absolutely right. But there are folks who have no interest in "casual" games because of their shallowness, but would enjoy the more complex stories and characterizations of harder games. And right now, the closest they can ever get to those games is watching someone else play. Seems patently unfair to me.

But yeah, sunshine and rainbows. Devs only have so many resources at their disposal.

my mother:
Life isn't fair sometimes.

Gaming is what it is and I see no reason why an entire hobby based on the joy of skill progression should be rejiggered so people who don't want to take from this pastime what it offers can be pandered to.

Plus, it's not like I started on Mario Is Missing. I can only speak for strategy gaming (my area of expertise), but if someone's looking to get into that and has no prior gaming experience, The Sims/SimCity 4 is just as good an endpoint as a starting point, and I'm sure other genres have similar examples of "hardcores think they're too easy, but they're still great games."

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 :)

Sure, but it's the black belt which trains the white belt. They do so by stepping down on the difficulty and first train the basics. Likewise, a game which is very advanced could also do so, if the makers desires it. Granted, often they don't because it's not worth the effort.

Many games does offer more than one difficulty level. In several of them the easy difficulty is something nobody plays since it's not geared to anybody. It's far to easy for the experienced players and far to complicated for the beginners. I think the point of the article was that if you do create an easy difficulty level, it should be geared towards the people who would choose it.

Susan Arendt:
As for the X3 argument, Play -- you may not have been familiar with games of that ilk at the time, but you were familiar with games in general. Whether or not you realize it, this gives you a huge leg up on understanding and conquering any game that's put in front of you.

Naaah, you are going way off target here, Susan. Know games in general? Really? No offense, but who doesn't know games in general nowadays? The media, the internets and the whole world around us is so full of the stuff, it's practically leaking video games all over the place. Who didn't play video games as kid was either not interested at all, had no friends, or grew up in the Gobi Desert with goats. Anyone who has a chance to be interested in any video game has a general understanding of games nowadays. I mean, anyone who gets interested in, say, Call of Duty, at least saw a console or computer in their lives, and at least played minesweeper of Plants vs. Zombies or whatever. Nobody goes from technophobe to CoD fanatic in a second. I'm 24 years old, and even I had consoles and computers around in my childhood (and I grew up behind the iron courtain), not to mention today. You can't walk ten meters on the street without seeing at least one guy with a PSP, DS or iPhone, playing some weird game. Hell, even my parents know what PS3, GTA, HL and CS stands for (we live in Hungary). And those who doesn't know shit about games, are generally not even interested in the stuff anyway.

You are not giving enough credit to the newbies. Who want to play games, can. They have the opportunity and the choice. It's available everywhere. Almost every electronics store sells consoles and computers nowadays, you are practically tripping over Wiis, Xboxes and video games wherever you go. And you doesn't even have to pay the price of a small car to buy a computer, like in my childhood.

That developers could implement all of these ideas and more to make games more accessible for new players without taking anything at all away from the "real" game. The pro gamers (so to speak) get the exact same experience they would if the newbie features weren't even there at all.

You just answered you own question right there: "Now, if you're suggesting that implementing these features would necessarily take time away from creating a full-bodied experience for the experienced player -- if we're being realistic about developer resources, you're absolutely right."

Word.

It's a double-edged sword. Either they create a game that caters to new players and beginners, or create a full-bodied game to the "real" players, who know their games. Trying to do both is not really possible. If you cater to the newbies, the game will feel too soft, too easy and bland for the gamers, but if you create a game that the real gamers enjoy, the newbies would feel left out, because they can't play it, as they say. But, let's discuss a more pressing issue, I just realized something about your arguments...

Saying they need to "work their way up" assumes that gaming is something they want to improve at. And those who do naturally will improve. They'll try harder, they'll hone skills, and eventually get better. Which is all fantastic for them.

But not everyone who would enjoy playing a game necessarily wants to be a better gamer. Those are the folks I'm talking about. And they shouldn't have to.

