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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Designing Videogames For The Wage Slave 514

Posted by simoniker
from the daisy-chainsaw dept.
Thanks to Ron Gilbert's weblog for pointing out a GameDev.net article discussing the topic of "Designing Games for the Wage Slave" . The author explains: "We balance on the knife's edge between our glorious time-squandered youth, and the commitments of inevitable middle age... If games can adapt to the needs of the working gamer, they can find a lucrative niche." He goes on suggest practical tips for game developers, including 'Don't Waste My Time' ("Make every moment count. I don't play games to punish myself. I play them to be entertained, rewarded, and challenged"), 'Curiosity Killed The Cat...' ("Constant death was a necessity in the days of video arcades... Now, in the comfort of our lounges or offices, what reason is there to keep dumping us out of the game we bought with our hard earned cash?"), and 'I Need Help' ("Make any necessary information available from within the game.")
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Designing Videogames For The Wage Slave

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  • Good insight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doormat (63648) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @10:59PM (#9818870) Homepage Journal
    I find this very interesting.. people who work 40-60 hours a week dont have time to be playing EQ for 10 hours a day everyday, or likewise, any game that wastes my time (and doesnt allow me to skip past the bullshit to the actual game). I noticed when I was on spring break or winter break back in college, I had all this free time to sit and play video games. Now I come home from work, cook/eat, pay bills, etc. And then maybe I have time for a video game.

    Growing up sucks...
    • by cbreaker (561297) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:15PM (#9818965) Journal
      The problem with MMORPG's, no matter how good the game play is, no matter how great it is for the casual player - there's always going to be groups of people that will play 10 hours a day and advance further along in the game then you ever could. And eventually, the game developers tailor to this group because they keep paying the bills.

      So, probably your best bet is to find a non MMORPG type game to get your fill of games if you can't devote enough time to it.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        And eventually, the game developers tailor to this group because they keep paying the bills.

        No, they don't. MMORPG fees are flat rate. The casual gamer pays just as much per month, regardless of how many hours they play. If your game has nothing to offer the casual gamer, and they all drop out, you can point to the die hards -- but that's a self-fulfilling prophecy, not an immutable fact of MMORPGs.

        It's even likely that there are more casual gamers than hardcore. If you could come up with a concept t
      • I had an AO subscription that i finally canceled as I wasn't playing much (all my friends were still in college and were well more than 20 levels ahead of me. Anyway the other day I reinstalled my D2 game and had a blast playing it. Yeah I was never going to make it to a ladder, but I had a wonderful time beating the game on normal (and starting an expansion game). It was also fun to play a game with a relative newbie (been playing diablo since the alpha was released), and just hook them up with stuff, a
        • by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @08:31AM (#9821003) Journal
          I'm there with you.

          I was playing DAOC for a while but likewise all my buddies were level 30+ in the time it took me to get to 19.

          Both my wife and went back to playing Diablo2.

          As a wageslave, here's a nugget of goodness that a game designer can take to their design meeting.

          I should be able to save ANYWHERE. I should be able to hit F2 on the keyboard and save my spot or hit "select" on the controller and choose save and just get up and walk away. Then I should be able to come back at anytime in the future and continue on like nothing happened.

          As a person who lives by a very rigid 8am to 5pm schedule I can't sit up all night working through some level because if I quit the game it'll send me back and I'll have todo 25 minutes worth of work over. Likewise, this shouldn't be answered with "well you can always pause". Since my PS2 is also my DVD player that's not viable and since I do work on my computer as well as play games, I will have to quit.

          With that said, I'd even be okay with some sorta of checkpoint system that would only put me back a few minutes.
      • That's only true of the current generation of tedious "treadmill" MMORPGs like EQ and UO and Galaxies. If you cut out a lot of this boring crap (eg camping spot X for 3 weeks to kill uber-dragon xyzzy and get the uber-sword of leetness or spending days killing rats when you first start) and you'd have an MMORPG that could be played without committing hours and hours to playing.

        No single player game would get away with putting their players through this sort of crap. Can you imagine the outrage if to play D

        • Not entirely true (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cbreaker (561297)
          See, the thing is, they tried to make SWG more casual gamer friendly. Every mission is accessable to every player all the time. Generic quests are the theme of the day. You can get items for tradeskills while you are logged off. Skills are very easy to obtain.

          It all sounds great for the casual player, but it all gets extremely boring at the same time. So what if you have some really cool weapons or armor - so does everyone else, no matter how much you play.

          The game was a great success when it fir
          • Re:Not entirely true (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Gooba42 (603597) <gooba42@g m a i l . com> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @03:08AM (#9819786)
            Part of what is killing (or has killed?) SWG is that the Developers have lost sight of so much of the original concept and mismanaged what they *have* produced. It was initially announced as a game that casual gamers and power gamers could play together.

            The problem that resulted was that because their testing was so woefully inadequate players were able to very quickly "cap out" their characters in unanticipated ways. Their testing hadn't included bounds checking so when good resources showed up on the servers armor, weapons and medicine were suddenly far, *far* beyond what their testing environment had been set up to handle.

            Now the powergamers had uber-weapons, armor, buffs and abilities and were burning through the existing content much too fast. What had been intended to keep the players busy for at least a year had been played out inside of 3-6 months. Then the Holocrons and the Jedi were introduced to maintain powergamer interest while the casual gamers were still trying to maintain a roleplay friendly and social environment.

            The casual gamers began to catch up to the powergamers and gave in to the lure of the Holocrons and Jedi-dom and abandoned their roleplay and social play which had previously "kept them busy", enough so that they didn't notice how little content was in the game. Now that most of the players had adopted a power gaming attitude there simply wasn't enough content in the game. The fixes necessary to make a sustainable game took a back seat to the content needed to keep an entire community of powergamers busy.

            Now they even had a hand in the acceleration of the community turning into powergamers who tore through content and they had to make the game more difficult somehow. They turned to rebalancing combat, which was necessary in its own right, but about that time management said "We need at least half of your manpower to be diverted into the Space Expansion".

            Now there's an unfinished Combat Rebalance already partially implemented, broken professions, broken content and hundreds and thousands of disappointed players who have now done all of the available content, done all the professions they care to do and see nothing worthwhile being patched out until at least 4 months from now. The social play has been decimated by the Hologrind which turned everyone into an AFK zombie or a powergamer who consumed all the available content in far less time than the team anticipated.

            New content to keep the powergamers busy? That's a neverending treadmill.

            New content to keep the social gamers busy? That's a development nightmare. Social gamers are finicky and given the right environment tend to make their own content, given the wrong environment they blow you off altogether.

            Stop the hologrind and unleash the AFK hordes upon a galaxy already short of spawns and content? That's a revenue bomb.
            • Re:Not entirely true (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @10:17AM (#9822062)
              > New content to keep the powergamers busy? That's a neverending treadmill.
              > New content to keep the social gamers busy? That's a development nightmare. Social gamers are finicky and given the right environment tend to make their own content, given the wrong environment they blow you off altogether.
              > Stop the hologrind and unleash the AFK hordes upon a galaxy already short of spawns and content? That's a revenue bomb.

              The key is that given the right environment, social gamers can create their own content. SWG with user-supplied story arcs (a'la NWN) subject to balance constraints might have been fun, as social gamers can usually spell "you" and "your", by using "y" and "o". (And I could have simply chosen not to do player quests that start out with "ur quest is 2 whak u self 10 foozlz of d00m" :)

              But SWG didn't offer any ability to create content. Putting that ability in would have been a tough call to keep player-generated quests from turning into XP and loot farms. So they can't be faulted for that.

              That leaves the "new content to keep the powergamers busy" option. Which is a treadmill, but it's a cheap treadmill!

