Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Is 'Safe' Gaming The Best Kind Of Gaming? 126

Posted by Zonk
from the safe-is-for-grandparents dept.
An anonymous reader writes "James Portnow has written up an in-depth article about 'risk in game design'. He discusses the concept of the safe game, 'any game where given X hours (with minor variance for skill) any player will beat the game and get the prize.' Do you prefer your games tricky and studded with failure points, or does smooth and easy win the race?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Is 'Safe' Gaming The Best Kind Of Gaming?

Comments Filter:
  • Beat the game? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EnglishTim (9662) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:56AM (#16102794)
    I prefer to 'Play' the game.

    If it's good, I might finish it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by aadvancedGIR (959466)
      Sure.

      I tend to see any game I don't want to uninstall in the first 15 min to be a good game. If it make me want to launch it again in the same week, it is a very good game.

      Of course, I DL demos whenever I can before considering buying the game, and I don't even try to finish at least 3/4 of them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172) *
      If it's good, I might finish it.

      On the whole, if a game can be "finished," I'm not interested in it at all. Give me open ended, skill based games with infinate replaybility every time.

      If I could "finish" playing the flute, why would I even start?

      KFG
      • Re:Beat the game? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by twistedsymphony (956982) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @07:58AM (#16103380) Homepage
        You don't finish playing the flue but you DO finish playing a song... You have to look at the flue as the machine the runs the game... and the song as the game itself. Never ending or "open ended" songs would get pretty boring in my opinion. Sure you might like to play the song a lot but if a song just went on forever it would get pretty repetitive don't you think? Personally I avoid games without endings, I like to have some semblance of closure. To make it feel like I finished the journey that I started, finished the story, and gives me a point where I can look back at game as a whole. Of course it also depends on the game. Games like Tetris or Soul Calibur play their course in a matter of minutes, and then you start over again. To me most games are like reading a book. Even books that I like I don't want to go on forever, if they did the books would eventually just become boring an repetitive like watching someone's daily routine. Some books I'll read more then once, but typically I like to finish my books, think about what the author (developer) was trying to get across, and start another.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by kfg (145172) *
          Sure you might like to play the song a lot but if a song just went on forever it would get pretty repetitive don't you think?

          Exactly my point. You see, there is more than one song. There's even more than one type of song. Heck, I can even. . . invent my own!

          An unscripted RTS can be varied in thousands of different ways to give a different experience every time, just as a flute can be played differently.

          Myst was dead for me in one evening.

          But even with just one song it need not ever get boring, because there
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jimmy King (828214)

            Exactly my point. You see, there is more than one song. There's even more than one type of song. Heck, I can even. . . invent my own!

            An unscripted RTS can be varied in thousands of different ways to give a different experience every time, just as a flute can be played differently.

            I would have to argue that this applies to games, too. There is more than one game. There's even more than one type of game. Heck, I can even invent my own!

            Even in scripted games, there's almost always more to do. Beat the game

      • by alcmaeon (684971)

        On the whole, if a game can be "finished," I'm not interested in it at all. Give me open ended, skill based games with infinate replaybility every time.

        If I could "finish" playing the flute, why would I even start??

        Damn good point. I much prefer games like Neverwinter Nights and Age of Empires to games like Silent Hill or Myst. I see the former as games and the latter as interactive fiction, kind of like those "you pick the ending" books that used to be popular before computers.

      • by EnglishTim (9662)
        If I could "finish" playing the flute, why would I even start?

        If I could "finish" reading a book, why would I even start?
    • One of the most annoying things in games right now is the "guess the hidden trick". It could be a boss fight, or a puzzle, or something else similar, but it's the same kind of idea.

      Bosses always have a hidden "trick", something that once you learn it, the boss goes from challenging to easy in about 3 seconds. Once you realize that a certain footwork pattern means "Get out of the way uberattack coming", the boss is much easier, because unless you happen to miss the "tell" (to barrow a poker term), you'll

      • On the other hand, there are games (I've seen it a few times in sports), where once the AI realizes it's losing, it suddenly gets much better at the game it's playing.

        Good God, this is especially annoying in racing games (EA racing games do it a lot). You're kicking ass for the first three laps of the race, but then on the last lap, the AI goes from being 10 seconds back to being 1 second back in a matter of about 2 seconds, even though you've not messed anything up at all. I'm sorry, but that's just imposs

      • by gfxguy (98788)
        I don't so much mind the "hidden trick" because that's the challenge - finding the "tells" and figuring out what is effective against the "boss".

