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Just Let Me Play! 633

Gamers with Jobs complains today about the thick layers of 'work' many games put between you and the fun nowadays. Instead of having 'secret areas' or 'unlockable modes,' he argues we should just be able to play the game we purchased. From the article: "I play games to escape. To go somewhere else. But our industry has so ingrained this concept of 'earning' our fun that the best is somehow always saved for last. Like modern day Puritans, we've convinced ourselves that we are not worthy of that for which we've already paid. Sinners in the hands of an angry god, we don't deserve our fun until we pay in blood."
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Just Let Me Play!

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  • IAWTP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ankarbass ( 882629 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:14PM (#15483500)
    I would play more games if they had a "on screen megahints and never never die" mode for crappy gamers such as myself. Hardcore gamers could leave it turned off if they wanted the "fun" of finding that crap by themselves. I just want to shoot stuff.

  • my thoughts exactly! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyDixieWrecked ( 548719 ) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:18PM (#15483530) Homepage Journal
    That's why I'm such a big fan of Nintendo. They seem to follow that philosophy. They make games that you can just pick up and play. and play you do.

    Although, I was a little disappointed when I just beat the New Super Mario Brothers for my DS. It took me 3 days of playing on the subways and trains and the only thing I really unlocked in the end was luigi.

    I was kinda hoping to unlock something really spectacular. The minigames were the same as Mario64DS, and when I found a hut where there was something I could buy for a whopping 20 star coins, I was hoping it would be some new gamestyle or perhaps SMB1 in its entirety, but instead it was just new wallpapers for the touchscreen.

    although I haven't managed to get to 3 of the worlds, so I"m working on that. perhaps I'll take a look at gameFAQs... no. scratch that. I wanna figure it out myself. it's more fun that way.
  • Catch 22 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:19PM (#15483538) Homepage Journal
    Too many "unlockables" and it's work. No "unlockables" and it's 30 minutes of gameplay. There's a balance. I've recently bought Guitar Hero and Battlefield 2, and it's a nice contrast.

    Guitar Hero does it pretty well, but they still make you play through the Career mode to open the basic playlist. So if I want to show a friend how cool Guitar Hero is and the full song list, I have to bring my memory card as well - otherwise he gets the first 5 songs and that's it. But the gameplay is fantastic and highly addictive.

    Battlefield 2 is good with unlockables. All classes are available at the start and you can gradually unlock more weapons for those classes, which are generally minor upgrades over the stock weapons. The gameplay suffers from the same problems as other online-only games - namely cheaters and the "Internet Fuckwad" theory.

    There's definately a balance, so hopefully there's not a new wave of games with no unlockables - they're fun and add a good deal of playtime to otherwise straightforward games.

  • We NEED levels! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adamofgreyskull ( 640712 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:25PM (#15483580)
    I remember back when I were a wee nipper. I'd say, "Just one more level mum!" and she'd begrudgingly say..."Ohh, okay...". He cites GTA. How do you think she would have reacted had I said, "Awww...can't I just whack one more skank mum!?" or "Can't I just waste 10 more cacodemons??".

    "Level" is a nice, conservative, bland word, it evokes no emotion. As soon as you start having to explain your progression through a game in terms of what you're actually doing...well then the ESRB win don't they, and your dirty little secret is out.
  • Heh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZorbaTHut ( 126196 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:25PM (#15483588) Homepage
    This demonstrates brilliantly that most people don't actually know what they want.

    Games could include everything from step 1. But then there's no sense of accomplishment. There's no sense of "oh man, I'm about to unlock/progress/complete". It's just a bunch of puzzles that you can ignore if you like. I've seen games released like this. They're not fun. Nobody plays them.

    Even the games he mentioned - Battlefield 2 and GTA - have a sense of progression. In Battlefield 2 you can get better at the game and better at defeating people - since it's competitive, this drive is a lot stronger than in singleplayer games. Not only that, but the game *does* let you unlock "new weapons" if you play enough. In GTA, completing missions occasionally unlocks new cars and abilities. In the latest GTA there's even "skill levels" that you gain through repeating actions!

    If he wants everything to be accessible, he should look for cheat codes or trainers. They exist for practically every game out there. But he'll be bored.
  • by Temsi ( 452609 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:31PM (#15483637) Journal
    I disagree.
    I buy a car game because they have screenshots and demos of a supercharged Camaro that sounds great and runs great. When I come home, I start the game, only to find out I have to spend the next 3 evenings working my way up, driving POS cars like a Ford Fiesta or a Honda, before I can touch the cars that made me want to get the game in the first place. By that time, the game has already gotten monotonous and in some cases outright boring.
    I get car games to drive cool cars. I've had enough experience with POS cars in real life, thank you. I don't need to do it when I want to "escape".
    Let me play the game with what sold me on the idea in the first place. Don't hold it over my head. Don't use it as a carrot to get me to stay playing something I don't really like that much, just to get to the part I want.
    The good thing about car games, is that they have a much longer lifespan than games that have storylines. For example, I'm still playing an old PC game called 1nsane, but Indigo Prophecy I only played once and I have no desire to play it again. So the cheap game with lots of playability has gotten hundreds if not thousands of hours of playtime from me, while the story driven game that probably cost 100 times as much, only managed 20 or so hours of play... because it was linear.
    I'll take a non-linear game over a linear one any day and twice on Sunday - because a non-linear actually CAN be played twice.
  • Fine line (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <[ten.lemmuhnhoj] [ta] [lemmuhj]> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:32PM (#15483639) Homepage
    I can understand his frustration - there have been games that I've never completed just because of the time and energy commitment to them.

