Casual sex is killing video games

Xristot

Member
Oct 27, 2005
595
0
0
NYC
So my good friend, Cody Miller, of halo 3 speed running fame, wrote this article yesterday. We had been discussing this topic for a while but I think he finally cracked and let it all out. It's not so much about casual sex as it is about the state of the industry.


Do people even want to actually play games anymore? The landscape of gaming is changing, and definitely not for the better. It’s almost paradoxical, for game designers truly think they’re applying all this new technology in ways that make better games, and the players eat it up, not knowing what’s causing that nagging feeling is inside of them that makes them long for the “retro” days. I can tell you right now, it’s not rose colored nostalgia glasses warmly tinting our perceptions of past games. The problem is that everybody, in their effort to make games an “artistic medium” have utterly forgotten what makes a game artistic in the first place.

This push for some sort of legitimacy for games as an artistic medium is quite cruelly ruining the core of what makes games truly unique. Games today need to have themes, stories, and finely crafted campaigns with a plot and characters you care about, all under the guise that this provides some sort of artistic merit. Developers are crafting their worlds to provide the player with an “experience”, and to create an “immersive” environment. Every effort is made to lead the player from start to finish down a quasi-cinematic journey through the game’s narrative. Yet every element the developers reserve for themselves to guide the experience of the players is ironically robbing the players of the most treasured experiences a videogame can provide.

In this world of instant gratification it doesn’t seem like people are willing to put the effort in to discover the true joy of a finely crafted videogame. You expect to be able to finish a game, quite possibly because the emphasis on narratives now shift the importance from the gameplay to the ending, and developers make every effort to make sure you get that wish, lest someone not experience the thrilling conclusion they’ve set up. You’re given tutorial levels and the levels are crafted to be as accessible as possible. Focus groups are run, and should a player get stuck, the necessary changes are made so he never strays off the path for too long. The irony of all this is that instead of embracing what makes games truly great, the interactivity, games are instead embracing an experience that has traditionally been reserved for the cinema, curtailing player choice and responsibility in order to give us the experience.

The true great experiences that only a videogame can provide are not those that are crafted by the developer. They are the experiences that come from the player understanding and mastering the game’s mechanics. The gameplay itself is the reward, asking us to devote our attention to actually controlling our character and making decisions every second of the way. As you play there’s a feedback between you and the game: you begin to understand the gameplay the more you play, and this opens up new opportunities for you as a player, not through unlockable levels or achievements, but by a new harmony with which to play the game.

Mario is the best example to give, since everybody and their mother has played it. In fact, my father can play Mario, and he enjoys it. The mere kinetic action of the game is enjoyable to him, and so the mere act of playing the game is itself rewarding. He tends to progress through a level very slowly, as did I when I first played. Slowly and deliberately, he progresses forward stomping enemies and carefully jumping gaps. It’s very calculated, but fun for him. However, if you play the game enough, as I have, you get to a certain point. You realize that it’s more efficient, and more satisfying, to run instead of walk through stages. Once you’ve mastered the simple kinetics of Mario’s control, this is naturally the next step to progress. The game absolutely changes as you begin to run and play the levels faster, and it becomes more apparent you have to plan ahead. Gaps and enemies come quicker, so you must anticipate and react in a much more different way than if you were walking. As this is happening though something wonderful occurs. You begin to discover a groove, a rhythm to the game. It becomes fluid, and your inputs and actions flow. The more you go with the flow the better it gets, and the act of playing becomes even more satisfying yet, like taking the time truly understand your partner’s needs during sex. As you become closer and more attentive, perhaps through even years of lovemaking, the experience only gets better and better as you both truly understand each other.

My generation lives in a culture of casual sex. Undoubtedly due to the increasing sentiment of entitlement and selfishness stemming from our culture of information on demand and instant gratification, we’re used to having no strings attached, responsibility free flings, because anything more would require commitment and actual effort on our part. We are taking longer and longer to commit, and so many marriages are ending in divorce where working it out is too much of a hassle; our happiness should be easy and instant.

Instead of committing to a game, you want the one night stand, and game designers are giving it to you. We’re getting games that are the naughty girl with a set of tricks. She’ll blow your mind, but when it’s all said and done the sex was meaningless, and her shallowness means there’s nothing to discover next time. But that’s fine, since there’s another girl out there somewhere willing to do the same, perhaps with a new set of tricks. Eventually though, the casual sex gets old and you wonder why you’re 28 and feel alone, all the while missing the girl down the street who is deep and interesting, but perhaps a bit rough around the edges graphically.

