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February 19th, 2021, 14:51
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
in general are more streamlined and guided now
I was also wondering what you mean by the "reducing complexity". I think the quote above summarizes it. You mean the perceived complexity by a player. I.e. how easy the game is to use or play. Fair enough. From that point of view, the "complexity" can be seen to have reduced.

You see why academics always define the concepts before they engage in debates
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February 19th, 2021, 15:01
Originally Posted by largh View Post
I was also wondering what you mean by the "reducing complexity". I think the quote above summarizes it. You mean the perceived complexity by a player. I.e. how easy the game is to use or play. Fair enough. From that point of view, the "complexity" can be seen to have reduced.

You see why academics always define the concepts before they engage in debates
You seem to be projecting there.

Streamlining a series by removing skills and abilities, and thus giving the player less options and variety, is more than just a perceived loss of complexity on the part of the player. Same with more linear level design.

I'll wager academics don't cherry-pick part of a quote and ignore most of what someone said.
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February 19th, 2021, 15:09
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
You seem to be projecting there.

Streamlining a series by removing skills and abilities, and thus giving the player less options and variety, is more than just a perceived loss of complexity on the part of the player. Same with more linear level design.

I'll wager academics don't cherry-pick part of a quote and ignore most of what someone said.
It's because you have a certain idea in your head which many others fail to understand. I.e. you are babbling and unable to explain what you mean. For example, if one defined complexity as the number of possible pathways through a certain situation, such as a battle, the removal of skills and abilities that overlap would not necessarily translate to reduced complexity by that definition. Take chess as an example. Many people regard it the most complex game out there (I argue it isn't but that's another discussion). What would happen to the game if the pawn could always move diagonally? Would it increase the complexity? Now, I am not willing to do the maths, but I assume it would not. It would just break the game. So carefully balanced skills in a game can actually *increase* the complexity. As in many other things, it's not about quantity, it's about quality. Streamlining is often seen as the means to quality.

Now, by the definition I suggested above, one could dismiss many other possible definitions, and following that definition, your writings would make sense. So, yes, I did try to project your thoughts because I do not understand your claim. It appears simply wrong to me.
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February 19th, 2021, 15:23
Originally Posted by largh View Post
It's because you have a certain idea in your head which many others fail to understand. I.e. you are babbling and unable to explain what you mean. For example, if one defined complexity as the number of possible pathways through a certain situation, such as a battle, the removal of skills and abilities that overlap would not necessarily translate to reduced complexity by that definition. Take chess as an example. Many people regard it the most complex game out there (I argue it isn't but that's another discussion). What would happen to the game if the pawn could always move diagonally? Would it increase the complexity? Now, I am not willing to do the maths, but I assume it would not. It would just break the game. So carefully balanced skills in a game can actually *increase* the complexity.
Babbling? Perhaps you need to work on your reading comprehension.

I clearly explained what I meant and gave multiple examples. Failure to understand what I wrote shows a clear weakness in your ability to grasp what I consider a fairly easy thing to understand.

I'm not talking about abilities that overlap. I'm talking about unique skills that aren't fullfilled by anything similar. You seem to be trying hard to make this more complicated than it actually is. If you don't agree with the general notion, that's fine. Just agree to disagree and move on rather than continuing to project the way you are.
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February 19th, 2021, 15:33
Well, instead of getting insulted by us trying to understand you, you could just explain what you mean by a simple definition. Instead, you give conflicting examples and name everything that does not fit your idea as an exception.

It would also help to understand what one is supposed to agree or disagree with here. If the claim is that "the complexity of games (or RPGs) has declined over time from the 1990s to date", I disagree with that statement because I understand complexity as the total number of pathways, which has increased. You can see this for instance from the length of code excluding all the graphical and audio assets. There's an increasing trend in the size of games (again excluding graphics and sound, etc.). If it was something else I was supposed to agree with, then so be it. I did not get it. Will drop this discussion for now. No bad feelings either way. Have a nice weekend!
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February 19th, 2021, 15:38
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
As if you really need someone to explain how TES has been simplified or how the newer XCOMs are less complex. Why play dumb?
Well, I didn't really play TES games much other than Morrowind which I played very late and didn't like the levelling system. Oblivion, I hated for the level scaling and gates not for simplification of the game.

