Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 29th Jun 2013 20:18 UTC
Games "In recent years, an odd consensus has arisen where many believe that games are easier than they used to be. In many cases it's true, and it isn't surprising, as extreme competition between titles has created the need for games to be immediately entertaining as soon as you press the start button. As a consequence, many older - and potentially newer - players consider these games of yesteryear much more difficult. The immense challenge Wii U owners have experienced with virtual console games is evidence of that. Are these newer adventures really easier? Or has the design philosophy for video games improved instead?" Interesting take. I will tell you this, though - take a game like Dragon Age (the only one that matters, so the first one). It's immediately accessible to newcomers at the easy and normal setting, but try stepping it up to nightmare mode, and you're suddenly back in old-fashioned hardcore territory where you'll need to apply every little bit there is to know about the game to be able to finish it (tip for DA fanatics: finish the game without a single character going down in combat, on nightmare. I did it. It's hell). My point is: sometimes, you have to up the difficulty or create your own challenges to find the rewarding difficulty of gaming yore.
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Comment by gan17
by gan17 on Sun 30th Jun 2013 03:16 UTC
gan17
Member since:
2008-06-03

I honestly don't know.

At first glance, I'd say yes, simply because I've yet to see any modern game ship with a manual as thick as those I got with Falcon 3.0 or 4.0, but flight sims aren't really that popular these days, and those that are generally come with on-screen help or tutorials in place of manuals. Maybe that doesn't equal better design, but it's definitely a better integrated experience.

I suppose it all depends on the genre and type of game. Mario Kart, to me, is just as accessible and well designed as it always was. Some of the old Contra-style games were insanely difficult, but most people seemed to be able to pick them up and figure out what needed doing (kill everything... duuh). Now you have LSD-filled colourful stuff that's overwhelming at first (I need to collect seedlings to build a kite.. huhwhat?), but quickly gets easy the more you play.

When I compare a modern first-person RPG to something like the old Ultima Underworld, it's 50-50. In the new RPGs the lands are richer, there's generally more stuff to do, more quests or whatever, some not at all obvious to a RPG newbie, but in the old Ultima Underworld, you had to find flour, find wood, start a fire and make bread, just to get something to eat that would restore HP (yeah, totally wtf, right?). But then again you still get newer offerings, albeit old-skool natured, like The Dark Spire (Nintendo DS) that are pretty difficult to get to grips with, even for seasoned RPG'ers. I don't even know how one could start debating design with comparisons like this.

Edited 2013-06-30 03:24 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by gan17
by Doc Pain on Sun 30th Jun 2013 23:43 in reply to "Comment by gan17"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

At first glance, I'd say yes, simply because I've yet to see any modern game ship with a manual as thick as those I got with Falcon 3.0 or 4.0, but flight sims aren't really that popular these days, and those that are generally come with on-screen help or tutorials in place of manuals. Maybe that doesn't equal better design, but it's definitely a better integrated experience.


Remember an additional function of manuals, found in this statement:

A manual is the best copy protection.

When games came in boxes, usually some floppies or CDs, and a manual, you sometimes needed the manual to progress in the game at a certain point. I can easily remember two occassions:

"Star Trek 25th anniversary": You were ordered to take the Enterprise to a specific planet. Pressing 'W', you would engage the warp drive and select that star from a map. The map was printed in the manual (center page) with the names listed on the side, whereas the map in the game would only show the stars, not their names. When you chose the wrong one, you were attacked by (powerful) eneimes.

"Maniac Mansion II: Day of the Tentacle" (at least the floppy disk edition): When you found the plans for the super-battery, you needed to know the exact levels for the salad oil and the vinegar as well as the position of the toast bread, so the battery could power the Chron-o-John. The required combinations would be found in the manual. Without the correct combination, the game would not continue.

At those times, scanners and photocopiers were expensive devices, not likely to be found in homes. So simply making a copy of the relevant manual pages was not as trivial as copying the disk. Oh, and the Internet was not as we know it today, there was no google to ask, no game forums to visit easily.

A good manual, sometimes containing a "strategic guide" or other kind of help, would also make the game easier to play by providing that specific kind of instruction. This can also be seen as a copy protection.

NB that none of those actually prevents copying the disks or CDs of the game. It restricts the usefulness of the copies. :-)

The functionality of the manual as an aid for gaming has become part of modern games. They do not require the player to discover how the game works and what it goals are, instead a guide (however it is implemented) is integrated into gameplay. I think this makes modern games easier to play because all required additional information is integrated "on the go".

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by gan17
by jessesmith on Mon 1st Jul 2013 15:22 in reply to "RE: Comment by gan17"
jessesmith Member since:
2010-03-11

Star Trek did have an interesting approach. Though it didn't work all that well to prevent piracy. After all, most copies made when that game came out would be between local friends sharing a CD. When you can get a physical CD from a person it's not all that hard to copy a map too.

Oh, and the Star Trek 25th Anniversary game used "N" to bring up the star map, "W" was for arming weapons.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by gan17
by zima on Thu 4th Jul 2013 22:59 in reply to "RE: Comment by gan17"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Remember an additional function of manuals, found in this statement:
A manual is the best copy protection.

At least at my place gaming magazines, apart from reviewing a game, also typically provided a basic manual... (and in the case of adventure games or RPGs, even outright solution/walkthrough)

Edited 2013-07-04 23:10 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2