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How do you feel about "Walking Simulators"? [roundtable]
 
That's the pejorative, but really I mean art games. Or, more generally, games that have almost no traditional game mechanics. Interpret that however you want. (For example, I would include story-based stuff like classic PC Adventure games.)

Are you generally open to the "Gone Home"s of the world, or do you have little interest in such games?

Do you even make a distinction between these types of experiences and more traditional games?

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Posted: 05/20/17, 21:07:57  - Edited by 
 on: 05/20/17, 21:07:45
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I can't say I've ever really played them but it seems to me that anything has a place in gaming so long as it is executed well. Telltale games are basically movies with alternate dialogue options for some scenes and then the odd quicktime event/stumble around puzzle but that doesn't stop them from being fun to experience for a lot of people.

I'm also a huge huge fan of immersion, and environmental storytelling with games like BioShock and Dead Space so I could definitely see the right walking simulator striking a chord with me.
Posted: 05/20/17, 21:56:51
I've got nothing against them on principle, but it's very hard for them to grab me. The Stanley Parable is the only one I've really really enjoyed (and The Beginner's Guide too I guess!). Gone Home was cool for its time, but going back to it, it doesn't really hold up for me. I couldn't get into Firewatch.

That's not to say I have anything against weird art games as a whole, but they've gotta have a little more to them than just walking forward and having a story happen around you for me to really enjoy them.
Posted: 05/20/17, 22:29:34
I think they can be great. We were super into Gone Home and really liked exploring the house and learning about the characters that lived there.

I do find that the games can be a little hit or miss for me. Dear Esther is walking simulator that didn't click with me at all. The Stanley Parable, however, really stuck with me. I don't know if I can articulate what makes these games work and what doesn't, but I think part of it is the element of surprise and how invested you are in the game world.

There also tends to be an element of discovery to these kinds of games, which goes along with the idea of surprise. Discovering a story/world on our own can be very rewarding. I think there's a lot in Breath of the Wild that does this amazingly well. You can get a sense of what a world is all about just by walking around and being observant, and I think that's as much of an element of a traditional game as anything else.

I definitely think they have their place in gaming, much in the way Haunted Houses or dark rides have their places at amusement parks. The interaction loop might not be as tangible as in a traditional game, but there are still rules, visuals, and music that can let you get incredibly immersed in a world.
Posted: 05/20/17, 22:34:19
I don't think I've ever played anything that fits this description, so I have no opinion one way or another.
Posted: 05/21/17, 00:25:39
I'm certainly open to them but I felt Gone Home was poor overall. I might have had some different expectations though. I think if I had played it knowing what I know now, I would have appreciated it more.
Posted: 05/21/17, 00:47:23
I guess it depends. I haven't played many of these really, does To the Moon count? I liked that. I liked what I played of Life is Strange as well, but never got around to playing beyond the first episode. Probably would like more but they definitely don't hold the draw that more gamey games do which is part of why I haven't played a whole lot of them.

I do want to try Gone Home eventually.

Do the Telltale Walking Dead games count? There isn't actually much real gameplay to speak of in those games, but I did enjoy season 1 and to a lesser extent season 2.
Posted: 05/21/17, 01:37:33  - Edited by 
 on: 05/21/17, 01:38:22
It's interesting that a lot of you jumped to the question of whether these games should even exist. I wasn't thinking about that, but it's very unlikely that the development of these types of games would directly affect the existence of more traditional games. They also seem generally suited for mobile devices.

I honestly haven't played much of this stuff, either. Even in gamey games, story elements typically bore the living shit out of me. I'll make the occasional exception for comedy, but knee-slappers are generally thin on the ground in the artsy-er representations of most media.

I was just thinking about how these types of games often get a glowing critical response, and wondering how much of the audience really appreciates them. Again, though, that applies to EVERY medium.

I always wonder whether professional criticism is even necessary in the Web 2.0 age. It seems like the consumer might be better served by a Pandora-like recommendation algorithm. Like, this person has precisely the same tastes as you, and he loves this game, so there's a 99 probability that you'll love it, too!

It ain't romantic, but it would be hard to argue with the functionality. Actually, I always thought it would be interesting to create a metacritic alternative which would show specialized results for every user. Like, if it knew that I hated racing sims, Gran Turismo would NEVER show up on my top games list.

@Zero
Whatever you think counts counts. I would personally include all of the games which you listed in this discussion.
Posted: 05/21/17, 02:42:29
I posted here a couple years ago that Gone Home was my favorite game of that year, so I'm not against "Walking Simulators" at all. But I didn't get Dear Esther at all and can't really remember Stanley Parable. Basically, I would love a game where all you do is walk around and explore if there is something interesting worth exploring.
Posted: 05/21/17, 19:46:02
Last Of Us and Max Payne 3 use heavy use of forced walking and those two are some of my very favorite games ever made. I don't lose patience for (okay I sorta do, but it never stops me from playing the game and enjoying the WHOLE experience) when the game is so amazing. And I've played both several times now. Especially Max Payne 3.

