The fallacy of dumbed down gameplay

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Kermi:
Back then we had to fight against clunky interfaces. We played games where EVERY KEY ON THE KEYBOARD HAD A FUNCTION

image

And you know what? It was fun. You could use the crazy complex keyboard interface to do all sorts of fun tricks like juking enemies with jump jets and taking heavy hits on a relatively undamaged part of your armor.

And if you want to talk about teh immershun that is so valued by a modern gamer, Mechwarrior games feel like you're piloting a multi-ton war machine.

Well streamlining pretty much is "dumbing down" since the threshold of when is becomes "dumbing down" varies from person to person.

Some people may regard bioshock as a "dumbed down" system shock 2, to others it's fine.
Other people regard changing that queen egg ability you have to cast manually on hatcheries to get more eggs you need to stay competetive with other races in starcraft 2 to autocast so zerg becomes a playable fucking race to normal human beings as "dumbing down".
And then there's those people who think mass effect 2 is "streamlined".

I wouldn't give it too much thought.

ChaosBorne:
you no doubt have been bitching about how the game is too easy for your l33t skills too,

I don't recall ever using numbers to speak. Maybe I'm too old. When you hit thirty, you stopusing this king of terminology...

Yeah, Skyrim was easy, but not for the reasons you imply. You see, out of boredom, I tried to use equipment and skills that ran counter my perks (light armour, two-handed weapons, no sneaking, etc...) and went on to complete the entire civil war campaign without breaking a sweat... Skyrim is easy, and I've not been compelled to play more than once. It doesn't lend well to sandbox in the way that it forces one play style per game on you...

If I wanted to fell pride in facing a challenge, I'd point at my Demon's Souls platinum trophy... but that would be just bragging.

Also, why are races in Skyrim basically graphical swaps with little else involved aside from 1 ability. Another feature usuelessly dumbed down for the masses. In previous TES entries, the races had meaning in that each provided different abilities AND stats and not just palette swaps.

Face it, Skyrim was dumbed down for the casual market. I don't blame Bethesda for their decision (if you've noticed, I've not shaken my fist at them in these posts - maybe you want to tone it down too). Especially in these hard times, everyone needs to make money.

rob_simple:

See, this to me is the real difference between a normal gamer and a 'hardcore' one: I will play games for upwards of 100 hours if I'm enjoying what I'm doing; I'll beat bullshit challenges if I enjoy what I'm doing, but I have absolutely no interest in tinkering and tweaking stats and effects and learning how to work grids or taking a three week correspondence course on alchemy to make my own gold using real elements from the periodic table.

Fair enough

The thing you said about if you take the time it paid off sounds exactly like when people said FFXIII got really good after about thirty hours.

Yes I did enjoy FFXIII, thank you. Got the platinum in that too.

I'm not having a go at you for enjoying it, by the way, it's just that to me this isn't an example of making the gameplay easier, but making the game more accessible.

The two go hand in hand.

It is annoying when a series that has always prided itself on the things you enjoy gets watered down for mass market appeal, but it's also worth remembering that these games are million-dollar investments and that if they want to break even they simply can't rely solely on the dedicated gamers.

No argument there. It's pretty much what I've been saying.

But it is nice to have those "hardcore" challenges sometimes. It's why IMO, Demon's and Dark Souls are the best games of this gen. I just expected a little more out Skyrim...

Kahunaburger:

Kermi:
Back then we had to fight against clunky interfaces. We played games where EVERY KEY ON THE KEYBOARD HAD A FUNCTION

image

And you know what? It was fun. You could use the crazy complex keyboard interface to do all sorts of fun tricks like juking enemies with jump jets and taking heavy hits on a relatively undamaged part of your armor.

And if you want to talk about teh immershun that is so valued by a modern gamer, Mechwarrior games feel like you're piloting a multi-ton war machine.

Now there is a very specific point what you are making here.

The goal of the mechwarrior series Was among other things mech fighting, but its main driving focus was trying to simulate controlling this giant complex machine.

One of its main focuses was the awkward controlling and not just killing off other mechs. Now in the OP I talked about X-Com. Its goal wasn't being complex. Its goal was strategy and tactical choices. To make the that easier to achieve isn't the same as making it easier to control the mech. One moves towards the goal of the game and the other away.

For people making the COD vs. Doom argument stop, as well as anyone making game A vs. game B argument, you can't sum up an entire generation of gaming with just one game, some games are dumb downed and some are more complicated, in fact if I cared to look I could probably find an example of both simple and complicated, as well as a good and bad example of each, for every year in each genre back to the first appearance of that genre. Also stop hating for someone liking simple games, because when I want to shoot something in the face the less math and inventory screens involved the better and sometimes the planing and thinking is fun to it make that final moment all the more special.

Draech:
One of its main focuses was the awkward controlling and not just killing off other mechs. Now in the OP I talked about X-Com. Its goal wasn't being complex. Its goal was strategy and tactical choices. To make the that easier to achieve isn't the same as making it easier to control the mech. One moves towards the goal of the game and the other away.

