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Designing Videogames For The Wage Slave

simoniker posted about 10 years ago | from the daisy-chainsaw dept.

The Almighty Buck 514

Thanks to Ron Gilbert's weblog for pointing out a GameDev.net article discussing the topic of "Designing Games for the Wage Slave" . The author explains: "We balance on the knife's edge between our glorious time-squandered youth, and the commitments of inevitable middle age... If games can adapt to the needs of the working gamer, they can find a lucrative niche." He goes on suggest practical tips for game developers, including 'Don't Waste My Time' ("Make every moment count. I don't play games to punish myself. I play them to be entertained, rewarded, and challenged"), 'Curiosity Killed The Cat...' ("Constant death was a necessity in the days of video arcades... Now, in the comfort of our lounges or offices, what reason is there to keep dumping us out of the game we bought with our hard earned cash?"), and 'I Need Help' ("Make any necessary information available from within the game.")

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Good insight (5, Insightful)

doormat (63648) | about 10 years ago | (#9818870)

I find this very interesting.. people who work 40-60 hours a week dont have time to be playing EQ for 10 hours a day everyday, or likewise, any game that wastes my time (and doesnt allow me to skip past the bullshit to the actual game). I noticed when I was on spring break or winter break back in college, I had all this free time to sit and play video games. Now I come home from work, cook/eat, pay bills, etc. And then maybe I have time for a video game.

Growing up sucks...

MMORPG's not a good example (4, Insightful)

cbreaker (561297) | about 10 years ago | (#9818965)

The problem with MMORPG's, no matter how good the game play is, no matter how great it is for the casual player - there's always going to be groups of people that will play 10 hours a day and advance further along in the game then you ever could. And eventually, the game developers tailor to this group because they keep paying the bills.

So, probably your best bet is to find a non MMORPG type game to get your fill of games if you can't devote enough time to it.

Re:MMORPG's not a good example (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819005)

And eventually, the game developers tailor to this group because they keep paying the bills.

No, they don't. MMORPG fees are flat rate. The casual gamer pays just as much per month, regardless of how many hours they play. If your game has nothing to offer the casual gamer, and they all drop out, you can point to the die hards -- but that's a self-fulfilling prophecy, not an immutable fact of MMORPGs.

It's even likely that there are more casual gamers than hardcore. If you could come up with a concept that kept more players paying per month, you'd make even more money than you would catering solely to the hardcore gamer. As a bonus, those casual gamers will consume less network and processor resources, so there's less of a bill to pay.

Re:MMORPG's not a good example (1)

cbreaker (561297) | about 10 years ago | (#9819194)

What you're forgetting here is that the casual gamer will eventually stop playing (and therefore paying) because they will feel as though they can never catch up. Game expansions will tailor to the crowd that plays a lot, to keep them interested and paying. This leads to more of a drop in paying casual players because they get even further away from the active players.

With MMORPG's there's always a sense of competition. No matter how much time you spend with it, people want to advance in the game and they want to be more powerful then other players or even how they were.

It's very difficult finding the right balance for everyone, and I'm beginning to think that it's wrong to even try. You'll end up with a really good looking game that's boring as hell.

Re:MMORPG's not a good example (3, Insightful)

nelsonal (549144) | about 10 years ago | (#9819060)

I had an AO subscription that i finally canceled as I wasn't playing much (all my friends were still in college and were well more than 20 levels ahead of me. Anyway the other day I reinstalled my D2 game and had a blast playing it. Yeah I was never going to make it to a ladder, but I had a wonderful time beating the game on normal (and starting an expansion game). It was also fun to play a game with a relative newbie (been playing diablo since the alpha was released), and just hook them up with stuff, advice, or experience. Sure I got toasted by p2ping the level 90 sorceress but it was a fun battle while it lasted.

Re:MMORPG's not a good example (1)

CountBrass (590228) | about 10 years ago | (#9819081)

That's only true of the current generation of tedious "treadmill" MMORPGs like EQ and UO and Galaxies. If you cut out a lot of this boring crap (eg camping spot X for 3 weeks to kill uber-dragon xyzzy and get the uber-sword of leetness or spending days killing rats when you first start) and you'd have an MMORPG that could be played without committing hours and hours to playing.

No single player game would get away with putting their players through this sort of crap. Can you imagine the outrage if to play Doom 3 you first had to spend 2 weeks stabbing demon rats with a sharpened stick?

Not entirely true (2, Interesting)

cbreaker (561297) | about 10 years ago | (#9819166)

See, the thing is, they tried to make SWG more casual gamer friendly. Every mission is accessable to every player all the time. Generic quests are the theme of the day. You can get items for tradeskills while you are logged off. Skills are very easy to obtain.

It all sounds great for the casual player, but it all gets extremely boring at the same time. So what if you have some really cool weapons or armor - so does everyone else, no matter how much you play.

The game was a great success when it first hit the shelves, but it has nowhere near the continued subscription rate of Everquest.

The very things that many people dislike about Everquest (hard to get items, slow leveling, very difficult quests, etc) are the very things that actually end up making it successful. No pain no gain?

And comparing a MMORPG with a game like Doom 3 isn't a valid comparison. You can't just give everyone the best stuff in an MMORPG right away, or give them the same level of fighting abilities right away, and expect people to stay interested and paying.

It's a pickle, there's no doubt about that. Finding the right balance between boredom and redundant. Somewhere in there is entertaining and exciting.

Re:MMORPG's not a good example (1)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9819128)

I wonder what would happen to an MMORPG that balanced its risk/reward scheme perfectly such that playing for short periods of time could reflect a profit or loss whatever units of status the game has, but over the long term would balance out to be perfectly zero sum... think of it as gambling in a universe of play money with no need for there to be a rake for the house factored in.

My guess it would be the fairest game out there, but it'd be a financial flop because people who attained a high score would quit out of fear of losing it... but would there be some who'd keep playing in an effort to be "king of the hill" and stay there as long as possible?

My gamer-friendly idea (4, Interesting)

fpga_guy (753888) | about 10 years ago | (#9819001)

This may exist already, not sure, but what I'd like is an auto-pause - so I can just get up and walk away from a game, and it will figure out that since I'm not moving the controls any more, I'm probably not playing any more either.

You could use a sort of time dilation effect - game time starts to slow as the time since last control movement increases.

Maybe not so good for multiplayer, or at least require some tweaking.

Here's another benefit - anyone who's been a kid (or dealt with kids) and trying to distract their attention away from a game, the excuse is always "I can't pause now" or "hang on, just a minute". If you have a game that you can literally drop and walk away from, it changes the way you interact with it.

Re:My gamer-friendly idea (1)

gredman (665454) | about 10 years ago | (#9819057)

Or you could just press the Start button.

Re:My gamer-friendly idea (3, Interesting)

fpga_guy (753888) | about 10 years ago | (#9819084)

Or you could just press the Start button.

