28 votes

I don’t wanna do my video game chores

30 comments

  1. [8]
    ThatFanficGuy Link
    It is, actually: – TVTropes.org on Red Dead Redemption 2 Reviews like that irritate me. Instead of engaging with the issues at hand – how, for example, open-world games rarely offer the...

    red-dead-redemption-2-is-a-game-about-a-cowboy-who-does-chores

    It is, actually:

    Arthur is the self-described "workhorse" of the van der Linde gang, and it comes with the lack of respect one would expect. He is apparently the only gang member contributing to the camp food supply, and missing even a single day draws negative comments from Pearson and Ms. Grimshaw. Want to upgrade the camp? Arthur will be providing 90% of the necessary funds. Someone owes the gang money? Arthur collects. Another gang member needs some extra muscle on a mission? Yep, Arthur. Something goes wrong on that mission? Must be Arthur's fault.

    – TVTropes.org on Red Dead Redemption 2

    Reviews like that irritate me. Instead of engaging with the issues at hand – how, for example, open-world games rarely offer the opportunity for engaged agency in the same way plot-driven games do, or whether the gritty-ish, down-to-earth experience that simulates real-life-but-a-hundred-years-ago is a meaningful result of the money and time put into the game – its authors engage in a passive-aggressive snarkmatch against an empty chair. Offering a rebuttal, or merely a reply, to such an essay – let alone engaging in a conversation with the author – is a waste of time for its developers, and the general public. It's impersonal, and it seems to have as its only goal sparking the faux debate over a point that hasn't been made.

    Look. It's okay if you didn't like it. It's just not your thing. You may try to get your money back. You may tell your side of the story, reflecting on the issues you've encountered and the possible solutions you could envision. Maybe talk to someone you respect, and post the resulting conversation if it's particularly insightful. I would have absolutely no issue with any of those.

    Instead, the author went online and ranted about an issue half-heartedly, without ever touching the essence of it, let alone the causes and the results.

    The sentence that betrays the shallow nature of the article is very soon into it:

    I’ve been playing it off and on since it was released, and I’m still waiting for it to get fun.

    Waiting for it to get fun. Why? Why did you waste hours upon hours of paced gameplay, hoping that it would magically change and you'd start to like it? It's not going to, no matter how magical your thinking is. It is the way it is by design, not by accident. Implying that it should've catered to your wishes is improper to the very nature of the thing that disappointed you so.

    I don't mean to attack the author, or their taste, or their preferences. It would be short-sighted and impertinent. There are issues about the game itself, and about games like it, that are worth addressing, and I'd like to do so below. Just know that whatever the OP essay is, it's not that.


    The big issue with open-world games, the way I see it, is lacking agency. Players are often thrown in the massive, unknown world, with a handful of torn clothes and a quest that's supposed to give them some momentum. Since it's the only thing going for you at the time – the only thing you know about the world – it's likely that you're going to chase it. It's also likely that, once you're done with the first one, they're going to give you another one immediately, to prevent feeling lost and aimless... and so on, and so forth, until such a time where you can choose between more than one quest.

    It sounds incredibly boring.

    On the other hand, linear games – such as the mentioned The Last of Us or Firewatch – give you agency immediately, by guiding you through the plot incessantly¹. The games guide you, almost by the hand, and the only way you could stop it is by not playing the game. They don't feel empty, or shallow, or boring, mostly because there's no space for the boredom to set in.

    ¹ If I recall correctly, there are a few "still points" where no plot is happening, and you're free to traverse the large map unopposed. Let's assume for a minute that those don't exist, and the game's entirely plot-driven.

    Consider the amount of work it takes to write a book. Months upon months of writing, editing, and rewriting, just to get to a completely-linear experience. Consider also that complaining about such a quality of the book would make me seem whiny and unappreciative. Obviously books are cool. It's the effort to make a good one that makes them so. You could churn out a novella in a month, as is evident by the fact that many of the practitioners of NaNoWriMo do, in fact, finish their 50000-words stories – but it won't be as good, because attention and contemplation are required for the polish of a good book.

    It's obvious by now that I'm comparing games to books: linear ones are regular books, open-world ones are choose-your-own-adventure ones.