XCOM wasn't that overly complex. It was as complex as it needed to be, with soldiers that could shoot, reload, duck, ambush, climb stairs and use equipment, aslong as they had time left.
I picked it up in no time and without a manual. Why is everyone remembering this game as being rocket science?
Was it so hard to figure out that labs did the research and workshops build your discoveries and not the other way around?

Easy to learn hard to master?
XCOM was easy to learn, easy to master.

Draech:

Kahunaburger:

Kermi:
Back then we had to fight against clunky interfaces. We played games where EVERY KEY ON THE KEYBOARD HAD A FUNCTION

And you know what? It was fun. You could use the crazy complex keyboard interface to do all sorts of fun tricks like juking enemies with jump jets and taking heavy hits on a relatively undamaged part of your armor.

And if you want to talk about teh immershun that is so valued by a modern gamer, Mechwarrior games feel like you're piloting a multi-ton war machine.

Now there is a very specific point what you are making here.

The goal of the mechwarrior series Was among other things mech fighting, but its main driving focus was trying to simulate controlling this giant complex machine.

One of its main focuses was the awkward controlling and not just killing off other mechs. Now in the OP I talked about X-Com. Its goal wasn't being complex. Its goal was strategy and tactical choices. To make the that easier to achieve isn't the same as making it easier to control the mech. One moves towards the goal of the game and the other away.

Well, if we're talking about games with 87 bazillion different keybinds, many of those key commands *do* correspond to strategy/tactics. Mechwarrior would be a much shallower game without the heat management functions, star commands, or the functions aimed at responding to locational damage, for instance. Sure, some of the keybinds are pure flavor or convenience functions (autopilot, for instance) and the byzantine variation of functions does have the aggregate effect of creating the "you are piloting a hulking, unwieldy war machine" game feel, but they also have a gameplay depth purpose. MechAssault didn't work very well because it threw out the depth with the interface complexity (and failed to achieve the same game feel). This sort of thing happens a lot, and is a reason why "streamlining" is usually taken as a bad sign.

hazabaza1:
I don't really get why "Dumbing down" is a bad thing. I guess a lot of people like big impenetrable games that rely solely on numbers and take 5 hours to understand what the fuck is going on but personally, that's not my thing.

I don't think you understand exactly how you can dumb down most games. Games that rely solely on numbers generally are catered to people who enjoy that sort of thing and cannot really be dumbed down as it would have little to no appeal to people otherwise.

I'll give you an imaginary example from an fps game. Say there was a gun that fired in a very strange way. When you first use it, you think it's pretty much useless. But if you practice with it, you realize it has potential and begin learning how to use it optimally.

But the developers thought that this gun was a bit more difficult to use when someone first began playing the game. So they change the gun completely to be a typical 'Point gun at thing until it dies' when before it required some thought to use and it used to produce better results.

Honestly, I would be pissed off. Not just because I had learned to use the old gun, but also that the unique thing about the weapon was taken away so that it became more generic and easy to use.

Draech:

Now that is again a cop out. You dont have to make a game where you need a the player to read a book enjoy it. Especially since it is an interactive medium. You can use this medium to relay the rules. My comparison was well justified. A movie uses part of it self to set up narrative and context, a game can do the same thing. And just like a movie can be bad at it so can a game. Just like a game can use its visuals to relay its story, it can relay its mechanics the same way.

On the
"My point that I'm trying to make, is that the industry isn't providing greater in-depth experiences compared to the past"
I am going to make some counter examples. What combat is deeper? Original Doom or newest COD? As much as you might hate it the newest COD has deeper combat. The enemies are smarter. You got ironsight aiming that gives you a tactical choices between being slow and deadly or being fast and less accurate. Your choice of weapon limits the tactics you can use so the choice becomes a lot more meaningful. Correct doom had additional mechanics like exploration, puzzle solving and resource management, but it also had combat and theatrics where the new COD wins by a landslide. Games have been focused at target experiences alot more than they did in the past, but they havn't lost dept in an attempt for total mass appeal. They have lost dept in an attempt for specific appeal.

I am going to take another example.
Heroes of might and magic 3 is considered to be the best game in the series just about universally (release date 1999). Heroes of might and magic 5 (released 2006) is if compared the tactically deeper game. I am not even going to compare it to its predecessors. If you look at the game objectively you can see that is factually correct. The reason why is because tactical dept was the focus the game. Game developers fuck it up when trying to make their game easy to understand or just experiment, but if they focus their efforts on specific element they can make and do make them deeper and more engaging.

Sure you can cite specific examples of long standing franchises that survive, but I'm talking about the industry at large here. When you have publishers saying things like this outright:

"The '90s generation of gamers all love Xcom and we own the IP, so we thought OK, what do we do with it? Every studio we had wanted to do it and each one had its own spin on it. But the problem was that turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth. But this is not just a commercial thing - strategy games are just not contemporary."