Yes, but wasn't really my point. I want a game that is less demanding of my attention - I want to engage with it on my terms.

If I'm playing a game, and someone walks into the room to talk to me, I don't have to scrabble for the pause button, or whatever, I just drop the joystick, release the mouse, hands off the keyboard, whatever, turn and talk to them.

Incidentally the same ideas are cropping up in devices that detect when a driver falls asleep. During normal driving, you make many tiny corrections on the wheel every second - someone who drifts off to sleep, or is overly distracted, stops making those movements, and it can be detected.

Of course then the problem is how to do a graceful automated shutdown of a vehicle travelling at 100km/h, but you gotta start somewhere!

Re:My gamer-friendly idea (1)

dhakbar (783117) | about 10 years ago | (#9819180)

If that is what you want, there are plenty of games that can be set down instantly... look to Infocom, friend.

Re:Good insight (1, Troll)

Bi()hazard (323405) | about 10 years ago | (#9819117)

The article itself actually seems to focus on things that constitute bad game design in general, rather than things like MMORPGs, which have problems that apply only to the time-constrained.

Looking at the article's examples, I see "don't make me hunt for lost keys!" When I was a kid I abandoned a game or two because I was so sick of looking for the keys. That old Lord of the Rings game for SNES, I'm looking at you. Unskippable splash screens are fine once, but it's the kids who get most impatient over them the 20th time around. And other complaints like jumping puzzles, lack of direction towards goals, and endlessly replaying the same content? Those are cheap tricks necessitated by the primitve technology of the past, but on modern hardware with modern development tools and budgets, that stuff is the hallmark of a half-assed game. Good games can still use such techniques, but they do it in ways that support the gameplay rather than covering up holes.

help someone help while bio is getting a snack this is my only chance to get help i'm tie d up in the basement as a sex slave pelase call the cops somebody help me

The complaints in the article are all focused on things young gamers complain about too-he's talking about plain old poor game design, which pisses of the salaryman enough to drive him away from the product only because he has plenty of cash to go to competitors, and needs to get the biggest bang for his hour of play. The factors that allow kids to put up with lousy games are removed.

However, there are issues that constitute bad design for the older set but are good features for kids. MMORPG's are the best example. Players with unlimited time want and need endless depth and a time sink that rewards their dedication. However, full-time workers just can't compete. The solution is to change the way the game works, and offer different paths that allow everyone to enjoy a rewarding, high-octane game experience without either unbalancing the game horrendously or requiring years of building up. For example, you could have a humans vs orcs vs undead combat game, where humans can spend endless hours building up towards awesome power with an emphasis on rpging, orcs get an action packed but still hardcore rpg experience that appeals to the typical "guy gamer", and the undead come with cool powers right out of the box for time-starved gamers to experiment with. The groups are not competing in parallel, so the fact that an hour old undead can 50 hour old human won't unbalance the game horribly. The undead won't be hanging around the human newbie towns abusing the weaklings.

Why don't more games do that? Because it's a hard design problem. The real issue isn't the games themselves, it's that the market as it is today puts an emphasis on flash, hype, and marketing, not solid gameplay. Brilliantly designed games will remain rare exceptions, just as brilliant movies are the exceptions in Hollywood. Really, the game industry is evolving towards Hollywood very quickly.

Slashdot editors, I agree wholeheartedly with this post [slashdot.org] . That BEIGE OF THE END TIMES would make a highly paid full time worker puke all over his overpriced game.

This should be a new slashdot thing. THE BEIGE OF THE END TIMES is the most radioactive, eye burning color anyone's ever seen-in Japan, soviet russia, and slashdot. Imagine a beowulf cluster of computers all displaying the BEIGE OF THE END TIMES. it would be enough to petrify natalie portman , even if she was lubricated by the Olsen Twins. GNAA: Last Measure should add THE BEIGE OF THE END TIMES to its repertoire of abuse post-haste! And just think of all the possibilities for insults involving beige. Your mom is BEIGE. OF THE END TIMES!

FEAR THE DAMNED ELDER GOD FOR ITS BEIGE OF THE END TIMES CONSUMES YOUR SOUL

not very convincing (3, Insightful)

muyuubyou (621373) | about 10 years ago | (#9819119)

This guy has preconceived some game in his mind. What he's saying makes little sense to me.

If you're so busy you can't dedicate one daily hour to a game, you shouldn't even try playing adventures. Instead of playing stupidly simple games, one would rather go to a web design company sitemap and start pointing and clicking while watching the multimedia. The whole point of adventure games is the challenge.

I've been quite busy myself for some years now and I only play adventures when I'm on vacation. Best games for busy people are multiplayer games with short rounds. I don't really need the latest and greatest. There are many oldies that never get really old. Tekken 3 for instance allows for several rounds in 30 minutes. SNES Mario Kart, or N64 Diddy Kong Racing in multiplayer mode are also great options if you have someone around. You can also look for adversaries online: Bomberman Online for DC is just great, so is soldat [soldat.pl] for PC (give it a download). Crazy Taxi or Jet Set Radio allow for short sessions. Short deadmatches of your FPS of choice are also very adequate.

This guy probably doesn't know what he's talking about by experience. I don't need a stupidly simple adventure game babysitting me to the end. If you want that, just try the lowest difficulty level and for many games you're set.

Trial and error is just fine. R-type and Ikaruga come to mind. There should be enough save points so you don't have to repeat the same level a ridiculous number of times. In other words: arcades so easy you don't even need to retry are silly (this only applies to arcades).

I agree in a couple of things, though: being lost is not fun (busy or not) and stupid long animations you need to see must die. Busy or not, I don't like wasting my time watching long animations. Most Final Fantasies are excessive, but FF X is just unbearable. Games are not movies, and Square sucks at making movies anyway. Let me play. Shenmues are much better in this respect. They don't bore the shit out of you every minute with a long animation: animations are short, to the point, instructive and often interactive. It also takes you notes so you can easily retake the game after long breaks.

Amen (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9818889)

sat through three unskippable splash screens (and let me take this opportunity to scream "I know who you are! I bought a game from you! Now leave me alone and let me play it!")

Please, please stop this. Thief 3: Deadly Shadows is a great game, but half the time I can't skip the logo crap on startup. Why do you do this? For godsakes, show them all the first time the game is started if you really want to, then GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY AND LET ME PLAY THE GAME. Thank you. It would be one thing if the game was loading while the videos are playing, but nope. Morons.

Re:Amen (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9818911)

sat through three unskippable splash screens (and let me take this opportunity to scream "I know who you are! I bought a game from you! Now leave me alone and let me play it!"

Sorry... this is my fault. I don't have the box, so they put those splash screens in so I know who actually made the game. Apparently, consumers were under the impression that Drink or Die was the premier video game manufacturer in the world -- these screens are their way of sorting this out.

Re:Amen (1)

Xii (632693) | about 10 years ago | (#9818943)

Agreed. Eternal Darkness was exceptionally horrible in this regard. Every single time you died you had to watch the NINTENDO, Silcon Knights, Dolby Pro Logic II, etc. At around a minute between death and the next life it could get more than frustrating, particularly during difficult points in the game.

Re:Amen (1)

OOO0000OO0O0 (799394) | about 10 years ago | (#9819114)

Eternal Darkness? That's a good choice of words, like other words such as black, pot,, and kettle

Re:Amen (1)

dodge_aires (775729) | about 10 years ago | (#9818944)

Or unskippable 15 minute movies. I hate you, The Getaway!!!

Re:Amen (1)

real_smiff (611054) | about 10 years ago | (#9819239)

i just installed AvP2 for the PC*, and it has a 'disable logos' option on the startup screen. which does exactly what it says, and is stored in the registry. ah what sweet sweet love i feel for the developers. i might even get round to playing it one day :)

*yeah i'm a few years behind in my gaming.

if a game does something as stupid as what it sounds like Thief 3: Deadly Shadows is doing, i'd just refuse to play it. seriously.

web-based (1)

usefool (798755) | about 10 years ago | (#9818895)

I think web-based games are one of the entertainment for wage slaves, after Slashdot. I wonder if there's any 'mainstream' publishers out there?

Video games are more interesting, but the lack of time and money committment might push some away.

*sigh* (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 10 years ago | (#9818896)

And here I was hoping the author was sharing his secrets on finding time to *build* games on a tight 40-60 hour workweek. Taking the time to build even simple [dnsalias.com] games results in a massive reduction in sleeping hours.

Re:*sigh* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819030)

Taking the time to build even simple games results in a massive reduction in sleeping hours.

What?!? You're just now finding out that user simplicity is inversely proportional to programming complexity?

A 10 minute simple utility takes 4 hours to make idiot proof.

Maybe I'm Growing Old (5, Interesting)

dancingmad (128588) | about 10 years ago | (#9818897)

I find this happening to me (I'm no wage slave, but a college student). I used to play every kind of video game under the sun, but in the last two years I don't care as much anymore. My younger brother can spend all day playing a game, but I've missed a lot of games he's gotten (Mario Sunshine, Prince of Persia).

I find myself, however, gravitating towards Tactical RPGs (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Disgaea, Fire Emblem). I think it's because the rules don't suddenly change in a TRPG (you'll never have to do a move the blocks puzzle like Final Fantasy or as I saw my brother do, in Tales of Symphonia). You don't have to wander around looking for the right villager to talk to or anything - you get right into the action. Instead of trying to figure out some convoluted puzzle, you have one level after the next. They have new challenges and rules, but none of the "fluff" of finding the right item, talking to the right person, etc.

This is kind of the argument for retro gaming too - you can play Mario 1, just pick it up and play for 30 minutes or so. You can't really do that with say, 3D Zelda games or Mario Sunshine.

Re:Maybe I'm Growing Old (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 10 years ago | (#9818994)

It's not growing old, it's growing up.

You have to do it sometime. There's nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.

Re:Maybe I'm Growing Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819121)

Says society to the "grown up" people: get down in that fuckin' mudhole, scrivener. There's credit cards to pay off.

Oh, fuck, what a waste of time.

Re:Maybe I'm Growing Old (3, Insightful)

pHatidic (163975) | about 10 years ago | (#9819071)

I also am a college student who used to play every halfway decent game. Now I haven't purchased a game in years: the last game I bought was black and white which I got bored of after a couple hours and never played again. The reason is partly that every game that comes out is exactly the same, only with better graphics and less plot and interactivity.

The only two games that can keep my attention these are Nethack [nethack.org] and Go [kiseido.com] .

Re:Maybe I'm Growing Old (1)

po8 (187055) | about 10 years ago | (#9819086)

Puzzle games can work for intermittent intense play if the puzzles are kept interesting and doable in a sitting. The famous Mac title The Fool's Errand [the-underdogs.org] comes immediately to mind. Sliding blocks puzzles get boring pretty fast.

Re:Maybe I'm Growing Old (1)

SanLouBlues (245548) | about 10 years ago | (#9819087)

I've been playing the 3D Zeldas every two or three months for short bursts for a while now. The plot really doesn't matter too much and the bigger puzzles tend to have hints absolutely everywhere. As for changing rules, Zelda is consistent to the point that the basic rules are only affected by items which have their effects detailed in the inventory usually. I replayed Ocarina of Time this way, then Master Quest, and I'm somewhere in Majora's Mask right now and it suits my occasional bursts quite well.

If you want something with plot, action, and no developement of the rules, try Ninja Gaiden. It's very true to the original style of play, and mashers delight. Then again, I can't any RPG that I would say "got right to the action". What action?!

Re:Maybe I'm Growing Old (1)

bad_fx (493443) | about 10 years ago | (#9819142)

You know I found exactly the same thing when I started working full time. Games that I could just sink 30-40 mins into at a time became a must.

The one game I can think of that had this down perfectly in recent years was Myth:The Fallen Lords. Especially the multiplayer games - Most had a time limit of 5 - 12 minutes and they were still a blast to play. You could easily get 4 or 5 games into a 40 minute session, and most importantly, they were satisfying. *Shrug* Dunno what you'd call a game like that... I guess Tactical Strategy RPG maybe... ;-) I just wish there were more games like that these days.

Call me crazy.. (2, Insightful)

NightWulf (672561) | about 10 years ago | (#9818898)

But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities. Hell, you got a job now, hopefully it's well paying. Your time should be occupied with things like your kids. You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat. Go play golf or something.

Sure you *could* develop games geared more towards middle-aged adults, I don't think it will be very lucrative though. When you start hitting that middle-age lifestyle especially that mid-life crisis you don't want to spend all your time inside on a computer after spending 40+ hours inside an office cubicle. Leave the video games for your kids and enjoy the stuff that you can do now that you're older and hopefully a little richer.

Re:Call me crazy.. (1, Offtopic)

Narchie Troll (581273) | about 10 years ago | (#9818930)

Nobody ever got killed from playing video games. I can't say the same for motorcycles and boats.

Video games are worthy entertainment for all ages.

Re:Call me crazy.. (4, Insightful)

dancingmad (128588) | about 10 years ago | (#9818931)

I call shennigans. My taste in gaming has changed I certainly have been playing less, but I don't see myself not playing video games anymore. If you have kids (who says middle age people must?) then play games with them. I don't see any incompatibility between middle age and gaming.

Why not leave the slashdot posts and play with your kids? I think anything can become an addiction and that can be bad for an adult, but how is golf any different than a video game (the only possible way I could see is that golf can be more social)? I'd much rather play a TRPG than guy on a motorcycle or a boat.

Instead of dictating what is right for a person in his middle age, why not live your life as you feel and let others do the same? I don't think video games are that constructive (then again, is reading novels for fun that contructive?) but in moderation, if a person likes playing video games, why should they stop because they turn 35 or 40 or whatever? Video games are just another hobby, like golf, boating, or keeping tropical fish.

Re:Call me crazy.. (4, Funny)

TykeClone (668449) | about 10 years ago | (#9818958)

Nothing is more fun than crushing the kids in a video game.

Re:Call me crazy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819092)

I call shennigans.

I call misspelling.

shenanigan
n. Informal
1. A deceitful trick; an underhanded act.
2. Remarks intended to deceive; deceit. Often used in the plural.
3. A playful or mischievous act; a prank.
Mischief; prankishness. Often used in the plural.

[Origin unknown.]

Re:Call me crazy.. (2, Insightful)

cujo_1111 (627504) | about 10 years ago | (#9818933)

Your time should be occupied with things like your kids. You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat. Go play golf or something.

What if you don't have kids or they go to bed at 7-8pm?
What happens when you work during daylight hours and your free time occurs at night? Playing golf at night is nigh on impossible (glow balls are ok but don't fly well) and riding a motorbike at night isn't a great way to make sure you live a long and fruitful life.

Re:Call me crazy.. (4, Insightful)

AvantLegion (595806) | about 10 years ago | (#9818957)

>> But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities

No, the point of middle age is to do things you enjoy, without idiotic classification of leisure activities as "kiddie" or "adult".

Re:Call me crazy.. (5, Interesting)

Lurgen (563428) | about 10 years ago | (#9818973)

Nope, the point of middle age is to be able to afford the things you want. If they still happen to be similar to what you wanted ten years earlier, good for you!

I play video games still. I also own a sports-bike, used to own a fancy car, have plenty of things going on that fit the profile for my age but I still like video games.

The ones that really bug me though are the ones where you can only save once every hour or so. Hunting for a save-point when you only have a few minutes to wrap up your gaming bugs the hell out of me. One of the realities of "growing up" is that your time isn't always your own. Often you get interrupted, either by work, kids, partners, or just life in general. If games are going to be pitched at an older audience, they need to take these things into consideration.

You're crazy. (2, Insightful)

cbreaker (561297) | about 10 years ago | (#9819012)

There were no middle-aged computer gamers in the last generation. We're the first big generation of kids that's grown up on video games.

Some people get tired of video games, but I'm 26, and I don't think I will ever stop playing them. It's good entertainment. I enjoy playing them, so why would I stop? I'll naturally gravitate away from games saturated with younger kids that I can't relate to, but as we grow older so will the theme of a lot of games.

So.. we're older now. We have money to burn. We like playing video games and we'll pay for them and the hardware to play them on. What's not lucrative about it?

Re:Call me crazy.. (2, Informative)

0x0d0a (568518) | about 10 years ago | (#9819019)

If tastes never changed to keep pace with the times, there'd be a lot of forty-somethings doing nothing but riding their horse into town to the saloon to play checkers and poker with their buddies.

The reason video games are associated with the young is largely because they didn't *exist* during the youth of old folks.

TV did the same thing. Who buys the disgustingly expensive HDTV plasma displays? Middle-aged people.

Re:Call me crazy.. (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about 10 years ago | (#9819048)

But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities. Hell, you got a job now, hopefully it's well paying. Your time should be occupied with things like your kids.

Yeah! Damn those middle aged people for wanting to have fun! Every minute they're not working at their jobs they should be at home taking care of their families! If they find a few minutes of spare time between changing diapers they should stare blankly at the tv so they know what comercialistic crap they should be spending their money on!

Sorry, i don't want to give up on having fun just cause i'm getting older.

You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat. Go play golf or something.

Er, what? How are those fun? I don't want anything to do with a motorcycle, and if i want to go sit in the sun near the water i can go to the beach for a lot less money and trouble than buying a boat. Golf seems like the most pointless waste of time ever. Like i said, i want to have _fun_, not waste large amounts of cash on useless things that unenlightened middle age people think will make them feel younger again.

I'm quite happy contuing to stock pile video games, DVDs, and books. Unfortunatly the average video game takes somewhere between three to ten times as long to finish as a good sized book, which in turn usually takes at least three times as long to finish as an average movie. It's no suprise that i finish far more books and movies that video games, both because they're quicker and because when i have to decide between finishing one video game storyline and several book/movie storylines the video games seem to provide a lot less bang per minute when i'm under a tight schedule.

Re:Call me crazy.. (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | about 10 years ago | (#9819058)

But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities.

No!

KFG

Re:Call me crazy.. (2, Insightful)

Snad (719864) | about 10 years ago | (#9819062)

But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities. You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat.

Well speaking as someone who owns a motorcycle and a GameCube, (and will be buying a sea kayak in the not too distant future) I don't see why I can't enjoy both.

I'll go out and hoon around (responsibly of course!) on my bike on days when I feel like doing so and have a couple of hours free to get away from the house. I'll sit back and play Super Monky Ball for 45 minutes on a Wednesday night before turning in for the day, while my wife is writing letters to her friends.

One of the advantages of getting older is that you can have a much wider range of tastes and activities than you had open to you as a child. One of those opportunities includes games.

I firmly agree with all the "Don't Waste My Time", and the "Make it Accessible" comments. But by far the most important note in the article, in my opinion is :
Don't demand a huge time commitment from the player or dictate the length of his sessions; let him take it at his own pace

Which basically says it all...

Re:Call me crazy.. (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | about 10 years ago | (#9819165)

you got a job now

Then again, maybe we don't. Oh, sure we might have once had a job. I fondly remember digging grime out of the floor tiles under a sink for minimum wage. And you know what? It was better than working at a gray desk because half the company didn't get fired every Friday.

You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat.

Yeah. Make sure you finance it too.

I don't think it will be very lucrative though.

Probably not. Tough to afford games when they just lost their job and the bank is calling about repainting the kitchen.

and enjoy the stuff that you can do now that you're older and hopefully a little richer.

Save your money so you can afford more copies of your resume so employers can dent their trashcans with it. Hey! Maybe you can start a business making trashcans! All companies need undented trash cans. I know, make a GAME about the pointless job search! What a great idea! Call it DENTED TRASHCAN: THE CHRONICLES OF BROKE

Games should be a great business for middle-aged people, but the "game industry" won't make them because they are too busy with remakes of sequels of remakes.

My Game (1)

artlu (265391) | about 10 years ago | (#9818905)

Coming from the 2d RPG genre style of FF3 and Secret of Mana, Video Games just don't do it for me anymore. Sure FF7,X were great games, but they don't stick in my mind like my childhood favorites did. As I got older, I found that the stock market can become a game. A very very fun and adicting game that can be played at work or at home. :) Only now, I can control the game based on my thoughts/ideas/suggestions. This game is now manifesting itself into a company [groupshares.com] that seems to be doing really well so far.

If you aren't happy with games or have time to play consoles, find something else to enjoy. Maybe it'll make you money so you can have more time to go and use emulators!

