Jimquisition: A Different Kind of Difficulty

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BloodSquirrel:
There are two problems with this view of difficulty:

1- Gold medals and the like aren't powerful enough motivators for some people. Not everyone can be made to care about getting 100% instead of 98%.

Minor problem with this arguement. The people that don't care about that difference are generally not the people who would whine it's too easy. Unless they just like complaining for the sake of trying to sound old school.

I can't count how many times I will play a game normally, sometimes thinking "well that was too easy, but fun," so what is my next thought do you think? "Well, let's make it harder!" FO3 was too easy, but I love the game. Since then I never use VATS, and mod the game up to put restrictions in areas I believe were to lax, like carry weight. Now I will admit, this is a moddable game, so added difficulty isn't terribly hard. So let's instead look at another game I play the pants off of, Final Fantasy 12.

For FF12 it's easier to add difficulty, play Zodiac style. If you can't get an actual copy of it (there are english patches and instructions on how to do it, if you own both copies like me), just play like you were anyway. Follow strict job classes, and don't use any of the lame auto leveling or early item tricks.

Which brings me to another point, a lot of complaints about how easy a game is come from the same group that will use every cheap trick in the book. Games on the whole haven't gotten much easier in reality, we've just become more savy, and we aren't dying to broken game mechanics. (Ninja Gaiden's respawning enemies, I'm looking at you.)

Hey guys, games aren't easy nowadays! Just complete these arbitrary extra challenges, it's a lot harder then!

Nothing said in this episode isn't true. At the same time, it also completely does not address the issue. Most games *are* easier nowadays, with the harder setting becoming somewhat akin to what most "old" gamers grew up with.

Super Mario Galaxy was an easy game. Getting all the stars was a bit trickier, but still easily managed. Getting all the green stars after that was ridiculous.

It's one thing to point out that you can still get challenged by modern day games. It's another thing to acknowledge that there's gamers around who wish this higher difficulty seamlessly integrated in their game. I don't want to have to blindfold myself and tie one hand behind my back to have to enjoy a game. And for some titles, that's exactly what you have to do to be able to sink your teeth into them.

But hey, I don't watch this show for its nuanced opinions.

Giest118:
DoDonPachi

I shudder at the sound of its name - screw Demon's Soul's, this game series is mean!

OT - I do agree with some of Jim's opinions. I got irate when people grumbled about how easy the Prince of Persia reboot in 2008 was. How many of those complainers got this achievement: Be gentle with her 100G - Elika saves you fewer than 100 times in the whole game. If Elika saves you, you effectively 'died'. Some people were a bit too stupid to realise that the developers simply cut out a load screen.

It seems odd to me that a very similar story was posted to the Escapist just a few weeks ago in the column section by some writer known as Nathaniel Edwards. He too brings up Kirby's Epic Yarn as an example of video games becoming easier and less punishing. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/features/8998-Too-Much-Success.3

Getting all the gold medals in Epic Yarn was pretty easy, unless I'm a hardcore video game master. Still a great game and a fun time. The medals made it feel like you were accomplishing something outside of just playing the game. I have beat Ninja Gaiden on the NES and Xbox and I can assure you that they are much, much more difficult. My thought is how Epic Yarn is like the 2D Sonic games. They're tough, but as long as you have at least one ring, you can't die. I remember collecting that last one or two rings over and over again as a child to keep a boss fight going.

Well he called out to all his homos (Not a terrible Joke), and he blatantly admitted to needing yo take a dump...hats off to jim sterling...a breath of fresh air (Albeit amongst others)in the serious business of game journalism.

almighty God who brought us Jim, dammit! He's right about difficulty in games. I haven't seen this guy actually make a valid and intelligent point since (I am guessing here) like his talk about Call of Duty and online gaming. This was a well deserved slap in the face. I will let him bitch slap my to think correctly anytime as long as he keeps up the good work like this...and the Call of Duty one I mentioned.

Good argument Jim.

This is one of the reasons I like mount and blade warband. So its a sand-box war game, you can make your character whatever you want, and push yourself to beef your trade or your horse archery say, till you can hit a general in the face, behind his army, while at full gallop.

Or you can try and be a successful lord, or go for kingship/queenship.

Now the game itself is not that hard, although some fights will be very challenging. You can put it on an easier difficulty, but the great achievements still take quite a lot of effort, planning, timing, luck.

