Too Much Success

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Well I certainly think it's not good to pander to the public's obsession with maintaining self-esteem. Not only will they not even try difficult tasks at all, but those that do and fail will have their fragile self-worth shattered and will refuse to ever touch it again. So if their self-esteem is low, they don't try; and if it's high, they run through without trying, fail, and then give up.

This is not the kind of attitude we should be encouraging. Yes, the old games were hard, but when you punish bad behavior, lo and behold, the players stop doing that bad behavior. What a surprise!

Same thing with the school system. How about instead of adhering to this asinine "No child left behind" policy and mentality, why don't we just make it possible for the brats to fail. If you don't complete your work and pass your tests, you don't get to move on to the next grade! You know, what we were doing decades ago!

I agree. People shouldn't be afraid of challenges. The easy road is not going to be the optimal one. The bigger the challenge, the better you feel about yourself when you finally beat it.

I played IWBTG, and it doesn't lower my self-esteem when I fail at it (and I do, a lot). It just makes me laugh, honestly, because the game is so ridiculous.

The new raid tier in WoW? Yeah if you thought Cataclysm was kicking your ass, Firelands is going to do so extra hard. And I'm okay with that, because I'll feel great when we finally down those bosses. Let no one say that they aren't challenging.

Kirby's Epic Yarn is an okay game, but I don't understand why it's so "good". It's nice for a little burst of fun when the wife feels like playing a game, but aside from that, for someone like myself who has been playing games for decades, it's really just boring.

Contrast that with the current poster child for "hard" games Demon's Souls. Yes, it's hard, but not in an insurmountable way. It just takes more patience, thought and resource management than most games, where you can just run at enemies and hack and slash until they are dead. Demon's Souls doesn't let you do that, so it's been branded as "hard".

I see room for both styles of gaming, but in the end Kirby does not offer a skill challenge. The only challenge it offers is whether or not you are willing to take the time to play through the whole game for the sake of it. Demon's Souls, on the other hand, offers a skill challenge that, apparently, a lot of players are unprepared to understand or deal with.

I can see this trend in games and I am still seen as slightly crazy among my friends for beating Ninja Gaiden black on master ninja mode. I worked until the combos we a part of me and bosses patterns were well known. I was working on master ninja in all the challenge modes when my xbox killed itself... :(

While I will not say all games need to be a challenge it is nice to find a game that is fun and kicks my ass. That way when I win it feels a hell of a lot better than winning an easy game. That and I get bored in easy games unless they can offer some other form of fun like Starwars Battlefront II.

One of these days I will go unlock all the difficulties and beat master ninja mode again. I may be slight hesitant since last time I unlocked master ninja mode my 360 killed itself.

Hammeroj:

jamie1000001:
Example of this? I haven't really noticed games giving players more praise tbh.

Starcraft 2. People apparently couldn't stand losing so much that most stopped playing competetive ladder games. Blizzard's solution: don't display losses. At all. Now everyone's essentially a winner.

Which is a load of bollocks. People should not be encouraging this sort of pitiful behaviour while directly driving the industry backwards.

Reason I stopped laddering in Starcraft 2 was because the losses weren't displayed. Motivation to play for me was keeping wins ahead of losses. Once losses were removed after about twenty games I just stopped playing as it dawned on me what is the point if winning means nothing.

Domehammer:
Reason I stopped laddering in Starcraft 2 was because the losses weren't displayed. Motivation to play for me was keeping wins ahead of losses. Once losses were removed after about twenty games I just stopped playing as it dawned on me what is the point if winning means nothing.

That is part of the problem. The number of wins becomes essentially meaningless when you have nothing to weigh it against.

I find it very disturbing that these new games are conditioning our children to just give up when things become challenging. This lack of effort leads us into Idiocracy.

Back in the day games where designed to be hard to drain your pockets of quarters at the arcade and then ported over to the Nintendo/Atari for additional profit. Games designed specifically for the home system back then had to be difficult because that's what people expected. The problem with this however was in an arcade you could constantly pump in quarters whereas home systems gave you lives and continues which meant if you where good enough you'd never finish, so things got easier and easier.

Back in mah day we had to play our games with coins! In the snow! Uphill! Both ways!

Yeah, yeah. Standard grognard whining.

You really think it's easy games that cause people to give up in the face of challenge? I'm afraid you're putting the cart before the horse, there. Games are being made less frustrating today as a response to the fact that a majority of players became frustrated, lost interest, and never finished those older games.

At least some of the motivation for making a game easier comes from the game developers themselves, who are spending more effort than ever on dialogue, cutscenes, and pretty graphics - effort which is completely and totally wasted if 50% of players never see most of it, because they didn't bother to finish playing.

That's actually pretty close to an average number, by the way. 50% of people who start a modern game are going to finish it. Think that sounds bad? If you look back to first-generation games, the number of people who 'beat' the game is close to 0% - the games are literally unbeatable, and the number of people who've made it to a kill screen can probably be counted in the single digits. It's the same with the later games that get held up as paragons of hardcore difficulty - maybe 5-10% of players actually finished them, and those are the people who are talking breathlessly about having a 'great sense of achievement'. The other 90%? Those people went and did something that was actually fun, rather than endlessly frustrating.

That is, in my opinion, a fundamental problem with the established 'arcade' model of gameplay - the game throws up a wall of difficulty wherein the player dies over and over until one of two things happen - either they succeed and are allowed to progress, or they give up in frustration. It really is a much better paradigm to allow the player to progress even if they fail, while keeping track of their successes and failures and allowing them to go back and try over. The person who's dedicated enough to play the same level 100 times in order to succeed is also a person who's dedicated enough to play the game 100 times in order to get a perfect score. Meanwhile, the person who's going to give up in frustration because they don't have the time or the inclination to play the level 100 times is still allowed to continue playing and enjoy themselves.

Articles like this simply make it clear how over-represented those 10% of hardcore challenge-gamers are in gaming commentary. People whine and complain that a majority of games aren't being made to cater to the 10%, and act as if the 10% is the default that everything should be based around, rather than the 90% that actually makes up the majority of people's experiences with gaming.

Anyone here remember Treasure Island Dizzy?
1 Egg.
1 Life.
Collect 30 Coins - Mostly hidden.
Collect Various Bits & Bobs to solve puzzles with a FILO Inventory system which held 3 items.
Water will kill you.
Fire will kill you.
Traps will kill you.
Fish will kill you.
Pixel perfect jumps.
Leaps of faith.
You die... Start All Over Again.
No extra lives.
No Saves.
Hard Game!

I eventually beat it and felt Absolutely King of the world when I did - even though the ending screen was total tosh.
It makes me sad that *Some* modern games sacrifice offering this feeling to cater for people who are satisfied with easy quick wins.

I say 'some' because there are some fantastic games with real challenges.

Fable III's lack of failure punishment has been mentioned too.. I played FIII and felt no danger at all. The only time I felt that my actions would be punished was when I was trying to make sure I had enough money in the treasury to cope with the impending big bad so my subjects wouldn't die. Solved that by grinding like a MoFo.

I believe that considering that games seem to be taking such an important role in kids development, games should show a bit of tough love.

Reward real success.
Truly reward exceptional skills.
Don't be afraid to say "You're Sh*t and you know you are!" to those who fail to make the grade.

It's not deferred success.. It's failure! End Of!

Bah, if you want difficulty go play competitive multiplayer. Nothing is harder than playing against other people. I play games because I want to have fun, not be frustrated for hours on end because a certain boss is cheap or whatever.

Also, achievements... screw that. Bring back the Gameshark/Game Genie!

Centrophy:
Bah, if you want difficulty go play competitive multiplayer. Nothing is harder than playing against other people. I play games because I want to have fun, not be frustrated for hours on end because a certain boss is cheap or whatever.

Also, achievements... screw that. Bring back the Gameshark/Game Genie!

I would agree with you if not for the hacks, the cheaters and the fact that many online games are full of asshats. I buy my game for single player and any multiplayer is a bonus to be played after I beat the game.

The only multiplayer I play currently is tf2, so going competitive is not likely.

I also agree that cheap is annoying there is no challenge if the boss is cheap, there is only challenge if you have to work to beat him. Fix your timing, learn his pattern, master combos, ect.

I myself have a problem with this mode of thinking. Having really started gaming around the NES era I know how difficult and often times frustrating games used to be. As I recall there were only 2 games on the NES era that I ever finished. I have since beaten more, but that's beside the point. So while I by no means wish to see a return to the Nintendo Hard days, I fail to see how this policy of holding the players hand and merrily skipping through the game can possibly be beneficial, for either the industry or society as a whole. Thinking back to days of gaming's past, while it was immensely frustrating to be stuck on the same level or boss for days on end, but the rush you'd get when you finally beat the level or boss was simply indescribable; and I know anyone whose old enough to have at least have experienced the N64/Playstation era knows what I'm talking about. You don't get that rush very often anymore and quite frankly, I miss it. I don't miss the frustration mind you, but I do miss the challenge.
Above all, my point is how is anyone supposed to feel any sense of accomplishment when there is absolutely no way to lose? From the way Kirby's Epic Yarn is described (I haven't played the game, so I'm going on your description) it sounds to me like there's absolutely no way to lose in that game. How can there be any satisfaction in winning when there's no way to lose?
The possibility of losing is what makes winning worthwhile and the greater the chance of losing, the greater the thrill when you win.
I also shudder to think what trying to protect people from failure will do for society as a whole.

Sartan0:

NickFury90:
Since when has Kirby ever been hard?

I knew there was a reason I never played any of those games. ;)

I think the point is it went from easy with punishment if you made stupid mistakes to just "Oh you screwed up, here's a pat on the back, keep trying little Johnny".

The problem is if you cater everything to the lowest common denominator, then there's no reason to be ambitious, or to try harder then you did before. At the same point games that have tried to add extensions via achievements has just turned into a time-drain and it's not fun. I mean I used to like being a completionist, but now some of these things are just so absurd it's not fun, and it's part of the reason I play games MUCH MUCH less then I did before.

I mean even if I'm bored I'm at the point where reading a book feels like it has more creative potential for me to think about then games at this point.

There needs to be a balance of difficulty but the keyword is always going to be FUN, and if a game doesn't have that, I can't really be a fan of it.

this seems closely related to the issue of those participation(loser) trophies they give to the fat, untalented kids in little leagues.

well according to these studies im some kind of crazy space alien, because i tend to get a better sense of accomplishment from actually accomplishing something rather than just being told i am. but maybe thats the the problem; maybe beating a game through actual skill and effort is too risky a prospect for modern audiences; maybe their only feeling of accomplishment is just that: a feeling. older games may have been hard, but they were neither incredible mental or physical challeneges; you play them enough, youll learn how to beat them; practice makes perfect as they say.

the inability to fail in some modern games, for me, creates a different feeling for me than it apparently does for most; that feeling is known as "boredom". if i cant fail, then success is just a matter-of-course; im not achieving anything, or feeling like im achieving anything, im just going through the motions. fable 2 and 3 are prime examples of this; fable 2 at least had some fairly interesting things to do in it, but fable 3 was just boring as all hell to me.

why must we either severely punish non-absolute victory with an over-competitive culture or reward failure with a far too placid one? how is it we flit so readily from one extreme to the other? well at any rate, kids with an over-developed sense of competition arent the ones who end up deadbeat drug addicts who live with their parents their whole lives(kind of like my father), so ill take a crazy-impossible platforming section over an effortless run from left to right any day.

We haven't seen the worst of it. Soon, this concept of "everyone's a winner" will influence online games in ways very few have imagined.

The gaming revolution is coming to fight this coming trend. You can already see it if you look in the right places. Thank god we have hardcore game fans with ninja like coding skills.

Btw, excellent article. I'm constantly amazed by the quality of writers the Escapist calls to the front.

I don't have a problem with "No fail" or anything like that. I /loved/ Epic Yarn, and play it now and again to unwind. I love when a game is hard and pounds me into the dust, but there are other times that I don't care if it's a challenge as long as I can sit down and have fun. While there are times "Hard" and "Fun" can (and do) overlap, I think it's safe for me to say that I've had more fun with games along the lines of Epic Yarn that I have with most games recently that didn't also serve to grey my hair or add wrinkles around my eyes.

I have a few things I wanna say about the Achievements thing, too, while I'm hear. I do enjoy collecting them, I like the sound of a Trophy popping (especially unexpectedly), and I like going out of my way to do some of the more oddball ones but it is ultimately all for it's own sake. Like I said, I loved Epic Yarn, and spent probably more time with it then I did most of my PS3 library at that point. I've kinda lost my point by now, but what I'm ultimately saying is that easy games aren't bad, they just serve as a nice counterpoint. An "Epic Yarn" for every "Vanquish" if you will.

One indie game in early pre-alpha development I'd like to hold up: http://projectzomboid.com/blog/

The very premise of Project Zomboid is that you're going to die. There's no way around it, all you can do is see how long you survive before inevitably dying.

