Jimquisition: Linearity versus Replayability

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Wow. The first time I've not just thought the Jimquisition was okay, but actually good!
I think what I liked about it was that the topic was actually something that wasn't completely obvious. Sure it was obvious, but not to most, like your usual topics. And once again, you were a gamer. Keep it up!

This reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday with one of my friends (lets call him Jack because thats his name) about linearity and multiplayer.

Jack: I'm getting bored of my Xbox, theres no good games for it anymore. I think I'll focus on my PC because all the games are much better on the computer.

Me: What about L.A. Noire? Thats good on the console. I don't think there would be much difference, you don't need to spent 75 on upgrading your PC.

Jack: Yeah but L.A. Noire is linear. Linear games are just rubbish.

Me: What? Whats wrong with linear games?

Jack: I don't like them, they're boring.

Me: Why? They're linear for a reason so you see all the things they want you to see.

Jack: I like multiplayer, L.A. Noire doesn't have that.

Me: But you like single player on Halo 3 and CoD. You told Gary you liked Half Life 2, thats linear.

Jack: No I don't really like them actually. I only said that so Gary wouldn't get upset. I don't like single player because its linear.

Me: But you like GTA 4 and Red Dead Repemption. They're a lot like L.A. Noire. You can go anywhere in L.A. that you want. The main missions are linear because they sort of have to be, besides isn't the point of playing a game for the main missions? The extra stuff is nice to have but thats not really what you pay most money for. Red Dead is linear because it has to be.

Jack: Linearity is just rubbish, it restricts me.

Me: Some people cant see the cake for the candles......

Frozen Donkey Wheel2:
OK Jim, here's the thing: I agree with you about 95% of the time, but....listen carefully here...YOU DON'T HAVE TO ACT LIKE A DICK TO BE ENTERTAINING. It's not like if you stop ripping off Yahtzee we'll all just lose interest, OK? You're a smart guy. PLEASE start acting like one.

This. Him being that way doesn't change or add to his point, but he's probably annoyed that everybody insists that MP is an absolute must.

OT: I've replayed my fair share of games (mainly the campaigns of CoD4 and CoDW@W) because the singleplayer is good enough to be worth experiencing another time. I don't get the "MP is the game" bandwagon more and more people are jumping on to.

Again Jim brings up valid points, only problem I have is his choice of examples. Not that I disagree those are all great replay games, but he sort of skirted the fact one. It's not just that they are good games, but each has multiple ways to play through it. Gears of War is a great game, with fun gameplay and acceptable story, but I've only played it twice, once on normal, once on Insane. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE people) Compare that to the 8-9 times I've played Silent Hill 2 or Bioshock. What's different? Silent Hill 2 has a handful of alternate endings, and all sorts of hidden shit to discover. Bioshock has so many build options in concerns to how you play the game. (Melee build is WAY too fun)

Being a good game is half the battle to replay in a 'linear' experience. You need diversity or flex room in how you are allowed to play the game. This is why people go back to RPGs time and time again, as most good RPGs aren't just because of an engaging story, but you can play the game again in diametrically different ways than before. For example, FF6. I've played that god only knows how many times, using a completely different crew almost every time.

Sylocat:
I'm still waiting for him to make any points that haven't already been covered better and funnier by ZP and/or EC.

Thank you!

Or the tedious "I'm great and you suck" comments all the time. I'm all for a little poking, but these comments are getting ridiculous. When ZP does it it's well thought out and funny. When this wannabe does it, it just comes over as sad.
Maybe I don't understand him or something, but it just seems like this show is done by a random, dime-a-dozen troll with a camera and who is subtly hinting towards taking over the country. (due to his V for Vendetta Norsefire suitcolors and background)
The only reason I watch it is to see if it's finally going to get good.

The only compliment I can give him: It's good to see his mom does his laundry, I couldn't have kept that suit and shirt so colorful without fading.

Is Metro really going to be flawed by this? I mean, I've seen the gameplay, and it seems a lot more... in line with what they wanted to do. I dunno.

Dastardly:
... it's just it felt like all wind-up, and no punch. Maybe talk about ways in which multiplayer can work against replayability--for instance, because the player can't be assured that the next time through will be dependably fun, if they happen upon jackasses or cheaters in online play. Or about the myriad ways in which developers can properly incentivize replaying the game--some of which were mentioned above.

