In Defense of Hepler Mode

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DrVornoff:
Because snarling invectives at someone and rationalizing abusing them for merely saying something you disagreed with without the slightest hint of humor or irony just makes you an asshole? I don't know, maybe I was just raised better.

Lets take the original quote shall we?

As for Hepler herself, while the community at the time certainly didn't handle things correctly, she IS nothing less than a living tumor, one of many Bioware developed and rotted down to nothing because of.

The metaphor here is that Hepler's actions at Bioware resemble that of a tumour. She was grown on the inside by the host, and her actions and poor writing are slowly killing the company. Notice how he also says 'one of many'. This isn't just directed to Hepler, but the dropped standard of many writers at Bioware. I believe he mentioned David Gaider as well in a later post.

But thanks for the arrogance, I've been nothing but civil so far.

What do you even mean by 'movies are more accessible'? That they're catering to the lowest common denominator? Why is that a good thing?

That's seriously the first assumption you went for?

Well yeah, that's kind of what 'more accessible' means. If you cater to the lowest common denominator you are, by definition, marketing your product to the largest amount of people.

And why is it invalid when people compare movies to books all the time even though those are "fundamentally different?"

Firstly, why have you even brought books into the situation? I never even mentioned them. Secondly, I never said comparing movies and games always made your point invalid, I merely said that you cannot treat them as the same just because they are both entertainment. They both have individual qualities that must be taken into account.

Think about the market for movies for a moment. Even if the major studios are too busy pandering most of the time to take their heads out of their asses, there are movies literally for everybody. No matter what race, social class, cultural background, or general overall taste is, there are movies being made for you. They are ingrained into our pop culture. They're one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. How is that bad?

They're catering to lots of different markets, I never said that was a bad thing. In fact it's great. Attempting to cater to multiple markets at once by making games 'more accessible' however, is a bad thing for gaming.

With videogames, 'more accessible' means you have to simplify gameplay.

Interestingly, that is a gross oversimplification. Everyone acts like simplicity is a bad thing, yet they also are pretty quick to tell us how much they loved Shadow of the Colossus. There's also a difference between being complex and being convoluted.

In most cases it's a bad thing, but I will admit that it can work in some games. SoTC however, I would argue isn't one of these. I would define accessibility as someone who has never or very sparingly used a controller before, picking up a game and being able to play without much difficulty. If I was going to introduce someone to gaming, SoTC would not be where I would start.

If you want to expand your audience you have to make it so people who are unfamiliar to gaming can play it and not get frustrated.

Here's another major stumbling block to your argument. Take Minecraft for example. The mechanics are very simplistic, but everybody loves it. But not all games need to be exactly like Minecraft.

Minecraft is unique in that's it's pretty much it's own genre. There's nothing to really simplify from existing mechanics. Though I'll admit the left click/right click controls do work pretty well and are simple enough for new players to learn.

You are either mistakenly or intentionally conflating simplicity with poor quality and a lower barrier to entry with lowering quality all across the board. If it's the former, you're just getting yourself worked up over nothing. If it's the latter, you're doing more damage to games than good.

It's frustrating to see that when you've been playing games for years, that instead of pushing boundaries and adding to existing mechanics, people are scaling them back just to appeal to other potential customers.

Gameplay is what makes the game, movies can afford to deal with more general ideas and less controversial concepts because they can make up for it with clever cinematic techniques and good acting. If you're dumbing-down gameplay, you're always going to get a poorer quality game.

So you rush to protect games from those smelly, stupid casual gamers and then insult the entire medium in the same breath. Jesus...

It's not really an insult to say dumbing down gameplay will make for a worse game. It's like saying using poorer quality ingredients will lead to a worse meal.

secretsantaone:
It's called a metaphor.

And you suck at using them. Don't use rhetoric as an excuse to justify being a tool.

Did you honestly just say 'I suck at using metaphors'? Seriously, give me a real argument, rather than 'you're a tool'.

Eamar:

It's called an insult, metaphor or not, and it's unnecessary.

I'm not going to repeat myself, but suffice it to say that anyone who thinks Hepler (ONE writer) is the problem with Bioware, or even a major problem, is deluded. Plus a huge amount of the criticism was based on completely fabricated "quotes." And the vagina comment was a) a response to the gender-based slurs being levelled at her ("bitch" and "cunt" may not seem so bad to you, but believe me they feel like cheap moves if you're a woman) and b) nowhere near as bad as half the stuff so-called "fans" were coming up with. Are people supposed to just roll over and take these outrageous comments? Sure, it may have been a bit unprofessional but I can't say I blame her given what she had to put up with.

Believe it or not, I am a big fan of a lot of Bioware's games. I'm pissed off with some of the things they've done recently. I'm not a massive fan of everything Hepler has written (though I did like her stuff in DA:O, which people tend to conventiently forget when writing her off). I'm just saying people don't need to be throwing these disgusting insults about. It's difficult to make a reasonable point when people insist on acting like this.

Firstly, take a look at the top of this comment for my response to the insult/metaphor thing.

Secondly, yes, if you're a professional representing a company when talking with your fanbase, you roll over and take it. You do not engage in petty tit-for-tat comments which not only further enrages the people without serious arguments, but pretty much undermines everyone who does.

Any sympathy I might have had for Hepler disappeared when I saw those comments.

Spot1990:

Trippy Turtle:
So basically gamers are getting angry that someone suggested taking out the game bit of games. What did anyone expect? It was a pretty stupid suggestion.

No, christ how many times does it need to be said? Giving people the cunt gargling option to skip. If you don't want to skip don't. Then just ignore how everyone else is playing the game because it doesn't affect you.

I'm not saying I would oppose it but why would anyone waste $80 on a game when they could watch the bit they want on Youtube for free?

secretsantaone:
The metaphor here is that Hepler's actions at Bioware resemble that of a tumour. She was grown on the inside by the host, and her actions and poor writing are slowly killing the company. Notice how he also says 'one of many'. This isn't just directed to Hepler, but the dropped standard of many writers at Bioware. I believe he mentioned David Gaider as well in a later post.

But thanks for the arrogance, I've been nothing but civil so far.

