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August 18th, 2013, 10:15
I just retracked what Hepler said in 2006:

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

Playing the games. This is probably a terrible thing to admit, but it has definitely been the single most difficult thing for me. I came into the job out of a love of writing, not a love of playing games. While I enjoy the interactive aspects of gaming, if a game doesnít have a good story, itís very hard for me to get interested in playing it. Similarly, Iím really terrible at so many things which most games use incessantly ó I have awful hand-eye coordination, I donít like tactics, I donít like fighting, I donít like keeping track of inventory, and I canít read a game map to save my life. This makes it very difficult for me to play to the myriad games I really should be keeping up on as our competition.

And with a baby on the way in a few months, my minimal free time (which makes it impossible for me to finish a big RPG in less than six months already), will disappear entirely. If there was a fast-forward feature on games which would let me easily review the writing and stories and skip the features that I find more frustrating than fun, Iíd find it much easier to keep abreast of whatís happening in the field.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?

A fast-forward button. Games almost always include a way to ďbutton throughĒ dialogue without paying attention, because they understand that some players donít enjoy listening to dialogue and they donít want to stop their fun. Yet they persist in practically coming into your living room and forcing you to play through the combats even if youíre a player who only enjoys the dialogue. In a game with sufficient story to be interesting without the fighting, there is no reason on earth that you canít have a little button at the corner of the screen that you can click to skip to the end of the fighting.

Companies have a lot of objections, such as how to calculate loot and experience points for a player who doesnít actually play the combats, but these could be easily addressed by simply figuring out an average or minimum amount of experience for every fight and awarding that.

The biggest objection is usually that skipping the fight scenes would make the game so much shorter, but to me, thatís the biggest perk. If youíre a woman, especially a mother, with dinner to prepare, kidsí homework to help with, and a lot of other demands on your time, you donít need a game to be 100 hours long to hold your interest ó especially if those 100 hours are primarily doing things you donít enjoy. A fast forward button would give all players ó not just women ó the same options that we have with books or DVDs ó to skim past the parts we donít like and savor the ones we do. Over and over, women complain that they donít like violence, or they donít enjoy difficult and vertigo-inducing gameplay, yet this simple feature hasnít been tried on any game I know of.

Granted, many games would have very little left if you removed the combat, but for a game like Deus Ex or Biowareís RPGs, you could take out every shred of combat and still have an entertainment experience that rivals anything youíd see in the theater or on TV.
IMHO a game writer that doesn't want to play games is better off writing books.

The unnecessary catering service for casual gamers is against the original design ideas of Baldurs Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Nerd games with micromanaging, combat tactics, interesting character & party development, exploration etc.

It is false to launch personal threats against devs, but fans of the old Bioware have every right to critisize the new "everything is awesome" design directive.

I personally return to Bioware games, if they become more interesting and challenging for me again.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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