What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

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pratty
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by pratty » Wed Oct 02, 2013 5:00 pm

killbot wrote:
Fightersmegamix wrote:You need to play dark souls :) I'd agree with most of what you said. I think a lot of it is due to gamer greed, we expect a new game every week so anything that stops progress is a pain.
Yes, I wonder about that too. Back in the day kids could only afford a new console game two or three times a year, so longevity and difficulty became a selling point. Publishers wanted players to know that the game would last them a long time. Now the opposite is true - the audience the industry is chasing is young, single professionals with big disposable incomes who can buy a game a week if they want. Now being able to finish a game quickly and with minimal fuss seems to be the idea. Of course the best developers (Nintendo, TT, Rockstar) make sure to add in a lot of after-game content so that the game lasts as long or as short a time as you want. Other developers do the same thing but call it 'DLC' and charge you for the privelage.tough.
I think there's something to this, though I wonder to what extent how much the developers are leading people in the way they consume games, and how much they are reflecting consumer behavour. I think maybe a bit of both, it seems like a bit of a chicken and egg scenario where they perpetuate each other.

It does seem though that a longer lasting single player experience is something you pay extra for now, we've even seen harder difficulty setting considered an optional extra.

Also with the change in technology it seems the appeals and selling points of games have increased, games aren't just about challenging yourself, often the focus is on story, immersion, exploration, interaction, competition etc. If a game is heavily focussed on delivering those sorts of experiences to the consumer, perhaps it's best for certain games that difficulty doesn't get in the way.

And everybody has a different level of ability, and different amounts of time they can dedicate to a game, so it's hard to cater for everybody. There are some games that are just to hard for me to complete, if I just can't finish a game in invested in I'm going to feel very frustrated, exepcially if i've spent £20-50 on it, and even more so if it's a download I can't trade or sell. Back in the day I might still come back to retry an 'impossible' game, especially if I got to replay the managable parts, but these days I might just play all other games I have instead, never play the difficult game again and therefore resent my purchase, perhaps resent the franchise/developer too.

Of course multiple difficulty levels (and optional shortcuts, clues and pointers etc) seems like an obvious solution.
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Fightersmegamix
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Fightersmegamix » Wed Oct 02, 2013 5:06 pm

I don't think the difficulty is always why people give in though. If you have to replay a bit and you give in maybe the game just wasn't good enough.

A lot of gamers grew up being able to play every good game available and still hold on to that, trying to keep up, go go go. If you read a book you don't try and get through it as quick as you can to get onto the next one. There are so many great books you could spend your whole life reading and you'll still miss out on countless classics, so you just read. So many gamers try and buy every console and all the exclusives, but the industry has just grown too much now. Even those with little time on their hands still buy the games and leave them sat on the shelves. Once you have a back log you lose patience pretty quick, so much to do, so tempting to give in and move on to the next one. Of course publishers want to sell as many games as possible too, so it's in everyones interest. For now at least.

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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by HalcyonDaze00 » Wed Oct 02, 2013 5:24 pm

Am I alone in looking back fondly at a time when you bought a game knowing that only hours of blood, sweat and tears would result in seeing the end credits? Where you had to memorise patterns and puzzles and hone your joypad skills to a knife edge if you wanted to get to the end?
I certainly don't look back at that kind of shoddy game design fondly, you only to have to read all the interviews in RG to see pretty much everyone they speak to admits making their games too hard.

So many games back then had the arcade mentality of killing the player as often as possible, thank god that it's gone!

I love the save anywhere feature, and as others have mentioned, you don't have to use it, you can force yourself to only save at the end of a level or every hour etc.

If you really want a challenge to see how good you are then you go online, you will soon find masses of people who will happily destroy you on Street Fighter, FIFA, COD, HALO etc and for those games without player v player then you have online high score leaderboards to test your skills.

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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by SexyWayne » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:01 pm

I've put about 8 hours into GTA 5 so far.. I've barely scratched the surface of the game world... I've failed a few missions, I'm happy that I'm able to restart the same mission over and over until I beat it.. bollocks to that 3 lives and game over.. I don't fancy being forced to restart that 8 hours over again because I've run out of lives.. like others have said, the game over screen is fine for quick arcade based games but a modern game like GTA is no place for limited lives..

