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Posted by Battezu

That was kind of hard. But it was worth playing.

Posted by Johacamigames

@Dawlight said:

To mind comes Portal 1 and 2.

That's actually true, especially for the newcomers

Posted by extragingerbrew

A wake up call for sure.

Posted by Slag

“Older games just didn’t explain anything, which ended up being a problem in some situations,” he said. “You end up with games like Zelda 1, which are really, really hard to understand, even though people like that game. I’m not a huge fan of it"

Blasphemy!

I get what Glaiel is driving at but seriously Zelda was not "hard" at all. It just required a lot of guess & check and persistence. The Lost Woods was the only part that felt truly impenetrable and even that you could find an answer in game. It was a fairly easy game by NES standards.

I beat Zelda without a guide when I was a little kid and I know scores of others who did as well.

Posted by CustomOtto

@Drebin_893 said:

So that article just...ends?

most of them eventually end

Posted by DriftSPace

@Snowsprite:

Excellent video, thank you. The level design in Mega Man games is not only a milestone in game design, but it teaches people the satisfaction of getting better at things and, as the video says, "becoming stronger," or honing a skill.

Closure was great; I finished the whole thing (100%) without watching any YouTube videos or reading any guides, and it was because the game gave me all the information I needed through playing the game.

Posted by Drebin_893

So that article just...ends?

Posted by Snowsprite
Edited by Manatassi

@whyareyoucrouchingspock said:

@Manatassi said:

The whole PC games have more "intelligent" design is absurd

At no point did I say this or make this argument.

What my actual argument was... console games are not sophisticated in complexity nor designed to assume the player is reasonably intelligent. Feel free to list any AAA console game released last year that matched Empires scope or depth. Hell... knock yourself out, try any game from the entire life-cycle of the Xbox360.

@Manatassi said:

Unfortunately there are extremely few games out there that aren't failing miserably in some extremely important design areas.

Again, missing the point. It's about the target audience and sales. It's fuckall to do with design other than designing a game aimed at the lowest common denominator. Limiting a game, simplifying it and making gratification easyer is perceived increases sales. The majority of pc titles, even those actually designed for children usually give them more intellectual credit than your average console game.

@Manatassi said:

In-fact the PC games you are giving examples of are some of the worst offenders in the area of poorly designed learning and overly complex interfaces.

I only listed one pc game. And you are wrong by wide margin. Every total war game is a sophisticated game designed for mature minds. Yet it's also highly accessible. This isn't because the gameplay itself is dumbed down like console games aiming at the lowest common denominator. It's because both in real-time and turn based, the game has two advisors telling you each and every mechanic. In fact, I would argue the advisor mechanic in total war is fucking genius. Not only does it inform the player, the characters themselfs (female for turn based and male for real time) are characters themselfs interacting with you making quips and using the dialect of each specific area sporting visual asthetics as well making the game more immersing. Aside from this obviously excellent design, the game also uses campaign tutorials that act as stand alone stories. In the case of Empire it's the birth of America itself. Instructing as well as educating the player through narrative.

@Manatassi said:

The nature of the PC keyboard and mouse interface allows PC game designers to not streamline their design methods in the same way many Console games do ending up with a clumsy interface with overly complex Tutorials to go with them. The opposite of the point the article is making.

This is a very narrow point of view I feel, deep dow in my ballsack. It's not just the control scheme. Is a 12 year old more likely to pick up an xbox360 for Christmas or a £700 hand built pc to play a historically based sophicated pc game about the 1700's? Of course not. It's a game designed for mature minds. Aside from children alot of poorer familys than me own a consoles on the basis they cannot afford to have the same excellent pc I use.

@Manatassi said:

@bellmont42 said:

A game should be able to teach you how to play it intuitively, resorting to tutorials as the last resort.

I would agree that most console games don't require a tutorial. The games are usually incredibly simplistic by nature compared to sophisticated pc titles as I factually stated in my original post. When a strategy game has so many variables it will be guess work. when a simulator has over 250 buttons in the cockpit it will be guess work. Console games being very simplistic in comparison designed with a child like mind at the forefront it's not really an issue for the majority of titles.

@Manatassi said:

A lot of developers would benefit from hiring some psychologists or really good teachers to help them understand how to communicate with their players and to understand how people actually learn. .

Developers use focus groups and play-testing. The majority of the time the design is dictated by players saying "I don't know what to do" or "I don't like this".

Contrary to what you or other aspiring game experts say, gamers do dictate design. Alot of them noobs so they know to set the bar low.