Well, the casual sex of the modern gaming is getting old. The scripted sequences and carefully crafted narratives are quite an experience the first time around. But a repeat play reveals a game set up only for the orgasm that is the plot’s climax. Everything the game is designed and crafted to lead up to that, and as a result, loses its true purpose as being enjoyable for its own sake.The stunningly scripted yet superficial battles in modern games do not hold a candle to the feeling of running through a level in Mario, weaving in and out of the bullet spreads in Ikaruga, dodging the pillars in rhythm on your speederbike in Battletoads, or even simply rolling through loops in Sonic the Hedgehog. Even though the endings to these games are laughably simple, it was the journey that was interesting, and a journey that gets better as you master it.

But it’s your fault that you’re so selfish that you want the game to guide you through so you can finish it, and as a result it’s your fault that game designers are curtailing your options for interactivity in order to let that happen. It’s no wonder that players are playing games once then moving on to something else. The problem is two fold, they no longer want to revisit games, and game designers are too focused on crafting that perfect first playthrough.

You’re all losing sight of what makes a videogame special: the interactivity. You don’t need a story to create a good game, yet if you have no story in a film or novel, then the work is a failure. Narratives are best left to the non interactive media, and videogames should do what they excel at. This is not to say that games cannot and should not have narrative, although it should never be the sole focus of the game or interfere at all with the gameplay. That’s just the problem though: all this is being thrust into games in order to legitimize them as art forms. Give your game a theme, a story, a purpose! developers think, all the while not realizing that this can be provided more thoroughly and more adequately in film or text. It shows too, because the more of this is injected into games, the less interactive and gamelike they become. And so, the true art that comes from pure harmony between the player and game is lost.


Players, you can go on and continue your one night stands with whatever blockbuster comes out next, or you can actually take the time to play a good game that will give you back all the love you put in. Like any good relationship, there will be trials and tribulations, frustrations and despair, but if you choose to stick it out, you can discover gaming true love.

Anyway, after I read it, I told him it might generate some interesting discussion here. He agreed to let me post it. It's kind of long, but an interesting take from somebody who is probably the most hardcore gamer I know.

Let's keep it civil. :)
 

Tain

Member
Jun 13, 2004
24,280
3
1,365
horizonvanguard.com
People have been complaining that modern games are far too easy and accessible for a long while, now.

And in a lot of cases, they're right. Engaging challenges are being replaced by scripted scenes in the biggest games. I'd like to think there's room for both, but I can only take so much of the latter where I can't get enough of the former.
 

Zzoram

Member
Apr 17, 2007
33,496
0
0
I agree that narrative is ruining replay. Not all games with good narrative suffer too much in gameplay though. I think the solution is open ended games. Games that have so many solutions to a mission, and so many endings, that you can just play however you want and still get a payoff.
 
Jun 8, 2008
582
0
0
That was a fantastic article and completely spot on. This article has given a face and description to what I have been feeling about games recently. Bravo!
 

Souther

Banned
Feb 12, 2007
2,356
0
0
Seems like he spent a lot of time thinking about this. But personally i think some people over analyze things too much especially when it comes to videogames.
 
Feb 28, 2008
4,166
2
915
GA,USA
It makes a point, but likely one that will find much contention with folk.

Nowadays the main type of gaming that does anything for me is Roguelikes and RPG's that include some of their trappings. Nigh infinite gameplay, ever improving with chunks of time, no "story" to relate other than the one each player creates for themselves via their own decisions and a touch of luck. Has only a sliver of commercial and indie presence though, compared to most other genres.

Like even the most basic of genres though, the Roguelike has been with us, albeit in the shadows, since pretty well the beginning of videogaming. I've no fear that we'll lose these core experience games in the near future so long as technology doesn't somehow die out/human extinction. I have no idea what will happen on the retail side of things in terms of the big budget blockbusters in terms of everything though---same with the consolidation of companies.
 

Stop It

Perfectly able to grasp the inherent value of the fishing game.
Jan 19, 2007
8,920
0
0
Biggleswade, UK
WWW.neogaf.com
I'm afraid this was always going to happen. Gaming as a medium is in direct competition to the movie industry for punters cash, especially nowadays, and while there is still an audience for games with high replayability and slower learning curves, the majority of games cater to a broader audience.

Is that dumbing down or "casual sex" as this guy puts it? Maybe so, but the fact is that "core" gaming only appeals to a limited set of people, and as much as it may be painful to admit, game developers, publishers and console makers cannot afford to cater just to them any longer thanks to massive costs related to game creation.

Yes, games like Halo 3, Gears, MGS4 etc ARE like casual sex for the Single player, all 3 have a fallback that assures long term play, multiplayer, something this editorial doesn't take into account. Nowadays MP IS the new place where skill evolution takes place, the same analogy of Mario can be applied to Halo, when you venture online you don't know the tactics, the subtle game mechanics that separate a good player from a great one, the same skill curve as we have always known, taken to a new format.

So I refute that gaming has become all about "casual sex" it has merely gained more choice, yes, you could have a one night stand, but remember that phone number scribbled onto your boxers, it might come in handy.

NB: Is hardcore now judged by how fast you can complete a game, totally ignoring the experience that they can provide? consider me casual then, because that's bollocks.
 

~Kinggi~

Banned
Oct 22, 2006
23,464
0
0
Yeah, rpgs with stories will be the death of gaming.

Wait....

You see, my take on the whole interactivity thing, is that the story kind of sets up the desire to want to interact with it. I mean, people playing final fantasy 7, loved playing that game cause they loved the world and the surrounding story, they loved every chance they got to hunt chocobos and crap.

Same thing for games like MGS where you have long cutscenes that are badass, and then you take control of that guy. With movies and books all you can do is observe, which usually always leads to people using their imagination to fill in the blanks after its gone. Games give you the path to actually make it happen.

Yup. This whole cause to abandon the trend to have fully fleshed out stories is a big mistake imo. I think that should be explored more, cause some great stuff is possible as shown from the ICO guys and Valve, where you can implement just as much atmosphere and story while at the same time putting in more gameplay.
 

Barakov

Member
Sep 30, 2006
5,713
578
1,040
Death_Born said:
You must be confused, the "post pics of yourself" thread is in the OT.
Haha. Well played.

As for the article the author definitely has a point. Or rather I see where he's coming from. It's great if there's a single player game that can last you quite awhile but I think most people will have the fun with the scrpited single player stuff and, depending on the type of game, will jump into multiplayer, do some extra stuff in the single player(ie. harder difficulty, collect stuff etc.) or just move on. Depends on what you're looking for.
 

matmanx1

Member
Apr 30, 2008
7,133
0
0
Ga
Almost completely disagree. I want compelling and sympathetic characters and a dramatic story. Metal Gear Solid 4 is probably my favorite video game ever and I wish more games were like Persona 3 in terms of character and story depth. But hey, thats just me.
 

RoboPlato

I'd be in the dick
Oct 29, 2006
42,985
0
0
I get what he's saying but personally, I think that we've reached a pretty good medium with where games are now. I feel that the first play through is by far the most important part of a single-player experience. I'm currently playing through Dead Space and it is one of the most immersive, tense experiences that I have ever played. While I'm pretty sure that my subsequent play throughs won't be as exciting, the strength of the first play through will really stick with me. Who really has an abundence of memories of great experiences with games that don't stem from the first time that they played through them. Plus, the hardcore people that want replayabilty out of a game have achievements/trophies to go for if they want.
 

ianp622

Member
Mar 1, 2008
3,099
0
0
This person seems to think games where you get "in the zone" have more artistic merit than games that actually have meaningful choices. We are not being held back by narrative, we are being held back by 1 narrative, when there should be many. Heavy Rain is hopefully going to fix that.

And his examples sucked and yes, people are biased by their nostalgia.
 

Xristot

Member
Oct 27, 2005
595
0
0
NYC
Stop It said:
I'm afraid this was always going to happen. Gaming as a medium is in direct competition to the movie industry for punters cash, especially nowadays, and while there is still an audience for games with high replayability and slower learning curves, the majority of games cater to a broader audience.

Is that dumbing down or "casual sex" as this guy puts it? Maybe so, but the fact is that "core" gaming only appeals to a limited set of people, and as much as it may be painful to admit, game developers, publishers and console makers cannot afford to cater just to them any longer thanks to massive costs related to game creation.

