The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
User avatar
Erik_Twice
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 6249
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Erik_Twice Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:09 am

Games have gotten easier and less complex over time and boardgames with an average lenght of four or more hours are no longer as widespread as they used to be. Why did that happen?

Well, I feel that among many reasons there's a very important one that is not often talked about: Price.

Erik Twice wrote:What players seek in their games changed in thirty years because what they had also changed. Those long, difficult and complex games were unusually widespread because they were the best answer to the economic environment they existed in; their omnipresence faded as their design became a matter of taste more than one of necessity.


Here's my full reasoning, I think this is an interesting topic to discuss so feel free to tear it apart.
The invisible hand of game design


Alienjesus and ZeroAX already commented on my compilatory thread so I'm replicating their posts here:

alienjesus wrote:Not sure I agree with less involved, if anything games are much more involved. Perhaps this is why they try so hard to streamline the processes and the difficulty - theres a lot more mechanics to master in a game like Grand Theft Auto V then there was in Mega Man 2 where you only had to master running, shooting and jumping to get by. That's also why they could make it harder - force you to master limited mechanics rather than utilize more mechanics. Neither is a bad approach if done right in my opinion.

I think one of the most important factors is price of development personally. Not much point spending millions developing beautiful graphics, new enemy types and new game mechanics for later sections of the game if barely any of your audience is going to see them.

Story driven focus in a lot of games has a lot to do with it too. They want you to experience the story without the game holding you back from being able to reach the conclusion. Whether it's a good or bad thing is up to you. Personally, it depends on the game for me. I don't think there's an issue with the plot taking central stage in a video game over more traditional 'gameplay' elements. I also don't think there's anything wrong with a game ignoring story in favour of full on abstraction in it's mechanics. Each has it's place.


ZeroAX wrote:It depends. Console gaming has become more involved, but computer gaming has become a looooooooooooot less involved.

As the Leisure Suit Larry guy said "in the 80s/early 90s just getting the game to start was an adventure game riddle all by itself"


All right, let's get this started :)
Last edited by Erik_Twice on Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
Looking for a cool game? Find it in my blog!
Latest post: Often, games must be difficult
http://eriktwice.com/
User avatar
BRIK
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 1447
Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:20 am
Location: Perth, Australia

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by BRIK Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:23 am

I read an interesting reasoning somewhere the other day: This was that back in the day, game storage mediums (like cartridges) were a lot smaller so the devs made the game harder so that they would last longer, because they couldn't afford to create lots of extensive environments etc.

But probably the biggest reason (that may or may not intertwine with the first reason) is that as the video game industry evolved and grew, the audience became a lot larger. To appeal to a larger audience, the games have gradually become easier and easier so they're accessible to more players. More games sold = more moolah and obviously they're going to do what it takes to maximise the amount bought.
Retro Game On << Please check out my retro gaming blog. Includes reviews, news, articles, videos and just plain awesomeness.

Retro Game On's YouTube Channel << Featuring reviews, features and repair videos.

Breaking Into The Industry <<Also my development blog (with video game related posts)
User avatar
Erik_Twice
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 6249
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Erik_Twice Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:25 am

alienjesus wrote:Not sure I agree with less involved, if anything games are much more involved. Perhaps this is why they try so hard to streamline the processes and the difficulty - theres a lot more mechanics to master in a game like Grand Theft Auto V then there was in Mega Man 2 where you only had to master running, shooting and jumping to get by.

What I mean by "less involved" is not so much what can be done in a game but how much effort a player must put into the game to enjoy it.

Grand Theft Auto V may not be the best example given my controversial stance on it, but I don't think it demands mastery of its mechanics. It has stealth and shooting and driving but the former is unnecessary, the game aims for you and driving is not particularly difficult. And even then those parts are small compared to the number of cinematic sequences that require very little player input.

On the other hand, Mega Man 2 is a hard game, most of the time spent playing it will be spent dying against robots, spikes that knock you out in one shot and boss rushes. You can't just play it and reach the ending, you must dedicate yourself and learn how it works to a deep level if you want to beat it or even enjoy it.
Last edited by Erik_Twice on Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
Looking for a cool game? Find it in my blog!
Latest post: Often, games must be difficult
http://eriktwice.com/
User avatar
ZeroAX
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 7471
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:20 am
Location: Current: Amsterdam. From Greece

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by ZeroAX Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:25 am

Erik_Twice wrote:Alienjesus and ZeroAX already commented on my compilatory thread so I'm replicating his posts here:


Image
Image
BoneSnapDeez wrote:The success of a console is determined by how much I enjoy it.
User avatar
Andavive
8-bit
 
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:17 pm

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Andavive Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:59 pm

The more you play the less dificulty you feel.

I watched a girl playing Ratchet and Clank and she was so cautious stopping and looking at everything. When i play it i just go head on because i allready know what is important and i focus on the objective, it became natural, i know what to expect from a platformer like Ratchet & Clank.

Also sometimes difficulty is just frustration in disguise. I tried to finish "Prinny can i really be the hero" and the last boss takes forever to defeat, the jumping system is bad and you have to smash the square button forever before he dies.
I knew that if i continued playing, eventually i would finish the game, i would master a pattern in order to defeat him, but i felt it was pointless, the game mechanics were against me. The challenge became frustration. I left the game because it wasnt fun anymore, i watched the end on youtube and moved on to another game.

