#1 Edited by RedCream (694 posts) -

So in the recent Bombcast there were discussions on the new Fire Emblem game and how its complexity creates a barrier of entry for newcomers on the genre which surprised me because I've been playing a fair amount of turn-based strategy games since I was 10 and I can grasp the concepts of combat quite easily be it Vandal Hearts, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, or Field Commander. I guess what I want to ask is: is there such a thing as a barrier of entry? Also what are the densest strategy games you know?

#2 Posted by Morningstar (2239 posts) -

There are in some strategy games, like some of the paradox ones, sure. But fire emblem? A child could learn that pretty fast.

#3 Edited by BisonHero (7034 posts) -

@RedCream: I think every Fire Emblem has one or two systems that you might need an FAQ to understand (like the stupid biorhythm system in Path of Radiance), but yeah, overall, they're pretty straightforward games to understand.

I could understand someone being overwhelmed by Baldur's Gate or Dragon Age, where the positioning is more open-ended and it's in realtime. But seriously, turn-based strategy games are much easier to grasp, given they are both grid-based and turn-based. You have all the time in the world to stop and think about what you're doing, and if you don't understand something, you don't even have to pause the game to go look it up. Sure, occasionally you have games that are overwhelming because there is just so much to do, like Disgaea, but I really don't agree with them about TBS games being hard to figure out for newcomers.

#4 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

For me it's Crusader Kings 2. I picked it up on a Steam sale, and as much as I'd like to get into it, I keep getting confused. The Total War games are also up there for me personally, but only in the scale of the things you have to keep track of. The actual concepts are pretty easy to pick up, but once you're in charge of dozens of territories, with twice that number of armies and reinforcements and other units on the map, it becomes a lot to manage. There's also a lot of stuff going on in the Civilization games, but I think the more recent ones, especially 5, did a good job telling you what to do depending on what direction you'd like to go.

I haven't listened to the most recent Bombcast, but I'd argue that any sort of complexity can be mitigated with either a really good tutorial or a concept that you can't help but dive into. Or both. I'm going to assume that the newest Fire Emblem has both, because the other games I've played in the series didn't try to dump everything on me from the very beginning. And the idea of a very character-driven strategy game is compelling to me.

It is a little weird hearing this from the same crew that GOTY'ed XCOM. Is it as complicated as X-COM? No. But XCOM is already a damn complicated game. And if you didn't talk to anyone about strategies, the game doesn't prepare you for how important Overwatch and Hunker Down are, or that building satellites should be your first priority.

#5 Edited by Arabes (345 posts) -

@RedCream: For some people I think there is a barrier to entry with strategy games because they don't have a history with them and don't immediately grasp the principles that the game is based on. It's the same for any type of game - if you've never played an fps before, using two analogue sticks to get around is really hard. The barrier is even a little higher for strategy/tactical because they are a lot more cerebral. You really have to think about what you're doing and you have to be able to sink 20 or 30 hours into a game and then go "Right, now that I know what I'm doing, I'm gonna restart and play this properly". I'm in a similar position to you, I started playing Civ1 when I was around 10 and never looked back. I think it's a real shame that more people don't get into these games but so be it - at least Firaxis is still keeping them alive in the west.

@Ubersmake: I'm not taking the piss or anything man, but if you thought XCOM was complicated, fucking forget Crusader Kings :) Crusader Kings is the polar opposite of XCOM, it's got so much depth and sheer randomness that getting to grips with it is almost impossible. It is really rewarding though if you do get it. You should try reading the article they did in PCGamer

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/09/12/sept-12-dontpost-crusader-kings-chronicle-part-1-1066-1076-a-d/

I found it really helpful, and what was great was that they played as the guy I had tried to play as before. The area they start in is where and I grew up in and live and the place names are all accurate which is pretty cool. It'll give you an idea of what to try for. I'm pretty sure that the makers of the game have also brought out a video tutorial recently but I can't remember where I saw that.

