On Difficulty Levels

MrNickster

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The only game I can think of off the top of my head that lets you switch difficulties without starting a new game is Red Steel 2. I didn't use it though-I like to play a game all the way through on the same difficulty (I'm weird).

That bit about an NPC offering to weaken the enemys by poisoning their water could be a clever implementation-A bit 4th wall breaking, but it could definitely be useful to a struggling player or one that finds the game too easy.
 
Aug 25, 2009
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Maybe you should make Fun Space Game: The Actually Scary Fun 90s Shooter? Just a suggestion.

I prefer difficulties where you can alter them mid-game, but I do think you should be able to change back sometimes, because some games the shift from one to the next is enormous, as you mentioned in one of your older reviews (don't remember which one). I also think Max Payne didn't do too badly, as when you did better the enemies did become noticeably harder and better at killing you, then eventually they got too good at their job and scaled back again. It was a little blunt at times, but it worked as a system, along with the standard 'easy, medium, hard' malarky.

Maybe a little of both is the answer, don't overwhelm a new player, but equally don't let them fall into the trap of going too hard before they're ready for it.
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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Infamous has the option to ramp up the difficulty if you're doing to well. I was playing the game on normal and the game seem to notice that I was impaling every challenge it threw at me on a gigantic lightning rod. It prompted me to play on Hard Mode instead, which I did. Sadly, the majority of the game was still piss easy.

But it is one example that what Yahtzee mentioned has been implemented. They were even kind enough to still give me the gold trophy for beating it on hard, since the game changed the difficulty for me.

 

BlueHighwind

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Once upon a time I played Sonic Rush for the DS, and was in the fight with Blaze the Cat. The rest of the game was pretty tough, but this one part was simply physically impossible. The game wanted me to button mash two buttons on the DS simultaneously at such a rapid speed that I actually burned my thumb in the numerous failed attempts. Maybe years of inactivity have left my hands a miserable husk of flesh and fat incapable of just the slightest quick action, or maybe the developers of Sonic Rush are EVIL HORRIBLE PEOPLE. I don't know.

Thank God that you can change the difficulty at any time, or else I never could have beaten the game.
 

itf cho

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I typically set my difficulty to normal and just go with it. Even if it winds up seeming easy, I'm more interested in seeing the plot progress than I am having a harder time to kill the bad guys. At the same time though, I don't play on Easy as I want some challenge.

Personally, I think it's a great idea to allow switching of difficulty at any time. Based on reviews I've seen of the latest Splinter Cell, that would be a good option there, as several reviews have mentioned that there is one boss that if you've taken the wrong mix of skills will just constantly chew you up.

I'd be wary of a one-time difficulty change, as maybe in the early game you're just mowing through the bad guys, so you change the setting. Then 10 more hours into it, you realize that you're getting your head handed to you, you've used your one difficulty change, and you're left with the option of starting over entirely or a painful slog through the rest of the game.
 

hamster mk 4

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Shame about Fun Space Game. I hate to say it, but your policy about not talking about a game until you are done was probably a good one. Peer pressure is a poor substitute for genuine interest.
 

CopperBoom

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I am always just trying to get through the story usually so for Bioware games I always am on casual.

I do like the opening bit on difficulty naming. I forgot how much I missed it until now.

I am bummed that thie FSG:TG update I have been waiting for is so negative.
 

JaymesFogarty

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That's why I appreciated Half Life 2 so much; it just had the perfect difficulty level for me! But I agree that in action games, there should be some imagination with the settings; more choice is good!
 

ldwater

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The only problem I have with difficulty settigs on some games is that they don't seem to scale with friendly AI.

Some sports games (NFL / NBA) the computer will become unstopable but your own computer controlled friendlies are still moronic. Same goes with some shooters and upping the difficulty means that the enemy becomes inhumanly accurate and aware while your own squad mates seem to remain the same.

I did like the difficuly settings of 'Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising' - instead of making the AI harder / better / more accurate etc it simply removed more and more of the HUD (and reducing save points) meaning that the player had to be more aware of the surroundings etc.

Shame the AI on that game was already pants on head retarded :(
 

mjc0961

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The one problem I have with people naming difficulties something other than "easy, medium, and hard" is when they pick things names so vague and let you scroll both ways without stopping (putting them in just an option block so you can't see them all at once, just what's selected) that it's sort of hard to tell "Okay, which one is easy? Which one is medium? I hope I didn't just start on hard..."

While there have been a few games (I think Devil May Cry did it first) that offer to ease up a bit if you're dying too often, very few have an equivalent prompt if you're doing too well.
That game I hate with a passion, inFamous, does that. But it's just another reason I hate it: First of all, it didn't actually ask me as much as say "Okay, you did so well, we just put the game on hard for you. Don't want it there? Don't care, you can drop it back down again yourself." And the second part of why it pissed me off is, it did it right after the game's first mission. Yep, I did so good at the combat tutorial that it decided I should play on hard mode. Great thinking, game.

I rather like the idea of being able to work shifting the difficulty into the game though. That's nifty. I hope some game devs are paying attention to this one.
 

wooty

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I think Bayonetta was the hardest to adjust to in terms of hiking up the difficulty with each mode. One I unlocked "ultimate climax", the first 10 minutes made me cry and feel slightly useless. It felt like trying to stop a speeding train with a paintball gun.
 
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Well if anyone wants an awesome space game to look forward to, Infinity [http://www.infinity-universe.com/Infinity/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=113&Itemid=93] seems to offer that.

More on topic, I too miss the funny difficulty names. What ever happened to good ol' fun?
 

JacobyPAX

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MrNickster said:
The only game I can think of off the top of my head that lets you switch difficulties without starting a new game is Red Steel 2. I didn't use it though-I like to play a game all the way through on the same difficulty (I'm weird).

That bit about an NPC offering to weaken the enemys by poisoning their water could be a clever implementation-A bit 4th wall breaking, but it could definitely be useful to a struggling player or one that finds the game too easy.
you could switch difficulties in fallout 3.
 

Nevyrmoore

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...and it's why I should probably have stuck to my usual policy of not telling anyone when I'm working on a game.
And then you tell us you were also working on a sequel to Art of Theft.
 

The Lizard of Odd

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Yahtzee: Have you heard of Amnesia: The Dark Descent? It strikes me as a horror game that you would approve of (at least in concept) . . . pretty sure you play the entire game without using weapons.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M627-obxNzg
 

Zetsubou-Sama

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Fun thing, this article reminded me of Pro Evolution Soccer 3, a football game that would ask to change the settings when the game was easier, it helped in keeping me entertained and I'd love for more games to have that feature since I usually end up finding the game easy and not doing anything about it.
 

SamElliot'sMustache

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After the mention of Silent Hill 8, I looked up the trailer on YouTube, and I have to agree that it doesn't look scary. Constantly swirling cameras, 'spooky' sound effects, and they practically made the graphics glitter, they were so showoffy. Looks like yet another shooter that throws in cheesy horror elements (though, I'll probably give it a rental, at least).

At least Shattered Memories attempted to be subtle and psychological.
 

sketchesofpayne

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I forget which game it was, but it had separate difficulty sliders for "action" and "puzzles." Something I wish more games had.

There was another one that had separate sliders for "items" and "enemies" so you could adjust how many health kits and ammo you got versus how tough the enemies were.
 

ark123

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I like the idea of a game that suggests you should be playing on a harder difficulty. "What's the matter...pussy?"
Though some games have hard modes that are just bullshit, like doubling all the enemys defense and health so the game takes four times as long for no real reward.
 

mad825

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I disagree on any system that allows you to choose a difficulty, I'm not thinking of FF "no difficulty setting" but like Unreal tournament where you get the option for the computer to decide how good you are depending on your performance through out the game (match) which will prevent those insanely difficult parts of the game where you either have to start all over on a lower setting or cheat to progress however the system would have to be perfected first before as it may make the game too easy a few deaths lowers or the difficulty takes a very long time to reach higher difficulties
 

Cousin_IT

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Far from only giving the player the choice to change difficultly once, I think every game should come with the difficulty slider Bethseda put in their games. If you want to coast through a section, slide it down to easy but get less xp as a result. If you want to make a fight challanging, push it up to hard & get bonus xp if you pull it off.

When games have easy-normal-hard settings, I tend to find normal is easy & hard is just that little bit too impossible to be worth the time. But then i don't measure my self-worth by what difficulty setting I can beat games on, which frankly is the only reason I see for preset & labelled difficulty modes existing anymore, since very few change anything but buff enemy stats/reduce your own etc.
 

themanwithfournames

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hmmmmmmmmmmmm. yahtzee, you should go work for valve. i'm sure they'd love to have you. or if that doesent apeal to you, mabey get your long lost good twin brother to do it for you (you are the evil twin) I think he is calling himself Chess.
 

sievr

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Silent Hill 2 is the game (or at least one of the games) that lets you separately adjust the difficulty of the puzzles and the action.

I'd also like to add Thief to the list of games that lets you choose the difficulty of each mission separately, and i am eternally grateful that they do. Haunted Cathedral...I'm looking at you.

And on the subject of difficulty levels, I'd like to add that the Thief series (not including the mostly irrelevant third title) had an approach to difficulty level that you don't see too often, but which is personally my favorite. In many games, Expert mode makes enemies retardedly strong, gigantic sacks of hit points that are as tedious as they are challenging. The real struggle of these types of games is overcoming the frustration of taking down endless waves of too-strong enemies, and restarting the mission over and over again. In Thief, normal mode is your standard video game mode where it takes about 4-10 hits to kill you, and one or two hits to take down an enemy. Expert mode, on the other hand, is basically like real life. Your enemies go down in one or two hits, and so do you. Everything else remains the same, but this simple re-balancing of hit points makes the game much harder, while at the same time forcing you to play much more like the game is designed to play. It makes you hide more carefully, run faster, sneak more quietly, and aim better. For me, I love playing this way as it makes an incredibly immersive game that much more immersive.
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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I think Dragon Age: Origins offers you the option to crank down the difficulty mid-game. It's a grand RPG so I guess that's quite alright and actually needed. I never done it though, it feels like 'cheating' either way.

As always, an excellent read!
 

Athinira

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I agree with basically everything except woth only changing the difficulty once during gameplay.

It should always be entirely up to the player himself to judge. I simply don't see the reason for an arbitrary restriction on how many times a player should be able to switch difficulty. If he chickens out and starts playing it easier than his capabilities allow, then it's his own loss.

The alternative is that a player could lock himself in a difficulty that ended up too hard for him (either because he misjudged his abilities, or because the difficulty curve of the game is a pile of poo, which ultimately isn't the players fault). And then instead of being able to go back to an easier difficulty, he will either resort to cheating or simply just lose interest because he keeps dying again and again and stop playing the game. Hell this could happen the other way around too, that a player locks himself in a difficulty that is too easy, and he also loses interest and simply stops playing because he can't go back to normal/hard mode.

You should remember those feeling yourself, based on your reviews of Demon's Soul (hard) and also Dante's Inferno where you went to easy-mode and were suddenly playing... what was it again? Baby's first vagina adventures?

I'm one of the players who appreciates playing games on easier difficulty settings (i never even played Half-Life 2 on anything than easy), mostly because I'm in it for the experience itself. But even i sometimes appreciate challenge and managed to beat Mass Effect 2 on Insanity without chickening out at any point, even though i did die quite a few times. One of the reasons i didn't chicken out was that the difficulty curve was "okay" (besides the fact that upgrades are too powerful, which makes insanity a pain in the ass in the early game, and actually too easy at the end of the game given it's the fifth and final difficulty setting). Most players who want a challenge can actually appreciate difficult games if designed well.

But at the end of the day, there simply are too many games out there who not only may have terrible difficulty curves, but also terrible difficulty tunings. One of them is Crysis. On Crysis you have 4 different difficulty settings, but in fact, for the most part they don't change the difficulty as much as they change the gameplay. The higher you put the difficulty setting in Crysis, the more it changes from "Shooter" to "Stealth Shooter" because the only way to survive is to snipe all the enemies from cloak mode, something which could have been quite fun, but in Crysis simply just reduces the pace of the game for the worse of it. Luckily you can modify the difficulty settings in the .ini files of the game, and that way make the game difficult while still maintaining it as a pulse-pounding action game, but it's really annoying the devs couldn't get that right from the start.
 

Decabo

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Mass Effect 2 allowed you to change difficulty any time, so it seems strange that you called that game too easy.
 

BehattedWanderer

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Sir John The Net Knight said:
Infamous has the option to ramp up the difficulty if you're doing to well. I was playing the game on normal and the game seem to notice that I was impaling every challenge it threw at me on a gigantic lightning rod. It prompted me to play on Hard Mode instead, which I did. Sadly, the majority of the game was still piss easy.
Ninjas! I noticed that on my second playthrough, when the game quite courteously told me I was too awesome to be playing on that difficulty, and politely invited me to step it up. Whereupon I did, and had roughly the same experience as perfect-aiming enemies on any setting will allow, breezing through some parts and getting squashed by others. And then came the final boss fight, whereupon my reflexes were tested by something that felt like fighting an excitable teleporting orangutan with a sledgehammer in each hand.
 

Siberian Relic

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I've been becoming less and less a fan of difficulty settings. Probably stems from my childhood hours (or months) playing the first Rogue Squadron. I don't remember there being any start-of-the-game decision to set the difficulty, but you did have to up the ante to grab that gold medal, which had a great amount of replay value without shuffling around how hard it was.

I don't mind it as much, however, on games like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Basically any game that can creatively make things harder, rather than just giving the bad guys massive health and x-ray vision.
 

mrmash

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I don't see why a limit should be kept on the number of times you can change the difficulty.
When I played played Bioshock on my second run, I kept the difficulty at normal, but pushed it up to survivor whenever I encountered a Big Daddy, becuase they were just too easy on normal. I thought the whole point of the Big Daddy fights were to have you on the edge of your couch and heart thumping like a horny 14 yea-nevermind, why bother if the fights only lasted a minute? I didn't want to stay on Survivor mode becuase I didn't want the experience to be spoiled by struggling through the rest of the game.

I've since gone back a third time and done the whole thing on survivor.

Edit: Hey I'm new, though I've been lurking for like a year, only checking the posts on the widget thing on the homepage and the articles.
 

tscook

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I'm actually farely sure most Black Isle and/or BioWare games had the ability to change difficulty on the fly, and I am very sure it was in Baldur's Gate.
 

Rack

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I think letting players change whenever they want is perfectly fair. What if the game has an obnoxious difficulty spike and one battle is far harder than the rest of the game? I don't want to have to play the rest of the game on easy just to get past a part that is no fun. And if I start on normal can I really risk ramping up to hard? What happens if the games difficulty curve catches up to me?
 

Jared

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I have always agreed that a difficulty should be switched mid in the game and see no reason why you should have to be set. It just makes sections which might be frustratingly hard...real grinds to do, when people could just switch it down if they wanted to and get past that point...then enjoy the rest of the game.

I cant recount the number of times I wish I could have done it myself!
 

Breaker deGodot

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MrNickster said:
The only game I can think of off the top of my head that lets you switch difficulties without starting a new game is Red Steel 2. I didn't use it though-I like to play a game all the way through on the same difficulty (I'm weird).

That bit about an NPC offering to weaken the enemys by poisoning their water could be a clever implementation-A bit 4th wall breaking, but it could definitely be useful to a struggling player or one that finds the game too easy.
Half-Life Source and HL2 let you do it, and it helps a lot.
 

oktalist

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It would be fun to see a Super Mario game with a "wheelchair accessible" mode.

Yahtzee, please make Actually Scary Game be a Chzo game. Please.
 

viking97

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too bad i was looking forward to fun space game:the game. although yahtzee certainly can make an incredibly scary game when he wants to.
 

Steve the Pocket

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The use of difficulty level as a setting instead of an option you pick at the beginning is one of the things I like about the Half-Life series, but for a different reason than Yahtzee's: If I want to jump back into the game "already in progress" after I've already played through it, I can either load up an old save state or just jump to the chapter of my choosing, and pick what difficulty level I want. Whereas with other games every save state is stuck at the difficulty setting I was playing at at the time, and it doesn't even tell me what it is! If they just put a little "H"/"L"/"S" stamp on the save files, or even color coded them or something, I'd be satisfied. This is one thing Valve did right without even trying.

mad825 said:
I disagree on any system that allows you to choose a difficulty, I'm not thinking of FF "no difficulty setting" but like Unreal tournament where you get the option for the computer to decide how good you are depending on your performance through out the game (match) which will prevent those insanely difficult parts of the game where you either have to start all over on a lower setting or cheat to progress
Speaking of Valve, their "AI Director" is designed to more or less work like this as well. At this point it's probably sophisticated enough that they could phase out difficulty levels entirely - at least for single-player games; the difficulty settings in Left 4 Dead are still helpful for ensuring you play with people who are roughly on the same skill level as you.
 

viking97

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ldwater said:
The only problem I have with difficulty settigs on some games is that they don't seem to scale with friendly AI.

Some sports games (NFL / NBA) the computer will become unstopable but your own computer controlled friendlies are still moronic. Same goes with some shooters and upping the difficulty means that the enemy becomes inhumanly accurate and aware while your own squad mates seem to remain the same.

I did like the difficuly settings of 'Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising' - instead of making the AI harder / better / more accurate etc it simply removed more and more of the HUD (and reducing save points) meaning that the player had to be more aware of the surroundings etc.

Shame the AI on that game was already pants on head retarded :(
now you owe yahtzee twenty bucks in royalties.
 

ewhac

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I do not like dynamic difficulty levels. Or, I suppose more precisely, I do not like inappropriately placed dynamic difficulty levels.