It doesn't seem like we're talking about the same thing, but those two examples use a LOT of forced walking. Max Payne 3 forces tons and tons of cutscenes on you.
Posted: 05/21/17, 22:29:06  - Edited by 
 on: 05/21/17, 22:30:39
Breath of the Wild is an interesting one to bring up. I LOVE just walking around in that game. Same goes for Minecraft and No Man's Sky. Just quietly exploring those worlds is wonderful.

I'm pretty sick of the Naughty Dog style walking and talking though. That ruined the last third of Uncharted 4 for me. So... much... climbing around the jungle... and talking...

Anand said:
I always wonder whether professional criticism is even necessary in the Web 2.0 age. It seems like the consumer might be better served by a Pandora-like recommendation algorithm. Like, this person has precisely the same tastes as you, and he loves this game, so there's a 99 probability that you'll love it, too!

It ain't romantic, but it would be hard to argue with the functionality. Actually, I always thought it would be interesting to create a metacritic alternative which would show specialized results for every user. Like, if it knew that I hated racing sims, Gran Turismo would NEVER show up on my top games list.

It's a crime that Steam hasn't fully implemented this yet. Better discoverability is pretty crucial right now.
Posted: 05/21/17, 22:44:25
@Anand Oh.

Well, I guess my answer then is that I mostly like the ones I have played, but they're not the type of games I seek out much outside of the big ones everyone is talking about, and I still haven't played half of those either. I tend to prefer more gamey games.

Anand said:
I always wonder whether professional criticism is even necessary in the Web 2.0 age. It seems like the consumer might be better served by a Pandora-like recommendation algorithm. Like, this person has precisely the same tastes as you, and he loves this game, so there's a 99 probability that you'll love it, too!

But then who would be the first to break out of their boxes and try new stuff!?

...which I guess is an issue either way.
Posted: 05/21/17, 23:35:15  - Edited by 
 on: 05/21/17, 23:37:44
Anand said:
(For example, I would include story-based stuff like classic PC Adventure games.)

Does this mean Sierra/Lucas Arts stuff? Because if so, begone with you

Sierra's games were huge back in their heyday.
Posted: 05/22/17, 00:29:55
I've never played any of these, so I hardly speak with any authority here, but I will say it's silly when these games are called not games. That said, I find it equally silly when people get upset when some consider these games not games. Getting worked up over words is stupid. Enjoy what you want.
Posted: 05/23/17, 04:25:05
It's not a genre I'm especially drawn to, but I have enjoyed some. I liked Gone Home, and I really liked The Stanley Parable. Dear Esther I wasn't thrilled with. So, like any other genre, sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't. Generally I prefer more games that are more mechanically engaging, I suppose.
Posted: 05/23/17, 16:24:36
Just came across a pretty great article on walking simulators. Moving from Story Point A to Story Point B isn't inherently interesting, but games don't like to cut from one place to another, so typically they'll have that traversal be where the gameplay comes in, whether it's a platforming sections of going through corridors shooting monsters or whatever. Walking simulators remove the interesting gameplay but keep the janky storytelling technique of making you travel from one place to another to get pieces of the story.
Posted: 05/23/17, 23:14:12
@Secret_Tunnel

Poor walking simulators you mean. Good ones would presumably have the environment on the way tell more of a story that would otherwise be lost in a direct cut.
Posted: 05/23/17, 23:18:51
The first-person stuff tends to give Karen and sometimes I nausea. We didn't have a problem with Gone Home, but The Stanley Parable and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter got to us, so I tend to avoid those now.

But I love to play a good narrative game with Karen. We both really enjoyed Oxenfree (which does have light puzzles and a few things to figure out, but essentially has you get through the story unimpeded), Her Story, etc.

We're also playing a bunch of classic adventure games, which I loved back in the day, but you know what? Playing with someone else, today, I kind of find that the puzzles just get in the way.
Posted: 05/24/17, 17:09:16
@Guillaume The Stanley Parable definitely gave me motion sickness, played it for about an hour or so with Shirley but I kept handing her the controller every time I felt it coming on. Although I'm not sure if it is because of the game itself or just that I was running it on a laptop where the framerate was a bit iffy. I haven't had motion sickness on a console game since Sly 2 (only in the "overworld" where there was a ton of stuff and a bad framerate...)

The sucky thing about this is a Chicago friend of mine is working on a neat 1st person puzzle game but it gave me bad motion sickness the one time I played it, so I'm not sure that I can actually play the game. Unless it was a framerate thing again, it was a work-in-progress after all so the framerate probably sucked more than I realized.

Speaking of, the brain is such a weird beast. Just thinking about motion sickness is making me feel motion sick. Ug.

THINKING ABOUT OTHER THINGS NOW.
Posted: 05/24/17, 18:07:34  - Edited by 
 on: 08/27/17, 10:30:43
@Shadowlink
I remember! Kind of.

I broadened the definition to include all games that are worth playing mostly because of the narrative.

Although... would I have to include Drakengard and No More Heroes, in that case?
Posted: 05/25/17, 19:27:24
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