i'm sick of fighting

there‘s entirely too much combat in games. i watched a trailer for chernobylite, and when it got to the part where you fight monsters, i stopped caring. fighting monsters isn’t something interesting about the chernobyl exclusion zone.

games don't always need combat. combat isn't always interesting. in games that do need combat, much of the time there's much more combat than needed. the pattern is a few interesting fights and a heap of other fights.

games are stuck in the rut of being power fantasies. it's boring.


In all honesty, I often have these thoughts when I'm designing a game. I think a large problem is that moving around can get boring and combat is an alleviation. I think to make more interesting games set in realistic spaces we need to start/return to abstracting movement.

I sometimes discuss, with the couple of game-liking friends I have IRL, what would constitute my personal Perfect Game. And although I never get so far as to start describing much of what it would include, I am always firm about wanting something that does not rely on combat as a primary mode of interaction.

I think it's a hangover from the days of sprites, when collision was the obvious way of tracking player interaction with the game world, and combat was the obvious way to make collision more interactive and stimulating. But despite the fact that the shift to 3D should have created almost endless new possibilities for interaction, we're stuck in combatland, with military-industrial intervention in the games industry just serving to entrench murder simulation as the most legitimate form of games for teens and up.

The problem is replacing combat with something. Take it away and most game designers will give you a walking simulator with puzzles. Why not, instead, a Tokimeki Memorial-like in the Yakuza engine? I mean, just for example. Heck, just gimme Judgment without the fighting. I dunno.

I'll fight when there's enough else to grab and maintain my interest in a game. But it sucks that it's basically mandatory.

It‘s a problem in videogames that’s downright elemental. It‘s one of the most legible forms of conflict possible and unfortunately maybe one of the ones that videogames are best equipped to simulate. We’re a long ways off from making videogames that we can have a conversation with, or dance with (I‘d say games like DDR, we just dance in front of them, we’re not dancing with the game).

I can't decide if games like _Splatoon_ are better because they're a further abstraction of fighting by removing the ugliness of violence, or worse because it's just being somewhat cowardly about what it is the game is still about, which is aiming a ranged projectile launcher at living moving targets.

I think I'm more interested in asking what seems to make violence in videogames feel less shallow or more cohesive. _Chernobylite_ seems extremely stupid because it's clearly made by people who were either setting out to create a shooter and settled on that as a theme, or couldn't think or any better gameplay genre to bolt on to it (also maybe they just hadn't played or heard of _S.T.A.L.K.E.R._ at all).

Maybe this makes me a worse person, but I think I feel more engaged in the fighting or violence of a game if I've been ideologically sold on the purpose of it. It feels cheap to need to fight to save a fantasy world, but with something like _FFXIV,_ yeah, I'll throw down with this revolutionary people's army to boot out the occupying colonizers any day of the week. Or maybe it's when it feels justified due to the hostility of the world. John Darksoul doesn't have a whole lot of options other than kill or be killed.

Those two examples are not what you'd call classic power fantasies either so there's that!

I'm tired and heading to bed but two extremely good games where your player character engages in no violent actions whatsoever, and also have a common gameplay approach between them come to mind: the _Ace Attorney_ series and _Return of the Obra Dinn._ Of course... they both _feature_ violence. You just don't _do_ it.


@“goonbag”#p33888 Heck, just gimme Judgment without the fighting. I dunno.

My go-to for this thought: gimme _Mass Effect_ without the fighting. There was a sidequest or some kind of section in the main quest I think of _Mass Effect 2_ that has you doing some (fairly basic ofc) detective work. Made me wish the whole game was that.


@“Gaagaagiins”#p33890 I oughta play Mass Effect some day, huh. I hear enough good things about it, and that new version is out now…

@“goonbag”#p33888 So, I‘m admittedly playing Devil’s Advocate, but I think that Tokimeki Memorial in the Yakuza engine could be referred to as a “walking simulator.” I personally find the term to be somewhat derisive and dismissive by lampooning really cool games like Gone Home with schlock like Edith Finch. Also, I would LOVE to play a AAA style dating sim

Additionally, I think there are more non violent games than this thread implies. I recognize that the vast majority of marketing money spent in games IS focused on shooting or killing; I believe the main difference is that games centered around "just" exploring or moving around have not made it into the more major games industry yet. I think this has causes in both the marketing/business side and the consumer side. My impression of the vocal consumers of games is that they are comically picky and opposed to most appearances of change in their games, which I think is clearly displayed with outcry against developers' attempts to bed more inclusive with their character design. I believe this is less true now, but my thought is that we are still in the process of voicing that a large percentage of the audience is interested in more abstract, passive, "story based," games.

It is an unfortuante minority of games that take non-combat actions and truly explore them to the degree that fighting is given in most games.

My wife and I enjoy the subgenre of detective games quite a bit, and they often test qualities other than mechanical skill. However the unfortunate ties to our own reality means 9 times out of 10 you're investigating a death of some kind.
It does make me wonder, what are some actions or tasks that could be gamified in a fun or interesting way? We have driving, cooking, sports, investigation... but the world is so vast, and our digital ones so small.

i think part of it is that combat is an easy source of friction, and a certain amount of a certain sort of friction feels like a requirement for a game and not a choice because our conception of what a videogame is is still primitive, and it's still primitive because the form has only existed a few decades.

i've been talking about "the longing", which i got sold on because it seems to reject everything a game usually strives to be. but, even if it doesn't have combat, it does have puzzles, another obvious kind of friction. they aren't very good either, for the most part. i don't think the game needed them, but the designer clearly felt the game needed that kind of friction.