              Grok: with 100,000 subscribers (and probably more like 200,000), SOE was pulling in $1.5M-3M a month in revenue. Let's call it $20M/year revenue.

              Are you seriously telling me that with 20,000,000 per year in revenues, profit margins on running a MMORPG are so slim that they couldn't have hired ONE GUY at $100,000 a year ($50K salary, $50K benefits/bonus/cubiclespace/overhead) to write quests?

              I'm not talking about an art team to develop custom assets for every quest (though maybe he gets an allocation of 10 artist hours per month). (SWG started with a "monthly" story arc that degenerated into a "quarterly" story arc. Each segment had custom art that cost a small fortune to develop. Compounding the problem, they *removed* the early arc segments from the game, so that new players couldn't even play through prior parts of the story. Who the fuck thought that up? Gee, let's spend a fortune to make custom assets for two hours of content every three months, and blow away the old stuff while we're at it, so that there's never more than two hours of content in the game! :)

              I'm talking about a guy who can place a building, an NPC, and when you find the building and do what the NPC asks you to do, you get a shiny and a text message. And you use the text message and the shiny to play a little game-on-rails for a month.

              Look at KOTOR: Go to 4 planets. Solve 4 puzzles. Find 4 shinies. What made it work was that as you progressed through the storyline, you unlocked progressively more information about your fellow (NPC) characters and the history of the world around you. In the space of 10-20 hours, you went from "WTF am I doing on this starship?" to a pretty good basic understanding of the Jedi/Sith ideologies and the ancient pre-history of Star Wars early universe.

              You can't code KOTOR in a month, but MMORPGs are just graphical wrappers around text-based MUDs. You could code (the text and triggering events, and don't creat any new art) a similar set of quests into SWG in a month. With $20,000,000 a year of cash coming in, could SOE not have hired one goddamn Star Wars Geek to write quests that actually taught the players about the universe in which they lived?

              As a simple example, consider the trivia 'bot in the SWG Theed Palace -- if you don't know the answer, you just click at random until you get it right. (So you don't even need to shell out to Google the answer!) Why not have the answers to the 'bot's questions be discoverable by the players in the game through in-game actions? Solve the walkthrough/cheatsheet problem by having the game not ask a question until it knows that the player's avatar has discovered the answer.

              Look at Morrowind - possibly t

      • I wonder what would happen to an MMORPG that balanced its risk/reward scheme perfectly such that playing for short periods of time could reflect a profit or loss whatever units of status the game has, but over the long term would balance out to be perfectly zero sum... think of it as gambling in a universe of play money with no need for there to be a rake for the house factored in.

        My guess it would be the fairest game out there, but it'd be a financial flop because people who attained a high score would qu
      • by ninjaz (1202) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:58AM (#9819421)
        Back in the Old Days on bbses, games had turn limits. The bbs would usually have a time limit on how long you could be connected, too. Some bbses also featured a time bank which allowed you to deposit unused connection time for a particular day and withdraw at a later time.

        This could be adapted to MMORPG by having a casual gamer class of servers that would give you 2-3 hours of playing time per day, perhaps giving you 8 two hour blocks you could withdraw extra for occasional weekend playing.

        That way, you wouldn't have to spend 10-14 hours per day to keep up. And, there could be associated chat/spectator service for the people who still wanted to stick around and socialize with gaming buddies after their playing time had been spent.

        Just think of all the lives and relationships that could be salvaged by bringing this terrible addiction to a manageable level!

        • by Erik K. Veland (574016) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @04:31AM (#9819988) Homepage
          Apparantly you've missed the Rest-system debate of the World of Warcraft beta, which was a soft version of this designed to give the causual gamer a bonus. "Powergamers" were all up in arms at this idea that "punished them for playing the game too much"!

          The rest-system merely gave a bonus (more XP per kill) if you were "rested" and you got progressively more fatigued until you got a penalty (less XP per kill) if you were tired. You could play as much as you wanted of course, you just wouldn't progress as fast (still much faster than one who didn't play of course). The original rest-system required you to log out for 8 hours straight to go to the Rested-state.

          The rest-system has since been tuned to give a negliable bonus and you don't have to rest as long.
          • I'd heard about that and was looking forward to it, this is the first I've heard that they have take a step back (and effectively nerfed it).

            As someone who like to devote there time to other things (including free software) I was looking forward to having some levelling field against college kids who are busy wasting tax payers money on pointless degrees (as is the case here in the UK where 'fees' are virtually nill and education is state funded, and as someone who pays 40% tax I'm pissed it's my money the
      • by hyphz (179185) * on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @07:59AM (#9820779)
        > The problem with MMORPG's, no matter how good
        > the game play is, no matter how great it is
        > for the casual player - there's always going
        > to be groups of people that will play 10 hours
        > a day and advance further along in the game
        > then you ever could. And eventually, the game
        > developers tailor to this group because they
        > keep paying the bills.

        Simple solution: lifespan.

        You create your character, they have a lifespan measured in real-time hours of play (quite a high value, though). As this runs out, they get slower and slower, their stats start to drop, they get a beard and walk around with a cane, and when time runs out, they die. Irrecoverably.

        Now the game is no longer about how much time you can put in. It's about using that time as productively as possible - in other words, it encourages the "fun now" design theory that working gamers want. Wanna sit on your ass camping that dragon spawn for 3 hours? See you in the pensions office, munchkin boy.
    • by fpga_guy (753888) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:22PM (#9819001)
      This may exist already, not sure, but what I'd like is an auto-pause - so I can just get up and walk away from a game, and it will figure out that since I'm not moving the controls any more, I'm probably not playing any more either.

      You could use a sort of time dilation effect - game time starts to slow as the time since last control movement increases.

      Maybe not so good for multiplayer, or at least require some tweaking.

      Here's another benefit - anyone who's been a kid (or dealt with kids) and trying to distract their attention away from a game, the excuse is always "I can't pause now" or "hang on, just a minute". If you have a game that you can literally drop and walk away from, it changes the way you interact with it.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:17AM (#9819255)
        This may exist already, not sure, but what I'd like is an auto-pause - so I can just get up and walk away from a game, and it will figure out that since I'm not moving the controls any more, I'm probably not playing any more either.

        Nethack does this. If you don't press any keys, the game pauses.

        You could use a sort of time dilation effect - game time starts to slow as the time since last control movement increases.

        Nethack does this too! The faster you press the keys, the faster time in the game passes.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @08:06AM (#9820828) Journal
        "Here's another benefit - anyone who's been a kid (or dealt with kids) and trying to distract their attention away from a game, the excuse is always "I can't pause now" or "hang on, just a minute". If you have a game that you can literally drop and walk away from, it changes the way you interact with it."

        Good to see I'm not the only one who's been wondering if game companies are shooting themselves in the foot with that.

        There's a lot of anti-gaming resentment among some parents, and a lot of it doesn't come from "it'll teach them to be violent" ideas. Probably most of it is along the lines of "but he cares about that console more than about me! Every time I tell him to come do something, he's like 'can't pause now'! And half an hour later he's still at it! He's addicted!"

        And I've been playing games myself where I have to replay a whole huge map from the beginning, if I quit in the wrong place. Or even one which made me play 10 hours straight before I found a save point.

        Now adult or kid, noone wants to lose half an hour of their work. Tell some non-gamer to turn the computer off _now_ without saving, when they're writing a long email or post. No, no touching that "save" or "send" button. Turn it off _now_! They won't be happy. They won't want to.

        So I'm guessing that a lot of the "addiction" that some parents see, is actually just idiotic game design.

        Just for the record, I do think that games are mildly addictive. But there's mild addiction and there's major addiction. Even an alcohol addict can take a 5 minute break from drinking. Even a chain-smoker can take a short break from smoking.