And then after all that in the single player, there is multiplayer battles and dueling, where you then have to learn how to actually fight against humans and all that you can do with the simple dueling system, which has a lot of possible complexity behind it. E.g. mastering footwork so hits to you do so little damage, getting feinting down, hacking and throwing axes switching, how polearms are far different to sword and shield, what the counters to each weapon load-out are (short sword or sword and board counters spear, greataxe counters shields, throwing can counter greataxe, some don't do much damage but stagger your opponent, polearms and great weapons need a lot of room).

This is nicely coupled with the following episode:

I can't help but agree with the episode. Bioshock is an easy game, even on Survivor, thanks to the Vita-Chambers. But say you're going for trophies and you turn Vita-Chambers off, Bioshock offers a very old school experience and if you don't save often, you can regret it when accidentally setting off a Big Daddy.

But isn't the point of difficulty levels to allow the player to choose their own challenge. It's no different to having optional collectibles in a level. Equate playing the game through as standard to easy or normal, but collecting everything would be roughly equal to hard mode.

Crono1973:
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.

Kinda just like the ability do do say a Mega Man/Super Mario Bros. speed run without dying? Or to be able to complete a particularly difficult game without dying? When you think about it almost anything you do in a game is simply for bragging points and is really only worth something to the individual.

Wow! I didn't think that you were a total prick this time! I actually prefer to not die in video games. I am more of a casual hardcore gamer. I enjoy these "hardcore" games but I enjoy them casually. I play SWAT with my friends on Halo: Reach because I enjoy the company and the challenge, but I find games that involve story and great gameplay to be much more fun than any collectible or multiplayer experience.

Azure-Supernova:
This is nicely coupled with the following episode:

I can't help but agree with the episode. Bioshock is an easy game, even on Survivor, thanks to the Vita-Chambers. But say you're going for trophies and you turn Vita-Chambers off, Bioshock offers a very old school experience and if you don't save often, you can regret it when accidentally setting off a Big Daddy.

But isn't the point of difficulty levels to allow the player to choose their own challenge. It's no different to having optional collectibles in a level. Equate playing the game through as standard to easy or normal, but collecting everything would be roughly equal to hard mode.

Crono1973:
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.

Kinda just like the ability do do say a Mega Man/Super Mario Bros. speed run without dying? Or to be able to complete a particularly difficult game without dying? When you think about it almost anything you do in a game is simply for bragging points and is really only worth something to the individual.

I don't do any of those things. I don't care about bragging. For example, this weekend I beat 3 games, God of War, God of War II and finally New Super Mario Bros. DS. I wouldn't tell anyone (outside of this thread) because it doesn't really matter.

There was a time before Youtube speedruns, achievements and online multiplayer that most people didn't really care to show off. I am one of those types of people.

Kahunaburger:
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 find it laughable too.
"The game is too hard!"
"Turn down the difficulty."
"I'm not a wimp. I'm too good for that."
Ugh. I plan to play Catherine on Easy the first time through (I heard that even Easy gets hard halfway through the game) and work my way up to harder difficulties on my subsequent playthroughs. There is no shame in playing on easier settings. Some gamers need to realize this. I do, however, refuse to play on Super Easy because I feel like Atlus would be laughing at me.

I like the idea of having the ability to choose what challenges you want to take. It makes the game open to a larger audience which is, despite those who claim the contrary, a GOOD THING. Besides, games being too hard can be a bad thing. It's almost treated as a badge of honor, which is annoying at times.

The beginning was brilliant, the water sip was funny, the ending.... eh, B+ for effort. As for the content, I have to say I agree. Yes too many games who's objective is just to get to the end are too easy, but even a game like Ikaruga that's KNOWN for it's difficulty is very easy with just the right options in the menu (and that's not changing the "difficulty" from normal either). Just getting through and "winning" isn't that hard. But going through all the levels getting an "A" rank, or (heaven help you) "dot eater" rank is just plain brutal.

That kind of difficulty is more of a self imposed challenge instead of actual difficulty. With that kind of thing in mind, battletoad is still harder than Epic yarn if your goal is to kill everything without dying once.

Crono1973:

I don't do any of those things. I don't care about bragging. For example, this weekend I beat 3 games, God of War, God of War II and finally New Super Mario Bros. DS. I wouldn't tell anyone (outside of this thread) because it doesn't really matter.

There was a time before Youtube speedruns, achievements and online multiplayer that most people didn't really care to show off. I am one of those types of people.