    On the other hand, no challenge is usually no fun (see the complaints about "Kingdom Hearts 2" being too easy).

    So it's the balance that's the issue. Probably the best game that gets that "right" was "Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time". Challenging, but never felt impossible, plenty of side quests (mask trading, finding all of the golden spider-things, racing, etc) - but I never felt like I *had* to do the side quests to win - they were a truly added bonus.

    Too often, though, these "side quests" becomes necessary to beat the game it seems. I don't want to spend hours level grinding - I want to *play*, so if you have "extras" that I can work for - fine. Just don't *make* me do them if I don't want to.

    Kind of like watching "The Matrix". If I do my homework about mythology and the Bible, I'll get more out of it - but I shouldn't need a seminary degree just to enjoy the movie.
  • Re:Yeah... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by revlayle ( 964221 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:35PM (#15483658) Homepage
    apparently, i TOTALLY suck with sarcasm on slashdot

    i just hate using " ;) " all the time, however
  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:39PM (#15483694)
    There's a difference between playing a game and being forced to do stuff over and over. Take a racing game- I shouldn't have to beat tracks 1-3 with a speed record to be able to use car X- I should be able to use it from the get go. There might be a reason to keep it locked until you beat level 3 in a career mode with a storyline, but not in any of the other modes. Unlockables aren't about playing the game, its about making it a Skinner box so they can claim they offer X hours of gameplay when they really offer 1/3 or 1/4 of that. I want games to be honest about it, and just go on to make another game I might buy. I have better things to do in my life than unlock things, and if I have to unlock something to enjoy it my money is going to a company that doesn't make me jump through hoops.
  • skills (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hackwrench ( 573697 ) <> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:39PM (#15483700) Homepage Journal
    In those cases it would also be nice for the game to assess your weakness and indicate a mini game to improve that skill. Maybe you're taking the corners too tightly or breaking or accelerating at the wrong times or your timing is off in some other way. Games don't do enough awareness of your strengths and weakness and help you work on your weaknesses.
  • Re:Replay value (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduck@ m q d u c k . n et> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:41PM (#15483712)
    I have found that the most long term addictive games are the extremely simple, hack-and-slash games (like Diablo II or Halo). Games that are overly complex often have very little replay value, and I hate learning lots of different games, so I prefer games that have a lot of playability in the long term (I usually like games that can be played online for the same reason).

    I find the opposite. Compex games make you want to replay from the beginning to try it a different way. It usually makes the story interesting enough to want to replay/watch it. I've played Deus Ex a million times.
  • Re:Catch 22 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:43PM (#15483723)
    > Battlefield 2 is good with unlockables. All classes are available at the start and you can
    > gradually unlock more weapons for those classes, which are generally minor upgrades over the stock
    > weapons.

    If you've just recently played it then you probably don't know that it was a patch released in the last few months which majorly increased the speed and ease with which you can unlock weapons. It was much harder before then.

    > The gameplay suffers from the same problems as other online-only games - namely cheaters
    > and the "Internet Fuckwad" theory.

    Yeah, you're right there. There were three things that killed it for me (I was in a clan once and played daily, but haven't touched it for months now). One was the cheating, and the fact that Punkbuster is just a piece of shit that has plenty of downsides and no upside. One was the boring maps - after a few weeks you know which levels you like (in my case the city ones - a popular choice, apparantly, as I certainly never saw any `chinese/oil refinery only` servers). But finally was the shoddy way EA treats its customers. You're expected to pay for packs which add a few levels, and which should be free (in the opinion of most of the people I played with). They kept promising updates from BV and 1942, but all we got was some lame jap island which only satisfied jet pilots. After a while you get tired of subsidising (via paying for a server) cheats, idiots and teamkillers and hoping you'll have enough people playing to make it fun.

  • Handholding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HunterZ ( 20035 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:47PM (#15483750) Journal
    A related aspect of modern games frustrates me even more: hand-holding. It seems like the vast majority of new games (especially console games) force you to play through a less-than-fully-interactive tutorial section of the game before letting you get to the meat of it. To make things worse, immersion is often broken when in-game characters tell you to "press the square button" to do something.

