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Accessibility - Under which circumstances is it good? When? How much?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by luj1, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. luj1 Magister

    luj1
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    IMO it's good (only) when it essentially has no downside, such as
    • when it impacts UI design (in terms of visibility of information)
    • it saves you clicks
    • it's a customisable option (can suit different playstyles e.g. turn map on/off, combat speed etc.)
    It's bad when it
    • becomes a core design philosophy (Sawyer)
    • makes the game too easy
    • murders C&C and/or character building
    I think a good application of accessibility could perhaps be JA2's interface

    Bad accessibility imo would be the Effort mechanic in Numenera, making it very hard to fail skill rolls therefore trivializing character development.

    What do you think? Give us some examples on "good accessibility" and "bad accessibility"
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
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  2. Iznaliu Arbiter

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    Explain how Sawyer's design philosophy promotes accessibility to an undue degree compared to predecessors (IE games).
     
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  3. fork Savant

    fork
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    It's almost always bad, because nowadays it doesn't mean efficiency, but removing complexity. See web design as another example. Almost every site that gets a layout/design overhaul has less information per screen and less functionality afterwards - most of the time in favour of huge blank spaces and pictures. I have stopped counting the forums I no longer visit because of this.
     
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  4. deuxhero Arcane

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    Only good UI and transparent mechanics are a good idea.
     
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  5. wyes gull Learned

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    Something designers don't realize often enough is that half the enjoyment of computer games is learning them, and learning them on your terms and at your own speed.

    I tend to think that the best games of all are games that you learn on the first playthrough only to properly play on a 2nd. The Fallouts are like this. Hell, even NEO-Scavenger that I've been playing on an off for a week is like that.

    Many new games are predicated on the notion that nobody enjoys failure. Which is fair enough. What they don't realize is that failure is acceptable when you have agency (and to a lesser extent, immediacy). Failing on your own terms and learning from it, is that 50% of enjoyment the game gives you. You fuck up builds in Fallout, because you make assumptions on stuff that isn't "adequately" tooltip'd (on the game at least, remember these used to have manuals you could read in the shitter) but you reset and roll a new character armed with new info. Honing your knowledge of the game when you have to take the extra step and make guesses and infer shit is just as enjoyable as character growth.

    When you demonize failure, you're limiting the possible outcomes (and removing agency). That or tutorializing everything. Nobody, and I say nobody that enjoys -computer games- wants them to play themselves. Or to play them with the game itself doing the part of that one friend of yours that's already played the game and keeps going "now do this, go there, equip that, attack that guy". You enjoy games, you're liable to tell that dude to fuck right off. The problem is designing shit in an intelligible way. When you're relying on tooltips/hyperlinks/tutorials, you're force-feeding the player what he might not want and in a quantity that he might not necessitate, which means either some of the info will go overhead, making the player resent the game for treating him like a genius or some of the info will be shit the player already knew meaning the player resents the game for treating him like a retard. The important thing here is making stuff "make sense". For instance, being sure that ticking +1 in STR makes correspondent uptick to the character's carry weight so the player can go "Ah, so that's how that works" and not a barrage of text that displays EVERYTHING that STR is responsible for instead.

    TL;DR- Make shit intelligible and don't coddle or overfeed the player. Otherwise you might as well make qte popamole movies instead.
     
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  6. Alkarl Learned

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    There is no such thing as accessibility in video games, or crpgs. This is a simulation designed to hide and obfuscate the real. The real being that some games explain like you're five where as others expect you to think like an adult. What you're referring to is a plethora of systems. You cannot judge UI, statistical transparency, etc on the basis of accessibility. The onus is on you to either learn a system or share in knowledge on a topic. If a game is not accessible to you, you obviously have a disability or challenge preventing you from accessing it. For instance, if you were in a wheelchair, how accessible would you find stairs? If you were poor and or homeless, how accessible would you find Club 33? This, in what it is meant, is real.

    This is all to say, you cannot say that a game is shit due to lack of accessibility. This is a term used to hide what is true. If you dislike a game due to it's inaccessibility, wouldn't it be far more real to simply admit you did not like the game because you were not intelligent enough to comprehend it? Nobody with a monocle goes around complaining about how inaccessible Skyrim is due to it being so very casual. So why do casuals and popamoles insist that everything have a dumbass mode?

    An investment typically precedes a return, however, if I never give you cause to invest what can you hope in return?

    While it's certain you may be referring to poor design choices, but these are just that. Poor design choices. This has nothing to do with accessibility. Making everything the same shade of green would make the game ugly. Not inaccessible. Making all of the print tiny would be a poor implementation, not inaccessibility (though, perhaps, if you have issue seeing and cannot afford corrective lenses, this would in fact be inaccessible.)

    What matters is if the software works, and that what it accomplishes is interesting and unique. At this point it's value may be assessed by an audience. Anything less is merely a simulation. A waste of time, effort, and resources to produce "another one of those", of which we already have so many.
     
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  7. Neanderthal Arcane

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    When devs treat their audience like fucking retards, an when audience cheer em on for doing so, see quest markers.
     