I play a lot of Rez-HD on the Xbox. Rez is 3D third-person rail shooter. That means all sorts of baddies show up in waves to try and take you down, and you blast the fertilizer out of them. However, certain achievements and extra levels can only be unlocked when you play a perfect game -- shoot 100% of the baddies, collect 100% of the goodies. And that's fine, that's well-established formula for a rail shooter. Learn the patterns of baddies, learn to shoot them down efficiently and completely.

...Except that Rez, when it senses you're doing well, changes the patterns. I can't tell you how many times I've played map 3, scored 99.44%, and thought to myself, "Self, you must have missed one of those baddies just off screen in wave 6 or whatever." I then press Start to try the map again... And suddenly I'm playing a completely different map! And I end up scoring 92.87%, and the game sneers at me for becoming crap so quickly.

Grr, I say, grr...
 

ItsAPaul

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Shit, just let people change in the middle no matter what. Usually it can be done with mods on pc games anyway, but unless it really is that technically difficult to do it, it should be in every game regardless.
 

Jory

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One of the old FIFA games I used to play had a nice prompt.

It logged your results in the season mode, and it you were consistently beating better teams 3,4,5 nil, it would pretty much tell you off for being a pussy and tell you to raise the difficulty.

That is the only time I've seen it however.
 

GrinningManiac

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I caught the end of the "creative naming" period. Now I live in Gritty n' Brown 2 - Lack of Boogaloo

Also, GASP, ZP made a classic URL mistake like that one!
 

Illessa

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The Lizard of Odd said:
Yahtzee: Have you heard of Amnesia: The Dark Descent? It strikes me as a horror game that you would approve of (at least in concept) . . . pretty sure you play the entire game without using weapons.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M627-obxNzg
Oh god, that video just reminded me of the chase through the hotel in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which was one of the most irritating gaming experiences ever.

If they manage to pull it off without making the same mistakes (only having one path that works, and requiring you to take it at such speed that you can basically only make it after dying a ton of times or resorting to a walkthrough, as you can't explore the route before hand) it could be interesting.

OT: Changeable difficulty levels is one of the things I love about BioWare (and associated companies, a ton of western RPGs do it) and Valve. On the other hand, I found God of War offering a drop down to easy after you've died a few times is really obnoxious as a) it always offers easy, even if you're playing on hard+, rather than the difficulty below, and b) it offers it even if what's killing you is an insta-death platforming section which the difficulty drop will provide precisely zero help with. I can't believe that three games in they haven't fixed either problem, or just added difficulty level to the options.
 

Doc Cannon

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Illessa said:
Oh god, that video just reminded me of the chase through the hotel in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, which was one of the most irritating gaming experiences ever.
Good to know I wasn't the only one who needed a walkthrough to escape the filthy townsfolk. Though I admit that part of the game really got the adrenaline pumping.
 

Vortigar

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Blood 2! I read the title of the article and thought: "no way." But yes, there it was, Blood 2 the bastard child of a 3d engine still in the expiremental stages and a story that came off as a failed experiment entirely.

Throughout the game you can taste what they were trying to do but failed to really get a handle on. So sad, especially since its predecessor stands as one of the most polished games I've ever seen, handily outdoing the other build engine games (Duke Nukem 3d, Shadow Warrior and Redneck Rampage) on practically every front.

But hey, at least the game has a taunt button so you can spout one-liners at yourself while you're trying to figure out where the hell you're supposed to be going.
 

Deacon Cole

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Yahtzee Croshaw said:
But for action games, they should definitely be mandatory.

It's not just about being immediately accessible to any level of player, it's about escalation. This isn't really an issue for me because my job requires me to play a new game every week, but for you poor non-game-reviewing saps who don't buy a new game as often and need to get the most out of their purchases, harder difficulties add an extra spice to a replay.
I respectfully disagree with this point.

Mind you, I realize that I am in the minority when it comes to my game playing tastes and my observations on how games work. But such is my take on this.

I don't like difficulty settings because they really aren't difficulty settings. Well, they are, but in the one's I've encountered they are the laziest bunch of bullshit I've ever had to deal with. What do the harder difficulty settings actually change?

1) There are more enemies wandering about.

2) Your weapons do less damage to the enemies.

3) Their weapons do more damage to you.

So what basically happens is it uses up all your ammo and health kits. But more to the point, it makes gameplay even more repetitive that usual.

Think of the early scene in Bioshock when you've got the wrench and the electrobolt plasmid and the NPC instructs you on how to do the one-two punch where you stun a splicer with the electrobolt and then wail him in the head with your wrench. Now imagine you need to zap and whack each splice twice to take them down in this manner. Not only does it waste Eve, but you're just doing the same goddamned thing twice on each guy. Is that more challenging or is that tedious? I think the latter.

This is not a challenge of skill. It's a test of endurance. It's to see how long you will put up hitting everyone many times before you decide to go watch the Twilight saga instead for something more engaging to do.

It would be nice if difficulty settings actually made the game more challenging rather than a bigger chore. Perhaps making the enemy A.I. smarter, quicker to spot you, fast to attack you. Maybe even dodge your attacks once in a while. Genuine challenge of how well someone can play the game rather than making them slog through more of it.
 

Shjade

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sievr said:
I'd also like to add Thief to the list of games that lets you choose the difficulty of each mission separately, and i am eternally grateful that they do. Haunted Cathedral...I'm looking at you.
Although Thief's difficulty settings were in many ways simply an aesthetic detail. If nothing ever knows you're there it doesn't really matter if it can kill you in one hit or ten since it's never going to hit you regardless. The sneaking didn't get noticeably harder at higher difficulties; the real challenge at the top is the requirement to not kill anyone, which DOES make things substantially harder than playing through on easy where you can just snipe everyone you meet on your way through wherever you are and succeed with no problem.

That said, I'm pretty sure all your enemies in the cathedral are undead to which the "no killing" rule on hard doesn't apply, so you can still snipe everything and go on your merry way. Just...don't alert anything that can shoot skulls at you. Oh good lord, no.