The what now? You mean the people who want to play GTA IV or Counter Strike Source, but unable to because they are - for lack of a better word - n00bs, and instead of practicing and trying to get better, they just whine about it and demand that game be made easier so they don't have to do anything to succeed? And you say they are right?? Susan, I'm disappointed in you... :(

Games of all kinds -- not just the ones currently aimed at the casual crowds - should be enjoyable by all kinds of people.

They are! Games of all kinds are open to everyone, there is no limitation, everyone can play who wants to, BUT, again, "allowed to" and "be able to" are two different things, I said it before.

But now I understand what you are trying to say, and I mean no offence, but it's wrong. It's like saying everyone should be able to play and enjoy every sport and every art form there is. Because games are like sports and art combined. But, certainly, you see the problem with that. Like I said, causal games and small time games are like playing in your back yard, and AAA titles and big games are like major-league events. Like drawing or composing music, you have to start at the beginning, you have to learn the strokes and the musical notes, you can't expect to paint a Van Gogh or compose like Vangelis from the get to. You have to learn and practice first!

It's a nice notion, and I see your point, but eventually you'll have to understand, that's not how this works. I really mean no offense, but this is the truth. Without practice you won't be able to enjoy these games, and that doesn't mean you are not allowed to. A major, integral part of the gaming experience is the challenge you have to overcome! That's the main point of video games. Without a sense of challenge, there is no sense of accomplishment. (And I'm not talking about achievement points and gamescores, because jumping 10 times or shooting 10 bad guys are hardly an accomplishment in a FPS game where you have to kill thousands to reach the outro)

Again, the last thing I want is to take anything away from people who make gaming an important part of their life. I think gamers should be rewarded for their efforts. They put in the time, they should be able to feel good about that.

Then don't, for gods sake! As you said, gamers put in time a sweat to become gamers. It's not a closed club, it's open to everyone, and if anyone wanna join us, we expect nothing more and nothing less from them. If you wanna play big and hardcore games with us (single or multiplayer), then suck it up and practice. If you are not willing or not able to do so, then you won't be able to play these games. It's one or the other. Every hardcore gamer will tell you the same.

One final point and then I'm going to just leave this, because I'm clearly not making myself understood.

Let's take my brother as an example. Yep, he grew up playing videogames...on the Atari 2600. Now let's say he saw Halo and wanted to give it a try. Going from the Atari to the Xbox is rather an enormous jump. So while, yes, he was familiar with some of the general concepts, his experience was worth next to nothing when he tried to learn the new system. Hardly a case of him having no friends or being raised in the Gobi desert.

Irridium:

hansari:

4) Play With A Pro - It's tough learning the ropes, so why not have an experienced veteran help you along the way.

That doesn't always work out.

My friend is a pro at WoW, and he's been trying to get me to play it for the longest time.
I eventually cave, and buy a 2 month card. He let me use his disks to install the game.

Sadly, he was a jackass nonstop.

I have never played an MMO before, ever, and everytime I had a question, or made a mistake, all he would do was comment on how stupid I was.

I know he meant well, but I needed some time to get a feel for the game, he didn't give me time, and tried to rush me to a high level through account linking.

So there I was, a noob, getting levels like crazy, and not knowing what the hell to do with all the spells/powers/skill/weapons I got, and getting called out for being a high level and not knowing shit.

Man that was frustrating... Although I could just be a special case, not all people are like that. But still, it was a pain in the ass for me, a noob, to play with a hardcore badass.

You know, it's interesting you say this. I'm not saying our experiences are similar, but since I'm on the other side of this equation, I'll put in my two cents.

I also play a lot of wow, and recently I got my girlfriend into it. I knew she was at least familiar with fantasy RPG's as she had played through Morrowind and Diablo and other such games. However, even with that knowledge, it's still a totally different world, and things that are old hat and taken for granted by an experience WoWer become confusing things, and so many times I had to try hard not to be annoyed by her lack of understanding of the talent system (she didn't play Diablo 2), the names and meanings of places, the uses of the different stats for your character, and even what PvP was. Being of ludicrous independence, she definitely didn't want me to tell her what to do, but it was still hard to find the boundaries of what she should know and what she should figure out herself, and frequently it led to us both getting frustrated. It's a good idea to play with someone who knows their way around, but this one is a tough one since there are so many things that are built in knowledge that it's even worse than most console games.

Susan Arendt:
One final point and then I'm going to just leave this, because I'm clearly not making myself understood.

Let's take my brother as an example. Yep, he grew up playing videogames...on the Atari 2600. Now let's say he saw Halo and wanted to give it a try. Going from the Atari to the Xbox is rather an enormous jump. So while, yes, he was familiar with some of the general concepts, his experience was worth next to nothing when he tried to learn the new system. Hardly a case of him having no friends or being raised in the Gobi desert.

Susan, don't be like that, please. We are not attacking you here, just trying to explain this from our side of the scale. I totally understand what you are trying to say, like I said, it's a nice notion, and I totally agree with your idea about trying to get new people into gaming easier. But for some games, there is no easy way, that's the hard truth. You simply cannot make certain games more "newbie friendly" without compromising core gameplay, it just cannot be done. There is no way to dumb down a great Mozart song to beginner level, it would take the "Mozart" out of it. Just like you can't dumb down a Halo 3, a StarCraft or The Witcher, without compromising the real game. It's just cannot be done.

It's not a matter of dumbing down games to n00b level, it's a matter of teaching these new guys how to play. But if they don't want to learn and practice, there is nothing we can do. I think the great majority of the gamers here on The Escapist is willing to help you or anyone in any game they know, give tips, hints or teach some basic stuff, just to get started. I wrote tons of guides and FAQs for games I played, some of them are on the internet, and my intentions were the same as yours, Susan. I wanted to make the games I love accessible to people by explaining, in detail, the concept, the controls, the gameplay and the little nuances in a language that anyone can understand.

If you can't jump over the bar, don't expect the bar to be lowered, you have to work for it to finally make the jump. But once you can jump over, say, a meter high bar, you can jump over every meter high bar in the universe. Just like if you learn to play Counter Strike, or Unreal Tournament, you'll be able to easily learn any FPS game there is. Just a little effort and determination is all it takes. You won't get something for nothing in gamer world...

coldfrog:

You know, it's interesting you say this. I'm not saying our experiences are similar, but since I'm on the other side of this equation, I'll put in my two cents.

I also play a lot of wow, and recently I got my girlfriend into it. I knew she was at least familiar with fantasy RPG's as she had played through Morrowind and Diablo and other such games. However, even with that knowledge, it's still a totally different world, and things that are old hat and taken for granted by an experience WoWer become confusing things, and so many times I had to try hard not to be annoyed by her lack of understanding of the talent system (she didn't play Diablo 2), the names and meanings of places, the uses of the different stats for your character, and even what PvP was. Being of ludicrous independence, she definitely didn't want me to tell her what to do, but it was still hard to find the boundaries of what she should know and what she should figure out herself, and frequently it led to us both getting frustrated. It's a good idea to play with someone who knows their way around, but this one is a tough one since there are so many things that are built in knowledge that it's even worse than most console games.

So very true.

All I wish is when someone was getting me into a game, is to let me do it at my own pace.
Thats all I wish, if I have questions, I'll ask, but I just want to learn by myself for a bit.

This may have been true with your girlfriend, can't say for sure. But its true for me, and probably for a lot of people.

We seem to have a lack of stories from people who suddenly moved to a _whole_new_level_ of game complexity, so I'll add mine before I continue:

I had prior experience with FPSs on the computer, but my friends wanted to do their LAN parties on x-boxes (for simplicity of networking reasons), so I went along with that.
This was my rather harsh introduction to 2-stick controllers... and it took me about 12 hours (two sessions) with them before I was reasonably good (actually had a chance to kill someone if I saw them). These could have been a rather frustrating 12 hours if I were someone else, as these where pretty good players, but I took it in good stride. This basically meant running away for the first 6 hours - trying not to get killed - but that's a minor note of how I learned the 2-stick control system.

