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Consequences in Games

You may have heard me in the past talk about the widespread displacement of consequence-based gaming by reward-based gaming. Party games, and to a lesser extent family games, have always been reward-based (you're rewarded for participation) rather than consequence-based (winning and losing is important, plus more), but hobby games were usually the latter. The change in hobby games started in the videogame world, where most single player games are puzzles rather than opposed games, and so as long as you are persistent - especially when you can use the video save games to try different things - sooner or later you'll solve the puzzle.

Puzzles have always been with us, and truth to tell, puzzles are more popular than games with the population as a whole.

But the move to reward-basis is far strobger now. Subscription games (MMOs) and now Free to Play games have been the real turning points, because the player must constantly be enticed to stay in the game long enough to begin spending money in the various ways that games extract/entice money from players, other than purchasing the game. So players are constantly rewarded, and practically all the consequences of their actions are good for them. Some players go so far as to blame the game if the player does not succeed.

I have maintained that if there are no consequences to your actions, you don't have a game, you have a playground, a toy. And in a typical video game with its save game capability, how can there ever be any consequences to your actions, because you can always go back to your save game and try again?

Tabletop games have always had consequences when you were playing with other people, because you can't go back and try again, you have to accept what happens, and that often involves losing the game. I think we're starting to get away from that now in some tabletop games, which are more reward-based than consequence-based.

I was recently at the East Coast Game Conference in Raleigh North Carolina, where the keynote speaker was Warren Spector, designer of Deus Ex, Epic Mickey, and other games.

Most video games have right and wrong choices, with the right one(s) leading to the planned ending (or several endings). As Spector pointed out, they tend to be black and white, right and wrong. Warren Spector wants player choices in (video) games to have consequences, but does not want the choices to be right or wrong, black or white. That's the difference between what he does, and a puzzle, where the right choice leads toward the always-correct solution. He wants to ask questions of the players and have the players grapple with possible answers, but he definitely doesn't want to answer those questions for the players. These questions are sometimes profound, as in what does it mean to be human (as opposed to a cyborg, robot, or alien).

Moreover, Spector wants the choices players select to make a difference in the outcomes of the game. There are great many video games where you can make different choices but in the end the consequences are the same, including many branching games because the branches ultimately go back to a single node regardless of which choice you made.

Of course, *good* tabletop games always have consequences to the player choices. It's built into the form with human opposition. These are consequences not only in success and failure, but in the outcomes of the game. For example, even though some people believe that my historical game Britannia is a heavily scripted game, you don't see two games go exactly the same way. Each player choice makes a difference in the outcome, and there are millions of possible outcomes.

At one point Spector asked the audience if any of them had noticed that the big splash screen at the end of one of the Mickey games was created based on all the decisions the player had made throughout the game, so that there were thousands of different possibilities. Then he wistfully answered his own question by saying probably no one had noticed.

Someone beat me to it and asked how a game can have consequences when it has save-games. Spector said he has no answer (though he had obviously been asked many times before), and that it's most unlikely that many games will be sold without saves (other than Rogue-likes). He did say that with one of his games (I think Deus Ex but it could've been Epic Mickey) he expected players to take one or another of the choices presented to them and run with it. Instead players would try each possibility and save the result, and when they had tried everything then they took the result they liked the most and went on from there. This is the epitome of lack of consequence. Yet, he said the player has paid their money and they can do what they want with the game. (In free to play games, then, how do you address this form of activity?)

Spector mentioned that in another of his games he allowed players to switch at will from one line of choices to another (I cannot recall whether it was character class or something else). And this had ruined the game, because it removed the consequences of so many choices.

In effect Spector was talking about an idealized form of a video game, rather than the form that's actually played by most game players these days, which is the save-and-try-again-until-you-like-it method. By and large I prefer the practical to the ideal in game design; fortunately, you can design a video game with Spector-style consequences, and that will work both for those who do the save-game tactics, and those who don't.

