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Dumbing Up Gaming

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kempez 29th May 2008, 11:43 Quote
Agreed, I get totally bored of dumbed down games and always feel there's something missing from it - you're right; that something is a bit of intellectual challenge
Panos 29th May 2008, 12:01 Quote
Amen. Intelligent games exists but they do not receive much attention as the brain dump ones.
Look for example EVE Online.
They even have hired a real Economist and they are using the game mechanics for University studies. If you read comments on some websites people complain is too complicated and they are trying to prohibit other to try. Many users who play it, still cannot look beyond the very basic. But it's only bit far from real mechanics (the economy/market). Darkfall Online, same concept in fantasy area when eventualy comes out.

I would love Spore too, especialy if/when we actually need a degree in Biology to make proper living species. Time to learn something new.

Also there Microsoft funded Robotic Challenges. You have to overcome some robotic challenges and you learn how to programm robots (from simple roaming into a maze, to visual and audio process) using real programming tools and skills, which will be required soon from the real market.

But what you hear about all the time? About WoW, Second Life, The Sims and similar stupid games which only purpose is put the brain to sleep.
Cobalt 29th May 2008, 12:04 Quote
Considering that the aim of the protein folding game is to get as many people playing it as possible in order to speed up computing tasks, it would be a folly to market that towards a tiny minority of gamers. Unless you don't expect to make a profit or you are on a very tight budget then these type of games will never be major successes because even the people who could play them often wouldn't want to. Even as a physics student I'm not particularly interested in a game that simulates a particle detector.

Unless you are a indie dev who isn't worried about profit then these tiny demographics aren't significant enough to warrant the costs which you mentioned. So big studios aren't going to making these games regardless. You can afford to make them, which is great, so go do it. Indie devs have a history of producing games which are not only innovative but also challenging and the economics work in their favour here. They can still profit from a small player base and if the concept is popular then it makes even more money.

I'd point out that even the simplified protein folding game isn't enjoying the popularity that EA or Ubisoft would consider a success.
g3n3tiX 29th May 2008, 12:17 Quote
I completely agree with the article.
Nice one.
liratheal 29th May 2008, 12:25 Quote
Considering the most complicated puzzles in games these days are, and I quote Yahtzee, "Use gun on man", I'd be up for something that made me think.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Panos

They even have hired a real Economist and they are using the game mechanics for University studies. If you read comments on some websites people complain is too complicated and they are trying to prohibit other to try. Many users who play it, still cannot look beyond the very basic. But it's only bit far from real mechanics (the economy/market).

I think that is part of the attraction of Eve, the fact that I've spent weeks reading about it and still haven't really touched on it is really rewarding when I get things right. I'd venture a guess at that being similar for other Eve players.
HyBry 29th May 2008, 12:28 Quote
I so agree with this..
OK I like some of the mindless games like Counter Strike, but at the same time I love Half life series to some extent.. it has some puzzles in it and it is not completely mindless...

I think one of the best example of dumbing a game down is Rainbow Six series.. the first ones were so much better and with more tactics and planning to it rather then just run and gun...
CozaMcCoza 29th May 2008, 12:44 Quote
Quote:
I don't care if you need a degree in biology to play the game because there are a lot of people with degrees in biology. Sell just to them, it's still viable.

I completely disagree. A game is something that shouldn't be exclusive to a certain group of people and designing it so that it is is will only make sales limited. This makes no business sense at all.

Yes some games are dumbed down, but not all. If you are so concerned about this then don't buy the dumbed down games! But at the same time you can't expect them to make a game specialised to your own area of expertise. There is a balance to what can be made economically viable and attractive to the masses.
Genestarwind 29th May 2008, 12:50 Quote
totally agree. Yet again we get back to the 'is money evil' debate. we dont see these games anymore because companies want dev to widen the scope to maximise the potential demographic to increase profit. All i say is thank god for indie dev guys who do things because they think its a cool idea.

Mr Jackson pointing out what we all know:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCPlCEguT8g&eurl=http://www.steknows.com/?q=node/26

legendary advert.
sotu1 29th May 2008, 12:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CozaMcCoza
Quote:
I don't care if you need a degree in biology to play the game because there are a lot of people with degrees in biology. Sell just to them, it's still viable.

I completely disagree. A game is something that shouldn't be exclusive to a certain group of people and designing it so that it is is will only make sales limited. This makes no business sense at all.

