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  1. #21
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    It really hit me when a friend who is about five years younger than me played Half-Life 2 for the first time a couple weeks ago. He got stuck on a basic see-saw puzzle near the start and quit the game shortly after because he had to make choices himself and kept getting stuck. I just remember back when I was playing Half-Life 2 in 2004, these puzzles were seen to be so basic and everyone seemed to know how to do them.

    His first FPS was Halo and now he just plays COD, in those games you never had any puzzles or had to make up your mind about anything. Especially in Halo where you're funnelled through by NPCs and all you do is shoot. I personally find this boring because I want more depth from my games and just remember Half-Life 2 being one of the last greats that just offered something more. Yet we haven't seen that from an FPS since and instead they just become focused on run and gunning like the old days, only back then levels were open and not linear.

    I mean he couldn't even work a server browser and just gets pissed off at it, yet I hate the lobby system because it doesn't offer the ability to customize anything.

    It just makes me lose faith in Humanity and makes me hate him a little lol.

  2. #22
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Well, games in the old days sure did more predominantly offer the mental challenge of solving a particular puzzle or situation, but it's only really recent games that have made me think to explore a theme or grasp a concept. (Not coincidentally, it's also only recently that games have been considered worthy of academic attention.) And it's only even more recently that people have started embedding the grasping of that concept as a challenge in the game rather than as an end in itself.

    I don't know. I guess I find that stuff far more intellectually fulfilling than bare, transparent, situational problem-solving. But I guess everyone has their own take.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of na´vetÚ. It's na´vetÚ turned inside-out. Na´vetÚ wearing a sneer." -Momus

  3. #23
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    I might suggest that in mainstream gaming there's been a greater tendency towards games that try to avoid losing or even the existence of paths of differing value to the player - and I suspect this has come about in the belief (which may well be true for many people and sometimes I do want games that baby me) that it makes them more entertaining and avoiding ever risking the player feeling helpless. At the same time we've seen a tendency, I think largely unintentional to begin with, towards games that condition players in a fashion that I find boring (and eventually very unpleasant if I catch myself 'addicted' in the weakest sense) but tends to keep people playing - your WoWs and your Farmvilles.

    Quote Originally Posted by TillEulenspiegel View Post
    Roberta Williams, 1999. [On the changing demographic of computer ownership, ostensibly towards those with lower SES and less education.]
    While Williams may have something of a point as regards the changing demographic - and I'd add that computer owners were previously those with a special interest in computers and that may have biased the type of intelligence that computer owners did possess - you haven't really expanded on the effects of this.

    The original demographic hasn't gone away. True, it's relatively small compared to the overall PC-owning and gaming population, but it's still there. We still have films and even TV programmes that target small demographics, including the very demographic that Williams believes dominated gaming back when Williams got started. Personally I do believe that games are made to target that demographic, although as you'd expect they're usually cheaper, less expensive to produce and less well-known affairs. I'd actually suggest that in this area there's been a greater effort to explore novel ways both how games can be entertaining and how games be communicative.

    Perhaps what there isn't such a market for is Planescape:Torment-type affairs, but perhaps these were an short-lived abberation anyway and the market (alas) spoke. I pick on PT because it didn't make a great deal of money. Maybe we need the BBC to finance games in a BBC4/Radio 4 mould...

    I can't even tell how much I'm joking here; thus far, and no great offence is intended to those that worked on them, the two British public service broadcasters [BBC/C4] haven't produced particularly impressive games despite a little effort in that direction. (Notably, I find it hard to believe that the BBC Doctor Who games couldn't have been made better had they been farmed out on a licensed basis, and that's a bit of a shame.)
    Last edited by Zetetic; 09-10-2011 at 11:57 PM.

  4. #24
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zetetic View Post
    (Notably, I find it hard to believe that the BBC Doctor Who games couldn't have been made better had they been farmed out on a licensed basis, and that's a bit of a shame.)
    Weren't they designed by Charles Cecil, though? It's kind of hard to get a much better pedigree than that.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of na´vetÚ. It's na´vetÚ turned inside-out. Na´vetÚ wearing a sneer." -Momus

  5. #25
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    no, games these days are overproduced garbage with budgets of millions of dollars and an overinflated sense of 'what the market wants' because they are afraid of losing those millions of dollars
    a grumpy dude with a PHD in videogame debating

  6. #26
    Network Hub Taidan's Avatar
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    Problem with gaming nowadays is more of a problem for seasoned PC gamers than gamers as-a-whole.

    Back in "The Good Old Days", there were two forms of gaming evolving in complexity parallel to each other:

    Console games, and Computer games. Games which used a D-Pad+2 buttons, and games which had a whole keyboard to go with that joystick, and eventually a mouse as well.

    Games which were licensed by companies with strict family-friendly policies, (Thus mainly aimed at younger gamers for commercial reasons) and games which didn't have to be licensed, and could aim for who they pleased.

    There was definitely a divide, in terms of both technology, and the attitudes of those who created and marketed the games. Of course, there was a lot of cross-talk between the two forms. A lot of conversions. It was pretty much plain to see that Consoles were getting a lot more out of the relationship than Computers were, if you look at both game mechanics, technology or just the quality of the conversions of the day.

    But march on did both of these brave forms of gaming. Hardware got faster, more powerful. Joypads gained more buttons. The Computers of old were swept aside in favour of polylithic pleasures of the Microsoft OS'd PC. Optical media, after a shaky start, gave us vastly more complex games than the cartridge or floppy disk could ever hold.

    Gamers got more savvy, and more demanding, and games from both families rose in order the meet the demands of their users.

    ...and then, back in the autumn of 2004, something happened. Something terrible. Something I shall not speak of in public, for it still arouses feelings of great anger and sorrow in myself, and many others. And PC games stopped evolving. In fact, they started moving backwards, in a desperate attempt to meet console gaming. Suddenly, PC gamers were playing ports of console games, rather than vice-versa.

    In terms of metaphor, it was kinda like what happened to prog rock in the 80's... No, let's scrap that train of thought. As much as I'd like to bring ELO, Yes and Genesis into this, that would be risking a complete derailment of the subject of this thread.

    But yes. While for the majority, games are getting better and better, there are a few of us who have been left out in the cold, stranded in time, waiting patiently with the faintest hope that gaming might catch up with us again. It hasn't been all bad. There have been a few oasis of pleasure and fulfilment in this vast desert of lowest-common-denominator rubbish, and the indie scene has risen again with incredible promise, (and the occasional delivery) but the mainstream, for now, is not providing for a lot of us.

    That's the optimist in me speaking.

    The realist is all "F**k the games industry. They no longer make games for me, because they like the taste of the money of idiots too much. I hope the games industry dies a terrible, prolonged death, so that we may all start again afresh."

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegooseking View Post
    Weren't they designed by Charles Cecil, though? It's kind of hard to get a much better pedigree than that.
    I've been a bit of a fool actually over this - they were farmed out to Sumo Digital for production as well. I don't think that the design of them was horribly broken, but I found it hard to tell given the quality of the implementation. I suppose I was thinking that giving them over to someone who had more than a passing interest in the quality of the games (i.e. a monetary incentive) might've helped; but that's probably placing too much faith in the markets - just look at the tat that one can sell if it's got a popular movie's name associated with it.

  8. #28
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taidan View Post
    (Stuff)
    Except the problem isn't that so many PC games are just ports of console games; it's that so many PC games are just ports of the wrong console games (that those ports are often not great doesn't help either). There are still plenty of interesting games on consoles that for one reason or another simply don't make it to the PC. It's kind of bewildering why PC gamers get given the stuff that they dismiss as "for console kids" while being denied the stuff they would actually like.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of na´vetÚ. It's na´vetÚ turned inside-out. Na´vetÚ wearing a sneer." -Momus

  9. #29
    Lesser Hivemind Node DigitalSignalX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Web Cole View Post
    I think obviously the industry has changed some, but for the most part people's tastes change as they mature. Personally Single Player games bore me now, which certainly was not the case for the past 10-15 years.
    Conversely, my own tastes have gone the opposite direction. I used to embrace multiplayer in games, regardless of genre. Loved being competitive, the team work, and the social dynamics of parties and questing together. Now though, I find a great deal of it tedious and frustrating. People online as a rule are far more inclined to be assholes then be helpful. Someone's barest victory becomes a chorus of ego boosting and insults at the fallen. Their defeat elicits a tirade of vitriol that can last for hours. The forum wars, the flaming... the endless hell that is other people doesn't end unless you play only within a close circle of friends.

    So I play single player games now almost exclusively.

    back on topic, I think the points raised are pretty valid. PC games are dumber now then they used to be. Simple control schemes, emphasis on graphics over writing and plot; all are ever diminishing tenants we embrace with our wallets yearly.
    Last edited by DigitalSignalX; 10-10-2011 at 12:39 AM.

  10. #30
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    Games are easier now but I don't think, if you include indie titles, they're less intelligent as a whole.

