#1 Posted by Sammo21 (4740 posts) -

Listening to the duders talk in this week's episode of the Giant Bombcast I came up to the section in which they (hilariously) attempt to talk about the Thief series. At a certain point in that "segment" they start discussing what Thief needs to be and how the combat needs to be better and something popped into my head: do we as gamers have a poor tendency to far too often think that all video games need to be our game?

A quick example that comes to my head would be the complaints about Little Big Planets platforming, specifically the jumping mechanic. One thing I heard far too often was "the jumping isn't like Mario". Well...does it need to be? Do all stealth games need fleshed out stealth mechanics for when you fail miserably? I would say no. I have frequently heard Patrick praise Dark Souls for its stand to be crushingly difficult against a tide of games that were too easy, but then he immediately turns around and thinks that stealth games need satisfying combat? Now, before I go any further please don't think that this is a rail against Patrick, or any other Bomber, so don't get stuck on that one person's name.

The Thief series is still a pretty amazing series that holds up pretty well (resolution aside, but that can be fixed with fan made patches) but it focused on one thing: stealth. Could you fight if you needed to? Yes, but they didn't want you to walk through the castle (or whatever level it was) and just murder everyone: you are a thief, not an assassin after all. That's why they provided a bow with a plethora of arrows (far before Crysis 3 :p): moss arrows for walking silently, water arrows to extinguish flame, rope arrows to assist in climbing, and even noise arrows to distract guards. They also provide a blackjack for stealth take downs and even tools like flash bangs to escape from dangerous situations. Then I think about why the person wanted Thief to be: Dishonored. What was Dishonored? A "choose your own direction" style game that had both stealth and action gameplay. Patrick seemingly enjoyed this because if the game got too hard he could just kill everyone (I am assuming as that's how it has always ever came off to me).

We've seen other games go the "easy route" and basically say "you know what, if you get caught...don't worry about it". This is more indicative of the "casual" audience being more of a draw for studios because of the increasing amount of gamers who only want to "experience the game" and have a barely interactive video game that is more akin to watching TV with quick time events. This is what it is as most of the time the easy way around this is to start the game on hard opposed to "normal".

Either way, does anyone else get this feeling that we far too often think games need to be all things to us? Stealth games can't be challenging, platform games have to fall in line with "expected" mechanics, or even third person games need cover based combat. Not only do gamers and reviews think this but seemingly developers do as well as we see more and more games feel as if they are chock full of different ideas and systems without the game ever really excelling at any of them. Maybe I'm ranting...if I am I'm not meaning to be. I'm also not "picking on" Patrick as there were probably others who made the same comments. If it matters I did enjoy Dishonored and thought the powers and stealth worked flawlessly but that the game, even on hard, was a very easy affair. I hope Thief doesn't lose its identity and become just another action adventure game with a classic title because they want to please as many people as possible without actually giving it any challenge or identity.

#2 Edited by wemibelec90 (2253 posts) -

Games are this way because they don't sell otherwise. Hardcore stealth games aren't made anymore because no one bought them. I certainly don't think that games need to be all things for all people. It's just that the business realities of such a product are kinda grim. Survival horror lives on in free mods and indie games; old-style stealth games might have to do the same.

#3 Posted by probablytuna (4538 posts) -

Having good combat or not wouldn't affect my play style because I'm just gonna stick to stealth anyway, much like what I did with Dishonored. Although if the coming Thief does have combat I would prefer it to at least be competent.

#4 Posted by Sammo21 (4740 posts) -

The Splinter Cell games sold pretty well and the first 3-4 were fairly unforgiving, weren't they? I even think Thief 3 did well but again they were designed to let you escape as well.

#5 Posted by Dagbiker (7022 posts) -

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

I try not to think that, or at least not phrase it that way. In fact I said just as much in the GOW thread.

Patrick is very analytical and says what he thinks. He doesn't always use the right words, and in a group of friends, not recorded forever, and in front of hundreds of people, that wouldn't be a problem. I rarely use the right words when talking.

It has also been 12 years, 12 years of game mechanics evolving, and 12 years of peoples mind sets evolving. Patrick was flying through those levels. I understand, that's how you play games now a days, its also how you played action games back then. But its not how you played stealth games back then.