This is averted somewhat in Thief 2 by harder difficulties requiring more water arrows to disable steambots. At least I think it required one or two more on hard. Been years since I played. Since water arrows are in fairly short supply that makes picking your targets much more important as you wouldn't want to waste them on an avoidable patrol only to discover a big 'bot is sitting on his ass in front of the Shiny Goal Stealy Thing and now you're screwed.

In other words, as was mentioned in previous posts, difficulty levels really depend on the game. Some make the game harder in interesting ways. Some just make everything twice as beefy but are otherwise the same game which just feels like the game is wasting your time rather than really making tasks more difficult.

Oh, and Fallout/Fallout 2 also allow changing difficulty mid-game as well as having a split between combat difficulty and...I forget what the other difficulty is, but it basically makes your fail/success roles in non-combat things (speech, lockpicking, etc.) more difficult, requiring higher skills to accomplish the same tasks. Results in simply requiring more grind to get the same things done, but also encourages finding alternative solutions that may not have such high skill checks.
 

ArmorArmadillo

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A Few Suggestions for Difficulty Settings (From easy to hard):

In General:
EA, Bioware, Blizzard, Valve

Silent Hill 8:
Hug Therapy, Talk Therapy, Aversion Therapy, Shock Therapy
Lying Figure, Bubblehead Nurse, Pyramid Head, Laura

Portal 2:
Skynet, SHODAN, HAL, GLaDOS

Half-Life 3:
BS, Master's, PhD, Post-Doc
Tesla, Hawking, Newton, Einstein
Liberal Arts, Linguistics, Sociology, Science

Mass Effect 3:
Voyager, DS9, TNG, Original Series

Alpha Protocol 2:
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Dragon Age 2:
4th Edition, 3.5, 3rd Edition, 3rd Edition with Psionics

Bioshock 3:
Ayn Rand, Brad Bird, Kurt Vonnegut

Dante's Inferno 2:
Plot Diagraming, Imagery Analysis, Historical Referencing, Italian Couplet Structure Numerology

Final Fantasy:
Can cutscenes have a difficulty setting?

If the Escapist Released a Game:
Graham Stark, MovieBob, Yahtzee, Rebecca Mayes

Speaking of Silent Hill, I saw Yahtzee's review and was suspecting unforgiving combat and so I started at Easy (second highest of 4) and was a bit nonplussed by how easy it was, so I see what he was saying. I never ran out of bullets and was brushing my teeth with Ampoules. Although it did still create a great experience, because it made it feel like the monsters were more like tortured souls that I was putting out of their misery in a symbolic way.
 

Uber Waddles

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I really dont see the issue you're presenting; honestly it seems like a rant saying "Waaa feel bad for me I play games for a living and some of them are too easy".

I like choosing a difficulty, and sticking through it. It adds a layer of consequence to games: if your confident you can beat a game on Hard, you better put up or shut up. If you find you too easy or too hard, either the difficulty curve sucks, or you didnt choose the best option for you.

Further more, why are you making this an issue? Most games now-a-days come with that feature. I applaude ones that dont, as they still have consequences in the game: something games need more of. Most games allow you to start from a chapter you beat, and choose Difficulty anyways
 

Dora

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For me being able to swap difficulty settings temporarily in game is the difference between a rage quit where I never touch the thing again, and my continued enjoyment. If I'm grinding on a particular battle I just can't seem to finish I'm not having FUN anymore, and it's much less likely to encourage me to, y'know, get better at the game than it is to get me to abandon it in favour of something I just enjoy playing. Ramping up the difficulty is something I do far less often, but I can see it being equally important for people who crave challenge; if you just feel like you're mashing buttons, the game stops engaging you.

I don't see how someone being able to change their personal difficulty setting could possibly be "unfair". If you play a game on easy, finish it, and mistakenly think you're up to the task of similar multiplayer, it's your own fault for getting eradicated by a rocket launcher because the other players are better.

Also, happy at hearing about the possibility of another scary game on the horizon. I've always felt Yahtzee creates horror very well, so I'm curious to see where he goes with this; both a return to the Chzo mythos or an entirely new setting sound equally good to me.
 

FinalDream

[Insert Witty Remark Here]
Apr 6, 2010
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ArmorArmadillo said:
Final Fantasy:
Can cutscenes have a difficulty setting?
No, but they could have a length setting!

*Selects Hideo Kojima Setting*

10594859476936 million hours later

Wow, that was a long opening cutscene!
 

Callate

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I remember being honestly offended when Silent Hill 3 offered to let me play on "Very Easy" mode. I wanted to say: "It's not the whole game I'm finding hard. It's this one fight. And this fight is hard because you sent me in with half a life bar, three bullets, and a knife against an opponent with multiple full life bars and at one point an unlimited-ammunition automatic weapon... You #@$%ing douchebags!"

...Okay, not my most gracious moment, I'll admit.
 

Calvar Draveir

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I always enjoy halo's "Heroic" mode, because it's tough enough that you have to think very carefully, but not so tough that you'll get stuck on one encounter for an hour, like on Legendary.
 

twm1709

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I've recently had a "difficulty level" experience with god of war 3.
A month ago or so I rented GOW to try to beat it with my buddies in one night. Since a few of us had played the previous games we went Titan (hard). Problem is that a certain wave of baddies kept kicking our asses and time was running out so we accepted the games humilliating proposition to go Spartan (easy). Suddenly the game became INSULTINGLY easy. For the life of me I couldn't enjoy beating the crap out of Hercules because all I could think about was how awesome an actual challenge would have been in that part of the game.
Why didn't GOW offer me to play in Normal instead of easy? I was playing on hard! Developers really need to think about this sort of thing.


EDIT: by the way, I was so frustrated I bought the game the next week and got the platinum trophy just to prove myself... so yeah, it was annoying
 

DragonsPet

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The in-game difficulty thing actually would be pretty sweet. Changing difficulty based on how you are performing in game would be cool too. As for a actually scary game, might I suggest the Penumbra series? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqc7DJSigBg&feature=related Trailer for the second game in the series, Black Plague.
 

