• Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  

Pointlessness

This topic is 3376 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Have you ever gotten to the end of a game (or some other point) and thought, "This is a complete waste of time?" If so, what do you think causes that feeling? Is it pacing? Subject matter? Story? Disorganized mechanics? I've been trying out a lot of indie games of late to try and familiarize myself with the competition. For me the biggest common factor seems to be not the production values, but that a lot of the games lack a sense of satisfying completion. It seems to be that the roles offered aren't very interesting, and so when you fulfill them it's "I won, yeah, but so what?" I realize this may be wildly different for each of us, and it's still quite nebulous for me. I'm not sure if I'm expecting far more than is possible, but it seems personally that I'm looking not just to win or beat the game, but for some sort of context that unifies all the game's themes and ties them into an appropriate ending. (It's sort of the same when you get to the end of a movie, but I'm having trouble describing it). Anyway, what is it like for you? Is a game just a game, meaning that it's not supposed "go somewhere." Or have you experienced "pointlessness" and thought about what it's made of?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
I get that feeling with every MMO I've ever played. This is probably because I'm antisocial. When you remove the social aspect from an MMO, you are left with grinding and getting-items-for-the-sake-of-getting-better-items issues.

On the other hand, extremely simple games with no plot (N+, Schizoid, Gravitron 2) have a very simple goal (beat the level without dying) give me lots of enjoyment and don't leave me thinking "pointless!".


In conclusion, I think it boils down to simply enjoying yourself or not. If you're not enjoying yourself, what is the point of playing the game? If you're enjoying yourself, then that IS the point (whether it's game mechanics fun, social fun, graphical awe, etc).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Nypyren
I get that feeling with every MMO I've ever played. This is probably because I'm antisocial. When you remove the social aspect from an MMO, you are left with grinding and getting-items-for-the-sake-of-getting-better-items issues.


If you play an MMO and don't group with people, chances are you won't get the full game experience anyway.
So you're already at a handicap.
Besides, if you're not paying for it, you're not going to try and get the most out of it, are you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you talking specifically about a satisfying resolution in indie games? I'm guessing that you're trialling a specific genre of games: many indie games don't really have much plot, especially the puzzle games. I'll have to think about this one to get back with you with a more in-depth answer. (I'm trialling indie games as well for the same reason, so it's something that interests me too.)

In general, when I feel a game is a waste of time it's more a matter of pacing. If nothing much has happened in an hour of game play, I'll start to strongly feel whether the payoff of playing the game is worth it. This doesn't happen in games that keep throwing challenges at me.

With indie games, generally my main problem is the main game play hook doesn't get me. Take Crayon Physics Deluxe, for example. I like the idea of the style of crayon drawings, but the puzzles I tried in the demo could be sleep walked through. If the demo puzzles were more challenging I'd be more inclined to buy, but as it is I suspect the game is too easy for me to really enjoy. That's a pity, because I think the concept is really neat.

I'll need to ponder the question a bit more to give an accurate answer as to what makes the games I really like. I suspect it's an issue of both polish and personality, but I'll need to psychoanalyse myself a bit to see if I'm just deluding myself [smile].

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cpt & Nypyren, you both gave me a clue: I wonder if part of it is setting up expectations in advance. If you have a game that's a big movie production that ends with less than a stellar bang, I think you'll let people down. On the other hand, if it's a retro-style title with very simple visuals and mechanics, your expectations have appropriately been set.

Maybe that's one aspect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Cpt & Nypyren, you both gave me a clue: I wonder if part of it is setting up expectations in advance. If you have a game that's a big movie production that ends with less than a stellar bang, I think you'll let people down. On the other hand, if it's a retro-style title with very simple visuals and mechanics, your expectations have appropriately been set.

Maybe that's one aspect.


I was going to put that in my post but I thought that was self evident.

Setting yourself up for failure is the most common cause of hoplessness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Cpt & Nypyren, you both gave me a clue: I wonder if part of it is setting up expectations in advance. If you have a game that's a big movie production that ends with less than a stellar bang, I think you'll let people down. On the other hand, if it's a retro-style title with very simple visuals and mechanics, your expectations have appropriately been set.

Maybe that's one aspect.


I think that plays a big part. If the game is not appealing to you, you might not play it. If you don't play it, you won't be disappointed.

For instance, when I played Crysis, I was completely expecting a game that focused entirely on eye-candy. I don't care that much about graphics but I played it anyway after hearing about cool suit powers. There were interesting game mechanics, but by the end I wasn't having a good time anymore, because most of each unique game mechanic (driving the tank, flying the VTOL, using any of the suit powers other than stealth) was unfulfilling in itself.

The "features that don't really do much" is a big deal for me (programmer psychology). My bastardized analogy: "Give a man a hammer, and every problem looks like a nail. Give a man 5 hammers, and he picks a favorite and ignores the rest."

(edit: different analogy)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Are you talking specifically about a satisfying resolution in indie games?


Either, but like you I'm especially interested in indie titles.

I've even been thinking about this for games with high production values. Years behind the curve (and on the cheap :>) I've finished Half-Life 2 awhile back, and I thought about how appropriate the ending was given all that had come before, even Half-Life 1. (It was as ambiguous as I expected, given Gordon's lot, and had a giant machine puzzle at the very end.)

Quote:

I'm guessing that you're trialling a specific genre of games: many indie games don't really have much plot, especially the puzzle games.


I'm trying lots of strategy and RPG games at the moment. I take your point about the plot (funny how many casual indie puzzler's have one!). A friend suggested that only games with a plot can have a thematic closure that's similar to what we find so satisfying in other media, but I'm not sure I agree.

It feels more like a promise is made about your role and in our heads it comes with the background baggage of inherent expectations. If you're given the role of Godzilla, for instance, but not allowed to smash the city, maybe you feel ripped off?

Quote:

In general, when I feel a game is a waste of time it's more a matter of pacing. If nothing much has happened in an hour of game play, I'll start to strongly feel whether the payoff of playing the game is worth it. This doesn't happen in games that keep throwing challenges at me.


Pacing's a good one. Out of curiosity, did you just find it too easy or did you have a series of expectations based on the premise of the game?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Computer games pretty much by definition need to be scorable in some way that both the software and the player can understand, which usually means defining some overall goal and subgoals which contribute to the overall one. If you're talking about a story-based game, stories structurally need to have endings and the purpose of the ending includes pronouncing some sort or moral judgment or extracting a philosophical moral from the story, as well as releasing the suspenseful and emotional tension that has kept the audience following the story until the end. MMOs are not designed to have satisfying endings because when they player feels satisfied, they stop playing, and MMOs want players to keep playing forever. But if you look at non-procedurally generated single-player games from Mario to Final Fantasy to Zelda to Myst, they generally have dramatic endings which show the player's long effort as having been of acceptable or impressive quality and having finally accomplished some important overall goal - saving the world, defeating the biggest baddest villain, rescuing the mistreated children or damsel in distress, going from rags to riches, personal transformation into something beyond human, establishing an enduring state of safety, understanding a long-bothersome mystery, finally exacting revenge, overcoming a personal trauma, etc.

The things that interfere with this sort of satisfaction and feeling of meaningfulness can be structural problems such as not having an ending, disagreement of the player with the moral presented, the player's judgment that the story as a whole is something they have seen more than enough times already or irrelevant to the player's internal concerns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement