Author Topic: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)  (Read 2021 times)

Offline Nox

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Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« on: April 20, 2011, 09:29:47 AM »
Hey there

so 'm questioning the (especially lately) favorite idea that complex/realism likely equals boring, as also noted here
Another thought. Reduction of realism can strongly increase playability.
realism is games is not always good, games are GAMES not real life

the thing is I can't stop thinking about Jagged Alliance 2 (and similar games). Is it solely about narrow audience? I don't know...afaik it was (?) very popular - despite things like several parts of game with different UI, tons of possible actions, tons of ammo types, no magical filling of magazines during combat, many stats, even sleeping etc. etc.

so it was complex and geared towards realism - yet it *was* a lot of fun... so why could be that?

The introduction to the game features wasn't even as gradual as it could have been made ... so could it be just that complexity/realism *can* be fun?

of course not:
Quote
I once knew a guy who's "Ultimate MMO" idea was to be hyper-realistic to the point that dressing yourself in armor would require 10-15 minutes and a pair of assistants. The high-point of the sequence included cinching and buckling each and every strap where the tightness or looseness of which would have positive/adverse affects on protection, speed and dexterity.

Offline CygnusX

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2011, 10:02:54 AM »
I see this from a slightly different perspective.....

Many times, when a designer quests to add realism to their game, it is in the form of 'must eat every day or lose hp', or 'must shower or lose charisma points'.

While these items may add a factor of realism, the mechanic behind them is awful.  Namely, you force players to do a task that gets in the way of doing what they really want to do.... which is slaying dragons and picking up uber leet loots.

If you can add realism in a way that makes a user geek out over the details (I believe weapons in COD are a good example...  even the sound is suppose to be accurate), it can actually add greatly to the value of the game.

Offline Nox

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2011, 10:12:14 AM »
Thanks for opinion. Like having unobtrusive javascript realism related to core focus, where it doesn't bother players much or having automation with possible manual override; or like having hidden "advanced" actions/options ... availible to those who don't mind, probably giving them better options/chances though (I guess that can fall into the "easy to learn, difficult to master" cathegory about which I haven't seen any negative opinions so far)

Plus the mentioned gradual introduction to complexities

Offline Chris

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2011, 11:56:00 AM »
In Samurai (feudal Japan) I added the requirement to take a bath each day or you can not enter most buildings. It is a 100% flavour only feature, a stupid chore I would say, that adds nothing to the gameplay. Still, I'm yet to hear even one player to complain about it.

In Moonstone (fantasy) I added the requirement to eat regularly of you face combat penalties. There were tons of players who complained about it.

Why such big difference in players response while the features are very similar (also in Samurai there is a requirement to eat too and I can't recall many complains about it, and for sure much less than in Moonstone)? I think it might be about players expectations and the purpose of playing.
If you play something called "Samurai" you want to be emerged in the japanesse culture, the bathing, which everyone knows japanese are maniacal about, is perceived as a freaking cool feature. There is a special shoutbox in the bath area for players to socialize (which again is a typical place to socialize for japanese culture) and NPCs bow to the player and add "-san" suffix to greet them. Even thout this is stupid "one click no brain" action players might find it entertaining. Besides, players can not complain about the feature, they are just not "allowed"; if you are a japanesse samurai it would be completely unacceptable to ever complain about amount of bathing required, such things can be complained about by some stinky european barbarians, not by a samurai :D
If you play "RPG", the story is different, you came there to kill monsters. You don't care about eating at all (true heroes do not eat), not to mention something as silly as bathing (heroes are supposed to be smelly, especially barbarians).

Offline Nox

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2011, 12:04:04 PM »
mmm... incapacitating aura growing stronger each day from bath :)

On topic: true, this haven't crossed my mind...not to weight it absolutely but relative to the expectations
thanks Chris

Offline Marek

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2011, 12:10:55 PM »
The only thing that realism is good for is immersion.

Other than that, always focus on playability and fun first, and realism second.

Most of the time realism hurts gameplay. And most of the time it brings no value to the table. If you want realism, add it as a cosmetic element, not as a gameplay element.

When your core game mechanics are fun, then you'll realize that players don't care about realism that much.

