Difficulty is Hard

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

Difficulty is Hard

It's, erm, difficult to balance the difficulty in videogames.

Read Full Article

One game that did good with checkpoints is Infamous. I'd say it has the best checkpoint-system ever. Except maybe the 2008 Prince of Persia at least.

And if you want to see more of Extra Credits, I suggest going through their Youtube Channel to see their earlier work.

0.95^30 = 0.21... ?

And this is precisely why Demon's Souls is overrated. I don't want to have to spend 10 minutes trudging through the easy parts only to die again. Yeah, it keeps the tension, but when you die, and when you feel like your death is more luck than skill, why bother to keep playing?

Also, see Super Meat Boy as an example of difficulty done correctly. As well as Kirby's Epic Yarn, which is equally well-designed, but not challenging in the slightest.

I agree with you and I'm sure everyone agree's that the reboot of PoP went in the completely wrong direction.

I understand the need to balance difficulty quite a bit. I hate games that use cheap tactics over genuine challenge, but I do applaud games that are really hard while still being fair. In fact, a good fair challenge can give a game alot of bonus points in my eyes. I'm a hack'n'slash lover and I'll give the best examples I can of how to do difficulty.

Terrible and Cheap Difficulty: Ninja Gaiden 2
Fair and Challenging Difficulty: Bayonetta

Developers; take note.

There are so many ways to balance difficulty, and some get it right and some wrong.

I don't like level scaling but Fallout 3 seemed to get it close to right, whereas Oblivion made me feel like I was running a treadmill.

Checkpoint systems work to an extent. I think you already nailed that one.

The more interesting device I've seen is the "new game +" option. I didn't like it in Dead Rising, but in it's sequel I found it to be quite useful. Especially when you can save anywhere and you're not quite sure which missions are a game over condition upon failure. I guess you could say that Capcom didn't need to balance the game through that system alone, but my perceived differences between the two games means they balanced DR2 much better than DR1.

User scalable difficulty (like: easy, normal/medum, hard, etc...) works sometimes, but more often than not the difference between medium and hard could be great and an "almost hard" mode wouldn't have hurt (looking at you Rock Band/Guitar Hero). There never seems to be enough difficulty modes to suit all players, but I think that's a human issue and not a game one.

Sports sims also do something of the sort and generally have sliders for pretty much every aspect of the game and it's AI. I've never played a sports sim where I couldn't balance the difficulty with my ability (I like them hard, but not punishingly so). Though my son can still kick my ass no matter how often I practice.

Great article, it's something I've been pondering for a while now.

Rather an abrupt ending to the article.

I hate that crap where they make you replay through all the easy parts just to take another crack at where you failed too. It's not fun, it's not challenging, it's just frustrating and I'm more likely to turn the game off in disgust than keep trying. I agree with the article when it says games are here to be fun and entertaining, and when they pull nasty tricks like that they are failing to do their job.

The hack n slash genre contains some of the best examples of difficulty in the business.

Bayonetta did it right.

Devil May Cry always did it right.

Ninja Gaiden fucked it up. Thanks to one of the cameras in the business, and horrid platforming controls.

God of War mostly fucked it up by with imbalanced weaponry, and limited experience. Put too many points into the wrong shit, and you are fucked on God or Titan mode.

And...as a bonus.

Megaman fucks it up really bad. Megaman is hard, and unfair about it. It's all PURELY trial and error. And good difficulty will challenge you, but make it more than possible to beat things on your first try.

Very good read. The subject of difficulty in games is one of those pet-subjects of mine. Mostly because I'm one of those idiots who plays a game to have fun and relax when I don't have anything else to do.
This sometimes means trying to beat one of those hard-as-nails games(Ghosts N' Goblins for the NES still being that-one-game), or sometimes just an easy casual thing like Bejewled/Tetris/Whatever. Ok, "Easy" is a stretch but shut up I'm getting to a point here.

I usually load a game up on Easy if the option's there, atleast first time I play it.
The one thing I hate is people who say that unless you play a game on the hardest-possible difficulty it's not really playing it.
"It's how it's MENT to be played".
If that was true, I wouldn't have the option to change the difficulty.

Some games really are too easy though.
Like BioShock which I picked up on that steam-sale over halloween(Still blame Spoiler Warning for oddly enough making me want it).
Doing my usual thing I loaded the game up on Easy for my first crack at it and... Usually that would mean dying once or twice but I've honestly only died once. On purpose. To fast-travel. That was... very disappointing.