    There are some engaging, exciting CYOA books out there. Choice of Robots by Kevin Gold is a good example. It's 300 000 words long, and it has a surprising amount of branching in its plot – so much so that it's one of the game's main selling points. You have a robot, made to your ideals. Would you like to win the war against China? Would you like to, instead, conquer Alaska as your own nation-state? Would you, instead, kickstart the age of international prosperity that's based on your creation's blueprint? And so on, and so forth. It's well-written and quite exciting – particularly so for me, because I'm a technophile.

    It is nothing compared to RDR2.

    In Choice of Robots, your paths are all well-defined, with no way to stray off – merely to choose a different one. It's still linear – it's just multi-linear.

    In RDR2, you can go wherever you want, do whatever you want, kill, maim, or help pretty much anyone you want. You can hunt at night. You can get drunk and fish. You can purposefully ride your horse off the cliff – and proceed to lose it when it drows in the deep of the river, with only your saddle left at the spot. There's a breadth of guns to choose from and modify, you can race, you can fend off ambushes, you can rob carriages... It gives you a lot of opportunities.

    Have you ever been to a massive new supermarket that has thousands of entries, each in the thousand pieces itself? It may be cheaper to buy the place than to buy everything in it. Have you ever stood in a particular isle, unable to choose between two similar options? There's psychology beneath that, which I'm not going to get into; the gist is: the more options you have, the more likely it is you'll lose track of any agency you might've had and choose to abandon the endeavor without making a choice.

    That's what makes RDR2 – and games like it: Skyrim, most MMORPGs, Just Cause... – seem boring: because you can't make up your mind about doing something. The things to do are there – and you get to make up your own goals while you're at it. But choosing one? Cpuld be challenging.

    I've found that, whenever I feel that way, I do much better if I set an arbitrary goal for myself; pick a single thing to work on, and get to it. "I feel like slaying some raiders this fine morning". "I want this gun. It looks really cool. I want it". "What if I rob this faction's base?". If it turns out to be unsatisfactory, I can make a different choice down the line – and if it's okay, I'm alright. That's precisely how productivity works: whenever you're overwhelmed by the duties you have to fulfill, pick one and do just that, regardless of what else may require attention.

    This is a two-sided consideration – for the players, and for the developers.

    As a player, you have to understand the idea behind having too much on your plate, and how to cut out until you have a piece you can bite into. Since open-world games of such format aren't going away any time soon, and because we all enjoy the breadth and the depth of experience such games might offer, it's important that we come prepared for the medium that is so much bigger than us that we may get too anxious about it to continue. It may also include considering whether it's the open-world games you want, or a more linear experience: as much as the latter is bashed – foolishly, in my opinion – some of the greatest games of all time have been nothing but linear. Half-Life, Portal, The Last of Us, Max Payne, Diablo II, Halo – and probably many more of those I can't recall on the spot.

    As a developer, you should strive to make these choices easier to make – either via guidance, or by designing the interface so that one option is emphasized over the others so that it stands out. Offering a temporary bounty might work. Including the promotion of an activity into the routine ("Hello, my fellow outcast! I'm feeling like [fishing|horseriding|hunting|taking a walk in the woods] today. Would you like to join me?") might work, too. For all the mind-warping the science of advertising has done, it has also given us a pretty good idea of how our minds work, and how to encourage people to do what you wish them to do.

    If you like the game, it's worth pushing a little bit through and finding a way to shake up your in-game routine by doing something new. But of course, it's never on the player to make up their agency in a medium where agency is expected to be given to them. It's the developer's job to make the game interesting, always and forever – either by making the core features entertaining, or by giving the player enough clear options to entertain themselves with. No game is supposed to be exciting forever. All experiences run out eventually. Even the most beautiful sunsets will get mundane if you have enough of them in a row.

    For what it's worth, though, I feel like RDR2 did a pretty good job with that. Even the main plot offers plenty of things you can do: rob a carriage, rob a train, get drunk into oblivion with a gangmate, assault enemy camp, blow up a bridge, get another gangmate unstuck from the railroad just before the train arrives, pour drinks to the whole saloon...

    There's plenty more things to discuss – both about the game, and about the genre of open-world games. This is just one issue worth addressing – and much more in-depth than I have. I don't own a worldwide game studio. I don't have 10 years of game design experience behind my back. Hell, I haven't even released a game yet: all of mine are prototypes or in development as we speak. There are hundreds of people who could do a better job on this topic than I ever could.