Well exactly my point. You either play a game for the experience of the game or for personal achievement. Either way there's a way to cater to everyone.

You know how they show a single image from a video before you actually click it? I saw Megaman and I thought he would discuss Capcom and the huge dick move they pulled with MML3. Eh, well, it was still pretty good.

But I have to agree with a couple of people here. Either I missed the point of the episode or Jim did (Of course the blame goes to me, right?). I am one of those people who complain about SOME games being too easy. And here's why.

Yes, games back then were more challenging because you couldn't save your progress, you had no checkpoints and you had a limited amount of lives and no hopes of obtaining more. Also, very limited weapons. I'm thinking of Adventure Island, if anyone played that game. 8 worlds, few weapons, no checkpoints, good luck. Or if you want something simpler: Mario.

I'm not saying gamers back then were more "HXC BRO!" or anything. I'm just saying that I think that ever since games started reaching all sorts of people (Kids, parents, grandparents?), games have been divided into different categories. You have your easy games (Mario games, etc. I'll get there in a moment!), "hardcore" games (CoD and M rated games, I guess) and anything in between.

Back then, whenever you would buy a game, you didn't have to worry about how hard the game was or how family friendly it was. No, it was just a game. Think about that: a GAME. You didn't see people complaining about the content of the game and stuff. We didn't have GTA. It was just a game; a fantasy computer game with unrealistic plots and goals. Have fun with it. Battletoads could be just as equally challenging and family friendly as Ninja Gaiden.

But now that we've got kids and the Wii and games like...Brain Academy and...Wii Sports and stuff, things have been, for the lack of a better term, dumbed down a bit. No, I'm not saying those games suck. I'm just saying that games such as those are meant to hold your hand and guide you through the game, patiently patting your back and waiting for you to reach the end of the level. Yes, even a 5 year old could play with no effort at all. That is, undeniably, an easy game. So compared to NES games, where you'd be tossed into the game, no tutorials, no choosing difficulty and no mercy, you can see the difference clearly.

I'm not touching the Death penalty at all, if you notice. I agree; if death is missing from a game, it doesn't meant it's a 'wuss' game or whatever. A more simple example would be racing games like Gran Turismo. There's no death or explosions. And as a matter of fact, you can progress through the game without winning every single race. But there's that thing about winning every race! That's the challenge and the attraction.
On the other hand, give a 5 year old a copy of GT and they'll probably die of boredom. it's just too complicated/convoluted for a kid. Would a kid be able to play it and beat it, maybe? Yes, but I doubt it would be a game that you would want to give to a kid. Between giving an average kid a copy of GT or Donkey Kong, which one would you choose?

So personally, it does bother me that some games are usually toned down for everyone to understand. I don't expect to see fiery explosions, blood and gore all over the place. One of my favorite games ever is Kirby Super Star for the SNES. That game was challenging for many of the reasons Jim mentioned. But it seems the new gen. of games has the same qualities but they've made them easier to play. I don't want something all "HXC YO!" just because I'm selfish, but it would be nice if the new gen. of gamers can handle what we handled back then. You know, just for kicks. They're certainly more exposed to games than we were.

It just bothers me to see a kid show off by saying he finished Sonic Unleashed in one day and he's the 'best gamer in the world' when they don't really know/have encountered a real challenging game. Yeah, I've seen it happen. Tons of times too.
But I digress. So I'll stop now.

Real difficulty has to exclude people.

Getting gold medals in kirby's epic yarn isn't hard.
Might take a few tries, but most people can do it.

Take a fighting game as an example.
Most people can complete them. Yes, even on the highest difficulty.
(Although Shao Khan is a F****** cheap bitch)

That's not difficult because 90% of players can make it through that gate.

Compare that to winning the Evolution tournament.
There's one winner per year.
So, most people will never, ever, get top 32 .. let alone win it.

That's difficult because it excludes just about everybody.

Damnit Jim TMI. You're making us look bad for liking this.

I like what you're saying otherwise and I just realized games have been doing that well before Epic Yarn.

Look at the bear and cow levels in the Katamari series. Anyone who's played it immediately knows what I'm talking about but for those of you who don't.

Those levels are simultaneously the easiest and the hardest most frustrating levels in the game.

It tells you to go pick up or a bear (or a cow or either depending on the level).