Obviously this is just PR speak to cover their asses for turning another turn based game into an action shooter, but this kind of shit is rampant in the industry. I mean, its gotten so bad that people are willing to throw over 3 million dollars on games that exist merely on a conceptual level on kickstarter just to see a game made. People are excited to see a couple shots of CONCEPT ART for gods sake. This is something to celebrate, but its also a sign of how bad things have gotten for certain gameplay styles. Brain Fargo often speaks about how he tried for over a decade to make another Wasteland to no avail with publishers turning him away at every turn. I can agree with the sentiment that we shouldn't just be complaining about the current gaming scene, and we should try and see the good. However, we should realize that this industry is different than it was even a generation ago. I think an article that sums up this problem well is 'A complex problem'.(http://www.fuyoh.net/2011/12/04/a-complex-problem/) It talks about how our industry is creating environments where complex experiences aren't valued simply because its not providing "gateway" experiences for casual/un-experienced gamers. Strategy/turn based games will either live on through their long standing franchises like Civilization or be shifted into the prominent genres of the day.

This isn't to say the games that people that enjoy now are terrible, or that simple/casual games are for 'lesser gamers'. This is juvenile notion, but we shouldn't ignore trends of the industry. To say that 'all is good, nothing has changed, and no niches are left behind' is altogether naive, and lacks seeing things on a larger scale. We need to advocate that more genres be revived so they can actually evolve over time. Certain genres will never seem contemporary if gaming only evolves along certain paths like action, and fps.

Draech:

One of its main focuses was the awkward controlling and not just killing off other mechs. Now in the OP I talked about X-Com. Its goal wasn't being complex. Its goal was strategy and tactical choices. To make the that easier to achieve isn't the same as making it easier to control the mech. One moves towards the goal of the game and the other away.

It may help the X-Com discussion if we are being more specific.

I have seen two major topics being discussed in relation to streamlining of the new X-Com.

Changing the Action Point system to a broader system with less micromanaging. It will have some resemblance with tabletop rules with a movement phase and a fire phase.
This may change the feel of the game significantly. I personally like the idea, but I understand the skepticism of people who are into micromanaging, because it will probably lose that close to the character feeling seen in games like Laser Squad or Jagged Alliance. There's also reports that the inventory and loadout will be simplified, taking away both tactical depth and detailed RPG mechanics.

Another major simplification is limiting the player to one base. A major gameplay element in X-Com was how to create world coverage within the economical limitations. Deciding where, when and how to build bases had a big impact on how the game played out. There were many ways to do that and no 'best' option. This was a mechanic that gave the game a lot of depth and some replayability. It also created some flavour by having an interface that looked like something out of Wargames or other Hollywood movies of the time.
I imagine they may cut away the Geoscape view completely, because I think it is pretty hard to recreate without point and click controller functionality.

There are a lot more simplifications happening than merely UI improvements. And the original X-Com didn't have a particular complex UI, it had some flaws that could have been improved upon with better tech, but that doesn't seem to be the way they are heading with the new game.

So far it seems that Xenonauts may attempt to go the old school route, trying to recreate the original experience with better tech, while Enemy Unknown will create a simplified derivative suitable for consoles. EU can still be a good game, but simplifications rarely happen without some tradeoffs.

The reason I mention consoles is not to suggest console users are inferior, merely to say that mouse and stick are different control methods suitable for different contexts. Tactical and strategic games are hard to make with stick controls. That will almost always means that tactical and strategic games on consoles needs to be simpler to work.

Condiments:

Draech:

Now that is again a cop out. You dont have to make a game where you need a the player to read a book enjoy it. Especially since it is an interactive medium. You can use this medium to relay the rules. My comparison was well justified. A movie uses part of it self to set up narrative and context, a game can do the same thing. And just like a movie can be bad at it so can a game. Just like a game can use its visuals to relay its story, it can relay its mechanics the same way.

On the
"My point that I'm trying to make, is that the industry isn't providing greater in-depth experiences compared to the past"
I am going to make some counter examples. What combat is deeper? Original Doom or newest COD? As much as you might hate it the newest COD has deeper combat. The enemies are smarter. You got ironsight aiming that gives you a tactical choices between being slow and deadly or being fast and less accurate. Your choice of weapon limits the tactics you can use so the choice becomes a lot more meaningful. Correct doom had additional mechanics like exploration, puzzle solving and resource management, but it also had combat and theatrics where the new COD wins by a landslide. Games have been focused at target experiences alot more than they did in the past, but they havn't lost dept in an attempt for total mass appeal. They have lost dept in an attempt for specific appeal.

I am going to take another example.
Heroes of might and magic 3 is considered to be the best game in the series just about universally (release date 1999). Heroes of might and magic 5 (released 2006) is if compared the tactically deeper game. I am not even going to compare it to its predecessors. If you look at the game objectively you can see that is factually correct. The reason why is because tactical dept was the focus the game. Game developers fuck it up when trying to make their game easy to understand or just experiment, but if they focus their efforts on specific element they can make and do make them deeper and more engaging.

