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Are Games Worth Complaining About?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the nine-out-of-ten-angry-internet-commenters-agree dept.

Games 287

A few days ago, the Opposable Thumbs blog ran a piece titled, "In gaming, everything is amazing, but no one is happy." The thrust of the article is that discussion about modern games focuses almost entirely on flaws, which are often blown out of proportion. "Every game is too short, although we never finish the games we play. Every game is too expensive, although we demand ever-increasing levels of interaction, graphical fidelity, and length. The same people who claim every game was 80 hours and a masterpiece 10 years ago are 10 years away from saying that today was the golden time, once they have the distance needed to scrub the bad games from memory." Today, gaming site Rock, Paper, Shotgun offers counterpoint, saying that video games need active criticism for the industry to improve. "Everything is amazing, and sometimes people are happy. That’s how it will always be. And we should probably make the most of it, and then strive to make it better."

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287 comments

Lets complain about complaining (1, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37354844)

And my life will be complete. Why is this on slashdot?

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37354946)

1,2,3, BITCHFEST! :-)

Really, I have little place in this discussion. I don't even find games worth playing!

Then again, I was amused by "Defrag". Even though you only got 1 turn, it took a long time. Still I always ended with a score of "100%".

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355522)

You were lucky. I failed quite a lot of times !

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

what2123 (1116571) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355904)

1,2,3, BITCHFEST! :-)

It's too bad it can't be a "BITCHFEAST"

Re:Lets complain about complaining (4, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37354956)

Let the record show that on this fourth day past the Nones of September, Year of our Lord Two Thousand and Eleven, user GoodNewsJimDotCom didst successfully complain about an article complaining about people complaining, the first such instance in living memory.

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355272)

GoodNewsJimDotCom didst successfully complain about an article complaining about people complaining, the first such instance in living memory.

Article urges complacency in games development so the sensitive people making games don't get their feely weelings hurt. Might as well complain that News stories also tend to be overly negative.

Re:Lets complain about complaining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355510)

I didn't like GoodNewsJimDotCom's comment / complaint. It made me feel sad. gman003's commentary on it reinforced that feeling. Now I'm feeling kinda sad and kinda bumsy.

Re:Lets complain about complaining (-1, Offtopic)

MichaelKristopeit417 (2018862) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355192)

Why is this on slashdot?

slashdot = stagnated

Re:Lets complain about complaining (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355410)

You are on Slashdot.

You = stagnated

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

fran6gagne (1467469) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355262)

And my life will be complete. Why is this on slashdot?

You're right! Lately there have been way too much crap getting posted on Slashdot. Slashdot was way better 10 years ago...

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355524)

Ha!



I wonder how many people won't get it.

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

Yamioni (2424602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355830)

This is slashdot, no-one reads the summary or the article anymore, so no-one will get it. Ten years ago they would have gotten the joke though.

Re:Lets complain about complaining (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355802)

I love how the first comment is witty and right.

Yes. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37354858)

Are Games Worth Complaining About?

Billions of sports fans can't be wrong.

Re:Yes. (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355248)

If you paid money for it, then you are allowed to complain all you want.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355490)

Seconded. Especially if you paid money for it and it didn't work completely until months of patches.

It Isn't Just Gaming (2)

Deinhard (644412) | more than 2 years ago | (#37354884)

Everyone expects everyone to be better than it is. "If only..." has become the starting phrase for many a musing on games, programs, books, movies, cars, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, houses, pets, plastic models, ad infinitum. If people would just realize that what you have right now is the best that it can be in this moment, then we would have a better world. In actuality, Satisfaction == Reality / Expectation. Expect less and your satisfaction will be higher.

Re:It Isn't Just Gaming (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355016)

But what you have right now isn't always the best that it can be in this moment. Complete satisfaction breeds complacency. We need desire to strive for better situations, even if complete satisfaction will never truly be within reach. This reality only becomes a problem when expectations are unrealistically formed, and ultimately dashed. That doesn't create desire or drive either... it only creates animosity in the moment.

Re:It Isn't Just Gaming (1)

Yamioni (2424602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356056)

By definition what you have in this moment is simultaneously the best and worst you can have at that moment because you have no frame of reference. The frame of reference is only that moment, thus what you have has no comparison. Get it? Calling it 'the best' for that moment is simply looking for the silver lining. Since you can't change the past, you always have the best that you can have, but not necessarily the best you could have had, or that you could have in the future. Treating what you have now as the best you can have is simple optimism, while treating it as the best you could ever have is what breeds complacency. Complacency is not without virtue however, as there is certainly a point where the ROI you get from your time spent improving things just isn't worth the improvement itself. At that point it's acceptable to become complacent. There is definitely a point where 'good enough' truly is good enough.

Re:It Isn't Just Gaming (2)

Nanosphere (1867972) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355058)

This. Welcome to The Internet. People are far more likely to voice themselves when it's about something they dislike. You seldom ever hear praise unless the person is getting paid, when people are happy they are quiet. The result is that the vast majority of discussion especially online is people complaining about something. I had to explain this phenomenon to my step father when he started commenting on there being so many bad reviews of stuff he was Googling.

Re:It Isn't Just Gaming (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355520)

I actually like to be positive about some products, though I do worry I sound like a shill, or that people will be reading the same comments from me over and over. I'm happy to praise Amazon (good reviews) and Google (useful products, even if their intention is to better sell ads), as they've only done good things for me. I used to be happy to praise Ubuntu until 11.04.. now I praise Mint.

Patches are welcome (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355258)

In almost any kind of software other than games, the stock response to "If only" is "Patches are welcome." But for some reason, games as a whole tend to be more resistant to free software principles [gnu.org] than other kinds of software. I've written a couple reasons why that might be [pineight.com] .

Re:Patches are welcome (5, Funny)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355310)

How about a little goddamn quality control in the first place.

Gamers gravitated to console away from PC in part because there wasn't the "ship now, patch later if we fucking bother" problem on consoles. Consoles couldn't patch. You shipped a game with a game-breaking bug, you'd better be prepared to replace it for any affected customer. Nintendo had to do exactly that, paying to repair save files and ship SD cards back and forth for a game-breaking Metroid bug in the most recent Metroid on the Wii.

So what happened? Now, Xbox360 and PS3 are plagued by "ship now, patch later" crap. And the gamers are starting to get fucking fed up - though not enough to go back to PC, where games are shipped with so much fucking game-breaking DRM that they're basically unplayable anyways.

Re:It Isn't Just Gaming (5, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355440)

This is indeed how our brains work, but with gaming, there have been obvious steps backwards in recent years. It's mostly due to games publishers taking advantage of how locked down things are on consoles right now. Consoles are finally getting online, but most games have no mechanism for creating and sharing your own content (with a few notable exceptions like LittleBigPlanet). They charge insane prices just for a few extra maps or single player missions. Back when I was a heavy PC gamer (ie before I got a job!) maps and mods for games were plentiful. I thought it would still be that way in PC gaming, but I've seen a few people comment that things have gone backwards there in terms of the latest games being moddable/customisable. So really, it does seem like there is something to complain about.

There's a reason people love Minecraft even though it looks like ass: the focus on user-generated content.

Re:It Isn't Just Gaming (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355988)

Often the PC games now exclude map generation/conversion software and similar stuff to make modding harder. They want to sell DLC not have user made content.

Re:It Isn't Just Gaming (1)

pyronide (2440046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356008)

Satisfaction == Reality / Expectation. Expect less and your satisfaction will be higher.

This expression is some of the best code I've seen in my life.

Ars Technica (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37354896)

Why bother reading Slashdot anymore if every other article is going to be an Ars Technica link?

Re:Ars Technica (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355316)

That's why I mostly go to Ars for interesting web reading now and I come here for laughs. ;)

Re:Ars Technica (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355732)

Yeah seriously...the Web 2.0 crowd of websites should be emulating Ars, not worrying about them. Journalism with copious links and un-moderated (or actively moderated) comments beats two-inch, poorly-sourced summaries, coupled with user-moderation verging on group-think, any day of the week.

I come here because it links to interesting things without being RSS and because the nesting system makes comment conversations easier to follow, not because slashdot isn't my worst source for news or because the average user here is anything but a self-righteous, techno-libertarian looney.

Re:Ars Technica (1)

xiao_haozi (668360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355826)

Debbie downer....

Re:Ars Technica (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355562)

I come to /. for the discussions, not the news.

why the hell not? (1)

d.the.duck (2100600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37354962)

Are politics worth complaining about? Is THE WEATHER worth complaining about? Is complaining worthwhile? No. It isn't. But move past that. People will complain. People LOOOOOOOVE to complain. Why should games be any different than anything else. People derive enjoyment from them, so let them have their say. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, and believes that everyone else's stinks.

Pshaw! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37354964)

Everything is worth complaining about on the internet. What a dumb article...

If you build it, someone will complain about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37354976)

n/t

Games have lost focus (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355000)

Outside of the indie developers, most game developers simply don't get what it is about games that makes them good. With the increase in graphical capability, people are making games that model the real world too closely, which then makes people complain about how the game didn't model certain parts realistically.

You don't hear people complaining about Super Mario Bros. not being realistic enough, or any of the NES games, because there is an understanding that the games aren't trying to be realistic.

Because people are constantly complaining about the realism in the current day games (either too much or not enough), though, that is constantly what the big developers tend to waste so much time on. They need to divorce themselves from realism unless their game is specifically focusing on that and get to the point of making their game unique, interesting, and (most importantly) FUN.

Obviously you haven't played EvE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355002)

you haven't played EvE online, the game made for complaining

Assertive perception (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355014)

You only remember the titles from 10 years ago which where good but not the 90% of crap in the shelf. Not you look at the shelf and wonder why there is 90% crap.

Re:Assertive perception (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355534)

You only remember the titles from 10 years ago which where good but not the 90% of crap in the shelf. Not you look at the shelf and wonder why there is 90% crap.

Ten years ago there was a wider variety of crap, there was more crap, and there was more imaginative crap. Out of that pile of crap, there was a ten percent pile of goodness.

I still look back fondly to the time when a trip to Egghead was something I looked forward to.

Do you get that now?

Sorry, not everything is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355040)

Gaming is at the worst low that it's been since the console days of the mid-80s where E.T. made us lose faith in gaming forever.

Today there's too much focus on graphics and not enough focus on gameplay. Controls are glitchy, imprecise, or just downright terrible. Camera for many 3d games is just terribly bad. Too many non-interactive cutscenes, too linear gameplay, DLC pay-to-play garbage, and other atrocities that would have (and in some cases, WERE) laughed at back in the 90s (remember how we laughed at the abundance of FMV in games? How is the fact that it's now prerendered rather than live-action make any difference that we're just watching a movie rather than playing a game?).

The difference, sadly, is that today gamers have been trained to overlook bad gameplay and enjoy games for all the wrong reasons. They enjoy games because they are like movies, and they are "art", and other such nonsense. Games are *games*, not pieces of art, not movies, not anything like this. They should be played, and enjoyed, and be focused on making that game experience the best it possibly can.

What's sad is that I will have to post anonymously because I know modern gamers are going to mod this down because they think it's a troll, or wrong, or something. They can't face the truth about what gaming has become.

And no, it's not about some sort of nostalgia or anything. I was an adult in the 90s, so any "nostalgia" I would have had would be about the Atari 2600, and clearly I don't think very much of E.T. and 2600's Pac-Man, the games I should have some sort of "nostalgia" about.

So yeah, you're damn right I'm not happy, and that we should criticize modern games. The idea that modern gaming is flawed and that "no one is happy" is true because modern gaming is in a crisis. Maybe people just don't want to admit it and are hiding it behind some sort of self-delusion about modern games. All the more reason to continue to criticize, so that maybe people can finally admit it.

Re:Sorry, not everything is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355190)

that's cool. i enjoy plenty of modern games though, and so do millions of other people.

Re:Sorry, not everything is amazing (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355588)

Seriously? Gaming is better than it's ever been. Not only can you get any of today's games (of which, there are many I happen to like) but you also can also get the older games. So if those are the ones you really want to play, play them.

Like I said, I happen to like modern games. Fallout 3 is a blast, so is Mass Effect. TF2 I've enjoyed since it came out. I liked Dragon Age and I plan on getting Dragon Age 2 when the price drops to $20 or less. Portal 2 is a great game, if somewhat short. The MMOs aren't bad. MMOs didn't even exist in the 8-bit Nintendo days. I loved WoW but just didn't have the time. The Wii and Kinect are offering new ways to interact with games. Casual games are having a renaissance with the iApple and facebook stuff. Independent game developers, likewise, are on the rise as they haven't been since the days of shareware. I could go on and on but you get the point. It has never been a better time to be a gamer.

Re:Sorry, not everything is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355706)

You can't even argue that controller schemes in older generations weren't a problem. When was the last time you used an NES controller? I still play my NES and let me tell you, the controller is shit, but we were willing to put up with it simply because there was nothing better. And no, it's not that my controllers are broken (although I do also have broken NES controllers), the controllers back then simply sucked balls and were horribly imprecise. Fortunately, most games didn't require precise inputs so it was mostly manageable.

The thing that really let NES games get away with it is that the games were typically simple in terms of basic handling of your character/vehicle, but in many cases were flexible enough for you to use various combinations of actions in interesting ways. In fact, if you look back at most games that had interesting mechanics, many of them defy reality and while some are intentional, many are exploits in the game engines.

Nowadays, games try to do too many things, and they end up doing very few of them well in any particular game. I don't have a problem with complicated control schemes in themselves, but I do have a problem with games that make controls needlessly convoluted while making them feel restrictive simply for the sake of realism.

I think all games should fall under the scrutiny of critical review, not just current day games. Of course, the ones most relevant to us are modern games since critiquing them can have the benefit of telling the developers what we want to see in their next game. And currently, most developers aren't delivering products that people are happy with. There is definitely far too much focus on graphics and realism. While I definitely enjoy pretty games, the thing that really ends up making a game good is the game play, and what makes them stand out are the uniqueness of that experience. Megaman and Mario are both platformers, but they diverge greatly in terms of gameplay even though at an extremely fundamental level, you are just traversing through hazardous stages filled with enemies and obstacles.

I sort of lost track of what I'm saying, but making a game with interesting and fun game play is really what we need over the graphics. This isn't an excuse to make half-assed graphics, because ideally, the entire game will feel inspired. What we have flooding the market these days is a plethora of mostly uninspired games because everyone is just trying way too fucking hard.

Tea anyone? (1)

pseudofengshui (1432581) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355060)

The RPS article is worth the read if only for the hilarious comments following the article.

A much better solution (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355066)

If you don't like games, don't buy them. The gaming industry will definitely respond to that.

Re:A much better solution (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355112)

If you don't like games, don't buy them. The gaming industry will definitely respond to that.

No. They'll just join the MPAA and RIAA and assume everyone is just pirating the games instead.

Re:A much better solution (1)

sobachatina (635055) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355280)

And how do you determine that you don't like a game? Pirate it before buying?

Re:A much better solution (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355704)

Three strategies that most definitely work:
1. Don't buy a game right after it comes out (this also cuts down the price dramatically if you choose to buy it). Wait for the reviews and the like to percolate for a while, so you can get an idea of what the early adopters thought of it. Sure, it might not be as popular 2 years later, but it's still the same game.

2. Some gaming companies release demos, which is a perfectly legal way to try before you buy.

3. Alternately, scrap the commercial latest-and-greatest and just enjoy games that are available for free, like Battle for Wesnoth [slashdot.org] and FreeCiv [wikia.com] . A lot of them are pretty good, replayable, portable across many OSes, and in some cases multi-player capable. You risk nothing but your free time, which is what you're using up to play games anyways.

Re:A much better solution (1)

theangrypeon (1306525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355934)

And how do you determine that you don't like a game? Pirate it before buying?

Read reviews? Ask your friends who may have purchased said game? Is it too much to ask to do some fucking research? Do you just go to a store and buy a video card without looking at the specs, or if your power supply can handle it? If you're in the mentality that I have to buy a game on DAY 1 or the world will end ... well sorry to say but you're going to get burned from time to time.

