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Default Mass Effect 2 - Producer Thinks: Dev's "Pamper" Gamers

December 4th, 2009, 16:04
Mass Effect 2 Producer talks to Video Games Daily. In this small snippet from the soon to be released interview Adrian Cho expressed concern about how developers coddle their fans by making the game a cakewalk. It is about time someone other than the fans said something about this. This is what Adrian Cho had to say:
"Sometimes I think we're pampering gamers too much," he told us in an exclusive, one-on-one chatathon. "Just recently, a game like Demon Souls is fantastic because when you die, and you fail, it's not because the game was cheap it's usually because you didn't do something properly.
"It goes back to that learning mechanism of "Well, I tried this - it didn't work. I'm going to try something different." And I think that's going to be something in Mass Effect 2, we don't want it to be a cakewalk, you want a challenge.
"I think gamers want a more sophisticated game, they don't want a breezy game where you see all the cinematics and just put in your hours and play it through. So definitely there's some serious consequences. Delicious consequences! You'll have to play to find out."
More information.
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December 4th, 2009, 16:04
Interesting, because Mass Effect 1 is a textbook example for a cakewalk, even on hardest. I like Dragon Age's difficulty settings though.
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December 4th, 2009, 16:10
I have to agree that devs in general are implementing far too much hand-holding in todays games. I enjoyed playing Risen and Dragon Age this past month because they were exceptions to that rule.
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December 4th, 2009, 16:28
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
I have to agree that devs in general are implementing far too much hand-holding in todays games. I enjoyed playing Risen and Dragon Age this past month because they were exceptions to that rule.
I agree with this.
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December 4th, 2009, 16:32
Yet I bet you all didn't start over when you failed, eh? Save anywhere is there to coddle you.
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December 4th, 2009, 16:36
I'm surprised anyone of the industry actually says something like this.

I had expected this from gamers, not from the industry. Because the inductry always wants to adress the greatest possible audience.

By the way, it just occurs to me that "difficulty" is *always* connected with fighting … How does one make a game where not the fighting is challenging, but the social interaction part ?
This seems to me to be a blind spot on the map.

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December 4th, 2009, 17:42
They're quick in the uptake, aren't they
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December 4th, 2009, 18:24
I'd be highly surprised if Bioware make anything like Demon's Souls. There's plenty of 'cheapness' in Demon's though, and overcoming these events is part of the appeal. There's cheap methods of killing bosses and the like as well, but progression and pretty much everything has meaning or consequence. It does demand time and patience though, especially if you start as a Rogue (as I did). I'm not sure I'd like all games to be as harsh as Demon's though because it is harsh. I should get back to playing it some more as I was going to write an impressions piece for rpgwatch. I'm just not sure if many would be interested here really.

For the mainstream the difficulty is in the multi-player and leader-boards. Not really the place for single-player rpg enthusiasts, or Bioware for that matter.
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December 4th, 2009, 18:48
So Mass Effect 2 isn't going to have companions that just 'wake up' after a battle? Cool.
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December 4th, 2009, 18:50
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
Save anywhere is there to coddle you.
Mmmm, nope . At least nope in the case of game with well designed challenges.
Saving everywhere won´t get you anywhere if you can´t overcome the obstacles.
In such games, saving everywhere is merely a means of allowing
a) you to approach the obstacle in different ways without having to go through the ones you´ve already overcome multiple times
b) developers to devise more interesting and demanding scenarios and such creating more "hardcore" games without the unnecessary tedium part


Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
By the way, it just occurs to me that "difficulty" is *always* connected with fighting … How does one make a game where not the fighting is challenging, but the social interaction part ?
Now, this is where saving everywhere is the main culprit imo. It´s usually very easy to just reload the dialogue to get the best output.
I think the best ways to solve this is to make the consequences not immediately apparent or make the results exclusive and well balanced - ideally netting you gain and loss at the same time aka, for example, you either loose a companion but gain a superawesome new power, or the companion stays, but the superuseful power is irrecoverably lost to you etc.
I think that Mask of the Betrayer did a very good job in this regard, plus the whole spirit mechanics was entirely new level of challenge itself. Granted, the game as a whole was relatively easy, but still.
On a purely social level, the most difficult decision for me was, eh, which woman to choose in The Witcher. It hasn´t played out that satisfyingly in the end, but the part with the child gave me quite a headache .

