Up For Debate - Are Games Becoming Too Complicated

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Aug 16, 2015 4:00 PM

Picture the scene. The lava lamps are bubbling away in the corner. There’s some of that hot new ‘Prawn Cocktail’ stuff for dinner. Dad’s just got home from work with an immaculately groomed mullet, clutching a Magnavox Odyssey under his arm. It’s time to Pong. The quintessential video game, the simple paddle and ball face-off was enough to keep competitive players entertained for hours, bouncing a ball into the wee hours of a 70's morn.

Fast forward to now, and we’ve got the likes of DOTA 2. Aside from early editions of Flight Simulator, this is one of the most incomprehensible games for new players in existence. If someone you know who’s never played video games asks you where to start, and you point them in DOTA 2’s direction, chances are you’d frighten them off for life.

For most of us here on GD, who’ve grown up on a diet of games, picking up the latest game seems like a breeze. Take a step back and think about it though, and it’s anything but. We’ve just built up years of innate knowledge. We know the right trigger should accelerate. We know left click should fire a gun. Imagine knowing none of this and heading into games nowadays, where everything’s context sensitive and entire genres can be switched mid-level. "'A''s jump but if you're by a ladder it climbs it, and if you hold it down you run, but tap it twice for a double jump."

A great example is Batman: Arkham Knight; or any Arkham game for that matter. It’s a fluid, incredible game when you know what you’re doing, but the sheer number of actions and controls is bewildering to all but the most ardent gamers. Picking it up it feels simple in our hands, but to people looking in it’s baffling - a big barrier to entry that means they may never want to start gaming. And don't even get me started on Metal Gear Solid. It's probably one of my favourite franchises of all time, but even in the realm of gamers its controls are completely awkward and obtuse, liking it's deliberately standing against the norm.

Anyway, my mind started going down the track of games being too complicated because, well, plenty are, but also because I’d become enslaved to the simple delights of Rocket League. Here everything is stripped bare; it’s a car that goes forwards and backwards, boosts and jumps. It would be playable on a NES controller. I guess in a way it’s six-player Pong. But its inherent simplicity belies greater depths. There’s no doubt in my mind that Rocket League has deeper gameplay than The Witcher 3, for example, but the latter disguises all of this in layers and layers of obfuscation. Quests and potions and oils and spells don’t really mean a great deal at the end of the day; the moment to moment combat is remarkably simple, but it's bogged down by complex, unnecessary systems that are overcome by the remarkably rich storytelling.

My point being games are, on the whole, getting more complicated, but is that a good thing for the gaming industry? Is our clamouring for complexity freezing out other players? Are kids raised on a diet of Angry Birds and touch screens even going to know what to do once a gamepad is in their hands? We want to know what you think about complex games!

Are games too complex?

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10:41 Aug-21-2015

Years ago when I played my life's first computer game "Max Payne", I fallen in love with it, the reason behind it was simple controls and ease of play-ability. Even on Hardcore mode I could knock-off every enemy. And then game developers started to complicate things. Now in the latest game which I'm playing "GTA 5" it's very difficult to aim, run around and kill or do things without health cheat.

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10:52 Aug-21-2015

What? such an easy game atleast for me I dont even know how to insert cheats in the game.

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10:34 Aug-20-2015

Too complicated ? Well maybe sometimes.
More time consuming? Definitely.
Though I guess it all depends on what you're playing.

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15:30 Aug-17-2015

GTA V is the most frustrating when it comes to controls. There are too many. I still don't know a big chunk of them due to forgetting or missing the tips. There should be an in game manual at least. I barely play the game out of this frustration.

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20:09 Aug-17-2015

There is a controls screen I believe...

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21:59 Aug-17-2015

Whats so complicated about GTA V controls?

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20:01 Aug-19-2015

Dude try Arma 3, then you'll bless the developers for giving GTA V that less controls :D

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10:42 Aug-21-2015

Yes, Arma 3 sucks!! Completely!

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13:19 Aug-17-2015

I don't think AAA's and most other games are complicated, but MMO's are extremely complicated in terms of gameplay and their Interfaces and menu's. DOTA 2 is an MMO btw.

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00:45 Aug-18-2015

DOTA 2 is a MOBA

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12:24 Aug-17-2015

I remembermber playing road rash waaaaay back I look at how games have changed I feel they are for the better with the complexity I think they should be more complex but don't go throw us into a game with so many different controls I'd need two keyboards, you know what I mean?

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11:53 Aug-17-2015

For me it's very simple, the more complicated the game is, the better.


For example, i played dota for a while & now i can't stand heroes that have less than 3 active spells, they just became too boring.

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11:56 Aug-17-2015

I guess the desired complexity is proportionnal to the gamer's experience, but doesn't this apply to everything else? Once one overcomes a challenge, one just wants to overcome a geater one, that is human nature.

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10:56 Aug-17-2015

I think it's the exact opposite... I think games should become more complicated... and did you really call dota 2 hard? I guess it could be hard if someone has never played a video game in his life, but that goes for most games... I want games to become a lot harder and more complex. I want more game mechanics and more complex game mechanics, much, much harder AI with a lot more movements, adaptability attack variety and NO predictability, with no check points every 50 seconds and a lot harder and more complex levels/level designs. Then I want the player to be NOT so overpowered, but to have a wide variety of move sets to compensate for how weak he is, this way one really must put an effort

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10:57 Aug-17-2015

That's about single-player games.


