In Defense of Hepler Mode

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DrVornoff:

FredTheUndead:
You accusations of not putting any thought into things certainly ring clear when you yourself are just acting like a condescending asshole and not making any actual defense.

Back atcha, kiddo.

So yes, much of the hate sent her way is 100% legitimate.

No it isn't and you're a horrible person for defending it. You are not justified. Get the fuck over yourself.

My idea of handling an incompetent IS for people to tell them that they are incompetent yes.

And by telling them you actually mean, "harass the shit out of them."

FredTheUndead:
Maybe she's a nice person in real life, I don't know. I DOUBT it, given her typically arrogant responses to criticism, and that whole "we wanted to write a fantasy story that was different from the typical one written by some old white man" nonsense, but I don't really know.

By the same logic you're using, I'm totally justified in writing you off as a hostile, immature, nasty little brat even though I can't know that with 100% certainty.

What I DO know is that she brings nothing good to the table for Bioware, she just sits there, festering ill feelings in the community and clogging up the works. That's what a tumor is.

I never went to pre-med, but I'm pretty sure that's not what tumor is.

So do I hate her for some bigoted reason, or wish death on her? No. Do I think she's good for Bioware or gaming in general? No. Do I think a skip combat button is a good idea? Absolutely not.

But you do support harassment and vitriol because she said something you didn't like. That's what makes you an asshole.

Yosharian:
People like Hepler that want a well-told story and not a game, should, guess what - go see a movie. Or read a book.

What if like me you don't like driving sections in an action game and would like the option to skip them and get back to the other gameplay mechanics that you like?

I've asked this multiple times and no one has provided me with an answer.

twiceworn:
OH GOD someone get this idiot a movie to watch, i will say this once and only once. GAMES ARE GAMEPLAY

Didn't read the whole article.

SanguineSymphony:
Once again in part because I would have if I gave a shit.

It would still make you an asshole if you did.

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.

Didn't read the whole article.

veloper:
I see this "Hepler" mode as a capitulation to incompetence.

Basicly it amounts to "we agree our gameplay is bad and not fun, so instead of improving it and making it fun, we'll give you the option to skip gameplay entirely".

Didn't read the whole article.

Kahunaburger:
Let's look at arguably the best story-driven RTS - Homeworld. In that game, story is generally delivered through gameplay. A "Hepler mode" Homeworld would be missing several of its most impactful moments. Hepler mode is fundamentally incompatible with the way many video games tell stories.

Shamus did specifically say that this idea wouldn't work on all games. For the same reason that not all games need a 1st person shooting element.

secretsantaone:
'Living tumour' is an apt metaphor, because he sees her as behaving as a tumour does, killing the host from the inside.

Please don't tell me you're defending this nonsense.

Gaming does not need to be 'more accessible'. That leads to nothing but shovelware. Companies should be catering to their existing consumers, not potential ones.

Unfounded claim. Movies are more accessible than they've ever been and even though we get a lot of crap, we still get solid gold every single year. Besides, even if games focused exclusively on people like you, 90% of them would still suck. That's just the way it goes. Stop pissing and moaning about how people other than you are getting into the medium.

you insist on missing the point that game means gameplay and that skipping it would make it into nothing but a movie or interactive story. the ability to skip it would make games worse as more people who like story not gameplay would buy it and developers would start catering to these people in order to make money and that would turn gameplay in games into an optional feature. business go where the money is its that simple, gameplay would be made into a minority . i do not however condone bullying someone for having an opinion, we all have the right to an opinion without being bullied for having it. i do however think writing for games when you don't like gameplay is a problem that needs to be fixed as gameplay should be intertwined with story which is hard if the story writer doesn't like gameplay, so doesn't play games for fun so wont know what we, the players enjoy or would like to see.

Eamar:

secretsantaone:

Of course I'm defending it, it's a perfectly reasonable metaphor which makes sense in the context. Give me a real argument why it isn't rather than 'it's so obvious I don't need to!'.

Because he's talking about a real, live human being who's done nothing wrong other than write some parts of a game he didn't like?

As I've already said in this thread, I really wish people would be more civil on the internet. Call me unrealistic, I know, but I can dream. She's not a dictator, or a rapist, or a child-killer. She's a game writer. Not even a particularly powerful one. She doesn't need to be called a "tumour"

It's called a metaphor.