    The author of the article ain't one of 'em.

    20 votes
    1. [3]
      vivaria Link Parent
      This is an aside from your actual post, and I don't mean to take away from the meat of what you've written, but I'm not sure I understand your use of the word 'agency' here: I thought 'agency'...

      This is an aside from your actual post, and I don't mean to take away from the meat of what you've written, but I'm not sure I understand your use of the word 'agency' here:

      The big issue with open-world games, the way I see it, is lacking agency. Players are often thrown in the massive, unknown world, with a handful of torn clothes and a quest that's supposed to give them some momentum. Since it's the only thing going for you at the time – the only thing you know about the world – it's likely that you're going to chase it.

      On the other hand, linear games – such as the mentioned The Last of Us or Firewatch – give you agency immediately, by guiding you through the plot incessantly¹.

      I thought 'agency' meant something like 'capacity to make decisions/take actions based on ones' own free will'. Don't linear games take away your agency by guiding you through a plot on rails, while open-world games give you agency by allowing you to explore in your own personal way?

      10 votes
      1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        I may have used the wrong word. What I meant is: you don't feel like doing something after a while in open-world games. You feel like you've tried everything, or none of the options seem appealing...

        I may have used the wrong word. What I meant is: you don't feel like doing something after a while in open-world games. You feel like you've tried everything, or none of the options seem appealing anymore, or you fear you might make the wrong choice so you refuse making any at all... Much like in real life! – which, really, is a whole another issue in and of itself, but it's interesting to see how existential dread sets in in a completely-fictional environment.

        In linear games, you have exactly two meaningful choices: play and follow the given objective, or not play. None of the other choices – which gun to use, which horse to ride, which spell to cast – are meaningful, in that they aren't changing the course of the plot. They may be entertaining, or reflective of our preferences, or seem cool – but they aren't meaningful. As such, making a choice is extremely easy, and it makes following each far more exciting (because you're not as afraid of it being the wrong choice).

        4 votes
      2. NaraVara Link Parent
        The assumption is that your actions and decisions should feel meaningful and consequential, which open world games often fail to do well. They give you few, if any, meaningful or satisfying...

        The assumption is that your actions and decisions should feel meaningful and consequential, which open world games often fail to do well. They give you few, if any, meaningful or satisfying choices while overwhelming you with choices that are functionally just deciding what flavor [thing] you want or what order to clear off your checklist tasks in.

        The result is that you have all the stress of making tons of decisions, but none of the risk/reward feeling from seeing those decisions manifest something meaningful in the world.

        In linear games your decisions are more immediate, where to duck for cover, when to use your fancy ammo, what sequence you’ll need to take out this room full of baddies. They’re not really detailed, but they are rapid and consequential and that’s what gives you a sense of accomplishment when they work out.

        This is why Stardew Valley and BotW are so often cited as examples of good open world games. They give you lots of choices, but they’re kind of meaningful choices. It’s not metering fun behind clearing checklist tasks, it’s just asking what you want to do today. Whether you do it or not, the game doesn’t seem to care.

        3 votes
    2. [3]
      nic Link Parent
      I found both the article, and your response, to be both very insightful, at least for me. GTA 3 had a vast world with unstructured play that was wildly entertaining. The first mission taught you...

      I found both the article, and your response, to be both very insightful, at least for me.

      GTA 3 had a vast world with unstructured play that was wildly entertaining. The first mission taught you enough, then you were immediately free to discover the joys of smashing cars and squishing pedestrians while rockin to the radio.

      GTA IV & V added additional realistic chores (necessary tasks that lacked an element of fun) which were required to open up new levels of unstructured play (so you could steal a freaking tank or fighter plane.)

      As you put it in your first excellent point, these "chores" are a way for "open-world games" to "offer the opportunity for engaged agency" - they give structured objectives to those who are motivated to check all the items off in a game, thereby increasing the average amount of time people spend in the game.

      But they frustrated me slightly, as these chores got in the way of me and the next level of unstructured fun.

      To your second interesting point, RDR2 lacks GTA's unbridled element of unstructured fun. As you so eloquently put it: is a down-to-earth experience that simulates real-life-but-a-hundred-years-ago a meaningful investment of time and money? For me, the answer is no.

      I bought an xbox to specifically play this game, and (after the painfully slow requisite updates to the new system) I spent an hour or two before putting the sadly game aside. It is incredibly beautiful, very realistic, but to me it is utterly dull and devoid of fun.

      Clearly I am in the minority here, so Rockstar seems to have made the right choice in terms of realism vs fun.

      So now I use my xbox to play pac-man with my son. I need another controller for pong. Somehow, I find these rudimentary games far more fun than RDR2.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        That's a good way of putting it – better than I did. It's precisely what they do: give the gameplay structure – and it's from that structure that players extract agency (more easily, at least)....

        these "chores" are a way for "open-world games" to "offer the opportunity for engaged agency" - they give structured objectives to those who are motivated to check all the items off in a game

        That's a good way of putting it – better than I did. It's precisely what they do: give the gameplay structure – and it's from that structure that players extract agency (more easily, at least). This ties well into narrowing one's focus in-game to regain that sense of satisfaction that has been lost with time.

        I bought an xbox to specifically play this game, and (after the painfully slow requisite updates to the new system) I spent an hour or two before putting the sadly game aside.

        That's a damn shame. If only there was another way for you to experience the game, without having to cash out for the whole system at once.

        Not to waste the investment, I hope? Any other games you'd like to try? There's probably plenty of high-quality exclusives to Xbox.

        1. nic Link Parent
          I'd like a decent pacman. The one I bought has serious issues.

          I'd like a decent pacman. The one I bought has serious issues.

    3. feigneddork Link Parent
      Regarding your point of analysis paralysis, I’ve played Stardew Valley and anyone who has played that game will know there are tons to do in that game, and it isn’t exactly linear in nature. Yet,...

      Regarding your point of analysis paralysis, I’ve played Stardew Valley and anyone who has played that game will know there are tons to do in that game, and it isn’t exactly linear in nature. Yet, I’ve never had so much fun playing Stardew Valley.

      I haven’t played Red Dead Redemption 2 (I only have a PC and a Switch) but from what I’ve heard, RDR2’s problem isn’t that it has a lot of systems on offer, it is that those systems are mundane, offer little rewards, and from what I can interpret, each have almost the same urgency as each other with consequences (the article raises the fact that if you don’t wash after a while, you’ll be forced to wash and then the gameplay returns to normal, implying it’s a time/gameplay penalty).

      Compare this to Stardew Valley in which there are a billion things to do each day, but there is almost no penalty to skipping certain things (like fishing in favour of exploring the mines) and everything resumes where you left it.

      Again, I haven’t played RDR2 but the biggest complaint I’ve heard from it online and in social circles is that it’s tedious, the animations get in the way, and there is one area where the police are far too aggressive. I feel like some of that could have been allievated a little by taking the Stardew Valley route and having less severe consequences for “missing out” on an action.

      2 votes
  2. [6]
    Spel (edited ) Link
    I find this article equally uninteresting and unispired every time it's written, no matter what specific thing it's about this time. It's always the same. Describe something you don't enjoy in a...

    I find this article equally uninteresting and unispired every time it's written, no matter what specific thing it's about this time. It's always the same. Describe something you don't enjoy in a way that makes it sound boring, then say that the things that may sound boring in something you enjoy are in fact not boring. Complain that people aren't complaining, and then try to find any reason for it other than that people actually do like it...

    You can definitely write an article about the shortcomings of RDR2, but this is not it. You've got to do better than just saying that Fortnite is fun.

    11 votes
    1. [4]
      nothis Link Parent
      Maybe the article is bad but RDR2 is also a very bad game. Its wildlife simulation, physics and render tech are amazing but the gameplay is absurdly bad. The wildlife simulation, physics and...

      Maybe the article is bad but RDR2 is also a very bad game. Its wildlife simulation, physics and render tech are amazing but the gameplay is absurdly bad. The wildlife simulation, physics and render tech are amazing enough, though, to still keep me playing. It's fascinating to see in action. But we gotta have to have a discussion about the actual gameplay.

      The state of games journalism is a sad one, not because of big "scandals" like bought reviews or the numerics of scoring systems, but because it's entertainment (the article itself, not just the game) rather than actual criticism or discussion of the medium. Take a look at Geoff Keighley's ridiculous "Game Awards" for a feature-length, technicolor version of that, all game journalism kinda wants to be that or at least feels drawn to move into that direction to please its audience (and stay profitable). They don't want to be the people who criticize games, they want to be the cool uncle who knows how to get games pre-release.

      There's some embarrassment about it, some attempts at borrowing from other media and dissect the politics of some background story, a character trait or the social impact of people playing games but there is basically no discussion on gameplay, on the systems and rules and the abstract space they build. Basically, the entire discussion ignores what makes games special as a medium. It's something spooky that happens in the background, that sometimes entertains you, sometimes annoys you when it doesn't work (uh-oh, bugs!!) and sometimes is totally unfair. But it's not something you understand on a deeper level.

      If you can tell, this is something I'm rather passionate about. I think there's few people, including gamedesigners whose games I deeply enjoy, who can really talk about the deeper, underlying nature of it. I think for the most part, both gamedesign and game criticism are still a matter of trial-and-error, of tweaking things until they magically work. There's respect and fascination for the technical structure underneath, but once its solved algorithmically, once the triangles are drawn on screen and the physics doesn't break, it's all back to tweaking some values until it feels right. I only really know one game designer who I consider to be onto something deeper and that is Jonathan Blow. His talks on this subject are amazing (here's one of them but he has many on youtube and they're all great).

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        NaraVara Link Parent
        You wouldn’t include Miyamoto or the late Iwata as examples of designers who get it?

        You wouldn’t include Miyamoto or the late Iwata as examples of designers who get it?

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          nothis Link Parent
          I love a lot of their games but... no.

          I love a lot of their games but... no.

          1. Papaya Link Parent
            From Software's Miyazaki has to be one of them. For 10 years he's been trying to improve on the same concept. Throughout soulsborne and now Sekiro, he's been making big changes in level design and...

            From Software's Miyazaki has to be one of them. For 10 years he's been trying to improve on the same concept.
            Throughout soulsborne and now Sekiro, he's been making big changes in level design and gameplay to provide different experiences to players.

    2. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      I've just said in 10kB of words what you have in less than one.

      I've just said in 10kB of words what you have in less than one.

      3 votes
  3. [3]
    Diet_Coke Link
    I think this is a great take, and really puts into words my feelings on the game after playing it. Its, huge, beautiful, and void of purpose.

    I think this is a great take, and really puts into words my feelings on the game after playing it. Its, huge, beautiful, and void of purpose.

    7 votes
    1. Papaya Link Parent
      gameplay-wise yes. Imo, the game shines throughout all the moments that make you think "holy shit, I can't believe they thought of that". For me it's whenever I see animals interacting with each...

      gameplay-wise yes.

      Imo, the game shines throughout all the moments that make you think "holy shit, I can't believe they thought of that". For me it's whenever I see animals interacting with each other in such a natural way, or at the end of chapter 3 when all the gang comes together to raid a house with epic music. It's in all the details that you don't notice if you're focusing too much on yourself and not on the game itself.
      The animations, some of the AI behaviors, the interactions, some of the missions, that's what you play RDR2 for. What's genius about the game is how it seems to be able to exist without you. It's crafted with its own internal logic and you just happen to stumble into each situation.

      5 votes
    2. somewaffles Link Parent
      Kinda sounds like real life, which is what the developers were going for I think. Not really my kind of game but from what I played it really seems like Rockstar nailed it.

      Kinda sounds like real life, which is what the developers were going for I think. Not really my kind of game but from what I played it really seems like Rockstar nailed it.

      4 votes
  4. [10]
    mrbig (edited ) Link
    I remember a mission in Red Dead one where I got on my horse, rode for five minutes and got a bullet in the head when I got to my destination. This happened multiple times and was boring as shit....

    I remember a mission in Red Dead one where I got on my horse, rode for five minutes and got a bullet in the head when I got to my destination. This happened multiple times and was boring as shit. No checkpoints. I don’t like horses in videogames, but I love riding in real life. Riding a real horse is like engaging in a relationship, the horse is not a extension of you, it’s a living being. Understanding how it thinks and what it wants is an interesting part of riding. On videogames horses are just very slow and annoying cars. I hate them.

    6 votes
    1. [7]
      mrbig (edited ) Link Parent
      This is an answer to a comment below that I posted in the wrong place. I’ll keep it here because it already got some votes. I'm not an expert, just a city boy who loves equines, but I do have some...

      This is an answer to a comment below that I posted in the wrong place. I’ll keep it here because it already got some votes.

      I'm not an expert, just a city boy who loves equines, but I do have some thoughts.

      Use Other Animals

      First of all, horses are not the only work animal and are not adequate for all tasks. Horses require a lot of food, care and storage space. They're also easily scared and their long legs are prone to breaking. If you must transport a lot of weight for long distances and don't require much speed, a donkey is much better suited. It's also cheaper. Mules are awesome if you need to climb hills or go through rough terrains that would make horses cautious. I have done that before and it's quite an adrenaline rush, they climb some truly "impossible" places and are freakishly strong! Cattle is also very useful to plow the field and can be tamed and ridden if necessary. With that in mind, I think games could use some variety in their missions, keeping the novelty by using different animals for different needs.

      Apart from that, games could go two ways: less realism or more realism.

      Less Realism

      In this option, you could improve stats that make riding in video games boring. The major one would be increasing speed, but they could also make the handling even more like a car by eliminating the horses free will or even implementing things like drifting. This might be fun if done right, but no good for a realistic game like RDR.

      More Realism

      In this option, the entire mechanics would need to be reworked from scratch. The danger would be to make a horse so full of needs that the game would be mostly about him (which may not be such a bad idea in some cases). You could start without a horse and learn how to lasso a free one from the farm or even the wild. But believe me, if you keep your own horses loose (as opposed to a barn), lassoing them is already a challenge. They know you're gonna make them work, and they will try to escape. There's an entire game of stealth and horse psychology to it!

      Once you got your horse, there's the whole process of getting to know it and vice-versa. There could be an entire skill tree for that. The more you ride your horse, the more confident it is on you. The first time you ride a horse it will do a lot on its own, but after some time you could ride it off a cliff if you wanted. Speed unlocking is something that comes to mind: because they're naturally prone to break their legs and die, horses are scared of running in places they don't know, but if they trust the rider they'll run real fast anywhere you want. You could care for your horse and "evolve" it like a Pokemon.

      Nevertheless, equines have a mind of their own and strong personalities. This could be explored somehow, horse A could be well suited to tasks and behaviors A, while horse B wouldn't. If you treated it wrong, it would react accordingly. In my father's farm, there were three equines once: a mule and two horses. The mule was lazy and slow, but very strong. Starborn was quite temperamental, aggressive and even a bit dangerous, but very fast, beautiful and tall. Terror (named by a young kid, there was nothing terrorizing about it...) was very tame, but medium height and not as fast. Which one do you think I wanted to ride the most? :D Since I was out of practice, first I rode the mule, then Terror, then Starborn... Something which not even the Cowboys had the courage to do! What a journey that was! Maybe a video game could draw inspiration on things like that to make taming your very own horses an achievement in itself! At the end of this trip, I was able to make Starborn go a single step in any direction I wanted...

      But even highly trained horses will eventually manifest their wishes in inconvenient occasions. In the 2000 Olympics, a Brazilian rider lost any chance to the medal after his horse refused to jump an obstacle for three times. In moderation, this kind of thing might be an interesting source for a challenge. Riding in itself might become much more complex and possibly frustrating for large stretches, but another interesting thing about equines is that they know how to follow and memorize paths, so you don't need to steer them all the time as you do with a car. It's not uncommon for sleeping drunkards to be taken home by their horses. This is, in my opinion, a good excuse to avoid...

      Boring Long Trips

      Unless there are events constantly happening in the middle of the road, I see no reason for mandatory horseback road trips in games. There could be some beautiful scenery for anyone who prefers playing this way, but there's a reason not even Sergio Leone's films have 10 minutes of silence and wild western scenery: they're boring as shit. Let the people have their fast travel.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
        I have a confession to make: I loved the long riding scenes in the cinematic mode. Partly because the environment surely called for it. It was beautiful all around, outside the cities. Partly...

        I have a confession to make:

        I loved the long riding scenes in the cinematic mode.

        Partly because the environment surely called for it. It was beautiful all around, outside the cities. Partly because, well, reflection and contemplation are parts of the game, subtle as they are. Arthur's been changing his mind the whole length of the plot, and I bet it was the time alone and on the move that lend him the opportunity.

        (I also prefer walking to the spot instead of fast-travelling there a lot of the time, but I don't think I'm being weird here. Rockstar made a conscious choice to include the long rides, and they're a AAA-title company: they wouldn't include something that wouldn't work – so it must've worked for enough people.)

        I like your description of the horse/equine behavior. I'm sure the next game of the series could benefit from it, in some way. Maybe the main character would have a working farm, where they have to take care of their animals. Hopefully! I'd play that. I'm a city boy, too – which is what makes these very rural activities so much fun for me to experience in a fictional environment.

        (It seems to fair to note that the game already has some of the psychology as mechanics: horse-bonding, horse care... They aren't ostentatious in their depth, and I didn't have the mind to think "Hey, maybe it's time I feed my horse" without thinking about the HP/stamina benefits.)

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          balooga Link Parent
          I only have two complaints about going for long rides in cinematic mode. First is the pathfinding for avoiding oncoming traffic. On multiple times I've collided with another horse at full gallop,...

          I only have two complaints about going for long rides in cinematic mode. First is the pathfinding for avoiding oncoming traffic. On multiple times I've collided with another horse at full gallop, injuring myself and my horse but killing the other horse and rider. Usually there's a witness nearby so now I've got a bounty on my head for murder. That should never happen in an autopilot mode like this.

          Second is that random events that occur along the way should pull you out of cinematic mode automatically. I didn't have the reaction time to switch out of it myself when the road was blockaded by bandits holding me up. Didn't even see them until after I had plowed right through the guy in the middle, which again launched me off my horse, injuring us both, and initiated combat I was unprepared for. I should have naturally been given control back when it was apparent the road was blocked, so I could stop safely and engage with the bandits on my terms (either talking with them or taking the first shot). Other times autopilot cruised me right past someone in need of assistance and I didn't even realize they were there until I lost karma for "ignoring" them. I think that's why I lost karma anyway, I never actually found out.

          Actually visibility of these random events is something I'd like to see improved in general. I frequently hear a stranger calling out for help but I have no idea what direction they're in and there's no indicator on my map. Trying to locate them by the loudness of their voice alone is like playing Marco Polo. When I do eventually find them, I'm too late, the event I could've intervened in is over. The hostage has been killed or whatever.

          2 votes
          1. ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
            Agreed on both accounts. Random events, overall, were a good yet unpolished idea. I laughed when I saw the same guy get bitten by a snake twice. You also get to meet people and encounter their...

            Agreed on both accounts. Random events, overall, were a good yet unpolished idea. I laughed when I saw the same guy get bitten by a snake twice. You also get to meet people and encounter their lives in a way (I think) it used to be. When there were no social networks, or even much mail, you'd get by with sharing your life story with the people you meet randomly. It's refreshing.

            The horse incidents in the cinematic mode is... unpleasant, to say the least. Can be funny! But unpleasant when people start shooting at you, and the like.

            2 votes
      2. [3]
        Maven Link Parent
        Roach (Witcher 3) will follow roads to your active quest area. I hardly even used it because it was faster to go cross-country, but still.

        Riding in itself might become much more complex and possibly frustrating for large stretches, but another interesting thing about equines is that they know how to follow and memorize paths, so you don't need to steer them all the time as you do with a car. It's not uncommon for sleeping drunkards to be taken home by their horses.

        Roach (Witcher 3) will follow roads to your active quest area. I hardly even used it because it was faster to go cross-country, but still.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          NaraVara Link Parent
          That’s one thing that’s always confused me about game maps. Why wouldn’t they have built the roads to be efficient means of travel? Roads in those days were literally just the paths that people...

          That’s one thing that’s always confused me about game maps. Why wouldn’t they have built the roads to be efficient means of travel? Roads in those days were literally just the paths that people took to get to market being worn down after numerous horses, oxen, feet, and wagons trudged over them. If they wind, it’s because there were obstacles in the way or the terrain gets hard. It should rarely feel faster or easier to go across country. If it was, the fast and easy path would eventually just become a road. . .

          1. Maven Link Parent
            Sometimes the cross country route really isn't better though, like if there's a small cliff or ravine. For the rest, I think the roads are built to mimic real-life patterns, without thinking...