Yes, games like Halo 3, Gears, MGS4 etc ARE like casual sex for the Single player, all 3 have a fallback that assures long term play, multiplayer, something this editorial doesn't take into account. Nowadays MP IS the new place where skill evolution takes place, the same analogy of Mario can be applied to Halo, when ytou venture online you don't know the tactics, the subtle game mechanics that separate a good player from a great one, the same skill curve as we have always known, taken to a new format.

So I refute that gaming has become all about "casual sex" it has merely gained more choice, yes, you could have a one night stand, but remember that phone number scribbled onto your boxers, it might come in handy.

NB: Is hardcore now judged by how fast you can complete a game, totally ignoring the experience that they can provide? consider me casual then, because that's bollocks.

You know, i think both halo 3 and mgs 4 are two of his favorite games this generation. I don't think his issue is 100% with narrative, as he even says, it's fine to have narrative. Just don't let narrative be the whole reason you play.

He's actually really into the games he gets. Replaying them many times, finding all the little intricacies. I think that is where he doesn't like where things are going. I mean, going to the mario thing, how many times have you gone through the game? It has to be in the hundreds. You don't finish every time though, and that's fine.

As far as online goes, that does introduce a new item to the formula though. That is competition. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing though. :\


Btw he LOVES the first pic. He thinks it's hilarious :lol
 

Sectus

Member
Aug 31, 2005
4,690
0
0
www.youtube.com
matmanx1 said:
Almost completely disagree. I want compelling and sympathetic characters and a dramatic story. Metal Gear Solid 4 is probably my favorite video game ever and I wish more games were like Persona 3 in terms of character and story depth. But hey, thats just me.
I don't think he's talking about storyline and insteresting characters. But an experience which is designed to be experienced in only one single way.

I can definitely relate to that. I think one big part of the "problem" is that a lot of people actually *want* that type of game. I wish there were more games which were more involving, more challenging and much more interactive, but there's a ton of people who'd prefer simple super-accessible games.

One example is something like Call of Duty 4. One person might love it because of the varied levels and scenarios, the spectacular moments (like a helicopter crashing next to you, or the nuke scene or stuff like that). While a player like me gets annoyed by the repetitive gameplay, the linear level design which gives you no choice where to go and the frustrating respawning enemies.

I much preferred a game like Medal of Honor: Airborne which had lot more interesting gameplay. You had non-linear levels where you could make a choice like "Okay, would it be more efficient to snipe enemies from that tower and then enter the mansion from the front? Or ignore the front door altogether and find a different route?", and the second time around you could do something completely different.

SWAT 4 is an even better example, and a game I'll still play with my friends now and then. The levels are non-linear enough that you can constantly make different choices on how to proceed, and the enemies' spawn points are random so you are *forced* to make different choices. And the game's got a very demanding scoring system to encourage you to always do better and try different tactics. And it's insanely fun to play.

The downside with a gameplay setup like that is it makes it nearly impossible for developers to force the player to experience it one way and set up specific scenes. The player chooses for himself how to play it, which I personally think how games should be. The games I periodically replay are still fun because they're so dynamic I can still feel I have new experiences and find new things to learn.
 

Sibylus

Banned
Dec 18, 2007
23,675
0
0
waypoint.vice.com
What he's describing already exists, in its purest form it's multiplayer. Take a game of Payload on TF2, for example. There isn't any overarching storyline or narrative present, but the "bomb on wheels" is the Macguffin, and the players working together and competing against each other shape the story in different ways. When a team does well and the bomb reaches the final point, the winners can look back at their story as a series of close calls, losses, and final victory by sheer perseverance. The story progression and resolution is completely under the control of all the players.

So, uh, to sum up my criticism, he's asking for something that already exists in tons of games. More open-ended single player experiences are welcome, of course, but let's not lose our heads and ask for it in every game. Diversity is the key.
 

Somnid

Member
Aug 9, 2006
19,682
0
0
I agree. Games aren't movies they are games, you play them.

Games aren't art, they are a medium, the gameplay itself is the art and the player is the artist, not the developer.

Few modern devs really understand this and perhaps this is why I'm ingrained in the Wii camp with so far little interest in branching out. There's too much of an emphasis on technology and dev teams are expanding to such large sizes that any single source of creativity is over ruled by the democracy of a 100 others. It makes everything too cut-and-dry.
 

