Games that punish you for doing well

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Was just playing Shogun 2 Total War and I hit a moment known as "Realm Divide". What this means is you've done so well that every single clan in the game is going to declare war on you. The only way you know how close you are to a realm divide is a bar measuring your fame and it's a vague indicator at best. I declared war on a neighbor to help an ally, took two towns and holy crap, suddenly everyone else wants my head on a silver platter.

Another example of this BS is World of Tanks where the higher tier tanks make less credits than lower tier vehicles. I heard the excuse that this is so the lower tiers are always full of players which is BS because the lower tiers are more fun and thus will always have players. Almost every single time I run my tier 9 german heavy I lose money. It's a bad system meant to discourage players from advancing to the higher tiers. I would say they should have more events for tiers 1-6, more credit boosts, more 2x xp days instead of punishing people for having the nerve to play the higher tiers.

Yes this has just been me venting so far *shoots a harsh glare at Shogun 2* but this leads to a discussion. What other games punish you for doing well?

Rome: Total War does something similar to Shogun 2, so i was kinda used to it when it happened. Civ V (not sure about 4 anymore, but i think it had it too) has this nice mechanic where everyone stops trading with you or demands ridiculous prices if you're too far ahead. I actually like that though, since it improves balance and is not as over the top as everyone declaring war on you.

The problem with WoT is because they want you to spend money on premium and/or $50 overpowered crap and I don't think the devs give two shits about their non-Russian players either because all I've seen in the past 6 months is just pandering to their own countrymen most of the time.

Mario Kart. If you're in the lead, you get nothing but shit items, and you're a target for the blue shell.

I understand the idea behind Realm Divide though. The Total War games have always had an awful difficulty curve where the beginning turns are tight and challenging and then as soon as you break your first or second major power the rest of the game becomes an unchallenging walkover where you've got to mindlessly grind regions down whilst trying to not accumulate so much money that all your governors become corrupt.

Theoretically realm divide means that actually the end of the game is the most challenging time with an actual threat of defeat and a short walk to the end if you beat it.

It doesn't quite work in it's current form, maybe because of the way it triggers, or the way it negates diplomacy, but they need to keep on iterating for it because you can't have a difficulty curve where it gets steadily easier until the end of the game.

One of the features of God Hand was that the enemies level up the better you're doing. Demons Souls reversed the idea by having a world that gets easier and less rewarding the better you are and harder the worse you're doing, because Demons Souls is just that kind of game.

Most games have some sort of mechanic where the stakes get upped once you reach a certain strength/hit the end of the game. Sandboxes start equipping mooks with rocket launchers etc. There's probably a lot of value in finding out why the standard end game difficulty spike doesn't feel cheap and Realm Divide does, despite them being actually basically identical. Realm divide doesn't trigger based on your strength or how well you're doing, it triggers based on the number of regions you've captured, ie how close to the end you are. Nevertheless, it feels much more wrong

Vagrant Story sort of does this with a mechanic called Risk. The longer you spend fighting an enemy, the higher up your Risk goes. With high Risk, you get higher chances of critical hits and healing more HP, but your accuracy and defense go down. It's a double-edged sword, really.

A bit off-topic, but I've always wondered where the "Banned" avatar the OP has comes from. Anyone know?

While incredibly bored, a friend and I were taking turns against Kain Heinlien in Mark of the Wolves on the highest difficulty setting. Using Terry, I managed to Just Defend and straight counter everything for a round, completely dominating the cpu opponent. The next round, Kain was filling the screen with black flames, and moving at what looked like 1.5 speed. My friend pointed out, "You pissed him off." Didn't even get one hit in that round.

Back when fighting games were my bread and butter, it always seemed like certain bosses had a definite Revenge mode.

Oblivion punished you for leveling. I remember being stuck at an area, and in typical RPG fashion, I left to go grind someplace else for a while. During the trip, I encountered more of the enemy type I was having trouble with and developed a pretty good strategy for dealing with them. Brimming with confidence, I returned to the mission in question, and was met by an entirely different enemy load out that included a couple who could pretty much one-shot me.

On my second play through, I discovered that if I stopped leveling around 12-15, I could keep the game in a sweet spot where the encounters actually made sense.

erttheking:
Mario Kart. If you're in the lead, you get nothing but shit items, and you're a target for the blue shell.

If I remember right if you were in first place the AI got a speed boost, another BS thing meant to keep it challenging. Really if you got good enough that you were in first place I'd say you earned that spot (till a blue shell came along).

League of Legends, no matter how well you do or try, you're going to get blamed, or brought down. Only thing to do is duo, even then you aren't sure about the majority of your team.

SSFIV, beat the other guy to near death he gets a super ultra move to even the odds so fun. -_-

erttheking:
Mario Kart. If you're in the lead, you get nothing but shit items, and you're a target for the blue shell.