Sure you can cite specific examples of long standing franchises that survive, but I'm talking about the industry at large here. When you have publishers saying things like this outright:

"The '90s generation of gamers all love Xcom and we own the IP, so we thought OK, what do we do with it? Every studio we had wanted to do it and each one had its own spin on it. But the problem was that turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth. But this is not just a commercial thing - strategy games are just not contemporary."

Obviously this is just PR speak to cover their asses for turning another turn based game into an action shooter, but this kind of shit is rampant in the industry. I mean, its gotten so bad that people are willing to throw over 3 million dollars on games that exist merely on a conceptual level on kickstarter just to see a game made. People are excited to see a couple shots of CONCEPT ART for gods sake. This is something to celebrate, but its also a sign of how bad things have gotten for certain gameplay styles. Brain Fargo often speaks about how he tried for over a decade to make another Wasteland to no avail with publishers turning him away at every turn. I can agree with the sentiment that we shouldn't just be complaining about the current gaming scene, and we should try and see the good. However, we should realize that this industry is different than it was even a generation ago. I think an article that sums up this problem well is 'A complex problem'.(http://www.fuyoh.net/2011/12/04/a-complex-problem/) It talks about how our industry is creating environments where complex experiences aren't valued simply because its not providing "gateway" experiences for casual/un-experienced gamers. Strategy/turn based games will either live on through their long standing franchises like Civilization or be shifted into the prominent genres of the day.

This isn't to say the games that people that enjoy now are terrible, or that simple/casual games are for 'lesser gamers'. This is juvenile notion, but we shouldn't ignore trends of the industry. To say that 'all is good, nothing has changed, and no niches are left behind' is altogether naive, and lacks seeing things on a larger scale. We need to advocate that more genres be revived so they can actually evolve over time. Certain genres will never seem contemporary if gaming only evolves along certain paths like action, and fps.

But the OP was about that generation ready to dismiss any changes as "dumbing down" when you can make things streamlined.

Things can be simple and deep at the same time. To take examples of where they have gotten it wrong doesn't lay any weight to what they are doing now.

Actually relevant experience- I played the first Sniper Elite a while after it came out, and after I took the time to get past the rough edges it was a lot of fun. Now, it's not a very complex game compared to a lot of things out there, but it takes some strategy and planning and there can be a lot to handle at one time with the way health and inventory and all that work. And I liked it all.

Then I played V2's demo a couple days ago. It's pretty much the same game but streamlined. And you know what? I liked it better. Felt more polished. The amount of keys used is reduced by a good number and a lot of mechanics are simplified, but it's all in a way that shaves off some straggly hairs without cutting out essentials.

xDarc:

Draech:

"Dumbing down" isn't the same as user friendly.

But it is. It really, really is. Streamlined, user friendly, simplifying, all euphemisms. Americans love euphemisms. George Carline will tell you.

There is a difference between "so easy a retard could do it" and "easy to learn, difficult to master".

Draech:
But the OP was about that generation ready to dismiss any changes as "dumbing down" when you can make things streamlined.

Things can be simple and deep at the same time. To take examples of where they have gotten it wrong doesn't lay any weight to what they are doing now.

I'm trying to emphasize how the 'dumbing down' of the industry is a real thing, not a mythical horror conjured by old gamers.

Whats wrong with just 'deep games'? Just as there is nothing wrong with Nintendo making things like 'Wii Sports', which celebrates simplicity, why can't there be games just emphasizing depth? I mean, we're talking in broad strokes of how we define these vague terms of simple and depth, so what matters is how we define them in terms of our audiences.

I think in a way, gaming is left the clutches of its nerd origins and now we've entered a new era of 'tyranny of the majority'. Where most experiences are being tempered by the tendencies of the largest buying groups. Nearly every medium has to deal with this problem, but at least others provide for their niche groups much better than this one.

DrVornoff:
Is it that bad that some designers want a smooth, elegant way to get you accustomed to the controls and mechanics before they turn you loose to go nuts? Is it that bad that some people would actually want tutorials?

Depends... Does Call of Duty need a tutorial? It doesn't. Does playing it bore me? No.

But should developers stop holding our hands? Definitely.

Recently played Ghost Recon. Didn't even consider doing the tutorial. Should more games incorporate our choice? Yes.

Wow, I'm shocked to see people seeming to think that dumbing down doesn't exist. Whenever options that were available in past installments of a game are removed and not replaced with anything or integrated into another feature (actual streamlining), that /is/ dumbing things down.

A great example is Civ 5. I was all for them streamlining mechanics and trying new things, but the changes they made - universal happiness, the lack of roads required to trade (and a removal of trade routes with other nations entirely) and so forth was undoubtedly, inexcusably "dumbed down." It made Civ 5 easier to play for new players but removed almost all of the depth that I loved from Beyond the Sword.

Sometimes steam lining is a good thing. Sometimes, overly complicated features can be replicated in easier ways or merged with other features. But when you simply take options away from people and give the game less player choice - not easier to use player choice - you are DUMBING THE GAME DOWN.

EDIT: Also, on MechWarrior, nearly every single feature on that keyboard bind list has made the cut into recent mods like MWLL, barring a couple due to technical limitations (Freelook). MechWarrior Online (mwomercs.com) ALSO has almost every feature on that list. All that was done is streamlining the key commands so that you have an easier to use interface.

The key point being that the features, themselves, were not removed to make the game more simple; they've been kept, but the game interface was made more accessible. That's positive stream lining, and the difference.

Hammeroj:
I wasn't aware people (on any relevant scale) ever bitched about streamlining in and of itself, rather than what developers as of late have been masquerading as streamlining. That, to my understanding of the definition (which admittedly is really only conjecture based on the ways people use the word around here), would literally be going "This isn't hard enough to use", and not anywhere close to the general sentiment.

Ho boy, you missed the storm that echoed over the interwebs when Crysis 2 was under the scrutiny of the public, didn't you? I can't even count the number of comments I read that were simply complaining about how terrible it would be because they had put in hotkeys to make using the nanosuit quicker on the PC, and consequently had removed the "Lean Left/Lean Right" functions that I never used in the first Crysis anyway. Without any mention of how the pull-up menu that had been in the first Crysis was still in the game, and still usable in the same exact way.

Oh, but the "Speed" and "Power" functions that were mildly useful and complete crap respectfully had also been removed in lieu of a normal sprint function and a super-jump function, so it must have been "dumbed down". Also, the armor function actually did slightly more than let you take three bullets to the face instead of two, because the armor function in Crysis Classic was complete crap too. The unarmored AK-47-wielding enemies could take more shots than the player-character could in that game.

Oh, wait, the Stealth function was actually useful in Crysis 2 as well because it didn't drain your energy dry in five seconds and you could actually hide from the AI while using it. I don't even remember what people said about that back then but I'm sure it was complaining as well.

There were even legitimate complaints about how the AI was much simpler in Crysis 2 because they essentially only scripted three different enemy types (and like two vehicle types), and the aliens were extremely similar to the humans anyway, but no, most of the people had to focus on how "dumbed down" the new suit was.

. . . I hope you don't take that rant as inflammatory in your direction or anything. I'm just getting extremely fed up with all of the constant, never-ending complaining that is coming from the average mass of gamers these days about every single little thing. It doesn't seem like a single game can even be mentioned anymore without white-knight zealots riding in to crusade against one thing or another.

Streamlining is not dumbing down

Removing options that some players may not have used to make the game more accessible is

"Dumbing down" means that, in the process of streamlining a game's mechanics, it has sacrificed sophistication, player agency, skill and/or decision orientation, etc.

The model I always go back to is the board game Arkham Horror. The game is great fun, but it exists in this weird limbo between a traditional "family fun" -style "board game" and a deeper, more complicated, what we think of as "tabletop game." Fact is, it doesn't have the depth of a tabletop game, and it's WAY too complicated for a pick-up-and-play board-game.

The result is that, for board-game players, it requires way too much of an investment of time. For tabletop players, it's just diet Call of Cthulu.

To my mind, the game could use some streamlining, and could be worked into something like the Monopoly of Lovecraft board games. But the moment I start thinking about how it could be accomplished (get rid of this token or that token; combine this or that variable together) I find that I'm stripping the game of some of its complexity.

There's a concept in game design called "elegance" -- it's having one mechanic do multiple things. Like in an RPG, suppose you have "magic" for a mage character and "tech skills" for a swordsman character. Having two variables ("MP" and "TP") would be inelegant. So most games would simplify, and call the points something generic ("Action Points") that can be applied to both. That's elegant, and it doesn't sacrifice complexity.

Most of the talk you hear about this or that game being "dumbed down" are purists of the old game, who have gotten through its clunkiness and come to appreciate its particular capabilities. Then the new game comes out, seeking to iron out the wrinkles of the old game; it refines some mechanics, but it simplifies and removes some of the sophistication from others. Maybe the game is more fun, but it's got less tactical depth. Maybe the game goes faster, but it's much less interesting. Maybe the combat mechanics are easier to wield, but have lost any ability to wield them in unique and creative ways.

Point is: read between the lines. Nobody accuses a game of being dumbed-down for being made more elegant. They do so because some feature they like has been weakened, or removed altogether.

while we are talking about dumbing things down: did anyone else notice the diablo 3 interface and gameplay with the two targeted 4 non-targeted ability slots and the inability to change within those slots on the fly seems to cater to the layout of your average controller?

also: aren't the best examples for dumbing things down ironsight aiming and cover(as in magnetic spine) in shooters that clearly don't try to simulate actual infantry combat because the only purpose those have is to slow gameplay down because frantic and fast gameplay where you have to precisely aim where your enemy will be and then whirl around and do it again(read: Quake 3, tribes) does not translate well to controllers.

Robert Riter:
Wow, I'm shocked to see people seeming to think that dumbing down doesn't exist. Whenever options that were available in past installments of a game are removed and not replaced with anything or integrated into another feature (actual streamlining), that /is/ dumbing things down.