It's also true, Hepler is increasingly becoming a tumour-like burden on Bioware with massive criticism from the fanbase and some terrible writing. A lot of this criticism was entirely legitimate but was heaped in with the more rabid, illogical fans when Hepler said 'you're just jealous of my vagina and job in the games industry'.

secretsantaone:

Eamar:

secretsantaone:

Of course I'm defending it, it's a perfectly reasonable metaphor which makes sense in the context. Give me a real argument why it isn't rather than 'it's so obvious I don't need to!'.

Because he's talking about a real, live human being who's done nothing wrong other than write some parts of a game he didn't like?

As I've already said in this thread, I really wish people would be more civil on the internet. Call me unrealistic, I know, but I can dream. She's not a dictator, or a rapist, or a child-killer. She's a game writer. Not even a particularly powerful one. She doesn't need to be called a "tumour"

It's called a metaphor.

It's also true, Hepler is increasingly becoming a tumour-like burden on Bioware with massive criticism from the fanbase and some terrible writing. A lot of this criticism was entirely legitimate but was heaped in with the more rabid, illogical fans when Hepler said 'you're just jealous of my vagina and job in the games industry'.

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.

Seamus did bring up an interesting point when he addressed how so many games have just become 'cutscene/combat/cutscene/combat'. A point I'm not sure I agree with, especially in games with a high intensity, my hands get tired enough without having them constantly tensed and ready. Cutscenes allow the player to take a break in an action-heavy game.

He also brings up the comparison with open-world games such as Skyrim which apparently weave the narrative into gameplay... I'm sure some do, matey, but the only difference between Skyrim and Mass Effect was we never got to move around in skyrim while we were getting blocks of exposition thrown at us.

But I digress.

To those of you who are using non-lethal or pacifist runthroughs of Rpgs as examples of 'Hepler mode', stop. Stop it immediately. Ms Hepler only used the phrase 'Combat' because from looking at her resume, she has never actually been on the development team of a game which allowed any other form of advancement. What she actually means (and by all means prove me wrong if you can), is Challenge.

Hepler equates 'combat' to 'challenge' because that's how Bioware RPGs work. There are elements where other avenues are possible, but the meat-and-potatoes of a Bioware RPG is combat. Those of you who have played non-lethal or diplomat playthroughs of RPGs which allow it will be able to acknowledge that the challenge of a non-combat role is often more time consuming and difficult than simply wading through with a '+5 exploding sword of kickass (tempered) {Flaming}'.

Still have doubts? With this in mind watch the promo clip and read her responses in interviews and mentally replace 'combat' with 'challenge'. All of her arguments sound exactly the same, and become even less defensible.

Do I support more gameplay options in RPGs? - Absolutely.
Do I think you can present an RPG with a straight face without SOME form of challenge? - No bloody way.

Should a writer be creating for a medium without understanding this core facet of development? - Unacceptable insults directed against Ms. Hepler and debates as to her competancy as a writer in general aside, no, I do not believe she has any business creatively contributing to this medium (ESPECIALLY at a AAA studio which pretty much specializes in RPG derivatives) without this fundamental understanding of how games, and more specifically, RPGs work.

I hear you Shamus, a skip combat button or its equivalent would in and of itself be unobjectionable, however nothing is ever really in and of itself is it? Gaming, just like everything else, does not exist in a vacuum. Pragmatically speaking, instituting a skip combat button would have a crescendo-ing effect on all of Bioware's games if it were successful, because it tells bioware that they can get away with boring, bland combat moreso than they have already.

Also, it doesn't help that she's a smug cunt with less-than-no talent in writing.

Stilt:
Snippety

Dude, I'm sure there's a better way of expressing your displeasure with her writing than the last line of your post.

How about "The author's impressions of romance leave much to be desired, and her interpretation of homosexual courtship should be viewed as a poisonous insult by the Gay community", or "The author seems to be unable to carry narrative pacing with the assistance of a bucket" or "This was simply awful, I would request those hours of my life back, but it's less traumatic to pretend they simply didn't happen".

See, nobody can call you a mysoginist troll by saying that. :)

"Why is one type of gameplay skip-able and not the other?"

Uhm, because WATCHING an ingame MOVIE is not gamePLAY... Playing a game is about, well, playing.
If the gameplay sucks so much you don't want to PLAY through it, clearly this game isn't for you. If you are dying to know the lore, read the inevitable tacked on book series instead.

