The Dumbification of Gaming

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Irridium:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

image

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

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

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

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

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

You actually had fun with that game? Wow, I Didn't get past the second level. Doing nothing but acrobatics and fighting ONE GUY per level got boring very fast. Forgotten sands was pretty decent though. That was the biggest problem for me, the lack of combat, and the very rigid boring nature of that combat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZeroG131:
Best example: Bioshock. It's literally nothing but a bunch of hallways! In older game, like the original Half Life you had no clues, no hints, you just kept going. You had a bunch of different routes; their were a few dead ends, but most route either converged or the dead ends could be overcome. (sending a tram through a barricade) In Bioshock you're constantly being told where to go.

I've never understood the appeal with bioshock myself. People say how great the atmosphere is, blah blah blah, but it's just a tunnel crawl with underwater backdrop instead of bricks. And the enemies are all samey-same, and the boss battles are not every engaging because they can fought at a time of your choosing. Compare this to Half Life where that big badass in the tunnels comes at you and you've got nothing to do but run the hell out of there.

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

Traun:

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

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

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

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

Manuals used to be about more than instruction booklets. I didn't read the Ultima IV Quest for the Avatar manual for instructions, I read it for the fluff, for the bestiary. It had original artwork. Stories, history. Not just screen caps and some irrelevant blurb. Ultima IV came with two pseudo-cloth manuals, a hotkey sheet, a metal ankh and a cloth map. What do we get now days? A pamphlet with recycled game art and terrible lay out. I'm not surprised no one reads the manuals anymore.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh god this, this is pretty much the crux of most older RPG's (such as Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment etc). For example, memorizing spells in Baldur's Gate 2: to learn a spell you first have to find a scroll, then you open up your inventory (menu count: 1), right click the scroll (menu count: 2), click memorize (menu count: 3), rearrange the spells, open up yet another menu to rest (menu count: 4) and watch a small clip of a couple of beds. Holy shit, thats 4 unnecessary menus and a small cut-scenes which add nothing to the experience and there are no penalties for resting whenever.

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

Irridium:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

image

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

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

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

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

draythefingerless:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.

A 'hard' mode neither changes enemy AI (just increases the HP) nor linear level and gameplay structure.

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

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

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

Shamus Young:
Experienced Points: The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus wants us to stop fighting and get along.

Read Full Article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this makes me happy.

Irridium:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

image

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

I honestly dont think either of those are truly appealing. While the "corridor" shooter maps are limiting, the large area maps are practically made to take as long as possible, by having a key open a door on the other side of the map, which said door belongs to a room with a key to another door on the other other side of the map.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good news travels.
Bad news travels at light speed.

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

Irridium:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

image

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

Depends,
How fast can you run it?

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

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

draythefingerless:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.

A 'hard' mode neither changes enemy AI (just increases the HP) nor linear level and gameplay structure.

you seem to be speaking of a particular game, or games, instead of gaming as a whole. i know a lot of games where these difficulties kill you. A lot. I would also like to know how games were harder back then. I know some were harder by level complexion, but apart from that, they were harder for the same reasons youre saying now. Lower HP, HIgher HP for enemies, more use of one hit kills, thats about it. In fact, speaking of enemy AI, to assume that AI 10 years ago was ANYWHERE near complex as what we have today, is near insulting. To some people.

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

Ken Levine said Bioshock would be a spiritual successor to the System Shock series. So yeah, it was the head dude(of both Bioshock and System Shock).

Zay-el:

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

WanderingFool:

I honestly dont think either of those are truly appealing. While the "corridor" shooter maps are limiting, the large area maps are practically made to take as long as possible, by having a key open a door on the other side of the map, which said door belongs to a room with a key to another door on the other other side of the map.

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

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

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

Oh trust me, I know. The old ways are not much better. But I'd rather have them then what we have now. But of course a hybrid would be great. Or perhaps the old way with less stupidity(keys, levers, ect.).

