"WHEN DOES THIS GET GOOD?"

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This doesn't just apply to a certain genre of video game, but video games in general.

What do you think about this mindset in regards to starting a game, not being gripped at first, and dropping it? Do you do it yourself, and do you think it's constructive?

Me? I'm a bit torn on it. On one hand, time is a valuable resource, and it can be draining to play something that's not gripping you at first, spending time on something you may never enjoy. On the other hand, I think this is a common mindset towards anything. Not just video games or even certain genres, but movies, TV shows, books, sports, people, life, etc. Some things grip you from the start, but a lot of things of any nature need some sort of time investment to enjoy.

I also think it's troubling to assume that if the first moments of something wouldn't be fun, it's not worth pursuing. If I dropped something after a short time just because I didn't like it at first, I wouldn't really like anything. I can sort of 'tell' if I won't like something in the long run, but I think it takes a certain level of judgement to determine whether something is just 'taking a while to set in' to 'Alright, this just isn't for me.'

But those are just my thoughts. What are yours?
kentona
When you're so cool you can troll your own website.
21214
Maybe it's not so much that it needs to be fun immediately, but promise to be fun or exciting or enjoyable that's important.

Maybe that's why I am so susceptible to advertising...
I'll admit, I don't find myself immediately dropping things as much as I used to a few years back, but that's largely just due to being a more informed and intelligent consumer. I mostly know what I'm going to enjoy, or going to give the time of day to.

I think in the respect of having a good intro, I give games a pretty hard time. But games are practically the most time consuming activity out there, so if I don't think the intro is trying to hook me then I get bad messages about the product. If it's not trying to be interesting and involving now, then how do I know that it will try to be interesting and involving later? I'd rather go give something else a shot.

That's not to say I won't play anything that's short of immediately brilliant, but if something is just immediately bland and boring then you can bet I'm going to put down the controller. Like kentona said, if I think something has promise that will show later down the road, I'll keep going until I stop thinking that or until it does show promise.
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
I used to power through games with a boring beginning before with the promise that they got better but I just don't have the time anymore - there are innumerable other games that do start out strong, so why would I waste my time with one that's boring? I got burned hard with a couple games (FF6 and Chrono Trigger) where I had heard they were really good and couldn't get into them yet people kept insisting they stopped being bad and started getting better, but no matter how many hours I sank into them, they never got good.

I don't buy into it anymore. The first few minutes should give you a good idea of the quality of the rest of the work and if they're not up to snuff, well, I have a hundred other games on the pile I can play instead.

We're saturated in so much free and cheap media nowadays that there's no reason to linger on something if it doesn't catch your interest.
author=Sal
We're saturated in so much free and cheap media nowadays that there's no reason to linger on something if it doesn't catch your interest.


I'd wager that's an argument for the opposite!
I've given time to games I thought had sketchy beginnings numerous times before.
I've yet to be "pleasantly surprised". In my experience, games that start boring tend to stay that way.

Giving some time to a TV show or a book makes sense, since any piece of fiction needs time to build up to the interesting bits. Video games, on the other hand, generally a) don't build up in interesting ways (mechanically) like a fiction's canon does, and b) are generally more determined to make a good first impression due to the prevalence of demos, rentals, and the "E3 effect". If anything, video games that start out interesting and then half-ass it the rest of the way are probably more common.

Granted, when I say "put in the time", I mean the time after the tutorial part (unless its obvious from the tutorial that the game is nigh-unplayable garbage). Obviously those parts are boring and shitty. Though, honestly, a lot of games feel like they're stuck in tutorial mode for at least half the game or more.

It may be "unfair" to the games, but really, there are so many fucking video games out there that giving a "fair" amount of time to them all is simply not possible. Likewise, I don't consider it very "fair" to the players how designers so gleefully try to throw our time down the toilet with across-the-map fetch quests and other backtracking, copy-paste level design, menial chores like box shoving and dusting people's houses or whatever, or assuming that you need 9 hours to get used to basic game mechanics.
Honestly, I'm at the point where I judge a lot of games by screenshots or a couple minutes of YT footage if its available. Especially when dealing with depressing cesspools like Xbox Live Indie Games. So the game is called "A Boring Space Shooter" and has a cover that looks like it was made in MS Paint by an extremely untalented 8-year-old? Okay, I'll take your word for it. NEXT.

I will agree, though, that this mindset only makes sense if you've played a good number of games.
author=turkey
I've given time to games I thought had sketchy beginnings numerous times before.
I've yet to be "pleasantly surprised". In my experience, games that start boring tend to stay that way.

I can name a lot of games that didn't grip me at first, but I got a little patient and played a little longer, and I was pleasantly surprised. Below are games that I weren't warmed up to at first, but as I played I grew to love them.

