Game People Calling: Now You?re Just Being Difficult

Story Gamer

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Feb 9, 2010
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I like the option to drop the difficulty of a particular level if I keep getting wiped. Stranglehold did this very well. The new Prince of Persia has the same feature, and even throws you an achievement for doing so, which is kind of cute.
 

GridBurn

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Jun 7, 2010
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I guess, in a way Dirt 2 already has a system similar to what you want by allowing you to set the difficulty of every race before starting it.
I also know that with some of the PC games that I've played recently, you can go into the menu and change the difficulty at any point in the game.
 

almostnot

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Apr 20, 2010
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Sorry Game People Calling but I disagree quite heavilly.

Not only do I feel that the increase in difficulty is vital to the life of a game but I feel the examples you mention as games which don't increase in difficulty are unfounded:

Snakes and Ladders does increase in intensity as you progress up the board. On the first few rows there are no snakes, as you progress up the board there are a few appearing and on the final row the combination of snakes to take you down if you are winning and ladders to help those chasing you catch up is such that it makes the game more difficult to win. In short, the closer you are to winning the lower your chances of that happening. Surely, having played this game as a child and a parents, this is what makes the game exciting?

Likewise in Monopoly as the game progresses and properties are bought there is inversely less properties to buy and less chance of success. Indeed even if your opponents are playing at random your goals become more difficult as the games progress. Again, this creates the race element of the game which makes it exciting.

So too with video games, an increase in difficulty adds to the excitement. I personally feel there is nothing like a game which, upon finishing it, makes you feel as if you earned your stripes.

To be converse, think about the MegaMan series where the difficulty level is steadilly high or haphazard due to the structure of the bosses. With no ability to learn the skills required for the game as it becomes more difficult you are left with a very steep learning curve.

The ideal game in my view has a smooth but ever upward learning curve that keeps the game exciting and rewards you for your playing. No doubt there are games which have this poorly executed, but for the most part I love to start out green and finish as a god...
 

hypothetical fact

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Another crap article on the Escapist but hey that's how they get views.

Taking the bait you claimed that card games don't get harder as you go along well as a yugioh player I can deny that outright. The card game rewards players who put the most thought into deck building and choose the best cards with synergy to make a deck with the most consistant chance of victory. When you know what you're doing you can challenge others and then everyone gets to build decks to try and counter eachother where a single wrong move ends the game by the fourth turn at most.

When you just start out and throw a bunch of cards together you saw in the anime you won't know what you're doing so people who do won't want to play you. This relegates you to players of your skill and if you do get thrown in the deep end they will go easy on you just so you can show off the convoluted strategy you made before destroying it instantly and calling game.

Likewise in the ds card games you start off with a premade deck against tutorial decks who don't even use effect monsters than the game slowly unleashes new decks against you and you find yourself having to use strategy to win rather than pulling lucky cards when you need them.

This is good game design, allowing the player to progress to the point they can handle, if they want to get better they can work on it if they want to give up and play the beginning of a different game again they can. When kids in the 80's and 90's were losing at games they didn't have a support network of bullshit to elevate them to a point where they couldn't handle basic enemies, they had the dedication to learn the enemies tactics and what worked against them then that unstoppable monster could be killed in seconds and they could get onto the next challenge. This series of challenge and success is what gives people that thrill of achievment and the urge to push on. Giving them a level skip code only drops them into the bigger fire because they never reached that point of competency. To complain because of this only presents two options. You make the game piss easy through and through (as so many devs have done in recent years) so every 5yr old can get a false sense of security or you make the game repetitive as fuck to give players no reason to play past the first five minutes, which was Assasin's Creed's problem.

Ultimately the only victim in these shortcut solutions is the child once they feel like going online and trashtalking their selfimportance before being demolished and screaming at everyone for being unfair.

If you honestly want more whiny children online then you can piss off and take the Mario win button with you.
 

LyonLee

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Aug 30, 2007
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While I find the premise of your article interesting, I'm afraid I disagree with your analogies. Snakes/Chutes & Ladders is a game designed to teach little kids counting and basic game rules. Incidentally, near the end of the journey (on most boards) there is a snake that goes way back down to near the beginning.
And while it is true that sports games do not have you suddenly battling against superhuman hulking giants in uniforms, or any other impossible feats, what do you have at the end of a season? A playoffs and a championship game! Where absolutely everyone is playing their heart out to win the title, and at the very end the best plays against the best.
This is similar to a poker tournament, where you mow through dozens of rubes and amatures until you reach a select few of gifted, or extraordinarily lucky, players. And of them, down to a final one.
Virtually all games of contest have similar methods of thinning of the herd, or moments of misfortune to the player who is near, but not quite at, the end, which it is why it is all the more impressive when someone actually achieves such feats. It does get harder as the game goes on, perhaps not in that specific game, but in a much broader sense.
 

cynicalsaint1

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Apr 1, 2010
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I think you made a bad comparison; comparing videogames to sports/board games/card games. They are very different things at a basic level. The videogame is really meant to challenge your skill, while sports, and other games pit humans against humans - there is a need to keep things fair between both sides.