        But I do hate games that cheat - sports games where basketball players suddenly become 99% accurate when the shoot the basketball, or the football players somehow run slightly faster than yours.

        But the worst is game level designers who use what could only be considered a flaw in the game engine as a way to add difficulty. Some games it's just trying to walk along
    • by slim (1652)
      I prefer to 'Play' the game.

      The article says this too:
      The reward for playing a game has to be the game itself. We often overlook this fact, making the reward the ending or leveling up or getting to explore new areas.

      Me, I've a very low boredom threshold, and if I'm not having fun, I'll stop playing. This happens in most "explore the dungeon" type games; when Link has killed all the baddies in an area, I'm running around trying to spot the doorway or switch I must have missed, and just getting from one end o
  • How about both? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ComaVN (325750) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:57AM (#16102800)
    I like games that have a sandbox or arcade mode, that just let me ride/shoot/build whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want, but also a career mode that poses more of a challenge.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      Thing is, you get to retry those quests as much as you like. Even in MMORPGs the quest system will happily hand you the same quest over and over if you continue to fail. As such, anyone can get through them because they get the knowledge from their failures to guide them in later attempts. The problem here is that getting to "the end" is not a fantastic feat. There's no reverence for people who do it, so there's no reason for people to try, plus there's no reason for people who have done it to stick aro
    • I agree that both have their use. Hard games are there to challenge us and stimulate our competitive senses. I do enjoy easier plodding along games as well, as they are good for relaxing.

      Doom 3 was a challenging game. It was awesome. However, found that I had to stop playing it during the week. After stressing out all day, the last thing that was a good idea for me was coming home to pants-crapping session. So Doom became a weekend game for me. Easier games are good for me when I just want to pop a beer and
      • by CaptnMArk (9003)
        Same here. I played many 15 minute sessions of Doom 3.

        It took me about a year to finish it, and the expansion pack is still unfinished.

        As opposed to HL2 which I finished in 2 weekends (it get's boring really quickly when you get the gravity gun) and then forgot about it.
    • by Tyger (126248)
      That doesn't sound like the same thing. From my understanding, what they are calling "Safe" is something where there is low risk of not progressing based on skill.
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:00AM (#16102807)
    When I first get the game I just want to know how to play it and watch the eye candy. And admire it on a technical level. After that I want to go with increasing difficulty and make it harder to play. Harder to play doesn't mean just more monsters to kill but harder to find stuff, different keys for different doors, more locked doors etc...
  • Easy answer: (Score:3, Informative)

    by kestasjk (933987) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:01AM (#16102811) Homepage
    It should be easy to beat in a given time on easy, more difficult to beat on medium, and impossible to beat in hard.

    There's no game which isn't beatable in X hours though; given long enough anyone can beat any game.. Except Ikaruga.
    • And Gauntlet. I nearly wept when I realised it was just going to keep going and going, getting harder and harder and harder...

      That pretty much shaped my understanding of adult life.

    • by grumbel (592662)
      Except Ikaruga.

      You are wrong, Ikaruga, at least the Gamecube version, gives you more and more continues the longer you play, up until a point where you have unlimited continues, so given enough time (~7 hours) everybody should be able to complete the game. Some of course while dieing a lot more then others.

    • Myself, I beat Tetris in about an hour ;-)
      • by tepples (727027)
        Myself, I beat Tetris in about an hour ;-)

        Yeah, because they make modern Tetris too damn easy [ytmnd.com]. But did it really take you an hour to get 200 lines?

        • by wgaryhas (872268)
          You should try the jamdat tetris on cellphones, it doesn't get any faster after level 19, so I can keep going until I am tired of playing. My current record is 1007 lines and that took over 2 hours to do.
    • It should be easy to beat in a given time on easy, more difficult to beat on medium, and impossible to beat in hard.

      There's no game which isn't beatable in X hours though; given long enough anyone can beat any game.. Except Ikaruga.


      Many individuals dont' have the mental or physical skills to win certain games. For instance a friend of mine has never finished warcraft 3 without cheats, he simply lacks the ability to multi task to the degree nessacary for some of the harder levels. Even on easy he can't do it
  • by joe 155 (937621)
    I played resident evil 4 on easy mode (and have done about 4 times through) and it was very enjoyable, it had pretty clear goals and was all fairly smooth sailing. I don't think I got stuck for too much time on anything. It's still one of my favourite games. I tried playing it on the harder mode, but it just seemed like it would all be up hill work, so I gave up pretty quickly... I like a lot of playablilty but don't want to spend my free time smashing my head into a wall
    • Got to sort of disagree here. RE4 has a lot of little tricks which can allow you to finish the game much easier (witht he except of one or two fights which is a bit of luck in places). But as long as you don't make any mistakes hard mode isn't really "that" hard. The hardest bit of the Krauser fight because of the time limit (hence you have to rush which makes you make more mistakes).