NutJobJim

Member
Apr 15, 2007
9,912
960
1,200
London UK
I kind of see his point but IMO the hardcore replayability comes from MP nowadays. You 'play' with the scripted interactive movie by yourself once, maybe twice at max, and then you jump into MP for the simpler addictive like crack 'pure' gameplay that you play over and over and over. It's here in MP that we as players fully understand and master the game's mechanics nowadays.

Edit: Beaten by Stop It and Botolf :lol
 

RockmanWhore

Member
Aug 2, 2007
4,751
0
0
France
Stop It said:
I'm afraid this was always going to happen. Gaming as a medium is in direct competition to the movie industry for punters cash, especially nowadays, and while there is still an audience for games with high replayability and slower learning curves, the majority of games cater to a broader audience.

Is that dumbing down or "casual sex" as this guy puts it? Maybe so, but the fact is that "core" gaming only appeals to a limited set of people, and as much as it may be painful to admit, game developers, publishers and console makers cannot afford to cater just to them any longer thanks to massive costs related to game creation.

Yes, games like Halo 3, Gears, MGS4 etc ARE like casual sex for the Single player, all 3 have a fallback that assures long term play, multiplayer, something this editorial doesn't take into account. Nowadays MP IS the new place where skill evolution takes place, the same analogy of Mario can be applied to Halo, when you venture online you don't know the tactics, the subtle game mechanics that separate a good player from a great one, the same skill curve as we have always known, taken to a new format.

So I refute that gaming has become all about "casual sex" it has merely gained more choice, yes, you could have a one night stand, but remember that phone number scribbled onto your boxers, it might come in handy.

NB: Is hardcore now judged by how fast you can complete a game, totally ignoring the experience that they can provide? consider me casual then, because that's bollocks.
Yeah MP is the way to go for replay value and high learning curve. It also piss me off that most games are too accessible and story driven nowadays. But that's the best way to take advantage of the single player aspect of a game. In MP, it's all about action, competition, skill and long learning curve are more adapted to this kind of gameplay.
 

Timber

Member
Dec 2, 2007
3,535
0
0
article's a joke. this guy is no different than all the other 'hardcore' shills who can't accept that people like games for different reasons than he does. i think most hardcore gamers consider their own taste to be superior, but this guy is the worst case scenario. not only does the not accept the existance of games he doesn't like, he conjures up doomsday scenarios of how these vile things are killing gaming. he's like a bizarro version of the wii music prophets of death.

"You’re all losing sight of what makes a videogame special"
wow, all of us? really? way to not come across as a douchebag... if this guy wants gameplay experiences then there's plenty enough for him out there. buy crackdown, buy racing games, buy downloadable games, do another halo speedrun, buy a freakin handheld. i'll keep playing through games once and moving on to the next to support the high production cinematic games i like, shityeaaaah
 

Stop It

Perfectly able to grasp the inherent value of the fishing game.
Jan 19, 2007
8,920
0
0
Biggleswade, UK
WWW.neogaf.com
Xristot said:
You know, i think both halo 3 and mgs 4 are two of his favorite games this generation. I don't think his issue is 100% with narrative, as he even says, it's fine to have narrative. Just don't let narrative be the whole reason you play.

He's actually really into the games he gets. Replaying them many times, finding all the little intricacies. I think that is where he doesn't like where things are going. I mean, going to the mario thing, how many times have you gone through the game? It has to be in the hundreds. You don't finish every time though, and that's fine.

As far as online goes, that does introduce a new item to the formula though. That is competition. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing though. :\l
The thing is, games that encurage learning and repeat play still exists, aside from the obvious like sports games my game collection is full of em.

From games like Guitar hero which is a constant learning process, to Geometry Wars which you will NEVER master, as it will always kill you, to Dead Rising, which is built for repeat play.

And of course you still have genres which have always been about long term play, racers like PGR, Forza and GT can be played forever, as try as you might, you can always hit that apex even better, Strategy games like DoW, Civ and C&C where you can always do a better job and RPGS like Oblivion, NWN2 etc which have serious replayability.