Yathzee hated the skip option in Alone in the Dark, and rightly so.
If your game sucks so much it needs skipping, it's a shit game.

The same goes for cutscenes, you should only skip if you're forced to rewatch it (which is SUPER shitty design!) after dying.

Call me a purist, fine.
For me, this is how it should be.

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

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.

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

That leaves Anders, whom I will concede isn't exactly a personal favourite, but not nearly as terrible so as to deserve the kind of vitriolic contempt I've seen levelled at her.

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

Kenjitsuka:
"Why is one type of gameplay skip-able and not the other?"

Uhm, because WATCHING an ingame MOVIE is not gamePLAY... Playing a game is about, well, playing.
If the gameplay sucks so much you don't want to PLAY through it, clearly this game isn't for you. If you are dying to know the lore, read the inevitable tacked on book series instead.

Yathzee hated the skip option in Alone in the Dark, and rightly so.
If your game sucks so much it needs skipping, it's a shit game.

The same goes for cutscenes, you should only skip if you're forced to rewatch it (which is SUPER shitty design!) after dying.

Call me a purist, fine.
For me, this is how it should be.

You're not a purist.

Conversations in Bioware games aren't in-game movies, they're interactive. Therefore they can be considered to be a type of gameplay. Also the part you're quoting explicitly mentions that what is being questioned is two types of GAMEPLAY existing and only one of them being skip-able.

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

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?

Timmibal:

Stilt:
Snippety

Dude, I'm sure there's a better way of expressing your displeasure with her writing than the last line of your post.

How about "The author's impressions of romance leave much to be desired, and her interpretation of homosexual courtship should be viewed as a poisonous insult by the Gay community", or "The author seems to be unable to carry narrative pacing with the assistance of a bucket" or "This was simply awful, I would request those hours of my life back, but it's less traumatic to pretend they simply didn't happen".

See, nobody can call you a mysoginist troll by saying that. :)

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

Games are about gameplay, hence why they are games. The cut scenes, cinematics, and storylines are all guests there, which can improve the quality (vastly) but are not what defines the medium in any way.

The problem with "Hepler Mode" is that it defeats the purpose of playing a game at all, if your just looking at an endless sequence of cut scenes, then you might as well just go watch an animated movie... and the newest "Pixar" feature isn't going to cost you $60.

What's more the entire attitude represents a lot of what is wrong with the gaming industry right now, with games becoming increasingly linear, and dumbed down, while the cinematics and graphics continue to get better. People looked at things like "Final Fantasy XIII" and a lot of the criticisms were pretty much that if they wanted to make a game like that the should have just made "Advent Children II" and dropped the pretensions of it being a game at all.

Simply put Hepler represents the cancer in the gaming industry right now, and while people say she's "just a writer" she is someone who is part of the design process, and apparently important enough to be able to speak for the company publically. She made those comments a while ago, but when you see the direction Bioware went in, it's not surprising there is a lot of ire, since a lack of reaction was probably seen as approval by the community at large.

The industry is doubtlessly upset about this, because honestly this backlash is them hearing exactly what they don't want to hear. "Hepler mode" and focusing primarily on story and cinematics is how they would prefer to develop games because it's easier and probably less expensive than developing and refining actual gameplay and mechanics.

It's sort of like the bane of the PnP RPG market, writing the stories and metaplots, and developing entire game worlds, is comparitively easier than coming up with a set of good mechanics. Many games have died because they took the whole "story trumps mechanics" bit too seriously and then wound up with a bunch of what amounted to $30 novellas and guidebooks to places that don't exist, with very little gamers could actually do with them. The classic RPG credo is "a good system can be used for any setting, a good setting is never going to be as good as one you create yourself" and people tended to forget about that and well... dozens of small press dreamers now fill the RPG graveyards of the world, while those that actually have enduring mechanics systems (no matter how you criticize them) like D&D and Palladium continue to dominate, despite people saying "I like this world" or "I feel this set of mechanics are better for this".

The point here being that the heart of a game is the gameplay, something like "Baldur's Gate" never would have worked just based on the story, it was the infinity engine, and the way that it played that kept people coming back for more, and that engine was also recycled into other games which became successful because it worked as an avenue for playing those stories.