ArmorArmadillo

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Callate said:
I remember being honestly offended when Silent Hill 3 offered to let me play on "Very Easy" mode. I wanted to say: "It's not the whole game I'm finding hard. It's this one fight. And this fight is hard because you sent me in with half a life bar, three bullets, and a knife against an opponent with multiple full life bars and at one point an unlimited-ammunition automatic weapon... You #@$%ing douchebags!"

...Okay, not my most gracious moment, I'll admit.
Yeah, that can get annoying. I remember when I kept having to try over and over on some GoW 2 bosses and it offered to lower the difficulty and I'm like "NO SHUT UP YOU AREN"T BETTER THAN ME YOU JERK GAME I AM GOING TO KILL THIS BOSS DEAD!" Which may have been the intention...

Harder difficulties are nice though, especially when it's games I like enough to play through multiple times (Like Pokemon) and I find myself purposely handicapping myself (Not using revives) just to make the game challenging.
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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MrNickster said:
The only game I can think of off the top of my head that lets you switch difficulties without starting a new game is Red Steel 2. I didn't use it though-I like to play a game all the way through on the same difficulty (I'm weird).

That bit about an NPC offering to weaken the enemys by poisoning their water could be a clever implementation-A bit 4th wall breaking, but it could definitely be useful to a struggling player or one that finds the game too easy.
There are lodas of games that let you do this, Biioshock and Mass effect/ Mass effect 2 let you do this. So do all the STALKER games (which is handy because most people get thir asses kicked until they wear them ass a hat on the first try). Infact i find it rare (and annoying) that games don't let you do this.

(also you mass effect 2 comment was bullshit, the game can be easy on normal but it's CHANGEABLE)
 

Midniqht

Beer Quaffer
Jul 10, 2009
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While I agree that games should just allow all the difficulty levels from the get-go, I think they require you to unlock the worst by playing through it at least once for one reason: Replay value. They want their game to be played through more than once, not just started on hard, powered through, and resold. A questionable way to pretty much force replay value for sure, but it works.
 

r0botosaurus

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This reminds me of God Hand. All-in-all it's a pretty fucking hard game, but it has rather interesting difficulty settings.
Easy and medium don't actually change the difficulty right off the bat, it only changes how hard the game can get. You start the game at difficulty level 1, but the better you do, the harder the game gets. On easy mode you can go up to level 2, and on medium you can reach level Die (the fourth and hardest level). Oh hard mode, the game is always in level Die.
So the better you do on easy and medium, the harder the game becomes, and the reverse is also true. If you reach level 3 and start getting your ass kicked, you go back down to level 2, and all the way down to level 1 if you really start sucking.

I like games that challenge you, no matter how well you play.
 

Athinira

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the antithesis said:
Think of the early scene in Bioshock when you've got the wrench and the electrobolt plasmid and the NPC instructs you on how to do the one-two punch where you stun a splicer with the electrobolt and then wail him in the head with your wrench. Now imagine you need to zap and whack each splice twice to take them down in this manner. Not only does it waste Eve, but you're just doing the same goddamned thing twice on each guy. Is that more challenging or is that tedious? I think the latter.
There is a difference between "difficulty level" and "repetition". Just because you can name an example where a higher difficulty just adds repetition (mostly because the electric plasmid stunlocks the enemy, making it so he can't fight back) doesn't mean every game does that.



Bottom line is this: If changing the difficulty setting in a game forces you to change your playstyle (or die if you don't), then it's handling difficulty properly while avoiding repetition. This doesn't always make the game more fun though, but it can definitely make it more challenging.


And given that i know plenty of people (myself included) that replays games on different difficulty settings, you are, at the end of the day, wrong. Maybe changing the difficulty setting doesn't add anything to you personally (which i find hard to believe if you claim it never does, no matter the game), but it does to a lot of other players, so you can't really "disagree" with Yahtzee on this point, even if it still doesn't apply to you.
 

Airsoftslayer93

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Mar 17, 2010
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Oblivion lets you change difficulty, and i think so does fallout 3, on a kind of sliding scale, far better than seperate difficulty levels, i always make it as easy as possible, not to good at games :p
 

Stumpy105

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I think that difficulty levels themselves need to be reworked. like insted of a higher difficulty incresing enemy helth, enamy numbers, or lowering player helth. that the eniemes acctually get smarter and use more advanced tactics but I know that this will not happen because it would take extra time and effort on the developers part. it would just be more interesting compared to the almost computer cheating higher dificulty levels of some games.
 

duchaked

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mm XBLA should give him a contract :] and not just in the indie listings, but like a real legit game listing haha
 

SteinFaust

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my favorite difficulty settings came from Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.
Aspirin
Codeine
Morphine
 

iron skirt

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Lego Star Wars, Indi and Batman had an extra called "adaptiv difficulty"... I haven't tried it but i think it only goes up. Alsow, in Warcraft III you had the option of reduceing difficulty after iou've lost aa mision.
 

DrEmo

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I remember this PS1 game called Tigershark that had creative difficulty level names. They were things like Milk run and such. I can't remember them all at the moment, since I played the game years ago, but it's a lost art.

I play games on the second highest difficulty setting the first go-around. If there's Easy-Medium-Hard-Very hard, I'll play on hard the 1st time then on very hard the second time. If there's just Easy-Medium-Hard, I'll play on hard.

I'm playing through Mass Effect on hard on the first go and it's pretty hard, making for a more intense, engaging and rewarding experience.
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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ArmorArmadillo said:
If the Escapist Released a Game:
Graham Stark, MovieBob, Yahtzee, Rebecca Mayes
You win my admiration. Well done. She is brilliant.
[sub]Personally, I'd switch Graham with Bob but eh, nothings perfect[/sub]
 

SaintWaldo

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Jun 10, 2008
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There's an example of the "one time difficulty" effect in Dragon Age: When you are setting up to defend Redcliffe Village, you have 2 optional quests to make things easier. You can get a blessing or you can set up flaming oil, or both. This has an effect of giving the player, through dialog and questing, the option of 3 different difficulties on this battle.

