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View Full Version : Do games have to have 'Combat' to be popular?



king-hailz
03-30-2015, 02:59 PM
I was thinking about games in general. It seems there has to be a certain aspect of combat in every game for it to be popular...

I mean I can't think of any recent AAA games that have been extremely popular that didn't have combat in them. I know many indie and older games like tetris and super meat boy, but are there really any third/first person games that focus on something other than killing enemies...

Films and books can have the main focus be anything, fighting cancer or depression or politics without having any violence, so why can't games.

Can you find any ideas for a game that revolves around something that isn't combat, a game that has a character to control etc...

Or is combat really what games are about?


Edit: Could someone get rid of emvd from the title please, I wrote this on my phone and auto correct is stupid.

Sushiglutton
03-30-2015, 03:33 PM
Racers, sport games, platformers, puzzle, city building games. Not all of them are that common (or even exist) in the AAA space. Thing is the way you interact with most games is actually very simple and limited. Violence is a good way to create a powerful response to very simple actions. It's also something that you for the most part can't do in normal life (thankfully).


"Films and books can have the main focus be anything, fighting cancer or depression or politics without having any violence, so why can't games."

Problem is how you should interact with these games in an enjoyable way. Sure you can do dialogue options, menus, QTEs etc, but they are all unsatifying as a core mechanics. Somehow you want to interact directly with the world/characters in a physical way. This is hard to achieve in real life situations as there are so many subtle things we do in our interactions with other humans. Violence is just much simpler.


Just some random thoughts :)

Shahkulu101
03-30-2015, 03:34 PM
Darby alluded to this question in the stream he done a few weeks back. The problem is that games, especially AAA, need to give the player something interesting to which is why story is based on gameplay. A game about picking flowers for instance won't be interesting to the player.

Quirky said that's a sign to change the gameplay - which I agree with and that's why we have games like Journey or The Walking Dead (which has combat but it's hardly the heart of the game). However, that response doesn't really apply to AC since the entire point of the game is about killing people. Assassin is in the title.

Sushiglutton
03-30-2015, 03:40 PM
Quirky said that's a sign to change the gameplay - which I agree with and that's why we have games like Journey or The Walking Dead (which has combat but it's hardly the heart of the game). However, that response doesn't really apply to AC since the entire point of the game is about killing people. Assassin is in the title.

I enjoyed both WD and Journey, but I don't want the majority of my games to be like either of them. I can play as many stealth, melee, shooting games as devs care to release without getting tired of the genres tbh (given there's some variety ofc). Slowly walking around clicking dialogue options I can do like once per year maximum.

Shahkulu101
03-30-2015, 03:43 PM
I enjoyed both WD and Journey, but I don't want the majority of my games to be like either of them. I can play as many stealth, melee, shooting games as devs care to release without getting tired of the genres tbh (given there's some variety ofc). Slowly walking around clicking dialogue options I can do like once per year maximum.

I agree, there's room for both types of games. Admittedly though I'm a sucker for Telltale games and others like it.

SpiritOfNevaeh
03-30-2015, 04:00 PM
I enjoyed both WD and Journey, but I don't want the majority of my games to be like either of them. I can play as many stealth, melee, shooting games as devs care to release without getting tired of the genres tbh (given there's some variety ofc). Slowly walking around clicking dialogue options I can do like once per year maximum.

Agreed.

VestigialLlama4
03-30-2015, 04:58 PM
I was thinking about games in general. It seems there has to be a certain aspect of combat in every game for it to be popular...

I mean I can't think of any recent AAA games that have been extremely popular that didn't have combat in them. I know many indie and older games like tetris and super meat boy, but are there really any third/first person games that focus on something other than killing enemies...

PORTAL is the first thing that really comes to mind. I mean yes it has these "boss fights" and its kind of an "escape from prison" story but its not really a combat game. And that's a major AAA title, at least the sequel was. BROTHERS : A Tale of Two Sons also comes to mind. But those two games are platform/puzzle titles, which is not combat but action definitely.


... Can you find any ideas for a game that revolves around something that isn't combat, a game that has a character to control etc...

Or is combat really what games are about?

Well you have to understand that movies and books which don't deal with "combat", i.e. a hero-villain story, no action, just characters talking and being themselves, took a while to make their mark. For most of history, you had narratives with action, battles, villains and conflict. That kind of evolution in video-games won't really happen soon either. Video games is still an art-form that is in its infancy.

One thing that strikes me in say sandbox games with combat, is how much fun the games are when you aren't killing guys. Like in RED DEAD REDEMPTION, I like the ranch scenes best, John Marston rassling animals, taming horses and keeping stuff in the Ranch and hanging out Miss MacFarlane and later his own family. That was more fun than the rest of the game. In the Ezio games, the viewpoints, scaling buildings, tomb missions, rooftop parkour, Subject 16 puzzles is often as much fun as the assassination missions. In AC3, the Homestead missions had practically no violence, but that's a vital part of the game and the character.

So even these AAA combat games, the sandbox games especially, are not entirely around combat. In the GTA games, the exploration and interaction is as much a part of the games as going around crazily shooting people.

Like in Zelda Ocarina of Time, there's that moment where the hero Link can fish in that pond. I would never play a game solely around fishing. But I enjoyed fishing in that moment and I would play that same game at that time. Why, because there's a narrative reason that makes that activity work.

SixKeys
03-30-2015, 09:29 PM
Portal 1 & 2, Journey, Wolf Among Us, lots of survival horror games (Amnesia, Slender, FNAF etc.)....Then there are strategy games like Civilization which can be won through non-combative means. Some of these might be classified as indie games, but ThatGameCompany and Telltale's games have gotten wide release on consoles.

It's entirely possible to create games where the gameplay is still fun and engaging without necessarily focusing on combat. Tomb Raider 2012 was a great game and the combat sections were actually the least interesting bits for me. Exploration and puzzle-solving was much more fun. TR is an established title, so removing combat from it would generate a lot of complaints, but they could easily make a similar game based more around exploration. Combat is just such an easy way to incorporate concepts like the hero becoming stronger and more experienced throughout his journey, it's not surprising so many devs gravitate towards it to tell a story. But as Journey showed us, you can still create memorable, fun experiences if you dare to think outside the box.

king-hailz
03-30-2015, 09:39 PM
You guys gave some really really good points. It seems that combat is a way to have fun while playing a game and it's the writers Jon to add more depth to the game, and you can alway have breaks such as fishing or doing puzzles. I also agree that video games are very early and it could take 30-40 years when we see real change or evolution. However right now they could take serious topics like mental depression and have the player switch through world's to the real world where the character is fighting real demons such as his depression or diseases and also play in his head where we fight off enemies that are based on the challenges in real life.

However you could say that it may glorify the iillness, but I have been thinking of something like this for ages.

LoyalACFan
03-30-2015, 09:41 PM
I'm going to contest that violence on the triple-A scene is hardly unique to gaming. Pretty much every blockbuster film of the last 20 years has lengthy scenes of aestheticized violence and fight scenes, be it cartoony and tongue-in-cheek like Marvel's approach or extremely graphic and bloody a la Tarantino. There's a beefy discussion to be had here about how our society views violence, but it basically boils down to the fact that it provides an easy focal point that doesn't (necessarily) need a ton of artistic insight and has wide-reaching audience appeal. Not everyone wants to go watch a gut-wrenching 2-hour drama about kids with cancer, but most everybody is cool with watching Iron Man blow some stuff up and drop a few one-liners.

SixKeys
03-30-2015, 09:50 PM
I'm going to contest that violence on the triple-A scene is hardly unique to gaming. Pretty much every blockbuster film of the last 20 years has lengthy scenes of aestheticized violence and fight scenes, be it cartoony and tongue-in-cheek like Marvel's approach or extremely graphic and bloody a la Tarantino. There's a beefy discussion to be had here about how our society views violence, but it basically boils down to the fact that it provides an easy focal point that doesn't (necessarily) need a ton of artistic insight and has wide-reaching audience appeal. Not everyone wants to go watch a gut-wrenching 2-hour drama about kids with cancer, but most everybody is cool with watching Iron Man blow some stuff up and drop a few one-liners.

This is true, but there are also many popular movies which don't have violence, like thrillers, comedy and drama. Speaking of comedy, the only comedy games we seem to be getting these days are simulators, and IMO at least, that joke has long since worn out its welcome. We need more comedy games with clever writing.

Edit: I would contest your final claim. Ask almost anybody over the age of 50 if they care about Iron Man and the answer is likely 'no'. Movies have a much wider audience than games and many different genres to offer. Your grandparents likely have their own favorite movies which are different from yours, but they're not as likely to have a favorite video game.

VestigialLlama4
03-30-2015, 10:12 PM
Speaking of comedy, the only comedy games we seem to be getting these days are simulators, and IMO at least, that joke has long since worn out its welcome. We need more comedy games with clever writing.

The one real comedy game that comes to mind is PSYCHONAUTS. It's genuinely funny and genuinely a great game.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was also hilarious albeit in the Rockstar way (the last two Far Cry games have generally been channelling GTA in terms of wackiness and pop-culture references) but you know those are combat games.

The general thing is the audience that played games is growing and changing and they want more from games, so you have games which are conventional in form but has unconventional ideas. Like in Bioshock Infinite, you have quantum mechanics, multiple worlds and you have levels where you move through multiple alternate universes and kinds of cool ideas in the story. But at the end of the day, its just a FPS where you play a grizzled badass white guy who protects a damsel in distress by committing genocide on the gameworld. So it uses the FPS as a vehicle to tell complex ideas. The DLC is even worse, where the gameplay is FPS Stealth from Thief, and you play normal Elizabeth rather than the gameplay bending Physical God. When that game came out, many people felt that it would have been better without combat and I agree.

Nowadays almost all AAA games have some kind of clever concept or talking point, its no longer just about shooting and killing NPCs which at least shows a step in the right direction.

LoyalACFan
03-30-2015, 10:19 PM
This is true, but there are also many popular movies which don't have violence, like thrillers, comedy and drama.