    The best games are those which throw you into the midst of things and let you figure out how to play (if the game is too complex to be learned in this fashion - especially if it's a console game - then the control scheme is probably overly-complex). Usually this means that the beginning areas of the game are a bit more forgiving (think of the early levels of the original Starcraft/Warcraft, Fallout, or Doom games). Killing rats for the first 30 minutes is fine, but having to read/listen to a whole bunch of instructions on how to play, followed by being allowed only a single action before again being given instruction is annoying. I've found it particularly hard to immerse myself in Japanese tactical RPGs for this reason - the only ones I have ever enjoyed are Shining Force 1 and 2 on the Sega Genesis.
  • Re:Progression (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:47PM (#15483751)
    Now, the problem in this specific example, is if you buy the racing game only to play with your buddies.

    The Monkey Ball games on the Gamecube are an absolute classic example of your statement. Personally, I'm not interested in working through all the games within Monkey Ball as a single player in order to accumulate enough points to unlock the additional games - but the multiplayer games are *truly wonderful* when there's 3 or 4 of you (generally slightly drunk) clustered around the TV playing Monkey Golf, Monkey Fight or Monkey Glider. Unfortunately, additional games like the Monkey Pool game are locked out to multiplayer games until you've made up the points.

  • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:56PM (#15483805)
    Then why have the locked content at all if you just have the extra step to look on the internet to find and use cheat codes to unlock it?

    How is that better than having all the content open and you choose what to play when you want?
  • Re:WTF (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cliffski ( 65094 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @06:58PM (#15483822) Homepage
    no, the clues in the title. Hes a gamer WITH A JOB. He wants to enjoy the wole game without dedicating his life to it. It's a fair point. Nobody minds there being an uber-difficult level for the hardcore, but people like to think they can get the full enjoyment from a game without it having to take over their life first. With this in mind, difficulty levels are preferable to unlockables.
  • How about providing your customers with BOTH options? This isn't exactly rocket science.

    You buy a DVD for a movie, you can skip chapters all you want - or you can watch the behind the scenes spoilers, etc all you want.

    Games, for all of their supposed 'non-linear' capabilities, force us to go from level 1 through level 5000 one, by one, by one...

    This might be the way that YOU want to play the game, but designers should provide consumers with the option to choose.

    Just because a game lets you unlock everything if you should so choose, does this make it less valuable or a 'rip off'? We, the game playing public, who, I might add pay publishers & developer salaries, should have the option to choose what content we have access to, what we see etc.

    Note that this doesn't necessarily preclude having easter eggs or secret content that only a hard-core junkie that plays the game & searches every single corner & clicks on every pixel of the screen would find, but at least lets me get my $60 bux worth of entertainment out of a game...
  • Re:Mario (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @07:35PM (#15484031)
    I seem to remember warp pipes. Also there was the Star Road in Super Mario World. Oh and Bowser's backdoor.

    All of which required you to WORK to "unlock" them. You had to locate the secret exits, work out the puzzles. You had to press the button before you were rewarded with a pellet.

    It's not as if you get presented with a Level Select screen as soon as you power on the game for the first time ever. Or a "Skip the game, show me the ending sequence" menu option.
  • Elite and Revs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @07:36PM (#15484037) Homepage Journal
    Two fairly early, but very potent and very powerful games. Revs has nothing that was unlockable, but the sheer challenge of it made the game good for a few months. Elite had two "secret missions", but those really didn't contribute much to the gameplay. The amazing difficulty of reaching that tech 1 anarchy when smuggling goods, or of being slammed by Thargons before being able to afford the military beam lasers... That game was good for a year or more, in that incarnation. There were two sequels, and an Open Source clone. (Several other open source clones were written, but vanished for one reason or another.)

    To me, questions raised by these two games are not really answered by the modern practice of having almost everything secret in ways that cannot be logically figured out or logically encountered. Most of the time, people will get bored with looking for illogical stuff. If the game needs it, the player will lose interest. If the game doesn't need it, the player won't bother. Either that, or they wait for the information to be published on the Internet. Regardless, the secrets aren't adding anything and actually detract from things.

    To me, logical sequencing and obviously in-character progressions are fine - even if they are secret. The secret nature isn't the important bit, though. They fit in that universe, they belong there, they make sense there, and they add to the feel of being there. It doesn't disrupt the flow - you aren't constantly switching between "playing" and "hitting things at random". I don't see any problem with such features and would expect them in many types of game. If these are a problem for the original article author, then we're definitely differing on what makes a game a game.

    Another example from Way Back When - Level 9's text-based adventure games. These usually had one or more segments that were "massive", at least for the user. What they involved was a set of rooms that were re-used repeatedly, producing the illusion of a near-infinite space. They used some combination of colours and/or numbers to represent where in this virtual space you were. Once you realized that the space itself was a puzzle, it became fun to figure out how the system worked and, from that, infer where any secret exits would logically be. This fit with the dynamics of the game, so it just flowed naturally.

