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"Necessary Complexity" in Online Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the unnecessary-simplicity dept.

Google 95

Massively is running a story about Google's short-lived virtual environment, Lively. The article examines why Lively shut down so quickly, and how its simplicity and its attempts at user-friendliness did more harm than good. Quoting: "The idea here is that any interactive system has a certain amount of complexity, usually involving the number and type of tasks which can be performed. Obviously, it is detrimental if the interaction interface is more complicated than it needs to be. That just makes things harder. What's a little less obvious is that reducing the complexity of the interaction interface too far makes things harder as well. Either it makes it hard to perform the tasks, or it reduces the number of tasks which can be performed. ... ideally the interaction interface needs to be of an order of complexity that is coupled to the order of complexity of the number and type of possible tasks. If it rises above that or falls below that, performing tasks becomes harder. Performing tasks with an oversimplified interaction-interface is like trying to make coffee with one hand tied behind your back. Overcomplicating it is like trying to instruct five people to build a shed, when none of you have any language in common."

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95 comments

zomg zomg (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310027)

FIRST MUTHA FUCKAS

The hey is Lively? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310075)

I think one of the problems is I, even as an avid google user and surfer of /. and several many other sites did not even know about "Lively".

If they advertised this on google's main page, just think of the results? Maybe they had, but I never ever once saw an ad.

Re:The hey is Lively? (3, Funny)

Saroset (1383483) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310367)

I never heard of lively till just now! It looks like it was pretty cool =[.

Re:The hey is Lively? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310537)

You can try "New Lively". Its the same code just ported over to a different set of NON-google servers.

Re:The hey is Lively? (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 5 years ago | (#26315635)

I just searched 'new lively,' and Google didn't return newlively.com until page 2.

I am not logged onto any Google services currently, and should be pretty much anonymous to their search pages.

It would seem that the advertising problem with this project is only getting worse.

Re:The hey is Lively? (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26317247)

I am not logged onto any Google services currently, and should be pretty much anonymous to their search pages.

Yes, believe that! Mwuhahahaha! -- Sentient Google Farm

Re:The hey is Lively? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26315343)

I don't know why you were modded funny... I'd have liked to try it out, had I heard of it before. :(

Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310079)

I'm gonna be honest, I don't really get it.

Re:Um (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310089)

Sadly, the summary is far more complex than necessary.

Re:Um (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311155)

Assuming that wasn't just a joke: Lugaru fails because you've got 1 context sensitive attack button and it's like trying to play Assassin's Creed with your feet, ArmA fails because they've got 8 different types of unexplained movement and more control bindings than mechwarrior games and it's just straight up fucking nuts.

Please, what are some good free online games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310083)

So, what are some good free online games? I'm bored.

Re:Please, what are some good free online games? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310235)

Jacking off to child porn whilst your Mother is ironing in the next room.

Re:Please, what are some good free online games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26320455)

I prefer jacking off on your mother while you're ironing in the next room.

Re:Please, what are some good free online games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310601)

good free online

Pick two.

Re:Please, what are some good free online games? (1)

Warped-Reality (125140) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311453)

Pick one.

I haven't really played much in the 'good free' category, personally...

Re:Please, what are some good free online games? (0, Redundant)

Lord Fury (977501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312417)

Free includes pirated versions. Every single game released can be free, and lots of them are good.

free and Good: any game you can find a torrent for that you'd like. limited to singleplayer or completely terrible, buggy, cheat filled online

Good and Online: go to amazon/gamestop/walmart and find a multiplayer game

free and Online: any of the free korean mmos come to mind, also open source games. the problem is that many of these aren't very good

Re:Tabula Rasa (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313093)

..is free until the end of February. It's a great game.

Re:Please, what are some good free online games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26314533)

Other than board games like online chess or backgammon, I don't know of any.

Re:Please, what are some good free online games? (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 5 years ago | (#26315693)

I have been playing the same mud since 1992, it is still around and still free.

There are a dozen or so zones I have never even explored in addition to the several dozen I have.

I won't spam the address here, but if you are willing to take the time to script a mud client with aliases and triggers to eliminate the hours of mad-dash typing that classic mudding required, you could end up with a new addictive time-sink.

Been there, done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310231)

>What's a little less obvious is that reducing the complexity of the
>interaction interface too far makes things harder as well.

Yeah, somebody tell the GNOME guys please...

Re:Been there, done that (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310291)

The KDE4 guys too, please...

Also, kindly remind them that "different" isn't always "better", or "more intuitive", or "revolutionary". Sometimes it's just annoyingly unfamiliar, for no good reason.

Re:Been there, done that (4, Insightful)

slugtastic (1437569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310719)

Reminds me of this [captainsquid.com] demotivator.

Re:Been there, done that (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26317297)

I should qualify it, of course -- "different" sometimes is quite a lot better, and more intuitive, even revolutionary. I love KDE4's new alt+f2.

However, a lot of this just feels different for the sake of being different. I don't even mind the lack of files on the desktop -- best example is the panel configuration.

Re:Revolutionary for no reason (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26314971)

See Microsoft's work in this area in 2007.

Gnome anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26317791)

Funny, i have always thought Gnome as a case example of this "Usability though uselesness" ideology. That is, remove all complicated or advanced features until you get something that does not do anything usefull.

Shame that KDE is somewhat going in the same direction.

Hold on a second... (4, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310381)

I don't think "complexity" and "having shit to do that is worth doing" are necessarily the same thing. Simplicity is good, simplicity is why we write those shell scripts instead of typing them out each and every time, I think the problem with Lively was that it had no point, no goal, it was just...pointless. In something like WoW, you have tasks, quests, missions, whatever you want to call them. You have goals, objectives, you have character development. Yet, it's all quite user friendly, I wouldn't call it a "complex" game at all.

Re:Hold on a second... (2, Interesting)

RobinH (124750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310837)

What are the goals and objectives in Second Life then?

Re:Hold on a second... (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311035)

From what I hear it's "getting virtually laid".

Which leads me to "it's not just that goals have to be achiveable, you also have to want to achive them to make the whole thing good"...

Re:Hold on a second... (1)

MorePower (581188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313147)

There are none, which is why I got bored of Second Life almost instantly and never went back after my first 2 times there.