The newer XCOMs have a lot of simplification in the area of no Action Points, but they have added a crazy amount of action types and new mechanics which didn't exist previously. I do understand that some consider the games in general to be more simple in many areas.

I mentioned TES as an example. It's obvious why, but I'll pretend for a moment that it's not obvious to you. Each game in that series has had more skills and stats removed for the purpose of streamlining it. In addition to that, the player is now more guided than in the older titles to the point where all you have to do is follow a compass pointer right to your objective.

The Witcher 3 is also more mainstream that it's prequels. Alchemy has been dumbed down to the point where you no longer even have to think about it after you've crafted a potion for the first time. I think I recall you not liking TW1 though, so maybe you're unaware of the differences there. It's also a guided tour like most AAA RPGs are now. You can turn off the compass, but unfortunately that makes many objectives difficult to find since you're often not given any directions.

The Outer Worlds has all of the worst examples rolled into one. The missions are extremely guided, there are very few skills or abilities, and there's no need whatsoever for any kind of item management because the devs decided to flood the game with 4x more ammo and healing items than what the player needs.

I could go on with more examples, but I somehow doubt this is going to amount to anything more than a pointless back and forth debate. Hopefully you can at least admit now where I'm coming from.
I understand these points. I see how they can be seen as less complex. However, I don't see that as a general trend amongst RPGs.

I can point to many new and complex systems which didn't exist in older RPGs or were there in a very basic and illusory way.
Did the system in Tyranny where almost every choice you make actually have consequences exist in games from the 90s ? Or were there many games in the past where you could actually affect the environment as much as DOS games in combat ? Or what about the ability to completely change your playstyle in Elex depending on the faction you join ?

As I said. I understand your examples as they are, but I don't see this as a general trend.
I guess if you do that's fine.
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February 19th, 2021, 15:50
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
For every Larian, you have Bethesda, Bioware, Obsidan, etc, going more and more mainstream.
Yes, but it was also true back then, for every Bioware or Black Isle Studios, there were many mainstream shoot-em-up titles. And today, there are still many indies taking a risk at releasing something original and not easy on the player. Hades is not more "mainstream" than Bastion.

Owlcat Games is another good example. They could have stopped at the ruleset, especially since they quite delivered on that level, but they added an extra layer of kingdom management or crusade system, they've also added more classes and the mythic paths in their 2nd game.

Once they get big and a lot of money is involved, sure, companies are taking fewer risks, especially if they've become part of a larger group. But others take their place, or at least I like to hope so
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
That said, I don't agree with the "more open" part. Their more recent games aren't really that open imo. You can technically travel in most directions, but areas are level-gated. I'm not including BG3 when I say that since I've only seen the first map.
I mean with the general freedom it offers to the player, in the story, in combat, with the objects and NPCs. A little on the map, where everything is on the same big map but there are chapter gates, you're right. I'm not sure about the map, and I can't really argue it offers more or less complexity for the player. It's easier to get lost, but not with the map and its pointers, or the directions on the compass, the game just won't allow you get lost (I'm 100% with you there).
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
In what way? I don't consider having fewer skills/abilities or being guided right to my objective a shift in complexity.
The C&C, or the length and complexity of the story, for example. I don't like being guided, but not having to craft potions in favour of spending more time on the story or mini-games is a valid option for me. And to others, being guided may allow them to spend time on longer quests.
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February 19th, 2021, 15:58
Originally Posted by largh View Post
Well, instead of getting insulted by us trying to understand you, you could just explain what you mean by a simple definition. Instead, you give conflicting examples and name everything that does not fit your idea as an exception.

