Jimquisition: Dumbing Down for the Filthy Casuals

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 30 NEXT
 

Dumbing Down for the Filthy Casuals

There are valid concerns with the "dumbing down" of our entertainment, but as with so many issues, there are just as many invalid ones. This is especially true when "inclusiveness" and "dumbing down" are seen as the same thing.

Watch Video

I am just as sick of this idea that making a game easier or having a easy mode is the worse most evil thing possible as you are Jim.

Even if its just a vocal minority, still its vocal, and annoying, and makes the biggest scene to others.

Hmmm haven' done this before: FIRST!!! hmmmmmm, yea I see little reason why people do this.

eating your creation does not make it live Jim.

yes it is petty, and technically by bring up that point (you said you wouldn't) you still connected the arguments, and prepare for flames.

Good video. I mostly agree with what you said. However, the default difficulty level is something developers have to pay attention to.

So many gamers have problems with changing the difficulty level. They don't see it as a tool for fine tuning the game's challenge to their skill level. I know some gamers that seriously feel insulted or putout by having to change it to easy mode. They also bitch if the game is too easy on the default mode despite having two higher levels of difficulty to select from.

Orks da best:
I am just as sick of this idea that making a game easier or having a easy mode is the worse most evil thing possible as you are Jim

Yeah just look at the kirby games. They are considered to be very easy but I always have a huge smile when playing them because they have this great charm and are a blast.

Easy modes are not the problem. The problem is that games are now designed for inept players, making the experienced players experience of the game extremely easy.

Far Cry 3 was ridiculously easy at Hard, because it was catered towards the casuals.

The problem with supporting easy modes is that it run directly contrary to my goal to be the only person in the world who has fun with anything. I've worked for YEARS to put EA and Activision in the positions they are now and Jim seems determined to undo years of progress in ruining everybody's day.

The thing that bothers me most about "dumbing down" complaints is when people bitch and moan about *optional features* implemented to ease new players into a game. In these cases the real concern isn't preserving the integrity of games but excluding certain people from playing them.

My issue with the dark souls easy mode is what is the point in even playing it. It would be like playing LA noire with all the interrogations taken out.

TwiZtah:
Easy modes are not the problem. The problem is that games are now designed for inept players, making the experienced players experience of the game extremely easy.

Far Cry 3 was ridiculously easy at Hard, because it was catered towards the casuals.

DmC is another case of this DmD is terribly easy and you have to beat the game to get that.
You have to beat the even easier version to get to that.
DmD barely compare's to Bayonetta's Normal mode in difficulty and bayonetta has two super easy modes you can start out on before Normal mode that is actually a challenge.
And lets not forget Ninja gaiden 3 as well.
I'm with Jim on this, but I'm most certainly not with the current trend that has arisen because of it.

Looking forward to that 5 day video marathon.
Eating the child of your scientific labour Jim... tsk, tsk

getoffmycloud:
My issue with the dark souls easy mode is what is the point in even playing it. It would be like playing LA noire with all the interrogations taken out.

Who are you to say "what's the point" for other people?

Really now Jim?
This is getting ridiculous even for you.
Most recent videos have been nothing but the same argument about varying things over and over again and its getting REALLY old.
Could you just please put some effort into a future video that isnt filled with your rambling about the same kind of bullshit argument i hear on a daily basis:
*Oh, it doesnt affect you, so why do you care?
*Oh, you already have access to what you want without being interfered by something else, so why do you care?
*Oh, this thing may or may not have a negative impact on the gaming community, but lets for argument sake say it doesnt, then why would you care?

I mean fucking hell Jim, youre a broken record by now.

I'm generally not against this kind of "help" but as always in game design it has to be implemented correctly.

The NSMB system seems o.k. but I don't know all the details of the system. The real problem arises when the casual-mode affects the enjoyment of the other people.

A prime example there is WoW where you have to play through all the difficulties and raid sizes (especially during WotLK and also parts of Cata) to achieve optimal results and get all the achievements. Also the casual mode (aka raid/dungeon-finder) hindered the development of raid encounters because developers had do be able to downscale them for the other difficulties. It got better over time but still was super tedious.

