Game People Calling: Now You’re Just Being Difficult

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Game People Calling: Now You're Just Being Difficult

Difficulty settings in games are due a big overhaul to really put the player first.

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Actually, I think these are some good points. Oddly enough my dad has started playing games more, and seeing him flail about on some of the later stages of games is painful to watch. I understand WHY there is a difficulty curve; to test what the player has learned through increasing challenges to keep the player engaged and feel they are improving and making progress. The problem is when newer players come along and the difficulty curve, for them, ramps up way too fast to keep up.

I think the idea outlined in the article could be a good idea... but then the Fan Dumb would be saying it's dumbing down the difficulty of the game even though it's all optional and they can play it on the harder settings if they want. The announcement of 'Easy Mode' in Mega Man 10 springs to mind.

Game People:

So the main fallacy in this argument is that when it comes to sports games, the difficulty is controlled by the skill of a separate entity (or emulated by a computer). In American Football, playing against a team like the Indianapolis Colts will (should) be far more difficult than playing against the Detroit Lions; consequently, the difficulty is also controlled by the person behind the controller (or the computer emulating such). This is an impossible comparison to a game that is throwing wave after wave of "dumb" enemies or a game with "boss battles."

I believe that the "difficulty" of a game should be reflective of the type of game you're playing, with accessibility in mind of course. For instance... games where you fly a fighter-jet should be inherently more difficult than games where you drive a car, as driving a car is far easier than flying a fighter jet. I'm a fan of "realism modes" in games, (especially shooters) but do enjoy the option to turn them off.

I guess the balance would be the option to have an "accessible" difficulty versus a "realism" difficulty. I was perfectly fine in the days when falling down a hole meant you had to restart the level or at the very least from the last checkpoint. Me being different from the OP; I got VERY bored with Assassin's Creed in the sense that the story wasn't ultimately that good, so all I was doing was jumping on people and picking fights just to pull off the counter-moves with my little blade with no sense of forward momentum.

An immediate example of how to do difficulty properly springs to mind for me, and that is the game Bushido Blade. For the first time in game history, they actually made sword/weapon fighting more about thought than how fast you could input pre-memorized command sets. It actually gave a sense of "wow, this is what sword fighting was like... consequences and all." I would love to see more modern games go that route.

The assumption of the difficulty curve is that as the player continues to interact with the game, their familiarity with it increases, and so their ability to judge and execute the correct response to the situations the game presents develops and deepens.

The ideal difficulty curve is one that is unnoticed by the player because their understanding and skill with the game develops at the same rate as the complexity and difficulty of the game develops.

I disagree, to a point. I think the reason why sports, card games and things like that don't need any sort of difficulty curve is because of the human element. If you're playing monopoly with 3 complete novices, and you're a novice too, it's safe to assume that after a lot of games of monopoly, none of you will be novices any more. However, in a singleplayer game, if there's no difficulty curve, the game is going to stay at the same level while you naturally advance in skill from playing it. While this can feel good for a while, it quickly gets very boring indeed.

This is why multiplayer games don't have difficulty settings, because you're playing against other human beings who have complex ways of varying tactics, reacting to situations, and generally playing the game. However, with a singleplayer game, as much as we try to make the AI think like humans, they're still heavily regulated pieces of code. If left to their own devices, they won't advance as the player does. I'm not saying that difficulty curves don't need improvement, they do, certainly for some games, but getting rid of or reducing them to appeal to casual gamers runs the risk of totally removing the challenge from videogames, reducing them to just spectacle. Believe it or not, some players still enjoy a hefty challenge, which is the reason why I tend to start on hard difficulty.

Sports have an increasing difficulty as you get better at them. Many activities have it, gaming is not unique. It is also a part of gaming as a medium. Video games usually tell their stories through some form of conflict. They engage the player in this conflict and as a result draw him deeper into the narrative than passive observation might. A part of this is the added impact personal achievement adds to any plot point, and to get this there needs to be an increasing level of difficulty. This allows the game to push the player to try harder and gain greater satisfaction from the eventual success.

A bigger issue IMO is the initital learning curve of gaming in general that turns off non-gamers, as well as the learning curve of individual games. I don't mind it, but I've been gaming for about two decades...

I think I can agree. If, like you said, they had a game in which you could adjust how quickly or slowly the game difficulty go up, then you might be able to keep newer players around.

This kind of makes me think about Monster Hunter Tri. It's been highly debated here, but the tutorial was very easy IMO. The easiness of the tutorial turned off some hardcore gamers, but for new gamers, it was a good start.

"I think I'm in a minority here. I, for one, have no issue with Assassin's Creed's repetitious approach"

I totally agree with you - I don't like a game that starts off fun and ends up work because the difficulty gets ridiculous.

The steadily rising difficulty is there for a reason: Once the player defeats one challenge, it doesn't make sense to just repeat that challenge over and over until the game is over. In stead, that challenge increases somehow, either because of changing circumstances or because the challenge itself becomes more complex. This keeps games from getting too repetitive, and keeps the players on their toes.

As others have pointed out above, multiplayer games, boardgames, and sports don't have a difficulty setting, but they certainly do ramp up in difficulty as you get better at them, because your opponents get better as well.

Seriously, does no one play games for the challenge anymore? Over and over I hear people whining about how games are too hard, and how they'd prefer to play the game without any challenge because they only want to hear the story. More and more people seem to be expecting to play a game in the same way they watch a movie. On the other hand, people never stop whining that games get dumbed down too much these days. Take a guess whose fault that is. Stop your whining and go watch a movie if you want a story without any challenge.

I realize that some games increases the difficulty too fast or too irregularly, but that's a fault of those individual games. There's nothing wrong with a game that ramps up the difficulty on a steady pace. To be honest, I'm having a bit of trouble seeing myself enjoy a game that doesn't do that.

I'm not sure if this exists in many games yet, but the idea that a game changes in difficulty based on how good you are would solve all these problems. Otherwise, games should definitely have two or three difficulty settings. Torchlight has Easy, Medium, Hard, and Very Hard, which are, in order, for non-gamers, for people who haven't played ARPGs before, for ARPG veterans, and for people who have played Torchlight a few times and want a decent challenge.

Hurr Durr Derp:
The steadily rising difficulty is there for a reason: Once the player defeats one challenge, it doesn't make sense to just repeat that challenge over and over until the game is over. In stead, that challenge increases somehow, either because of changing circumstances or because the challenge itself becomes more complex. This keeps games from getting too repetitive, and keeps the players on their toes.

As others have pointed out above, multiplayer games, boardgames, and sports don't have a difficulty setting, but they certainly do ramp up in difficulty as you get better at them, because your opponents get better as well.

Seriously, does no one play games for the challenge anymore? Over and over I hear people whining about how games are too hard, and how they'd prefer to play the game without any challenge because they only want to hear the story. More and more people seem to be expecting to play a game in the same way they watch a movie. On the other hand, people never stop whining that games get dumbed down too much these days. Take a guess whose fault that is. Stop your whining and go watch a movie if you want a story without any challenge.

I realize that some games increases the difficulty too fast or too irregularly, but that's a fault of those individual games. There's nothing wrong with a game that ramps up the difficulty on a steady pace. To be honest, I'm having a bit of trouble seeing myself enjoy a game that doesn't do that.

As a gamer who does prefer a story over difficult gameplay, I must point out the reason me and similar don't just "watch a movie", or read a book for that matter: it's that in a game you can control your character so it's like you are actually in the story, rather than simply being an outside observer. This applies very well in non-linear games where you can choose what you do. While I personally do like gameplay to be somewhat challeging, if it is too hard and the player constantly dies, the game quickly loses its fun...

If games are too easy, even if it is fun to blow shit up, I'll lose interest before long.
I need something that's able to disintegrate me if I misstep to be able to focus and to enjoy the game.

Do you mean like arcade games do or like large games do? Because your non-video game examples, sports and board games, are closer to arcade games. A comparison to a full game there would be say, starting out as a hobbiest footballer and ending up playing in the FA cup, which would gradually get harder.
The reason most games get gradually harder is a, as your get used to the controls, it becomes easier to play, thus it gets harder to counteract this, b, as new features are introduced, slowly over the game, to not overwhelm the player, it gets harder as there is more to track, and c, the increased difficulty adds to the sense of "Epicness", creating climaxes as the story progresses (along with breather levels for anticlimaxes).
As for arcade games, rather alot of them do increase in difficulty, more so than necessary. Could be a combination of a holdover from when you could suck more money from someone with more time invested, and trying to stop people of a certain skill from playing indefinitely.
Personally I think games should slowly increase in difficulty til the player is expected to know the whole thing, and from then oscillate between harder, more epic levels and breather levels, ending with an acceptably difficult finale. The higher the difficulty setting, the higher the peak difficulty should be.


