XCOM: Enemy Unknown & Xenonauts - Editorial @ NewStatesman
The NewStatesman has a new article that takes a look at XCOM: Enemy Unknown & Xenonauts , and asks is a dumbed-down game any less fun?
Although I think the writer here used the article/topic more to advertise for Xenonauts, I've always enjoyed more complex gaming. The more stuff I can manipulate in a game, the more I can take credit for if I win or lose.
I think the "dumbing down" of games like Sim City, Rome Total War 2, Jagged Alliance Reloaded, etc really hurt the experience— and gamers have called them out for it. It's almost like game companies assume that the easier the mechanics are, the more people it will appeal to. Is that really what kind of generation we're raising now?
Always very hard to understand what that dumbing down of a game refers to. Apparently though, players seem to like to think that running numbers in a non mattering way is smart.
Skyrim developpers reported a definition problem: the overnumerous attributes of a character got diluted by their numbers to eventually mean little.
So why bother with figures when you know they are going to mean little?
They came with a smaller number of attributes, with the goal of bringing definition to characters.
The issue they ran accross: their way came with a hard cap on levelling up.
Players do not like that because players, when they play those kind of games, want to feel powerful, they want to be able to be almighty.
Now, what is the relative definition of a character that is maxed in magic, stealth, one handed weapons combat, two handed weapons combat, locksmith, trade etc over a character that is maxed in magic, stealth, one handed weapons combat, two handed weapons combat, locksmith, trade? None.
It is then very hard to judge of the success of the endeavour because players reject the principle of it.
Players do not want to play characters that are specialized in smithing, or stealth etc Players want to play characters that excel in anything, players want to dominate, they want to be almighty.
So basically, when the previous lack of definition was the result of a faulty game design, when developpers tried to fix it, it was revealed or confirmed that players simply do not care about lack of definition between characters: all they want is their hunger for power to be satisfied.
How is that streamlining or dumbing down?
Streamlining doesn't have to be a problem if it doesn't hurt the impact of choice. Problem with most modern streamlining is that choice ends up being irrelevant - and you'll succeed no matter what you invest in.
That's how you upset players who enjoy investing themselves and making clever decisions.
Challenge has become about grinding and about punishing players no matter how smart they are. If you play games today on harder difficulties - you're not rewarded for making smart choices - you're simply faced with longer fights or "tougher" fights - but your development choices still don't matter in terms of making it easier.
In my opinion, challenge should be about skill - and I think if you're a smart player you should be having an easier time. For non RPGs - the skillset isn't necessarily about being smart - but about being adept at whatever the game demands of you.
Essentially, I don't like the modern version of challenge in most cases.
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