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Risking Alienation

posted by wilco64256 on - last edited - Viewed by 474 users

I keep seeing comments from Telltale about how they use the model they do for games to keep from alienating players, but the more I see that concept the more I wonder about it. It seems that the more effort you put into "not" alienating players, the more players start showing up who start to get bothered by things being simplified. Back to the Future didn't alienate me because it was too difficult, it alienated me because it was far too simple.

I'm of the opinion that the best games knowingly take that risk of alienating people and accept that they're not going to please everyone. Some of the best games I've played in the last year (Demon's Souls, Resonance of Fate, Final Fantasy XIII) turned off a lot of people because of their mechanics, but I absolutely loved them.

I wonder what the balance is between not alienating people and still making a game that people enjoy playing.

58 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I completely agree with you, wilco. The best games Lucasarts made were occasionally very hard, but they were memorable also because of their complexity. The early Monkey Islands are an example of that. If they don't want to alienate people, the in-game hint system's there exactly for that.

    I think that one problem is having only one clicking icon. It dumbs down the experience. I wish Telltales at least brought back something like what was used in Curse of Monkey Island: when clicking on something, being able to decide if you want to interact with your mouth, eyes, or hands. Apart from giving more depth to the gameplay, it opens up a lot of possibilities for humorous responses.

  • I would love to see what they could do with a full on game, and not just episodes. I think that limits it somewhat in the complexity department.

  • Yeah, you're right, having more freedom to explore really makes things more complex. I don't know, however, if it'd be a good idea for them, commercially speaking. But I'd sure love it too for them to come up with a full, undivided, game.

  • Ideally, creative works should not just avoid alienating (a negative goal), they should attract, compel, enchant, interest and draw in (a positive goal). Focusing too much on the former may hinder managing the latter - and the starting point should be the latter, anyway.

  • @wilco64256 said: I keep seeing comments from Telltale about how they use the model they do for games to keep from alienating players, but the more I see that concept the more I wonder about it. It seems that the more effort you put into "not" alienating players, the more players start showing up who start to get bothered by things being simplified. Back to the Future didn't alienate me because it was too difficult, it alienated me because it was far too simple.

    I'm of the opinion that the best games knowingly take that risk of alienating people and accept that they're not going to please everyone. Some of the best games I've played in the last year (Demon's Souls, Resonance of Fate, Final Fantasy XIII) turned off a lot of people because of their mechanics, but I absolutely loved them.

    I wonder what the balance is between not alienating people and still making a game that people enjoy playing.

    Funny you should mention FF XIII, seeing as how it goes against the point you're trying to make. The main reason it turned off fans of the series was because it had been dumbed down in plot and mechanics to try to appeal to a mass market. Not because it was taking a risk. The risk in that case would have been to release as a traditional JRPG style game. It had nothing to do with the game being to difficult for the casual crowd.

    However, that said, I do agree with the basic point your trying to get across. I would have stated Heavy Rain as a good example. It was a great game that took risks as far as story, maturity, and mechanics and it paid off in a big way for the developer.

    Also, seeing as this is in the Kings Quest forum, I think it should be stated that instead of worrying about alienating POTENTIAL fans of a series, worry about alienating the ones it already has.

    I would hope that with TTG's usual respect towards established series will still hold true. I was one of the few who felt the same about Sam & Max as many do about King's Quest. They didn't let me down for S&M why would they on KQ?

  • I think "not alienating people" is straight lip service. What it comes down to is that the large masses prefer to have things handed to them. As sad as this sounds it is true. Most people do not want to work for anything. Telltale is in the business to make money (not games as people might think). It makes them more money to make games that are not difficult. If they make diehard fans (a relativelty small number of people) upset, it doesn't bother them because it doesn't really hurt their bottom line.

  • To some extent YES TTG is a business that has investors, partners, and families to think about every time they make a game... and yes that means they have a responsibility to them to reach as many gamers as they can and make it accessible to many different level of gamers.. While some of you may complain that the games are too easy and they are not enough like (insert rival game company here) you have to realize that TTG is not (insert rival game company here) they are making the games they would want to play themselves, and that they think others would enjoy.

    Claims that they are selling out or just interested in making loads of money are pretty ridiculous... if that was the case lets be honest here they would NOT be making adventure games.

    I can understand if you do not like an episode here or there or elements in a series.. but I think when its all said and done and you have played an entire season that the end experience is still something pretty unique and special... this includes the atmosphere on these boards...

    Now I know this may make me sound like a Fanboy... BUT keep in mind I have not been afraid to say something negative about TTG in the past... But I still believe that as a whole TTG is a company that deserves my money and they make games I look forward to playing.... I do not see that changing anytime soon.

  • @chucklas said: I think "not alienating people" is straight lip service. What it comes down to is that the large masses prefer to have things handed to them. As sad as this sounds it is true. Most people do not want to work for anything. Telltale is in the business to make money (not games as people might think). It makes them more money to make games that are not difficult. If they make diehard fans (a relativelty small number of people) upset, it doesn't bother them because it doesn't really hurt their bottom line.

    Have you ever heard of eustress? Counterpart to it's cousin, distress, eustress is the good kind of stress. This is the kind of stress people seek out because it gives them the feeling of excitement and accomplishment. In fact, we as humans almost entirely center our lives around it. We come up with goals all the time in life and when we don't meet them, we don't really feel good about it.

    The reason we spend hours on end trying to get a worthless achievement is the same reason we run marathons or maintain a floral garden. More likely than not for this reason, more people want at least a bit of a challenge in a game.

  • @Irishmile said:

    Claims that they are selling out or just interested in making loads of money are pretty ridiculous... if that was the case lets be honest here they would NOT be making adventure games.

    It is actually quite profitable to have a monopoly over a niche market. Nowadays, that seems to be the most successful new business model; find a niche group that does not have a specific product and exploit it. If there were other adventure game companies out there making a mark in the adventure game market, they might have to rethink what they are doing, but for now, while there is little competition, they can continue as they are. I think that is why they went after KQ in the first place. If AGDI or someone else were to make KQ games it would effect their bottom line (for other games as well). They are a business, and the bottom line is the $$ they make. Even if you don't like that, it is true. They don't make adventure games because they aren't profitable.

  • I love TTG and support them, having bought most of their games. But they have yet to release something as good as the classics from the golden era of adventure games, and I feel a part of this comes from some lack of complexity and options when interacting with the environment. I wouldn't be criticizing them if I didn't think they could make even better games.

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