Yes some games are dumbed down, but not all. If you are so concerned about this then don't buy the dumbed down games! But at the same time you can't expect them to make a game specialised to your own area of expertise. There is a balance to what can be made economically viable and attractive to the masses.

i'm with coza. i just think it's too idealistic too plain and simple and doesn't factor in all the complexities. at the end of the day, sales do matter. or you go bust. simple as. i don't think you can ask quite so much out of your wider game audience and you'll end up hitting a very niche audience. not all of us have the time to put into studying french or whatever.

the way i see it, i play games to unwind. i don't want to go home and play a game to tax my brain. i wanna go home and blow sh*t up. by that token, i think you'd be targetting mostly pc audiences. consoles are really designed for pick up and play and are comparatively rudimentary (pc games being dumbed down for the sake of the console generation).

in fact, this is a strong argument against this article. why are games like deus ex 2 dumbed down for consoles?

having said all this, give it a go, i fully encourage the exploration of new games genres/styles and all the rest of it. heck, if it works i'll be the first to say i'm wrong, well done, your massively intellectual game which requires a Phd in astrphysics is astounding. shame i can't get past level one.
pimlicosound 29th May 2008, 13:10 Quote
An intelligent game doesn't necessarily need to rely on specialist knowledge. A game can be intelligent and relatively accessible by relying on tasks based on universal concepts like maths, logic and deduction, which could play out, for example, in a mystery or crime game - like the forensic bits of "Condemned" but with brains.

Star Wars: KOTOR did quite well a couple of times with some impressive logic puzzles. KOTOR2 even used maths problems as the basis for some of the computer hacking. The games were very accessible, on the whole, but there were occasional bonuses to reward a bit of intelligence on the player's part.
Computer Gremlin 29th May 2008, 13:15 Quote
The dumbing down of games is starting to effect first-person shooters as well. Adding economy and social etiquette helps with online games but when developers start ignoring basic physics with firearms the challenge of firing guns and actually managing to hit something is taken away. Bring back the realism to first-person shooters and people will start respecting the game beyond the shiny guns.

Every time I see a game where you plunk a scope on a gun and it shoots exactly what it is pointed at every time I get very angry. It took thirty shots and an afternoon at the range to get my scope sighted in on my Marlin and unless scopes are matched with ammo every shot will miss regardless of how much stuff is attached to the gun.

Recently I purchased a shotgun and the spread of 4BK shot in Doom 3 is completely unrealistic. Normally this ammo spreads about three inches at 21 yards (63 feet) with an improved choke. Unless the barrel of the shotgun in Doom 3 is defective and three inches long why it have a useless range of ten feet?

Sorry for the rant but if game developers want realism make the weapons fire as they would at a shooting range. If they can model a palm tree to sway in the wind, create real-time shadows and render lush environments then why do the guns get so little attention?
[PUNK] crompers 29th May 2008, 13:23 Quote
why not compare the industry to other media i.e. when was the last time you watched a genuinely intelligent, thought provoking prime time tv show?

whilst i accept that there are such television programmes they are hardly considered mainstream very often. the games industry is just not yet mature enough to have a wide enough audience to justify the production costs of hundreds of niche titles appealing to a small demographic.
kempez 29th May 2008, 13:26 Quote
I don't think we need hundreds, but one or two intellectually stimulating, yet entertaining games would be nice - although not necessarily totally specialised on one area
WildThing 29th May 2008, 13:31 Quote
Very intersting read, especially what was said about that game "Hacker". Being a bit of a linguist myself, I like the idea of having to learn a bit of a language to progress through the game. Though perhaps games like that should have an option to turn that feature off and on? Afterall, there are times when I like to play to unwind, much like sotu1 said.
[PUNK] crompers 29th May 2008, 13:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildThing
Very intersting read, especially what was said about that game "Hacker". Being a bit of a linguist myself, I like the idea of having to learn a bit of a language to progress through the game. Though perhaps games like that should have an option to turn that feature off and on? Afterall, there are times when I like to play to unwind, much like sotu1 said.

thats in interesting concept, being able to turn features off if they dont appeal to you.

i think i read that the new alone in the dark will have puzzle areas that can be skipped so that pretty much anyone who plays the game can complete it, but those who enjoy the challenge have it there
UncertainGod 29th May 2008, 13:46 Quote
Very good article. This is one of the main reason why I don't understand people who thought Bioshock was a good game. It was a superb semi-interactive film but there was no game left to play, absolutely no challenge at all.

Bring back the likes of Supremacy, Syndicate, Hacker, Populous and even the fun games still held challenge like Lemmings, Cannon Fodder, Speedball 2.