Hurr Durr Derp:
Stop your whining and go watch a movie if you want a story without any challenge.

As a gamer who does prefer a story over difficult gameplay, I must point out the reason me and similar don't just "watch a movie", or read a book for that matter: it's that in a game you can control your character so it's like you are actually in the story, rather than simply being an outside observer. This applies very well in non-linear games where you can choose what you do.

It's true. While you can question the quality of execution, games have an edge over books and films for storytelling, partly due to the inherent immersiveness, and also due to the ability to choose and see things created procedurally.

I always thought it was a representation of how stories tend to work. Protagonist sets off, does his thing but things get worse before they get better. To quote a certain Gotham DA, "The night is darkest just before the dawn", the hero's quest is increasingly difficult before the "dawn" of the defeated villain at the end of the story. Games have the means to show this literally, by putting the player in the shoes of the protagonist and showing that it is actually harder to save the world/princess/whatever than it seemed at the start.

People refer to the good old days where games were harder. That is only half-true. Gaming derives from the arcades who were designed for us to play for a couple minutes, die, but get hooked, and then put another quarter in. They don't need to be that way anymore.

Somewhere along the way, games went from a fun pasttime to proof of your uberness if you can pass a difficult challenge. Now that's just stupid to derive a sense of self-esteem or superiority in any way from playing single-player videogames. That whole attitude needs to be derided by the gaming community as a whole. I can respect someone who is good at multi-player Starcraft, and venues like that is where the elite should go. Hopefully game designers will be rewarded for making games entertaining for casual players.

In single-player experiences especially, I think a difficulty curve is absolute necessity to keep players engaged. In my mind, an increase in difficulty over time gives a sense of progress; like anything with the capability to learn, the more you perform a task the better you become at it, so a lack of increase in the skill required to "win" creates stagnation and complacency in the player. In plain English, without a rise in difficulty, the player says, "I have no need to get better, so why should I?"

Having said that, however, I think one of the issues that the OP is seeing is a problem with the rate of change of difficulty. I have a feeling this is an impossible to perfect situation because different people improve at different rates. A curve that rises too slowly causes boredom and the aforementioned complacency, while a curve rising too fast, or one that rises suddenly is punishing the player, rather than challenging him or her. This is one of the issues I have with many physics-based puzzle games - the early challenges start out stupefyingly easy, which lulls the player into a comfort zone, then suddenly the puzzles become mind-bendingly hard or crypic to the point you have to effectively consult the answers for step 1, or else flounder with trial and error. It's a terrible misconception game designers have, that once you teach the basic mechanics one-by-one, a player instantly knows exactly how to string them together; which is totally wrong. One thing Portal did right was teach the mechanics, then teach how they all link together and only then did they set the player free.

What I think the OP's other issue with the difficulty curve is a lack of perspective. A game getting harder for the sake of getting harder is also pointless. A player needs to be shown "after-the-fact" and as a part of the main story (i.e. not via replaying the game) what their improvement is worth. I've found that Monster Hunter Tri and Half Life 2 have done this very well, albeit with varying degrees of time between the moments. In the case of the latter; the "super gravity gun" final chapter gives the player a super-weapon, but also gives some perspective about what they've been through; how the combine soldiers (especially the elites) which were once a significant challenge are now effectively cannon-fodder, a moment the player has already experienced with Civil Protection. Many games show you prior what the "big goal" is and tell you "you've got to get better before you fight him", but few actually show you the benefit later on beyond being able to take down the one who's been hovering over you indirectly all game.

I'd also point out that there are also "casual" and "introductory" level games out there for people who are just starting out, games that generally stay easy and do not ramp up in difficulty. There are a number of RPGs for example (like arguably the Tales Of Heroes series for the PSP, or the recent Glory of Hercules game for the DS) that are intentionally designed to be easy for the neophyte and don't get as obtuse as even moderate offerings, never mind involving the sheer depty and obtuse nastiness of games like the "Shin Megami Tensei" series.

