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Gameplay: the Missing Ingredient In Most Games

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the customers-love-in-game-currencies-and-spamming-their-friends dept.

Games 308

An anonymous reader writes "Game designer Tadhg Kelly has an article discussing the direction the games industry has taken over the past several years. Gaming has become more of a business, and in doing so, become more of a science as well. When maximizing revenue is a primary concern, development studios try to reduce successful game designs to individual elements, then naively seek to add those elements to whatever game they're working on, like throwing spices into a stew. Kelly points out that indie developers who are willing to experiment often succeed because they understand something more fundamental about games: fun. Quoting: 'The guy who invented Minecraft (Markus "Notch" Persson) didn't just create a giant virtual world in which you could make stuff, he made it challenging. When Will Wright created the Sims, he didn't just make a game about living in a virtual house. He made it difficult to live successfully. That's why both of those franchises have sold millions of copies. The fun factor is about more than making a game is amusing or full of pretty rewards. If your game is a dynamic system to be mastered and won, then you can go nuts. If you can give the player real fun then you can afford to break some of those format rules, and that's how you get to lead rather than follow the market. If not then be prepared to pay through the nose to acquire and retain players.'"

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No silly (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42085977)

Gameplay is what happens when you play the game.
Duh.

Re:No silly (4, Informative)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42085989)

Gameplay is what happens when you play the game.
Duh.

Sure but the article was about that there should also be more to a game than just "doing stuff".

Re:No silly (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086039)

I thought most games these days were just ego wankery of some shape or form where you press E to win because you are the toughest hardest space marine that ever lived.

To be honest this has been coming for a long while. Gameplay has been sorely lacking, especially around the switch from 2D->3D games. My own personal definition of "gameplay" is the extent and delay at which the user's physical input has direct relevance in the game.

So a game like gunstar heroes would have more gameplay than contra because the characters in contra have no ability to throw enemies or use hand to hand combat.
A game where character animations take a long period of time to execute after player input also would have less gameplay, in my opinion, since my input can not change the state of the game whilst this animation is being played.

In this respect although Super Mario 64 was probably the 3D game I've played with the most gameplay, it still has less gameplay than Super Mario World. I don't think anyone has been able to replicate the feeling of jumping on 6 koopas in a row whilst holding a red shell in a full 3D playing field.

I would like to see that though.

Re:No silly (5, Interesting)

dadioflex (854298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086609)

I think you're doing a good job of showcasing that gameplay, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. From your point of view gameplay is missing compared to older games. From my point of view, and I say this as someone who died a million times playing Jet Set Willy, the gameplay was missing from the older games. I actually WANT easier games where I can stroll through them, see everything, collect everything and then move on having felt I got my money's worth. Basically I want a game that rewards perseverance without demanding skill. I skew older on the gamer age chart, but I'm trending towards the norm.

Super Mario World used about half a dozen buttons and was, to an extent, a skinner box that drummed patterns into your head. I appreciate that you have every right to think that it has better gameplay than, say, Darksiders 2, but I really can't share that opinion.

Re:No silly (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086859)

Basically I want a game that rewards perseverance without demanding skill.

How is merely putting in time rewarding? In RPGs that's derisively called "grinding". There's no sense of accomplishment when you finish such a game, as there was never any doubt you could do it.

Re:No silly (5, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086057)

Sure but the article was about that there should also be more to a game than just "doing stuff".

Nope. You use metrics to analyse your freemium game to graph tedium against profit. If you make it just tedious enough, people will hopefully pay some money to avoid actually playing your game. Welcome to the modern approach to game design :/

Re:No silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086129)

Sadly this has killed many a good game, Tribes: Ascend comes to mind...

Re:No silly (1)

witherstaff (713820) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086197)

Time to switch to Planetside 2.

Re:No silly (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086213)

Don't. It's a fucking crap at the moment. EU client didn't work at all for 48 hours after launch, The ProSiebenSat.1 Eu publisher (the fuck sort of name they chose?) is unresponsive to any requests, any sizable battle is fucking full of teleporting players and flying tanks and glitches and huge lag, your pods get constantly dropped inside ENEMY's base (what the fuck, guys) and the grind is exceptionally long. I spent about 6 hours in the game and got maybe 75 upgrade points (and most upgrades START at 50-100 points). but hey, you can buy the all FOR CASH.
The only MMOG that really appeals to me even after close to two years is World of Tanks. And they have their issues too, however the game is a lot more mature than it used to be at go-live. Maybe PlanetSide 2 will come to mature two years from now, if it survives. Well, i guess it will, since people managed to suffocate the purchase server too.

Re:No silly (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086343)

ProSiebenSat.1 Eu publisher (the fuck sort of name they chose?)

FYI thats a concatenation of two german (crappy) television channels (operated by the same company).
The sort of crap channel only the barely educated idiots will watch voluntarily.

Re:No silly (5, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086375)

The ProSiebenSat.1 Eu publisher (the fuck sort of name they chose?)

