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Risking Alienation

posted by wilco64256 on - last edited - Viewed by 681 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
  • It's true that Back to the Future is first and foremost a movie franchise rather than a game franchise, and designing such a game based on a movie would be well within its rights to focus more on story than on difficult puzzle solving. That being said, I think the marketing department does the adventure game community a disservice by not explaining this motive in advance.

    If Telltale had come right out and said "This is a game which is based on a movie and is therefore designed specifically to tell a story rather than get the player stuck on hard puzzles while forced to wander the countryside and back at length" then the gamers-at-large who are apprehensive about upcoming titles that ought to be difficult would already know that the reason why Back to the Future and Jurassic Park are easy is because they're designed to be easy, and not because Telltale is increasingly treating the adventure gaming community like we couldn't find our way out of a wet paper bag even if equipped with a pair of scissors.

  • I think one of the additional challenges that Telltale has to face, that a lot of other companies don't is that they want everyone who plays their games to finish them. Nothing could be worse for an episodic gaming company than for players to just not be able to finish episode 3, and thus not continue to play the rest of it.

    Most of the statistics that are out there show that an alarming amount of people never finish games that they buy.

    Although another solution to that problem is continuing to deepen their in-game hint systems.

  • Good point about this downside of the episodic format (which I have no problem with otherwise).

    I have not looked into the statistics, but might people be more likely to finish adventure games than other kinds of games, though?

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    puzzlebox Telltale Staff

    Sometimes I read the newspaper for entertainment, other times I catch up on a few webcomics. Both are valid ways to spend a bit of leisure time even though the latter usually involves less intellectual engagement.

    Same with games - I can enjoy both difficult ones and easy ones, though I want to know what to expect when I purchase. That said, I definitely want King's Quest to be harder than BTTF, and I think Telltale probably recognises that the franchises are pretty distinct.

    @Calbeb said: Nothing could be worse for an episodic gaming company than for players to just not be able to finish episode 3, and thus not continue to play the rest of it.

    Most of the statistics that are out there show that an alarming amount of people never finish games that they buy.

    Do you have any links to share on that? Not that I don't believe you (goodness knows I've collected enough unfinished games myself), I just like to read original sources.

    With the ease of access of hints and walkthroughs these days, I wonder if not completing a game would be less due to difficulty and more due to the game just failing to engage the player enough to motivate them to finish.

  • @Calbeb said: Most of the statistics that are out there show that an alarming amount of people never finish games that they buy.

    That's not a reason for Telltale to make their games easy to beat.

    Besides, I'd say having a whole month or two in which to complete an episode is more than enough time, especially when you consider the availability of information on the internet to aid in completing it.

  • @puzzlebox said:
    With the ease of access of hints and walkthroughs these days, I wonder if not completing a game would be less due to difficulty and more due to the game just failing to engage the player enough to motivate them to finish.

    This.

    People aren't failing to complete games because they are too hard, they aren't finishing them because they get bored with them. I myself haven't finished Sam and Max Season 2 because the first and second episodes bored me to tears.

  • Is it just me or are the new mods around here suddenly becoming super Telltale suckups? :p

    I kid I kid.

    @puzzlebox said: With the ease of access of hints and walkthroughs these days, I wonder if not completing a game would be less due to difficulty and more due to the game just failing to engage the player enough to motivate them to finish.

    Hmmm a brilliant observation. Great point.

  • @Lambonius said: This.

    People aren't failing to complete games because they are too hard, they aren't finishing them because they get bored with them. I myself haven't finished Sam and Max Season 2 because the first and second episodes bored me to tears.

    100% this. Sure there's a market of people out there who don't care much to be challenged, but I personally believe there is an even bigger market of people who are waiting to be properly challenged again by adventure games. I don't think they all play Telltale's games either, I think there's plenty of people waiting around for something different. If people didn't want to be challenged games like Heavy Rain and Demon's Souls would've done horribly.

  • Funny you should mention that... there was talk about me NOT being a mod.. because I rocked the boat a little bit with the whole not sure there was going to be a Back to the Future DVD..... There is going to be one BTW.

    But I think Alan is a fair guy and asked me to be a mod anyway... at the request of some of the other mods.

    I am a TTG fan no doubt about it... but I will speak my mind if I feel necessary... Even if its not in line with TTG.. If that is unpopular that is OK I can go back to being just another fan on the boards .. I will try to be fair as best as I can... that is how I think mods should be.

    I do not see myself closing too many threads or censoring people as long as they contribute to active conversation and are respectful to other forumites.

  • @Irishmile said: I am a TTG fan no doubt about it... but I will speak my mind if I feel necessary... Even if its not in line with TTG.. If that is unpopular that is OK I can go back to being just another fan on the boards .. I will try to be fair as best as I can... that is how I think mods should be.

    I'd never see anything wrong with that seeing as you aren't actually working for Telltale. Your job is to keep the peace and moderate the forums. Your own personal opinions shouldn't enter into the picture. There are plenty of other game developer forums out there whose moderators are honest and sometimes critical of the game developer whose forum they moderate because they're fans too and not employees.

    I do not see myself closing too many threads or censoring people as long as they contribute to active conversation and are respectful to other forumites.

    As any great moderator should.

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