(this list isn't meant to be a statement on these games, but just a list of where what I mentioned above applies)

-Gran Turismo
-Dragon Age
-Metal Gear Solid 3
-The Last of Us
-Breath of Fire III
-Halo
-Street Fighter III 3rd Strike
-Star Ocean 2 (big offender here. The beginning of the game is boring and dragged out as fuck, but the rest of the game is fantastic. Even die-hard fans recommend having a save after the beginning hour. Yes, this is less of an impression and more of a flaw, I admit.)
-Persona 3 and 4
-Journey

That isn't to say that all of the games above start out boring or anything. Some of them just start out rather slow, or just didn't grip me to begin with. However, I had to exercise my judgement to determine whether the beginning of the game just represented an experience that I knew I wasn't going to like at all, or if it warranted an investment of more time.

I was daunted by the beginning of technical games such as FFT or King of Fighters because of a relatively steep skill climb at the beginning, and I was lukewarm to some games before I realized how deep and satisfying the worldbuilding was until I played more (Dragon Age, etc), but if I put them down I would have missed out on a lot.

author=turkey
. Video games, on the other hand, generally a) don't build up in interesting ways (mechanically)

I'd definitely disagree with that! If anything, that's what many video games rely on.
Yeah, I guess I was too extreme with that statement. I'm not quite sure how to put it right now, but although games do usually escalate and combine their various mechanics more and more as the game goes on, it just rarely feels as satisfying as the way continuity and character details and such build up in a story (including VG stories). I guess it might be because most games don't really get as difficult as I feel they should*, or that the various abilities you get feel too limited and gimmicky, so using them in combination doesn't really feel to interesting, either.
*I'm not asking to be in a world of pain, here, but I really do think there needs to be a decent level of difficulty, otherwise the features and gimmicks require too little thought and fall flat.


author=Feldschlacht IV
That isn't to say that all of the games above start out boring or anything. Some of them just start out rather slow, or just didn't grip me to begin with.
...
I was daunted by the beginning of technical games such as FFT or King of Fighters because of a relatively steep skill climb at the beginning,


Yeah, games that are complex or unique are the ones I'm much more likely to try out and stick with despite initial misgivings -- I don't like quitting something just because I don't understand it.
I am an adult and also a person who likes to create rather than consume media, so when I do take time out of my day to play something, it'd better be interesting right off the bat. I'm not saying games should blow their load in the first 5 minutes, but there should be something for me to get into, y'know?

I just don't have time to slog through games that aren't grabbing me right off the bat anymore. UGH, ADULTHOOD.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5146
Emmych I think you're just a bad player. If something is good then it's worth the effort.

Also, I promise you don't have any less time as an adult than you did as a teenager. 8 hours of work takes the same amount of time as 7 hours of school plus an hour for homework, and the number of hours in a day hasn't changed recently. If you're choosing to spend your time on other things instead of entertainment, that's on you.

Story-wise and aesthetic-wise, some things take some setup before they start working. Also, too many players are utterly terrible, and are completely incapable of understanding extremely basic things like a rudimentary job system or a simple crafting system or a talent tree until the game is five hours in and they've finished learning what HP and ammo are. So of course the same thing is true of gameplay - it can take some setup before the game really gets to where it wants to be.

I mean if you don't enjoy the premise of a game then you're not gonna even try it in the first place. If you do enjoy the premise, how the hell is that alone not enough to get you through the first hour or two? An interesting advertisement or endorsement for the game is, universally, enough to grip me and keep me playing for a while. If it weren't, I would've have even gotten one second into the game.
A wise man once told me: "Only play a game as long as it's fun for you."

That opened my eyes.

And now that I actually have a job, it's no longer a problem of "Having to play game at least X hours so the money wasn't wasted".

It's the responsibility of the game designer to make the game exciting right from the beginning, not the responsibility of the player to keep on going even though it's not fun in the hope it gets better.
author=LockeZ
Also, I promise you don't have any less time as an adult than you did as a teenager. 8 hours of work takes the same amount of time as 7 hours of school plus an hour for homework, and the number of hours in a day hasn't changed recently. If you're choosing to spend your time on other things instead of entertainment, that's on you.

...plus grocery shopping...cooking...cleaning...balancing one's budget...fulfilling social obligations...any additional hobbies...

...not to mention if you're studying for a postgrad part-time!
kentona
When you're so cool you can troll your own website.
21214
Games that I tried recently (like the last 2 years) but didn't get far:
-Dragon Age
-Final Fantasy XIII
-Final Fantasy XII
-Civilization V
-Dragon Quest VIII
-The recent expansion for SWTOR
-Red Alert 3
...and several more that I am forgetting.

I am currently attempting Dragon Quest V, but I died 2 times now on the first boss (at first I thought it was a scripted battle (I was only doing like 2 damage!), then I realized it wasn't after the second loss, and then after reading some GameFaqs turns out I ought to have grinded to level 7 first - I was level 4) but the game hasn't come close to gripping me yet - it hasn't even given a hint as to what the greater plot is yet! Kind of disappointed so far.