It would also help to understand what one is supposed to agree or disagree with here. If the claim is that "the complexity of games (or RPGs) has declined over time from the 1990s to date", I disagree with that statement because I understand complexity as the total number of pathways, which has increased. You can see this for instance from the length of code excluding all the graphical and audio assets. There's an increasing trend in the size of games (again excluding graphics and sound, etc.). If it was something else I was supposed to agree with, then so be it. I did not get it. Will drop this discussion for now. No bad feelings either way. Have a nice weekend!
No bad feelings, but I'm disappointed that you chose to follow up with more projections rather than be honest. There was nothing conflicting about my examples nor did I name everything that didn't fit my examples an exception. You're continuing to pretend that what I'm saying is somehow confusing when it's not.

Funny thing is, you seem to be the only one confused at this point. Pladio apparently understands what I'm saying even if he doesn't agree with it.

I also like how you say "us" as if everyone is agreeing with you.
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February 19th, 2021, 16:12
Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
Yes, but it was also true back then, for every Bioware or Black Isle Studios, there were many mainstream shoot-em-up titles. And today, there are still many indies taking a risk at releasing something original and not easy on the player. Hades is not more "mainstream" than Bastion.
Sure, there were some titles that had more mass appeal back then, but video games in general are *way* more mainstream now compared to the 90's and early 00's That's not even debateable. I'm old enough to remember those days when a lot of people thought only nerds played video games.

Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
Owlcat Games is another good example. They could have stopped at the ruleset, especially since they quite delivered on that level, but they added an extra layer of kingdom management or crusade system, they've also added more classes and the mythic paths in their 2nd game.
Absolutely. I was going to mention them actually. They're somewhat of a rare breed in this day and age. Hopefully they can stay that way as long as possible.
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February 19th, 2021, 16:18
what's the current level cap?
I could do another playthrough before release if that's 7+.
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February 19th, 2021, 16:45
Originally Posted by Telstar View Post
what's the current level cap?
I could do another playthrough before release if that's 7+.
I odn't know actually, but I'd like to try out the druid when it does come out.
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February 19th, 2021, 18:02
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
Sure, there were some titles that had more mass appeal back then, but video games in general are *way* more mainstream now compared to the 90's and early 00's That's not even debateable. I'm old enough to remember those days when a lot of people thought only nerds played video games.
I think it's a confusion on the term used, I (mis)understood: "games tend to please as many gamers as possible by picking up the trends / copying success recipes instead of innovating or making them complex, original, etc.".

PS: this thread is getting long and distant from the original point
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February 19th, 2021, 18:20
Any statement about the evolving complexity of videogames is necessarily a sweeping generalization. No broad, all encompassing statement that they have, in sum, become more or less complex can be accurate.

Second, it's important not to confuse complexity with obtuseness. Games that become easier to play (not win, just play) by virtue of clearer UI's with more available information and better feedback are not, ipso facto, less complex. Not under the hood, and not for a player trying to be successful at them. Getting in the way of the player is not difficulty, it's bad design. (incorporating a hunger/cooking system adds complexity; refusing to tell the player how hungry they are until the moment they drop dead from starvation is bad design, not complexity)

Having said that, I have no doubt in my mind that games first, in general, became a great deal more complex. In whatever genre you choose to look at, games in the '80s were a great deal less systemically complex than the games that were to follow (or that exist now). I do think perhaps they then became somewhat less complex, again on a whole, from their peak. But that is often hard to disentangle from the aforementioned quality of life aspects.
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February 19th, 2021, 19:00
I agree with @JDR13 that old school computer games were closer to pen and paper games and they had more game systems. They had more classes, spells, abilities etc. The Bard's Tale had spells which would alert you if you were close to a stairway or help you see through illusionary walls. They also had spells like passwall. Those are simply things you don't see anymore. The Dark Eye games had multiple ways to treat injuries such as Witch's Spit, Balm of Healing and Treat Injuries. You could say having multiple healing abilities was redundant, but that the Witch's healing spell differered to a certain extent from an Elf's made gave each class some character. Wizary 8 had like a gazillion classes and you could make the game harder of easier by choosing how you put them together.
Also some early RPGS like the Might and Magic game had a ton of places you couldn't get into until you found out how to somewhere completely different, with only a few hints, often in a third location. In a way the game was like a giant puzzle, with some mandatory pieces and others that were optional and some wich the vast majority of gamers never saw.
That said modern games can do things that past games couldn't, especially with faction systems, and complex quest chains that are set off by a variety of factors.
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February 19th, 2021, 19:56
Originally Posted by forgottenlor View Post
I agree with @JDR13 that old school computer games were closer to pen and paper games and they had more game systems. They had more classes, spells, abilities etc.
They didn't. Here's a copy of the Bard's Tale I manual. Compare this to Pillars of Eternity or D:OS or many other modern era RPGs. In no shape or form are there more "classes, spells and abilities" in these older games.

https://www.mocagh.org/ea/bt1aus-manual.pdf
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February 19th, 2021, 20:48
Originally Posted by JFarrell71 View Post
They didn't. Here's a copy of the Bard's Tale I manual. Compare this to Pillars of Eternity or D:OS or many other modern era RPGs. In no shape or form are there more "classes, spells and abilities" in these older games.

https://www.mocagh.org/ea/bt1aus-manual.pdf
That's what i meant with rose tinted glasses, but JDR didn't seem to appreciate that.

It's easy to misremember complexity when it used to be very complex for that time but in comparison to some games today there is so much less…

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February 19th, 2021, 23:11
The irony of using Pillars of Eternity or D:OS as examples of games that are complex is that those are considered throwbacks to an earlier era. They were made specifically to appeal to old-school RPG fans. Indeed Obsidian has already moved on from that type of game, and it remains to be seen if they ever return to it.

Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
It's easy to misremember complexity when it used to be very complex for that time but in comparison to some games today there is so much less…
He's not misremembering anything. There were more complex RPGs back then compared to ones that weren't. It's the opposite today where complex ones are the minority. It's worse in some other genres.
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February 19th, 2021, 23:35
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
He's not misremembering anything. There were more complex RPGs back then compared to ones that weren't. It's the opposite today where complex ones are the minority. It's worse in some other genres.
My use of the Bard's Tale was not random. He specifically uses it as an example of a game that was more complex than games today.
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February 20th, 2021, 00:00
Interesting following the discussion. Okay here is my 2 cents on complexity in RPGs back in say the 90s compared to now in terms of non-combat systems. Combat systems could go on for pages.

- No quest compass, find your destination via talking to people and reading a map. So this feature requires more from the developers in terms of crafting conversations and quests to make them discoverable. I would call the quest compass streamlining and less fun. Most players find themselves looking at this little circle map during the course of their playthrough, rather than the world that developers spent ages on, as they travel to the quest. The rule of unintended consequences strikes again.
-Quest design varied greatly by developer. Some were simple fetch quests others were more involved and interesting. This doesn't seem to have changed much overall but I feel that (outside of Bethesda) quest design has been improving somewhat by allowing multiple outcomes, and involves more variables (Witcher 3). One would not say this if one was comparing Deus Ex to games today but games like that are an exception, even in the 90s.
- Factions and guilds were unique and you could only join ones not in opposition. In Bethesda games today you can join all factions and little (if any?) relevant skill requirements are necessary. This makes each playthrough far less unique than before. I'm not sure about other open world developers but Piranha Bytes seems to have kept unique faction systems going and Obisidian keeps track of lots of variables for its faction systems. That is not to say that Obisidians factions in Pillars of Eternity felt relevant or reactive through, so there are some deeper issues to say the least.
- The journal that keeps track of your progress wasn't a stable of RPGs until late 90s and a welcome improvement.
- Map notes were a thing in some RPGs in the 90s and largely unheard of today. I miss map notes.
- Day/Night systems were a thing as far back as Quest for Glory. They make the world seem far more alive and showcase how different places can feel at night. This translated into different monsters appearing at night and different quests being available at different times of day. A missed feature for my part.
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February 20th, 2021, 00:02
Originally Posted by JFarrell71 View Post
My use of the Bard's Tale was not random. He specifically uses it as an example of a game that was more complex than games today.
I don't think he meant to imply that The Bard's Tale was more complex than *all* of today's games. I think it was more an acknowledgement that RPGs back then were expected to have a certain level of variety when it came to classes, spells, etc.
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