You raise a good issue. Follow through with that.

Hear, hear! Well spoken, Bruce!

Yet, I'll go a step farther. I think that Jim is making the wrong point here. Look, if you're going to tell the plain, honest, truth then go right for the Brass Ring. If you're going to put it on the line and say that Metacritic is NOT the problem, and Nintendo is FUCKING stupid (and I agree to both) then you shouldn't be afraid to make this statement either:

"Quit FUCKING up the single player campaign so that you can rush out a game with multiplayer content in time for the next product cycle. You stupid publishers are so greedy for whatever fleeting income that you imagine you may be gaining from online content, that you are creating a SUB-STANDARD - ah hell, lets just call it "shitty" - product. This is called sacrificing quality (and reputation) in the name of short term profit, which is patently stupid on its face."

There, that would be a Jim-worthy statement, and I think that it is the argument that he should have been making. [And I'll let you imagine the 'stupid face' at the end, there.]

Publishers (possibly developers too, you decide) have been straining for the perceived online revenue - and failing - at least since before Ubisoft promised (and failed) to provide ongoing MMO content that dovetailed with the release of URU.

Here's another example; remember Battlefield:Viet Nam? I sure don't. But I did play BF:1942 for a long, long time - but mostly online, because the single player "campaign" was basically a bunch of maps that were the same as used online, and the same AI bots that would be used online. Therefore I can't honestly say that there WAS a single player campaign, even though you could play offline. Although I grant you, there sure were a lot fewer armor campers offline... And BF2 was much the same way. I could play them both offline, but without a dedicated solo story, or goals, or anything, its just dull.

Now that most players have moved on other hot online titles, the Battlefield:1942, BF:V, and to some extent the BF2 servers are dead. [I would expect there is still a diehard BF2 online community] Who is going to buy a retail copy of BF:V now? What is the incentive? Lifeless single player with no story? Lifeless online servers - if there are any?

I can guarantee you one thing; people are still going to be buying retail copies of (single-player only!) Bioshock for years to come. It will continue to sell, and it should sell because it is a great game. [Actually, I think it could have been better, but I've wasted too much space here, so go see my first Escapist post for that!] And the title doesn't involve ongoing overhead costs for the publisher; like server maintenance fees. That sounds like the better business proposition to me - but hey, I'm unemployed, what do I know?

KarlMonster:
I can guarantee you one thing; people are still going to be buying retail copies of Bioshock for years to come. It will continue to sell, and it should sell because it is a great game. [Actually, I think it could have been better, but I've wasted too much space here, so go see my first Escapist post for that!] And the title doesn't involve ongoing overhead costs for the publisher; like server maintenance fees. That sounds like the better business proposition to me - but hey, I'm unemployed, what do I know?

You're right -- that's the bigger issue, as far as multiplayer-oriented games are concerned. It isn't a guarantee of replayability. For instance, while I'm enjoying the hell out of Dead Rising 2 at the moment, the online "Terror is Reality" game show component doesn't work for me because no one is on, and there's no way to do it without four players. Thankfully, it's an extremely minor part of the game and wasn't a major selling point for me.

I think this abuse of multiplayer does more than just cause an erosion in the quality of single-player portions. I think it also represents an erosion in effort on the part of developers (without a corresponding drop in price).

When you base a game entirely on multiplayer, you're essentially saying, "Here, community -- provide your own content." You provide characters, weapons, and a game space... but the players have to provide the opposition, both in terms of numbers and "AI" (in this case actual intelligence). The population of the game, then, determines a huge portion of the quality of the gaming experience -- which, thanks to that "online interactions not rated" disclaimer, the publisher is not responsible for.

These games allow developers to shrug off a tremendous amount of accountability for how good a game is, as well as introducing a certain amount of uncertainty to the customer. When I load up Dead Rising 2, I know I'm going to have a certain amount of fun available to me at a minimum. When I load up Frontlines: Fuel of War? If you just said, "Wait, what?" then you've proven my point: I'm only able to enjoy most of that game to the degree that other people are actually playing it.

