Wednesday, September 19, 2012

EPISODE 75: "Easy Does It"

Our newest episode is now showing for all audiences on ScrewAttack!

In this episode, we examine the modern controversy over "Easy Modes": do they really - as the lead designer of "Assassin's Creed III" recently claimed - "ruin games," or is there a vital place for them? In addition, we proudly announce that the next episode will be "Ask Ivan!" - wherein Ivan the Intern will answer questions to posted to the comments sections under the video itself or to this blog post (see episode for details, no anonymous questions please.)

ALSO! You'll see The OverThinker's favorite watering hole, discover the history of The OmegaThinker, witness the shocking origin of RoboThinker, learn something new about Ivan the Intern and watch ME gradually figure out how to properly use my new green-screen! (in all sincerity, I know some folks run hot or cold on the skits, but I'm pretty psyched with how the "ending" bookend for this one turned out tone, FX and timing-wise.)

Embedded episode and spoiler-y discussion after the jump!



Yeah, I'm proud of this one. The Hutchinson quote kind of fell into my lap as a perfect sort of topic-starter for my little niche here, and it gave me some room to A.) flesh out exactly what it is Ivan is supposed to be doing most of the time and B.) bring RetroThinker back into the picture and try out what might become his new status-quo as "resident old-timey expert guy." He's a fun "voice" to write for, and his "costume" isn't as cumbersome as some others...

As to RoboThinker's origin? I really like how it came out, overall, but it was a winding road to get here.

When I sat down during the "planning stages" for the revamped show as the AntiThinker business was coming to an end, a robot villain named "RoboThinker" was the very first thing I wrote down after deciding to continue the "____Thinker" naming-scheme schtick, but for the longest time that was all I had for him. (FYI, you have been spared the appearance of non-starter ideas like an enviro-terrorist called "Eco-Thinker," a white or yellow ninja tagged as "ElectroThinker" and a flatulence-powered one-off villain named "OverStinker.")

Believe it or not, for a long time my plan was for him to either resemble Robocop or The Borg - which would've been highly unfortunate since this is hitting so soon after "To Boldly Flee." Ultimately, I wanted him to look like a less specific parody, and the final concept ("Super-Sentai Terminator," basically) turned out to be best within my budget/abilities AND to fit best with OmegaThinker's DBZ/Trunks angle (that being DBZ's "Terminator" spoof and all.)

In any case, I hope everyone enjoys this one; and I'm already enjoying seeing people getting into the spirit of "Ask Ivan." If all goes well, you'll get those answers, an explanation of WHY OmegaThinker doesn't want OverThinker doing the fighting and your first taste of RoboThinker's voice and personality next time. Until then, let's hear those questions for Ivan!

144 comments:

Lavaros said...

I'm curious Ivan, who's hotter to you, Tinkerbell or Navi?

Aiddon said...

Easy mode is something I wish gamers hadn't reduced to a dirty word. I really don't get why people think it ruins the medium any when in fact they don't have to touch it if they don't feel like it. It was why I wanted to smack people over the head for a mistranslated comment from the director of Dark Souls over including an easier degree of difficulty to the game. This weird, insecure desire to make gaming some sort of exclusive club is just stupid.

Antonio Black said...

Dear Ivan,
if you're the Overthinker's intern, does that mean you're training for a future employment position as another Overthinker or "fairythinker"?

Anonymous said...

Moviebob, I just tried watching the latest Game Overthinker (along with Rusty Pipes) but found that they don't load properly for me. I've tried all my different browsers but the video loads really slowly and the Screwattack video player doesn't seem to handle buffering too well. Most other screwattack videos load quickly though; are your videos in HD? If so is there a SD version available for people with slower speeds, or any other fixes you would recommend.

(I've read this, btw, but it didn't help http://www.screwattack.com/news/video-issues-let-us-help )

-Long time fan

John M Osborne said...

Ironically my main problem with Assassin's Creed 2 was it made the parkour way too easy.

Zeno said...

Bob, I can't help but think that your position on exclusiveness is misguided. I don't care about whether other people play a game or not, but so many good games are butchered to make them appeal to a broader segment of the market. While you suggest that this may be a good business strategy, after a brand name loses its sheen it quickly becomes a case of the tragedy of the commmons as everybody scrambles for the "casual" audience(where I include titles you apparently think are hardcore like COD and Skyrim) and ignores the long tail, which is a less regarding but also less risky opportunity. Examples of this dumbing down that developers refer to with newspeak terms like "streamlining", "visceral", and "accessible" I want to point out:

Simcity 4 --> Simcity Societies (Words aren't enough)

Fallout 2 --> Fallout 3 ("An isometric game won't sell in this day and age")

X-COM UFO Defense --> Dreamland Chronicles (An FPS) and Firaxis' XCOM(Where a transport can only hold a maximum of six troopers to the original's TWENTY-six)

Civilization 4 --> Civilization 5 (Where making it One Unit Per Tile complete changed everything, from economics to battle tactics, for the worse)

Syndicate Wars --> Syndicate (An FPS)

Supreme Commander --> Supreme Commander 2

Deus Ex --> Human Revolution and Invisible War

I could go on, but that's probably enough.




Zeno said...

No, wait I forgot one that's a particularly good example:

Command & Conquer 3 --> Command & Conquer 4

While CnC3 was produced after the takeover of Westwood by EA, it was still decent. However, after what they did to Red Alert 3 and the previews that were shown of CnC4's gameplay mechanics, the disappointment of many fans including myself was evident in its poor sales.

Chazz said...

I can not express how much I loved the canned laughter that accompanied Retrothinker.

As for my question, it was inevitable really, someone had to ask. Ivan, who's your favorite pony?

Gus said...

Dear Ivan

How can Cogs Shoes/The Omega Thinker be The Overthinker's decedent if in his timeline, the Overthinker was killed by the Antithinker before he ever had his first offspring?

Thomas Winwood said...

I can understand the reaction to Hepler's comments to an extent - any game with a "Hepler mode" necessarily has to have bits of plot delivered via non-gameplay such as cutscene divided by bits of gameplay. This is the formula we're using now, but it's not the best one; the best games are the ones which blend gameplay with story.

How would you implement a "Hepler mode" for a game like Iji which has even the most rudimentary link between gameplay and story?

The problem with difficulty modes is that implementing N difficulty modes in one game well is the same as creating N completely different games, while lazy difficulty like the slider in Oblivion makes it blatantly obvious what the game "wants" to be played on and was designed around.

Steven said...

60 hTo me the problem is not so much the "easy mode" but the "skip mode" and "auto play mode" people keep talking about adding to games.

We have already seen with multiplayer how developers and publishers are turning many games single player campaigns into short or badly designed addons to multiplayer centric titles that were once single player only.

I can't help but think that to make all games accessible for the "5 miniute a time gamer" that single player may well become "auto player".

Keano said...

Dear Ivan. What are you're favourite games? I mean excluding the ones with ponies...

Keano.

Francis said...

The inclusion of difficulty levels in a game, just like the general difficulty itself, should be considered a design choice, not an accessibility decision.

Seeing the lack of difficulty levels as being exclusionary is framing the question wrong. Games, as a medium, ARE for everyone, and hopefully everyone will find something to like in the fantastic world of games at large, but there is no reason each and every game should individually strive to be for everyone. That's bollocks! Games have a target audience, have a design goal.
Its always a question of what the game's design goals are, and whether that inclusion would be appropriate or not.

The most obvious example is the Souls games, always brought up in this debate.
Dark Souls and Demon's Souls are designed around being a harsh, gruelling experience. Those games are all about outright antagonizing the players, making them work hard (and work together) for every little itty bitty victory. You NEED to somehow scrape through if you ever want to see whats coming up next. It has to feel unfair, like every little win is barely scraped by, like you are always an inch from death. Because of this approach, the games can achieve an immense level of tension with their harsh penalties for dying, the death-traps...

In a game where you have difficulty levels, if you hit a wall of difficulty that completely blocks your progress, if you just CANT beat this next guy, you start thinking about starting over at the lower difficulty level. You got an easy way out. Some people even start thinking they should be going on easy as soon as they start dying once or twice.

If the game doesn't have that option, you think about it differently. There being no easy way out at all changes everything. You think about giving up. You go look for help online, start talking about the game to your friends. I'm at that spot, cant get through it, aaargh! You start grasping for straws, looking for alternate ways through. Maybe one of your friends succeeded, how did he do it?
People LOVE to talk about that game amongst themselves, talk about how they got through this or that part. Even people who dont usually really talk about their gaming. Its like it creates a natural, informal community of people brought together by a common enemy.
Its goddam magical it is! Brings a tear to my eye, good games like that.

It would make no sense whatsoever to give the players an easy mode option there. Not that such an inclusion would outright ruin the game though, of course not. Claims like that are just the usual internet nerd's hyperbole culture at work.

VampireBadger said...

Hey Ivan...

So yeah, I take it you spend a lot of time with the Overthinker, and might indeed have some insight into his thoughts and ideas. Does he every talk to you about his job as a film critic on The Escapist Magazine website?

If so, I was wondering why he choose the aesthetic and production decisions he has with regards to this show, the Game Overthinker. Now don't get me wrong - i love this show, and the cute funny little skits he does with it, but i'm wondering why he has chosen to go with the rough way of doing things? He's clearly a very clever guy with a lot of thoughts and opinions (not to mention knowledge about film making) and i can't help but feel there's a reason for the show being like it is... even with little or no budget, i'm sure he could figure out a cleaner, more professional looking production. is it some clever message or satire that i'm just not getting, or just plain old fun?

sorry for the long question. If it gets chosen, please feel free to paraphrase or edit it... sorry.

Also, while i'm here, i would just like to thank the Game Overthinker himself for this episode. As a gamer (and a woman) who enjoys the narrative and art style of games over combat mechanics (see Spec Ops the Line as my new favourite game!!!) i am often very glad of and enjoy 'easy mode' options. Especially now that shooters have been the big thing for what feels like 5 or 6 years and i really really don't like shooters and the gameplay that goes with it. something like the story mode in Mass Effect 3 was something i was very happy to see. Indeed, the way i got through some parts of Spec Ops; the Line was by watching my boyfriend play though the particularly heavy shooter bits. I don't want to feel like i'm missing out on great games cause they don't play the way i like. Half Life 2 is another example. i just get bored everything i'm asked to shoot at something. but the story is intensely good.

For the record I prefer RPG's and games like that, rather than shooters. I don't dislike all gameplay, it's just a bummer that so many games have elements in them like that.

sorry, really really really long comment...

Daniel R said...

Ivan,

What's you're opinion on interspecies romance, can a fairy truly love a man or a woman and vice versa?

I noticed you like drinking some sort of Cocktail. What is it?
What's you're favorite cocktail?

What does training to be a thinker entail? I'm assuming there's a lot of meditation and playing of games but what other skills must you develop for such a demanding profession.

Are you seeing any other fairy right now? Umm, not that I'm looking for anything myself. Its just a question, don't read much into it. *blush*

Billy-j said...

Dear Ivan

What is your personal favourite version of fairies from a book/tv/movie/game?

Joe said...

@John M Osborne said...

Ironically my main problem with Assassin's Creed 2 was it made the parkour way too easy.

Not to mention the combat, which was finicky in AC1 but easy once you mastered the instakill counterattack timing. Then AC2 made the counterattack even easier and Brotherhood and Revelations made combat an utter joke with the huge arsenals and "summon your buddies" options. That's why the "easy mode sucks" sentiment coming from an Assassin's Creed dev sounded so ridiculous.

@Gus said...

How can Cogs Shoes/The Omega Thinker be The Overthinker's decedent if in his timeline, the Overthinker was killed by the Antithinker before he ever had his first offspring?

The Omegathinker confirmed he was the Overthinker's great-great-etc.-etc.-nephew, not grandson.

Zeno said...

And, on the subject of "violent hatred" towards social justice topics in video games.

For one, that's hyperbolic rhetoric. Talk is cheap on the internet and nobody has actually gotten physically hurt by a critic so it's disingenuous to frame it that way.

There are people out there who hate on feminists and LGBTQ activists because they are genuinely bigoted but I don't think they make up the majority of critics. Even if they did, that still wouldn't make ignoring rational criticism right.

The real reason why many denizens of the internet don't like tumblrfeminists and Anita Sarkeesian and Reddit and Atheism+ is because they wield morality like a cudgel. They try to subvert and exploit noble impulses in people to suppress dissent. Given that they don't have much in the way of physical or legal power they instead try to guilt and shame people into doing what they want. With the case of someone like Hepler, criticism is ignored on the grounds that she's a woman, and therefore everything she does is right and you're just a sexist. They pretend to be vulnerable, "Oh look at these big bad anonymous commentors making obviously empty threats, whatever will I do!" to get people to feel bad. I think the same thing has happening with terms like "Schrodinger's Rapist" being used to justify an irrational phobia of strangers based on overblown fantasies of rape. Islamofascists would blanche at how sheltered they want women to be. Insults like "misogynist" wouldn't work if the people they were directed at weren't already opposed to misogyny in the first place! It is passive aggression, pure and simple.

Bob, you mentioned in an earlier video that you think it shouldn't be okay to express sexist or racist sentiments ANYWHERE on the internet, and I disagree. You have thoughts and you have actions. Actions have an actual effect on the world and thoughts do not, so thoughts are where we are free to experiment with ideas unfettered by the moral regulations we impose on our actions. All forms of communication are meant to have little impact on the physical world but a large impact on the mental world, because they are supposed to convey thoughts. Therefore it follows that freedom of thought should be extended to freedom of communication, and this is on top of the mere legal reasons for free speech. You can't undo thoughts with moral condemnation any more than you can gender identity, so lecturing people on the evils of crimethink is futile as well as ugly to behold.

As far as I know most worldviews are incommeasurable, so the only way to make a rigorously deductive argument is to assume your "enemies'" givens and derive a contradiction. In other words, you have to have empathy for them, and that's something you can't do sermonizing from a soapbox.

Sabre said...

I will ask question/s in a later post, but for now, the episode.

It pissed me off. As someone else mentioned, there is the whole Dark Souls thing, but that wasn't the point of this video. Instead, it was a thinly veiled rant about exclusion.

So, while I'm not a screaming teenager on Xbox Live, (I prefer SP and Co-op) but I do fall into your "hardcore gamer" demographic type thing simply by liking FPS, so allow me to explain something.

I do not mind now people coming into the medium.

I do mind people with no interest in the medium barging in and demanding change to suit their desires at the cost of mine.

To use a personal preference of mine. What if I, as someone who doesn't have any interest in football, decided to demand football cater to me, demanding rules and business changes until it's not football anymore. It's swimming or something. Yes, football is now more inclusive, but it has been harmed to the many existing football fans. I still likely wouldn't watch football much though.

Let's use Mario, since Bob the Nintendo fans like that, what if it was that a bunch of people who have no interest in Mario, decided to demand it be a FPS where you shoot grey and brown terrorists in the middle east? All to please a crowd who didn't care about Mario, and still doesn't, instead, making Mario another fashion fad of the week.

THAT is the problem. Changing games for the worse, to pander to some arse who has no interest in games at all. Games are about interactivity, and changing it to a film you have to hold a button to watch is not a good thing.

"Make the games dumber so they understand, make them shorter so they can complete it between drinking a Starbucks and Celebrity Ice Dancing, and make it easier so they don't have to stop texting while they play." seems to be the mindset.

I don't mind new people coming in, or having their needs catered to. I play on Normal and Easy myself. I have no issues with difficulty or whatnot, or even casual games, but there are limits. I love me some Halo, so if they came out and said "We are only going to have 1 gun, and 1 enemy type, and the game is 5 minutes long in order to appeal to these new people", then I'm going to pissed.

They have their farmville, I have my Halo. Those guys like a bit of minecraft, and while it's not my thing, I will play and talk about with you if you really want. Come on in, the water's lovely.

However, practice what you preach. If you say that 'hardcore gamers' and designers shouldn't be upset at their games being turned into sludge. Then they should likewise stop watching whatever they watch, and change it to fit our preferences.

Student 0172648 said...

Dear IVAN,

Seeing that the gaming industry is increasingly more connected to the internet, video game based Memes are pretty much inevitable. This affects both new hits Skyrim ("Fus-Ro-Dah" and "I took an arrow to the knee" were huge), but even retro games ("Guile's theme goes with everything"). Do you think that there's anything good or bad about this, and why?

Also, what would your favorite video game related Memes include?

-LevelUpLeo

Arturo said...

Dear Ivan,

1. Did you work for anyone else before the Overthinker?

2. What's with you and Tinkerbell?

Anonymous said...

I don´t mind easy modes, i wished every game had several difficulty settings, both easier and harder than the standard mode. But if you make a game like Dark Souls, designed around challenge, it would take a tremendous amount of work to balance each setting. And i can´t help thinking, if you don´t want to be challenged, then why the hell do you want to play Dark Souls??? :p

itisdave said...

So Ivan, have you ever tried to get The Overthinker into My Little Pony?

itisdave said...

So Ivan, have you ever tried to get The Overthinker into My Little Pony?

Anonymous said...

And if you don´t want to play the gameplay parts, why are you playing a game? Shouldn´t they start making some games without gameplay focused around interactive storytelling instead of wasting resources creating casual game modes for people who don´t like to play games?

Every game shouldn´t be made with every existing gamer in mind, it should be created with an intended audience in mind.

Echoed Wails said...

Dear Ivan,
Are you more into retro or modern day gaming? Also, what game were you working on and will the audience eventually see your review?

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

I think games with sizable single-player components need Easy modes; however, I don't think it should be instantly available.

What do I mean by that? Well, I think they should be used in ways similar to Devil May Cry or New Super Mario Bros Wii.

If you die enough times at any given level/boss/whatever, the game should offer you the ability to play through that part in Easy mode. After you got through that part, it would ask if you'd like to stay in Easy mode or if you'd like to go back to Normal. If you went back to Normal and died enough times, the choice would be presented again.

As for the framing device, I LOVED it. It was a really nifty way to make a robot thinker while also taking a jab at the military FPS. Some might see it as trolling, but I thought it was really freaking clever. The shot of the drone teabagging the al Qaeda jeep was great.

Ivan, is your internship paid? Because if it isn't, it should be. You risked your life against the Necrothinker when you scanned his mind. That should at least get you minimum wage.

Peace out!

Redd the Sock said...

Boy Bob, did you hit my red button with this. Today I have to go into work to redesign an invoicing template because the staff using it found it "too complicated" even though they really only have to enter in 3 fields. Had another co-worker come to me thinking a spreadsheet was broken before she even checked to see if the data she entered was right. I could go on, but suffice to say I take a dim view of people that immediately want something hard to get easier and beg for help at first problem spot.

A life of video games has bred me to see something hard as something worth trying. To learn something new with a new interface, engine, HUD, menu, ect. To try, fail, dust myself off and try again. To not expect immediate gratification, and the value of a reward earned through effort. I have beaten Ninja Gaiden NES and would rather have never seen the ending that have the game pity me.

Maybe it's exclusionary, but it's the only bar I set: you have to be willing to face some difficulty. I've seen this in other fandoms as well from those of us not raised on the internet. Comics stagnate as people can't look up backstory on wikipedia. Anime is all but free if you know where to look, and series fall out of all public recognition after a few years. Even movies: how many people run at the first sign of subtitles?

Not that I'm not sympathetic to the narative aspect behind the request for easy modes. I like my game stories as well, but the time needed or particularly unpleasent boss fight can be a deterant to seeing my favorite RPG scenes again. Still, I'd rather go the way of adaptation. I have a DVD with the cut scenes to Xenosaga, and some fan made ones for Metal Gear Solid, as well as some novelizations and manga adaptions. I'd like to see more of that (done properly) so get the story out and keep it alive as the system dies rather than neuter the game it came from. Or if easy mode is introduced, at least have some reward beyond bragging rights for those of us that played properly.

Sabre said...

Hello Ivan (urg)

What are Bobs thoughts freedom of speech and creative freedom in games, including (but not limited to) sex and violence? On the 1 hand, he has said it's ok in films and has shown he is against censorship during the Red Cross and Mass Effect videos, but on the other, he supports the pro censorship goals of feminist frequency and frequently complains about FPS and other violent games. He's all over the place.

If you need a hypothetical situation, let's say a designer have a vision for a game that involves bikini clad woman fighting vampires. Would the gender and sexual orientation of the designer matter? Would it be defended as the designers vision, or would it be written off as pandering hyper masculine sexist crap?

2 other less important questions
What does Bob think of games and licences that he hates play to the retro crowd? The Expendables contra clone, the CoD smash TV mode, ect.

Has Bob ever had his mind changed or thought of something differently based on comments or other responces? If so, which issues?

Toodinho said...

Ivan as an intern preparing to be a overthinker(?),given that games are an interactive medium do you think that more games stories should be less about the narrative itself and more about "play the player"(much like spec ops:the line or even metal gear do) instead of trying to present a narrative like in a movie?

Notgonnasay09 said...

I have to say I am a little bit confused as to why a game developer of all people would support an idea as ludicrous as dismissing Easy modes for games; one would think that making games more accessible would be more appealing with all the money that the industry makes nowadays, but I suppose it can't be helped.

As for Ivan, I have the following question for you:

This probably could be applied to other mediums outside of video games, but in general why do gamers and nerds in general have such a negative reaction with shy characters? It always seems like whenever a character appears in a game or what have you that perhaps is more reserved or shy, gamers and other communities are quick to jump up and bash the living daylights out of them...

Nixou said...

"Dark Souls and Demon's Souls are designed around being a harsh, gruelling experience."

Until you start farming for souls and sudenly the quasi-lovecraftian horrors are reduced to hapless punching bag.

***

"Given that they don't have much in the way of physical or legal power they instead try to guilt and shame people into doing what they want."

If that's really was the case, then they're not very successful: sa far, internet bullies rilled up by their existence have not displayed any sign of being shamed into silence.

Sylocat said...

And right on schedule, a bunch of people completely miss the point of this video.

Sabre? Redd? Zeno? The purpose of easy modes is to make games MORE complex instead of less, so they don't have to dumb down the major campaign to appeal to newbs. It's supposed to give the consumers more choice instead of less.

Unless you really know that and are instead looking for an excuse to participate in exclusionary behavior without admitting it...