"ProSiebenSat.1" is just the concatenation of the identifying parts of the names of two TV companies which merged: "Pro Sieben Media AG" and "Sat.1 SatellitenFernsehen GmbH" ("Satellitenfernsehen" is just German for "satellite TV"; "AG" and "GmbH" are the legal type of the corresponding company). Those again were named after their main (German) TV channels: Pro 7 ("Sieben" is the German word for "seven") and SAT.1.

Re:No silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086583)

I've been playing on Miller, the worst affected server, and last night was as smooth as butter. ProSiebenSat only own the servers, SOE are the ones actually running them. That's like blaming Amazon AWS for the Minecraft Login Servers having a bug in them.

Also, You like World of Tanks? That's the definition of Pay-to-win. You're directly paying for things that improve your power - like the best Ammo - that you cannot unlock through normal play.

In Planetside 2, yes, you can buy weapons, but you can't buy the upgrades, or the utility slots, for cash, you need to play the game and get Certs - which can also be used to unlock all the weapons.

Critical upgrades, like the Sunderer upgrades AMS, Vehicle Ammo Dispensing and Proximity repair system, cannot be bought for cash, or the Infiltrators Terminal Hacking ability, or things like C4, Mines, Aircraft Decoy Flares, Smoke Grenades, Healing Grenades, Weapon attachments etc.

You played for 6 hours and got 75 Cert points. I can get that in one hour - as a free-to-play memeber - by actually playing objectives, in an outfit, with tactics.
Are you in an outfit? Are you just rushing the Crown to try and farm, and just getting mown down? Dying every 20 seconds? Are you hacking terminals, or pushing capture points? or are you hanging back and sniping people?

Re:No silly (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086807)

Sony Online Entertainment? No thanks.

Re:No silly (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086203)

More than that... what I've come to realise is that they've been normalizing the "feel" of games as well. Tribes Ascend, Bad Company 2, Call of Duty: Whatever, and even Planetside 2 all feel like the same game with slightly different sounds and models. When I gave Planetside 2's beta a shot I realised the most effective strategy in a firefight was to play exactly like I was in Bad Company 2.

Re:No silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086863)

Spot on. But Tribes Vengeance, F2P, got some of the magic back. Its actually fun again.

Re:No silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086891)

I meant Tribes Ascension. Not as good as Tribes 2. Better than Tribes 3 (Vengeance).

Re:No silly (3, Interesting)

Jetra (2622687) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086117)

I would like to post a couple of very interesting links

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/beyond-fun [penny-arcade.com]
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.necessarygames.com%2Fmy-games%2Floneliness%2Fflash&ei=qP-xUJWwF-m6yAHEhIAw&usg=AFQjCNF2Ja0DJ6wMb55AkI_4DPdjLDZU1w [google.com]

He makes some very interesting arguments against making games purely for the sake of "Fun." Does the game really have to be about fun? Look at Indigo Prophecy (PS2) or Heavy Rain (PS3). Even Metal Gear Solid, without the guns, stealth, and violence, could have been a very good interactive movie. I would have payed money to watch as snake goes to battle, only to die a little inside. We should really break this habit of making games fun and start exploring other aspects like engaging narrative. We could free the market, setting new standards for better games.

Re:No silly (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086321)

What you're talking about aren't games, they're more simply interactive art pieces to enjoy.

Games should be fun.

Re:No silly (1)

Jetra (2622687) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086417)

Games should NOT be fun only.

Re:No silly (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086517)

Yes, but they should be fun FIRST. I'm with you on the 'exploring the use of the medium for artistic expression' point, but just as a painting exists to be viewed (and thus should, on some level, be visually pleasing) and music exists to be heard (and thus should, on some level, be audiotorially pleasing), a game exists to be played (and thus should, on some level, be FUN to play).

Paintings which break this rule and are not visually pleasing are little more than novelties that are soon forgotten (see any number of pieces in abstract art). Same for music (who actually listens to the things Cage did to pianos?). If I want engaging narrative alone, I've got any number of superior novelists and film directors, who do a far better job than any game I've ever played on that single aspect.

Re:No silly (2)

somersault (912633) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086521)

I didn't say "only". It's a combination of other elements that make a game fun.

But if it's not fun, what's the point in playing? Computer games are entertainment. They allow for pleasant passage of time, leading you to your death with minimum hassle. Games can have purpose, but they also should be fun if they're to be worth your time.

Re:No silly (2)

dadioflex (854298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086647)

Some people's idea of fun is to look at art. You're making the mistake of assuming everyone is the same. You might like Psychonauts, say, a colourful platformer with a wacky story and some quite challenging puzzle jumping. I might enjoy the Walking Dead game which is little more that an interactive movie interspersed with some quick time style events. We both have fun from our game of choice, but may hate playing the other game. We have many points of similarity, but also many differences. Also, I am a basset hound.

Re:No silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086795)

"Games should be fun"

For games in general - this is WRONG. Games have ALWAYS existed for productive reasons - (played (verb) for work (noun)): for training and selection purposes. (How do you find who the best person is to do something - you have a game and see who wins - (e.g can throw the furthest or most accurately)).

But that means knowing and understanding what games are - which is a problem at this time, that happens to underpin everything being talked about.

The problems we have with understanding and creating games in general, however, are themselves symptoms of a FAR deeper, underlying problem with our perception and understanding of (the English) language, and without fixing THAT, we'll (and we are) continue/(continuing) to go round in circles, (literally), not consistently getting anywhere, if not making things worse.

Re:No silly (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086893)

Games should be fun.

Games should be *satisfying*. Making them fun is one way to do that, but it's not the only way.

Re:No silly (2)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086427)

Holy google link, batman :D

Here is the actual link:

http://www.necessarygames.com/my-games [necessarygames.com]

And damn, that was depressing. (parent had linked to the game "loneliness") But I see what you are getting at.

Re:No silly (1)

Jetra (2622687) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086489)

Sorry about the google link. My bad, I must have grabbed it while it was loading.

Re:No silly (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086287)

The irony of this is the Notch quote. Minecraft is just a toy sandbox and has the least gameplay of any game I've ever played.

Now watch as this gets buried into oblivion by the Minecraft apologists.

Re:No silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086005)

You have to be worried when the title of the article is "The Gameplay is the Gameplay. Always." Trying too hard to look smart or not trying enough?

Re:No silly (4, Interesting)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086151)

The sentiment behind the OPs comment is accurate. Difficulty != why people play games. Difficulty != fun. Just look at the stats on http://www.trueachievements.com/ [trueachievements.com] and you'll see this article is completely bunk.

The Sims 3: http://www.trueachievements.com/game.aspx?gameid=3183 [trueachievements.com] 17k own it, less than 9% have completed it.
Wanted Weapons of Fate: http://www.trueachievements.com/WANTEDWeapons-of-Fate/achievements.htm [trueachievements.com] 17k own it, more than 21% have completed it
LEGO Rockband: http://www.trueachievements.com/LEGO-Rock-Band/achievements.htm [trueachievements.com] 17k own it, just over 1% have completed it.

Similarly if you look at games with similar difficulties (by completion %) you get a range from 72 copies to ~60,000 copies.

If you look at the actual top adoptions for games you see a theme: Great storytelling with great graphics and relatively bug free games. Difficulty is all over the map in the top selling games.

Re:No silly (1)

heypete (60671) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086217)

That's a remarkably interesting site. Thanks.

I find it rather odd that certain story-based games (say, the Mass Effect series) have a modest rate of completion: according to that site, ME1 had 9.07% completion, ME2 12.00%, and ME3 5.33%. I understand the lack of completion of ME3, as there was a bit of controversy about the quality of the ending (or the lack thereof) so I could see people simply not bothering to finish, but it seems odd that the previous two games had such low completion rates -- they're pretty decent games so why not finish a game you've paid for? It seems my playing style differs from the average player.

I wonder how the statistics compare between PC and Xbox players. Now you've got me curious.

Re:No silly (3, Insightful)

GuldKalle (1065310) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086253)

"Completed" means doing all achievements, not "playing through the story". To me it seems quite natural that if it's the story that carries a game, people are not going to play through it multiple times to unlock every achievement.

Re:No silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086277)

Achievements are stupid and mean nothing. Also that site only references Xbox 360 games.

A game with a good enough story will compel people to replay. There are games that are 20+ years old that I still dig up from time to time for that reason. I don't see this as being any different than rereading books or rewatching movies.

Re:No silly (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086605)

Achievements are stupid and mean nothing.

Some achievements are bullshit, such as the ones that are based on purchases or effectively random events. As an example, I picked-up a rare mount in WOW, which shows as a feat of strength. I was lucky to get it on my first trip there with my druid. Even grinding for it is not what I'd consider an achievement when the thing has a less than 1% chance of dropping, and then it's only one attempt per day, probably with five people rolling for it.

Before achievements came to WoW I enjoyed trying unusual approaches to fights - as did many others. Go with an incredibly underpowered group to see if we were good enough anyway. Bring a lowbie and escort him through particularly nasty places where he was almost certain to aggro groups much larger than would be usually tackled.

Some achievements are fun to get and quite tricky. Many others are tedious and/or don't mean a great deal.

Re:No silly (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086337)

It'd be interesting to compare how many people got the level 10 achievement, the level 60 achievement and the "I killed Diablo in Inferno and all I got was this lousy T- Shirt" achievement.
Given the stink Blizzard got over monetizing the un-fun of Diablo 3 game developers need to re-examine what a challenge is. Nowadays it seems to be cheap deaths.

Or take for instance Assassins Creed. They change the game mechanics so often your head goes dizzy. One time you can kill your mark whichever way you see fit and another time you will arbitrarily fail when you get spotted. Add in tower defense games, board games, races against the clock with wonky controls, naval attles, mini strategy games and farm ville light. The series hasn't executed its core mechanic competently for some time and shovels stuff with arbitrary fail states on top of that. The only series that pulled that off competently was the Arkham series.

Contrast that with the very shallow Skyrim. It has graceful quest failstates and lets you go about your business. Even if it isn't very balanced.

Game designers have to take a look at the successful indies who have been eating their lunch for some time now. They mostly have one core mechanic, take care that it's properly executed and sell at a justifyable price.
I can't remember having The Kid jump against a corner when I wanted him to run around it.The War Mage kills orks by the score and doesn't second guess your inputs. He doesn't sit down for a board game either.

Re:No silly (1)

Jiro (131519) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086473)

A lot of games are set up so that if you want to complete everything in this sense, you have to use a guide. RPGs are particularly bad at this. "Follow this sequence of 10 arbitrary steps on arbitrary maps to get this hidden character". "Defeat this bonus boss, which is pretty much impossible without finding the exact piece of equipment, which is found as a 1 in 200 drop from an enemy on the opposite side of the map".

Re:No silly (1)

heypete (60671) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086727)

"Completed" means doing all achievements, not "playing through the story". To me it seems quite natural that if it's the story that carries a game, people are not going to play through it multiple times to unlock every achievement.

Ah, you're right. I misunderstood the way things were categorized. Thanks for the correction.

Re:No silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086793)

By your definition you haven't completed Super Mario Bros. until you have killed every single enemy, collected every single coin and broken every single block, which is ridiculous.

"Completed" means progressing through the game until you reach the ending. Nothing more.

Re:No silly (1)

indeterminator (1829904) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086677)

As other replies to your post pointed out, "completed" on that site seems to mean 100% of achievements.

For example, for Mass Effect 2 the particular achievement that indicates story mode completion is this: http://www.trueachievements.com/a60985/mission-accomplished-achievement.htm [trueachievements.com] .

Re:No silly (2)

lattyware (934246) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086301)

The Rock Band titles have insane achievements - completing all of them doesn't mean you have completed the game, it means you have mastered it entirely. Completely different.

Re:No silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086387)

The Sims 3: 17k own it, less than 9% have completed it.

"Completing The Sims" is void of meaning.

A really fun game... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42085997)

I just found (by accident) a game called Lil' Lady by Masque. It's basically a game featuring 12-15 slot machines (real slot machines that actually exist in casinos), produced by IGT, and it was published earlier this year. It also costs about $20.

Anyway, this game is ridiculously addictive. It has all the grinding, the rewards (including WoW style XP progression and even achievements), and of course the extremely addictive slot machines. You also can't really lose in this game since in Career Mode if your money dips below a certain point it seems like the game fixes the RNG so that you start winning a buttload of money.

And what's best about it? It only costs $20. No subscriptions. No online gambling. No real money is being lost. Ever. You just constantly keep winning. It's everything I ever wanted from a casino. It's also a great time waster, like Solitaire.

Re:A really fun game... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086095)

Playing slots is stupid even when there is an ever so slight potential to win money. You'd have to be absolutely braindead to want to play them solely for their "gameplay".

Re:A really fun game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086219)

Take a look at most of the games for the iPhone. They are mostly designed to rob you of your money, but in less obvious ways.

Also, pretty much every MMO involves grinding and XP gathering, while you are wasting time (in the very literal sense) and money on them. And unless you are running scams, there is very little profit to be made from MMO's.

I think many modern games are actually just reinterpretations of the old fruit machines, and most folks just don't realize it.

Re:A really fun game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086251)

The difference being the amount of actions you can perform. When you are playing slots, you press a button or pull the arm and hope the symbols match up. There is no skill involved and no way to get better at the game.

Re:A really fun game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086327)

OK, but in real life, how many people are willing to go to casinos and play slots? Or play in the state lotteries?

People LOVE games of chance, even when they know, deep down in their hearts, that they will never win. People also know that in some games, they will never have the skill required to be number one. I am one of those people. I will never be number one. And that is why I like playing games of chance where the odds are rigged in my favor.

In this economy, who wouldn't want to pretend to be rich?

Re:A really fun game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086413)

First, there are far more people who play video games than people who play slots or lottery. Second, I wouldn't say people love the actual games of chance but that people are gullible when it comes to money and get rich quick schemes. These kinds of people will even participate in obvious scams like three card monte, pyramid schemes and Nigerian email scams. It all boils down to greed.

Playing games isn't a matter of being number one, it is a matter of having fun and improving so that you will continue to have fun. Nobody is number one at anything. There is always somebody better at different times and to different eyes. The best thing you can do to improve is to seek out those who you view to be better than you and learn, often times by losing many times.

Re:A really fun game... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086107)

You just constantly keep winning.

I know you are shilling, but this is an interesting point.

You'd think that "constantly winning" would make for a good game, but it does not. Game balance is perhaps the most important thing and getting it wrong in either direction will mean failure. (too easy or too hard)

Re:A really fun game... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086397)

Gambling and gaming are completely different things.

You don't "play" on slot machines or lotteries.

Re:A really fun game... (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086865)

Where does skill come in?

Source.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086015)

Not entirely true.... Valve's Source and Source 2 engine have succeeded in building different, top-selling games....
This also goes for SCUMM.
I cannot name other platforms, though....

The success of these are probably due to that they managed to set the mood properly for the games.

Re:Source.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086091)

There is also a lot of variance in the speed and types of weapon employed in the various games.
I'm pretty sure most mods like TF2/CS/Left 4 Dead have very different movement dynamics even if they are all FPS games. There are things you could jump over in TF2 that you just cant in L4D or Counter Strike. And the movement speeds/acceleration are often different too(although i think HL2 and CS:S both have 320 default speed).

Its very easy for a player to tell when a mod is just "half-life 2 with extra guns" from the movement dynamics alone.

What else is missing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086053)

Quality and pride. So many games are just shoved out as is. Patch later maybe. Day one DLC. Othercrap infested. Activation and hassles to just PLAY. Always on connection required... And so much other garbage that makes the pirate copy a much better deal even if it costed the exact same $.

The suits have taken over gaming. And like everything else in their pursuit of profit above all else... Have turned it to so much crap.

Asseditry (1, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086067)

The fun factor is about more than making a game is amusing or full of pretty rewards.

Making sure, or delete the second "is".

Serious question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086087)

Why don't game manufacturers hire psychologists to tell them what gamers want and then go from there?

If your goal is to rob your customer of as much money as possible, why not?

Re:Serious question (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086551)

Zynga does [time.com] .

Singularity got it right. kinda. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086089)

I'm playing a pirated copy of the game as I write this. I must say, for a genre whidoesn't havegon'te a whole lot of variety when it comes to game play., this studio really tried in the new stuff to figure out category. I even want to buy it so I can see what the multiplayer is like. Kudos.

Re:Singularity got it right. kinda. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086245)

Singularity was an even worse game than TimeShift.

Difficult (1)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086101)

Aside the gameplay, games are lacking some difficult. In the golden age (8 and 16 bits), most players never ended a lot of million sellers games, but this not repelled them to keep buying. I remember reading marketing articles saying that they're realized if they lower the difficult, gamers will love games more. But videogame is about challenges!

Re:Difficult (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086351)

You memorized levels and opponent movement which pretty much was on rails. If you deviated from the optimum you pretty much got your head ripped off. Xenon2 and Star Goose spring to mind. Also you could very easily get stuck for not getting a MacGuffin in a previous chapter which you couldn't return to.

Also timers.

In the olden days a challenge was also a case of hit&miss.

It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matters (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowherd (13230) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086105)

The article claims that these games are popular because they are hard but it seems that nobody every talks about how challenging they are but instead they always talk about how creative you can be within the game. Both Minecraft and The Sims allow you to be infinitely creative in the way you approach and what you do in the game, and that is what has made these games so popular.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086221)

The last thing Minecraft is, is "hard". Even on "hard" difficulty settings, it is still extremely easy.

The difficulty, if any, is using what you have to work with, to make neat things.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086273)

Most players I know get tired of singleplayer quickly - but once they join a multiplayer server there's a social aspect. Also, Tekkit greatly extends the novelty.

I'm working on an HV solar panel to power my mass fab on one server. Three MVs down, seven more to go! The HV is the most resource-intensive item in IC2, perhaps in any mod. I've got a whole factory dedicated to processing a stream of input from quarries and producing fuel to keep them running, almost entirely automated.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086357)

One MV down, rather, before anyone points out that you only need eight MVs to make an HV. I got numbers confused.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086641)

Most players *I* know think multiplayer is dull, repetitive and full of asshats and enjoy games that offer an interesting story and setting instead. Interestingly, that's the same way I feel.

Your experience (or mine, for that matter) is not necessarily indicative of what most gamers want. We both gravitate towards other players who share our interests, which skews our viewpoint.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (5, Interesting)

Umuri (897961) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086281)

I can shed some insight here.
Minecraft and The Sims are not "hard" in the sense that you will fail a lot.
Merely that they are hard meaning you start the game with very little understanding in how it works, and then have to master those systems to do what you want.
As you are placing blocks, you have to deal with resource management, your own life, etc.
A game does not have to be hard to be challenging. Nor does being hard make a game challenging.

My favorite example from recent games is one called Demon Souls. Many people say it is hard, and challenging, yet It has one aspect that I love because it perfectly demonstrates the difference between the two, because it is a perfect example of something that is hard, but not a challenge.
It has what used called an arcade coin-trick. A piece of gameplay put in purely to eat your quarters and lengthen time playing, without adding an equivalent value of fun or different playstyle.

The challenging part of the game is learning each individual enemy, how they fight, how you can react, etc. You develop actual skills as the game goes on and your proficiency goes up.
The coin trick is the death and respawn limit. While you can argue it adds a sense of urgency and being careful to the game, one could have done this without such a harsh penalty (loss of all exp, plus time wasted attempting to regain it only to fail at the end). This is an example of a piece of a game that is hard, but not challenging. It is hard because it punishes failure, without adding much extra fun.

So with this in mind, you can see why minecraft and the sims can be considered challenging in that they engage the mind and thought, without being hard.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (1)

ch0ad (1127549) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086399)

I would argue that a lack of checkpoints rewards cautious and skilled game play rather than "punishing failure" but that's just me. If a game gives you a checkpoint every 5 minutes there's absolutely no reason not to brute force your way through a problem by throwing corpse after corpse at it.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (2)

Jiro (131519) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086535)

It depends on how the game is designed. A game that doesn't have checkpoints can still have situations that can't be passed without using trial and error. Demon Souls has several bosses like that. It even has one situation where you need to kill a character who doesn't attack you and sits vaguely near the boss room, before the boss will die. Congratulations on figuring that out first time around except by luck. It's also quite possible to survive to a boss and then find you don't have the equipment needed to defeat it reasonably, so you have no option but to die. That is not rewarding cautious gameplay, that's screwing the player over no matter how cautious he is.