Games that just arbitrarily kill you for no good reason on the other hand are twice as annoying. And there I can name quite a few. Like Evil Dead: Fistful of Boomsticks. I really hate that game.

It is a balancing act indeed.
No one really wants I wanna be the guy or silver surfer "difficulty". Except for raving lunatics.
It has to be challenging for the right reasons.

Daniel Laeben-Rosen:
I usually load a game up on Easy if the option's there, atleast first time I play it.
...
Some games really are too easy though.
Doing my usual thing I loaded the game up on Easy for my first crack at it and... Usually that would mean dying once or twice but I've honestly only died once. On purpose. To fast-travel. That was... very disappointing.

Woah, an "easy" mode being "easy".
Didn't see that one coming. =P

If you feel like the game is too easy... at least play on normal and not on babby mode with auto aimbots and sugar on top?
Complaining that easy is easy doesn't exactly look... smart.

you just reminded me of why i love "auto save"

remember playing Resident Evil 1 or 2 or even 3, when you forgot to save once?? and you died, and 4 frikken hours of progress where send into oblivion???

thatīs some nasty way of making a game "hard" also the limited saves were stupid, only if you had the damn ink ribbon you could save and it took a whole space you could use for more guns or something

that made the game a particular kind of hard, unforgiving, ugly hard.

It's true that games can be too hard or too easy, and the nuances between the two can be subtle.

But in this day and age I think it's time for even the blossoming new producers to stop doing the redundant crap like save points, checkpoints that are far too spread, etc. That stuff's not hard to work around with the technology.

When I was your age, we had games like Ninja Gaiden, and we didn't have none of yer fancy schmancy save points or memory cards. We trudged 10 hours through snow covered levels, with ninjas and sorcerers and demons lurking behind every bush, and all we had was a sword, some ninja stars and our wits. And when we farked up, we had to go back way back and do the whole thing over again. And we never complained once, cause we liked it that way! Ya blubberin' whipper snappers have it too easy these days with yer wiimotes and yer highfalutin graphics and yer sissy games.

Ok, cliched old man rant over. I just want to say that I've beaten a lot of old NES and Genesis games that people said could not be beaten, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Blaster Master and it was an admitted pain back then. Having to back track because you ran out of continues or because your password wasn't right. Or because your bitchy mom demanded that you do something pointless, like go to school.

That's not to say that games can't be challenging these days, but I think there's a real dichotomy between the old guard who scoff at most games that pretend to be challenging, and the new audiences who would crumble under the weight of an old NES or Genesis game like Revenge of Shinobi.

Though if I had a real solution for that issue, I'd probably be a lot richer.

As far as those bad checkpoints go, I've lost count on how many times the Halo games screwed me over with that on Legendary difficulty. For example, in Halo 3 I was on a mission, trying to have my AI partner kill a scarab with his rocket launcher, while I was driving a mongoose. I was blown of a cliff by a brute, and got a checkpoint just before I died, and this was right at the end of the mission!

Also, in Reach I had to kill a bunch of incredibly powerfull elites with a full rocket launcher and an almost empty DMR. I got a checkpoint, tried killing the elites with my rockets for about 10 minutes, died, reloaded, repeated this process like 5 times, then I got the smart idea of trying to shoot down the Phantom before it dropped them off. All my rockets hit the Phantom, it didn't do any damage, and right after my last rocket hit the Phantom, I got a checkpoint. Impossible mission became even more impossible >:(.

Shamus how fun a game is, is inversely proportional to how easy it is.

"The game wasn't challenging, it was just punishing. Stupidly, horribly, punishing."

..try again, Shamus. At the time the game was an evolution of the narrative-less never-ending arcade action, and it renewed that without disappearing off the scale completely. I.e., instead forcing you to use cheat-codes to ever get to the end of the game, it had endless lives. That in itself made it "easy".

So to pressure you ahead, you had the 60 minutes before the hourglass ran out. Which really is more than good enough time. But it's likely that people will have to try the game a few times before they are capable of completing it. Compared to other games at the time, though - it was an easy game, and it was designed that way to ensure that people managed to play all the way through it.

Sands of Time was very similar - it drove you ahead in the story, and had difficult battles sometimes in between that would actually challenge anyone. Until they would become good enough at mastering the game that it looked beautiful when you did beat it.