We haven't had a single challenging mainstream game in at least five years.
Dr. Strangelove 29th May 2008, 14:02 Quote
Quote:
Selling just to biochemists won't cut it any more, you need to aim at the wider audience
There are more of us than you think ..... ;)

Anyway I agree with this article think it would be great to make games where the difficulty lvl is not just decided by how fast you are with your mouse.
adamc 29th May 2008, 14:17 Quote
is this a natural extension for the 'hardcore' gamer? I'd certainly like to see this!
naokaji 29th May 2008, 14:28 Quote
There are many times I find games frustrating hard, yes, you probably smelled it from 100 miles away, doom 3 for example, I simply coudnt find my way because every corridor looked the same and every door looked the same and after running in circles for hours I gave up frustrated.. simply put, there is hard and there is hard, If its a enemy thats a challege to kill so what? atleast you can tell you are making some progress (hopefully) and have a clear goal at hand, but back to doom 3, running in circles with all mobs long dead and zero possibilty to tell where the hell you are because everything looks the same is the wrong kind of difficulty.
Anyway, what games need is a proper difficulty adjustment, usually its just the enemies hitpoints and your hitpoints that gets changed, sometimes also the ammo... ohh great... sorry, but the persons doing the difficulty adjustments in most games are lazy *******s and rather go "ohh, the graphics team did a nice job, lets do nothing it will sell anyway" than do their job.
[PUNK] crompers 29th May 2008, 14:31 Quote
surely this is a game/level design problem and nothing to do with difficulty?
naokaji 29th May 2008, 14:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by crompers
surely this is a game/level design problem and nothing to do with difficulty?

true, could have worded it better, usually difficulty adjustments only affect combat, the rest is either too hard or too easy no matter the settings.
[PUNK] crompers 29th May 2008, 14:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by naokaji
Quote:
Originally Posted by crompers
surely this is a game/level design problem and nothing to do with difficulty?

true, could have worded it better, usually difficulty adjustments only affect combat, the rest is either too hard or too easy no matter the settings.

agreed.

also difficulty adjustments generally only lower the amount of damage you can take and up the amount of damage your enemies can take without any adjustments to AI.
-logical-Chimp 29th May 2008, 14:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HyBry
....OK I like some of the mindless games like Counter Strike.....

Actually, I've always thought of Counter Strike (pre v1.6, anyway) as being a good example of an 'intelligent' Shooter. Yes, pure twitch reflexes count for a lot, but there is a lot more to it.

You could play it as a standard Scoot+Shoot FPS (and most people on public servers did). However, if you paid attention to the small cues and used your brain, you could get an edge over the other players - sometimes enough of an edge to offset p*ss poor reflexes (in my case). Add in the different spray patterns, the lack of sniper accuracy (on some guns, anyway), the need to lead targets, the use of different degrees of bullet penetration (loved shooting people hiding behind boxes :D), and you have a FPS that provides a degree of mental exercise.

Personally, i used the positional sound + environmental effects (map 'features', windows breaking, doors opening, things falling over, weapon sounds, etc) to work out where people are. Tie that to the mini radar, and you could tell friends from enemies. With good headphones, the sounds were accurate enough (at close range) too shoot through doors/walls, and stand a good chance of killing someone on the other side - the benefits of taking a slower, more intellectual approach to the game...

Once you got off the public servers (or got lucky), you also got good team tactics, with well balanced maps. The use of objectives provided multiple routes to victory (nothing like being the last teammember alive, and still managing to win 'cos the other team didn't guard the objective :D).

And yet, all this was optional - it was there if you wanted to make use of it, but you could ignore it if you wanted.

(btw - as you may have guessed, i spent a lot of time playing CS - it is easily the game i have poured the most time into, and it was this mental engagement that made it possible. Since the transfer to CS:Source, that mental engagement hasn't been there to the same degree, so i soon got bored)

Anyway - meant to say that Intellectual games don't just have to have brainy puzzles (be it Maths / Logic / Physics based) - it just needs a degree of mental engagement
lewchenko 29th May 2008, 14:47 Quote
I agree with this column on many points.

One game I play a lot of is Supreme Commander and its expansion Forged Alliance. To play well, you must really understand the mechanics of the games units, strategy, mass and energy production. Far too many people pick up the game, and just dont get it after 20mins... so give up.

The game isnt that difficult to learn, and once conquered offers immense satisfaction from the multiplayer side... but people are either too stupid to learn it, or just too lazy. They prefer run and gun.. simple as that.

Recently I bought Orange Box, and with it came Portal. What a fantastic change of pace. Whilst the puzzles were relatively easy on the initial pass, and then the escape rather than burning in the fire.. it was the challenge and advanced levels that made this game complete. A game for people who want to think.... Portal ticks that box.

However... its a fine line. I personally found EVE online boring, with a poor combat system and is limited by never being able to actually walk around and meet people (rather than spaceships). A shame, considering its other complexities.

I would love the biological entity simulator though... Spore does look a bit too cartoonish.. but then again its coming out on the Nintendo and other consoles too isnt it... so it has to cater for the dumbed down crowd by default.
Angleus 29th May 2008, 14:49 Quote
Completely agree, I want to be challenged, and that dosn't mean adding extra hit points to my opponent and giving me weaker weapons
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