No, it doesn't work as a metaphor. It's a lot of overblown melodrama. And you're still speaking in defense of people who aren't civil, so I consider you accessory to their bullshit.

Well yeah, that's kind of what 'more accessible' means. If you cater to the lowest common denominator you are, by definition, marketing your product to the largest amount of people.

So there's you and the lowest common denominator and there's nothing in between?

Firstly, why have you even brought books into the situation? I never even mentioned them. Secondly, I never said comparing movies and games always made your point invalid, I merely said that you cannot treat them as the same just because they are both entertainment. They both have individual qualities that must be taken into account.

But there are parallels, that's my point.

They're catering to lots of different markets, I never said that was a bad thing. In fact it's great. Attempting to cater to multiple markets at once by making games 'more accessible' however, is a bad thing for gaming.

So branching out to different markets is not accessibility? News to me.

In most cases it's a bad thing, but I will admit that it can work in some games. SoTC however, I would argue isn't one of these. I would define accessibility as someone who has never or very sparingly used a controller before, picking up a game and being able to play without much difficulty. If I was going to introduce someone to gaming, SoTC would not be where I would start.

So you equate simplicity with a lack of challenge?

Minecraft is unique in that's it's pretty much it's own genre. There's nothing to really simplify from existing mechanics. Though I'll admit the left click/right click controls do work pretty well and are simple enough for new players to learn.

So it still counts.

It's frustrating to see that when you've been playing games for years, that instead of pushing boundaries and adding to existing mechanics, people are scaling them back just to appeal to other potential customers.

So basically you're telling me that my assumption is correct. Okay then.

Point remains. I want there to be a lower barrier to entry. That does not mean all games have to have mechanics as minimalist as Minecraft. You can have Minecraft and still have Dark Souls at the same time. You can have Little Big Planet and Skyrim. You can have Farmville and World of Warcraft. These concepts are not mutually exclusive.

It's not really an insult to say dumbing down gameplay will make for a worse game. It's like saying using poorer quality ingredients will lead to a worse meal.

No, I was referring to you effectively saying that games are inferior to film because film has far more tools at its disposal to artistically tackle controversial subject matter.

Did you honestly just say 'I suck at using metaphors'? Seriously, give me a real argument, rather than 'you're a tool'.

Calling someone a cancer for saying something you didn't like, especially given all the abuse leveled at the person, while simultaneously claiming not to condone abuse strikes me as duplicitous and crass. Whatever happened to saying, "I disagree with you, but I don't hate you."? When did we as a community decide that saying something disagreeable made everything fair game?

Secondly, yes, if you're a professional representing a company when talking with your fanbase, you roll over and take it. You do not engage in petty tit-for-tat comments which not only further enrages the people without serious arguments, but pretty much undermines everyone who does.

Any sympathy I might have had for Hepler disappeared when I saw those comments.

No. No, I do not morally accept that. No matter what position a person is in, they are entitled to speak in their own defense. You do not have a right to harass someone just because you don't like them.

And don't give me any excuses about her response to the goon squad's attacks on her. "They treat us like animals so we'll shit on the floor," is not an acceptable rationale from people who are supposed to be adults.

I would totally use Hepler mode, especially in action adventure style games which have an interesting story/character development aspect along with a lot of fighting. As much as I enjoy certain parts of these games, I often find the fight scenes too intense. I hate being shot at or dying repeatedly. I especially hate dying and repeating a specific fight over and over until I finally get through. While some people find this kind of challenge very satisfying to overcome, I just find it emotionally draining.

I don't have any problem dialing the difficulty back to the lowest setting to get through, but sometimes even that isn't enough or just plain isn't an option. There are a few games I've had to watch other people play because watching let me distance myself from the action a little more. Less stressful, more fun. But not the same as actually playing it myself.

Since I play games for an enjoyable escape, it doesn't make much sense to play frustratingly difficult or stressful games. The trade-off is that I have to give up experiencing some potentially good games.

DrVornoff:
"They treat us like animals so we'll shit on the floor," is not an acceptable rationale from people who are supposed to be adults.

So why defend Hepler, who did exactly that?

secretsantaone:
I believe he mentioned David Gaider as well in a later post.

Yes, yes I did, and I hate Gaider too. Now, I hate him LESS than Hepler, because the man actually knows how to avoid fire rather than dive into it, indicating he has some sense of self preservation. He basically keeps his fucking mouth shut unless he's directly talking about what he's going to do in Dragon Age, and when responding to easy targets, like "family values" groups whining about gay marriage. He manages to cultivate his awful little dating sim fanbase carefully and only sticks his neck out to fight with easily knocked down opponents for some internet cred. He doesn't draw the kind of hatred to Bioware that Hepler does, so he's not a complete press disaster. He IS however just as bad of a writer, but he found his audience and knows how to handle them. Professionally speaking, that puts him above Hepler (however barely), thus I mention him less.

sumanai:

@Timmibal - Changing the argument so it's easier to argue against? Classy.

I'm not changing the argument. I'm taking what she SAID in context, to determine what she MEANT. And the only thing I can infer is that Ms. Hepler would prefer an interactive movie with a dialogue wheel that doesn't involve any kind of effort, challenge or time commitment. Due to her self-admission of being adverse to games, this is not surprising.

People, there's more to gameplay than just combat. There's more to challenging gameplay than combat. There's more to games than combat. Just because it's the only thing you care about doesn't mean it's the only thing that exists, and no-one is suggesting that you should be forced to skip the parts you like. And I don't see how being able to skip individual gameplay segments means the whole game turns into a movie. What if I just want to skip a particularly badly made segment but nothing else?

Read my post again, Ms. Hepler has only been involved in RPG derivatives, so that's what I limited my response to. A good RPG has multiple methods to achieve the same goal, and as I said previously, many of those alternate paths are more challenging than a straight up fight.

Stilt:

Sorry if I offended you, I want to preface this by saying that I'm no misogynist, but that doesn't mean I don't believe bitchy women, or men for that matter exist. I just wanted to take the word back here in america. Apparently the word cunt is more offensive than the word "nigger" in America these days and that bullshit needs to stop. Also she kind of is a cunt

You didn't offend me man, but look at the responses. All of them are attacking your method of delivery rather than dealing with your argument.