        When they can't, that's when you get worried. And that's what those parents mistakenly think they see there: someone who absolutely can't take a break from playing with that console. No matter how often you tell him to come here, that damn kid is like glued there to the controller, and seemingly can't take a break. When in reality, the poor bugger is just feverishly looking for a save point, 'cause he'd rather not have to redo the whole last hour.

        Makes it look like a far worse addiction than it really is. In some cases, it makes it look bad enough that a stupid parent and a luddite physician put that kid on drugs, to "save" him from those evil games.

        I'm thinking that if designers stopped doing that, they'd have a lot less bad press and a lot less worried parents on their case.
        • OK. I'll admit it. I'm a casual gamer -- and I'm definitely not l337 when it comes to my game play. I mostly play nice simple things like Crash Bandicoot and that genre of games. Running, jumping, avoiding, nice easy stuff like that.

          I'm like a lot of people in this thread, I want to be able to turn on the game to squeeze in a half hour or so of play time.

          Nothing frustrates me more than running into some insane boss-level that takes 25 minutes to play and I can never get right anyway.

          After the 10th ti
    • by muyuubyou (621373) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:45PM (#9819119)
      This guy has preconceived some game in his mind. What he's saying makes little sense to me.

      If you're so busy you can't dedicate one daily hour to a game, you shouldn't even try playing adventures. Instead of playing stupidly simple games, one would rather go to a web design company sitemap and start pointing and clicking while watching the multimedia. The whole point of adventure games is the challenge.

      I've been quite busy myself for some years now and I only play adventures when I'm on vacation. Best games for busy people are multiplayer games with short rounds. I don't really need the latest and greatest. There are many oldies that never get really old. Tekken 3 for instance allows for several rounds in 30 minutes. SNES Mario Kart, or N64 Diddy Kong Racing in multiplayer mode are also great options if you have someone around. You can also look for adversaries online: Bomberman Online for DC is just great, so is soldat [soldat.pl] for PC (give it a download). Crazy Taxi or Jet Set Radio allow for short sessions. Short deadmatches of your FPS of choice are also very adequate.

      This guy probably doesn't know what he's talking about by experience. I don't need a stupidly simple adventure game babysitting me to the end. If you want that, just try the lowest difficulty level and for many games you're set.

      Trial and error is just fine. R-type and Ikaruga come to mind. There should be enough save points so you don't have to repeat the same level a ridiculous number of times. In other words: arcades so easy you don't even need to retry are silly (this only applies to arcades).

      I agree in a couple of things, though: being lost is not fun (busy or not) and stupid long animations you need to see must die. Busy or not, I don't like wasting my time watching long animations. Most Final Fantasies are excessive, but FF X is just unbearable. Games are not movies, and Square sucks at making movies anyway. Let me play. Shenmues are much better in this respect. They don't bore the shit out of you every minute with a long animation: animations are short, to the point, instructive and often interactive. It also takes you notes so you can easily retake the game after long breaks.
      • by tekunokurato (531385) <jackphelps@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:50AM (#9819387) Homepage
        If you're so busy you can't dedicate one daily hour to a game, you shouldn't even try playing adventures.

        I'm sorry, fuck you. If I want to play an adventure game with little time on my hands, I'll do just that. What the author is saying is that there's a very addressable market of people like him (and myself, a recently out of college investment banker with an interest but a short attention span and erratic schedule) who want to spend money on the right product. For you to say "don't bother" is idiotic; we're telling you "we enjoy this, so consider making it and you can make good money if you do it right."
      • by maxpublic (450413) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:11AM (#9819659) Homepage
        If you're so busy you can't dedicate one daily hour to a game, you shouldn't even try playing adventures

        Try eating shit, asshole. My gaming dollar is worth just as much as yours, but I'm not some pasty-faced little loser with an inordinate amount of time to waste. The article writer had it spot-on; there are plenty of people like him (and me) who'd jump at a game that isn't made for little geeks with no social lives and no full-time jobs.

        If they want our money, they'll have to build the games to our specifications. The vast majority of dollars spent on games come from people OVER the age of 25, not kiddies with little in the way of real-life responsibilities. It's time for the gaming industry to wake up and smell the coffee.

        Max
        • by EulerX07 (314098)
          Right-on max. I also think the money I pay for FFXI is worth just as much as the money that the people with no jobs/lives. I play with 2 other RL friends that also work full time jobs and have lives (babies, hobbies, etc).

          We're kinda pissed right now that we have to farm money for ~100 hours to be able to buy our high level equipment, and that levelling past the point we're at will take us dozens and dozens of hours (killing the monsters ourselves is impossible at the level you can use the equipment). If t
    • Re:Good insight (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spacejock (727523)
      Agreed. I used to buy a new game every month or so (more if I found something tempting in the bargain bins) but for the past 3-4 years I've been completely out of the games environment (too busy writing books and software) About the only thing I looked at in that time was BF1942, GTA III and GTA VC.

      Three or four weeks ago I got hold of several top-100 games lists (you know the kind of thing), picked out a bunch of 'must-have' games from the recent past, and got the lot off ebay one by one. There's so
  • Amen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:02PM (#9818889)
    sat through three unskippable splash screens (and let me take this opportunity to scream "I know who you are! I bought a game from you! Now leave me alone and let me play it!")

    Please, please stop this. Thief 3: Deadly Shadows is a great game, but half the time I can't skip the logo crap on startup. Why do you do this? For godsakes, show them all the first time the game is started if you really want to, then GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY AND LET ME PLAY THE GAME. Thank you. It would be one thing if the game was loading while the videos are playing, but nope. Morons.

    • Re:Amen (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      sat through three unskippable splash screens (and let me take this opportunity to scream "I know who you are! I bought a game from you! Now leave me alone and let me play it!"

      Sorry... this is my fault. I don't have the box, so they put those splash screens in so I know who actually made the game. Apparently, consumers were under the impression that Drink or Die was the premier video game manufacturer in the world -- these screens are their way of sorting this out.
  • And here I was hoping the author was sharing his secrets on finding time to *build* games on a tight 40-60 hour workweek. Taking the time to build even simple [dnsalias.com] games results in a massive reduction in sleeping hours.
  • by dancingmad (128588) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:03PM (#9818897)
    I find this happening to me (I'm no wage slave, but a college student). I used to play every kind of video game under the sun, but in the last two years I don't care as much anymore. My younger brother can spend all day playing a game, but I've missed a lot of games he's gotten (Mario Sunshine, Prince of Persia).

    I find myself, however, gravitating towards Tactical RPGs (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Disgaea, Fire Emblem). I think it's because the rules don't suddenly change in a TRPG (you'll never have to do a move the blocks puzzle like Final Fantasy or as I saw my brother do, in Tales of Symphonia). You don't have to wander around looking for the right villager to talk to or anything - you get right into the action. Instead of trying to figure out some convoluted puzzle, you have one level after the next. They have new challenges and rules, but none of the "fluff" of finding the right item, talking to the right person, etc.

    This is kind of the argument for retro gaming too - you can play Mario 1, just pick it up and play for 30 minutes or so. You can't really do that with say, 3D Zelda games or Mario Sunshine.
    • It's not growing old, it's growing up.

      You have to do it sometime. There's nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.

    • I also am a college student who used to play every halfway decent game. Now I haven't purchased a game in years: the last game I bought was black and white which I got bored of after a couple hours and never played again. The reason is partly that every game that comes out is exactly the same, only with better graphics and less plot and interactivity.

      The only two games that can keep my attention these are Nethack [nethack.org] and Go [kiseido.com].

    • Puzzle games can work for intermittent intense play if the puzzles are kept interesting and doable in a sitting. The famous Mac title The Fool's Errand [the-underdogs.org] comes immediately to mind. Sliding blocks puzzles get boring pretty fast.