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  8. luj1 Magister

    luj1
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    I know right! I'd +10000000000's you if I could my man
     
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  9. Achiman Arbiter Patron

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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech
    And then... when you learn the systems enough to break the games. Morrowind is the best example of this that I can think of, once you figure out how you can use the soul gems to enchant your stuff... 'permanent invisibility cape - don't mind if I do'.

    But as to your question, having to map shit myself is just painful. I don't expect a full on automap and quest markers, but I should have some sort of map in games that need them. It's just tedium and rote learning otherwise.
     
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  10. Iznaliu Arbiter

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    Another thing that annoys me is forums being slower when they use crappy software.
     
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  11. *-*/\--/\~ Savant

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    Like... never. It's pretty much synonymous with dumbing down, consolization and decline. It takes away depth and complexity while attracting idiots, who then push the game further down the doom spiral.
     
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  12. Zakhad Savant

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    This just isn't true. A big consequence of designing for consoles is a less accessible interface, due to having reduced buttons and so needing to, for example, bind multiple actions to one key, or have a whole sub menu just to choose which items/skills to bind to the four keys they let you use to activate your abilities, even though you're on a PC and could use the whole set.

    Not to mention bad console ports making the resulting games less accessible in a purely technical sense, e.g. poor framerate or missions divided into multiple areas with painful loading screens to make up for consoles' poor memory (Thief 3 really suffered from that, for example).
     
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  13. Hrymr Educated

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    Can auto-mapping be seen as a sign of decline and dumbing down?

    Nowadays it's perfectly normal, even mandatory feature, but you can't deny that finding your way in the game world, navigating and mapping is a part of gameplay and takes some amount of skill. When game does that for player isn't a huge part of gameplay removed? Just like in the phrase "game that plays itself".
     
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  14. *-*/\--/\~ Savant

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    How come then, every time I hear some dev spewing something about 'accessibility' and 'widest possible audience', it ends up being total garbage? :D
     
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  15. Zakhad Savant

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    Cos what they mean by "accessible" is "accessible without a PC".
     
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  16. fantadomat Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Edgy

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    Because it is made by stupid people that lack any real live experience :) .Accessibility doesn't mean less complexity,also having going for the other maxima is not very good.Good example for that is the Grimoire,the game is good and fun but the UI,character creations and the inventory are pointlessly complex and not in a good way.
     
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  17. Janise Unwanted

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    OP is the new Andy
    DISCUSS!
     
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  18. :Flash: Arcane

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    But that is a wrong definition of accessibility. Granted, that is how many people use the term accessibility, but that is not what it originally meant.

    A few years ago I worked in the field of accessibility, which originally meant accessibility for disabled people, such as in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
    In the context of web accessibility there existed the practice of doing special versions of a website for blind people. These were often dumbed down, missing content, etc. The Accessibility community hated these dumbed down versions, and insisted that accessibility meant enabling access to all information on a website, not doing away with some information.

    So by definition removing complexity never increases accessibility, it reduces it, because you remove something instead of providing access to it.

    So, for example the inventory of Grimoire is a barrier to accessibility. If you simply remove 90% of the items in the game, you don't create accessibility, you remove it, because you are now denied access to 90% of the items. Accessibility would mean providing a good inventory screen, and that would not reduce complexity.
     
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  19. fork Savant

    fork
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    Well, I agree and disagree. The thing is that it's never implemented that way in reality.* Mobile versions of websites for example always have less functionality than their desktop counterparts, because it makes them "more accessible for mobile users". I always use the desktop versions when availabe, otherwise it's so bad most of the time that the sites become useless due to that "accessibility". When game developers or publishers talk about their new game being more accessible to a wider audience, you can be sure that it means the game will be dumbed down and have less functionality, which in the case of games means less varied/complex gameplay and less customisation options.

    That definition of yours is wrong, because eventhough it may have been true originally, it's the opposite of what actually happens when things are made "more accessible".

    *there are some exceptions of course like options for colourblind people and similar stuff.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
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  20. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    The worst part of dumping down internet sites is that people doing it probably have some data showing that it improves engagement or makes more sales :(
     
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  21. Zakhad Savant

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    I think we're confusing different definitions.

    The question is: what is being made "accessible"?

    The game as a whole, regardless of what you do in it? This is usually the big (bad) issue, where all the possible ways that a game might put people off get eliminated, to the point the game itself is sacrificed: e.g. they focus on graphics no story because those are better in ads, they make it easy, they spend more on advertising than gameplay, they avoid risks... I think we all agree that this is nearly always bad.

    The actual systems and content of the game? This is mostly stuff you'd only disagree with of you're the kind of autist who thinks needlessly complex menus reminiscent of the 80s are somehow a sign of virtue. This would include the obvious stuff like colour-blind mode, working on different PCs, not having five unskippable movies when you boot it up, not having always-on DRM that bugs out and dumps you from the game, intuitive menus, options to adjust controls and re-bind keys, and so on.

    Particular elements of gameplay: I'd guess this is the most controversial: should games make some content skippable so that people who hate that bit can get on with the plot? Should they offer "story mode", or force cutscenes so you don't miss key dialogue because you walk out of the room while a character is talking? Or make characters unkillable so you don't miss out on their missions? Fast travel, and environments with no need to backtrack? I think there might be occasions for all of these in the right game (although maybe needing these things is a sign of bad design to begin with) but I think this stuff often gets closer to the first option than the second, i.e. it becomes about getting more sales rather than making the experience better for those who are actually playing.

    (Not to forget option 4: when you call it "accessibility" but it actually makes everything worse for everyone, which is what people seem to be saying is what happens with simplified mobile websites).
     
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  22. YES! Hi, I'm Roqua Dumbfuck

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    I agree. I absolutely hate difficulty levels - the game should be designed to provide a specific experience for everyone. Challenge levels do nothing but destroy core game design. In most games I have to wait for an overhaul mod to come out to make it not get boring after a couple hours. Changing a challenge level to a higher setting usually just makes a badly designed system made for idiots just take longer. Boring taking longer isn't a winning formula.

    Any sort of accessibility for controllers also destroys the UI and makes the game be designed for idiots. Name one console game post SNES that actually has some depth and complexity. You can't, because they don't. People say Dragon's Dogma has good chardev. It doesn't. It is all flavor that boils down to how fast you are successful, not if you can be successful. This is the philosophy that a player should be able to choose any choice and it will be like totally awesome. This means no gimp builds. This means choices are meaningless and feel-good nonsense.

    This is why games like the New Star Trail remake get slammed for sucking and having shit graphics - and people buy games with far worse graphics aimed at kids and designed for kids like hotcakes. The will slam the gameplay of WL2 DC but love a game literally made for kids with zero complexity and child content. Just basic retard rpg systems for idiots. It makes no sense. RPGs should not be accessible - they should be the wine of the gaming world. The console filth everyone loves is Boones, while we drink the good shit made for people of class and taste and sophistication. I know absolutely nothing about wine so can't name the equivalent of the new ST remake in terms of an actual wine, but picture some aristocrats that owns vineyards all over the world and knows everything about wine picking out a dusty bottle of something to impress a fellow wine connoisseur - that is the ST remake or games like WL2 DC, and what the monkeys here jerk off all over is Strawberry Kiwi Boones/all the console filth they like.
     
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  23. fork Savant

    fork
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    Good post, I'd even brofist if I could.

    However, you're taking it a bit too far imo. Maybe that's because you're focusing solely on RPGs, or because it's true that consoles were indeed responsible for a large part of the decline over the last two decades or so. But the dumbing down of games due to that so-called accessibility affects every genre, comes in countless steps and shapes, and there are still some good inclined games on consoles.

    Also not every game has to be mechanically complex to be considered wine. Dirt Rally is a pretty good Racing Game, it's satisfyingly hard, has good physics and casuals hate it and when you get a top 10 time on the scoreboards you feel a sense of accomplishment and pretty monocled. That game is every bit as hard on consoles as it is on PC. Elite Dangerous is a pretty shitty game with few redeeming qualities, but it's complex on consoles and PC and I don't think consoles hinder the PC version much. That game's problems are caused by somewhat retarded game designers. D:OS and WL2 are on consoles and are enjoyable. The Cities Skylines console port is good. Shadow Tactics console port is good. Dark Souls originated on consoles and is a good Action RPG when you compare it to other games released today, if a bit over-hyped. So is Dragon's Dogma. I think even some part of the PC masterrace thinks so, but maybe these games should have stayed on console?

    Your rant about difficulty is a bit strange tbh. The implementation in Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma, i.e. you progress at the pace your skill-level and build allow, is a positive example of accessibility done mostly right imo. Those are supposed to be Action RPGs first, not to provide meaningful C&C (eventhough there still is some of that).

    The point when I get a headache is when I look at the charts. That's where the decline is and it also explains why the decline is there. Forza Horizon 3 sold orders of magnitude more copies than Dirt Rally. Skyrim sold orders of magnitude more than Dragon's Dogma or Dark Souls, let alone D:OS or WL2. The numbers sold of interactive movies, non-games and pretty walking simulators with no gameplay whatsoever is mind-boggling - and that shit is being praised as the future of gaming by "game journalists". At least games like Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma have decent amounts of enjoyable gameplay, their obvious flaws notwithstanding.

    I think we're way past the point where consoles/controllers were responsible for dumbing down mechanics now. Most games released today are way simpler than a console gamepad would need. The average consumer is borderline-retarded... and that's why accessibility in a mass-market always means reducing complexity. Quantitiy over quality and style over substance. Because in order to make things accessible to the mass market, you have to dumb them down. Take a look at any product intended for the mass market and you'll see that same pattern.

    I'm not sure whether I'm making any sense or am still on topic, so I better stop.

    tldr: I guess you're somehwat more monocled than I am.
    :despair:
     
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  24. luj1 Magister

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