"the longing" is the perfect game to give the player opportunities to make goals for themselves-- it's premised on killing time for 400 days. but it locks up stuff behind puzzles because a game isn't a game if it doesn't do that somehow.

it's e3 and there are a bunch of games being shown off but if i ask myself, "why is this game like this?", the answer is just, "that's how games are."

though i am excited about metal slug tactics, so *shrug*.

i have wanted a combatless JRPG my whole life. these games are literally menus and numbers given context!! nobody plays them for the combat, they’re about story!! your “attack” and “magic” can be absolutely anything.

i am begging for an RPG where you play as a band doing local shows and then touring the country making a name for yourself. here’s how long i’ve had the idea; when Detroit: Become Human came out, the design document for my game named Detroit was already five years old

@“Creekgrin”#p33935 i was talking the other day about a monster hunter game where you‘re a caretaker of the monsters. the danger to the player remains, because these are giant animals in distress, but winning is when you get the monster’s head unstuck from a fence, or when a newborn staggers to its feet after a complicated delivery.

time pressure, danger, and choices, that's all combat is.

I‘m a little bit of a hypocrite here, because fighting games are my favorite genre. But the strategy and reaction, the back and forth that I love in fighting games is also present in Tetris Attack, which has no combat to speak of. I’d love more abstract head to head experiences. Of course, Videoball is a great example of this as well.

I think we can all exist simultaneously lamenting the lack of variety in new games and also wanting to play specific new games, derivative though they may be.

This past weekend, with all the e3 announcements had me thinking about this subject, but maybe a little more broadly. I sure am tired of games being so heavily couched in a specific sort of combat! But then I'm also tired of so much derivative work in games in general.

It's like as a games developer, I feel like I'm constantly at the point of failure between wanting to take a chance on some new, weird idea I have and needing to make money off of a game just to continue surviving and making games. I bet there are plenty of small devs who have this same problem.

I mean, I think combat in games is an easy sell, so maybe that's why there's so much of it? I know there are plenty of non-combat (and non-violent) games (and yes, I know that 'violent' is a term that goes beyond just physical combat), but for some reason I have the sense that they're waaaay outnumbered by violent ones.

@“Karasu”#p33953 also, nothing is wrong with combat, if the game is well served by combat. but even then i think often there is too much of it. there‘s more impact from less. but the cause of that tendency for too much combat even where it’s good is probably that the player needs a chance to practice, and the idea of an old school action game you can beat in a sitting if you know what you‘re doing is unaccebtible for some reason, even though we’re all busy here.

yes I think volume of combat is part of the problem as well. the whole nathan drake has personally killed 4000 people thing. I've always thought Shenmue did a great job of having sparse and therefore more tense and meaningful fights. And disco elysium I thought was a recent example of an almost entirely nonviolent game surrounding a pivotal “combat sequence”

^^ what I get for not reading the last sentence ^^

I think this can also just be a case of genre. Disco Elysium is easily one of the best games in recent memory and it has nothing whatsoever to do combat-wise. There are definitely tense situations that can arise, but they're handled just like everything else: a dice roll against stats, and most of the time you're more or less expected to fail (or may want to, since it changes the outcome of other things).

[upl-image-preview url=//i.imgur.com/zxNwGcV.png]

I love simulation games from the 90s and early 00s, especially the Japanese ones like The Conveni (in which you manage convenience stores). There are very few simulation games these days and they are mostly mediocre.

Also, where are all the good sports games?


@“pasquinelli”#p33886 in games that do need combat, much of the time there’s much more combat than needed.

This is the part that really gets me. How much more effective and memorable would the violence that _The Last of Us_ wants us to take so very, very seriously be if you could count the total number of mandatory combat encounters in the game on your hands? On _one_ hand? If the game was designed such that combat is so risky to the player's long term objectives that they will want to avoid it at all costs? These things would make the game's violent encounters not only narratively weightier but _much more thrilling_ in gameplay terms than they actually are. (Stacking up the games' narrative and design choices against _The Road_ is so obvious yet such a conversational wormhole, I'm not even going to bother.)

I'm not so hifalutin that I would pretend I don't enjoy violence in video games: games excel at kinetic spectacle, and frankly if I wanted the aesthetic experience of sophisticated human drama, I would be watching a film or reading a novel instead of booting up my game console. But even in video game world, violence is most aesthetically affecting when it's presented with _weight_ and _context_. Almost every game I've ever played where violence truly feels meaningful - and thus narratively and emotionally engaging, rather than just an abstract mechanic whose pseudo-narrative presentation I experience through a wall of ironic detachment - is one where the other characters on the screen feel like semi-autonomous "characters" rather than "enemies", and acts of violence are or at least _feel_ avoidable (_MGS_, _Fallout_, the wide open stages in _Crysis_, even the levels in the old Infinity Ward _CoD_ s where battles between characters are _happening_ and even reaching definitive conclusions all around you whether you fire a gun or not) - meaning the decision to engage in it, as someone "playing" a "role" rather than shooting targets on a screen, carries emotional weight.

Like, I get it: violence works _well_ in games!! Violence is narratively, viscerally, emotionally engaging in a way that few other aesthetic representations of abstract mechanics can be! Even single-player games are often extrapolations of the basic principle of playing a game _against_ another person, and what are games of competition but a more civilized channeling of the primal instinct for violence? (c.f. the whole mythology of the Olympics as sustainable alternative to Greek city-states butchering one another on the battlefield)

idk I think I forgot where I was going with this post but uh, yeah: violence in games exerts a strong pull, but the emotional fascination of violence is that it carries weight.