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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by HEAVYface » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:30 pm

you said it yourself in the original post though.....arcade games were designed to take money off you, but you couldn't fail at those either if you had the cash.

true, a lot of people pay £40 and want the satisfaction of 'completing' said game/story, so, yes things like auto save and restart points makes games more accessible to a wider audience, not everybody is a gaming ninja. ....if I wanted to complete say I don't know...golden axe, I could get £3 in 10p's and keep sticking them in the machine until its done. no difference in my mind. I think that games like gauntlet, where you will absolutely fail because your health/timer ticks down regardless are best left in the past

you are describing different flavours of gaming experiences, it just so happens that the least demanding types of game are the most popular because they don't require a lot of peoples time or thought...and actually I don't really mind that because I don't have 20 hrs a week to play, and I like the emergence of these sand-box type games where you just mess about for ten minutes and not have to think about stuff.

actually - I never would have completed vanquish or halo if it wasn't for quick save checkpoints.

However more often than not these days, when I chose to play it's usually some short and sweet retro arcade games, so it seems I prefer the old format anyway:)

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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by killbot » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:00 pm

Just for the record I'm not suggesting that all games should be NES-hard or anything. Yes, back in the 8-bit era things probably did go too far - I'd say that probably under 10% of the people buying any given game in those days would ever see past the halfway point, and perhaps only half of them would actually finish it.

But it does feel rather like the pendulum has swung too far the other way. When was the last time (outside of multiplayer) that you experienced genuine heart-racing, sweaty-palmed tension in a game? The kind you got from being on the last level of Super Mario Bros. with one life left and knowing it had all been for nought if you didn't make it this time? Nowadays dying in a game barely qualifies as a minor inconvenience - you go back and face the shooting gallery of brown people again, and this time you manage to kill them all. You move on to the next one. Rinse and repeat. At no point are you penalised for playing badly, in fact many modern games go to great lengths to make sure that you can't play badly, holding your hand from start to finish and automatically topping up your energy bar every time you manage to avoid getting shot for two consecutive seconds. Infinite lives used to belong to the shady world of the cheat code, now it's industry standard.

When I play CoD... it's a great game and very slick and well made but I don't really feel like I'm playing a videogame. Not in the same way I do when I play Mario, or Strider. I feel as though I'm watching a film in which I am occasionally allowed to play an active part. But not too active - the developers don't want me messing up their lovely film with my insistance on interacting with it, after all. And they certainly don't want me to die.
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Prof Mango B Coconut » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:12 pm

killbot wrote:When I play CoD... it's a great game and very slick and well made but I don't really feel like I'm playing a videogame. Not in the same way I do when I play Mario, or Strider. I feel as though I'm watching a film in which I am occasionally allowed to play an active part. But not too active - the developers don't want me messing up their lovely film with my insistance on interacting with it, after all. And they certainly don't want me to die.
You've got it. The thing is the vast majority don't want to be challenged, they want to be entertained - and worse than that, the majority feel entitled.

It's a race to the bottom to find the lowest common denominator - the biggest cash cow.
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Misery » Wed Oct 02, 2013 8:24 pm

HalcyonDaze00 wrote:
Am I alone in looking back fondly at a time when you bought a game knowing that only hours of blood, sweat and tears would result in seeing the end credits? Where you had to memorise patterns and puzzles and hone your joypad skills to a knife edge if you wanted to get to the end?
I certainly don't look back at that kind of shoddy game design fondly, you only to have to read all the interviews in RG to see pretty much everyone they speak to admits making their games too hard.

So many games back then had the arcade mentality of killing the player as often as possible, thank god that it's gone!

I love the save anywhere feature, and as others have mentioned, you don't have to use it, you can force yourself to only save at the end of a level or every hour etc.

If you really want a challenge to see how good you are then you go online, you will soon find masses of people who will happily destroy you on Street Fighter, FIFA, COD, HALO etc and for those games without player v player then you have online high score leaderboards to test your skills.