    • I've been playing the 3D Zeldas every two or three months for short bursts for a while now. The plot really doesn't matter too much and the bigger puzzles tend to have hints absolutely everywhere. As for changing rules, Zelda is consistent to the point that the basic rules are only affected by items which have their effects detailed in the inventory usually. I replayed Ocarina of Time this way, then Master Quest, and I'm somewhere in Majora's Mask right now and it suits my occasional bursts quite well.

      I
    • I've found much the same thing, though for me it's not about the rules changing. It's about the fact that I need to control how long I play for.

      Disgaea is a great game for me because I can play it for 20 minutes while my girlfriend is in the bath, because you can save after almost every level in the main game (and they are short levels). Or I can sit down for four hours and play through the item world.

      I used to love Final Fantasy but I never knew whether I would have to keep playing for 10 minutes or fo
  • Call me crazy.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NightWulf (672561)
    But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities. Hell, you got a job now, hopefully it's well paying. Your time should be occupied with things like your kids. You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat. Go play golf or something.

    Sure you *could* develop games geared more towards middle-aged adults, I don't think it will be very lucrative though. When you start hitting that middle-age lifestyle especially that mid-life crisis you don't want to spend all y

    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dancingmad (128588) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:09PM (#9818931)
      I call shennigans. My taste in gaming has changed I certainly have been playing less, but I don't see myself not playing video games anymore. If you have kids (who says middle age people must?) then play games with them. I don't see any incompatibility between middle age and gaming.

      Why not leave the slashdot posts and play with your kids? I think anything can become an addiction and that can be bad for an adult, but how is golf any different than a video game (the only possible way I could see is that golf can be more social)? I'd much rather play a TRPG than guy on a motorcycle or a boat.

      Instead of dictating what is right for a person in his middle age, why not live your life as you feel and let others do the same? I don't think video games are that constructive (then again, is reading novels for fun that contructive?) but in moderation, if a person likes playing video games, why should they stop because they turn 35 or 40 or whatever? Video games are just another hobby, like golf, boating, or keeping tropical fish.
    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cujo_1111 (627504)
      Your time should be occupied with things like your kids. You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat. Go play golf or something.

      What if you don't have kids or they go to bed at 7-8pm?
      What happens when you work during daylight hours and your free time occurs at night? Playing golf at night is nigh on impossible (glow balls are ok but don't fly well) and riding a motorbike at night isn't a great way to make sure you live a long and fruitful life.
    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AvantLegion (595806) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:13PM (#9818957) Journal
      >> But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities

      No, the point of middle age is to do things you enjoy, without idiotic classification of leisure activities as "kiddie" or "adult".

    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lurgen (563428) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:17PM (#9818973) Journal
      Nope, the point of middle age is to be able to afford the things you want. If they still happen to be similar to what you wanted ten years earlier, good for you!

      I play video games still. I also own a sports-bike, used to own a fancy car, have plenty of things going on that fit the profile for my age but I still like video games.

      The ones that really bug me though are the ones where you can only save once every hour or so. Hunting for a save-point when you only have a few minutes to wrap up your gaming bugs the hell out of me. One of the realities of "growing up" is that your time isn't always your own. Often you get interrupted, either by work, kids, partners, or just life in general. If games are going to be pitched at an older audience, they need to take these things into consideration.
      • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:03AM (#9819449)
        The point of middle age has nothing to do with money. Someone's been living in middle USA for a little bit too long I think. To suggest that middle-age is all about "being able to buy things you want" is some kind of preposterous, grotesque parody of life. I imagine you work for a marketing department somewhere?
    • You're crazy. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cbreaker (561297)
      There were no middle-aged computer gamers in the last generation. We're the first big generation of kids that's grown up on video games.

      Some people get tired of video games, but I'm 26, and I don't think I will ever stop playing them. It's good entertainment. I enjoy playing them, so why would I stop? I'll naturally gravitate away from games saturated with younger kids that I can't relate to, but as we grow older so will the theme of a lot of games.

      So.. we're older now. We have money to burn. W
    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by 0x0d0a (568518)
      If tastes never changed to keep pace with the times, there'd be a lot of forty-somethings doing nothing but riding their horse into town to the saloon to play checkers and poker with their buddies.

      The reason video games are associated with the young is largely because they didn't *exist* during the youth of old folks.

      TV did the same thing. Who buys the disgustingly expensive HDTV plasma displays? Middle-aged people.
    • But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities. Hell, you got a job now, hopefully it's well paying. Your time should be occupied with things like your kids.

      Yeah! Damn those middle aged people for wanting to have fun! Every minute they're not working at their jobs they should be at home taking care of their families! If they find a few minutes of spare time between changing diapers they should stare blankly at the tv so they know what comercialistic cra

    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172)
      But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities.

      No!

      KFG
    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Snad (719864)

      But isn't the point of middle age to replace things such as video games with more adult activities. You want fun, go buy a motorcycle or a boat.

      Well speaking as someone who owns a motorcycle and a GameCube, (and will be buying a sea kayak in the not too distant future) I don't see why I can't enjoy both.

      I'll go out and hoon around (responsibly of course!) on my bike on days when I feel like doing so and have a couple of hours free to get away from the house. I'll sit back and play Super Monky Ball for

    • Re:Call me crazy.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:12AM (#9819479) Homepage Journal
      lets see, perhasp it's because 40 year olds are first generation gamers?
      Becasue there were no video gamers over forty in 1973? I think the reason is obvious.

      Do you seriously think that afer playing video games for 25 years, someone is supposed to go "oop, thats it, I'm going to get me a boat."?

      " Leave the video games for your kids and enjoy the stuff that you can do now that you're older and hopefully a little richer.?

      HAHAHAHAHA what are you? 16?

      Richer? Make more money? yes, not richer.
      I had a lot more money in the bank when I was single, and mage 6 bucks an hour, then I ewver had being married with two kids making 65K a year.
      See, expenses go up...way up.
      I suppose I could try to rais my kids in a so-so neighbor hood, and in a 1 bedroom apartment.

      Please don't tell those of us who have been gaming since fucking PONG what to do with our middle-age.

      punk.

      Now get the Hell off my grass. ;)

  • by artlu (265391)
    Coming from the 2d RPG genre style of FF3 and Secret of Mana, Video Games just don't do it for me anymore. Sure FF7,X were great games, but they don't stick in my mind like my childhood favorites did. As I got older, I found that the stock market can become a game. A very very fun and adicting game that can be played at work or at home. :) Only now, I can control the game based on my thoughts/ideas/suggestions. This game is now manifesting itself into a company [groupshares.com] that seems to be doing really well so far
  • The first two points in the writeup are the reason why I gave up on Prince of Persia: Sands of Time after spending A$100 on a copy for the PS2. Mind you, the reason why it was such a waste of time and I kept dying was a combination of stupid traps and a really bad camera system. Hint: If your camera algorithm flips from one side of the player to the other just as they're about to perform a tricky maneuver with controls that are relative to the camera position you're going to annoy some people.

    As an aside,

    • If you like platformers, try the Ratchet & Clank games. YOU control the camera, as the good Lord intended. ;-)

      Did you try Super Mario Sunshine? Again, you have complete camera control. Very challenging game when you get into it.

      Tactical RPGs are usually good, too, for the working gamer. You can fight a single battle and save.

      • I agree with the TRPG point here ( also made by a few other posters ) - these games are complex enough to be engrossing, but you can snap through a level and then turn them off, so there's no huge commitment in time.