LiquidGrape:
Unrelated to the topic at hand, can people explain to me why Hepler is such an allegedly unequivocally terrible writer?

Look up the reviews of her novel on amazon. They go into FAR more detail than I'm willing to waste on it without being paid for the effort.

Edit - Huh... Looks like someone did a 'DELETE FUCKING EVERYTHING' on the reviews and ratings. There were at least 10 there last time I checked. Oh well, maybe I'll elaborate in a later post.

Her work on The Anvil of the Void questline in Origins was an incredibly atmospheric and well-paced piece of storytelling, with each scrap of information pertaining the fate of Branka's house uncovered slowly but surely to finally reveal the true extent of the horror it involved.

Really? I felt it was a bit 'paint by numbers' considering the darkspawn exposition we had already received, and that was before I knew Hepler was involved. Admittedly at that stage I was already sick of the damn deep roads.

She was also responsible for Bethany and Leandra in DAII, both of whom were very sympathetic and grounded characters.

Both of whom you spend the LEAST amount of time interacting with. Kind of hard to fuck up a bit role. And it would explain why I felt more connection to the damn dwarf than my own mother in that game.

I get the distinct and unpleasant feeling that a majority of complaints regarding Hepler are really just tied to her having an opinion on games which doesn't necessarily ring true to the base.

Personally, I just think she's a sub-par author. It is compounded by her admitted desire to see game writing 'achieve' the level of a childrens author (Rowling) and the producer of one of the most universally panned literary abominations of this generation (Meyer).

Specific to her view on games, however. Do you trust a Jeweller with an allergy to gold? A vegetarian Butcher? A Chocolatier who hates chocolate? An abstinent Brewer or Vitner?

If you are working in a creative medium and you do not have a passion for the thing you create, you should find another job for the sake of your customers.

- That, and her being a woman in a subculture inhabited by a very peculiar and nasty breed of misogynists.

Rim shot. :)

Therumancer:
Go read this Awesome Post I just snipped.

I... I think I love you...

maxben:

-Torchedini-:
Hepler Mode is fine by me but is it still a game then. If you are skipping the combat then it simply becomes an interactive movie or the stories that appear on here sometimes.

There are no such things as interactive movies, no one sells anything labelled that. However, technically most video games would fall into the category of an entertainment that you watch (movie) and that you interact with (interactive).

You might want to look into FMV games: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_motion_video
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_interactive_movies

Mike Richards:
What's the problem with trying? How will a game that experiments with a new structure be as cataclysmic as everyone seems to think it'd be. Does the existence of Dear Esther, a game with essentially no direct input from the player other then walking, somehow destroy Gears of War? Did the simplified leveling in Mass Effect prevent Wasteland 2 from entering development?

The "gameplay" part of Dear Esther was walking around, there's also different genres one might happen to like very much like Adventures or Puzzle games or whatever that don't involve any kind of combat.
The thing described here isn't "a new structure" or "experiment", it just sounds like a stupid idea mixed with lazy design... Dear Esther might not be everyones cup of tea and not everyone might enjoy it, but what is proposed here is skipping entire sections to where talking happens because "walking around is boring"... it's part of the experience. Or wanting a way to remove all Puzzle/Problem solving from Adventure games or the likes of Spacechem etc.
Games are casualized and "dumbed down" enough as it is, do people really want to remove the last glimmer of "game" from them to reach an even more casual/"wider audience" that doesn't even like games?... God I'm really thankful for Kickstarter as developers using it wouldn't even have to consider such a borderline retarded idea...

GB: Unfortunately, role-playing games have lost much of their original identity in recent years, thanks in part to the popularity of first-person action RPGs. How do you convince a newer or younger RPG fan who has grown accustomed to the action-focused titles to give Wasteland 2 a shot?

Brian: Well here is the beauty of fan funding... we don't have to convince some younger RPG player of anything. I am making this game for the wonderful fans who put their money behind us and not some nebulous group of new people. Let's make the game they all expect and let the chips fall where they may. There is just no way I'm going to consider anything that could let down the core.

DrVornoff:

No, it doesn't work as a metaphor. It's a lot of overblown melodrama. And you're still speaking in defense of people who aren't civil, so I consider you accessory to their bullshit.

So still no argument other than 'no it isn't'. Great.

So there's you and the lowest common denominator and there's nothing in between

A lower common denominator if you want to be pedantic.

Firstly, why have you even brought books into the situation? I never even mentioned them. Secondly, I never said comparing movies and games always made your point invalid, I merely said that you cannot treat them as the same just because they are both entertainment. They both have individual qualities that must be taken into account.

But there are parallels, that's my point.

But you cannot compare them without taking the differences into account too. That's my point.

So branching out to different markets is not accessibility? News to me.

Not if you're specifically aiming at one target audience. If you're making a kinect game aimed at families, and the gameplay, marketing and franchise as a whole is aimed at this target market, I have no problem with that. That's just good design.

If you take existing franchises and attempt to cater to many multiple audiences through 'accessibility', that's what I have a problem with.

In most cases it's a bad thing, but I will admit that it can work in some games. SoTC however, I would argue isn't one of these. I would define accessibility as someone who has never or very sparingly used a controller before, picking up a game and being able to play without much difficulty. If I was going to introduce someone to gaming, SoTC would not be where I would start.

So you equate simplicity with a lack of challenge?

Not simplicity, but accessibility. There's no point in attracting people who don't play games if you're just going to drive them away by making your game difficult for them.

Minecraft is unique in that's it's pretty much it's own genre. There's nothing to really simplify from existing mechanics. Though I'll admit the left click/right click controls do work pretty well and are simple enough for new players to learn.

So it still counts.

Like I say, it's unique. You have given just one example. A simple control scheme does not instantly make an accessible game either. VVVVVV has a simple control scheme, but it sure has hell isn't very accessible to someone who's never played a game before.

It's frustrating to see that when you've been playing games for years, that instead of pushing boundaries and adding to existing mechanics, people are scaling them back just to appeal to other potential customers.

So basically you're telling me that my assumption is correct. Okay then.

Point remains. I want there to be a lower barrier to entry. That does not mean all games have to have mechanics as minimalist as Minecraft. You can have Minecraft and still have Dark Souls at the same time. You can have Little Big Planet and Skyrim. You can have Farmville and World of Warcraft. These concepts are not mutually exclusive.

