Complex and hard to learn... good?

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DaHeckIzDat
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Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » September 12th, 2018, 8:36 pm

My friend is trying to get me to play Dwarf Fortress, but that game has a harsh reputation. It's reportedly the most complex computer game ever made, which makes it incredibly hard to learn. I read a guide on how to get started, and it recommended I download a couple patches to make the game easier before even downloading the game itself! This might sound bad, but if you ask the fans they'll tell you it's what makes Dwarf Fortress such a great game. The complexity is what makes it deep. It will make up a brand new history for your world with every game, with its own religions and family trees, and these things all effect how your dwarves think and interact during the game. The fans would say that dumbing it down would ruin the experience.

So, what do you think? Is a game that's that hard to learn a good game, or a bad one?

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ptdebate
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby ptdebate » September 13th, 2018, 1:46 pm

I think it's a good thing, but it all depends on how the game rewards the player's diligence and time investment. Are the overarching mechanics enjoyable? Does the game reward calculated risk? Is the punishment for failure too harsh?

I like how the Dark Souls/Bloodborne series strongly punishes thoughtless or reckless play styles, but totally opens up to those who are willing to think things through and pay close attention.

With something like Dwarf Fortress, I would hope that the best way to learn is to just jump in and start trying things (albeit with a slow, calculated approach, paying attention to details). If the game is totally impenetrable without consulting outside sources, that's a bad thing. But if the attentive player can learn everything they need to know experientially, there's really no excuse for writing it off as bad design. The game did everything it needed to, you just refused to meet it halfway.

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » September 13th, 2018, 3:54 pm

Well, I can tell you that it's hard to even set up! I downloaded the game itself, but couldn't figure out how to run it since the game itself is hidden somewhere in a bunch of folders inside a zip drive. So I downloaded the "Lazy Newb Pack" that makes it easier to get working, and... crash. Reboot, and crash. One more try, and crash. Then I had to get off and get ready for work. The game's tagline is "Failure is Fun", so does this mean I'm having fun?

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ptdebate
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby ptdebate » September 13th, 2018, 4:57 pm

DaHeckIzDat wrote:Well, I can tell you that it's hard to even set up! I downloaded the game itself, but couldn't figure out how to run it since the game itself is hidden somewhere in a bunch of folders inside a zip drive. So I downloaded the "Lazy Newb Pack" that makes it easier to get working, and... crash. Reboot, and crash. One more try, and crash. Then I had to get off and get ready for work. The game's tagline is "Failure is Fun", so does this mean I'm having fun?


Yeah, sounds like a pretty unreasonable amount of work to get the thing running. I get that they want to have complete control over their work, but why not release it on Steam as an Early Access game and make it easier for a broader player base to discover it?

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » September 15th, 2018, 4:25 pm

I tried it again this morning and just booted up the main game, not bothering with the LNP. I actually got it running this time, where I was greeted with this:

[img]https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1240/1*voJP_czGYq-MyNt49AwLaw.png
[/img]

Yes, that's the game itself. All those little shapes means something. Suffice to say, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at. I could see some letters and weird symbols moving around the map, but I couldn't figure out what they were, how to interact with them, or how to do anything, really. Pressing Tab gave me a list of menus. Pressing B was supposed to make my dwarves build something, but how to make them build what I want, where I want, is a mystery simple console scrubs like me could never hope to solve, I suppose. I quit the game a few minutes later.
Last edited by DaHeckIzDat on September 15th, 2018, 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ActRaiser
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby ActRaiser » September 15th, 2018, 4:59 pm

There's a wiki article on that game. Yuck.

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » September 15th, 2018, 6:06 pm

My friend recommended I download a tileset to make things easier to read. I don't know if I'll like this game or not, but Dark Souls taught me not to give up just because it's hard to figure out at the start.

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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby VideoGameCritic » September 15th, 2018, 6:12 pm

This is an interesting topic. The conventional wisdom has always been "easy to learn, hard to master" but I think that idea was invented during the days of the arcades. Now with complex games like Madden and Call of Duty dominating home consoles, maybe it no longer holds true?

Another game that comes to mind is Monster Hunter. That game is really complicated, but its fans revel in that! Maybe some games have the concept of "delayed gratification". But I think games like this are limited to a niche audience. Today's gamers have short attention spans, so you can't expect the bulk of them to invest hours upon hours just to learn one particular game.

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DaHeckIzDat
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby DaHeckIzDat » September 15th, 2018, 6:55 pm

What drew me to this game isn't the gameplay itself, it's the stories people tell after playing it. Like I said, each dwarf has their own personality that's defined by their family tree, the world's history, religion, politics, etc. It's ridiculously deep. When most games say that no two games are alike, they mean minor differences like in Minecraft where a mountain might be over here instead of over there. Dwarf Fortress' sheer insane depth makes it so that literally no two games are alike because you've got different dwarves under different circumstances interacting with each other in different ways. That leads to stories like the one my friend told me:

He had a good fortress set up with plenty of dwarves to take care of the work. One female dwarf was pregnant, but she was also a workaholic and kept working the blacksmith through her pregnancy. She ended up giving birth on a staircase. The baby dwarf rolled down the stairs, survived somehow, and crawled away. The mother dwarf couldn't find her baby and went on a rampage, tearing the first dwarf she saw in half. Twenty more innocent dwarves died that day and the baby was never found.

Voor
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Re: Complex and hard to learn... good?

Postby Voor » September 16th, 2018, 8:51 am

This is why I like speedrunning. You can take a game that’s very easy to play, but create complex strategies in order to beat it in the fastest time possible. Here’s a fun example:

https://youtu.be/K3wzFcGGglU


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