    If I'm emphasising flow, it's because I believe this to be the characteristic of not only a good game, but also of a good strategy in a good game. To me, the number of secrets, the level of thought required, etc, are side issues. They alter the flavour of the game, but that's not what makes it good. Unlocking the logic of the game should be the chief puzzle, and once that has been conquered, the rest should largely follow.

    The old ladders-style games had a very simple logic. Once you understood the timings, you didn't automatically master the game. That took practice, and each progressive level required greater precision. When this was done well, it kept the game interesting, because understanding was not the same as solving. It wasn't just ladders games that did this. The nastiest game in history has to be Firebird's Firetrack. It was a scrolling shoot-em-up that was FAST. After a game, you'd have to sit for several minutes until the walls stopped moving, and that was just the first level. Subsequent ones were faster and deadlier. Thinking wasn't an option and reflexes were too slow. If it actually had anything more to it than this, it could easily have thrashed anything else out at the time.

    This is not to say that all older games were good. There was plenty of **** out there. Far TOO much. It's also not to say that no new games have this quality to them, but the percentage is far too low. There's no real complexity or challenge to many of them. Such games are difficult because they're obscure and not because of a titanic struggle for supremecy between coders and gamers.

    I believe it would be easy enough to test t

  • Re:Bad attitude (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @07:52PM (#15484127)
    Unlockables are exactly the opposite for me. I often go through a game once just playing the basics (like FFX-2) and then go back and start over trying to get "everything" in the game, because its got replayability and there's a secondary challenge now. Then, having failed to do that the second time through, I'll try it a third.

    What has *that* to do with unlockables? The fact that you CAN go back and collect all the coins, or stars, or clear out every dungeon and get your completion score to 100% doesn't bother anybody. If someone likes that sort of exploration/replay/whatever style of play, that's fine. The reward is seeing that high score, or 100% complete, or whatever.

    The problem is when you HAVE to do that in order to access other major parts of the game.

    If the unlockables were simply "even harder" like having to beat it on hard before you can do it in impossible, or you unlock races against Porsche GTs where you have a Toyota corolla, or you have to run a time trial with even less time -- those aren't bad unlockables.

    The problem, to make an extreme example, is when you aren't allowed to use the Porsche GT until you've beaten the game driving stick without any paint scratches. And then to use the Ferrari Enzo you have to beat the entire game AGAIN, with the Porsche GT driving stick without any scratches, with the ebrake on.

    And -then- with the enzo you can finally make the jumps required to unlock the UFO, VW miniwan, cement truck, and the bonus science fiction space-themed track.

    Those fun features really shouldn't be available only to people who pissed away an entire summer on the game (and those who cheat).

  • by RubberChainsaw ( 669667 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @07:52PM (#15484128)
    You are not alone in this. What you are describing is called Auto-Dynamic Difficulty (ADD). Although I suggest searching for "dynamic difficulty", since ADD is likely to get lots of irrelevant results.

    Lots of game developers have worked with the feature of dynamic difficulty. Max Payne (released 2001) was the first game that prominently featured dynamic difficulty. Max Payne had enemies that would adjust their aim to be better or worse, depending on your health and hit ratio. If you were able to get through a section of a level without taking many hits, or using many health-kits, you would find less health kits at the next check point, and the enemies would be scoring more powerful blows. The end result was that the game played very smoothly. Both myself (an avid gamer) and my father (a horrible gamer) were able to play through the default setting of Max Payne and say that we enjoyed it.

    Racing games have had dynamic difficulty for quite a long time. Ever wonder how enemy cars were always able to catch up to you when you were in first place, but no matter how horrible you played, you could always catch up to them for a great photo finish? Thats the dynamic difficulty in action.

    Now, there are some very bad examples of dynamic difficulty, too. In the game Crimson Skies, the player is given the option to skip a scenario entirely after failing it a certain amount of times. Thats probably a nice addition, but its not a very good way of adjusting the difficulty. The player knows that he is unable to leap a hurdle, and the game just lets him skip the hurdle entirely. The player is missing content by skipping the level. Some people may find that eases the frustration of being unable to beat a level, but its a horrible way of making the game "easier". The goal of a game is to enjoy the gameplay, not rush to the end. Skipping levels does help a player get closer to the end, but the missed gameplay can never be made up.

    Unfortunately few large developers take ADD implementations to heart. SiN episodes (recently reviewed on /.) features dynamic difficulty in the same fashion that Max Payne did. Oblivion tried a dynamic difficulty feature and failed horribly. The game actually became much more difficult the more you played it. That is a game where I wish I could turn the feature off. Many mods were created to adjust and try to eliminate Oblivion's dynamic difficulty.

    The only examples of well-implemented dynamic difficulty that I know of are limited to first person shooters and role playing games. I don't know of any platformer, strategy or action game that provides dynamic difficulty.

  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:14PM (#15484230) Homepage
    I've always liked how some games let you recharge your mana / up your level / etc between tries. If you fail at something after a few tries, you can charge up a usage of a supermeteo and just obliterate whatever stands in your way.

    These negative feedback systems are absolutely key to getting a game balanced for a diverse skill group. Final Fantasy Legends III on the game boy would let you return to life with 1/2 of the levels you had earned since the last save point, so that you were set back a little but you would be facing the boss a much stronger party. Some racing games let you keep your powerups, or give you more. Arcade games frequently give you big guns and nitro boosts for continuing. An evil lure, certainly, but also an effective balance. Truxton gave the player three super bombs per continue (life?), thus having the effect that if you died somewhere you could simply obliterate that boss and move on (in multiplayer).

    I love negative feedback systems, and would like to see more of them in games.
  • Re:But wait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swerk ( 675797 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:36PM (#15484317) Journal
    I'll agree wholeheartedly with that. Now that I have something resembling a life, I can't pour too much time into games, at least not ones my wife doesn't find interesting. :^)

    But the article whines about not getting to see everything a game has to offer, which is a little bit different. Yes, the racing game that refuses to give you the cool cars until you finish first in every cup is artificially making itself "longer", to the detriment of those of us who can't pour that much time into it. But should I be able to tap in some code buttons and immediately be able to jump into all the hidden, secret levels of a platformer? Or for that matter, should I be able to say, "ok, I've played this adventure game for 5 minutes, give me everything and stick me at the final boss battle"?

    Ironically, the article rips on the notion of games being measured in hours, which is absolutely valid. Pac-man has great gameplay but it's nonsensical to talk about how "long" it is. But it's by that same measure that the author would like to be able to "have access to everything". With a book, you can skip to the last chapter if you really want to, but that's neither the way the author would want you to read it nor the best way to experience it. In a video game, the magic is not in the linear literary work but in the "live", interactive experience. The progression of a game itself is not the storyline it may or may not contain, but that by the time you finish it (if it even has an ending), you're interacting on a relatively deep level. The play itself is the progress, not which map you get to see or what car you drive. And that kind of progress doesn't have a proper analog if we talk about flipping to the last chapter of a book. It's an experience, which really doesn't map well to "let me have it all right now".

    I've played through each of the Metal Gear Solid games a few times. The story is always the same (with some minor branches depending on the player's actions), but it's a different experience every time. At first, I was just awful at playing the game, was lucky to walk ten yards without getting caught, was just terrible at battles, and used the "Very Easy" which let me get quite a bit out of the game anyway. Now I play through on "Hard" with the option that if I'm spotted, it's game over. Totally different gaming experience. I know all the bosses, I've seen all the maps (except maybe some very tricky secret spots, which I think is great, no game should have to disclose everything) but the game goes on because I can play it differently now. It's a more complex game by miles and miles than Donkey Kong and its four repeating levels, but growing into the gameplay works exactly the same way.

    Maybe the problem is that so many games don't provide good compromises like that. Every game probably should have some manner of easy mode that lets you experience basically everything the game has to offer, if only on a shallow level. Once the player is more familiar with a game and its mechanics, that's when the real game progress is happening, but we've been trained to think of games in terms of "hours" and "endings", so maybe more developers need to throw us a bone. Ikaruga (great game) could really use an infinite-lives mode to let sucky players get to the end, because getting to the end isn't the point, learning to chain kills and navigate swarms of obstacles artfully is the point. It in fact has such an infinite-lives mode, but you have to play the game for X number of hours before you have access to it. The requirement is actually not totally unfair if I remember right, but it's definitely higher than it should be. For those of us who want to reach the end, let us. If that's what it takes to hook us on the gameplay and get us really into it, it will be worth any compromises a cheap-way-through makes to a game.
  • by lokedhs ( 672255 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @08:41PM (#15484335)
    When playing through one of those mindless FPS games where you start with a small hand gun and end up with massive rocket launchers, I was thinking that current games has it all backwards.

    Compare to the movies where the hero usually has all the good stuff in the beginning and then ends up in more and more difficult situations, usually with less and less weapons.

    How about creating a game where you get all the weapons in the end, but extra ammo is so rare that have less and less weapons as you progress through the game. This would add another dimension to the game since you will have to conserve your ammo.

    It would also help out with some other problems that these games suffer from:

    In most games today, the player gets better and better at playing the game throughout the game since he's getting more practice. He's also gettin gbetter and better weapons which means that the game designers have to come up with ridiculously powerful enemies at the end of the game. Often that is no enough but they also have to add ridiculous numbers of these enemies. As someone who would prefer a little realism in his games, this is something I really don't like.

    Now, imagine if instead the difficulty only went up slightly but your means of defeating these ememies were reduced more and more as you rpogressed through the game. Not only would you be able to play with all the cool weapons right from the start, but you would also have more challenging game play.