Warrior Within was another good game in that sense. Unlike God of War, which is simply punishing because it gives you no good way to actually defeat your enemies on the higher difficulty-levels, and sets "challenges" for you that are almost impossible to beat without strategic use of the super-power button (there's an escape button you can hit, that charges up once in a decade) - Warrior Within actually gave you the tools and the techniques to win the fights - convincingly, without the bullshit moves. Which of course, once again, helped pace the game through the many story-driven segments.

But both of those games were reviewed by the usual console-press at the time - the people who can not imagine games actually taking much effort to make, and that are simply made to be entertainment. These are the folks that look at Mario and think it's entertaining because it's simple - and fail to understand how much thought actually goes into making the objects interact with each other in the right way, the models skid along with impossible (but believable) physics.

And the same continues now - there's a lot of people who just latch on to something "because it just works" - and let the advertisement campaign decide for them what resonates with "fans". The result being, just as you describe here - that good games are thought to be wrong in all kinds of ways. Sands of Time now suddenly being "too easy" for "real gamers".. seriously, where does that come from? To it also being too hard for the casuals (which it definitively is not, if you compare it to Assassin's Creed or God of War.

There's another part of this that affects "difficulty" as well. In some games, the difficulty is in cheating the mechanics. God of War is a game like that. You can hit things with your blades through other monsters - and finding out when the attack-animations trigger is how you end up beating it. In the same way, the game actually has several uninterruptable attacks by monsters when they attack in series. This happens several times throughout the series - a difficult monster turns up, and their super-attack is possible to defend against once. But if there are two monsters like that, the second attack will happen before you can reset your guard - and therefore you will be hit.

There have been several attempts to solve this problem in different games. God of War gave you the escape-button with the super-power. Assassin's Creed let people stand around you and wait their turn to hit you with the sword.

Sands of Time, just like Warrior Within - just didn't put you in a situation where you could be defeated, and where that would clearly be the result of a cheap move, or a failed mechanic.

And that's something entirely different than adjusting "difficulty". This has to do with making a difficult problem solvable. Or simply making a difficult fight seem difficult - as well as rewarding to win.

9_6:
It is a balancing act indeed.
No one really wants I wanna be the guy or silver surfer "difficulty". Except for raving lunatics.
It has to be challenging for the right reasons.

Daniel Laeben-Rosen:
I usually load a game up on Easy if the option's there, atleast first time I play it.
...
Some games really are too easy though.
Doing my usual thing I loaded the game up on Easy for my first crack at it and... Usually that would mean dying once or twice but I've honestly only died once. On purpose. To fast-travel. That was... very disappointing.

Woah, an "easy" mode being "easy".
Didn't see that one coming. =P

If you feel like the game is too easy... at least play on normal and not on babby mode with auto aimbots and sugar on top?
Complaining that easy is easy doesn't exactly look... smart.

Always nice to see people making stupid assumptions out of the blue.
I can name plenty of games off the top of my head that managed the balancing act of having easy-mode present a decent enough challenge without being insultingly simple.

First time I play a game I just want to try it out, see what the story's about, learn the mechanics, so on. Then I replay it on a harder difficulty and go from there. It's easier for me to judge if I like a game or not if I'm not getting punked out every time I stick my head around a corner, making me insta-reload.

I don't know if you're aware of this but, some of us play games to have fun.

I must be the only person who enjoyed the combat in Sands of Time. It was simple to pick up and tricky to master, but otherwise felt nice and fluid. The only fight in the game I had trouble with was against sandzombie-daddy, because I'd fucked up some trap dodging right before and been checkpointed at the beginning of the fight with near no health and next to several guys with really big swords. And some silly tart firing arrows at me half the time and getting smacked up the other half.

I loved the 2008 PoP though, with the only game design in it I don't like being the combats eventual reliance on QTEs. Especially against the King, where sometimes I couldn't hit the button fast enough to win them. The combat was otherwise ok. It's just when you hit the 3rd or 4th fight tier on a boss they would usually hit you with a string of QTEs which, if failed, would dump you on your ass and give them their health back. And then god forbid you don't hit them quickly enough after passing through the quick-time quagmire, as the fuckers don't hesitate to start all over again.

Aside from that part of the combat, it was a great game. No idea what's wrong with the people who complain that you can't die. Like I have no idea why they complained about those chambers in Bioshock. If you don't like the mechanic, so what? You shouldn't be relying on it anyway. Never play a game expecting death and so treating lives as an easy commodity. I hate dying in games, even if I know I have a quicksave a few minutes ago. Just exercise a bit of willpower to realise that, while you will be 'saved' at the last minute before death, you should still be avoiding that outcome.