Who here has claimed real dumbing down doesn't exist? The clear example earlier in the thread (which I don't think anybody disagreed with; maybe I'm wrong, I only skimmed through) was Deus Ex 2. That's a game that took away all the depth of progression and customisation from the first, and I agree entirely with the criticisms brought against it (it seemed to be marketed towards a different group of players from the fans of the first, so it made no sense to use the IP). The point is that the majority of cases in which complainers use this term "dumbing down" actually refer to legitimate streamlining, and often in such cases depth has, as you say, been added via other means.

3rd Edition DnD wasn't a dumbing down of 2nd Edition, though many said it was. Skyrim wasn't a dumbing down of Oblivion, yet many claim it was. Diablo 3 certainly isn't (now that I've played it) a dumbing down of Diablo 2, but many say that it is (though I'll grant it has DRM issues, which is one legitimate complaint among a sea of silly whines). Similarly, we don't know yet that the new XCOM will be dumbed down compared to its predecessors, and hey presto many are already crying doom. It's a fad, and it's getting annoying.

Incidentally, I'm following Mechwarrior Online closely, and I hope that delivers. I actually kind of liked how Mechwarrior 3 made you feel like you were in a cockpit. OTOH it'll be competing with T:A, which I've been getting into recently myself :/

Imbechile:

tobi the good boy:
What a lot of people seem to forget (I find it's mostly with the rpg crowd) is that the numbers they hail as making games "strategical and complex" were really just there because the hardware at the time wasn't able to emulate actual skill.

image
Hands down the worst argument when trying to defend modern games. Seriously.....

tobi the good boy:
e.g. the cod games (probably get strung up by a pole here) But these games require far more skill than some rpg number crunch. You have to consider timing, positioning, when to hide, when to run, when to get your ass down. and that's not even bringing into account the precision required for things like "No scopes"

Now a days, we're capable to for-go the need to roll a dice to determine how good we are at something.

All of those things you mentioned about COD are bullshit, because you don't think about anything other than move, shoot, reload when playing. It's just wordplay to try to add complexity to an otherwise simple game as COD(I know. I played it a lot before)
Now, trying to defeat a party of enemies with your party in some D&D(and no, random dice rolls won't defeat you if you played well), or clearing a town in Jagged Alliance takes both skill and tactics.
The SWAT games and older Rainbow Six games are shooters with complexity.

Ok, wrong game choice? I chose cod because it stands as one of the most well known shooters. And are you telling me the guy who can run around a map killing 30 people in a row without getting killed requires no skill at all? Did this person not memorise the nooks and crannies of his surroundings? Does he not know when to time his shots right or aim in just the right place?

Also, I wasn't talking about DnD, that's a terrible comparison as it's not a video game or even a game bound by anything. Sure you can have rules that your GM creates but that doesn't restrict how you react to things. In one of my campaigns I was able to crawl on the back of some mechanical creature, use the fire scroll we had found earlier and throw it into the fuel source, blowing the thing up. Coming up with idea's on the fly are not available in video-games.

Imbechile:
But why do "hardcore" gamers get buttfucked?

Because deep/challenging games have never sold that well in the grand scheme of things. The original XCOM game, for example, sold 600,000 copies, a good return given the budgets of the day but a terrible return for a modern AAA game. While Mario was selling 40 million copies.

The difference is that back then a deep/challenging game would look just as good as more popular games because of hardware constraints. Nowadays they are still limited to small budgets while games like COD overshadow them with massive budgets.

So if you want a deep/challenging game, there are two sources:

1) Indie games, which have smaller budgets and can cater to a niche.

2) Moddable AAA games, which may not be deep in themselves but you can hope for some interesting mods. Portal, for instance, is a very easy game but there are some very challenging map packs out there.

ElPatron:
Depends... Does Call of Duty need a tutorial? It doesn't. Does playing it bore me? No.

But should developers stop holding our hands? Definitely.

Recently played Ghost Recon. Didn't even consider doing the tutorial. Should more games incorporate our choice? Yes.

Did you feel that Portal was holding your hand and that took away from the enjoyment of the experience?

WoW Killer:

Incidentally, I'm following Mechwarrior Online closely, and I hope that delivers. I actually kind of liked how Mechwarrior 3 made you feel like you were in a cockpit. OTOH it'll be competing with T:A, which I've been getting into recently myself :/

Exactly same story for me, except swap "2/4" for "3" where applicable. I have a feeling that MWO will replace T:A for me, just because I really, really like mech games. The developer diaries make me feel very hopeful - there's clearly a lot of very good design thought going into this project.

veloper:

Draech:
One of its main focuses was the awkward controlling and not just killing off other mechs. Now in the OP I talked about X-Com. Its goal wasn't being complex. Its goal was strategy and tactical choices. To make the that easier to achieve isn't the same as making it easier to control the mech. One moves towards the goal of the game and the other away.