Generally speaking such arguements seem to basically amount to people saying that the majority of games, including AAA-type titles, should cater to the lowest common human denominator, which is going to be VERY low indeed. Basically the idea that anyone, irregardless of skill, should be able to play any game, and win it, irregardless of skill or intelligence. I disagree with this, as it would destroy the entire challenge of playing game for gamers, and in the end the banality of it all WOULD reaffirm the suspicians of a lot of the anti-video gaming movement that these games are for children... and it couldn't be argued on a lot of levels because they would be exactly that patronizing and approachable.

I will also point out that there are differant TYPES of games. Let's be honest, some of us don't have great twitch reflexs and super-fast reaction time. A lot of us who had these abillities lose it as we get older. That's exactly why things like turn based RPGs and Strategy games exist, being more of an intellectual exercise than a matter of reflexs. Right now the influx of new gamers as gaming has gone mainstream has filled the ranks with twitchy fingered kids, so admittedly such games are treated with scorn, however as time goes on and those kids slow down your going to see the demand for turn based games and such increase again.

It's like this, right now I am pretty bad at action games. My "adventures" in Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer are beyond laughable for example. While not my genere of choice I still occasionally play (and enjoy) these games despite my lack of success and having to work harder than most people, on the rare occasion where one inspires me to play despite my RPG fixation. I do not however feel that they should dumb down the game, or make it easier, specifically so I can dominate epically either in the single or multiplayer aspects.

Chances are if your playing a game, and not having fun even when you get pwned, that game isn't for you. Play a differant one. Not every game is for everyone.

Game People:
Card games, board games and sports don't find the need to increase the difficulty as the end draws near. The best cards don't start disappearing just as you are about to win, the snakes don't start multiplying as you approach the last square, and the goals don't get smaller as the final whistle approaches.

Largely due to all those games being based on chance, as opposed to video games where a majority of events are pre-scripted. If things always went "your way" in video games, that would be the same as always drawing aces, playing "Snake and Ladders"... and I honestly can't think of a suitable sports analogy. However, it's fair to say that simulator and sports games are based around the concept of being static in that there are set, immovable set pieces that the player manipulates, something that is specific to those genres . Not to mention that the entire point of those genres is to mimic reality as closely as possible. It wouldn't be much of a game if Ezio was breaking his ankle every fifteen minutes or contracting the plague right?

While I do understand where you're coming from, this isn't a recent trend at all. Mega Man 2 and a vast number of titles on the NES and onwards had absolutely punishing difficulties, many of which ramped up steeply. I think one of the main reasons for the confusion is what people are actually expecting from their video games. I would hazard to assume that a majority of core or old school gamers are more familiar with (and seek out) the "Hero's Journey" style of writing being present in their games, so that they more closely mimic novels and movies. (If on the other hand you're just asking for a casual difficulty level in all games well... that would be a per-developer issue and honestly, if you were to get all developers to agree to a casual difficulty level that would be a bit of a waste of an article right?

However, it would also seem that many newcomers (and I'm exempting children from this) and casual gamers are just seeking a way to pass the time, in which case you are absolutely right, difficulty curves would be unnecessary to them and actually counterproductive. That is why review sites and magazines that point out casual or "friendly" games as such are such a boon.

Just as you wouldn't watch an action movie that doesn't flow, progress and test the protagonist, I wouldn't want to play a game that did not flow, change and test me as a player. People coming into video games need to understand that everything that has come before has set trends and tendencies that are pretty much hallmark to the industry. You don't go your life without swimming, then when you finally try to take a dip in your neighbor's pool complain that it's wet.

The first Sin episode had difficulty sliders much like you described.

But absolutely no-one bought it and so no more were made. Despite it being a pretty cool FPS.

Well, I guess the best idea to be drawn here is just more control over the game in the hands of gamers.
I recall the difficulty settings in Deus Ex included a "realistic" setting, but contrary to my expectations it turned out to be a super-duper-difficult-semi-masochistic mode.

I agree with the OP. I think games should build to a general climax, in all their elements (story, gameplay etc). A gradual ramping up of intensity makes for a constantly fresh and pleasurably challenging experience - but this should not necessarily entail just making the game more "difficult".

However, increasing the difficulty level isn't always a bad thing either, as this often aids in a game acheiving its goal of becoming more climactic. It sets the player on edge, makes them sweat. Obviously if it's over done then this just results in frustration, but when done well can substantially increase the level of intensity, and therefore pleasure, for the player.