        I don't play many games on the computer these days, although I seem to keep buying them ( because I'm an idiot ) - the ones I keep coming back to are ones I can turn off at a moments notice, and go away from for days or weeks at a time, or just leave them running in a detached screen: things li

    • You spent $100 on it? I'd hate to shop at that place... And I found the controls quite fluid, and the camera, aside from occasionally being way to far out, never flipped like what you described... Of course, I had the 'Cube version, so that might be a factor...
  • People always come in with the idea that _they_ are the market for games, and thus game developers should be making games that entertain them and match their lifestyle. Look, game companies are businesses - they make games for their markets. If they aren't making games targeted toward people who work 60 hours a week, maybe that's because those people have families, jobs, responsibilities and generally do other shit in their spare time than play computer games (or rather, they aren't going to go out and bu
    • Rubbish. Spent half an hour in any computer game store and see who lays out their cash... sure, half the people in the store are kids, but how many spend any money?

      As an adult my expenditure on gaming has grown by several orders of magnitude. I fork out money for computer hardware and software that no kid would spend.

      Adult gamers (ie. over 18) are in my opinion the biggest gamer market. Most of them own a PC, one or two consoles, and buy games.
      • Yes, adult gamers are a big market - but mostly 20-somethings and single guys. The game companies _already know this_, and plan accordingly and sell tons of games to this market. They do plenty of demographic research, they know the people who buy games. My point is that this guy wants games designed for his personal needs. That's not what matters to the industry. If this guy thinks the industry is underserving a niche, fine, go get somebody to fulfill it and make some damned money off it, stop bitchin
  • by AvantLegion (595806) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:08PM (#9818925) Journal
    Sports games are the biggest filler of this niche.

    Sports games give you nicely self-contained packages of gameplay. You can play a football game for a half-hour, and enjoy yourself. You don't have to string together hours of playtime at once to enjoy yourself. ESPN and Madden are always ready when you have a few minutes to kill.

    • you seem to be under the impression that sports-based video games don't suck
      • I don't really like other sports games, but EA Sports makes a good NCAA Football game. It's got a decent AI and can allow the player as much (or as little) interaction with the plays as he wants.

        I kind of like just calling the plays and letting them sort themselves out (instead of controlling the runningback or quarterback). I also like the "dynasty" portion of the game.

    • Virtual Pool 3 is imo the greatest game ever (assuming you like pool) because it can be played for 5 mins or 5 hours.

      you can learn all the controls in a minute, but there's almost infinite potential for improving your ability.

      as I've got older (22) I've stopped playing almost entirely except for VP3, and some Warcraft 3 recently just because it's the holidays and I have 3 months off.
    • One interesting thing that I notice in most sports games is that since the beginning of time, a "game clock" in a sports game has always ticked faster than real time, sometimes blazingly faster.

      That's always bothered me a bit. I've got a pretty good feeling for how long a second and minute are, and it desturbs me to see 10 minutes just flash off a video game clock in a blink of an eye. I guess it's out of nessessity... a to-scale simulation of pro sports would take 3 hours on average to play, and overtime
  • by xiando (770382) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:09PM (#9818929) Homepage Journal
    Constant death was a necessity in the days of video arcades... This is why I love MAME [linuxreviews.org], the archade game emulator. You got unlimited funds.. just press a key, and play on. Instant death can also be avoided by saving games. It's all the 4500+ games you played as a child, only on your PC.
  • Time is Short... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Macgrrl (762836)

    As a corollary to the 'don't waste my time' item, is the issue in some games that only allow you to save at fixed save points - then put those points more than 20 minutes of game play apart. There's nothing worse than picking up a game to play for a while and find that you've solved/succeeded a complex section of the game but can't find a save point and have to go.

  • Risk vs Reward (Score:5, Insightful)

    by P-Frank (788137) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:12PM (#9818949) Homepage
    My biggest issue with time drainers like EverQuest is the notion of risk vs reward coupled with lack of player/player interactivity. Post-Ultima Online, the notion of player killing, as well as certain notions of freedom to operate within a gaming environment, have disappeared. I have always thought the greatest risk and rewards took place in that kind of combat. There was no difference in EverQuest for me, new monsters sure, but everything remained the same, I found that bots could have taken the place of the other players. It was the world's most boring single player game, except I paid for the privellege of having an IRC window tacked onto it.

    This also brings about ideas of "death" in games, like in games like SWG where you would get warped back to the nearest city, or lose stats/skills upon death, or even those ever-elusive "permenant death" games. I always thought that games that encouraged cowardice never captured my interest, you could lose all this WORK (because on the MMORPG treadmill, you are working) that you did if you attack a monster that is above your level.

    Sadly, I don't quite have a solution. But the second year of Ultima Online is pretty much the perfect game of that type, as the treadmill wasn't as emphasised, death wasn't that important, but the rewards weren't out of proportion either. There was a freedom in that game, it wasn't just whacking monsters like a single player game, there was true player interaction. Early Ultima Online was a fine gaming social experiment.
    • Re:Risk vs Reward (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gooba42 (603597)
      Not insignificant is the apparent rise of the "griefing" style of gaming.

      In Lineage II I've found a certain sort of freedom much different from EQ or SWG. You can do anything you like, there are consequences, but you can do it anyway. The leveling is straightforward and the combat at least at my low level has enough variability to keep me going back. Almost invariably however the "red names" or PKers are griefers. Instead of testing their mettle against similarly skilled or powerful opponents they would r
      • Re:Risk vs Reward (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KDR_11k (778916)
        If you want to stop people from slaughtering players or monsters way below their level, add an experience penalty for killing things far below your level (the lower the target the more experience lost, even causing leveldowns). This is even realistic, I noticed how my skill in Quake 3 weakened after playing with weaker bots for a prolonged period of time.
  • this is the reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:13PM (#9818954) Homepage
    Constant death was a necessity in the days of video arcades... Now, in the comfort of our lounges or offices, what reason is there to keep dumping us out of the game we bought with our hard earned cash?

    This is the reason Lucasarts adventure games are so fondly remembered. Nothing was funnier than falling off the cliff in monkey island and seeing the Kings-Quest-esque death screen, only to have your character bounce back onto the screen, make a face, and say "Rubber Tree".

    Not having a fear of death lets you try all kinds of crazy shit in games. That's what makes them fun.
  • There's also a "printable version" [gamedev.net] if you don't care to click through multiple pages, or want to help save GameDev survive Slashdotting slightly longer.
  • by xylix (447915) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:16PM (#9818971)
    This article summed up exactly what I have been thinking lately. I picked up Tom Clancy's Raven Shield recently since I really enjoyed the previous installment in the series. Some people get off on spending hours PREPARING for these missions, setting way points etc. I am not one of those, nor do I have the time. I really wish a game included - in very large letters - on the packaging that:

    THIS GAME DOES NOT ALLOW SAVES!!

    So instead you have to spend 20, 30, 40 ... 90 minutes working your way though the game only to have one of your guys take a bullet and make it all one big WASTE OF TIME.

  • by humberthumbert (104950) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:17PM (#9818975)
    ..now that I can't sit on my ass all day playing games anymore due to having a job:

    1. A proper save game system whenever possible. None
    of that "save point" bullshit, which is the main reason I don't play console games, btw. It's insane to have to waste my time playing through the same level again when I just want to carry on with a game after I get home from work.

    2. Cut down on aggravating shit. Like, the weapons
    wearing out in System Shock 2. I mean, WTF?! They have FTL travel in that game but I can't get a gun that will fire more than 20 rounds without seriously degrading? I mean, shit, even my old hand me down M16 in the army worked mostly fine after pumping out a few dozen rounds in a row at the range.

    3. Fuck mazes.

  • by nmoog (701216) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:20PM (#9818987) Homepage Journal
    This article was one guys opinion on whats wrong with games today. And no slashdotters have been giving him any shit for his views? Whats going on?

    Ill tells ya whats going on - he only pointed out and praised games that did things right, without spouting on about why Halo gives him the shits (for example).