HankMan:

Depends,
How fast can you run it?

If I really tried with my eyes open? Probably 20-30 minutes. Time also varies based on the difficulty(the easiest has no enemies, the hardest has infinitely respawning enemies, everywhere).

Worr Monger:

draythefingerless:
I has an idea. Devs invented Hard difficulty level. They invented Very Hard difficulty level. use it.

This does work in some cases. But some games can be annoyingly hard if you crank it too far.

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

Explain to me how they did it in the past. And again, along with another one who replied to me, you seem to be speaking of a very specific game or games. Games in the past were harder for those very reasons, at least the ones that have those elements. AND the occasional level complexion. One of the few genres i can unanimaly say has gotten easier, is side scrolling. Apart from that, all ive seen is games having Normal difficulty be....normal, as opposed to stupidly hard. Speaking the general sense.

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

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

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

Irridium:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

image

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

While that's obviously for comic effect, I would have to say that the current design of FPS maps are more linear but they provide more ways to approach a situation. With the old DOOM maps, as others have said, you could only enter a room with a key that was behind another room that needed another key, so you had to go in precise order and know exactly where and when to shoot (as you can do with your eyes closed :P). Current FPS maps (at least the good ones) offer more variety in how your shoot something, at least.

Jumplion:

While that's obviously for comic effect, I would have to say that the current design of FPS maps are more linear but they provide more ways to approach a situation. With the old DOOM maps, as others have said, you could only enter a room with a key that was behind another room that needed another key, so you had to go in precise order and know exactly where and when to shoot (as you can do with your eyes closed :P). Current FPS maps (at least the good ones) offer more variety in how your shoot something, at least.

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

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

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

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

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

ZeroG131:

Irridium:
Feel this picture is appropriate:

image

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

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

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

To be fair, Half Life 2 never endeavours to be open world. It's designed to be linear to better tell the story. Sure you can say it's just a bunch of corridors, but you could probably say the same about most games if you simplified it enough.

Irridium:

Jumplion:

While that's obviously for comic effect, I would have to say that the current design of FPS maps are more linear but they provide more ways to approach a situation. With the old DOOM maps, as others have said, you could only enter a room with a key that was behind another room that needed another key, so you had to go in precise order and know exactly where and when to shoot (as you can do with your eyes closed :P). Current FPS maps (at least the good ones) offer more variety in how your shoot something, at least.

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

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

Depending on how it's handled, sure. It's versatility vs. variety (if that makes any sense whatsoever), either have a versatile linear corridor so that you can discover new strategies, or go through a huge map where many areas will be unexplored or ignored. I think it borders on a sandbox approach, and some games just aren't meant for that. Obviously, there's nothing stopping these two aspects from merging together, they're not completely separate entities.

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

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

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

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

draythefingerless:

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

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

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

Raiyan 1.0:

draythefingerless:

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

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

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

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

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

Mantonio:

To be fair, Half Life 2 never endeavours to be open world. It's designed to be linear to better tell the story. Sure you can say it's just a bunch of corridors, but you could probably say the same about most games if you simplified it enough.

The difference being that Half life never felt linear, and would allow you to explore to an extent, possibly finding special locations that help to tell the story of current events.

Irridium:

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

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

The lack of exploration is a big problem, too many fps's try for that cinematic thing which gets tiresome once it's done one hundred billion times.
The original Crysis is a good example of giving a certain level of freedom while sticking to a linear path. The environments were large enough that you could explore in order to find a different angle of attack, but ultimately led you to the same conclusion.

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

The single player campaign is a bad place to judge HL2's AI due to it's linear structure and scripted fights. It's better to try it out in Gmod.

Other cases of the out flanking was just them looking for cover. There was no suppression fire in Half Life. Only plain regular "imma kill you" fire. Kinda hard to have suppression fire if there is no squad/army/battalion to suppress... Half Life is a great game, but dont make it to be more than it is.

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

I blame the N-Gage-tards.

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

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

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

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

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