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The primal instinct behind Bethesda's success

Discussion in 'Bethesda Game Studios' started by IncendiaryDevice, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. IncendiaryDevice Self-Ejected Village Idiot

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    Over the course of the last couple of years I've had a couple of nephews pass by my old gaming CDs, picking out games that might amuse them for an hour or two in between doing more regular family stuff.

    It might surprise you, but there's not a lot of games that are ideal for 10 year olds in my collections of games, so I'll usually just put on something that has a lot to do that is fairly quick to get going but I also know they'll have no hope of ever beating in the short times of their visits...

    ... such as Civilisation 3.

    In both instances when 2 different 10 year olds have sat down and taken their first moves in Civ3 their approach to the game has been the same:

    They have no grand objective.
    They don't really care how anything works.
    They just want to march their units around the board exploring stuff.
    Their first instinct upon meeting other Civs is to attack them.

    And this is the primal instinct that Bethesda tuned into. A game where you have no grand objectives, no real need to know how anything works and you can just march around exploring stuff and attack things as you happen upon them if you feel like it.

    They discovered a way to make pure exploration slightly more involved enough to be considered "a game".
     
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  2. oldmanpaco Master of Siestas

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    Civilization III sucked.
     
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  3. Wayward Son Fails to keep valuable team members alive

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    It was alright. SMAC was FAR better tho
     
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  4. IncendiaryDevice Self-Ejected Village Idiot

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    It's ok, a bit shit, but ok if you know what aspects to prioritise to make an interesting game of it.
     
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  5. mbv123 Savant

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    Are you really surprised that 10 years olds don't have the attention span to learn game mechanics and think about economy and production and just want to explore and fight against something?
     
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  6. Wayward Son Fails to keep valuable team members alive

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    I mean, to a lesser extent than now admittedly, I was able to do that at 10 in Civ IV.
     
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  7. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Children are at that glorious age where everything is novel.

    I remember going gaga over casting spells in Tibia because you have to actively type 'heal friend: name' in faux latin and oh my god that's like casting real spells with real magic words!!

    I also never get tired of watching my young cousins' minds being blown by extremely awesome things like... the first level fire spell in Skyrim ('I'm throwing fire with my hands WOW!').
     
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  8. Iznaliu Arbiter

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    This taps into age-old tribal behaviour.
     
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  9. Multiple Sarcasm Arcane

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    They're either middle-aged with nerve-wrecking jobs, or well on their ways to get laid before you do. :positive:
     
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  10. IncendiaryDevice Self-Ejected Village Idiot

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    No. What made you think I was surprised?
     
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  11. Fedora Master Arcane Patron Edgy

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    Bethesda fans have the mental capacity of 10 year olds, that's nothing new.
     
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  12. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Great alt 10/10 <insert bloom joke here> 'lol'.
     
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  13. IncendiaryDevice Self-Ejected Village Idiot

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    Memory plays strange tricks on people.

    I can't even remember the very first time I played a Civ game, but I know it was Civ 2 and I was a lot older than 10. It was also my first cTBS. I had no real idea what the game wanted from me nor how to play it, but I do remember that those first few tries were mostly just moving far too many Warriors about and not building enough cities and then trying to spam kill the first enemy I ended up in a war with.

    The second time one of the 10 year olds played he did indeed build more cities while spamming Warriors and he did manage to destroy a rival civ or two. Perhaps when he remembers his time as a 10 year old playing it he will claim he had it all nailed as a 10 year old...

    This isn't so much about 10 year olds as it is about approaching a game with zero foreknowledge knowledge, not only of the game but of the entire genre. I kinda used 10 year olds in my example because it would be quite difficult to find older kids in this day and age that could pick up a game like Civ for the first time and have zero foreknowledge of what it was all about at the very basic level.

    When someone doesn't really know what to do they tend to function by the basics. The primal instincts.
     
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  14. pippin Guest

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    The reasoning is simple: somewhere along the way videogames turned into toys. When people play videogames now, they expect something fun.
     
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  15. IncendiaryDevice Self-Ejected Village Idiot

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    Original computer games were just toys, for most people. The platformer is the very definition of pick-up and play, explore and attack with little need for objectives or great knowledge*

    *generally.
     
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  16. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Excel sheets are fun.
     
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  17. Iznaliu Arbiter

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    In any day and age. There was no mythical utopia where 95% of the gaming population was playing Civ.
     
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  18. IncendiaryDevice Self-Ejected Village Idiot

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    Who ever said there was?
     
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  19. Beastro Arcane

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    It's even more than that, they don't have the time to go beyond that first dip and be able to dick around meddling with the other things the game has to offer.

    Sounds like my first go or two with Civ1 when my bro rented it. The SNES cartridge only had room for one save too, which he took, so I could only do whatever I could in one sitting, and in the first sitting it took me a bit to figure out your could capture enemy cities. Wound up surrounding the Aztec capital because of that until my bro got home and I could watch him a bit to pick up on more stuff. Was only later when we both wanted to rerent it that I got more into the game and what the new genre had to offer.

    I do recall the chuckle we got at in one of his games when he had an ironclad puttering around exploring for him for a few centuries and how silly that seemed given the historical setting. Oh, how little we knew of the series then.

    Additionally at that age you have to first realize you're into that sort of thing and come out of the typical childhood impulsiveness. "Strategy and tactics" are hardly things I think of when I think of preteens, but that doesn't mean they don't have an as yet untested liking for them.

    If you're going to point the finger over that that goes back to the 80s and the NES moving the console full into the kiddie toy thing everyone wanted as oppose to the more mature, "fun for the whole family" way Atari and others tried to market before then.

    Even then "video games" screams console to me. A game on a computer remained something exotic and mature that required, to me, a hell of a lot more knowledge about computers to run than what your typical preteen kid could comprehend, often requiring an adult's help for DOS to get running, or like my one friend who was the only one who really had games for their PC, was something learned through sheer repetition even he didn't understand what he was typing to play Lemmings or that one racing game he had back in the early 90s.

    Computers were serious, even if the games were still kiddie (especially since you could screw with stuff that could get parents PISSED). Consoles just required you to plug in a cartridge and flick a switch with a few little things learned here and there to get it going, like blowing on the cartridge (Or how Atari plug ins were the same as Sega ones, so an Atari adapter worked with the Genesis if an angry older brother decided to hide the Sega one to punish you, or you were bored and got it in your head to play Sonic with an Atari joystick to try something new out). By the turn of the millennium that was largely eliminated.
     
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  20. Wayward Son Fails to keep valuable team members alive

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    Ah. I remember doing exactly this... two years ago. What can I say, I was late to the game, so to speak.
     
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  21. Master Arbiter

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    I used to give my nephews to play that slaughterhouse level from Hitman 3.
     
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  22. Valky Arcane Manlet

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    Civ 2 > Civ 3
     
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  23. anvi Cipher Village Idiot

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    Bethesda haven't succeeded because of satisfying any human needs or even gaming needs. They just went viral when console gaming was starting to boom in the Xbox generation, and now they are the only RPG for the mainstream gamer. So little dudebro Timmy when he gets tired of playing CoD every night and wants to try something else, knows no other games, but has heard of Skyrim. So he gets that and it it is orsum and has swordz and dragins and shit. And that is all Bethesda needs to do. Mass produce some dumb game with swordz and drginz and shit and millions of spastic gamers will throw their money at them and Bethesda grow bigger and bigger, and their shitty games get better and better graphics, and that is all you need to dominate the gaming industry.
     
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  24. buru5 Very Grumpy Dragon Patron

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    10 year olds have no attention span for complex games, news at 11
     
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