Imagine if goals got smaller and smaller as a [insert sport here] match went on - it'd mean that whoever was behind would have less and less a chance to make a comeback. Hell, look at competitive videogames - in fighting games, whoever is behind can always make a comback, in fact often there are mechanics to give the losing player a fighting chance to turn a round around.

For player vs. computer the traditional model is that you're testing your skill against a set of challenges offered to you by the game. For it to remain interesting in this regard you have to up the difficulty.

Going back to your sports analogy - you don't start by trying to run a marathon, you have to work your way up, by getting yourself in shape, getting yourself to the point where you can run for further and further without stopping, you don't get better if you don't keep upping the challenge, you'll never run the marathon if you stop increasing the distances as soon as you can run 5 miles non-stop.

That said difficulty options are always a good thing, it give the game accessibility to those who don't want to challenge their selves to the same degree as others, at least to the point that it doesn't consume development time that would be better spent elsewhere. People need to remember that developing features for a game takes time - and that game development is balance between what there's time/budget to do and what they want to put in the game.
 

GonzoGamer

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Apr 9, 2008
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Game People said:
Difficulty settings in games are due a big overhaul to really put the player first.
They've needed an overhaul since nes times. I too find it a bit strange that with everything that they've been able to do with these games, we're still dealing with this archaic easy, normal, hard settings and that these settings rarely do more than make the enemy do more damage OR be quicker. It would be cool if we could scale ai behavior as distinctly as we can set the audio levels in a game. You'd think it would be a higher priority.
 

thenamelessloser

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Jan 15, 2010
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To me, part of the problem is when a game has multiple genres combined such as a game that has a driving section, shooting, minigame, and RPG elements such as Mass Effect. I think, there should be multiple difficulty settings for each of the separate game play types in a game. This works well with the increasing voice volume analogy as well, for what if one wants to hear louder music but another person wants to hear louder vocals. I mean, I have played games before when I enjoyed them but some annoying vehicle section just made me want to stop playing them.
 

Kojiro ftt

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Apr 1, 2009
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If it never got more difficult, then it would naturally get easier. You are supposed to be improving, learning, and getting better as you go along. Just like school. Did you fail at that, too?
 

Petromir

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Apr 10, 2010
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Kojiro ftt said:
If it never got more difficult, then it would naturally get easier. You are supposed to be improving, learning, and getting better as you go along. Just like school. Did you fail at that, too?
You've completely missed the point. Its complaing about when said diffculty curve gets to steep and gets to a point where you cant continue becasue its got to difficult to fast.

In an ideal world difficulty settings would be dynamic. You sellect the rough difficulty you think will be appropriate to your ability and then whether you want it to be easy for you, hard for you etc. Now the syetem would clearly take time to calibrate on you and wouldnt always get it right.

Dynamic diifuculty has been attempted with varying degrees of sucess. A few even ask you if you want to make things easier or harder if the game thinks that you're having a hard time or to easy a time.

At least one of the Brother in Arms games would quitely respawn incapped squad members if you died on the same section a few times in a row.

Objectively it should be harder at the end than at the beggining, but being to aware of the game getting harder shouldnt be.

THe point of a difficulty curve is it keeps the player challenged, if its to steep it can just put people off. Any half decent teacher could tell you that. In the board game analogy you don't teach someone the b asics of chess, give them a few games vs the local club hacks and then put them infront of Kasparov! And ocasiionally I have played games that have pulled tricks that seemed like that.
 

Dexiro

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Maybe difficulty settings should set how fast the difficulty ramps up.

On easy it'd start off slowly, and at the end wouldn't be much faster. Still maintaining a climatic challenge for those who aren't great at games.
Then on hard mode it'd start off easy, still so gamers can learn the ropes if it's a first playthrough, but by the end of the game it becomes really punishing.

All games need a learning curve, and should have it on every setting. Hard would assume the player is a much faster learner and is in for a real challenge.
 

cefm

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Mar 26, 2010
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The normal "difficulty settings" selections are rather primitive given the ways in which you can customize other elements of game play (think of all the graphics settings you can select on a computer game).

Instead of just giving the player a "volume knob" of low, middle, high, extreme, which actually involves a combination of several factors (enemy intelligence, speed, strength, endurance, weaponry, numbers, type; your strength, speed, endurance, weaponry; availability of helpful items, save-points, extra lives, etc.), it would be nice to have more of a "sound-board" set of sliders to select different combinations of these factors.

Maybe some people would like to run in terror from an overpowered enemy with nothing but a flyswatter and underwear to protect themselves with. That's a challenge. Others might like having increasingly powerful enemies but to be an overpowered behemoth themselves. Maybe some might like having an incredibly challenging level but with forgiving continuation / respawning options, while others might see the challeng in simply removing the ability to save / continue frequently.
 

sageoftruth

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Jan 29, 2010
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Some games really need a difficulty curve. Particualrly the ones where your character gets new skills and abilities. Sure it is harder having to utilitze an increasing number of skills, but in my experience with Ninja Gaiden Black, amusingly, the first level turned out to be one of the hardest in the game, due to Ryu's utter lack of abilities at that point in the game.

On the other hand, as LIMBO demonstrated, sometimes offering different challenges is just as good as offering harder ones.