XCOM wasn't that overly complex. It was as complex as it needed to be, with soldiers that could shoot, reload, duck, ambush, climb stairs and use equipment, aslong as they had time left.
I picked it up in no time and without a manual. Why is everyone remembering this game as being rocket science?
Was it so hard to figure out that labs did the research and workshops build your discoveries and not the other way around?

Easy to learn hard to master?
XCOM was easy to learn, easy to master.

I can see some of the complaints that people have with X-Com regarding its complexity. I think that the battlescape UI was relatively intuitive and easy to pick up on. There were a few buttons like the "go up/down an access lift button" and the "show roof button" and dealing with grenades that aren't particularly clear but the basics like learning how to shoot, reserve time units, change soldiers ect. were pretty clear.

Where X-Com's UI got chaotic was in the Geoscape, particularly the base management. X-Com Util fixed a lot of this but honestly in the days before the internet how many of us lost a game, or at least a base due to our base coming under attack and finding ourselves on the wrong side of (and just discovering) the 80 item limit equipping our troops with a whole bunch of empty plasma rifles? X-Com does punish your mistakes in the long term rather than providing a more immediate "hey you screwed up! Fix it!" sort of feedback.

If you put off researching psi tech for example, or didn't capture a sectoid leader relatively early on (say you captured a floater leader to get the Alien Origins) you'd get bent over the barrel as soon as Ethrals showed up. If you didn't stay on top of dusting out the unused corners of your general stores then you'd end up fighting off base invasions with pistols. If you don't know about the ins and outs of the games moral systems and you lead assaults with your best (and naturally highest ranking) soldiers then when your commander gets his face melted by a plasma bolt you have a skyranger full of panicking rookies faster than you can blink. If you don't realize that the Firestorm requires E115 to get off the ground and you don't have enough in storage then you're entire interception plan goes off the rails. Hell I still get caught my this detail sometimes when I forget to transfer the E115 to my intercept bases after replacing my Interceptors. How many people realize that when you save TU's for a snap shot it is entirely possible to end up with enough TU's saved to shoot, but not enough TU's saved to turn and shoot the alien? How many people realize that you're actually better off shooting at Sectopods with laser rifles than you are with heavy plasmas? The list goes on and on.

I mean the thing is, anyone who's a fan of X-Com has probably sunk hundreds and hundreds of hours into it. The weird quirks in the game don't phase us, they're as much a part of the game as sectoids and mutons. The thing is, how many people out there played X-Com and ditched it?

I wish they would dumb down Starcraft 2.

I am kidding of course.

But seriously, I am 30 years old, have a family, job, and bills. The game requires too much for me to get good at it.

imperialus:

veloper:

Draech:
One of its main focuses was the awkward controlling and not just killing off other mechs. Now in the OP I talked about X-Com. Its goal wasn't being complex. Its goal was strategy and tactical choices. To make the that easier to achieve isn't the same as making it easier to control the mech. One moves towards the goal of the game and the other away.

XCOM wasn't that overly complex. It was as complex as it needed to be, with soldiers that could shoot, reload, duck, ambush, climb stairs and use equipment, aslong as they had time left.
I picked it up in no time and without a manual. Why is everyone remembering this game as being rocket science?
Was it so hard to figure out that labs did the research and workshops build your discoveries and not the other way around?

Easy to learn hard to master?
XCOM was easy to learn, easy to master.

I can see some of the complaints that people have with X-Com regarding its complexity. I think that the battlescape UI was relatively intuitive and easy to pick up on. There were a few buttons like the "go up/down an access lift button" and the "show roof button" and dealing with grenades that aren't particularly clear but the basics like learning how to shoot, reserve time units, change soldiers ect. were pretty clear.

Where X-Com's UI got chaotic was in the Geoscape, particularly the base management. X-Com Util fixed a lot of this but honestly in the days before the internet how many of us lost a game, or at least a base due to our base coming under attack and finding ourselves on the wrong side of (and just discovering) the 80 item limit equipping our troops with a whole bunch of empty plasma rifles? X-Com does punish your mistakes in the long term rather than providing a more immediate "hey you screwed up! Fix it!" sort of feedback.

If you put off researching psi tech for example, or didn't capture a sectoid leader relatively early on (say you captured a floater leader to get the Alien Origins) you'd get bent over the barrel as soon as Ethrals showed up. If you didn't stay on top of dusting out the unused corners of your general stores then you'd end up fighting off base invasions with pistols. If you don't know about the ins and outs of the games moral systems and you lead assaults with your best (and naturally highest ranking) soldiers then when your commander gets his face melted by a plasma bolt you have a skyranger full of panicking rookies faster than you can blink. If you don't realize that the Firestorm requires E115 to get off the ground and you don't have enough in storage then you're entire interception plan goes off the rails. Hell I still get caught my this detail sometimes when I forget to transfer the E115 to my intercept bases after replacing my Interceptors. How many people realize that when you save TU's for a snap shot it is entirely possible to end up with enough TU's saved to shoot, but not enough TU's saved to turn and shoot the alien? How many people realize that you're actually better off shooting at Sectopods with laser rifles than you are with heavy plasmas? The list goes on and on.

I mean the thing is, anyone who's a fan of X-Com has probably sunk hundreds and hundreds of hours into it. The weird quirks in the game don't phase us, they're as much a part of the game as sectoids and mutons. The thing is, how many people out there played X-Com and ditched it?

The store limit I learned by error, but that's what the save and reload is for. It's not a huge deal once you know it. Sell and transfer all the extra crap. Base attacks come further in, surely by then you won't ditch the game over such a thing?

The rest doesn't seem like a big deal to me.
The first I would roll out of my skyranger is a tank. Especially on higher levels you can start out with sectiods nearby on overwatch killing the first soldier who walks out. Tanks can take some early hits and look around. It's not so far fetched.
I've played several games were I didn't have psi labs up before the ethereals. The answer was tanks because they cannot panick or lose control, some soldiers with exceptional bravery and the remainder only trusted with harmless tools.
The sectopod weakness to lasers you learn when you bring one to the lab. The game encourages the player to capture as many species as possible.
I've also forgot to stock up on enough elerium at times, but I consider it my own stupid mistake, not the games fault. The game does tell you what the alien engines run on. Anyway, reload, save often.

Draech:

EDIT: I am not trying to say "Dumbed down gameplay doesn't happen". I am trying to say making games so you dont have to understand D&D 3rd edition to play them isn't the same as dumbing them down. A game can be deep without being needlessly complex.

I'd agree with this, but I think you're on a losing battle here. The majority of people complain foa game being "dumbed down" when it is made deeper. They do so because they can just about manage to remember what 20 buttons on the keyboard do, or check faqs to find an optimal build, or do the elementary arithmetic needed to compare 2 pieces of armour but ask them to consider the tradeoffs involved in not being able to take every spell, ability or weapon with them and they will not even be able to grasp the concept of making a decision.

So yes, some games trade depth for simplicity and that's not ideal. But most complaints of dumbing down come when a game trades complexity for depth and you'll never be able to educate these people.

Rack:

Draech:

EDIT: I am not trying to say "Dumbed down gameplay doesn't happen". I am trying to say making games so you dont have to understand D&D 3rd edition to play them isn't the same as dumbing them down. A game can be deep without being needlessly complex.

I'd agree with this, but I think you're on a losing battle here. The majority of people complain foa game being "dumbed down" when it is made deeper. They do so because they can just about manage to remember what 20 buttons on the keyboard do, or check faqs to find an optimal build, or do the elementary arithmetic needed to compare 2 pieces of armour but ask them to consider the tradeoffs involved in not being able to take every spell, ability or weapon with them and they will not even be able to grasp the concept of making a decision.

So yes, some games trade depth for simplicity and that's not ideal. But most complaints of dumbing down come when a game trades complexity for depth and you'll never be able to educate these people.

I'm trying to think of an instance where a game became less complex, deeper, and was attacked for it. Do you have a game in mind?

Kahunaburger:
I'm trying to think of an instance where a game became less complex, deeper, and was attacked for it. Do you have a game in mind?

I heard that when the famous hardcore strategy/simulation game Doom was followed up by it's sequel CoD they added a landslide of depth in the forms of theatrics and making sure the shooting felt realistic.

I always considered 'dumbed down' the same thing as 'streamlining'. Dumbed down just implies that it's a bad form of 'streamlining'. Honestly, its just a matter of opinion though. It depends on how important what has been streamlined or removed has been an enjoyable experience to you in the first game.

I think that removing core features of a previous game however just generally makes the game simpler in an unecessray way that removes a strategy point that a fair amount of older players would have enjoyed. It all depends on the game however.

Streamlining should be limited to control schemes and interface, maybe remove broken mechanics if a fix can't be found. Also, if certain mechanics that may have worked perfectly fine do not fit with new features you want to implement, you may want to change or remove them as well. Otherwise, I really don't agree with removing certain mechanics just because it makes it easier for other people to play.

DrVornoff:
Did you feel that Portal was holding your hand and that took away from the enjoyment of the experience?

First, it's a puzzle game. Second, I already said I don't consider the first levels a tutorial.

It's impossible for a puzzle game to hold someone's hand, or else it's not a game.

I don't know...I am having great fun playing Dark Souls and Legend of Grimrock on hard while Kingdoms of Amalur, while very enjoyable didn't have much, if any, gratification, challenge wise :<

I think people look for different things in their games and we need different games to compensate for that. I found Dragon Age: Origins combat more fun than Dragon Age 2 for example just because it was more challenging.

Baldur's Gate really isn't that complex when you get down to it but it takes strategy to get through a lot of the fights and is gratifying to play whereas Gears of War (first time I played it on the hardest setting I could pick) I felt like I had just been pushing A randomly for hours it wasn't very engaging. I imagine the multiplayer must be better?

Games devs should keep the 'challenge' crowd in consideration and make their hard modes actually hard.

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