We often see the word "dumb down" thrown about whenever a feature gets reduced. It's obvious; you're reducing the complexity of a feature, so clearly you're doing it to make it available to a wider audience.
But is it really dumbing down if the very nature of the complexity is dumb in the first place? If something is unnecessarily complex, isn't the barrier completely pointless? Isn't "dumbing down" actually an improvement, in that case?
It's a subject I'm curious about people's thoughts on. I've recently gotten back into World of Warcraft, and it includes quite a few examples where I would say the "dumbing down" is actually a good, positive thing for the game and the experience of the game.
One of the most obvious things that got dumbed down in World of Warcraft were the talent trees. Originally, each class had talent trees that you could spend up to 41 points on. These talents could be "levelled", so you could put five points into a talent that would give 1% higher critical strike chance for each point.
That, of course, was an absolute boon for theorycrafters and skillmasters. But for those that didn't really care about number crunching, it was something that just got dismissed as a "necessary evil".
In recent times, Blizzard have changed the talent tree feature tremendously. Your talent choices do more than just increase or decrease certain numbers, now. You do have fewer talents, but each talent offer either a new ability, or changes an existing ability in a big way. Increase of receiving one talent point every level, you now receive a talent every 15 levels.
Thoughts? Is "dumbing down" sometimes a good thing, assuming it's done for the right reasons and not just to make it appeal to a wider audience?
I'm spending a year dead for tax reasons.
15th December 2002
Well, yeah, I mean I find games like World of Warcraft far too complicated and time consuming for the schedule I have, it's not the kind of game I would play anymore, but if it were simpler, then maybe I would.
So dumbing down from a higher level of complexity that can be a barrier to entry is not necessarily a bad thing at all.
But games like the new Tomb Raider where the puzzles were dumbed down into mostly control-grabbing guidance along paths and quick time events, that shit, no.
Danny King | Editor-in-Chief | GameFront.com
Voice of joy and sunshine
26th May 2003
I think it depends on the model you bring to things.
There's... not quite complexity in the true sense of the word but scope for scope's sake - a lot of things to memorise, the same underlying pattern of response, you work out the metagame and then everything's an expression of that manipulated through a single variable or a very small set of variables. There's a best spell, or a best sequence of spells to run through for any given situation, and that's it - that's the game.
Then there's complexity that affects the metagame - systems where a change in one input drastically alters the behaviour of the system as a whole and all have to be held in a certain balance to achieve an effect. Think the difference between driving an automatic and a manual transmission car.
Follow A Paranoid
25th November 2006
There is a dumbing down somewhat in games to reach a wider audience base. The best example for this is Bethesda's TES series.
If you played it even just from Daggerfall to Skyrim, it just really hits you on the head on how it has devolved into being a hardcore rpg that has achieved it's peak and balance at the time of Morrrowind's release to how drastically it dumbed down to Skyrim.
I bet the next iteration would be basically GTA fantasy.
They can't do far cry since they already done that with FO4.
7th December 2003
They are in it for the money, so you can't really blame them for duming stuff down and making the games easy. I occasionally like games that are challenging, but these days I don't have a lot of time for gaming, so I appreciate the casual games more.
Ideally a game is accesible but offers enough complexity to make it challenging for those who stick with it for a while.
Follow A Paranoid
25th November 2006
It was never the money. Even a core audience base could still bring in a tidy profit it's always about greed.
And these types of decision making will always be be the end of a series. First you loose your core audience then you only get the butterflies or bandwagoners which in turn forces you into pouring more resources into drumming up hype than polishing your game, then eventually a new group of guys will come in and demolish your established franchise in record time.
They should make the garden approach instead like Rockstar.