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

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

Post by GarryG » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:08 am

This is an interesting one, and I’ve found myself on both sides of the fence.

I can still remember playing Abu Simbel Profanation, way back in the eighties, for what seemed like ages before getting past the first screen, and I was positively elated when I eventually made it to screen 3… yes 3 out of around 45 if I remember correctly!

Much more recently I began playing Bayonetta on the PS3 and liked it quite a bit, however I got to a level (the top of the tower) where you had to run across disappearing ground tiles and quickly became annoyed with my lack of immediate progress. I switched the game off at this point, and when I did eventualy go back to it I had to re-start the level at the bottom of the tower, I got bored half-way up the tower and switched of before I was even close to the bit I got stuck at before. I probably won’t finish this game now, which I was pretty much enjoying up to that point.

So what’s my point you ask? Well the older arcade games were all about short-term goals and repetition to beat the immediate adversary, whether that was the mother-ship in Phoenix or the first level of Profanation. But now most mainstream big-budget games put themselves forwards primarily as story-based experiences, so when you encounter something that breaks that story-flow you don’t have the same mental attitude as you did with old arcade games; and quickly get annoyed, or worse disinterested; and where one badly designed level component can easily break a modern game it could equally as easily be overlooked, or even considered a challenge, in older arcade-style game formats.

Although I enjoyed playing Bayonetta, I was playing it in the same mind-set as I played Resident Evil 4, as a story that I wanted to see the end of, and this is how these games are pitched at us, and so got annoyed then bored when a seemingly inconsequential part of a level design halted me in this story. I was not playing it with the same mind-set as I would play Border Down, a twitch based arcade shooter game that is so hard as to be stupidly repetitively grinding, but still has me going back time and again for more punishment!


If you want to lay blame, you could say it's my fault for giving up, or you could blame the game for not living up to the expectations of the hype machine, or you can blame the industry hype-machine itself. At the end of the day, all points are just subjective and equally both as valid and invalid as each other.
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Misery
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Misery » Mon Oct 14, 2013 10:47 am

Megamixer wrote:I think people are possibly making too big a deal out the 'evils' of a game being more an experience than a challenge...

As I said before, if a game entertains you then that's all that matters. Do you need to ignore your liking for a game and instead ponder about whether it should have been a challenge? No, you don't.

I'm playing Dragon's Crown at the moment and finding it to be dead easy but it doesn't hamper my enjoyment of the game at all because I'm appreciating it for other things than difficulty.

Just depends on the player.

In my case, I dont GET any enjoyment if I"m not being challenged; instead, I merely get lots of boredom and impatience. So it is indeed a case of having to focus on wether the game is challenging or not, before going anywhere with it.

Typically, this is a mindset seen most often in PC gamers these days. It appears to be quite rare among console gamers. Or at least, I've pretty much never met any that think that way, except occaisionally on a forum.

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

Post by Megamixer » Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:39 pm

The best games are those that kick your ass but also tempt you back for more. In my experience, hard games have also been crap ones or decidedly dull. I'm not saying that's the case as a rule but just my own personal experience.

I don't want to waste time on hard games that offer no incentive to return. For example, I recently gave up on Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition because a fairly evenly-matched fighter becomes a brick wall at Stage 4 every single time. Yes, I could have spent hours and days hammering it to try and get further but would I have enjoyed that? No. It was difficult but in an artificial, cheap and predictable way. The fact that the game was aesthetically unappealing only made it easier to give up because challenging the difficulty of the game was giving me nothing in return.

A game is either good or bad whatever the difficulty is. I wouldn't be put off by a hard game if I still enjoyed everything else about it but I wouldn't purposely keep slogging at something hard and not that interesting just to say that "I didn't give up" or "I finally beat it". So what if I did; I didn't enjoy it so it was a waste of precious time.

Anyway, I think I've repeated myself a few times already so I'll shut up now :)
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by James A » Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:51 pm

Beyond Two Souls I don't think you can die in it
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Prof Mango B Coconut
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Re: What happened to the ability to 'fail' at a game?

Post by Prof Mango B Coconut » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:02 am

One's ability to fail is set to decrease even further: Enter 'Wingman' mode for Xbox One (I expect we'll some sort of PlayStation variant in the near future).

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013- ... a-features

What next? Paying £40 to watch someone else playing the game for you?
Suppose you were an idiot; suppose also that you were an XBox One owner. But I repeat myself.

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

Post by speedlolita » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:55 am

GarryG wrote:Much more recently I began playing Bayonetta on the PS3 and liked it quite a bit, however I got to a level (the top of the tower) where you had to run across disappearing ground tiles and quickly became annoyed with my lack of immediate progress. I switched the game off at this point, and when I did eventualy go back to it I had to re-start the level at the bottom of the tower, I got bored half-way up the tower and switched of before I was even close to the bit I got stuck at before. I probably won’t finish this game now, which I was pretty much enjoying up to that point.