Ok for starters you got Reeeeealy defensive on this one didn't you :). If you are going to comment on things I have said quote the whole piece rather than selecting parts out of context.

Also... Read your own post again:

"For sophisticated intelligent games, these are mostly found on the pc."

Read the Article before you decide I'm missing the point that the Article is discussing again as Sales were not the issue the article was about game design methods.

The article certainly was not a damming criticism of console games dumbing down game design as you still seem to insist.

I am aware that Designers use focus testing to give them feedback thus my point that they should be hiring Psychologists to help them understand how to interpret that feedback and learn ways of assisting learning and understand the methods of learning. Oh and BTW I am not an "aspiring Game Expert' I work with communication and learning methods in my career thus I made the comment suggesting Designers could learn something from this field.

Oh and saying things like: "I would agree that most console games don't require a tutorial. The games are usually incredibly simplistic by nature compared to sophisticated pc titles as I factually stated in my original post"

Makes you sound like an elitist Asshole fanboy and is hardly going to support any argument you want to make. Also the use of the term Noob and talking about your ball sack are extremely immature. I prefer to do my thinking with something other than my ball sack personally :P

I'm not going to go through your entire post and pick it apart for you piece by piece, suffice to say there are a lot of problems in there...

Aside from all of that you have simply missed the point of the Article and used it to propagate a completely immature attitude that "noobs" in focus testing are to blame and console games are somehow designed for Dude Bro idiot 13 year olds. Which lead to my statement "He is however perpetuating an unproductive stereotype." which was the overall criticism I levelled at you. Apparently I would have done better to simply join in with the "head up your arse" comments instead as then you wouldn't be fill ing my inbox with re-edits of this pretty immature defensive retaliation that was not required.

Have fun getting pissed off about this reply, I really can't be bothered to write anymore about this now :)

Posted by drGiggless

good read

Posted by SmilingPig

Don't Assume Players Are Stupid... Know that they are!

Posted by Gunslinger0130
@phrosnite I work as an art director for an ad agency, an industry overflowing with this mentality. While this approach may grant you the largest audience, it's a very destructive path to go down when it comes to creative.

Nothing sucks the creative genius from a piece faster than the idea that the viewer is dumb.

The unfortunate result is a circle of idiocy, art gets dumbed down, we get dumber, we dumb down the art more and on and on it goes.

It may make money but it's no way to create.
Posted by SatelliteOfLove

"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man a fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime."
 
This, paraphrased for gaming, is what is wrong with hand-holding in games. They TELL you what to do instead of HOW or giving you the insight to decide WHY for yourself. 
 
Remember Black Ops? Remember so many forum posts and podcasts discussing the oildrum scene? The game had been handholding the entire way there, but let the player go, players whose minds had often soft from disuse up to that point, like astronauts needing help walking after coming back from time in zero gravity. There was NO teaching, only TELLING.
 
I for a long time thought I hated tutorials, but what I discovered was that I hated bad tutorials from bad devs, or milquetoast devs kowtowing to publishers trying to reach a mythical 8-digit sales figure by treating players like idiots, walling off vast ammounts of gameplay opportunities in the process.

That example of LoZ 1 is a viable method though, like the Souls games and "Buy an Indie game from a non-asshole that shall remain unnamed" do: you teach yourself. I'm glad they exist when done right.

Posted by ChaosTony

Awwww I came here to post the Sequelitis video, I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beaten to it.

Posted by GaryDooton

@biggiedubs: I agree totally, and that was my point entirely: the ubiquity of videogames has brought it in line (or is bringing it in line) with movies - some are "classier" and offer more sophisticated experiences, and some are "dumber" and are designed to ensure as large an audience as possible can enjoy them, and everything in between. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I think it shows just how broad the industry is in scope these days and how it pervades much of our culture. That's really quite fantastic for fans of gaming, as we have more choice than ever before.

Posted by ozzier

Personally, I think features like clicking-in the sticks to see where you're supposed to go, a-la Dead Space is how it's supposed to be done. The info isn't in your face, and you don't have to use it if you don't want to, but if you need the guidance, it's there. Perfect, IMO.

I don't necessarily find games that beat you over the head with tutorials and hand holding like the first hour or so of any Zelda game to be insulting, but I do wish that those things were either integrated better, or perhaps toggled in a menu somewhere.

Posted by egg

I disagree with this because it's saying in-game explanation assumes the player is stupid. That's not true. If anything it's respecting the player by telling them how the game works. All the game is doing is providing free information. If the player gets frustrated at being provided free information then they are stupid, not the game. The game is only stupid if it's doing it in a way that's more likely to bore the player than to help them, or if it's telling really basic info nobody could possibly not have known and explaining it in a way that makes it sound more complicated than it actually is. Granted, games are often guilty of doing one of those things.

Posted by biggiedubs

@GaryDooton: I think that for every question you direct at a film / game / any type of media, you always have to stop and think about the targeted audience. Alien is a straight up horror film and was always targeted as such. That audience loves what that film is, and has the requisite knowledge of the genre to keep up with the plot / moments / etc. For the most part, if you're going into a horror film, you've probably seen a bunch of them before, and you probably guess where it's going.

An action film, however, everyone watches. Smart people watch them, dumb people watch them and some people who don't watch a whole lot of films watch them. Also, people who may not be able to make the jump of ''green goop in the ship ---> aliens on the ship --> they're boned''. And to make sure those people can enjoy the film, they chuck that line in there. It might annoy some people, although I kind of like that line because I feel it builds up tension quite well, but they're not going to hate the film because of it. People who don't make the jump quick enough might do though.

I think some people, maybe yourself good sir, sometimes to forget to take into account other peoples awareness of visual and plot cues. It's the case of we can play pretty much any game straight from the get go because we've (well, I at least) have played games all my life, whilst someone who is not literate or experienced in that field is going to take a long time or may never get it. Case in point, my father doesn't really like video games, simply because he came for a working class background and simply couldn't afford the expensive computers that came out around his youth. He grew up with novels and films. However, he liked his Duke Nukem 3D, and would play a game or so every now and again, painstakingly going through levels slowly and carefully because everything was new to him. Every action he had to choose for himself, whilst to us we can take one look at something and instantly know what to do. We take that for granted sometimes, I feel.

Going back to the audience thing, the Uncharted series has done well because it can attract all types of gamers from hardcore to causal to first-timers, and can accommodate for all of them. Closure, I assume, only attracts people who play puzzle games a bunch. You have to be pretty experienced with games to know you like puzzle games, therefore they don't need to handhold you. I wish every game could afford to not handhold the gamer, but gaming is a huge industry now that attracts a whole bunch of people, we're way past the days of the only audience playing Metroid Fusion being people who have played some games before. Maybe it would work, but I feel that game developers would rather not take the risk of some of their audience not understand parts of the games and getting frustrated. And the only way to solve it they've found it to put in yet another tutorial to drill it into your head how to play.

Yeah, yeah, I know TL:DR

Posted by Nicked

@HatKing: I think you're right, to a point. In retrospect, my examples weren't great, but what I was getting at is that I think it's OK for a game to tell you what you can do, without telling you how to solve every problem.

When Super MNC launched a week or two ago, there was a "Juice Meter" at the bottom of the screen. There is no tutorial in that game (you have to go to their forums to learn about anything), so for a while I didn't understand what the Juice Meter did. It would fill up and my guy would glow purple and I wasn't sure if I had to activate it or if it activated automatically. I wasn't even sure what it did. After I looked it up, they patched in a flashing "HIT L-CTRL" that comes up when the meters full. The designers needed text to convey that.

That's the sort of situation I'm talking about; when the player is coming to the game with no (or very little) context for a mechanic. The interesting thing isn't how to activate Juice (or how to fly the helicopter), it's how and when the player decides to use it. I think that text is both useful and necessary in most games because they are so dense. The text is what facilitates the kind of learning you're talking about.

Posted by Gordo789

I hope that more designers start thinking this way. Things started to tip back in the right direction after the success of Demon's Souls. It was like suddenly there was this modern game that demonstrated that players wanted to discover things again.

Maybe I should go buy Closure.

Posted by dvorak

Always assume most players are stupid.

Posted by ITSSEXYTIME

It's an issue of subtlety, not an issue of conveying important gameplay information. One could make the argument that the game still thinks you're stupid in any case, it's just making you feel smart when it's not explicit. Kind of like how Portal 2 is so heavily focus tested that everything just kind of "clicks" and makes sense, but it's also designed so that just about anyone will know exactly what to do at all times. It gives you the feeling that you "figured it out" when it's quietly hitting you over the head with the information.

Good luck explaining to someone how to play a complex strategy game or the mechanics of an RPG without explicit tutorials though.

Edited by GaryDooton

(This post kind of got longer than I expected, but it's interesting. Honest!)

