Okay, so let’s address the two topics in the video.
1) Difficulty in games and being able to adjust difficulty in game. I agree that making a game difficult is an old-school sentiment. Nowadays, depending on the game you might just want to complete the story and be done with it or you might want the challenge but either way it should be manageable. I do think however, that Marcus Beer is being a bit too narrow minded when he says something like every game should have adaptable AI or something like that. First of all, can you imagine a game like Mario having an adaptable AI? The challenge is in the environment so there is no AI included. Second, I personally believe that making games that adapt to the player, in most but not all cases, is a really stupid idea.
Part of what makes games exciting is the concept of “fiero” something I have talked about before. The eureka moment when the right tactic or strategy is devised and then executed. Recent example for me, I am replaying Deus Ex: Human Revolution which includes in the first level of the game a area with a few guards and hostages somewhere in the room. I tried a couple of strategies but died a good amount of the time but when I found the one that worked, I felt really good about it. Each time I died, I learned something. I learned something about my weapon, I learned something about the alertness of the guards when I take someone out stealthily, and I learned what I can and can’t do to manipulate them. And while save scumming did take some of the immersion out of the game, I was at least learning along the way. Trying the same tactics over and over again until it works (the brute force method) is not fun. Even if someone like Marcus thinks it’s fun, there is not as much satisfaction in playing a game that doesn’t require thought, that doesn’t require a solution to a puzzle. If I had tried gotten spotted by the guards, and instead of dying instantly just took less and less damage or something like that each time until running up and shooting them in the face worked, it would not have been so satisfying to win.
As for getting to a boss fight, failing, and putting the game down never to touch it again. That happens, that’s a part of the gaming experience. For a good game, if the final boss is thwomping you, then you have missed some crucial details, you have missed the point of the game and its like getting upset at a movie because you didn’t pay attention to a crucial scene. 9 times out of 10 it’s the player’s fault not the developer’s. I think a lot of gamers sometimes can’t take the fact that they are not up for the challenge. I myself am often very intimidated by the hard mode option for a new game because I’m not sure whether or not I’m up for it, so I play on the standard difficulty and work my way up. Again, I think being able to change the game’s difficulty at anytime is something that should be implemented more often. I think the Super Guide in some Mario games is a great idea for people not up to the harder levels of the game. It is an admission of defeat and it is important for a game to be an enjoyable experience for players to decided how challenging the game is, not rely on the game to automatically take that away from you.
2) Controllers. I rolled my eyes the whole time during this part. Mainly because, I know where the people who say we need to move beyond the controllers are coming from. First of all, motion controls work. There are great games on the Wii that have shown us how well they can work. Red Steel 2, Skyward Sword, The Sky Crawlers, all examples of games that have used motion controls to their benefit.
Objectively, the standard controller is intimidating. Even me, someone who games a lot, loses track of what button does what, especially between games. Example, when trying to be stealthy in Deus Ex, I threw a grenade because I thought it was the button to make me look down the scope. I learned that it isn’t, but it also ruined my immersion because something happened that I didn’t ask for because I hit the wrong button. That is why motion controls can be a good thing, and most of the time I find the people who don’t like them are actually a bit scared of them. True, waggle sucks. It really serves no reason other than to cash in on the controller without much though in how it can be utilized. But some games really do think about it and have better because of it. Skyward Sword and Red Steel 2 introduced sword mechanics that would have been really awkward had they been mapped to a regular controller and it’s hard to compare any other games to them because of it. Conduit 2 has some guns that really do rely on the fact that adding motion controls like twisting and more control over where you are aiming, more gameplay options become available. Even the Sky Crawlers, with a weirder non-traditional set up, game a arcade flight shooter more unique instead of just being a Rogue Squadron clone.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think that Star Wars Kinect sucks. I know it’s really for the kids, but when thinking of a Star Wars Kinect game, they could have put a lot more effort into it. I also think that reducing a big adventure game to a rail game was also a terrible idea. Actually, any Kinect game that requires your hand to constantly be up is a stupid idea, like Wii remote waggle. This does not mean Kinect sucks though. It means the developers behind Kinect suck and I think that people like Molyneux know that (or maybe not, he’s crazy afterall). The thing is, motion controllers are just the next step in gaming evolution and can provide different experiences. I refer to those Wii games I mentioned above, to the best of my knowledge there are only two games that place a greater focus in how you wield a sword instead of just pressing A to swing and B to block, and that’s Skyward Sword and Red Steel 2. And trust me, those would be really awkward to map to a regular controller. That’s why the normal controllers aren’t good enough anymore and I personally believe that almost everything has been done with the standard controller. I believe that with the standard controller, the emphasis will remain on just doing, instead of being able to delve into the how you are doing, which I think makes for a much more immersive experience.