To focus on the "blockbuster" games only would expose the current trend of games becoming narrative driven, perhaps overly so, but scratch the surface and "pure" gaming is still alive and well, and frankly if the high profile titles help pay for lesser known but more gameplay driven games, then I'm all for them.
 

KevinCow

Banned
Oct 6, 2007
23,358
0
0
31
Botolf said:
What he's describing already exists, in its purest form it's multiplayer. Take a game of Payload on TF2, for example. There isn't any overarching storyline or narrative present, but the "bomb on wheels" is the Macguffin, and the players working together and competing against each other shape the story in different ways. When a team does well and the bomb reaches the final point, the winners can look back at their story as a series of close calls, losses, and final victory by sheer perseverance. The story progression and resolution is completely under the control of all the players.
Fuck that. Multi-player is something I play to pass the time when my friends are over. I want some damn single player games that put the emphasis on the actual game.
 

Zzoram

Member
Apr 17, 2007
33,496
0
0
Ya, developers need to realize that story telling in video games shouldn't be done like it is in movies. While it's nice to have the occasional super scripted linear game packed with cutscenes, they should be taking advantage of the fact that it's a game to focus on things like atmosphere, level design, sound, and player choice.
 

Won

Member
Aug 31, 2006
8,757
0
0
Austria
I'm probably missing the point here, but as someone who loves good narratives in games, I can't remember the last time I actually played a game because of its narrative.

Or is he complaining that I only play through a game once? Well I don't have the time like I had back in the day with Mario.
 

TimeKillr

Member
Nov 4, 2006
3,128
0
0
While what he is saying is true, to some extent, it's directed at the wrong people. In fact, it's directed at everyone except the people who should be reading it, and the people who SHOULD read it simply won't.

It's quite simple: the games we have now sell. They sell in large numbers because the audience has gotten larger, but developers and publishers HAVE to make products that cater to that audience. It's sort of like Hollywood; these days, pretty much all the content is either directed at teens or are date movies. It's not hard to see why: only teens and people who go on dates ever go to the movies anymore in large numbers, so it's logical to make content suited for them.

Same with games: "we", as an audience, are pretty much the bottom of the barrel. Hardcore and niche gamers. It's very difficult to market a game for us, because we demand certain things. The person who wrote the article is the perfect example of that: he's hardcore. He demands certain things from his games. If he doesn't get them, he won't play them. While it's the case for every type of gamer, there are two problems:

1- The type of content hardcore gamers demand is incredibly varied and much more difficult to design correctly
2- The market for such games is much lower.

Atlus has done it right, basically: their business model revolves around translating niche games from Japan and releasing them in very limited quantities. This ensures that they make money, quickly, on most projects they embark on. But they take very, VERY little risks, as they don't spend money developing the content - they simply localize it.

If a developer has to do everything, from A to Z, there is much more risk involved. Will your game sell? How much did it cost to produce? Will we make that money back?

Hardcore gamers demand expensive features to develop, but will be the first ones to abandon a product when it releases if they it gets a bad review or if there's something that doesn't work to their liking. So why would developers focus on content for the hardcore when it will be clearly harder to develop, sell and has much more risk? I don't blame large publishers when they put out a lot of what is considered crap by hardcore gamers (the Imagine series, for example) because they make a TON of money from them. It's important to realize that games are NOT an artform, and will most likely never be, sadly, as long as money is involved, unless the general public's focus moves from blockbuster-type games to artsy games (which I doubt will happen).

If you want original content and interesting gameplay mechanics, go to the indie scene. Those are the people you should watch.
 

HappyBivouac

Member
Jan 31, 2008
6,189
0
0
Ningbo, China
soundcloud.com
This about sums up why I think LittleBigPlanet is the best thing to happen to gaming in years.

I loved the MGS series and I will never complain about "too many cutscenes" or whatever. However in the end, the most memorable games have been the ones in which the focus was on a direct conversation between the player and the game, and not some developer trying to force his grand and beautiful vision on the player.

EDIT: want to add one more point. Like with anything, there is a balance. Art direction is really important and it seems like this guy is generalizing a bit too much.
 

Zzoram

Member
Apr 17, 2007
33,496
0
0
I think the other issue is that it's MUCH harder to have a single player game that has high replayability while remaining fun than it is to tell a linear story with scripted events that loses it's magic after the first time.

Most single player games include unlockables and secrets for replayability, but the levels and gameplay has to be good enough for you to want to play it again for that to count.
 