When it comes to multiplayer games... Give me a really tough AI in all multiplayer games and I will never have to play with stupid humans again...

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18:20 Aug-17-2015

No all humans are stupid playing multiplayer games and no AI can replace their unpredictable thinking
You, my friend, just need to find game that is complicated enough to filter all idiots out

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18:42 Aug-17-2015

I dont think such a game exists, do you? Because Idiotic AI exists pretty much everywhere.

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08:40 Aug-17-2015

It honestly depends on the game you are playing. If you are playing ArmA then expect it to be complex. If you are playing Candy Crush then expect it to be simple. The only thing that matters is how unique and fun the game will be.

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05:05 Aug-17-2015

reality is proportional to complicacy....if they become more realistic they will also become more complicated....and i think for the sake of gaming universe games should become more realistic

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04:51 Aug-17-2015

i think it's either a deliberate choice or lack of competence to make a game's controls seem complicated. and i think the ladder applies more often. all a game needs is witty design, a funtional tutorial and an easy way to look up the buttonmapping. if that is in place, the only thing left in between the consumer and the enjoyment is intelligence, learning and an appropriate amount of dedication.

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03:42 Aug-17-2015

take RS-6 seige how much that game has changed all so that the game can sale more copies of the game cause if it did the number of players willing to give it a go would drop majorly if not made as simple as it has been

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03:43 Aug-17-2015

like id would buy it if they only offered to have a hardcore mode where as i cant see though the walls and traps did realistic damage the games just to simple

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03:14 Aug-17-2015

I remember someone complaining because he was KILLED TO MUCH!!!
·
Kids now, want the game to take their hand and let them pass unharmed?

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08:29 Aug-17-2015

Well said! :)

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14:01 Aug-17-2015

White Tanoki for EVERYONE!!! Lame gamers.

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02:58 Aug-17-2015

In my times don't exist intuitive menus, just small picasso icons or maze menus text.

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03:00 Aug-17-2015

In my times don't exist maps much less minimaps or directional guides, I should remember or draw maps, missions names and locations.

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03:03 Aug-17-2015

A button for every single action was common in many genres not just simulators and such.
A common RPG was just a little less complicated than Dwarf Fortress.

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02:56 Aug-17-2015

The opposite is happening. Games are becoming too simple. And Dota 2 and LoL are one of the only few complicated and thinking based games that are available. The rest are just are aiming trying to streamline there games.

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03:04 Aug-17-2015

Now children complain for lack of minimap or a perfect traced road from point A to point B.

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02:35 Aug-17-2015

ill admit that the number controls in games are increasing but getting harder to play never today gamer belives dark souls is hard they never played and of the early 80's games now an 80s games with 5 buttons out beats the diffcult of DS

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22:55 Aug-16-2015

i think, old games far harder than new game(not all)...some new game, your character can see through wall which doesn't make sense lol. just opinion

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23:24 Aug-16-2015

"Too Complicated" i'm not sure :P

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03:11 Aug-17-2015

I remember a kid(I guess) complaining because he forgot who give him a mission and he don't know where to go.


Mad just because he don't use is brain.

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05:25 Aug-17-2015

hahaha lol, true :D

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22:48 Aug-16-2015

Nah. Problem is that people don't want to push their brains a little bit in games. Reason why RTS genre is almost dead...

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21:58 Aug-16-2015

hahahahaha, try EVE Online and then say whether it is difficult or not ; and it's been out for over a decade and still stronger than ever...

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22:24 Aug-16-2015

games aren't becoming more complex, more like dumbed down to a younger audience or to people who like a simple game with " hit start and kill lots evil peoples :p "

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21:23 Aug-16-2015

New games have an arrow to guide you everywhere you go.
in new slashers you'll move across the room to attack by just pressing a button.
in new games you always have a trusty hitmarker.
In new games, your HUD has no limit.


No.

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22:01 Aug-16-2015

and autosave :D
and GTA:V has even option to skip missions to progress xD

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22:56 Aug-16-2015

"GTA:V has even option to skip missions to progress" lol, really?? XD

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23:05 Aug-16-2015

Yeah that GTA mission skip sucks...
I've never skipped even one mission.While I am REALLY FREAKING GLAD they did not put one of those satanic missions or another one of those satanic missions in GTA 5,I think they pushed it too far there in San Andreas.But missions in GTA 5 were nowhere near that hard

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23:12 Aug-16-2015

learning to fly mission in sa is easy for me

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23:21 Aug-16-2015

anyway, i think you can skip learning to fly mission using save game editor, just go to schools tab then set all to gold...just saying

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23:34 Aug-16-2015

It isn't hard for me to fly in games,but in GTA controls for flying vehicles always felt way too clunky.I really hope they improve it in next GTA.
If they gave me the flying controls from let's say BF4 (Which has one of the best flying systems in any game,you can fly,control, shoot and be precise at the same time with no problem),then I could've done it easily.
I didn't actually know about that safe file editor at the time I was passing the game (3-4 yrs ago),but I would probably not use it,I just don't like to skip missions.

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21:19 Aug-16-2015

I feel games are becoming easier. Take Skyrim vs. Morrowind for example. In Skyrim there's a quest marker and even a spell to tell you the right path. In Morrowind there was no fast travel and you had to rely on directions & the map.

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02:37 Aug-17-2015

My first time playing oblivion I didn't know i could fast travel, at least the first 10 hours xD

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