It seems you've hit upon something that's starting to emerge on its own.
 

Biffy Cakeo

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Oblivion let you change diffuculty settings. Hardest for me. I like the joy of killing a crab with triple my stats and health. 1 hit kill through a shield made me laugh alot.
 

Giest4life

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Feb 13, 2010
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I know that there is not a lot of love between you and MW2, but the game does give you an option of changing the difficulty setting during any campaign.
 

Quillpaw

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I know Yahtzee wasn't a fan of it (or really any JRPG, for that matter), but I think The World Ends With You did a good job with its difficulty thing.
Not only could you switch mid-game...or indeed, any time you wanted, you could also alter your level. Changing your difficulty (You start on Normal, gain Easy later, Hard after beating the story and you could buy Ultimate) changed enemy health and how much damage you recieved, and what kind of items they dropped. Lowering your level made them drop more and made you recieve more damage while dealing less, while upping your level did the opposite.
You could do this whenever you wanted, and it is in fact encouraged in game so that you can get different pins and items. Also, if you were a pussy and kept losing to a boss, you could replay the fight on Easy mode.

Unless your were fighting that elephant, because you HAD to beat it on Hard for it to count. Fucking purple elephant.
 

zamble

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Sep 28, 2009
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Reminds me of The world Ends With YOu, on wich you can change difficulty and drop down character levle to mayke it harder anytime between battles.
 

Erick.S

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Sir John The Net Knight said:
Infamous has the option to ramp up the difficulty if you're doing to well. I was playing the game on normal and the game seem to notice that I was impaling every challenge it threw at me on a gigantic lightning rod. It prompted me to play on Hard Mode instead, which I did. Sadly, the majority of the game was still piss easy.

But it is one example that what Yahtzee mentioned has been implemented. They were even kind enough to still give me the gold trophy for beating it on hard, since the game changed the difficulty for me.



Whatever happened to those awesome difficulty settings...[/QUOTE]

Awesome reference to difficulty levels. Oh, wolfy, I've never bothered to finish you on death incarnate :)

On another note, it would indeed be cool to see a game that manages to accomplish what star control 2 did at the time. I've never found anything since that would fulfill this small hole in my heart.
Oh well.
 

ArmorArmadillo

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LordCuthberton said:
ArmorArmadillo said:
If the Escapist Released a Game:
Graham Stark, MovieBob, Yahtzee, Rebecca Mayes
You win my admiration. Well done. She is brilliant.
[sub]Personally, I'd switch Graham with Bob but eh, nothings perfect[/sub]
I was actually ranking them in terms of hostility, Rebecca winning for her fatal attraction move.
 

MildPsychedelic

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Oblivion has a difficulty slider in the gameplay options which is pretty neat, and seeing as you spend 3/4 of your time killing things on Oblivion I guess it could be an Action/RPG?

So I'm guessing it can't be that hard to put that sort of thing in any other action games.
 

lifestorm2

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What about Infamous? It gave the option to change difficulty anytime in the game, even before the game itself sets a difficulty for you based on how you did on your first set of tutorials.
 

Yoshi-Pop

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Not to sound like a fanboy, but didn't Yahtzee already make Actually Scary Game: The Game, like 4 times already?
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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Difficulty scales in games is useless, so the enemies have a few extra hp and you get a few less ammo and med pack drops. That is not an indicator of difficulty. You know what would be? Scaling the AI. At the very easiest you get absolute morons you don't react very often when the guard standing next to them is hit in the face with a rocket, conversely at the very hardest setting you are fighting Professor X (you know, "psychic" guards who can spot you through walls clear across the map).
 

Yahtzee Croshaw

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Some games take it a little too far, and do it wrong, like DiRT 2 for example. There were 6 difficulty levels (easy, casual, hard, serious, savage, extreme) for the career mode with the only difference in reward between them being the amount of credits you won for a particular event.

The fact you could almost complete the career mode with the default cars you were given, on most of the difficulty levels, meant the amount of credits you were awarded for winning events was practically meaningless. By the time I finished the career mode I probably had enough credits to purchase the entire showroom of cars, plus all the upgrades, 10 times over.

In addition, the lowest 3 difficulty levels were so ridiculously easy that I kinda felt cheated completing the game on serious. There was no seperation on the leaderboards for those that played on higher difficulty, leading people in the forums at codemasters to proudly display their "700 race, 698 wins, 2 losses" ratio in their sigs, no realizing how totally inane it was, since you could literally drive the cars in reverse and win on the easy setting.
 

captain underpants

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Here's one from the racer fan's perspective:

I like the way Codemasters are doing it lately. You can select the difficulty level prior to each race, and you get more prize money and XP (why the fuck you need XP in a racing game is beyond me, but whatever). You also get fewer replays.

Hardcore racing sims let you select the skill level of the AI on a percentage scale. (They go up to 110% for some reason, which makes it an odd place for a Spinal Tap reference.) rFactor even has a separate slider for AI aggression, which is cool.

NFS: Shift had an different take. It made you do a quick race on starting the game to determine your skill level, and offered difficulty settings based on that. Only problem was that when you fired up the game, after sitting through a bunch of unskippable intro movies, you were forced straight into the event without a chance to set up your controller, so you end up having to drive it with the keyboard. Utter fail. Good thing you could set it to whatever you wanted afterwards anyway, but it kind of rendered the event pointless.

Personally I reckon all games should have a configuration routine outside of the actual game so you can set everything up before starting it. Especially when they're so lazily programmed that you have to restart the frigging game when you change the resolution.
 

Deacon Cole

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Athinira said:
Maybe changing the difficulty setting doesn't add anything to you personally (which i find hard to believe if you claim it never does, no matter the game), but it does to a lot of other players, so you can't really "disagree" with Yahtzee on this point, even if it still doesn't apply to you.
Appeal to majority.