Aj

Re:My Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819063)

We're all going to be laughing at you when you make the wrong investment in your "game" and go bankrupt.

time and death (1)

Kris_J (10111) | about 10 years ago | (#9818908)

The first two points in the writeup are the reason why I gave up on Prince of Persia: Sands of Time after spending A$100 on a copy for the PS2. Mind you, the reason why it was such a waste of time and I kept dying was a combination of stupid traps and a really bad camera system. Hint: If your camera algorithm flips from one side of the player to the other just as they're about to perform a tricky maneuver with controls that are relative to the camera position you're going to annoy some people.

As an aside, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was the last game I bought for the current generation of video game consoles. My Gamecube is packed away, my PS2 is just my DVD player. I simply can't find any enjoyable games on consoles for me at the moment.

There's some good ones (2, Insightful)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | about 10 years ago | (#9819037)

If you like platformers, try the Ratchet & Clank games. YOU control the camera, as the good Lord intended. ;-)

Did you try Super Mario Sunshine? Again, you have complete camera control. Very challenging game when you get into it.

Tactical RPGs are usually good, too, for the working gamer. You can fight a single battle and save.

Re:There's some good ones (1)

YOU LIKEWISE FAIL IT (651184) | about 10 years ago | (#9819118)

I agree with the TRPG point here ( also made by a few other posters ) - these games are complex enough to be engrossing, but you can snap through a level and then turn them off, so there's no huge commitment in time.

I don't play many games on the computer these days, although I seem to keep buying them ( because I'm an idiot ) - the ones I keep coming back to are ones I can turn off at a moments notice, and go away from for days or weeks at a time, or just leave them running in a detached screen: things like Angband, Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars II and boardgames like Scrabble.

Re:There's some good ones (1)

Kris_J (10111) | about 10 years ago | (#9819209)

I'm not a huge fan of platformers, but I liked the first PoP, and I very much enjoyed Super Metroid. I currently have Sonic on my N-Gage. The Super Mario Brothers leaves me cold though.

Tactical RPG or real-time strategy stuff doesn't do much for me. I'm a Diablo II fan myself, also enjoying Neverwinter Nights, Dungeon Siege and most recently Sacred. I also had great fun with Lord of the Rings: Two Towers and Return of the King on the GBA.

Re:time and death (1)

nelsonal (549144) | about 10 years ago | (#9819095)

I tried clone wars comboed with tetris worlds, and found that the old NES tetris was more fun, and clone wars just doens't rock. The last game that captureed my attention was the KOTR, I picked it up out of the bargain bin last spring. I'm waiting for Jade Empire now. I'll agree that it's a dry season. Is ESPN football worth the $20 for a copy?

Re:time and death (1)

Masami Eiri (617825) | about 10 years ago | (#9819102)

You spent $100 on it? I'd hate to shop at that place... And I found the controls quite fluid, and the camera, aside from occasionally being way to far out, never flipped like what you described... Of course, I had the 'Cube version, so that might be a factor...

Article Text [Summarized] (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9818909)

When targeting consumers with less free time, develop games with lower time requirements.

sustained gratification => instant gratification

This is what passes for insightful?

People and games... (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | about 10 years ago | (#9818918)

People always come in with the idea that _they_ are the market for games, and thus game developers should be making games that entertain them and match their lifestyle. Look, game companies are businesses - they make games for their markets. If they aren't making games targeted toward people who work 60 hours a week, maybe that's because those people have families, jobs, responsibilities and generally do other shit in their spare time than play computer games (or rather, they aren't going to go out and buy the five latest greatest 60 dollar console games because they were the top elitest games in Console Gamer Monthly).


Is there a niche market that matches this description? Probably. But if you're so god damned sure about it, go and try to convince a small game dev. shop and help them pitch a specific game meeting these criteria to a publisher, don't come and whine about it on Slashdot. Welcome to the capitalist system, come take part, get rich and fulfill a need in the market, otherwise you are just participating in large scale mental masturbation in front of hundreds of thousands of Slashdot readers.

Re:People and games... (1)

Lurgen (563428) | about 10 years ago | (#9818989)

Rubbish. Spent half an hour in any computer game store and see who lays out their cash... sure, half the people in the store are kids, but how many spend any money?

As an adult my expenditure on gaming has grown by several orders of magnitude. I fork out money for computer hardware and software that no kid would spend.

Adult gamers (ie. over 18) are in my opinion the biggest gamer market. Most of them own a PC, one or two consoles, and buy games.

Re:People and games... (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | about 10 years ago | (#9819083)

Yes, adult gamers are a big market - but mostly 20-somethings and single guys. The game companies _already know this_, and plan accordingly and sell tons of games to this market. They do plenty of demographic research, they know the people who buy games. My point is that this guy wants games designed for his personal needs. That's not what matters to the industry. If this guy thinks the industry is underserving a niche, fine, go get somebody to fulfill it and make some damned money off it, stop bitching on Slashdot.

Re:People and games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819178)

Look, game companies are businesses

THEY ONLY EXIST TO MAKE MONEY

Thank you. We'll have to write that down.

Re:People and games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819203)

go and try to convince a small game dev. shop and help them pitch a specific game meeting these criteria to a publisher

Pitch a game idea to a publisher? Watching maggots grow out of last week's spicy pork would be a more productive use of time. I think it's rather clear at this point that no publisher will ever build a game based on a pitch. Ever.

They're called "sports games" (4, Insightful)

AvantLegion (595806) | about 10 years ago | (#9818925)

Sports games are the biggest filler of this niche.

Sports games give you nicely self-contained packages of gameplay. You can play a football game for a half-hour, and enjoy yourself. You don't have to string together hours of playtime at once to enjoy yourself. ESPN and Madden are always ready when you have a few minutes to kill.

Re:They're called "sports games" (1, Funny)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 10 years ago | (#9818981)

you seem to be under the impression that sports-based video games don't suck

Re:They're called "sports games" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819011)

And you seem to be under the impression that they do.

Everyone has their own taste for games. Just because you don't like a type of game doesn't mean that other people don't either - just ask EA Games.

Re:They're called "sports games" (1)

TykeClone (668449) | about 10 years ago | (#9819059)

I don't really like other sports games, but EA Sports makes a good NCAA Football game. It's got a decent AI and can allow the player as much (or as little) interaction with the plays as he wants.

I kind of like just calling the plays and letting them sort themselves out (instead of controlling the runningback or quarterback). I also like the "dynasty" portion of the game.

Re:They're called "sports games" (1)

rokzy (687636) | about 10 years ago | (#9819088)

Virtual Pool 3 is imo the greatest game ever (assuming you like pool) because it can be played for 5 mins or 5 hours.

you can learn all the controls in a minute, but there's almost infinite potential for improving your ability.

as I've got older (22) I've stopped playing almost entirely except for VP3, and some Warcraft 3 recently just because it's the holidays and I have 3 months off.