A lot of games are starting to have open betas. Even if you never get a beta invite, usually someone prominent on youtube does and ends up posting videos (something I think played a very strong role in Starcraft 2's success). Sometimes a game will even have a free demo you can download.

It's certainly not the same experience as try-before-you-buy pirating, but you can certainly make an informed decision without resorting to that nowadays.

Re:A much better solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356042)

I have stopped buying computer games. And yet, the problems persist. Games are light on content, focusing instead on being 'pretty'. Strategy games are dead and gone. Quality is still poor in many cases (I did buy Civ V a while back - athe only game I have bought in years - and even after several patches it has obvious and easily reproduced rendering bugs - rendering bugs in a turn-by-turn strategy game? Really?)

Yes, they are (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355092)

If everyone stopped complaining, nothing would ever improve. Think about it: if you're a video game exec and people just shut up and bought anything you put out, why would you bother investing in better graphics, better narrative, better design? People think it's bad enough now with CoD17 and Madden2200, but it can get much worse. Without constant complaints we would see a race to the bottom, with even more unoriginal ideas and simplistic gameplay. Dissatisfaction drives innovation and change. Companies aren't going to fix what their customers don't see as broken.

Anecdotally, when I was younger, I was never able to finish video games. Now, I finish the majority of console games that I buy within the first day or 2, with the exception of sandbox games like Red Dead Redemption and Fallout. Either the games have gotten shorter, or they've gotten easier. Either way, something's wrong

Why games have gotten easier (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355212)

For one thing, games have gotten easier because they're more expensive to produce, and therefore the developer wants the player to see all the scenarios that the publisher paid the developer to produce.

For another, seeing the credits doesn't mean you've finished the game. Case in point: one can "finish" an Animal Crossing game in a half hour a day for a couple months by just farming foreign fruit and fish, and then taking two weeks to keep the weeds at bay to get the perfect town. But 100% completion, including having caught all fish and all bugs, touched all types of furniture and clothing, maximized the appeal of one's interior design, etc., will take a lot longer.

Re:Yes, they are (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355644)

When I was younger I was never able to finish video games either. You know why? It's because they just kept getting harder and harder until you died. Just like life.

Re:Yes, they are (3, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355714)

If everyone stopped complaining, nothing would ever improve. Think about it: if you're a video game exec and people just shut up and bought anything you put out, why would you bother investing in better graphics, better narrative, better design? People think it's bad enough now with CoD17 and Madden2200, but it can get much worse. Without constant complaints we would see a race to the bottom, with even more unoriginal ideas and simplistic gameplay. Dissatisfaction drives innovation and change. Companies aren't going to fix what their customers don't see as broken.

Anecdotally, when I was younger, I was never able to finish video games. Now, I finish the majority of console games that I buy within the first day or 2, with the exception of sandbox games like Red Dead Redemption and Fallout. Either the games have gotten shorter, or they've gotten easier. Either way, something's wrong

It's not complaints that motivate companies. Creativity is driven largely by gamers working within the industry. Where I work, we're mostly a company of gamers, and we all really, really want to produce the most kickass game we can (this is fairly typical in the gaming industry). We're pretty fortunate that our management are also gamers, and support us both financially and creatively (which unfortunately is not so typical). The other motivator, of course, is sales. No matter how creative we wish to be, we're doing this as a business, and we need to be paid for our time in order to live (housing, food, etc isn't free). Complaints are inevitable to some extent, because people like complaining. Typically, a company can tell when it does something *wrong* by listening to complaints, but believe me, it's not a driving force in most cases.

BTW, as to why games have gotten shorter... there's no simple answer, but the general trend has been that high-fidelity content (meaning 3D, high-resolution graphics, fully voiced, fully orchestrated scores, movie-quality sound effects, etc) are unbelievably more expensive than games of a few decades ago. The game I'm working on now has over a hundred artists working for the past few years (it's a huge, huge game). Most games simply don't have the budget to do this. Huge worlds used to be created with simple 2D tilesets, and populated with sprite-based characters that only needed to speak in chat bubbles. Once you move to 3D graphics, this same open-world concept becomes incredibly difficult to achieve. I'm not trying to offer excuses for shorter games - it's just the reality of the situation. You *know* that if a game lowered the graphics standards or did too much copy and paste of content, they'd get creamed in the reviews. If they don't, people complain about the game length.

The good news is that I believe we're going to reach a relative plateau of fidelity, and from that point, the bulk of the development effort will be in finding ways of producing more content in a more efficient manner. It's still going to be expensive, as there are some tasks that just can't be easily animated, but there are still many things in the industry that we tend to do by brute force, unfortunately. It also doesn't help that we need to recreate the same types of assets for each new generation of hardware as capabilities increases. Once the tech settles down and we can start re-using more core assets from game to game, and we can focus more of our time on developing advanced content generation tools, you're going to start seeing much larger and more complex games, even from those with relatively modest budgets.

Replublishing Ars (0)

Spunkee (183938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355096)

I read the original piece on Ars (a superior tech news site with actual content in their articles). Let me get this straight... Slashdot, days after Ars posted their article, links back to it and calls it a story. Is it the linking to a second article that makes it a story?

This site is terrible. The user-generated content (comments) used to be worth something, but those are now complete shit as well. Fuck off, slashdot.

Re:Replublishing Ars (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355200)

This site is terrible. The user-generated content (comments) used to be worth something, but those are now complete shit as well.

Sadly true. One day soon I shall close my Slashdot tab and never open it again.

But is it worth complaining about?