    Older games were designed by computer nerds for computer nerds, hence you had complex obscure systems based on statistics for RPGs. That stuff has been either dumbed down or streamlined now depending on your point of view.

    But let's not forget that there were always tons of brain-dead platformers and shooters from back in the days of the Spectrum and C64 onwards. These days they've been replaced by FPSs and TPSs but it's not like that sort of brain-dead stuff didn't always exist.

    There's also been movement as to where stuff happens - there are less smart RPGs being made today than in the 80s, but what were the Gold Box games? A series of games all using the same system developed by very small teams. Then you look at the 1000s of modules for both NWNs games and they are essentially the same thing. Except free.

    I think the tendency here is to cherry-pick and remember only the good games, the only difference today is that a lot of the sort of stuff that would have been ignored back in the day now makes millions on the consoles. The 'smart' games are no longer the best-sellers but, y'know, welcome to the mass market, where Dan Brown is a top earning author and Titantic is the highest grossing film ever.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    The 'smart' games are no longer the best-sellers but, y'know, welcome to the mass market, where Dan Brown is a top earning author and Titantic is the highest grossing film ever.
    let's not be so quick to shit on titanic

    dan brown, though, let loose with all your shit
    a grumpy dude with a PHD in videogame debating

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    There's also been movement as to where stuff happens - there are less smart RPGs being made today than in the 80s, but what were the Gold Box games? A series of games all using the same system developed by very small teams. Then you look at the 1000s of modules for both NWNs games and they are essentially the same thing. Except free.
    The Gold Box engine and Neverwinger Nights is actually a good comparison because there was a Gold Box construction kit that resulted in hundreds of user made modules. So comparing them directly, you've got a turn-based party-based D&D RPG engine, and a single character real-time 3D D&D RPG engine. That's the kind of difference I was talking about.

  13. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by sabrage View Post
    And what better way to demonstrate intelligence than to subscribe to an incredibly limited worldview, and refuse to sway from it under any circumstances?
    From what I can tell this is the route most academics follow so I would say: yes.

    ----

    Remember how your parents played old music and complained about how new music isn't as good? Its this effect.

    Also your time is more precious so mediocre games you would have played as a kid don't seem worth your time.

    Also your back catalogue contains the best games from over 25 years. If you look at the output of any medium and compare this years releases with the back catalogue of 25 years you aren't going to see many stand out titles.

    ----

    Games are going to way of films: Publishers only want blockbusters for their shareholders.

    Hardware has slowed down MASSIVELY (I cannot over state how much). The huge leaps forward in the past were largely driven by what suddenly became possible.

    Pretty much any game imaginable could be made I would say - you just have to drop the fidelity of the graphics. But to have huge graphical detail requires huge teams of artists and thus huge costs.

    This is why I am so interested in developments in procedural generation.

    -------------------------

    Hopefully smaller studios and indie's with keep games interesting.

  14. #34
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TixyLixx View Post
    I'd rather play FF7 over FF13.
    The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that FF7 was great by accident. The technological limitations and charmingly weird translation conspired to engineer a situation that was intimate and personally meaningful; a strange alchemy that Square hasn't been able to repeat since, mainly because it could just as easily have been a shoddy mess and they want to avoid that.

    Oh, also, as bad as the game is, FF13's battle system is the smartest in the series. It's just a shame it's Not Very Fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightbulb View Post
    From what I can tell this is the route most academics follow so I would say: yes.
    You understand wrong.

    Hardware has slowed down MASSIVELY (I cannot over state how much). The huge leaps forward in the past were largely driven by what suddenly became possible.

    Pretty much any game imaginable could be made I would say - you just have to drop the fidelity of the graphics. But to have huge graphical detail requires huge teams of artists and thus huge costs.
    The hardware slowdown has actually driven a lot of reflection on and contemplation on gaming as a medium, leading to a vastly increased understanding of its nature, unfettered by the distraction of frantic scrabbling to keep up.
    Last edited by thegooseking; 10-10-2011 at 09:06 AM.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of na´vetÚ. It's na´vetÚ turned inside-out. Na´vetÚ wearing a sneer." -Momus

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightbulb View Post
    Hopefully smaller studios and indie's with keep games interesting.
    that's basically what i feel the plan is

    i believe that the video games industry is in a bubble phase and will slowly, through lack of consumer interest, not enough money, or total turnoff of their fanbase, pop

    and then a lot of the big names will go down

    and at the end of the day, we'll still have plenty of smaller development studios ready to take their place with the next doom or quake or what have you
    a grumpy dude with a PHD in videogame debating

  16. #36
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    "I liked Video games before they sold out"

    YUP YUP YUP

  17. #37
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Way back in 1991, Momus wrote an essay called Pop Stars? Nein Danke! which was about the democratisation of music production, the fragmentation of the music market, the concept of "post-mainstream" as well as some prescient thoughts about digital distribution.

