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September 26th, 2007, 11:46
I'm sure developers tell themselves all kinds of things to make it appear otherwise than what it is. Denial is one of the most common human reactions, and I see no reason it wouldn't apply to developers as well.
The fact of the matter is that making games has become a huge industry, and I have no problem understanding why they're changing their games to match as large an audience as possible. What I have a problem with is that cop-out "it can be deep without being complex", because that can be used for any game, at any time. I've heard developers claim that for ages now, and it's no more convincing today than it was when Warren Spector straightfaced claimed that Deus Ex 2 was not really less complex than Deus Ex, and that gameplay was more advanced in many ways. You can't prove this one way of the other, because anything can be anything given "a certain point of view."
I don't know why people think that what developers claim must be true, simply because they're in the industry. They're human beings, and they don't like compromising their vision any more than the next person, and as such they will do what they can to deny that - to themselves and to the public.
Look at Oblivion. It's the exact same thing. They go out of their way to avoid confusing the casual gamer, and they remove all those "complex" things because they were really no use to anyone, and in the end the game is just as deep and meaningful, right? Of course it is.
Then we have Dungeon Siege, where Chris Taylor was utterly convinced that removing any kind of burden from the player was undeniably the right choice for the game, because why would a game ever need to require work. That's his overall design philosophy. It didn't matter to him that the game largely played itself. Why have skill trees? That's not necessary, let's just have 1 skill for each "class" called "Melee, Archery…..". Much more efficient.
I could go on, but you take my point.
In the end, all I really want from developers is the truth. PLEASE don't give us that tired old song "it's just as deep, but more accessible", because it's bullshit. Just tell us you compromised the game to make it sell, because that's truth and I can accept truth.
Oh, and note:
Yes, I DO believe it's possible to streamline a game without losing depth. Yes, I HAVE seen examples of that, but they are few and far between. Yes, SOMETIMES, reducing complexity is good. What I'm talking about here is a general trend of fitting the LARGEST audience, not removing annoyances for the sake of progress. There is a BIG difference.