So what’s my point you ask? Well the older arcade games were all about short-term goals and repetition to beat the immediate adversary, whether that was the mother-ship in Phoenix or the first level of Profanation. But now most mainstream big-budget games put themselves forwards primarily as story-based experiences, so when you encounter something that breaks that story-flow you don’t have the same mental attitude as you did with old arcade games; and quickly get annoyed, or worse disinterested; and where one badly designed level component can easily break a modern game it could equally as easily be overlooked, or even considered a challenge, in older arcade-style game formats.

Although I enjoyed playing Bayonetta, I was playing it in the same mind-set as I played Resident Evil 4, as a story that I wanted to see the end of, and this is how these games are pitched at us, and so got annoyed then bored when a seemingly inconsequential part of a level design halted me in this story. I was not playing it with the same mind-set as I would play Border Down, a twitch based arcade shooter game that is so hard as to be stupidly repetitively grinding, but still has me going back time and again for more punishment!
Funny that it was that part that made you feel that way. For me it was the After Burner style entry to the tower that made me frustrated. Almost killed off my enjoyment entirely.

The bit you're describing wasn't that great but I'd strongly recommend you stick through it as you're very close to the brilliant ending.

I'm lucky that I don't have that kind of mentality though, I don't expect to be handed progression a plate. Although I will concede that if I'm stuck I'll most likely hop onto GameFAQs for instant progression and gratification. :lol:

Just wait until you play Bayonetta on Hard or Very Hard - there's a clear demonstration of being able to fail at a video game nowadays.
Logged out 15/07/2014.

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

Post by Misery » Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:44 am

Prof Mango B Coconut wrote:One's ability to fail is set to decrease even further: Enter 'Wingman' mode for Xbox One (I expect we'll some sort of PlayStation variant in the near future).

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013- ... a-features

What next? Paying £40 to watch someone else playing the game for you?

argh argh argh

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

Post by DoraemonTheCat » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:43 pm

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

Simples - Now that gaming is "mainstream" people that don't have a long history of playing games want to be able to finish a game through to completion so they can join in conversations around the water-cooler.

A lot of players new to gaming in general would not have the patience in this day and age to be able to deal with constantly dying and not being able to progress further in a game. Most of us here can be classed as "seasoned vets" when it comes to gaming, we've all served time with various systems, where you had to learn to deal with harsh enemies, pixel perfect jumps, dodgy collision detection etc, etc....

But we live in times where "instant gratification" is and has been a buzz-word for several years.

There are other factors (probably mentioned already in this thread - which I have not read all off) but you simply can't disagree with the above - it's a fact.

A lot of games are bordering on being like interactive movies (thankfully NOT anywhere near as bad as what we first had to put up with - I'm looking at you, Digital Pictures). Entertaining romps that have a beginning, middle and end.

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

Post by killbot » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:10 pm

I think what's coming very clearly through in this conversation is that videogames are now seen by most as a storytelling medium, like books or movies. You wouldn't be 'punished' by a book or a film for not understanding it, those mediums don't withold the end of the story unless they judge you to be 'good' enough so why should games?

To me, this is a case of the tail wagging the dog. A videogame is - and the clue is in the name - a game. A test of skill, judgement or luck with a success condition and a failure condition waiting at the end. The idea that they should have plots only emerged out of simple expediency - if you wanted to make a shooting gallery game then it was a little cooler to make the enemies aliens instead of ducks, say. So you make the enemies aliens and give the player a screen of text explaining that the Earth has been invaded and they have to fight off the attackers. The plot, where one was judged necessary at all, was entirely incidental to the action. We have now done a complete 360 and complex plots are now the driving force behind games. The game mechanics exist purely to serve to advance the plot. So much so that increasingly the action is being taken out of the hands of the player, who (if left to their own devices) might mess it up, by dying in the wrong place or wandering into an area of the game where they aren't supposed to be. Better to keep them funnelled along the 'right' path and - if they're stupid enough to die - bring them back to life right where they stood with no discernable 'punishment' for playing badly.

This is clearly a popular state of affairs, but I think it's pretty shocking. What we are increasingly moving towards is 'games' which are no more than movies in which the player's involvement is reduced to the minimum possible amount. The average game is now less interactive than a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and certainly less responsive to the interactions of the player, who is usually railroaded along the same plotlines whatever in-game decisions they make (even in games like Mass Effect which are supposed to be poster boys for 'player choice').

Weirdly, all these arguments can be aimed at Monkey Island, which is one of my all-time favourite games. The difference, I suppose, is in the feel of the title; MI made me 'feel' like I was interacting with the world and characters around me and having an effect on them in a way CoD never does, even though both are pretty linear experiences. The key difference is that Monkey Island didn't feel the need to wipe my nose for me - each puzzle had a solution, finding it was my job. The game wasn't going to help me. It was still my brains vs. the game - still a test of my judgement and ability to think laterally.

You can see why Miyamoto is famously extremely wary of introducing complex plots into the Mario games. They at least remain (assuming one can resist the annoying 'super guide') pure tests of videogame skill based on your understanding of deep play mechanics, not games that shepherd you through a storyline.
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