The area is littered with tons of bears/cows scattered all over the place as well as bear/cow statues and traffic cones with bears/cows painted on them which also count (and if you're playing with cows milk cartons count as well for whatever reason). All you have to do is run towards the nearest small cow/bear (usually a couple feet away) and wala level over you win. Congrats.

The hard part is getting the biggest bear/cow in the level. See once you pick up a bear/cow the level is immediately over, you can't keep picking stuff up as much as you want to. This means you have to keep picking up non-bear/non-cow while avoiding the bears and cows to be big enough to get the biggest and best one (and as you get bigger you can pick up the bigger-yet-not-the-biggest cows/bears meaning there's more stuff you need to avoid). And some of those bears/cows move around. I've yet to do any of them.

But enough about that I think things like that are a great way to give a challenge for people who want it in a way that's more fun than "do the entire story again only this time it's harder".

I kinda appreciate your current Persona , your last one was annoyingly arrogant while I understand It's intended to be a Joke but Its not set up for humor so when we see you talking on a podium you tend to come across as annoying.

Wow, this actually surprised me! I only watch Zero Punctuation, but on a whim I decided to watch this episode.

What he said actually made a lot of sense!

Finally! I've been waiting ages for one of the big escapist folks to bring this up! This is why I loved LittleBigPlanet and LocoRoco. The former had tons of bonus areas for rewards, /and/ rewarded you for beating each level without dying. Anyone who's aced the bunker can account for the fact that it can get really hard. The latter was insanely easy to beat (I pretty much never got a game over in it) but had a lot of fruit that made your LocoRocos multiply hidden around each level, and the ultimate goal was to beat each level with 20 of them (all fruit without losing any of them.) These are two of my favorite games of all time, and they provided a great challenge.

Most of all, I think we need more of these because it provides a serious bridge between the casual and the hardcore audience. The casual players get into the games because they're not tough, and when they really get into them, they start taking on the challenges. Sure, they might give up on some of them, but as they get more skilled and more dedicated to the games they love, they start undertaking the challenges more and more, and learning to love it. Thus, a hardcore gamer is made.

In reality, I think we've all come across these. The old days had Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, after all, which are epic examples. I'd imagine 100%-completion-bonus games are sort of the gateway drugs for casual->hardcore gamers. I certainly know that I never tried to undertake a megaman game when I was a kid.

Edit: Except for Megaman Legends, but that was kind of different, and even that I didn't get very far into.

The incentive of some weird medal doesn't motivate anyone. I could also set up the rule that i can only jump a certain number of times in Super Mario and play accordingly. Death is used to withhold content from the player and thus frustrate him. You might play Kirby's Epic Yarn and try to get every collectible or whatever, but you will never experience the frustration of content being unattainable, because you did not collect everything. Therefore it will take a rare breed of person/hoarder to actually take the incentive seriously. The payoff is simply too small.

i've noticed a lot of you guys are sayng Jim's mising the point because what you call dificult games alsow have what he's talking about... wel gues what? you're mising the poit! games are now for everyone not just for hardcore gamers and that's a good thing... and when I say everyone Include the hardcore gamers (in case you aren't used to be included)... plus no one's stoping you from playng old "hardcore" games... I curentley only play games on the NES and some Warcraft 3(I am incapable of quiting warcraft 3... I suck at it though)

Great show again. I still marvel at the awesomeness of Kiby Epic yarns graphic style.

4:30 scariest rendition of Kirby. Ever.
Or is it an angry ballsack with eyes?

Love your trolling, also that metajoke you did by drinking. :> So anyway, yeah.. you're pretty much on the mark, however many gamers like to point out that 100% completion isn't necessary (I'm looking at you Yahtzee Sheeple). However you can still balance it a bit: Bayonetta and DMC did this as well and still had some quite hard moments.Anyway, keep up the good work and don't move away from The Escapist, would hate to see you on Youtube again :<

€dith: WoW did the same thing recently with hardmodes, and it wasn't well received. So yeah, mostly just little kids whining for forced difficulty, not real difficulty.

Excellent points.

I still find his quips to be crass, and his drawings to be of an insultingly low quality.

Interesting take on difficulty there. It's amazing how much we use death and health as the sole measure of success. Super Metroid has both mortality, collection and time as part of the challenge. You could go through the game slowly, collecting 100% items, but have no peek under Samus' suit. Missing all the items got you to see her for a second, but a bad percentage. The ultimate challenge was getting everything in under 3 hours.

On a side note, loved the humour this episode, Jim.

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.