      While I'm not saying "ZOMG YOUR WRONG TO PLAY THIS WAY!!", don't assume the game is trying to screw you over. It's just punis
      • I myself love the hard modes as well. But I think on a whole the hard modes walk a fine line... some are genuinely difficult, they'll test your gaming abilities but they'll always give you a sense that if you just tried a little harder, didn't make that one little slip-up, or just tweaked your strategy... you'll make it through. Call of Duty 2 on Veteran difficulty is a good example of that. The game was HARD, but it wasn't cheap, and I wasn't put in any unfair advantages. Whenever I died there was no doubt
  • Difficulty levels. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:16AM (#16102850) Journal
    Take a game like Quake 3 -- I really couldn't care whether I beat it, or whether I use cheats, or what. It's really intended to be multiplayer anyway. Given x hours, I will have fun, even if it means gauntleting bots on "I Can Win." Or I can play on Nightmare, or online -- either one, I will lose most of the time, but damn, is it fun to win just by the skin of your teeth -- or to get kicked into that higher gear and come back from 5 points behind to 5 points ahead.

    Now, consider a game like, say, one of the Final Fantasies. Those are challenging, but you can generally beat one, given enough hours. This is good, because you don't want to pay $50 for a game and not get to see the end of the story. But, being able to see the end does not imply getting all the Legendary Weapons, and damnit, we deserved ours. I say "we", because my roommate and I traded off playing the Chocobo Training (for Tidus' weapon) -- even tossing the controller halfway through, as we were each better at different parts of it.

    Or Halo, maybe the best example. Legendary is about as hard as you can make it and still have it be possible. Easy is a bit like "I Can Win" -- if you're trying at all, you'll beat it easily.

    I can enjoy a game like, say, Half-Life 2 -- hard was too easy, but it was still fun. But nothing gives a game replayability like a decent set of difficulty levels. And if your game is, say, Enter The Matrix, you NEED as much replayability as you can get -- DAMN that game was short.

    I can also enjoy a game that is hard, but not impossible. The Jak games were like this for me, especially Jak II. Often, required missions were ridiculously hard, requiring 10 or 20 tries to get it right. But it was possible, and the plot, animation, and humor makes it all worth it, no matter how short the cinematic.

    So, in short, you are permitted to make it hard, provided you either provide a way around it (by making it an optional sidequest, or by allowing an easier difficulty level), or make it worth it. Difficulty levels are really the answer you are looking for -- the casual gamer won't buy Midnight Club 2 or Jak 2, the hardcore gamer won't buy Half-Life 2, but they'll both be happy with Halo 2 for quite a long time.

    Oh, and crappy, old, still hard arcade versions of this game are to be unlockable secrets (PoP: Sands of Time had PoP 1), NOT requirements for beating the game! (Donkey Kong 64 required you to beat the original Donkey Kong!)
  • by kria (126207) <roleplayer...carrie@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:22AM (#16102875) Journal
    I would say that I like a game that:
    a) allows you to at least play even if you aren't that skilled
    b) has rewards for people who have/improve skills

    c) games without "real" endings. Even if there is some kind of ending (like the end of a particular round), I want a game with replayability.

    I enjoy real time and turn based strategy games, mmorpgs... right now I'm playing a lot of Puzzle Pirates, which I think is a good example. I really don't care for shooters (I'm just not wired that way, I guess), nor do I care for single player "rpg" titles, most of the time.
  • by eddy (18759) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:23AM (#16102878) Homepage Journal

    I've been playing a little BF2, and I'm not very good (but I enjoy it nonetheless). With games like BF2 having user accounts and tracking all kinds of stats, it came to me that it would be possible for the server to give handicap to a team based on the stats of the players in it. Say in BF2 for instance, the server will have access to the player's kill-to-death ratio, not only for the current session, but back to the beginning. Based on this it could, for instance, open additional slots on a team -- effectively giving them a handicap -- if they're "too low" in this ratio. Or give that team an extra vehicle, etc.

    This could be fun for both good players who might enjoy and even seek out the opportunity to play the 'underdog' to a team with a numerical advantage, and for new players who risk getting frustrated and even bored if they're on the losing side all the time.

    As it is now, the server relies on the random allocation of players to a side to 'balance things out', but I postulate that it might actually make the game more fun to bias this to give it that 'skilled underdogs vs overwhelming force' tint. As a server option, of course.