To drag some positives out of the wall of fierce arguments here (or to attempt to take it in a fresh direction), I think the very reason these kinds of discussions are coming up at all is due to an increase in the breadth of interest and the diversification of styles present in videogames today, bringing it closer to being a more legitimate "art form" and drawing it alongside TV shows, movies and books.

Think about it: if someone tells you they love movies, and you love movies too, it is perfectly possible that your respective tastes in movies are incredibly different. This is what is happening with videogames.

For example, last week I watched Alien followed by Aliens for the first time ever (I know, shut up). I adored Alien, the slow, deliberate build of tension, themes and messages being communicated non-verbally, non-obviously to me through lighting, sound and visuals. It was amazing.

However, I hated James Cameron's Aliens. It spends the first 20 minutes doing the movie equivalent of a videogame "hand holding" tutorial section, by cramming in the setup, the story, into that time and using shitty dialogue to say "HERE IS THE BACKSTORY, HERE IS WHAT'S HAPPENING, HERE IS WHERE WE'RE GOING". In the most obvious, explicit way possible.

To draw another parallel, there's a moment in Aliens that can be directly compared to a moment you may experience in a thoroughly focus-tested, large budget, "AAA" title:

As the crew get back on the ship for the first time, to attempt to escape the colony, we see a shot of the docking ramp...thing (the entrance to the ship, basically) and, in the foreground, the sticky Alien goo. For the kind of movie I enjoy watching, this is enough of a clue to tell me they're not alone on the ship: in fact, it's a fucking sledgehammer over the head of a clue. However, to make sure, Cameron makes the actor put his hand in the goo, react and observe it quizzically. OK, we get it, this weird goo stuff is not what you would usually find on this ship. It is incongruous, something is up. Shit is going to go down.

However, Cameron decided to hammer it home to anyone who STILL hasn't got it by making the actor ACTUALLY SAY "HEY, WHAT IS THIS WEIRD GUNKY STUFF?" (or however he puts it). Which made me go "UGH", because I'm a horrible movie snob.

The point is, this can be mapped to, say, a moment in Uncharted 3. You are presented with a climbing puzzle. The first sighting of the goo in Aliens can be mapped to Uncharted in the ledges being more conspicuous and a brighter red than the wall you are to climb. The "actor touching goo" can be mapped to the *HINT* moment where you hit up on the dpad and the camera points at the ledges you are the climb. Finally, the "HEY WHAT IS THIS GOO" moment can be mapped to when you wait even longer and it says "CLIMB THE RED LEDGES TO GET TO THE ROOF".

Although I personally hate being hand held like this, we have to remember that games have come a long way, socially speaking, in the past decade alone. There are arguably more possible variants in taste in gaming than there are in movies these days, and we all know that pretty much everyone watches movies of some kind and had a favourite movie or kind of movie, and this is slowly becoming true of videogames.

TL:DR - although hand holding is desperately annoying to some and seemingly one of the worst trends in gaming today, it is also one of the most encouraging signs that videogaming as a medium is becoming more diverse, more culturally established and more ubiquitous than ever, which can only be a good thing.

Posted by paulunga

OH, Glaiel as in Glaiel-Gamer! I've been playing his flash games for almost a decade now. Nice!

Posted by eccentrix

It's a shame he found it depressing. I'd like to read that part of the interview.

Edited by whyareyoucrouchingspock

@YukoAsho said:

You are no different than Roger Ebert

I'm dissapointed you are unable to comprehend or engage my mature mind in a suitably mature manner. Your angry response is a very good example of this disturbing internet culture I talked about several months ago. Also it should be noted that I own a very strong chin.

Posted by DeF

@DSale said:

This article doesn't really give me any closure. Was it trying to prove a point? What conclusions do you draw from a story like this?

it ends pretty abruptly. it's either quite clever or just ... bad :)

I like the article overall but if I had handed this in back in my school days, I would've gotten it back with a note saying "where is the closing paragraph?".

Posted by JohnnyAutoFire

It's nice to see some good old fashion level design that teaches the player through the game rather than popping up an instruction screen. I think Journey is another great example. You're thrown into a world without any instructions at all, but you instinctively start moving towards the mountain because it's the only thing that looks different on the horizon.

Edited by jking47

Why is this associated with super metroid instead of closure?

Posted by gerrid

Most people are idiots, and give up if something is hard.

That's why I like the rise of the indie game - they're not all trying to sell 10 million copies and appeal to the lowest common denominator, so you can get titles which provide some mental challenge.