So if the system does not affect the non casual-mode they are good tools for the player but I fear that this needs much more development time than the average developer can afford. So we get systems that are flawed and hindering the fun of player groups because these systems are resource consuming/hard to balance on other genres than a simple jump'n run.

That is the reason why players are angry about them. Good tool that is mostly used in the wrong way.

Kinda of like what they did with the new XCOM game. The original was DEVILISHLY DIFFICULT and just plain unfair at times...where as the new one, I see it as more ACCESSABLE than DUMBED DOWN. I played it in comparison to the old one and found it to be more fun to play...

I don't think I've touched a difficulty lower than hard on a game in a decade. The only time I'll get upset this over "dumbing down" is if the game as a whole, regardless of difficulty, seems to suffer for it. So far the only games I can think of off the top of my head that do that are Dead Space and certain aspects of World of Warcraft.

Edit: I feel I should also add that I never thought Dark Souls was difficult, just that it's terrible controls and mechanics made it feel hard.

Adding an easy mode to Dark Souls DOES harm it, because the high difficulty is the very core of the experience and everything else is complementary, and it DOES harm everyone, because merely having the option of NOT exposing yourself to that grueling challenge destroys the experience utterly and misses the point entirely. After a while of getting your arse kicked you won't be able to "ignore" the easy mode, you'd be a fool otherwise to make it harder for yourself when you don't HAVE to. Except sometimes being FORCED to do certain stuff, or doing it in a particular way, is what makes it so enriching. Sometimes you find yourself enjoying a situation because you were pushed into it, otherwise you'd never willingly get into it. This is how human psychology works.

When it comes to this issue, I find so many people thinking that having an option is ALWAYS a good thing. It is not so. Sometimes it's not a good thing at all. It's a simple reality of game design, why can't you guys get it through your skulls? MovieBob did this shit as well. The fact that even accomplished and allegedly knowledgeable people in the industry think this way is depressing. There is nothing inherently wrong with easy modes and streamlining and making things more accessible and what-have-you, but there are types of games (fighting and strategic games especially) where the challenge and the competitive aspect holds everything together. Please learn to recognize this fact already. These discussions are too often plagued with people who haven't adequately studied challenge and balancing in video games, and how they affect the quality of the product. It's not an easy thing to grasp in the slightest, and I'm sick of you know-it-alls making light of it.

Yeah, it's only when the whole game is overhauled to appeal to a wider or more casual audience that I get really annoyed. The inclusion of an easy mode isn't that big a deal. Games have had easy modes since the early days, why is this a big deal now? Although I was skeptical of Nintendo's approach to this, it's like you said Jim, you don't have to use it. Although I have...

That whole "books and movies don't deny you content" argument is a bit fallacious imo. If you don't understand the contents or themes of a book/movie, it will not explain itself to you past what is already in it. If that's not enough for you, tough luck.
Some games allow you to jump to later levels in order to see all the content, but if you do that, you probably won't enjoy it very much. Same with skipping certain parts of books or movies you don't understand. Yeah, you'll see all the content it has to offer, but you probably won't enjoy it, if you can't understand it.
But most importantly, games are not movies, are not books, are not games. A game is a set of challenges you have to overcome within certain rulesets. If you skip that, you're not playing the game anymore and you are not enjoying it as a game anymore, even if you might still enjoy it.

On Dark Souls:
I think the fear here is based on the "give an inch, take a mile" principle. Right now, adding an easy mode seems like a no brainer, since the game is designed around the normal, challenging mode. It would, like you said, allow less skilled players to enjoy the game too by making enemies weaker/the pc stronger or whatever.
But, come the next game, the designers might design it the other way around to reach a broader audience. By that I mean designing the game around the easy mode and just giving the players looking for more challenge a "normal" mode that bloats up the HP and damage your enemies do, like it is in most games nowadays.

This is not an unfounded fear, since it is pretty much what happened in every other genre. First, some things are "streamlined" away or can be activated/deactivated in the options/through selecting a certain difficulty to broaden the base. But the games are still designed with the core audience in mind. Then, when people see all that money coming in from the new players, they start catering to them more and more, to make more and more money.