    Any MP games out there doing this already?

    • by Don_dumb (927108)

      This could be fun for both good players who might enjoy and even seek out the opportunity to play the 'underdog' to a team with a numerical advantage, and for new players who risk getting frustrated and even bored if they're on the losing side all the time.

      Great idea
      I am becoming more of a casual gamer and when playing HL:Deathmatch I get pasted so easily that it isn't any fun for me, some sort of league system might allow people to play at their level and also provide some sort of goal for the individual t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Cederic (9623)

        Unfortunately the next Battlefield incarnation (2042?) is going the other way.

        The career mode will be tightly linked to in-game upgrades and capabilities.

        This means that the non-casual players, who play longer and get better at the game, get access to better equipment. This means they have the advantage of superior equipment AND the advantage of greater experience.

        I see this widening the gulf between hard-core and casual players, and as someone that doesn't want to spend 20 hours a week on any given game th
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Reapy (688651)
        Unfortunatly, this never seems to work in practice for the inexperienced players.

        Usually the only frusterating time in an online game is learning how to play and getting through that initial ass beating you are going to receive when you sign into a server. We all know it's coming, and you really have to just hope the game is fun enough to endure it before you can start handing out judgment.

        But what happens in ranking systems is they tend to appease the more talented players by allowing them to find good gam
        • some sort of 100:0 kill ration

          Wow, and I thought eating nothing but MRE rations for a weeks at a time in the Army was brutal. The ones you're describing sound even worse! What branch were you in?
      • by eddy (18759)

        A "tier"-system is certainly possible, but I believe there are some problems with it that needs to be taken into account.

        The biggest problem is that while it MATCHES players based on skill, it SEPARATES based on the social web. When I play BF2 I want to play it with friends, I almost never go out and play it by myself (though I'm sure many do and maybe even prefer it that way). This can be alleviated by not treating "a player" as the atomic unit, but maybe a "a small team" -- creating a whole new class of

        • by Daedone (981031)
          In NWN there's an in-game service ("lobby", whatever) whereby you can register your friends and then see what server they're on, and join it with a click of a mouse. That ought to be standard in all MP games, and also I'd like to see a mechanism whereby a team will look for a server as a unit. If me and a friend "band up", then I want the system to have the property that if one of us is accepted by a server, that will reserve -- for a limited time -- a slot on the same team for the rest of the gang (i.e me)
  • If the game has a good-to-great story and compelling characters, then I'll strive to complete it no matter how easy or difficult it might be.
  • I remember so clearly playing the first level of Doom (and, for that matter, Wolfenstein) on Nightmare mode. I clearly recall the thrill of hitting the Exit, sitting back in my chair, taking a deep breath and realising I was shaking with adrenalin. It was like a flashback to the first time I played the game on Please Don't Hurt Me mode.

    That ability to push yourself again, when you'd gotten used to the game, is hardly new, but it really felt new when id did it.

    The Sandbox element of a lot of games is great

    • I have a better idea (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Travoltus (110240)
      Merge Deus Ex with Oblivion/Morrowind.

      A free ranging sandbox game with one main quest, or even several, most of which would have 3-4 different ways to solve it. With a setup like Oblivion, that gives you countless different ways to stat-up.

      I would also liberalize the game.
      a) you can infinitely jack up the stats of your weapons/armor, and your own skills and attributes, if you have the funds / magical items / ingredients to make it happen

      b) the enemy has a high chance of stat'ing up right along with you and
      • I daresay a lot of these ideas get bandied around early on in the development of all such games, especially those games you've mentioned. I was told that during the early design stage of Oblivion, for example, they sat down and said "Wouldn't it be cool to have multiplayer possibilities?". That was pretty quickly canned though, as they felt that this contradicted the core idea of the game ie that you are the main character. It just wouldn't be compatible.

        Some of your suggestions smack of Fable (which was a

        • A MMORPG with NPC's is as close an analogy as humanly possible.

          I haven't even heard of one MMORPG that isn't infamous for bullies/grievers and their rotten admins who help them out. I don't like subscribing/paying for abuse. That's what marriage is for, folks. MMORPGs are like a marriage minus the occasional sex *grin*. (Ok, well getting out of a MMORPG is cheaper.)

          Also, I would never ask for an Oblivion-like game to be multi player. If I wanted that I'd play a MUD or MMORPG.

          BTW Dot hack for the PS2 was pre
  • Making games so easy you can just mash the buttons and win is clearly silly; games that aren't challenging aren't as rewarding. Without the chance of failure, success means little. However, the one thing I DO ask is that failure not force substantial loss of progress. For example:

    - Puzzle adventure games, where missing an item early forces you to restart the entire game to be able to win
    - Simple action games, where dying enough times (running out of credits) will force you to start over

    In contrast, c
    • Then would you care to tell me how you punish death and reward life if there is no punishment for it?

      Games where you continue from the spot just arn't hard enough to enjoy IMO. I can more or less God mode my way through it. Where as if we turn the tables and make it so I can only quick save or have to use check points, then I'll fight that little bit harder to survive and hence I'll get more of a thrill when it goes well and "punished" more when it goes poorly.

      Remember games are by their nature a carrot and
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        Lego Star Wars 2 handles this. It's impossible to lose. And yet, they managed to make it worth your while to 'win'. If you make it through a level without dying, you get points that you don't get if you die. And if you collect all the parts, and if you collect enough money, etc etc etc. And you can't totally beat a level on the first run-through, you have to go back.

        This enables anyone to play and 'beat' the game, but only those with a little skill and dedication can master it.

        In addition, after you've
        • I have the original lego star wars, so I know how it works. Yea I like the system, but it's a 1 off system and would ruin a lot of games.

          So in some places it's good, but lego star wars isn't about the gameplay, it's about awesome lego men and loads of little jokes and secrets.. Hence it doesn't matter if you die or not unless you're trying to unlock everything.

          Plus you forgot to mention the "tap button, block everything" jedi god mode :P
          • by mobby_6kl (668092)
            In addition to Lego Star Wars, another game handles it in a rather original way: Prey. You can die, but when you do you appear in a mini-game where you shoot souls (or something) with your bow to restore your health. Unless you're completely incompetent with the mouse, you'll be put right back into action with as many HPs as you managed to restore. This method manages to punish you a little with the mini game (you want to kick ass, not play duckhunt) while keeping you in the game and playing, instead of loo
            • by Aladrin (926209)
              Yeah, I experienced that in the demo, but wasn't sure what was really happening.

              Is there fewer souls to shoot each time you die? And after a while (yeah, I'm incompetent with the controller) they started to dive at me, and I think they were trying to kill me again. But the demo wasn't long enough to see, and I haven't gotten very far since I rented it.

              But yeah, also a nice way to handle it.
        • by Alphager (957739)
          I am so looking forward to this weekend: my fiancée and I will play Lego Star-Wars from episode 4 till 6.
      • I think you misunderstand. I don't want games to hold your hand or babysit you, just not punish failure excessively. Roughly, if you regard the game as a series of challenges, that failure on one particular challenge should force you to redo it (or find another path), but not send you back to repeat challenges you've already cleared. It's not dificulty I object to, it's wasting the player's time--i.e., dying at a boss battle should make you refight the boss, but probably not the entire level, and certainly
  • I don't dedicate huge quantities of my time to gaming, so when I do I want it to be fun. After playing Burnout: Revenge for half an hour, I realised that I was going to have to go through the whole gradual-collection-of-cool-cars thing just like with Burnout 3; and that it wasn't going to be any fun doing so. So I stopped after half an hour and haven't played it since.

    Knights of the old Republic on the other hand is rewarding every time. I'm not putting huge effort in, but there is something to do every
    • by Don_dumb (927108)

      I don't dedicate huge quantities of my time to gaming, so when I do I want it to be fun. After playing Burnout: Revenge for half an hour, I realised that I was going to have to go through the whole gradual-collection-of-cool-cars thing just like with Burnout 3; and that it wasn't going to be any fun doing so. So I stopped after half an hour and haven't played it since.

      A fine example of why I think GTAIII and onwards are wonderfully made games. It is about fun, I could spend 15 minutes beating up cops or sp

  • I guess if there are a number of solutions to a game's obstacles, I like it. I enjoy the process of attempting a strategy, refining it, possibly failing and having to find a new strategy. If I can beat a game without exhausting my strategies for dealing with challenging situations, then that game fulfills my needs, I suppose. I see it as completely independent of the amount of time it takes myself or another player to play through the game.
  • by Bigboote66 (166717) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:42AM (#16102952)
    As I read the article, the author seems to assume that "game" means an avatar-centric, single-player experience (ACSPE), along with MMORPGs thrown in. Certainly all his screenshots are of this type of game. So-called "puzzle games" (Tetris, Popcap's catalog, etc.), sports games, strategy games, and multiplayer games of all kinds, seem to fall outside his analysis.

