Sunday, May 23, 2010

Barriers fo entry

Heroes of Newerth is a paid for game based heavily on the hugely popular defence of the ancients mod for W3. It was reviewed recently, and the reviewer reasonably pointed out that the game doesn't help out at all- there are no tutorials, no single player mode, you are dropped into an unfriendly environment where you are shouted at for making mistakes, which you are bound to do, as the game is excessively complicated.

Of course, the comments thread is full of people attacking the reviewer, some claiming that she is simply not hard core enough. Now theres a term. I would consider myself a fairly "hard core" gamer. After all I've been gaming for nigh on twenty years, and play a variety of genres and consoles. Yet I find games such as DOTA unpleasent. I'm certain there is a good game there, but I would have to stagger through hours of painful work before getting good enough to enjoy myself. Why would I do that? Why would I do what is effectively homework to access the good stuff? The thing is, theres so many OTHER amazing games that do allow me to play without having to work first.

These games aren't bad, but by having high barriers to entry they exclude perfectly good players who are happy to give said game a miss. This is precisely my issue with dwarf fortress. After playing a follow on game for around 4 hours and realising I STILL didn't know what the hell I was doing, I decided that the interface and lack of guide was obnoxious.

[mini DF rant here. The creator has focused on creating an absurdly simulationist game which means that some lovely emergent behaviours arise. However, given the choice between having individual bones modeled, and having an interface that is not excruciating to use, I know which one I would prefer].

An important point is that playing one game for hundreds of hours is no more hardcore than playing dozens of games for dozens of hours- its just a different approach. Fair play to those people who can get past those barriers- I'm sure there are terrific experiences waiting for them, I'm just happy to get my terrific experiences elsewhere.

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