I'll also say that there is such a thing as earning your progress, patience is part of that. If you think that the game is screwing with you by having thousands of monsters between you and the next plot point, you know... having to earn your victory, it's probably intentional. That's part of the game. Being able to "Hepler" your way through it defeats the purpose and gives you your reward (the next cinematic/plot point) when you didn't earn it. Part of the point to beating a game is that sometimes players aren't going to be able to proceed, or otherwise burn out, that's "losing" so to speak. All those games you stuck with and beat? They are ones you won, as opposed to those you didn't finish.

Basically the industry needs to kick Hepler to the curb, her continued existance in this business is a sign that the industry doesn't care about the gamers, like it or not she's become the focus of some major gaming issues which admittedly go beyond her, even if she represents part of it. It would be an assurance that the gaming industry is at least taking the gamers seriously. I mean I DO hate to say it, but writer or not, she really has no place in the industry right now. Maybe she can get a job writing books, or doing screeplays or something that doesn't involve gameplay that better fits her ideals.

I like this plan. I could have watched through the entirety of Metal Gear Solid IV without ever having to bother with any of the tiresome gameplay. Oh wait, that's what I did in the first place.

Also, I find it funny that quite a bit of people seem to be against this, yet one of the most popular mods for Dragon Age Origins lets you skip the fade.

Seems like quite a few people will gladly jump at the chance to skip parts of a game they don't like.

Ya can't really say games are just about fun, that's too broad. It's a business for game makers, a profession for professional gamers, it's different thing to different people. If I had to say what gaming was "about", I guess I'd say it's about interacting in a virtual setting, but even that may not be an accurate description.

Also, i'd say it IS more about gameplay. Like, there's a genre for virtual novels, but that's what they are called, they aren't really games. To be a game you have to interact, and interaction is the core of gameplay.

How about putting a bit more effort towards streamlining the gameplay?

Since, you know, the only real advantage that games has on movies and books is interactivity.

Why play a game if you have no interest in playing it? They only grab the absolute bottom of the barrel in most games. Trust me, there is no Bioware game where you would improve it more by lessening the gameplay instead of streamlining it. Dragon Age has you farm a heap of mobs that offer you more or less no experience/monetary gain and leaves you with no sense of accomplishment. The solution is not to remove it.

Is this really an attitude you want to nurture? If the gameplay's weak then cut it out? Cut out or improve nonsense mechanics, but please don't start skipping the gameplay. I love my fellow man too much to see him get scammed out of 60 bucks to buy Hepler's latest garbage romance novel.

Irridium:
Also, I find it funny that quite a bit of people seem to be against this, yet one of the most popular mods for Dragon Age Origins lets you skip the fade.

Seems like quite a few people will gladly jump at the chance to skip parts of a game they don't like.

Let's not forget other similar mods, like 'Skip Peragus' for KotoR 2, 'Skip Taris' for KotoR, 'Skip Chateau Irenicus' for Baldur's Gate 2, and the Skip the Intro for Oblivion and Skyrim.

PrinceOfShapeir:

Irridium:
Also, I find it funny that quite a bit of people seem to be against this, yet one of the most popular mods for Dragon Age Origins lets you skip the fade.

Seems like quite a few people will gladly jump at the chance to skip parts of a game they don't like.

Let's not forget other similar mods, like 'Skip Peragus' for KotoR 2, 'Skip Taris' for KotoR, 'Skip Chateau Irenicus' for Baldur's Gate 2, and the Skip the Intro for Oblivion and Skyrim.

Also, I'm sure plenty of people keep an Oblivion save right at the exit to the sewers, so they don't have to play through it again.

Same with Fallout 3. I (when I still had the game installed) kept a save right at that final door. So I wouldn't have to go through the Vault again.

I like the idea of skipping combat, but not of skipping gameplay. People who want the option to sneak or speak their way through games should definitely be given it, but if all you want is a few CG scenes, they make movies to fill that highly specific desire.

The extremely ugly responses to Hepler, both at the time of the story and now in thsi very thread, make me rather sick. And, yes, I often find myself these days loving games but hating being a gamer considering the company it puts me in.

Hepler is a writer and *gasp* just because she works at Bioware doesn't mean she has to enjoy every single aspect of either the games they make or the games others make. She doesn't even really have to enjoy playing games at all as, quite frankly, that's not her job. Actual quality of her writing aside, for better or worse, it may be worth asking whether she would perhaps be better at the job if she were more interested in the games as a whole but it doesn't mean she can't do her job if she doesn't possess that interest.