Posted by Humanity
@the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG
@Humanity said:

@dprabon said:

hmm... I enjoy these articles Patrick Klepek puts up.

What else do you enjoy?

Your mom.  Ok no in all seriousness, I enjoyed this article too!  
Sicknasty burn..
Posted by DSale

This article doesn't really give me any closure. Was it trying to prove a point? What conclusions do you draw from a story like this?

Edited by YukoAsho

@whyareyoucrouchingspock: Still spouting elitist nonsense, I see.

At no point did I say this or make this argument.

What my actual argument was... console games are not sophisticated in complexity nor designed to assume the player is reasonably intelligent. Feel free to list any AAA console game released last year that matched Empires scope or depth. Hell... knock yourself out, try any game from the entire life-cycle of the Xbox360.

That's not what I gathered from your previous post.

If you look at Call Of Duty and then you look at the sales of Empire: Total War, aiming at the lowest common denominator (dude bro's) brings in far more sales than a sophisticated game designed for mature minds.

Come on, now, you're clearly making a judgement about a set of games based on your own prejudices, as well as broad-brushing an entire group of people as immature solely based on the types of games they enjoy.

Again, missing the point. It's about the target audience and sales. It's fuckall to do with design other than designing a game aimed at the lowest common denominator. Limiting a game, simplifying it and making gratification easyer is perceived increases sales. The majority of pc titles, even those actually designed for children usually give them more intellectual credit than your average console game.

I didn't know games were SERIOUS BUSINESS. I thought they were supposed to engage and entertain. Again, you're basing your opinions on nothing more than prejudices and your own personal preferences. Oh, and it's spelled "easier," so maybe you should pull out a sophisticated, mature spell checker.

I would agree that most console games don't require a tutorial. The games are usually incredibly simplistic by nature compared to sophisticated pc titles as I factually stated in my original post. When a strategy game has so many variables it will be guess work. when a simulator has over 250 buttons in the cockpit it will be guess work. Console games being very simplistic in comparison designed with a child like mind at the forefront it's not really an issue for the majority of titles.

So basically, making sure a game's challenge comes from the enemies or puzzles and not from their bullshit, overly fucking complicated control systems is dumbing them down for children, eh? Good to know.

I'm sorry you feel that a game should not be allowed to exist unless every button on the keyboard and several combinations thereof, but that doesn't make you more mature or sophisticated, nor does it make your opinion more worthwhile than anyone else's.

The manner in which you express yourself, however, marks you clearly for all the world to see as the very bottom of the barrel. You are an elitist, narrow-mindeded sort, unable to see past your own insipid dogma, unwilling to accept that anything outside of your wheelhouse possesses any value. You are no different than Roger Ebert, just another tool with his nose in the air as he looks around him wondering why the entire world is dumber than he. And you have no idea that it's not the world that is stupid, but you.

In short, you are a fucking asshole, and a shining example of what is so wrong with so much of gamer culture.

@Manatassi: Unfortunately, I don't think people like whyareyoucroughingspock will ever change their minds. He, like too many other gamers, play games to prove how awesome they are, to grow an e-penis to replace the real one which they lack.

Posted by Lazyaza

This article reminds me of Egoraptors Megaman X video. I don't get annoyed by all the hand holding in modern games as much as other people but it has become pretty absurd. Mass Effect 3s hint system features arrows that literally point in the direction you are able to move >_>

Posted by vinsanityv22

I just remember the opening 3 hours or so of Epic Mickey. Where they bother to teach you THREE TIMES how to jump/double jump, and send you on a fucking obnoxious fetch quest around Mean Street to meet EVERY NPC before the training wheels come off and it can just be a game. Now, I understand that they are making a game that might appeal to everyone including potentially very young children, but the characters don't talk, so it's hypocritical to expect young children playing the game to need their hands held so much yet they're on their own when it comes to reading.

Oh and also, never once mentioned the lock-on system in the game...although in that case, it's pretty broken, so I'm just gonna assume that no one removed it, and the guy making the tutorials was not told it wasn't removed.

In any case, gamers are indeed stupid. I remember when the Wii first came out - for TWO YEARS afterwards, I could see people playing games in store kiosks holding the remote like a tv remote, but playing games that were meant to be played NES style. It's why Nintendo and co. had to start adding those cards at the beginning of games that said "Turn the controller this way, shit-for-brains". And don't get me started on the idiots who play the 360; you can hear nothing but stupidity every time you enter a popular shooter on Xbox Live and allow headset chatter on. Ugh.