The concepts of being hard and easy in the same game ARE mutually exclusive. I'm not talking about having different games for different markets. I'm talking about consciously expanding a games target market by dumbing down.

I'm glad you mentioned Skyrim. Many agree it's a good game, but to those that played Morrowind, you can't help but see it's been made 'more accessible', and it's suffered for it.

No, I was referring to you effectively saying that games are inferior to film because film has far more tools at its disposal to artistically tackle controversial subject matter.

No, it has more tools to tackle stupid subject matter. You'll find a lot of people say 'You can make a good film out of anything'. The same cannot be said of videogames if the gameplay is lacking. If you do not have good gameplay, you do not have a good game.

That does not make it inferior, and nowhere did I even imply that, it's just that the one element is much more important.

Calling someone a cancer for saying something you didn't like, especially given all the abuse leveled at the person, while simultaneously claiming not to condone abuse strikes me as duplicitous and crass. Whatever happened to saying, "I disagree with you, but I don't hate you."? When did we as a community decide that saying something disagreeable made everything fair game?

Again, you're taking it purely as an insult rather than the allegory the context implies. I even gave you the context in my last post.

No. No, I do not morally accept that. No matter what position a person is in, they are entitled to speak in their own defense. You do not have a right to harass someone just because you don't like them.

And don't give me any excuses about her response to the goon squad's attacks on her. "They treat us like animals so we'll shit on the floor," is not an acceptable rationale from people who are supposed to be adults.

Does she have the right to defend herself?
Yes

Should she have defended herself in the manner that she did?
God no

I'm not defending the people who used ad-hominem attacks on her. What I'm saying is the way she reacted did nothing to help her or the company she was representing and only served to belittle the genuine criticism and dismiss it as sexist. Surely her reaction was exactly "They treat us like animals so we'll shit on the floor". It was just as presumptuous and stupid as the people attacking her.

I didn't really see a whole ton of actual outrage, more so just people wryly jeering Hepler. Admittedly, what I saw was hilarious and I honestly don't normally care who offends who so I was indifferent at the time. Still don't care.

As for her idea, if devs want to put something in their game, then do it, test the waters, see how people respond. If they like it, good, if they don't, trash it or tweak it. There will invariably be an inordinate amount of bitching from the detractors who feel this new feature is "sullying the purity of their games" or some crap.

My personal opinion? It may too early for something like this to exist in standard AAA project and, given the risky nature of implementing in new ideas, probably not very practical right now either. The appeal of such a feature, while existent, is probably catering to the minority. Ultimately, I imagine if something like this was included then unlocking specific story elements or bonus features would ONLY be possible if you actually played the game. Perhaps some other way of "earning" the "100%" story could be determined. To me, the biggest issue with this is that all of the "work" and thus accomplishment is eliminated from the experience. Immersion, identification and emotional bonding take a hit too. For me, those factors tend to replace what video game writing often lacks in substance. I think writing in vidjya games is really gonna need to kick it up a notch for me to even care about something like this. Although, I'm really just thinking of DA2 right now, so perhaps I'm looking at this whole situation through shit tinted lenses.

As for Hepler, it seems to me she just managed to inadvertently reinforce her own negative feminine stereotypes (or at least, people chose to perceive her statement that way) and also be part of the atrocious dragon age 2 writing. That was enough to paint a target on her back.

FredTheUndead:
So why defend Hepler, who did exactly that?

Because you're the antagonist.

secretsantaone:
So still no argument other than 'no it isn't'. Great.

You have continually tried to explain it, and I still find it inappropriate. What do you want?

A lower common denominator if you want to be pedantic.

So you and every denominator that's not you, then?

But you cannot compare them without taking the differences into account too. That's my point.

And you can't simply say there are differences as if that nullifies my point about the parallels.

Not if you're specifically aiming at one target audience. If you're making a kinect game aimed at families, and the gameplay, marketing and franchise as a whole is aimed at this target market, I have no problem with that. That's just good design.

If you take existing franchises and attempt to cater to many multiple audiences through 'accessibility', that's what I have a problem with.

What if the developers decide that a mechanic would work better a different way? What if they want to experiment?

Not simplicity, but accessibility. There's no point in attracting people who don't play games if you're just going to drive them away by making your game difficult for them.

Bullshit. Pokemon. Very easy to get into, but actually a very deep rabbit hole. There is a difference between approachable depth and shallowness.

Like I say, it's unique. You have given just one example. A simple control scheme does not instantly make an accessible game either. VVVVVV has a simple control scheme, but it sure has hell isn't very accessible to someone who's never played a game before.

You want more examples? Fine. I gave Pokemon above. Rollercoaster Tycoon. Plants vs. Zombies. Anything made by Telltale Games. Cthulhu Saves the World. Costume Quest. All games with very simple mechanics, very easy to get into, and most of them have pretty good replay value. Hell, even though I don't usually recommend 1st person games to new players, Portal is still a great game and one that damn near anyone can finish.

I'm glad you mentioned Skyrim. Many agree it's a good game, but to those that played Morrowind, you can't help but see it's been made 'more accessible', and it's suffered for it.

Funny you should mention that. I've only gotten to briefly try Skyrim, but I found it superior to Morrowind in every way.

No, it has more tools to tackle stupid subject matter. You'll find a lot of people say 'You can make a good film out of anything'. The same cannot be said of videogames if the gameplay is lacking. If you do not have good gameplay, you do not have a good game.

That does not make it inferior, and nowhere did I even imply that, it's just that the one element is much more important.

Then I would argue that you don't understand what goes into making movies or games. A good actor cannot save a terrible script. Excellent cinematography can only make boring dialog look pretty. Lipstick on a pig, etc.

Filmmaking is every bit as collaborative an art as game design. And even with over a century of artistic achievement backing it, filmmakers still produce duds now and again. Bad gameplay belongs in the same place as bad cinematography or bad directing or bad writing: it's just one more thing you can screw up.