Here are the opening lines:
"These Are The End-Times"
"There Was No Hope Of Survival"
"This Is How You Died"

My first impulse is to note that easy-success laden games are a sign of the times. Surviving in the current economy is rife enough with frustration and fruitless effort that games are more than usual (and more than ever) an escape from struggle and tribulation, very much the way that movies have been in previous times of recession or depression.

The statistics are unkind. In the US, we are still struggling with an official unemployment of 10%[1] estimated to to be around 25% in actual figures (around the same as was in the Great Depression).

So games that don't kick our ass, rather, let us asskick in an egregious variety of ways are often the order of the day.

On the other hand, this is the direction things have been going since the age of the SNES, when things were Nintendo Hard by default (much thanks to the prevailing coin-op school of game design), and yes, most people playing SNES at home gave up on games once they couldn't get past that level or that boss.

Around the era of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom there was a change in attitudes. To paraphrase an article on game development Then, if a level was too tough, it meant you suck. Now, if a level is too tough, it means it's badly designed, or the monsters are not balanced. In the '90s, the responsibility for the play experience shifted to from the players to the designers, maybe because we expected a better experience when paying $25 up front (on top of a $1200 computer system) rather than 25 cents at the local arcade.

Since around Half Life 2, it was gauche to expect the player to diligently save before and after difficult sections. This was resolved most of the time with frequent autosave points, which better suited consoles anyway.

So one could also argue that this too-much-success thing was the next natural progression of game development trends up to this point. It is the next dot one would expect on the curve.

As for this affecting students in school, I call bullshit. Students haven't been particularly motivated in the classroom since the dawn of time, and I'd hypothesize that since only about ten percent of kids are best taught by the lecture + lab model we invariably use in every public school in the US, that might have more to do with it than recent trends in game design.

When I was in high school (early '80s), dyslexic kids were transferred to remedial classes for their one disability, and we southpaws were counted down for our poor penmanship (and we weren't even allowed to turn in word-processed essays). The number of latchkey kids (that is, tweens and early teens coming home to a parentless house) is still ridiculous, as is the number of homes rendered dysfunctional due to stressed-out parents resorting to alcohol abuse, drug abuse, religious fanaticism, child abuse and such in order to stay sane. Before schools can blame anything on games, there are much bigger monsters they have to tackle.

It may also be that the direction games are going might point the way towards seeing our workforce re-enabled. What Color Is Our Parachute 2010 estimated the average time it takes to find a job the usual way (that is, spending 40 hours a week building and sending resume kits and going to interviews, the classic pounding the pavement) is twenty months[2]. That is 1 2/3 years of shit-work for no compensation, and not a cheevo in sight. No wonder people are giving up left and right and seeking out either disability, or turning to crime. And no wonder people don't want too much challenge out of their games.

I'd say there's part of an answer to the economic problem in the too-much-success problem with games, but I can't yet speculate what that is.

238U.

[1] That is, 10% of the estimated workforce is currently receiving unemployment insurance. Actual figures for percentage unemployed (aren't working, want to work) are much higher, including those whose insurance has run out, or who don't qualify, say, were self employed or were fired, or are graduates fresh from internship.
[2] Note that is average. So for every lucky schlub that gets a job in the first three or four months, there's a less-lucky one that has been doing this over two years.

Kirby's Epic Yarn was frustrating for altogether another reason: it had no challenge. None. There was nothing to overcome, and so there was no success to be had. There was no fear of death, just of point loss. Points, being arbitrary, require no upkeep, and demand no retention. Had there been thresholds, where so many points were required, it would have given a reason to do better. Decorating a random apartment was interesting for about two stickers, and after that it became something disinteresting--it actually disinclined me towards caring. I could go through the entire game without concern of how many points I collected, because they ceased to matter. There was no substance, no challenge, nothing to take one's mind off of other issues, or to reward the mind with accomplishment. It was, in all aspects, a waste of one's time. The only reason to play was because you had a few minutes to do something cutesy, and this was your avenue. Not until the last stage of the game does a challenge arise, and even then, it is a challenge one would see in the early stages of any other platforming game. There was no satisfaction, no reward for beating it, no sense of accomplishment, just a sense of frustration, that you have spent time, and perhaps money, on something that returns nothing to you. With no possibility of failure, there is only success--a success that cheapens the concept, for if there are things that require improvement, there is no desire to improve. It may not frustrate while you play, perhaps even to the extent that it's soft color palette is designed to assuage stress, but the realization that there was no test of your ability frustrates the individual afterwards.

Susan Arendt:

Seieko Pherdo:
This is why I like having difficultly settings. For those who want a easy time or to just enjoy the story or whatever there's easy. And for those who want hell there's hard and whatever else comes after that.

I agree completely. More skilled players shouldn't have to sacrifice a challenge just so that more people can play a game - but lesser-skilled players (or those who simply don't feel like wrestling with the learning curve) should be able to enjoy themselves, too.

Well i think we have seen a problem with difficulty settings pretty much since they were invented but lately especially mass market games have become less challenging.

The typical problem with difficulty settings in many modern home console games is that, since 'normal' difficulty seems to have been ramped down a bit the "Hard" or "Really hard" essentially just makes things take more hits and you take less. This typically does not make a game 'harder' as it does "A bit cheaper and more frustrating".

Difficulty balancing should be done in a more thoughtful way; like we have seen in games like "New Vegas" or the "STALKER" games. In new vegas whole new mechanics come into play; You need to drink to survive, medicaine has less of an effect, the games punishment ramps up a whole notch rather than just going "This dude takes 5 head-shots now". "STALKER" changes a lot of the under the hood mechanics; as well as taking less damage you are also more susceptable to bleeding, you find less ammo and health, resources are more scant all round and (i think) atrifacts become more rare.

Most games are originally balanced for a certain difficulty level and the idea that you can make a game work better just by making you takes less hits or have to give out more is really very flawed.

As someone who's been playing video games for more than thirty years and whose daughter loved Kirby's Epic Yarn, the thesis of this article doesn't resound with me, not least because it wants to draw a parallel between schooling and what we do for fun.

Before we get to gnashing our teeth at an exaggerated nostalgia for "Nintendo Hard" games, let us remember the nineties as arcades began to go into their death throes. Part of that death spiral was designing games to be hard- not hard as in "challenging", but hard as in "the player will inevitably die about once every six and a half minutes so as to maximize the flow of quarters into the coin slot."

Now, some hard games craft difficulty into making a compelling experience; I don't dispute that, and there may be a greater sense of achievement in beating a challenge in such a game. But for many "hard" games, difficulty is no more and no less than bad game design. Make the player consult a map every few minutes to get where they're going, rather than give them clear directions. Put save points half an hour apart, and not just before a big boss fight, but just after- and put a potential cheap death between that fight and the save point. Make the player go back through the same area in reverse with palatte-swapped versions of the same enemies with five times as many hit-points. Stretch two hours of gameplay into ten so no one can complain about how short the game is.

What I want to say- what I want to scream- is, don't give game designers an excuse for this bullshit! If you give them cover to say that they just wanted to present players with a "challenge", they'll use that cover in the worst ways, because for many, "difficulty" is just another word for "content we don't have to bother creating because our players are still struggling to get through level one." Good games give players opportunities to develop and improve skills and then challenge them to use those skills in new and complex ways. Good games encourage players to explore by not making them afraid of losing progress from the "real" game in punishment for their explorations. Killing a player more often may be the sign of a difficult game, but leaving the player unable to progress is not the hallmark of a game we should describe as "good".

As for Kirby, my daughter and I played through it- and she kept playing it because she wanted to do well enough to see the new levels, to get the new treasures, to see the new level animations. And I encouraged her to do so- and to keep trying when she found it hard, when she kept getting flattened and losing gemstones.

So, jeez, maybe the problem with the middle school students isn't the video games but the parenting. We've been this route before, right?!

See, with everyone saying "difficulty settings are awesome!", I can't help but disagree if only slightly.

See, the whole difficulty setting stuff is not really "true" difficulty. Most, if not all of the time, it is artificially increasing/decreasing things like enemy/player health, how many shots the enemy can dish out, whether or not they have infinitely reloading ammo and whatnot. Rarely have games not taken the cheap route to increasing difficulty.

If higher difficulty settings actually made the game legitimately difficult, like, say, the enemies are generally smarter and use more aggressive tactics, then that would be great. But too often it is "player can only take 3 hits, enemies take 3x more than before" which is just so artificial, like in so many fighting games where you ramp up the difficulty and the computer does things impossible for a normal human.

I just wrote out an extensive post and then lost it. >_<
Ah well, time to rewrite at least some.

The hardest single player game I have ever played is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. How can this be you say? CoD is hailed as the kiddies game! it personifies the "dumbification" of gaming!
Turn the difficulty up to veteran and then beat the game without dying once, not once. Holy crap is that hard and I sure as hell can't do it.
Whats that? but CoD respawns you nearby with no penalty? so what?

Basically what I'm saying is that blocking a players progress as a means of implementing difficulty is a crap way of doing things with little to no upside. If you want to implement difficulty in your game then it is much better to use a scoring system.
Rather than ask "how far into CoD did you get?" we should be asking "how many times did you die to get through this level?".

In all modern games there is a scoring system, even if it just ends up as "how long did it take you?" (although I persinally find measuring speed to be quite stressful as a means of score). Basically all games kill you as you progress, the goal then is not to progress, but to progress whilst dying the fewest times possible.

tldr; Score isn't defined by a number in the corner of your screen. It is defined by any number of variables that people overlook in modern games.

I don't think it's a bad thing.
Fun =/= Satisfaction =/= Frustration
You cannot have true satisfaction without frustration... however, fun has nothing to do with either of these concepts. For instance, there's no difficulty and death penality (there wasn't at least) in the Sims franchise, which is undeniably fun (if not, it wouldn't be as popular).
Satisfaction is important for people with ego issues; beating a game with an insane difficulty is a symptom of mental instability, and I guess you could make those people do literally anything if you promised them "points" (or other similar vague concepts (ex: achivements, throphies)) - MMOs have proven people will do boring and repetitive work for a +1 [something], and, honestly, you need have serious issues to spend most your free time like that, since there's no fun in having x armor or being at y level.
Again, fun has nothing to do with satisfaction, and it is entirely possible to make fun games that are non-frustrating.
The real issue is that playing videogames, which is in fact a hobby, is (for some obtuse reason) now being considered a lifestyle; and, since the people behind this idea couldn't be less obtuse themselves, the ideal "gamer" is a sort of unbeatable jedi that takes on any challenge, and articles like this one get made, frustration gets glorified, and progress in videogame developpment is once again fought.

There's self-confidence and there's self-esteem.

Don't confuse the two.

I think that people are looking back at the "Nintendo Hard" era with a little too much nostalgia. Part of the challenge of some of these classics was due to cheap design and shoddy controls.

However, this does not address one of the central arguments of this well-written article, that the reward-to-challenge ratio is skewed towards reward. Just recently, I finished Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia and I don't believe that anyone will argue that that game is too easy and I have also spent many hours dying/re-spawning in a desperate attempt to finish mainstream titles on insanity difficulty. I don't think that games have gotten easier, but they have gotten more accessible; players can choose their level of difficulty and many games allow co-op.

Part of the issue that the author seems to have is that the kids in his father's class choose not to embark on the more difficult path. That is a problem with the culture, not video games. Perhaps students see no reward for taking the harder road, I don't know. What I do know is that the solution is not a return to 8-bit era game design.

Maybe the kids in your dad's class don't pay attention because most people find math a boring subject? Just a thought.

To this day, it's the hard parts that stick with me. The level in mario brothers (the first one) had to be in the 8-range, where you had to stand on a TINY bit of ledge next to a pipe, in order to get a running start across a small gap, so that you'd have the momentum to clear a long jump. Or the first time I nailed the infinite 1-up thing with the turtle at the bottom of the stairs.

Or how about BAttle Toads. Hell yeah. The speeder bikes, and the level later where you climb and platform along huge snake things. More than once I had to take a leap of faith, hoping that the mobile platform had mobiled itself over to the left there, and that I would land on it.

Finally getting the Golden Werewolf powerup on Altered Beast (Sega Master system)

And those games were ... 15-20 years ago.

I beat Kirby's Epic yarn playing coop with my family (all kinda taking turns) in 2 days last Christmas, and I can't think of a single really memorable moment. A few vague memories, especially regarding the artistic style, which I thought was interesting... but the gameplay itself hasn't survived my memory for a year.

Which is fine, imo. For what it is, Kirby's Epic Yarn was perfect. A very easy game that the whole family can play and enjoy. No one gets frustrated or mad at the younger siblings or parents who aren't very good at games. Everyone has fun.