Re:Hold on a second... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313315)

Showing off your clever sandbox creations. It's like a frustratingly simplified, slow version of lightwave hybridized with robocode and placed in a 3d chat environment.

I would say it's quite an improvement over robocode, though.

Re:Hold on a second... (1)

caramelcarrot (778148) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310859)

Also it seems to assume that complex things can't be built out of simple things - which flies in the face of all emergent behaviour.

Re:Hold on a second... (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312701)

Things that are too simple, or things that cannot sufficiently interact, cannot form complex things. Emergent behaviour does require a certain level of interaction. Imagine that boids weren't aware of their closest neighbours or the centerpoint of the swarm - how well would they flock then?

Yes and no (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310937)

Well, actually while it's not a "complex" game, it does kind of illustrate their point.

Think this: what if we took WoW and simplified it even _more_. Would it make it more fun, or, past a point, it actually turns it into a boring kiddie game? (At this point some guy who got bored of the endgame raids will want to butt in and say it was a boring game to start with. Bear with me for a bit, I'll get to that too.)

The easiest low-hangin-fruit example is SWG. Sony or the SWG team seem to have had an "OMG, Blizzard is making more money with simplistic games for retards" and proceeded to do the ill advised NGE. That's what the NGE did: over-simplified it. In a major way. Pet classes were gone. The complex and flexible skill system was gone and replaced by a linear level skill that was actually more simplistc than Blizzards (no talents, minimal skills, etc.) The races were simplified into all having the same stats and just different looks. The interface was over-simplified into a bad FPS interface. Etc. The game became a bad FPS with levels and, oh, maybe 10 skills/spells total you'd get by level 80. They actually lost most customers there. While some hung around begging for Sony to undo the stupidity (yeah, right), the number of active players at any given time had sunk like a lead duck. Heck, like a depleted uranium duck.

Or as an anecdote, there's this guy I know which plays a healer wherever he goes. That's the kind of character he likes to play. So he buys AOC at launch, and makes a healer. According to him, the fact that heals were PBAOE and he just needed to mash one button, actually made him cancel his subscription. He didn't even have to target a party member. Just mash the heal button. It got boring really fast.

Or let's get even further. There have been games so simplified that you could have played it with a gamepad. Needless to say, none got too many players, even if they survived.

Think of doing the same to WoW. Heck, I can't even imagine what 4 skills to map on a gamepad's buttons for any hybrid or pet class. If you're, say, a paladin, between healing, seals, auras, etc, you don't even have a button for each _type_ to cycle through them. Shaman? You'd have one button for each element, so no way you'd still have as many totems as today, and that doesn't even leave you with a button for attacking. Warlock or hunter? Lemme see, 1 button for sending in the pet, 1 button to heal the pet, that leaves you with 2 buttons for your spells. You don't even have enough for the "unholy trinity" of Corruption, Curse Of Agony, and Immolate, that warlocks use since the low levels. You don't have enough room as it is, never mind more complex strategies with spells like Fear, drains, or even to make soul shards.

Would it make it better if we simplified it some more like that? Like heck it would. IMHO it would become a major bore.

And to get back to WoW and people bored of endgame raids, what's the #1 complaint? That it gets boring. And it's not just the repetition, but also that each class is pushed into some narrow role where most of its skills become useless. There are classes which can get through a raid with 1-2 spells total, e.g., any healer. It's not very exciting in the long run.

So to get this long rant anywhere near a conclusion: IMHO the secret of WoW isn't just "keep it simple", but that they hit a sweet spot between simplicity and still allowing lots of stuff to do. I.e., pretty much what the summary was saying.

Re:Yes and no (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311085)

I think Blizz already overstepped the oversimplification barrier with WoW's latest expansion. I get that impression from reading the boards.

Currently, the big craze on the boards I read (yours may vary) is the damage output of the damage dealer classes, and people complaining that they're being reduced to the damage they can possibly dish out. Personally, I see that as a sign that the threshold to "too simple" has been broken. When the only thing that defines "make or break" of an MMO raid is whether you get enough damage out (and this in turn is highly dependent on having the right gear), it means that you don't need to worry about the usual problems of MMO raids anymore, namely aggro management and crowd control.

And yes, the DD classes in WoW are also the ones that have the CC abilities, and DD classes in general in MMOs are also usually challenged with dishing out just the right amount of damage to avoid peeling mobs off the tank. So when DD classes are basically only judged by their damage output, it means that neither CC nor aggro management play a decisive role anymore.

This in turn tells me that it must have been become trivially easy to tank a full group of mobs and build up insane amounts of aggro (for the tank). Else CC and aggro management would still play a role. I offered this theory to a friend of mine (avid WoW player, and tank with a passion) who pretty much confirmed it from his experience. And it made him ponder leaving WoW.

Yes, he's still playing, but when you have a full deck of maxlevel chars, you don't just leave an MMO ... I consider him musing over leaving already a sign that it has become uninteresting.

But it also shows something else. That people create challenges when they cease to exist. The new challenge is to perfect your "rotation", i.e. finding out what skill to use when to maximize your output. Not as much a challenge as keeping aggro management and CC in mind, but still, it's a new challenge.

Still, I can well see an exodus from WoW if this trend keeps continuing. The game was easy as it was. Tanks and healers were challenging, and behold, they were dumbed down to a level that makes it pointless to play them. Tanks spam area aggro (I repeat what my tank told me, I have no tank), healers spam healing. The "challenging" part of the game shifted to the DDs who have to optimize their spell/style rotation for maximum damage output. And that's actually what I would consider the reason why people will leave. Tanks and healers chose their class because they offered a mediocre level of challenge, and this was stripped from them. DDs chose their class for easy gameplay, and this was made harder. Both are now pretty unhappy with the whole deal.

Re:Yes and no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26311853)

I think you're just wildly theorizing here. Damage dealing classes have *always* complained about damage on the forums. The reason they complain is not that their raid is dying because they can't do enough damage, but because there are so many of them and they need to be on roughly equal footing to get raid spots. If mages did 1.5x the damage of warlocks for example, you wouldn't take any warlocks. Now since the past 2 expansions many hybrid or even healer classes have a viable damage spec (e.g. shadow priests, enhancement shamans, feral druids, etc) so there's even more competition for those raid spots.