****

So, the OP has claimed that it is a problem that it takes 12 hours to get to the "good enough to play the game on a level at which their attempts at playing the game look like a poor attempt at playing the game, rather than a bunch of random movements in reaction to events on the screen".
Maybe it is. What can we do about it? Frankly, if they want to play the game, the other people in the thread are right: they'll have to learn how.

Perhaps, though, we can teach them the details in isolation, so that they can learn to integrate them into a coherent whole much faster than they would otherwise.

*

So, let's break down the aspects of playing a modern FPS into its component parts:
1) Understanding the screen image as a 3-D environment.
2) Being able to manipulate the controls.
3) Manipulating the controls to move through that environment.
4) Learning a bunch of "shortcuts" to navigating the environment. IE, running into the wall to find it instead of turning around and looking at the wall.
5) Understanding the basic concepts of gameplay. IE, "in CTF, you do this...".

It is fully possible to teach all but #5 as isolation drills. Let me suggest some games (in order of introduction to the student):

Geowars genre games - two sticks used in concert. My favorite is Echos.

Driving games - if they are having trouble understanding the screen as a window into a 3-D world. (I've never encountered one of these people, but someone I know has parents who are like this)

Pedestrian movement game - there aren't really very many of these. Perhaps you could play the "race" game variant in Halo, or something. Or maybe that parkour game (what was it called?)

Let them play some FPS (with shooting! We haven't really taught them to aim yet - just given them all the skills they need to learn to aim.) on a low difficulty setting... congratulations, they can now play FPSs. They will need some time to get better - but they are well on their way.

I suspect total time for this training regime - if you can call it a "regime", considering that they are playing games that are basically within their skill set at all times, so it shouldn't be to frustrating - is probably about 40 hours; they can work through it in a month, while having fun every day.

Mr. Fister:
I agree with this article. Gamers who complain that a game is too easy don't understand that difficulty is relative. It might be easy to you, but if someone who has little or no experience in gaming were to play it, would it be easy to them?

There needs to be more consistency in difficulty settings. My example would be ninja gaiden on the xbox. I would set that "normal" as the base for "normal" difficulty. It was a good challenge but didn't throw up any brick walls. By the time I had finished I had the skills to beat it at the next difficulty setting with a similar amount of effort.

Playing things like Assassins Creed are "too easy" compaired to Ninja Gaiden. I just want some sign posting so I dont breeze through some games on normal and feel unchallenged. Normal should be "normal" in that it is the best choice for a first time play through for most gamers. Right now my default setting is one over normal and I'm often disappointed by the challenge. It's not bragging, I just want to make an informed choice on difficulty.

Back on topic the controller is the biggest barrier to most new gamers. The amount of times I've handed a pad to a girlfriend and she's ended up stuck in a door way or staring at the corner like shes in the Blair Witch Project is untrue. FPS controls are alien to none gamers, is any game which needs both sticks used at the same time, constant camera control or a shoulder button/trigger held while pressing a face button to activate whatever.

The best thing you can do is have a pro help you learn the ropes. similar to Hansari's basket ball experience I learned American football while living in texas. It all came together by watching games on TV, locker room chat and asking questions and my friend giving me the previous years copy of Madden. I learned not just the rules but so much about strategy and play calling, the difference between man and zone marking, why you do each, the difference between 4-3 and dime, advantages of 3 man front, beating blitz's etc.

It is a steep learning curve on Madden if you don't understand the strategy. I've not bought a new Madden in 3 years but I was regularly beating Americans at their own game and there are some poor losers out there.

Skipping sections and auto play features are terrible ideas. You want to reel in new audiences but you also want them to become actual gamers. By missing the challenging sections they are not developing their skills and could get trapped into having to skip all driving sections as an example.

Imagine all of the great gaming moments and satisfying achievements you would have missed if you skipped every boss fight?

You asked if we want games to be enjoyed by a wide variety of people.

I don't :\

SimuLord:
And if some people never want to make the leap from rhythm games or "brain trainers" to real games, that's no skin off the marketing department's back because they can just sell more idiot games to more idiots.

I for one would love to see the cessation of this particular kind of conceit- calling casual or new gamers "idiots". It does absolutely nothing to help our industry and builds resentment from those outside of it.

Now, to address other points:

The "games should just be for gamers" ideal is an incestuous and zero-growth formula. Raising the barricades too high for new blood will only lead to a decline in gaming, as those already in the hobby wander off or find other priorities. It also closes out new ideas, as the hardcore gamers usually already know what they want and tolerate little diversion. Entry into gaming should involve a learning curve, yes, but not a minefield. This is not Sparta and we do not throw our babies off of a cliff.

Saying "just get a good gamer to show you how" assumes that a new or casual gamer has easy access to a "pro" gamer who has the time and inclination to walk these people through. Not everyone does. And watching a grainy, rap-music-overlaid walkthrough on YouTube is hardly a substitute for seeing first-hand how something should be done, and experimenting yourself.

I don't think anyone here wants to dumb down games. But let's face it, there's very few "intermediate" games to be found these days; everything's either "casual" or "hardcore". And sneering down at the "unwashed masses" from our ivory gaming towers and telling them "we don't want your kind unless you'll do all the work to become just like us"... well, like the royalty of many ancient nations found out about their serfs, we need them far more than they need us. Reaching a friendly hand out to the new guys, on ALL fronts of the gaming hobby, will help keep it alive much more effectively than laughing in their faces.

I'm not even talking about navigating in 3d space or being able to manipulate a many-buttoned controller, although those are huge skills in and of themselves. I'm talking about knowing that if you're playing a game with lots of jumping and cutesy graphics, you can probably jump on an enemy's head to kill it. You know that Sonic is safe as long as he has at least one ring. You know that if there's a bar in the corner of your screen, that it probably represents your character's health, and if there are two bars, the second one probably represents magic. You know what hit points, checkpoints, and spawn points are. Don't even get me started what you know if you play MMOs.

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.

Isn't all the "Awesome information" that we gamers are supposed to posses... that baseline of understanding what the little bars do and the basic mechanics that allow us to jump into games... are not all of these things explained in the manual?

If an inexperienced gamer doesn't know what the little bars do... then they can RTFM like I did 20 years ago.

Is doing a tutorial or reading the manual... really that hard?

Exampli Gratia:

I'm talking about knowing that if you're playing a game with lots of jumping and cutesy graphics, you can probably jump on an enemy's head to kill it.

image

You know that Sonic is safe as long as he has at least one ring.

image

You know that if there's a bar in the corner of your screen, that it probably represents your character's health, and if there are two bars, the second one probably represents magic.

image

Void(null):

Is doing a tutorial or reading the manual... really that hard?

QFT!
If a newb is really that new to the hobby, he should play the tutorial or rtfm.
Unless it's a game like BG2, where the AD&D ruleset is misrepresented and poorly explained, you can for most other games expect anyone who can read english, to understand the rules of the game.

It's the little things. Like, how at the end of a Mario jump, you automatically turn backwards to make your jumps more precise.

FROGGEman2:
It's the little things. Like, how at the end of a Mario jump, you automatically turn backwards to make your jumps more precise.

Yes, its those subtle nuances that come with practice and experience, but the main article was not about nuances... rather about the basics, basics that are covered in the manual.

I quote:

I'm talking about knowing that if you're playing a game with lots of jumping and cutesy graphics, you can probably jump on an enemy's head to kill it. You know that Sonic is safe as long as he has at least one ring. You know that if there's a bar in the corner of your screen, that it probably represents your character's health, and if there are two bars, the second one probably represents magic. You know what hit points, checkpoints, and spawn points are. Don't even get me started what you know if you play MMOs.

I hated the jet ski in Uncharted too.
Anywho, I like the article, and I agree that it is difficult for new gamers to get started. I don't think the premise of easy mode helps. Dying on a game is one thing, but dying on easy is a whole new level of annoyance. I like the suggestions you made, and I would also probably use those features on a game I was finding too hard, or even just a few I'm only really semi-interested in. I used to use cheats to get through those before. Reading a manual is all well and good, but after a while you just get a feel for things in games, likely spawn points, checkpoints and the like that newbs won't know. It's a bit like playing online for the first time and getting owned because every other fucker knows all the maps like the layout of his house.

veloper:

Void(null):

Is doing a tutorial or reading the manual... really that hard?

QFT!
If a newb is really that new to the hobby, he should play the tutorial or rtfm.
Unless it's a game like BG2, where the AD&D ruleset is misrepresented and poorly explained, you can for most other games expect anyone who can read english, to understand the rules of the game.

I agree, what else is the purpose of an instruction manual other than to learn how something works.

There's a very interesting discussion here that I think is overlooking a possibly elegant solution.

We already have casual games; games that exist to bring people into the hobby.
We have lots of AAA games for people who love games and actively seek out and information on them, look to hone their skills, are already familiar with how they work.

But there doesn't seem to be many ways to bridge the gap between people who are starting off and people who are experts.

So what to do?

I think what this article addresses is the lack of bridges between the new players and the experts, and its attempt to build that bridge focuses on 'fixing' the AAA titles.

Now many of those ideas have merit-and as been stated in this thread-been implemented into games already. Some have more merit than others; I'm not sure that giving newer players the 'hey there are more trinkets' line would encourage them to play again on a harder difficulty (but I say this as someone who has never been encouraged by this.)

Prototype did something really cool here and it's similar to what Burnout does as well; you place in the top 3 of your challenge, you get points. It's worth it to replay for the gold, but if you just hate the challenge, you can get by with the bronze and still be rewarded. Whereas in Batman the grade is pass/fail. I recognize those are two very different games so if the reader could just bear with me I'd appreciate it.

All of the suggestions to make games more newbie friendly have up and downsides. But they all focus on one thing; 'fixing' the AAA titles.

Perhaps there should be a consideration and encouragement of B-list titles. As a movie analogy goes, think Evil Dead 2 or Big Trouble In Little China. Most people find them to be really enjoyable films, fun to watch, some quotable elements and they bring new members of the audience further into the genre without insulting the genre and people who love it and been watching these movies since they were 12. Very few people, however, would put either of those movies on the best horror or kung-fu flicks of all time.

Someone who like those elements of those movies though gets a vocabulary for how they work and will be more familiar with the conventions when they are used, so watching the next movie in the genre doesn't feel so alien, and they can join in with people who love it.

Perhaps games need a solid home for B-listers? Games that execute well and are very friendly but don't have the money and time behind them that Halo or God of War does but are more advanced and complicated than Wii Sports. For example: something that does the QTE thing well but not punishingly so, so that if someone really loves it fans can say to a new person: oh well if you liked THAT then try God of War which is really cool because of blahblahblah. Games like Braid are indy-but many people have commented on the punishing difficulty, so I'm trying to make a distinction there, if you get my drift.

Because gaming isn't just about gaming anymore; it's about the culture we deal with and on some level connecting to other people for advice, suggestions, and commiseration. Maybe b-list games could help them connect to us and us connect to them.

Edit; Sports kind of does this too-to bring up the NBA analogy from earlier. There are minor league teams and then casual teams all over that are comprised of people who like the sport but aren't and won't ever be great. However, they always need a body to fill in that slot. Why can videogames have a minor league of some kind?

