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Xindaris
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icon Why don't I like "win the game" modes? (+1)  
I'll preface this by noting that I've always felt pretty strongly that for any single-player video game whatsoever, it is entirely the player's right to cheat. If I have decided that I like some things about a game but prefer to skip others, then I feel like I have the right to tune my experience and get rid of those parts I don't like--as long as that doesn't affect anyone else. I don't consider cheating in multiplayer games or to get the high score in a leaderboard OK, because that involves ruining other people's fun. But single-player cheating is fine, because at worst the cheater is only ruining the game for themselves, and at best they're creating an experience better tailored for them than the designers themselves could ever have done.

That being said, every time I hear about some game from some developer having an easy, skate-through-the-game, be-invincible, mode or feature, I feel something about that news, and it's not a positive something. Rationally, I shouldn't feel like there's anything wrong with it, because as I just stated above I think it's any player's right to decide how they want to play the game, how hard or easy they want to make it, so on and so forth. But I still do. Whenever news like that comes with a comment section, I often find myself rifling through those comments or that forum thread searching for someone who feels the same thing I do, and has the words to express just what exactly it is I'm feeling and why. I never find it.

There are usually only two sides to the argument for or against a "baby mode" being included in a game, and they basically tend to go something like this:
For: Games should be more inclusive and accessible so more people can enjoy this wonderful newish medium. It doesn't affect people who want to play the harder version of the game because that version is still there for them to enjoy. Some people don't want to play a hard game, they just want to have a good time.
Against: This game isn't for kids (even if it literally is)! I'm a hardcore gamer and don't get to brag about beating this game legitimately because you can see the same ending just by auto-steering! This easy mode isn't the way the game was designed to be experienced! The game isn't the same without its difficulty and people who play the easy mode aren't getting the real experience of playing.

So my problem is that rationally I agree with the arguments for any given game to have a stupid-easy mode, but emotionally I'm pulled in the exact opposite direction, and I don't really fully understand why.

To give a concrete example, let's talk about Pokemon. I enjoy some aspects of Pokemon and not others. I play it entirely as an abnegatory (in this sense) single-player experience, with no online or multiplayer business whatsoever, so I have no reservations to cheating using save editors like PKHeX and so on. The two things I find least enjoyable in a Pokemon game are grinding (i.e., walking around a grass patch endlessly until my party is the right level) and having to try over and over again to catch something, with the possibility of failure. So, to mitigate those and enjoy a game I've played dozens of times before on my own terms, I'll save edit myself a supply of master balls to not have to worry about catching things, and rare candies to be used sparingly when I feel like the game is trying to force me to grind, and then not have to do that. Obviously since I consider it OK for me to do that, I'd consider it equally fine for anyone else in the world to do the same thing, or to do some other combination of cheating to make their single-player game of Pokemon a more enjoyable experience for them personally.

But this is the weird thing: If, when I started a new Pokemon game up, it came up with an option to have pokeballs always catch things and start with an unlimited number of rare candies, I would be upset about it. There's just something different about having it plainly in my face as a "default" option that the game designers included for anyone to do from the start, that would make it feel wrong, even though it's exactly the same thing that I would be doing for myself with cheating. Even if you altered the easy mode a bit to account for my "use rare candies sparingly" by giving the player some smaller number of them at certain points in the game if they chose this mode instead of an unlimited number at any time, I still don't think I'd be happy about it.

I think maybe there's something different about cheating, where I know what I'm doing is illegitimate and against what the designers really intended me to do, so if my cheating results in a lesser experience than someone else then it's entirely my own fault and not the designers. Maybe I do fall in line with people who feel like difficulty is supposed to be a part of a game's design, but whenever someone tries to express that feeling it tends to come across somehow as "I'M A HARDCORE GAMER AND WANT TO FEEL SUPERIOR BECAUSE I ACCOMPLISHED THE HARD THING", which isn't at all what I feel. To me it's not about the sense of personal accomplishment from beating something hard or some kind of competitiveness with other people playing the same single-player game, because obviously playing the harder modes on a game with an easier mode can supply the former and I'm an extremely non-competitive player in general. But I still feel something to that effect, even when the developers and supporters of the decision assure everyone in earshot that the easy-mode is an intended part of the experience in one way or another, because after all it's their game that they made.

I really wonder if anyone else feels the way I do about this, or if I'm just crazy. Maybe there's a better explanation for it than I can give somewhere out there, and I just haven't seen it yet.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 12-03-2017 09:52 PM]
12-03-2017 at 09:51 PM
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Someone Else
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icon Re: Why don't I like "win the game" modes? (0)  
I sort of agree - I greatly dislike it when games have "easy" modes like that. I think it's that if it's an available option, it's now one of the ways that the game is "supposed" to be played. The game seems to be pandering to the lowest common denominator, which I think is not only negative to the game (did they remove something else interesting because it was "too hard"?) but also negative psychologically to the people who that mode likely targets (children). I don't think it's good for children to learn that they can just pick easy mode, especially if they end up thinking they can apply that to life. I'm not sure that's a reasonable conclusion, but it's the one I come to.
12-04-2017 at 03:03 PM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: Why don't I like "win the game" modes? (0)  
The argument I really, strongly accept is the argument from consideration for disabilities. If someone is literally, physically incapable of pushing the buttons that fast because, for example, they only have one hand, I'm perfectly happy to have something where they can still enjoy the game I can enjoy, if a bit differently. I find this to be a huge positive for the idea; in some sense it's not far off from the inclusion of a colorblind mode in games where the colors of things normally matter. Possibly there's an argument that making the game completely trivial is going too far for this purpose, though, and even robbing those people of the experience of some of the intended challenge.

On the other side, I've thought of something else since the first post. It is impossible that the designers of the game were thinking of the "easy mode" players while creating the primary content.

I think it's best to illustrate what I mean with an example, say, Mario Kart with auto-steering. When whoever was designing the tracks designed the tracks, they designed them carefully as a specific kind of challenge for a player who's steering to pay attention to. If they were designing the track for people to auto-steer on, then it could be a bunch of ridiculous sharp curves and loop-arounds that looked cool but would never be practical to steer on while paying attention to everything else you're supposed to do in the game. And why not make it look cool at the expense of being steerable if it's for people who are going to auto-steer? That kind of reasoning applied to at least certain examples of "baby mode" makes it seem logically clear that the mode has to have been added after the fact, at least conceptually. Even if it was planned to be in there all along, the people who designed the levels or tracks or whatever else there is did so as if it wasn't going to be there. Putting myself in the position of a level designer for a game that's going to have a "win the game for me" mode, I would have to put that fact completely out of my head and imagine only the people who are playing the game not in that mode, or else I wouldn't feel particularly compelled to design the level carefully.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 12-04-2017 04:07 PM]
12-04-2017 at 04:03 PM
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Dragon Fogel
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icon Re: Why don't I like "win the game" modes? (0)  
There are two reasons for it, really. First is disability; second is "the gameplay isn't fun for me when it gets hard, but I want to experience the story/explore the world anyways".

But I don't think this is a huge problem in the era of achievements. You can solve most of the non-accessibility related issues by just saying "super easy mode doesn't give you any achievements". If someone isn't playing the game for the actual gameplay, they probably can deal with that.
And yes, not every player cares about achievements. But it seems pretty normal for players to make an attempt at achievements they think are reasonable to obtain.

On the other side of things, though, what you described in your Pokemon example are "convenience features". This is not so easily addressed. On the whole, they don't so much make the game easier as make it faster. The specific ones you described are kind of ridiculous, but less extreme examples probably wouldn't bother you - for instance, I heard the Exp Share becomes more effective in Gen 6, meaning you can have a tag-along Pokemon level up without exposing it to risk.
In all honesty, this feels like more of an overall game design thing. If the convenience features are handled effectively, nobody's going to complain about their inclusion. I think the key is not to eliminate the actual process, but rather to streamline it.
12-04-2017 at 05:04 PM
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icon Re: Why don't I like "win the game" modes? (0)  
I remember that time I read a book, and there was a quiz in the middle of the book, and if I didn't answer it correctly, the book closed and I had to start over.


12-13-2017 at 11:44 PM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: Why don't I like "win the game" modes? (0)  
You know, that kind of thing is part of why I say cheating in single-player is OK. But it's not a completely good argument, because a video game is a fundamentally different medium from a book, or a movie, or a piece of music, or...anything else, really. Possibly one of the closer mediums to a video game in this particular aspect would be something like a board game or DND, and when you lose at a board game or especially when your character dies in tabletop roleplaying, the generally accepted thing that happens is that you have to leave the game or start over (depending on a bunch of specifics obviously). Looking at it that way, having checkpoints at all in a video game is an improvement over comparable mediums.

Under what conditions you have to start over, and where you have to start over from, are parts of the game's design just as much as word choice is a part of a book's design. If you were, say, trying to write a review of a video game, than noting that its checkpoint system is unreasonable would be a valuable part of that review. But the existence of unreasonable punishments in some games is not in my opinion any kind of justification to give any particular game a mode where what at least some designers in some part of their mind considered the intended experience of challenge that the game would provide is chopped out. If a person is the designer of the game, then the solution they should consider first is fixing the bad aspects of the design themselves, not making a lazy patch of the 'win the game button' variety.

Here I can pull up the example of DROD itself! In early DROD, you had a heavy punishment for failure, going back to the checkpoint if the architect was even nice enough to put one in in the first place. This was tuned over time, with the undo added at first to be able to recover punishment-free from some limited kinds of situations. And then in modern DROD, that punishment has been removed by unlimited undo, but there's still no "solve the puzzle for me" button in the game! I mean, you can go ask for hints or help externally, or at this very forum, but to me that's outside the game in the same way cheats are. (I'm not saying looking for a puzzle solution is identical to cheating, just that it's still somehow "external to the game" in the same sort of meaningful way) It's fair to mention that the existence of custom content and the complexity level of DROD makes a general application of that button very hard to code, but even if you just did it for the official holds where solutions are known, it would mean a very different thing to be a skywatcher.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 12-14-2017 01:35 AM]
12-14-2017 at 01:22 AM
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