It's supposed to be a mechanic I think they call "rubber banding" - Basically, it means that even if you aren't quite as good at it as another player, you still have a chance to catch up. It is supposed to be a family game after all.

Left 4 Dead 2 is also guilty of this.

Xan Krieger:

erttheking:
Mario Kart. If you're in the lead, you get nothing but shit items, and you're a target for the blue shell.

If I remember right if you were in first place the AI got a speed boost, another BS thing meant to keep it challenging. Really if you got good enough that you were in first place I'd say you earned that spot (till a blue shell came along).

Ugh, don't remind me. I love Mario Kart 64, but the "rubber banding" on display when you're in first is incredibly aggravating, particularly on 100cc or up.

I remember accidentally screwing myself over when playing Wing Commander: Privateer. I had just purchased a brand new Centurion to replace my decrepit Tarsus, but I only had enough money for the most basic modules. What I didn't realize at the time was that the game automatically kicks up the difficulty when you get a sleek military-grade ship like the Centurion, since it assumes you had enough money to bling it out with the best kit as well. Where I used to only get one or two pirates or Retros every few sectors, I suddenly found myself facing four or five Retros and even a few Kilrathi ships every sector. On top of that, the spaceport I had purchased the ship at was surrounded by multiple asteroid fields.

The next few hours were an exercise in extreme frustration. I couldn't fight the enemy because I was stuck with peashooter lasers, I couldn't take any punishment because I had level 1 armor and shields, and I couldn't run away because my stock engines weren't fast enough. If the enemy ships didn't kill me, I would do myself in because I'd accidentally smash into one of the asteroids in my haste to get away.

Even if I did manage to complete a cargo shipment by sheer luck, the repair costs would eat up all my profits. I watched in impotent rage and despair as my income slowly drained away between the gloating of my enemies and near-constant save reloading. The only option left was to load an old save when I still had my Tarsus, but the file was from so long ago that I didn't have the heart to go back and basically redo everything. I finally ragequit the game entirely, and it took years before I finally started playing Privateer again.

Inb4 UMVC3. Tore through his first two characters with barely any damage taken? Oh who's up ne-oh fuck

X-FACTOR!

DOWN!

DOWN!

HYPER COMBO K.O!

... Goddammit

It's ok though, the very next game you could be the guy making the hilarious comeback! UMVC3 is about equal opportunity bullshit!

I happen to like comeback mechanics since they make the game more interesting, I can't wait to see the new Overdrives in Chrono Phantasma for example. UMVC3 definitely takes it to the extreme though.

This reeks of Mario Kart.
Person in last place has a chance of getting a flying blue shell later on in the race.
What it does is track down whoever is in first place and take them out with an explosion.
However, it's a curious design choice to give it to the person with almost no hopes of placing even third.

Anyway, it's actually wise to maintain second place until that weapon of mass destruction takes out the guy in front of you because the game will punish you for being first for the sole reason of you being first. Some epic rages have came from that horrible item.

BrotherRool:
The Total War games have always had an awful difficulty curve where the beginning turns are tight and challenging and then as soon as you break your first or second major power the rest of the game becomes an unchallenging walkover where you've got to mindlessly grind regions down whilst trying to not accumulate so much money that all your governors become corrupt.

Hooo-Ly Crap, I think you just blew my mind. Though I played a bit of Medieval 2, Rome Total War is the only one I've ever actually owned. I've played it on and off since maybe a year after it came out. But are you telling me there's a reason that after a certain point in the game, it seems like my family's genes crap out and all of my family members start becoming total shits, unless they're actively marching up and down the place winning battles? Are you saying that my massive stockpile of denarii is directly responsible for city governors all being colossal, hated boobs?

Could you maybe bypass that by regularly paying a fuck-off huge tribute to Rome?

As a continuation of that discussion though, there's other ways that Rome at least (like I said, that's pretty much the limits of my experience) punishes you for doing well. It is nearly impossible to maintain frontier settlements once you hit 25 or so territories. They are all so far from your capital that no amount of decent government, entertainment, quality plumbing or low taxes can satisfy those ungrateful citizens. It's a mechanic that doesn't even make sense, so long as goods are flowing out and money flowing in, and so long as you're being treated well, why would you give a crap about how far away the patriarch that dictates to the guy controlling your city lives?

... Have I just made myself sound way too colonial there?

NightmareExpress:
This reeks of Mario Kart.
Person in last place has a chance of getting a flying blue shell later on in the race.
What it does is track down whoever is in first place and take them out with an explosion.
However, it's a curious design choice to give it to the person with almost no hopes of placing even third.

Anyway, it's actually wise to maintain second place until that weapon of mass destruction takes out the guy in front of you because the game will punish you for being first for the sole reason of you being first. Some epic rages have came from that horrible item.

If you're getting blue shells in last, the game hates you. Last place usually gets you something you can use to catch up. Blue shells are the realm of 7th, 6th, 5th and they make sure no one gets too far ahead.

Honestly, the hilarity of Mario Kart's unfairness is actually what makes it work. The game is far more fun when everyone's grouped together, and you have plenty of opportunity to torpedo them with red shells, run over them, boost past them or simply time a drift to perfection. Being out in first for a whole race is boring.

UrinalDook:

Hooo-Ly Crap, I think you just blew my mind. Though I played a bit of Medieval 2, Rome Total War is the only one I've ever actually owned. I've played it on and off since maybe a year after it came out. But are you telling me there's a reason that after a certain point in the game, it seems like my family's genes crap out and all of my family members start becoming total shits, unless they're actively marching up and down the place winning battles? Are you saying that my massive stockpile of denarii is directly responsible for city governors all being colossal, hated boobs?

Could you maybe bypass that by regularly paying a fuck-off huge tribute to Rome?

As a continuation of that discussion though, there's other ways that Rome at least (like I said, that's pretty much the limits of my experience) punishes you for doing well. It is nearly impossible to maintain frontier settlements once you hit 25 or so territories. They are all so far from your capital that no amount of decent government, entertainment, quality plumbing or low taxes can satisfy those ungrateful citizens. It's a mechanic that doesn't even make sense, so long as goods are flowing out and money flowing in, and so long as you're being treated well, why would you give a crap about how far away the patriarch that dictates to the guy controlling your city lives?

... Have I just made myself sound way too colonial there?

Yep, there's actually quite a lot going on in the trait system for governers, having lots of money jacks corruption way up and gives them all jerk traits. And then if they don't move around to different places they get jerk traits, and often if they're too far away from the centre. Sometimes it feels like it's easier just to get them killed.

The end game of the Total Wars as a whole needs to be reexamined, I can see why they put all this limiting factors on getting rich/owning territories etc but what I think the designers don't realise is it's not actually fun to be putting down rebellion after rebellion. When the optimal strategy is to pull all your guys out of a city, let it rebel and then retake it and massacre the population, something has gone wrong in the game design.

Maybe they should just focus on the early game, make it take longer to build up that unstoppable economic powerhouse and then as soon as you do all the other countries give in and make nice with the superpower. American colonialism instead of British =D

The Director in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 is notorious for being an asshole when you're doing well in the game. The better you play, the more zombies, ambushes and special zombies it'll throw at you. It'll also place Witches at *highly* inconvenient choke points. So you'd better hope somebody can cr0wn them easily or hope someone has enough firepower to kill it quickly.

Conversely, the Director will be more lenient the worse you play. The harder time you have, the less zombies, ambushes, special zombies and Witches you'll see. If you do poorly enough, you won't see a Witch *anywhere* throughout the whole campaign. At least, none that you have to fight as they'll be way outta your way.

Racing games and rubber-banding is the worst for me, especially in a game with real cars. I remember being hilariously overtaken by supposedly much slower cars, simply because they got speed boosts. The most efficient strategy then becomes to hang around in the middle, not doing your best, and then trying really hard for the last lap or two. It's bad design and only works for a short while to keep things more equal, until you figure it out and stop playing because the fun goes away. :(

Angry Bird, when you finally take down all the pigs but you don't get the full stars for not being destructive enough, as if that was your first priority.

Exius Xavarus:
The Director in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 is notorious for being an asshole when you're doing well in the game. The better you play, the more zombies, ambushes and special zombies it'll throw at you. It'll also place Witches at *highly* inconvenient choke points. So you'd better hope somebody can cr0wn them easily or hope someone has enough firepower to kill it quickly.

Conversely, the Director will be more lenient the worse you play. The harder time you have, the less zombies, ambushes, special zombies and Witches you'll see. If you do poorly enough, you won't see a Witch *anywhere* throughout the whole campaign. At least, none that you have to fight as they'll be way outta your way.

I personally found the director in left 4 dead 2 to more brutal. Also I can't quite confirm this but I think the skill of the player determines how intelligent the bot companions are.

Every racing game ever. Well... the ones with no rubberband toggle anyways.

Dark Souls!

You prove just how much of a "hardcore gamer" you are by walking forward and you get rewarded with a dragon that instakills you! It's the dictionary definition of fun!!!

/sarcasm

Real talk, it's probably Katawa Shoujo of all things. Wanna be a good guy a help a shy girl get over her insecurities? Keep doing it and you get the mother of all outbursts that makes you feel like shit from the quietest charcter in the game.

Also Driver San Francisco. That game had a nasty habit of rubber banding. It wasn't as bad as other racing games though.