    For one thing, the concept of "beating" a game only really applies to the ACSPE, where there is "content" to burn through that usually doesn't merit a second look, like most movies. I think this is one of the main problems of gaming today that leads to lack of variety, a narrow audience, and excessive time commitments in order for a game to be fun.

    Consider the pre-computer era definition of game: A game was something that was played against someone else, could have been physical (sports) or purely cognitive (board/card games) and almost always lasted less than a few hours (obviously, cricket strains this definition). Early computer games followed this pretty closely, replacing the human opponent with an AI (chess simulators, combat simulators, etc.).

    The advent of paper-and-pen RPGs, and their subsequent translation into CRPGs changed all this. Persistent state that spanned play sessions, extemely large time commitments, and the elmination of what was traditionally thought of as competion created something that arguably should never have been called a "game" (how many of you were ever asked "How do you determine who's the winner" when you first explained RPGs to a layman?). These ideas soon bled over into most of the other genres, as they proved to be very effective in building franchise loyalty. Today, it's difficult to find a "serious" game that doesn't incorporate the features of "leveling", "extrinsic reward" (e.g. cutscenes, loot, etc.), "guaranteed success" (the main idea of the article) or "hidden rules" (my personal pet peeve), common in many Japanese games - the techique of withholding the rules of the game from the player, forcing them to "discover" them as a part of the process of playing, essentially turning rules into "content". I realize "hiddne rules" is a mainstay of some genres (fighters and Japanese RPGs comes immediately to mind), but I find them unforgiveable gimmicks for milking extra play-time out of a system, and forcing the player into an OCD-like monomania in order to actually get their money's worth (thereby wasting their time).

    As popular as the ACSPE is, thousands of years of human history shows that the other sort of "game" (directly competitive systems, or abstract puzzle) can be quite successful as well, but it's been overlooked by almost everyone other than the online Flash/Java minigame market. Is this really the only venue for this type of fun? Even systems that would seem to be ideally suited for this type of game (e.g. the GBA or mobile phones) have precious few "strategy" or "puzzle" games, compared the mountains of action and rpg ACSPEs that have always struck me as inappropriate for systems that seem designed for short games with other people, as you're usually out in public with a few free minutes when you have the opporunity to use these.

    Anyway, my overall point is, if developers would expand the types of games they'd develop beyond the ACSPEs focused on in this article, many, if not most, of these points would become moot. I also think that the emphasis of the effort would move from content generation to game design as you reduced the number of art resources required to produce a title. I see this as a good thing, as the content creation is probably the largest cost component of most modern games, the most time-consuming, and the least able to change dramatically if large changes need to be made during the middle of development to accomodate new ideas.

    -BbT
    • What are you talking about? The GBA has a ton of strategy and puzzle games. Maybe I'm not understanding your definition, but in my book the GBA was an often overlooked renaissance for this type of gaming. With plenty of puzzle games like Chu Chu Rocket, the current Bit Generations games, etc. And then probably the largest library of strategy games (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, Tactics Ogre) other than the PS2.

      Now granted many of those are Strategy/RPGs, which means leveling, etc. And if that's what you meant
      • I guess we have different ideas of what constitutes a "ton". According to GameRankings.com, here's the rundown on titles for the GBA, broken down by genre:

        action: 80
        action/adventure: 15
        adventure: 2
        driving: 9
        rpg: 31
        sports: 7

        misc: 16
        strategy: 10

        So out of 170 titles, we have 26 that are misc or strategy; the remainder are dominated by action & rpgs. Granted, this doesn't include very many import titles, but for what the average gamer can buy in a store, this represents pretty much all of them. I've owne
        • Well, tons is relative, I guess. :)

          To me tons is "enough to keep me busy". And the GBA has definitely done this. There are more games like AW. Fire Emblem. That game is even more pick up and play friendly as you can just turn off the system. Only problem is it introduces the risk (going back to the article) of insta-death, which introduces the risk of wasted time. Plus there is lots of levelling in Fire Emblem as it's a Strategy/RPG. Same with FFTA, Tactics Ogre, etc. So you're right that if RPGs don't coun
          • Thanks for the info - especially regarding CCR. I always liked that game on the DC; didn't know they'd pumped it up for the GBA. I had played Tactics Ogre for about 6 hours, but the JRPG nature of it really turned me off; plus, I didn't get the "strategy" feel of the combat from it the way you do from AW - it seemed way more like a game of "level up your dudes so you can walk all over the bad guys" as opposed to the "try to solve this tactical situation that we GUARANTEE there is a way to do" that is AW.
            • You're definitely right about their being less pure strategy in the Strat/RPGs. You can level guys up and kind of strong-arm/heal your way through the game. Unlike AW where you have to unlock the puzzle. So while we're talking about these games, I'm curious since you seem to be of like mind, if you consider any other games of value on the GBA, in this vein. Also, do you play AW2 or AW1 or both? Is it worth getting both? I just have AW2.
    • AFAIK most fighting games coming out of Japan give you a practice mode where they tell you all the moves and many of the combos up front.

