The Dumbification of Gaming

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

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

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

Shogun 2.
Dragon Age 2.

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

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

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

poiumty:

Traun:

poiumty:
What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.

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

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

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

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

I think he might be talking about the kind of people who play Farmville. Which I don't really think counts. Because of all the people that I know who play facebook games, I haven't known them to move onto other games.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

poiumty:

Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.

What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.

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

But good luck getting people to understand.

Dude have you ever heard of popcap and zynga, they are almost entirely PC based

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

Streamlining the interface sometimes makes games simpler. If the interface is well done in the first place, the only way to streamline it further is to take away features. By taking away features the player gets less options to achieve the task. With the lack of options difficulty can only be scaled by expecting better execution instead of a creative approach.

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

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

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

justnotcricket:

I would agree with Akalabeth that the combat in PoP (cell shaded flavour) was total arse, which made it a good thing that you didn't have to do it very often. I also agree with Straying Bullet, however, in that the the game was fun. For me it was just the sheer joy of swinging and flipping and parkour-ing my way around pretty levels. Admittedly, it was the first PoP game I had ever played, so perhaps I didn't have any preconceived expectations of how things should be, but at the same time I had no nostalgia bias, and so I can say that as someone new to the series (?) it genuinely stands up on its own if you like exploring a pretty world in flippy, swingy PoP style. As a veteran of Tomb Raider exploration, the feedom and fluidity of PoP was gloriously liberating. I guess you could say 'oh, well, she just didn't know any better' but at the end of the day, I had fun, and that's the point, right?

Well, personally I like the fighting. Not the exploring. So the cell shaded is going to be very shortly traded in for some credit towards something else. The swinging around on bars and so forth is cool and all, but, I can't hack a game where all I'm doing is gathering orbs. Or I suppose what I'm saying is that exploring is fine, but there needs to be some more to it than that. And in cell shaded POP I didn't find that.

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

Irridium:

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).

Well then he is a fool. Still, different genres; they didn't make a stupid System Shock.

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...

To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve

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

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

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

EDIT:

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

Anton P. Nym:

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...

To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve

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

Anton P. Nym:

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...

To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve

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

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

Check out Doom 2's credits. There are, what, twenty people listed? MW2 had over two hundred.

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

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

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

-- Steve

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

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...

HOLY SHIT! I know what map that is!

...freaky.

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

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

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

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

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

I was with you right up until this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What? WotLK was insanely difficult if you did the special versions of encounters that gave special loot and acheivements. Killing Yogg-Saron without the help of the minibosses was something that ONLY the top guilds did.

Mittens The Kitten:
What? WotLK was insanely difficult if you did the special versions of encounters that gave special loot and acheivements. Killing Yogg-Saron without the help of the minibosses was something that ONLY the top guilds did.

Keep in mind I mentioned that the difficulty of completing the encounter was very low, achievements and heroic modes were supplementary and weren't required to see the end content.

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

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

Ah yes. It does feel like this at times.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VonBrewskie:

Anton P. Nym:

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...

To be fair, the map on the left cost as many man-hours to create as perhaps half-way to the first cutscene on the map of the right. In this case it's not a matter of simplifying to appeal to the masses, but of how graphically-intense today's 3D games are.

-- Steve

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

Yeah, Doom (and to a lesser extent, Doom 2) are amazing feats of programming skill, but most of the work in creating a game isn't programming, especially not for modern games.
It's the art.

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

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

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

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

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

Shamus Young:
I'd love it if more games tried to split the difference like this and offered old-school depth as well as broad appeal.

That cannot happen at the AAA level anymore.
Niche' appeal scares investors too much.

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

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

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

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

WaaghPowa:

Mittens The Kitten:
What? WotLK was insanely difficult if you did the special versions of encounters that gave special loot and acheivements. Killing Yogg-Saron without the help of the minibosses was something that ONLY the top guilds did.

Keep in mind I mentioned that the difficulty of completing the encounter was very low, achievements and heroic modes were supplementary and weren't required to see the end content.

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

It's an MMO, all content was supplementary, a diehard PVPer could easily get what could easily be called a complete experience and never set foot in a raid.
The difficulty curve that went from regular dungeon to heroic special raid encounter was enough so that about any guild could fit somewhere on the spectrum. Besides, the special achievement fights and the basic ones were not the same encounters, and the loot was changed accordingly.

Mittens The Kitten:

The difficulty curve that went from regular dungeon to heroic special raid encounter was enough so that about any guild could fit somewhere on the spectrum. Besides, the special achievement fights and the basic ones were not the same encounters, and the loot was changed accordingly.

You may not agree that the difficulty was too low, but not a single person on my realm thought it was hard. Infact there was a post by Ghostcrawler regarding the difficulty of Cataclysm instances in contrast to Wotlk, saying that they made it a mistake and made it too easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

poiumty:

Eventually they will lay the blame at the feet of the (mostly PC based) casual crowd and their sense of entitlement.

What? That doesn't make sense. The casual crowd isn't mostly PC based, and there is no PC based casual crowd that gets the blame for games becoming easier. What are you on about.

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

But good luck getting people to understand.

Most casual games are PC based, dude. Where have you been?

The3rdEye:
Quite complaining that X-com is not Enemy Unknown, that game has already been made and any attempt to reproduce it will inevitably fall short because if it's different, there will be some who "hates" it.

The problem I have with the new X-Com is that it has literally no reason to be an X-Com game. The date has been changed; the genre has been changed; the aliens have been changed; the only similarity between the two games is that aliens attack earth and the humans fight back. Under this requirement Halo could be an X-Com game.

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

Mittens The Kitten:
It's an MMO, all content was supplementary, a diehard PVPer could easily get what could easily be called a complete experience and never set foot in a raid.
The difficulty curve that went from regular dungeon to heroic special raid encounter was enough so that about any guild could fit somewhere on the spectrum. Besides, the special achievement fights and the basic ones were not the same encounters, and the loot was changed accordingly.

First off, the "special achievement" fights, as you so call them, only gave 1-2 pieces of extra loot from a separate loot table. It still had all the same loot as the original encounter; that is, until Heroic modes were implemented.

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

Bostur:

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

Streamlining the interface sometimes makes games simpler. If the interface is well done in the first place, the only way to streamline it further is to take away features. By taking away features the player gets less options to achieve the task. With the lack of options difficulty can only be scaled by expecting better execution instead of a creative approach.

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

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

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

Yeah, actually DA II would be a case in point example of adding cheap difficulty. Every single fight is just a matter of additional enemies being spawned midway through, testing only your endurance and no meaningful long term strategy.

"Experienced Points: The Dumbification of Gaming

Shamus wants us to stop fighting and get along."

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

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

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

Anton P. Nym:

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

Check out Doom 2's credits. There are, what, twenty people listed? MW2 had over two hundred.

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

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

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

-- Steve

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

Thanks for the explanation! I don't really understand these things very well. I am a laborer for the most part, so I don't know much about computer design. I appreciate your feedback homie!

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