Thats what I thought was cool in Fable 2. Even though the enemies got a little harder in the middle point, after that you get the uber weapons to kill them in one or two shots. It gives you the feeling of actually becoming a famous hero.

Oblivion had a difficulty slider, even with it's bashed unbalanced leveling system, it gave me the oportunity to scale down or ramp up the difficulty whenever I wanted.

I remember in old 8-bit games that there were certain enemies you couldn't kill unless you were equipped with a specific weapon. The only challenge lay in finding said weapon and equipping it to battle a specific enemy. All other weapons would do a tiny fraction of the damage of that specific weapon in that specific situation, and you'd spend hours until you figured it all out unless the game was kind enough to give you a clue.

That being said, games such as Crackdown that feature tougher enemies in advancing areas give you a chance to return to an old area if you are soundly getting your ass handed to you. With the rise of the casual gamer, people don't always have eight to sixteen hours to sit in front of a game to master your technique to be able to beat the game. Some people maybe have two hours a day they can devote to playing, with maybe a day or three inbetween sessions of gaming. By the time you get back to the game, you've lost the edge you built on the first day and have to reassert yourself with the controls again, and the game doesn't take that into account.

I also got bored playing both Assassin's Creed games. The motivation to keep playing wasn't really enough, and I know this can be a repeat problem in sandbox-ish games like that which present you with an open world and tell you to just have at it. They provide a broad outline of a premise to get you going, then they hand you a weapon and tell you to get the bad guys. What do you do inbetween those times of chasing down the enemy? Walk around, kill things to provide you with an income to buy more equipment, lather rinse repeat. Blah.

The "realism" setting is a good point. I've seen tactical shooters with this feature, and I agree that it does help immerse you into a more realistic situation. Games like Saints Row where if you get shot up, you can sit in one spot and wait for your health to regenerate isn't realistic at all. I like the feature so I'm not about to crap on it, but I admit it does take away from the realism. But oh well, I'm just playing a game. If I wanted complete realism, I'd get into an actual gun fight with the cops to see if I could wait out a gunshot. Naturally, we know this doesn't work. But some games do tend to ramp up the difficulty rather quickly and without warning, and it is easy to understand how a casual or inexperienced gamer would get frustrated with that. Perhaps the slider bar idea isn't such a bad thing after all. If you want a challenge, ignore the slider. If you are getting killed less than five minutes into a game, then it would be nice to have the option to scale back the enemies to suit your abilities better than for the game to expect you to just become more proficient in a matter of moments. That whole "learning AI" stuff can bite my ass sometimes... I've had a game drastically get more difficult because I pulled off a few lucky shots, and now I'm getting over-run by enemies who think I can manage to pull magic out of my ass like David Copperfield with a rifle. Enough with that already!

The reason that card games and board games do not ramp up difficult in a curve is because those games are typically meant to be a competition. In Monopoly you're not playing against the board, you're playing against your best friend -well former best friend since that jerk just bought all the red properties and built nine hotels on Indiana. Here the challenge is to beat your buddy. In a game the challenge is less of a satisfying one, because there is no other human to beat. The game's need to create their own artificial challenge and feeling of accomplishment. So they get more difficult. Simple really.

I actually agree with a lot of your sentiments (shock, horror), especially for Wii games, but I think until you replace it with something less repetitive, boredom is a huge issue. Assassins Creed became almost unplayable towards the end unless you gave it several days break between each couple of hours of gaming. If I'm just doing things the same way every single time I'm going to begin to question why I'm doing this.

But I do agree that making a games difficulty ramp up until the point where it's actually difficult isn't necessarily the right way to go about it.

Solutions include FF's optional sidequests and bosses, always much harder than the final boss (an approach shared by quite a few games)and very careful planning like in KotoR and FFXIII. If (in a RPG) you know exactly what level someone is then you can plan it so it seems more difficult without getting more difficult. In the end the final boss isn't any more difficult than the original but it feels harder because it's doing a lot more damage and you're bringing a huge array of tools to bear on the situation.

Although, in the end, ramping difficulty levels exist for the same reason narrative exists. It's about showing achievement, a sense of accomplishment and a huge climax. If in an action movie the guys at the end of the film are dispatched in the same easy way that the guys at the beginning (unless this is a flatlined-the-polygraph let's do this moment of awesome)then it feels unsatisfying.