Why has no-one mentioned Super Meat Boy in these "difficulty" articles? It's the best example of "pure" difficulty this year, hardcore without being overwhelming or frustrating. I mean, I know it's an indie game but I thought it'd get way more coverage on the Escapist than this.

I think "Extra Credits" is well intentioned on a lot of levels, but I think a lot of what it has to say is simply wrong. I can understand where they are coming from, why they are wrong, and what their agenda is, but in a lot of cases it seems like they are pursueing things from a perspective that is counter productive to gaming in general.

To put things into perspective, I write stuff here all the time in response to your column, MovieBob, and others. If you check some of my responses in "extra credits" it's ironic that where I tend to mostly comment/discuss a couple of things said in other columns, but there I usually come away going "WTF" and more or less feeling the need to write what amounts to a rebuttal to everything Daniel Floyd and company are trying to say, in the vain hopes that people will come away agreeing with me (having agreed with my comments) than the article/video itself.

Oh doubtlessly I'll agree with them at some point, but I think it's one of those situations where I think the industry expertise that grants them the authority to do segements like that, also puts them out of context with a lot of the subject matter they are trying to address.

-

That said, when it comes to difficulty in games, I will say what I said (or tried to say) in response to "Extra Credits":

People who want difficult games are people who want Video games (not Simon) which the majority of people playing them are not going to be able to finish. The abillity to finish being determined by talent, and intelligence, rather than simply the investment of time.

To put things into perspective, in the context of RPGs (my primary interest) look at games like say "Wizardry: Return Of Wenda", the first two "Might And Magic" games, or say "Ultima IV" and similar titles. A lot of people played those games, but how many people finished them? The answer is not many. The reason being because you couldn't just follow a storyline to the next event, and cross the finish line, or even spend hundreds of hours grinding. No, you needed to explore the world, find the information you needed, and figure out what you needed to do on your own. You could grind "Might and Magic" for hundreds upon hundreds of hours and one-shot every monster in the game, and if you couldn't figure out what things like those gold and silver messages meant, or where "The Inner Sanctum" was, or heck even just didn't pay attention to the descriptions for riddles like "who is the voluptuous one?" you just weren't going to succeed.

An extension of this is elitism, there is a degree of satisfaction in a game like the original "Everquest" where hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people might be online, but there is content only a comparitively few people are going to be able to access. To be able to walk around with your uber gear, and know that it meant not only being able to invest time, but being able to coordinate large numbers of people with military presician, solve the puzzle of how to beat bosses, and win increasingly difficult encounters to gather the gear you need in order to succeed and so on. Being able to walk around and show off loot from zones that like 99% of the game population will never see, not because of time (despite what they might say) but because of abillity, actually feels pretty good. Oh sure, you can sit there and say that people like this are the "worst kind of human being" but let's be honest, most people have been there with something, and deep down inside I think we all know what it's like and what a lot of people want from games.

The problem here is manyfold, but one of the big reasons is that as was pointed out by some of Blizzard's Designers when it came to things like "Naxxaramas", that coders ultimatly wanttheir creations to be seen. Some of them were getting upset over having created content for what amounted to a tiny percentage of elite players. The result of this was to basially turn around and turn most of the raids into what comparitively could be termed "loot Pinatas". Right now in World Of Warcraft it seems like 90% of the game population, if not more, are raiders, which incidenty means the accomplishments mean less. It's not "difficult" or anything paticularly special if anyone who wants to can eventually do it.

Now, ironically I am not one of the "gods of WoW" so to speak. I wasn't an original Naxx raider. I however have been one of "those guys" in various things through the years to understand the euphoria and not want to deny it to anyone. I just don't see the point of denying people their glory so to speak.

I think ideally games should be approachable to start, but in many cases, nearly impossible to finish. Sort of like how in many older RPGs, back when cluebooks were just "clues" as opposed to walkthroughs (compare say the cluebook for the original Might and Magic, or Ultima IV to a modern one), mastering the game mechanics and building powerful characters was only half the battle, in the end it came down to YOU the player. I still vaguely remember when a bounty was placed on being the first guy to successfully beat "Return Of Wenda".