    I hope there are some games designers that would pick up on this idea, since I feel that it solves not only the problem of locked weapons, but also makes the games more realistic and prevents the need to add too powerful enemies.

  • Re:But wait (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:08PM (#15484425)
    When you read a book, do you only read the last chapter because you now "have a more full life" ? Do you fast forward movies ?

    This "I now have a life" excuse is bullshit. The plain truth is as people get older, their abilities drop. I'm now 37. I know I'm less intelligent than when I was 20 (it takes a lot more time to learn and I had more difficulties solving logic problems). I know my reflexes are not what they used to be. I still run, but I have to be carefull because of my knees and I don't run as fast as before.

    My emotions are changing also. I am now more selfish than before and I view myself with more importance than before.

    Your problem is not that you don't have the time to play a game, after all there is no time limit and you don't have to finnish a game in a week. You also don't have to play 50 different games a year. If you have to play 30 hours to finnish a game, whether you play those 30 hours in three days or in two months doesn't change the game. Your problem is, as you get older, you are not as good as before (both intellectually and physically), but, also as you get older, you become full of yourself so you find lame excuses.
  • Totally Agree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pico303 ( 187769 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:17PM (#15484450)
    I hope the video game companies, especially the onces that make racing-oriented games (cars, boats, motorcycles, etc.) are listening to all these comments! I will not buy another Gran Turismo or Burnout game unless either (a) there are no locks on the vehicles or maps--at least in multiplayer mode, or (b) there are available cheat codes I can use to unlock everything. It's just a total pain in the ass waste of time when my daughter and I just want to race a few laps together. I know Gran Turismo 4 has more than five or six levels, but I've never seen them. Same goes for the cars. I just don't have the time to race through a bunch of stupid, boring races, proving that I can make a drift turn in 3.5 seconds to beat a 4 second clock with a joystick.

    Doesn't it make more sense if they leave everything unlocked in the multiplayer or practice mode, then let you unlock them during gameplay? At least you'll get a taste of what's out there if you're into the competition. If you're not, you can still play all the cool cars. This arbitrary lockdown is the stupidest idea they ever came up with. I have absolutely no impetus to play Gran Turismo to unlock more cars or tracks, 'cause I don't know what the hell they are, or how many there might be!

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:26PM (#15484480)
    You have to earn your expertise in various disciplines, but the enemies level with you, so you can attack any quest you like at the very start of the game. I closed my first Oblivion gate at level 3. I don't have to wander around and fight my way to level 99 to get into the really intyeresting areas. And the nonlinearity of everything outside the main quest is perfect for sitting dows and doing a quick quest when time permits. And you can save anywhere instead of having to play 20 minutes past where you intended to get to that frickin save point.
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @09:46PM (#15484573) Journal
    It sounds like the upcoming Red Steel for the Wii has something like that, although the focus isn't on resource deprivation from the sounds of it so much as attaining greater elegance over time.

    I expect this will bother a lot of people, that the perceived power level of the weapons will go down over time, but as the kind of person who had a hard time running anything other than a sniper through the Fallouts, I'm looking forward to it. Doing a lot with a little is more fun than spraying things down.

    That said, I agree with the sibling post about ammo deprivation. I Code: Veronica for my Dreamcast and I'm glad I bought it used at $10, because I can't stand it. I think I'd have been ok with it if the movement scheme wasn't complete garbage (I don't give a rat's ass if it's "traditional", I've been gaming for over 20 years now and that's one of the least intuitive control schemes ever, completely wrecking the immersion), but combining that with ammo handed out begrudgingly was just too much. I don't mind hard games themselves, I've played a lot, but I hate it when I feel like the mechanics themselves are out to get me and half the challenge lies in a crappy control scheme.
  • Re:WTF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Indras ( 515472 ) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @10:17PM (#15484699)
    no, the clues in the title. Hes a gamer WITH A JOB. He wants to enjoy the wole game without dedicating his life to it. It's a fair point. Nobody minds there being an uber-difficult level for the hardcore, but people like to think they can get the full enjoyment from a game without it having to take over their life first. With this in mind, difficulty levels are preferable to unlockables.

    I am a gamer, with a job. I work 40-50 hours a week. I have a pregnant wife. She's rather demanding (and will proudly admit it).

    I admit I don't have the time to sit down and unlock all the content in some of my games now. I've been playing FFTA for many hours, and I'm quite sure I'll never get to the Corrupt Judge Missions.

    But can I honestly say I didn't get my money's worth out of the game? Heck no! It's probably the best GBA game I've ever purchased. Followed closely by Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, and FFIV Advance (both have unlockable content).

    Now when you say that difficulty levels are preferable to unlockables, it really makes no sense. I'm sure you'd admit that you would feel cheated if you replayed your game on a higher difficulty level and got no extra content for doing it. You'd be pissed if you got the same ending video, or no new cars to race on the track, etc. That's unlockable content.