Broken clocks (1)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9819098)

One interesting thing that I notice in most sports games is that since the beginning of time, a "game clock" in a sports game has always ticked faster than real time, sometimes blazingly faster.

That's always bothered me a bit. I've got a pretty good feeling for how long a second and minute are, and it desturbs me to see 10 minutes just flash off a video game clock in a blink of an eye. I guess it's out of nessessity... a to-scale simulation of pro sports would take 3 hours on average to play, and overtime could take it longer. I guess nobody has that attention span.

Still, I wish a game with hyped-up offense to get realistic scores and a faster-than-normal clock would at least have a cheat code so that the clock shows 5 minutes "real time" instead of 15 minutes of "game time"...

Constant Death can be great (4, Insightful)

xiando (770382) | about 10 years ago | (#9818929)

Constant death was a necessity in the days of video arcades... This is why I love MAME [linuxreviews.org] , the archade game emulator. You got unlimited funds.. just press a key, and play on. Instant death can also be avoided by saving games. It's all the 4500+ games you played as a child, only on your PC.

Re:Constant Death can be great (2, Funny)

Planky (761118) | about 10 years ago | (#9819031)

Instant death can also be avoided providing you close off your html tags :D

----

Re:Constant Death can be great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819244)

Closed HTML tags make Baby Taco Cry!

Time is Short... (2, Insightful)

Macgrrl (762836) | about 10 years ago | (#9818946)

As a corollary to the 'don't waste my time' item, is the issue in some games that only allow you to save at fixed save points - then put those points more than 20 minutes of game play apart. There's nothing worse than picking up a game to play for a while and find that you've solved/succeeded a complex section of the game but can't find a save point and have to go.

Really simple solution (1)

Thinkit4 (745166) | about 10 years ago | (#9818966)

Fixed saves are very important for pacing. An easy way to keep them is to having the ability to save anywhere but load that save only once. FF tactics advance does this.

Same game, better graphics? (1)

agentxy (544949) | about 10 years ago | (#9818947)

I must say, I'm always a little disappointed in todays games. It seems like todays game are the same as last years, but with better graphics.

I started playing computer games on an 8088 with 256k of memory. I couldn't wait to get home and play Kings Quest or Space Quest or (if I get past the age check) Leisure Suit Larry. Even my parents didn't mind me playing these types of games (they never knew about LSL). I loved the problem solving and the "adventure" of each game. Me and my friends would call each other as soon as a new item was acquried or a difficult problem was solved.... The experience of the game made the characters timeless, not the 16 color graphics and blocky adversaries. King Graham, Roger Wilco, and Larry Laffer will always have a special place in my heart.

I'm just not interested in today's games (except Doom 3.... I cannot tell a lie). I might play for a couple weeks... then thats it, into my CD archive, never to be touched again.

It seems todays games take full advantage of the most current hardware, but little advantage of creativity and human brain power....

Re:Same game, better graphics? (1)

Unnngh! (731758) | about 10 years ago | (#9819009)

Here, Here. I played a lot of FPS games in the early halflife era, but anymore they, as well as all the RPG and RTS games I've bought recently, get a few good hours of play before being shelved.

Then, I started playing Adventure (the old text-based game) the other day and got sucked into it for about 8 hours straight. Granted I hadn't played it for years but hell, it sucked me in and kept me entertained.

Work, family, etc., can get in the way, but if there were games that appealed to the working class marked I think people would make more time for them.

Re:Same game, better graphics? (2, Interesting)

fpga_guy (753888) | about 10 years ago | (#9819026)

I couldn't wait to get home and play Kings Quest or Space Quest or (if I get past the age check) Leisure Suit Larry

My big lesson in game suck-factor was after getting about 3/4 way through Police Quest (yes, the original) and finding out that because I hadn't collected my wallet from the locker in the first sequence in the game (about 2 weeks playing time ago), I couldn't get any further in the game.

I couldn't just return to the station and collect the wallet, oh no, it was all over, and had been ever since I'd made that first mistake. I don't think I played it again after that.

Re:Same game, better graphics? (1)

JPrice (181921) | about 10 years ago | (#9819243)

I had the same experience with Police Quest 3 - didn't catch some guy speeding at the beginning, so when I showed up at a guy's house for the big showdown at the end, he's not there. Of course, I had to go out and spend $15 on a hint book to figure out what was going on.

At the time, I thought Sierra games were great, and I still have fond memories of a lot of them. In retrospect though, Lucasarts' offerings were much better put together.

Risk vs Reward (5, Insightful)

P-Frank (788137) | about 10 years ago | (#9818949)

My biggest issue with time drainers like EverQuest is the notion of risk vs reward coupled with lack of player/player interactivity. Post-Ultima Online, the notion of player killing, as well as certain notions of freedom to operate within a gaming environment, have disappeared. I have always thought the greatest risk and rewards took place in that kind of combat. There was no difference in EverQuest for me, new monsters sure, but everything remained the same, I found that bots could have taken the place of the other players. It was the world's most boring single player game, except I paid for the privellege of having an IRC window tacked onto it.

This also brings about ideas of "death" in games, like in games like SWG where you would get warped back to the nearest city, or lose stats/skills upon death, or even those ever-elusive "permenant death" games. I always thought that games that encouraged cowardice never captured my interest, you could lose all this WORK (because on the MMORPG treadmill, you are working) that you did if you attack a monster that is above your level.

Sadly, I don't quite have a solution. But the second year of Ultima Online is pretty much the perfect game of that type, as the treadmill wasn't as emphasised, death wasn't that important, but the rewards weren't out of proportion either. There was a freedom in that game, it wasn't just whacking monsters like a single player game, there was true player interaction. Early Ultima Online was a fine gaming social experiment.

this is the reason (4, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | about 10 years ago | (#9818954)

Constant death was a necessity in the days of video arcades... Now, in the comfort of our lounges or offices, what reason is there to keep dumping us out of the game we bought with our hard earned cash?

This is the reason Lucasarts adventure games are so fondly remembered. Nothing was funnier than falling off the cliff in monkey island and seeing the Kings-Quest-esque death screen, only to have your character bounce back onto the screen, make a face, and say "Rubber Tree".

Not having a fear of death lets you try all kinds of crazy shit in games. That's what makes them fun.

Re:this is the reason (3, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 10 years ago | (#9818999)

ever play "the neverhood"? excellent game with exactly one way to die, if you walk down a particular well marked drain [Go back, Danger you will die]

Re:this is the reason (1)

Mr.Zong (704396) | about 10 years ago | (#9819250)

I agree with this to a point. Death is an over used cliche in the videogame world. I recently realized this reacurring theme while playing some games with my 4 and 6 year old cousins. Anytime someone lost a game "they died", and no, I wasnt playing GTA with em :P. We're talking Mario Kart here. The death thing, for kids that young to be relating to games, is just kinda weird to actually watch.