Still, I suppose you can't let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch. I'm sure there are intelligent gamers out there; I'm going to assume to they're just quieter than the morons, and I bet most of them are PC gamers.

Posted by YukoAsho

@Sharkington said:

This doesn't have anything to do with players being stupid. No matter how smart you are, sometimes things just won't occur to you the way developers expect or the way they occur to other people. Were old games way less hand-holdy? Absolutely. But I also finished a hell of a lot less games back then, too.

It's a different world today. When we were playing games in the 80s and 90s, you could actually get bored. There was no internet. No smartphones. No DVRs and streaming movie services that allowed you to access movies and TV on your time. If you got stuck in a game, you would beat your head against for a really long time because that was one of one or two things that it was practical to do at that moment.

Nowadays if I'm stuck for a while in a game and load it up a couple days later without making any process again, I'm going to ask myself how important it really is that I progress forward, and more often than not I'll come to the conclusion that I would be better off sinking my time into something worthwhile instead of burning away hours on a game and making zero progress.

There's nothing stupid about valuing your time or choosing to do something else with your time if you're not getting anywhere in what little free time you have to devote to entertainment.

It's not even about time. As you say, it's about just having fun. People may have ideological stances to the contrary, but video games are an entertainment industry. What the more "hardcore" (read: nostalgia-blinded) people here need to understand is that there is no intrinsic value in obnoxious difficulty, obtuse systems or a refusal to explain itself. Indeed, it often gets in the way of the fun (see Armored Core V). It's OK for a game to say "A jumps, R trigger shoots, you can use these chest-high walls to cover yourself" and It's OK for button prompts to pop up to remind you that you can do something in a particular moment. This isn't dumbing down, it's not the Super Guide, it's simply respecting that people would rather be playing your game than struggle to figure out basic operation.

It's this attitude among the more elitist corner of the gaming fandom that gets on my nerves, and the overwhelming majority of "indie" development caters exclusively to this narrow minded idiocy. It's why we have games like Fez, which people can't possibly play all the way through without external sources (you ask me, the most obvious mark of shitty game design). This is just one of the many reasons the indie/downloadable scene is such a time in the overwhelming majority of cases.

And, God damn it, people, stop using every thread as an excuse to hate on Call of Duty. We get it, you don't like the series. Fine. However, don't fucking lie about it to justify your unreasonable hatred. The tutorials are quick and painless, and it doesn't beat you over the head with tutorials, the closest to that being a reminder to reload when your ammo's low. OMG, GAME APOCALYPSE!

Makes me wonder why I even bother reading game websites at all anymore.

Posted by prestonhedges

See, now this is a good article. Well, except for the spelling and grammar errors.

Posted by Addfwyn

I appreciate the philosophy. but it really depends on the type of game. For a game that is couched in essentially simple mechanics taken to various degrees of complexity (like Closure) it can work great. Easy to learn, difficult to master. Not all games can be delivered that simply though, and NEED a lot of hand-holding. In many cases, they don't deliver enough of it.

Resonance of Fate was a game guilty of this I feel. I greatly enjoyed it, and it was great to see a solid console JRPG still coming out, but it has some of the most complex battle mechanics I've ever seen and the game just kinda throws you into it. Even spending an hour or two in the pure tutorial section of the Arena wasn't enough to fully grasp the combat. After finishing the game, I'm still not 100% sure I understand how everything works. I don't think I will ever fully grasp all the minute mechanics in Disgaea games without getting a phd in the subject.

Some games need that extensive hand-holding, and it's not necessarily assuming the player is stupid. The more complex the mechanics in your games, the more you may need a small novel worth of explanations. I LOVE those kinds of complex games, but they basically do have to assume the player is stupid. Because in the setting of that game and mechanics, they probably are.

Posted by medacris

It's a little bit of both. There's also games that expect you to figure out everything on your own, and then you end up playing five minutes of them, getting frustrated, and tossing the game aside for years without picking them up again.

Just because your skill level in a game isn't as good as other peoples', or because you can't figure out everything on your own doesn't make you dumb.

Edited by whyareyoucrouchingspock

@Manatassi said:

The whole PC games have more "intelligent" design is absurd

At no point did I say this or make this argument.

What my actual argument was... console games are not sophisticated in complexity nor designed to assume the player is reasonably intelligent. Feel free to list any AAA console game released last year that matched Empires scope or depth. Hell... knock yourself out, try any game from the entire life-cycle of the Xbox360.