    So when you say he wants to "enjoy the whole game without dedicating his life to it," he's just going to have to accept the fact that some content is only there as a reward for those who dedicate their life to the game. It's not part of the main game experience.

    To simplify: you can't have unlockable content without difficulty levels or challenges, since it would just be part of the main game and therefore not "locked," and you can't have difficulty levels without unlockable content, your else you would feel cheated for trying so hard for nothing.

    If you're whining because you can't play all of the characters latest Mortal Kombat game because it's too hard to unlock all of the characters, then maybe you just need to accept the fact that those characters weren't put in the game for gamers like you.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guisar ( 69737 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:24AM (#15485123) Homepage
    The ideal is to be able to use what you've paid for. I play Battlefield 2 quite a bit- I like playing it despite EA's best attempts to fuck it up (they are talented at that at least). However, EA has seen fit to have layer upon layer of unlocks with points that merely discourage actually playing the game- you feel you are racing towards some goal however meaningless it may be instead of just enjoying yourself. Image buying a CD and then finding you could only play 1 song until you expressed the appropriate homage to the artist or having your DVD downgraded if you gave it a negative review. I see all of these phenom as part of the same attempt to lower our expectations. Open - sourced based games, developed by users are really the only answer. If only if this were economically feasible....
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @12:38AM (#15485168) Homepage
    He has some points.

    1. No genre is more crap-flooded and treadmilly than MMPORPG's. Those are real work. Nobody who plays these will argue that they don't need more fun stuff to do and less work.

    2. We need more 10 hour games. The last RPG I had time to beat was Xenogears, and that lasted about 70 hours. It was a great game (until they ran out of money), but it needed to be a lot shorter to fit in a real lifestyle. If an industry guy like me can't find time to play games through to the end, who will?

    3. Mechanics need to be integrated with worldspace better. Why does killing 3,000k harmless forest deers make you level 19 in Wow? Why does Samus go "in bikini" if you beat the game in under an hour? He brings up GTA, which is really the perfect example. GTA has extensive scripting and conditioning, but that's all invisible to the player.

    4. Our industry has blown pacing in quite a few high-profile titles recently. And that is a real problem. Doom 3 and Half Life 2 had levels that were far too long. They artificially threw the player across the world to walk back, just to throw them somewhere else. They needed a smaller, tighter experience, but overbuilt to the point of tedium. You know my opinion on most MMPORPG's.

    Of course, I also think the article poster is a little lost. Guild Wars? You can create a max level character the first time you play the game. Maxing a character manually takes about 8 hours, with no treadmilling.
  • Re:But wait (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Das Modell ( 969371 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:41AM (#15485620)
    The problem is that once you get older, and start having more of a full life, you just don't have the time to play a game for several hours, trying to unlock certain things...

    Like many other hobbies, gaming is a time consuming hobby that requires time and effort. That's how it has always been. I don't think games should be dumbed down just because someone chose to get a wife and kids and therefore lacks the time to play. If gaming is so important to you, don't get a family. If family is more important, then don't complain. It's your choice. I'm not going to get a family because I like to spend time on my hobbies, whether it's video games, Judo or staring at a wall for six hours.

    Personally, I like unlocking and achieving things. It's satisfying. I feel satisfied that I have unlocked everything there is in Resident Evil 4, or that I've finished every mission of Hitman: Blood Money on the highest difficulty while attaining the highest rank. On the other hand, I may also want to play an hour of Counter-Strike where a game lasts about 30 minutes and then everything is reset.
  • by adamgolding ( 871654 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:27AM (#15485712)
    In Psychology this is called "Justification of Effort."

    In one study, one group of subjects was paid ~$10 to push a button repeatedly for ~20 mins. Another group was paid ~$20 to push the button for the same amount of time. Both groups were then asked how 'enjoyable' the button-pressing was. The group that was paid less rated the activity as more enjoyable. (The idea is that they think "Why was i pressing this button? i wasn't paid well, so it must have been enjoyable!)
  • Re:Bingo... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by all_the_names_are_ta ( 957291 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @04:51AM (#15485769)
    First up, great post. I like a lot of your ideas. I'd like to respond to the trial-by-boredom thing in MMORPGs though: There is a reason why these games are like that - investment. If you've spent 12 hours crafting the Mace of Exsanguination, no matter how boring it was, you feel invested in the game because you've made a sacrifice. The more time you invest, the more reason you have to keep playing because otherwise it would all be in vain.
  • Extortion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 583400 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @05:33AM (#15485864) Homepage
    The major problem is not that you have to work to unlock games. This is not new : I remember many games in the 90's where you already had this.

    The major difference is that YOU NOW HAVE TO PAY TO UNLOCK the game you already bought if you want to bypass the system. Previously, there always was cheat codes that you could find on the Internet or in game magazines. Now, you have to call a costly support phone number to get unlocking codes !!!