See, the problem comes down to the simple fact that making a game for everyone, pretty much contridicts making the game difficult. The problem is that the game industry has gotten to the point where it pretty much makes it so anyone who pays for a game, online or off, is pretty much guaranteed to see the end of the game/all the content if they want to put in the time. It's not about being approachable, it's about what it takes to beat them... and the fact that the game industry either no longer understands that, or is willfully ignorant of it, is the problem, and exactly why there is a problem.

Just recently in "Game Informer" I was looking at the article they were doing on "Catherine" and while the game seems like it would be interesting and all, I was a bit disturbed by the implicationt that it was being developed for people who liked the looks/vibe of the later Persona games, but were put off by the difficulty and committment. That right there sort of shows how it seems developer attitudes are changing, with a fairly "hardcore" developer deciding to stop being hardcore in hopes of drawing in more people. From a business perspective it makes sense, I can't judge things on that level, but it seems like when companies do things like this they dance around the issue of difficulty with the fans who WANT hardcore games that not everyone is going to be able to succeed at. Oftentimes trying to tell us (as Extra Credits oftentimes seems to) what we really want, when it's actually what THEY want, we know perfectly well what we're after. I sort of expect there is some guilt among game developers to be honest, not that they would ever admit it.

I'll also say something else, platformers and games like "Prince Of Persia" are not my thing. However I do not think that because someone doesn't want to play games that punishing anymore, does not mean that nobody does. Trying to act like the industry should change and stop producing things like that, because it's no longer what you (personally) want, or in the case of others want to develop, just isn't cool.

I'll also say that right now I think there are games like "Demon's Souls" which are getting an unjust reputation for being actually difficult. To be honest I've never done it all the way through, and most of my playtime has been scattered among other people's copies. I will say however that the game is all about memorization and pattern recognition. It's not unlike a lot of the old scrolling shooters of yesterday. It seems hard until you know exactly what's coming, and have the instinctive reflexs down. A point more or less reinforced by guys who have taken starting characters and defeated the entire game without leveling up. Throw yourself at it enough time and you'll win. It makes me wonder how many gamers today would still be alive if some Lunatic like Jigsaw (from the Saw Movies) put them in a cell with life support for exactly 30 days, and an electronic door hooked up to an Apple II loaded with "Deathlord" that would only open if they could beat the game. To be fair, I'm not sure I would survive it, I'm pretty sure most people who think they are masters of today's difficult days would actually fare worse.

Hopefully my rant is coherant to those who have been interested enough to read this far.

It's a fine line between challenging and frustrating.

I like when I play a game and when I die I think to myself "Is this in my ability? YES!" If this isn't the answer I give myself then the game is doing something wrong.

Case in point, Super Meat Boy, not a single level so far hasn't my own fault for dieing.(~230 completed levels, Cotton Valley Completed, IWBTG 5-7 Completed(after 4 hours non-stop))

Also though it isn't too difficulty NSMBW and Galaxy II were never insanely difficult but they were generally hard enough to feel satisfied after completing a challenge.

When its beyond your control, or the game outright plays unfair... then its definitely not good difficulty.

I managed to solo Gears of War 2 on insane difficulty. There were many sections I had to restart from the last checkpoint because even though I had found a good cover position and was whittling the enemies down no problem, my AI partners ran into the melee, and one would get 'downed'. Now, I had to try and revive them, because if I didn't within a strict time limit, they died, and I had to back to the last checkpoint. I was being punished for the AI's stupidity, as often the only reason they went down was their own suicidal stupidity, upto and include CRAWLING DEEPER INTO A CROSSFIRE instead of crawling towards me, so if I wanted to revive them I would be killed in their place.

Therumancer:
-snip-

From the moment on that any form of entertainment is in some way story based, making most of your audience being unable to finish it is downright stupid. You'll alienate pretty much everyone who would be interested in the game fiction.

I can sort of understand the desire of being challenged, but I can't understand the desire of wanting a challenging game simply so one can belong to a minority.

You should also keep in mind that the games you mention as having a lot of players were made at a time when the gaming industry was fraction of what we have today. Not only are those "lot of players" comparatively few, many probably played those games because there wasn't any other choice.

Your argument only kind of holds if you want a purely skill based game.

Granted, an ideal game should be able to cater for both type of players. Personally in that regard I liked Diablo 2 approach.

However, I would like to throw out there that one of the reasons games seem much easier nowadays is the abundance of checkpoints.

