Why are games so easy these days?

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So im currently ploughing through mass effect 3, while the universe is huge (im making a point of visiting every system and draining it of everything i can find), and there's many ''ooohhhhh'' and ''aaahhhhh'' moments of delectable eye candy, i cant help feel i have been cheated. Iv heard about how crap the ending is (PLEASE, no spoilers) but every mission so far is run and shoot enough ammo at any enemy until it drops. i wasn't aware i was playing gears of war 4. And i'v found many games lately to be far far to easy. Modern warefare 3 had the difficulty curve of circle, as well as gears of war 3, halo reach, homefront, fable 3, assassins creed revelations, countless others! games these days seam to cater to people of a lesser intellectual capability.

Im no brainiac, but i would like more of a challenge than shoot this, run here, stab this. collect the right armour or weapons and the games play them self's. i have smashed many a controller in frustration over the original resident evil, silent hill, metal gear, conkers bad fur day. games can be knocked over ina few hours now, it used to take weeks. This was meant to be an observation and has turned into a rant, my apologies, but frustration is making my brain melt!! im interested to know what does the wider gaming community think of the level of difficulty today's games have. i just cant justity spending $100 on a new release to find im twiddling my thumbs the day after.

http://www.nowgamer.com/news/919569/bioware_we_want_call_of_dutys_audience.html

Here's the reason why.

Instead of coming up with a new IP to target a wider demographic, they dumb-down something already established.

Naturally, you are playing all these games on maximum difficulty settings. Right...?

...

As for why games in general are easier, it's because the folks who make them want to be able to sell them to people who haven't been playing games for decades.

Crazy times we live in, huh?

mad_mick:
I've found many games lately to be far far to easy.

I'm of two minds on this.

The first mind says you're absolutely right. Games ARE too goddam easy now. I remember how ludicrously malevolent Everquest was. No explanation of how anything worked. No map. Lousy online supplements teeming with misinformation and misunderstood data. Obtuse, arcane interface. Sitting for 20 minutes to regen health, with your nose in a spellbook so you couldn't see the lizard crawling up the slope to kill you, setting you back a week in experience loss. It was positively fucking cruel, and there was something glorious about that. Everything felt tense, vital. The world was a savage frontier. Conflicts were life and death. Adrenalin pounding through your veins because a misstep could mean catastrophic results. It was special. I MISS it.

The second mind says most games now have difficulty levels for a reason, and if I'm being honest with myself, I don't like a challenge so much as I like the illusion of challenge. I like to win, and I like it to feel like it was a close thing, and only my magnificence spared me from ruin. And while I don't always get that, and it's annoying, even more annoying is ramming my head against some irritating sequence or puzzle. I'd never stand for Everquest now. Lost a week of experience? Fuck YOU, game! I play for fun and relaxation, not to have my blood pressure spike.

I'd say there's a couple of factors:

A sizable chunk of the market seems to prefer mild "cinematic" experiences to challenge. This means you can make a lot of money off of pretty, shallow, and easy games.

It's easier to make a balanced easy game than a balanced hard game. If the player is steamrollering everything no matter what, the degree of steamrollering doesn't matter as much.

The review system is currently biased towards easy games. If a game takes a longer time to master, the aspects of it that require mastery are less likely to be reviewed. See also: multiplayer shooters being evaluated based on their tacked-on single-player campaigns.

Not all the time, my argument is why should i have too. Games are meant to be challenging and exciting, i don't necessarily want to die every time step out of my chest high wall, nor do i want to breeze through enemy AI like wet tissue paper. Where's the middle ground. Call of duty for instance is not much different on veteran than on recruit, just have to duck more. Is the industry really catering for gamers who want shiny achievements and trophies for no effort put in?

In responce to Zhukov, sorry, ment to hit quote

mad_mick:
Not all the time, my argument is why should i have too. Games are meant to be challenging and exciting, i don't necessarily want to die every time step out of my chest high wall, nor do i want to breeze through enemy AI like wet tissue paper. Where's the middle ground. Call of duty for instance is not much different on veteran than on recruit, just have to duck more. Is the industry really catering for gamers who want shiny achievements and trophies for no effort put in?

In regards to your last question, it couldn't be more blatant that CoD is appealing to that demographic.