Games including some sort of streamlined mode don't hurt anyone. In fact, all they do is open up the medium we claim to love to more people. I'm sorry, but people who may have different interests in the realm of the medium or perhaps even different physical abilities that may disallow them from certain experiences are not people who should be locked out of enjoying videogames. Let's say that someone has difficulty with their fine motor control due to nerve damage, or maybe they are without hands due to either an accident or genetic defect. Should they really be locked out of enjoying gaming simply because they can't complete a complete twitch heavy combat scenario if they otherwise enjoy the experience the game provides? If no, then how is this different from someone who may be physically capable but simply doesn't possess a level of interst in that activity?

I also find it curious that someone wanting to be able to speed through combat scenarios is being widely equated to someone wanting to skip gameplay. Have those making these statements forgotten about the fact that combat does not necessarily equal gameplay? Are widely acclaimed games like Journey, Portal, Flower, Katamari Damacy, Tetris, Monkey Island and Catherine suddenly not games because combat is basically non existent? How about a game like Chrono Trigger where combat is there but is not particularly physically demanding? How about something like Silent Hill 2 where there is combat but it's largely optional (and, often, inadvisable)? Demanding and physically challenging combat is not gameplay. It may be part of gameplay, and it often is, but the two are not synonymous.

Honestly, the fact that people take offense at giving everyone more choices just baffles me. Sure, I'd play through the combat in a game, in addition to enjoying the story, but if you don't want to, that's fine, too.

If someone gets butthurt about giving people these choices, that's just childish, IMO.

EDIT: and the fact that people are dumping on Hepler...just grow up, people. Come on.

StriderShinryu:
The extremely ugly responses to Hepler, both at the time of the story and now in thsi very thread, make me rather sick. And, yes, I often find myself these days loving games but hating being a gamer considering the company it puts me in.

Hepler is a writer and *gasp* just because she works at Bioware doesn't mean she has to enjoy every single aspect of either the games they make or the games others make. She doesn't even really have to enjoy playing games at all as, quite frankly, that's not her job. Actual quality of her writing aside, for better or worse, it may be worth asking whether she would perhaps be better at the job if she were more interested in the games as a whole but it doesn't mean she can't do her job if she doesn't possess that interest.

GHave those making these statements forgotten about the fact that combat does not necessarily equal gameplay? Are widely acclaimed games like Journey, Portal, Flower, Katamari Damacy, Tetris, Monkey Island and Catherine suddenly not games because combat is basically non existent? How about a game like Chrono Trigger where combat is there but is not particularly physically demanding? How about something like Silent Hill 2 where there is combat but it's largely optional (and, often, inadvisable)? Demanding and physically challenging combat is not gameplay. It may be part of gameplay, and it often is, but the two are not synonymous.

I don't have a problem with ANY game-play simplification if they are; 1. completely optional, 2. Do not effect those who do not want to use them and 3. Do not effect the existing Gameplay (ie. it should be like they never existed for most players)

The only problem i see here is a philosophical one; the REAL problem here is the de-coupling of 'gameplay', 'Combat' and 'story' usually in the "Battle - Cutscene - Battle - Cutscene" format. You mention portal, Journey, Silent hill 2 etc etc and those are an example of Gameplay, setting, story and plot all rolled into the same space. Hepler seems to think a story is something that should be seperate from a game in its own right. This is imperfect and antiquated thinking when it comes to game design and smacks at the underlying failing of "Cinematic gaming".

The gameworld should tell you as much about the story as the actual 'story' parts do. This is why Valve's games are so engaging without having a real heavy Cutscene focus. Atmospheric games like STALKER and the better parts of Metro-2033 and Fallout 3 managed this too; the mechanics and the world drive the story forward through gameplay. This is the ideal in a game setting and is most rewarding for a player.

A LOT of designers need to learn something.

Games are not movies

But this is a wide stretching flaw and hard to correct with many in the medium either wishing they were making films or looking to them for too much guidance. Reddit is not the best place for level headed discussion (you might as well head to 4Chan or Neo-Whine) but the reaction in this thread troubles me somewhat.

Scrumpmonkey:

StriderShinryu:
The extremely ugly responses to Hepler, both at the time of the story and now in thsi very thread, make me rather sick. And, yes, I often find myself these days loving games but hating being a gamer considering the company it puts me in.