    Examples of such extortions: Colin McRae 04 (the game, not the man), TOCA...
  • Level balance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @07:28AM (#15486153) Homepage
    Level balancing is certainly an issue here. Things like Driver, which required you to complete a (quite difficult) intro course before you were allowed anywhere near the missions - you know what, I just want to play the game. I'll learn the controls in my own time as and when I need to.

    I know at least three children (not mine) that played the game and gave up before they even got to the first mission - they ended up just playing the free play mode all the time. I could complete 90% of the missions without having to even look at the manual, learn the controls or anything else - the other 10% I would learn how to get past when I needed to - don't make me have to perfect every maneouvure before I can play Mission 1 - Get from A to B.

    "Unlocking" isn't a bad thing, unless it's done badly. To follow with the same example, once you'd completed that Driver training course, the next 5 or so missions were trivial to complete. The rest provided minor challenges to help you improve. However, the last mission was utterly impossible and totally out of proportion to the rest of the game. I gave up on the last mission after 50 or 60 attempts without even coming close, yet had walked the rest of the game.

    Stuff that's "unlocked" by convoluted means (i.e. completing the training course on Driver, finding a secret area, etc.) should NEVER be required to complete the game. You should be able to play front-to-back without having to find a single secret - Doom, Quake, Mario Bros., all the classics follow this pattern. A secret should be just that - something there for someone's who's looking that's not going to hinder someone who's not. Bonus points, extra lives, new worlds are rewards for finding a secret - they will make it easier or more fun to play and replay the game but should NEVER be required to get to the end.

    Games designers are not in it to "kill" the player at every opportunity, it's too easy. Players also get bored if they are doing simple, repetitive tasks over and over again. Provide challenge but alway show a glimpse that it's do-able. You can make that jump if you had used THAT platform, you can see the key on the other side but how do you get there, if you'd found that secret power-up that hard bit wouldn't be quite so hard.

    Balance is the HARDEST thing in any game to get right. Examples of some that "got it wrong" would include:


    Black & White (let's make a big fuss about having a creature and how to use him and then take him away from the player almost immediately).

    Serious Sam (point, shoot, wait for things to die)

    Incoming (See Serious Sam)
  • Re:Elite and Revs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by orac2 ( 88688 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:21AM (#15487491)
    Yes, the original Elite rocked, although the post Ian-Bell sequels were disappointing (interestingly enough for the exact same reason Quake wasn't as much fun as Doom II. The later game had prettier graphics, but failed to deliver the bursts of frenetic action that could be found in the orginal. Finishing up a massive dogfight in Elite, with no missiles, no shields, no energy bomb left, and a hull a budgie's fart away from failure, while you crusie through the debris field of your last opponent, rotating smoothly to capture his cargo pod full of alien goods in one motion--that was something. Ian Bell has a great page [] about the original Elite BTW, including source code.) But only a year of game play? :)My best friend and I clocked up about two and a half years on his C64: he'd man the joystick (a Boss 2-axis microswitch stick, tweaked for maximum sensitivity. The best thing about it was that the handle rotated, so for rear or side laser action, he'd rotate the base appropriately.) I manned the keyboard: missiles, speed, navigation. Lot of fun. The hidden stuff was fun, especially the 'trumbles', but the game was still excellent without it: a little secret stuff goes a long way. Today, I won't even look at a Gran Turismo game, because I have better things to do than spend about as much time getting a particular fake license as it would take to get a real one. Even stuff like Halo 2 can be a pain, because I don't have hours to find and practice all the superjumps, or learn to crouch jump on a particular pixel-wide ledge to get out of the geometry.
  • Two Reasons... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rAiNsT0rm ( 877553 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @11:29AM (#15487579) Homepage
    Negative reinforcement and artificialy extending gameplay.

    Negative reinforcement has been proven time and time again to attract and hold humans, slot machines are the prime example here. And everyone can easily see the artificial expansion of gameplay time.

    The thing is that almost all of the best games of all time do not employ these tactics, or if they do they are ansilary. In Katamari Damacy you have the same game in the beginning as at the end, just different scale. In God of War you are slicing enemies from the first second and the first boss battle is just as badass as the last. The entire game is rewarding, regardless of your level in the game and it doesn't need to be extendedby limiting power to the player and slowly allowing the player to gain more powerful weapons to fight more powerful enemies which just results in the same gameplay throughout the entire game.

    There is nothing more annoying than to fight the entire game with a pickle fork only to get the flaming onyx sword of awesomeness at the very end of the game so that you get to use it for 12 seconds and then the game is over.

    This is where the Wii should be able to finally end a lot of this horse shit. When developers don't have to pad their games to 20 hours of gameplay to make them "worth" $40-60, and instead make the entire game fun at maybe 5-10 hours for $10-25. I know what I would pick.

  • Re:But wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the phantom ( 107624 ) * on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @02:31PM (#15489076) Homepage
    Someone once said that it only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend