Game design is becoming a lost art. I think that most game developers don't even know how to make a game that actually offers good exploration, hints, etc. Their "puzzles" hit you with the subtlety of a kick to the nuts.
One popular series even gave me the answer to a puzzle when I was thinking about how to figure it out. It went like this:
Me: Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Now let me figure this out. First I'm going to.....
Game: Climb here, hit the switch, follow the cable. Press X.
Me: WTF, game!? I could have figured that out if you gave me five more seconds
Game: You're welcome, bro. Don't think. Just marvel at my graphics and be happy. I'm trying to tell a story here.
I like a cinematic game as much as the next guy but I also like the feeling of satisfaction that comes from being challenged by a puzzle and figuring it out. That feeling is becoming harder and harder to come by these days.
There isn't a problem with people being mainstream or even casual. What I would say a problem is, is if there is a need to feel that EVERY SINGLE GAME has to appeal to MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of players, because you have to recover your development costs, then you end up with an incredibly bland product that really doesn't appeal to anyone at all. I wonder what the heck happened to searching the Internet for when you are stuck?
A good game designs needs to be both accessible, for its intended audience, and deep, so that the individual ends up feeling it was worth their time. If you try to make a game to please everyone, you will end up pleasing no one.
The two of you bring up some excellent points! At the end of the day a good puzzle or challenge is one that is tailored to it's audience. Even if you're a master game-designer, eventually what one player will find infuriatingly obtuse and unintuitive, another would feel is as obvious as a crowbar to the head, if their skill and experience levels are sufficiently different.
It is indeed unfortunate that as the audience for games has grown over the past decades, the amount of different experiences offered by the industry has not grown accordingly. As richardhutnik already said, it's probably due to the fact that most games are becoming more and more expensive to produce, and the financial investment is growing faster than the audience. This leads directly to less games, as more resources have to be dedicated to a single game, and the bigger the investment is, the less uncertainty the publisher is willing to risk. Or in other words, the higher the cost, the more people the publisher has to reach in order to break even.
We need to remember this the next time we feel like crying out for better graphics or more voice-acting.
If a game could break even at a thousand sales, developers could afford to provide experiences so personal that they resonate with no more than a few thousand people.
Think about how awesome that would be!
Until you've played it, every game is a system seller!
the original trolls
Wii FC: 4810 9420 3131 7558
MHTri: name=BOo BoO/ID=BZBLEX/region=US
mini-games on consoles, cinematic games on handhelds, what's next? GameBoy IMAX?
Official Member of the Pikmin Fan Club