That said, there are games where I was willing to forgive a few bad design choices in the gameplay because there was something else about the game that I really, really enjoyed. Take for example the bizarre moon logic present in many adventure games. I still like many of them despite that setback. Psychonauts had some problems, but it's still one of my favorite titles of all time. Hell, I had my complaints about Dragon Age II aplenty, but I still had enough fun with it to finish it twice.

And it's similar to how I've evaluated some movies. Perhaps the leading man was a bit wooden, but everything else was enjoyable so I walked out feeling pretty good about it. Maybe the script was flat, but the art direction was so breathtaking that I wanted to see it again.

Again, you're taking it purely as an insult rather than the allegory the context implies. I even gave you the context in my last post.

Yeah, you give a lot of context, but notice that it hasn't changed my perception that referring to someone as an uncurable, withering disease sound really fucking crass.

Does she have the right to defend herself?
Yes

Should she have defended herself in the manner that she did?
God no

I don't care. I don't like bullies, no matter what their reasons.

I'm not defending the people who used ad-hominem attacks on her. What I'm saying is the way she reacted did nothing to help her or the company she was representing and only served to belittle the genuine criticism and dismiss it as sexist.

Did you see some of the shit leveled at her even before she made that remark?

Surely her reaction was exactly "They treat us like animals so we'll shit on the floor". It was just as presumptuous and stupid as the people attacking her.

Again, I don't care. She's not the bully in this equation. I'm much more forgiving of people who lash out when on the defensive than I am for the hostile goons who started the nastiness in the first place. Fact of the matter is that I see no justification whatsoever for what happened. Whatever someone says or does in their defense short of bringing physical harm to another person, I am willing to forgive because I've been in that same place one too many goddamn times.

Grey Carter:
I disagree entirely, Shamus.

Giving lazy developers an excuse not to develop content in order to appeal to a small few is obviously a slippery slope.

I mean, look what happened when we introduced subtitles into games. Developers just stopped adding sound to games. Now every game is silent, and that sucks.

How about when developers introduced difficulty options like "hard mode" to games? Now every game is impossible. Where does it end, Shamus? Where? Tell me Shamus. Where? Where?

This gave me a good laugh. Thank you.

ms_sunlight:

veloper:

Can anyone release the most awesome story based game in the world though? Planescape Torment after 12+ years still holds the #1 place in these para-olympics of storytelling.
Maybe if storytelling in games much improved I can see a couple hours of just cutscenes and dialogues being worth my time.

Well, the Bioware writers seem to think they can, so let them try. Maybe the response of the gaming community will be amusing to watch atleast.

You know, The Brothers Karamazov is a really, really good book. It was first published in the 1880s. It's okay if something which is an older piece of storytelling holds the crown as one of the greatest - in fact it's one of the marks of a mature medium.

The best RPGs - like Planescape: Torment, which I've played through a couple of times myself - have so much more than combat and cut scenes. Dialogue, branching choices, puzzles, non-combat actions dependent on character stats (e.g. opening the bronze sphere, understanding the unbroken circle of Zerthimon). Cut all the combat from Planescape: Torment and you'd still have a hell of a lot of gameplay.

If anything, Planescape: Torment is a bad example to bring up in making this point; it's one of the RPGs with the least combat I've ever played, and the combat there is is not very good. (At least, not compared to other isometric D&D games like Icewind Dale or Temple of Elemental Evil.)

I think that Bioware have a long way to go before they reach PsT levels.
Should they ever get there, then I can see them getting away with making an interactive fiction with very weak combat, that is also entirely optional, but not before.

There are a few situations where this could be useful.
Firstly, imagine a video-game reviewer who has a big game to review but is running out of time and is only about halfway through (maybe they got distracted by sidequests or something). They've played enough of the gameplay to do a good review of it, but they need to see the rest of the story to finish their review. Maybe it's Mass Effect 3 and they want to see what the ending is like. It could really help in this situation.
Or maybe you're stuck on the final boss and just want to see the ending because you loved the story that much. Well, just skip the fight, watch the ending and try it again later. You could also skip any parts of the game you just don't like. Maybe you hate vehicle sections. Maybe there's a certain part of the game you loved and you want to try it again (seriously, more games need a level select option.)
As an example, I was playing Portal yesterday and was kind of getting bored going through all the maintenance rooms before the final boss. I would've loved to do them later, but I had already played for hours and the final test chamber left me excited for the final boss. After all those rooms the excitement kind of wore off and I just wanted to finish the game.

Grey Carter:
I disagree entirely, Shamus.

Giving lazy developers an excuse not to develop content in order to appeal to a small few is obviously a slippery slope.

I mean, look what happened when we introduced subtitles into games. Developers just stopped adding sound to games. Now every game is silent, and that sucks.

How about when developers introduced difficulty options like "hard mode" to games? Now every game is impossible. Where does it end, Shamus? Where? Tell me Shamus. Where? Where?

+1, thanks for the laugh :)

Back to the argument: as is so often the case on the internet, this really feels like banging my head against a brick wall. How do so few people get that combat is not the only form of gameplay, and that in some games (SOME, not all, no-one's saying this mode would be appropriate for every game)skipping combat =/= skipping all gameplay? Using Bioware games as an example, since these are the most relevant to Hepler's particular argument, I (and many others) found the conversations to be the most enjoyable part of the GAMEPLAY. The games are not made up entirely of combat and cutscenes. Of course, most of the posts that've pointed this out have been ignored.

I actually enjoyed the combat in both Mass Effect and Dragon Age, but the "talky bits" (interactive talky bits, not the cutscenes) were the bits I looked forward to most. Much as I had fun with the combat, I really anticipated the conversations to the extent that sometimes I was impatient to get the combat AND the cutscenes out of way so I could talk to my squadmates. There were times when I was a little disappointed when I'd played Mass Effect for as much time as I had available (say an hour or two) and hadn't encountered a sizeable "talky bit. I'd enjoyed the combat and cutscenes, and all three elements were great in my opinion, but I had a favourite. What's wrong with me wanting to prioritise those, especially if I only have limited time to play games?

Also, why are people assuming that just because someone might want to skip SOME combat (or conversations, or driving sections, or any other type of gameplay) they'd want to skip all gameplay? There's a difference between skipping a couple of fights because you don't have much time and exclusively watching the cutscenes.