Hepler is a writer and *gasp* just because she works at Bioware doesn't mean she has to enjoy every single aspect of either the games they make or the games others make. She doesn't even really have to enjoy playing games at all as, quite frankly, that's not her job. Actual quality of her writing aside, for better or worse, it may be worth asking whether she would perhaps be better at the job if she were more interested in the games as a whole but it doesn't mean she can't do her job if she doesn't possess that interest.

GHave those making these statements forgotten about the fact that combat does not necessarily equal gameplay? Are widely acclaimed games like Journey, Portal, Flower, Katamari Damacy, Tetris, Monkey Island and Catherine suddenly not games because combat is basically non existent? How about a game like Chrono Trigger where combat is there but is not particularly physically demanding? How about something like Silent Hill 2 where there is combat but it's largely optional (and, often, inadvisable)? Demanding and physically challenging combat is not gameplay. It may be part of gameplay, and it often is, but the two are not synonymous.

I don't have a problem with ANY game-play simplification if they are; 1. completely optional, 2. Do not effect those who do not want to use them and 3. Do not effect the existing Gameplay (ie. it should be like they never existed for most players)

The only problem i see here is a philosophical one; the REAL problem here is the de-coupling of 'gameplay', 'Combat' and 'story' usually in the "Battle - Cutscene - Battle - Cutscene" format. You mention portal, Journey, Silent hill 2 etc etc and those are an example of Gameplay, setting, story and plot all rolled into the same space. Hepler seems to think a story is something that should be seperate from a game in its own right. This is imperfect and antiquated thinking when it comes to game design and smacks at the underlying failing of "Cinematic gaming".

The gameworld should tell you as much about the story as the actual 'story' parts do. This is why Valve's games are so engaging without having a real heavy Cutscene focus. Atmospheric games like STALKER and the better parts of Metro-2033 and Fallout 3 managed this too; the mechanics and the world drive the story forward through gameplay. This is the ideal in a game setting and is most rewarding for a player.

A LOT of designers need to learn something.

Games are not movies

But this is a wide stretching flaw and hard to correct with many in the medium either wishing they were making films or looking to them for too much guidance. Reddit is not the best place for level headed discussion (you might as well head to 4Chan or Neo-Whine) but the reaction in this thread troubles me somewhat.

That is just a strawman argument. You are just putting words in Hepler's mouth. Frankly saying she believes in decoupling story and gameplay which means you don't know what the fuck you are talking about. In most Bioware games and certainly in all the games Hepler has worked on the story is the gameplay. You make choices regarding the plot and the dialogue which affects the world. You are interacting with the world. You are playing. Seriously, if you don't even know that it kind of annoys me that you would try to give your opinion and to be honest just makes it seem like you are trolling.

secretsantaone:
Of course I'm defending it, it's a perfectly reasonable metaphor which makes sense in the context. Give me a real argument why it isn't rather than 'it's so obvious I don't need to!'.

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.

Comparing videogames to movies is probably the greatest pitfall anyone discussing games can fall into. Movies and videogames are fundamentally different. 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? And why is it invalid when people compare movies to books all the time even though those are "fundamentally different?"

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?

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.

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.

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.

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...

twiceworn:
you insist on missing the point that game means gameplay and that skipping it would make it into nothing but a movie or interactive story.

Didn't read the whole article.

secretsantaone:
It's called a metaphor.

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

Stilt:
Also, it doesn't help that she's a smug cunt with less-than-no talent in writing.

Seriously, if your standards are so low that you'll agree with any nasty little shit who can string two words together just because they superficially agree with you, it's time reevaluate your priorities.

Kenjitsuka:
"Why is one type of gameplay skip-able and not the other?"

Uhm, because WATCHING an ingame MOVIE is not gamePLAY... Playing a game is about, well, playing.
If the gameplay sucks so much you don't want to PLAY through it, clearly this game isn't for you. If you are dying to know the lore, read the inevitable tacked on book series instead.

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

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

So you want to be rude in public and not get called on it. Thanks for clearing that up.

Irridium:
Also, I find it funny that quite a bit of people seem to be against this, yet one of the most popular mods for Dragon Age Origins lets you skip the fade.

Seems like quite a few people will gladly jump at the chance to skip parts of a game they don't like.

You forget that people think a lot of things are bad ideas until they gain some sort of benefit from it. Then it suddenly becomes a good idea or they rabidly insist, "No, my case is totally different. I'm not like those other people, I'm totally justified."