    I think there is an increasing pressure from the idea that gaming is not a monoculture. Endless forum arguments have made it abundantly clear that there is no one thing that 'gamers' want. Games occurred rather too late to fit into a "Beatles or Stones"-like monopoly structure. As the idea that "games are for everyone" takes hold, games need to start to cater to everyone, which is as disparate an audience as you can get.

    The trouble is, the fragmentation of music markets was contemporaneous with technological advances that dramatically reduced the cost of music production, making that sort of thing feasible. I don't see any such thing happening for games. It's hard to see AAA games surviving the transition to a fragmented market, but it's not exactly easy to see indies surviving that, either: the indiest of games costs about the same to produce as high-production-value hit singles (not including the marketing budget for those singles, of course).
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of na´vetÚ. It's na´vetÚ turned inside-out. Na´vetÚ wearing a sneer." -Momus

  18. #38
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    On the topic of mods disappearing, I think we have ourselves to blame for that one ultimately. Back in the days of Doom, Quake and Half Life, the graphical bar was reasonably low. Today people expect graphical quality on par with or beyond what the original source material has, which takes up a lot more time and uses a lot more effort. If you look at the decline in mods and the lengthening of their development cycles, it coincides with a rise in technology. Additionally with authorware like Unity, mods are generally a lot less attractive these days, particularly if someone intends to make a total conversion. They might as well code it themselves (if they can code a mod, they can probably code in UnityScript) and release it under their own power, rather than rely on a base game. Plus once you're no longer advertising as a mod, most people's expectations in terms of art seems to drop.

    Hopefully smaller studios and indie's with keep games interesting.
    In my opinion, they're not. There's a disturbing trend towards "art games" which are clumsy attempts at art, and have poor gameplay mechanics, pushed into the "gaming" sector purely so that the "artist" can get exposure and money. There's innovation in some indie studios, for sure, but I think much of the innovation is just going to give way to "Here's a 'game' where you walk around and watch a bunch of disconnected objects and sequences" or "Here's a 'game' where you click on abstract images while a voiceover reads out pretentious lines." Or maybe one where you walk down a linear path to a bench in a graveyard, listen to a terrible song which reminds you that you're going to die, and then that's it.

    For the record I've got nothing against the "games as art" argument and I'm all for the inclusion of more adult themes or concepts in gaming, but these "art as games" attempts are mostly terrible and are neither particularly good examples of art nor are they really games. But it lets someone like Tale of Tales sell their 'art' and make money of it because they're forced it into another market.

    and at the end of the day, we'll still have plenty of smaller development studios ready to take their place with the next doom or quake or what have you
    That said, Doom and Quake are classics. A straight FPS like Doom wouldn't be well received. We like these games mostly because they're classics and fondly remembered. I mean most Doom levels (and Doom is my all-time favourite game ever created) are just large switch or key hunts.

  19. #39
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowthief skank View Post
    Actually there are more.
    Yeah, 90% of everything is crap and 99% of everything is pointless but a wider range of game makers making for a wider range(not simply wider demographics as some have suggested) of demographics. Spacechem could easily have come out 20 years ago and it's a game that 99+% people will never be able to enjoy, but it's genius. It's well publicised and cheaply available.

    Quit your grousing and get in the water!

  20. #40
    Network Hub Taidan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegooseking View Post
    Except the problem isn't that so many PC games are just ports of console games; it's that so many PC games are just ports of the wrong console games (that those ports are often not great doesn't help either). There are still plenty of interesting games on consoles that for one reason or another simply don't make it to the PC.
    What I was saying wasn't just that so many PC games are just ports of console games. It's that originally a lot of these PC games would have been developed for the PC, then scaled/dumbed down for the consoles. Nowadays, a lot of what would have been "PC games" lead on the console, but the original conversion process has not been reversed to go with that. There is no scaling up. (Except in terms of resolution and textures, if we're lucky.)

    That's why, in terms of the evolution of consoles games, there hasn't really been any great shake up. The technology, the gameplay and the gamers themselves have been getting steadily more and more complex and demanding over the years. If you were to plot a graph, if would be a steady upward line.

    PC games, on the other hand, if plotted to a graph, would see a steady upward line, which at some point in the early/mid 2000's would see a massive crash, then a slow rise again.

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