How We’ve Ruined Mainstream Gaming

bulletstorm mainstream gaming

Ever watch a cut-scene and wish you could skip it, or spell out rude words with bullets during a Half-Life 2 vignette, or resented Call of Duty for the forced interaction in some parts of the game? Typically we’ve focused our ire on developers through forcing us through the rigmarole of excessive padding in games, but PC Gamer recently published an article that suggest that we may be the ones who have caused mainstream gaming to become the frustration fest that it is.

The articles author explores the notion that the reason a game has unskippable cut-scenes and forced player participation is because developers are tired of gamers who try to break their games and are resorting to heavy-handed methods to try and engage us. This is backfiring, as gamers are finding more ways to break games, and developers are trying even harder to force us out of the equation (as exemplified by the excellent Call of Duty video embedded in the article).

As terrific as some scripted moments are, there are points where I think a game can become a little too divorced from its main purpose (providing fun through interaction) and turning the player into a “camera dolly”. The article suggests that developers should give us more freedom in games instead of locking us into what they think we should be doing. I actively hated Bulletstorm’s opening scenes because it was just unnecessary BS before I got turned loose into the fun area of the game. I don’t care about the main character’s troubled past, I picked up Bulletstorm to kill dudes. That’s where the game excels, not in the narrative aspect.

What do you guys think? Has the gamer tendency to push the envelope forced developers into using brute force methods to have us play through their perceived perspective? How could games address this going forward? Do you even agree with the article? Go!

Source – PC Gamer (Thanks, Sean, for pointing this out to us!)

Written by

mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

5 thoughts on “How We’ve Ruined Mainstream Gaming”

  1. I just think it’s the easiest way to tell an interactive story, and for a long time games have been trying to compare themselves to movies. The non-interactivity during cutscenes and heavily scripted moments in certain modern games are the natural evolution of this.

  2. I’ve worked with quite a few people making mods and indie games, and I’ve found that there’s always that guy who starts developing a game in order to tell a story, and when this falls horribly flat is when they make a character for the player that is heavily involved in the story and has certain personality quirks that apply to the character. Then during development he’ll cut people off while they’re making some part of the game that’s fun because it’s not something the character would do. Also he’ll try to make everything extremely linear and take away a lot of options from the player and possibly even make the player lose if they try to do something that they’re not supposed to that’s really minor (like walk out in the middle of cutscene with the intention of coming back later). This type of developer is cancer for the hopes of the project ever coming out being something fun and engaging, and instead will come out feeling like you’re watching a movie with the occasional intermission where you get to fight something.

    Saying that it is the players’ fault for developers who would rather people sit Clockwork Orange style and watch their cinematics and only take the route that the developers intended because the players tend to find ways to have fun messing up the game is like saying that it’s a woman’s fault if she gets raped after completely ignoring the rapist’s advances. If the customer doesn’t want any, then instead of force-feeding it to them you should give them what they actually want. There’s hugely successful games (Minecraft, Super Meat Boy) with hardly any intrusive, unskippable story with lots of user control that come out hugely successful because they do what they should, and that’s being fun through interactivity. I think that it’s ridiculous to say that when a player finds a way to have fun with the game that wasn’t intentional on the part of the developers, then that makes the players an issue that need to be dealt with.

    I really hope that developers snap out of it soon because more and more I’m turning to old games to find my entertainment because of how much more focus is on giving the player a lot of abilities and letting him or her use them however he or she wishes. There is hope though, since Valve has never had much of an issue with this (this only uncontrollable scenes in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 add up to 5 minutes or less…) and Bethesda didn’t have much of a problem with this, though Obsidian did pull a dick move in New Vegas by laying poorly made invisible wall fences that I would constantly get stuck on around the cliffs to keep me from free roaming in the, you know, free roam game.

    Of course, I could just be in the minority here, since games like Black Ops are still top sellers on Steam.

  3. I seriously loved this article. He makes some great points about how Valve games never take control away from you, and give you the freedom to do what you want on the side. It really suspends the illusion, I feel. It makes the moments where you don’t have control really stand out (such as the gut-wrenching end of Ep 2).

  4. This was defiantly an article I wanted to make sure someone on this site talked about. Sorry for the late response to it.

    When reading this, I thought immediately of GamerSushi’s podcast talk about bulletstorm. Reading into the article I thought more and more about the subject. The biggest hit for me though was watching the CODBO gameplay embedded in the article. That was a moment when it really hit me that he was right. You can go through a game and need no action. Now, I think part of that is so small kids and those who are bad at games can actually get some help from their AI buddies, but when he was playing on Hardened it seems like that may be a bit much. The biggest part of it is at the end when he is on the plane. When I played that part I thought I would die if I didnt shoot enough. Turns out, thats untrue. I feel like games SHOULDN’T be movies. I want the freedom. I do like story, but I dont want games to turn into feature films where I walk around on a path. That made me think about how games can force you to do things and it was something that ticked in my head, this isnt right. Now Im not as bothered by it as the articles writer, but I see where he comes from.

    Like Eddy says, its a lot better when you have control. Id rather re-play a scene because I didnt know what was going on than to have it pause and tell me what to do. Really interesting article that can make you think about how you play games and just how designers design them.

  5. I believe that if a game is marketed for the story, or if the one of the strongest aspects is the story (Heavy Rain, Mass Effect, Sam & Max), then it makes sense that players should and maybe have to watch the cutscenes. But if it’s something like Bulletstorm, Left 4 Dead, etc. where the big selling point is the actual game, where the story takes a backseat, the devs may as well not bother with a story, or at least an intricate, long one. I’m not playing Madworld for the riveting struggle between two sides–I’m playing it for the action (and because the Wii has barely any games, amirite).

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