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Old 29th May 2008, 11:31   #1
Tim S
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Dumbing Up Gaming

http://www.bit-tech.net/columns/2008...ng-up-gaming/1

Why do games always cater for the lowest common denominator, wonders Cliff Harris. Why are there no games for educated professionals and why do we have to rely on hacking mini-games in BioShock to explain elements clearly within reach?

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Old 29th May 2008, 11:43   #2
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Agreed, I get totally bored of dumbed down games and always feel there's something missing from it - you're right; that something is a bit of intellectual challenge
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:01   #3
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Amen. Intelligent games exists but they do not receive much attention as the brain dump ones.
Look for example EVE Online.
They even have hired a real Economist and they are using the game mechanics for University studies. If you read comments on some websites people complain is too complicated and they are trying to prohibit other to try. Many users who play it, still cannot look beyond the very basic. But it's only bit far from real mechanics (the economy/market). Darkfall Online, same concept in fantasy area when eventualy comes out.

I would love Spore too, especialy if/when we actually need a degree in Biology to make proper living species. Time to learn something new.

Also there Microsoft funded Robotic Challenges. You have to overcome some robotic challenges and you learn how to programm robots (from simple roaming into a maze, to visual and audio process) using real programming tools and skills, which will be required soon from the real market.

But what you hear about all the time? About WoW, Second Life, The Sims and similar stupid games which only purpose is put the brain to sleep.
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:04   #4
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Considering that the aim of the protein folding game is to get as many people playing it as possible in order to speed up computing tasks, it would be a folly to market that towards a tiny minority of gamers. Unless you don't expect to make a profit or you are on a very tight budget then these type of games will never be major successes because even the people who could play them often wouldn't want to. Even as a physics student I'm not particularly interested in a game that simulates a particle detector.

Unless you are a indie dev who isn't worried about profit then these tiny demographics aren't significant enough to warrant the costs which you mentioned. So big studios aren't going to making these games regardless. You can afford to make them, which is great, so go do it. Indie devs have a history of producing games which are not only innovative but also challenging and the economics work in their favour here. They can still profit from a small player base and if the concept is popular then it makes even more money.

I'd point out that even the simplified protein folding game isn't enjoying the popularity that EA or Ubisoft would consider a success.
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:17   #5
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I completely agree with the article.
Nice one.
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:25   #6
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Considering the most complicated puzzles in games these days are, and I quote Yahtzee, "Use gun on man", I'd be up for something that made me think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Panos
They even have hired a real Economist and they are using the game mechanics for University studies. If you read comments on some websites people complain is too complicated and they are trying to prohibit other to try. Many users who play it, still cannot look beyond the very basic. But it's only bit far from real mechanics (the economy/market).
I think that is part of the attraction of Eve, the fact that I've spent weeks reading about it and still haven't really touched on it is really rewarding when I get things right. I'd venture a guess at that being similar for other Eve players.
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:28   #7
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I so agree with this..
OK I like some of the mindless games like Counter Strike, but at the same time I love Half life series to some extent.. it has some puzzles in it and it is not completely mindless...

I think one of the best example of dumbing a game down is Rainbow Six series.. the first ones were so much better and with more tactics and planning to it rather then just run and gun...
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:44   #8
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I don't care if you need a degree in biology to play the game because there are a lot of people with degrees in biology. Sell just to them, it's still viable.
I completely disagree. A game is something that shouldn't be exclusive to a certain group of people and designing it so that it is is will only make sales limited. This makes no business sense at all.

Yes some games are dumbed down, but not all. If you are so concerned about this then don't buy the dumbed down games! But at the same time you can't expect them to make a game specialised to your own area of expertise. There is a balance to what can be made economically viable and attractive to the masses.
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:50   #9
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totally agree. Yet again we get back to the 'is money evil' debate. we dont see these games anymore because companies want dev to widen the scope to maximise the potential demographic to increase profit. All i say is thank god for indie dev guys who do things because they think its a cool idea.

Mr Jackson pointing out what we all know:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCPlC...com/?q=node/26

legendary advert.
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Old 29th May 2008, 12:53   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CozaMcCoza
Quote:
I don't care if you need a degree in biology to play the game because there are a lot of people with degrees in biology. Sell just to them, it's still viable.
I completely disagree. A game is something that shouldn't be exclusive to a certain group of people and designing it so that it is is will only make sales limited. This makes no business sense at all.

Yes some games are dumbed down, but not all. If you are so concerned about this then don't buy the dumbed down games! But at the same time you can't expect them to make a game specialised to your own area of expertise. There is a balance to what can be made economically viable and attractive to the masses.
i'm with coza. i just think it's too idealistic too plain and simple and doesn't factor in all the complexities. at the end of the day, sales do matter. or you go bust. simple as. i don't think you can ask quite so much out of your wider game audience and you'll end up hitting a very niche audience. not all of us have the time to put into studying french or whatever.

the way i see it, i play games to unwind. i don't want to go home and play a game to tax my brain. i wanna go home and blow sh*t up. by that token, i think you'd be targetting mostly pc audiences. consoles are really designed for pick up and play and are comparatively rudimentary (pc games being dumbed down for the sake of the console generation).

in fact, this is a strong argument against this article. why are games like deus ex 2 dumbed down for consoles?

having said all this, give it a go, i fully encourage the exploration of new games genres/styles and all the rest of it. heck, if it works i'll be the first to say i'm wrong, well done, your massively intellectual game which requires a Phd in astrphysics is astounding. shame i can't get past level one.
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Old 29th May 2008, 13:10   #11
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An intelligent game doesn't necessarily need to rely on specialist knowledge. A game can be intelligent and relatively accessible by relying on tasks based on universal concepts like maths, logic and deduction, which could play out, for example, in a mystery or crime game - like the forensic bits of "Condemned" but with brains.

Star Wars: KOTOR did quite well a couple of times with some impressive logic puzzles. KOTOR2 even used maths problems as the basis for some of the computer hacking. The games were very accessible, on the whole, but there were occasional bonuses to reward a bit of intelligence on the player's part.
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Old 29th May 2008, 13:15   #12
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The dumbing down of games is starting to effect first-person shooters as well. Adding economy and social etiquette helps with online games but when developers start ignoring basic physics with firearms the challenge of firing guns and actually managing to hit something is taken away. Bring back the realism to first-person shooters and people will start respecting the game beyond the shiny guns.

Every time I see a game where you plunk a scope on a gun and it shoots exactly what it is pointed at every time I get very angry. It took thirty shots and an afternoon at the range to get my scope sighted in on my Marlin and unless scopes are matched with ammo every shot will miss regardless of how much stuff is attached to the gun.

Recently I purchased a shotgun and the spread of 4BK shot in Doom 3 is completely unrealistic. Normally this ammo spreads about three inches at 21 yards (63 feet) with an improved choke. Unless the barrel of the shotgun in Doom 3 is defective and three inches long why it have a useless range of ten feet?

Sorry for the rant but if game developers want realism make the weapons fire as they would at a shooting range. If they can model a palm tree to sway in the wind, create real-time shadows and render lush environments then why do the guns get so little attention?
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Old 29th May 2008, 13:23   #13
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why not compare the industry to other media i.e. when was the last time you watched a genuinely intelligent, thought provoking prime time tv show?

whilst i accept that there are such television programmes they are hardly considered mainstream very often. the games industry is just not yet mature enough to have a wide enough audience to justify the production costs of hundreds of niche titles appealing to a small demographic.
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Old 29th May 2008, 13:26   #14
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I don't think we need hundreds, but one or two intellectually stimulating, yet entertaining games would be nice - although not necessarily totally specialised on one area
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Old 29th May 2008, 13:31   #15
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Very intersting read, especially what was said about that game "Hacker". Being a bit of a linguist myself, I like the idea of having to learn a bit of a language to progress through the game. Though perhaps games like that should have an option to turn that feature off and on? Afterall, there are times when I like to play to unwind, much like sotu1 said.
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Old 29th May 2008, 13:34   #16
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Quote:
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Very intersting read, especially what was said about that game "Hacker". Being a bit of a linguist myself, I like the idea of having to learn a bit of a language to progress through the game. Though perhaps games like that should have an option to turn that feature off and on? Afterall, there are times when I like to play to unwind, much like sotu1 said.
thats in interesting concept, being able to turn features off if they dont appeal to you.

i think i read that the new alone in the dark will have puzzle areas that can be skipped so that pretty much anyone who plays the game can complete it, but those who enjoy the challenge have it there
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Old 29th May 2008, 13:46   #17
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Very good article. This is one of the main reason why I don't understand people who thought Bioshock was a good game. It was a superb semi-interactive film but there was no game left to play, absolutely no challenge at all.

Bring back the likes of Supremacy, Syndicate, Hacker, Populous and even the fun games still held challenge like Lemmings, Cannon Fodder, Speedball 2.

We haven't had a single challenging mainstream game in at least five years.
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Old 29th May 2008, 14:02   #18
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Quote:
Selling just to biochemists won't cut it any more, you need to aim at the wider audience
There are more of us than you think .....

Anyway I agree with this article think it would be great to make games where the difficulty lvl is not just decided by how fast you are with your mouse.
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Old 29th May 2008, 14:17   #19
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is this a natural extension for the 'hardcore' gamer? I'd certainly like to see this!
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Old 29th May 2008, 14:28   #20
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There are many times I find games frustrating hard, yes, you probably smelled it from 100 miles away, doom 3 for example, I simply coudnt find my way because every corridor looked the same and every door looked the same and after running in circles for hours I gave up frustrated.. simply put, there is hard and there is hard, If its a enemy thats a challege to kill so what? atleast you can tell you are making some progress (hopefully) and have a clear goal at hand, but back to doom 3, running in circles with all mobs long dead and zero possibilty to tell where the hell you are because everything looks the same is the wrong kind of difficulty.
Anyway, what games need is a proper difficulty adjustment, usually its just the enemies hitpoints and your hitpoints that gets changed, sometimes also the ammo... ohh great... sorry, but the persons doing the difficulty adjustments in most games are lazy *******s and rather go "ohh, the graphics team did a nice job, lets do nothing it will sell anyway" than do their job.
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