So, I would contend that multiplayer-heavy games aren't about increasing replayability. They are about giving replayability a clear shelf life. When the new game comes out, your replay value dries up, and you're "encouraged" to buy the new one. It's entirely about the opposite of encouraging replay--it's about encouraging re-purchase. I'm looking at you EA ("EA Sports -- it's in the game... that you already bought last year...")

Dastardly:
So, I would contend that multiplayer-heavy games aren't about increasing replayability. They are about giving replayability a clear shelf life.

And to continue your shelf-life theme, I suddenly realized (after writing! DOH) that I had used the wrong games as examples of what I was aiming for. If EA's titles have solo play in name only, then I gain nothing by claiming they are screwing up solo campaign.

I had really meant to target CoD, and other titles for vestigial solo play - yet I used EA titles instead. Then after writing that I had a disquieting thought: what if the solo play in CoD is the value-added version of the EA-style online-only game that I groused about above? In other words: EA's game is "here, play this online for a few months," while CoD's game is "here, play this online for a few months - and if the servers are empty, there's a small solo campaign if you're really a glutton for punishment."

If this is the reality, then my complaints start to sound feeble; since the CoD model actually tries to cater to solo play while principally serving the MMO player - and not the other way around. However, if this is the true reality, there is still room to complain (just like there is always room for Jell-O). If that's their true business model, then consumers should require the games to be properly labelled.

"Warning: this product is intended for online use only. Shelf life... eh, about a year, give or take."

But really, if gamers are willing to fall for it, what does that say about the general intelligence of gamers?

I'm not trying to say "lol gamers aredumb," but the fact is, a long time ago game companies realized they could offer multiplayer as a substitute for content and marketed it as such. Then marketed it as a necessity. And now they want to charge us to act as content.

But that aside, it fits their needs. They NEED to sell us a new game every year, so they NEED to convince us of the prior game's obsolescence. And people fell for it.

There's a saying in politics: You get the government you deserve.

Well, you also get the industry you deserve. Gamers as a whole have demonstrated that we will buy anything as long as it has a couple new guns, a trivial mode, or a couple extra maps. The games industry has sold us ADHD, and we bought it. We lined up for the midnight release and practically begged them to take our money.

As such, I have trouble blaming anyone but the gamer now for the money being funneled away from good single player experiences. They set the stage, but "we" are demanding it.

And while I appreciate the analogies to music, movies and books, if those media could pull it off, we all know they would.

Agreed, Jim. I really do not get the whole "multi player" thing, anyways. I'd prefer to buy a good game over a game that has both single and multi player modes. (Except for a game like Blood Bowl, in which the whole reason for the game to exist in the first place was as a player vs. player game.)

He makes good points but I don't think he is funny and swears too much.

Not that I don't think he's right as most of the time I agree with Jim but I don't really like the way some of these videos are set out. Persernally I think there are some games out there where the replayablity for the game is bad. Not out of game design but perhaps when it's story focused,

Like Bioshock, YES it's a fun game and I got hours of entertainment out of it but for me persernally I don't like playing it really. The second time round isn't as great as the first time. I get that Jim's saying it's ignorant to think of Linear as being boring, dull and just a single playthrough experiance but I can't stand this "If you don't agree with me then your stupid"

I mean if your going to argue a point across to people then why should people who think linear games offer no replayability listen to you when your quite frankly just telling them how dumb they are. I know he's not meaning to but sometimes it comes off a little more persernal then Ben Croshaw's videos. I've never seen a single person being vocal about their hate of Linear games, I admit although I do like some of the games mentioned I'm not a big fan of Linear games. I prefer Open world. Not to be rude but the last time I checked our opinion on what types of game we like dosen't determine how smart we are.

I'm late to replying on this, but I also agree with you.

I've played games like Half Life 2, Portal, Portal 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum, (attempted to beat) I wanna be the guy and countless others.

However, Duke Nukem Forever was just appauling.

I must've beaten "Sonic the Hedgehog" (parts 1 and 2 combined) literally 500 times since getting a Genesis when I was a kid.

So, there you go.

I used to think that, once you played through a game, that was the end of it. Thanks, Jim, for setting me straight.

I just wish I'd seen this before selling Skyward Sword.

Anyone who's played games enough should know this by now. That coop, and multiplayer are just rather bad, clumsy ways of trying to make it replayable. Those modes don't fit every game so it will feel out of place and waste resources the game could have used for more important stuff.

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