#6 Posted by Levius (1228 posts) -

Hell Patrick's got it easy, the first turn based strategy game I played were the Talonsoft West and East front games when I was about 10. Now that was a crazy way to be introduced to turn-based strategy games, you could get battles with at least a 100 units on each side.

#7 Edited by TwoArmed (115 posts) -

Sometimes I get the impression that anytime the staff talks about "barriers to entry" for games (other than for people attempting to really get into competitive multiplayer settings with little prior exposure to such a setting or a particular genre, like maybe RTS and Starcraft II multiplayer for example), they're talking about people like the "Never" girl. They seem to over-exaggerate most things.

#8 Posted by WarlordPayne (705 posts) -

Disgaea had a lot of weird, complex stuff in it but you could ignore literally all of it and still beat the story without any trouble so I don't know if that counts.

I don't know about dense, but the Devil Survivor games have such a staggering amount of character customization options that I occasionally get paralyzed with indecision and have to put the game down for a while.

#9 Posted by c0l0nelp0c0rn1 (1811 posts) -

@Morningstar said:

There are in some strategy games, like some of the paradox ones, sure. But fire emblem? A child could learn that pretty fast.

I did. Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics were some of my favorites, too.

#10 Posted by SirOptimusPrime (2030 posts) -

I just give up when they talk about this. When they say barrier to entry I think what they mean is, "I don't have the time/want to spend the time learning a game." That I can totally understand, but it makes the tabletop gamer inside of me cry. Also, it totally is about when you were introduced to this stuff - Jeff seems like he played a lot of arcade games when he was a kid, so of course he's going to hate a game that requires 10's of hours just to get into and be able to play "properly."

#11 Posted by Hunter5024 (5962 posts) -

I've also been playing turn based strategy games since I was like 10, and most of the games I played before that were RPG's which are pretty closely related, so when Patrick said Fire Emblem was hard to understand I was a little surprised. But I think this is probably just because I am taking what I know for granted. I was more concerned when he said "You can't see the enemies movement." all I could think was "Oh god you're gonna die! Hover over them, hover!" My hopes for his enjoyment of that game are probably a little irrational.

#12 Posted by golguin (4044 posts) -

I think the main issue is that people are not familiar with the genre and believe that there is some impossible barrier to entry. The reality is that the systems in all the games I've played are always explained in a very easy to understand manner. FFT was my first and I beat that game when I was like 12 and that was before the internet was a thing. All the game asks of you is to be patient and learn what its trying to teach you. It wont hold your hand past the tutorial levels. It assumes you have basic reading comprehension and that you'll actually read the description on skills.

The biggest obstacle is reading. It's amazing how many people feel they could skip tutorials and ignore text.

#13 Posted by TruthTellah (9472 posts) -

Looking at strategy games from the perspective of someone inexperienced with them is like looking at all videogames with a lack of experience with them. It just looks -nuts-. Why are all those things on screen? What is happening? What am I supposed to do? It appears foreign and inaccessible until you really sit down with it.

Some games appear more overwhelming than others, and people don't give themselves enough credit in their ability to grasp perceived mechanics.

#14 Posted by HaltIamReptar (2029 posts) -

I remember when I was a kid, I was open to any genre. I would go to Blockbuster and get a game based entirely on the box, without even really considering the genre.

Vandal Hearts II was my jam.

#15 Posted by Christoffer (1921 posts) -

Is this the old complexity vs. depth discussion (explained here in a Extra Credit episode on Penny Arcade). Could it be that some strategy games aren't that complex to learn but it's the depths of the game mechanics that create a barrier?

I think Disgaea is the most dense strategy game I've ever played. There's just so much weird stuff stacked on top of eachother it's impossible to fully understand everything until you've played it for a long time.

#16 Posted by Danteveli (1204 posts) -

I think that the Japanese SRPGs are not that hard to learn on basic level. It can go deeper with some elements but its not impossible to enjoy the game without it. Like Disgaea where beside main story you have the item world and parliament. On the other hand Paradox turn based games are impossible for a newbie. They throw you into deep water with a lot of complex mechanics and you have to learn them. Then its just up to you if you are interested enough to get into all the options.

#17 Edited by Breadfan (6590 posts) -

I've never played a Fire Emblem game, but hearing them talk about a barrier to entry seems somewhat, I don't know, misguided. Turn based strategy games never seemed that difficult to jump into. Sure, there is a short period of learning, but after that it's more of a getting a grasp on the mechanics. Not to diss turn based games in anyway, I love them. It's just they don't seem that time intensive to learn.  
 
As some other users have said, the densest strategy game I've played is Crusader Kings 2. I'd describe the learning curve to that game as if the developers sailed you out into shark infested waters and dropped you in blindfolded, with only a toothpick to use for defense. It takes a decent chunk of time to understand what exactly is going on. Hell, I've played the game for about 40 hours and I'm still learning new stuff. 

#18 Posted by Arabes (345 posts) -

@HaltIamReptar: I fucking loved that game :) It had a really good story to go with it. Don't think i ever finished it though.

#19 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

@Arabes said:

@Ubersmake: I'm not taking the piss or anything man, but if you thought XCOM was complicated, fucking forget Crusader Kings :) Crusader Kings is the polar opposite of XCOM, it's got so much depth and sheer randomness that getting to grips with it is almost impossible. It is really rewarding though if you do get it. You should try reading the article they did in PCGamer

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/09/12/sept-12-dontpost-crusader-kings-chronicle-part-1-1066-1076-a-d/

I found it really helpful, and what was great was that they played as the guy I had tried to play as before. The area they start in is where and I grew up in and live and the place names are all accurate which is pretty cool. It'll give you an idea of what to try for. I'm pretty sure that the makers of the game have also brought out a video tutorial recently but I can't remember where I saw that.

Thanks, duder. I'll give that a read.

I guess calling XCOM "complicated" would be wrong. Complex? It has a lot of moving parts, and you really need to understand what does what to your Chance to Hit (and the aliens' Chance to Hit) to even stand a chance on anything above Normal.

But yeah, my experience with Crusader Kings 2 was being dropped into a massive map with a ton of numbers. Which one am I? What does this thing mean? What. Do. I. Do?! Every time I scroll through my games on Steam and see it, I'm convinced that the only thing it wants to do is punch my face. But maybe reading this thing will better prepare me to face this monster.

#20 Posted by squiDc00kiE (367 posts) -

There is a barrier to entry, just like anything in life. If you aren't familiar with something, then there's a disconnect from people who are. Now granted they listed Tactics Ogre as one of the more dense srpg's out there, which I didnt quite agree with. I don't play srpg's very often, but I found that games such as Disgaea and FF:Tactics were MUCH more difficult to get into than Tactics Ogre. But that's just my opinion and experience.

#21 Edited by Bobby_The_Great (1012 posts) -

Over-exaggeration and hyperbole are what the Bombcrew are all about. Haven't you learned this yet?

That said, I know some are tough, but really if you can grasps the basics of chess, then turn-based strategy games are fairly easy. I find them easier than RTS games because at least you have time to think, rather than being 100% completely reactionary.

#22 Posted by onimonkii (2463 posts) -
#23 Posted by MildMolasses (3229 posts) -

@squiDc00kiE said:

There is a barrier to entry, just like anything in life. If you aren't familiar with something, then there's a disconnect from people who are.

I think this is what a lot of people tend to overlook. My mother plays a lot of games on her ipad, but if I were to hand her a 360 controller, she would be lost. It's the same way I feel about playing games with a mouse and keyboard. I recognise the advantages of it, but I much prefer using a controller, so any time I try to go keyboard, I find it frustrating and it puts me off. Its a matter of dealing with the unfamiliar and whether you are willing to put in the time to learn it. With the way the GB guys move from game to game, its more of a daunting task than for someone who picks up Disgaea and says 'this is my game for the next two months"

#24 Posted by Kaiserreich (740 posts) -

The most complex strategy game I've ever played is Hearts of Iron III. The level of choice and number of systems involved in that game is insane, blows Crusader Kings II away.

Here's video of it in action.

#25 Edited by golguin (4044 posts) -

@MildMolasses said:

@squiDc00kiE said:

There is a barrier to entry, just like anything in life. If you aren't familiar with something, then there's a disconnect from people who are.

I think this is what a lot of people tend to overlook. My mother plays a lot of games on her ipad, but if I were to hand her a 360 controller, she would be lost. It's the same way I feel about playing games with a mouse and keyboard. I recognise the advantages of it, but I much prefer using a controller, so any time I try to go keyboard, I find it frustrating and it puts me off. Its a matter of dealing with the unfamiliar and whether you are willing to put in the time to learn it. With the way the GB guys move from game to game, its more of a daunting task than for someone who picks up Disgaea and says 'this is my game for the next two months"

That is the thing. You have to decided to play the game and make the time commitment. They all committed to playing XCOM and learning its systems. They could do the same for FFT and Disgaea. I feel that most of us played those games when we were kids. If kids could figure out the various classes and how to deploy them in combat then there's no reason the bombcrew shouldn't be able to do the same as long as they decide to learn.

Watching the Disgaea trailer literally made me OMG back in the day. Playing FFT and seeing that thing was like a mind blowing thing.

#26 Edited by Trilogy (2687 posts) -

I usually make a mental note to downplay what they consider "impenetrable" or a rough "barrier to entry". I remember when Ryan was talking about the Gran Turismo games being impenetrable, but I sort of grew up playing gran turismo so the sentiment didn't really resonate with me.

That being said, some games can be a bitch to get into if we're talking about competitive play. For example, anyone can figure out a game like starcraft if you're just playing the campaign or the AI. Learning the intricacies of an ever changing meta game (yea, I used that word) while trying to maintain simultaneous micro and macro against somebody better than you are can be frustrating. I suppose that's the difference between real time and turn based strategy games. You don't really need dexterity/multitasking skills to be decent at a turn based strategy game. You just need knowledge of the various systems in place and how to properly utilize them.

#27 Posted by squiDc00kiE (367 posts) -

@golguin said:

@MildMolasses said:

@squiDc00kiE said:

There is a barrier to entry, just like anything in life. If you aren't familiar with something, then there's a disconnect from people who are.

I think this is what a lot of people tend to overlook. My mother plays a lot of games on her ipad, but if I were to hand her a 360 controller, she would be lost. It's the same way I feel about playing games with a mouse and keyboard. I recognise the advantages of it, but I much prefer using a controller, so any time I try to go keyboard, I find it frustrating and it puts me off. Its a matter of dealing with the unfamiliar and whether you are willing to put in the time to learn it. With the way the GB guys move from game to game, its more of a daunting task than for someone who picks up Disgaea and says 'this is my game for the next two months"

I feel that most of us played those games when we were kids. If kids could figure out the various classes and how to deploy them in combat then there's no reason the bombcrew shouldn't be able to do the same as long as they decide to learn.

I do think that trying to learn these games as adults presents a whole new set of challenges. As kids, our minds are open to anything you'll throw at us. But as adults, there are so many walls built up over past experiences and expectations that it becomes a challenge to get over those walls. i.e. Kids now who grow up playing Halo will be completely lost if they try and suddenly jump in to Street Fighter. Whole new way of thinking their minds weren't built around growing up.

#28 Posted by MildMolasses (3229 posts) -

@golguin: You're right that they could learn it, but I don't think people should hold it against them if they choose not to. That barrier does exist, and not all games are made for all audiences. Choosing not to pursue a game because of a perceived barrier to entry (whether exaggerated or not) is completely valid. After all, part of the initial joy that the guys had working here was that they didn't have to cover everything