“Hooray for people being allowed to enjoy a game in a different way...”
October 4, 2017 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Now Ubi’s opened the door, can we have our “Skip Boss Fight” button? by John Walker [Rock Paper Shotgun] “Ubisoft made a fascinating announcement this week. They revealed that the latest Assassin’s Creed [official site] is to add a “Discovery Tour” mode, removing all the combat and challenges from the game, to let players just freely experience their in-depth recreation of Ancient Egypt. It’s fascinating, to me, because it’s a big deal. And goodness me, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Because games should be delighted to include modes that remove all their difficulty and challenge, and players should cheer when they hear about it. Oddly enough, a lot of players don’t cheer. In fact, people can get awfully angry about it. Since the announcement I’ve seen on Twitter a combination of people declaring, “Hooray! I’m interested in playing Assassin’s Creed for the first time in years!”, alongside others pointing toward those utterly furious that it demeans their hobby, cheapens games, and most heinous of all, lets in the riff-raff.”

• When is exclusion a valid design choice? by Ben Kuchera [Polygon]
“But let’s put that aside for a moment and ask another serious question that’s at the heart of the rather nasty conversation that has sprouted up again due to the game’s difficulty: Are you owed the act of finishing a game because you bought it? It’s not as silly a question as it sounds at first. Video games are one of the only means of expression where you have to pass some sort of test before seeing the rest of what the experience has to offer. No one asks you to solve a logic problem before reading the last page of a book, nor are there many art galleries that ask you a quiz about the paintings that you saw in the last room before you can get to the next one. But a game asks you to get good enough at whatever challenges it offers before you can see the whole thing. You will be tested, and only those who have “earned” the higher levels through completing those tests will ever see them. Which is why so many “hardcore” gamers are aghast at the idea of games like Cuphead offering an easy mode or an option to skip the boss fights.”
• Assassin’s Creed Origins is getting an educational mode early next year by Kyle Orland [Ars Technica]
“... as the company just announced a combat-free "Discovery Tour" mode that will allow players to explore and learn about Assassin's Creed: Origins' Egyptian landscapes risk-free. As Ubisoft describes it, the Discovery Tour mode turns the game into a "combat-free living museum, with guided tours that let players delve into its history firsthand." While there's an educational focus to the mode's annotated tours, which are "curated by historians and Egyptologists," the mode also "lets players roam the entire game world without constraints or threats, exploring a sprawling landscape that includes Memphis, Alexandria, the Sand Sea, and the Giza Plateau at their own pace." Plenty of games offer an Easy Mode that makes getting through the game a relative cakewalk, or they have a secret code that enables "God mode" to let you explore without the risk of death. But not many combat-based games are willing to offer an explicit mode that turns off the action for players who simply want to see the game world without worry.”
• The New Assassin's Creed Will Have a Tourist Mode and So Should Other Games by Kate Gray [Waypoint]
“You can't stroll around Dishonored's worlds, admiring the beautifully-crafted architecture, without being noticed and body-slammed by the nearest guard; you'll never be able to have a nice old jolly in Breath of the Wild's grassy plains without attracting the ire of some underpaid, overworked bokoblin. But Assassin's Creed: Origins, the upcoming prequel in the historical stab-simulator series, set in Egypt, has introduced what Ubisoft is calling "Discovery Tour"—essentially, a photo mode plus. "Discovery Tour lets players roam the entire game world without constraints or threats," reads a blog post on the Ubisoft website, "exploring a sprawling landscape that includes Memphis, Alexandria, the Sand Sea, and the Giza Plateau at their own pace." The ability to explore, worry-free, is something that Assassin's Creed games have always missed: a chance to play NPC in an historical recreation, to wander around the streets of Paris, London, or Florence and soak in the conversations and culture that have been painstakingly recreated with the help of artists and historians.”
posted by Fizz (221 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
CAT PETTING MODE: CONFIRMED
posted by poffin boffin at 3:48 PM on October 4 [41 favorites]


although to be nitpicky about it, you can in fact simply explore outside of mission constraints in ac4, unity, and syndicate, but you do have to play through the game first if you want to unlock all areas.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:51 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I think the problem is that while there are lots of people who might be interested in such a feature (hi), there probably aren’t a ton who are willing to pay for it if that’s the only way they plan to play (sorry). Although if it doesn’t add to the budget too much it would be silly not to include it in many of these sorts of open world games.

And yeah, I love Breath of the Wild, but I would love it even more if I could turn off combat sometimes. The best part of many well-made open world games is the world.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:55 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


In fact, people can get awfully angry about it.

Gamers getting disproportionately upset about minor tweaks to a game that don't even affect them? Well, I never!
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:56 PM on October 4 [64 favorites]


there probably aren’t a ton who are willing to pay for it

I would buy the hell out of DLC for AC games that offered this. I've been asking for "Tourist Mode" in games like the Assassin's Creed series for years, and I'd love to be able to wander around Rome or Florence and have the guards point out interesting details of the architecture and facts the arts and sciences of the time.

Even for games without the historical settings, a design walkthrough would be a delight. Tell me why the ships in Halo look like this! Tell me about the level design process, all of it. Why is that rocky outcropping there? How did you decide to make the bases in Blood Gulch that far apart?
posted by mhoye at 3:57 PM on October 4 [27 favorites]


Uplay is still a piece of shit garbage UI. But I'm glad that this mode exists.
posted by Fizz at 4:01 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


One of my favorite things about the dearly departed City of Heroes is that once you outleveled an area, you could walk around unmolested by the petty muggers (who would, in fact, cower in your awesome presence.) It was super fun to be able to just bounce around a neighborhood reading informational plaques and enjoying the atmosphere. I wanted the game too, mind, but it was a great feature.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:03 PM on October 4 [10 favorites]


you can in fact simply explore outside of mission constraints in ac4, unity, and syndicate, but you do have to play through the game first if you want to unlock all areas.

Yeah, I've tried to do this in Skyrim and Witcher III but it's not easy. Unless you've beaten the game, you're basically running the risk of stumbling into a quest/story/event/enemy that far outclasses you. And that's not fun and defeats the purpose of just wandering around aimlessly if that's what you're looking for in a game like this.
posted by Fizz at 4:04 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


me, in real actual florence, in front of giotto's campanile: oh my god!
tour guide: it is beautiful, no?
me, embarrassing myself in real actual florence: it looks just like assassin's creed!
tour guide: *pained face*
posted by poffin boffin at 4:05 PM on October 4 [109 favorites]


I'm emphatically not a gamer, but I have spent a number of hours unwinding before bed watching Let's Plays of Bloodborne and then the Dark Souls series for this exact reason: I want to enjoy the story, the atmosphere, and the world building. I don't care/don't have time/don't have energy to devote to playing. This is a good development.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:05 PM on October 4 [9 favorites]


The only time I played Assassin's Creed (when it was free with Xbox Live) I spent most of my time just finding all the collectibles and exploring. Doing the actual assassinating wasn't that fun.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:07 PM on October 4


> a design walkthrough would be a delight

I love Valve's developer commentary -- e.g., their voiceovers for how Lost Coast was built to showcase the new engine capabilities. I would definitely replay other games if they had a running conversation about how they tweaked a sequence for pacing, or that paused to step through the triggers and level design behind a set piece.
posted by postcommunism at 4:09 PM on October 4 [14 favorites]


I have pretty strong feelings about this whole thing, as a fan of fighting games. Now THAT is a genre where people seem to thrive on exclusivity — it’s basically the DOS prompt of video game genres, and in fact you literally have to memorize a list of commands up front in order to function on a basic level.

Happily, there have been the occasional efforts to make the genre less impossible to get into, starting with Divekick (which could have been better as a more mainstream game had it not been crammed to the gills with inside jokes for fighting game fans) and gradually dialing back the “as simple as possible” with stuff like Niddhogg (which involves a lot of the elements of, say, spacing and the like).

More recently, there have also been games like Pocket Rumble and Fantasy Strike (the latter of which may be my favorite fighting game overall at this point, having played them since the nineties) designed to provide a more traditional 2D fighting game experience without the ridiculous barrier to entry, but predictably, a lot of low- and mid-level fighting game players just seem so very threatened by them that they’ll go out of their way to complain about them. They’re great for people interested in trying the genre without spending days practicing the fundamentals just to consistently do basic stuff, without sacrificing depth. Both are currently available on Steam (at least one and maybe both technically in Early Access?), and Pocket Rumble has been due out on Switch Any Day Now since March.

(Perhaps conspicuously, I did not mention Smash Bros., partially because it plays differently enough on a number of levels that it’s generally regarded as its own separate thing instead of an entry in the 2D fighter genre, but mostly because at non-beginner levels it may actually have the hardest physical execution requirements of any game I’ve ever played other than Beatmania IIDX.)
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:10 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


It was always fun blowing through tough levels on Doom on God Mode after I'd already finished them the old-fashioned way. "WHO'S A TOUGH GUY *NOW*, CYBER-MINOTAUR?!?!" I'm not sure how much there would have been to be gained by walking through and trying to learn more about the monsters' culture or the architecture, though.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:11 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I'd love to be able to hit a "this isn't fun any more" button and be able to skip past something I'm stuck on. No doubt the hardcore types would consider it good for my emotional development when I hit a level on Tomb Raider II that I just could NOT get past, so I bailed from the game. Haven't played anything Tomb Raider since.

If I'd been able to hit an "oh fuck it, just get past this" button, I probably would've had fun finishing the game and might've played later ones.
posted by Lexica at 4:11 PM on October 4 [22 favorites]


It was always fun blowing through tough levels on Doom on God Mode after I'd already finished them the old-fashioned way. "WHO'S A TOUGH GUY *NOW*, CYBER-MINOTAUR?!?!" I'm not sure how much there would have been to be gained by walking through and trying to learn more about the monsters' culture or the architecture, though.

I'm all about learning about the history and culture of cyber-minotaur and his/her peoples. TAKE. MY. MONEY.
posted by Fizz at 4:13 PM on October 4 [18 favorites]


As for single-player stuff... it’s a little more complicated, perhaps. Cuphead seems like a pretty extreme example of locking away meaningful content behind a difficulty barrier, and just reminds me of how Mrs. Fedora played through Bayonetta on easy mode because she wanted the story bits and not the punishing Platinum Difficulty.

On the other hand, you have stuff like Dustforce where the difficulty IS the game, and the only thing you get for finishing a stage is another, harder stage — the proverbial pie-eating contest with more pie as the prize. If you’re into that, it’s great. If you lose interest, you’re only missing out on more of the same but harder anyway.

Ultimately, it’s not like people complain that books are too easy to read, and that Real Men read only stuff like Ulysses. The silliness of that sort of thing is obvious on its face.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:13 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how much there would have been to be gained by walking through and trying to learn more about the monsters' culture or the architecture, though.

Cyber-creatures have a rich and varied culture little appreciated by those intent on just chain-gunning them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:14 PM on October 4 [14 favorites]


And yeah, I love Breath of the Wild, but I would love it even more if I could turn off combat sometimes.

I'd settle for a way to cancel out the Blood Moon, which almost always seems to crop up right after I've defeated some upper-tier creature(s) that used up all of my best weapons and consumables.

Back to TFA: After the proto-GamerGate harassment that fans of the first game put lead developer Jade Raymond through, I'd be very much surprised if the official policy of Ubi towards its hardest of hardcore fandom wasn't basically "FUCK OFF, NERDS." I think it's basically been proven at this point that the last thing the gaming industry needs is to kowtow exclusively to the hardcore, because those guys are all dicks who will happily pirate a game, turn its online culture toxic, and effectively chase off everyone except for their sad little cult.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:14 PM on October 4 [20 favorites]


One thing I've loved doing in Yakuza 2 was visiting the cities between story missions. Those blocks are so .vibrant and detailed I probably enjoyed it more than actually advancing the story and wish it could even have more stores and places/people to interact with. There was the occasional low-level yakuza on the corner, but after a while if I wanted to avoid confrontation (or find it, because drunk fighting), I knew where to avoid.
Considering the work put into the details of modern games, the only thing surprising is how long it took to add such a mode. Sandbox games are +30 years old as a concept, Shenmue has been out for almost 20 years, racing games like Midtown Madness, Driver, Test Drive Unlimited or Burnout Paradise have been featuring free ride modes for ages, and only now we're seeing a action game that fully embraces that.
posted by lmfsilva at 4:22 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Years ago, I would spend many companionable hours with a roommate just watching him drive around in Grad Theft Auto, not doing anything in particular except occasionally enraging police into a high speed chase.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:25 PM on October 4 [7 favorites]


This is a fantastic idea that I 100% support. While Assassin's Creed got boring for me about midway through the second game - which is, what, a dozen games back by now? - I always admired the worlds they created.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:29 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I don’t care about Assassin’s Creed but I’ll be thrilled to see this in more games. I would play video games a lot more except for the fact that I am TERRIBLE at them.

Horizon Zero Dawn recently released a Story Mode update where combat still exists but it’s far easier - you do more damage, enemies do less, and you have more health. Suddenly it’s a game I can actually play, instead of just watching my husband play it! And yes, a chunk of fans completely lost their shit over it. It’s just another bullshit way of policing/gatekeeping. If you’re playing it on this mode, you’re Doing Video Games Wrong.
posted by skycrashesdown at 4:30 PM on October 4 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I've tried to do this in Skyrim and Witcher III but it's not easy. Unless you've beaten the game, you're basically running the risk of stumbling into a quest/story/event/enemy that far outclasses you.

For skyrim on PC, you can just open the console to set all your skills to 100, get the resulting shitload of xp, and turn on godmode. And then download the mods that turn dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine and put top hats on mudcrabs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:31 PM on October 4 [27 favorites]


Relaxin's Creed
posted by clawsoon at 4:31 PM on October 4 [22 favorites]


Video games are one of the only means of expression where you have to pass some sort of test before seeing the rest of what the experience has to offer. No one asks you to solve a logic problem before reading the last page of a book, nor are there many art galleries that ask you a quiz about the paintings that you saw in the last room before you can get to the next one.

But a game asks you to get good enough at whatever challenges it offers before you can see the whole thing. You will be tested, and only those who have “earned” the higher levels through completing those tests will ever see them.


Written like someone never exposed to the canon of literature and/or art. There a huge numbers of works that are impenetrable (or at least less enjoyable) to people who have not spent the hours learning the stories, symbols, and so on that underlie most "deep art." Put down that controller and read some Proust, gamer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:31 PM on October 4 [10 favorites]


If any devs are listening to this discussion: if the only way I can reasonably experience your game is through a Let's Play that someone else did, I'm a lot less likely to purchase it for myself. And don't think you can weasel out of this by DMCAing all the Let's Plays; the likelihood of me buying a game drops to just about 0 then; I want to see what the gameplay is like before committing cash.

I don't see why you couldn't placate hard-core gamers with a normal difficulty mode that locks out any 'skip boss' button or whatever and award an achievement that you only get when playing that way.
posted by Aleyn at 4:32 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Relaxin's Creed

Assassin's Chill
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:33 PM on October 4 [10 favorites]


A lot of the fun in playing the AC games was its historical settings and the attention to detail of the locations. I could spend hours just walking around Florence in AC2, climbing around, looking for vista points.

Heck, a lot of the fun of any open world game that pays attention to its world is ignoring the quests and just having a look. Any game that set itself in Los Angeles was always of particular interest to me. LA Noire, which for the most part was NOT an open world game, still let you go ahead and roam around post-WWII Los Angeles. I had a lot of fun driving down familiar roads and looking at actual buildings that are still there or those that are now gone but in the game. There's a touching article about a gamer doing just with his dad.

This mode sounds like a lot of fun, especially when all you want to do is explore and not have to worry about triggering a fight (which happens a lot in AC).
posted by linux at 4:34 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


Years ago, I would spend many companionable hours with a roommate just watching him drive around in Grad Theft Auto, not doing anything in particular except occasionally enraging police into a high speed chase.

I literally wrote an essay about this. (Well, and also my relationship with LA, and some micro-quasi-fanfiction?)
posted by epersonae at 4:36 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


I'd love to be able to hit a "this isn't fun any more" button and be able to skip past something I'm stuck on.

Hello, do you have some time today to talk about the Good Book of X-COM? How about playing a game that's never any fun at any time?
posted by GuyZero at 4:39 PM on October 4 [12 favorites]


I love Valve's developer commentary -- e.g., their voiceovers for how Lost Coast was built to showcase the new engine capabilities. I would definitely replay other games if they had a running conversation about how they tweaked a sequence for pacing, or that paused to step through the triggers and level design behind a set piece.

Both Portal games have developer commentaries:
Portal developer commentary
Portal 2 developer commentary
posted by ringu0 at 4:41 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Forgot to mention the other LA-based open world game that was a ton of fun to drive around and just sightsee was True Crimes: Streets of LA.
posted by linux at 4:46 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how much there would have been to be gained by walking through and trying to learn more about the monsters' culture or the architecture, though.

I read the Doom novels with basically that aim. That didn't work out either.
posted by Wobbuffet at 4:47 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Yes. Give me less combat, more things to see, and more customizable outfits.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:47 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I'm curious to know which game engine is used for all the driving-around gameplay videos featuring Spiderman and Elsa.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, just search for it on YouTube. Hundreds of videos, millions of views.
posted by clawsoon at 4:50 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


And yeah, I love Breath of the Wild, but I would love it even more if I could turn off combat sometimes.

You might like the awkwardly named Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. It's basically an open world game similarish to BotW (I gather, I haven't played BotW), but with zero combat and all the animal befriending and cake making you can handle.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:52 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Dara O Briain covered this a few years back.
posted by Auz at 4:54 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Fie and bollocks. Clearly the only proper solution to elimination of challenge in a video game is to implement cheat codes, which are so much more fun than just skipping things.
posted by Room 101 at 4:58 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Well, ACO just went from 'maybe' to 'definitely' for me. The only AC game I've played all the way through was ACII, and at the time I wished there was a toggle switch to turn combat off for when I just wanted to explore in peace. Then I got AC: Unity, but I hardly played it because I started getting bad carpel tunnel, so Tourist Mode would have been the only way for me to enjoy the game at the time. My hands are bothering me much less these days so it may no longer be a problem, and I intend to revisit AC:U in the near future (assuming the pain doesn't start coming back), but now I'll definitely add ACO to my menu. I want to reward Ubisoft for doing this.
posted by homunculus at 4:59 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Cyber-creatures have a rich and varied culture little appreciated by those intent on just chain-gunning them.

If only you could talk to the monsters...
posted by tobascodagama at 5:04 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Cyber-creatures have a rich and varied culture little appreciated by those intent on just chain-gunning them.

If only you could talk to the monsters...


When you realize that in DOOM....YOU....ARE....THE....MONSTER!?!
posted by Fizz at 5:06 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


> For skyrim on PC, you can just open the console to set all your skills to 100, get the resulting shitload of xp, and turn on godmode. And then download the mods that turn dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine and put top hats on mudcrabs.

If you're thinking of the Touch the Skyrim series that Polygon did, a couple times the mods Griffin hacked in to get past some obstacle also allowed him to, for example, kill an NPC before completing the dialog sequence necessary to unlock the next story mode quest. So it made some of the later-stage game content inaccessible even for just browsing around with, and he had to start over from scratch.
posted by ardgedee at 5:06 PM on October 4


Just throwing this out there - there are plenty of people who have issues with mobility in the hands that may want to play. Even something as simple as mild arthritis can preclude someone from some of the tricky input sequences required, so I'm 100% in favor of difficulty modes that scale all the way down to "can't lose", plus things like tourist mode, cheat codes, or a "skip this boss" button.

Come to think of it, NieR: Automata has an interesting way of handling this with the auto-chips that can be equipped - essentially, you can have the game automatically attack, dodge, heal, shoot, aim etc. for you, all on an individual basis, essentially letting you custom tailor the number of things you have to handle. Equip them all, and the game basically plays itself with a little input from you on where to walk.

If someone wants the bragging rights of beating the game on some nightmarish difficulty, let them select it and get an achievement.
posted by mrgoat at 5:08 PM on October 4 [11 favorites]


On the one hand - "Tell me a story" has been a difficulty in Deus Ex for a long time, and it's... slap at the keyboard while huffing paint levels of easy. It's not a mode I'm likely to have much interest in - I grew up on CastleVania and Pitfall so... I'm well accustomed to challenge.

On the other hand, I used cheat codes and lower the difficulty (to get the last few ships in FTL for instance) so, I get it. And it's not like this removes the hard modes.

Having worked for a gaming company - gamers being uptight about some basically meaningless change ? I am sooooooo surprised. [Iago.gif]
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:09 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I find the "boss fight" in most games tedious and would support a means to skip them simply because they detract from my enjoyment of games.

But Assassin's Creed is perhaps one of the franchises *most* accommodating to players whose primary interest is enjoying the scenery. The quests and combat are merely sideshows and don't require that much "gaming" skill. I'm actually surprised that the audience for Assassin's Creed is especially attached to the combat, which has always struck me as amateurish
posted by deanc at 5:18 PM on October 4


I'm curious to know which game engine is used for all the driving-around gameplay videos featuring Spiderman and Elsa.

I found a video called "Frozen Disney Elsa and Spiderman in EPIC RACE with FERRARI JEEP SARGE AND TOW MATER cars songs for k" that appears to be Grand Theft Auto 4 with the character and car models changed, pedestrians and AI drivers removed, and color saturation turned way up. While looking for that I discovered that there are probably hundreds of videos of Spiderman getting McDonalds drive-thru. Kids YouTube is a trip.
posted by skymt at 5:19 PM on October 4 [9 favorites]


This is something I’ve wanted to see for a while now.... while I’m personally the type to engage hard mode because I’m a masochist (I play fire emblem on classic/hard, I’m working through master mode on BotW), my wife is the opposite - she has watched me play through BotW and would gladly play it if it wasn’t for the combat, but that just turns her off of it.

Frankly, I find myself really enjoying the idea of a game sans combat - something more exploritary and less KILL THINGS - more and more. I’m a pacifist at heart, and I would enjoy seeing more games where the majority of your time and controls are not dedicated to weaponry. I’ve shied away from any game where you shoot things with guns for some time as well... I don’t care how good your world is, I’m not going to shoot my way through it.

Not surprised at the complaints over it - Fire Emblem went through that when they introduced Casual mode sans permadeath, more so when they introduced Phoenix mode where it is literally impossible to die. All of the hardcore called it the end of Fire Emblem - that particular version went on to sell more than any other, from what I understand.

There is nothing wrong with removing the concept of challenge from a game - in fact, it can be quite relaxing and fun to play that way- it becomes almost meditative. It’s been pointed out to me that when I play certain challenging games, I look exactly like I do when I’m working and having a bad day... I took that to heart, and dialed down the difficulty and tried to find games that were more just about the world that has been built around them... and I’ve been a much more relaxed person in general. I do still enjoy the challenges, but I’ve found it’s been incredibly healthy to balance it out with things that are more relaxing.

I’d also argue that removing combat from something like BotW doesn’t hurt the game remotely - it retains a degree of problem solving, and could very well stand on its own sans combat. It attracts a different type of gamer, while still leaving the option to just explore. It’s an option I’d love to see in that game in particular, but there are others that could equally stand on their own... things like master mode remain an option for the masochists who just can’t gen enough difficult. Give them an achievement they can post publicly or something and let that stand as the bragging rights.

Anyways, I hope more games go this route.
posted by MysticMCJ at 5:20 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I feel kind of conflicted about this - like, I get kind of frustrated at a certain point when I've gotten really good at the combat and I still can't move faster than a walk without guards coming. But at the same time, I feel like it does make me less excited to play the game at all if you don't have to earn the story. If I can just wander, that's cool I guess? But it takes me out of the immersion. I don't know why, but psychologically there's a difference for me between uber-easy mode and "no challenges at all" mode.

I would probably be down for this if they eliminated the combat and still kept the challenges of various things. But nothing at all seems meh.
posted by corb at 5:26 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


This is a good idea. I am a huge Assassin's Creed fan, having played every game all the way through at least once (even the ones I hated), and played most multiple times. I have to admit I haven't found a battle in any AC too difficult, but it would be really nice to have the option to just "let's not and say we did" in some games where it's stopped being fun and started being annoying to get through a given quest or kill a given boss.

Anyone who objects to this sort of thing needs to recalibrate their mind your own business sensors. And mind their own business. I actually don't give a flying if someone respects how I play my games. And I sure as hell don't care how they play theirs.
posted by biscotti at 5:37 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Ultimately, it’s not like people complain that books are too easy to read, and that Real Men read only stuff like Ulysses. The silliness of that sort of thing is obvious on its face.

Forgive me if that was sarcasm, but the hell yes they do.
posted by rodlymight at 5:40 PM on October 4 [12 favorites]


People talk up Baldur's Gate as a kind of gold standard of PC RPGs, and a lot of games (Divinity, Pillars of Eternity, etc.) seem to be trying to replicate its tactical depth and level of challenge. I do remember it fondly.

I was 15 at the time, and at my most obsessive and competitive, and I'm sharing with you right now, dear Metafilter, that the only way I completed that game was a console command called "cheat:thegreatgonzo()"

This cheat summons 10 rabid chickens, which fling themselves uselessly at your enemies. You can cast it as many times as you want, and safely pepper your rival Bhaalspawn with arrows from a distance while they busy themselves swatting away wave after wave of homicidal poultry.

This is how the Epic of Baldur's Gate played out for me. I consider it canon. The hero of the Forgotten Realms and heir to the thrown of the Lord of Murder is Alex, the Great Gonzo, Summoner of Unlimited Chickens.

I'm playing Divinity 2 on Tourist mode, is what I'm saying. I'm good with it.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 5:40 PM on October 4 [20 favorites]


Ultimately, it’s not like people complain that books are too easy to read, and that Real Men read only stuff like Ulysses. The silliness of that sort of thing is obvious on its face.

Forgive me if that was sarcasm, but the hell yes they do.
oh dear
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:41 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I think the problem is that while there are lots of people who might be interested in such a feature (hi), there probably aren’t a ton who are willing to pay for it if that’s the only way they plan to play (sorry). Although if it doesn’t add to the budget too much it would be silly not to include it in many of these sorts of open world games.

How resource intensive could it possibly be to have a mode that doesn't spawn enemies and, like, turns off achievements or something?

And, yeah, this would be a stupid way to do Borderlands or Hotline Miami or whatever, there are so many games nowadays that dedicate incredible resource to creating detailed virtual worlds that are a pain in the ass to enjoy because every 45 seconds they've put in some random encounter that most players have already seen 20 times and that causes to divert your attention from appreciating the setting to not getting killed. Not everything has to be about challenge, and I'm sure there will still be hard games that fill that need for people who want them.
posted by Copronymus at 5:42 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


And I sure as hell don't care how they play theirs.

Not even if they side with the Institute?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:44 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


Also, to the surprise of no one, Notch had an idiotic take on this that completely fails to take into account the thing that made him a billionaire.
posted by Copronymus at 5:45 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


6 years ago, I probably would've been a grumpy dick about this (you might even be able to go into my post history here to find evidence), but since then I've reached the point where I'm completely on board with this. More than that, I'm beginning to wonder why have the Assassin's Creed part of the game-play at all - why focus so much on mastering systems of killing stuff? Why not have more AAA games dedicated to exploring landscapes, thoughts, experiences, etc? Unfortunately, even in the academic world of gaming, the privileged position of challenge and mastery are still pretty high.
posted by codacorolla at 5:52 PM on October 4


Can we put a coaching mode into Madden now? I don't want to run a skinny post with a WR. I want to call the right paly and watch the AI do so.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:53 PM on October 4


Even for games without the historical settings, a design walkthrough would be a delight.

THIS WOULD BE AWESOME! Back in the day I bought the Fallout 3 Guidebook because it claimed it was going to have a bunch of designer commentary on different map locations. The book was pretty good but that section was kind of lacking. That said, I would have loved a Developer's Commentary track (collectible Holotapes maybe) that explain the in joke, or the inspiration, or "we wanted the story to be X, Y, Z or Q, but we ran out of time and had to drop Q."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:57 PM on October 4


> How resource intensive could it possibly be to have a mode that doesn't spawn enemies and, like, turns off achievements or something?
Thanks to the beauty of software the answer is anywhere from "simple" to "doing that would irreparably break the game"

Also it's mostly going to be the latter
posted by ReadEvalPost at 5:57 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


This is why we can't have easy nice things.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:03 PM on October 4


So I played Bloodborne and loved it. Got good at slaughtering the small enemies, still suck at the boss fights. It got a lot easier after the DLC dropped: near every boss there's a place you can summon an NPC who will wipe the floor with most of the earlier bosses.

But I really enjoyed repeatedly throwing myself against its many bosses and dying. For this is what gave me an excuse to spend enough time in its Decaying Goth World Playset and see new gorgeous details when I'd pause in the middle of a headlong rush to the same boss for the thirtieth time and just drink in the atmosphere.

On the other hand I now use having gotten an ending in that game as an excuse to let me use any and all cheats or easy modes I like. I finished Bloodborne and I have absolutely nothing left to prove in the realm of Video Games. And I now give not a single fuck if people use an easy or tourist mode to explore the gorgeous worlds we can buy any more, for Bloodborne truly taught me the futility inherent in getting really good at sitting on my ass pushing buttons on a piece of plastic and calling the result "an achievement".

I am however still pretty proud of having gotten to Basingstoke.
posted by egypturnash at 6:10 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


I may still be bitter at Walker for leading the pile-on of Mass Effect: Andromeda (for the record: yes, the game had serious flaws, but I still maintain that a lot of the criticism, most especially Walker's original RPS review, was deeply unfair), but I wonder just how much attention he paid to the game if he didn't realize that ME (and, I'm pretty sure, Dragon Age) has a setting that makes the fighting superfluous.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:11 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


Can we put a coaching mode into Madden now? I don't want to run a skinny post with a WR. I want to call the right paly and watch the AI do so.

Madden 08 used to have a "coach" mode where you selected the play and after the snap, the rest was fully automatic. In the old 16bit versions, it would do the same until the dpad was moved. Even yesterday on Madden 25, because my controller was starting to act up, I left Hester doing his thing on his own because otherwise he'd look like the actual 2014 Hester. Defense also plays on it's own, offense doesn't. Haven't seen how this works on owner mode.

But speaking of Sports games in this context, stadiums alone have more polygons than all models on previous gens. It would be great if they allowed us to actually watch a game from any point in the stands, or even just do a virtual tour of the stadium.

Also, fuck Notch.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:12 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


There are already a bunch of sequences in AC games where you have to follow some other character around while they talk. Both doing the climbing buildings/running over rooftops things and just walking/running around the streets.

The mechanic exists to give walking tours is what I'm saying.
posted by VTX at 6:15 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Each October I like to pick out a few horror-themed games to play. This year I decided to go with cheesy 90s FMV games, starting with The 7th Guest. Now this isn't the place to go into all the problems with that game, but one thing that struck me is that it's practically what we'd call a walking simulator. The developers built a (pre-rendered) 3D haunted house for the player to walk through and packed it with spooky oddities and ghostly scenes telling the story. Then they dumped in some dry puzzles that were directly copied from puzzle books and feel completely out-of-place. Even in 1993 the idea that you can't give the player anything they didn't earn was baked into the culture, even when that conflicts with what the game is trying to be.
posted by skymt at 6:20 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Thanks to the beauty of software the answer is anywhere from "simple" to "doing that would irreparably break the game"

Also it's mostly going to be the latter


I'm not so sure about that. Arcade Games are designed with certain difficulties in mind because your average player will need to pump X dollars into the machine in order to beat it. Most players are not doing single credit clears. Password systems were replaced by save game systems as game systems became more technologically advanced, even though entering a password requires a different set of coding than reading a save file off of a chip. Even now, loot boxes have supplanted random drops because of changes in technology (always-on Internet connectivity and the ease of a game company to run server side stuff) and culture (a move towards RPG elements, and a desire of players to pay less up front).

I think that it wouldn't be a stretch to say that if more leisurely modes of game-play are well received, then game companies will be able to make that a reality.

In terms of fan created response, there are a ton of cheat codes out there that let players casually explore worlds, even in demanding games like Dark Souls.
posted by codacorolla at 6:22 PM on October 4


I'm less worried about challenge, but I can understand why a developer who has built a game world that is mostly interaction driven wouldn't want their work reduced to this:

Verona. A public place.
A street.
A room in Capulet's house.
A street.
A hall in Capulet's house.
A lane by the wall of Capulet's orchard.
Capulet's orchard.
Friar Laurence's cell.
A street.
Capulet's orchard.
Friar Laurence's cell.
etc.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:28 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Well, except that most productions of Romeo and Juliet don't allow for the possibility of Mercutio leveling up and killing Tybalt.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:35 PM on October 4 [8 favorites]


Ultimately, it’s not like people complain that books are too easy to read, and that Real Men read only stuff like Ulysses. The silliness of that sort of thing is obvious on its face.

Years and years ago, there was a throwdown here on MetaFilter over whether it "counted" as having read a book if you listened to it while exercising. The silliness that is so obvious to you is not obvious to many people.

Arguments about what "real" reading is rage endlessly. In certain circles, if someone reads a lot but then says they only read mysteries, or sci-fi, or romances, or graphic novels, they'll be dismissed. There definitely are "Real Literary Men read only stuff like Ulysses" out there. Many of them are influential critics and reviewers at magazines and newspapers "of note." The romance community, right now, is outraged by an ignorant and sexist "roundup of the season's romance novels" in the New York Times.
posted by Orlop at 6:39 PM on October 4 [11 favorites]


Ultimately, it’s not like people complain that books are too easy to read, and that Real Men read only stuff like Ulysses. The silliness of that sort of thing is obvious on its face.

It's not an exact comparison, but the divide between genre and literary fiction is basically this.

WRT dev commentary, the excellent Deus Ex Human Revolution does this (though the implementation is so so - if you walk away it cuts out and you have to listen to the whole clip again).
posted by Sebmojo at 6:41 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Also, geez, I grew up with video games, I played fucking Defender in the arcade, I had a zillion pirated games on my c64 and Amiga, most of which had "trainers" added by the crackers. Infinite lives? Stop a punishing timer? Infinite ammo? Yes please. I cheated my way through System Shock 2 because I am terrible at FPSs but wanted to meet Shodan. I've used cheats and glitches to gain enough resources to skip grinding. I am totally for a Remove The Challenge button if that's what you want. Why you'd want to just watch the story of most AAA games I don't know, I find them mostly terrible, but if that's your jam then skip away, you should get your fifty bucks of fun for your purchase.

Also does anyone know if Ass Creed Egypt Edugame lets you be a lady character, or even has a character creator? I made a vow a while back that I'm done playing white dudes in games, and no game with an AAA budget that forces me to be a dude is gonna get my money. I've stayed away from AssCreed because of this. Except for the one game where you're a lady in New Orleans. Which I gave up on after finding all the Vantage Points in the first area because opening up more areas would require playing more of those interminable missions that put you in a hoop skirt and limited you to a slow walk, with no cool parkour options available.
posted by egypturnash at 6:45 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Each October I like to pick out a few horror-themed games to play. This year I decided to go with cheesy 90s FMV games, starting with The 7th Guest. Now this isn't the place to go into all the problems with that game, but one thing that struck me is that it's practically what we'd call a walking simulator. The developers built a (pre-rendered) 3D haunted house for the player to walk through and packed it with spooky oddities and ghostly scenes telling the story. Then they dumped in some dry puzzles that were directly copied from puzzle books and feel completely out-of-place. Even in 1993 the idea that you can't give the player anything they didn't earn was baked into the culture, even when that conflicts with what the game is trying to be.

I wonder if you could tie it back to video games' arcade roots, where the goal was always to use difficulty to maximise the $/hr?
posted by Sebmojo at 6:49 PM on October 4


The romance community, right now, is outraged by an ignorant and sexist "roundup of the season's romance novels" in the New York Times.

I'd love for someone to make a separate post about this if anyone is feeling up to it. :)
posted by Fizz at 6:59 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


I'd like if there was an "autopilot" button where I could sit back and watch a robot conquer the hard part before jumping back in.
posted by Emily's Fist at 7:08 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


How resource intensive could it possibly be to have a mode that doesn't spawn enemies and, like, turns off achievements or something?

That option is already available for Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 9 (I don't know about the others) on Steam. You have the option for all characters to be max level, unlimited gil, and you can turn off random battles - but you can't earn achievements.
posted by littlesq at 7:20 PM on October 4


I would have loved 'tourist mode' for Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite. And I liked the combat in those games - but I just wanted to walk around and look at how great everything looked without having to murderise low level grunts every 3 seconds.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:25 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]


OK, here is a place to leave a story.

A couple of years ago I went to a lecture by a professor who is using MRI-like technology to read obscured ancient writings--the erased layers on vellum parchments and the like. One of his team's projects was trying to read the charred scrolls of the volcano-buried Roman town of Herculaneum.

I'd dragged my video games obsessed teenage son along, and after the talk we went up to chat with the professor. He asked my son if he liked games, and then if he liked Assassin's Creed. And told us a story.

The summer before he had traveled to Italy to work on the scrolls project, and had dragged his own video game loving teenager along. They spent a day in Florence, and the professor and his friends go lost. They were puzzling over a map when his son said "The Cathedral? This way!" and led them straight to where they were going. It was that way for all of the classic sites of Florence, the boy could immediately take them on the shortest route, because of the hours he had spent immersed in Assassin's Creed.
posted by LarryC at 7:34 PM on October 4 [78 favorites]


LarryC, That is a fantastic story!!
posted by Fizz at 7:40 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I just had a flashback to the thread about the Mexico City Marathon:
So then, what is the point of this kind of cheating? Who are these people cheating other than themselves? What good does it do anyone? If you take away the pride in accomplishment, what's left? What is there that is worth the shame of knowing that one of your life's signature achievements is a lie?
I guess some people feel that way about marathons, and some people feel that way about video games.
posted by clawsoon at 7:46 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


No one asks you to solve a logic problem before reading the last page of a book

Eliezer Yudkowsky posted a "final exam" for readers of his Methods of Rationality novel-length Harry Potter fanfic at the end of chapter 113, promising that if readers could figure out a viable solution to the predicament Harry was in, the story would continue to chapter 121; otherwise they would get "a shorter and sadder ending". (Predictably, he was then overwhelmed with a flood of potential solutions, and had to recruit reddit to sort the answers by type and degree, make a spreadsheet, etc.) Doesn't work for a book that's already finished, but for something that's being published chapter by chapter, I guess you can get away with it.
posted by hades at 8:07 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


I guess some people feel that way about marathons, and some people feel that way about video games.

If the completion of a single-player video game is your life's 'signature achievement', you've truly got bigger problems than how someone else plays a game.

Who are these people cheating other than themselves?

Exactly. It only affects the player in question. So who cares? Why does it matter to these mewling fools how someone else has fun?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:07 PM on October 4 [8 favorites]


I think we might be seeing the video game industry awaken to the fact that the first gen of electronic gamers are now in their 50s and simply don't have the coordination, reflexes, and quick react times they once did.
posted by Beholder at 8:12 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


> Each October I like to pick out a few horror-themed games to play. This year I decided to go with cheesy 90s FMV games, starting with The 7th Guest. Now this isn't the place to go into all the problems with that game, but one thing that struck me is that it's practically what we'd call a walking simulator.

>observer_ is a lot like that. It's a cyberpunk horror game in which you spend most of your time going door to door in a Blade Runneresque tenement building asking people questions.
posted by homunculus at 8:12 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I want this. I wouldn't use it myself very much, but there have certainly been times. (I mostly hate when mechanics change for a boss fight, nullifying the skill set I learned while grinding to get to them.)

But more importantly, I want this because it means more people will buy games, which means there will be more games made of varying types. More money, more devs, more stories that I can pick and choose from, and games will become more mainstream than they are now. As long as this is an additional mode instead of 'what games become, period,' it is absolutely A Good Thing whether I personally want to use it in any particular scenario or not.
posted by mordax at 8:13 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


No one asks you to solve a logic problem before reading the last page of a book

Spoken like someone who never ran out of fingers while reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:15 PM on October 4 [20 favorites]


Both Portal games have developer commentaries:

So does Firewatch, and it's excellent. The Stanley Parable has a room you can find that contains an entire making-of-the-Stanley-Parable museum, which is great but somehow extremely disturbing.
posted by mhoye at 8:23 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


Years ago, I would spend many companionable hours with a roommate just watching him drive around in Gra(n)d Theft Auto, not doing anything in particular except occasionally enraging police into a high speed chase.

I remember reading a story a few years back about a guy whose young son (like, 5-8 years old) was obsessesed with watching him play and constantly begged to be allowed a go at it. Against his better judgement, he finally relented and handed over the controller. Hilariously, the boy immediately started obeying all the traffic laws, waiting at red lights, staying in the right lane, letting pedestrians cross the street and etc.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:35 PM on October 4 [10 favorites]


One of the best parts about Sleeping Dogs was wandering around the open world, driving cars while listening to Daptone records, and eating pork buns.

The "you're not having fun in the approved manner" people are just one of the many reasons we can't have nice things.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:37 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


Can we put a coaching mode into Madden now? I don't want to run a skinny post with a WR. I want to call the right paly and watch the AI do so.

There is actually a long lived genre of this sort of game for soccer (dating back to the early 80's, the Football Manager series being the most popular). I used to enjoy them immensely. I'm sure similar must exist for American Football!
posted by jaymzjulian at 8:44 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


And really, who would ever question the True Gamer credentials of these dudes?(yt)
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 9:00 PM on October 4


As my RA worsens, my delight in video games decreases. The things I love - story and music and characters - become unreachable as my body betrays me and denies me the ability to slay some monsters and explore the world I'm trying to save.

I couldn't play the last installment of Final Fantasy because there is too much combat and too many fiddly things I no longer have the dexterity for. It drove me to tears. FF is my favorite franchise, but now it causes physical pain to find out what happens next.

Any company that wants to include a tourist mode will get my money. My hands might not work well any more, but my brain still does, and I will pay for that escape from reality with joy.
posted by MissySedai at 9:16 PM on October 4 [13 favorites]


I'm beginning to wonder why have the Assassin's Creed part of the game-play at all

because if i have a fistfight with the pope in the middle of the vatican irl i go to prison
posted by poffin boffin at 9:17 PM on October 4 [25 favorites]


I find the "boss fight" in most games tedious and would support a means to skip them simply because they detract from my enjoyment of games.
I enjoy beating challenging boss fights, but only in games where combat is the point of the game. I hate it when needlessly complicated fights intrude upon, say, my enjoyment of sneaking through the evil lair and avoiding detection. I'll never forget looking at my gaming couch mate in confusion and distress when my Playstation 2 told me it was time to switch my controller to the second port so I could beat a boss in Metal Gear Solid. Like, what? First, this is a stealth game, so why have combat at all? And second, WHY IN THE HELL ARE YOU BREAKING MY IMMERSION TO MAKE ME CHANGE HOW I AM CONNECTED TO MY CONSOLE?

I also think that the ender dragon fight in Minecraft is needlessly protracted and complex for a game where 99% of the combat adds up to "right and left click at intervals." You go from that to a fight where you have to knock out a bunch of crystals with some bow accuracy while avoiding an island full of creatures you can't look in the eye while fighting a dragon who can throw you off the island. It's not hard by gaming standards, but it's needlessly complicated by Minecraft combat standards. That game has creative mode you can freely swap into, however, so it's not a big deal for people not interested in it.
posted by xyzzy at 9:21 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]




I used to play on hard or expert or whatever, but these days I’m all about easy. Life is hard; I don’t need my pastimes to be.

Looking forward to this.
posted by notyou at 9:41 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


I'm down for tourism mode. But I'd still like to be able to sneak up behind someone and choke them into a coma, 'cos that never gets old.
posted by zompist at 9:44 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


I love Valve's developer commentary -- e.g., their voiceovers for how Lost Coast was built to showcase the new engine capabilities. I would definitely replay other games if they had a running conversation about how they tweaked a sequence for pacing, or that paused to step through the triggers and level design behind a set piece.

I thought of this too, a while ago, in connection to Skyrim. At the game start when you have to choose the Stormcloak or Empire guy to follow, there is also a third option, a developer or intern dressed in khakis and holding a tablet. He breaks the fourth wall by talking not to your character in game, but to you, and if you accompany him he gives a developer commentary throughout the game.

"No worries, the health system does not kick in until you enter the next cell."

"Ah yes, the ruins of Mzalft. Our lead designer Brad was really happy with how this turned out, you should have seen it before we had to delete the fourth and fifth towers to optimize FPS on low end machines."
posted by Meatbomb at 9:49 PM on October 4 [9 favorites]


Via the always excellent @moshboy off Twitter, here is a list of games supporting tourism either out of the box or via mods, together with detailed instructions on how to enable tourism per game.
posted by motty at 10:01 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


It was always fun blowing through tough levels on Doom on God Mode after I'd already finished them the old-fashioned way. "WHO'S A TOUGH GUY *NOW*, CYBER-MINOTAUR?!?!" I'm not sure how much there would have been to be gained by walking through and trying to learn more about the monsters' culture or the architecture, though.

...

Via the always excellent @moshboy off Twitter, here is a list of games supporting tourism either out of the box or via mods, together with detailed instructions on how to enable tourism per game.

Coincidentally, vectorpoem is J. P. LeBreton, formerly of Irrational, 2K Marin, & Double Fine. He did a video series playing through the highlights from Doom with Romero.
posted by juv3nal at 11:02 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Despite being an open world dedicated to selling you stuff, Playstation Home was occasionally a nice place to visit, if only briefly. I remember having my avatar look out the portal of a space station down onto the Earth below and thinking what a beautiful moment that was.
posted by Eikonaut at 11:25 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]


Game developers are getting older too!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:41 PM on October 4


I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution with a skip boss button. Or rather, a cheese strat. The boss fights were terrible, they played nothing at all like the main game because they were made by a different developer. They were hard, and the stealth and subtlety that worked everywhere else in the game didn't work in the boss fights. What did work was putting a couple of points in the Typhoon ability and then spamming it right at the start of the fight. Boss-be-gone. The rest of the game was much better without them.

That being said I like the challenge of boss fights and feel a bit cheated any time I have to skip them or lower the difficulty. What I like best are games with adaptive difficulty, so that if they see I've failed something several times it gets easier but in a way I don't exactly notice. It's like how a good daddy lets you beat him at checkers and never lets on he let you win.
posted by Nelson at 1:11 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I hate secret adaptive difficulty, Nelson, because it looks like I've improved enough to handle the challenge when in fact it's just the game taking it easy on me.

I'm all in favor of a Discovery Tour mode though. I'd like to remind everyone that NetHack has had Discover Mode like forever....
posted by JHarris at 1:18 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


When you realize that in DOOM....YOU....ARE....THE....MONSTER!?!

No, John. You are the demons.

And then John was a zombie.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:36 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


Also:

I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution with a skip boss button. Or rather, a cheese strat. The boss fights were terrible

They actually went back and reworked those for the Director's Cut version of the game to make it fairer for people (like me) who prefer to do a lot of stealth in Deus Ex-type games. Check it out if you haven't already.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:40 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I am however still pretty proud of having gotten to Basingstoke.

A phrase that nobody has ever used to refer to real life.
posted by Dysk at 1:54 AM on October 5 [6 favorites]


I like watching my husband play video games, particularly ones with good storylines, like Uncharted. The moments where his player just keeps dying are definitely frustrating when I lose interest after the hilarity of him continuosly dying wear off. The best bits are when he has to solve little puzzles and I can be a backseat driver.

So I'm all for more immersive, Big World games that aren't just about challenging how quick your trigger finger is. If there was less SHOOT ME IN THE FACE BEFORE I SHOOT YOURS in games, I would definitely play as well. I'm pretty sure we abandoned The Last of Us because he couldn't get past some zombies in a room, which is a shame because we bought it because everyone said the storytelling was so good.
posted by like_neon at 2:04 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I think the marathon cheating analogy is a little broken. The equivalent to tourist mode for the marathon would be turning up a week after the marathon had finished and getting a tour guide to walk you along the length of the course, pointing out things of interest. At the end, nobody would give you a medal, and you sure as hell wouldn't have cheated at anything.
posted by trif at 3:15 AM on October 5 [9 favorites]


Except, what do you call it if you've done the tourist mode on AC? You'd say you'd played the latest AC, and perhaps add a "though only the tourist mode" qualifier. That'd de like claiming you'd "done the London Marathon" because you'd taken an open-top bus tour.

The analogy comes from the way we talk about games but really having a way to deal with this kind of differentiation yet. It's perfectly reasonable to not think it matters that someone didn't do the hard thing or whatever, didn't beat the bosses, etc. But then why is taking a bus tour of a marathon course not the same as having done the marathon?

In sure we'll work out some linguistic conventions to disambiguate this kind of thing soon enough. But right now, we aren't there.
posted by Dysk at 3:21 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I am utterly uninterested in games that challenge me -- I find them boring -- so I hope this is the start of a large trend.
posted by kyrademon at 3:42 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


And then download the mods that turn dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine and put top hats on mudcrabs.

I highly recommend Jaxonz Blink Teleport. Flame-cloaked dragon priests can come at you all they want... you just teleport to the other side of the room and go back to plinking them to death with archery. It's also great for climbing mountains without pressing jump a thousand times, and exploring areas your legs can't get you to.

Skyrim also cheats you in combat sometimes. No Killmoves No Killcams No Killbites prevents all those disruptive in-combat cut scenes that suddenly kill you when you totally had health left and were about to drink a potion.

If I had this magical button for any game, I would probably use it to replay The Phantom Pain for the rest of my life. It's a beautiful game. I loved the infiltration, collecting, and resource management, and all that is plenty tough. The boss fights, though, are beyond awful. So stressful.
posted by heatvision at 3:47 AM on October 5


Saying you've played Assassin's Creed means that you've switched the game on and interacted with it in some fashion. Maybe we only played the first level. Maybe we were tourists. Maybe we 100%'d it. I think we already have the language to differentiate. If we choose not to use it then that's on us.

I think it's pretty hard to conflate "I achieved 100% completion in game x" with "I've played game x"
posted by trif at 3:48 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Right, but I think most people who'd done a level of something would respond to "have you played X?" with "not really". I know I would. I don't know how I'd respond in the case of having done a tourist mode on a game.
posted by Dysk at 3:52 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Like, you don't say you ran the marathon if you noped out after the first kilometer, either
posted by Dysk at 3:53 AM on October 5


It's great that there are some games that do this, and AssCreed's discovery tour sounds like a perfect fit for the game.

But I also like the fact that there are some games that don't have an easy mode, so that the upper levels or the final zone or whatever retains a bit of the same kind of mystery as the later stages of arcade games used to have when I was a little kid with too few 20c coins and not enough skill to get past the start. Take a game like Thumper: I've made it up to stage 7 or 8 or something and I may never finish it (because it looks like this and is just as frantic as that video suggests), but I like the idea that there are parts of it that will remain out of reach unless I really work for them.

I agree with whoever it was (maybe on an earlier thread here? not sure) who pointed out that this argument reflects different views of what games are for: either they're consumer products and there's no reason why every player shouldn't get to experience everything that they paid for, or they're art and *sometimes* challenge might be an essential part of what makes them work.

There's also the fact that when people talk about making games easier they often also mean making them more "streamlined" and handholdy (John Walker is kind of famous for giving slightly complicated games bad reviews because he can't be bothered working out how to play them), and that's much worse than just adding an easy mode.

Take Bloodborne: if you go into it expecting to be able to just walk into a crowd of enemies and demolish them with unstoppable hero power (like you can with, say, Destiny 2, which has been fairly accurately described as like going through a room full of balloons with a nail gun) because of course a modern game should tell you when you're playing it wrong and point you in the right direction, then yes, it's really hard. But if you pay attention and take a curious, creative approach to solving its problems, you'll find that it gives you all the tools you need to make it not very hard at all. It would be sad if games like that stopped being made.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:59 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


I suppose there are plenty of people who bought an FPS game and never played the game online. Did they not play the game? If you asked them if they played it, would they say "not really"? They certainly haven't utilised all the features.

There's an elitist undertone to this conversation that feels a little grubby. Is there a suggestion that someone would play one of these games and subsequently claim to have achieved something they had not?

Don't get me wrong, I've been sucked into the achievement gamification sinkhole many times, and I understand the warmth of having done something that few people have managed... but I don't think people are diminishing the achievements of others by asking for a tourist mode.

Dysk, I know you're raising counterpoints here but I don't believe you are being elitist or grubby, just for clarity.
posted by trif at 4:08 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


> "Right, but I think most people who'd done a level of something would respond to 'have you played X?' with 'not really'."

Why? I'd say, "Sure."
posted by kyrademon at 4:16 AM on October 5


Like yeah, different games have different ways of engaging with them, and no doubt different communities do too. I'm not saying you have to have explored every nook and cranny of what a game has to offer to say you've played it. But, much like racing a chapter of the first volume of LotR doesn't mean you've read Lord of the Rings, there are some games where there is a linear narrative "main game" where it only makes sense to say you've played it if you've gone through a substantial portion of that. No, you don't need to beat the ender dragon to meaningfully say you've played minecraft, say, and you don't need to have done much more than boot it up and have a go to say you've played Overwatch or Rocket League or whatever, but there are absolutely games for which that level of engagement doesn't meaningfully constitute having played it. Like, you haven't really played Monkey Island if you don't finish it. Some games are more analogous to novels, and the fact that other games are more analogous to, I dunno, encyclopedias, doesn't make that less true. You've played said FPS if you've gone through the single player, regardless of whether you've touched the multi. You've read LotR if you've read the main story, regardless of if you touched the songs, maps, and other miscellanea in the appendices.
posted by Dysk at 4:18 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


And like, if you and your community have a different way of talking about games, that's totally valid! Awesome! But I'd like my community not to be torn down simply for having a slightly different way of using language, and nor do I think that that way of using the language is wrong or evil or necessarily indicative of a sneering elitism. Nobody here is trying to tell you that you suck or that you're lesser.
posted by Dysk at 4:22 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I am utterly uninterested in games that challenge me -- I find them boring

This is interesting because largely my attitude towards games that actually exist would echo this. You'll NEVER for instance see me complaining that a game is "too easy." But it's not, for me, entirely true, it's just that the sweet spot of challenge level that I actually enjoy is something games pretty much never hit. And if they're not going to hit that, I'll take erring on the side of easy over erring on the side of difficult every goddamn time.
posted by juv3nal at 4:26 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


In WoW (World of Warcraft) we basically have something like this, because of LFR setting (Looking for Raid) which is all bosses on easy mode. It doesn't remove all combat, but it lets you progress through the story line bypassing the raiding aspect of the game in a fundamental way. There's been some controversy about how it's changed the community.

I'm sympathetic to the idea because it has to do with accessibility and letting more diverse kinds of people enjoy the game world.
posted by polymodus at 4:26 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


> I don't know how I'd respond in the case of having done a tourist mode on a game.

People already conversationally differentiate between having completed a game on guided, easy, medium, hard, suicide, fratricide, genocide, planetcide, cosmoscide modes, because the higher difficulty modes provide better bragging rights. Games provide different achievements for playing at different difficulty levels so players can only brag about having 100%ed a game if they've completed it at the hardest settings.

Using the game without engaging with the game mechanics would be Just Another Play Mode. This already effectively exists in other forms. There are commonly-understood terms for playing games in ways contrary to the games' rules (pacifist mode, tool-assisted, modded). The difference here is that the game company is openly offering one rather than providing it as an unintended consequence of the game's design.
posted by ardgedee at 4:27 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I think people just literally use 'i played that game' to mean different things. in different contexts. 'Have you played [through] X' vs 'Have you played [for any nontrivial time] X' vs 'Have you played [installed and looked at briefly] X' could all be answered yes truthfully and I've pretty much seen all those in perfectly reasonable situations where they made sense.

I never finished Monkey Island but I spent hours banging my head against it after school with my buddies. What were we even doing?

One thing that contributes to the kind of pressure this post is about is the staggering length of games as far as completionism goes these days - achievements, online bonus content, hidden elements, multiple playthroughs, different characters ad builds, etc etc etc. It's a rare game that you can just play through, finish, and be done, and games are often really bad at saying 'okay, you're finished!' because they want you to keep booting them up. Everyone's going to have a different point where they're done - my buddy is at 596 hrs on Skyrim because for him, finishing it's finishing the achievements.
posted by xiw at 4:27 AM on October 5


The thing is, no one is discussing taking the hard difficulty levels away from anyone. So the argument really boils down to “there is actual harm when someone cheats in a single player game”.

If you believe a person harms themselves when they cheat, keep in mind that you have no idea what their circumstances might be, and that its pretty gross to be policing other peoples’ personal sense of enjoyment.

If you believe it harms you when someone else cheats, frankly, you are an asshole. Video games are virtual experiences made of ones and zeros, which have always and will forever be hackable, if not always by design. Seeing the last level has never been, and will never be, a “privilege of the honest”. It’s grrat if finishing a difficult personal challenge has meaning to you, and it ought to, but stop telling other people how to live their goddamned lives “correctly”.
posted by Nutri-Matic Drinks Synthesizer at 4:28 AM on October 5 [10 favorites]


(For the record, I am fully in favour of easy and tourist modes, though I think they represent fundamentally different things - the latter being a difference in kind rather than degree. A tourist playthrough necessarily looks fundamentally different to a "normal" playthrough, which is why I don't think it represents the same thing as playing through a game with the enemies in it, even if you do that on easy with God mode. I just think they represent fundamentally different experiences of the game world.)
posted by Dysk at 4:35 AM on October 5


A key part of the discussion here is the Assassin's Creed games have always had this aspect of tourism to them. Every single game has been littered with historical context narrated to you, often awkwardly. Full essays about buildings, annoying voice-overs providing color commentary from your modern-times sidekick, historical events twisted into weird hashashin story plots. My favorite part of several of the games is completing all the buildings and/or building puzzles, exploring every nook and cranny. There's combat and challenges and boss fights in Assassin's Creed, too, but the game designers have always had a heavy emphasis on historical narrative. A tourist mode makes perfect sense for those games in a way it doesn't quite for Doom or Far Cry or the like.

I remember about the third expansion of WoW, when some of us super-power level 80s or whatever decided to go be a tourist back in the old level 60 dungeons. Ahn'Qiraj was really depressing when you could solo every boss except the Twin Emperors, which of course required two. Molten Core was just sad. Tourist mode doesn't work as well in the WoW raid game because the boss design is most of the game. Still no harm in allowing it and dropping lots of sweet sweet epic level 60 purples. I had a guildie who even kept going back over and over to finish Thunderfury.
posted by Nelson at 4:39 AM on October 5


no game with an AAA budget that forces me to be a dude is gonna get my money. I've stayed away from AssCreed because of this

The latest Assassins Creed has you playing twins, and you can choose which one you use to go through most of the story, which effectively lets you either choose to make your "main" a lady or to choose to switch back and forth constantly. I didn't like it, but you might.
posted by corb at 4:59 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Except, what do you call it if you've done the tourist mode on AC? You'd say you'd played the latest AC, and perhaps add a "though only the tourist mode" qualifier. That'd de like claiming you'd "done the London Marathon" because you'd taken an open-top bus tour.

The difference is that completing a marathon is reasonably considered a worthwhile achievement and completing a videogame isn't. Completing a marathon (usually) requires extensive training, discipline over a long term to build the required stamina, determination to get through physical suffering throughout that long period of training, and determination to get through the actual marathon. Beating a videogame requires a modicum of hand-eye coordination, and maybe a bit of strategic thinking, but mostly just a willingness to sit on a couch for a long time.

If you think that beating a game is more akin to running a marathon than it is to sitting down to watch six hours of Monty Python... honestly, you are part of the problem. I say this as someone who has spent truly absurd amounts of time playing video and computer games since the early 1980s.

What you call having done the tourist mode on AC is whatever you want to, and second-guessing or "correcting" someone who hasn't completed AC to your standards means (a) you're kind of a dick and (b) nothing at all about them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:01 AM on October 5 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I didn't introduce the marathon comparison, and in fact repeatedly went to what I thought was a better analogy, the reading of books. But hey, feel free to beat up a straw man effigy of me as "part of the problem".
posted by Dysk at 5:06 AM on October 5



This is fabulous. Please do more of this. I'm another game playing type that this appeals too. I am decent at games and lurvs me some good challenging gameplay and fighting. I spent several years high level raiding in mmos and have completed numerous single player games in hard mode. I don't have the time to play as much as I used too and have found that though enjoyable there are a bunch of games that I haven't finished. It would be great to have the choice of just being able to see the whole game without the same time commitment and/or finish the story parts of these games when I find myself not having the time to work through the combat part of them.

Complainers can suck an egg. I mean come on these are SINGLE player games complaining people. Get over yourself. You aren't that special.

I'm someone more likely to buy the next AC because of this. I love AC worlds so much but haven't bought he last couple because of time contraints.
posted by Jalliah at 5:09 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]



Added to above. I'm not commenting about people in this discussion. The complaining people I'm refering to are the ones I've seen elsewhere who appear to be really mad and predicting the demise of all that is good and right in game world.
posted by Jalliah at 5:15 AM on October 5


Yeah, I didn't introduce the marathon comparison

I mean, if you don't want people to respond to it, just don't include it at all?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:19 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I used to play on hard or expert or whatever, but these days I’m all about easy. Life is hard; I don’t need my pastimes to be.

Yeah at this point, between work and my daughter, I've got maybe an hour a day to play video games? Maybe two on the weekends. It's soured me on hard games and long games. If you need twenty hours to really get started on a game (like a lot of the sprawling up world whatevers), I'm not going to touch it, because you're asking for basically a month of all my free time.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:22 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I was responding to somebody else. You're reading a lot into a comparison that wasn't there. I think the notion of "completing" something is fundamentally similar across dissimilar endeavors, without that statement making any judgement about the relative values of those things. It is more like reading a book or watching a complete set of Monty Python in a bunch of ways. But in the very narrow terms of "I have done this" meaning "I finished this, not merely started", all of those things are like marathons.
posted by Dysk at 5:23 AM on October 5


So now if I don't want the stigma of being a tourist in real life, I have to go to Florence and assassinate a bunch of people? Damn.
posted by clawsoon at 5:33 AM on October 5 [6 favorites]


Dysk, I think we may have had some confusion between having played and having completed a game. You are correct, if someone says they have completed a game, they probably don't mean they took a developer tour around the locations, and if they says they have completed a marathon then hopefully they mean in a formal setting.
posted by trif at 5:38 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


You know, I was thinking about why my initial reaction to this was negative, and I think a lot of it is that I think this accelerates a trend I don't like very much in gaming as it stands - moving everything to an open world, where you can do what you want, but it doesn't affect the story much, because they're trying so hard to let you do what you want in any order.

There is absolutely no way you can create a Tourist mode for a game where it matters what you accomplish and how you accomplish it - where it matters that you did or didn't kill a certain character in one scene, or whether you went to one city first or another. So any game that has Tourist is going to swing even further towards open world, which I kind of hate. I hate that my decisions barely matter anymore - whether I complete a quest or not being mostly irrelevant in the end. And so in a sense if this takes off it /is/ a loss. There /are/ competing interests.
posted by corb at 5:49 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Even so, if someone says "I have done this," then they've finished it to whatever standards they hold or care about. Maybe I don't remember what happened at the end of $BOOK because I threw the book at the wall and didn't complete the book to your satisfaction. Maybe I finished it, notionally completing it to your satisfaction, when I was really tired and sleepy, or under the influence, or just plain forgot the ending. Why would you care which? If I say "Yeah, I've seen Red Zone Cuba" when in fact during much of it I was faffing about on the intarwebs and not paying much attention to it, why on earth would you care enough to dispute my claim? It's still a weird, dickish thing to do.

It makes a little sense to care whether someone who says they've completed a marathon has done so, because they're asserting some sort of real accomplishment. It makes a lot of sense to care whether someone who says that they have a CDL or medical license in fact does. It doesn't make much sense to care whether someone who says they've played a game, seen a movie, read a book, has done so to your required level of completion unless perhaps you're teaching a course on it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:53 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


There is absolutely no way you can create a Tourist mode for a game where it matters what you accomplish and how you accomplish it - where it matters that you did or didn't kill a certain character in one scene, or whether you went to one city first or another.

I don't see how this tracks at all. How is access to geography necessarily driven by action driven plot in a game, to the point where there's "absolutely no way" you can let someone wander that geography if they haven't first Got That McGuffin?
posted by Roommate at 5:58 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Like, even in the most linear of corridor driven, non open world games, you can easily have a "tourist mode" that removes all enemies and opens the end of level doors, and just let's someone walk that long hall. It would be boring as hell, but it's doable.
posted by Roommate at 6:00 AM on October 5


There is absolutely no way you can create a Tourist mode for a game where it matters what you accomplish and how you accomplish it - where it matters that you did or didn't kill a certain character in one scene, or whether you went to one city first or another.

You can do this as much as the regular game allows just by making combat always-win. In normal combat all your weapons always one-shot everyone and you can't be harmed. You show up to a set-piece and instead of a boss battle it's a cutscene of you defeating Enemy. The tourist mode they're describing for AC:O sounds different than that, but there's no reason a game couldn't do it.

ISTR that some of the Mass Effect games have something close to this? For sure, if you play ME2 without having played ME1, there's a little cartoon thing that goes through the main events of ME1 and asks you which choices you "made."

As far as the larger issue goes I have SO MANY GOOD IDEAS but don't work for Bethesda.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:02 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


if you play ME2 without having played ME1, there's a little cartoon thing that goes through the main events of ME1 and asks you which choices you "made."

Dragon Age has the same thing. But the shift to that has actually meant it massively simplified the effects. When it was a matter of you importing save games, they could make the effects much different and more tailored - when it's just "choose the options", it misses a lot of nuance. And games that started "import your save game" have started instead asking everyone to do that little cartoon of your choices,

So it's not just that they keep funding and developing both options - developing the easier way often takes away the more complex way.
posted by corb at 6:07 AM on October 5


Maybe I finished it, notionally completing it to your satisfaction, when I was really tired and sleepy, or under the influence, or just plain forgot the ending. Why would you care which?

I kind of don't, and I thought I'd said as much. What I care about is having a shorthand way to talk about having engaged with something in that particular kind of incompletely complete manner for myself, when talking to my close friends who broadly use the same terms in the same way as me. I'm not going to be upset if you've claimed to have read a book when you actually stopped two chapters at the end, much like I don't care if you claim to have run a marathon despite not doing the final kilometer. I would however like to avoid the confusion of getting the impression of one when the other is the case with the actual people around me, and more importantly, want to avoid confusing them.

Like, I don't get why caring about someone's marathon claim is now legit than caring about their book claim? Both are a claim to a kind of achievement. Both are also utterly inconsequential unless there's some kind of formalised competition or accreditation involved, or you're talking about someone's professional life.

But in practice, for a lot of people, "played" is more like "finished" or "ran" than "read some of" or "took part in", which is why it isn't necessarily a case of no distinction. If it isn't for you, great! But you're bristling at someone else's usage by trying to make yours universal when it simply isn't.
posted by Dysk at 6:14 AM on October 5


I would however like to avoid the confusion of getting the impression of one when the other is the case with the actual people around me, and more importantly, want to avoid confusing them.

I will shut up after this:

In practice, I can drearily predict what's going to happen: If you mention playing AC:O on tourist settings online, especially if you present as female, a nigh-infinite number of pinheads will descend upon you to tell you that you haven't really played it, that you are any number of gendered and/or homophobic slurs, and that Ubi are gendered and/or homophobic slurs for allowing you this option. Even though your intent is not to defend these pinheads, your discussion here about needing some way to clearly make these distinctions has the effect of defending these pinheads, so I think it's a bad thing to do.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:36 AM on October 5 [9 favorites]


There is absolutely no way you can create a Tourist mode for a game where it matters what you accomplish and how you accomplish it - where it matters that you did or didn't kill a certain character in one scene, or whether you went to one city first or another. So any game that has Tourist is going to swing even further towards open world, which I kind of hate. I hate that my decisions barely matter anymore - whether I complete a quest or not being mostly irrelevant in the end. And so in a sense if this takes off it /is/ a loss. There /are/ competing interests.

I don't like this new 3D trend. I think it's going to make it so that twitch reflexes are removed from games, and instead everything is about graphics and exploration.
posted by codacorolla at 6:58 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


In WoW (World of Warcraft) we basically have something like this, because of LFR setting (Looking for Raid) which is all bosses on easy mode. It doesn't remove all combat, but it lets you progress through the story line bypassing the raiding aspect of the game in a fundamental way. There's been some controversy about how it's changed the community.

As a former hardcore raider, I LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE LFR. I can just jump in, do some bosses, see the story/whatever and I don't have to have a 20-30 hour per week guild commitment or somehow pay for a carry.

Blizzard did screw up in Legion (the latest expansion) by requiring Mythic level dungeon for many professions. LFD would have been fine - I like the profession quest chains overall. But I have a few alts that.... well, I'm not that proficient with, and am not invested enough to become proficient, and requiring that level of challenge was dumb on their part.


Also, the marathon comparison is stupid. My wife is an ultra trail runner - and with some frequency, she and I will hike the course ahead of a race, just get the feel of it. To put it in parlance - she did the race, I did the course. And a 20-30-50 mile hike aint nothing either, even if it was sectioned. I know as well as she does where the trail goes.

I'd never tell you that I've done the Hardrock 100 for example. But I have done much of the course.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:14 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


Metroid Prime, GameCube. I hit a point where no matter what I did I could not beat a boss. Just hours of beating my head against the wall, with no progress. Wasn't even the final boss, but apparently one of the harder ones to beat. And I was pretty good at that point - I had gotten the controls down, I could handle most enemies, but I could not pass that goddamn point and it kind of ruined an otherwise enjoyable game for me.

I still haven't beat the level, and honestly it makes me not want to play the game any more at all even though it was fun and challenging up until that point.

I'm for the Skip Boss Fight button.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:24 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Is the problem that this might result in a watering down of the higher end of the difficulty scale? Is this a concern for people? Or is it definitely a case of "get off my lawn, you part-timers!" and "you don't deserve to call yourself a player of game x!"?
posted by trif at 7:30 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


> I don't see how this tracks at all. How is access to geography necessarily driven by action driven plot in a game, to the point where there's "absolutely no way" you can let someone wander that geography if they haven't first Got That McGuffin?

I can envision this as a legitimate concern. As a game designer, you don’t necessarily want players to be able to case out a level before playing it, when the terrain or room’s contents are intended to be part of a challenge. I mean, it’s a weak concern in the era of Let’s Play videos and other already-offered game design decisions. But where surprise is an element of a challenge, it can provide a patient player a tool that the designer didn’t want them to have. So throwing up a challenge, even if it’s a play-act of a challenge, can be important to convey to the player that the designer intended a particular emotional state, or to explain a transition of the game-world’s state, or to explain to the player about the arrival or disappearance of certain NPCs, and so on.

But this gets into the question of whether players have a right of admittance to parts of the game that the game designer has thrown obstacles in front of. There’s no generalizable right answer, and I think even for any specific game it should be considered a matter of design and esthetic rather than a matter of logic. At one extreme you have open-world games for which players can get plenty of entertainment simply out of wandering around, and the discussions here about previous installments of Assassin’s Creed make it sound like there’s a lot of entertainment dropped to the floor by not allowing players to peacefully explore the world’s details. At the other extreme are, I guess, games like Spelunky for which it would be difficult to imagine turning into an open-world game.
posted by ardgedee at 7:36 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Even though your intent is not to defend these pinheads, your discussion here about needing some way to clearly make these distinctions has the effect of defending these pinheads, so I think it's a bad thing to do.

I'm a queer woman. I'm plenty familiar with the pinheads, and I completely disagree that I'm giving any cover to them by having a different way of talking about games to you, and I frankly resent the implication.
posted by Dysk at 7:37 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


That's a fair cop. I will try to listen more.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:49 AM on October 5


Or is it definitely a case of "get off my lawn, you part-timers!" and "you don't deserve to call yourself a player of game x!"?

Definitely this. Nobody's calling for anything to be removed, only added.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:55 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]




^

*sighs*
posted by Fizz at 8:07 AM on October 5


Nobody's calling for anything to be removed, only added.

That really depends, actually. If you were just calling for a combat-ultimate-easy Mode, like someone discussed above, that's different than a Tourist Mode where there are no challenges at all.

So, for example, take the Assassins Creed game. Many areas are only accessible by way of climbing, grappling, or in some way doing feats to get there. Do you just code in doors for the Tourist players? Or just remove damage from falling? What about games like Deus Ex, where part of the challenge is the conversational choices you make?
posted by corb at 8:10 AM on October 5


uncleozzy... that's satirical, right? That's somebody masterfully lampooning gamergate shitbirds? ...Right?
posted by trif at 8:11 AM on October 5


uncleozzy... that's satirical, right?

The poster of the original source seems to still be active on Reddit, still posting reactionary garbage, so... I'm going to say no.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:15 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I suppose there are plenty of people who bought an FPS game and never played the game online.

I've played plenty of FPS games that had both single-player and on-line and never tried on-line because of two things: I'm not that fast any would probably be constantly blown away by griefers and I've never heard anything but on-line is full of racist homophobes (not all on-liners!) and I just don't need that to enjoy the game. I'm sure I could probably join a MeFight club crew and have fun, but I'm just not interested. Titanfall looked like fun but no single-player, no thanks.

I, for one, would welcome some adaptive difficulty. As a player-of-a-certain-age I'll be the first to admit that I just don't have the reflexes required in some situations, and I'd love it if the game started decreasing the enemy numbers, health, or hit ratio when I'm on my 10th try at a skirmish. I'm not trying to earn a badge for Completed At Difficult.
posted by achrise at 8:17 AM on October 5 [6 favorites]


That really depends, actually. If you were just calling for a combat-ultimate-easy Mode, like someone discussed above, that's different than a Tourist Mode where there are no challenges at all.

The original stab-people-in-the-face-to-progress mode is still there, so who gives a shit?
posted by tobascodagama at 8:20 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I mean, seriously: interrogate why it bothers you that a game could ship with an optional mode that makes it more accessible to other people. If that truly, deeply bothers you, your relationship with games may not be healthy.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:22 AM on October 5 [9 favorites]


The original stab-people-in-the-face-to-progress mode is still there, so who gives a shit?

Exactly. This.

If the regular base game that has all the "normal" challenge modes is still available for those gamers that do want to play that way, then what does it matter if there is another option for exploring/education/etc.

It's not like this takes away from those gamers who want to have that challenge. If you do not like the explorer/education mode then don't select that option.

So much of this criticism has the stink of policing how other people want to play a game and it's not something I understand or want any part of. I really hope that we start to see more of these types of modes in gaming.
posted by Fizz at 8:25 AM on October 5 [11 favorites]


I was playing Evoland a while ago on my nexus, but when I got to a dungeon where I had to run around a maze without falling off dodging fireballs I stopped, because I am playing it on a tablet without a proper controller. I've managed to get to that point without a bother, getting better at the controls, but there I just couldn't proceed after 30+ attempts so I uninstalled the game. It was quite fun up to that point, but was essentially useless code when I got to that point because there was no way the touchscreen for moving was accurate enough to allow for such precise control to allow me to proceed. I guess I should have gone and bought a proper game controller to get past, but I'm not going to throw money after a game because of its bad design. If I was able to skip that one section I probably could have completed it, after reading walkthroughs for tip to get past it looked like that was the only twitchy part of the game, but nope. Uninstall the only reasonable option.

This blowback also reminds me of playing WoW when it first came out and a group that I played with wanted to join a PvP server instead of a PvE server. Fast forward to level 59-60 and I'm wandering around the more advaced zones doing quests and end up getting followed by a rogue who attacks me at every chance. The rogue was able to essentially stun me to such an extent that there wasn't any possibility to run away at all. It was essentially just rogue appears and I'm immobile and then I die. Over and over again. Ended up quitting that as well because why deal with kids that are there just to grief you. If it were more of a fair fight and I could actually stand a chance of wining then maybe, but when any response is impossible then dont bother.
posted by koolkat at 8:32 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


The original stab-people-in-the-face-to-progress mode is still there, so who gives a shit?

Hell the Original DooM had a "please don't hurt me" mode that was...

Well, it was really hard when you were playing null-modem co-op while also being fall out of the chair drunk and listening to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

But Nightmare difficulty existed and wasn't diminished by the easier modes.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:35 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Well, it was really hard when you were playing null-modem co-op while also being fall out of the chair drunk and listening to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

That's the problem with co-op Doom. No matter how hard you try it always ends up in a deathmatch.
posted by Talez at 8:38 AM on October 5


The original stab-people-in-the-face-to-progress mode is still there, so who gives a shit?

The thing is, I'm not sure it /would/ be.

Like: take conversational challenges. There's generally only one "win" condition where you can avoid the negative consequence, which means the game designers only have to come up with two default states: the one in which you "won" and convinced the person to ally with you or do what you wish, and the one in which you failed and the person attacked or worked against you.

The only way to make a Tourist mode there is to make none of the conversational choices have any meaning. So then you either have to program yet another special default state where what happens moving forward doesn't reference any of the persuasion you did, program /multiple/ states where no matter what you said, it convinced them and incorporate whatever you said into it - both of which would mean Tourist Mode itself would be a different story altogether than the main game - or to make the Tourist Mode win condition the default win condition, so moving forward for /anyone/ doesn't reference what you did to get there and the conversation was scripted from the start.

Game designers are more likely to take the cheaper and easier option of programming only one in - which means the entire game is changed by having a "no challenges" option, because shooting people in the face is rarely the only challenge in a game.
posted by corb at 8:38 AM on October 5


That's the problem with co-op Doom. No matter how hard you try it always ends up in a deathmatch.

It didn't help if your partner pulled the entire level back to the spawnpoint either. And, once you got all the pickups.... well, do what you can with your fists.

Good times.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:44 AM on October 5


Sort of a sidebar thought, but one of the things that I think is interesting about the evolution of difficulty design over the years in games is the way the ubiquity of cheevo systems has allowed for a ton more (a) granularity and (b) canonization of the idea of difficulty.

Like, at the very broad level, there used to be "I beat the game on Hard, I swear" but now there's a public-facing achievement on your Steam account if it ever comes down to bragging rights etc. But more interesting to me is the way that all the little tidbits can be broken out from one another. If a game has multiple difficulty modes, sure, there's a cheevo for beating the game at each, but if the game has difficult bits, optional challenges and hidden things and unreasonably goofy stunts to try and pull, those can also be recognized. If you care about 'em, you can chase 'em down. And if you don't care, you can just not care.

The flexibility in designing and communicating difficulty and achievement that comes with that seems like a good thing long term. And I think you can look at how the available cheevos are mapped out in any given game to get an idea of where the makers' heads were on that when they were building it out.
posted by cortex at 8:47 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


The only way to make a Tourist mode there is to make none of the conversational choices have any meaning.

That seems pretty throwing-hands-in-the-air to me, honestly. Conversational choices in these games do the same thing ultimately that everything else involved in state-management in a game does: changes a flag or other variable under the hood that then persists for the rest of the playthrough. Contriving a simple way to drive that state-change outside of the normal game loop is not a tremendous challenge. It's a little bit of extra work, and if it makes a more flexible, interesting, accessible game it's definitely work worth doing. In any case it's far from structurally inconceivable.
posted by cortex at 8:50 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


Game designers are more likely to take the cheaper and easier option of programming only one in - which means the entire game is changed by having a "no challenges" option, because shooting people in the face is rarely the only challenge in a game.

Let me get this straight: you think that because of a tourist mode in a single game, which is currently experiencing tons of backlash simply for existing, game developers (at some indeterminate point in the future) will then make all games less challenging as a result?

Let me first recommend that you read the actual article, and try to understand what tourist mode is in this case.
posted by codacorolla at 9:50 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


It's a little bit of extra work, and if it makes a more flexible, interesting, accessible game it's definitely work worth doing. In any case it's far from structurally inconceivable.

The other thing to keep in mind is that these are all conscious choices that are being made. Game developers/publishers will choose to spend time, effort, money, & resources on one thing while ignoring another.

The gaming industry has catered specifically to a particular type of gamer for the longest time. There should be room for all. It's just a matter of getting these companies to see that there will be positive results for a more inclusive type of game design.
posted by Fizz at 9:56 AM on October 5 [5 favorites]


I don't think I've ever played a triple-A game, because I know I suck at combat. I now have enough leisure money to buy games - and I spend it on indie Steam and Humble Bundle things, usually on sale, heavy on hidden object and puzzles with the occasional visual novel.

I'm not sure triple-A game companies know I exist (or know my demographic exists); middle-aged women who've never owned a console are not particularly on their radar. My kids are, though; they play Nintendo games and basically nothing else, and the other companies have got to be trying to figure out how to get their attention.

Daughter who spends lots of money on Nintendo is actively interested in this news - she's competent at video game combat but doesn't enjoy most of it, likes easy mode, and has zero interest in bragging rights. This is made for her, not me; she'd actually buy games and spend the time to explore them, whereas I have games I adore that I don't play because I don't have the spare time.

I am happy to see any gaming industry developments that move away from "you are a homeless wanderer who will spend this story killing bigger and more vicious things until you win" as the base premise of All True Gaming. I can sympathize with the worry that adding tourist mode, if it catches on, will get devs to shift the focus of the "main" game, but I don't think we're ever going to have a shortage of murder-hobo games because of it.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:06 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


cortex: "The only way to make a Tourist mode there is to make none of the conversational choices have any meaning.

That seems pretty throwing-hands-in-the-air to me, honestly. Conversational choices in these games do the same thing ultimately that everything else involved in state-management in a game does: changes a flag or other variable under the hood that then persists for the rest of the playthrough. Contriving a simple way to drive that state-change outside of the normal game loop is not a tremendous challenge. It's a little bit of extra work, and if it makes a more flexible, interesting, accessible game it's definitely work worth doing. In any case it's far from structurally inconceivable.
"

I immediately thought of Fable II. Where your choices actually effect how the game world develops. So a Tourist Mode would have to let you make those choices, something I would be in favor of. I don't particularly like playing the Evil role nor the tedium of multiple play throughs. But I still want to see the different results.

I did play the 1st Assassin's Creed 10 years ago and enjoyed it. But the best parts were just exploring the world. I'm not saying I would buy a game just for Tourist Mode. But the idea of not having to play through the whole game, multiple times, to see the different areas is appealing to me.
posted by zinon at 10:24 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


The difficulty of Invisible, Inc. is almost completely customizable. You can have permadeath, death that makes you restart the full day, death that makes you restart just the level. You can control how observant the guards chasing you are. You can control how much money you start with to buy supplies. You can control how long stunning lasts on guards. Etc. I hadn't really realized games were trending in that direction til then. Now, me, I'm going to want to start in the middle and play up to the hardest version (unless the hardest is deliberately impossible, like on some of the older arcade games), but it didn't bother me that easier options were available. It didn't seem like people were fighting over whether you'd "really" played the game if you played it on the setting where guards were stunned for three rounds instead of two.

Mostly, I see no reason to humor the sad neuroses of people stacking up arbitrary "achievements" in video games to compensate for the nothing they're getting done in real life who therefore have ridiculous investment in guarding the "purity" of their achievements. "The way you're having fun over there by yourself is diminishing my ego" is never something to cater to.

I recently watched some Let's Plays of Echo, which I guess is an indie-plus(?) game. The first hour really is primarily a walking simulator on a strange world. Then you battle your way through some more weird environments. The visuals are striking and I certainly wouldn't mind being able to just walk through and explore. It's not the same experience as doing so while murdering an inexhaustible supply of your own clones, but....so?
posted by praemunire at 10:41 AM on October 5 [7 favorites]


I like watching my husband play video games, particularly ones with good storylines, like Uncharted.

I love Uncharted (aside from the dreadful first one) but my absolute favourite part of it is the sad little halfassed leapy jump thing Nate does when you're trying to make him climb an unclimbable thing, because I can very clearly imagine Nolan North in his mocap suit doing the sad little halfassed leapy jump thing while Troy Baker laughs his fucking ass off.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:59 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


My best memories of ACII are just wandering around Rome collecting feathers and doing puzzle tombs and shit. Stuff that requires no murdering and generally doesn't involve being harassed by guards.

Personally, I still wound up murdering the shit out of the Borgias, but I wouldn't begrudge anybody who wanted to skip the story and just do puzzle tombs.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:09 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Notch's take is hliarious because I only ever play his game in creative mode. Because like some others, I hate shooting things. I hate stress. I like wandering around and poking at things and dressing up characters, though, so more games with that option would definitely make me pick up a controller.
posted by emjaybee at 12:55 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I think a tourist mode for AC makes a lot of sense and am generally in favor of more difficulty levels, quicksaves, cheats, etc. But I see a few possible problems with the idea of a SKIP BOSS button.

If developers know that players can skip a part of the game if it's too tough, that might put a lot of pressure on devs not not spend as much time fine-tuning difficulty.

“The player can just skip this part if it’s too hard, we need to move on to something else.”

I think there's already pressure in single-player AAA games to front load all the good stuff and not worry too much about the ending because a significant number of players will never finish the game anyway.

Generally when I get to a section of a game that sucks, I don't actually want to skip it, I want it to be different and better. I'd rather create more incentives for devs to revise the parts of their games that aren't good yet, but a SKIP button seems like it would do the opposite.

And on the issue of difficulty in general, I think overall I've enjoyed more games because I could play them on Easy. But some of my favorite gaming experiences have been when a game forces me to learn a skill that I thought was dull and frustrating, but it turns out to be much more fun and satisfying than I would have predicted. (I never in a million years would have predicted I'd enjoy Dark Souls as much as I did.)

And it's really hard to know ahead of time whether a given challenge is going to be rewarding or just tedious and frustrating. I imagine there are probably games I played on Easy that I would have ended up enjoying more on Hard, but I'll never know because who has time to play a game more than once with a Steam backlog like this one?
posted by straight at 1:30 PM on October 5 [5 favorites]


Tourist mode is a long-desired dream for me. I loathe the mandatory murder of otherwise interesting and engaging games. My brain cannot sustain the high stress of combat games and I do not have the necessary controller skill to play games as intended--and yet, I enjoy playing the open-world games as much as they let me.

I will absolutely be buying this game, and if other games follow suit, I will be spending my screen time exploring.
posted by Dogged Persistence at 1:30 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


Generally when I get to a section of a game that sucks, I don't actually want to skip it, I want it to be different and better. I'd rather create more incentives for devs to revise the parts of their games that aren't good yet, but a SKIP button seems like it would do the opposite.

For aspirational purposes I'm right there with you. For practical purposes, there are games I never finished, or bailed on half way through, or pushed through but with deeply soured feelings because of it, because of one unskippable poorly-tuned boss fight. The Skip Boss button would have immensely improved those games for me and more or less not come up for the many other games where it wasn't an issue because the fight tuning was better or what I brought to the table was sufficient to the challenge.

(I have no idea how Metroid Prime ends, because fuck that last uncheckpointed three-stage fight. I love Deus Ex: Human Revolution but fuck those original phoned-in tone-breaking boss fights. The new Zelda is wonderful but I've come within inches of Fuck This Boss Fight a couple times even there. You want to know what games had boss fights that weren't hard or interesting enough? I can't recall offhand because I just moved on with enjoying the game instead of developing intense negative opinions about the shitty boss fights.)
posted by cortex at 1:51 PM on October 5 [4 favorites]


One bright spot in this discussion of varying game types and play-styles is that the walking simulator genre has become more widely accepted in the last few years. Games like Firewatch and Tacoma show you that one does not need to play in traditional conflict style games in order to have fun or tell an engaging story.

But those types of games are still a long way off from getting the kinds of budgets that are spent on AAA games like Witcher III or Fallout 4. But we're seeing that change. I mean, we're now getting awesome games where you can be a goose. How awesome is that!?!
posted by Fizz at 3:30 PM on October 5 [4 favorites]


What I don't understand about the "every game must have an easy mode" argument is the absolutism of it. It's not enough to put an easy mode in games where it makes sense (AssCreed, Rez's travelling mode, walking simulators etc.); no, it's unacceptable for any game not to have one (and plenty of people are saying exactly this). It's less silly than the idea that *no* game should be easy, but only a bit less.

For one thing, it really would affect the kind of games that get made - I'm thinking in particular of relatively small but complex games that rely on challenge for pacing. Take Cuphead: it has an easy mode, but if you play on easy it leaves out parts of the game, and I bet the developers did that to reduce the number of reviewers, professional and otherwise, who would blow through the game in easy mode and then go online to complain about how they saw everything the game had to offer in a couple of hours (not to mention the Steam refunds).
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:43 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


> What I like best are games with adaptive difficulty, so that if they see I've failed something several times it gets easier but in a way I don't exactly notice. It's like how a good daddy lets you beat him at checkers and never lets on he let you win.

Yeah, adaptive difficulty is great. Hellblade: Senua's Sarifice has an auto difficulty setting but you have to choose it, as I did, which really helped in the beginning. It took me awhile to get the hang of things and figure out what all I could do (the voices in her/my head tried to tell me, but I wasn't listening.)

I hate secret adaptive difficulty, Nelson, because it looks like I've improved enough to handle the challenge when in fact it's just the game taking it easy on me.

I've never heard of that before. What games keep it secret?
posted by homunculus at 3:45 PM on October 5


> I think a tourist mode for AC makes a lot of sense and am generally in favor of more difficulty levels, quicksaves

Yes quicksaves and manual saves, please. I hate how common it's become for games to only have autosave. Why is it so much to ask to not have to loose a bunch of progress if I'm suddenly called away from the game, or to be able to revisit specific parts of the game, which I'd have saved if allowed, instead of forcing me to replay the whole thing again? Feh.
posted by homunculus at 3:46 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


What I don't understand about the "every game must have an easy mode" argument is the absolutism of it.

That's also a pretty outlier argument, though. A lot more people would argue the milder position that more games having more easy/accessible modes is a good thing, which is also a lot harder to push back on because it's a super reasonable position to hold. Games are made by individual dev groups and they're all gonna be different and make different decisions. So it goes, so it will continue to go; arguing for a trend or a shift in general isn't asking for everything always to be for everyone.

Cuphead is an interesting case to me because it feels like an issue mostly of aesthetic disconnect; a lot of people find the artistic conceit of the game really exciting independent of whether they have any interest in hard-ass shmups. So you get a dissonance there you wouldn't with, say, a new R-Type game, where you might have the same basic design decisions but the packaging is basically a clearly genre-internal "this is a shmup, hope you like bullets and pattern timing and starting over a lot" deal with no surprises. There aren't any games that look like Cuphead, so looking at Cuphead and guessing whether you're gonna like it is a crapshoot; looking at Cuphead and being attracted to the gorgeous animation and buying it on the strength of affection for old-school cartoons is probably gonna lead people actively astray in some cases. Like the inverse of someone making a gritty brown-and-grey Souls-alike looking game that turns out to be about hugging.

So maybe there's a jump here from "people are complaining that Cuphead is hard" to "people want even Cuphead to be easy, they're demanding literally all games to be easy" that I don't think really holds up but I can at least follow the breadcrumbs on. Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding. But I think generally what people who want easier/accessible modes on some games are asking for is for some games to have easier or more accessible modes, end of.
posted by cortex at 4:05 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


What I don't understand about the "every game must have an easy mode" argument is the absolutism of it.

I don't see what's so hard to understand about someone pointing to a game--any game--and saying, "That looks cool. I wish I were able to play it," wishing they could get past whatever stands between them and playing the game, and then talking about possible ways to make it so.
posted by straight at 4:12 PM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I'd also like to see a more customizable difficulty. Maybe I want fewer guards walking around and/or it takes more to get them to chase your character but they're tougher combatants.

I think it would be more realistic and even though they're just video game characters I avoid killing the guards when I can since they're mostly just guys doing a job and don't really support those Templar scum.

Make it just for free-roam mode or whatever, I don't care. I basically want tourist mode that allows me to get up to some trouble if I decide I want to and I kinda a like the fluidity of AC's combat.

Obviously, tourist modes and customizable difficulty settings would be great in every game. Give me more excuses to spend time in your world, developers.
posted by VTX at 4:19 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand about the "every game must have an easy mode" argument is the absolutism of it.

No one (remotely sensible) is arguing that every game needs an easy mode. They are arguing that games need an easy mode just like they need an English version, just like they need subtitles, just like they need puzzles that can be done by color-blind people, just like they need to be playable without sound, just like they need to work on small screens, just like they need to work on Windows/Mac/Linux machines. Basically, "easy mode" is another form of accessibility - some players are unable to play without it, and other players would much prefer to play with it.

There's a difference between "we've decided this isn't part of our market plan," which can be reasonable, and "players who want that aren't real gamers, so fuck them," which is what the public backlash against easy-mode often sounds like.

Maybe I want fewer guards walking around and/or it takes more to get them to chase your character but they're tougher combatants.

Fewer guards, or guards that don't chase you immediately, are potentially substantial code changes. Guards with 1 HP and you with 1000 HP (or infinite HP) shouldn't require the same type of QC as changing how the NPCs act. (I'd prefer customizable difficulty settings too, but I can understand that those are more complex to create. "They can't kill you" is easy to add.) But yeah... more options = more interest in spending time in-game, more reasons to buy the game; definitely worth it for the designers to consider how many "easy mode" features they could add without costing too much in dev work.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:15 PM on October 5 [4 favorites]


im so excited to be a mean goose
posted by poffin boffin at 5:46 PM on October 5 [7 favorites]


Obviously, tourist modes and customizable difficulty settings would be great in every game. Give me more excuses to spend time in your world, developers.

I've always been bewildered by the arbitrary distinction between moving around and fighting in games like AC and the various Splinter Cells. One is effortless, the other a grind.

You're some sort of borderline superhuman. Scale this cliff face with the press of a button. Leap from this tower. Sprint across roof tops, flipping nimbly from rafter to rafter. It's OK - you can use this zip line, fly that helicopter.

Except now you have to fight somebody and you're suddenly a spectacularly uncoordinated marionette being controlled by a fat bloke's thumbs. And even then it switches from 'yeah, you can totally hit somebody sixty feet away with a throwing knife with a single button' skill level requirement to 'I'm not so sure a trained commando could really hit somebody with a shotgun from a couple of metres away'. You're an assassin with pseudo-magic powers - and you just got wasted by a random castle guard. Oh, now you can block wait wait wait counter, block wait wait counter. You 'get' how to fight.

Red Dead Redemption and The Division strike a happier medium in some respects with their subtle 'turn it off if you don't like it' aim assist.

But I feel like both sides of the coin should be adjustable. What if I want a really challenging exploration mode that requires mad button skills to climb that building and failure means falling to my death, but combat becomes a choice of which button I'll press to do an awesome finishing move? Why should scaling Notre Dame at night be easier than thumping a street thug? Let me make it all easy, or all hard, or one hard and the other not.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:12 PM on October 5 [4 favorites]


I remember when GTA Los Santos (3? 4?) came out, and how much fun the side missions were. I spent hours and hours as a taxi driver, pizza guy, pimp, ice cream truck guy... OK, I know pimp is not so cool, but it was the driving around that made it fun...

Here is an idea that could make even more money for these dev studios: make two games! Put the initial effort into worldbuilding, and then fork the project. So you get, say "Life in Barcelona" which is not about guns and killing at all, where David Bowie can be your tour guide, or you can drive the garbage truck, or just walk around, and also the Theifenstien / Kill the Doodz game based on that same map.

I don't know if it has been tried, I think that such a game / sandbox thing could actually be quite a popular genre.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:52 PM on October 5 [4 favorites]


I've never heard of that before. What games keep it secret?

Some of the Devil May Cry games (at least 4, and I think 3 as well) have secret adaptive difficulty that silently makes the game easier if you die too much. It's *really* annoying, because it means that you only get to try the real version of each boss fight a few times before the game takes away most of the challenge without telling you. Since the games have easy modes anyway, it's completely pointless.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:01 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


No one (remotely sensible) is arguing that every game needs an easy mode.

Are you sure? I've seen a lot of people argue exactly that. Maybe they're not remotely sensible, but there are plenty of them.

They are arguing that games need an easy mode just like they need an English version, just like they need subtitles, just like they need puzzles that can be done by color-blind people, just like they need to be playable without sound, just like they need to work on small screens, just like they need to work on Windows/Mac/Linux machines. Basically, "easy mode" is another form of accessibility - some players are unable to play without it, and other players would much prefer to play with it.

Think of a book - choosing a readable typeface, not making the text too small, getting it translated into other languages, releasing it in audiobook form etc. are all things that make the book more accessible, and that's great. Using shorter words, simplifying the story or replacing an unreliable narrator with a perfectly omniscient one would probably make it more accessible as well, but those are completely different kinds of thing. Even if the publisher had the resources to prepare and print an optional easy-mode version of a book with simple language and a straightforward narrative as well as a hard-mode version, it's going to affect the way the hard-mode version is written as well as the kinds of books that that get published.

Sometimes making a game easier is like the first kind of thing, sometimes it's more like the second. It depends.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:41 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I suspect this will lead to the death of twitch-based games, much as the internet with its walkthroughs-on-tap led to the death of the adventure game.

Oh, sure, they will struggle on for a few years, supported by ever-diminishing circles of hobbyists and makers. But it won't be the same - the unwashed hordes will have gravitated to the shiny, new, AI-developed, playable skinner box softwarez, entrained by its binaural evocations to maximally spend. What such entertainments will actually look like, I can only barely begin to imagine - but I have the sneakingest of suspicions that it will closely resemble three pandas riding a dromedary.
posted by Sparx at 8:34 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I suspect this will lead to the death of twitch-based games, much as the internet with its walkthroughs-on-tap led to the death of the adventure game.

Dead.
Completely devoid of life.
Nobody here but us chickens.
Alas, poor adventure game, I knew ye' well.
posted by codacorolla at 8:38 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]


I don't get the marathon comparison at all. 'I finished the marathon' when you didn't finish the marathon is completely different to 'I played X' when X has a tourist mode and you played the tourist mode and if it's something you give a shit about you can say 'which mode did you play?' A marathon is a set thing with set rules and a game is about as far away from that as you get because somebody literally makes that stuff up. An equivalent would be somebody saying 'yeah I totally beat it on hard mode and completed all the assassinations and all the side quests' when they didn't do that. Except nobody is advocating for anything like that. One is fraud and the other is doing something in a different way to how you did it.

Ditto the book comparison. Let's say we both 'completed' the book. Did you dwell on the symbolism? Discuss it at a book club? Did you read the appendices? Did you write your name in runes? Did you write fan fiction about it? Read the 'now with author's footnotes' edition? Well you didn't really get the full experience, did you? How's the view up my nostrils? I mean, I've read the example LotR maybe five times in my life, front to back. Can I remember any of it? Not really. Do I still get to say I read it?

I went to the Louvre. Did I really, though? I walked through whole swathes of it barely looking at the exhibits getting from stuff I gave a shit about to other stuff I gave a shit about. Was that cheating? Did I not 'do it right'? Did I 'complete' the Louvre? What would that even mean?

There's always something 'more' and somebody will always have done 'more' - got all the achievements, played all the DLC, got all the legendary sets. And that's fine until you decide you're the arbiter of what 'played' is, as distinct from just asking somebody 'what did you think?' or 'where did you get up to?' or 'how did you play it?'

There's just going to be a shift where you won't be able to say 'have you played Splintery Assassin: The Cellering XIV?' and be sure about what 'yes' means without further discussion. And that's fine. And hopefully there'll be a lot more walking sims where I get to stroll around the environment picking herbs and looking at rivers where I can say 'yes' and we'll know exactly what that means.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:54 PM on October 5 [6 favorites]


Written like someone never exposed to the canon of literature and/or art. There a huge numbers of works that are impenetrable (or at least less enjoyable) to people who have not spent the hours learning the stories, symbols, and so on that underlie most "deep art." Put down that controller and read some Proust, gamer.
However, Proust is very enjoyable even if one hasn't read Sainte-Beuve or isn't familiar with the lineage of French aristocrats. And a version with a good appendix can be of help.

There are layers upon layers, but great works usually stand well on their own even if part of the (likely enriching) subtext goes over one's head. Basically, I'd like a month to just read some Proust.

Regarding TFA, we're in a golden age of gaming of different types and difficulties and my backlog is substantial already, so I may not be as disposed to care about the possibility that the resources for tourist mode may result in the rest of difficulties suffering if increased sales don't make up for it.

And I have to say that Ubisoft, although I'm indifferent to their big franchises and the less said about their online DRM the better, also have a streak of games like Grow Home, Verdun, that rhyming RPG and, of course, the delightful Rayman games, which I love and none are about kill-killing people.
posted by ersatz at 12:22 AM on October 6


MetaFilter: I have the sneakingest of suspicions that it will closely resemble three pandas riding a dromedary.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:01 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


I don't get the marathon comparison at all. 'I finished the marathon' when you didn't finish the marathon is completely different to 'I played X'

You're already wilfully misunderstanding by using more precise language. "I completed a [x]" is a different thing to "I did [x]". Now, I don't give a shit of you want to say you've read a book even if you've just glanced at the foreword, or run a marathon even if you only did the first three steps. But, to some of us, that is not how we use language, that is not what that means to us, and the comparison of "I've played [x]" to "free read [x]" or even "I ran a marathon" isn't completely nonsensical, because we would use all of those things to mean that we completed our finished them in some sense. Now if you don't want to do that, that's completely fine!

There's just going to be a shift where you won't be able to say 'have you played Splintery Assassin: The Cellering XIV?' and be sure about what 'yes' means without further discussion.

See, this is kind of what some of us don't want. Like, this is already how it is for a lot of people. But, in the crowds I run in IRL, a "yes" in response to that question is treated like a "yes" in response to "have you read [book]?". Both are automatically taken to mean "yes, to some degree of completeness". A different level of engagement would lead to someone answering "I started it" or "I read the first few chapters /played the first few levels" and none of youse get to tell me I'm an arsehole for using language in this way, for existing among people who use language this way, or for experiencing that language use as natural. You do things differently? Great! Good for you! But the situation isn't as simple as saying "those comparisons are bullshit and you're a judgemental wanker for making them". I'm not judging anyone. I don't give a shit if you've finished anything, nor if my friends have. But my friends and I have a way of talking about things nevertheless, and the comparisons are totally valid within that framework. To be clear, it's the language that's similar. Running a marathon is not like reading LotR is not like playing Day of the Tentacle or whatever. But the way an awful lot of us talk about them is similar. And we aren't monsters for doing so.
posted by Dysk at 1:38 AM on October 6


This back and forth over the way people talk about whether they've played a game is a strange turn for the conversation to take from an outside perspective. Not that it isn't interesting in an abstract way, but because I thought Dysk captured the issue pretty well in this comment.

When talk goes to games, the analogies people first jump to are art and sports, while video games have elements of each and there are some instances where those comparisons may be valid for specific games or events, it seems clear that taken as a group video games are neither sports nor art but something more singular to themselves.

Instead of the marathon analogy one could offer up one of weeding a garden or visiting the fishing and boat show at a convention center or working a math problem or any number of other examples where claims of having done the activity suggests differing degrees of completeness may be involved in feeling comfortable in making that claim, and different video games align well with most of them, but without the sense of any of them being a fit for all games. There is no definition that will even work between different video games much less when compared to something outside that form.

Since Dysk already gave some examples, I won't bother adding any. I would just suggest that there needs to be a broadening of external analogies and internal definitions to capture what video games, if they even are anything that can be spoken of in one totality instead of something more like sets of virtual objects and places which can be put to vastly different uses, with the space and manner in which they are engaged with being more significant than the category "video games" they are all lumped under.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:09 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


> "But, to some of us, that is not how we use language ..."

Of course it is.

"Have you ever eaten sushi?" does not mean "Have you eaten every kind of sushi?" To anyone. "Have you ever read Douglas Adams [or any other specific author]?" does not mean "Have you read every single Douglas Adams book?" To anyone. You are deliberately cherry-picking examples ("Have you ever run a marathon?" "Have you ever read [a specific book]?") which currently linguistically imply doing a particular activity to completion while ignoring the many others which currently linguistically imply having tried something, sampled something, or engaged in an activity long enough to have a basic understanding of what it entails. You are not, in fact, being precise with language. You are playing linguistic games in an attempt to prove your point.

In modern English, to most people, "Have you ever played [a specific game]?" simply does not imply completion. Hell, some games don't even HAVE completion as a component. How would you play Dungeons and Dragons to completion? Or infinite level videogames like Pac-Man? "Have you ever played [a specific game]" to most people means, "Have you had personal experience of participating in this game, long enough to have a general understanding of the rules and setting [if any]?" YOU are the one using an idiosyncratic definition of this question, which you are attempting to argue is the only correct one by drawing improper analogies to other questions which DO NOT carry the same connotations to the vast majority of people.

And I have to be honest, I am having trouble understanding why your personal, idiosyncratic definition of the meaning of this question is so important to you. I don't really get why you even care.
posted by kyrademon at 5:06 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]


"Have you ever eaten sushi?" does not mean "Have you eaten every kind of sushi?" To anyone. "Have you ever read Douglas Adams [or any other specific author]?" does not mean "Have you read every single Douglas Adams book?" To anyone

"Have you ever" is a different phrasing, for one. "Have you read Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy?" is not a question seeking a "yes" from someone who read the first few chapters.

In modern English, to most people, "Have you ever played [a specific game]?" simply does not imply completion.

Maybe not to you. But to me, in the circles I run in, with the sorts of story driven narrative games that are usually under discussion in those circles, that is absolutely how it is interpreted. Naturally, we're all intelligent enough to realise that it means something different for Pacman. Or minecraft. Or rocket league, or overwatch, etc etc. I've already made comments to that effect. When you're talking about something that's generally fundamentally a narrative, with largely generic gameplay, like point and click adventure games, or IF or things like that, you'd ask if someone had played IF or adventure games to gauge if they're familiar with the mechanics. You ask if they've played monkey island if you want to talk about the story or how the ending is handled, etc. Like you do with a book. Because what you're dealing with is, like a book, fundamentally primarily a narrative, unlike arcade games.

I care because people in this thread are a arguing that anyone who uses language in this way is some gatekeeper out to admonish others. And that's bullshit. A lot of people are, sure, but a bunch of us just deal primarily with games of a different type to youse.
posted by Dysk at 5:19 AM on October 6


And I'm not trying to argue that mine is the only proper definition. Just that yours isn't, either.
posted by Dysk at 5:20 AM on October 6


In terms of mutually comprehensible vocab, stuff like "did you finish/beat" is probably closer to a universal question about playing to (an applicable definition in a given game's specific context) completion than "have you played" but, yeah, ultimately there's just gonna be some idiosyncrasy there from person to person and group to group and I don't think we need to pin that down to some unreachable universal. Played and finished and finished are all gonna hold different meanings in different contexts, and the subtext of assholery where there's actual assholery involved is gonna have its own aspect independent of that anyway.

So, like, not being a gatekeeper about it is good. People who are gatekeeping assholes about it suck. The problem there ultimately is gonna be with the motive behind the rhetoric, not the relatively anodyne and, ripped from context, ambiguous words used. I figure maybe we just give each other all the benefit of the doubt here and focus more on talking about video games as fun interesting things we enjoy or would like to have more opportunities to enjoy?

I was thinking about difficulty and completionism last night and one of the things that came back to me was the buttload of time I sunk into Final Fantasy VII, which was revelatory to me at the time that it was new. A couple friends and I spent a week long break during our freshman year in college playing through a rented copy, wrestling with very bad rural dialup to try and find pre-Gamefaqs hints on how to deal with the occasional sticking point in the game, and rerenting the thing like three times, and then eventually we beat it and it was like, geez, that was epic, that was a long-ass game, I can't believe it took so long to finish it but we finished it!

And then some time in the next year or so someone brought their PS1 to school and picked up a copy and a couple of our friends got down to real work on it. Chocobo breeding work. Materia cycling work. Knights of the Round work. They spent weeks digging into shit we, in our original epic finishing of the game, barely even glanced at if we even knew it was there at all. And none of that really changed the narrative or meaning of the game; they didn't play The Real Final Fantasy VII or anything. But they also finished it in a way we didn't originally. And that ambiguity, that juxtaposition of different experiences, is interesting partly for existing at a point where, twenty years ago, we didn't have as much of the contemporary design sensibility of cheevos and Ubi-like open world sidequest dartboard maps. (Cf. the question of grinding as a sort of self-adaptive difficulty level, which is a whole interesting ball of wax in its own right.)

"Did you play FFVII?" ends up covering a lot of ground, and as much as someone could totally be a dingus in their motives for asking it, the thing I like about the openness of the question is all the little details that come out when people answer it. All the "oh man did you see the x?" "what did you do about y?" stuff. And insofar as I'm pretty gungho for more flexible difficulty modes and accessibility to game content, it's because I like the idea of more people being able to participate in those discussions. Those discussions are half the thing I love about video games.
posted by cortex at 8:06 AM on October 6 [5 favorites]


the internet with its walkthroughs-on-tap led to the death of the adventure game.
Long before the Internet there were already plenty of sources where one could spoil a game. I finished Grim Fandango with the occasional help from a magazine that ran a walkthrough (even if I was already online, just didn't have a printer). If the internet killed anything was magazines by becoming the prime resource for cheats, hints and easter eggs. I remember a french console magazine of the mid 90s that every month had something like 20 pages of Action Replay codes alone.
What happened to adventure games in the late 90s was being a genre finally falling out of fashion after being one of the most dominant genres on personal computers for nearly 20 years (if we include interactive fiction), at a time computers were becoming faster and more capable of pushing graphics, and the easier/less risky money was on first person shooters. Also didn't help a lot of them were starting to get too cute with the puzzles (often at the expense of story) to their own good, particularly after Myst.
Genres come and go as the market overcompensates trying to get the money left on the table. On the past 8 years or so, adventures seem to be on the up again after the void that was most of the 00s.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:14 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


none of youse get to tell me I'm an arsehole for using language in this way, for existing among people who use language this way, or for experiencing that language use as natural.

Well, arsehole would be way way way too strong a term, but I think it's a little foolish to act like you're entitled to expect a phenomenon not to change so that the language you use to describe it won't have to evolve. And, yes, an investment in rhetoric like that usually reflects some underlying ideological or social position. What is it you gain by preserving the meaning of 'play' to mean 'play all the way through, on the hardest difficulty mode?' that you care about it so very much? After all, it takes only a few words to clarify what 'play' means when it's used more generically. People won't be getting their necks or their hearts broken over any brief confusion on the point. Really, it's hard to imagine a more harmless confusion, if confusion did indeed arise. So what you are defending here?
posted by praemunire at 10:08 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]


Look, for fuck's sake, I'm not saying it universally means that. Just that it isn't ludicrous to compare the usage in some circumstances to that you'd use with, say books, or films, or even fucking marathons, because a lot of games are most similar to books or films. I'm not invested in this so much as I'm invested in not having everyone universally rubbish the idea that sometimes, to have played something means to have seen it through to its ending, much as to have read a particular book does.
posted by Dysk at 10:20 AM on October 6


I think a lot of the issue is mitigated in context. The problem, such as it may be, exists more in the area of conversational norms as relating to narrative understanding than in something intrinsic to games and play itself.

If you asked someone, for example, if they've watched Gilligan's Island they would likely say yes if they've seen even a few episodes since the commonly assumed understanding is that the show is episodic in a way that doesn't require completion to "understand". You get the gist of the show early on and don't need to see all of it to express a sense of understanding of the show in saying you've watched it. On the other hand, with something like Game of Thrones, someone asked if they've watched the show will more likely limit their claim to however much they have watched knowing their understanding of the show is necessarily incomplete if they haven't watched all of it given its narrative form.

One will generally assume in this context that the person you are speaking is being truthful as they see things since lying could be done regardless of circumstance and therefore isn't worthy of undue concern as conversationally that lie will or won't become apparent through the continuance of the conversation. The person being asked for their viewing history knows this to be the case as well, which is why they will generally reply in a reliable fashion as stretching the truth too far could lead to them looking foolish.

So in response to a question about something with a complex narrative structure responding with I've seen it when one hasn't watched most or all of it risks their own embarrassment as the conversation proceeds. The situation itself creates its own moderate level of truthfulness in general principle. (Exaggerations of course will still happen, saying they've watched "some" of Game of Thrones even if they've just seen clips and have some general idea of the show, but asserting a simple I've watched it is less likely.)

The way this would work for video games would be fairly similar I'd suspect, with anyone going through a game only on tourist mode being unlikely to make a flat statement of I've played it if the ensuing conversation is likely to show their claim not fitting the more common idea of "playing" meaning engaging in the fights or other efforts the game element demands. There will be people who lie if they think there's some bonus in it, or some who may play in a cheat mode but who do not bother characterizing the differences between that and normal play, but most will offer at least some buffer statement to disavow the notion they've played it all if they haven't and that could be shown.

In less complex games, non-narrative games or ongoing games, obviously, different patterns will apply depending on what the imagined common expectation of experiencing the game may be. There is no way to avoid some level of miscommunication or difference of perspective in these things, as might be exemplified by responses over a question like, Have you seen the Mona Lisa?" some will say yes thinking of the reproduced image, while others will say no thinking of the actual painting. That type of misunderstanding is just a normal part of the fuzziness at the boundaries of definition. With something as recent and ill-defined as video games that area of fuzziness is larger, which is why working to better define the concepts and analogies to other parts of life will take some time to provide greater clarity.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:59 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


But to me, in the circles I run in, with the sorts of story driven narrative games that are usually under discussion in those circles, that is absolutely how it is interpreted.

If someone in those circles says, "I have played Undertale," is it assumed that:
* They have played it to completion once?
* They have played it to completion at least three times, for pacifist/neutral/genocide?
* They have completed both True Pacifist and Genocide routes? (In that order, of course, since you can't do it the other way.)
* They have played enough to have reached all of the dialogue variations that occur based on different circumstances?

Even among groups where "I have played it" means "I have played it to an ending, if it has one," there's no firm consensus on what "I have completed it" means. Visual novels are story-driven narrative (noncombat) games, and "I have completed it" means "I have reached one ending out of possibly dozens." The games where "I've completed it" is widely understood to have one specific playing experience are a very small niche among available games.

That's the nich that gets a lot of the media attention, and a lot of the money, but the money's getting tight so I'm not surprised that the companies are looking to other games to say, "hey, what have they got that draws in all those players who aren't buying our games? What would we lose by providing that?"

They lose: Some dev resources in providing more customized play options, some simplicity in having more options at start, and some player clarity in not having a simple definition of "I finished it." Oh, and whatever street cred exists for having The Hardest Game this month/season/year, the one that drives away customers who aren't able to or interested in spending the many hours it'd take to get past the obstacles to the "win" condition.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:13 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]


If someone in those circles says, "I have played Undertale," is it assumed that:
* They have played it to completion once


Yes. That is precisely what would be assumed. I doubt Undertale would be likely to come up, but "played to an ending at least once" is the general interpretation with games that have multiple paths or endings.

Again, I'm not saying anyone else should necessarily use this approach, but it's a perfectly sensible way to talk about (certain) games.
posted by Dysk at 11:25 AM on October 6


The Undertale example is used precisely because a huge portion of Undertale fandom would say you haven't really played the game unless you've done True Pacifist. Each game comes with its own context for what "finished" means. There cannot be one universal definition that we all agree on forever.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:41 AM on October 6


I am not using my definition for having "finished" or "completed" something, merely "played".
posted by Dysk at 11:57 AM on October 6


There cannot be one universal definition that we all agree on forever.

This, though, is just flat out true.
posted by Dysk at 11:58 AM on October 6


I think that a lot of the time a person is asking "Have you played X" they're asking, "Are you familiar enough with X that we can have a conversation about it?"

And I often have a more specific answer than yes/no like "Played it but never finished it", "Played the single player but not the multiplayer", or "Played through the main story but none of the side quests", etc.

That's a great story about FFVII which was revelatory to me at the time as well. It makes perfect sense to me that you would have played through it the way that you did since you were basically racing against time.

I owned the game and really took my time with it. I got a little bored running through all the side quests (in retrospect is was the random battles that happened what seemed like constantly that made it a grind, would have turned those off if the option existed) so I pushed through the story just making sure I did stuff that I couldn't come back to do later. Then I saved the game at that last save point before going down to the final battle so I could come back later and complete the side quests.

A friend I had lent the game to along with my memory card (for reasons I'm sure made sense at the time) accidentally deleted that save inspiring me to go through the whole game start to finish with every side quest done.

Some of the side quests are fun side stories as well, some are just an extra challenge. The Chocobo breeding was necessary because you could ride them in on the world map and if you really got into it, you could breed one that could access areas of the map that weren't accessible any other way. IIRC, this was how one could fight that weird red squiggly-armed monster in the desert which was far and away the most difficult fight in the game. Winning that fight was tough even with all the wisdom of the internet on my side but came with some cool reward (and a sense of accomplishment I guess).

But it's great in that NONE of that is required to enjoy the main story. If you find some side quest too challenging A. Come back when you're a higher level and/or have better gear or B. Skip it. And really, just about any main quest, the final boss included can be overcome by leveling up a little more. I had done enough side quests that my party was really advanced so the final battle ended up being pretty easy even on my first run through.

My brother and I would read all the dialogue out loud with voices to fit the characters. Mr. T for Barrett (who had a gun/robot hand and looked like Mr. T).
posted by VTX at 3:34 PM on October 6 [2 favorites]


I have a good buddy who loves videogames, but they don't love him back. As someone nearly quadriplegic, with very limited use of his hands and fingers, he is often stoked for a game, only to find out that the controller demands are past what he can pull off. His dexterity is amazing considering his challenges, but when a game wants you to hold down this trigger and that button while also aiming one or more analog sticks, it becomes too much. Assassin's Creed, Red Dead Redemption, Resident Evil, all games he knows he would love if only he could play them. Tourist Mode wouldn't quite give him what he's looking for, because overcoming the challenges is part of what draws him to the medium, but it killed me to see him go through this cycle of getting stoked for a game and then finding out he can't play it over and over.

I don't know what the answer is, but it irks me that this friend of mine who loves games is boxed out of them by the insistence on twitch reflexes determining who gets to experience the totality of their purchase. Imagine a DVD that wouldn't unlock all the chapter selections until it knew you had view all those prior. Imagine a book where you couldn't see the next chapter until you took a quiz on the one you read. Only games do this sort of thing. Once the quarter-hoovering business model was no more, "challenge" should have ceased to be gaming's guiding light and yet, here we are. I'm for a "Skip Boss" button for the same reason I'm for skimming over blocks of HP Lovecraft's shitty dialog - life's too short and I'd rather spend it on the good parts. If the boss battle sucks, I'm going online to find a level select cheat anyhow - put in the Skip button and save me the hassle.

Also: a Skip function for shit-ass broken missions, like that remote control plane one in GTA: San Andreas that I was stuck on for more than a year. With a Skip button, I might have reached the back half of the game while I still remembered what happened in the front half.

Witcher 3 is the last game I got obsessed with. I played it on Death March difficulty because I'd read you could just spam through the game on one or two skills on the lower difficulties. Nonethless, from about character level 25 and onward, the game combat wasn't "'hard" anymore in any meaningful way. Once you have the rhythm of the combat, Witcher almost becomes an adventure game. The "hard" parts were the gut-wrenching plot and character decisions you have to make from time to time. Which in turn is what makes the excellent but no longer dangerous fight scenes so compelling, even though they're not "hard" any more. There are a lot of flavors of "difficult." Figuring out your place in a well told story or how you will "perform" in the role of a well realized character is a challenge potentially more compelling than remembering not to cast Quen at any monsters already on fire from when you cast Igni.

What does it mean to say "I've played this or that game" is an interesting question. Not sure where to draw the line. I have zero intentions of completing full Civilization V campaigns with every faction on the roster, or completing every single scenario mode, but if someone asked if I'd "played it," me and my ~300 logged hours of Civ V are gonna say "yes."

Lastly, since this thread seems like the place to do it, I'd like to evangelize my favorite walking simulator / tourist mode game: Eidolon. It's set in a lovingly recreated, minimalist western Washington that never fails to stir me. You explore a big slice of the PNW and collect stories. The "survival" elements are extremely low-key, and fade into the background before the end of your first in-game day. It's a beautiful game and if you're familiar at all with Cascadia, I doubly recommend it - it's like playing a poem about the northwest. Seeing Mt. Rainier emerge from the fog and then navigating by it is one of the most powerful memories of gaming this Washington boy ever formed. From the sounds of things, more than a few of you in this thread would really like it.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:06 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]


I seriously can't imagine a more tedious conversation than the above about the meaning of having to have "beaten" a game. The idea that it reflects back out beyond a singular contextual understanding, and that that is somehow a reason to not increase accessibility for game design is completely dumbfounding.
posted by codacorolla at 10:13 PM on October 6 [4 favorites]


[of course when I say "Quen" I mean "Aard" bcs when it comes to remembering spell names outside of a game, I have neglected to git gud]
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:36 PM on October 6


The idea that it reflects back out beyond a singular contextual understanding, and that that is somehow a reason to not increase accessibility for game design is completely dumbfounding.

Literally nobody has said that in this thread.
posted by Dysk at 1:45 AM on October 7


Oh, then I guess I imagined the huge concern-filled digression into fears that "tourist mode" would pollute the language and corrupt the understanding of what people mean when they say they've played a game. I guess half this whole fucking thread was just something I made up in my head.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:25 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Yes. That is precisely what would be assumed. I doubt Undertale would be likely to come up, but "played to an ending at least once" is the general interpretation with games that have multiple paths or endings.

You are unfamiliar with the Meatbomb m.o.

1. Start game, learn where initial items and fights are, maybe take one or two forks in questlines.
2. Start again, making different / better choices. At some point make a mistake. This could be completing a mission that is not in line with the current character build / backstory, or just something as stupid as placing a lamp somewhere wrong and being unable to change it back.
3. Repeat (2) half a dozen times.
4. Install a few mods. repeat (2) a few more times, more mods each time.
5. Break game or reach computer's limits due to too many mods. Reinstall, start over.
6. Existential crises - I have been doing this stupid thing full time for 2 weeks, what is the meaning of life?!?
posted by Meatbomb at 9:41 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]


I have heard plenty of people say, "You haven't really played the game because you didn't finish it."

I have never heard anyone reply to, "Have you played that game?" with "No, I haven't played it; I only got 3/4 of the way through but then I hit the firepit boss and couldn't get past it."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:55 AM on October 7 [2 favorites]


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