Offline Nox

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2011, 12:38:47 PM »
Maybe it was bad to mix realism and complexity, as realism often increases complexity but it doesn't have to be the other way round...
- it's not that your(nano's) post wouldn't be on topic, it's totally alright

Mmm, yea, fun in the first place... but is it only gameplay that generates fun? Doesn't immersion do it to?
Now talking maybe even more broadly - for example in case of Dawn of War 2 I don't even have to play the game, I had tons of fun (and spent maybe like 100 hours (total :P )) only by watching replays (gamereplays.org has 20000 replays of dow2 matches) and still it was exciting and enjoyable - wonderful graphics, animations, music, voicing...well gameplay sure for some degree but I doubt it can manifest 100% if you don't play the game actually

A positive one I can think of - BF:BC2 had quite real bullet mechanics... it was interesting when sniping (although it brought technical issues due to networking, lags), having to aim a bit above and in front on longer distance (similar like the sniping minigame in one mission in cod:mw1) ... the kills felt more rewarding then, especially headshots over very large distances, aiming and couting with physics while the target is barely a few pixels and moving :)

Quote from: nano
When your core game mechanics are fun, then you'll realize that players don't care about realism that much.
Maybe players too, sometimes could happen players demand something and when they get it they realize it wasn't actually such a good idea :) (regarding anything, be it realism or gameplay feature or (often) balance etc.)

Offline Chris

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2011, 03:19:12 PM »
First, I'm strongly against complexity, I'm playing the devil's advocate here giving *exceptions* where realism and complexity works, but I find it true for very rare cases only. Simplicity+fake rocks and beats complexity+realism a lot. That's the rule of thumb for me.

Having said that, let's go back to pro complexity mode :D


You all get it all wrong (a sentence I should have under a key for faster typing :D), you are trying to compromise and water down realism. All these "realism but only if it adds to gameplay" or "realism but not annoying" or "mix of realism and...", this is all crap. You are either ready to go all the way for realism and pay the price or not. Realism is to be unplayable and annoying and boring and grinding feast, that's the fact. And that's how the realism should be if it is to rock. Going half the way for realism is a stupid move, it won't have the impact, while it will have most of the bad effects. As Maciavelli said, only strike if you can kill the enemy, if you merely wound him he will get back to get revenge :D Take a look at Sims or Minecraft, these are no compromise "things" (I would not even call them games), these rock. Imagine that they tried to make it less annoying and sacriface a bit of realism... no one would play these.

I would say, stay away from realism and complexity except if you are willing and ready to go all the way.

Offline Nox

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2011, 02:29:11 AM »
I was waiting for this to come :)



So why it did work in JA2? :)

Well complexity is also coupled with gameplay - as I said it was bad to consider it as one thing with realism...you can theoretically have complex unrealistic game

That said I don't think many people would like Diablo2 as much only with normal non-exc. weapons and armor and 1 skill tree (so we keep it simple) ... no ehmload of modificators, magic/set/rare/uniq, exceptional/elite, 3 skill trees, rings/amulets, runes/runewords, jewels&stones, charms etc. etc. there are tons of things and I don't think I'd play it as long should it be simple ... :) right, D2 as example... well it's not as retarded as it may seem and the main thinking part is done outside of combat - in skill, stat and item management, which is non-trivial
Yea, they could have made infinite arrows/bolts (this would be compl. AND realism case), but I haven't come across any complaint about that (although it would fit the focus of the game)
Or to Fallout 2's character screen is anythining but really simple
Heard some complaints about Mass Effect 2 being simpler and more of a shooter than it's predecessor
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is semi-realistic and very popular
all of these mentioned parts/aspects examples were important in it's game and pretty much unoptional

By that I mean there are imho games which took some middle complexity road and were successful anyway ... some sacrifices surely were made from the initial game design document even in case of Sims

Offline Chris

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2011, 06:35:23 AM »
Hmmm, this shows me how much "complexity" definition is relative to a person. I would never, ever, even for one second consider Diablo2 anything more than very simple. No matter how hard I look at it I don't see complexity there... I don't see Falout 2 character screen as complex either, I see it as rather primitive and strightforward... My complexity tolerance seems to be extremely high (not the best trait for a game designer I would say :D)...

Offline CygnusX

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2011, 01:47:49 PM »

Offline Nox

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2011, 02:25:15 PM »
It's likely I'm not even sure what I'm talking about here :)
There are distinct (though a bit overlapping) terms realism, complexity, probably game space should be added too (probably mistook that for complexity (Diablo)) and 'm probably mixing or confusing them... sorry

@Chris
What is an example of a complex game for you then?
(unless it's gonna be some simulator...)

Fallout - for me not complex, though certainly not "primitive" either (especially what seems to me to be recent standards)... I just got the impression that if I tried to describe something like Fallout/JA on any forum it would be viewed as a game for hardcore players or scientists rather than casual ... and as I can't treat my own perception as everyone else's, it seemed better to adjust it according to a larger group of people
- meaning I was afraid what I see as okey (I also like "spreadsheet games" which often bbgs are etc.) would be viewed as overly complex and unplayable by 99% of others, just seems to me if I come

CygnusX's list contains many obvious annoyances...although the "weight" of the magazine to have just a vague knowledge about ammo amount doesn't seem so bad
(I did play a game when there was NO clue 'bout ammo (the BF:BC2 hardcore mode) and it wasn't a problem, it actually was *more fun* for me thanks to that)

...maybe it would be better to discuss when there's something specific to look at...when there is...

worst case scenario 'll have pretty narrow audience, given I actually finish something some day...

thanks for responses

Offline Chris

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2011, 04:12:25 PM »
When I think about it... I can not find even one computer game that I would consider complex :D I thought I would name a few but after a closer look I don't feel these are complex but broken, or without properly explained things or with complexity mechanics that exceed the fun gain. On the other hand, I can name several complex boardgames (to make it funnier, these complex boardgames are actually simplier than the computer games I consider non complex :D).

Which brings me to definition of complexity. I think it boils down to: "a complex game is a game I can't understand (easily)". This would explain why I don't find computer games complex (I'm an old game designer and EASK on top of it, I love sitting and figuring out how a game works), this also explains why I find some boardgames complex (I need to understand the rules (and be able to explain them and remember by heart) before other players arrive).

The most interesting from CygnusX's list is the "elevator instead of loading in progress" thing. Players expect artificial things in games, therse are OK. "New Level Loading" will not break the game immersion. Actually, making it realistic will break the immersion (elevator too slow). It's a case where realism is less realistic than unrealistic screen :D



Offline CygnusX

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2011, 09:56:09 PM »
Oddly enough, I think the whole elevator loading screen could have been fixed with a simple load bar in the bottom right hand corner.  Many times, doubling up on visual cue's is a fantastic way to handle simple problems.  For example:

A gun holds 10 rounds.  You can hear each of these 10 rounds discharge, giving indication as to when you need to reload.  You can then have an additional 'ammo in chamber' indication bar to re-confirm your ammo count.  Players will readily accept this.

Offline Chris

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2011, 04:47:29 AM »
Complexity is *ALWAYS* (yes, with capital letters, stars, bold and underline - absolutely no exceptions) a negative trait. A side effect of something else, the price we pay for something. For example if we make an airplane simulator we add the hordes of various options and buttons so we get better realism, our goal was not the complexity. If we wanted complexity we could reach it by... adding twice more options than required to operate a real airplane :D A thing no designer, even highly insane, would do.

When players say they "like complex games", they really mean that they like the additional fun and strategic choices that comes from multiple options or that they liked the realism. It's better translated to "we like realistic games and/or games with many interesting decisions to make and we don't mind the additional complexity", if you were able to make a game with the same amount or realism/decisions but no complexity at all they will still like it the same (probably they would like it more).


So, going back to the first post. It seems the answer is "maximum realism with minimum complexity". And the description of Jagged Alliance 2 would be "a game where additional fun from realism is exceeding the additional confusion from complexity".

Going back to my post about Samurai and Moonstone. It seems that the higher desire for realism and cultural accuracy in the "japanese samurai sim" genre exceeded significantly the confusion and chore associated with clicking mindless options while the unrealistic nature of "heroic fantasy RPG" genre made the fun from realism gain insufficient compared to the additional boredom and repetetiveness of the very similar option.

Offline Nox

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Re: Fun realism/complexity (JA2)
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2011, 01:13:37 PM »
Right, thank you! I think this nailed it down

let's pay then ;)

 


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