Daniel Laeben-Rosen:

I don't know if you're aware of this but, some of us play games to have fun.

I agree. I normally go for normal mode - but occasionally I get to a point where frustration sets and the game isn't fun any more. I then drop down to easy only to find easy to be a cakewalk and unsatisfying. Some level between easy and normal would be good thing sometimes.

Therumancer:

*Wall of text*

I think a solution to this problem would be to simply make the highest difficulty level hard enough so that most people couldn't beat it, and then add achievements for doing things like beating the various bosses on that difficulty. It allows for the feeling of accomplishment and bragging rights, while allowing the game to be completed by others at lower difficulties. And then they could maybe throw in an easter egg or two on the max difficulty.

Am I over-simplifying things by saying that 'difficulty levels solve all problems'? There must be some kind of problem with that I'm missing, seems too obvious an answer...

The way I see it people who aren't good can play on a difficulty that's super easy and that they'll complete without needing to have much experience at all when playing games. And the daredevils amongst us can play on the hardest setting imaginable.

Therumancer:
People who want difficult games are people who want Video games (not Simon) which the majority of people playing them are not going to be able to finish. The abillity to finish being determined by talent, and intelligence, rather than simply the investment of time.

To an extent, isn't investment of time one thing that determines talent anyway? I'd say that some of the more ridiculously difficult games (e.g. I wanna be the Guy) are mostly about Trial and Error so experience plays a huge role. Not to mention those of us who are better at games in general probably have spent more time with them.

ImBigBob:
And this is precisely why Demon's Souls is overrated. I don't want to have to spend 10 minutes trudging through the easy parts only to die again. Yeah, it keeps the tension, but when you die, and when you feel like your death is more luck than skill, why bother to keep playing?

Oddly enough, Demon's Souls was used as an example of things done RIGHT.

I don't remember dying out of bad luck in that game... I'd say they did the difficulty right on point.

Xocrates:
[quote="Therumancer" post="6.245937.9004451"]-snip-

I read your whole post, there was a lot to it, but the thing that stuck out to me the most was your WoW/EverQuest example(mainly the wow part though). I have nothing against you guys getting your extra shiny armor, where my problem is that in a game like WoW this armor is then REQUIRED to have even a chance at the next challenge. I love a challenge in games, i fought crawmax in borderlands solo and won, no glitches or exploits (played a siren). It took me some time to learn how to fight him and think up tactics capable of taking him down but i managed it and it was awesome. But I didn't need to grind lower difficulty dungeons to do it. I didn't have to run Naxx 10 or 20 times to get the armor i needed to move on to the next raid. For me it's enough to beat these challenges once and move on and i could care less if i get the gear to "prove" that i beat these guys. Hell once i was kicked from a dungeon from having poor gear on my healer, despite the fact that up to that point NOBODY HAD DIED. A side note, it was the aoe healing giving me trouble, we were about to fight a boss with largely single target attacks and i was confident that he'd be easier than the mobs we'd fought up to this point because of it. I was DENIED my challenge because my group didn't feel that i met the arbitrary requirements for killing the boss. Like i said, you can have your shiny toys, i'd just like to fight the boss please.

I suppose it's a side note to the overall article (or maybe exactly the point, just approached from a different angle), but I don't want to have to play and replay content that i've all ready beaten just to move onto the next challenge. And more to your point, again you can have your uber challenge but it should be in the minority of content, the majority of say, the endgame content in WoW should not be accessible to only a minority. In any case, the endgame content in WoW is primarily gear based and not skill based, you need the gear to access it and after that and ONLY after you have the gear does skill begin to make a difference.

I bought that 2008 PoP game on the cheap.

It sucked.

Where the hell was the combat? All this monkeying around in an area and you fight ONE damn guy? Seriously? Maybe there were more later on, but after revitalizing two areas and only fighting two guys (aside from those in the intro) I just quit it. It sucks. I'll go back and play SoT or the two thrones

I do not think its difficult at all, first off know your target audience(which have more and more drool cups by the day) so what was easy is the new normal, also scripted jumping would help ease their pain. Once you see to the needs of the lowest common denominator you can then add options when can make normal and higher levels of difficultly more fun and less frustrating. Like sliders for AI sensitivity, all auto aim off, damage done,damage taken, pickup rate and such, this way even the worse game mechanics can be tweaked to taste.

nipsen:
"The game wasn't challenging, it was just punishing. Stupidly, horribly, punishing."