Point being anyhow, death, like any facet of gaming does have its place, just not everywhere. I submit, for the devils advocate, 2002's $20 gem, Serious Sam : The Second Encounter. That game alone brought me back to the FPS genre with its heart attack inducing, horde of monster slaughering, huge ass demon poping out of nowhere and kicking my ass forcing me to f9 inspired deaths. Now those, those are deaths to write home about.

Printable Version (1)

Anthracks (532185) | about 10 years ago | (#9818961)

There's also a "printable version" [gamedev.net] if you don't care to click through multiple pages, or want to help save GameDev survive Slashdotting slightly longer.

Why do some games NOT allow in-game saves? (5, Interesting)

xylix (447915) | about 10 years ago | (#9818971)

This article summed up exactly what I have been thinking lately. I picked up Tom Clancy's Raven Shield recently since I really enjoyed the previous installment in the series. Some people get off on spending hours PREPARING for these missions, setting way points etc. I am not one of those, nor do I have the time. I really wish a game included - in very large letters - on the packaging that:

THIS GAME DOES NOT ALLOW SAVES!!

So instead you have to spend 20, 30, 40 ... 90 minutes working your way though the game only to have one of your guys take a bullet and make it all one big WASTE OF TIME.

Re:Why do some games NOT allow in-game saves? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 10 years ago | (#9819152)

Not all games are designed for you.

Re:Why do some games NOT allow in-game saves? (4, Insightful)

Phleg (523632) | about 10 years ago | (#9819226)

This isn't as much of a problem with the game as it is your perception of the game. Raven Shield is not Quake or Doom. It is not Half-Life. The *point* of Raven Shield is the tactical setup of your assault--assigning members, gear, waypoints, and having everyone work synchronously towards the same goal. The missions themselves are simply where you get to see whether or not your plan worked.

Certain things I want in games... (5, Interesting)

humberthumbert (104950) | about 10 years ago | (#9818975)

..now that I can't sit on my ass all day playing games anymore due to having a job:

1. A proper save game system whenever possible. None
of that "save point" bullshit, which is the main reason I don't play console games, btw. It's insane to have to waste my time playing through the same level again when I just want to carry on with a game after I get home from work.

2. Cut down on aggravating shit. Like, the weapons
wearing out in System Shock 2. I mean, WTF?! They have FTL travel in that game but I can't get a gun that will fire more than 20 rounds without seriously degrading? I mean, shit, even my old hand me down M16 in the army worked mostly fine after pumping out a few dozen rounds in a row at the range.

3. Fuck mazes.

How to get people to RTFA (4, Insightful)

nmoog (701216) | about 10 years ago | (#9818987)

This article was one guys opinion on whats wrong with games today. And no slashdotters have been giving him any shit for his views? Whats going on?

Ill tells ya whats going on - he only pointed out and praised games that did things right, without spouting on about why Halo gives him the shits (for example).

It really made this article a good read. Maybe a good tip for you journos out there!

Cut Scenes (4, Insightful)

CMiYC (6473) | about 10 years ago | (#9819000)

Since all of today's games seem to require a story I have one additional request... All cut scenes need to offer Pause, Replay, and Skip.

The most annoying thing about MGS and MGS2 was when the phone rang during a 10 minute cut scene.

Jak II (3, Interesting)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | about 10 years ago | (#9819015)

Jak II had this problem. Pointless wandering across a crowded city where if you so much as brushed another vehucle, you'd get the security forces swooping in on you. It also had some of the most vindictive restart points I have EVER seen in a platformer. I got to 60% or so and just gave up on it. There was an area where you had to battle about 40 enemies, jump overs lasers with random movement (no learnable pattern), and then a tricky platform jump area over the "bottomless pit" where one error kills you. Mess up, and you are sent all the way back to do the whole 10 minute ordeal over. Fuck that.

Almost as bad as the quadruple fire pillar jump in the first Tomb Raider. A very tricky area- probably hardest in the game. One error, and you got sent back to, like, the previous continent and had to run all the way back, and by the time you got there, you forgot what you needed to do differently. I finally did it after about 30 tries, but it wasn't a sense of accomplishment I felt.

Design is out, repetition is in (4, Insightful)

OOO0000OO0O0 (799394) | about 10 years ago | (#9819029)

I'm a working gamer myself, before I go next fall to the real-life Doom 3 that is Caltech. In the time I get to play games, I want to receive varied, enriching experiences: I recently bought a Geforce 6800, quite an upgrade from the 5200 I had earlier (pretty much 10x draw rate). The card came with Far Cry, so I checked it out.

Damn, what a drag. Far Cry's checkpoint system is a Console Evil, designed for 5 year olds with literally too much time on their hands. I spent 30 minutes sneaking through a level, making sure to pay every place a visit, when right near the end I am ungloriously gunned down and forced to replay that entire 30 minutes. I ended up playing the thing over Rambo style, taking a jeep and making a beeline for the place I last died, which took 10 minutes and was 1/10 as engaging as my last play. I've pretty much summed up the gameplay in Far Cry:

n = 1;
1. Walk.
2. Turn on nightvision.
3. Walk.
4. Turn on nightvision. See heat signature.
5. Go prone.
6. Unload all munitions at heat signature.
7. ???
8. Profit!
9. Find out you didn't really profit because 1 second later, one of those giant mutated bullet (and rocket propelled grenade) tampons walked up behind you and blasted you to hell.
10. n++; GOTO 1;

There you have it, the design document for the ULTIMATE FAR CRY SINGLEPLAYER BOT. Yes, that's who you and I are when we're playing games like that: bots. I have a hunch that it would work just as well in multiplayer.

Yes, I know developers and publishers want you to spend time on their games. But stuff like checkpoints and repetitive gameplay like in Far Cry destroy goodwill and create dollars for other, more creative developers. Sure, I know they implemented a quicksave--but that was after the entire populace, awash with rage, found the emperor naked, so to speak. This stuff doesn't have to be taught by hard PR lessons; it should be in the basic rulebook of game design, where it belongs.

All games should have:
An autosave that activates when you quit.
A restore in case of a computer crash.
Robust netcode.
Programmers that have more than the customary two-neuron-one-of-which-is-inhibitory brain.

Simply put, the PC game industry would be so much better if there wasn't as much sexing between the PC and console developers.

Re:Design is out, repetition is in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9819162)

Farcry does allow you to save at any point - hit the tilda key "`"

and type "\save_game"

Bingo game saved!

Re:Design is out, repetition is in (1)

OOO0000OO0O0 (799394) | about 10 years ago | (#9819181)

*** Wow, maybe 5 patches later it might make it into the main menu! *** Having that in the console, or in some obscure spot in the menu structure, is inexcusable. It's not so much the lack of a quiksave--it's that they CAN implement a quicksave, with the appropriate menus and everything--but they are lame enough not to do a complete job.