Just because games back then tended to lack saves or continues, doesnt make it "shoddy". It really depends on the game. .....and really, back then alot of them actually DID have continues, though that might somewhat depend on which device you were playing. It was certainly true of most NES games, and many PC games of the time as well either did that or had some sort of save system, though saves back then did have more limitations. I cant say much of the other types of computers and such from that era, perhaps it was more of a problem on those? Heck if I know.

Still, I echo what Killbot has said in this thread. And the ability to play online.... yeah, that doesnt change it for me. Going online with the fighting games I play, for instance, I have to wait a ridiculous amount of time for an opponent that can even keep up with me, let alone put up much of a fight. Games really DONT force you to hone your skills much these days, and that leaks into the online experience in pretty much any genre. I've often met players in the fighting genre that are said to be "very good" by those around them, but the "very good" bit actually is only in comparison to many normal players that are kinda lazy and dont REALLY learn the game in question. Which ALSO means that there's a ton of players that will quit really easily when they start losing (which drives me up the wall). Or worse, the ones that wont even try at all after having just watched a few matches, because they think "I cant possibly play on that level" or "that whole game is just beyond me". It never occurs to them to try ANYWAY, as games these days almost never bring out that mentality in people. Wheras with older games.... they forced that mentality all the time. Hell, pretty much everyone I know does this one. They'll play fighting games sometimes.... until I start playing the same game, at which point they immediately all stop (which is really irritating). They think they cant win, yet at the same time they wont TRY it to find out, which creates sort of a nasty loop, as it also doesnt encourage them to practice and improve their skill so that maybe they CAN do it. Stuff like that.

Older games tended to reward skill, whereas recent games merely reward repetition; your skill doesnt really need to increase if you're allowed to do a section a zillion times in a row only to pass it via luck or something.

Prof Mango B Coconut wrote:
killbot wrote:When I play CoD... it's a great game and very slick and well made but I don't really feel like I'm playing a videogame. Not in the same way I do when I play Mario, or Strider. I feel as though I'm watching a film in which I am occasionally allowed to play an active part. But not too active - the developers don't want me messing up their lovely film with my insistance on interacting with it, after all. And they certainly don't want me to die.
You've got it. The thing is the vast majority don't want to be challenged, they want to be entertained - and worse than that, the majority feel entitled.

It's a race to the bottom to find the lowest common denominator - the biggest cash cow.
Yep, that.

Developers/publishers want to produce easy games pretty much because of that; players used to having things handed to them. If players have a hard time completing a game, knowledge of this fact spreads, and potential new players/customers will look at it and say "Hmm, but I heard this game was really hard.... I'd probably never get anywhere in it, I'll buy something else". There's the occaisional rare exception, like Demon's Souls and whatnot, but those are rare indeed. And as Killbot says in that quote, the developers want you to be able to see the rest of their little movie.... er, I mean, "game".... so that you can be entranced into buying the following movies/"games", to be wowed with yet more #(%&-ing cutscenes.

Cant stand such games myself. Fortunately, I dont have any of THAT sort, so that works out pretty well.

I will say though, that sort of game is also phenomenally boring to watch someone play, if you dont like that sort yourself. It can be fun and funny to watch a friend playing something with at least a bit of challenge and constantly interesting gameplay to it. But watching them play through something that's more of an "experience" than a game is boring as all hell. Seeing them go through super-easy scenes and then watch little movie bits over and over is.... yeah. A cure for insomnia.

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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by ToxieDogg » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:47 am

Megamixer wrote:Hard games are great but if they get too tricky then I often can't be bothered to see them through to the end. That's just me though; I'm a 90's kid and don't like to come home from a crap day at work to get beaten up by my games too :)
gman72 wrote:Same here really. When I was younger I used to love hard games, but these days I just cant be bothered ive lost count of how many games I was enjoying but had to abandon because of a stupidly difficult boss encounter. These days if we had never moved on from the three strikes and you are out ethos I would probably not be a gamer.
I can understand this way of thinking but I don't quite buy into it. The last thing I want after being out at work or wherever all day is a game kicking my ass too, but that's just because I'm not a kid anymore. Back when we were enjoying the 'hard' games when we were younger, a lot of adults weren't playing at all, nowadays we've got tons of adults playing and they expect most of the experiences to be tailored towards their lifestyles, at the same time forgetting that there's a whole new generation of gamers coming after us who aren't learning to deal with proper challenges in games as a result. There's nothing sadder to me than when you put most kids in front of a game like, say, Super Metroid now and it takes them as long (longer even in some cases) to work out how to get past the first couple of screens than it took me to beat the entire game without the use of a guide of any sort. Apparently when WayForward were testing Duck Tales Remastered with groups of children, looking for secret and hidden areas with short cuts and treasure chests was an alien concept to the majority of them.

Obviously if a game's designed to last for more than an evening, then I don't want to lose hours of progress every time and I appreciate checkpoints and saves. But even taking the recent GTA V as an example, there's very little consequence to dying...if you've started a mission, then dying only seems to send you back maybe 30 seconds at most as there seem to be multiple checkpoints within each mission as well....I at least wouldn't have minded maybe just having to restart the current mission from scratch. New games don't even come with instruction booklets anymore. The hand holding approach has gotten way out of hand IMHO.
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by necronom » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:54 am

If I buy a game for £35-£40 I expect to be able to finish it on normal difficulty. The only games I can think of that I didn't finish, since possibly getting a PS1 a long time ago, all happened in the last month! I got Jak and Daxter 1-3 from PS+. I played the first right until the last part, then got stuck. I played the second one for about an hour then gave up, and the third was the same. If I'd bought these I'd be very annoyed about the 2nd and third games' difficulty.

Then I got the new Giana Sisters game last week from PS+ and got all the way to the last fight. It took an hour to get through the level to the end, then I spent TWO HOURS re-trying the same fight with the end baddie. In the end I gave up. No save points during a level. I'll never play it again, and I was quite annoyed about it.

I prefer to finish a game than get stuck and miss out on part of it. I can always up the difficulty afterwards, which I often do, then play through again, but these ones that don't have a setting and you can easily get stuck on are not great. If I buy a game I expect to finish it.
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Matt_B » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:16 am

Give Super Hexagon a go.

That's a modern game where you not only can fail, but will, multiple times, and usually in the space of a few seconds.

It doesn't half feel good when you master it though.

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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Misery » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:27 am

ToxieDogg wrote:I can understand this way of thinking but I don't quite buy into it. The last thing I want after being out at work or wherever all day is a game kicking my ass too, but that's just because I'm not a kid anymore. Back when we were enjoying the 'hard' games when we were younger, a lot of adults weren't playing at all, nowadays we've got tons of adults playing and they expect most of the experiences to be tailored towards their lifestyles, at the same time forgetting that there's a whole new generation of gamers coming after us who aren't learning to deal with proper challenges in games as a result. There's nothing sadder to me than when you put most kids in front of a game like, say, Super Metroid now and it takes them as long (longer even in some cases) to work out how to get past the first couple of screens than it took me to beat the entire game without the use of a guide of any sort. Apparently when WayForward were testing Duck Tales Remastered with groups of children, looking for secret and hidden areas with short cuts and treasure chests was an alien concept to the majority of them.

Obviously if a game's designed to last for more than an evening, then I don't want to lose hours of progress every time and I appreciate checkpoints and saves. But even taking the recent GTA V as an example, there's very little consequence to dying...if you've started a mission, then dying only seems to send you back maybe 30 seconds at most as there seem to be multiple checkpoints within each mission as well....I at least wouldn't have minded maybe just having to restart the current mission from scratch. New games don't even come with instruction booklets anymore. The hand holding approach has gotten way out of hand IMHO.
And that bit reminds me of this:

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Really, I just cant even wrap my mind around that one. Has the hand-holding in recent games truly gotten THAT bad? To the point where even extremely simple experimentation/exploration isnt done? Heck, in the area in the screenshots there's nearly nothing you CAN do, as it's a tiny area, and there's only a couple of things in it. It practically funnels you towards the solution to that "puzzle".