    It really made this article a good read. Maybe a good tip for you journos out there!
  • Cut Scenes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CMiYC (6473) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:22PM (#9819000) Homepage
    Since all of today's games seem to require a story I have one additional request... All cut scenes need to offer Pause, Replay, and Skip.

    The most annoying thing about MGS and MGS2 was when the phone rang during a 10 minute cut scene.
  • Jak II (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:26PM (#9819015) Journal
    Jak II had this problem. Pointless wandering across a crowded city where if you so much as brushed another vehucle, you'd get the security forces swooping in on you. It also had some of the most vindictive restart points I have EVER seen in a platformer. I got to 60% or so and just gave up on it. There was an area where you had to battle about 40 enemies, jump overs lasers with random movement (no learnable pattern), and then a tricky platform jump area over the "bottomless pit" where one error kills you. Mess up, and you are sent all the way back to do the whole 10 minute ordeal over. Fuck that.

    Almost as bad as the quadruple fire pillar jump in the first Tomb Raider. A very tricky area- probably hardest in the game. One error, and you got sent back to, like, the previous continent and had to run all the way back, and by the time you got there, you forgot what you needed to do differently. I finally did it after about 30 tries, but it wasn't a sense of accomplishment I felt.

  • by OOO0000OO0O0 (799394) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:28PM (#9819029)
    I'm a working gamer myself, before I go next fall to the real-life Doom 3 that is Caltech. In the time I get to play games, I want to receive varied, enriching experiences: I recently bought a Geforce 6800, quite an upgrade from the 5200 I had earlier (pretty much 10x draw rate). The card came with Far Cry, so I checked it out.

    Damn, what a drag. Far Cry's checkpoint system is a Console Evil, designed for 5 year olds with literally too much time on their hands. I spent 30 minutes sneaking through a level, making sure to pay every place a visit, when right near the end I am ungloriously gunned down and forced to replay that entire 30 minutes. I ended up playing the thing over Rambo style, taking a jeep and making a beeline for the place I last died, which took 10 minutes and was 1/10 as engaging as my last play. I've pretty much summed up the gameplay in Far Cry:

    n = 1;
    1. Walk.
    2. Turn on nightvision.
    3. Walk.
    4. Turn on nightvision. See heat signature.
    5. Go prone.
    6. Unload all munitions at heat signature.
    7. ???
    8. Profit!
    9. Find out you didn't really profit because 1 second later, one of those giant mutated bullet (and rocket propelled grenade) tampons walked up behind you and blasted you to hell.
    10. n++; GOTO 1;

    There you have it, the design document for the ULTIMATE FAR CRY SINGLEPLAYER BOT. Yes, that's who you and I are when we're playing games like that: bots. I have a hunch that it would work just as well in multiplayer.

    Yes, I know developers and publishers want you to spend time on their games. But stuff like checkpoints and repetitive gameplay like in Far Cry destroy goodwill and create dollars for other, more creative developers. Sure, I know they implemented a quicksave--but that was after the entire populace, awash with rage, found the emperor naked, so to speak. This stuff doesn't have to be taught by hard PR lessons; it should be in the basic rulebook of game design, where it belongs.

    All games should have:
    An autosave that activates when you quit.
    A restore in case of a computer crash.
    Robust netcode.
    Programmers that have more than the customary two-neuron-one-of-which-is-inhibitory brain.

    Simply put, the PC game industry would be so much better if there wasn't as much sexing between the PC and console developers.
  • I'm unemployed and have plenty of time for video games you insensitive clod!
  • I had a conversation with a friend about this topic and we thought there might be a market for a gaming community based around it. something only for casual gamers. We didn't figure out exactly how it might work but it should be able to exclude people that become too good at a particular game, or spend over a certain number of hours per month or something. I really enjoy playing games online against other people, but it sucks if you have to invest x amount of hours to either get good enough, or build up
  • by jmcnamera (519408) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @11:47PM (#9819126) Homepage
    I rarely play computer games anymore, and haven't for years. However, I have get one sometimes to see the "state of the art".

    When I do this, I know I don't have time to get good at the game or see everything. So I do the scummy move of using cheats to let me play beyond my skill with the game.

    I'd rather my kids not do it, and I'm not proud, but it makes sense. I can see far more of the game and enjoy the art etc better.

    I wouldn't use cheats with a multi-player game since it really harms the others.

    Except of course if it were playing against my kids and then it would be "play to win" :-) Well, once they are old enough, and by then I'll be left in their dust...
  • by what the dumple is (682010) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:04AM (#9819205)
    This [homestarrunner.com] game looks promising.
  • by Scum Puppy (75891) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:17AM (#9819254)
    He highlights a lot of problems I see in games today (especially MMORPGS... a genre I love but whose games are a bit lacking sometimes).

    What he didn't hit on, though, is something disturbing I've seen in recent games: games that diss on you when you lose. The one that comes to my mind the most is Civilization 3. For those who haven't played the game, it can take a lot of work to master a difficulty level, and often times the downfall of any civ (a computer controlled one or yours) is when every in the world gangs up on it and crushes it. Okay, bad things happen sometimes. But do I have to see the enemies spew juvenile trash talk at me when I lose? Things like:

    Gimme an 'L!' Gimme an 'O!' Whatever... LOSER!
    Don't worry "champ," you'll get 'em next time.
    Go back to chieftain! (Ed note: Cheiftain is the lowest difficulty level in Civ 3... imagine getting this while trying to learn how to play!)
    Aww... was that your last city? Maybe we should give it back...

    and so on. Really, if I wanted to listen to stuff like this, I'd go play some random game on a public forum, like Warcraft 3 (the ladder actually isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, though) or an FPS. And I'm pretty sure there's been other games in the recent past like this, either by way of insulting you or over heavily punshing you...

    It's funny that this guy picks Grand Theft Auto 3 as an example. I loved its sequel, Vice City, but I hated GTA 3. Why the big difference? Well, let's consider:
    • Cars had ridiculously low health. I was afraid of driving through Mafia-controlled territory, because a lot of them carried shotguns. 2 shotgun shots = instantly destroyed car. Maybe this is realistic, but it sucks to fail a mission because of one slight mistake causing you to die before you know what's going on. In Vice City, however, cars could take some punishment, AND they could catch on fire before they exploded (letting you bail out before that happened and you died).
    • By the end of the gang, EVERY gang in the game (except the Yakuzas) puts you on their KoS (kill on sight) list. So you're pretty much safe nowhere, and exploring the game is no fun at all. Compare this to Vice City, where only one gang, who controlled a small territory you could often avoid, attacked you on sight.
    • Many missions had very low timers to do things. One, for instance, required you bust up 9 espresso stands (fronts of drugs :P) in 8 minutes. And they spanned all of the game. GTA3's map was BIG. You really had to plan very carefully your route, and then don't fuck up at all or else you have to do the mission over again. I ended up doing some missions several times because of badly thought out mechanics. Vice City's story missions were much better in this regard.
    • Missions you couldn't appear to do again. There's a class of missions called "rampages" where if you died or ran out of time completing, they didn't respawn so you could try again. And you didn't get credit for completing them. Not the case in Vice City.
    • Insulting failure messages. I think Vice City had a couple of these here and there, but GTA3 had worse ones, like "You didn't win the race. LOSER!" As with Civ 3, why? I lost because I couldn't find a fucking sports car to race the other sports cars with (very rare in the first part of the game), not because I don't know what I'm doing.

    And there's more. GTA3 seems to very strongly embody the faults he highlights in his article, so it seemed an unusual choice. I wouldn't be surprised if he only played Vice City, because he makes references to things from that game not in GTA3 (like robbing stores). Or maybe he's just better than I am at GTA3 :P. Either way, Rockstar seems to have realized these problems and corrected them. We shall see what they change in GTA: San Andreas; hopefully more for the better!