Consequences are a form of constraints, and contemporary players do not like constraints. They want to do whatever they want to do, as though they were on a playground or playing with toys. We've seen this occasionally for many decades, as it showed up early in Dungeons & Dragons. For example, character alignment was a form of constraint, and a great many players railed against alignment because it prevented them from doing whatever they wanted to do, from being what I call Chaotic Neutral Thugs, from behaving like they were in their own private playground, But now the attitude is much stronger, and there are many video games that pander to it in the name of retention (so that the player will spend money).

Games are inherently a bundle of constraints. But we can design on a spectrum from strong constraints (where there are consequences to player actions) to ones with weak constraints (players rewarded for participation).

Tabletop games used to have a tradition of open games, where you could play in whatever playstyle you wanted. That's been undermined by puzzles, where you have to conform to the always-correct solution. I call the puzzle-games, epitomized by very many Euro games, and most single-player videos, "closed games". Spector is recommending that developers make open games, not closed ones.

As do I. Unfortunately, closed games seem to be what the large majority of players want. And closed games are easier to design.

Comments

Closed vs. Open games

On a couple of occasions, people have asked me to DEFINE a "Turn-order" for my own game ("Tradewars - Homeworld"). And my response, a little hesitant, was that the game was open in that only two (2) things had a precise order:

1. You select your role first.
2. At the end of your turn, you refresh your hand to 5 cards.

People seemed perplexed why I was so hesitant.

My response to them was that my game allowed players sufficient options that they could decide themselves when to do what on their turn.

People were like: "Well if you define a precise turn-order, it will be easier to play the game."

My response to this is: "The game will feel very mechanical and boring. Besides what's so wrong about deciding on your turn how you want to go about things?"

And so "Tradewars - Homeworld" is an OPEN Deck-building Card Game.

This was also brought up when we were having our "rulebook" reviewed. Although it was a *sticky point*, I did re-organize the rulebook to a more standard structure, probably from closed games. But again I did not define a strict "turn-order", just used the format to make reading of the rules more easy (and probably closer to a closed game).

Anyways just wanted to say, I too was faced with the OPEN vs. CLOSED debate given that my game is open by design. It's so open that apparently one reviewer said one of his groups decided to design more "Scenarios" to play the game in different ways! :)

Cheers.

There is still room for improvement.

I tend to play quite a lot of games, and sadly I have been disappointed plenty of times by games that pride themselves of having choices and consequences.

I really dont care that people want to keep loading save games though, personly I don't do that and I just roll with the punches. Unless my character dies of course since then I have to load a save to continue playing. But I really dont need to have the best solution, that gets boring. But if people want boring, let them be boring. Its a matter of restraint.

But back to consequences.. in board games I do like to have a strategic part to it where clever moves pay off, and mistakes can be taken advantage of by other players. But a board game should not be too punishing either.
I despise board games where you just can't catch up when someone has an early lead, and where you already know far before the end that you will lose. Its not about winning or losing, it just takes the exitement away because you'd basicly be taken out of the game already.

But for videogames, I'd really like to see them try more with actions and consequences, and being more morally grey with it.
But typically you get a good choice, and an evil choice without room for nuance.

But in particular, I want players to truly be judged for their actions, that their reputation develops around it.
Doing the right thing should be made diffult. It should not always be appreciated and should make you enemies here and there.

For example you get the choice to spare a frightened woman who was the wife of a corrupt nobleman you just killed. If you spare her, she could take over the house and put all resources in trying to kill you later, and you don't get the chance to kill her again since she'd be protected by other lords.
But if you'd kill her, this would not happen, but other nobles could despise you for it due to family ties.
Either way you could not win in this situation. Unless you did not agree earlier to kill her corrupt husband.

Another thing that bothers me is that choices of character creation tend to mean next to nothing. Just seems combat and skill related, but hardly ever quest related or having much impact on interactions.

They tend to want all content of the game to be available in a single playthrough, personly I rather see more choices made there, like each playable race having a few quests unique to them available that others dont get.Or maybe even getting different quests from the same character.

Like a dwarf quest giver giving a fake quest to elves to have a good laugh, and a real quest for other races, but a better reward for fellow dwarves.
Or some ritual only available to elves.

Board games are a bit easier than video games

When catering for all the possibilities that can arise from a players decision tabletop games are at a distinct advantage over video games. It can be argued that all games have a player goal, the problem with how you achieve that goal is exacerbated in video games but the fact that it is almost impossible to code for every possible action a player can take over the course of a game. I've noticed this with the really good Choices series of interactive stories we get on iOS. Even when they have decisions opened or closed based on your stats, which are changed over the course of the story based in the so decisions you've made, parts of the story end up making no sense as it refers to things that have never happened in the storyline you followed to get to that point.

With tabletop games the other players adjust & react to the choices you make & so the game adapts to how you are playing & you adapt to how your opponents are playing.

With the rise in closed games though I'm also left to wonder if it is because more people are moving into tabletop gaming but don't have the time to dedicate to longer games (>30mins) & so designers are adding restrictions in order to prevent the game play from expanding beyond the time constraint?

Not a question of time IMHO

Tedthebug wrote:
...With the rise in closed games though I'm also left to wonder if it is because more people are moving into tabletop gaming but don't have the time to dedicate to longer games (>30mins) & so designers are adding restrictions in order to prevent the game play from expanding beyond the time constraint?

I don't think it's really a question of time - but people wanting a game to be EASY to play. Like if I tell you on each one of your turns, these are the 5 Steps you need to play the game, it will greatly simplify the effort in learning how to play the game.

All a *newbie* needs to do is follow the prescribed method and he should play the game as well as his opponents which may or may not have more experience with the type of game or even that game specifically.

On the flip side, the problem is when you introduce veteran gamers to the game. They will probably state that the game is too SIMPLE.

Why? Because veteran gamers are used to reading rules and digesting them in order to play a game. And they like having the choice of HOW to play the game as opposed to be told they should do the following 5 steps in a specific order...

Open games cater to a more experienced gamer crowd.

Such players are not worried about making mistakes in the game - they know they will learn as the game progresses and if the game does not suffer from a "run-away leader" problem, they can still have a shot at winning the game.

Overall I think it has to do with making the game more flexible vs. something more rigid with prescribed rules.

Cheers.

Market Reaction

I also think it's worth mentioning that game companies are becoming more reactive to the market. With so many smaller game publishers and studios, and with the prevalence of social media, negative feedback can have a significant impact on a company's success, and/or the success of their crowdfunding campaigns.

When a small company's success is tied to reaching the goal of their crowdfunding project, a failure can mean that the next time that company has something to offer will be years later, if at all.

A side effect of this is that developers (of both tabletop and video games) will scour social media sites to see any hint of negative feedback for their projects. If a company responds and reacts quickly that's seen as a good sign. However, if a company is slow to respond or doesn't respond at all, they're quickly painted as "greedy money-grubbers" and negative responses quickly snowball into a forever-tarnished reputation. That, and a small developer or one-man studio can be burned-out by an overwhelmingly-negative response.

The end result is that the developer frequently aspires to accommodate the lowest common denominator: their desire for constant positive reinforcement, lack of complexity, low difficulty threshold, and open access to all of a game's secrets regardless of player investment.

I think a majority of developers are petrified of even one negative review on a blog, vlog, or tumblr account. This shifts development to more toy-like experiences, as opposed to legitimate competition.

Closed?

Not familiar with your game Tradewars. If anyone told me that (in their game) players can do things when they want to, in effect, I'd suspect that it was multi-player solitaire, that is, players can do little to nothing to affect one another, hence order of play does not matter.

Deck-building games strongly tend to be of this type.

Is it indeed an open game, or a closed one (a parallel competition puzzle)?

"Should"

" But a board game should not be too punishing either.
I despise board games where you just can't catch up when someone has an early lead, and where you already know far before the end that you will lose."

"Should" is a slippery word, different people have different opinions. Nor does every game need to be the same. So "punishing" mistakes is more appropriate in some games, less in others.

It's more often puzzles/parallel competitions where you can't catch up, than opposed games. Because you have no strong way to affect the other players.

Nonetheless, there will be times when one player will play much better than others (or be much luckier): should that player be punished by having to put up with (from their point of view) bogus catch-up mechanisms?

Party Games

"The end result is that the developer frequently aspires to accommodate the lowest common denominator: their desire for constant positive reinforcement, lack of complexity, low difficulty threshold, and open access to all of a game's secrets regardless of player investment.

I think a majority of developers are petrified of even one negative review on a blog, vlog, or tumblr account. This shifts development to more toy-like experiences, as opposed to legitimate competition."

Older (or larger) publishers seem less susceptible to this.

In general, I'd characterize what's happening as a move toward party/family-style games and away from hobby-style games.

Space Combat breaks the rules

Having a mechanic which allows player to combat their opponents allows a player to affect his opponent. Moreover roles such as the Private, Sergeant, and Smuggler can interfere with your opponents. Even though cards are not exchanged, Tactic cards are sometime played against an opponent also.

There are no rules that state what order you should do things on your turn, except as I have said 1. Choose a Role for your turn and 2. Replenish your hand to 5 cards at the end of your turn.

What else can you do? Buy cards from the table (Trade), configure & deploy starships, discard cards from your hand, perform an action relating to your role, and play a Tactic card (which are like Instants and can be played at any time - your and even your opponent's turn).

The game is scenario driven - which means the victory condition changes according to the scenario chosen.

What are the conditions for a Puzzle? I doubt this is a multi-player Puzzle... But I'm not sure I am aware of this terminology.

Catch-up mechanics are

Catch-up mechanics are interesting indeed. Rarely have I seen them done well, but one game does it right, and makes it a vital mechanic - Puzzle Strike.

It's a deckbuilding game where players accumulate gems, once -per-turn. If a player ends their turn with 10 gems, they lose. Players attack each other by launching their gems at other players. Gems can be combined to become larger, so larger attacks fill your opponent's gem pile faster, putting more pressure on them to empty their gem pile. However, the more gems a player has in their pile, the more cards they draw. This allows players with high gem piles a way to dig deeper into their decks to find ways to empty their piles, but it also encourages players to play risky strategies that require you to have more gems in your pile.

Runaway leader

I too despise the Runaway Leader syndrom.

And one type of game where this happens more often than other games, are war games. It happens at a lot of levels. Small and big scale. Depending on the game.

It is one of my primary goals when I adjust my game: To think of catch-up mechanics that work against this.

With this, I hope that the game remains a challenge to the more skilled players. While beginning players have the feeling they have a good chance at winning.

Of course, when the skill gap is too big to overcome. The victory is well deserved. Until that time, it is the job of the game designer. To make sure that the loser, has a feeling of continiueing the game.

Concequences

Concequences in war games can be, winning or losing.
However, indirectly, keeping certain soldiers alive can have rewards as concequences for the player. Like leveling them up.

This one is counter intuitive to the runaway leader. However, thanks to the RPS that the game contains, you need to have a huge leveling up, to make the soldier an "immortal" even against the worst kind of enemy.

Leveled up soldiers are often hunted down before this even happens. And it is better for players to distribute XP points amongst the rest of the army. Since it is relatively cheaper.

The reward for distributing XP would be, that the army is not only stronger. But able to do things that previously couldn't be done.

Another concequence popped up after XP got introduced in the past. Players that camp, while saving up soldiers. These soldiers remained weak. Bases started to clogging up. And while these players felt like they where safe. The big concequence would be that sooner or later, they would be fed up on.

The only way for these players to gain XP was to harvest up on their own. Another concequence here would be that if they wasted their Action Points for that round, another player could easily start grinding on them as well. A double set back for the camping player.

"Immortals"

As a general rule I suggest avoiding video game-like "attitudes" or conventions in tabletop games. Super-duper units ("immortal" as mentioned above) are common in VG, but make no sense in reality, just as many other situations in VG are nonsense (such as respawning, medkits and weapons just lying around). VG, by and large, though with the trappings of photo-realism, are terrifically unreal. (Look at World of Tanks or World of Warships - fine games, but the fights are very far from real-world combat.) People don't expect TT games to emulate reality, but the standard for what makes sense may be a little higher.

Runaway Leader vs Catch-up (Rubber banding)

Attitudes toward this topic probably vary with two things.

First, people who are exceptionally successful game players will probably despise catch-up. Those who are not very successful will like it.

Second, even very successful players have different points of view about end-games. One of the best Britannia players likes close games, likes finesse. Another likes to crush his enemies and win by a huge margin. Both are outstanding players, but have quite different preferences.

There are no overt catch-up mechanisms in Brit, but because players play different nations over time, they all have "their time" to try to strongly influence the game. That's possible in a long game (4-5 hours) where it might not be in a much shorter game.

I could add a third category: casual players are likely to prefer catch up mechanisms, while "serious" players likely do not.

Puzzles

It's old, but this should be a start:

Games, Puzzles, Contests https://youtu.be/OpqFJY5uqdw

Not wargames

Btw, the most common realm of runaway leader is in (economic) snowball games in particular, engine games in general, not wargames. Because wargames provide ways to hinder other players, there's always a chance to pull down the leader. In other kinds of games without strong possibility of hindrance, once someone gets the engine going faster than others, there's nothing anyone can do.

I agree on the hindrance

I agree on the hindrance part.

However, in wargames, it is the hindrance part, that if not applied correctly. Causes a snow ball effect in 2 directions instead of 1.

1. The stronger player makes the gap grow.
2. The weaker player, can't make the gap shrink.

And it is this gap that makes the snowball effect stronger while it grows. The only thing to stop this is to provide the means to stop it. Either by, sufficient randomness, teaming up, RPS usage or allowing reinforcements.

Now, if not even 1 of the above is provided, than the gap is already to big after 1 roll of the dice. It is a matter of who rolls the best in round 1.

At least, this is how I feel about it and you may disagree. (I see things mathematically.)

The snowball effect in economic games. I am not familiar with these games, except for Monopoly? Where one player has the expensive Streets, and no other player can get them back? In that case, you are right, that, there, the snowball effect is the largest. It is a matter of who gets the street first.

If you have an extremer example, please let me know.

Perhaps it is a matter of taste to say which games have the bigger snow ball effects.

All that I know is that when you try to battle this snow ball effect. You get all those unreal games. That is a given. Especially VG suffer from this. Because things are played in "real time".
Perhaps to say: The unreal factor is what balances most games?
After all, in wargames, Health is a figure used for creating balance. While in real life, a hit is a 99% kill, or 99% never a kill.

***

PS.
Where do I belong if I say that I like being chased by other players, while I am the leading player at that point?

Number of players

In a wargame with more than two players, players can cooperate to pull back a leader. Yes, in a two player wargame this is not available. But I don't see two player games as a realm for discussing runaway leader. If one player in a 2P is running away, the game should end, no?

In a snowball game (engine, economic, whatever), the number of players makes no difference: if one cannot hinder the leader, neither can more than one.

I don't play/design snowball games, and don't design engine games, because they're both puzzles (which I dislike strongly) and likely to lead to snowball effects. Those who design engine games certainly must try to avoid the snowball effect.

(Snowball: in any game with a focus on economy, *and* a means whereby a player can repeatedly improve the production rate of his economy, in the long run the player who speeds up first will triumph, other things being equal. He'll just keep improving his speed, faster than anyone else can. Terrestrial wargames with economy (any big war is an economic war) usually don't provide a rate improvement mechanism. 4X wargames do, so in the long run many 4X become economic snowball games.)

Those who see games mathematically tend to ignore the possibilities where there are more than two players. "All Games are Math". I'm from the "Games are about People" camp, diametrically opposed. In fact, I'd say the "All games are math" crowd really want puzzles and puzzles-disguised-as-games, not opposed games.

Unclosable gap should equal instant win

The other mechanism that can compensate for a runaway effect is having victory conditions that recognise the inevitability of the leader staying in front. So, instead of metaphorically racing for 10 kilometres and seeing who wins, race for 10 kilometres but declare the winner if anyone gets 200 metres in front of second place.

A runaway effect is particularly painful if the game does not provide a natural recognition of the winner at the point his win has become inevitable.

For two-player games, this is not an issue, because one player can politely concede defeat.

To me its mainly frustrating

To me its mainly frustrating when people jump to an early lead thats hard to catch up to due to sheer luck on their part, and at times combined with bad luck on my own part.

If someone gets the best possible results out of a dice roll at the start of the game and someone else the worst, that can have a huge impact.

If someone jumps out early on due to them making smarter decisions than me, thats alright.

But on the other end, if a game is pure strategy it can get tedious when players differ greatly in skill level. Since then it can only be played with people of the same experience with the game.

So I think that the best games tend to be the kind that allow for strategy, but still keep a bit of a surprise element that can destroy best laid plans, but allow for strategic decisions to help recover from it.

Poorly designed . . .

"If someone gets the best possible results out of a dice roll at the start of the game and someone else the worst, that can have a huge impact."

That's a poorly designed game, pure and simple. No early dice roll should have a "huge impact".

Oh how I love this kind of

Oh how I love this kind of nitty-gritty design discussion.

lewpuls, while I tend to agree with your sentiment here, I think your metric for what is and isn't good game design a bit narrow. I personally agree that games that have early choices/determinants that have a "huge impact" on the rest of the game is something designers should avoid. However, it's hard to say that makes them poorly designed games. Let's look at examples.

Settlers of Catan – no one can argue with how popular and well-received this game is. It's the ultimate gateway game, hands down. At the start of the game, players roll dice to determine the order in which they place their settlements. Highest roll places one settlement, then goes clockwise, then the last player places both settlements, then the order goes back counterclockwise. So the first player presumably gets the best and worst space, the last player gets two fine spaces, and everyone else gets spaces inbetween those values. The point behind this mechanism is to balance initial settlement placement between all players, and while better than nothing, still favors the player who gets to place two settlements at the same time. Worse, if you're not familiar with the game, you can place your settlements in absolutely awful spots, neutering the rest of the game for yourself.

This game features an early choice that hugely impacts the game. Is Settlers of Catan a poorly designed game?

Magic: the Gathering – Players build decks from cards they own in an attempt to craft a deck that beats all others. Essentially, players are trying to gain an advantage in the games they play BEFORE the game even begins! Talk about an early choice that impacts all future games.

Is Magic: the Gathering a poorly designed game?

Street Fighter – Players pick a fighter and duke it out rounds, best two-out-of-three. Certain fighters may perform better in certain match-ups, giving one player an advantage in the set. (My joke is that the fighter selection screen is where the skill is hehe).

Is Street Fighter a poorly designed game?

Each of these games have early decisions that impacts entire games in very different ways. I believe that Magic: the Gathering is the worst culprit of the three, Settlers the second, and Street Fighter to be the least detrimentally impacting.

My point is that early decisions vary immensely, so blanket statements such as yours aren't necessarily productive.

That pretty strong arguments!

@Calvin: Just as a question, would you consider (in my own game) that a player who reaches his 1st Starship FIRST, attacks his defenseless opponent and get's a lucky roll of 6. His/her opponent would lose Homeworld Points and would be left with 12 points.

Now I'm not saying this player will win the game (hard to predict). But surely he does have an advantage in being the player whose Homeworld still is 100% intact (18 points).

What do you think about this? Is bad design having one player jump to an early lead? Or this is merely how the game plays out - and is not a guarantee towards victory - just an early lead...

If Homeworld Points act only

If Homeworld Points act only as your HP, and not a mechanism that lets you use actions, then that sounds fine to me. While that player has an advantage, it doesn't prevent the other player from doing anything or losing momentum. There's no snowball effect there.

In a lot of two-player games, HP isn't the best indicator for who is winning - board states are a much better indicator. In Magic, if player A has 1HP and 20 creatures, and player B has 20HP and no creatures, most players would say that player A is in the lead.