@Manatassi said:

Unfortunately there are extremely few games out there that aren't failing miserably in some extremely important design areas.

Again, missing the point. It's about the target audience and sales. It's fuckall to do with design other than designing a game aimed at the lowest common denominator. Limiting a game, simplifying it and making gratification easyer is perceived increases sales. The majority of pc titles, even those actually designed for children usually give them more intellectual credit than your average console game.

@Manatassi said:

In-fact the PC games you are giving examples of are some of the worst offenders in the area of poorly designed learning and overly complex interfaces.

I only listed one pc game. And you are wrong by wide margin. Every total war game is a sophisticated game designed for mature minds. Yet it's also highly accessible. This isn't because the gameplay itself is dumbed down like console games aiming at the lowest common denominator. It's because both in real-time and turn based, the game has two advisors telling you each and every mechanic. In fact, I would argue the advisor mechanic in total war is fucking genius. Not only does it inform the player, the characters themselfs (female for turn based and male for real time) are characters themselfs interacting with you making quips and using the dialect of each specific area sporting visual asthetics as well making the game more immersing. Aside from this obviously excellent design, the game also uses campaign tutorials that act as stand alone stories. In the case of Empire it's the birth of America itself. Instructing as well as educating the player through narrative.

@Manatassi said:

The nature of the PC keyboard and mouse interface allows PC game designers to not streamline their design methods in the same way many Console games do ending up with a clumsy interface with overly complex Tutorials to go with them. The opposite of the point the article is making.

This is a very narrow point of view I feel, deep dow in my ballsack. It's not just the control scheme. Is a 12 year old more likely to pick up an xbox360 for Christmas or a £700 hand built pc to play a historically based sophicated pc game about the 1700's? Of course not. It's a game designed for mature minds. Aside from children alot of poorer familys than me own a consoles on the basis they cannot afford to have the same excellent pc I use.

@Manatassi said:

@bellmont42 said:

A game should be able to teach you how to play it intuitively, resorting to tutorials as the last resort.

I would agree that most console games don't require a tutorial. The games are usually incredibly simplistic by nature compared to sophisticated pc titles as I factually stated in my original post. When a strategy game has so many variables it will be guess work. when a simulator has over 250 buttons in the cockpit it will be guess work. Console games being very simplistic in comparison designed with a child like mind at the forefront it's not really an issue for the majority of titles.

@Manatassi said:

A lot of developers would benefit from hiring some psychologists or really good teachers to help them understand how to communicate with their players and to understand how people actually learn. .

Developers use focus groups and play-testing. The majority of the time the design is dictated by players saying "I don't know what to do" or "I don't like this".

Contrary to what you or other aspiring game experts say, gamers do dictate design. Alot of them noobs so they know to set the bar low.

Posted by Robo

That's one of the things I loved about Fez (not the only example by any means, but the freshest in my mind).

It presents you with this simple platforming gameplay with an interesting rotation gimmick. You get through about half the game with that, then it's as though the game says, "Got it? Great! ...Now fuck you." and tests a set of observational skills you didn't even know you needed.

I like mindless fun as much as the next duder, but it's nice to be challenged a little.

Posted by me3639

Idiots only surface because of poor game design, balance, and mechanics.

Posted by Parsnip

I find that Closure didn't deliver, because I couldn't find it in PSN store when it was supposedly out (later in EU?), so I couldn't play it.
Haven't checked since, the moment kind of came and went.

Posted by fallingskyline

nice read, guess i'll have to check out closure after reading this, well once i finished trials evo...

Edited by R3DT1D3

Activision's Call of Duty mint begs to differ. I'd love for more challening game that presented you with tools rather than just solutions to specific problems. It feels like most games just dole out keys to locked doors but never really challenge you to be creative or master any techniques.

I think Limbo is a pretty good example of explaining things without beating you over the head with how something works. With one exception, every puzzle solution I found completely reasonable and came to by experimentation rather than being told how to do something.

Posted by Yeahbuhwhat

This doesn't have anything to do with players being stupid. No matter how smart you are, sometimes things just won't occur to you the way developers expect or the way they occur to other people. Were old games way less hand-holdy? Absolutely. But I also finished a hell of a lot less games back then, too.

It's a different world today. When we were playing games in the 80s and 90s, you could actually get bored. There was no internet. No smartphones. No DVRs and streaming movie services that allowed you to access movies and TV on your time. If you got stuck in a game, you would beat your head against for a really long time because that was one of one or two things that it was practical to do at that moment.