Echopunk:
Oblivion punished you for leveling. I remember being stuck at an area, and in typical RPG fashion, I left to go grind someplace else for a while. During the trip, I encountered more of the enemy type I was having trouble with and developed a pretty good strategy for dealing with them. Brimming with confidence, I returned to the mission in question, and was met by an entirely different enemy load out that included a couple who could pretty much one-shot me.

On my second play through, I discovered that if I stopped leveling around 12-15, I could keep the game in a sweet spot where the encounters actually made sense.

Yeah, Bethesda games punish you for being high level by making all enemies' powers scale up to you. It makes sense in theory, but not in practice. Enemies constantly have more resistances, too much health and stamina pools, and defense-breaking attacks that throw you on your Level 30+ ass in a shorter time while you try chugging the same underleveled healing items.

Plus you are constantly trying to maintain with the spam by using progressively more expensive and rarer items, that you now must carry with your barely-any-better carry weight, while leveling up to make sure you don't get completely overwhelmed (and thus dig yourself even deeper in the rapehole).

Some RPGs always scale the levels of every enemy you run into based on your party's levels.

FFP2:
Dark Souls!

You prove just how much of a "hardcore gamer" you are by walking forward and you get rewarded with a dragon that instakills you! It's the dictionary definition of fun!!!

/sarcasm

That dragon is a bit of a dick move, but it's hardly like you aren't warned. It appears at the start of the Undead Burg, and you can see all of the scorch marks and charred corpses all over the bridge.

And it doesn't insta-kill you. It just takes off half your health, knocks you down, then when the mercy invincibility is over the residual fire kills you.

I'm not certain, but I think Zanac is the earliest, in which the number and toughness of ships that appear on screen are based on how efficient and complete you are in killing and collecting powerups.

I remember playing one of the earlier Sim City games and constantly being hit by meteors and invasions when I got to a certain point. Strangely enough, even turning the disasters off did not work.
But even then: it's a stupid system. You're actively punishing the player for trying to make a cool city and stuff.

And I don't really think autolevelling is a symptom of this perse. It's trying to keep the game interesting. However, I don't know how they keep managing to fuck this sort of stuff up.

As has been stated above Oblivion, and Skyrim every once in a while, is evil for this. Ground your weapon skills to a decent level so you can do decent damage resulting in a few level ups? Enemies are scaled to negate your efforts. Trained your diplomacy related skills because you like to try being nice? Enemies are scaled to rape you because you had the gall to think you could talk to people. Skyrim is a lot better, but if you grind little more than your speech and barter skills for a long time you end up facing Draugr Omega Deathlords or whatever their called.

erttheking:
Mario Kart. If you're in the lead, you get nothing but shit items, and you're a target for the blue shell.

This. The most recent Mario Kart games have all had some really brutal rubber band AI.

FFP2:

Real talk, it's probably Katawa Shoujo of all things. Wanna be a good guy a help a shy girl get over her insecurities? Keep doing it and you get the mother of all outbursts that makes you feel like shit from the quietest charcter in the game.

Lilly explicitly tells you, to paraphrase slightly "If you keep doing this you're gonna get stabbed when you Startle the Witch. Back off a bit." You only get that Bad End by trusting the judgement of a visual novel protagonist. You NEVER trust visual novel protagonists.

God Hand does this a bit. There's a "level meter" in the lower right hand of the screen. The better you do in-game - landing attacks/God Roullettes, evading enemy attacks - the higher that meter goes, and the more difficult the game becomes, to the point where nearly all the enemies seem psychic.

Incidentally, the higher levels make the game more fun. :/

GODS on... well, just about every single console and home computer that was still kicking about in the '90s, would increase the difficulty based on your performance. I prefer to think of it as "rewarding you with a greater challenge" though. The way Mario Kart does it is bullshit, but in GODS and God Hand I think it adds a ton to the game.

The bonus XP for ghosting levels in Deus Ex:HR is rather small compared to what you would get by going in guns blazing and shooting the whole place to tiny bits.

The leveling system in Oblivion was rather broken too. Before I started using overhaul mods, I actually had to make a custom class that had the skills I used least as main skills so I (and thus my enemies) wouldn't level up too fast.

Any game with level scaling enemies. I always found it stupid how bandits have full glass armour or something... what's the point of being a bandit if you have armour that costs more than a house?

Crusader Kings II (a game I love with all my heart) does this by creating a kingdom that becomes harder and harder to govern the more territory you have. Trying to split the nation into earldoms when sometimes you just want to give your immediate family dutchies - who will in turn try and reduce your royal authority - can get very frustrating.

the only ones i can think of have already been said mario kart, skyrim, and the L4D series

I have to say the L4D series director isnt as bad as Mario karts (its only a jerk once in awhile when you are doing well like throwing two tanks at you right at the start >:( ) but it is doubled with the the fact it is also a jerk about if you move "too slow" whats that you want to explore the cool map lol nope have a horde in your face

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