~Kinggi~

Banned
Oct 22, 2006
23,464
0
0
TimeKillr said:
While what he is saying is true, to some extent, it's directed at the wrong people. In fact, it's directed at everyone except the people who should be reading it, and the people who SHOULD read it simply won't.

It's quite simple: the games we have now sell. They sell in large numbers because the audience has gotten larger, but developers and publishers HAVE to make products that cater to that audience. It's sort of like Hollywood; these days, pretty much all the content is either directed at teens or are date movies. It's not hard to see why: only teens and people who go on dates ever go to the movies anymore in large numbers, so it's logical to make content suited for them.

Same with games: "we", as an audience, are pretty much the bottom of the barrel. Hardcore and niche gamers. It's very difficult to market a game for us, because we demand certain things. The person who wrote the article is the perfect example of that: he's hardcore. He demands certain things from his games. If he doesn't get them, he won't play them. While it's the case for every type of gamer, there are two problems:

1- The type of content hardcore gamers demand is incredibly varied and much more difficult to design correctly
2- The market for such games is much lower.

Atlus has done it right, basically: their business model revolves around translating niche games from Japan and releasing them in very limited quantities. This ensures that they make money, quickly, on most projects they embark on. But they take very, VERY little risks, as they don't spend money developing the content - they simply localize it.

If a developer has to do everything, from A to Z, there is much more risk involved. Will your game sell? How much did it cost to produce? Will we make that money back?

Hardcore gamers demand expensive features to develop, but will be the first ones to abandon a product when it releases if they it gets a bad review or if there's something that doesn't work to their liking. So why would developers focus on content for the hardcore when it will be clearly harder to develop, sell and has much more risk? I don't blame large publishers when they put out a lot of what is considered crap by hardcore gamers (the Imagine series, for example) because they make a TON of money from them. It's important to realize that games are NOT an artform, and will most likely never be, sadly, as long as money is involved, unless the general public's focus moves from blockbuster-type games to artsy games (which I doubt will happen).

If you want original content and interesting gameplay mechanics, go to the indie scene. Those are the people you should watch.
I was agreeing with this post until that horrible sentence.
 

Sibylus

Banned
Dec 18, 2007
23,675
0
0
waypoint.vice.com
KevinCow said:
Fuck that. Multi-player is something I play to pass the time when my friends are over. I want some damn single player games that put the emphasis on the actual game.
You may look at multiplayer as a disposable diversion, but the fact remains that it has a narrative just as real as single-player. It's the kind of organic and malleable storytelling the author and you are lobbying for. And what single player game doesn't put emphasis on the game? The narrative in SP is of course more structured and defined, but it still relies heavily on the core game mechanics and skills.

If you push single player away from its more structured narrative, SP becomes more and more like multiplayer with bots. This is good for some games, not good for others. Keep the games diverse and give the players a choice.
 

Somnid

Member
Aug 9, 2006
19,682
0
0
Multiplayer is not easily accessible due to the kind of people who play it. Aside from verbal harassment which we can put to the side for now the demand to be perfect is always looming over everyone's head as soon as they enter. There's no room for beginners because all the popular games are being played by jobless nerds with a parental income stream. Many have hundreds to thousands of hours on you and it makes for a preditory environment that simply isn't for everyone. It's not a solution because it comes with a different set of problems.
 

Grayman

Member
Feb 7, 2005
15,125
0
0
34
Surrey, BC
I do not like being tied to the rails on a specific path and string of events through a game but it probably will remain the default choice because it is the easiest way to attract players.
 

Attack You

Member
Aug 26, 2004
2,933
1
0
Botolf said:
You may look at multiplayer as a disposable diversion, but the fact remains that it has a narrative just as real as single-player. It's the kind of organic and malleable storytelling the author and you are lobbying for. And what single player game doesn't put emphasis on the game? The narrative in SP is of course more structured and defined, but it still relies heavily on the core game mechanics and skills.

If you push single player away from its more structured narrative, SP becomes more and more like multiplayer with bots. This is good for some games, not good for others. Keep the games diverse and give the players a choice.
"Multiplayer narrative," at least in the way you describe it, is the equivalent of Reality TV storytelling -- and I can't even begin to express how sad an alternative that is to proper writing.