Re:Replublishing Ars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355654)

yeah, slashdot links to articles on other sites and people discuss/debate them (despite not actually reading them). That is how the site has always worked, what are you complaining about?

Anyway, I read the original article on Ars a fews days back and basically decided I won't be reading anymore gaming articles on Ars anymore. The article itself was fine, but the author's reply to some of the comments really made it clear he was just trolling. In fact, this seems to be a trend at Ars (they go out of their way to post anything to do with Global Warming for example). Anyway, I appreciate Slashdot linking to the article at RPS, which I may have missed since it and it's comments are worth reading.

Welcome to the Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355104)

where everybody hates the things you like...

How many times you replay a game merits it's worth (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355120)

How many of today's games will get replayed as much as the good old games. Back in my day games were designed to be played for hours and were still enjoyable after you beat them because the levels were hard even if you knew what to do. These games today are weak and once you figure out a trick to beat the bosses or look up how to beat them they are boring and the "good" ones with online play won't be very enjoyable in 10 years when no one plays them. And one more thing get off my lawn.

Re:How many times you replay a game merits it's wo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355384)

lol "in 10 years"... I can't even play online with half the games I own from less than 5 years ago. Even worse some new games come out and die withing months of release... to never be played again... ever.

Re:How many times you replay a game merits it's wo (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355828)

Less than five years? Try one year. I bought Left 4 Dead 2 last Christmas; that would have been barely over a single year since it's release, and it was already difficult to find a match of the map and difficulty setting you wanted. I tried to play a month ago and the user base is already basically gone.

The coming Thanksgiving week will be its second anniversary.

Re:How many times you replay a game merits it's wo (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355446)

This has to do with the attitudes of modern developers now. I was working on the guide for a particular game, and some of the team was watching me play. I ended up using a trick I'd found to skip a large portion of a level, and one of the artists asked me afterward if I was going to put it in the guide. I said of course. He then asked me if I could not, because he spent 2 weeks modeling that area, and he wanted people to see it rather than just skipping it.

Because game developers now are trying to give the player an 'experience', and because costs are so high, the idea of having content be unavailable to players, whether that be because of lack of skill, or because of alternate ways to play, is frighteneing to them, so you end up getting a first playthrough where you really do all you're supposed to do, and see most of what you're supposed to see.

Re:How many times you replay a game merits it's wo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355530)

No, back then you had a ton of free time and were willing to sit around playing repetitive games, while these days you have other interests and priorities and so you see games as not worth the time. There are plenty of people though, who have the time right now and are playing these games over and over and over.

Re:How many times you replay a game merits it's wo (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356020)

I suspect many publishers may not necessarily want that many replays. They want to sell new games not have players stuck on the old ones. Treating games as an ephemeral activity, like watching a movie only once, is a shift in attitude of both players and publishers. If a game does have replayability then the devs want to use downloadable content that you pay for rather than just an open ended fan based modding.

If it cost you money and is not as expected (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355134)

then it is worth complaining about.

what a bullshit! (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355166)

I played through every good game, some even more than once. I even play some really old games now (like Baldur's Gate) or remakes of old games (like King's Bounty). And follow FreeOrion, ScummVM and similar efforts to recreate old, but good games. The present "game industry" is not targeting me any more, so I rarely find good games nowadays, I have to resort to play the same old games.

Re:what a bullshit! (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356014)

Same here, and Indie games still have that effect on me. The Humble Indie Bundle is closed now but check the type of games they offer. DRM free multi platform.

Online gaming (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355180)

Seems like these arguments are based on games that are single player. The most popular games are online and interactive with other players. Sure, there are many single-player games being produced, but they don't make the recurring revenue from the consoles' online services. Why put money into a one-time transaction when you can hook players into a monthly fee?

Re:Online gaming (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355976)

And as a gamer, that's where they lost me. If I am with other people, I like to do things other than play games. I have enjoyed the Lego series with my daughters and also Super Mario Wii 2 at a time, but usually I game when I would otherwise be alone. I don't want to play with other people and I don't want a "railed" universe just because some guy spent 2 months on it.

I recently started replaying Ultima 3 because it's such an open world, with a series of tasks that can be done in virtually any order. They just don't make games like that anymore.

current games, same crap over and over (1)

metalgamer84 (1916754) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355194)

This is why I don't buy new games much anymore. I stick to my DOS and Windows 9x games the most. I enjoy the lost art of having to use your brain to get through a game, not just blowing crap up ala FPS or just building a base and attacking the opposing players ala RTS. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy those types of games occasionally but the formula and rhythm to them get stale after awhile. My biggest peeve these days is the graphics quality of a game take priority over story, control or length of game.

Complaints ARE a part of the game, just like life (1)

DemonGenius (2247652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355196)

Games are all about delving into someone else's concept of an alternate reality and controlling the parameters in said reality within the constraints set by the creator. Too many constraints and the game is too linear. Too few constraints and the game has no direction and there's essentially no point in playing. Just like life, games wouldn't be worth playing if we got exactly what we want all the time or never got what we wanted. Complaints are inevitable in a world where we live with many people whose points of view differ from our own. Complaints are inevitable within games that have to cater to many individuals with differing tastes and points of view.

People just love to have their opinions. Even if (0)

spads (1095039) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355214)

it's just about stupid shit.

All it takes is one time (1)

ifrag (984323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355218)

Once something has been done well, the expectation becomes that all future products will continue to do it that way. Of course, in some cases what people consider the correct way of doing things might be entirely opposite of what others believe, which further fuels the fire of complaints. It's also why every MMO released in the past few years gets compared to WoW. Enough things done right and that becomes the minimum standard, and all future products are either above or below spec in areas when compared to it.

Even "Yahtzee", who is perhaps one of the most brutally honest critics I've ever listened to, takes the time to point out specifically what things a game has done right. The stupid criticisms seen of DXHR did nothing to stop my personal enjoyment (well, of course I didn't read anything about it until winning). Hell, I actually liked the black woman, I thought she added some flavor, and political correctness be damned. I'd rather see something in a game that could be somewhat offensive than have it be entirely bland and unpalatable.

Absolutes are always absolutely wrong (1)

Mr.Intel (165870) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355252)

There's a long list of games I love and play over and over to the point of digging out emulation software or nursing along ancient hardware to play them. None of them are perfect, but they are good enough for me to love. To say that games today are amazing but no one is happy is a long stretch, IMO. Maybe I'm too distanced from mainstream gaming nowadays, but there are several games that are both modern and successful. There will always be detractors, especially when a game is widely praised. That doesn't mean "no one" is happy.

Re:Absolutes are always absolutely wrong (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355578)

2 + 2 = 4

If something interests you (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355254)

If you are interested in something at a level above 'neat' then you will complain about its flaws, because you care about it. If you don't feel something is important enough to you to complain about, you don't care about it.

It's frustrating (1)

keithburgun (1001684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355282)

What's really frustrating about this is that the author, and everyone engaged in this debate, are all missing the real point. Everything is *not* amazing - not even close, but most of the people who are complaining are complaining about the wrong things. The issue is that we have an extremely immature medium that has exploded into a cultural rock-star status way too quickly. In short, it has no idea what it is and what to do with itself. We use the term "video games" as a blanket term for simulators, toys, puzzles, interactive fiction, movies where you just have to press A every few minutes, and some actual games. The issue is that very few people in the industry, it seems, have a solid understanding of games to begin with. "Every game is too short, although we never finish the games we play." This statement is just chock-full of incorrect implications about the nature of games. Games aren't something you "finish". Games aren't linear. Games don't have a "length" in the way that's being espoused here. A game is a system of rules in which one or more agents compete by making decisions. The problem is we're building games as though they were movies, and there's a deep cultural problem behind this, which I call "game shame". Games are not considered to be on the level of other mediums, and so developers and gamers think that by emulating other mediums, games become more legitimate. We need to look at the fundamentals of what a game is. Only then will we be able to improve in a significant way. I wrote more in depth about this on this post: http://www.dinofarmgames.com/?p=219 [dinofarmgames.com]

Re:It's frustrating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355502)

Even moreso though is 'game length' versus replayability. A 20 hour long game that you can play through for 100 hours of enjoyment is probably better than a 40 or 50 hour game you only play through once (A 100 hour game that didn't bore you to death first would be better, but obv have ridiculously high production costs, probably.)

Examples of games whose replayability greatly trumps their gameplay length: Asteroids. Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, Morrowind (I'm on my third character, each with a 40+ hour playthrough and still haven't seen everything), Baldur's Gate 1 (2 was ok, but much narrower, and ToB was basically linear, just like IWD/IWD2, and to a slightly lesser degree Planescape: Torment.), X^2/X^3/X^3TC by Egosoft (Basically sandbox Flightsim/Company/Empire Building with a storyline tacked on. Had uncountable hours into X^2 and at least 40+ in X^3TC).

What did all these games have in common? The fun wasn't just in what was built into the game, the fun was also in the lack of limitations forcing you to do thinks on a restrictive feeling manner. How would Asteroids have felt if you were boxed in on the screen? How would Mario or Sonic have felt if you were limited to running along the floor and just avoiding the monsters that were thrown directly ahead of you? (Sans bosses obv.) How would Morrowind or the X-series have felt if you were forced to do the plot on a restricted timeline, so you had no time to explore the world?

Most of the games getting harsh criticism have this issue. They are too linear and have zero replay value. There's no character customization, there's no missable sidequests to go play, there's no hidden content only visible/unlockable on your second play through, etc.

Re:It's frustrating (1)

keithburgun (1001684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355568)

Yes. "Replay value" is, inherently, a good way to judge a game. And by that token, almost ALL of the digital games that have come out in the last 15 years SUCK. Exceptions would be some multiplayer games, sports games, and abstract games. Regarding Morrowind: "playthrough and still haven't seen everything" - this idea that games are about "seeing all the content" is a major, major problem. You see all the content of "Go" instantly, yet you can play it for a lifetime, and indeed people have played it intensely for four thousand years. Video games need to take note of the long history of games and learn something about their fundamental nature.

I call bullshit. (2)

LaRainette (1739938) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355330)

I think Fallout 2 was content-wise far superior to Fallout3.
I think Baldur's gate II was the most profound RPG ever.
If you don't agree and you think some games form 2010 can rival these I'm really interested in your suggestions.
I don't think games and getting worse, I just think the focus has shifted in a way I don't like. The aim is to seduce the wider audience possible, and it is very hard to accomodate this with taking risks is the design or satisfying the hardcore gamers.
In some genres it's easier to do than in others, and for instance SC2 is as good as SC. FPS probably didn't see much change either appart from greater graphics.
But for adventure/RPG the shift is massive and I find it damaging. (although this is just my opinion)

Commercial -vs- Indie (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355332)

I think that a lot of the complaints mentioned in the post apply more to large commercial games than to Indie efforts. I love some of the large commercial games like Red Dead Redemption, but felt that I expected more polish out of such a major effort, while I've played some indie games that felt nearly perfect (Braid, Limbo). Perhaps the issue is that a lot of the larger commercial games are repeats of an old concept, while many of the indies feel fresh. When you've already experience a mechanic ten times over you become free to pay attention to some of the minutia.

favourite game (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355336)

My favourite all time game is commander keen, it's fun, it's awesome and it's graphics really push my Xfire 5830 setup. I never complain about games, if you buy a game then play it, beat it and be done with it.

Yes (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355356)

It's possible that people overstate cases. These are *gamers* we're talking about, after all; not the most rational bunch. If you're not emotional and quick to react, you aren't a gamer and this doesn't apply to you anyway.

The answer is: Anything worth money is worth critiquing. Never forget that. If it's not worth critiquing, how could it be worth buying? Do game manufacturers really want to go there? So yes, games are worth complaining about. QED.

Not Amazinger Enough (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355382)

Back when Medal of Honor: Allied Assault came out, the world freaking changed.

Now new games have incremental improvements in look and equipment, maybe a little tweak to gameplay, but they're no longer revolutionary, and it takes revolutionary to keep the niggling from dominating the culture.

Especially when the thing you're niggling about keeps getting you pwned.

complaining about games is .. (1)

Device666 (901563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355390)

I am happy to see people complaining in what can be approved in games. Complaining about trivial matters is a luxury. I personally don't play games that often. My own complaints are more related to software related matters, which are not trivial to me as software development is my main source of income.

Call for 3d roguelike lan/mmorpg in real time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355418)

roguelikes are currently the only games that are worth being hooked on ...

If someone wanna port a roguelike into an open source muliplayers lan or mmorpg, I will accept to make a donation and help with ideas or more if possible ...

Nothing could beat Nethack, only a better Nethack would !!!

Simply Wrong (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355458)

First, I think the entire article applies only to AAA titles; Indie games are kicking more ass every day. Amnesia scared me more than all Silent Hill and Alone In The Dark games combined, and Bastion had more style in its intro screen than most mega-games have in total.

The same people who claim every game was 80 hours and a masterpiece 10 years ago are 10 years away from saying that today was the golden time, once they have the distance needed to scrub the bad games from memory

Second, only delusional twits could argue that every game was a masterpiece 10 years ago. Everyone will admit that shitty games come out in every era if you remind them of some random title names from their perceived Golden Age. I think today's jaded gamer is absolutely right, however, to argue that the number of truly great games coming out has taken a massive nose dive in the last 10 years.

Between 1997 and 2001 we got Fallout, System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, Half-Life, and countless other games I'm probably forgetting. All of them were, truly, masterpieces. And they're not just fond-memories masterpieces; you could release the same damn games today, with era-appropriate graphics, and they'd get a 9.8 out of 10 all over again.

In the last five years I can't think of any AAA title I'd call a masterpiece; I stopped within an hour of the endings of Mass Effect 2, Bulletstorm, and Crysis 2 because they just weren't compelling enough to bother with their endings (and I should have stopped about two hours before the ending of a lot of other games, particularly Human Revolution). Bioshock is probably the closest thing to a great game I can recall lately, and it's inferior in gameplay to System Shock 2 even though it's better in art direction and comparable in story.

That's the problem. Good AAA games have become slightly less common, and fantastic ones basically non-existent, despite the vast increase in the number of games published. So yes, games are worth complaining about until publishers get the ratio back up, and not just for the abstract reasons that constructive criticism is always good or whatever.



Oh, and on a second rant topic: maybe Ben Kuchera could tell developers to get some new ideas before anyone whines at us anymore about not being happy. We're tired of World War 2, we're tired of self-indulgent space opera and we're tired of cover-based action games. We're *really* tired of games that comprise more than one of those.

Re:Simply Wrong (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355528)

Interestingly I did a little thought experiment: Are there any genres now, for which the average game quality is greater or equal to what it was in 2006? The only one I could think of was Point and Click adventure, since there basically weren't any in 2006. In my mind, I'm not sure gaming really is fine.

Re:Simply Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37356012)

Between 1997 and 2001 we got Fallout, System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, Half-Life, and countless other games I'm probably forgetting. All of them were, truly, masterpieces. And they're not just fond-memories masterpieces; you could release the same damn games today, with era-appropriate graphics, and they'd get a 9.8 out of 10 all over again.

You see that right there? That's the problem. You want era-appropriate graphics. Do you have any idea how much more expensive it would be to publish something like Baldur's Gate with era-appropriate graphics? Modern visuals (and audio - voice acting in particular) are not just a filter you can slap onto a game. The entire thing has to be rebuilt to account for it. Baldur's Gate with modern graphics and sound would probably triple the development cost of the original, if not more. Do you think such a game could be profitable? Do you think people would pay three times as much for such a game?

Re:Simply Wrong (2)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#37356052)

Portal was very good and Portal 2 was fantastic. And the gaming press didn't like them, but the Lego series is the most fun I've had gaming in over a decade.

Too Much (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355538)

There is too many Game, too many Movies, too many Songs! Too much of everything, that's why we get bored very easily. I've seen and played it all at one time or another. When a new game comes out it's another remake of something else.