But those aren't usually the hugely big-budget blockbuster movies, which in this case are analagous to AAA games. Looking at the list of highest-grossing films right now, and Titanic is pretty much the only nonviolent one I can see except a few that were made deliberately for children (Frozen, Toy Story, etc. and even those have a few fight scenes if I remember right).


Edit: I would contest your final claim. Ask almost anybody over the age of 50 if they care about Iron Man and the answer is likely 'no'. Movies have a much wider audience than games and many different genres to offer. Your grandparents likely have their own favorite movies which are different from yours, but they're not as likely to have a favorite video game.

Should probably have specified, but I didn't necessarily mean that everyone would buy a movie ticket for their own sake. Movies like Iron Man or Transformers or whatever have wide appeal because whole families can go watch them; they're exciting enough to get the attention of older kids, they aren't too graphic for their younger siblings, and they're made well enough for the parents/grandparents to at least follow along and be mildly entertained, even if they would never have chosen to go to that movie alone.

SixKeys
03-30-2015, 10:49 PM
But those aren't usually the hugely big-budget blockbuster movies, which in this case are analagous to AAA games. Looking at the list of highest-grossing films right now, and Titanic is pretty much the only nonviolent one I can see except a few that were made deliberately for children (Frozen, Toy Story, etc. and even those have a few fight scenes if I remember right).

It's not fair to compare budgets and say only the most expensive ones (which, yes, are usually action movies) count as blockbusters. Dramas generally don't rely on effects, which is arguably the costliest part of action movies. It's all relative: movies which don't require huge effects yet become big hits anyway. Examples include American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, Juno, Life of Pi, Pan's Labyrinth, Inception (the last three of which actually were heavy on effects, but not to portray combat) etc.


Should probably have specified, but I didn't necessarily mean that everyone would buy a movie ticket for their own sake. Movies like Iron Man or Transformers or whatever have wide appeal because whole families can go watch them; they're exciting enough to get the attention of older kids, they aren't too graphic for their younger siblings, and they're made well enough for the parents/grandparents to at least follow along and be mildly entertained, even if they would never have chosen to go to that movie alone.

For kids' movies, sure, but no teenager wants to go see Iron Man with their parents or grandparents. I don't know any people in the grandparent age category that likes Transformers or most other superhero movies precisely because they look and feel more like video games. Which appeals to the 10-30+ generation who also play video games, but not much older than that. But unlike video games, movies aren't an exclusionary experience. Old people can still find movies to like because movies are still being made for that age group. Not so much with video games.

In AC's case, my mom likes watching the games as long as I'm just roaming historical cities and showing her the sights. As soon as I enter combat, she loses interest. There's a niche in the historical tourism era that has been left untapped even by Ubisoft. It's surprising no-one else has stepped in to fill that void with their own virtual history tourism simulator. Why? Because games are still marketed almost exclusively towards teenage boys, even though the audience could be so much wider.

HiddenKiller612
03-30-2015, 11:38 PM
There's a game coming out called Wander... it's an open world mmo type game that has no combat and is about exploration and story.

JustPlainQuirky
03-31-2015, 01:09 AM
triple A games mean high budget

ofc theyre gonna be violent

theyre not gonna waste millions of dollars on high end cake baking physics

particle effects are for EXPLOSIOOOOOONZ

that being said, non AAA games such as mobile games or DS games are hugely popular despite plenty not being violent


Quirky said that's a sign to change the gameplay

D'aaaaaaw~ you quoted me

pirate1802
03-31-2015, 12:33 PM
For gaming as a medium to develop, I think games do need to develop interesting non-combat gameplay mechanics. I think this overreliance on combat to tell a story is currently hampering the medium's storytelling potential. Here, more on this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QJVGtKPjNc

I loved DR:HR's verbal 'boss fights'. It was very refreshing, unique and satisfying to win a verbal duel with someone and cause him to spill the beans. Absolutely won't mind playing a game wholly comprising of such 'battles.'

king-hailz
03-31-2015, 01:13 PM
For gaming as a medium to develop, I think games do need to develop interesting non-combat gameplay mechanics. I think this overreliance on combat to tell a story is currently hampering the medium's storytelling potential. Here, more on this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QJVGtKPjNc

I loved DR:HR's verbal 'boss fights'. It was very refreshing, unique and satisfying to win a verbal duel with someone and cause him to spill the beans. Absolutely won't mind playing a game wholly comprising of such 'battles.'

Well Yeah, that's why I made this. I was trying to find more game play techniques that would interest a lot of people that don't use combat. The best I could think was of games like mirror edge that have movement as the main topic, but that is still very limiting for the story.

Markaccus
03-31-2015, 01:38 PM
I suppose building games like sim city and minecraft (in creative or at peaceful setting) dont have combat, if you like that sort of game. Obviously many sports games have no combat (ok boxing and the like are all combat). Apparently, if you play gta5 on line, there is a pacifist setting on it if you dont want to shoot everyone or be shot.

Defalt221
04-02-2015, 12:30 PM
If it makes the game pacing very fast whenever we want than YES! (IMO)