Difficulty doesnt rhyme with fun.
User avatar
isiolia
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 5497
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:52 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by isiolia Fri Sep 26, 2014 9:21 am

I think it largely comes down to better technology.

On a larger level, the concept of interactive entertainment doesn't necessitate difficulty. So, to a point, it'd also depend on the focus of the argument, or if you wanted to include what is/is not a game :lol:

Regardless, it's a technology-limited medium, which is part of what makes it so interesting to start with.

In line with what you say on your blog, I think it partly comes down to cost. However, I don't think it's just a matter of games getting cheaper now. Like BRIK mentioned, there's only so much content that can fit on an NES cart or something. Steep difficulty and limited lives/continues/etc are a good way to stretch 20-45 minutes of actual game content into something that people feel validated spending $50 (of 1980s money) on.
A modern game could easily have 10-15 hours of unique content, and have less of a need to force players to replay large portions of it over and over to warrant the cost of entry.

I think it goes beyond that too. More storage allows for manual type information to be included as part of the game. Tutorials, databases, etc. Higher resolution graphics make overlays reminding of which button to push less intrusive, and including those open up the possibility of shifting control schemes as necessary.

There's also a lot more optional content now. Whether just in challenges for the player to undertake with trophies/etc, or full blown alternate paths to play through.

More or less, modern games have a far greater ability to provide great entertainment per dollar for players of nearly any level. To me, that's a great thing.


I'd also agree that more people have grown up with games now, are more experienced with them, and just approach them differently as a result.
User avatar
Erik_Twice
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 6249
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 10:22 am
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Erik_Twice Sat Sep 27, 2014 5:22 am

isiolia wrote:Steep difficulty and limited lives/continues/etc are a good way to stretch 20-45 minutes of actual game content into something that people feel validated spending $50 (of 1980s money) on.

I don't like this way of thinking much because it doesn't give enough weight to the ideals of Konami Classicism and dimisses well-thought out difficulty curves and mechanics as repetition instead of respecting them as an artistic choice.

I think it's perfectly valid to have a game like Gradius II that takes 200 tries to get through because learning how to get through is what the game is about. Learning to tackle the enemy patterns and how to position the ship in a level is what makes the game interesting and fun. It wouldn't become a better game if it had 40 stages instead of 7 you can repeat because it's a game about mastery not about getting to the end.

These games are not just defined by their technological limitations. And even then, focusing on technological limitations would only answer for the videogame side while boardgames and roleplaying games went through exactly the same process and often under the watch of the same people.

That said I do think technological and artistical limitations played a part, namely in limiting what kind of games could be made. Picture Another World, for example, and compare it to a modern indie game. It's clear that it's difficult and very focused on shooting and platforming because it is a very old game and how games could be wasn't as explored yet.
Looking for a cool game? Find it in my blog!
Latest post: Often, games must be difficult
http://eriktwice.com/
User avatar
dsheinem
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 22990
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:56 pm
Location: Northeast Pennsylvania

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by dsheinem Sat Sep 27, 2014 7:07 am

I think you're overstating the widespread appeal of the tougher games from the 80s/90s and understating the appeal of tough games today.

If you look at the best selling games of any system/generation you'll mostly see games that are relatively easy OR have a very wide range of difficulties available. There are plenty of tough games that sell well and warrant sequels today, and there were plenty of easy games that did the same"back then".
Ivo
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 3627
Joined: Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:24 am
Location: Portugal

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Ivo Sat Sep 27, 2014 8:32 am

Erik_Twice wrote:That said I do think technological and artistical limitations played a part, namely in limiting what kind of games could be made. Picture Another World, for example, and compare it to a modern indie game. It's clear that it's difficult and very focused on shooting and platforming because it is a very old game and how games could be wasn't as explored yet.


I'm not sure I agree with your example, in Another World in particular the difficulty of the game is a fundamental part of communicating that the protagonist is in a super harsh situation (5 seconds from starting and you are already swimming for your life, leading up into the magnificent final sequence and ending). I think is one of the early good examples of gameplay being a part of the "message" of the game (like what Braid does).

Also I wouldn't say there is that much platforming in it, there is quite a lot of shooting.
User avatar
isiolia
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 5497
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 1:52 pm
Location: Virginia

Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by isiolia Sat Sep 27, 2014 1:46 pm

Erik_Twice wrote:I don't like this way of thinking much because it doesn't give enough weight to the ideals of Konami Classicism and dimisses well-thought out difficulty curves and mechanics as repetition instead of respecting them as an artistic choice.


I don't mean to imply that it isn't a valid choice. It just happens to also be a choice that suits modest storage/memory. Making a 50GB sandbox game or MMO wasn't exactly an option then.

It's also, likely, the result of arcade-centric design at the time. Arcade games benefit from frequent game-overs. A player puts more money in to keep going, or gets out of the way for the next customer. Getting better means playing more for less money, and maybe getting on the high score list.
Limited continues are a way to adapt that to a home version, where the money is already spent and (at the time) high scores weren't as readily shared.

It's not to pick on arcade style games or anything either, or again, say that the end result can't be good. Games can also be designed to keep players paying a monthly fee, paying for DLC or microtransactions, buying booster packs of cards, or whatever else.
Return to Games As Culture

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests