Dark Souls Director Considers an Easier Option

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Dark Souls Director Considers an Easier Option

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Hidetaka Miyazaki is "sad" that the notorious difficulty of Dark Souls is keeping some gamers from taking it on.

Dark Souls, as I understand it, is a pretty tough game. The fact that the PC version that came out a couple weeks ago is called the "Prepare to Die Edition" speaks volumes. But not everyone is a fan of its repetitive, try-and-die gameplay, and Miyazaki, who admitted that the success of the game caught him completely by surprise, said he's worried that some potential players are staying away from it because of its fearsome reputation.

"I personally want my games to be described as satisfying rather than difficult. As a matter of fact, I am aiming at giving players sense of accomplishment in the use of difficulty," he said in a recent interview with Metro. "Having said that, however, it is true that Dark Souls is rather difficult and a number of people may hesitate to play. This fact is really sad to me and I am thinking about whether I should prepare another difficulty that everyone can complete or carefully send all gamers the messages behind our difficult games."

But it's not ease that players are looking for so much as games that are "interesting and worthwhile," he explained, so the trick is to find the balance between accessibility and challenge. "I think it is natural that hindrance or stress that does not attribute to such interesting and worthwhile elements will be removed in the end," he continued. "If the number of easy games is increasing nowadays, I guess it is because difficulty is not related to interesting and worthwhile game elements in many games among players."

It's interesting that Miyazaki's comments would follow so closely on the heels of the PC release of Dark Souls, because it begs the question of whether PC gamers, very generally speaking, have less tolerance for this sort of gameplay than their console cousins. It also dredges up the possibility of arguments and fistfights over whether Dark Souls is more "difficult" than, say, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, or even the famously hardcore indie darling Legend of Grimrock. Are PC gamers soft, or are they just different - or is it all simply a matter of completely coincidental timing?

Source: Metro

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Isn't that pretty much the whole point of DS? "It's hard?"

you know that the difficulty is the selling point of the game?

and your game i mainly described as satisfying because it is difficult.

That last paragraph made me facepalm. If there's any difference, it's PC gamers who enjoy a challenge more. Myiazaki didn't say that PC gamers aren't playing his game because it's too hard. He said some people aren't.

Anyway, Dark Souls isn't "hard" - it's just unpredictable. If you know all the ways to go and all the dangers in a level beforehand, it won't seem like the game is overly hard at all. I only find my first playthrough of a particular area to screw me over repeatedly. After that, I can run through it with relative ease, though not paying attention still gets me sometimes.

The game just needs a better hint system, that's all. More words, maybe. Easier messages? Automatic reading? Symbols, like arrows or something? Or just allow people to write limited sentences. Maybe a beastiary that other people can contribute to. Just some ideas.

I doubt PC gamers are afraid of the difficulty. It was more like the shape the game was given to them in. Also, alot of us are just gluttons for punishment I think with video games.

I really don't think the type of gamer (PC to consoles) really factors in to this. Consoles have, in many times past, been home to more hardcore action games like Ninja Gaiden and hell, even old platformers like Mario can get insanely difficult at times. But the PC has it's own history of hardcore games like DOOM and some older RPGs like Ultima and such. And considering Dark Souls is pretty much both an action game and an RPG, i think its unfair to try and bring up the system divide.

On the topic at hand though, i think adding in a difficulty option to Dark Souls would be a bad move. What makes it so satisfying is that no one is able to get through the game any easier or harder than anyone else. It's like adding in difficulty levels into Mario, it kind of murks up the playing field.

I might finally get this game soon with the Prepare to Die Edition coming to consoles (It is right?) Because it does look good but I don't want to spend money on a game I won't enjoy, I'll look for a rental.

I do like hard games (I love the Shin Megami Tensei games and those are hard as hell)

Did you have to go for the pansy PC gamer subtext that may or may not actually be intended? I see this thread going very well now.

I admit, I have to be in the perfect kind of mood to play Demon's/Dark Souls. I've had Dark Souls for months and haven't touched it. It's not due to the difficulty, though. It's due to the atmosphere. Demon's Souls was very dreary, to the point that I actually found it emotionally draining to play. That constant aura of despair just requires a certain kind of mood for me. The same was true for Demon's Souls. I had it for over a year before I actually played it.

The difficulty is attracting way more people then it is pushing away. Something that doesn't hold your hand is a breath of fresh air in today's market.

For my part, I found the game really hard but for the most part fair. It punishes you for screwing up, but if you screw up it is probably your fault. That's what every game should shoot for.

Although if they do want to make the game more user-friendly they could start by actually explaining some things. Maybe even including an instruction manual. Remember those?

I think an easy mode would be interesting, but ultimately it seems impossible to do. Tweaks can obviously be made here and there (such as the increased chance of finding Humanity in PTD), but overall there are so many elements of the game that, because they were designed around the original difficulty, would require a complete overhaul of the game. Perhaps it is something that can be done in the next game, but I don't see that happening to Dark Souls anytime soon bar maybe some major tweaks and additions.

I feel that, while Dark Souls certainly can be quite difficult at times, and demands a good deal of timing, patience, and learning from your mistakes (particularly from the DLC bosses I've fought so far)...

...I also feel that many players, and in particular advertisements and gaming articles, often play up the difficulty a little too far. It's usually done in jest ("I died 3 times just trying to post this!"), but Dark Souls' difficulty has become memetic to the point where I feel that someone looking into the game expects a never-ending face-pounding from the moment you start the game to the moment you stop playing. Which is simply not true; the first time around an area will likely be challenging, and the new attack patterns from the enemies will likely slap you around a bit. But, especially at the beginning of the game, you typically have enough armor and healing to tank through a large portion of the level if you don't recklessly rush in all the time (and the game teaches you very quickly to not do that). By the time you get to the truly difficult areas of the game, you've developed enough experience, equipment, and knowledge to take on just about anything. (And if all else fails, just go Human and summon a helper. Praise the Sun!) Finally, I feel that death in this game is overplayed in terms of how devastating it is. Unless you die twice in a row and lose all your souls/humanity, all you usually lose is time and a bit of your patience. And if you run around with too many souls/humanity, then...well, that's kind of a bad idea and you probably shouldn't be doing it unless you're farming or something.

To reiterate: Dark Souls is challenging, yes. Difficult at times, even. But it's not the "Prepare to die ALL THE TIME" fest that many people would like for others to believe. It's a shame that it happens regardless, since I think more people ought to play this excellent, addictive game.

And to liven up the post after this bout of seriousness: AMAZING CHEST AHEAD, TRY HOLDING IT IN TWO HANDS

Andy Chalk:
It also dredges up the possibility of arguments and fistfights over whether Dark Souls is more "difficult" than, say, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst,

That is a... very bizarre comparison. Someone wanna explain it to me? I mean, Uru was hard, VERY hard, but not in the same way as Dark Souls... at all.

From what I understand, Dark Souls punishes you for screwing up, but it's nearly impossible to really "screw up" in Uru. Dark Souls focuses on player skill, Uru focuses on player thought. Dark Souls thrives on risk vs. reward (if I understand the Humanity mechanic correcetly), Uru has none whatsoever.

Just saying, it seems like comparing an apple to a small baby monkey.

Christ, that last paragraph was awful and unnecessary.

On to the subject matter, adding an "easy" option would change so many of the design aspects from the encounters, the level design, New game plus...etc. I don't see how FromSoft would go forward with this without sacrificing some of it's unique aspects.

The difficulty is fine as it is, but Dark Souls bigger problem is actually communicating it's more unique mechanics without resorting to heavy handed tutorials. Now that would take some rigorous playtesting and design.

Looking at the success at STALKER and some of its mods (like MISERY which makes you miserable :D ) Id say PC gamers prefer difficult games more, but the devs of demons souls are rethinking their difficulty options for a new game. At least I hope so. As long as there are punishing settings, one more acceptable setting may actually be good.

lacktheknack:
That is a... very bizarre comparison. Someone wanna explain it to me? I mean, Uru was hard, VERY hard, but not in the same way as Dark Souls... at all.

That's the point. What is "difficult?" I think Miyazaki's concerns are misplaced, not because of the difficulty (which is both irrelevant and the game's biggest selling point) but because not all games appeal to all gamers, difficulty be damned. Making Dark Souls easier may broaden its audience a little bit, but on the opposite end of the scale, it'll also dilute what makes it most interesting.

As one of those players who'd probably be interested in Dark Souls but hate the idea of "Redo the whole area if you fail" difficulty:

An easy mode would probably make me buy it.

Uru and Grimrock - hard? Did I miss something?

Dark Souls is challenging on the level of NetHack. It's a game where the difficulty is substantial - but the rewards are equally so. Your comparison examples just don't cut it.

go for it; he say it'd be an OPTION. Sometimes Dark Souls is legitimately challenging, but it can also plummet into just unfair and annoying (like the Capra Demon fight, Blighttown, Quelaag, Sen's Fortress, the entry into Anor Londo's castle, Ornstein and Smough, etc) so it actually BORES players instead of enticing them.

I don't mind an option for an easier mode. As long as it's just that: an option.

It's certainly better than the current trend of just making games easier overall.

The thing with games that use difficulty as their selling point typically have at least two or three instances where the game goes from hard to just plain unfair, and fans defend those stupid moments saying "well, the game is supposed to be hard!"

As for the "are PC gamers softer?" thing, I know it's likely flame bait, but I'll bite: The group of gamers that have had the option of "save-scumming" for as long as people can remember really loses any sort of argument of who is more used to harder games by default.

omicron1:
Uru and Grimrock - hard? Did I miss something?

Dark Souls is challenging on the level of NetHack. It's a game where the difficulty is substantial - but the rewards are equally so. Your comparison examples just don't cut it.

Of course they do. They're wickedly difficult games of different sorts. The comparison is spot-on.

And how exactly are the rewards of either Dark Souls or Nethack "substantial?" I think you'll find that it's the same sort of "yay good job" business that every game dishes out. Some gamers might get a big rush out of beating a particular boss fight after failing 50 times, but how is that any different than the one that others get when they work through a viciously obtuse adventure puzzle without the aid of a walkthrough?

Anticipating a slow news day? Well lets stir up some pc vs console wars! That wont come off as awkward and obvious.

Its not really THAT hard. Really, you just need to pay attention to what you are doing. It's all the more satisfying when you kill something too because you actually put effort into it.

Grimrock is not hard...at all. :|

Andy Chalk:
Making Dark Souls easier may broaden its audience a little bit, but on the opposite end of the scale, it'll also dilute what makes it most interesting.

Pretty much this. If I could run around Dark Souls one shotting things and saving wherever I wanted I can't see that the game would be amazing fun. It's the riskiness of the gameplay that makes it exciting. It makes you feel like you are in danger, and I haven't come across a game that has done that well in a long time.

Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac and Rayman Origins are some of my favorite games... for PC. All of them wickedly hard and very satisfying (except Rayman Origins to a lesser degree, they could've come up with a better "true" ending) and all of them are either console games or could easily be translated to consoles.

I don't care if a game is tied to a specific platform, I'll like it for what it is, not from what platform it comes from.

That said, difficult games, for whatever genre and platform, are a niche. The sad truth is, that people still like to get their hands holded and get to the next prize or reward until the game ends. In this era of hand-holding, hard games are a rarity and quite appreciated by the people looking for a real challenge and I'm all up for that, I like hard games.

As for the cheap "dur!, PC gamers like a challenge and console gamers don't!", please, you're better than that.

May as well cut out the "VICTORY ACHIEVED" phrase at the end of each boss battle if you lower the difficulty.

That's the whole point of the game...a sense of achievement and accomplishment that you EARN. Getting shit on over and over again by Gwyn and friends is what makes the games so damn fun. If you can't play games, don't call yourself a gamer.

Miyazaki, we are buying your game because it's challenging. Don't fuck us by trying to "broaden your audience."

Andy Chalk:

omicron1:
Uru and Grimrock - hard? Did I miss something?

Dark Souls is challenging on the level of NetHack. It's a game where the difficulty is substantial - but the rewards are equally so. Your comparison examples just don't cut it.

Of course they do. They're wickedly difficult games of different sorts. The comparison is spot-on.

And how exactly are the rewards of either Dark Souls or Nethack "substantial?" I think you'll find that it's the same sort of "yay good job" business that every game dishes out. Some gamers might get a big rush out of beating a particular boss fight after failing 50 times, but how is that any different than the one that others get when they work through a viciously obtuse adventure puzzle without the aid of a walkthrough?

My apologies - I stopped thinking and started just typing for the last sentence, resulting in a less reasoned and more offensive response than intended.

What I should have said is this:
Myst/Uru is an intellectual challenge - while it may be difficult for some, for most it's just a matter of thinking about it for a while. There's really no excitement to trying a puzzle in Uru - just the knowledge that you can move on once it's complete. I can't see a basis for comparison between the two, aside from "Casual gamers might well give up half an hour in."

Grimrock, meanwhile, does in a way have the same sort of reward structure as Dark Souls - in that, not only do you get to move on, but you get material rewards for doing so. However, I don't find it particularly challenging - especially since, once you get the way things work down, practically nothing in the game up until the final boss is actually dangerous. You aren't beating individual moments - you're beating the game itself, and there's a point at which you have done so, and the rest of the game is just applying your prior success.

Dark Souls and Nethack I set up as an entirely different kind of challenge - one where each encounter, no matter how simple, has a good chance of killing you if you're not paying attention; one where dying means losing something substantial; one where success means material rewards, constant progression, and a palpable sense of relief (Getting through Fort Ludios, anyone?); and one where dying is not just common, but expected - and as a result, something you take in stride.

It may just be the way I experienced the four, but I don't see Uru and Grimrock as the best comparisons for Dark Souls - hence my fumbled comments.

I feel that the difficulty of Dark Souls gets overstated. It really isn't difficult so much as it is punishing. The majority of the enemies, and even the bosses, are fairly simple in their execution. The challenge comes from the fact that if you make a mistake, you can very quickly die and get sent back to the start of the level.

Once you know how to deal with the enemies, traps, and whatnot, the game gets far easier. I'm replaying the game now that the PC version is out, and I find myself blasting through all of the content that took me hours before. Even the Capra Demon, which took me around fifteen tries on my first playthrough, I barely had to pay attention to.

People always go on and on about how brutally hard Dark Souls is, which I really think is a disservice to the game. It isn't "hard", it's challenging. You do have to focus and put in some effort to get through it, but the game rarely asks you to do anything technically difficult. As long as you're careful and pay attention, you'll be able to get past pretty much anything the game throws at you.

Dark Souls is not difficult, it's unforgiving. If I let my guard down in any other game I might get a chunk off my health and a slap on the wrist. If I have a bad moment in Dark Souls, then my face is crushed by a fifty-foot mace and I've lost the souls that have taken the past few hours to collect + humanity + time getting there etc. But once you treat DS with respect and know what it's like, then it can become a piece of cake.

I think that would be a horrible mistake to make.

Sure, I want them to sell any and all * Souls games in million units rather than dozens or thousands, but dumbing them down would severely mess with the existing userbase and it's hard to predict what the amorphous mass of gaming consumers will do no matter what.

If I want my gaming to be dumbed down, I can pick up pretty much any more or less generic first person offering with regenerating health, linear paths and no surprises worthy of more than say, a chuckle and a fancy new QTE.