    Still, he makes excellent points all around. Often asked is "What happened to the fun in game designs?" particularly when MMORPGs are concerned.
  • Contrast (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:35AM (#9819331)
    "Constant death was a necessity in the days of video arcades... Now, in the comfort of our lounges or offices, what reason is there to keep dumping us out of the game we bought with our hard earned cash?"

    Riding a bicycle down-hill is enjoyable for most people. If you never had to ride a bike up-hill in the first place though, it'd get pretty boring pretty fast. You need to know what up-hill means for down-hill to have any value.

    If you want, wait a week or so after just about any game is released, search the web and find the God Mode cheats. Frequent deaths are instantly solved. Sure, you get to take a quick tour of all of the games set pieces and pretty graphics but it will barely be a fraction as rewarding as it would have been had you actually had to work for it. My guess is you'll resent the $50 you had to spend far more than if you'd actually earned your way through it.

    The lazy option is there. My experience has been that when I've taken it, I've got far less out of the games than when my achievements have actually meant something.

    Going back to the bike analogy... Imagine having an engine that powers you up and down hills regardless. Oh, wait, I have one... I call it my car. Yet I've never had a fraction of the fun driving down a hill that I used to get after working to get my bike to the top of a hill and feeling the exhilaration on the way down the far side. Sure, I see more hills now, in less time - which suits my busier adult lifestyle - but each hill means a fraction of what they used to. That's why grown men take time out to go mountain biking and why others find the time to play games without cheating.
  • Muliplayer FPS... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vireo (190514) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:40AM (#9819346)
    Multiplayer FPS was mentionned briefly in the article (Unreal Tournament in particular). However, for me at least, this kind of game really does the job well. When I want brief periods of intense fun, I join a Quake3 Deathmatch or Capture The Flag server, and with matches set with timelimits of 20 min, fraglimits of 30 and capturelimits of 10, they're over in 10 to 20 minutes. Didn't get enough? Stay in for the next match.

    I don't worry about savegames, mazes, game over, etc. Got killed? Respawn instantly. Lost your weapons? Get the rocket launcher next to you. Really it's perfect.

    However, as Q3 is now dying in favor of more recent offerings (which is a shame since in my opinion, no other game has the pace, precision and fluidity of Q3), the servers which are still active are now either empty or filled with very skilled players. Not a good time to learn multiplayer deathmatch! Also, finding a copy of Q3 is almost impossible nowadays.
  • by zapp (201236) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:43AM (#9819353)
    Executive summary:
    I'm 23, and I have pretty much stopped gaming. I still play a few games now and then.

    Things that seem to make a game enjoyable for me:
    - Good for parties/friends
    - fun to watch someone play
    - fun to play together
    - small time commitment (15 minute session vs several hours)
    - Smooth flow
    - Very little searching for items, large travel times - things that make me feel like I'm wasting time

    For example: Max Payne 2 and Metroid Prime. Both are excellent games, but Max just didn't keep my attention well enough for me to finish it, or took too long. Metroid was too much of "oh I forgot this item, I have to go look for it over there -- a 15 minute travel. Ooops, I need this to get over there, which is back where I came from"

    a couple games I DO enjoy and why:
    Super Monkey Ball (and #2) - packed full of fun mini games. You can play for 15 minutes and quit -- no huge time commitment. Great for mini parties.
    Mario Kart 64 - same as SMB.
  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:48AM (#9819381)
    While we're at it... how 'bout some games that just kind of pretend the 3D arms race never happened and start making non-immersive-non-first-person-perspective games again?

    Dear god, did I just say that?

    Sigh. My desktop PC (dual Opterons, AIW 9600) and company laptop (Dell D600) have gaming capabilities I would have sold my parents to Saddam Hussein for less than a decade ago. Hell, so does my Gamecube attached to my 61" DLP TV. And what REALLY SUCKS is the fact that I can't play 3D games on ANY of them because they ALL give me vertigo (the Gamecube on the 61" DLP being the absolute worst... too late, I learned the hard way that playing on a bigger TV and making the experience even more immersive makes things WAY worse).

    At first I thought it was just old age (I'm 31), but then I found out that lots of teenage guys have problems with vertigo too.

    Bring on the 720p PacMania, Jumpman, Pogo Joe, and Super Giana Sisters :-)
  • by Doppler00 (534739) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:53AM (#9819397) Homepage Journal
    Given a choice of easy, medium, hard in most video games I used to choose hard to start with. Of course now that I work, I no longer have the patience to replay a level dozens of times just for the challenge of beating a game on the hardest level. Heck, I even beat Quake 3 on nightmare mode (seriously, it's possible but very difficult), but I probably won't consider doing that when Doom 3 comes out. To me, video games now are more like a substitute for going to a movie. If I'm frustrating because I'm reloading a save every minute, it's no longer enjoyable anymore.
  • by Ghostgate (800445) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:11AM (#9819477)
    But the author himself points out how certain styles of games, like RTS and FPS, are great for when you don't have a lot of time. They make it easy to find a game (either against the computer or against real players online), play, and then go do something else. This line of reasoning seems to defeat the original premise of the article. The funny thing is, I was thinking the same thing. When I don't have a lot of time, I might load up Age of Mythology, or UT2004. On the other hand, when I have the time to really get involved in a game, I'll turn to something like Morrowind.

    My point is that there is already a huge variety of games, some that you can jump right in and play a few quick games, and some that are much more involved and require some time to really get into and discover everything. Both niches are already filled. Then again, when the guy is saying, "I recently moved into a new apartment. This has literally left me with only a few minutes of gaming per day," I don't know what he expects anyone to tell him. Wait until you have settled in to your new place, I guess. For most, gaming is a hobby like any other. If you can only spare a few minutes out of your day for a hobby, then you're either seriously overworked, mismanaging your time, or have way too many hobbies in the first place.
  • by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:38AM (#9819562)
    I think the thing that people miss is that middle aged (and by that I mean gamers with jobs) gamers are becoming more and more common. True, the kids are the ones who really got into gaming, but now a generation of gaming kids are becoming adults and getting jobs. They are running into the frustration of not being able to game any more because they can't blow 40 hours a week on a game. This problem is no more evident then in MMORPGs.

    MMORPGs are designed around time sinks. EVERYTHING in MMORPGs these days revolves squarely around time. The equation is simple, time = power = fun. For this reason many gamers with a job are giving up on such games and going to things like Unreal.

    For me personally, I am a great gamer. I pop into a FPS and generally rock the hell out of it after playing it a couple of rounds. This means that when Unreal 2004 came out I could jump in and start having fun right off the bat. The game design was fun and it didn't require anything other then skill to play. I didn't have to sit in a field killing rats before I could play it. The same thing would be true if you dumped me into an MMORPG with a level 50 character. Learning the ins and out is not a problem. It might take some time, but not much in the grand scheme of things. The big problem is that I simply don't have the time to be level 50. If I play an MMORPG I am pretty much relegated to running around in a field by myself killing rats. Oh joy.

    MMORPGs need to take a clue from FPS and RTS games. Make the game based upon player skill, not time. This does not wreck the fundamental formula of an RPG. It just changes the nature of the game. Imagine for a moment SWG done in this style. If you wanted to smuggle, you would play the game like it was a space simulator and occasionally perhaps play the game like it was Thief. If you wanted to go explore you would jump on your land vehicle of choice, ride around, jump off, and the game would play like Jedi Knight or Dark Forces. If you wanted to be a Jedi the game would be more of a social game with elements from a Tail in the Desert combined with combat elements from Jedi Knight.