It's true, WOW raids have never been too hard compared to some more "hardcore" MMOs, but they are still a challenge for most players.

Re:Yes and no (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311971)

It's not even the class X vs. class Y "ZOMGWTF, nerf X" rants. Right now, there's an insanely huge thread about damagemeter (an addon that lets you see who dishes out how much damage), and that you don't get taken along if you can't deal at least X damage. Independent of class (actually, there is no "nerf class X" request that I'm aware of in the whole 20 page thread). It's all about "you gotta have equipment X", and that you need the drops of instance X to be taken along for instance X.

Now, tell me, how are you supposed to get the equipment that drops in an instance if you need that equipment to be taken along?

Yes, there are more DDs than anything. Yell "tank+healer LFG/LFM" into the channel and watch the spam. But when you reduce the ability of a class that is damage dealer, crowd controller and buffer to its damage output, you know that something's seriously lacking in the difficulty department.

Re:Yes and no (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312893)

You can generally assume that any player complaining that "I won't get to raid because class X can outdamage me" is bad at their class and doesn't know how to use it properly. All DPS classes are roughly equal, the few that are slightly behind just have to be patient for a while and they'll be buffed to be competitive. Remember that this isn't the real world, where the rules are fixed and the people who learn how to use those rules to their advantage will always win. This is a game, and there are unseen hands tweaking the fabric of reality to make sure that everyone's equal.

That's not new, though (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313589)

While I understand what you're saying, it's not a new thing, and is exactly what I meant by the game getting oversimplified at the endgame end. At any rate, the exact complaint and situation existed even way back before the Burning Crusade. In fact, as soon as raid instances got put in the game.

That's just how a tiered endgame grind works. That's what makes it tiered. To get into T2, your DPS/healing-per-sec/mitigation must be this high, and they won't be unless you farmed the T1 set. That's how the devs make sure you don't skip T1 entirely.

And yes, the classes got pretty oversimplified at that point too. If you were a DPS-er, you had to do one single thing, DPS. You needed 2 buttons total for that. If you were a priest, you had to heal. Period. As a Holy spec priest you could get through a whole raid instance while using a single button. And as any other spec you just wouldn't get in.

If anything, I find that the game offers slightly more options and flexibility these days. Mind you, that doesn't necessarily say much. Just that anything is more than zero ;)

Re:That's not new, though (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26316295)

Personally, I found the game actually rather interesting pre-BC, but then, I never played DD classes. Healers had to manage mana and spell cast times, you had to actually know when to use a long time heal or when a quick flashheal was in order, all the while considering your aggro and being prepared to detaunt when necessary. Tanking was actually a challenge with an utter lack of area-aggro skills, you had to know just how much you have to spit at each mob to keep them from turning their eye on the healer.

This all changed when healers got some bizarre healing bonus that made flashheal the only viable option since you healed like X with flashheal, X*2 with standard and got X*1000 bonus on either. Why bother with standard? I guess this wasn't what Blizz intended, because it was changed quite soon.

Still, what you describe is pretty much the situation now. You can heal a boss encounter with two fingers. One for casting, one for taking a step when the heal is not yet necessary. And the odd nudge of another key to down a mana pot. From what I hear, tanking turned into a worse zero skill game. Spam area aggro while having a conversation in IRC or guild channel so you don't get bored during the raid.

Like I said, personally I feel like Blizzard overstepped the threshold to "too easy" in their attempt to cater to more and more people with less and less ability to play well. The problem is, people play this kind of game to feel some sort of accomplishment, virtual as it may be. If it is turned into handouts and the only determining factor is time, i.e. how much time you're willing to spend, it will turn some people away from the game in the long run.

I thought Blizzard's earlier approach was pretty clever. Make it hard at first so the "hardcore" gamers feel rewarded. Make it easier and easier as more "higher" content becomes available so everyone eventually gets to see the content. The "worse" players will just see it later, but nobody is left out. When you level the playing field, you will piss off those that consider themselves good players.

Re:That's not new, though (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26320545)

If anything, I find that the game offers slightly more options and flexibility these days. Mind you, that doesn't necessarily say much. Just that anything is more than zero ;)

Pre-Wrath:

- Regular instances in BC almost always required crowd-control. Some required specific forms of CC or else you'd wipe repeatedly. The only way you could get by without CC was to majorly out-gear the instance.

- Aggro was a constant issue that needed to be managed, both by the DPS folks and the tank.

- Healers regularly ran out of mana.

Post-Wrath:

- CC in all instances up until level 80 heroics is purely optional. All trash has such low health compared to the amount of DPS being dished out that everything dies within 10-15 seconds. So everyone just AoEs everything down. Trash mobs become a boring chore on the way to the next boss, because there's no challenge, just a need to beat the trash mobs down so we can get to the boss.

- Aggro is no longer an issue except in really rare cases. DPS classes can simply go all out, never having to watch their aggro. Tank classes do insane amounts of aggro (and damage). All of the various aggro-reduction abilities have become mostly useless. Probably boring as hell for the tanks now that they don't have to work at it.

- Since everything dies so fast, healers don't run out of mana on anything except boss fights.

It was fun for about the first week after 3.0.2 hit and every boss in the game had their health reduced by 30% while all the DPS classes got a huge boost. But since then, it's gotten more and more boring because there is minimal challenge on the way to 80. Everyone says "wait until you do level 80 heroics, then you'll be challenged". My question is why do we have to wait 10 levels in Northrend for a challenge? I could see making the level 70 dungeons easy, but by 75 to 80, there should be a very decent chance of a wipe.

We did Naxx-10 for the first time last night. Out of the 3 wings (9 bosses), only one of them gave us any difficult trouble (Heigan the Unclean). The trash mobs were all a joke. The gargoyles were the only mobs where we had to concentrate and actually have some sort of focus. Other bosses were felled either on the first try or within 3 tries as we learned their special abilities and phases. Nowhere near as interesting as Karazhan was, where you had to adopt different tactics for different areas of trash mobs.