Nowadays if I'm stuck for a while in a game and load it up a couple days later without making any process again, I'm going to ask myself how important it really is that I progress forward, and more often than not I'll come to the conclusion that I would be better off sinking my time into something worthwhile instead of burning away hours on a game and making zero progress.

There's nothing stupid about valuing your time or choosing to do something else with your time if you're not getting anywhere in what little free time you have to devote to entertainment.

Posted by Manatassi

@bellmont42 said:

@YukoAsho said:

@whyareyoucrouchingspock said:

If you look at Call Of Duty and then you look at the sales of Empire: Total War, aiming at the lowest common denominator (dude bro's) brings in far more sales than a sophisticated game designed for mature minds. From a bussiness standpoint with millions of bucks thrown in, it's logical. All the best selling games aim for children, casuals or people who wear a cap sideways and play gears of war, Call of Duty or other (i'm totally not gay, honest) macho man titles while smoking drugs. For sophisticated intelligent games, these are mostly found on the pc. Specifically simulators and strategy games. Many pc titles that once had a mature mind as the target audience are now aiming for what I mentioned above. Crysis 2 and Dragon Age 2 are good examples of this.

Even look at gaming media websites, they do the exact same thing as games. Slap hawt womenz all over the place and young adults males down with the kids you are suppose to identify with. Gamespot is a good example. Check out the staff and 99% of them (the ones that are shown) look like they have barely started growin facial hair. Along with obligitory hawt woman next to them. Thats gaming sadly.

Wow, does it hurt having your head as far up your ass as you apparently do?

He isn't wrong... I know gamers that fit every one of those descriptions AND they play those games.

He is however perpetuating an unproductive stereotype. I happen to play Gears of War and like it a lot I also enjoyed Civ V and happen to like Fez... there is a broad audience out there. Unfortunately there are extremely few games out there that aren't failing miserably in some extremely important design areas.

The current idea of a front loaded Tutorial... quite frankly idiotic design.

The whole PC games have more "intelligent" design is absurd also and completely missing the idea here. Case in point the example in the article given was Metroid... Not a PC game. In-fact the PC games you are giving examples of are some of the worst offenders in the area of poorly designed learning and overly complex interfaces.

The nature of the PC keyboard and mouse interface allows PC game designers to not streamline their design methods in the same way many Console games do ending up with a clumsy interface with overly complex Tutorials to go with them. The opposite of the point the article is making.

I'm not having a go at PC games btw I enjoy playing them. However the platform issue is mute and distracts from the real point here.

A game should be able to teach you how to play it intuitively, resorting to tutorials as the last resort.

This can be easier for games like Closure, as the mechanics are in some ways simpler than many bigger games. However modern games do spend far too much time telling you what to press rather than giving you a little space to explore an area and using visual cues to guide and allow you to experiment with the controls of the game. Good design gives you a new feature and then a safe and interesting way to try out the feature on your own before moving back into the game with the new skill you just learned. You don't have to be a genius for this to be effective, intact often people who are less intelligent or simply less accustomed to playing games will find this a much easier way to learn.

A lot of developers would benefit from hiring some psychologists or really good teachers to help them understand how to communicate with their players and to understand how people actually learn. This isn't something thats going to make a game more complicated or inaccessible to a wider audience in the least, quite the opposite.

Posted by Draxyle

Nintendo has definitely been bad with this lately. I have to echo the sentiments of Skyward Sword being an egregious example of a game that tutorializes you to death. When Fi was actually bothering me to tell me that I was low on hearts, I really had to wonder who Nintendo was making this game for. Zelda is not a "babies first videogame" series by any stretch of the imagination.

Even my mother, who never plays videogames, got annoyed at Wii Fit because it talks way too much. They really got to cut this out.

Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG
@Humanity said:

@dprabon said:

hmm... I enjoy these articles Patrick Klepek puts up.

What else do you enjoy?

Your mom.  Ok no in all seriousness, I enjoyed this article too!  
Posted by envane

See using Empire: Total War , is a bad example , reallly bad. compared to other grand strategy games , the total war campaigns feel like they WERE made for idiots , because its well known that any serious wargamer craves realism , and total war games are an anacrhonistic pile of wardogs . the developers keep treating the player base like idiots , shogun 2 has been handled better but still lacks the quality and polish in its campaign that fan mods bring to the table.

if you had used hearts of iron vs ww2era call of duty , mabye youd have a case

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