Jimquisition: A Different Kind of Difficulty

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A Different Kind of Difficulty

Jim Sterling, officially The Escapist's most popular celebrity icon, has come down from on high to deliver his sermons and change the way you perceive reality itself. This week, he bends your mind by explaining how easy games can sometimes be the hardest of all. Ooh, that's ironic n' stuff!

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Another fine video. The same goes for the Fancy Pants Adventure, which I would have loved to see brought up...

Any chance next week can be about the MML3 cancellation?

Easily one of the best Jimquisitions so far. Good job Jim.

Ha, that opening was awesome. Just because of that you get a thumbs up from me.

Best one yet. The opening "black" bit was genuinely funny.

Pretty good video and you make a good point about difficulty.

Jim said "homos" instead of "homies".

And congratulations Jim, you have COMPLETELY missed the point of the people who complain about games being too easy today.

Of course Kirby's Epic Yarn is easy, Kirby games have ALWAYS been easy, and it goes beyond saying that the point of Epic Yarn isn't the same as the point of fucking Ninja Gaiden.

The people who complain about games getting too easy mean that ALL games have gotten too easy and that the "hardest" difficulty settings for games where the point is still getting to the end of a level without dying have become fucking jokes.

So this entire episode was basically a gigantic straw-man argument.

Bravo i say.

I sort of disagree. I grant you Jim, you bring up a good point, but the difference is that in those "difficult" games, games with death typically always have perfection challenge as well. Its just that the base is more difficult.

A perfect example is demon's souls. Its supposedly a hard game. However, if you have patience and persistence its not. If you compared Kirbys challenge of perfection, you would have to also compare it to the challenge of say earning 100%/plat trophy which typically takes 3-4 playthrus. Not just completing the game.

So in effect youve compared apples to oranges.

After a moment of thought, I had a hunch that Epic Yarn and the concept of "optional difficulty" would be center stage in this.

Have to say it's the first time I didn't find him grating. Must have dialed back his condescending manner a bit.

Here's a big wrench to those who complain about games difficulty, harder =/= more fun. Not every game needs to be harder to be fun. Some are built with this in mind (I play Super Meat Boy too) where lowering difficulty would be less fun, but other times hard is used as a substiture for cheap tricks that make you screw up. Old arcade games, harder yes, better no. True skill challenges they were not, mostly cheap deaths that forced you to memorize the levels in order to inflate playtime, or quarter usage.

As an achievement junkie, I am well aware of the concept of optional difficulty.

Nice job, Jim.

My only nitpick here is that games like Devil May Cry and the like typically also include a ranking system, a la the medals in Kirby. Adding difficulty...to your difficulty. So you can rage while you rage.

Genuinely a good video once you chop the head and tail off it.

The true challenge (to get very meta here) is to find a game where the optional challenges are both fun and fair. And of course challenging.

And people wonder why I though the Arabian-themed Sonic game was genuinely good. Super Meat Boy level challenges hiding behind a facade of "groan, Sonic" and the odd cheap, blind cactus.

Also a point I like pointing out to people how argue this is why are you using Kirby's Epic Yarn as the standard of difficulty of games today, Kirby games were never about being super challenging. If you compare games historically know for being challenging to a kid's game guess which one would be harder, here are a few harder games of today for you to try: Terraria, Demon Souls, and Ninja Gaiden.

I've never wanted to say anything like this before, but . . .

"Derp, you iz so dumbz for likings teh kirby gamz!"

I want to point out some irony that just showed up in my recapta thing (or whatever it's called). The word Difficult appeared in the first one it gave me. The second bit of irony is that I can't for the life of me make out the second word.
What I'm saying is I appreciate irony.

...and yet I don't care about getting Gold Medals just like I don't care about getting all the gold coins in New Super Mario Bros or getting a Rank A in Mario Kart or a high battle rank in Final Fantasy XIII. Those things aren't important to me. I play to beat the game and if you can't die then it just becomes a matter of time.

So yeah, this kind of optional difficulty is fine for some people but for others, it's meaningless. When you think about it, the Gold Medals and Rank A's are just bragging points and that only matters if you intend to show them off.

Yeah, DoDonPachi is easy because the developers made it hard to beat.

Wait. That makes absolutely no sense.

and if i want a challenge in my megaman game i can just play it in the worst possible order.
also: a game is not easy if you can win it by attrition, you can win demon's souls by attrition and that game was hailed as the second coming of Jesus(which it arguably was).

Difficulty and Death are a needed thing in games imo. It builds tension in the easiest fashion, it tests that you took what you learned playing through the game and if you didn't learn something you get punished for it. Losing gems that you can get back ain't shit compared of being punished by death. These days you have quicksave and check points that basically make it moot unless you really come unprepared. Then you're forced to either find an earlier save point or just start the game over.

Sonic been doing what Kirby's Epic Yard does for years. You want to collect as many rings as possible because they grant you extra lives, access to the special stage to get chaos emeralds and they keep Sonic alive from everything but pitfalls, drowning and being crushed.

In Demon's Souls you collects the souls of everything you kill so you don't want to die because you risk losing all the souls you collected with only a chance to collect them again after you start a new game plus. In fallout games you have a basically a carved path to take to gain access to beat the game and its normally easier then exploring the world to get weapons, armor or just to discover more about the world you're in.

Wow, a jimquisition episode I didn't hate? Maybe I'm going soft. I do like how this actually does a pretty good job of addressing the difficulty issue. Of course, the other half is

so I don't think this episode was all that good. But it didn't make me facepalm, and that's something.

(Of course, I find it hard to blame devs for making their games easier. Look at the response to DA:O - some people actually found that game too hard on normal difficulty for some unfathomable reason, and weren't able to complete the game because they didn't want to bruise their egos by setting to to easy. Of course, the solution to that is to make "normal" easy, and to add a bunch of difficulty settings above that, but it's actually hard to make a game with scaling difficulty, so it's not exactly hard to understand why they design games the way they do.)

I actually like this argument Jim brought up, though I have a little different of an opinion on that:

A game that can integrate tension and death as well as "the being careful with mastering a level" Epic Yarn does is a game on the right tracks. And dare I say, there are a *lot* of games that does just that. The main problem is that there tends to be other platformers that offers the same thing Epic Yarn offers with its brand of "difficulty", except, with well, death and more reflex-induced situations.

Also: Lack of insults noticed. D:

I've played kirby's epic yarn and got the gold medal on every level but one on the first try.
I wasn't even trying to I was just trying not to get hit.
It wasn't hard.
ALso if you find 3 stars in the level you can pretty much suck and lose your stuff and still get a medal.

Super mario wii was way harder. I had to work harder to get the All the coins.
Mega man was way harder.

bringer of illumination:
And congratulations Jim, you have COMPLETELY missed the point of the people who complain about games being too easy today.

Of course Kirby's Epic Yarn is easy, Kirby games have ALWAYS been easy, and it goes beyond saying that the point of Epic Yarn isn't the same as the point of fucking Ninja Gaiden.

The people who complain about games getting too easy mean that ALL games have gotten too easy and that the "hardest" difficulty settings for games where the point is still getting to the end of a level without dying have become fucking jokes.

So this entire episode was basically a gigantic straw-man argument.

Bravo i say.

My problem with that is it appears that hardcore gamers suffer from sadomasicism. They can only enjoy a game if it spanks them hard enough.

And what do they want devs to do? Make a game almost imposible to beat?

OT: Bravo I say, Jim. But you're not black.

You tried being street Jim, you really tried. Granted it didn't work, but you tried, and that's the most important thing XD

All this difficulty talk really eludes me more or less. Usually when I'm having fun playing a game there's something to do and that thing that needs to be done requires a certain amount of skill. A well made game will let you in easy and then it will create more obstacles or generate different things to keep you entertained via variety or indeed making the situation more tense by making it harder to survive a situation or encourage a methodical approach. Getting a 100 percent in games is really hard though but it's more optional but seeing as a lot of kids on little big planet make levels where all you do is grab a bunch of prize bubbles and nothing else I might consider the temptation to do a 100 percent as a variable level of difficulty to apply to a game.

Also as an African American I am mildly amused by your opening although it was random and had nothing to do with anything.

while i agree with him, it's hardly a revelation. you just described the completionist state of mind. and we've been around since the begining...

Well, I quite liked this episode but then again I like anything which sticks it to overly nostalgic 'hardcore' gamers. You know, the ones who will name three excellent old games that came out about five years apart from each other and declare that this indicates the declining quality of games.

brazuca:
Jim said "homos" instead of "homies".

image

I had thought of something like that before, but I wasn't really sure how to word it. Thanks Jim for a very useful episode. Hell, this is a topic that the Extra Credits guys could have handled as well. Might be interesting for Jim and the cast of EC to talk about this topic.

I get what he's saying, and agree to an extent, but Ninja Gaiden was a bad example. Ninja Gaiden had the exact same sort of difficuty he's talking about, in addition to traditional (and brutal) death-type difficulty. It still kept track of score, there was still hidden stuff to find, there was still incentive to be thorough and skillful.

CM156:

bringer of illumination:
And congratulations Jim, you have COMPLETELY missed the point of the people who complain about games being too easy today.

Of course Kirby's Epic Yarn is easy, Kirby games have ALWAYS been easy, and it goes beyond saying that the point of Epic Yarn isn't the same as the point of fucking Ninja Gaiden.

The people who complain about games getting too easy mean that ALL games have gotten too easy and that the "hardest" difficulty settings for games where the point is still getting to the end of a level without dying have become fucking jokes.

So this entire episode was basically a gigantic straw-man argument.

Bravo i say.

My problem with that is it appears that hardcore gamers suffer from sadomasicism. They can only enjoy a game if it spanks them hard enough.

And what do they want devs to do? Make a game almost imposible to beat?

OT: Bravo I say, Jim. But you're not black.

The solution is quite simple, the developers could start putting in just a little bit of effort to make it so that changing the difficulty slider meant something other than enemies simply being able to take 11 bullets in the forehead before dying, because that isn't real difficulty, that's artificial difficulty.

Make the different difficulty settings actually change the game in ways that are just slightly significant, it can't be that hard, or that costly to do.

Quite insightful. This idea of "optional difficulty" might actually be a good solution to the difficulty problem in a better way than a difficulty selection would (at least for some kinds of games). In this way, harder challenges can still be overcome, even if you don't overcome them with the same amount of gems. This might be better than a game in which you select hard mode, and suddenly find yourself in a level with truly monstrous difficulty compared to the other levels; you can still beat it under Kirby's system.

Nice episode as always.

Have a nice poo Jim. life is too short to only have bad poos. How do you define a good poo though? Would it be one you can find more difficulty in than is immediately apparent?

But...I weigh my existence against the fact I can actually get to the end of games in one life?

Mind=Blown.

...Kidding....Don't flame.

This episode reminded me of the first Crash Bandicoot. While getting through the game can be a little tough at times, but the real challenge came from getting all the gems because you had to get all the boxes in a level without dying once. This made what was once a very simple level much, much harder. It not quite what you meant, but it does have a slight bit of relevancy to the topic.

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