I agree with the article written in the OP. I think developers are trying too hard, period. Look at New Super Mario Bros. vs. Galaxy and Sunshine.
 

sonicmj1

Member
Dec 2, 2007
8,973
0
0
To some degree, the article is pretty accurate. Storytelling in video games, where the payoff comes from the linear narrative, and not from the actual act of play, tends to make for games that don't really stay with the player, and aren't very replayable. Playing through them once can be fun and exciting, but after that, you usually are left with a pretty straightforward story and a forgettable experience.

But storytelling shouldn't be discarded altogether. It just needs to be approached properly. Dead Rising is a great example of one way of doing it that leads to a lot of player choice and replayability. Team ICO's efforts are another, where the story and the act of play are inseparable. This may not lead to replayability, but it creates a powerful experience that stays with you long after you're done.

There are a lot of ways to make a game, though. One approach should not exclude others. There are many ways to create fun experiences in video games, and all should be explored.
 

Dachande

Member
Jun 24, 2005
3,333
0
0
UK
This is the core of his argument that I ultimately disagree with:

The irony of all this is that instead of embracing what makes games truly great, the interactivity, games are instead embracing an experience that has traditionally been reserved for the cinema, curtailing player choice and responsibility in order to give us the experience.
I don't buy this.

"Interactivity" is what makes videogames great, but that doesn't instantly segue into "choice". The fact that the events happening around you are happening to you are what's interesting and makes videogames special. Being Gordon Freeman and being chased by the Combine, being there in that seat and experiencing that rather than witnessing it from a disconnected third-person perspective is what I and many others play and (for some) make games for. It's a kind of excitement no other medium can replicate, and narrative/story is a part of that on many levels.

That's not to say that "choice" doesn't play a part, but Cody it artificially limiting the kind of "choice" he's talking about. For example, in Gears, I have plenty of choice of where to go in the arena I'm currently fighting in. Do I go left and take cover behind that long wall that gives me more firing angles on my enemies? Or do I go right towards the smaller, more cramped area of cover that has a box of ammo near to it?

This example is arguably a "choice" element that many games have and you can compare it to situations you'll find in 'retro' games Cody talks about, like MM9. "Choice" is alive and well in modern, narrative-based games. The argument doesn't hold up.

This is not to say that games cannot and should not have narrative, although it should never be the sole focus of the game or interfere at all with the gameplay.
Again, disagree. The narrative needs to drive the gameplay. Narrative can give you goals, objectives, drive to get from point A to point B. It can inform and provide justification for the mechanics (or "gameplay"). It absolutely needs to interfere, because otherwise you end up with a horrible disconnection between what the game is feeding you and what you need to do the progress.

To use an apt example, take Halo. The narrative gives you your objective, short- and long-term goals and propels you along the path the game is providing to you. If you don't use the narrative to do this, you have a bulletpointed list of "go here, go here, do this, go here" with no context to drive it. What's more interesting? A story-based narrative giving you explanation for your goals, or the list?

His Mario example also makes no sense because it's not limited to 'retro' games in particular. Hell, again, let's take Halo for shits and giggles.

It starts you off in fixed-width corridors against the basic grunt enemies to teach you the mechanics of how Chief moves and how the basic weapons operate. It then adds more and more situations and scenarios for the player to tackle in their own way - enemies that react to you differently (Grunts running away, Elites rushing you when stickied), different weapon loadouts, more open areas with different kinds of cover, high/low geography - it's analogous to his Mario example but in a modern, narrative-based game.

His real problem is this:

Well, the casual sex of the modern gaming is getting old. The scripted sequences and carefully crafted narratives are quite an experience the first time around. But a repeat play reveals a game set up only for the orgasm that is the plot’s climax.
This is fair. A game needs to be solid and entertaining all the way through from start to finish, not just at the end. Games that don't do this are bad games, pure and simple.

But saying that they offer no replayability is a complete load of shit - I've replayed Half Life 2 (the definitive 'experience' game in my eyes) more times than any other game I've owned since I started playing games over 15 years ago, because the experience from start to finish is so incredibly well-crafted that I want to experience it again and again.

Mooing "GAMEPLAY IS KING!!!!!" over and over means absolutely nothing - "gameplay" is more than just "mechanics". It encompasses everything from those mechanics to the graphical style, sound design, level layout and yes, the narrative. Games have grown up, get with the times.