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Ninjabba

Modern gaming fatigue

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A bit of a rant here.. last time I had this urge on AA was with the release of FF13 where I couldn't understand some of the devs choices wrt voice acting and how it was destroying immersion for me completely.

 

This time I was watching a Twitch stream at a friend's place who was excited to show me some footage of AC: Valhalla, and up till yesterday I've only seen some screenshots (which look amazing) and I shared his excitement up until I saw the stream.

 

Now I am aware of the Ubisoft-syndrome being a big thing in AAA gaming, and I was recently diving deep into Ghost of Tsushima, which shares the same patterns. However, because I've been avoiding this type of game since AC: Black Flag, I've been enjoying GoT a lot even with the sidequests (which were criticized for being repetitive).

 

The Twitch streamer was playing some sidequests in Valhalla where he helped some lady finding her drunk husband or whatever was going on, it just hit me so wrong.. I'm looking at a game that has this amazing next-gen visuals, but then listening to these conversations of the sidequests instantly put me off from playing the game.

My gripe is that the conversations in the sidequests were drawn out, poorly written/executed, pointless in terms of lore (there was none), really to the point of complete boredom, there wasn't even gameplay involved (just some conversations in different locations). This made me think, what is the point of all this effort from both gamer and dev perspective? I'm quite into grinding with RPGs as a type of time-consuming therapy which can be considered silly (100x the same battle), but to me at least it doesn't feel pretentious unlike those of some of these next-gen games trying to have story lines involved in sidequests.

 

Bottom line is, why even bother with all the work if you can't even utter a single interesting line of conversation. Maybe a joke, or a shocking revelation, anything that can spark an emotion. Not these "thank you for your help hero, have a nice day" generic conversations.

 

Soon we'll have Cyberpunk 2077 which also wants to redefine next-gen, and I'm excited to try it out, I think they have a great chance of succeeding, but I don't think it makes a lot of sense to brag about this type of "cinematic" sidequest overkill to be the next best thing.

Pretty much nobody in the industry can follow these kind of standards, and in my opinion, if you're creating this type of filler for the sake of "increasing the number of gameplay hours" it just feels wrong and I rather see it disappear.

 

Any thoughts on this?

 

/rant

 

 

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I think stories are overrated (or unnecessary in video games) because:

 

1) The main element should be the gameplay, not the story.

 

2) Doing serious stories well is hard.  It's not always possible to achieve that. Writers should know their limitations and either remove the story (or leave it as a mystery, such as Ico/Shadow of the Colossus) or not taking their own forced drama too seriously (such as in retro games).

 

3) Stories in games often feel like a bad version of a movie or a serie. The Walking Dead is not a masterpiece, but it's far more entertaining than The Last of Us 1/2. Almost any sci fi movie is better than Death Stranding's story, and before reading a single line of dialog from Mario or Luigi I rather watch a Spongebob episode.

 

As a video game translator, it's pretty ironic that I say this: if all developers followed my advice, I would have no job. But I must confess I hate the video game I'm the official translator of, and the poor, unnecessary dialogs are one of the main reasons.

Edited by IntelliMission
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49 minutes ago, Ninjabba said:

Pretty much nobody in the industry can follow these kind of standards, and in my opinion, if you're creating this type of filler for the sake of "increasing the number of gameplay hours" it just feels wrong and I rather see it disappear.

Because modern gamers care very much about how many hours a game is.   If your game can be finished in less than 10 hours, it becomes a huge online scandal.   Less than 20 and you're pushing it.  So it's only natural for game developers to pad in content to extend the length of the game, it's what the market demands.

 

People like me come from a gaming generation with arcade-style gaming where you get three lives and you're done.   The game lasted 5 minutes, but it had enormous replay value.   But a lot of today's games aren't very replayable, they just have one long campaign.

 

I personally think the obsession with long games is silly.  They have their place, but so do other types of games.   Because I work and stuff, it takes me forever to complete a 30hour game.   

Edited by zzip
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1 hour ago, Ninjabba said:

The Twitch streamer was playing some sidequests in Valhalla where he helped some lady finding her drunk husband or whatever was going on, it just hit me so wrong.. I'm looking at a game that has this amazing next-gen visuals, but then listening to these conversations of the sidequests instantly put me off from playing the game.

My gripe is that the conversations in the sidequests were drawn out, poorly written/executed, pointless in terms of lore (there was none), really to the point of complete boredom, there wasn't even gameplay involved (just some conversations in different locations).

Are you really saying that there are side quests which don't involve any gameplay, just conversations? I haven't played Valhalla myself but find it hard to believe.

 

I'm actually playing AC: Origins atm and sure, there are some rather trite side quest dialogues. But this is a pop-level game, I don't expect it to have Shakesperean dialogues, especially in side quests. On the other hand, they are not so bad either, and do make sense in the context of the entire game and setting. The voice acting of the main character is quite good, and his utterances quite brief, which helps a lot.

 

 

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I like long games.  Since I don't buy many games, in theory a long game for me is great because it will take me a year or so to get through it.

 

My problem begins when I GET the game, and it takes me an evening or two just to do all the setup and tutorial nonsense.  If it's a 60-hour game, and the first 5 hours is handholding and infodump, then it's probably going to be a week or two until I'm actually having FUN with the game.  That discourages me from trying new games often.

 

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34 minutes ago, IntelliMission said:

3) Stories in games often feel like a bad version of a movie or a serie. The Walking Dead is not a masterpiece, but it's far more entertaining than The Last of Us 1/2. Almost any sci fi movie is better than Death Stranding's story, and before reading a single line of dialog from Mario or Luigi I rather watch a Spongebob episode.

 

As a video game translator, it's pretty ironic that I say this: if all developers followed my advice, I would have no job. But I must confess I hate the video game I'm the official translator of, and the poor, unnecessary dialogs are one of the main reasons.

Thanks for the insider insight; I'm mainly doing the rant because I do care for the gaming industry and hope not to see the bubble burst any time soon. With the amount of filler content I've seen recently, I'm sometimes worried that people will loose interest.. but maybe the new generations have a different take on this.

 

As for the stories, I agree with you. The reason why I can stomach a lot of JRPGs in terms of story is because I look at them as a replacement of watching anime. A game like Astral Chain does this pretty good for me.

I recently started to play The Sky Crawlers on the Wii, which actually demonstrates nicely how to separate a story (full blown anime cut-scenes) and gameplay (just flying around and shooting stuff).

Both games are considered relatively short, though its more than enough for me.

 

35 minutes ago, zzip said:

Because modern gamers care very much about how many hours a game is.   If your game can be finished in less than 10 hours, it becomes a huge online scandal.   Less than 20 and you're pushing it.  So it's only natural for game developers to pad in content to extend the length of the game, it's what the market demands.

This is where I have mixed feelings about how currently AAA games are being created. I'm also from an older generation of gamers, but I can still enjoy certain repetition. The difference now is that I need to click through actual spoken dialogue to continue (and not get annoyed with the quality of the voice acting/actual dialogue), whereas in older games or games from smaller studios they just use text boxes.

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3 minutes ago, Ninjabba said:

whereas in older games or games from smaller studios they just use text boxes.

I always got annoyed at the games that used an excessive amount of text boxes.   Sometimes I want those chatty characters to just shut up already any let me play the damn game! 

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47 minutes ago, youxia said:

Are you really saying that there are side quests which don't involve any gameplay, just conversations? I haven't played Valhalla myself but find it hard to believe

The gameplay that I saw boiled down to talking to some lady, find her drunk husband, put him on the horse and bring him back to the woman, something like that. I guess he avoided battles, which could have occurred.

 

I've played fetch quests in Ghost of Tsushima and maybe I'm being overly harsh here but its the exact same mechanics and similar generic conversation, just a different game. So hypothetically, if I finish GoT and consider going to AC: Valhalla, I'd be again on a horse spending time talking to villagers to do the same type of fetch quest. Just a different setting, Samurais vs Vikings.

 

However, playing the same thing is not the issue I'm getting frustrated with.. its the fact that there goes a ton of hard work/resources/money into these types of quests that have nothing interesting to offer otherwise. I've been fetching flowers for villagers in dozens of games so to speak, but now it feels like more of a chore to also listen to someone talking about their simple NPC life. Why would anyone care for that?

Not expecting Shakespearean dialogues at any point, but I find it sad to realize that its absolutely nothing noteworthy, specifically when discussing next-gen games going more and more into this direction.

 

Edit: a sidequest from FF7:Remake comes to mind where Cloud is helping out some old guy, and at some point Cloud just bluntly tells him that he can only do this for 5000gil which is a ridiculous amount. I remember laughing at this conversation because it quickly went from him being a good guy helping out to him being a greedy bastard. This I consider good fun.

Edited by Ninjabba

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I am very fatigued with modern gaming.  Have a Switch, PS4 Pro, and Xbox Series X and i'm stopping there.  I may get a "Switch Pro" if/when such a thing is released.

