Death of difficulty in games.

Jack Joe Tip Toe

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Jul 19, 2010
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I decided to pick up Madden 25 (Shut up I like football) cause why not? I played the game for 1 hour and found it to be too easy. I kicked up the difficulty up a notch and guess what? It didn't make the the opponents smarter, it made my guys dumber. I would get intercepted cause my guy would be too stupid to know where the ball was and the AI looked out for my ball more than my own damn team! And this is something that has pissed me off about modern gaming. The lack of difficulty in games. In my opinion a difficult game is one that makes you think over your strategies and forces you to push harder. Not making an enemy that take 100,000 bullets to kill, but one that can outsmart me and force me to do better. I can't remember that many modern games that are difficult. I don't know. Is it just me? Or are games getting easier? What do you think?
 

Zhukov

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Blah blah Dark Souls blah etc.

Personally, I recently got done dying all over The Last of Us on 'survivor' difficulty. Maybe I just suck at them, but most modern games on hard settings feel about as hard as they need to be for me.

Also, the 'enemy that takes 100,000 bullets' problem is not unique to modern games. That's how it's always been, that and 'protagonist who dies in two shots', not to mention 'enemy who has reaction times that would put a mongoose to shame'.

The only games I've ever seen that use improved AI to scale the difficulty are strategy games, and even those still tend to use cheap tricks under the hood. Damage bonuses to their troops, free resources, that sort of thing.
 

gavinmcinns

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Jack Joe Tip Toe said:
I decided to pick up Madden 25 (Shut up I like football) cause why not? I played the game for 1 hour and found it to be too easy. I kicked up the difficulty up a notch and guess what? It didn't make the the opponents smarter, it made my guys dumber. I would get intercepted cause my guy would be too stupid to know where the ball was and the AI looked out for my ball more than my own damn team! And this is something that has pissed me off about modern gaming. The lack of difficulty in games. In my opinion a difficult game is one that makes you think over your strategies and forces you to push harder. Not making an enemy that take 100,000 bullets to kill, but one that can outsmart me and force me to do better. I can't remember that many modern games that are difficult. I don't know. Is it just me? Or are games getting easier? What do you think?
Dark Souls,
Demon's Souls
Total war games can be pretty hard for me but I just kind of suck at rts games.

But for the majority of the market you are 110% right.
 

Jack Joe Tip Toe

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gavinmcinns said:
Jack Joe Tip Toe said:
I decided to pick up Madden 25 (Shut up I like football) cause why not? I played the game for 1 hour and found it to be too easy. I kicked up the difficulty up a notch and guess what? It didn't make the the opponents smarter, it made my guys dumber. I would get intercepted cause my guy would be too stupid to know where the ball was and the AI looked out for my ball more than my own damn team! And this is something that has pissed me off about modern gaming. The lack of difficulty in games. In my opinion a difficult game is one that makes you think over your strategies and forces you to push harder. Not making an enemy that take 100,000 bullets to kill, but one that can outsmart me and force me to do better. I can't remember that many modern games that are difficult. I don't know. Is it just me? Or are games getting easier? What do you think?
Dark Souls,
Demon's Souls
Total war games can be pretty hard for me but I just kind of suck at rts games.

But for the majority of the market you are 110% right.
I forgot to mention those two. I've only played a little of Demon's Souls and I loved that the game made me think with every decision that I made.
 

scorptatious

The Resident Team ICO Fanboy
May 14, 2009
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I like to think most of it is because a lot of us have been playing games for a very long time. So it's a bit easier for us to adapt to certain situations due to experience. I also believe difficulty is relative for the most part. What may be easy for some people might be hard for others.

For example, I keep hearing from a lot of people about how easy the Fury was for them in MGS3. For me, I can never seem to play through the game without dying to him at least once.
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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Sep 8, 2011
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What are you talking about? The extremely large majority of all games ever made had and still have shitty hard difficulty that has nothing to do with enemies being smarter. They are just stronger and have better equipment and you're weaker. A few games dare to make enemies react faster, but that's it.

We are actually moving forward on this issue. And hopefully new consoles will improve this aspect of games with more RAM and better processing power that can be used for AI.

Also, what scorptatious said is true. For example, sports games are extremely hard for me because I don't play them at all. I played PES and FIFA once in my life and that was it. I have no idea how NPC's will react to situations. I don't have that problem with violent games because I played so many of them I learned what to expect from enemies. At this point it's an intuitive process.
 

WhiteFangofWhoa

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Blah blah Shin Megami Tensei 4 blah. Just got it and I've died about 5 times in the first 2 hours.

That said, I always appreciate smarter/more flexible AI over bigger stats, who wouldn't?
 

Jack Joe Tip Toe

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Adam Jensen said:
What are you talking about? The extremely large majority of all games ever made had and still have shitty hard difficulty that has nothing to do with enemies being smarter. They are just stronger and have better equipment and you're weaker. A few games dare to make enemies react faster, but that's it.

We are actually moving forward on this issue. And hopefully new consoles will improve this aspect of games with more RAM and better processing power that can be used for AI.

Also, what scorptatious said is true. For example, sports games are extremely hard for me because I don't play them at all. I played PES and FIFA once in my life and that was it. I have no idea how NPC's will react to situations. I don't have that problem with violent games because I played so many of them I learned what to expect from enemies.
I'm not trying to say that all games back then didn't have the same difficulty problems that are in modern games, but I seem to find them more often now. Most games aren't as challenging as they can be. Or maybe I'm playing the wrong games. I don't know.
 

MysticSlayer

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There actually aren't many games I can think of, at any point in gaming, that make their enemies smarter in order to make them tougher, with the exception of fighting, strategy, and sports games. Action-based games (bar fighting games) generally increase enemy health, lower your health, increase enemy numbers, and/or use various cheap methods to increase the difficulty. Even in strategy, fighting, and sports games, cheap methods often rear their ugly head at higher difficulties, such as the AI having ridiculous reaction time, or starting with far more resources than you'll ever achieve in the game.

Hopefully, as technology gets better, we'll see better AI in games that allows developers to challenge us without resorting to relatively cheap tactics. Then again, that would take extra time and money, so only the most dedicated of developers will likely do that.

As for whether or not games are getting easier, I wouldn't say so. Yes, games are easier now than they were before, but at the same time, games seem to be getting more fair than they used to be, which translates into a less challenging experience if all else remains equal. Some games still are very challenging, but they don't feel unfairly challenging like many older games did. While I wish developers would seek more ways to challenge us, I am sort of glad that we are perfecting game design, even if it comes at the cost of difficulty. Hopefully, it will become more standard to have the challenge of older games while having the better design of modern games.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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My main problem with difficulty nowadays is that the game (most games) is essentially holding your hand ALL THE TIME with the auto-save feature flashing every few minutes or so. You die, boom, you respawn 5 secs later a few meters behind with full health and none the worse. Maybe you have a little less cash, but big deal, I always feel nonplussed.
 

Tom_green_day

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Have you played something like Fallout? Or the original Worms games? Difficulty has always meant more health and damage, never better AI.
 

Skops

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I wish more games would take the Wolfenstien 3D & DOOM approach. Higher difficulty = MORE ENEMIES!


Yeah, I know you did take increased damaged from close ranged attacks but, the main thing here is the amount of enemies is literally multiplied.

Captcha: "know your rights"

I have the right to demand exponential increases in my demon slaying!
 

Bad Jim

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Tom_green_day said:
Have you played something like Fallout? Or the original Worms games? Difficulty has always meant more health and damage, never better AI.
Not quite true. He could always take up chess. The effectiveness of chess programs is easily scaled, and at full strength they can beat anyone.
 

Vern5

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Jack Joe Tip Toe said:
I decided to pick up Madden 25
Jack Joe Tip Toe said:
Or maybe I'm playing the wrong games. I don't know.
You do know.

There are plenty of games that are designed to be difficult released within the last two to five years. STALKER. Dark/Demon Souls. SMT4. The underwater battles of Monster Hunter 3U.

...

Dwarf Fortress.
 

Abomination

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Johnny Novgorod said:
My main problem with difficulty nowadays is that the game (most games) is essentially holding your hand ALL THE TIME with the auto-save feature flashing every few minutes or so. You die, boom, you respawn 5 secs later a few meters behind with full health and none the worse. Maybe you have a little less cash, but big deal, I always feel nonplussed.
I would rather not have to replay content I have already passed again and again before I am able to attempt content I could not.

The part that is difficult is the important part. Having to repeat areas I have passed is quite literally a waste of my time and a game that does that to me will find me not purchasing more of its ilk.

A game should test skill, not patience.
 

StriderShinryu

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It's a pretty simplified statement, but good Ai is hard to program. You need to strike the perfect balance of it being hard enough to be believable within the rules of the game world but not as hard as computer controlled AI can be (meaning things like reading inputs or being inhumanly aware of all options). It takes more time and effort than most developers have time and resources to really develop given that they generally tend to try to cater to as large an audience as possible. When a developer can focus on a specific audience without appealing to everyone, you can get a tuned experience like the Souls games. When a developer has to make difficulties for everyone, you get the garbage you see in your common sports game or fighting game.
 

LaoJim

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A great example of this...

I've just finished playing Call of Duty 2 on Hardened (I did the first two levels on Veteran but it was just too hard going). Brilliant game at that level, and you spend half your time lying face down in the mud, trying to inch forward, being constantly pinned down. Although the levels are still basically linear where you position yourself on the battlefield has huge impact on your ability to survive and move forward, and you have lots of options for flanking, sniping from second-floor windows.

For comparison I thought it would be good to play Modern Warfare 3 (the most recent CoD I own) The Hardened difficult is much simpler and you can still run towards three or four enemies and gun them all down. The levels are not only linear, but feel hugely linear. Worse each level has a gimmick on it (be it air-strikes, a rail shooting section or the unmanned "tank" vehicle) These sections are all jarringly easy, with it being almost impossible to die or fail on them and they don't seem to be any more difficult than on the Normal difficulty setting.
 

Starik20X6

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A game that's "easy" for a veteran gamer might not be so easy for a novice. You don't want your game to be so hard that only a handful of people finish it, and everyone else gets frustrated and returns it.

Retro games are often brutally unforgiving because that was the only way to pad out the otherwise pretty short play time necessary to finish them.

A.I. is hard to do. Like, really hard.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Abomination said:
Johnny Novgorod said:
My main problem with difficulty nowadays is that the game (most games) is essentially holding your hand ALL THE TIME with the auto-save feature flashing every few minutes or so. You die, boom, you respawn 5 secs later a few meters behind with full health and none the worse. Maybe you have a little less cash, but big deal, I always feel nonplussed.
I would rather not have to replay content I have already passed again and again before I am able to attempt content I could not.

The part that is difficult is the important part. Having to repeat areas I have passed is quite literally a waste of my time and a game that does that to me will find me not purchasing more of its ilk.

A game should test skill, not patience.
How about it tests my skill to not die?
 

MHR

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Abomination said:
I would rather not have to replay content I have already passed again and again before I am able to attempt content I could not.

The part that is difficult is the important part. Having to repeat areas I have passed is quite literally a waste of my time and a game that does that to me will find me not purchasing more of its ilk.

A game should test skill, not patience.
Translation; savescumming should be a feature.

Part of the challenge is being able to do a complete run without dying. Being able to do one small part once on a lucky try doesn't make you capable of doing the whole thing decently. If it's too hard you turn down the difficulty.

OT: I don't know of any games that adapt a stronger AI as difficulty increases besides Team Fortress 2 bots and the obvious RTS/fighting/poker/chess.

However difficulty and the amount of thinking/skill required in general has of course decreased in modern games, though in most games I find that a harder difficulty setting is in fact satisfactory.