However I disagree with your statement that games are meant to be challenging and exciting. For you, definitely. But there are several reasons one may play a game, reasons other than for challenges and thrills.

I personally do miss the challenging unforgiving nature of arcade-style games but it's not what the industry feels the majority of consumers want.

mad_mick:
Not all the time, my argument is why should i have too. Games are meant to be challenging and exciting, i don't necessarily want to die every time step out of my chest high wall, nor do i want to breeze through enemy AI like wet tissue paper. Where's the middle ground. Call of duty for instance is not much different on veteran than on recruit, just have to duck more. Is the industry really catering for gamers who want shiny achievements and trophies for no effort put in?

In responce to Zhukov, sorry, ment to hit quote

You can edit your post if you want. Just hit quote on Zhukov, copy the mumble jumble, hit edit on your post, then paste it at the top.

As for why games are easy? Well a lot more people are playing now, so they have to make it accessible for everyone, well they don't have to, but if they want to make the most money then they have to

I actually found ME3 pretty challenging at times, especially towards the end. But then I also almost never used cover, so that could have been the reason.

It's mainly because controls have vastly improved this generation.

Try playing Jak & Daxter or Metal Gear Solid 3 again, and you'll notice how fucking horrendous their controls were compared to the silky smooth controls we have today.

Also, most games have succumbed to the streamlined level design. No more branching paths or exploration unless it's already a sandbox game.

BloatedGuppy:

mad_mick:
I've found many games lately to be far far to easy.

I'm of two minds on this.

The first mind says you're absolutely right. Games ARE too goddam easy now. I remember how ludicrously malevolent Everquest was. No explanation of how anything worked. No map. Lousy online supplements teeming with misinformation and misunderstood data. Obtuse, arcane interface. Sitting for 20 minutes to regen health, with your nose in a spellbook so you couldn't see the lizard crawling up the slope to kill you, setting you back a week in experience loss. It was positively fucking cruel, and there was something glorious about that. Everything felt tense, vital. The world was a savage frontier. Conflicts were life and death. Adrenalin pounding through your veins because a misstep could mean catastrophic results. It was special. I MISS it.

The second mind says most games now have difficulty levels for a reason, and if I'm being honest with myself, I don't like a challenge so much as I like the illusion of challenge. I like to win, and I like it to feel like it was a close thing, and only my magnificence spared me from ruin. And while I don't always get that, and it's annoying, even more annoying is ramming my head against some irritating sequence or puzzle. I'd never stand for Everquest now. Lost a week of experience? Fuck YOU, game! I play for fun and relaxation, not to have my blood pressure spike.

That's EXACALY what im getting at, where's the middle ground. its either poking your eyeballs out with hot needles (everquest prime example) or seeing the credits roll before bed on launch day. casual gamers can whinge and whine about how it's no fun to get killed, and they're entitled to their bitching, but people who buy the odd game here and there cant possibly influence what the developers are pumping out, should it not be the validations and criticisms of gamers from a bygone era who shape what we play today? or am i madder than the hatter?

mad_mick:
That's EXACALY what im getting at, where's the middle ground. its either poking your eyeballs out with hot needles (everquest prime example) or seeing the credits roll before bed on launch day. casual gamers can whinge and whine about how it's no fun to get killed, and they're entitled to their bitching, but people who buy the odd game here and there cant possibly influence what the developers are pumping out, should it not be the validations and criticisms of gamers from a bygone era who shape what we play today? or am i madder than the hatter?

Well, accept first that they HAVE to cater to those casual gamers. Those casual gamers represent by FAR the most significant (and growing) portion of their audience. So there's no sense or profit to had in waging war on casual gamers, or the desire people have to sit down and have some fun with a game and not have said game break their balls.

As for why they can't cater more to hardcore gamers...well...all hardcore gamers are not the same. What's good difficulty? I can master extremely tough strategic challenges, but I don't have the same twitch as a 12 year old Korean Starcraft Master. So what's a harder game? A twitchier one? One with more diabolical puzzles? One with no saves and a terrible checkpoint system? Presumably somewhere there's someone who even likes THAT.