Gradually, the focus shifts and the core audience gets the shaft.

Whilst I agree there's no need for the elitism of 'hardcore' gamers, I don't think Dark Souls would benefit from an easy mode. Now I say that because as it stands there are things in the game that needed work (the bed of chaos, gwyn). There are also things that were left out of the game entirely such as Oscar being a minor character rather than going with you all the way through the game and Shiva just being a merchant rather than being a traitor seeking the blade of chaos. I'd rather From used their time to improve the core game and flesh it out rather than add an easy mode that the game really wouldn't benefit from.

Edit: If the main game isn't worse off by the time taken to add an easy mode then I really don't mind its inclusion. I just think an easy mode should be the least of their priorities.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You should've chosen the British game show host, then you would've had Jasper Carrott! And then you could've made a joke about Golden Balls and everything.

I am aware that he's more known as his time as a comedian before, but still

And I have to agree, it really shouldn't affect people as much as it does. Oh no, more people are buying that thing you love, how terrible!

If someone complains about several difficulty modes he/she is simply an idiot.

But the difficulty modes aren't really the issue on the topic of "dumbed down games". The problem is that the gameplay in general is affected by this kind of design. I have seen so many sequels that had less gameplay features than their previous installments that this has become really really annoying. In addition I've seen features disappearing from game genres as a whole because the devs wanted to approach a greater audience....

Look at Civilization 5 for example. The devs made so many bad choices in terms of gameplay that it's not even funny anymore. The previous installments gave the players so much more choice and freedom but of course many casual players didn't understand these features and to make the approach easier a lot of the annoying choices were removed....

Another great example is the World of Warcraft. If you compare Classic WoW to Mists of Pandaria you can only ask yourself what the devs have been smoking. The talent system has been reworked several times over the years to the point that it's basically non existent anymore. And why did Blizzard do it? Mostly because there have been enough people playing the freaking game without even giving thought to certain aspects (like talents) to the game. In the beginning I understood the desire of the devs to make the talent system viable for different tasks (specialize to do something really really good and some things bad). But many of the players from that "broader audience" didn't understand it or even looked at the talent system. I know of players that level to 60 or higher without even spending one talent point and they complained that they died a lot in the game (what a surprise). Well here we are now with game flashing right into your eye when you have something to do with your character but it doesn't matter all that much anyway what you do, so you could ignore it as well if you like. And it's not the talent system alone. There are more aspects to the game that have been dumbed down to the point that only really stupid people can enjoy these "features".

Oh and there are a lot more games and game series out there that have been infected by this disease. This why games like Dark Souls are pretty popular among the hardcore gamer audience. Because they actually dare to challenge the players and their abilities....

I agree with you Jim, but I can totally sympathize with people who would be bothered by an easy mode in Dark Souls.

In Dark Souls, I'm delighted to retrieve a new weapon or some new technique because it means I can progress through the game faster and easier. If progressing through the game faster and easier was not my goal, then I would try to play through it with starter gear and no level-ups and I would literally never beat it.

So if there's a big, shiney, glowing option on the main menu that's more powerful than all the awesome weapons combined (Called 'Easy Mode') then I'm going to take it. That's not a lack of self control, that's consistency. The rules of the game are that you seek out ways to make the enemies easier to defeat.

Later in your video, though, you talked about the way New Super Mario Bros. does it and it seemed as though you already agree with my sentiment above :D That these benefits should only be handed out when the player has demonstrated that they will simply be unable to progress otherwise, and if you were purposely trying to exploit the helping hand it wouldn't be worth it.

I think perhaps Dark Souls Easy Mode if it was a completely separate disc.. like an easy mode edition, that would make me happy enough. Preferably if it comes out after the main one so it doesn't ruin anyone's sense of accomplishment.

Every single game in the world i agree with Jim on this ... except games with pvp that are somewhat gear reliant.

My main issue with "easy mode" for games like dark souls is mainly if people playing the easy mode can still participate in pvp with people playing the real difficulty mode, with the same items.

would be kind of unbalanced if people playing easy mode could breeze through the game to the high end and get the amazing weapons that others have to work very very hard for.