And hell, even if someone does choose to skip straight to the cutscenes, why do you care? Personally I'd be jealous that they had enough money to burn that they could afford to pay 30-40 for what would effectively be a very short, disjointed movie, but hey, their loss.

Reddit cab indeed be awful, but this place isn't much better. Maybe a little more eloquent and elitist.

DrVornoff:

Zachary Amaranth:
LA noire's wretched boring combat n chases are skippable, becuz its just shite. i honestly dont get why it was put in in the first place, or why it wasnt improved.

Uhhh..I never said that, dude.

Eamar:
Snip

I entirely agree. I'm not saying I'd use the Hepler option a lot but...

DrVornoff:
Why are you so concerned with how other people play games?

I'm more concerned about how they will DESIGN the games if this will become acceptable... If people start making games where the gameplay is skippable inevitably it will result in an inclination to pour less energy into making it perfect. "This section of the game is too dull/easy/repetitive/hard/unbalanced!" says Developer #1. Dev #2: "Care! They'll just skip it when they get frustrated, so let's just kick it out of the door before the boss yells at us for going over time/budget.".

Example: That Alone in the Dark game for XBOX 360. If you haven't played it, see the ZP review for the bottom line...

Gerishnakov:

Eamar:
Snip

I entirely agree. I'm not saying I'd use the Hepler option a lot but...

But how much did you feel like a badass when you finally accomplished it?

hmm i guess you could do a short cinematic cutscene to replace the combat encounter for instance

Gerishnakov:

Eamar:
Snip

I entirely agree. I'm not saying I'd use the Hepler option a lot but...

Oh man, that bit... there was one point where I died right near the end and thought for a few horrible moments that I'd have to do the whole thing again. Thankfully, I'd *just* got to the autosave point, but if I hadn't I don't think I would have bothered again.

Timmibal:
But how much did you feel like a badass when you finally accomplished it?

I was far too frustrated, and confused by how easy the next bit was, for that!

Eamar:
Oh man, that bit... there was one point where I died right near the end and thought for a few horrible moments that I'd have to do the whole thing again. Thankfully, I'd *just* got to the autosave point, but if I hadn't I don't think I would have bothered again.

Oh Jesus yes the autosaves during that whole sequence are awful! Prior to the Brutes I'd had to redo that 'wave defence' section a silly number of times.

DrVornoff:
Dragon Age 2 is my favorite game of all time, a flawless piece of literature that stands head and shoulders above all human history

Man, it must be rough being you.

Dexter111:

Mike Richards:
What's the problem with trying? How will a game that experiments with a new structure be as cataclysmic as everyone seems to think it'd be. Does the existence of Dear Esther, a game with essentially no direct input from the player other then walking, somehow destroy Gears of War? Did the simplified leveling in Mass Effect prevent Wasteland 2 from entering development?

The "gameplay" part of Dear Esther was walking around, there's also different genres one might happen to like very much like Adventures or Puzzle games or whatever that don't involve any kind of combat.
The thing described here isn't "a new structure" or "experiment", it just sounds like a stupid idea mixed with lazy design... Dear Esther might not be everyones cup of tea and not everyone might enjoy it, but what is proposed here is skipping entire sections to where talking happens because "walking around is boring"... it's part of the experience. Or wanting a way to remove all Puzzle/Problem solving from Adventure games or the likes of Spacechem etc.
Games are casualized and "dumbed down" enough as it is, do people really want to remove the last glimmer of "game" from them to reach an even more casual/"wider audience" that doesn't even like games?... God I'm really thankful for Kickstarter as developers using it wouldn't even have to consider such a borderline retarded idea...

Except the point I was trying to make is that one game or even a few games won't make ALL games do this. It wouldn't be everywhere, and most importantly by it's very nature it wouldn't force you to use it even when it was included. It's just about giving people options. How would a game including this feature effect you if you never once used it? Forza 4 has a rewind button that you can use at any time during a race with no cost or penalties, some people think that's cheating and some don't. If you don't like it, you don't use it. LA Noire even had this system already, letting you skip action sequences if you failed them enough times, and hardly anyone noticed.

Even then, unofficial Helper Modes have existed for a very long time. While god mode doesn't skip over content it does remove any and all challenge from a fight, so that it can be passed quickly and the player can get on with the rest of the game. When I was playing AC2 and Brotherhood I looked up the solutions for pretty much every Truth puzzle, because I wasn't finding them for the puzzles, I just wanted to know what the that element of the story was. I do that all the time, look up guides or turn the difficulty down or even 'cheat', as soon as I feel that I'm not enjoying myself as much as I could.

Games are beyond anything else about fun. Fun with a good story, fun with challenging gameplay, whatever. Not everyone has the same kind of fun with the same things. If some people have more fun with a more 'casual' experience (Which I don't believe is the right term, as simpler gameplay doesn't mean they are less involved in the experience), they should be allowed to have that fun. And if a game is capable of being lots of different kinds of fun to lots of different kinds of people, why shouldn't it?

Irridium:
However, for, say, Bioware games (or RPG's in general), they could just give us a way to skip combat through dialog. Like, say, you get ambushed, leader starts gloating, you use your super-awesome speech skills to persuade him/her to back off.

Good (read: old (sadly)) RPGs allow that sort of thing. I've gone through a few games without actually engaging in combat and spending all my resources on Speech and Charisma (and lockpicking to steal everything, lol). KotOR I & II have some of it, yeah, but not much.

Problem is most gamers nowadays are so hyped on guns and explosions--have such a short attention span and no imagination at all, that having to actually read or listen to complex dialog and wade into character background and growth, is something so few people would want and thus no developer will try. Remember when a character was actually alive? When you could grow to understand them and talk to them? Good times. Lately we are just given a stereotype and told everything we need to know. Rather than learn a character's motivations through subtle conversation and behavior, we get "missions" to go do some silly shite and the game spells it out for you in painful exposition. Robot voice: *He had a bad life. Now he is trying to start over. Feel bad for him.*

Options to end combat before it begins, as rare as they are now, boil down to: Be a Dick and Kill Him, Be Neutral and End Fighting Him, Be a Pussy and Don't Kill Him. Don't you just love all the beautiful depth? "No. (Kill Him)" Writing at its finest.

secretsantaone:
words

You should probably just stop. You're acting fairly rudely and making yourself look like a ginormous ass by continually going on and on with this. People gave out her home address and phone number--she was stalked and harassed in her own house by retarded internet an-heroes who took it upon themselves to visit her and abuse her. I don't care if you "lost all sympathy for her," just stop. You're not proving any points, you're not contributing to the discussion of the article and you're being childish.