StriderShinryu:
The extremely ugly responses to Hepler, both at the time of the story and now in thsi very thread, make me rather sick. And, yes, I often find myself these days loving games but hating being a gamer considering the company it puts me in.

Welcome to my world. It took me forever to work up the nerve to register here because most gamers I meet online are arrogant, miserable pricks.

I also find it curious that someone wanting to be able to speed through combat scenarios is being widely equated to someone wanting to skip gameplay. Have those making these statements forgotten about the fact that combat does not necessarily equal gameplay? Are widely acclaimed games like Journey, Portal, Flower, Katamari Damacy, Tetris, Monkey Island and Catherine suddenly not games because combat is basically non existent? How about a game like Chrono Trigger where combat is there but is not particularly physically demanding? How about something like Silent Hill 2 where there is combat but it's largely optional (and, often, inadvisable)? Demanding and physically challenging combat is not gameplay. It may be part of gameplay, and it often is, but the two are not synonymous.

Similarly I keep asking people who object to this idea why I'm being unreasonable by saying I'm not a fan of driving sequences in action games and would like the option to skip them so that I can get back to doing the things I like. I keep offering this as an example. None of them have given me a straight answer. And by the look of things, I'm not going to get one.

Hulyen:

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). Its not like you interact with a video game with different senses than a movie, as you would with books or music, other than making choices with a controller.
The choose-your-own adventure book is a book, and a choose-your-own adventure video game (or interactive movie if you prefer) is a video game.

Never say never.

Also, I think people are really generalizing/oversimplifying things here - obviously this is not a mode that can or should be in every game, or even in every genre. However, there are games that it would definitely be a good fit for, and that shouldn't be overlooked in a lump statement.

Ok fair enough, but the first setence of that article is "An interactive movie is a video game that features highly cinematic presentation and heavy use of scripting, often through the use of full-motion video of either animated or live-action footage."

So I still feel justified to some degree :)

Metroid: Other M had a theatre mode. You could just watch the story, why you'd want to is beyond me but it's there.

DrVornoff:

secretsantaone:
Of course I'm defending it, it's a perfectly reasonable metaphor which makes sense in the context. Give me a real argument why it isn't rather than 'it's so obvious I don't need to!'.

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.

Comparing videogames to movies is probably the greatest pitfall anyone discussing games can fall into. Movies and videogames are fundamentally different. 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? And why is it invalid when people compare movies to books all the time even though those are "fundamentally different?"

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?

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.

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.

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.

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...

twiceworn:
you insist on missing the point that game means gameplay and that skipping it would make it into nothing but a movie or interactive story.

Didn't read the whole article.

secretsantaone:
It's called a metaphor.

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

Stilt:
Also, it doesn't help that she's a smug cunt with less-than-no talent in writing.

Seriously, if your standards are so low that you'll agree with any nasty little shit who can string two words together just because they superficially agree with you, it's time reevaluate your priorities.

Kenjitsuka:
"Why is one type of gameplay skip-able and not the other?"

Uhm, because WATCHING an ingame MOVIE is not gamePLAY... Playing a game is about, well, playing.
If the gameplay sucks so much you don't want to PLAY through it, clearly this game isn't for you. If you are dying to know the lore, read the inevitable tacked on book series instead.

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

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

So you want to be rude in public and not get called on it. Thanks for clearing that up.

Irridium:
Also, I find it funny that quite a bit of people seem to be against this, yet one of the most popular mods for Dragon Age Origins lets you skip the fade.

Seems like quite a few people will gladly jump at the chance to skip parts of a game they don't like.

You forget that people think a lot of things are bad ideas until they gain some sort of benefit from it. Then it suddenly becomes a good idea or they rabidly insist, "No, my case is totally different. I'm not like those other people, I'm totally justified."

StriderShinryu:
The extremely ugly responses to Hepler, both at the time of the story and now in thsi very thread, make me rather sick. And, yes, I often find myself these days loving games but hating being a gamer considering the company it puts me in.

Welcome to my world. It took me forever to work up the nerve to register here because most gamers I meet online are arrogant, miserable pricks.

I also find it curious that someone wanting to be able to speed through combat scenarios is being widely equated to someone wanting to skip gameplay. Have those making these statements forgotten about the fact that combat does not necessarily equal gameplay? Are widely acclaimed games like Journey, Portal, Flower, Katamari Damacy, Tetris, Monkey Island and Catherine suddenly not games because combat is basically non existent? How about a game like Chrono Trigger where combat is there but is not particularly physically demanding? How about something like Silent Hill 2 where there is combat but it's largely optional (and, often, inadvisable)? Demanding and physically challenging combat is not gameplay. It may be part of gameplay, and it often is, but the two are not synonymous.