If they kept a static difficulty mode that only interacted with people on the same difficult mode, then no big deal i guess, or kept easy mode strictly offline play, no big deal i guess again.

But yeah, loot based games with pvp this can cause all sorts of issues.

the punishing difficulty is part of the game of Dark Souls. now i havn't played it myself, but i did play (and beat) Demon's Souls so i can imagine it's similar at least. if there was an easy mode you could choose from to start with, then it would degrade from some of the experience of playing the game. if you were having problems the you could just flip it on rather than try and find out what you're doing wrong and pay attention to what the enemies do. the difficulty is part of the game.

now don't get me wrong, i'm not against easier difficulty. i remember back when i couldn't even beat Halo 3 on Easy i was so bad. now i'm tackling punishingly difficult games before breakfast. but in a game like Dark Souls where the difficulty is a core element of gameplay, having the option to REMOVE that difficulty on a whim with no effort takes something away from the game. you should have to work for it like, as Jim mentioned, the Super Mario Bros for the Wii U where you have to fail an exorbitant number of times before "auto mode" is unlocked as an option.

however, i suspect that Dark Souls shares much with Demon's Souls leveling system, and RPG mechanics. i find the option of a difficulty (straight-up as in you do less damage/take more. not difficulty like Fallout New Vegas' "hardcore" difficulty) to be rather pointless in RPGs. if you're having difficulty with an area or a boss, you just go and level up a bit until the boss is no longer a problem. it becomes less about skill, and more about stats.

however i will mention one little exception to that rule. and that is the newest Fire Emblem game for the DS (Japan-Only unfortunately) classically in Fire Emblem if you lose a unit, it's dead. forever. (Except Shadow Dragon which gives you a single-use staff to revive a dead unit) but in the new one there's a completely optional "Casual" mode where your units aren't perma-dead. and come back the next fight. now i won't ever be USING this mode, it has its major drawbacks such as that unit can't get more experience from that fight, which could result in them being under-leveled. (you cannot effectively level grind in Fire Emblem games that arn't Sacred Stones due to not being able to re-visit areas)

I agree with Jim, surprisingly, considering he's usually just parroting what everyone else on the internet is already saying. But I'm glad he goes against the mold on this one. Too many gamers still feel their hobby should be exclusionary, and only they are "worthy" of it.

MichaelMaverick:
These discussions are too often plagued with people who haven't adequately studied challenge and balancing in video games, and how they affect the quality of the product. It's not an easy thing to grasp in the slightest, and I'm sick of you know-it-alls making light of it.

Clearly you're not this person. Google core aesthetics of video games. People play games for a variety of different reasons. Someone could play a game for the challenge. Someone for the sense of exploration. And so on. It's entirely possible that a game could deliver challenge for one person and exploration or another depending on the setting that are selected.

It's not that games shouldn't have an easy mode, it's that "there being an easy mode won't effect your experience/normal mode" is not a guarantee. If easy mode is tacked on as an afterthought, maybe it won't. If it's designed for easy mode and scaled up for harder modes, then it will, because increasing difficulty should be more than just changing a few variables to a higher number.

The NSMB system sounds pretty good. Not all games, and the Souls games especially, need an explicit difficulty setting/slider to have an easy mode. Demon's Souls, more than Dark, very much had an easy mode. It's called "play the damn Royalty class" with a side dish of "stay in soul form so you don't blacken world tendency". There are ways to improve upon this without hurting anything.

Wait, an easy mode in Dark Souls sounds rather... dull. Seriously, take away the challenge and the whole point of the game is gone making it boring. I can see the casual user using easy mode and not enjoying the game.

Simply, some games just aren't for everyone. Grim and difficult to cute and easy, different markets. Are we supposed to release a funny version of The Road or a gritty version of Cars so everyone can join in? Not all games are the same, an easy mode in Mario or Donkey Kong seems to make more sense, also mechanically correct than one in Dark Souls.

Anyone is allowed to get involved and enjoy, it has nothing to do with inclusiveness and this argument seems to be used in the majority of industry related "issues" these days.

I definitely agree. I think the lack of an easy mode on certain games is what brought about the invention of the Game Geine, Game Shark, Action Replay, and other such devices. Heck, there are even some games that practically required the use of such devices due to unplayable difficulty *COUGH*DevilMayCry3*COUGH* or gameplay elements that added unecessary difficulty. *COUGH*Gen1PokémonGames*COUGH*

I think the addition of an easy mode is a good idea as long as the regular difficulty remains. I, personally, find Easy Mode too easy sometimes, but if there are those who just want to play the game without having to die a gabillion times on the FIRST LEVEL, I see no problem with it.

From the same line of thought that brought you complaints about every kid getting a trophy at little league, there is also the complaint that finishing a game should bring some sense of accomplishment.

I'm actually not completely opposed to that line of thought. Back in the day, finishing games was something that could be difficult to do. Now, you can pretty much finish any game without trouble. That makes sense though. People who pay so much money don't want to be unable to play all the content.

But that might be the difference here. People like me see challenge as part of the game, and getting to the end as something that should be reserved for skilled players. Others see the game as content to be consumed and enjoyed in a different way, like Jim said.

These are different audiences, like people who enjoy romantic comedies and people who like action movies. Sure, I could go pick up a movie in the store and watch the whole thing, but there is no guarantee that I will enjoy it. It's not that the content was closed off, it was that I didn't like it.

Dark Souls is one that is tuned to players who enjoy a challenge. The bosses who smash you to bits and the (mother #$@#ing) archers who shoot you off the small walkways in Anor Lando are the content. Making it to the end is something of an accomplishment, not just because of the boss fights, but because of limited resources, a need to understand mechanics, proper timing, and generally walking through the levels ready for anything. That's why I played it at least. (Of course, some players chose to google the whole game and play it with prior knowledge of how to do everything, but that's a different topic.)

Now, an easy mode wouldn't hurt me or anything, but I have to feel like it wouldn't fit the game. It's just not a game that was ever meant to be played by the type of player who uses easy mode in a game, or enjoys the storyline or whatever. It's meant for a different audience.

Some games get away with just putting in difficulty levels, but some just can't, and would compromise the feel of the game, and part of the experience as well. Yes, part of that experience may be pride over getting to the end, and that's okay. It doesn't make you a bad person to want to keep reaching the end an exclusive thing, which I think is an unfortunate assumption made by too many people.

Perhaps I should say it this way:

My job as a player is to seek out the easiest path to victory.

The developer's job is to make that path difficult enough to challenge me, but not difficult enough to make me stop playing.

Putting in difficulty modes is making the player do the developer's job for them. They could try to forget for a moment that they're a player, and start thinking like a designer about how hard the game should be. And speaking as a game developer myself, achieving difficult things in games is not as satisfying if you chose to make them difficult, and you could have just as easily made them super simple.

Where does it end? They could literally have dozens of sliders for all the different types of damage calculations and drop rates and such.

This entire video wouldn't even have happened without EA.

jehk:

MichaelMaverick:
These discussions are too often plagued with people who haven't adequately studied challenge and balancing in video games, and how they affect the quality of the product. It's not an easy thing to grasp in the slightest, and I'm sick of you know-it-alls making light of it.

Clearly you're not this person. Google core aesthetics of video games. People play games for a variety of different reasons. Someone could play a game for the challenge. Someone for the sense of exploration. And so on. It's entirely possible that a game could deliver challenge for one person and exploration or another depending on the setting that are selected.

Game design theory wouldn't need to exist at all then, according to you. Every game could simply be a mash-up of every conceivable genre, from sandbox to puzzle to shooter, and players could just be expected to find their own parts to like. I bet that would work out just swell.

Oh wait no, it fucking wouldn't. There's already been trash games like that released in the last couple of years, and none of them lighted the world on fire.

You know, based on the title, I thought this episode was going to piss me off. But I couldn't help but nod stoically in agreement throughout the whole episode instead. You win this round, Jim.

 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 . . . 30 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here