I actually think that most developers have changed. The problem is that unless a game has a strong narrative (unlike Mario) there isn't anything you can do to show change. God of War, Uncharted and all of that can have things which look harder, but aren't, because it's designed to be a tale you play with an epic conclusion, without that the gameplay has to do the same thing and that involves increased difficulty.

The simple answer is on-the-fly adjustable difficulty settings a la Uncharted 2 and lots of other games. People who are experienced and need challenge can have. People who want to play on easy can have it and if they start on normal and come to a difficult bit they can just tone it down. Of course that's hard to do on a platformer but for other games there's not much excuse for not including it

I do think the way they do difficulty does need to be looked at. It seems the curve is either too small, or far too high. I like to enjoy what I am playing, but when I am near the point of never wanting to play it again then its a problem

He mentions that he wants to be able to decide if the game gets more difficult as you progress or if it should stay the same. This type of difficulty system has already been used in Oblivion. If you leave the slider in its initial place the game starts out easy and then soon becomes much harder. A wolf in the woods soon becomes a terrifying enemy, especially if you invest any of your leveling up points into a non-combat related skill (like alchemy or speech craft). But if you turn down the slider bar, the game doesn't adjust the enemies as much for your level. So now, you're level 25 warrior guy that has single handedly saved the world can take down enemies in a few blows or even just one, where as if you left the slider alone, it would take several minutes of intense fighting, and several health potions to kill even a single enemy.

Heh, Fable II kind of threw a wrench in that formula for creating a game. Epic final boss, hehe....

Analog games don't have difficulty setting because real live opponents get better. Playing poker with your 10-year-old cousin is not the same thing as sitting down with the regulars at your local casino and is definitely easier than going up against one of those guys in a ball cap and aviators with a giant beard and a hand over his face. Is he sleeping? WTF. The games DO get harder the more you play, but video games don't grow and don't learn, so they have to artificially get more difficult.

And many other people already made this point.

From what I see, sports actually DO do the harder later, or rather, as it gets later, they try harder as it counts more for whatever.

Card games have the human opponent factor, and ofcourse people would want to start with novices before moving up to big tournys. The inclining difficulty actually is pretty universal. Since birth its wobble, crawl, walk, run then if you desire, become an athlete which would be the top for that.

The type of game and the type of difficulty that's increasing matters in this kind of discussion.

RPGs need to have beefier enemies with more difficult attack patterns to defend against as you go through the game because in an RPG your character is generally getting stronger. If the enemies weren't advancing in some respect you'd end up with the Fable issue where the latter half of the game turns piss-easy due to everything just falling over dead when you cast your mystical nuke of kill-all. I don't think this kind of difficulty curve is one that gives new players issues.

Shooters are a bit different, not counting shooters with RPG elements which add in the above. In shooters the difficulty is as much a test of reaction speed and accuracy as it is of awareness, understanding game mechanics and the actual strength of your opposition. For a new player I would bet the trouble in keeping up with shooter difficulty curves isn't that the enemies are becoming more resilient and have bigger guns - these contribute, but I don't think they're the killer. The real trouble tends to be how many of them there are, from how many directions they arrive, how many supplies you have to contend with them, how difficult it is to find cover while fighting, and the real kick in the ass: whether or not you have to protect anyone else. Escort missions are the doom of even veteran gamers; I have seen them reduce less experienced players to a frothing mass of tears and hate.

Platformer difficulty is almost entirely comprised of the second element of the shooter curve: reaction speed and accurate inputs. You could have every map of Super Mario Bros. memorized but that won't help you a bit if you can't actually wield the controller as expertly as needed to navigate the obstacles in them. This isn't necessarily a new vs. pro gamer issue either: no one is good at everything to do with a controller. I'm pretty aces in a shooter once I'm familiar with its specific quirks and maps, but I can't bear SMB for the life of me. (SMB3, yes, but the original kicks my ass so hard.) I'm just not a great platform player. Different kind of difficulty.

In short, I agree that difficulty curves are, well, difficult for new players; newer games are easier than older games in many ways for those of us who've actually been playing long enough to compare the two. For players without that experience the control schemes of newer games alone probably makes them harder than the old controller-has-two-buttons brand of games. Hell, it takes at least three buttons just to jump in Bushido Blade. Awkward controls much? I'm not really sure how you'd put difficulty sliders on every kind of difficulty involved in games, though. I mean, how do you make platforming easier? They'd have to make multiple layouts of each level with simpler jumps and obstacles for the more novice players; just having fewer or weaker enemies won't help you get past the pit of instant death.