Blizzard has really screwed up if they think "EZ Mode" is healthy over the long term. All EZ-Mode is going to do is ramp up the churn rate on their subscriber base as people get bored with walking into a dungeon, pressing the "I Win" button, and walking back out. The old adage that "things you have to work for are things that you'll value more" comes to mind.

Re:Yes and no (2, Interesting)

AntiNazi (844331) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312551)

But it also shows something else. That people create challenges when they cease to exist. The new challenge is to perfect your "rotation", i.e. finding out what skill to use when to maximize your output. Not as much a challenge as keeping aggro management and CC in mind, but still, it's a new challenge.

That's the new challenge? Every DPS worth their salt has been trying to maintain the perfect rotation since Molten Core. The sole objective of a DPS class is to do the maximum amount of damage possible in any given fight. Obviously this may require interrupting your rotation to stay alive as you do 0 DPS when you are dead. I don't know which forum you are reading or who you play with (if you play) that just learned about rotations. Hell the death knight beta threads were full of Blizzard posters discussing ability costs to allow players to use a continuous rotation without having to stop and wait for a certain rune to refresh rather than use the ones that are left. In vanilla I had to teach some new raiders about rotations as they apparently were just pressing buttons (yes, random buttons are fun!!!). Their dps more than doubled in many cases.

Aggro management is pretty overrated. In wow, 99% of the time aggro management means doing nothing. That's not very fun. A fair number of classes have no way to reduce threat (other than death) and several that do it's on a long enough cooldown or terrible enough that you still have to resort to stopping playing in aggro management fights. Additionally, aggro management fights seem to end up as "aggro doesn't matter, dps doesn't matter, we can do this all night, just keep the tank alive" fights. Not fun for anyone, see Onyxia's lair.

As a player who has tanked in every expansion, I can assure you that the current expansion is by far the most fun for tanks in my opinion, and the opinion of every tank I have talked to. You can actually do some damage, and therefore threat so the dps can actually do dps instead of waiting around for you to gain aggro. Tanking now is about doing the most dps and therefore tps while staying alive. Similar to a dps class except the boss is hitting you. Note this has been wildly successful among players compared to previous expansions. See: people only wanting to do 5 man dungeons if a paladin was tanking in BC as paladins were the only class with the current tanking strategy last expansion.

In conclusion, there has been no change in dps using rotations since the first dungeon, other than "stop and wait" is no longer in the rotation, aggro management sucks in the first place, and as for crowd control, meh.

Re:Yes and no (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312723)

It's not the new challenge. It's the only challenge left. With CC being pointless and aggro management a problem of the past, the only thing that DDs have to take care about anymore is to fire their skills in the right rotation. Something that a halfway decent script could do, and probably better due to millisecond precision.

The reason people wanted Pallies to tank is that they could do the AoE aggro routine everyone enjoys now, thus keeping the DDs from having to stop shooting, thus making the whole thing easier. Of course people don't want to make a game artificially hard (even though I remember my tank saying "we're just four, go find a hunter, the ini is too easy anyway"). That doesn't mean that easy mode is what people like either.

Imagine you gave people an I-Win button. Would they press it? Of course they would. Would it make them happy? At first, yes. In the long run, it cheapens the whole experience. Why bother playing if you know you already won?

Re:Yes and no (1)

AntiNazi (844331) | more than 5 years ago | (#26321019)

I agree that too easy becomes a loser. That doesn't change the fact that aggro management has always sucked in WOW. (Nearly?) Every aggro management fight has been a "slow dps, just keep the tank up fight". Simple spank and tank. I assure you, from experience, not very entertaining. When it comes down to it. Stopping and waiting is a pretty bad mechanic for entertainment no matter how you slice it.

I wouldn't mind more CC being needed, except for one key thing, one that affects me personally as well. Not all dps classes can CC. Thus, any zone which requires CC is a zone I'm not invited to. See, fury warriors in 5 mans in BC, hell, just warriors in general in some instances. Locking out every non CC class from entire zones isn't a very good design if you want people to keep paying. So you are basically forced to either not require it, or give it to everyone.

Re:Yes and no (2, Interesting)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313543)

I'd beg to differ, slightly. "DPS Rotation" is a term that has very little meaning today in terms of "do X twice then Y three times". It's a flowchart now due to all the procs - for instance the prot warrior threat 'rotation' is:
* If you can shield slam, shield slam
* If you can't shield slam then revenge
* If you cant use revenge then devastate
* If you can't use devastate then thunderclap (move this to pt 2 if you have 2+ mobs on you)

DPS is more complicated if you want to actually min-max it instead of going for "good enough". They've tried to replace "do X then Y" rotations with more "if X then Y" but in effect, it doesn't make DPS more fun, it just makes it more attention-sapping. It used to be that DPSing was a nice break from tanking/healing, now it's just as stressful (and the 'bad dps' are just as bad for your group as the 'bad healers' and 'bad tanks')... hence the plethora of tanks and healers these days. :P Which of course is kudos to Blizzard, because traditionally it's been like pulling teeth to find people who will play these roles given the downsides.

Re:Yes and no (1)

AntiNazi (844331) | more than 5 years ago | (#26320969)

I agree with the flow chart rather than rotation, I just rolled with rotation as that is what the parent used and a lot of players in game use, even though it's more like a flow chart. Respec fury though and your flow chart starts looking an awful lot like a rotation again.

Re:Yes and no (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312847)

Having experience of at least some of the raiding in Wrath of the Lich King (I play a tank-specced warrior, I've lead a group of randomly picked-up players that killed 3/4 of the entry level raid dungeon, Naxxramas) - they're actually requiring more attention and less fail-ness than ever before if you get past the heroic level 5-man dungeons. They have a couple of retard-check bosses that will totally screw over a party who can't move fast when required, and a few bosses that are pretty easy if everyone can follow instructions.

The people saying that "omg naxx is 2 EZ" are mostly people who remember the original Naxxramas, when it was the hardest raid in the game. I admit that it makes it feel less "epic" when I'm tanking an entire pull that used to require four tanks each with dedicated healers to keep them alive, and the trash mobs could one-shot DPS players with their AoE damage if given half a chance. But overall, having done both, I think they've kept the feel of the original Naxx very well. It just doesn't require the top end gear that was needed for the original raid.