..try again, Shamus. At the time the game was an evolution of the narrative-less never-ending arcade action, and it renewed that without disappearing off the scale completely. I.e., instead forcing you to use cheat-codes to ever get to the end of the game, it had endless lives. That in itself made it "easy".

So to pressure you ahead, you had the 60 minutes before the hourglass ran out. Which really is more than good enough time. But it's likely that people will have to try the game a few times before they are capable of completing it. Compared to other games at the time, though - it was an easy game, and it was designed that way to ensure that people managed to play all the way through it.

He's referring to The Shadow and The Flame, not the original PoP. The first game was difficult but ultimately rewarding game because it never felt(to me)cheap. The second however was bone crunchingly destructive to one's sanity. I had to buy the strategy guide just to get past the first dungeon only to be completely murdered in the second because I couldn't get the sword fighting down. That game was NES+10 level hard. I can't conceive of anyone except masochists finding it fun.

From the article:

Shamus Young:
I'm playing the game to have fun and be entertained, and if making a mistake means the game is going to refuse to entertain me for a couple of minutes, then the game is no longer doing its job.

People play games for different reasons, and you were playing the wrong game. Many people disparage games for lacking qualities that they would enjoy, and in some cases those dislikes are warranted. But I've found that I haven't been playing bad games, but playing the wrong games; games that aren't tuned to the risk-reward frequency I'm accustomed to.

Everyone plays games to have fun. But not every game is fun for everyone. Some players enjoy the competition of fighting games, others the exhilaration of shooter games, and other people enjoy turn-based strategy games. Different strokes for different folks.

There is a subset of players, who are few in number and probably going extinct as we speak, who enjoy very difficult games. They enjoy overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles. They can't get enough of Demon's Souls (masochists). They aim for the no-miss completions of curtain fire scrolling shooter games (unrealistic idealists). They challenge the best fighting game players in online matches despite the fact that their chances of winning are slim-to-none (gluttons for punishment). They practice and lose and practice more and lose more then occasionally win, but they stubbornly refuse to give up (stubborn slow-learners). There's a lesson to be learned in that, a lesson easily learned from a game but difficult to learn in the real world: do not give up until you win.

Games are not movies; you don't get to see the ending and developer's credits just for being there. Some of the early games of this generation of home consoles awarded trophies and achievements just for pressing the start button or completing the first level. Back in 1986, I couldn't complete World 8 in Super Mario Bros. I'd run out of time in World 8-3 or fall into a pit in World 8-1. It wasn't until 1988 that I had actually completed that game, two years later. But I don't remember playing the game in 1987, in fact, I believe that I had become so frustrated with the game that I refused to play it during that year. After my sabbatical from Super Mario Bros., I managed to complete that game. Perhaps I had not gave up, I would have completed the game sooner.

I missing games of overwhelming difficulty; many of the bullet hell shooters are only released in Japan or occasionally released on X-Box Live in the West, difficult puzzle games aren't in vogue anymore and hard to come by, games where the player has a limited number of lives to complete the game have infinite continues, etc. I recently saw a trailer for the new Pac-Man game to be released: dozens of ghosts being consumed after eating a power pellet, as if the game delivers them to the player on a silver platter.

Games are not movies. Do not expect a reward just for participating. If you expect to be entertained, do not play challenging games. If you expect to be challenged by a game, you will probably despise the game until you find a way to complete it. I think being challenged by a game is more worthwhile than being entertained.

It is late. And I feel old.

It really seems to be a matter of what you came into the game for. I'm not old enough to have been too into the challenge-based games (I was four or five at the time the Sega Genesis was out, I just didn't have the motor skills yet), and got into games later based more on the interactive stories they're telling; if a game isn't going to let me see its story to me it wasn't worth the investment. Of course, this just means I don't buy the super punishing challenge games because they're not my thing. But saying another gamer is doing it wrong is silly--they're just in the hobby for a different reason.

On the other hand, I really adore bullet hell shooters, though I did get into that through Touhou, which has enough characters to keep just about anyone interested in that sort of narrative interested. Maybe it's just certain kinds of challenges for certain people--I've always liked the idea of games that anyone can beat on a certain level, but with a lot of room for mastery above and beyond the storyline. Case in point, Touhou games on normal or Touhou games on insane difficulties.

On a different note, did the article get trimmed in editing or something? It really seems to have just cut off at the end.

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here