Games that I remember gripping me right from the getgo:
-Final Fantasy VI (dat intro scene and music! and plot!)
-Chrono Trigger (cheery fair! then suddenly TIME TRAVEL!)
-almost any game with character/party creation - Baldurs Gate, KOTOR, Dragon Warrior 3 etc..
-Final Fantasy VII - this game probably does it the best. great visuals, drama, then a TERRORIST ATTACK (with a timer counting down!)
-Command & Conquer - "hey ur the new guy but we dont have time here go to battle with these troops" BOOM

Games that I remember pushing through the intro that was totally worth it:
-KOTOR 2 - that tutorial and most of the intro area is a draaaaaaagggg, but the game is so good.
author=LockeZ
Also, I promise you don't have any less time as an adult than you did as a teenager. 8 hours of work takes the same amount of time as 7 hours of school plus an hour for homework, and the number of hours in a day hasn't changed recently. If you're choosing to spend your time on other things instead of entertainment, that's on you.


Even assuming that you can work just 8 hours a week to support yourself (many work more), and you're single (some aren't) there's possible commuting, grocery shopping, studying, upkeep of your place (cleaning, housework, etc), studying if you're going to school while working, hobbies, running errands, friends, dating, socializing, etc. This isn't taking into account that some people have married or have serious significant others, or have kids, too!

So yeah I guess you don't have any less time as an adult, assuming you do nothing else except play video games, so yeah sure!
kentona
When you're so cool you can troll your own website.
21214
I leave for work at 7am, and get home around 530pm. By my count that's 10.5 hours. 6am to 7am is making lunches, getting the kids up, feeding the kids, showering, getting dressed, getting the kids dressed, getting schoolbags and diaper bags packed, starting the car (it's fucking -30*C!), and getting coats and shit on and getting out the door.

530 to 7 is usually prepping supper, eating supper, getting the kids to eat supper, cleaning up after supper. Evenings are play time (LEGO, action figures, knights and castle toys, kiddo videogames...and sometimes I let the kids join me in play time.) or activities like driving them to music or swimming lessons, then some nights it's bath time, or homework time, or shovelling the driveway time. Then it's the struggle to get the kids to bed, then it is time to hang out with the wife, maybe watch some TV or movie and fall asleep, and do it all again. Weekends is house cleaning, soccer, brunch, tyke sports, errands, grocery shopping, getting gas, and maybe socializing with friends if we aren't too exhausted.

E:
oh, I also coach floor hockey, maintain a community association website, and run this other hobbyist RPG making website in my spare time. I also try to find time to make games.

tl;dr: The only regular dedicated time I have for videogames is when I am pooping
I'm usually okay with the tutorial being a boring drag (especially in strategy games, damn strategy game tutorials are bad). But if the gameplay shown in the tutorials and/or the first actual bits of gameplay isn't compelling then I have no reason to believe it's going to get a whole lot better.

Unless of course I've heard from people that "this game gets really good".

My tolerance is fairly high in the end. Rarely do I quit games because I feel "it still hasn't become good" there's usually other reasons for quitting (the most common being going to bed promising myself I'll continue later and never doing that).

ON THE OTHER HAND. I have quit games because of their boring parts when I for one reason or another have been forced to restart a game. Bioshock is a prime example. I lost some saves and the game crashed and I just didn't feel like doing the opening again even though I tried. Xenonauts had the same, my save got corrupted and it took me many months until I felt I wanted to restart that game (and a 1.5 patch that added a bunch of stuff)
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
You do not owe a game anything, least of all hours of your time when it's not enjoyable at the start. On the contrary, if you have paid money for a game, the game has an obligation to provide you with an enjoyable experience. If you're not getting what you paid for, then it's not your problem for dropping it, it's the developer's fault for producing a failure of a game.
author=Sal
On the contrary, if you have paid money for a game, the game has an obligation to provide you with an enjoyable experience.


The difference is what you expect out of an enjoyable experience. I believe myself there's a certain level of realistic expectations, even out of something you paid for. There's a certain level of patience that's required for any experience to be fun or enjoyable, not just video games.

It takes a certain level of judgement to decide that if its worth the wait.
Sailerius
did someone say angels
3304
There's a certain level of patience that's required for any experience to be fun or enjoyable, not just video games.
That's not really true. Every game I've played in the last year has been immediately gripping within the first seconds of starting it. When I have my free selection of games that are enjoyable from the beginning, I have no incentive to waste time on something that starts off boring.

I don't have very much time to play video games anymore. Between working for 8 hours, commuting for 2 hours, cooking and cleaning, etc, not to mention developing games myself, I only have a few hours a week total I can spend playing games.
That's fine! I'm not saying your approach to how you live your own life is wrong. That's your thing and that's fine. I'm just saying that in general (which I should not have presented as an absolute), the idea that most activities take a warm up period isn't wrong.

I could go on and on about things I would have missed out on loving if I put it down after not being gripped immediately.
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