            Sometimes the cross country route really isn't better though, like if there's a small cliff or ravine. For the rest, I think the roads are built to mimic real-life patterns, without thinking through the reasons for those patterns. For example, in the game you don't care if you're going uphill. You can hurtle off cliffs no problem (as long as it doesn't kill you, you can just heal).

    2. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      If you were in charge of Red Dead Redemption 3's horse system, how would you make players connect with their horses?

      If you were in charge of Red Dead Redemption 3's horse system, how would you make players connect with their horses?

      1 vote
      1. mrbig (edited ) Link Parent
        I answered you in the wrong place, please see my other comment above.

        I answered you in the wrong place, please see my other comment above.

  5. [3]
    rogue_cricket Link
    Aha -- maybe good game... actually bad? Though I haven't played RDR, I find it a bit funny when there are many popular games and series whose premises are.... basically chores. The popularlity of...

    Aha -- maybe good game... actually bad?

    Though I haven't played RDR, I find it a bit funny when there are many popular games and series whose premises are.... basically chores. The popularlity of Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons, Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley - maybe The Sims - some people clearly find this kind of thing rewarding! Not to mention the idea of "grindiness" in MMOs and (mostly J)RPGs. There are folks out there who profess to love the grind. Of course it's always better if the mechanics themselves are engaging, but sometimes an interesting world (or progression itself!) is enough.

    Where someone sees too much realism getting in the way of their fun, another person finds the ability to become more deeply immersed in the world. One's tedium is another's meditation. In my case, anyway, it really comes down to what I want from my media on a given day.

    6 votes
    1. balooga Link Parent
      People game for different reasons. A guy I know plays every game on max difficulty, blasts through whatever single-player main questline there is, and mentally ranks the game's quality based on...

      People game for different reasons. A guy I know plays every game on max difficulty, blasts through whatever single-player main questline there is, and mentally ranks the game's quality based on how hard it was to beat, before moving onto the next one.

      Now I'm not saying he's wrong, but that's the opposite of what I'm personally looking for in a game. I want to explore, at my own pace. I love side quests, some minigames and collectibles too, if they're well-implemented. In most open-world games I wander around the whole map long before the story guides me anywhere. Sometimes I'm annoyed when game mechanics are locked until a certain point in the story progression, like how you can't fish or visit a stable or rob a bank in RDR2 until a scripted event mandates it.

      When I play, I do it to relax at the end of the day. I love wandering into new areas and finding treasures or bandit lairs to clear out. Skyrim remains one of my all-time favorites for how it enables this kind of playstyle. RDR2 has a few too many empty areas to scratch the same itch: Either buildings you can't enter because they're just set dressing, or stages that clearly only exist for upcoming scripted events, that I arrived too early for.

      For the most part though, I do love RDR2. The music and visuals are glorious, the voice acting is top notch too. The game takes its time and allows you to soak up the world R* has painstakingly crafted. It cultivates a real sense of loneliness and rugged independence in a big frontier. My friend wouldn't like it one bit. But that's okay, there's room in gaming for both of us to play what we like.

      8 votes
    2. Akir Link Parent
      The appeal will differ for different kinds of games and players. Games like Princess Maker, Animal Crossing, and Harvest Moon, for instance, is fun because you largely set up your own goals and...

      The appeal will differ for different kinds of games and players. Games like Princess Maker, Animal Crossing, and Harvest Moon, for instance, is fun because you largely set up your own goals and execute your own plans. It's rewarding because the game rewards you for succeeding on a plan that is uniquely your own. On the other hand, The Sims is fun because it gives people a sense of control. One of the biggest (and easiest to miss) mechanics in the series is that you can set up biographies and create stories for each Sim. The simulation aspects of the game also make it fun if you just want to see what would happen in a given situation.

      The entire premise of this article is basically expectation versus reality. When you go in to a Harvest Moon game, you expect to play a game about managing a farm but end up getting something far more rewarding. But if you go into RDR2 expecting to have a bunch of gunfights all of the time, you are going to be absolutely disappointed because it's not designed to give you that satisfaction all of the time. And this game is probably more prone than the average game to give you an impression that perhaps isn't accurate. If you were given this game with the only explanation "It's a wild west simulator where you play a bandit", you're probably going to think about the stereotype of a gunslinger rather than the actual experience of a wild west film (where much of the film would be dedicated to setup and character building with little actual gunplay).

      4 votes