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Avoiding Wasted Time With Prince of Persia 507

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-to-the-good-stuff dept.
Zonk pointed out an interesting video presentation by Shamus Young on the importance of the new Prince of Persia, calling it the most innovative game of 2008. Young brings up the fact that many of today's games punish failure by wasting the player's time; being sent back to a check point, the beginning of a level, or sometimes even further. This cuts into the amount of time players have to enjoy the meat of the game — the current challenge they have to overcome. Unfortunately, as Young notes, modern controllers are designed for players who have been gaming since they were kids, and have evolved to be more complicated to operate than an automobile. The combination of these factors therefore limits or prevents the interest of new players; a problem Prince of Persia has addressed well through intuitive controls and the lack of punitive time sinks.
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Avoiding Wasted Time With Prince of Persia

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  • missing the point (Score:2, Interesting)

    by johncandale (1430587)
    that is the worst feature, puts the game on easy mode, plus PC games have had this forever, it's called the quick save button.
    • by Mystery00 (1100379) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @03:50AM (#26265995)

      If you're going to hit the quicksave button all the time, then you might as well make it automatic, like they have done here.

      The game isn't easy because of this, it's less frustrating. Forcing the player to restarting huge segments at the smallest error is a very cheap way to make something "difficult".

      • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:40AM (#26266167) Homepage

        Agreed. While Yhatzee's Zero Punctuation may be seen as somewhat abrasive, he does hit the nail on the head when reveiwing games that seem to lack this feature.

        I know myself, when I play a game for a bit of fun, I want to do just that... have fun. Not be PUNISHED for a simple error, or not knowing the level.

        I reccomend anyone who enjoys gaming to watch his reviews. They are abrasive, but they are also down to earth. He pretty much spells out what really sucks about modern gaming (and, yes, he does praise what's right).

        Sure in MMOs and the likes you are "punished" at times, but it's not for not knowing, it's for not working together. Solo, I don't want to be punished by some want-to-be benevolent programmer with a sadistic nature, I want to have fun.

        • by i.of.the.storm (907783) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:58AM (#26266387) Homepage
          Abrasive I will agree with, and they are also enjoyable and entertaining, but down to earth is not something Yahtzee exudes. If anything he's got one of the hugest egos of any reviewer. He does point out a lot of things that suck about modern gaming, but it seems like his reviews are more intended to be negative for the sake of being negative rather than making a decent review. I wouldn't recommend Yahtzee to find out whether a game is good, but more to find out the flaws in a game, and check other reviews to find out whether you should buy the game.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by pelrun (25021)

            And there's a reason for that - Yahtzee is much, much more entertaining when he's being critical, and so whilst he occasionally gives positive reviews (like Psychonauts), most of the time he gives the audience what it wants.

            I disagree that Yahtzee's reviews aren't a good measure of whether a game is purchase-worthy; if a game is fun despite the flaws he delights in pointing out then he will make that very clear.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by gknoy (899301)

              I agree. I watch Yatzee partly for the hilarious quick-flashes of funny pictures justaposed with his criticism. I often rewind to re-watch something, as when I'm only listening to it, it's about one third as funny (or informative).

              More importantly, I watch his stuff because the things he complains about are things which I often find annoying. He is the Mr. Cranky of Videogames. Chances are, if something about a game pissed you off, he'll have mentioned it. More importantly, he also will compare games t

            • by TheGreatGraySkwid (553871) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @06:08PM (#26272731) Homepage

              "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends."

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Skrapion (955066)

            Sure, Yahtzee is overly negative, but every other game reviewer is overly positive. When was the last time you saw a game get reviewed lower than 5? Shouldn't 5 be the median?

            At least when Yahtzee you know what you're getting. And honestly, I'm one of those games-as-art guys, so I am more interested in hearing about the game's flaws than whether or not I should buy it.

      • Re:missing the point (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:27AM (#26266733) Homepage
        I think pressing the quicksave button is itself part of the challenge. Do you want to overwrite your last save with this new one? What if one of the choices you made between it and where you are now was what determined your game ending?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bobetov (448774)

          I think pressing the quicksave button is itself part of the challenge. Do you want to overwrite your last save with this new one? What if one of the choices you made between it and where you are now was what determined your game ending?

          That's the rationalization I used to use, to make the endless save/restore cycle seem tolerable. But I'll venture a guess here - you've never regretted hitting save, but you HAVE regretted getting into the game, really enjoying things, and FORGETTING to save. You get hit

      • by ubrgeek (679399) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:31AM (#26266749)
        " like they have done here."

        "Your comment has been submited." doesn't count as quicksave ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by somenickname (1270442)

        Forcing the player to restarting huge segments at the smallest error is a very cheap way to make something "difficult".

        Seeing as this is modded to (5: Insightful) I am going to have to assume that no nethack players have mod points today.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by clam666 (1178429)

      The only winning move is not to play.

      How about a nice game of chess?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by russotto (537200)

        The only winning move is not to play.

        How about a nice game of chess?

        But Dr. Falken, the same is true of chess, for at least one player.

  • The secret (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @03:39AM (#26265953)
    Don't buy it and don't play video games if you don't want to waste time.

    Had to be said.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      I dunno, I play games to have fun or otherwise get enjoyment. If your definition of gaming is nothing but passing time, then I guess Desert Bus is the only game you'd ever need to own.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Young brings up the fact that many of today's games punish failure by wasting the player's time

    I hear the Playstation 4 implements dual electric shock controllers, for more direct punishment of failure.

  • Braid got rid of (most) of the save/load BS. Still had to occasionally reload a room when the level had tricked you thoroughly.

    Braid is also better for casuals, imho. Fewer dimensions (har har har harh ahrharharhahrahrhar) and other graphical distractions. A little patience was the only requirement, something I've found older folks (esp. former(?) parents) have in spades.

    • Re:Braid (Score:5, Interesting)

      by theantipop (803016) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:16AM (#26266283)
      Well, what made Braid one of the best games of 2008 was the fact that it continually expanded the scope of this feature in order to never allow it to be used for exactly the same purpose level by level.

      I saw it as one of the most inspired uses of current generation of hardware (speed of caching and disk storage). The insinuation that it was "for the casuals" is off-base imo because even I, an extremely seasoned gamer was enthralled by the mechanics which pushed me to expand my way of thinking about games and level design (and story telling) in order to finish.
  • by Azarael (896715) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @03:46AM (#26265975) Homepage
    I haven't played the game, but that said, how much of the heart of great games was the thrill of just squeaking by? If you know that there isn't any way to loose, what you're left with is a empty shell. Nice to look at, and shows you some neat tricks, but nothing else later. Putting training wheels on a game isn't the future, it's just a gimmick to try and make a bland game that offends no one, and doesn't really try to solve the problem of playability. My 2c.
    • Monkey Island (Score:5, Insightful)

      by magerquark.de (466363) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @03:56AM (#26266015) Homepage

      In Monkey Island, you could never die either. But it was still a lot of fun to play!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually there was a way to die in the first game, but you really had to suck (or do it intentionally). Early in the game guybrush makes claims about being able to hold his breath for 10 minutes. When you are thrown in the water tied to the idol you have 10 minutes to figure out the very easy puzzle before you drown and all your actions turn into float, bob, etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by johannesg (664142)

        In Monkey Island, you could never die either. But it was still a lot of fun to play!

        Monkey Island was all about the puzzles, and dying just distracted from that. Even the combat was a hilarious puzzle game, nothing to do with arcade skills.

        PoP has arcade-style fighting and platforming, and the thrill there comes at least in part from avoiding death. I agree with earlier posters: where is the sense of achievement without that threat?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        Proving once again that you just can't go wrong with a game involving monkeys.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nithinsujir (592733)
      you can still fall and you still need to complete the task. the difference is that you don't have to replay the last 5 minutes of running back to the failed challenge.
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:25AM (#26266117)

      I know what you mean, everything is frustratingly easy these days. Back in the days of Tron, if your character died, YOU DIED*. Just squeaking by was a real adrenaline rush! Not like the pampered kids these days, with their save points and what not. Could at least build a tazer into the controller or something as punishment.

      *At least, that's how it was in the 80s documentary of the same name I saw.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        If you watch the video all the way through, it makes a good point. Besides the wii, one of the best selling platforms of all time is the gameboy of the various generations, all the way back to the original.

        It's hasn't ever really gotten more complicated (two more buttons added just this generation with the DS and no changes in the previous gens since the original) and I would argue the stylus actually makes it easier. Contrast this or the Wii controller with the ever more complicated Playstation controlle

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        ...and another thing, GET OFF MY LAWN!
    • by Draek (916851) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:29AM (#26266129)

      Because "not losing" isn't the same as "winning" and *that* still takes effort.

      Just look at Lucasarts' adventure games for example, like Full Throttle or as the sibling post mentioned, Monkey Island. Impossible to lose there, yet they're considered classics today and rightfully so.

      • by Azarael (896715)
        So were the original X-Wing and Tie Fighter games. Either way, you can make a great game but at the end of the day there has to be a hook to keep you engaged. You can do this with a really compelling story or just fun game play. I just think that making it so it's harder to die doesn't really tackle the real problem i.e. hitting the sweet-spot difficulty wise, or coming up with something new or fun.
        • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:09AM (#26266257) Homepage

          The point is not about making games easy, but about not forcing you to replay the same shit over and over again when you die. The whole reason why hard games can be annoying is because you have to play the *easy* parts of them a trillion times to reach the hard ones, then you die quickly and repeat the easy parts again. The fun part is overcoming the hard part and thats what a game needs to focus on instead of punishing the player for failure.

          • "The fun part is overcoming the hard part and thats what a game needs to focus on instead of punishing the player for failure."

            I understand the frustration of repeating long stretches of level (i.e. no automatic saved waypoints from which to restart in case of death throughout a level).

            But personally I think modern gamers are diluting gaming. You mind as well just take all the risk out of the game, and turn on the invincibility cheatcode. That's exactly what cheat codes were for back in the day - to give

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by witherstaff (713820)

              One of the better ways to reduce the 'getting stuck' that I've seen was in the Simpsons Grant Theft style game Hit and Run. If you failed a mission around 10 or so times it offered to just let you continue on, or you could keep on trying.

              I have played enough games that have 1 utterly painful level to appreciate a way to continue on without hours worth of repetition.

          • by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:36AM (#26266771)

            Now see... for me, the "fun" part isn't in defeating the hard part, though that is gratifying, it's in finding out what happens with the story line and the characters. The best game out there is going to come out with a really involving and interesting story line, and if it has challenging gameplay so much the better. That's why, on my Wii, I have spent *many* more hours playing through Bully than I have on Mario Galaxy. It's just a better story. (Mario Galaxy basically tells the same story of *every* Mario game since the original Donkey Kong) And I'm just not interested in games where the object is to run around killing things. Hell, the last shooter I played was either NOLF2 or Thirteen on the PC.

            Different kind of gamer, I guess. I won't play PvP games at all, because there's too many 13-year old retards out there (mindset, if not physical age). And I get tired of people asking me to get on voice and cyber when they find out that women actually do play games. Closest I get is WoW, and I play on a non-PvP RP server. *shrugs*

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by enryonaku (1441337)

      I just started playing grand theft auto 4. The worst part of the game is exactly what the video describes -- when I get killed in a shootout, I have to go back to the start, waste a bunch of time getting across the city, only to risk more time wasting.

      Why not just send me back to the start of the fight so I can give it another shot? Going across the city again is

      - not fun
      - doesn't teach me anything! (read: taking the tedium out doesn't make it "training wheels")

      On the other hand (even if it is less work) su

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        GTA4 is specifically a time wasting game, just like the sims or WoW. You can't really compare it to worthwhile games. This is like comparing a Schwartenager movie to a Kubric film they're totally different classes of the same medium.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by slim (1652)

        I just started playing grand theft auto 4. The worst part of the game is exactly what the video describes -- when I get killed in a shootout, I have to go back to the start, waste a bunch of time getting across the city, only to risk more time wasting.

        I enjoyed GTA4 for many hours, but exactly what you describe is the reason I put it away never to be played again. It was the strip club shootout:

        while (motivated) {
        Spawn at spawn point
        Find mission trigger
        Find car
        4 minutes of driving (no challenge, no interest)
        2 minutes or less of shooting: get killed
        }

        But there's nothing novel about this. It's just a matter of sensible checkpoint placement. Here, GT

    • by kreyg (103130) <kreyg@shaw.PARISca minus city> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:28AM (#26266309) Homepage
      People keep complaining about this, and having finished the game, I think they should just shut up and play the game. Let's put this simply: "Can't die" == "Auto-restore to the last safe point" You can fail, exactly the same as you would have with a death mechanic. Over and over and over until you get it right. You just don't have to quicksave/quickload every time you screw it up, and get a nice animation instead. It's a minor semantic/presentation difference, and everyone bitches like it's the end of the world.
    • I like what Mirror's Edge did about this. When you die you start over a little ways back, at the beginning of a section. But sections were short and timed so you could build up speed. Getting back into the game play right away without the punishment of waiting made it feel fun and exciting. You also had less fear of falling off the building which is great because then you are living like a runner. The characters in the game don't fear falling because they do this everyday. If us normal people were faced wi
    • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:56AM (#26266383)

      I haven't played the game, but that said, how much of the heart of great games was the thrill of just squeaking by? If you know that there isn't any way to loose, what you're left with is a empty shell.

      I liken it to mountain biking. When I run a trail and have trouble with a section, I back up a bit and repeat the section. I don't restart the entire 10km trail. That would be stupid. Just getting to the end is satisfying.

      Eventually I master a trail, and can do a clean pass, and that's even more satisfying. But I would NEVER reach that point, if, after every time I had to put a foot down, I had to go back and restart the entire trail.

      Nice to look at, and shows you some neat tricks, but nothing else later.

      Huh?

      Putting training wheels on a game isn't the future, it's just a gimmick to try and make a bland game that offends no one, and doesn't really try to solve the problem of playability. My 2c.

      Realizing that most people who want to play a game aren't aiming to prove they can do a flawless run IS the future. If they like the game enough, and want to do a flawless run, by all means, have that as one of the challenges or achievements or whatever, and those people that can and want to do that will, hell, give them a bonus cutscene or dialog or whatever even... but there is no reason for that to be how one has to play the game.

      Nobody normal puts up with that kind of nonsense in anything else they do, whether its biking, snowboarding, skiing, fishing ... hell even programming... I mean can you imagine deciding to kill an afternoon writing a few perl scripts where you would delete your project and start from scratch every time you found a bug, under the assumption that eventually you'd get good enough that you'd be able to write it flawlessly?

      I don't know anyone who is that "hardcore". In fact I wouldn't call that person "hardcore"... I'd just call him stupid. ;)

    • by uhlume (597871)

      I'm sure I could find a kinder way to phrase this if I cared to try, but don't be fucking retarded.

      Saving my game right before I plunge into a room full of enemies with limited cover and even more limited ammo doesn't prevent me from dying once, twice, a hundred times before I develop a winning strategy. It doesn't mean that I win just for showing up. It does mean I get to focus my effort on overcoming the challenge at hand, rather than being forced to replay some arbitrary chunk of the game over and over a

    • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @08:33AM (#26266957)

      It's the same as why watch a film when there's no risk involved in the outcome of the plot?

      I play some games this way, I treat them as interactive stories, that doesn't mean I need risk, it just means I'm more immersed in the story than I would be a film and the stories usually last longer and are hence more interesting- many people hate film adaptations of books because they have to cut so much, this is less of a problem with games as the player creates large

      Games don't have to be about challenge, they can equally be about story telling as movies and books are but with a form of interactivity and hence immersiveness that can improve the story telling. In a book you might get a description of a beautiful scene (coastal Thailand on Tomb Raider: Underworld for example) which is great, but in a game you can spend time looking round that scene and admiring it.

      That's not to say I don't play games with risk as well, I always play through the Call of Duty series on veteran difficulty for example. I find games with little risk nice to relax to sometimes though and unlike playing Call of Duty on Veteran you're not stuck in the same place over and over for 30mins+ so the story flows much better and is much more suited to those of us who don't have 50 hours to burn on a single game. Dead space was a good example of this, as was Bioshock- I didn't find either game very hard at all (even on hardest difficulty) and hence I would say these are games with little risk, (certainly there was no part that required repeating more than once which is in contrast to Call of Duty on Vet.) yet they were still absolutely excellent.

      I agree with the article, punishing people for a minor slip up is not something that should be implemented in every game, nor is it something that should be taken too far. An example of an excellent game, completely destroyed by the risk of an improper save system is Dead Rising- the gameplay was superb, the story was good, the graphics were great, but the save system made the game simply too frustrating to play. Even autosaves/checkpoints have made gaming so much better than it used to be without them- I recall the frustration of losing hours of play if you forgot to/couldn't save all too well.

  • Prince of Persia uses basically the same retry mechanism as Assassin's Creed. Actually, I think Prince of Persia uses a LOT of the same stuff as Assassin's Creed. It's the same game engine isn't it?

    Yeah, real revolutionary.
  • by Sarusa (104047) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:08AM (#26266065)

    I just finished this game and the lack of the death is fantastic. It makes it all about the awesome acrobatics and less about the stupid camera or dumb mini-boss killing me yet another time. Every time you fail is YOUR FAULT and not a big deal. I beat the original PoP games when they came out (and even harder games), so I can do hardcore ridiculous, but I no longer want to.

    I estimate I spent about 10 hours on the game, and I would far rather have 10 AWESOME hours than 40 hours of padded frustrating crap. I'm old enough I don't want to waste my time on stupid sh@# just for the sake of being hardcore like an internet suicide.

    The combat is eventually a bit tedious, yes. I'd prefer the game be even MORE stripped down. I'm perfectly willing to drop $40 for 8 hours of making you feel like a total badass.

    Elika is amazing - she is never annoying (which is astounding for a companion) and the dialogue is interesting and funny. And the ending is just fantastic; it deserves a mention even separate from the lack of death. I can't say anything much without spoiling it, but I love how it asks you (and you likely comply gladly) to subvert everything you've done.

    So yes, I've reached the age when I will gladly pay more money for less bullshit and more fun.

    • by Sarusa (104047) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:42AM (#26266349)

      I know it's lame to reply to my own comment, but I've been reading the other comments and they make some interesting points, even if I don't agree with some of them.

      I have to say I didn't even consider collecting the light seeds a minus. There are 1001 light seeds in the game (as I found out by googling). You need 560 of them (just more than half) to beat it. This is easy for me - it's sort of like Crackdown: if you can see a light seed, the Power of Christ Compels you to grab it. I beat the game with about 800 light seeds without even really trying.

      For the people who are upset about the lack of punishment, I don't know. I do sympathize to an extent, since I can remember that feeling (I beat Contra), but I guess there's a point where your time is worth more than the cost of the game. Yes, I do want to blow through a game as fast as possible these days, getting only TEH AWESUM, because my stack of games is 20 deep because other things are competing for my time. While I admire the hell out of someone who can beat Morrowind in 7.5 minutes, that's just not for me.

      But this sort of meta-discussion is fascinating and one of the few slashdot threads where almost every comment is of interest to me. Unlike the predictable boring crud (windows vs linux vs osx Or ps3 vs x360 vs wii) this reveals a lot about what you value as a person.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:08AM (#26266253)

    The question as to whether time-punishing is a good part of the game is really posed very well here. But I imagine it's more a measure of the player than of the game. Two games come to mind, as radically diametrically opposed examples.

    "The Curse of Monkey Island" (Monkey Island 3) is one of the old-school Lucas Arts adventure games where you can't die. The "puzzles" are simple combination-of-action puzzles. The game is extraordinary. Not because it's anything special, and not because it's particularly good in any capacity, but simply because it's very funny, and a smooth ride the whole way through. It's very much like a movie, and yo,u're never punished for anything.

    "Left 4 Dead" is the big, huge, enormous time penalties. Die at the end of a thirty-minute attempt, and you get to start all over again -- with your three friends too. Play it on expert, and you'll likely be retrying levels dozens of times. Is it frustrating? Not in the least. You get the action of "ooooh, so close!" And it becomes a strategy game of how the next attempt could be done differently, what else can we try, and where else can we go.

    It's important to note that the time-penalties discussed in the article, do more than simply force the player to redo things. It grants the player another opportunity to do something completely different. Now, when a game is completely linear -- as with super mario brothers the first -- then it's nohting more than a "do it again" concept, presented well by the article. However, when a game has many many many many freedoms provided to the player, and the player fails a challenge along the way, having the opportunity to change the past is a good thing. And being forced to do so gives the decision-making process some level of importance.

    Is it a waste of time? That's the whole purpose of the game. Does it matter if you're wasting time at the beginning of the game doing the same thing over and over again, or wasting time at the end of the game going through the whole thing once? If it's different every time, then there's no difference -- except for the potential to have more game to play, which is a good thing.

    The article uses a great example, that I felt was perfect. If people learned to drive the way they learn to play games, it wouldn't be by backing out of the driveway, it would be by driving a stick-shift in a rally race, and requiring many many humiliating failures before winning a single race.

    I agreed with this example at the time. Now, I'm thinking it better serves my perspective. Sure, if you're learning to drive your grandmother's car to go to the movies, backing out of the driveway and not being time-punished for mistakes is the way to do it. But if you designed and built the rally car, and are trying to develop a car to win races, having the chance to make design changes between failed races is precisely what you want. What didn't work, what did work, what can be tuned to work better.

    I'm thinkin', if you want to develop a car to win races, backing out of the driveway will get you no-where.

    So, when I play a video game, am I developing a playing strategy of a grand quality to pass the level, or am I enjoying the progression of an in-line story? The answer is a fairly simple and direct mapping.

    If the game is a comedy, then I want a straight story with no chance to fail. If the game is an action-adventure, then I want failure. Failure is a big part of action, challenge, and adventure -- it's all about the risk-taking. Failure is not a part of successful comedy. Actually, I guess that's slapstick. And I'm not a big fan of slapstick. But you know, if you could play a nice comedy, slip on a banana peel and die in a vat of goo, it could be funny.

  • Failure mechanics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aexia (517457) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:38AM (#26266331)

    One of the things I like about Puzzle Quest and Castle Crashers is that failure doesn't have much penalty. Certainly, you have to restart a level or boss fight, but any XP/gold/etc you've acquired stays with you so the "time penalty" is minimized. You may have lost but you've bettered your character in the process and can make another try incrementally better.

  • This is the game that Ubisoft was like 'We are selling this game with no DRM on PC. Let's see if these people really will put their money where their mouth is', meaning that now more people will buy it simply because there is no DRM.

    This is NOT the reason I buy games. I buy games if they are good. Ubisoft thinks they might even get those people who are thinking to support Ubisoft in their effort to set an industry example. As IF.

    But regardless, I refuse to buy EA and Take2 games. EA because of SecuROM and a

  • You know, that thing at the start where you tune the difficulty to suit your level of ability? I tried the new PoP and was offended by the lack of challenge. The Sands of Time trilogy hit near-perfection with the timebending-mixed-with-checkpoints gameplay; all defense of the new mechanic can be boiled down to "I suck at gaming and wish all games to treat all players as though they suck too."
  • "and the lack of punitive time sinks."

    You mean punishment for failure, right? Because that's what going back to the last checkpoint is. The game saying "No, you're an idiot, try again." If there was no punishment for your failure you wouldn't be concerned about not dying as much.
  • Playability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craig@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:40AM (#26266789)

    The way to improve playability in strategy wargames, and so-called 4X games especially, is to use variable degrees of abstraction to address issues of game scale. There is NOTHING more annoying than playing a huge game of, say, Sword of the Stars, with hundreds of stars and countless units and economic factors, AND HAVING TO DEAL WITH ALL OF IT PERSONALLY. So-called "micromanagement" is fine in the early game, when a single less-than-optimal action could decide the game against the player, but later in the game it simply isn't practical, nor is it a reflection of reality: if the player represents an emperor or five-star general, such a figure would NOT be dealing with all that minutia personally at that point. Nowhere is this failure more evident than in so-called "real time strategy" games (which are almost all really "real time tactics"), where not only is the player forced to micromanage but the time required to do so costs him in terms of the game, because the computer AI opponents at least don't suffer from this problem.

    Sadly, I know of no single game that employs this level of intelligence in the player interface, and the game I mentioned, Sword of the Stars and its sequels, is actually one of the biggest recent failures in this regard. It also has bugs that persist across sequels and a dev team with no coding discipline, which may or may not be related to the aforementioned failure.

    • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:06PM (#26269551) Homepage

      So-called "micromanagement" is fine in the early game, when a single less-than-optimal action could decide the game against the player, but later in the game it simply isn't practical, nor is it a reflection of reality: if the player represents an emperor or five-star general, such a figure would NOT be dealing with all that minutia personally at that point.

      Hm. The way that ought to work is that the player gets to appoint "subordinates" to various jobs, each of whom has an identity and a back story. The subordinates all have different personalities and decision styles; some favor military action over negotiation; some don't. Some are bold generals; some overprepare on logistics. (Do you want Montgomery or Ike in charge?) The player has to monitor how they're doing, and be prepared to fire or move around subordinates.

      This is what a CEO of a big organization really does. It's a good skill to teach.

  • by ookaze (227977) <ookaze@NOspaM.mail.ookaze.fr> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:53AM (#26266829) Homepage

    Prince of Persia is a huge bomb sales wise.
    Now the question is why?
    This analysis would lead us to understand that it was on the wrong console then.
    Especially this tidbit from the OP: "as Young notes, modern controllers are designed for players who have been gaming since they were kids, and have evolved to be more complicated to operate than an automobile. The combination of these factors therefore limits or prevents the interest of new players; a problem Prince of Persia has addressed well through intuitive controls and the lack of punitive time sinks."

    There is the problem. The audience to whom this was adressed, is not on PS3 or XB360. The game didn't solve anything, as the people scared by these modern controllers just won't buy the consoles that come with them. There's only one home console this generation that solved this, and this is the only one where Prince of Persia wasn't released. Go figure.
    So basically, they published a game that solves only half of the problem, but unfortunately, they released it for the wrong audience.

    The audience on PS3 and XB360 is not scared by these old mechanics, and don't want what they think are dumbed down mechanics. Those that are veterans but still wanted this to change also bought a Wii, but they're not the bulk of the audience needed.

    This just shows this PoP was a very stupid move, these 3rd parties look more and more stupid as time passes.

  • Done (Score:3, Informative)

    by kurtis25 (909650) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @08:38AM (#26266983)
    Lego Star Wars has been doing this for years... Even my wife can play and beat the game.
  • Predictability (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CambodiaSam (1153015) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @08:50AM (#26267043)
    How about predictability?

    I understand and agree with the analysis made by the author, but it seems to be based on the idea that the enjoyment comes from the discovery within the game. The first time someone plays a game, it's a new experience. After that, they learn the topology and it comes down to refining your ability to reflexively work through the game. I believe the rise of multiplayer gaming has in part driven more people into games since it's a slightly new experience every time you log on. Sure, you can learn the map and objective, but you never know quite what you'll get.

    I can only think of one title in Video Game History that had both dynamic maps and interactive elements that were different every time: Larn. It's a 20 year old DOS title that used nothing but ASCII characters. But hey, it rocked since it was new every time.

    Can you imagine what a typical shooting game would be like if the enemies were moved around on the map every time? How about a driving game where the road was always different?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by slim (1652)

      Can you imagine what a typical shooting game would be like if the enemies were moved around on the map every time?

      It would be like Left 4 Dead, in which replaying a level is a joy instead of a chore.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jerf (17166)

      I can only think of one title in Video Game History that had both dynamic maps and interactive elements that were different every time: Larn. It's a 20 year old DOS title that used nothing but ASCII characters. But hey, it rocked since it was new every time.

      I almost hate to do this to you, but... are you aware that that's actually just one member of the genre called "roguelikes"? My preference is for Angband, but you should also try Nethack. There are tens of other good ones. (IIRC, Angband is closer to Lar

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