Demon Souls also has two endings, but you're probably not going to see both of them without going to Youtube, because they depend on one decision made at the very end of the game, but since you can't save and reload your game there's no way to try again with the other decision.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (1)

ch0ad (1127549) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086819)

Fools idol (the boss you describe) is overcome by exploring the level and noticing the dude saying "i wont interfere i promise" who is right next to the boss. If you are impatient and go straight to the boss without exploring you are punished, but then it lets you escape the fight after the realisation that the boss is immortal so... not that unfair.

It does have it's moments where it requires trial and error, but it overcomes them (for the most part, old hero is an exception to this) with clever level design and tons of shortcuts.

When you complete the game you go to "new game +" and can replay the game with all your epic gear so you can easily get anything you missed the first time (like the alternate ending, and numerous "tendency events" that are hard to get in 1 play through).

It's quite apparent, but i'll say it anyway - i am a huge DS nerd ^_^. I'll admit it's not everyone's idea of fun but for what it aspires to be, it's a very good game.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086645)

Many of the fun parts of online MMOs involve trying to figure out creative ways to do things.

In modern ones, using terrain and obstacles to block line-of-sight is a standard part of battle strategy, but it wasn't always so. EverQuest used to ban people who did that -- anything other than a tank standing there getting a bloody nose was verboten. Stand on a bridge and shoot down -- EXPLOIT ZOMG. ...and EverQuest & friends are now in the also-ran category, you'll note.

Re:It's not difficulty, it's creativity that matte (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086959)

Creativity itself can be challenging. For example, try and build a complex machine using redstone in minecraft.

I often find the early gather/survive aspect of Minecraft is the most entertaining. Once you have a safe shelter and the ability to grow your own food, for me the game changes to finding more rare items (diamonds, etc.) and/or improving the looks and/or vastness of your settled property.

Mods become more important the longer you play, IMO, to keep the game interesting. PvP arenas, mob arenas, multiplayer (which basically requires anti-griefing mods), world building tools like WorldEdit, etc..

Challenge needs to be fun, too (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086135)

I agree that games need to be challenging, but the way in which making things more difficult is implemented matters a lot. For example, I remember that there was a mod for Battlefield 1942 where you could fly modern airplanes and helicopters which was actually kind of challenging. I got a great kick out of making tricky manouvers in those things. Then EA/DICE release Battlefield Vietnam, where the helicopters were basically auto-hovering and required barely any skill at all to fly around - extremely boring and lame. The earlier mod with the helicopters is a good example of something that's challenging and fun, but they could've also just made it harder by giving the vehicles fewer hitpoints for example, which wouldn't make it any more fun at all.

This is why WoW sucks now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086215)

Totally agree.

I re-opened my WoW account earlier this month and then after a week, cancelled it.

As a priest, I now have for practical purposes infinite mana. It's boring as HELL. No skill, no challange, totally empty.

WoW is now a game-shaped object, not a game at all.

The absolutely essential core of the game, challange and the possibility of death, has been removed. It was bad enough with inflation (one gold for 20 copper bars - it used to be 2 silver), with mounts at level 20, with the VAST number of flight paths so you can get anywhere instantly (another "cost" removed) - but this change to combat removed the absolutely essential core of the game without which it is utterly unrewarding.

Re:This is why WoW sucks now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086329)

Raids today are as challenging as they've ever been. Anything else is filler.

Waiting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086229)

For the obligatory "m0d down BSD" spam. Any time now.

Notch is not a God (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086231)

Can we please stop circle jerking Notch already?

Notch made a great concept and everyone bought into it, with promises of much much more, but after about 6 months the updates just stopped, he was too busy doing everything possible but working on Minecraft until he finally gave up the ghost and let Jeb take over, who is trying to keep promises Notch refused to. Notch made a lot of enemies because he went from working with his community to make the game what he promised it to be to going on vacation constantly. The game is not a shadow of what it was promised to be and he just got extremely lucky to take off as it did.

Notch is not some Indie Diety who knows all about gaming. He is just a guy who got picked out by 4chan to make his game huge, then when he was expected to keep his promises he fled into the night. Several months after this he announced 1.0 and released the beta with minimal changes (He added a bad boss fight at the end and a Livejournal quality poem for "the end of the game").

If you enjoy Minecraft that is great, but please look into the history of it before you start listening to Notch. All he will teach you is to take people's money, break promises and when people call you on it to run and hide among a bunch of ass kissing children.

Re:Notch is not a God (3, Insightful)

lattyware (934246) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086313)

What promises were broken? The Notch hate just seems to be people who imagined a minecraft where you could do literally anything, and were never going to be pleased unless he worked 24/7 on it forever.

Re:Notch is not a God (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086475)

the one which bothers me the most are:
sky dimension (because it was a different kind of hard)
modding support (because right now mods are a interoperabilit( mess, and I sincerely hope they don't go the craftbukkit route even if they hired the craftbukkit guy because forge is where the good mods all are)

but you are free to stay blindfolded and ignored what minecraft was supposed to be.

Re:Notch is not a God (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086699)

http://i53.tinypic.com/r73yps.png Try reading that image. It will explain a lot of things.

No one expected unlimited things, but there are a bunch of things promised and missing. Modding, torches burning out, Sky worlds. People aren't out to hate Notch because he is popular, they are annoyed they payed for a game to be developed and then once enough money rolled in he stopped developing it.

Re:Notch is not a God (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086439)

What are you talking about? What promises do you imagine being made?

Re:Notch is not a God (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086725)

He started making money. And showed his true colors. "Fuck this game. I made money!"

I want the guy making games who makes money.. and doesn't care... He still keeps making the game because THATS what he was into.

Notch is just yet another profit seeking suit. Just happened to turn out something people wanted. once.

Now if you fall for his bullshit a second time... Well.. you're a dipshit.

World of Warcraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086259)

They want games difficult?
 
Then please explain World of Warcraft and the sheer numbers of active subscribers.

Re:World of Warcraft (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086355)

An MMORPG needs to be crafted in such a way that the players feel challenged, but never actually like they are losing. They need to always be progressing to greater things, higher levels, better gear. And never going backwards.

Contrast to, say, EVE Online. How many players do you think ragequit forever after spending their fortune on an utterly awesome ship, only to then lose it all due to a mistake or sheer bad luck?

Tomorrow-morrow Land! (5, Insightful)

Infestedkudzu (2557914) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086279)

A few of us still believe in the old prophecy. Some day there will be The One, and he will find a way to take grinding out of video games. And the old times will come back. and we will have games like zelda (nes) and metroid again.

Re:Tomorrow-morrow Land! (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086765)

Zelda - grinding for rupees. Let's play money making game!

Metroid - grinding for energy. Those boxes don't fill themselves.

AAA games are fun (1)

ET3D (1169851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086283)

The blockbuster games are fun. That's why people play them, and they make a gazillion dollars on the first day of sales. To claim that somehow indies know better flies in the face of reality. Sure occasionally some indies make a decent amount of money, but it still pales in comparison to what the AAA games make.

It's okay to claim that these big budget games are holding the art of games back, or that they don't always succeed in getting the formula perfect, but claiming they're not fun? Maybe they're not fun to a subset of people. But most indie games are not fun for a larger subset of people.

Exhibit A: (3, Funny)

FridgeFreezer (1352537) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086331)

Chess. The graphics aren't great but it's still just about the ultimate game of champions. Beaten only by Gravity Power on the Amiga.

Re:Exhibit A: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086755)

Slot Machines. No graphics at all and there is no skill involved, but damn, isn't it a rush when you win big?

Why is it that only the 1% should have all of the wealth? They didn't earn it. They just got lucky. And you can get lucky, too. Head on down to your local casino and play the slots to see if you too can be a lucky winner and become the next millionaire! :)

Also, you win more if you bet big. If you see a machine that has over 1,000 lines that you can bet on, go for that one. Also, don't bet less than $0.50. Ever. It lowers your chances of winning the multi-million dollar JACKPOT!

Great Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086349)

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Gameplay - Utility, Vanity, and Gambling (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086377)

This was my post to the game forum regarding the upcoming demise of Glitch:

Dear Tiny Speck,

My condolences on the downfall of your wonderful game, but I am not here to add to the crowd of sorrows and grieving over it's loss. Rather, I would like to tell you why I am personally responsible for its collapse: I didn't put a penny into it. I'd like to tell you why.

For those who think that a good idea and sitting around the campfire singing Kumbayah will solve the world's problems, I've got some news for you. You're all going to starve unless somebody gets off their duff, finds food, and feeds you. Note that in step two of that process, the Little Red Hen story is in effect, so you better be damn sure the hen has a good reason to feed you. Or, better yet, feed yourself. In any case, however good your idea is, it's life is limited until somebody is willing to cross your palm with silver.

Glitch has been a wonderful game, time sink, social adventure, and challenge for me. The best description of it I've seen in the forums was A Toy. And a wonderful toy indeed! Even so, those servers cost money to power, the programmers to produce, and so on. But like any online game, you are selling intangible goods, and must thoroughly provide for three things needed to attract and keep PAYING customers: Utility, Vanity, and Gambling.

First, an aside for your marketing folks: I'm a mid-50s semi-retired career military type with management and executive experience, as well as lots of computer development. I'm attracted to challenging games in many forms, and I'd like to continue this by relating Glitch to the only two other online games I've put money into, Quake 3 and Perfect World. And now, back to the explanation.

Utility – Adds to, enhances, or continues game play.
Vanity – Social interaction providing recognition.
Gambling – Quests, challenges, puzzles, etc, which provide failure/success outcomes.

For those who want to invoke Maslow and game play: Survival/Utility; Social/Vanity; Actualization (the pursuit of)/Gambling. For those who want to try Jung: Don't. Just don't.

Consider Quake 3, a first person shooter which has a large following on individually hosted servers. I enjoyed the game for the action (Gambling) and people (Vanity) I met online. Eventually, I found a high-speed variant called Vogon (Utility) which markedly increased the challenge of the game. Because I liked it so much, and the supporting forum (Utility, Vanity), I kicked in money occasionally to help pay the server costs.

One of the Q3 players introduced me to Perfect World, which is a huge MMORPG allowing me to have several characters of different levels and skill types (U). As the game developed for me, I met and squaded with fun people (V), encountered interesting puzzles (G), and decided to purchase upgrades for my characters (U), specifically relating to storage and transport. I've since learned that the really, really good gear is hugely expensive in game funds, and takes ridiculous amounts of questing to ever achieve. But the players who want this stuff can buy it with cash (U) and are visible to other players (V) as having this unique equipment. Consequently, I've viewed my cash infusions as rent for playing the game, and don't want to put any more money into the game otherwise. I'm happy playing for the fun (G, V), not the boasting value of having the uber-weapons.

So then, back to Glitch. Social (V)? Heck yes! Fun stuff to do (G)? Yep. Upgrades to help you do them (U?) Also yes. Anything I really need to pay for? Nope. Having a big (or non-default) wardrobe is not my thing, so Vanity clothing is not a sale for me. Likewise, fun furniture (more V) isn't that attractive, at least for something I can't buy at Auction (U).

In short, I helped kill the game by not buying what you were selling. Looking back on early days in the game, if the Subway cost some coin, and I didn't have much in the way of Teleport skill, I would have considered $5, maybe $10 for a 10x Teleport/Day and free Subway pass for, say 90 days, a good deal. That's the sort of Utility item that would have appealed to me, at least until I got my Teleport 3 and 4 skills out of the way. And that would have been cash coming in for you.

At any rate, I do hope this gets some gears turning when your team gets going on its next project. May it be fun and profitable.

Thank you and farewell!

Re:Gameplay - Utility, Vanity, and Gambling (0)

AtomicSnarl (549626) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086401)

Duh - forgot to log in. Above comment mine.

I disagree with Minecraft at least (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086385)

I bought and played minecraft for many MANY hours, never in competitive or hostile mode or what ever it was called. I played it for the fun of building things from blocks. The challenge wasn't to 'win' but to create a bigger better castle, with better features, and automated functionality. When the game went to release I quit playing it as it changed so much so that it wasn't fun any longer and I haven't played it since.

skinner box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086389)

most games now are designed by psychologists to be skinner boxes, not to be 'fun'. WoW especially does this.

PCs are too powerful. (3, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086441)

Yes, I said it: nowadays, the CPU and GPU are too powerful, and game designers are hell-bent on 3D and other graphical gimmicks, instead of focusing on gameplay. That's why you'll find much more creative ideas among Android and iOS games. Yes, there's a ton of copy-cat games on the Androis marketplace, but there are a lot of interesting gems.

Most of the games I play nowadays are 5-10 years old, or they are Android games. It's why I also installed BlueStacks on my PC:

wat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42086443)

Did I really just see someone claim that The Sims was fun?

Minecraft is pretty cool, but... (1)

dohzer (867770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086633)

... I can't wait until it is released for Arduino Diecimila.

Also affected gamification (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086665)

Long before "gamification" became a buzzword half a decade ago, those developing scientific visualization or modeling & simulation software strove to make their software applications videogame-like, i.e. interactive and engaging. Now "gamification" means incorporating a Pavlovian reward system. Even "gamification" (if we take that to mean broadly the incorporation of videogame features into non-videogame software) has suffered from the declining creativity in videogames.

Fun is Bullshit (1)

dcollins (135727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086815)

"Fun" is generally a bullshit word people use when they can't narrow down what they're really talking about.

"The guy who invented Minecraft (Markus "Notch" Persson) didn't just create a giant virtual world in which you could make stuff, he made it challenging. When Will Wright created the Sims, he didn't just make a game about living in a virtual house. He made it difficult to live successfully. That's why both of those franchises have sold millions of copies. The fun factor..."

Both of those examples sound more like "productive challenge" than "fun".

http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2009/05/its-not-just-about-fun.html [blogspot.com]

Optimized Minecraft (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42086911)

I asked the same question regarding Angry Birds [slashdot.org] a while ago. If Minecraft was tuned to the max (native code binary, optimized engine), what would be lowest spec hardware you could make it run on? Pentium III?

Not nostalgia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42087011)

Re: MMORPGS - when you say gameplay I think game mechanics, the many different abilites of the different classes is "fun" to master. But many MMORPGs sorely lack an engaging, fun way to level up. Its just endless grinding until the end game. And the End Game is where many MMORPGs truly fail. There's definitely a lack of fun factor R&D and innovation in MMORPGs since Everquest. Its all about venture capitalists driving R&D in figuring how to maximize F2P $$ and how to keep them addicted. This apparently & sadly means that immersive and purely fun games like Diablo, Diablo 2, Dune 2, Warcraft 3, Tribes 1&2 are relics of better days of the past. Not being nostalgic here either.

Relevant Extra Credits on this subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42087015)

I was just watching this yesterday.

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/innovation

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