Missing option (1)

Treeluvinhippy (545814) | about 10 years ago | (#9819039)

I'm unemployed and have plenty of time for video games you insensitive clod!

Great Game (1)

captain1010 (800750) | about 10 years ago | (#9819065)

The original Devil May Cry was absolutely brilliant for this type of gaming- frequent saves, intense and virtually constant action, a world that was frequently new without being disjoint, and play control that was extremely tight and therefore far more given to complex control than long learning times.

Saddly, the sequel appears to have faired more poorly, but the original is absolutely worth checking out.

DMC1 reviews 97% positive [rottentomatoes.com]
DMC2 reviews 20% positive [rottentomatoes.com]

a casual gamer community - if you're good, go away (2, Insightful)

cslarson (625649) | about 10 years ago | (#9819069)

I had a conversation with a friend about this topic and we thought there might be a market for a gaming community based around it. something only for casual gamers. We didn't figure out exactly how it might work but it should be able to exclude people that become too good at a particular game, or spend over a certain number of hours per month or something. I really enjoy playing games online against other people, but it sucks if you have to invest x amount of hours to either get good enough, or build up a certain character to a decent level. I realize that some mechanisms are in place for this sort of thing, like ranking, etc, but i think that they are often inadequate.

Re:a casual gamer community - if you're good, go a (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 10 years ago | (#9819138)

dont base it on hours.. I do nothing but play games all day and I still suck at everything :(

Cheats - Playing games when I don't have the time (3, Interesting)

jmcnamera (519408) | about 10 years ago | (#9819126)

I rarely play computer games anymore, and haven't for years. However, I have get one sometimes to see the "state of the art".

When I do this, I know I don't have time to get good at the game or see everything. So I do the scummy move of using cheats to let me play beyond my skill with the game.

I'd rather my kids not do it, and I'm not proud, but it makes sense. I can see far more of the game and enjoy the art etc better.

I wouldn't use cheats with a multi-player game since it really harms the others.

Except of course if it were playing against my kids and then it would be "play to win" :-) Well, once they are old enough, and by then I'll be left in their dust...

Levelling characters in RPG's (3, Interesting)

Ritontor (244585) | about 10 years ago | (#9819131)

This has got to be the most annoying way to stretch out the playing time of a game - forcing the player to go through random battle after random battle in order to reach a sufficient level to tackle the next meaningful target. Quality games like SW:KOTOR never force you to do this, it was wonderfully balanced, there were no boring parts, and by the end, you were exactly powerful enough to defeat the big bad guy. It fills the above mentioned niche exactly, and i suppose in part the game's success can be attributed to these design features.

Whatever happened to teletype and VT100 games? (1)

msblack (191749) | about 10 years ago | (#9819145)

My favorite game of all time hands down is Dungeon a.k.a. Zork, the great underground adventure (the DECUS shareware version, not the one marketed by Infocom). It presented dozens of challengins puzzles that took a very long time to solve unless someone gave you their map or solutions.

I also recall a VT100 game for VMS where you explored islands to establish new bases. Sure those games were primitive compared to the current stuff. But the shoot 'em up MUD games where you win by memorizing the nuances of some 3-D map. That's not fun--it's obsession.

I guess it comes down to whether you prefer games that require thoughtful problem solving (e.g., Zork or Indiana Jones) or precise manual dexterity and knowing the exact moment to perform an action gained only through repeated playing. I preferred pinball to video games because you got more value for your dime (or quarter).

He missed a category of games (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about 10 years ago | (#9819186)

He mentioned RTS, but didn't touch on turn-based strategy at all. Games such as Civilization and Master of Orion have a lto of the key features he was talking about. You can save at just about any point, and if the game is well designed most of the information you need is presented in the game itself. I remember when i was a poor jr. high school student and i *ahem* "found" a copy of the original Civilization. I was able to figure out the entire game just from the Civlopedia. Of course there's still the risk of "death," but if that worries you excesively you can just play on the easy levels, and set optional challenges for yourself instead. Like, "can i actually build every single Wonder myself?" or "can i achieve spaceflight by 0 AD," etc. Of course you have to have the willpower to resist the one-more-turn syndrome :)

And incidentally, i've just started playing FF10-2 recently, and noticed that they seem to "follow" a couple of his suggestions. You have the airship right at the begining, allowing you to go anywhere and do whatever you want, lots of no hassle exploration. And like FF10, there are quite a number of save spheres, and you can use any of them to go back to the airship. Also like FF10 it has pretty good maps, often with arrows superimposed showing you where you're supposed to go. It has a jump command and some platform puzzles, but if you miss a jump your character just kind of staggers at the edge of the pit for a second and then lets you try again. No horrible punishments for failure, which makes it a lot more fun. You can still get killed in combat, quite easily if you wander into the wrong areas, and it still sends you back to the main menu of the game. An option to quick load back to the last save would have been convenient there.

http://www.guildwars.com (1)

Don Tobin (320926) | about 10 years ago | (#9819193)

I believe Guild Wars is targetting this area pretty well. Unlike the archetypal mmporg where you have to camp for days - you can log in check your buddy list and grab your friends (or team with strangers if you like) then load up a mission. Characters are persistent and you can go do pvp in an arena of sorts if that's your thing. Alternatively you can explore the wilderness; the point is you won't have to sit on your ass and pay to wait so you can have a chance to kill some lame mob for guildmate #294. The classes and professions seem robust and the monthly fee is 0. The E3 world alpha was pretty successful. Just food for thought, after playing masochistic games like EQ, SWG, AC, UO, AO, among others, I find a game where I can log in for a half hour and not feel guilty for logging out refreshing.

Peasant's Quest (5, Funny)

what the dumple is (682010) | about 10 years ago | (#9819205)

This [homestarrunner.com] game looks promising.

Games for Wage Slaves (1)

Vskye (9079) | about 10 years ago | (#9819213)

I normally play games like Xmame, (old arcade games) sopwith, cards, chess, etc. I remember the old Airwarriers, Mechwars and such.. way cool. Another good game that's out and has been around forever is Subspace, windows only, and the only reason I'd even install it again. Starting out back when Compute magazine was "the" rag and sitting up for hours copying code and then getting a failure, debugging and finally getting the damn thing running.. cool.. and then the power goes out... ahhhh! Lost everthing. Didn't want the tape drive, and just couldnt afford the 10MB hd for $600+.

Metal Gear Solid... (1)

Crackez (605836) | about 10 years ago | (#9819233)

... is a great game that describes most of what you seem to be asking for. Well, except for the long cut scenes... but you can skip through them if you want. You get all of the info you need to complete the game, in the game...

Except for that really dumb torture session, the game is pretty good. I just dug it out after not playing more than once back when i had a modded psx and a burn of it... I found a copy in the bargain bin at the mall the other day, and I am about to beat it... I'm at the final boss right now... It is kinda cheesy, designed for those not quite technically affluent, but it's a fun game none the less.

Well hey, it was worth $8...
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