*sigh*

Anyway. Hi, Ivan,

1. What's your favorite episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?

2. What games do you most disagree with the Overthinker on, and why?

3. A poll conductor wants to know your feedback as to Senator Lieberson's job performance thus far. What's your opinion?

Manticore said...

On one level. Accessibility is a big thing but that says internal hints and stuff, like what Miiverse and GAMEFAQs and at the least buyable guides can help with. It also does the job of encouraging a community with something besides multiplayer identity brand herding techniques
(the compliment to the skinner box making you a citizen of Minecraft or Farmville or what have you)

It seems a lot of these things are end runs around having to access gamers.

Also I don't think easy mode works in conveying the game well. Often its the same thing only with artificial ease or difficulty ramped up or down so you don't learn or get it. You can't enjoy the real game of poker or chess if the AI always gives you higher odds or never takes tactics with no instruction. It feels patronizing to play because you can't get the intricacies by practice or documentation or just general play through. I wanna play easy because the basic version is hard and I need the aid get and learn and play the game.

Now it would be nice if there was, as you once mentioned more thought and elaboration put on graduating you to hard mode. For instance that starting easy isn't a forfit of graduating to further game gains and content and what have you. But that isn't what easy mode, the one I think condemned by the developer paraphrased, is about. Its about getting to the distubing point of games playing themselves so you can just press buttons with no variation in learning or understanding.

Its unfair because it leaves the new but eager out and annoying because it undermines the basic or experts and leaves them lonely with no major injections and later written off as niche.

Skitz said...

Ivan, what is your gaming age range?
like, how far do you go back?

Manticore said...

Well Ivan, just got to admit betwen your Tinkerbell and Navi comments. A little insight if only direction of look into fairy-american culture would interest me greatly.

I mean Tinkerbell's a house fairy but Navi is this major break through, seems backwards to me. Were there fairy-ploitation period in entertainment what was that like?

How do you feel about the "modern" take on fairies/fair folk (crazy decadent anglophilic nutters ala Lords and Ladies and so on)

What are some of the family careers, the more visible parts of society fairies are in, and what are the responses and what tend to be the generation/class distinctions. What has been fairy culture in music just 60s to 90s? Any strong ethnic relations?

Sorry I realize its a bit much just answer as a person who sees the worlds as fairy and intern not need to be The Fairy Man for the public.

J.C. Hedges said...

Dear Ivan,

What type of mechanics would you like to see in a game starring a fairy like yourself?

maninahat said...

Zeno:
"Bob, I can't help but think that your position on exclusiveness is misguided. I don't care about whether other people play a game or not, but so many good games are butchered to make them appeal to a broader segment of the market."

I really disagree with what you're saying. "streamlining" and "viscerality" doesn't ruin a franchise. [i]Fallout[/i] and various strategy games were made in a time where isometric rpgs were the best way to tell as a complex story. But with an FPS, there is a degree of detail, nuance and emotion that simply can't be conveyed when viewing things from a bird's eye view, 40 feet away. The devs are simply using developing technology to their advantage, letting them tell the story they want to tell in a better way.

It annoys me when people fall back on the same old circular reasoning: "Every game is made into an FPS because FPSs sell". Why do they sell? "Dumb xbox hardcore gamerz" is not the right answer. I think it's because gamers tend to prefer narratives where they are closer to the story and action - and what better way to do that then to actually interact with this sort of thing, first hand?

maninahat said...

Dear Ivan. If you could have your own intern/sidekick to push around, who would they be?

Anonymous said...

I grew up in arcades in the 80's and 90's. My brother and I had an Atari, moved on to a NES in 1988, and we had nearly every Sega, Nintendo, and Sony console sense. I've been playing games for a LONG time. And I have to say that the idea of "cheats" or "easy mode" have been in console games since the beginning. Don't believe me? What do you think all of those switches on the 2600 did? They had difficulty settings, too. That was one of the original benefits of console games in lieu of the arcades - if you were younger or less experienced, you could still play the game and try to beat it. I was 5 when I first beat Mario 1, but you can bet that I used warps. I was 7 when I first beat Final Fantasy 1, but you can bet that I had some help reading, and I levelled up a lot.

Easy mode has been in games forever. I think almost every beat-em-up for the SNES had an options screen with the settings "Easy" "Normal "Hard." Hell, in some games you had to put in a code to even access difficult mode. And even if the game didn't have an easy mode, there was still a way to have your hand held - Konami Code, anyone?

And that's not to say that I always played games on easy. I moved up gradually - easy, then normal, then hard. But that took years to get to that point. These days, I tend to play games starting on normal. Still, I feel that lower difficulty settings are great for some people.

With all that said, I think the lady who said she wanted a sort of "fast-forward mode" to skip battles and stuff seems a bit unnecessary. And it has nothing to do with her being a girl - I'm a girl, too. And you know what: the guys in school would bring their game carts to me knowing that I could get them past certain areas. So yeah - I have gamer blood coursing through these veins. But that being said, I don't play as much as I did before. When I do play, it's mostly old stuff. My wife still plays, and I help her - you can bet my eyes are glued to the screen when she's playing Assassin's Creed and Bioshock.

But even with my mostly passive gaming state right now, I still disagree with that lady. I have a different suggestion for a gaming mode - Watch. Yeah, no pun intended, but "Game" and "Watch" would work well to me. Kind of like the idea behind New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but a little different. If you grew up before the age of internet gaming, you may remember watching your friends play some new world, beating up baddies and collecting little bits of story (especially in SNES/Genesis days). Why not bring that back? Allow people to watch other players play the game, without having to play it yourself. Watch them over Live, or Home, or on the Wii? As long as you're hooked up to the internet, and maybe if you have the game (or pay some nominal fee if you DON'T have it), you would be able to watch someone play the game live - like in the old days. Except now, you're watching someone you don't know - maybe there could even be a way to turn on voice by the player so you could coach them through a game.

I think that could be great, especially for military personnel. Imagine you're a kid, and your father or mother is in the military. They're far away, and it's hard to contact them. But they have access to an XBOX (rare, I know), and you have an XBOX. So you pop in a game, turn on "voice," and you can play the game while they watch and talk to you. I think that'd be great.

I don't know, I think it'd be a nice way to maintain the difficulty of gaming, while allowing other people to appreciate the narrative. Hell, it may even work well for the companies - showing off games that would otherwise not get the kinds of exposure they normally would. It could help encourage people to be different in game design.

Gamegodtre said...

Has the Overthinker ever touched you inappropriately? now on to a seroius question, are you a real person or just Bob in another voice? also why was Bob late to the Hour of Love?

Etries said...

Dear Ivan,

What do you think of the slaughter of fairies for health points in the Legend of Zelda series?

Anonymous said...

Bodglin asks
Was the Cottingley Fairies hoax actually a hoax?

Aiddon said...

Dark Souls is SO easy to break; all you need to do is go heavy melee/armor and the bosses in the second half are a cakewalk. Seriously, some of the areas are only difficult because they're cheap instead of legitimately challenging. Sen's Fortress, the Capra Demon fight, Blighttown, and the entrance into Anor Londo Castle are particularly guilty of this.

And yes it's irritating for people to once again miss the point of Bob's video or in this case, try to comment on a DIFFERENT subject. Quite a few are people commenting on streamlining instead of actual difficulty.

Diego said...

Just a small question Ian, but since you are an Intern, are you in a high school, college or already graduated? If you are in college, what's the degree you plan to graduate with? Are there any fairy scholarships?

Sabre said...

"And yes it's irritating for people to once again miss the point of Bob's video or in this case, try to comment on a DIFFERENT subject. Quite a few are people commenting on streamlining instead of actual difficulty."

Except for Zeno, I don't see anyone making that argument. I'm pro streamlining as it happens, and disagree with Zeno.

How does difficulty negatively impact a game? Well, just have an EASIER mode is no problem, games have always had those, and some games are pretty easy. Once you know the solutions, portal is pretty easy for example.

No, the difficulty being referred to is the super casual modes. Let's take a stealth game where it is so easy that there no reason to sneak around. The Hepler mode removes story from the gameplay, as well as subtle tutorials like in Batman or Zelda. Horror games where the difficulty is so trivial that any atmosphere is lost, assuming the scary bits aren't just skipped, because nothing can harm you. Strategy games where you don't have to think because you have to put more effort in to lose than to win. This is why I, and others, think "Easy mode" games are a bad thing. Turning games into a brainless sludge of "Tap buttons to watch film and explosions."

DrMaddWorld said...

Hey Ivan,
Since Overthinker has Anti, Pyro, Cryo, Retro, Necro and Omega Thinkers do you have an double gangers?

Iceykitsune said...

Hey Ivan,
Who is best pony?

Zeno said...

@Sylocat:

"Sabre? Redd? Zeno? The purpose of easy modes is to make games MORE complex instead of less, so they don't have to dumb down the major campaign to appeal to newbs."

Nowhere did I mention easy modes.

@maninahat:

"I really disagree with what you're saying. "streamlining" and "viscerality" doesn't ruin a franchise. [i]Fallout[/i] and various strategy games were made in a time where isometric rpgs were the best way to tell as a complex story. But with an FPS, there is a degree of detail, nuance and emotion that simply can't be conveyed when viewing things from a bird's eye view, 40 feet away. The devs are simply using developing technology to their advantage, letting them tell the story they want to tell in a better way."

That might make sense if the devs had a story worth telling, which they didn't. First-person is not some inherently superior perspective for a game, in fact I think it's worse. Why does the Bayreuth Festspielhaus have a double proscenium arch?

"I think it's because gamers tend to prefer narratives where they are closer to the story and action - and what better way to do that then to actually interact with this sort of thing, first hand?"

If by "gamers" you mean the people that make up the majority of the market then you might be right, but I along with many other people hated the sequels. Just go to No Mutants Allowed or RPG Codex if you want to see for yourself.

Michael said...

I completely disagree with the video and find it to be a rather rushed and narrow-minded conclusion, disappointingly enough.

If "teh hardcorez" gamers, as you would put it, apparently insist on everything being hard to exclude others from their favorite past-time activity, why do you have to go for the opposite extreme and demand everything have the option of an easy mode? It's so silly. Why can't SOME games have the option and others that are specifically designed to be hard as a strict part of the experience not have it?

Example:
Starcraft 1 remains the most beloved RTS of all time, and as an E-sport made I don't know how many hundreds of millions of dollars. The game itself was incredibly inconvenient and user-unfriendly, and many actions you performed were in fact repetitive and wasteful (having to manually rally each individual worker to a mineral patch, not being able to select your whole army at the same time, the path-finding was atrocious so you had to lead the units by the hand, etc.) Because it was so inconvenient, it made the game incredibly difficult. You had to be INHUMANLY FAST at a professional level if you wanted to win. So the skill ceiling was very high. And the thing is, people loved to play it because of that, and loved to watch it, too. There were no options to make the game easier, and nobody would appreciate it if there were.

No, really. I can tell you this for a fact, because today we have Starcraft 2, a cazualized sequel that does half of everything for you. The skill ceiling ceiling is much lower. Everybody acknowledges that. It's great for casual players, sure, but the whole competitive scene suffers for it. And you know what? There are actually some easy-mode features that could be turned off to make the game harder, but the pro gamers won't do that. And why would they? If you already HAVE the advantage, even if it makes the game worse, you're not gonna go out of your way to forsake it. It's just plain foolish.

The central point is that some games are MEANT to be hard, and they're better off being that way. If you give people the option of an easy mode, they WILL use it. And it's going to completely devalue the experience. Sometimes, having options is NOT good. Sometimes, you have to force people into something for them to find meaning/enjoyment in it. That's how it often works in life, too. It's narrow-minded to think that these kinds of intentionally hard games only exist to make someone feel "SO HARDCOREZ" when it's a great opportunity for anyone to actually learn something about themselves and feel accomplished. You know, accomplishment. That thing so many people live for.

Michael said...

Same thing with the proposition that Dark Souls should get an easy mode. I thought you understood when the game was mentioned at the Escapist Expo. DS is an experiece that's built around its high difficulty. Take that away, and there's nothing to it. It's just another generic game that you'll forget after you're done speeding through it. It's not memorable in the slightest. Sure it has decent atmosphere and a nice world, but those won't hold up by themselves. It's the difficulty that sets the tone and makes them stand out.

Do you want games that don't strictly have a captivating story to be forgettable, Bob? I mean, come on! Looking back on all the hard games you played when you were young, do you really feel like they don't stand out in your memories precisely because of the difficulty? I suck at video games tremendously, but even I'm not as diametrically opposed to the concept of challenge as you!

You brought up the convenience of being able to mod games, but that has nothing to do with the topic. I absolutely cannot think of anyone making a mod that decreased fair difficulty in any game. Broken and unfair difficulty, for sure. Still, for the reasons I stated above, if such mods do exist, developers need not inflict more damage by making their games easier.

Again, I was very disappointed at this episode. You didn't give it enough thought, and your stance can basically be boiled down to the emotion of "I hate hard games because I'm bad at them." I find this to be an irresponsible approach that could even prove dangerous to the industry.

Please take more care in the future.

-A concerned fan

Michael said...

Addendum:

If you want to experience parts of the game without being bothered by the actual gameplay, Bob, I recommend looking up some Let's Plays on Youtube.

Jared Ettinger said...

Dear Ivan,

Why do you think gamers tend to hate fairies and assistant characters in general?

Sabre said...

Michael- Off topic, but a related issue to this bit
"your stance can basically be boiled down to the emotion of "I hate hard games because I'm bad at them.""

It reminds me of something that happened a few years ago on a co-op site I posted at. As the 'gamer generation' started getting older, having kids, a full time job and the like, there was a series of complaints that games were to long. Their rationale was that, because games like Skyrim had hundreds of hours of content, and they could only play games a few hour a week, that it would would take them months, if not years to finish it.

I don't need to point out what is wrong with that argument. However, it seems many sub cultures in gaming are demanding games bend over backwards just for them and their particular circumstances. If Bob, the casual games, or people looking to unwind want easy games, there are games for them. As I already mentioned, I draw the line at messing with other peoples stuff. I don't demand Starbucks to be shut down because I don't like coffee, but we are supposed to give up Greggs?

Hook Handed Freak said...

Do you think the PS3 has been detrimental to Sony in the sense that it was to powerful to soon and they now have less room for improvement so when the PS4 comes out the upgrade will be minimal compared to previous generations leaving fans unimpressed?

Aaron Gillespie said...

Hey Ivan! Considering Bob has said in the past that there are not enough "Apocalypse Now's" in video games, and Spec Ops: the Line is pretty much that (it's loosely based on Heart of Darkness too), I was hoping he would do a Game Overthinker on it, but I guess you're the next best thing. What are your thoughts on the game and it's influence on games as a storytelling medium. I expect other people are going be asking about Spec Ops too. Hope this question wasn't too vague or ruined the chances for an actual Game overthinker episode on the subject.

Templar Gamer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MovieBob said...

I just want someone to explain this to me: How does the PRESENCE of an OPTION like Easy Mode or a skip button hurt YOUR experience?

I'm not talking about an entire game being made easier, I'm talking about an OPTION for newer, less-experienced, etc. players. How does that have any negative effect on YOUR gaming experience?

Scribe of the Order said...

@Bob


The question you ask is not the correct one. The question should be this, why is it when people talk about making games more accessible, they usually mean making the game much less complex or deep.

Templar Gamer said...

Dear Ivan:

What do you think of various people who strongly disagree with Moviebob. Also, who is best pony?

Megabyte said...

Loved this one! The idea of XBL making an AI basically go off it's rocker is actually REALLY funny!

And once again in the gaming world, I seem to be coming from the same place as you... course I never really cared what this guy had to say though... not an Assassin's Creed fan, and until recently I was VERY much against Ubisoft to begin with. (PC gamer... look at their history with us... nuff said.)

Still, I agree about the general attitude... and I see no real reason to bash an easy mode. Now if they change the whole feel of a franchise just to have "mass appeal" (Im looking at you EA... DeadSpace 3 looks to be the next victim of this mindset), then yes... there is a problem. But an easy-mode... not really...

Oh, and Ivan.... and maybe Retrothinker on this one... how long do you think a game has to stand the test of time before it can really be called a "classic"? Im not sure I have a defined time in mind, so Im kinda curious what you have to say.

Redd the Sock said...

Bob, a rebuttal question might be no matter how small or inconsequential, should someone get the same reward for doing less work and if so, what kind of precedent does it set.

I won't deny some personal pet peeve behind my mindset working in office administration. Just today I had to re-do 2 paychecks I did yesterday for people that thought the deadline of Monday noon meant Thursday morning is okay. The local news is also abuzz over a teacher that lost his job for giving zeros for homework and assignments not done. One questions why such behavior would be forgiven, then you hear the request for the easy button and things make sense. These are people that want to complain their way around challenges and responsibilities and have gotten away with it thus far.

You see, when I, say, escaped Zebes, I didn't expect that if I had trouble I'd get more time. I expected I'd have to fight mother Brain again if I failed. I didn't expect any number of optional Final Fantasy bosses to go easy on me, instead of me rising to the challenge. A lot game puzzles didn't have ready made FAQs to look up so I had to solve them myself. This all carried over into work as an adult. What I see in a skip button is the inverse: a quick, easy solution to a problem so that so become conditioned to look for that same quick and easy solution and can neither particularly solve your own problems, nor see any consequence if you don't.

It might not affect my gaming, but as a learned habit, it can sure hit the rest of my life. I miss the days when setting the game to easy cut the game short, or got you the bad ending. At least Kingdom Hearts locks away something for those of us that do an extra mile. Still, I see it like this: a blind person has beat Ocarina of Time. If he can put that kind of effort in, I should question myself if I ever complain about how hard something is.

Jannie said...

Thing about "easy modes" is that it's in many ways not really...

How do I word this.

It's disingenuous to call ANY game released in the last ten years "hard", so adding an "easy" mode to them is almost asinine. If you can't win a game made in the last decade then you're just not coordinated enough to play video games. Or drive. Or have children for that matter.

See those old, hard games we used to play as kids were not just hard, they were patently and demonstrably UNFAIR to the point that the only real way to win most of them was to become obsessive compulsive (when I was a kid, I sat down for six hours one weekend and played Battletoads until I memorized every pixel on the screen...the jetbike level is not as hard as people claim but the "rolling disco ball of death" thing almost killed me).

Because most of them were designed to artificially lengthen the game by making it virtually impossible to win without OCD focusing on doing so. That was "replay" value back in the day. To say nothing of the monstrously bad controls, hit detection and jumping physics most of those games (especially platformers) had...some of them BY DESIGN it would appear. And then you add to that the "tutorial mode" was just your mom reading a poorly translated or even PARODY-TRANSLATED instruction booklet and, wow, how in Christ's name did we win those games?

Today you have games with perfect controls, stunningly fine tuned game worlds, saves anywhere, and basically tutorials holding your hand every step of the way...if you can't complete a game made between 1998 and now, that's YOU not the game.

Modern games do everything but tuck you in at night anyway, and even ones like Dark/Demon's Souls are not nearly as mind-numbingly difficult as some games that came out just back in the 1990s.

What people MISTAKE for difficulty now is just a game offering a genuine, fair challenge. One which does not, or only rarely, or if poorly made, requires rote memorization and laser-guided effort the way that Battletoads or something INSANE like some "adventure" games (which were anything but adventurous) would put forth. You couldn't release something with those asinine, old-style controls and shitty hit detection and luck-based dificulty curves now.

Well...you COULD but people would think it was a glitch not an intentional design. Or a parody, like I Want To Be The Guy.

Part of this is because a LOT of those old games were arcade ports, and by definition were basically rigged carnival games whose difficulty curve looked like a vertical ascent. There is no reason to make "easy modes" now because games now, by the definition of anyone who knows what that term means, already ARE much, much less self-destructive and nuanced than any generation of games before.

I'm sorry but if someone out there needs an "easy mode" to win, for example, Assassin's Creed then you really don't need to put it in because they're not going to be playing the game without their live-in nurse holding the controller and pushing all the buttons for them. Because that person a quadruple amputee in an irreversible coma.

Jannie said...

That should say "MORE nuanced", my mistake.

But the fact remains, games today genuinely offer a fair challenge by and large. All it requires is EFFORT, which I'm sure a lot of people are more than willing to apply themselves to...but those who aren't well fuck them.

We shouldn't, as a community, subsidize people who refuse to put genuine effort into a genuine challenge. Especially since most of us can remember a time when, as I said, games were basically rigged carny games.

You don't NEED an Easy Mode, they need to clinch their jaw and put the extra five minutes into coming up with a new strategy or looking up a walkthrough online.

Anonymous said...

FROM SCREWATTACK g1 BLUEBOMBER186:

Dear Ivan:

I pitched this question to your boss before he defeated the NecroThinker, but it has yet to be answered. Perhaps you could heal my hearts while answering it?

I'm curious how you might reconcile what Iwata discussed in Nintendo's pre-E3 broadcast about the Big N's new mission to address the "Alone Together" issue with the unfortunate disappearance of arcades back in Episode 55 "What We Lost in the Fire" (http://www.screwattack.com/shows/partners/game-overthinker/game-overthin... for those that haven't seen it). I thought Mr. Iwata's sentiment about trying to do something to restore the way people connect with one another in an age where everyone seems to be mesmerized by one electronic device or another was noble, and yet in the cheesy ad Nintendo showed in the middle of this presentation, it seemed as though they demonstrated how the Wii U would do precisely the opposite. When the guy playing the Wii U got stuck on the zombie boss, his first instinct was to call a buddy of his for help, but then with the help of the Wii U's newfangled forums plus video chat integration, he ended up getting help from a person that he clearly had no history of genuine face-to-face contact with. This resulted in him being able to defeat the zombie boss, but in the process, he essentially told his friend he didn't need him anymore. As someone who was fortunate enough to grow up with at least a piece of that arcade culture in which gamers actually played together in person all the time, shared secrets and urban legends, and duked it out or teamed up with each other amidst jingling chiptunes and screaming crowds, this moment in Nintendo's ad seemed to undermine everything Mr. Iwata just got done saying about bringing people together again.

Thoughts?

Sylocat said...

Jannie:

If developers want to add on more difficulty settings, well, that means they can vary the challenge spectrum to give the game more depth instead of less. You won't be under any obligation to play at any difficulty setting other than the one you want, so what does it matter to you whether the people who want a lower setting are sufficiently talented to be worthy of being marketed to?

MovieBob said...

@Redd,

Two things:

1.) In the end... these are games, not careers or a life-and-death struggle, so I don't really think the reward/earning model holds the same weight of import.

2.) Even if it did... the days of "seeing the next level" or "finishing the story" as the ONLY possible reward in a game are long gone; so the short answer is that you give OTHER rewards (achievements, extra modes, etc) for playing on a higher difficulty.

Sabre said...

Moviebob- "I just want someone to explain this to me: How does the PRESENCE of an OPTION like Easy Mode or a skip button hurt YOUR experience? "

I (and others) can (and already did) answer this. In most cases, it doesn't. Halo isn't any worse for me by having an Easy mode. Even some hardcore players play CoD on Easy when they want to unwind.

But that is not what it is limited to. As said. What if a stealth game has a mode so easy you no longer need to sneak? Strategy games where you don't have to think. Horror games where you can just skip past the scary bit or give yourself so much power nothing can stop you. Story and tutorials tied to gameplay whould also be gone. This is how it harms things.

And for what? So someone who doesn't have any interest in those games doesn't have to put down their Starbucks to complete them?

Let's look at Shadow of the Colossus. I have not played it yet, but I gather a large part of that game is the connection you feel to creatures due to tracking and fighting them for hours, as well as it being an event when that happens. With the power of a "Skip to the bit where it dies" button would ruin that.

I should point out, horror games do have "easy modes" in the old sense. A mode that is easier, usually by giving you some more ammo to start and giving you more health, but it's hardly the casual "sit back and cruise" mode that people are demanding.

A great, recent example is the game FTL: Faster Than Light. It is a hard game. However, because of easy mode, it is possible to finish the game on Easy, unlock the super ship, and use that to cruise through Normal and 100% the game. Payday does a similar thing in that you are expected to level up on easier modes before going onto the harder ones.
This can be read 2 ways
1- The designers expected this to happen and designed 'easy' to be normal difficulty, thus negating the whole point of easy mode.
2- That easy mode has spoiled these games as the path of least resistance, and the best strategy, is to beat the game on easy, and then do it again on normal with New Game+.

The only way to stop this happening would be to remove the persistence from these games, but given how they are designed around a short, randomised experience intended to be played over and over, it would remove alot of replay valve as either everything would be unlocked in a single play (about 20 minutes) or that there wouldn't be any new gear to try and the available strategies would be limited.

Michael said...

I apologize for my condescending and rude tone. When I argue, I can't help getting emotional and passionate, because I stand by my beliefs. I don't ever mean harm. Here's more of the same:

Just like giving the player the option to express themselves in the game and enjoy a certain level of freedom is good, NOT giving them freedom and restraining them instead is just as valid a design decision, in the right place. Almost every game has this to some extent. Most games in existence are "hard" in the sense that they test your patience, if nothing else, because it takes time to progress unlock/everything. Those restraints are there for a REASON: if you have access to everything right away, it feels meaningless. If you worked out or did sports (I know you don't, it's okay, neither do I), and you had the option of skipping ahead in time to the point where you're buff/tanned/whatever, you'd USE it. You'd feel extremely foolish not to use it. And you'd get no enjoyment out of the result, because there was no investment at all from your side. Get it? Occasionaly you NEED to have that carrot on the stick.

Again, sometimes options are bad. Sometimes it's better to be forced into things in life. There are times in your life where you're forced into something you don't like, but eventually you change your outlook and start to appreciate it. Then you look back and you're thankful it ever happened. Surely you must be familiar with this concept. Except in video games, you're not completely forced. You CAN walk away, but it's gonna rob you of something beautiful. An easy mode to a game that builds itself around the difficulty is the same thing. It destroys the experience.

The option of playing Dark Souls on easy ruins MY experience, just like it ruins everyone else's, because I would also reach for easy mode, if I could have. I really wanted to see the latter parts of the game and experience the other aspects of it, like the atmosphere and its world and lore. But sometimes it's better to take everything or settle on nothing, and you know what? I settled on NOTHING, because the game was too hard for me, so I ragequit and uninstalled it. And even then, I'm thankful for being able to look up the rest of the game on Youtube. See, that was an option that didn't ruin the game itself.

You ask how the game ruins "OUR" (people who disagree with you) experience, as if being selfish was the way to go somehow. But in the big picture, yours is an idea that could ruin many future games, and the industry at large. You're convinced that absolute casualization can do no wrong, but that's just irrational extremism! You're explicitly siding against what you call "hardcore gaming" and the very concept of *actual* challenge itself, but you're doing so for no good reason whatsoever. This is epitomized in:

"The days of 'This game is impossible but I've played it to the point of memorization' as the ONLY measure of gaming devotion is over[...]"

This is clearly an anti-hardcore statement that seems almost blinded with hatred. Why are you succumbing to their standards and thought-process? It's NEVER been the only measure of gaming devotion, the "hardcore douchebags" don't have the ultimate say. If this is how they want to feel about it, they're free to do so, and I don't see why you'd go out of your way to ruin their enjoyment. It just seems like a total dick move from an intelligent man that I so respect!

UGH. I don't know how else to say this to you anymore, so I'm just gonna stop. But please, I urge you to give this more thought, because your stance literally is irrational.

-Michael

Sabre said...

In addition to what I what I said, you, Bob, have yet to answer the question of why. Why should games bend over backwards whims of you and the casual crowd when you don't care about the games in question?

Eden said...

one thing to add to the "Easy Does It" topic. But two more reasons why 'Golden age" games were hard are thus.

A: They were made hard on perpus to make it take longer than the time of a rental from some rental store. You know, like the online key codes of today that are ment to make it harder for some one buying a game used.

B: Ther is a bit of sterio typeing at work as well. Becuase meny Japanes companys thought (back then, and maybe even now) that American game players were the kind of idoit that would shout, "Kick me in the jimmys!"

You can compare Sega's Contra: Hard Corps between the American vertion and the Japanes vertion. In the Japanes vertion you will see that the player would have a life bar along with the lives counter and if the player got hit, the life bar would be depleated a bit requireing a certen number of hits before a player lost a life. While the American vertion, the player would only have the lives counter, and would lose a life on one hit.

maninahat said...

Zeno:
That might make sense if the devs had a story worth telling, which they didn't. First-person is not some inherently superior perspective for a game, in fact I think it's worse. Why does the Bayreuth Festspielhaus have a double proscenium arch?

I give up, why does the Bayreuth Festspielhaus have a double proscenium arch? You'll have to explain the reference to me.

First-person is not inherently superior, but it does have a lot of advantages. Of course, it depends entirely on what kind of game the devs are creating; an isometric view is perfect for a game of strategy or management, but for a game about one person's journey through a waste land, the advantages of a FP perspective are obvious. So much so that even the first Fallout games liked to switch to a FP view during cut scenes.

Complaining about the switch to first-person perspectives in modern games is like complaining about movies switching to sound. You can still tell evocative story by doing it the old fashioned way, but you're distancing yourself from an excellent tool which enhances the telling. Compare the emotional impact of seeing

maninahat said...

CONTINUED

Seeing the isometric view of caves and dirt, and seeing the entire of Washington DC, stretching out before you.

Manticore said...

Generally the option risks becoming the standard and easy mode becomes less of plank or comfortable league level but a playpen.

There will ALWAYS be more money from people who want to mash and not do it the hard way and this lead to stuff like the complaints of Modern Warfare as an fps (shooting galleries of infinite respawns in corridors or so scripted you're not doing anything) or the Grand Old RPG cliches (why bother with the rest of the spell list except for bosses the percentages favor the computer and its your damage per strike that matters).

Accessibilty is GREAT. P4 coming out with a fighting game spinoff, especially with bits of lore and lots of means of self education and improvement is the boss.
The persona series has an easy mode but I'd say it has some issues. For one it might be awesome to get the real ending without playing a 40 hour game twice. Or perhaps there being rhyme or reason to elemental/stat weaknesses and strategies or ingame schedules (ala Majora's Mask). Conveniences that ease up the game but are ladders to greater play you can use in various ways without monotously testing every spell and then later marking it on sheet and effectively try to guess the metagame of a CCG from the start for breeding and fusing personas.

That's all accessibility. Making things less insular or obscur. IF pokemon can do it, why not you.

No the problem is easy mode as playpen or games playing themselves then lose some of the point. Now it IS true some only play horse or vary on scoring or defense rules depending on league and other things when using a basketball. Those are the various game modes (multiplayer and yes the great idea to segment certain performers as well) and that's great.
I'm fine with the super guide. A little miffed about the golden leaf (it reverses my conditioned reward matrix, so if I fail to grasp the intracies and perform well or gain greater gaming insight I get the super duper powerup ... what if I'm like really good or ballsy at the gambling house/etc will I ever see it?). But not happy at the types of easy mode maligned.

Anonymous said...

I saw your point about exclusivity due to hardness, but i was thinking about the fighting game genre and how that might inherently been hardcore. Yet some new fighting game that people were not happy with recently bombed because it was too exclusive-that is pandering to the hardcore at the expense of any casual players-because even the normal and easy modes on that game were very difficult for people who never played fighting games, and the AI was incredibly cheap, so that your character could not even move or think. There was no move-list either, so people did not know how to play.

Extradiction said...

Question first, comment second.

Mr. Ivan,

Can you tell us one video game meta-topic that you think is "overthought" in the negative sense? What concept about the medium do we waste too much time thinking about?

I figure that since you're training in overthinking, you probably have a few opinions about how to change its focus or direction for the better. It's a bit presumptuous, I know, but don't worry -- all interns think they know (and do know) stuff their bosses don't.
****
The most interesting comments here make me think about what difficulty means on a thematic level (especially since I recently watched that Dark Souls video by TUN that others have mentioned). Could an easy mode really ruin a thematic message of a game? If difficulty is part of a game's message and we want to treat games as art, then developers would have to make every difficulty level play in a way that legitimately accomplishes the thematic aim. And that can sometimes be asking a lot if game balance or level design changes drastically between modes.

There IS a clear counterargument -- isn't someone finishing your game and getting 75% of your thematic point better than that person not finishing your game to get 100% of the point because the game was too hard -- but is that a justification we can make? Or can we have games that make slightly modified points depending on difficulty? Or should we just not care and have a single "true" difficulty and the others are made to accommodate playability/"fun", thus leaving some players in the artistic dark?

I'd like to still have easy modes included while these questions are answered, but these questions seem important to our discussions on games as art.

Zeno said...

"I give up, why does the Bayreuth Festspielhaus have a double proscenium arch? You'll have to explain the reference to me."

It has one to separate the audience from the stage, and enhance the surreal, dreamlike aspects of the drama. In the same way an isometric perspective gives us less detail, leaving more to the imagination. Sometimes a striptease is better than wide open beavers.

"but for a game about one person's journey through a waste land, the advantages of a FP perspective are obvious."

It may seem like that in theory, but having played F1, F2, and F3, I can tell you that those advantages must be illusory.

"So much so that even the first Fallout games liked to switch to a FP view during cut scenes."

There were a total of three cutscenes that lasted for less than 1% of the game length, and actually, both good and bad endgame cutscenes were in third person, so that leaves us with one first person shot that's less than half a minute long.

Dan The Video Ninja said...

Riddle me this, Ivan:

Is there a way for your average gamer to do more to help out smaller gaming companies like thatgamecompany then just buying their games and spreading word of mouth about them?

Zeno said...

@maninahat:

"Seeing the isometric view of caves and dirt, and seeing the entire of Washington DC, stretching out before you."

But the thing is you DON'T get to see all of DC, and what we do see isn't very good looking. Artists are limited in time and resources so they can't create a true-to-life scale city and fill it with quests. The advantage of an isometric perspective is that you don't come in with the expectation that it will be visually realistic, and so if the "sprawling metropolis" only consists of a dozen buildings and two dozen people, and the correct attention is paid to detail, then you can just imagine that it is in fact much bigger. The isometric perspective is more abstract, like a painting, and as such can appeal to more people precisely because it gives you the freedom to fill in the blanks. I hope no one thinks text adventures are obsolete too.

Evilkinggumby said...

Since I already tossed a question at Ivan when this video popped up.. figured I'd just gush and say i really loved the story in this episode. Just all around great stuff. The discussion was ok, I don't really have much input into the topic at hand besides the fact that I don't care(i play games on easy normal and occaisonally hard). But yeah.. LOVE the setup thus far for the plot. heheh

Anonymous said...

I was with you all the way, Bob until you brought up Jennifer Hepler.

I don't mind easy games, I don't mind games with easy difficulty or difficulty levels. As long as the game is fun, who cares? Hard games can be fun. Easy games can be fun.

...But they still have to be GAMES, see. Hepler wanted to strip the GAMEplay out of games, such that they become little more than long movies which the "player" has to prompt forward. That's not a video game. That's a Japanese dating sim. Hell even some of THOSE had more gameplay than what Hepler wanted.

I'm all for inclusion. Everybody can become a gamer. But they have to become a gamer for the GAMES, not for some kind of weird non-playable movie. Because that's a movie. And movies aren't games.

Also, I can criticize both Jennifer Hepler and Anita Sarkesian and not be s misogynist, although many would lump legitimate criticism and discussion in with internet trolls that exist everywhere and say the interlocutors "hate" them.

No hate. Hepler can have bad ideas. She gets to be aq woman in the industry, and be a poor developer too. Anita gets to be a feminist on the internet, and a horribly misguided, ignorant one too.

Redd the Sock said...

The thematic issues point is a good one. Resident Evil and Silent Hill are vastly different experiences from the first playthrough with very limited ammo to the playthrough with the infinate shot rocket launcher. Vita chambers take an edge of Bioshock, but much of that game is the discovery of rapture bit y bit, not being handed a dossier. The threat of the reapers in Mass Effect comes from our own difficulty in defeating their footsoldiers. Soimetimes an easy mode can even product a story contridiction: ie, in the playable fight with Golbez (FFIV) I can beat him in one turn if I overlevel, but then he has to kick my ass or intimidate me later in a cutscene.

The story people want to experience comes as much from gameplay and ambiance as much from cinematics. Take the edge off too much and every game becomes about a superman taking out hoards of bad guys.

Bob, trophey systems by and large are less about rewarding players as they are about feeding gamplay data to companies (hence all the easy acheivements). Tweak the system a bit (to real challenges not beat level one) and tie it to a reward system (game features, store discounts, anything tangible) and we can talk. Until them, it's still coming off like a kid wanting desert while not eating their vegitables under the premis that the kid that did can do so just for the enjoyment of eating brussel sprouts.

Sabre said...

Redd- The achievement point example is a good one. I remember it being a big deal when the 360 first came out, for making high scores matter again. As well as adding a cross game meta game. This is why Sony and Steam jumped on the bandwagon.

Unfortunatly, it suffered from lack of policing. Games such as King Kong and Avatar sold on the promise of easy achievements. Also, gamers, knowing how to min max, realised that getting 1000 points in 1 game was hard. Getting 400 points each in 3 games was easy. So those who were rich, or had a cheap way of renting games, would burn through all the easy points. These days, few people really care about achievements because they have been devalued to the point of worthlessness.

vlademir1 said...

*sighs* There is so much wrong with opinions surrounding this topic.

First, Alex Hutchinson is right. Many games are ruined by easy modes. To be more to the point, if you bother to look up the rest of the quote, what he's really ultimately talking about are easy modes that are badly implemented from a design perspective and bypass core game mechanics either directly or implicitly. There's a huge world of difference between that and the more common "Easy modes are bad, bra" mentality.

Aside from that point, modes that make the game easier or harder are kind of essential for AAA games. The big publishers and studios have a lot of money thrown at them by their investors specifically to turn the largest possible profit and therefore the largest potential dividends for those investors. In order to turn the kind of profits they want from those $20mil+ budgets, which is the only way they will justify those budgets to the money men, they have to appeal to the widest possible subset of the gaming public. That means the game has to be approachable to all those people, but also still satisfying to the core gamer demographic, because at that level you need to move 400,000 to 500,000 units before you'll ever begin to see profits (anyone who wants to actually do the math, yeah I'm probably lo-balling that a bit).
Much of that is really the costs for all that polish. High quality graphics, coding, music and design take quite a lot of time and experience to really do well, and experienced skilled labor makes quite a bit for their time.

Anonymous said...

Is tentacle hentai became new buckteeth and glasses? Like, new kind of casual racism?

kevmon1116 said...

Dear Ivan, what do you think of the constant assertion by gamers that Navi is one of the most annoying characters in videogames?
Also, What does the Overthinker pay you with?

Akkronym said...

First I've got to say that I am absolutely loving how the story is going so far and the backstory of the robothinker literally had me laughing out loud.

However I do have a question for Ivan:

I know the show has a pretty small budget by necessity, but if you had a much larger budget, what are some changes or additions you would make to the show? What are some that you think The GameOverthinker would make?

Jannie said...

Sylocat:

In general, because it has nothing to do with "talent" or "difficulty".

Like I said most games now have a level of difficulty that is either completely fair (i.e., if you try hard enough, you'll win regardless of how shitty you may or may not be) or are leveled heavily in favor of the player to begin with.

This is true of hardcore games as much than anything, and casual games many times have what amount to a "push button to win" mode already.

The idea of adding MORE easy modes onto what are already difficulty modes that would have been called "normal" or "beginner" just a decade ago is like adding hot water to a burn--it's as hot as it can get already.

It's silly and, frankly, rather condescending. It gets to a point where the GAME has no more gamePLAY and now just looking at a character preform an action after you press a button in between cutscenes when you watch a character preform an action without pressing a button.

And like I said, the challenge level in literally EVERY game commercially released now (not counting ROM hacks or something) is perfectly fair. Barring game breaking glitches there is NO REASON to need an easier mode...at that point you're just being lazy.

The obsession some folks with "casualizing" all games is as alien to me as the obsession some have with "retrofying" all games, it smacks of either tunnel vision or some ulterior motive. OBVIOUSLY this would benefit the companies, who could now sell games to literally anyone, even a person in a coma, if all you have to do is have a functioning PS3 to complete it...but at that point it's not a game, it's a straight to DVD movie with multiple endings. If that.

One thing I have to give credit to Japanese game companies for is that they don't play that bullshit. You pick up a Japanese game you either win or you start over, no BS, pucker ratio to maximum. And for the most part, these games are entirely fair, they simply require the dreaded "grinding" (i.e., spend five minutes farming for ammo or whatever before you kill Boss X) and in that respect Western developers, who fixate on casual games in an unhealthy way, have something to learn.

Or "re-learn" as the case may be.

Though I will admit that, perhaps, part of this is because I can actually recall a time when gamers were expected to invest far, far more time and effort into winning a game than even the most "difficult" games today require (an aside: Demon's/Dark Souls is not "hard" it's a LITTLE more difficult than Skyrim and not as fun) so perhaps MY personal view of this is skewed.

I can imagine that most younger gamers, specifically under the age of eighteen, would look at me like I was insane if I explained to them how utterly unfair and literally broken (BY DESIGN no less) some of those old games were. But as I said those games were basically rigged carnival games ported to home consoles, of course they were fucked up.

Keyking said...

Hey Ivan! Who's your favorite class/character in Team Fortress 2? Who do you think Bob's is (I'm going to laugh if it's the Scout). Do you two even like TF2 to begin with?

David (The Pants) said...

I loved the RoboThinker story.

T4_was_here said...

Hej hej Ivan, I was going to ask how Let's Play fits into all this easy mode business but it seems I have been beaten to the punch so!

What do you think about Swedish games/game makers or just the country in general?

Also you have the same name as my dad's cousin.

Ha det bra!
-T4

Jonathan C said...

Dear Ivan, how do you think the success of Minecraft has affected the industry both on a short timeframe and in the long run.
Thanks.

The Offender said...

Dear Ivan,

How many of your kind live in this world? Do you live in forest like in "fairy tales", or have your people modernized and live in communities mostly consisting of your kind with in larger city (like a little Italy or Korea town)? Further do fairy have special needa of any kind, like needing different nutation than humans, or can't survive do to some special circumstance? Also, are fairies just born putting out a certain color, or do you choose that? Thank you for your time.

The Offender

WDCain said...

Dear Ivan

I'm WDCain and I'm a huge SNK fan. I own all the collections they made for the ps2, every KOF game, and even their RPG Koudelka for the ps1. How do you feel over their attempt to bring the actual arcade experience home and end up being bankrupted by it?

Marksmen16 said...

Dear Ivan, I have a few questions.

1) Who is best pony? Mine is Rarity.

2) Who's a silly pony?

3) Who is your favorite pony/character in MLP:FIM? Mine is Spike.

Tegan Dumpleton said...

First up, Dear Ivan: what ARE you interning for?

Second: Good story, laughed my butt off. You made some great points about the easy mode. It's weird hearing about all this stuff from designers, especially when I think some games should bring back the beginner mode or make the easy mode, well, easier.

Silent Hill 2 and Bayonetta both had this, and though I can't speak for Bayonetta, SH2's beginner mode made it so enemies would be killed in 1 or 2 hits. I know a little bit about games, and found it too easy, but if I was playing this back when I was a fresh gamer, who wanted to just enjoy the game and not worry about my aiming skills, I would have loved it.

And I can honestly say that there are several games out there, like Cry of Fear, that I will probably never play, because I've seen too many people get frustrated and complain that the game is too difficult even on easy.

- SlugLady28

pfaccioxx said...

Hi you can pranose my username P-"fach"-E-O-double-X

anyways I have some questions for Ivan

-If Nintendo were to buy out 5 gaming company's witch 3 do you think they would most likely buy? and why?

-What's your favourite Non-Legendary pokemon

-What would you do/react if you woke up one day to discover that you were turning into your favourite pokemon? And how do you think your parents, friends, family, ext. would react?

-What's you opinyon the the “Kingdom Hearts” game series?

-If you could say anything face to face with the curent head of Capcom, what would you say?

-what's your favourite & lest favourite TV show and/or anime?

-What's you opinion the the “Kingdom Hearts” game series?

-If you could add any 5 caricters from any non-Sony and/or Microsoft exclusive video game into Super Smash Bro's 4 who would you add and why?

-If you had the opertonaty to make and publish your own game would you? and if so what would it be like?

-what's your opinion on Machinima?

-How would you react if you met If Kirby (the pink puffball the eats things)?

and

-What's your favourite game for each game conceal (including handhelds) from the DS's release onwards?

Juyunseen said...

Dear Ivan:

Where did you grow up? Are you a Kokiri Fairy, or possibly a fairy from the Dragonrealms in Spyro?

Omorka said...

Dear Ivan:

Forgive me for asking, but - how old are you?

Are you, like Bob, a Boston-area native, and if not, where are you from, originally? (If the former, is the Boston fae scene as dysfunctional as I've heard?)

Is the whole Seelie/Unseelie issue just a matter of family politics, or is it really a big deal? Are you affiliated with one side or the other?

Do the crystal-crunching NeoPagans who call what they do "Faerie Wicca" annoy you? (If so, I apologize for my co-religionists' cultural appropriation.)

What do you think of humans who cosplay as faeries at conventions? Is 'glitterface' offensive?

Sorry to ask such basic questions, but there aren't a lot of mortalism 101 FAQs out there . . .

Omorka said...

As to the actual video - Star Control II had two optional gameplay modes. In one, the computer did all the RPG-style exploration; all the human player did was the space combat. In the other, the computer did all the space combat; all the human player did was the RPG-style exploration. I don't remember anyone complaining about this at the time, or griping that it would ruin gaming forever. What changed in the meantime?

The rapidfire references in the RoboThinker backstory were hilarious, and although I found RetroThinker's '80s-style laugh track jarring, I get the gag. I do have to point out, though - lampshading the not-quite-there effects doesn't make them any funnier, or excuse their quality. If you can't do enough pre-blocking to get the eyelines even close to right, maybe the effect's not quite ready for prime time? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ivan
As a fellow brony I would like to say Fallout Equestria is my favorite part of the culture. So I wish to know if you have read it or any spin-off's. If so what's your favorite one and have you written one yourself? If not would you mind being written into one?
G-man64

Anonymous said...

Sorry would you and the Overthinker mind being in Fallout Equestria.
G-man64

Zeno said...

@G-man64:

How many people participating in Fallout Equestria have actually played the first two games?

maninahat said...

Zeno: "The advantage of an isometric perspective is that you don't come in with the expectation that it will be visually realistic, and so if the "sprawling metropolis" only consists of a dozen buildings and two dozen people, and the correct attention is paid to detail, then you can just imagine that it is in fact much bigger. The isometric perspective is more abstract, like a painting, and as such can appeal to more people precisely because it gives you the freedom to fill in the blanks. I hope no one thinks text adventures are obsolete too."

Firstly, first person perpectives are more than capable of abstraction too, often shortcutting around visual limitations, or exaggerating features for dramatic effect. Secondly, your point (less is more; limitation epouses innovation) does not forgive the obvious downsides of a limited isometric perspective. A picture tells a thousand words, and being able to physically frame entire environments with your own eyes, allows for some astonishing pictures. The destruction of Megaton would not be more cathartic in a locked isometric view or text description. It would still have an effect, but it lacks the immediacy and the degree of immersion that a first person perspective allows.

I don't think isometrics or text adventures are obsolete, but there are circumstances in which they are inferior methods of telling the story. Literature will always beat visuals in terms of nuance and introspection, but visuals win out in terms of spontaneity and efficiency. I'm not saying we shouldn't use text or isometrics at all, I just think they aren't the best tools for some jobs.

toosoo said...

I am starting to think that its not about exclusivity at all. Its about change gamers don't seem to want change. The want their games to be hard like when they were younger, they want more fps's cause thats what they have become use to, they want their games to be unneccesarily complex cause thats how they use to be and thats how they were "better". They want to revel in these semi-racist/semi-sexist characters. they want all these things cause thats the kind of games they grew up with and they see change to that and thats what scares them.

I For one welcome the change in order for games to advance as a medium their going to have to change. I really wanna see more women characters that are more then just eye candy(think jade from beyond good and evil), I wanna see less silent bad-asses and more characters with loves and fears and struggles that they have to overcome. I wanna see more intrestiong and different mechanics, i wanna be really suprised when I play a game.

Alexandre said...

So Ivan, how did you meet Bob and how did you get the job? Also, what are your favorite games, consoles, genres or generation of console. Was there ever any subject that Bob covered that you disagreed with him? Thanks for reading.

Zeno said...

"Firstly, first person perpectives are more than capable of abstraction too,"

True, but developers don't seem to utilizing that capability.

"often shortcutting around visual limitations,"

Perspective is not a limitation.

"A picture tells a thousand words,"

Which is why we shouldn't devalue them by giving the player too many.

"The destruction of Megaton would not be more cathartic in a locked isometric view or text description."

It wasn't cathartic at all.

"It would still have an effect, but it lacks the immediacy and the degree of immersion that a first person perspective allows."

Immediacy, at least in Fallout, is a bug, not a feature. Immediacy is the opposite of the mystic gulf.

"I'm not saying we shouldn't use text or isometrics at all, I just think they aren't the best tools for some jobs.

They were, however, the best tools for Fallout 3.

Smashmatt202 said...

Easy Mode... I'm immediately reminded of this episode of Game Grumps (Egoraptor and JonTron's new YouTube show) wherein they complained about the easy mode option and argued that you can't just "not use it" because in games you have to use every option available to you to complete the game. Well, um... maybe it USED to be that way, but not anymore. Sorry, JonTron, I don't buy that argument at all. I STILL say you don't HAVE to use the easy mode, in the same way you don't HAVE to use strategy guides or anything else to make your experience of a game easier. My thoughts: it's just an option, and the whole point of an option is having it there, should you want/need it, but it's not mandatory. Complaining about an option, especially an option that does not effect your experience of a game, it complete and utter bullcrap.

In my opinion.

Smashmatt202 said...

I hate how Bob says/implies that anyone who doesn't like his storylines don't like "fun". Like fuck him for that.

You know, I hope the DBZ parody doesn't go into dragging out each episode with the characters just standing around screaming... :(

Oh... Grand-NEPHEW! It makes sense that Bob's brother manages to get laid. Then again, I don't know anything about him. Is he married at the moment?

TERRIBLE greenscreen effect, BTW. Not sure what you can really do about that, though. Try learning aftereffects.

Jean-Claude Van Damme... What?

Gary motherfucking Oak, you say? Here I thought he became a gym leader or researcher or whatever the fuck he does in the anime now... I get the feeling that Gary Oak will become the Zoidberg of this series...

You know... Exactly how long ago was this back-up video made? Just curious...

Wait... Who's the lead designer of Assassin's Creed 3? He said easy mode was bad? Fuck him.

lol, I had Mouse Trap. I never played the game, because it seemed too hard to win (you had to get all the other players trapped while also having a lot of cheese or something...). Not to mention, it was WAY more fun to have the actual trap go off. I think Board James went over that.

Baseball bats are very effective weapons. Not that I ever used one as a weapon, but I certainly used equipment for other games to amuse myself in various ways... Also, Tee-Ball. Remember THAT, anyone?

Yeah, what Bob said, cheat codes and all that. In fact, JonTron's favorite game is Banjo-Kazooie. Did HE use the cheat codes in that? It made the game a lot easier, so wouldn't THAT qualify as an easy mode? Hell, I'll say this: unlocking all the cheats in Banjo-Tooie, including Honeyback and Fallproof which recovered your health and prevented you from taking damage from falls respectively, made it almost so that you can't possible lose a life in that game! Not that it mattered, since lives were non-existent in that game. I might call JonTron out on that... Not that I want to seem like a dick or anything.

RETROTHINKER! Also, laugh track apparently... I love what he said about game's challenges. It's like so many gamers forget the point of why games back then were so hard... Actually, Mega Man 2 had a normal mode, and the original Super Mario Bros. 2 (the Lost Levels) was freaking insane, did that make them better? Maybe, maybe not... it depends on how you play and what you want from a game.

"Shining things"? What's RetroThinker doing?

You know, I have to wonder, does JonTron feel that people should be excluded by removing the easy mode? Then again, he probably wasn't thinking to much about what he said, like most Game Grumps episodes. Still, it's something I've been dwelling on ever since he said it... Not all the time, just here and there on occasion.

Dr. Beardo! Reminds me of Dr. Insaneo, only more hilarious and awesome! "White crystal"? Could it be...?

...Either a prototyle drone... or a plush doll of Fluttershy... FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU- wait, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic didn't exist five years ago, what gives?

Anyway, nice backstory to the Robothinker. I'm actually really digging this new storyline. I'm also digging the Terminator music AND the epic Back to the Future music!

I'm going to get Assassin's Creed III as well, even though I feel I should play the first two before I do...

Smashmatt202 said...

Matt B. here, wanting to ask three questions for Ivan the Intern. Please answer them if you can, though if you answer just one, that would be fine:

Firstly, what are your thoughts on the other faires from The Legend of Zelda series, e.i. Tatl, Ciela, the Great Fairy, the Fairy Queen, etc.

Second, have you heard of Game Grumps? If you've seen it, what do you think?

Third, who is best pony?

Redd the Sock said...

@sabre

The attitude toward those that pursue achievements can be pretty negative as well. I've seen it on sites like Gamefaqs: "ha ha, look at the obsessive geek. He doesn't even know how to kick back, relax and have fun," because to some, fun can only come with ease. It's not an attitude I subscribe to and one I think deserves to be fought against.

Another historical fact that has old school gamers questioning this is that we've live in exclusiveness. I had a Nintendo. I didn't get to play Sonic (until much later) because of that. Why should I have yelled and thrown a temper tantrum just because I couldn't play a sega game on a nintendo system? Not being able to play every game we wanted to was just a fact of life as well as never beating them and seeing the ending. It's hard not to get an entitlement vibe from any arguement that can be summed up as any barrier that prevents me from seeing the whole game is unfairly exclusionary.

I honestly don't wish to be exclusionary, But I don't honestly have a good reason to be inclusive to people that go "it's too hard make it easier for me" let alone anyone that just wants to hit a button to move on. I like the world of video games being a realm of perseverance and trying to be a little better than you were before, not s realm of show up and get a cookie.

Anonymous said...

What the fuck? Over 100 comments either arguing endlessly over a man's opinion or asking an OC Do Not Steal! fairy questions about MLP and whatnot.

Someone stop the ride I want to get off.

Twilight_Crow said...

Dear Ivan,

If you are a game overthinker intern, what kind of overthinking have you already try, and what games have made you overthink?

If you had a whole show for yourself how would it be, and what topic would you overthink about?

Have you ever disagree with Bob about any topic he has gone through?

What do you like the most about MLP:FiM?

Greg Wilson said...

So Ivan,

How about those ponies?

Richard said...

Hey Ivan,

What is like to be a gigantic tool?

Dan Backslide said...

>great great great great
Hey wait a minute, this is resting on the idea he's gonna have kids someda-
>grand nephew
Oh nevermind, now it makes sense.

hazlenaut said...

I have played superman 64 on easy mode in order to see other levels also ICO was the game was the game that broke since I was not told how to pick her up. Thank goodness for youtube but in the American version there was one puzzle different to the uk version. I had to solve myself I even put the answer on Deviantart. There is reason why shadow of colossus point out what to so.
Questions for Ivan:
When does the line from fanboy/fangirl to fanbrat?
What is your favorite element for combat?
What role in a team is not appreciated?
What is often the most unappreciated role in the team in combat for you?

final fan said...

Hey Ivan! If you could serve any video game character as an adviser and companion (Navi's job), who would it be?

bulletproofnoob said...

S'up Ivan.
Do you think Bob could do mailbag episodes for his other shows.
I am burning with movie and comic book related questions!!!!!

New Age Retro Hipster said...

Dear Ivan,
Assuming you read comics, who do you think would win in a psychic duel: Jean Grey or Tetsuo Shima?
Would Bob disagree?

Legend of Mii said...

Legend of Mii says:
Dear Overthinker. Thanks so much for this. The disclaimers about the schtick suggest that you are catching some flack for them, but I rather like the skits. Retrothinker in the closet seems a good fit for the medium.

Um, questions for Ivan ... oh, here's one. Is the GameOverthinker ever likely to do another "Who's your daddy?" The last one was Megaman, and he seems topical for this plot arc, so tag on another question "Is Megaman likely to get another feature at some point in the near future?"

Keep up the good work. These videos make my day :)

Minervacantdie said...

Question for Ivan; do you guys think that in Legend of Zelda, the player should be able to choose between playing as a boy or a girl?

PatrickS said...

Really it's more about accessibility and depth as put by Extra Credits. Some gamers are just intimidated and overwhelmed. Rather than add easy mode, devs should just make them more accessible. Make better tutorials and better interfaces for easier accessibility. That way, they can ease into the real challenge. Valve and Nintendo are great at this as shown by Portal and SMG 1&2

hevendor said...

I really love this story. A villain with the mind of an online fps master? It's like it was asking by the universe to be done.

But I think the analysis sections of your videos are getting visually lazy. Seriously, so much Assassin's Creed III trailer that I wanted to turn off my monitor.

How about showing, you know, a game played on easy, then normal, then hard, to help demonstrate the issue to non-hardcore gamers? That would have worked perfectly, instead of this borderline podcast.


@Ivan- Do you think people would take you more seriously if they could see your facial expressions instead of a white glow?

PatrickS said...

The real problem is approachability and depth as put by Extra Credits. I want everyone to enjoy games, but making an easy mode or dumbing down content feels lazy for developers. Rather than add an easy mode or sacrifice the core expereince, devs should just make better tutorials and interfaces that make the challenge more accessible. Valve and Nintendo are perfect at this as shown by Portal 1&2, TF2, HL 1&2, SMG 1&2, Pokemon, and Zelda. It's like having your cake and eating it.

£«» said...

sDear Ivan,

This ones might be a bit more of a harder question then some of the others. But lets see how much you've learned in the ways of overthinking by being The Game Overthinker's intern.

In episode 41, Bob outlined a clear "Revolution" he wanted to see happen. As well as made several predictions about where the retail business for video games was heading. My question is this, since then, how have things changed? Are they better or worse? Should we all still be worried? And what can we do to keep trying to change the system?

Thanks,
Zama174

£«» said...

@Bulletproofnoob

Bob does do mailbag episodes on The Big Picture, he just doesn't really announce them ahead of time. Though, maybe he should. :P

RaikuNH said...

Dear Ivan, Have you or Bob ever played a Shin Megami Tensei title? I'd think you'd like them.

Doctor Professor said...

Doctor Professor asks

How do you play video games without hands?

Do you even play video games? Or do you have some sort of temp playing them for you?

(also, how far can a developer go in the name of artistic integrity in a game before it goes over the line, like how far or brutal could a certain subject matter be portrayed in a game in the name of someone's artistic vision)

Papa Mario said...

Dear Ivan, what do you think about the Wii U's launch titles?

Papa Mario said...

Dear Ivan, how do you feel about TF2's Mann vs Machine mode?

Unknown said...

I don't have a problem with easy modes, I wouldn't even have a problem with a mode where the combat is scaled back a lot to focus on story, but at the same time I think the comment that started this is probably right on the money for reasons not mentioned. Basically, many alternate difficulty modes are poorly designed and change the feel of the game entirely instead of actually scaling the experience to different levels of skill. I think that for games to work there has to be some challenge, some pushback, but more because challenge is part of the language available through interactivity. Of course, this is why I think games that adjust difficulty on the fly (assuming they work properly.) You get stomped? The game throws you a bone. You cruise through, the game decides to start using more advanced tactics or be stingier with healthpacks or something. Or you could do games like Dark Souls where the atmosphere makes the game seem much more difficult than it actually is (it's still difficult, but not as bad as it seems.)

Anonymous said...

I definitely like where this show is going now instead of where it seemed to be with the AntiThinker. Freaking love Terminator and DBZ! Can't wait for the next episode.

but pertaining to the topic at hand, this is something as a Zelda fan have come across with fellow fans who thought Skyward Sword was too easy and should have been ramped up in difficulty to appease their wishes. Yeah there probably should have been a difficulty meter to begin with (although I really liked what Hero Mode did for the game), but making it so that the average person at least stands a chance at beating the game is more important. It's still the hardest modern Zelda game I've played, but it's not frustratingly hard and inaccessible to others not privy to the Zelda games in general, as it should be.

Anonymous said...

Well, that was unexpected, a bit of story at the end that wasn't completely abysmal. Let's hope it wasn't just a fluke.

Anonymous said...

Upon reflecting on this episode, I've found myself quite insulted by Bob. This wasn't an episode where you gave an analysis, it seems obvious that his "conclusion" about why gamers don't like easy modes is just a political ploy to guilt trip gamers into agreeing with him.

He tried to pass off the gaming community as something it's not in order to further his own agenda.

He starts off his accusations with things like, "Come on guys." or "We all need to-" making it so he can get these pot shots off at things he doesn't like by including himself in the accusations in order to not raise as much of a raucous.

Anonymous said...

Hey bob!

Anyway, I'm not sure I agree with you about difficulty in games being removable without changing the game itself.

First off, let me say your are absolutely right about developers making longer games to buffer the length... sometimes.

The problem I have is when I make a video game (no, they were not that good) I find gameplay tends to get harder and harder because I played the game so many times. I make it more difficult because I have to in order to keep the game fun during development.

I suspect early development teams with less beta testing and more creative freedom were interested in making games they enjoyed and that is why older games were so difficult. It wasn't as much of making a title hard as it was making a title normal to someone who played it for a hundred hours during development.

I don't think that is an absolute, as you always get a Battletoads that someone had to say: "make it harder" but moving on...

The difficulty in games also allows games to be shorter, and this can be a very good thing. You mentioned Ninja Gaiden. What if Ninja Gaiden was 10 hours long, rather than 20 minutes? The length would require it be easier (and ramp up over time), have save files and a lot more content. But consider this: if there is a game that is 10 hours long, that game has 30 times less development time per minute of play than a 20 minute game.

That is the real kicker: a harder game can be shorter and have tens of times more effort put into every minute of play. As the length is buffered with difficulty, the game can't be beaten in a single sitting and so it can still sell.

I'm going to assume if a normal and easy mode are there, people will drop down to the mode they can play through. Would Ninja Gaiden be a better game if someone could just run through it? No, because loosing is the experience in the game. Without it, all thats left is 20 minutes of chip tunes and pixel art that could just as easily be seen by watching a video.

I do think that some games should have an easy mode or skippable levels: both can work to a games benefit (for instance, anything with a highly developed story, so someone can see the ending without having to look it up on freaking Youtube).

But I'm not seeing why making games harder should be a tool left out of a game makers toolbox just because they are afraid that someone will be left out or that it was historically a necessity.

My mind is open on this subject... Do you see something I'm not seeing on this matter?

QPolmer

Anonymous said...

Edit:

"developers making longer games to buffer the length"

should be: "developers making HARDER games to buffer the length"

QPolmer

James BoND said...

Dear Ivan,
Does having no hands impair your ability to play the harder songs on Guitar Hero and Rock Band?
On a related note, do you play a musical instrument?

MrLumber said...

There are really a lot of obscure justifications for disallowing easy modes going on here. As someone who prefers challenging gameplay I see no reason easy modes should not be available. A game like Demon's Souls has a lot to offer purely off of the merit of its design, atmosphere, and narrative. Barring that experience from a potential audience is a, bit of a shame, but given the game's budget and scope was necessary to provide the experience that it has.

That being said, I don't think that should mean games with a singular difficulty should be any easier. I also hate it when hard modes have to be unlocked, as a venerated gamer most modern games are incredibly easy for me, even when capped on difficulty. Having a smaller spectrum of difficulties (from the get go, or otherwise) should always mean that the game was designed with difficulty in mind.

For a perfect example of amazing tuning for a difficulty curve look no further than Rayman Origins. Its virtually impossible to lose, fairly easy from the beginning, but as you become acclimated to the games mechanics ramps up in challenge steadily to finally offer a genuinely spectacular finale.

King Kool said...

Dear Ivan,

Are there any cultures of the world that eat fairies as a delicacy?

Jonny P said...

Do you think Sony and Microsoft have completed there next gen consoles and are just waiting to see how successful the Wii U will be before they announce them incase they need to add a screen to there controller?

Sløvpeis said...

Ey bobbyboi (or Ivan, yadayada)!

How do you feel about the directions that the making of games today are going?

As you've noticed, "realistic" military shooters are at its top now. Do you think that this trend of "one hit game,that everybody ripps off" (COD) -will continue in the future? Or do you as me, hope that more diversity within developers will be possible, that games will me less "concentrated" within one genre/style/type?

Its kinda biased and smallminded of me to think that COD shooters is the only ones selling these days, but in general atleast in the shootercategory, this is somewhat dominating, causing everybody else to basicly rip off what theyre doing, having the game potentially suffering for it. I feel its the same for MMO (wowclones), and RPG's. maybe even more.

I am also aware that often it is not the developers fault that some games become so bland and generic as they seem, but either publishers, investors or "the people in white suits" telling developers what a game should have. Jim Sterling as you might know is good at sharing this fact, how games are ruined by unnecessary multiplayers, and DLC and all that crap.

Finally, a metaphor of sorts. Imagine a tree with branches, stemming from the genre GAMES, and spanning outwards with different genres like shooters, RPG, platform and so on. Do you think that in 10-20 years from now on, will they still be "monotized" thick branches of one thing, or maybe that it will evenly separate unto thin parallell evenly folds of grass? (dat poetry)


tl;dr
predictions on game genre trends in the future?
will the trends always be there?

Sabre said...

Sløvpeis- I won't answer all the question since it was for Bob, but the trend of copying the popular game/film/book of the moment has been around for as long as there has been media.

In games, from space invader and pacman knock offs, World War 2, Mascot platformers, Resident Evil style horror games, Doom clones (which would even have the same maps in different games).

This happens with film (moulin rouge led to a bunch of musicals, Die Hard let to a "Die Hard on a X" formula, the horror and sci-fi B-movie boom of the 30s and 50s) and there is no reason to think it will change.

I should point out that this isn't always a bad thing or a case of copying. A somewhat famous example was a storyline/series of Voyager called "The year of hell" which was never given a green light and so was made a 2 part episode. This kind of story arc would become popular in TV after the success of shows like 24 and Lost. So, while most are cynical cash ins, some might just be a developers dream game that they couldn't get the money for.

Kane Gunlock said...

Dear Ivan,
do you think Games like the Walking Dead and Double Fine's Kickstarter project will usher in a sort of rebirth of the point and click Adventure game genre?