Author Topic: Things that bug you in (old) games  (Read 9552 times)

Zetetic

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #90 on: September 24, 2019, 03:52:48 PM »
"human emotions and behaviour" are not systems
Of course they are! We're constantly reasoning about why people do things, and how they'll react if do this or that.

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or at least certainly not systems in the game
Not modelled in the game as mechanics, perhaps.

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that can be understood.
Yes, they can. Perhaps not perfectly, of course, and we're in the hands of the author and their beliefs about how these systems work.

More trust is involved, I suppose, because the causal systems aren't exposed as mechanics. We have to trust that the author will write characters (and magic and physics and so on) in a way that we understand. (Which isn't necessarily accurately, but in line with some sort of shared understanding.)

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #91 on: September 24, 2019, 03:55:07 PM »
Not modelled in the game as mechanics, perhaps.

Indeed - that's my point.

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Perhaps not perfectly, of course, and we're in the hands of the author and their beliefs about how these systems work.

More trust is involved, I suppose, because the causal systems aren't exposed as mechanics. We have to trust that the author will write characters (and magic and physics and so on) in a way that we understand. (Which isn't necessarily accurately, but in line with some sort of shared understanding.)

This still comes down to guessing, and hoping you're on the author's wavelength. For some reason people think this is OK with soft, fuzzy stuff like story choices, but they (rightly) complain if the level designer was like, "Well, I assumed you'd be smart enough to hang onto your rockets for the boss." It's the same problem.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #92 on: September 24, 2019, 03:56:31 PM »
From a writing perspective - and this is where I speak with professional experience - trying to signpost story/character choices that are still surprising is basically impossible. You can't ask the player to identify whether the suspect is guilty or not based on how sweaty and suspicious he's acting - not if you also want to surprise them when it turns out they didn't do it. Signposting destroys dramatic tension, but dramatic tension destroys gameplay.

Zetetic

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #93 on: September 24, 2019, 03:59:26 PM »
For any game, how it works produces its 'character'.
I feel like this is a confusing thing to say.

Sierra games effectively demand that the player goes through a save-fail-reload-succeed loop, as you've said.

There obviously are different ways of experiencing that - it can be frustrating (depending on how quick the loop is, for one thing, as popcorn says), it might be amusing (particularly if the failure is clearly ridiculous), it might create an atmosphere of dread (the feeling that everything is dangerous).

I don't think it's inherently a problem for a game to produce any of those experiences. But I suppose I'm less tolerant of some experiences being for their own sake - frustration being an obvious one - and if a game produces those feelings then I want them to be trying to convey something about something.

The problem people have with the Sierra games, I think, is that they produce experiences quite inconsistently (which makes it hard to work what they're trying to achieve) and when they do produce irritation or frustration this often doesn't seem to be in the service of anything. You don't feel that you understand policing any better for having been irritated, I suppose.

I don't think that a game has to work for everyone or even most people for us to say that it's been designed well. But I think I do have to be able to imagine it working for more than a few people.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #94 on: September 24, 2019, 04:00:57 PM »
This still comes down to guessing, and hoping you're on the author's wavelength. For some reason people think this is OK with soft, fuzzy stuff like story choices, but they (rightly) complain if the level designer was like, "Well, I assumed you'd be smart enough to hang onto your rockets for the boss."

Maybe I am thick, because I can't see even the slightest problem with this. It seems so boring a design philosophy to treat the player so gingerly.

Ah well. Maybe I should have played fewer DOS platformers as a kid.

Zetetic

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #95 on: September 24, 2019, 04:04:13 PM »
This still comes down to guessing, and hoping you're on the author's wavelength.
I don't think that's guessing. You're making informed choices, even if you might still be wrong.

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For some reason people think this is OK with soft, fuzzy stuff like story choices
Are most choose-your-own-adventure games focused on how individual characters feel, think and behave?

Attempts to reduce these things to mechanics are generally so unsatisfying that we're largely stuck with branching narratives. And because humans are fairly complicated, there's some latitude in what you can expect enough of your audience to find reasonable, I guess.

I don't disagree that this is still nevertheless hard to do in a way that's satisfying and interesting. I can't do it.