 

My main reasons:

-Everything is online (don't care to play online)

-Everything is moving to subscription based model (don't like this, would rather buy my games and own them)

-Physical games are now pointless, No manuals are included and the games are basically keys/data discs

-Massive annoying updates half the time you want to play a game

-Diminishing rate of return on console graphics.  Nothing has really looked much better to me since the PS3/Xbox360/Wii U era.  I don't care about ray tracing. 

-Many games are digital only (don't prefer to buy this way.)

 

I'll keep the current gen and keep buying physical releases but i think i have enough consoles and games to keep me busy for the rest of my life.  After this if i need to play a new game i'll just do it on PC because it's the same as console now anyway only cheaper because online is free as are many great games (if you are willing to wait.)

 

End rant! :) 

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I've also suffered from the dreaded Modern Gaming Fatigue from time to time, so that is the opportune moment to switch to my Atari 2600 and play some quick games that I loved as a kid. I can't say that I loathe/hate online gaming, as DC Universe Online is one of my favorite games to play when I'm in the mood to be a superhero, and games like Star Wars Squadrons also appeals to the Star Wars "kid" in me. I'm also finding that I haven't bought a physical game in a long time, but have bought digital games more often that I realized. The stores around me have very little selections for games, so I usually end up buying myself a gift card, loading it into my Microsoft account, then browsing the store to see if anything tickles my fancy. There are a few games coming up I'm interested in, but really, not too many pique my interest as of late. So, once again, I plug in Space Invaders and have more fun playing that than I do "modern" games. I'm really glad that I still have a working 2600 to fall back on when the modern gaming fatigue sets in, which seems to happen more often than not lately. 

 

I AM guilty of buying "extras" in games like DCUO, so I can get some powers that you can't get "free", but I don't go nuts with that type of stuff. I do prefer, overall, my games to be complete without micro transactions.

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I can also vouch for gaming fatigue, but that fatigue has always come and gone in phases throughout my life.  It always passes and I'm assume (hope?) that yours will too!  My advice would be to put down the controller for a few months and pursue something else for a while.

 

That said, after a relative break from modern games I decided to start hitting my PS4 backlog.  I just finished Ghost of Tsushima (amazing game) and I'm about 20 hours into AC Odyssey now.  Even though both games are very similar (as far as gameplay), I feel a renewed enthusiasm and find myself watching the clock at work, ready to get home and get back into the world of ancient Greece.  It can be all too easy to forget just how incredible modern games can be, even with tropes like "fetch this herb" side quests, and how much work goes into them to create the player's experience.

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I enjoy lengthy open-ended simulations & sandboxes such as X-Plane, FSX, Prepar3D, UniverseSandbox, SpaceEngine, and Orbiter. Always have. Play them for hours on end, then stop for a month or more, then come back again. Also have loads o'fun with fractal renderings and explorations.

 

Those titles just let you completely drift away into digital worlds at a whim. Very little scripting by developers - translates into "my own gig"..

 

But the best is really going back to the very late 70's and early-mid 80's - there were no rules & expectations for how long something should be playable. We were grateful for any and every program we got our grubby paws on. And in thinking back to the wall of cartridges I had as a child, it seemed self-regulating. Some carts would simply see more usage. But all got played during the course of a season. Fall/Winter season mainly. Never felt compelled to play to get your money's worth.

 

 

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Talking about time, back in I want to say the late late 80's/early 90's that the talk was "number of levels". I remember reviews going gaga over Super Mario World for having 90 odd levels. Now it's seems like hours along with achievements, loots, etc. is the new measuring stick of being "worthwhile".

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On 12/2/2020 at 8:01 AM, godslabrat said:

My problem begins when I GET the game, and it takes me an evening or two just to do all the setup and tutorial nonsense.  If it's a 60-hour game, and the first 5 hours is handholding and infodump, then it's probably going to be a week or two until I'm actually having FUN with the game.  That discourages me from trying new games often.

 

There have been games where I've found myself 45 minutes into the opening tutorial level with no end in sight and I've just shut the game off and never come back to it.

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I've often wondered what all goes into cranking out so many AC games. There must be a department that just does side quests, right? So it's somebody's job to just lay out side quests all day. How creative are they allowed to be? Ubisoft games have so many of them, it must get really tedious coming up with all of them. It must get really paint-by-numbers. Who is demanding this many side quests in a game? I'd be in favor of cutting that department's budget by 2/3 and just giving them the resources to do only the best side quests they can come up with. These games really start to drag if you try to do everything.

Edited by DJ Clae
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22 minutes ago, DJ Clae said:

It must get really paint-by-numbers. Who is demanding this many side quests in a game?

I guess it's some suit tweaking the formula developers are instructed to follow. A formula that's apparently derived from marketing researched focused on new gamers and not seasoned pros. Seasoned pros - if there is such a thing in gaming.

 

But whatever it is and whatever spews forth from it none of it is interesting.

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3 hours ago, Keatah said:

I guess it's some suit tweaking the formula developers are instructed to follow. A formula that's apparently derived from marketing researched focused on new gamers and not seasoned pros. Seasoned pros - if there is such a thing in gaming.

 

But whatever it is and whatever spews forth from it none of it is interesting.

 

Be sure to read the whole thing!

Edited by Steven Pendleton
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On 12/11/2020 at 5:32 AM, Gamemoose said:

Talking about time, back in I want to say the late late 80's/early 90's that the talk was "number of levels". I remember reviews going gaga over Super Mario World for having 90 odd levels. Now it's seems like hours along with achievements, loots, etc. is the new measuring stick of being "worthwhile".

It does not seem all that long ago reviewers were openly talking of knocking points off a title at review because it didn't feature any kind of online multi-player mode. 

 

 

Modern reviews feel like more of a checklist of expected features, rather than a means of helping a consumer decide if the game is worth their time and money. 

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I must say, I don't get the problem here. There are zillions of games available, all kinds and styles. If somebody does not like, or have time for long games, they perhaps could avoid them and play just the short ones, no?

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6 hours ago, youxia said:

I must say, I don't get the problem here. There are zillions of games available, all kinds and styles. If somebody does not like, or have time for long games, they perhaps could avoid them and play just the short ones, no?

I guess. But I like to keep up with the new AAA releases when I can, and they take too long. I'm still not ready to turn into one of those on this forum who hasn't bought a big game since PS3.

 

I liked the first few Assassin's Creeds. Why do the new ones have to be 200 hours? That's restrictive for folks who play plenty of games but still have to be on an adult schedule.

Edited by DJ Clae
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14 hours ago, Lost Dragon said:

Modern reviews feel like more of a checklist of expected features, rather than a means of helping a consumer decide if the game is worth their time and money. 

The only one qualified to determine if a game is good enough for me is me.

 

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10 hours ago, Gamemoose said:

What's the average play time of such AAA games if you stick with the main plot?

If you get 40 hours in a take your time playthrough, doing occasional side missions but not pushing through them all, then you've done OK. 

 

Interesting OP mentioned FF13, as that game destroyed the series for me. I'm Replaying it now and I still make the same mistake... Pressing x constantly in battle because the delay is so long to register when the menus is flashing on and off. There is a lot wrong with FF13, but ironically I didn't mind the voice overs in English. The story was a distorted mess in its presentation, even though it was actually quite deep. 

 

I started origins recently in terms of AC, at first it felt very new, a lot different than the carbon copy games I've been trying to play through the last few years. But actually, it's more of the same and I'm kidding myself. I've put it on pause, though part of that is cyberpunk. 

 

I considered buying death stranding when it came to pc, but I watched it on twitch and decided not to bother. 

 

I bought ck3 and played it half an hour last night, lost all my wars and gave up. I'm now on 8.7 hours play since release. 

 

I bought tower defence game gemcraft Frostborn Wrath when it came out and played it about 300 hours. 

 

Think that is all my significant 2020 purchases, so that says a lot about what interests me these days. 

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On 12/12/2020 at 6:07 PM, DJ Clae said:

I liked the first few Assassin's Creeds. Why do the new ones have to be 200 hours? That's restrictive for folks who play plenty of games but still have to be on an adult schedule.

It's not 200, but ~50 for the main quest. Yes, it's long for people who are very busy, but this is an intrinsic quality of big, open world games. If you made them short it would be pointless to create these huge worlds for nothing, and also disappoint people who actually like to get lost in them for a long time. Eg Cyberpunk's main quest takes 20hrs - I find it woefully short for a game of this scope and potential.

 

I'm also on "adult schedule" but that does not stop me from experiencing big games -  I simply don't feel the urge to finish them. I have some saves that have been going on for years now.

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AC Odyssey took me 200 hours because I did everything, including DLC. Still, I wish doing everything took maybe 80 hours max. I spent more than half a year on that. I doubt that the main story takes as little as 50 hours on that one. It's longer than Origins. I miss pre-RPG Assassin's Creed.

 

I just started Valhalla, and so far my impressions are pretty good. Can't wait to see what fiddly mechanic they introduce to ruin it.

Edited by DJ Clae

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