Cozy Contempt

All other video games not related to the main farming series - Pokemon, Stardew Valley, My Time at Portia, and other indie-developed games.
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simside
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Kikki wrote: Jun 17, 2024 8:57 am I have never heard the term 'frictionless gameplay' before. I looked it up, but the results were more confusing than elucidating, as many did not appear to be applicable and all were a bit different from each other. What does it mean in this context?
Now that you mention it, I hear it used more often to describe narrative/novels (a plot where everything is nice and nothing bad happens), and I've heard it in the context of game design, but maybe less on the game critique end.

I think a lot about it when I see indie folks discussing the development process for their game, when they might present... like, say Animal Crossing, as an alpha build to their test audience, and the feedback they get in the discord is that the loan to Tom Nook is no fun, because it's too much work to earn the money back. So they remove that feature, and you get the house for free. And someone else says they don't like getting randomized villagers, and that it takes too long to get who you want, so they let you choose villagers from a menu. Et cetera, until you're left with everything about Animal Crossing in menus. Makes it more cozy, if you don't have to stress out about anything. And it isn't a low-effort mobile game or anything, just a passionate person taking advice from folks who liked their game enough to play early builds of it.

Some of the indie (super indie, like single-person itch.io developers) get really salty about this, because it gets lumped in with accessibility discussion, and it can be frustrating from a game design perspective when someone is shouting down the thing they think makes the game fun to play. I'm not sure such requests are creeping into, say, Marvelous games, but I did see some for Coral Island. I always wondered if it happened to The Good Life... when it came out, there were a ton of folks (probably backers) who played it immediately and gave it really short reviews that said things like "super comfy" and "SWERY never misses!", but later reviews that discussed gameplay seemed disappointed that there wasn't more going on.

Which is not to say frictionless games are necessarily bad, or there's not a place for them (obviously those folks loved The Good Life, and I didn't play the early builds of Coral Island, so maybe some of the stuff they toned down really was no fun). But I always wonder if there are game play trade-offs that make a game more "cozy", whereas I really like tedious busywork, lol. But that's a me problem.
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Kikki
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Spoiler:
simside wrote: Jun 18, 2024 8:35 pm
Kikki wrote: Jun 17, 2024 8:57 am I have never heard the term 'frictionless gameplay' before. I looked it up, but the results were more confusing than elucidating, as many did not appear to be applicable and all were a bit different from each other. What does it mean in this context?
Now that you mention it, I hear it used more often to describe narrative/novels (a plot where everything is nice and nothing bad happens), and I've heard it in the context of game design, but maybe less on the game critique end.

I think a lot about it when I see indie folks discussing the development process for their game, when they might present... like, say Animal Crossing, as an alpha build to their test audience, and the feedback they get in the discord is that the loan to Tom Nook is no fun, because it's too much work to earn the money back. So they remove that feature, and you get the house for free. And someone else says they don't like getting randomized villagers, and that it takes too long to get who you want, so they let you choose villagers from a menu. Et cetera, until you're left with everything about Animal Crossing in menus. Makes it more cozy, if you don't have to stress out about anything. And it isn't a low-effort mobile game or anything, just a passionate person taking advice from folks who liked their game enough to play early builds of it.

Some of the indie (super indie, like single-person itch.io developers) get really salty about this, because it gets lumped in with accessibility discussion, and it can be frustrating from a game design perspective when someone is shouting down the thing they think makes the game fun to play. I'm not sure such requests are creeping into, say, Marvelous games, but I did see some for Coral Island. I always wondered if it happened to The Good Life... when it came out, there were a ton of folks (probably backers) who played it immediately and gave it really short reviews that said things like "super comfy" and "SWERY never misses!", but later reviews that discussed gameplay seemed disappointed that there wasn't more going on.

Which is not to say frictionless games are necessarily bad, or there's not a place for them (obviously those folks loved The Good Life, and I didn't play the early builds of Coral Island, so maybe some of the stuff they toned down really was no fun). But I always wonder if there are game play trade-offs that make a game more "cozy", whereas I really like tedious busywork, lol. But that's a me problem.
Interesting. So now, that's stuck in my head. If we use the term 'friction' to encapsulate difficulty of any sort, whether of story or skill or memory or etc, it covers a lot of ground! But it sure is easy to use, then. A frictionless use of friction :)

So then, friction in games is contentious. Personally, I hate when a game has features that I am not capable of mastering. Or at least not capable of mastering without dedicating a year's worth of free time to it. Something like Elden Ring, no doubt, or any Souls-type. I want nothing to do with those games. They just make me feel like trash when repeated trying gets me nowhere, and I'd be a fool to subject myself to that for a game.

However, I LIKE difficulty in games. I love Trio. I don't consider it difficult, and I'd be bored out of my skull by it if they took out all the seasonal requirements and fertilizers and animal treats and so on. If I didn't have to remember a dozen things at once, I'd quit playing. But some people hate it and say it's too hard.

I find 'frictionless' games that take that sort of thing out to be flat-out boring. So I suppose I love one type of friction and hate others. I guess all they could do to please the maximum number of people is put custom difficulty levels for everything, but that sounds like a development nightmare.
Milo
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Difficulty is relative. Different people are good at different things, so one person might think that game A is more difficult than game B, while another thinks that game B is more difficult than game A. Either way, though, the challenge is still there, you just may or may not have the skill to beat that challenge. All games per definition have some challenge. If there's no challenge at all, then whatever you're doing doesn't even qualify as a game. Maybe a toy? Or just a story.
shroomie
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So I feel like this stemmed from the same sentiment that caused everyone to call every new game Stardew Valley or Breath of the Wild for a while. If you've never played casual games before or are trying to explain a game to a general audience, it's easier to go by popular media association. "Oh, this game has farming. Stardew Valley also has farming. This game is like Stardew Valley!" They're not going to mention HM or Rune Factory, they might not know the games and even if they did, others may not. And they probably won't do any research because no one wants to play older games unless they've been ported to a new system. Almost all gamers I met in college never touched casual games (or games in general) before the switch came out.

Trying to think on both sides here, but same with "cozy", you could go in depth about what a game is like and what it takes inspirations from, but maybe no one knows what you're talking about.

It kind of makes things more inclusive, very over simplified buzzwords for people that are new to gaming. At the same time, alienating for the folks that already have a basic understanding of games and how to describe them.

It comes off as a lack of effort or general lack of knowledge about casual games (this alone is not a bad thing btw). But also a way to spoonfeed people information in a shorter amount of time. I don't think it's a way to get away from the word "casual" I think it's just people that started with Stardew valley and Animal Crossing for switch and basically treat it as a new genre, because it's something they've genuinely never seen before. "Cozy" feels like the desire to want to be a part of a community without having to do the due diligence to learn anything about it. Coming up with new convoluted language instead of trying to understand the existing one that could tell you everything you need to know about a game albeit probably using a less relatable word, feels a little disingenuous(?), wrong thing to do. Social simulator says SO much more than "wholesome".

Even a recently created term for souls games, "souls-like", I can at least learn what that means, it's not subjective. I'm fine with people comparing games however they like on reviews or whatever based on their experience, but I'm not getting any information when developers or youtubers use the word cozy, especially when cozy horror games are a thing now (dredge, which is nothing like animal crossing lol).

And on labels, so instead of being a girl gamer that only plays candy crush, now I'm a cozy gamer that plays candy crush and stardew valley? It's not the label that's the issue.
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