I understand the logic but if a game's difficulty stays stagnant, then it gets boring. That's what the difficulty SLIDERS are for. Lowering enemy's health, increasing weapon damage and all that.

I understand the slow upward in general difficult though. It works you up so you can handle various challenges as the game progresses.

Also; Comparing... say, an FPS to, say, a CARD game... Is not a very good comparison for argument.

I don't think anybody is being excluded in the current model. I mean, video games seem to work more like real life than other entertainment in this way. You start with some basic skills, then learn advanced skills which play off of those basic skills to counter tougher challenges later in the game. In college, you take Algebra 101 followed by Algebra 111 which still uses concepts from 101, but then further expands and builds upon them. Are you really helping anyone out by making a game which is consistently easy from beginning to end? Kids, and whoever else might be new to gaming, have to learn that practice makes perfect. Do you think that we uber-gamers were good the instant we picked up a controller? Hell no...we started with NES games which gave you three lives and killed you the instant you touched anything that looked sharper than a cloud. But we played through the same level(s) between fifty and one-hundred times, and now we're much better gamers for it. If we coddle new gamers even more, then they're just going to be super pissed when they attempt to play their favorite game online and get absolutely dominated by other people. They'll ask, "why didn't the game better prepare me for this?"

In a way, card games and board games do work similarly. They're easy to learn, but usually tough to master. As you beat the novices, you'll want to play against tougher opponents. That is, assuming you want to get better.

If we're just talking about casual gamers here, then they already have enough consistently easy games to toy around with. Like Peggle. If they want to get into more advanced games, then they'll have to learn more advanced skills. And the game will teach them those as they go along.

Handicaps. They exist in all non-video games in some form or another to maintain a level of competitiveness between players of vastly different abilities.

Now, games get more difficult as they go on because they're designed around the idea that people have this strange capacity to "learn." That, somehow, someway, they adapt to new situations and eventually overcome once crippling limitations. I've never seen or heard tell of this myself, but some faggy academic types (living and long dead) seem to harp on it quite a bit from their gay ivory towers. But what the fuck do they know, rite? Dead people don't have anything relevant to say anymore (as nothing that happened before I was born is relevant to the present lol) and those faggy academic types couldn't create a relevant sentiment if their gay lovers live's depended on it. [this is as anti-intellectual as I can be without causing physical pain to myself].

If, say, Super mario brothers was designed in such a way as you're speaking, then you could eventually find the right princess in world 8-3 just by holding right for 30 minutes. But it wasn't. Because it was designed by intelligent people operating under the assumption that other people had some capacity to learn, think, and adapt.

Since you've apparently never heard this, I'll try to reproduce it. The game starts, and all thats on the screen is a man. You quickly figure out theres nothing to the left, so you move him right. The first entity that isn't the man appears (a goomba). Most people ran the man straight into it, and the man died. Failure and the consequences thereof are established. They restart, and attempt to utilize the two other mysterious buttons on the controller to avoid the goomba. They figure out one button makes you run faster, and the other makes you jump really friggin high. They are likely to be nervous about losing another life, so they gravely mis-judge the jump by jumping way too early, and to their horror land directly on top of the goomba. Their breath catches in their throat, as they know when the man lands, hes going to die again, and theres nothing they can do about it. Then he lands, flattens the goomba, and the first attack is established. Jumping on things kills them! Holy shit dawg.

As the game goes on, this general sentiment is always followed to establish a upward trending difficulty curve. If someone proves themselves ahead of the curve (figure out you can enter some pipes by pushing down), they're rewarded with new placement on the curve. Either a quick jaunt forward in the level, or the old warp zones. Allowing the player to say, "This is where I belong." Eventually they figured out they could warp directly to the last world, and the game only lasted 5 minutes. Either from dying horribly or beating the game.

The reason games are more difficult now is 3D. In the 2D era, there was one, single camera angle. It floated at a fixed point 90° off the two planes of the game's existence, in a direction that didn't exist in the game. Anything off the viewable area did not exist. The addition of a functional third dimension to gaming means the camera angles have a choice. Form or function. Most sure as fuck aren't focusing on function. Moving to the ideal position to show off whatever the prettiest thing on the game is, while leaving mario off on his own to fight enemies that aren't even visible.

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