Really the best thing you can do is crank the difficulty level they've provided you, and if that doesn't provide enough of a challenge, look to mods, and if you're still out of luck, resign yourself to the possibility you're just too bad ass for the genre and look for niche games that cater to your particular whims.

mad_mick:

That's EXACALY what im getting at, where's the middle ground. its either poking your eyeballs out with hot needles (everquest prime example) or seeing the credits roll before bed on launch day. casual gamers can whinge and whine about how it's no fun to get killed, and they're entitled to their bitching, but people who buy the odd game here and there cant possibly influence what the developers are pumping out, should it not be the validations and criticisms of gamers from a bygone era who shape what we play today? or am i madder than the hatter?

I think this is a great example of how lots of devs seem to be missing the point - if players are annoyed by losing/dying, their question should be "what can we do to make losing/dying less unpleasant?" and not "what can we do to make sure players never lose/die?" I mean, nobody cares about losing in Tetris. Some games (Super Meat Boy!) seem to get this, others don't.

[quote="Casual Shinji" post="9.362633.14218642"]It's mainly because controls have vastly improved this generation.

Try playing Jak & Daxter or Metal Gear Solid 3 again, and you'll notice how fucking horrendous their controls were compared to the silky smooth controls we have today.

Also, most games have succumbed to the streamlined level design. No more branching paths or exploration unless it's already a sandbox game.[/quot

jak and daxter?? Try crash bandicoot or medievil. Now THATS some horrendous controls. MGS3, we adapted, we learnt the controls, and for me, its one of my favourite ps2 games! Why can't the gamers of today adapt? or learn new things. why is it always press x to not die?!?!?!?!?

mad_mick:
Not all the time, my argument is why should i have too.

So... let me get this straight: You're complaining about a game not being challenging enough while ignoring the option that makes it more challenging? Because...?

mad_mick:
Games are meant to be challenging and exciting,

No. That's apparently why you play games. Amazingly enough, not everyone wants the same thing you want.

For example, I just got done playing Journey for the third time. The game isn't challenging at all. However, I enjoy it because i am not playing it for a challenge.

mad_mick:
Call of duty for instance is not much different on veteran than on recruit, just have to duck more.

Bullshit.

Casual Shinji:
It's mainly because controls have vastly improved this generation.

Try playing Jak & Daxter or Metal Gear Solid 3 again, and you'll notice how fucking horrendous their controls were compared to the silky smooth controls we have today.

Also, most games have succumbed to the streamlined level design. No more branching paths or exploration unless it's already a sandbox game.

jak and daxter?? Try crash bandicoot or medievil. Now THATS some horrendous controls. MGS3, we adapted, we learnt the controls, and for me, its one of my favourite ps2 games! Why can't the gamers of today adapt? or learn new things. why is it always press x to not die?!?!?!?!?

Two words:

Dark Souls.

But yeah, personally I usually play games for fun. Sure challenge is nice, but I kind of prefer a game that has an interesting story or fun gameplay mechanics rather then raise my blood pressure. Hence why I stopped playing the original Rayman. That game is absolute bullshit in terms of difficulty curve.

I also kind of resent the statement about how people who enjoy those kinds of games are of "lesser intellectual capability". Sure, I can agree that most games are trying to appeal to a wider audience, but is that really such a bad thing? We were all casual gamers at some point.

Zhukov:

mad_mick:
Not all the time, my argument is why should i have too.

So... let me get this straight: You're complaining about a game not being challenging enough while ignoring the option that makes it more challenging? Because...?

mad_mick:
Games are meant to be challenging and exciting,

No. That's apparently why you play games. Amazingly enough, not everyone wants the same thing you want.

For example, I just got done playing Journey for the third time. The game isn't challenging at all. However, I enjoy it because i am not playing it for a challenge.

mad_mick:
Call of duty for instance is not much different on veteran than on recruit, just have to duck more.

Bullshit.

Stop twisting my words, I'm not saying i want the most hardcore extreme game mankind has ever seen, (dark souls can suck my dick) i just don't see why games have to be spoon fed to people who don't want to accept that they may die in the trial and error that is gaming. the Alone in the dark remake they did a few years ago, if a level was too hard you could SKIP THE ENTIRE GAME and get the same pay off as someone who completed the game for real, what the fuck is the point of that. Games can be fun without being easy enough that a blind toddler could knock it over in an afternoon.

mad_mick:

Casual Shinji:
It's mainly because controls have vastly improved this generation.

Try playing Jak & Daxter or Metal Gear Solid 3 again, and you'll notice how fucking horrendous their controls were compared to the silky smooth controls we have today.

Also, most games have succumbed to the streamlined level design. No more branching paths or exploration unless it's already a sandbox game.

jak and daxter?? Try crash bandicoot or medievil. Now THATS some horrendous controls. MGS3, we adapted, we learnt the controls, and for me, its one of my favourite ps2 games! Why can't the gamers of today adapt? or learn new things. why is it always press x to not die?!?!?!?!?

I'm not saying they're bad games, I love both of them. But especially MGS3's controls were stogie as shit.

You say we adapted to them, but that was then. Now we have games where the controls feel natural right out of the gate; That's progress.

scorptatious:
Two words:

Dark Souls.

But yeah, personally I usually play games for fun. Sure challenge is nice, but I kind of prefer a game that has an interesting story or fun gameplay mechanics rather then raise my blood pressure. Hence why I stopped playing the original Rayman. That game is absolute bullshit in terms of difficulty curve.

I also kind of resent the statement about how people who enjoy those kinds of games are of "lesser intellectual capability". Sure, I can agree that most games are trying to appeal to a wider audience, but is that really such a bad thing? We were all casual gamers at some point.

I agree. And that's what im getting at in a round about kind of way, no middle ground. either death at every step or paper mashie ai. We need more games like ico, or shadows of the colossus. Amazing games, not too hard, not too easy.

Casual Shinji:

mad_mick:

Casual Shinji:
It's mainly because controls have vastly improved this generation.

Try playing Jak & Daxter or Metal Gear Solid 3 again, and you'll notice how fucking horrendous their controls were compared to the silky smooth controls we have today.

Also, most games have succumbed to the streamlined level design. No more branching paths or exploration unless it's already a sandbox game.

jak and daxter?? Try crash bandicoot or medievil. Now THATS some horrendous controls. MGS3, we adapted, we learnt the controls, and for me, its one of my favourite ps2 games! Why can't the gamers of today adapt? or learn new things. why is it always press x to not die?!?!?!?!?

I'm not saying they're bad games, I love both of them. But especially MGS3's controls were stogie as shit.

You say we adapted to them, but that was then. Now we have games where the controls feel natural right out of the gate; That's progress.

THANK YOU.
Honestly, sometimes games were hard because of shitty design choices. And if difficulty sliders aren't HARDCORE enough for you why don't you add restrictions for yourself to make the game harder?

inb4 "not my job it's the developers"

I'm going with games are no longer arcade style. Way back when in the days of the arcade, games had to be insanely difficult to keep you putting the quarters in.

Now a days, games don't have to keep someone in front of your gaming machine. (unless it's an MMO, or something)

I'd suggest playing in a way that is difficult. When you pop in MGS 4, do so without killing a single person or having a single alert (or at least attempting to), when you play Skyrim turn up the difficulty and stick completely to your character.

True difficult is a hard thing to implement. I know a-lot of people get rubbed the wrong way but a game 'streamlining' their experiences but I'm gonna be honest and say I would never play an old school RPG where I had to balance my stats or worry about my HP or anything.

image

False premise.

BloatedGuppy:

mad_mick:
I've found many games lately to be far far to easy.

I'm of two minds on this.

I am actually more of the third mind on this. That is that its not that games are actually getting easier its just that we are getting better at games. Game difficulty has not actually changed much in the past ten years or so but instead it is out level of skill that has.

The only reason we found old games more difficult wasnt because the actual gameplay was harder it just the horrible controls or needlessly complicated interface.

Das Boot:

The only reason we found old games more difficult wasnt because the actual gameplay was harder it just the horrible controls or needlessly complicated interface.

I'm not sure that's necessarily true - I played Super Metroid pretty recently and it surprised me with:

A) How tight the controls and game design were compared to many modern games,

B) How much system mastery the game requires compared to many modern games.

For instance, in the Crocomire fight the limiting factor isn't the controls, it's your reflexes and ability. Deaths in Super Metroid never feel unfair, because you always know what you could have done to survive.

There are definitely many games (both modern and old-school) that have a complicated interface, but the difficulty issue can't just be boiled down to interface complexity.

Because it's the 'DUMB THAT SHIT DOWN' era of gaming. Complete with quest compasses, regenerating health, simplified mechanics and hand holding !

I love how ppl like to point out Dark Souls when this comes up, but ignore the other 95% of shitty dumbed down games that are piled upon us.

And Corridor of Duty's veteran is retarded, it's just constant respawning enemies that force you to keep running forward constantly. What GREAT DESIGN !!

Because keeping your audience small by keeping games unaccessable is friggin dumb.

Or you should start playing different games than mainstream shit or pull the difficulty up.

Das Boot:
The only reason we found old games more difficult wasnt because the actual gameplay was harder it just the horrible controls or needlessly complicated interface.

Super Castlevania IV had super tight controls and an interface that was not complicated at all, and it still manages to kick my ass whenever I feel like playing it again.

Mario Galaxy 2 had a great balance between accessibility to casual players and difficulty for hardcore players.

Casual players didn't have to collect all the stars to beat the game, and hardcore players could collect all the stars.

You could play on the highest difficulty, it always makes it a little more challenging. I don't think games are too easy there are a few challenging games out there, I found Uncharted 2 hard in places(not the puzzles they were a piece of piss) Metro 2033 had a few challenging parts on medium difficulty, or maybe they didn't and I'm just shit.

TheKasp:
Because keeping your audience small by keeping games unaccessable is friggin dumb.

Difficult =/= inaccessible. Super Meat Boy has simple controls, but I don't think anyone would accuse that game of being excessively easy.

TheKasp:
or pull the difficulty up.

The problem with increased difficulty is that in many games, increased difficulty setting doesn't actually increase difficulty in any kind of meaningful or interesting way. You don't have to manage additional challenges, you just have to do the same thing you do on Easy more precisely.

It's less "okay, so same segment except now the enemy is smarter at flanking you and has new abilities" and more "okay, so same segment except instead of getting back in cover after 2 seconds of shooting stuff you now have to get back in cover after 1 second of shooting stuff." There are exceptions, of course.

TheKasp:
Or you should start playing different games than mainstream shit

This one I 100% agree with :D

Kahunaburger:

Difficult =/= inaccessible. Super Meat Boy has simple controls, but I don't think anyone would accuse that game of being excessively easy.

Of course not, but on the other hand: About every old difficult game is difficult because it is as accessable as a lava pit... Unfair difficulty due to lack of informations, bad tutorials or simply stupid leveldesign and broken mechanics.

The problem with increased difficulty is that in many games, increased difficulty setting doesn't actually increase difficulty in any kind of meaningful or interesting way. You don't have to manage additional challenges, you just have to do the same thing you do on Easy more precisely.

It's less "okay, so same segment except now the enemy is smarter at flanking you and has new abilities" and more "okay, so same segment except instead of getting back in cover after 2 seconds of shooting stuff you now have to get back in cover after 1 second of shooting stuff." There are exceptions, of course.

This again goes to: What games are actual difficult if we apply your criticism? Because modern day AI is (in theory) better than anything old games can bring up. But then again, I personally have yet to find a game where I am truly impressed by the AI.

Requiring more precision and control while executing basic stuff is actually how increased difficulty in many fields works. I don't see the problem if the game suddenly requeres about 20% more meaningful actions from me (be it hack&slash rpg, rts or fps) if I pull up the difficulty one notch.

TheKasp:

Kahunaburger:

Difficult =/= inaccessible. Super Meat Boy has simple controls, but I don't think anyone would accuse that game of being excessively easy.

Of course not, but on the other hand: About every old difficult game is difficult because it is as accessable as a lava pit... Unfair difficulty due to lack of informations, bad tutorials or simply stupid leveldesign and broken mechanics.

Depends on the game, but my general perception with old games that are considered A) hard (by modern standards) and B) classics is that they don't have accessibility/level design/mechanic issues. Design tends to be pretty tight, and difficulty is based on to what extent you have mastered precise and/or creative use of the mechanics instead of to what extent you have learned to use the mechanics at all.

TheKasp:

The problem with increased difficulty is that in many games, increased difficulty setting doesn't actually increase difficulty in any kind of meaningful or interesting way. You don't have to manage additional challenges, you just have to do the same thing you do on Easy more precisely.

It's less "okay, so same segment except now the enemy is smarter at flanking you and has new abilities" and more "okay, so same segment except instead of getting back in cover after 2 seconds of shooting stuff you now have to get back in cover after 1 second of shooting stuff." There are exceptions, of course.

This again goes to: What games are actual difficult if we apply your criticism? Because modern day AI is (in theory) better than anything old games can bring up. But then again, I personally have yet to find a game where I am truly impressed by the AI.

Requiring more precision and control while executing basic stuff is actually how increased difficulty in many fields works. I don't see the problem if the game suddenly requeres about 20% more meaningful actions from me (be it hack&slash rpg, rts or fps) if I pull up the difficulty one notch.

Many games from many eras are actually difficult, but very few games have good difficulty scaling. An example of doing it right, in my mind, is the Halo series, particularly the later games. The AI gets smarter when you turn up the difficulty, and there are separate options you can turn on to add specific twists to the game - AI throwing more grenades, alternate and more difficult health mechanics, and so on. These difficulty settings work because they require the player to approach challenges from a different perspective, not just be 10% faster at hitting buttons.

An example of how not to do it is the Elder Scrolls series, particularly Morrowind and Oblivion. On higher difficulties, the "I win" buttons in those games still work, and specific attack methods become less useful. Instead of adding emergent challenge as the result of a higher difficulty, this basically just limits the viable strategies to a smaller subset. There are spells that faceroll anything on any difficulty, and therefore the game doesn't actually become more challenging - the "I win" button is an "I win" button on any slider setting.

People want instant gratification now for playing games. All those stupid achievements you get for doing this, doing that. You can't play a game anymore without it petting you on the head and calling you a winner. Lots of games that have multiplayer are ususally selling more than games that don't. Really shitty at this game I bought, I will just go online and pwn some noobs. You ever watch people now play games with a blind walkthrough. Don't want to explore the enviroment, they want an arrow telling them where to go next. Dumbass gamer run by the key 30 or 40 times because they can't be bothered to check the bed that it is sitting on.

mad_mick:
So im currently ploughing through mass effect 3, while the universe is huge (im making a point of visiting every system and draining it of everything i can find), and there's many ''ooohhhhh'' and ''aaahhhhh'' moments of delectable eye candy, i cant help feel i have been cheated. Iv heard about how crap the ending is (PLEASE, no spoilers) but every mission so far is run and shoot enough ammo at any enemy until it drops. i wasn't aware i was playing gears of war 4. And i'v found many games lately to be far far to easy. Modern warefare 3 had the difficulty curve of circle, as well as gears of war 3, halo reach, homefront, fable 3, assassins creed revelations, countless others! games these days seam to cater to people of a lesser intellectual capability.

Im no brainiac, but i would like more of a challenge than shoot this, run here, stab this. collect the right armour or weapons and the games play them self's. i have smashed many a controller in frustration over the original resident evil, silent hill, metal gear, conkers bad fur day. games can be knocked over ina few hours now, it used to take weeks. This was meant to be an observation and has turned into a rant, my apologies, but frustration is making my brain melt!! im interested to know what does the wider gaming community think of the level of difficulty today's games have. i just cant justity spending $100 on a new release to find im twiddling my thumbs the day after.

i have afew counter arguments for you
1. dark/demon souls
2. ninja guidan (however you spell it)
3. cod (especially 5)/battlefiled/halo on hardest difficulty
4. indie games like trials HD
5. online games like starcraft 2 were competition reaches professional levels

if you can play these and 100% them (this means all achievements and all optional goals like getting gold on a track done) without breaking some electronics then you can winge about games being to easy (with online simply win a competitive tournament)

games have not gotten harder, the "hardcore" crowd have got better at games and the challange in allot of games can be found in optional extra's (these range from achievements to upping the difficulty, to options in missions) or in competing online against other people and are no longer in the core game, i gave a similar reply to some one who wanted more stealth in games its there you just need to look a little bit harder to find it

You have to remember old games were often harder due to bad design decisions not because they were developed to be intentionally difficult like dark souls and as developers have more experience this generally doesn't happen and I find most games on the hardest difficulty are usually very challenging anyway.

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