80 Hours?!?! (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355548)

I only have one 80+ hour game in the last 25 years and that was Dragon Quest 7. All other games were lucky to hit 40 hours. Every game is too expensive today. 60$ should get me 2 games not 1 but no we have to have HD graphics which increased the dev time and shortened the game time and increased the cost PS2, XBox, Game Cube and Dreamcast Era graphics are good enough. And don't you dare ever repeat DQ7. It's nice but I'll never finish a game if it takes a minimum of 80 Hours, but practically takes 120. I'm not my Father I can't break the 999 Hour timer and not lose my mind.

Rant Finished.

Re:80 Hours?!?! (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355686)

I've saved a lot of money by waiting a couple of years to get the latest hit. FYI, Fallout 3 is still a fun game if you've never played it before.

How to complain (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355582)

The constructive way to "complain" about games is to refrain from buying or demand a refund. Commiserating about frustrations with games in blogs and sites like Slashdot is also technically complaining but isn't likely to be very constructive unless you can form an angry mob of gamers with pitchforks. Short of that it's the publisher who calls all the shots if you keep handing them wads of cash.

Starcraft II is amazing and I like better than SC1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37355634)

Not everyone is complaining about the good old time. Starcraft II is much better than it's predecesor, who was itself a super great rts!

I think they are both right to a degree (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355666)

We should still criticize games, no matter how good they are, because pointing out problems is how things improve. Nothing is perfect, nor will it be, but we should always strive for perfection. To talk about Deus Ex, since the first article mentions it, the endings are something that need improvement. It doesn't make it a bad game, heck it doesn't even reduce it from being a great game, however it is not up to par with the rest of the game. It should be pointed out that it needs improvement.

However I will say they are right that many gamers need to shut the fuck up and stop whining. There's a difference between offering some criticism of things that could use improvement and crying about small things as though they ruin everything.

Again to use the Deus Ex example I saw a number of people online just slam it for having shitty graphics on the PC. That was odd, since supposedly they worked on making the PC version higher end, but then maybe that was all marketing. Then I get the game. No, it is just people being assholes. The game is beautiful. Not the best graphics EVAR or anything but very visually appealing, better than many games. I can't see how it would ruin the experience for anyone, at least to the point of being all pissed off about it.

What gamers need to do is offer suggestions for improvement, not cry that everything isn't perfect.

Bullshit. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355764)

Yes, games were great 15 years ago. it was gameplay first, rest second. now its either overblown 3d graphics with mediocre gameplay or ... well. there is nothing else.

pump up marketing around sequel to successful game of 15 years ago every year, give extremely pumped up graphics, and sell it for $60. thats what is happening.

Depends on what we are complaining about (1)

nickferber (2457920) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355816)

You would obviously complain about graphics, gameplay length for big titles because they hardly take any risks. But compare that to more ballsy risky games such as lugaru, brain, amnesia, starcraft 1 or even mirrors edge (debatable for some), then you will obviously start focusing on the positives.

complain about what you care about (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355846)

Anything that you care about is worth complaining about. If you something is bad and you don't complain about it, it will never improve. Games are a 10 billion dollar industry, of course they are worth complaining about. At least to the people that care about them.

I can't complain... (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355850)

I only play games I like :) /runs xbill

The complaints are largely deserved and predicted! (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 2 years ago | (#37355918)

The more you pay for a product, the more justification you have for complaining if it doesn't meet your standards in certain ways. When the companies decided to "up the ante" as a rule, selling new PS3 game titles for a pretty standard price of $55 each, for example? They asked for harsh criticisms at every turn.

The argument that "players demand ever improving graphics quality and soundtracks, and more intricate level design" is largely bogus, IMO. Rarely do I hear people bemoaning those issues. Actually much more often, I hear the opposite sentiment; a lot of reflective commentary on the "glory days" of gaming, when a game was simply fun and addictive to play DESPITE relatively simple graphics and a basic premise.

The whole "improved graphics" thing is largely a function of basic expectations that software will make use of the currently available graphics power of the hardware of the day. A fun game is a fun game, period ... and if you're sucked into it deeply enough, you'll cease to really notice the details in the graphics anyway. (I remember, for example, comparisons being made between Bioshock in Wndows on a Direct-X 9 capable setup and a Direct-X 10 capable one. They were bragging about the better looking ripple effects in the water and so forth, but it made me realize how much of a NON-issue the whole thing was! If they hadn't captured the scenes as frozen-in-time screen shots to look at while I wasn't playing, I wouldn't have really noticed or cared about the improvements!)

Nobody really wants to spend a bunch of money on a new machine, only to discover every single piece of software they buy runs no differently than it ran on their OLD system. So in that sense, yes, expectations increase. But not because gamers specifically demand it, with a mentality that the game can't be any good otherwise. The tools being used to MAKE the games improve in power with time too, so compile times vastly decrease and animation tools increasingly simplify design of animated scenes. All of this should balance things out for developers.

I think it's also worthwhile to step back and ask oneself what TYPE of game we're dealing with. If you're talking about a SIMULATION? By nature, that calls for doing everything possible to make it seem as much like what it simulates as possible. Sims are historically some of the most demanding programs out there for computers. Since the early days of the PC, the "Flight Simulator" game from Microsoft served as a benchmark test because it was so complex. Most of today's sports titles really come under the same heading. They're attempting to simulate a live sporting event. I'd argue that most of the 1st. person shooters have reached a simulation status of sorts, too. While the game-play may be far from "true to life", the virtual environment and movement of the characters as they interact with items in the world are attempting to simulate reality.

Traditional arcade games really never attempted to achieve "sim" status. Cartoonish representations of everything were plenty suitable, and basic ideas of gravity were good enough (no physics engine ensuring particles fly out from explosions in accurate patterns, etc).

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