Well not all people are like that but if I play Ninja Gaiden or Megaman or a game on the hardest setting I expect the game to spank me hard. That is the point of the harder settings and yes some games have become easier and taken away that challenge. Even Halo 3 is a joke compared to other Halos.

Now this may sound odd but while I probably died more in Halo 3 in certain levels than others in the series I felt this was more due to design than the actual difficulty. Not that didn't add a bit of challenge to work it out. Some bits on Legendary I would blaze through without dying and go through several checkpoints easily then there would be one place where I would just die constantly. This seems to be the same for CoD series at the moment.

Glademaster:

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.

Well not all people are like that but if I play Ninja Gaiden or Megaman or a game on the hardest setting I expect the game to spank me hard. That is the point of the harder settings and yes some games have become easier and taken away that challenge. Even Halo 3 is a joke compared to other Halos.

Now this may sound odd but while I probably died more in Halo 3 in certain levels than others in the series I felt this was more due to design than the actual difficulty. Not that didn't add a bit of challenge to work it out. Some bits on Legendary I would blaze through without dying and go through several checkpoints easily then there would be one place where I would just die constantly. This seems to be the same for CoD series at the moment.

I think the difficulty caused by design is quite common in some games, sonic games in 3D involved a lot of dying in places because of glitches when the rest of the level was easy. I agree though Halo and CoD do have problems too but it's only when people exploit them online that it becomes a problem, for single player atleast it for the most part is up to you how you play.

lostlevel:

Glademaster:

CM156:

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.

Well not all people are like that but if I play Ninja Gaiden or Megaman or a game on the hardest setting I expect the game to spank me hard. That is the point of the harder settings and yes some games have become easier and taken away that challenge. Even Halo 3 is a joke compared to other Halos.

Now this may sound odd but while I probably died more in Halo 3 in certain levels than others in the series I felt this was more due to design than the actual difficulty. Not that didn't add a bit of challenge to work it out. Some bits on Legendary I would blaze through without dying and go through several checkpoints easily then there would be one place where I would just die constantly. This seems to be the same for CoD series at the moment.

I think the difficulty caused by design is quite common in some games, sonic games in 3D involved a lot of dying in places because of glitches when the rest of the level was easy. I agree though Halo and CoD do have problems too but it's only when people exploit them online that it becomes a problem, for single player atleast it for the most part is up to you how you play.

Well multiplayer is a whole different beast when it comes to balance but I think in single players there needs to be a steadily increasing difficulty rather than easy, medium, child's play, brick wall, hard, easy, the AI is cheating. DOA4 is a good example of this.

Jennacide:
difficulty:
Minor problem with this arguement. The people that don't care about that difference are generally not the people who would whine it's too easy. Unless they just like complaining for the sake of trying to sound old school.

This is just flat-out untrue. Plenty of people are saying "I want the core experience to be a challenge".

Jennacide:

I can't count how many times I will play a game normally, sometimes thinking "well that was too easy, but fun," so what is my next thought do you think? "Well, let's make it harder!" FO3 was too easy, but I love the game. Since then I never use VATS, and mod the game up to put restrictions in areas I believe were to lax, like carry weight. Now I will admit, this is a moddable game, so added difficulty isn't terribly hard. So let's instead look at another game I play the pants off of, Final Fantasy 12.

For FF12 it's easier to add difficulty, play Zodiac style. If you can't get an actual copy of it (there are english patches and instructions on how to do it, if you own both copies like me), just play like you were anyway. Follow strict job classes, and don't use any of the lame auto leveling or early item tricks.

Which brings me to another point, a lot of complaints about how easy a game is come from the same group that will use every cheap trick in the book.

If I have to bar myself from certain tactics, mod the game, and set arbitrary restrictions for myself, then I'm doing the work of the game designer. I'm not just playing the game anymore, I'm making design decisions and playtesting them.

Quite frankly, I probably don't care enough about your game to do that. Jim is actually engaging in a common fanboy fallacy here- "You don't like my favorite game/movie/comic book? Well, you need to work harder at liking it!". No, I don't. I can just move on to something else that I do enjoy.

Was that the "Two Best Friends Play" theme music in the background?

Except that Epic Yarn is also very, very easy to get gold stars on. Sure, 2 of the platinum boss stars are a bit tricky, but it's still very easy and very forgiving.

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I think he certainly has improved greatly since his first premere on the escapist. I'm glad I gave him a second shot!

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