    The real important thing to do is to be sure that any reward that increases someone's power is balanced. A n00b with skill should be able to kill the most jacked out person in the game. So perhaps it takes a little work to be a Jedi Knight, a total newbie with a blaster should still be able to cap you in the back of the head or stab you in the back killing you.

    MMORPGs are obsessed with steep power curves, and nothing - absolutely nothing, is going to drive away a gamer with limited time more then that. Nothing pisses me off more then logging into an MMORPG and knowing that there will always be people I can never, under any circumstance kill, not because they are so skilled, but simply because I can't spend the 10 hours a day to actually gain the power to inflict any harm. In most MMORPGs a newbie could attack someone who is high leveled and AFK and still not be able to kill them. This is wrong.
    • A n00b with skill should be able to kill the most jacked out person in the game.

      What about people that have no skill? If they played an FPS or RTS they would lose continually and repeatedly. Obviously there is a market for this type of game (MMORPG). As much as you or I may dislike it, perhaps there are people that enjoy playing a game that does not require skill. Popping bubble wrap can be fun - and that doesn't require much skill.

      This is wrong.

      Who's to say what's right and wrong? If people enjoy it
    • After all, why is it neccessary to be a high level character to have fun in an MMORPG? I mean, it is essential to an RPG that higher level characters can do things low level characters cannot do. But who put up the rule that all a newbie could do is "killing rats on a field" and wait for some fun? Maybe you could be able to become a squire or a disciple to a higher level character who teaches you the ropes and improves your survival chances as well. Of course, for this a squire needs to offer something as w
  • Puzzle games (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:13AM (#9819664) Homepage
    For those that like to spit on ideas such as those presented in the article; take a look at the world around you!

    The most often played game is probably Freecell or Minesweeper? Why? Because you can play it for a few minutes whilst waiting for something else or just to while away half an hour or so. Puzzle games answer all the needs the author describes in the article, now if only other types of games would.

    I agree with the article in many ways. Especially the part about having to restart. I cheat. Yes. I confess I cheat in games.

    I don't like it when a racing game requires me to study it's mechanisms for multiple hours only to require me many hours of training more just to have a minuscule chance at unlocking a new car or course. I don't like to have to play a single course a hundred times just to enable an even more difficult course. I just want to switch on the machine and race a few laps with my extremely customized ultimate racing car in whatever landscape I feel like driving in that day. And perhaps even knock a few other cars around.

    I don't like being kicked the crap out of by weirdo muscular freaks and freakettes, I experienced that enough in school! I want to take revenge; slaughter that big guy with the suit who looks just like my boss, kick the crap out of the that irritating muscleboy and I want to do it with the panache of Bruce Lee. And god knows I just want to see those cute girls wrestle it out on the beach!

    I really (really, really) liked Jak & Dexter until one challenge which I just couldn't figure out. Since I had to do this particular challenge to continue I just gave up on the game.
    Same goes for LOTR2 where somewhere in level 10 or so I couldn't even cheat through due to an enemy which would kill you with one touch if you were distracted for just a second.
    Most games have such problems, please, please, PLEASE allow us casual gamers the ability to skip the parts of your games we don't like or just can't get past. Sure, it's cheating, but so what if it makes our experience better?

    What the author is saying is that he just wants to have fun gameplay, not to wade through levels designed to be nearly unbeatable or challenge some artificial intelligence who knows more special combos than I'm willing to learn or worse; a hardcore gamer who's just intend on satisfying his ego.

    This isn't just about older people though. The casual gaming market has been mostly neglected in favour of the "quick-and-easy-profit" hardcore market. Some noticeable exceptions such as Sims and (my own favourite) Roller Coaster Tycoon prove it can be different though.

    Currently I'm putting all my hope on that new Playboy game, looks like Sims for men. ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:54AM (#9819757)
    I guess I'm the demographic the article's about. I spent a lot of time playing games during my youth and while I was a student, but since starting a 9-to-5 job last year (with a 90 minute journey at either end of the day), I've had to be a bit more careful in how I use my gaming time.

    That said, I disagree with a lot of the conclusions of the article. I don't particularly mind time-sinks. I play a MMORPG (FFXI) and, despite the fact that you spend a fair bit of time grinding, I don't mind that, because much of the fun in a MMORPG comes from the social interactions and from the thrills you do get when you explore a new area or fight a major boss. I also play a lot of offline RPGs, both console and PC, where levelling up your characters is a major factor in the game.

    Making all of the necessary information available within the game isn't a bad idea, but I'd hardly consider it a vital factor. I don't mind referring to a manual. My normal practice when playing a new game is to read any "plot" sections of the manual and check how the controls work before I play. I'll then refer to the manual as I go along, whenever I bump into something I don't understand. I recently started playing Disgaea (superb game, play if it you haven't already) and this worked well there; reading the entire manual before I started wouldn't have helped, as many of the concepts would have seemed bizarre if I hadn't already played the game, but going into it with no grounding at all would have been hard.

    For me, far and away the biggest issue relates to saving progress. One thing I absolutely loathe and despise is having to go back and do something I've already done. I'm not talking about grinding in FFXI here; that changes as you level up, so there's a sense of progress. I'm talking about having to replay a 15 minute game section because I died right at the end and had no option to save my game. In my mind, there is *no* excuse for not implementing a quicksave function in PC (and perhaps Xbox) games or not having ample opportunities to save in a console game. I own and use all three of the current-generation consoles, but I've a particular dislike for the Gamecube, because so many of its games have ridiculous save policies. I'm drawn to games which let me feel I've made progress at the end of each session; MMORPGs are obviously a good example here, as are RPGs such as Disgaea or KOTOR. Conversely, I'm much less likely now to play "simple" shoot-em-ups. I recently bought R-Type Final in a fit of nostalgia. However, despite the fact that it was a good shooter, I found the fact that I was expected to go back to level 1 every time I loaded up to be far too dispiriting.
    • by TiggsPanther (611974) <tiggs@@@m-void...co...uk> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @04:44AM (#9820027) Journal
      One thing I absolutely loathe and despise is having to go back and do something I've already done. I'm not talking about grinding in FFXI here; that changes as you level up, so there's a sense of progress. I'm talking about having to replay a 15 minute game section because I died right at the end and had no option to save my game. In my mind, there is *no* excuse for not implementing a quicksave function in PC (and perhaps Xbox) games or not having ample opportunities to save in a console game. I own and use all three of the current-generation consoles, but I've a particular dislike for the Gamecube, because so many of its games have ridiculous save policies.

      Oh yes. That irritates on so many levels. It's also worse when combined with two of the major uses of Plot in RPGs.
      Not that I don't like plot. I love it. But still...

      Exposition followed by no Save Option:
      You go into a new level, boss fight, or whatever. There then follows a segment of plot. The first time you go through it it's fine, but you often have no chance to save before going into the action. So if you die (and with Boss-fights it can take a few goes to get right...) you've got to sit through the exposition again. It's not as bad when you can skip these segments, but in some games you can't.

      Post-battle Story Mode: After several hours of attempts, a long battle, and a good helping of pure luck you finally win a Boss Battle. Geek-instincts scream "Save now, before you do anything else." Instead you're treated to a 5-minute unskippable section of Story Mode. (The Final Fantasy games are notorious for this)
      Usually this would have the bad timing to occur when I'm already running late for something. Meaning I either had to be more late, or just power-off and hope I could still win the next time. (I was reluctant to leave the console running when I went out after an incident with a SNES, a loose power-connection, and a kick-on-return induced reset)

      I just wish that after major battles the first thing you were treated to was a save-point and not a plot segment.

      I have to say that I like the feature in recent Square-Enix games where you can save-quit during a battle, and re-enter it later. (Albeit you can only load it once) It means that at least you don't have to lose progress in an important battle if you have to leave.

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