Grey Day for Elcia:

secretsantaone:
words

You should probably just stop. You're acting fairly rudely and making yourself look like a ginormous ass by continually going on and on with this. People gave out her home address and phone number--she was stalked and harassed in her own house by retarded internet an-heroes who took it upon themselves to visit her and abuse her. I don't care if you "lost all sympathy for her," just stop. You're not proving any points, you're not contributing to the discussion of the article and you're being childish.

You can stop pretending that anyone here justifying that particular behavior anytime you like.

DrVornoff:

Stilt:
It's pretty hard to do that when you're not talking, and no you didn't. However, that fact doesn't make what you said any less of a non sequitur

I said your invective was a load of horseshit and that people shouldn't defend that just because your sentiment is an agreement with their own because it makes all of you look like even bigger assholes than you already are. What's not to get?

So... am I defending Shamus for his article which is invective? (Probably not it)
Am I being defended by someone who likes the word cunt but doesnt agree with me? (More likely)
Am I being defended by someone who doesnt like the word cunt and agrees with me? (I 'unno)

I don't get what you are trying to say, please lay it out with clarity because I hate miscommunication.

From reading some of your posts, I've gathered that you have come to the conclusion that anyone who thinks Hepler is an annoying cunt is a misogynist, sexist, horrible human being to which I have to say, on what planet? Sure there are trolls out there who hate women and would likely rag on hepler regardless of any comment she were to make, but they are an exceedingly small portion of the community. Rather than painting anyone using the word "cunt" as misogynist, why not instead have the discussion "why is she a cunt?" Ayn Rand for example was undoubtedly a cunt, and any rational human being who knows the facts about her would come to the same conclusion, and everyone else is living in a fantasy world.

Just to demonstrate that I am not a misogynist, an invective that you so haphazardly toss out, Ill give you some examples of women that are decidedly not cunts.

Marie Curie's mind saved lives. Not a cunt.
Ximena Sarinana brings joy to people with her voice, and is a gentle kind soul. Not a cunt.
Helen Keller overcame immense challenges without the help of senses the great majority of us take for granted. Not a cunt.
My friend's sister Ariel, she's not particularly entertaining, smart, interesting, or helpful. However she is a nice enough person not a cunt.

Now here are some cunts.

Sarah palin. Stupid Cunt. She's a detriment to society. also Michelle bachmann.
Kim Kardashian. Epitome of the stupid cunt. Detriment to society.
Everyone on Jersey shore. Cunts.

Just because you dont like the word cunt doesn't mean that cunts don't exist. Now i dont pretend to know Hepler, the extent of my knowledge concerning her stops at her inflammatory comments and her "damage control", and her shitty writing. Based on that cursory knowledge, I feel justified in seeing her as a cunt

Just gunna leave this little guy right here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QLz0CqtMVc&list=UUyjLGp8hQObJMm4lSQccjFw&index=6&feature=plcp

Enjoy.

Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important. -John Carmack

mfeff:
Just gunna leave this little guy right here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QLz0CqtMVc&list=UUyjLGp8hQObJMm4lSQccjFw&index=6&feature=plcp

Enjoy.

Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important. -John Carmack

This is a fantastic video.

Grey Day for Elcia:

secretsantaone:
words

You should probably just stop. You're acting fairly rudely and making yourself look like a ginormous ass by continually going on and on with this. People gave out her home address and phone number--she was stalked and harassed in her own house by retarded internet an-heroes who took it upon themselves to visit her and abuse her. I don't care if you "lost all sympathy for her," just stop. You're not proving any points, you're not contributing to the discussion of the article and you're being childish.

Holy moly, do you want to borrow a step-ladder so you can get down off your high horse there?

I am actually going to stop responding to the other guy, not because of any of the points you made, but because at this point we're delving into subjectivity and all I would be doing is repeating myself.

Apart from the dig at you at the start of this comment, I don't think I've acted particularly rudely, feel free to quote me on anything though.

Speaking of which:

secretsantaone:
I'm not defending the people who used ad-hominem attacks on her.

Plus, I've done nothing but make points, backed up with context and evidence.

Just because I'm saying something you don't agree with doesn't make my points invalid.

Huh, the fact that this riles people up is more interesting than the comment itself. Granted I feel the comment is laughable in my gut, but logically it makes sense.

Why are we allowed to complete a game with no real knowledge of a story because we skipped all the cut-scenes? Well, often times you aren't. Cut scenes tell you where to go and what to do. Skipping them will often leave you clueless with a timer ticking over your head and no idea where to go. Of course, over time, features added to the game have made this less the case, but there's still plenty to miss. Imagine skipping all the dialogue in Neverwinter Nights and figuring out what to do. Sure, if you've been gaming for a while you might have a general sense of "go forward", but even that can be a thin guideline.

At the end of the day, even if you made it through the entire game skipping all the story elements, you still have a story. A virtual agent controlled by you defeated a series of puzzles (deterministic or nondeterministic). Or maybe even didn't defeat the puzzles. Something happened and the record of that is a story.

By the same token, if you skip all the gameplay, guess what? Something still happened. While you were watching the story unfold, you were making predictions over what characters would do and in your head imagining how they would defeat the series of puzzles the characters would encounter. Even if the story was entirely linear, you have still made a series of interesting choices making it a game.

The above two paragraphs you will note, are needlessly philosophical, reducing both gameplay and story to parts of one another. What we are actually looking for here is the reason the community flipped out. There are several underlying problems. First is in what people value.

By virtue of the way games have been made for the past 30ish years, gameplay IS the game. That is what the modern notion of "game" was built around, and gameplay is what attracted people and formed the "gaming community". Even if you don't actually value gameplay yourself, that is the perceived notion of what those around you value. When someone implies that gameplay is unimportant to a group in the gaming community, they will hear "video games are a waste of time". This can be heard all over the country and world and never causes such a riot as Hepler's comments.

