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-   -   XCOM: Enemy Unknown & Xenonauts - Editorial @ NewStatesman (http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22198)

Couchpotato October 21st, 2013 16:27

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?

Quote:

For years there has been debate amongst video game fans about dumbing down, about streamlining games, cutting out features, making them easier to play and less challenging. Players lament the over-simplification of titles like Mass Effect 3, or Skyrim, but the debate is usually hypothetical because we only know about games that exist. There is no complicated version of Skyrim for comparison, ditto for the Mass Effect series. We can only conjecture on what might have happened had Bethesda used the Morrowind systems in Skyrim or if Bioware opted to perfect the cumbersome inventory systems of the original Mass Effect rather than ripping them out.

However, one instance where we can examine this subject outside of hypotheticals has come to light with the emergence of two X-COM games. XCOM: Enemy Unknown, produced by Firaxis, which shares the name and the legal ownership of the IP with the original series, and Xenonauts, an indie title produced by Goldhawk Interactive which is dubbed a re-imagining. Both games have appeared at roughly the same time after substantial development periods: Xenonauts has been in production since 2009, and work on the new XCOM: Enemy Unknown (now hyphen-free) began in 2008.

More information.

ChaosTheory October 21st, 2013 16:27

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?

ChienAboyeur October 23rd, 2013 09:29

Quote:

For years there has been debate amongst video game fans about dumbing down, about streamlining games, cutting out features, making them easier to play and less challenging. Players lament the over-simplification of titles like Mass Effect 3, or Skyrim, but the debate is usually hypothetical because we only know about games that exist. There is no complicated version of Skyrim for comparison, ditto for the Mass Effect series.
By the same, since there is no complicated version of Skyrim, how do you say that the current version of Skyrim is streamlined?

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?

DArtagnan October 23rd, 2013 11:25

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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