Another type of challenge are puzzles and personally I´m usually glad when an RPG contains a good amount of them, on the other hand they usually don´t bode that well on replays, plus there doesn´t seem to be much demand anyway.

RPGs which are challenging on just about every front, such as Wizardry 7, are definitely music of the past now.

As for the article, I definitely support the effort to make games more challenging as long the challenges aren´t meaningless because overcoming obstacles is probably the most essential part of computer games for me.
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December 4th, 2009, 19:27
Originally Posted by DeepO View Post
It´s usually very easy to just reload the dialogue to get the best output.
Social acting = dialogue ? Nothing more ?

No, no, no, come on, there must be more ! Other ways of social interaction then only … reduced to "dialogue" …

I have a very weird thought right now : On how developed fighting mechanisms on games are. And at the same time, how much under.developed social mechanisms in role playing games are.

There are tons of tries to develop tactically challenging games, plus tons of literature on how to do it - to do it best - and to succeed through fighting sequences …

But there is almost nothing on social interaction in RPGs … "Okay, you've got to buff your character with +2 sensitivity, plus at least +1 in language expertise in order to succeed through this dialogue and get the gem." Such things.

If I just consider how *many* kinds of fighting variations there are … sword-fighting, two-handed fighting, blade & shield fighting, berserk fighting …

And just that social interaction is just reduced to a single feat: "Charm". Is that all ? Nothing more ? Are characters in RPGs Autists ? Experts in anything but social interaction ?

And don't tell me this all comes because of the wargames ancestry. I do know that, and to me it's no excuse at all.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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December 4th, 2009, 19:39
Having a skill set of that complexity is not going to happen in crpgs. It took many years to get to Fallout/Torment levels of roleplay interaction and the genre has regressed with the death of Troika. I would recommend King of Dragon Pass for a computer game with an interesting social aspect. It's probably not to the low level one-on-one or complexity that you wish for, but it has an interesting take on leadership roleplay.
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December 4th, 2009, 20:54
Yeah, good idea, make a mass market item extremely complex, frustrating, difficult for the majority to accomplish, and see what the sales are like on your next release.
Good producers can make a game entertaining, interesting and with high re-playability without going into the MY EPEEN IS BIGGER THAN YOURS! routine. Some of us just don't ever seem to grow up and relax and learn to derive enjoyment from our brain cells instead of our testosterone. There are always real armies looking for real recruits, go be a real hero if you want, no saves, no restarts, no second best or second place. Yeah, I put lots of things on 'easy' and guess what, I haven't grown boobies or lost my testicles.
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December 4th, 2009, 21:04
A tad hyperbolic perhaps, so you believe that there is a perfect game suitable for all? I disagree, I see there is a place for challenge and a place for simplicity. No need to join the hive minds of either camp to enjoy those types of games either.
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December 4th, 2009, 21:23
I tend to prefer challenges in my games, because it keeps my mind engaged and interested. Going through something without having to do any kind of mental work, is too drone-like and dull to me. Unless there's a really terrific story, and then it's like an interactive movie - I guess, but I'd rather just skip the interaction in that case and simply watch a real movie.

I realise there are those who don't play games to challenge themselves, and who prefer not having to work at success. That's quite alright, and we have easy settings for them. But if they really think it has to be some kind of testosterone competition to challenge oneself - something is wrong with their perception of reality
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December 4th, 2009, 21:25
Originally Posted by Greymane View Post
Yeah, I put lots of things on 'easy' and guess what, I haven't grown boobies or lost my testicles.
Pix or didn´t not happen!!
Besides, as long as the game has well thought out difficulty settings, everyone should be happy, no?