Definitely room for both types of games

Personally, I have close to zero tolerance for virtual deaths. If a section of a game is hard but doesn't kill me, I can invest a lot of time into mastering it, but once the game throws me out and forces me to load a previous savegame, I'm likely to just switch it off. I don't know exactly why that is, maybe because a virtual death is the biggest punishment a game can hand out and in my opinion, it should only happen in exceptions and not as a valid version of trial and error learning.

I don't say that deaths shouldn't happen, but imho, it should at least be possible to beat a game without dying for a skilled gamer. Especially in RPGs where the notion of death totally destroys immersion.

Scrumpmonkey:

Susan Arendt:

Seieko Pherdo:
This is why I like having difficultly settings. For those who want a easy time or to just enjoy the story or whatever there's easy. And for those who want hell there's hard and whatever else comes after that.

I agree completely. More skilled players shouldn't have to sacrifice a challenge just so that more people can play a game - but lesser-skilled players (or those who simply don't feel like wrestling with the learning curve) should be able to enjoy themselves, too.

Well i think we have seen a problem with difficulty settings pretty much since they were invented but lately especially mass market games have become less challenging.

The typical problem with difficulty settings in many modern home console games is that, since 'normal' difficulty seems to have been ramped down a bit the "Hard" or "Really hard" essentially just makes things take more hits and you take less. This typically does not make a game 'harder' as it does "A bit cheaper and more frustrating".

Difficulty balancing should be done in a more thoughtful way; like we have seen in games like "New Vegas" or the "STALKER" games. In new vegas whole new mechanics come into play; You need to drink to survive, medicaine has less of an effect, the games punishment ramps up a whole notch rather than just going "This dude takes 5 head-shots now". "STALKER" changes a lot of the under the hood mechanics; as well as taking less damage you are also more susceptable to bleeding, you find less ammo and health, resources are more scant all round and (i think) atrifacts become more rare.

Most games are originally balanced for a certain difficulty level and the idea that you can make a game work better just by making you takes less hits or have to give out more is really very flawed.

Absolutely true. In an ideal situation, an entire team would be dedicated to creating the difficulty differences, but that's not really very practical. And the current method of making the protagonist bullet proof or tissue paper, depending on the difficulty, is an inelegant solution at best.

Susan Arendt:

Absolutely true. In an ideal situation, an entire team would be dedicated to creating the difficulty differences, but that's not really very practical. And the current method of making the protagonist bullet proof or tissue paper, depending on the difficulty, is an inelegant solution at best.

Well im not asking for an entire team im just asking that in a situation where games are being made easier due to the fact that they are being made 'more acessible'. I won't go into my thoughts on the difficulties companies are having catering for the percived 'new audience' that has sprung up. I no longer use the word "Casualisation" because of the images of foaming-at-the-mouth fanboys it conjours up but their needs to be provision given to at least a small degree of balancing for higher difficulty.

Polish and balance take testing and testing is proabaly the most expensive process for a modern game
i get this but there is simply not lack of money; there is a lack of ambition in the area. The pressure to make a game 'Easy' as a stand-in for being "Well designed and user freindly" comes from a lot of places. I feel there has been a bit of a drift towards the idea that challenge in games well put the audience off rather than entice them on.

rsvp42:

Reliq:
I thought this might be relevant :)

Heh, funny. Kinda weird to me though because some people actually do rage that much at achievements. I personally don't mind 'em because I've never met someone who was a douche about them or acted superior because of it. My friends and I don't mention scores, we just ask if anyone did such-and-such achievement and maybe ask how; it's not a big deal. Indeed, by using them everywhere, they devalued them to a point where no one should care, aside from the extra-hard ones. So no real reason to rage, unless someone secretly really cares and tries too hard to hide it by "hating" them :P

Dont mind 'em, but don't hunt for them either. I just remebered this episode when i read the article :)

Reminds me of the parenting style argument:
Make him a winner and pander to them too much and they become a spoiled shit.
Give them some childhood drama and have them accept losing as a way of dealing with life and they build character.

i welcome difficult games. What feeling of success can you achieve when you dont work for it.
RPGs like fallout and realistic games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. do this very well.
another example would be minecraft, make your own entertainment by giving yourself a project and if you die you lose you stuff and work for it again.

Everyone bitches about how some games are to hard for them to deal with. With my generation we did the same thing the Nes and Snes. Snes and Nes didn't have stupid little things pop up for just playing the game to stroke your virtual cock.

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