Here's where the second problem comes in. Another value of the gaming community is of course, the developers. Developers may or may not be gamers, but nevertheless, the gaming community looks to them as the gods of their world. In different communities I will hear players curse Blizzard, Riot or Bethesda with the same fervor one blames god for one's car not starting. Devs are literally the creators of the worlds that gamers spend hours and days of their lives in. Hepler is a developer. A writer, but also a developer. So her innocent opinion that she doesn't enjoy gameplay was seen by the community similarly to how much of the USA would react if the President openly said "Look, this civil liberties thing? I'm not really a fan." Political feces flinging ensues and here we are today wondering how all this got started.

But here's the flip side. There's another community that's being overlooked. The writing community. Hepler might not be a gamer, but she is a writer. Generalizing, I imagine that she cares about writing the same way most gamers care about games. So she has a right every time you skip a cut-scene to feel the same rage the gaming community exhibits when someone mentions that gameplay should be skippable.

As far as gameplay vs. story goes, many of the medium-for-expression crowd gamers were also likely to be offended by this comment. Possibly more than the writers or the gamers alone. Generalizing, those people that I've met and read articles by that view games as the next great medium value both the story and the gameplay as two parts of an organism. To say that the organism would be just fine as one part or the other is cutting short the amount of wonder that can come from the organism as a whole, with all organs fully functioning. Most of these people are game developers and so view this as a betrayal from within their own ranks.

Its easy to say "well she should stick to writing novels or movies or something". People SHOULD stick to doing the things they love, but its hard to know what you will and won't love. Maybe she was having a bad day, and a single statement slipped her feelings of the moment into the world's image of what she is like all the time. Alternatively, maybe she always has wanted to be a pure novelist or playwrite, but she had a friend who had a friend and decided that bringing a story to one of Bioware's games would be a worthwhile endeavor. And of course it is also entirely possible that she was just in it for the money. The point is beyond this one comment about gameplay that is at the end of the day perfectly logical, if inadvertently devaluing much of a gamer's play-time, we really don't know much about Hepler and who she really is.

TLDR: Story and gameplay as concepts both exist as part of each other, even if they are not exhibiting the traits we normally associate with one or the other

"Gameplayless" games are entirely possible and already exist. See visual novels

A portion of the gaming community were insulted by the idea that gameplay might not be valuable to a representative of the gaming industry.

A portion of developers were insulted by the idea that the work they put into blending story and gameplay is not valued by some.

Writers may feel the same insult that gamers feel about skipping gameplay every time you skip a cutscene.

Hepler was just reflecting her personal opinion of what she does and does not enjoy, hardly anticipating this backlash. Beyond this we know really nothing about her.

Look, what is being talked about here has already been done... and better... much much better by better developers. I got games on the old Sega Saturn that did (all of this) quite well. For reference let us examine a modern game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a18M1dJdlU0&feature=relmfu

Getting away from technical mechanics, strategy, and tactics destroys by "most" definition the very "idea" of what "game" means.

Intentionally "cordoning off" the game play from the narrative exposition cripples some of the strongest elements of the strategic simulation that is available to the game developer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbUQiF45V_k&feature=fvwrel

Done right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBAgYtHHiUU

Done WRONG!

How old school can we go?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldmGKPGzxYw&feature=relmfu

(Pets his original pristine copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga signed by Team Andromeda). Pure Art! Which by the by, is compliant with the definition of art for if my copy is destroyed all remaining copies go up in value.

But keep on doin whatch'a doin... what do I know.

Gerishnakov:

Eamar:
Snip

I entirely agree. I'm not saying I'd use the Hepler option a lot but...

Fletcher shotgun + fire rounds = quickly killed brutes.

At least, that's what I saw when my brother did it as a soldier. He was dominating those things so hard I thought he was cheating or something.

I also managed to do fairly well on that part as an Adept with the same shotgun and LOTS of Warp spam.

Zachary Amaranth:
Uhhh..I never said that, dude.

Made a mistake editing the quotes.

Kenjitsuka:
I'm more concerned about how they will DESIGN the games if this will become acceptable... If people start making games where the gameplay is skippable inevitably it will result in an inclination to pour less energy into making it perfect. "This section of the game is too dull/easy/repetitive/hard/unbalanced!" says Developer #1. Dev #2: "Care! They'll just skip it when they get frustrated, so let's just kick it out of the door before the boss yells at us for going over time/budget.".

Example: That Alone in the Dark game for XBOX 360. If you haven't played it, see the ZP review for the bottom line...

Someone already made a joke about that slippery slope argument. I don't buy it.

FredTheUndead:
Man, it must be rough being you.

Not a joke but an incredible simulation.

Of course, this also shows part of the problem with this discussion. I have to ask Fred, why do you even give a shit about what games I like or don't like? Why do you care that I liked something that you didn't?

Stilt:
So... am I defending Shamus for his article which is invective? (Probably not it)
Am I being defended by someone who likes the word cunt but doesnt agree with me? (More likely)
Am I being defended by someone who doesnt like the word cunt and agrees with me? (I 'unno)

No, I was not talking to you directly. I was using you as an example when talking to someone else. Jesus, does anyone read complete posts anymore?

From reading some of your posts, I've gathered that you have come to the conclusion that anyone who thinks Hepler is an annoying cunt is a misogynist, sexist, horrible human being to which I have to say, on what planet?

No, I think people who can't put aside the vitriol for 10 seconds are horrible people. Do I think you're all mosigynists? No, never said that. Just horrible people.

Just to demonstrate that I am not a misogynist, an invective that you so haphazardly toss out,

Please point to any post where I actually called someone a misogynist. Go ahead, do it.

Is it really that difficult for all of you to imagine that I just plain don't like bullying? Is that really so outlandish?

Having slept on this, I can see that I let my temper get the better of me, but this is a sensitive topic for me. I saw the whole drama unfold and now I see the nasty comments still being leveled at Hepler and it makes my blood boil. I've been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse and I personally know people who had it even worse than me. And in this topic, some people seem less interested in talking about Shamus's argument than in trying to tell the internet why Hepler deserved what she got, or trying to excuse all the nastiness still being leveled at her.

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