Also, this
Originally Posted by Greymane View Post
learn to derive enjoyment from our brain cells
Originally Posted by Greymane View Post
I put lots of things on 'easy'
I find somewhat contradictory, to be frank.
Personally, I tend to derive enjoyment from my brain cells when I´m using them, which I usually don´t have to when everything´s a walk in the park.
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December 4th, 2009, 22:28
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
By the way, it just occurs to me that "difficulty" is *always* connected with fighting … How does one make a game where not the fighting is challenging, but the social interaction part ?
This seems to me to be a blind spot on the map.
One thing that stood out to me when I was playing Silent Hill (2? 3?) some time ago was that there were TWO difficulty settings; one for the fighting and one for the puzzles. So that's a step away from fight-centric difficulty.

BUT I disagree that it makes much sense to try and load difficulty into the social interation. Far too often the outcomes seem arbitrary, and I for one feel absolutely no remorse about reloading if I accidentally pick the choice that leads to the wrong outcome. I like meaningful choice, but I don't like guessing games. And what could "difficult" dialog be, but either guessing games or word puzzles?
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December 5th, 2009, 00:15
I agree that the best way to handle the social interaction portion would to be have long-reaching consequences ala Witcher. But I imagine it's extremely difficult as a developer to convey the nuance of language in a game. Not only does the writing have to be stellar, you have to assume the player will both appreciate and understand the subtlety and not just click through it as fast as possible, and then translate that into a half-dozen different languages.

Games have largely moved away from using keywords, because they largely boiled down into guessing what the developer was thinking. One possibility would be to have a base pool of words from which to string together sentences, and increase that pool depending on PC attributes and/or skill set. Specializing in mercenary-speak would grant access to a certain pool of intimidation-type dialogue choices, whereas bards would have a larger pool of words for the purposes of answering riddles and game-specific lore. Of course you'd have to know the right word to say at the right time, which could come down to guessing what the developer thinks that word should be. There could be a pool though, with different words giving different bonus amounts.

You could pair this with a limited text-adventure type recognition system/AIML like Alice on behalf of the NPC, so if your sentence is understandable and close to the mark, you would progress further on the dialogue tree.

A bit cumbersome for some, perhaps, but definitely something I miss from my Zork days. This couldn't be done with the AAA titles—too much voice recording—but would be nice to see from the indies.
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December 5th, 2009, 02:46
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
Yet I bet you all didn't start over when you failed, eh? Save anywhere is there to coddle you.
No no no no no. Taking away save-anywhere doesn't increase the challenge, it increases the tedium. "Hey, you failed the boss fight! So go back to the last checkpoint and blow 10 minutes until you can get to the boss fight again." That isn't a challenge to my skills, that's a challenge to my sanity.

{Zloth looks at the talk about how the social interactions need some increased challenge and replayability.}
{Zloth looks at the increasing tendancy to put sex in games.}
I've got a bad feeling about this….
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December 5th, 2009, 04:35
Originally Posted by DeepO View Post
I find somewhat contradictory, to be frank.
Personally, I tend to derive enjoyment from my brain cells when I´m using them, which I usually don´t have to when everything´s a walk in the park.
It's not contradictory at all. I personally love harder fought battles and a harder difficulty level, but some people don't like having an epic battle every time they come across an enemy.

Like with my mother, she loves games like Baldur's Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, and even Fallout, but she can't keep up with the constant grind that comes with a harder difficulty level. Even simple battles with simple monsters over and over again becomes too frustrating. She wants to get into the mechanics of the game, like figuring out how to take a lich down in Baldur's Gate 2. Not to mention the story itself and interaction with the NPCs.

So while easy difficulty makes the grinding battles less of a grind, it still can be challenging in figuring out ways to overcome certain obstacles without having to reload every five seconds or hack her way through the endless hordes of monsters that stand in the way of the really good parts of the game that do take some brain power to figure out.

Despite all my rage.
I'm still just a rat in a cage.
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