      And I don't know what hidden rules any of the Japanese RPGs have. There's always some NPC who wants to interrupt you and tell you all about them, before asking you "Did you get that? (y/n)".
      • AFAIK most fighting games coming out of Japan give you a practice mode where they tell you all the moves and many of the combos up front.

        They do now. Wasn't always the case. And even with this knowledge (which still takes a long time to completely learn, at which point you can begin to actually begin practicing in an attempt to become good), the knowledge of what moves work well against others, or what blocks will succeed, can only be determined by trial and error (or reading enthusiast websites). Contra
    • Actually I completely disagree.

      RPGs can, for the most part, be broken down into many tasks which the player must complete. Some of these tasks may be optional, but in almost all games a certain number of tasks will be required for the player to progress in the game. Even in a MMORPG, you must often complete a certain task to progress further, such as kill a certain monster or open a certain portal in order to move to the next environment.

      The author is proposing that each of these tasks should have multiple
  • The more a game wants to tell a detailed, interesting story, the less risk seems desirable. For example, the Final Fantasy series usually (starting with FFII) tells a reasonably complex story and gives you a chance to care about your characters. Soul Caliber, on the other hand, strongly discourages caring about anything other than hitting them until they run out of life and die. When a fighting game gets absurdly difficult, it's all fun and good, because it would be boring to win easily, since really all th
  • I depends on the game model quite a lot. Is failure the inability to succeed or is failure caused by passing a threshold where you could never succeed.

    Here's a little freeware game I made for a Ludum Dare http://screamingduck.fileburst.com/TTN.zip [fileburst.com]

    It's sort of like lemmings only with tiny ninja. Of course Ninja are more hardy than lemmings. In this game they cannot die at all. That doesn't mean that it's easy to get them home. To beat a level takes a long time of careful placing of influencers and watch
  • Many games (ok, the better ones) offer difficulty levels. That can range from "if you die, you must've done something reeeeeeally stupid, like standing in your own C4" to "enemy saw you. You're dead". And depending on your skill, you choose the appropriate one.

    If you tie diff level to some unlockable goodies (but PLEASE make it eye candy, not something essential), even better. But what really puzzles me is games that allow you to go "god mode" after you've beaten the game on the hardest level. I just ask WH
    • by alexgieg (948359)
      An example: some World of Warcraft players sometimes like to go back to Warcraft 3 to remember the small details of the fictional lore. They've already beaten the game, they only want to see that specific amazing history scene. So, they enable God Mode and in half-hour get to the point they want to review. That done, they close the game, go back to doing whatever they were doing in World of Warcraft, and that's it.
      • Well, when you've beaten WC3, you can view all the cutscenes anyway, why bother playing through it again?
  • A nice game of chess? No, I want to play Global Thermonuclear War.
  • Do you prefer your games tricky and studded with failure points, or does smooth and easy win the race?


    The popularity of World of Warcraft suggests the latter.
    • Easy is relative. In World of Warcraft, persistence is the key. It might take a few tries to kill a particular creature and may seem hard to some players. But if you keep trying, eventually you will manage to succeed (assuming appropriate level of your character, etc.).

      By easy, I'm assuming you mean that it is eventually possible to do almost anything. This is different from easy meaning that anyone can do it on the first try.

      I suppose my point is that even World of Warcraft has multiple failure points,

  • I've finally gotten around to playing Lego Star Wars over the past few days (gonna jump into the second one next week). I'd say that it fits this category, since it doesn't really take much skill or effort to get through. You just need to sit down and invest the time to chug through it. And the best part is that it's highly entertaining. So much so in fact that I'm looking forward to playing through the levels again to 100% it.
    • Games like that bore me these days. The other day (after a year or so of playing the DS and offbeat games like Katamari, Amplitude, Gitaroo Man) I tried Kingdom Hearts. And I also tried Lego Star Wars. I found out that I was really sick of doing A to arbitrarily open B and then doing C, D and E to arbitrarily open F. In both games. It got really boring to me quickly.
  • Nothing bothers me more than a game that's way too hard and doesn't have any options to change the difficulty level. Great games like F-Zero GX have just been ruined by that. I've never seen a highly anticipated, graphically beautiful, accoustically amazing, what-should-have-been-first-rate game drop to the $19.99 bin than F-Zer GX. It's so sad that all they would've had to do to make that game a success was to add a simple difficulty setting.