Twed

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #96 on: September 24, 2019, 04:11:56 PM »
The Lucasarts extracts/quotes above rather explain the toothless nature of their games, and of course miss the point that dying in Sierra adventures is entertaining in and of itself.
Maybe for you, but in the 90s I saw two entirely separate cases where people had obsessively saved like the gameplay forces you to do, and got themselves into death loops that just couldn't be recovered from, destroying hours and hours of gameplay. I think that if the game is ruined because you didn't use the software in the exact, particular way they wanted you to then it's broken.

(maybe these chumps should have had autosave on or something, I don't know if that was available in those versions. Maybe your experience is with versions of the games that had QoL features that made it less frustrating than it was for other people)

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #97 on: September 24, 2019, 04:13:34 PM »
No, it was the originals through DOSbox.

Crucially, I didn't finish them, because that doesn't matter either.

Manic Minor will not have Sierra stuff.

Twed

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #98 on: September 24, 2019, 04:26:21 PM »
I'd actually be really happy for it to have that stuff in it on some level. I'm on the fence with this stuff because I would be against fixing a lot of the issues with old games is unnecessary and I wouldn't want that stuff patched out. It's a good thing that Sierra had frustrating elements - maybe not at the time, and maybe not something that should be done in modern games, but fucking great that it's there. And I think you can reference it as long as it's easier to recover from.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #99 on: September 24, 2019, 04:30:24 PM »
Where is the entertainment without the risk of failure and death? You get to start over anyway instantly.


Twed

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #100 on: September 24, 2019, 04:34:34 PM »
Where is the entertainment without the risk of failure and death? You get to start over anyway instantly.
I think that's the main point of contention, though. We're talking about game design that can cause you to lose half a day's worth of play, which was a thing up until the mid-90s.

It's all about execution, innit. If you lose a game of Nethack or Dwarf Fortress or Civ that you've been playing for days/weeks/months then the feeling is adrenaline and a kind of disappointment that you end up enjoying. The rush of everything falling apart in an instant can feel amazing. Now that's great game design. In an adventure game, being punished because you forgot to pick up the Chickenmaster's Lamp in area 1 and you can't return to that area hours later to get it making the game uncompletable would very arguably be bad design, but in my opinion an enriching part of gaming history.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #101 on: September 24, 2019, 05:25:56 PM »
Why is it cripplingly unfair when you can save and reload instantly?

It doesn't matter what the punishment is for failure - if you couldn't have predicted/avoided it then of course it's unfair, by definition. You can't play by the rules if the rules are hidden.

Players are willing to put with unfair failure to varying extents, and you can mitigate against them as I've said. A quicksave function is one mitigation, sometimes appropriate, sometimes not.

Limbo is an example of a hostile game that kills you every 30 seconds. This is unfair. But it mitigates it with:

- very low cost - you respawn very quickly (a difference even of seconds has a huge impact here) with almost no progress lost
- delight - the ways it kills you are funny
- you're only dealing with one problem at a time - this thing is killing you right now and you learn how to avoid it

In a Sierra game, you're being killed over and over again in lots of different directions. The cost is higher - you have to save and reload manually, which is a pain, and whereas your death in Limbo is quick and visual, Sierra makes you read about it, which takes more time. The Sierra deaths are arbitrary and predestined - the means of avoiding failure is basically not to do X again, not to use the game systems (eg platforming in Limbo) to avoid the threat. (Remember that a Sierra game has very few systems - each interraction is bespoke with a predetermined success or failure.)
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 05:48:21 PM by popcorn »

JesusAndYourBush

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #102 on: September 24, 2019, 05:57:12 PM »
I remember one on the Amiga... think it was Bubble Bobble...  when you lost your last life you were given the option of starting a new game or continuing where you left off.  I can't remember what you had to press to continue, but to start a new game you had to press the fire button.  Trouble is at the moment you lost your last life you were most likely pressing the fire button and this made you start a new game when you wanted to continue.  Totally infuriating.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #103 on: September 24, 2019, 06:00:50 PM »
I remember one on the Amiga... think it was Bubble Bobble...  when you lost your last life you were given the option of starting a new game or continuing where you left off.  I can't remember what you had to press to continue, but to start a new game you had to press the fire button.  Trouble is at the moment you lost your last life you were most likely pressing the fire button and this made you start a new game when you wanted to continue.  Totally infuriating.

This a UX problem and for some reason game designers do not care about UX.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #104 on: September 24, 2019, 06:01:17 PM »
Fascinating chat.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #105 on: September 24, 2019, 06:26:51 PM »
This a UX problem and for some reason game designers do not care about UX.

All I wanna say is that they don't really care about UX

the

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #106 on: September 24, 2019, 09:49:47 PM »
I remember one on the Amiga... think it was Bubble Bobble...  when you lost your last life you were given the option of starting a new game or continuing where you left off.  I can't remember what you had to press to continue, but to start a new game you had to press the fire button.  Trouble is at the moment you lost your last life you were most likely pressing the fire button and this made you start a new game when you wanted to continue.  Totally infuriating.

This probably attempted to mimic the coin-op which made it difficult to continue in one player mode, as (presuming you've already put another coin in) upon dying you have about a 1 second window in which to hold the start button to continue.

Which I think was probably a deliberate attempt to discourage single players from just continuing away, particularly as the whole of Bubble Bobble is a fucking marvel of game design.

thecuriousorange

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #107 on: September 25, 2019, 07:12:09 AM »
Lylat Wars on the N64 having no save function of any description made it dated right out the gate.

Kelvin

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #108 on: September 25, 2019, 12:25:40 PM »
Lylat Wars on the N64 having no save function of any description made it dated right out the gate.

It takes about 45 mins to complete Lylat Wars, though.

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #109 on: September 25, 2019, 01:10:10 PM »
All I wanna say is that they don't really care about UX

Karma here obviously

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #110 on: September 26, 2019, 04:02:52 PM »
Why is it cripplingly unfair when you can save and reload instantly? Is it because of the artifice of that system? "Save early, save often!" is very much part of the ethos of these games. I think it's a fascinating and fundamental difference here - I find dying/game over less irritating than "that doesn't work, those don't go together", because the former triggers a mental opportunity to regroup and think, and the latter just causes me frustration!

The reason I brought up the subject in the first place is that when I was playing these point and click adventures back in the day I was using an Amiga 600 with a single floppy disk drive. Do you know what a massive ballache saving and loading savegames is on an Amiga 600 with a single floppy disk drive? It definitely wasn't something you could do "instantly". I would never have stuck to the mantra "save early and save often", because it would interrupt the flow of the game to such an extent my Saturday afternoon would get really boring and irritating very quickly. So I'd much rather have a game that I knew I only had to save whenever I had finished playing for the day. None of this matters now of course with these new "hard drives" the kids have, but you did ask about things that bug you in old games.

NoSleep

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #111 on: September 26, 2019, 04:48:55 PM »
That's a thing that bugs you in old computers.

Twed

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #112 on: September 26, 2019, 04:52:05 PM »
349857u0fh034fh04fh90j +++++++ 03i940394034::::

^ If you can't read my response it's because it was designed for an encoding that will exist on computers in the future, and that's no fault of my own.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #113 on: September 26, 2019, 05:52:44 PM »
349857u0fh034fh04fh90j +++++++ 03i940394034::::

You dirty old bollocks

NoSleep

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #114 on: September 26, 2019, 06:06:15 PM »
349857u0fh034fh04fh90j +++++++ 03i940394034::::

^ If you can't read my response it's because it was designed for an encoding that will exist on computers in the future, and that's no fault of my own.

You dirty old bollocks

Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #115 on: September 26, 2019, 08:05:36 PM »
The gash music in Rocket League

Beagle 2

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #116 on: September 27, 2019, 08:59:35 PM »
Wow, Mario Kart mobile is unplayable dogshit. Why bother.

Beagle 2

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #117 on: September 27, 2019, 09:10:47 PM »
Wow I'm in the wrong thread. Why bother.

H-O-W-L

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Re: Things that bug you in (old) games
« Reply #118 on: September 28, 2019, 10:09:37 AM »
RE3 making you watch the fucking title screen every time you die. Just send me back to the load game menu, please, cunt.