I love the D* Souls games exactly because they are what and how they are, changing them would quite certainly be a loss for anyone that experienced the first two titles as they were.

Sure, there are things, such as pvp, that need fixing. Any and all cheats and exploits need patching. But apart from those, no, please don't mess it up. If I want my empty calories of McEntertainment, I'll gladly pick up anything from Zelda to <random generic shooter ruining an age old IP>, not anything that's got anything to do with Demon's Souls and Dark Souls.

I mean, come on, what other modern, old-school-at-heart gaming titles do we have beyond Demon's and Dark Souls? Sure, they're rather mind blowing and hard when you start out, I know I peed my pants more than once in each first sitting, but once you grasp the general idea and embrace the mechanics, the concepts, the games as they are, they are pure gaming bliss (99% of PVP excluded for obvious reasons).

The first time I started NG+ it felt like the first time Mario saved the Princess from the clutches of Donkey Kong. I haven't felt that in about thirty years. Please don't ruin that.

Aiddon:
go for it; he say it'd be an OPTION. Sometimes Dark Souls is legitimately challenging, but it can also plummet into just unfair and annoying (like the Capra Demon fight, Blighttown, Quelaag, Sen's Fortress, the entry into Anor Londo's castle, Ornstein and Smough, etc) so it actually BORES players instead of enticing them.

With Blighttown I think it was a frame rate thing that was the big problem. It was very difficult, but once those dart-spitting tree ninjas were dead they stayed dead.

Quelaag wasn't too hard, in fact, I think she was a good example of appropriate difficulty in a game that's supposed to be very difficult. I feel similarly about the Capra Demon, though I died a few times on him. I can't really remember the difference, though

Sen's Fortress only had one frustrating section with 3 pendulum blades, and that was more based on perspective than ACTUAL difficulty. It was the equivalent of first person platforming and I really hated that they resorted to this cheesy faux difficulty, even if it was only once in the level, because I had to get there ten times before I figured out that it was a perspective thing.

Anor Londo's entrance was a bitch, wasn't it. I totally lucked out and don't really remember how, and Ornstein and Smough I spammed with that magic shield.

The one thing you didn't mention was the first, unwinnable encounter with Seath the Scaleless. Fuck that guy. I carefully and methodically trudged through that level only to be cheesed to death by a plot-armored boss, and respawned somewhere else entirely, so I could say goodbye to all of my humanity. That shit ain't cool. That's when I put the game down.

Moonlight Butterfly:

Andy Chalk:
Making Dark Souls easier may broaden its audience a little bit, but on the opposite end of the scale, it'll also dilute what makes it most interesting.

Pretty much this. If I could run around Dark Souls one shotting things and saving wherever I wanted I can't see that the game would be amazing fun. It's the riskiness of the gameplay that makes it exciting. It makes you feel like you are in danger, and I haven't come across a game that has done that well in a long time.

When people complain about Dark Souls they aren't referring to not being able to one shot things, nor are they referring to save points.

The extremely rare humanity is a bit much. I know it's a Japanese thing to "grind," but Dark Souls got out of hand with that shit. It could take hours to get humanity back, which really hurt the flow of the game. Also, the atmosphere was a little too oppressive.

In fact, Dark Souls' difficulty is a great thing, but the small cheesy bits take away from the experience.

omicron1:
It may just be the way I experienced the four, but I don't see Uru and Grimrock as the best comparisons for Dark Souls - hence my fumbled comments.

I think your statement about how you experienced the different games really nails the point I was trying to make. It is kind of silly comparing Dark Souls with Uru, except that they are both very difficult and very rewarding for those who dig what they have to offer. So is offering an "easy" option for Dark Souls really going to do much to expand its fan base, or is it more likely that people love it for what it is, and changing that will have no meaningful impact on its audience?

In hindsight, I can see where that point might not have been made as clearly as I wanted. The intent was merely to spark discussion about difficulty and the role it plays in the popularity of a game. Serious Sam 3: BFE is another example of a game that was a pretty big hit (for a PC-exclusive indie shooter) in spite of the fact that some shooter fans found it overwhelming. SS3 had adjustable difficulty, making it (relatively) accessible, but that fact notwithstanding, what if Croteam had made fundamental changes to the gameplay to ease up on the difficulty? Would that have alienated the fan base? And looking at it from the other direction, if the inclusion of adjustable difficulty didn't degrade SS3, why would it have that affect, as some people have suggested, on Dark Souls?

So instead of making an easier game they will simply add another difficulty setting. There's nothing wrong with that. It makes everyone happy.

Adam Jensen:
So instead of making an easier game they will simply add another difficulty setting. There's nothing wrong with that. It makes everyone happy.

I agree.
I may actually play this game if that were instituted.
(Of course we're wrong and it does affect all the other players as their clarion cries and whines will prove in the pages ahead.)

The game already has a "push to win" button and easier difficulty, it's called summoning a phantom. Summoning a (non-AI) player to help you already increases odds of success into the 90 percentile range. That's the easier difficulty option right there.

sunsetspawn:

The extremely rare humanity is a bit much. I know it's a Japanese thing to "grind," but Dark Souls got out of hand with that shit. It could take hours to get humanity back, which really hurt the flow of the game. Also, the atmosphere was a little too oppressive.

In fact, Dark Souls' difficulty is a great thing, but the small cheesy bits take away from the experience.

That was a concern for maybe the first few months of the game's release, but now, unless you're playing incredibly terribly, it's almost impossible to not be sat on a small cache of humanity at all times. I've been able to kindle every flame I see +2 and immediately re-hollow and rinse/repeat at every bonfire. Two bonfires left, and I still have a stash of 20 humanity in my inventory. Do not invade and I do not consider myself pro at the game (I know what I'm doing / where I'm going now but I still die a lot). The "no humanity" thing is a bit of a dead herring at this point, and will be doubly so when PTD edition comes to console, because they upped humanity rates even more there. The only people I see suffering in humanity are those who insist on playing as human and also use humanity drops to heal or redeem it as soon as they receive it. Otherwise, stockpiling it is simple anymore.

Ah Legend of Grimrock, really need to get to completing it after that god-awful Dungeon Hero puzzle

Well, nothing wrong in trying to get more people into it but i hope they don't screw up their games just to attract more people by jumping through hoops.

I'm going to be perfectly honest here: Dark Souls, even on the PC, is easier than Demon's Souls. I'm also going to state that I bought Demon's Souls without having any clue what it was, because it was pretty cheap when I saw it. I booted it up and what I got was a game that challenged me. A game that wanted me to think, consider all of my options, be mindful of my surroundings and look for openings in enemy patterns instead of just attack-spamming and then hiding behind a block for a few seconds. And it was glorious. I hate it and love it at the same time, and it's the reason my friend and I both got Dark Souls. It's not a hard game. It's a punishing game. It's a game that rests on its laurels, knowing that anything and everything can and will try to kill the player. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

When I want to challenge myself, I'll boot up one of those games. Because yeah, they're frustrating. But they're rewarding. You feel accomplished when you finally kill a boss you've been stuck on for days, because you know you just overcame that obstacle. Maybe you got lucky, maybe you had help, maybe you were just playing better than you ever had before in your life, but it was something you did, and most of the time it's something you can recreate. The enemies aren't just damage-sponges like most 'hard-mode' games do (well, as long as you upgrade your weapons), so it almost never feels completely unfair when you die to them (exception: Anor Londo Silver Knight Archers. They can go to hell).

Now, implementing an 'Easy Mode' is something that I have no problem with, provided the base difficulty is still somewhere around what Dark Souls is at. But just making the entire thing easier and 'more accessible' won't be good for anyone.

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