    I miss the A/B switch on my old Atari.

  • The more the merrier.. of course it must be fun content. However, I definitely prefer games which don't hide over 50% of the content from you unless you do 100% of this or 100% of that. I just don't have the time to do 100%, its usually between 50 and 75% completion for most things.
  • Been a game player for many years and I think every format has it's time and place, I love FPS's and indeed still play for a Wolfenstien Enemy Territory clan. I still play NeverWinter and Guild Wars when in the mood and Empire Earth and the like still make me giggle, specially when you send a load of cybers against rock throwers :D. as I say, depends on the mood, sometimes I'm happy to sit and struggle my way through a game (one section on Q4 on nightmare took me about 2 days) other times I like to ramp up
  • I have played a few games that are basically just time suckers. You press the buttons appropriately and in a given amount of time the game is over and I hate it. If its an adventure game or RPG, I want a challenge. I want to screw up and have to figure out what I missed and go back for it. I think it should be a challenge.

    For people that don't want this challenge, there are always walkthroughs that can spell out exactly what needs to be done, but I don't think the game should do that for you. And I t
  • I like a game to have a fairly even learning curve, even if it's steep. I like to think of myself as a fairly hardcore gamer as far as geekness and amount of time gaming, etc. But the one thing that will stop me from playing a game is a "hard spot" that I just can't get past for multiple gaming sessions and has me wanting to tear out my hair.

    Console games seem the worst in this regard, and I can remember a number of PS2 titles that I enjoyed playing until I came across a boss monster whose "trick" I couldn'
  • It seems as if 'safe' games appeal to one type of gamer, others such as Metal Gear Solid (for example) attract a gamer who is looking for more of a challenge while gaming and not just looking for some relaxation. How can the major gaming companies ever hope to overtake Hollywood if people are afraid to play games? The thing that a lot of people overlook in the comparison of games to other types of multimedia entertainment is that games require a certain level of skill and commitment to be fully enjoyed. Wat
  • Start the game at a moderate difficulty setting. If the player ends up dying way too often at the same point in the game, switch to a lower difficulty (the worst thing a game can get you to do is make you repeat the same damn point in a level many times. After 5 or so tries, it turns from "fun" to annoying. Especially if the save point is miles away (how about having save points appear more frequently on easier levels?).

    Then if the player starts blowing through the level, raise the difficulty again.

    There co
    • by @madeus (24818)
      Dead Rising has it close by letting you restart the game at your current level (makes it easier the next time around), but fails in that you have to restart the entire game.

      I was actually thinking of Dead Rising while I was reading your post. I love the control system, the engine, the graphics and the basic premise - they are all great. But the amount of repetition is just rediculous and I stopped playing early on because I got bored of playing the same sequences over and over, so early on in the game.

      On on
  • Thank god this guy is only a grad student [gamasutra.com] and not actually designing games.

    He's seriously advocating that it's reasonable that if you fail at a risk in the game, the game should become harder. A valid idea for some short-length games, like a PvP game of Quake or Starcraft, but insane for longer and especially single player games. That sort of stupid game design is why many people bounce on the quick save key every five minutes. To take the most common example, mainstream first person shooter design. "O

    • Wow, you completely missed the point of the article. Are you sure you read it?

      "He's seriously advocating that it's reasonable that if you fail at a risk in the game, the game should become harder."

      He's not advocating that the game becomes harder, quite the opposite, in fact. What he's advocating is that the player should be able to choose between taking more high risk paths, or more low risk ones. High risk paths are more intense, and more difficult, meaning they are more likely to result in a penalty shoul
      • My post roughly followed the order of the original article. On page one the author definately suggested that risk is good, and that current common risks are money, increased difficulty, having to restart the game, and time. He then goes on to blow off wasting time as "not a real risk". After ignoring that restarting the game directly translates into wasting time, and increased difficulty indirectly does he goes on to spend the rest of the article bashing washing time. The implication is that the other thr


        • My post roughly followed the order of the original article. On page one the author definately suggested that risk is good, and that current common risks are money, increased difficulty, having to restart the game, and time. He then goes on to blow off wasting time as "not a real risk". After ignoring that restarting the game directly translates into wasting time, and increased difficulty indirectly does he goes on to spend the rest of the article bashing washing time. The implication is that the other three

It is much harder to find a job than to keep one.

Working...