Similarly I keep asking people who object to this idea why I'm being unreasonable by saying I'm not a fan of driving sequences in action games and would like the option to skip them so that I can get back to doing the things I like. I keep offering this as an example. None of them have given me a straight answer. And by the look of things, I'm not going to get one.

I have a problem with the comment you made to me in section 3 subsection 8d in the tome you just dropped:

Stilt:
Also, it doesn't help that she's a smug cunt with less-than-no talent in writing.

(You) "Seriously, if your standards are so low that you'll agree with any nasty little shit who can string two words together just because they superficially agree with you, it's time reevaluate your priorities."

To which I respond... WHAT??

Stilt:
I have a problem with the comment you made to me in section 3 subsection 8d in the tome you just dropped:

To which I respond... WHAT??

Did I stutter?

DrVornoff:

Stilt:
I have a problem with the comment you made to me in section 3 subsection 8d in the tome you just dropped:

To which I respond... WHAT??

Did I stutter?

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

Irridium:
Pretty much all Bioware games would be improved if you could skip the combat. Since combat in most Bioware games is pretty bad.

Hell, it seems when given the option, plenty of people will gladly jump on the chance to skip shitty parts of a game..

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.

Bam, combat section skipped.

Really wish Bioware, and more developers for that matter, let you do that. Let you really exercise that speechcraft and charisma score. Of course some people you may have to fight no matter what, but you could still talk to them first, and whittle down their confidence and moral to make them easier to fight. Maybe have a button that let you throw combat taunts of your own. Or something.

KOTOR 2 played with this idea. Only with Sion, but still. HK-47 tells you the best way to kill a jedi (or sith) is to mess with his/her mind. Erode their confidence. You could do this with Sion, and his skills would decrease, and you'd eventually talk him into dying (or "letting go").

This is probably the best way to implement a Hepler Mode. It'd give a Deus Ex feel to the game if you could either charge straight into the combat, be more tactical about it or talk your way out of it entirely.

Shamus Young:
In Defense of Hepler Mode

Shamus offers support for a "Hepler Mode" in games.

Read Full Article

What the crap?

She's talking about an option, not a mandate.

"Grr, I'm the internet, and I hate people having options I don't myself want to use!". It's like people that are against cheat codes and the like in single player games.

"You beat your version of Mass Effect 3 hours before me! I must kill myself!".

This anti-option in single player sentiment honestly is why I hate Trophies/Achievements in games. It forces single player games to play by the mindset that governs multiplayer games, two things that have different goals entirely. It suddenly makes your single player actions 'matter' to mine by virtue of an online score board when realistically they don't and shouldn't.

Never played 3 but ME2 combat was so agonizingly dull and repetitive that I started looking for a mod that let me skip it. Then I started playing soldier and it amounted to pretty much the same thing. If they had that mode for 3 I might buy it but if its more of the same then no thanks.

The answer to treyus academy is jedi consular. Put your level ups in wisdom and nobody can resist your force powers. Aoe paralyze (or choke), pew pew, move to next room.

Iron Criterion:

Irridium:
Pretty much all Bioware games would be improved if you could skip the combat. Since combat in most Bioware games is pretty bad.

Hell, it seems when given the option, plenty of people will gladly jump on the chance to skip shitty parts of a game..

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.

Bam, combat section skipped.

Really wish Bioware, and more developers for that matter, let you do that. Let you really exercise that speechcraft and charisma score. Of course some people you may have to fight no matter what, but you could still talk to them first, and whittle down their confidence and moral to make them easier to fight. Maybe have a button that let you throw combat taunts of your own. Or something.

KOTOR 2 played with this idea. Only with Sion, but still. HK-47 tells you the best way to kill a jedi (or sith) is to mess with his/her mind. Erode their confidence. You could do this with Sion, and his skills would decrease, and you'd eventually talk him into dying (or "letting go").

This is probably the best way to implement a Hepler Mode. It'd give a Deus Ex feel to the game if you could either charge straight into the combat, be more tactical about it or talk your way out of it entirely.

But that would actually be intelligent and creative! It's quite beyond a company as utterly worthless as modern Bioware.

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?

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.)

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