Mapping twelve actions on a D-pad (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311097)

I can't even imagine what 4 skills to map on a gamepad's buttons for any hybrid or pet class.

With a typical console controller (Xbox 360, Wii Classic, or Dual Shock series), you get a directional pad, left and right analog sticks, four face buttons, and four shoulder buttons. This allows up to twelve actions out of the box (face + shoulder + D-pad), plus camera control on the right stick if needed. This is something you have to think about even on the PC if you want to be able to sell premium subscriptions that allow split screen.

That's not my point, though (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311881)

1. Actually, I'm not even going to argue with you there, because we're making completely different points.

You're saying that a game could be made for a gamepad. Well, probably.

Mine is merely to illustrate an (over-the-top) over-simplification and its effects it would have on a game. So my contrived example uses a gamepad with only 4 buttons for the skills and, let's say, the shoulder buttons to cycle through enemies and respectively friendlies (e.g., if you need to heal them.) Can you make WoW as fun on that limited number of actions? Nope, I should say.

That's really all my point.

2. If I'm to get into your example, too, though, you're talking about 12 buttons for actions. A WoW shaman can easily need more than _60_ buttons for all the spells and totems. Seriously. Plus, again, you need some way to cycle targets too.

Now I don't doubt that something could be worked out, e.g., using the D-pad as a multi-shift to select a toolbar, and the 4 buttons as actions. That would give us room for 20 spells. (4 per toolbar, and we have 5 toolbars at our disposal: D-Pad up, down, left, right, and untouched.)

But at that point we've complicated the interface for the average Joe. Now instead of simply pointing and clicking at an icon, he has to remember key combinations. Now maybe for you that's trivial, being an experienced gamer, but for a casual gamer it's more complicated.

At any rate, it takes it into the exact opposite direction from what I was trying to achieve with that example. I was getting at the effects of _simplifying_ it past a point, so I can't use that setup for my purposes :)

But basically, again, I'm not arguing about the feasibility of an MMO for consoles. Yes, it could be done. It's just not the point I was making.

Re:That's not my point, though (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312381)

I've played both console MMORPG's, FFXI and EQOA, they handle the control issues slightly differently.

EQOA uses the circle button for skills and spells. Circle always casts the active skill on the active target. The active skills are stored in 2 skill bars holding 5 skills each which are controlled with the d-pad. IIRC you cycle between targets with one of the shoulder buttons. Pet control is handled via the quick chat interface. EQOA could use another skill bar since, as a Cleric, I found myself cycling out half my miscellaneous damage/debuff spells for buffs every half hour or so.

FFXI uses macro bars containing buttons, you bring them up with the shoulder buttons, choose with directional button and hit X. But a lot of people just use the keyboard shortcuts, even those who play the game on the PS2. There's 10 macro bars of 10 buttons each. You have easy access to two bars at once but can quickly cycle between bars. Most people set up sets of 2 for each of their favorite job classes. Just before I quit FFXI i had a WHM bar set and RDM bar set. Some skills in FFXI you use so rarely that you don't need to macro (or shouldn't macro so you don't use them accidentally). Those you can use via a FFXI's modified version of the standard FF spell casting interface. Some people just used that instead of using macro's since for most job classes it was "good enough". My primary job class was WHM so macros were more useful for me.

So yeah, they probably have among the most complex control schemes I've ever seen in a console game.

Re:That's not my point, though (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 5 years ago | (#26335839)

This is something I really enjoy about FFXI's interface. The fact that it is a complex game that has a interface designed to be efficient with a PS2 controller. Instead of having the 4987 macros I have in WoW I only have/need 20, both are accessed with a push of the shoulder buttons. I am mainly a Red Mage so I have a tone of spells but I only use a few of them constantly. If I need any others they are easily accessible via the spell menu.

Re:Mapping twelve actions on a D-pad (1)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312797)

Actually, if you map button combos you can have a lot more.

Forgetting the analog sticks, and using them only for movement and camera you've now got: face (4) + shoulder (4) + D-pad (8 [diagonals included]) = 16 single buttons.

Then combos with the 8 D-Pad directions and 1 of the other 8 buttons gives you 64 more.

Then combos using just 2 regular buttons (face + shoulder) gives you 28 more.

So now you've got 16 + 64 + 28 = 108 possibilities.

If you take out the diagonals of the D-Pad then you lose 4 (single) + 32 (combos) = 68 possibilities, which is still very viable. If you don't want to use 2 face or 2 shoulder buttons at the same time, but only 1 face + 1 shoulder (easier), then the number goes down to 56 possibilities.

And this is before you have any "movement" combos (e.g. Street Fighter combos). It would probably be very easy to incorporate every single WoW ability onto a control pad like that as the possibilities are in the thousands. But the learning curve would be high compared to setting up a bar and mouse clicking (or 1-9 keyboarding) it.

Re:Yes and no (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26314643)

You could simplify WoW down to a joystick and two buttons.

Warrior needs food, badly.
Elf has been eating all the food lately!

-

Re:Yes and no (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26316499)

Or let's get even further. There have been games so simplified that you could have played it with a gamepad. Needless to say, none got too many players, even if they survived.

Playing guitar hero takes six buttons. I can't name _any_ gamepad that doesn't have that many (maybe except some variants of the "arrrrrrrr! Pirates' Keyboard"), yet the game sells well enough to spawn six sequel/spinoff games (II, III, Rock Band, Metallica, Aerosmith, 80's).

PlayStation Home (2, Insightful)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310453)

Kinda reminds me of PlayStation Home, except PSH is a marketplace and a way to gather networked game sessions - What was the point of Lively, again?

Re:PlayStation Home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26313125)

Really the only point beyond chat is typically exploring a virtual world. Sometimes simple (to rarely complex) games are added.

There was Microsoft's Comic Chat, The Palace(abandoned, now most remaining people seem to use Phalanx(PC) or Palace Chat(PC/OSX)), and then there's Lively(New Lively). All of which have appeared to be the most chat-centric, anyway. Create your own kind of experience.