Squinshee, you confuse

Squinshee, you confuse popular with well-designed. (And chance with player choice.) Game popularity has little to do with good design:

The most popular commercial game in the world by far (Monopoly) is poorly designed.

Chess has many poor design aspects: e.g., there's a very high occurrence of draws, and white wins far more than black. Without chess clocks we'd have an interminable game because of analysis (paralysis). Fischer's variant (Chess 960) is much better though far from perfect.

Catan? There's no point in saying if you're not familiar with a game you can screw up. Of course. At some point, a game has to rely on player skill, if it's not simply random. Getting a lucky roll involves no skill, making a good setup does require skill.

To me, Catan is kludgy, but obviously it works. When it was first published, a well-known reviewer gave it a 7 out of 10, and that's probably fair.

Street Fighter choice of fighter is, again, player choice. Players have to have choices in games, don't they?

Magic, as originally presented, was an unfair game (I'd call that bad design, and I chose to have nothing to do with the game). If you spent more money you had an advantage (nowadays called "pay to win"). But it's obviously a *great* marketing scheme, if you're the first. Recognize it was the marketing scheme that made it popular (with shop owners), not the game itself, though the game does have its own tactical style.

What are some of your

What are some of your favorite games lewpuls?

My favorite game, by far, is

My favorite game, by far, is the game of designing games, and writing about them.

Dungeons and Dragons (1st edition). Diplomacy and Stalingrad, long ago. Britannia, I guess. Some of my prototypes, I suppose. Empire Deluxe (old video).

I strongly dislike puzzles, and puzzles disguised as games. Puzzles are a no-win situation for me. If I solve them, I feel relief, not pleasure; if I don't, I feel stupid.

good point about puzzles.

Agreed about puzzles, I dont like how some videogames seem to really force it into a game in unnatural ways.

Then again I tend to dislike forced minigames in videogames that arent part of the main gameplay and usually tend to be pretty poorly done because the game wasnt mainly designed for it.

But back about consequences..

I have to say that often I feel disappointed by games that promise that your actions will have meaning.

Usually it comes down to a very black and white morality system where you can either pick the good or the evil option.
And at times this tends to get a little messed up since some things are considered evil while thats not your motivation behind it.
Like not wasting money on every little thing in fable 3 because you know you need lots of money to keep the kingdom safe from a great evil later.

I really hope that they will throw in the chaotic and lawfull parts of morality into the mix in more videogames, I only saw it properly done in Neverwinter Nights 1.

In some games it can be outright annoying since being good tends to be giving all your money away and evil tends to be threatening everyone to give you money or you kill them.

It's like you can either be a mary sue or a bully. If you mix it up, games dont tend to follow that really well. They tend to encourage you to be either pure good or pure evil for extra rewards, being neutral gets you nothing.

Some people prefer games to

Some people prefer games to be less "gray" than real life, hence like being clearly Good or clearly Evil.

I've always thought that minigames in a video game were an indication that the main game easily became boring/tedious, so the designers throw in the minigame distractions. If the main game was good enough, why would players need or want minigames?

(Aren't Final Fantasies full of minigames? And aren't FFs story punctuated by very-much-the-same combat? Not surprising it gets boring.)

There's even children

There's even children cartoons with grey morality though, having it very black and white just makes the player character look goofy.

I gues it depends a bit on the game with the minigames.
Knights of the Old Republic had an annoying minigame where you had to shoot fighter planes down with terrible controlls.
Pretty sure it also had an annoying puzzle or two through the game.

Its better when minigames are optional. Like sports in Grand theft Auto, Pazaak in Knights of the Old Republic, etc.

But when it comes to the mandatory stuff it should just have the main gameplay be varied enough.

And then you have assasin's creed which forces all kinds of dumb restrictions on the player and not giving the freedom anymore that earlier games gave. They eliminated choice in many situations from the series, forcing you to do just one approach and use a specific weapon instead of letting you be creative with it.

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blog | by Dr. Radut