Games should not be all things. But they also need to explain, and teach you how to play. They also need to make you want to learn how to play. Super Mario 3 did a great job of this, no text, the first level was still all just tutorial.

#6 Posted by Sweep (9993 posts) -

All Units.

#7 Posted by OfficeGamer (1120 posts) -

@sammo21 said:

do we as gamers have a poor tendency to far too often think that all video games need to be our game?

Yes. Because otherwise we feel like we're supposed to enjoy the game and overcome whatever it is that won't grow on us, and that we're failing at it and being weak by stopping.

I feel terrible about DmC and Dishonored sucking dick (in my opinion) and I want to conquer and enjoy them no matter what and it gives me a headache.

I suck. We suck.

#8 Edited by Sammo21 (4740 posts) -

@dagbiker: My comments were aimed more towards the discussion on the Bombcast where everyone was assuming Thief had bad combat when in reality it does not. They were seemingly basing the game's combat on Patrick's game play on the show the other day which is pretty weird. Anyone could tell that he wasn't playing the game like he would in a normal play session. I really like Patrick and I've followed him since his 1Up days but I'd argue against the notion that he misrepresents his true feels with misused words or phrasing as he's very much the type to form an opinion based on bad facts (in the context of a game discussion on the podcast) and just kind of assume that's right without really bothering to find out.

I'd argue that a game does not needs to hold your hand so tightly through the first however many levels. I was 13 when I first played through Thief and it was when I was very young to playing PC games. I don't once ever remember not enjoying the game or thinking it needed to teach me what every item did. In fact, the Thief games do have tutorials as Dishonored did a nice little nod to the first game's tutorial later in the game. On top of that, Dark Souls has a piss poor tutorial in relation to all the things you do in that game; its very much "whats this do? Find out."

#9 Edited by JZ (2343 posts) -


#10 Edited by Veektarius (5740 posts) -

I made this argument yesterday in a different thread - with game prices staying stagnant over the past 8 years (and looking as if they will continue to stay stagnant) and the necessary budget for acceptable production values rising, the only way a AAA game can make money is to reach a huge audience. So, a game can either try to appeal to everyone, or it can work on a small budget. Most games that aren't Call of Duty will probably try some combination of the two. But the more punishing or niche a game's appeal is, the more you have to sacrifice in production values, which is why most niche games are indie projects these days.

#11 Edited by Cold_Wolven (2454 posts) -

It seems to be the matter developers wanting to accommodate to different play styles to attract bigger audiences and more often than not it's the stealth games affected most by this just by how different these play styles can be. A game like Dishonored does it really well but I don't want to start seeing a bunch of Dishonored clones any time sooner as when I pick up a game specifically called Thief I expect this game will be stealth orientated and should stick to doing that best rather than being a jack of all trades.

#12 Posted by phantomzxro (1611 posts) -

Love the topic because i myself find many people doing the same thing of wanting a game to do everything. But to answer your question i think it comes down to having the feeling of fixing an aging game by using newer mechanics which often falls to what others have done great and doing that. The other side of the coin is sometimes people don't know what they want until you show them. So thief could turn heads if it shape up nicely regardless of what people think it should be.

I also had the same feeling about dishonored because i don't think it is a true evolution of stealth games just because it gives you stealth options and powers to get you out of trouble fairly easy. The problem is we hit some high templates of great game design and its often easy for reviewers and gamers who don't often move outside their box to not get a game and think it is bad because of it.

The gut reaction is often to say it should play like game B then to understand the game they are playing. This also can be a grey area because it may not always be clear what is deliberate game play mechanics and what are bad game play mechanics. For reviewers i just think its the work load that effect their judgement on these things. When you don't have the time for the" trial and error process" it can shape your option of them as bad design rather then deliberate design. For gamers it just coming down to games that are different or outside of your wheel house sometimes are hastily labeled bad games because they don't like the design of the game.

It's the argument i often see with games like Asura's Wrath, Heavy Rain or even The Walking Dead being nothing but quick times events or they are not games. I love these games because they dare to be different and not a clone of something which they easily could have been. Its fine if these games are not your thing but it does not mean they don't have merit in the gaming world.

I thought that was the point of the game industry and the evolution its had over the recent gen, that there are games for everyone to get into and that one day you will find a game that came out that will feel like it was made just for you. Now it seem like if you are not making a game that does not attract the maximum amount of people possible you are doing something wrong.

#13 Posted by ArbitraryWater (14060 posts) -

Games that try to be all things end up like Dead Space 3. Thief should be a sneaky game first and foremost, and if they have to make it kinda like Dishonored and make the combat better so be it. As long as the core is intact and the niche audience can still be appealed to, I'm fine with some streamlining to appeal to a wider audience. Sometimes.

#14 Posted by JasonR86 (10128 posts) -

No. Games are what they are. Our reactions to those games are what they are and really that's all there is to it. Expecting games to be everything to everyone always will lead to a lot of disappointed people. And, really, do we expect that from other entertainment mediums? Of fucking course not.

#15 Edited by Justin258 (13714 posts) -

No, of course not.

In Dishonored, the gameplay itself seems to encourage more action-oriented play by not giving you many stealth options. You've got "choke" and "sleep dart" and unless I'm wrong there is no other way to take out guards. The actual combat, however, was mostly very inventive and interesting, but it was supported by a story and world that was geared toward stealth.

#16 Posted by espm400 (112 posts) -

Okay, I've always been a huge fan of stealth games. I played the hell out of MGS 1- 3 (never had a PS3 so no MGS4), and though I didn't get to play much Thief as my PC at the time was rubbish, I thoroughly enjoyed the little I did get. Now, one of the reasons I didn't like Dishonored was that being detected didn't come with much of a penalty unless you were trying for a clean play-through, and my position on stealth games has always been that you should be penalized for a lack of stealth. In MGS3, my favorite of the series, on the harder difficulties being detected often meant death if you weren't in a position to make a good defensive stand, and that's how it should be. As for the upcoming Thief title, I've got no problem with improving combat mechanics, so long as the devs manage to keep it as an absolute last resort option. Whether by making the combat itself very difficult or by some other method, if you screw up your stealth, you shouldn't be able to just slog through the rest of the mission by just killing everyone in your way. Yes, much like a lot of my other favorite genres, stealth games are quite niche, but it would be a travesty to dumb down a game with a heritage like Thief to appeal the broad public. Mind you, the way the majority of titles seem to be going the last few years, I don't intend to get my hopes up.

#17 Edited by PeezMachine (302 posts) -

Nope. Pick your battles and win them. Bastion was pretty narrow in scope, but brilliant in execution. Right now I'm playing the StarDrive beta and find that it's trying to do too much, and suffers terribly for it.

In design circles, this tendency toward bloat is called "scope creep," and I think the biggest guilty party is... well... gamers. We want everything from our games, and it can be a wreck when developers try to appease us in that regard. Look at how Assassin's Creed has lost its soul amidst all of the city-developing mini-game-turned-major-element. Or for an even better trainwreck, Elemental: War of Magic. Scope Creep 101 right there.

#18 Posted by EXTomar (5047 posts) -

There is nothing wrong with making a game intuitive and approachable. As others in the thread have noted, Dishonored is very intuitive and it is far better for not making combat a PITA.

#19 Posted by Slag (6573 posts) -

Well this is not as simple as it seems.

Really it's a question of a budget. The bigger the budget is, the more sales the game has to make to cover the cost of production. I.e the larger the budget the more wide the appeal needs to be.

But there are cases as Giantbomb guys were pointing out in ARMA 3 bit on the New Releases show, there are some design decisions that pointlessly needlessly lessen the size of the audience without adding much benefit to the hardcore. You may be able to make this same argument about Starcraft 2: HotS.

That being said I think they are dead wrong about Stealth games. The vrew is right if Thief wants to push huge numbers it probably ought to do tha, but I think it would become pretty bland if it does. Sometimes you also have to know who you are. Thief is a great stealth series, it would probably ba a mediocre Action at best. A lot of the changes the Crew want are things that would basically change the game's genre or ruin what makes the gameplay work. Stealth is about sneaking not fighting. The thrill comes from not getting caught. If you can just mess people up, the sneaking thrill is gone since it becomes unnecessary to sneak in the first place and it might as well just become a CAG then.

maybe the real unfortunate answer is that Thief series should have a smaller budget to reflect the size of its' probable audience. Frankly the platformers an SHMUPs that have quit playing the budget arms race game have been better off for it.