Comic Chat creates a comic-style storyboard, and is the oldest chat I'll mention. With emotions/gestures for avatars, you could quickly create a dynamic, entertaining, comic-style storyboard.

The Palace is a 2D avatar based chat with iptscrae for moderate scripting. With nil existence of new, fresh content(called Palaces aka servers/virtual worlds) the population was decimated around 2003(the parent company also went bankrupt around 2001, Communities.com).

Lively was basically 3D palace... maybe a little more pointless, yet 'easier' to customize. Basically, Lively was (is?) really poorly designed, the last time I used it anyway. It wasn't fun to use, IMO.

But then there's other services, like RocketOn, which strives to be a [in your] browser(flash)-based avatar chat, with games, animated avatars, pets, etc. It's not so popular though, and RocketOn is still in beta. If you have a really fast(dual core would be good), then it's a decent experience, but older, slower machines might lag a bit from all the flash on flash on flash....

Lively was an excellent example... (5, Insightful)

Klootzak (824076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310547)

Of a very well built piece of software (after they fixed the lack of caching) that did nothing new or interesting, aside from let some University Conveners try and impress the female students in their subject.

It looked to me like someone at Google wanted to create a 3D graphically-enhanced version of IRC, isn't that what IMVU [imvu.com] already did?
I mean jeez, WoW players were doing that (in addition to maintaining their virginity) WAY back...

Re:Lively was an excellent example... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312763)

That was my impression: a tech demo of an IMVU-like chat interface, without chat.

Screw that. (1, Redundant)

Skofo (1436851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310561)

Better yet, online games need to stop being total grind fests. Why haven't more MMO's done that yet?

Re:Screw that. (2, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310991)

Better yet, online games need to stop being total grind fests. Why haven't more MMO's done that yet?

Simple. Because it's insanely hard to create enough actual content to keep up with players' demands.

Take a look at a typical first-person shooter. It has an considerable amount of content, but because the gameplay is designed to whisk the player through the environment once (maybe twice in parts), and fairly quickly at that, you end up at 6 to 14 hours as a pretty typical game length. Even then, you're still going to run into a lot of "repeater" content, such as the same types of enemies, similar looking environments, etc.

If you took the grind out of a typical MMO, you'd still probably only be looking at 20 to 40 hours of original content. With a moderate amount of grind, such as you often find in single-player RPGs, you could stretch out gameplay to perhaps 100 hours or so. Obviously, that's not enough to keep players coming back for the long-term, since the MMO business model (subscriptions) must keep players involved for even longer periods than this. There's just no practical way to give players enough original content to satiate their demands, and hold their interest for long periods of time. So, advancement through the game is deliberately slowed.

Hence, "grind".

Re:Screw that. (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311329)

There's just no practical way to give players enough original content to satiate their demands, and hold their interest for long periods of time. So, advancement through the game is deliberately slowed.

They should hire Chinese gold farmers to play NPCs.

Re:Screw that. (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313501)

The problem, imho, is the focus on "content" over gameplay. So many games these days are based on "how much content is there?" and "how many hours of play does it offer?"

There are games out there where the gameplay mechanics alone can provide countless hours of replayability. Super Mario Kart, Starcraft, Command & Conquer, Guitar Hero, Sim City, etc. all offer this. It's trickier on the MMO end of things, but mid-scale online multiplayer games have done it in the past with large-scale mission-based play that lasts a handful of hours at a time, e.g. the Air Warrior series.

The problem is that almost all MMOs these days have gameplay that revolves almost entirely on grinding quests given by static NPCs. It's tricky to go with another paradigm, and much more risky for such a large investment as an MMO, but I think it could be done. One possible solution would require a GM (human that works for the MMO company, or perhaps automated) that triggers big events requiring a considerable joint effort by a large number of players. Another option would be to have quests be more player-defined (e.g. instead of collecting 30 ostrich feathers for an NPC who then gives you a chocolate, you collect 30 ostrich feathers for another player who needs it for crafting who then gives you something cool). The whole levels and experience paradigm also doesn't help the grinding situation.

A Tale in the Desert seemed to have the right idea philosophically on a lot of this, but in the little I played of it I found the gameplay mind-numbingly dull, and also found that the grind had simply been rearranged into doing menial tasks for higher-up players rather than replaced by interesting gameplay.

Re:Screw that. (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26314739)

The third possible solution is to use emergent behavior AI to build a gameworld that practically runs itself. Goblins are getting hungry, so they start raiding the nearby town. Nearby town gets defensive, and starts adding quests to kill goblins. Goblins eventually either die out or move on. NPC wizard walking through his enchanted wood randomly finds an artifact that drives him mad, and he starts raising skeletal minions and so forth to protect his tower. The abomination needs to be wiped out, so the Nature Protector Treehugging Express faction gives out quests to kill his minions, and an epic quest to take down the crazed archmage.

And so forth. Using simple rules for behavior combined with human interaction will create a constantly changing gameworld that will actually stay interesting.

Re:Screw that. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26320367)

This is awesome IF it actually works. The problem is that stable ecologies are ridiculously hard to build, even when they only contain foxes and rabbits. When they contain the hundreds of different races and species that modern MMOs do, a real ecology would be well-nigh impossible to design that wouldn't end up 3 days later being overrun with mice while everything else has died out and a huge high-level monster is terrorizing the starter zones. :P

Re:Screw that. (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26324181)

If you use a genetic algorithm to generate the AI decision trees for both "groups" (towns; merchant guilds; monster camps) and individuals, this sort of solves your problem. Because not only is it evolving smarter pathfinding/survival AI (not necessarily combat AI) for the monsters, it's also evolving smarter AI for the rabbits and foxes and towns too. If you add in random small mutations to creature stats, too, you'll really be cooking with fire.

It is really difficult though! I remember when UO first came out, they tried simulating a basic ecology. Within hours everyone had killed all the animals to get their weapon skills up, and the monsters were hungry... so they invaded the towns. It wasn't a problem with the ecology, it was a problem with there not being any monsters to kill as a noob! (they were all way too hard)

Re:Screw that. (1)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 5 years ago | (#26326731)

So you make an emergent system that can be futzed with "from on high" by a GM. Too many mice? Introduce temporary quests with high rewards for collecting mouse tails. Not enough mice? Introduce temporary mouse-repopulation quests where players are given bonuses for distributing mice from a central breeding center to mouse-poor areas. Balancing the ecology BECOMES the game, and makes quests actually seem meaningful.