The problem with "What do I do now" is that in games which feature it (Psychonauts, Metroid Prime 3) it blatantly gives you the answer to the puzzle and all challenge is lost. I would totally go for a game which includes cryptic clues available at any time, perhaps getting more specific for a small fee.

BlindTom:
The original Spiderman game for the playstation 1 had a "kid mode" option underneath its easy.

I always chose it when I was young because I was both afraid of failure, and a kid. (although I would never choose easy for fear of looking like a pussy.)

Eventually, after watching my brother play on normal, I noticed that entire rooms were structured differently in Kid Mode, The electric pit, guarded by laserz that you need to swing across in a zig zag pattern? In Kid Mode there was a walkway there, turning one of the most frustrating challenges into a situation where it's almost impossible to die.

To this day I have only played that game all the way through in Kid Mode (several times might I add) and it was fun, effortless, but fun for pretty much that reason.

Super Easy mode definitely shouldn't be called easy though, it should be called something more relaxing and less humiliating. Words like rookie fit the bill pretty well.

I loved that game. I'm pretty sure I played it on Kid Mode as well as normal, but I can't remember anything except enjoying every second.

Nice article, Susan =)

Now, I grew up the hard way through games - started on the 386, then the 486, playing through stuff like Breakout and Solitaire and Lemmings, then Silent Hunter and Sim City. Then I got a Game Boy, and the world of Nintendo was opened up to me (we were a non-console house) - I graduated to Gamecube, N64, PS1 etc on friends' machines, then finally acquired a PS2, a DS, a PSP of my own, then a PS3, and all the while my PC was steadily winding up to where it is today. I suppose, therefore, that I had a very gradual introduction to gaming in its multifarious forms, and never really needed to be introduced to the process. However, I did religiously read manuals, and paid attention in tutorial levels, which I suspect made up for a lot. And in the end, you know how I leanred most of what I know? Good old fashioned trial and error, as well as reading games magazines and haphazardly picking up terms like polygon count and abbreviations like FPS.

HOWEVER In hindsight, there were many instances where it would have been nice if there was a slightly gentler option. Now, I agree that there is value in learning by trial and error, incrementally gaining experience until you finally master a move set in Dynasty Warriors. And beat Lu Bu with nary a scratch. In Chaos Mode. Or whatever. However, I think Susan raises a valid point, that sometimes, a person might want to play a game famous for its depth, beauty, breathtaking action and immersive storytelling (if there is such a thing), without having to build up the skillset required to make the game easily accessible. And yes, I do know people, perfectly normal people, who don't know jack about games. They know all there is to know about other hobbies. Even a gamer who has previously only played turn-based RPGs - they might reasonably find the frenetic pace and the first-person perspective of an FPS a little daunting. Or, equally, a hardcore, oldschool platforming fan who is suddenly confronted with, I don't know, the Dresspheres board thing *shudder* form FFX.

OK, I think I'm getting confusing here. Bottom line, gaming should be friendly and accessible to everyone, from the most advanced player to the total newbie, and I think Susan makes some good suggestions for how to facilitate that. The key point, which some few people seem to be missing, is that we're all agreed that these 'aids' should be OPTIONAL, or in an extra 'rookie' mode, or whatever. If this were the case, leaving aside all practical dev considerations, there is absolutely no reason why newbies and veterans can't enjoy exactly the same game, rather than foisting the newbies off on so-called casual or 'idiot' games. Elitism is selfish, petulant and unbecoming - we should want to promote our favourite pastime to everyone, not restrict it!

justnotcricket:
HOWEVER In hindsight, there were many instances where it would have been nice if there was a slightly gentler option. Now, I agree that there is value in learning by trial and error, incrementally gaining experience until you finally master a move set in Dynasty Warriors. And beat Lu Bu with nary a scratch. In Chaos Mode. Or whatever. However, I think Susan raises a valid point, that sometimes, a person might want to play a game famous for its depth, beauty, breathtaking action and immersive storytelling (if there is such a thing), without having to build up the skillset required to make the game easily accessible.

Depth in a game means there is more to the game after you have learned the surface; it is not easily exhausted; you can keep getting better and better at it. Replacing the game with a simpler game is to remove the depth.

And yes, I do know people, perfectly normal people, who don't know jack about games. They know all there is to know about other hobbies. Even a gamer who has previously only played turn-based RPGs - they might reasonably find the frenetic pace and the first-person perspective of an FPS a little daunting.

And why do these people not start from a simpler game which has a lower number of main elements to keep track of, such as Doom? Such as Serious Sam?

OK, I think I'm getting confusing here. Bottom line, gaming should be friendly and accessible to everyone, from the most advanced player to the total newbie, and I think Susan makes some good suggestions for how to facilitate that. The key point, which some few people seem to be missing, is that we're all agreed that these 'aids' should be OPTIONAL, or in an extra 'rookie' mode, or whatever. If this were the case, leaving aside all practical dev considerations, there is absolutely no reason why newbies and veterans can't enjoy exactly the same game, rather than foisting the newbies off on so-called casual or 'idiot' games.

This is 100% wrong. It is not exactly the same game when you have eviscerated the complexity, the pacing and the difficulty; it's a different game sharing the graphics and sound of game #1.

I do not want idiot games for anyone. I want people to play simple, easy - but non-coddling - good games. Knowing they surpassed whatever limited challenge in there still gives them a genuine sense of achievement and opens up more challenging games. I don't want them to play a watered down parody of a good game, be even more confused by all the training wheel functionality piled on top, and get the plot/environment/etc of the real game spoiled for them in case they'd like to play it at some point.

Elitism is selfish, petulant and unbecoming - we should want to promote our favourite pastime to everyone, not restrict it!

If you aspire to be better than you are now, you are an elitist. If you prefer the opinion of someone who knows what they are talking about, instead of one who knows nothing, you are an elitist. You can either be elitist, or stupid.

What you and Susan are rooting for is the equivalent of a publisher including a Simple English and pictorial translation into every poetry book so that everyone can "experience" the poetry without being able to read, or a brewery offering their award-winning strong-tasting bitter mixed with tasteless lager so that everyone can "experience" the bitter despite not being able to handle its taste. That's actually hiding the experience from the newbies, not a shortcut to it, and fundamentally newbie-hostile.

Nutcase:

What you and Susan are rooting for is the equivalent of a publisher including a Simple English and pictorial translation into every poetry book so that everyone can "experience" the poetry without being able to read, or a brewery offering their award-winning strong-tasting bitter mixed with tasteless lager so that everyone can "experience" the bitter despite not being able to handle its taste. That's actually hiding the experience from the newbies, not a shortcut to it, and fundamentally newbie-hostile.

Agreed in full.

I do however, believe it is up to developers to place more importance of level design and difficulty curve, not just for newbies but for everyone. But in no way, shape or form should games be watered down so that "everyone" can enjoy them for exactly the reason you listed.

Fredrick2003:
You asked if we want games to be enjoyed by a wide variety of people.

I don't :\

Ok, I have to ask: why not?

Rockstar need to read this article.

Thier GTA games are one of the biggest selling, most popular games out there (barring one or two Halo sized juggernauts) yet continue to feature utterly frustrating game mechanics that drive both new and experienced players crazy.

At least they brought in checkpoints in TLATD though. That's encouraging.

man, all the stuff in that article would be great.
i learned to game by watching my grandmother play LoZ: link to the past on the snes, asking questions whenever i didn't understand something. the whole time reading the manual and memorizing it. the first time i played halo 2 i played 1v1 with a friend, who was nice enough to tell me what button on the controller did what(i had to learn how to look down scopes on my own). by the end of the day i won my first match, no holds barred, rockets, headlong(24-25)
but for those who either lack the patience to study manuals, or the friends to lead them through; a navigator feature or even just the ever so subtle ocarina of time style hint system is invaluable(though annoying). if only because i get tired of showing my sister how to use the map.

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