And of course it's not just that, there's people getting their heads handed to them left and right by a game like that. Even as a kid, I thought that particular game was too easy. Nowadays I think it's ABSURDLY easy. Heck, Duck Tales was even easier, the main thing I remember about the original was buying it, getting home, and beating it in one go.

But then I see things like THAT, and it just..... I'm not sure if I should cry, or nearly suffocate from laughter.

Even worse, I know some people in my group of friends that would indeed have great, great trouble with that game. They're the sort that are used to games that make SURE that the player "beats" them and reaches the end.

I personally will never, ever understand the mentality that leads to wanting to play games of that sort. If I play that sort of game, and finish it.... I havent beat anything. This being because nothing put up a damn fight. There's no sense of accomplishment whatsoever there, and I think that's one of the biggest things that keeps me away from the consoles these days. I cant remember the last console game I bought that truly gave me that without being either a fighting game, an import shmup, or Demon's Souls/Dark Souls.

Now, I CAN understand if you just dont have TIME for such things. What gets me though are the ones that really DO have time, like, hours and hours and hours for this, yet still play only the easiest of the easy.

I dunno. I just dont get it. That's probably for the best, though.

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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Megamixer » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:00 pm

ToxieDogg wrote:The hand holding approach has gotten way out of hand IMHO.
Personally I thought it peaked with Super Mario Galaxy 2's bonus 'How to play' DVD. Totally unecessary in a game that anybody can pick up and enjoy.

I think 'failing' in the old days wasn't totally down to a game being a 'challenge' though was it? How many games are hard to complete because of glitches, terrible counter-intuitive controls, bad design etc.? Lots I'd wager. I don't necessarily mind a game being difficult if the difficulty is based around pure skill but bad game design, technical problems and artificially boosted difficulty aren't acceptable.

Don't get me wrong, I like a challenge in a game but I wouldn't purposely play something that beat my face in just to say "I play tough games and am proud of it". Gaming is entertainment and entertainment is about whatever you enjoy. There is no right or wrong so whether it's a balls-hard arcade game or a 4 hour game mostly experienced through cutscenes, does it matter as long as we enjoy it?

If playing and beating really hard games is your idea of entertainment then that's cool; you're getting what you want from the medium. I personally get my kicks from experiencing amazing level/world design (Dragon's Dogma, Grand Theft Auto), soundtracks (Tekken 2, Spyro the Dragon, story (Final Fantasy VIII, Yakuza) or art (anything by Vanillaware).

Ultimately, difficulty and bearing the possibility of failure only works if a game is rewarding enough to keep trying. Unlocking everything on Timesplitters Future Perfect took me ages and ages because of the sheer difficulty of some of the challenges at gold trophy level but I kept going because the game was worth it. In other words, I was still enjoying the game as I was failing. Some tough games get this right, others are just hard with no incentive to carry on.
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by felgekarp » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:12 pm

Not only do I want both my hands holding whilst I'm playing games I want someone to move them around for me so I can finish whatever game I'm playing.
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Nemesis » Thu Oct 03, 2013 4:18 pm

Megamixer wrote: Gaming is entertainment and entertainment is about whatever you enjoy. There is no right or wrong so whether it's a balls-hard arcade game or a 4 hour game mostly experienced through cutscenes, does it matter as long as we enjoy it?
.
This. It's been a long time since gaming was about spotty teenagers locked away in their bedrooms for hours on end trying to beat a game. Whereas gaming used to be exclusive to those dedicated to facing hugely difficult games, it's now much more inclusive, catering for people of all levels not just thumb stick ninjas. Applying old school difficulty to games today as a rule rather than an exception, would drive many people away who do play now. I think it's great that modern games cater for all abilities & a major plus over retro games in which the ending may never be reached.

There are still games which test the dedicated enthusiast but thanks to varying difficulty levels, even a novice can get to see the endings of most titles. The Lego example given by the OP was a poor one really considering it was made for the younger demographic. Therefore, I don't agree in this instance.
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