Re:Screw that. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327229)

That's actually fairly similar to what I want to do with the MMO design spec that I'm working on (what, doesn't everyone have one of those? :P ) with, among other things (AMG DUN STEEL MAH IDEEAZ!) each faction having a GM who controls them, in terms of tells them who to attack, gives work orders to build new encampments, chooses what quests they offer etc.

It would require a little more in the way of hands-on game management but the extra required manpower seems trivial in comparison with the gain in dynamicism. Saving a group of NPCs from extinction (or conversely wiping them out) adds another whole layer of depth.

Re:Screw that. (1)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26314723)

Simple. Because it's insanely hard to create enough actual content to keep up with players' demands.

Which is why emergent behavior and AI needs to take a huge leap forward to make MMOs really fun. I'm actually working on building a virtual ecology using genetic algorithms to generate AI decision trees at the moment. First it's just getting mobs to find food and eat it. Then it's adding in an aggressive mob that will eat the first set of mobs if it can find them. After that, it's simply adding in a mating procedure so that mobs have to find each other in order to mate (and produce the next generation). The tough part will be fitness and how to separate out mobs that are different enough to actually become a separate "species."

Re:Screw that. (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26317403)

A false sense of achievement ("Hey I EARNED that sword of infinity plus one!") is the need filled by the "grind". Just like slot-machines, really. Actually, I think there was an article way back putting this on more of a scientific footing...

Re:Screw that. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#26320475)

Also, the only currency that really carries over from the real world is time. If you can instantly get a full set of 'endgame' gear then that gear isn't worth anything to you (witness the current experience in WoW where after two weeks worth of raids you're in 80% of the best gear and you have nothing to play for). The whole idea of level and stat based RPGs is that your character gets better at the game so you don't really have to.

As for the connection between slot-machines and MMOs, it's to do with the randomized loot. I can't find the exact article but actions with a random chance of reward trigger some center of the brain. This blog [thinkinggames.co.uk] seems to cover it fairly well.

Re:Screw that. (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329493)

Pretty much every response to this focuses on enhancing the environment so that it is not so uniform and predictable.

Perhaps the answer is to stop exclusively interacting with the environment, and interact with the other players once in a while.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310655)

quote
What's a little less obvious is that reducing the complexity of the interaction interface too far makes things harder as well.

Windows has been pounding that over our heads for years

Re:Windows getting harder (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26315047)

Paul Thurrott just did a rant on this.

No software engineers at google... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26310685)

... or at least none who have read the seminal "No Silver Bullet [wikipedia.org] " paper which introduces the difference between accidental complexity [wikipedia.org] and essential complexity [wikipedia.org] . Sort version: you can't simplify a complex task because it is inherently complex.

P.S. go ahead and mod me down because I'm not a google fanboy. Your ignorance can't eliminate theirs.

Article is Not Well Thought-Out (3, Interesting)

firmamentalfalcon (1187583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26310993)

The argument's flawed. Lively had a simple interface and it failed, so let's blame it on the simple interface!

Given _a_ program, there is a direct relationship between the simplicity of the interface and quality. In the set of all programs that allows for the same set of interactions, the program with the simplest interface wins.

The problem with Lively is that its set of interactions was not large enough. Its problem was not the interface that delivers these interactions. It's like saying the monitor isn't working when your program doesn't compile.

Re:Article is Not Well Thought-Out (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311349)

In the set of all programs that allows for the same set of interactions, the program with the simplest interface wins.

The problem is that you reach a point where you can't simplify the interface without reducing the set of interactions.

If you have a graphics editing program that can save in more than one format, the interface needs to include a way of choosing. A car with an auto box has a simpler interface (one less pedal), but reduced functionality (can't heel and toe).

Re:Interface vs actions (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26315065)

You can have the same interactions. But the interface command sequence grows longer.

A chess clock I know has one button you press seventeen times in something resembling morse code to set every feature it has, but it has a lot of features!

Re:Interface vs actions (1)

firmamentalfalcon (1187583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26316181)

While the chess clock's appearance may be simple, the morse code is part of the "interface" so it should be seen as a complex interface. A simple interface should be one without a large learning curve.

Good (useful) interactions, simple interface=Apple's Ipod- to sleep it took a minute to figure out, but otherwise, it was good; www.google.com is pretty good too

Good interactions, complex interface=your chess clock

Bad (worthless) interactions, simple interface=Lively

Bad interactions, complex interface=

Re:Article is Not Well Thought-Out (1)

firmamentalfalcon (1187583) | more than 5 years ago | (#26316281)

Yes, but within all the graphics editing programs that can save in jpeg and bmp, the one with the simplest interface wins. A graphics editing program that can save in only jpeg may have a simpler interface, but it does not even compete because it was _disqualified_ for not being able to "save in jpeg and bmp" as the rules of the competition state.

The article is comparing toy cars with real cars. Lively the toy car is nearly useless while WoW the real car is not useless. However, the article skips over this point and says that people would rather have the real car than the toy car because the real car is red while the toy car is blue. Therefore, red is better than blue. QED

Re:Article is Not Well Thought-Out (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26320087)

you can't simplify the interface without reducing the set of interactions

Yes, but within all the graphics editing programs that can save in jpeg and bmp, the one with the simplest interface wins.

I don't see what your problem is, I never said it didn't.

To put it another way; you can always make the interface more complex than [it needs to be to perform] the underlying task. But you can't make it simpler.

spore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26311373)

great example, not nearly enough options.

Two More Examples (1)

chrisG23 (812077) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311381)

1. WoW user interface. It was perfect. When I first played WoW I thought the interface was just right, not overwhelming but complex enough to do everything I wanted my character to do reasonably easy. Then I learned I could customize the interface in-game to add more toolbars, get more buttons, I learned more keyboard shortcuts, I thought it was perfect. THEN I learned about custom made interface addons. Holy Christ you can do so much in Wow to enhance the interface by effectively managaing greater and greater levels of complexity that I think it hit perfection. Then I quit because WoW is a full time soul-sucking drainer of life force, and I already have a wife for that. I haven't played much of other MMOs but I think one of WoW's reasons for its astronomical success is its perfect interface, as far as catering to many levels of interface whores. Maybe someone can reply with other games that got it right.

2. Google Chrome. WTF. I wanted to change the settings so video media is played by Media Player Classic instead of by WMP, and in a seperate window. I like simplicity where simplicity is warranted, but not in a web browser. "Basics", "Minor Tweaks", "Under the Hood". It seems like Google dumbed this down for retarded people, or my mom. Maybe I am missing something, but browser design is sorta defacto standardized as far as changing options and things go. Google Chrome is a no go (like a Chevy Nova) for me at this time. FWIW I use primarily use Opera and that makes me a freak if you go by usage numbers.

"Politics is like trying to screw a cat in the ass" -Charles Bukowski

Re:Google Chrome (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26315079)

Why can't there be multiple front ends to the same back end set of features? The "dumbed down" thing will serve a business purpose. It's now really the era of "simple interface - advanced interface".

Spore suffers from the same problem... (5, Interesting)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311665)

...in that it's been reduced to such a simple game that there's nothing to do. It's a simulation game without any simulation.

Any game that touts a "simulation" of an entire galaxy that doesn't even let carnivores and herbivores interact on planet surfaces has gotten nearly everything wrong.

Maxis's previous game SimLife had more complex systems interacting than Spore does. And Sim Life came out in 1993.

The most interesting games, to me, are the ones that have multiple systems that interact with each other with simple, but easily combine-able mechanics. Simcity's a good example... traffic effects land value which effects what goes on the land which effects your tax revenue, and so on. Those kinds of games offer tons of replayibility, because you're constantly changing systems that affect other systems.

Anyways, just my two cents. Spore might be popular, but it was my biggest gaming disappointment in half a decade.

Re:Spore suffers from the same problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26326001)

I thought the point of spore was to built a penis shaped anomal and imagine it pounding you in the ass. Was I doing something wrong.

Asheron's Call complexity was perfect (1)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311709)

Asheron's Call was one of the first MMORPGs when it came out in 1999, long before WoW had dumbed everything down. There was no classes, just a huge list of basic skills (i.e., melee defense, unarmed combat, thrown weapons, alchemy) -- you had to decide what you wanted to do and train/specialize a set of these skills that uniquely defined your character. You needed to have component items to cast spells, and you had to do research and some guessing to learn the spells. The PvP server was harsh, but the monarchy system provided protection and made for the best faction system in any game.

Of course, AC was not without its problems, and it was simplified somewhat (probably too much) over the years. But it's still nowhere near as cookie cutter and cliche as World of Warcraft.

Hrm, didn't Tobold just say something similar? (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26311903)

http://tobolds.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Tobold: January 02, 10:40am

Massively: January 02, 3:00pm

Ancient Gaming Noob's 2009 prediction of the Tobold Cult are on target!

Which is why... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312019)

What's a little less obvious is that reducing the complexity of the interaction interface too far makes things harder as well. Either it makes it hard to perform the tasks, or it reduces the number of tasks which can be performed. ... ideally the interaction interface needs to be of an order of complexity that is coupled to the order of complexity of the number and type of possible tasks.

Which is why some of us don't buy the marketing notion that a GUI makes a computer easy to use.

Maybe if you only actually use it to do a few simple things, but if you want to harness the full power of a computer you need a command line... or a program language.

Requisite Variety (1)

Eadwacer (722852) | more than 5 years ago | (#26312341)

This is just a restatement of Ashbey's Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ross_Ashby [wikipedia.org] which can also be restated as "Every Good Regulator of a System Must be a Model of that System"

1997 Called, It Wants Its Software Back (2, Interesting)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313595)

I messed around with Lively for a bit, and can easily say that it was a turd. It felt like an extremely limited version of Active Worlds, offering really nothing to do other than change your clothes and walk around a room.

Maybe if it had features (i.e. stuff you can do) it would have gone somewhere. Blaming its failure on a lack of complexity is like blaming a box of tissues for failing as a refrigerator because it only has one little slot to put things in. What it called an open beta, I'd call a pre-alpha tech demo. There was simply nothing there.

Oh, and it was about as user-friendly as the power button on the dome-shaped iMacs (a white button with a white icon on it, perfectly flush with the white surface of the unit, on the back of the unit... without a user manual -- I was at a friend's -- it literally took me hours to find).

one mouse button anyone? (1)

Ignorancepatrol (958552) | more than 5 years ago | (#26313747)

so i only noticed the necessary complexity(didnt see gaming) and was really disappointed this wasn't a mac bashing article

Wrong motivation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26314317)

If you ask me, they failed by trying to build an application based on what marketing said what would make a good "product", rather than building something they thought would be fun.

They took the fun out of it. That's all. (2, Interesting)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#26315179)

Lively is not intended to be a game, but it was intended to be used by humans. Which I don't think Google anticipated.

Why games of any kind fun is because fundamentally humans enjoy learning. If you remove the complexity from a game or quasi-game in terms of the interface, tasks and challenges presented you a simple removing things that are enjoyable.

In the case of complexity alone, you are removing depth. But from what I found with lively it was so stripped bare it had NOTHING.

I'm all for making things accessible to people who are not so quick to figure things out, or perhaps just have a low tolerance for wasting time fighting a confusing interface. Dumbing down is what you do in lieu of designing the interface properly in the first place and in this case Lively was just plain Dumb(tm) right off the bat. Lets making a carefull distinction here: dumbing down implies there was once a smart idea at all.

Come on Google, do something like lively, with interesting physics sandbox and it's google earth and twitter and gtalk all mashed up and linked to my GPS and webcam so my avatar can walk around the world in real time as I do. I'll send you my job application.

Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26321573)

Did you know that the first Lively was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire servers were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why Lively was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.

Star Wars, a la Lost (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26337933)

Overcomplicating it is like trying to instruct five people to build a shed, when none of you have any language in common.

"No, no! This one goes there, that one goes there! Got it?"

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