And I did not say that changing the difficulty adds nothing. I just said that the way most, if not all developers add to the difficulty is by just padding out the same basic gameplay, that doing so is lazy on their part and that tis increase in difficulty is not so much a challenge to the player's skills as a test of their endurance.

You and "a lot of other players" apparently enjoy endurance tests. Good for you.
 

ArmorArmadillo

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008Zulu said:
Difficulty scales in games is useless, so the enemies have a few extra hp and you get a few less ammo and med pack drops. That is not an indicator of difficulty. You know what would be? Scaling the AI. At the very easiest you get absolute morons you don't react very often when the guard standing next to them is hit in the face with a rocket, conversely at the very hardest setting you are fighting Professor X (you know, "psychic" guards who can spot you through walls clear across the map).
Um...it isn't harder to fight enemies when they have more hp, do more damage, and you have less resources? Hell, it almost has the effect of scaling the AI, since guards rushing you head on makes a lot more sense when they're tougher, can take more hits, and do more damage.
 

captain underpants

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Asa Hartley said:
Some games take it a little too far, and do it wrong, like DiRT 2 for example. There were 6 difficulty levels (easy, casual, hard, serious, savage, extreme) for the career mode with the only difference in reward between them being the amount of credits you won for a particular event.

The fact you could almost complete the career mode with the default cars you were given, on most of the difficulty levels, meant the amount of credits you were awarded for winning events was practically meaningless. By the time I finished the career mode I probably had enough credits to purchase the entire showroom of cars, plus all the upgrades, 10 times over.

In addition, the lowest 3 difficulty levels were so ridiculously easy that I kinda felt cheated completing the game on serious. There was no seperation on the leaderboards for those that played on higher difficulty, leading people in the forums at codemasters to proudly display their "700 race, 698 wins, 2 losses" ratio in their sigs, no realizing how totally inane it was, since you could literally drive the cars in reverse and win on the easy setting.
I agree on a lot of that. I've been paying it on Extreme with all the aids off, and find it an adequate challenge ie. I can win most races with maybe 2 or 3 retries. There are far better drivers than me on sim forums saying they found even that too easy, and I can understand that. I haven't even bothered trying anything below 'savage'. Maybe the problem is that the diffuculty is just too low overall.

On the credits thing - I'd rather have too much than not enough. I prefer not having to grind lower tier races just to afford a car to progress through the levels, so being flush with cash is a plus in my view.

I avoid online play like the plague, so fortunately I've missed all that other stuff you mentioned.
 

MikailCaboose

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I know the "Tales of" series (well, at least Symphonia and it's sequel/spin-off Dawn of the New World) you could change the setting. Unfortunately, the awesome names were MIA.
 

ALPHATT

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I was actually scared at times while playing the DeFoe quadrilogy. So yeah, I trust he knows what scray is.
 

Z(ombie)fan

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art of theft sequal...

DID I HEAR THAT RIGHT!?

*Fanboy implosion*

is it, like, the same gameplay, only trilby is now in Ministry of occultism? so hes stealing "banish the demon" talismans? or something? TELL ME YAHTZEE!! I MUST KNOW THE AWESOMENESS OF IT!!!

Boy, I loved the trilby games...

I dont care about challenge. frustration ain't fun, so I pick easy.
 

Z(ombie)fan

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Random Jah-Love said:
Not to sound like a fanboy, but didn't Yahtzee already make Actually Scary Game: The Game, like 4 times already?
5 actually.

Chzo mythos + 1213.
 

Twinmill5000

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There's a mumorpuger that should be out soon that will might give you what you were trying to make with FSG:TG but with grinding and levels and stuff: Black Prophecy.

... but it's a mumorpuger.
 

Grahav

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I think fighting games would benefit the most from this dynamic difficult setting..

Heck, I couldn't kill a lot of KOF bosses without setting their life bar to 1/3. And the fuckers were still hard.

Idea for fighting games:

White belt

School brawl

Cheating judge

Bloody sport

Your no-more virgin girlfriend's dad
 

Kazyan

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Wow. I came to a similar conclusion about switching difficult mid-way, but didn't think about that potential for abuse. As usual, Yahtzee comes out with a well-thought out column.
 

SenseOfTumour

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captain underpants said:
Here's one from the racer fan's perspective:

I like the way Codemasters are doing it lately. You can select the difficulty level prior to each race, and you get more prize money and XP (why the fuck you need XP in a racing game is beyond me, but whatever). You also get fewer replays.
I was going to post about GRID as I was recently playing it on Steam and I'd heard the final races are ridiculously tough, so started out on easy. After a couple of races getting used to it, I started getting some firsts, sometimes with big gaps between me and second. The voiceover girl kicked in before I started the next race, and said something like 'hey there, you're finding this a breeze, why not crank up the difficulty for bonus points?'

Not a forced change, just a nudge that I'm robbing myself and could probably challenge myself better.
 

Andronicus

Terror Australis
Mar 25, 2009
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Yahtzee said:
I should probably have stuck to my usual policy of not telling anyone when I'm working on a game...

...so that's what I've been playing around with of late: Actually Scary Game: The Game. A simple first-person adventure like a mix of Tex Murphy and System Shock with an emphasis on simple but effective scares.
Well that was a little silly. o_O

OT: I must admit, I'm not the most focused of people when it comes to games; I could easily be happily playing a game one day, and then pick up another the next, leaving yesterday's game half finished and collecting dust. That said, I like putting it on the highest difficulty possible for the challenge.
 

tamerman

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You probably don?t care for suggestions on games, especially ones made by people who have never made a video game or anything close to a video game in the entirety of their existence, but in my honest opinion, the scariest thing that can ever be, is a simple pair of eyes, staring at you from behind a veil of darkness.

Say for example your swimming in the ocean, and you look below into a pitch-black ravine. all you would need is a giant pair of eyes to open up and stare at you and BAM! Shaking in your (meaning my) boots.

Whatever FSG:TG is about, you should consider hiding a pair of eyeballs somewhere the player can see, possibly blocked by bullet-proof glass or something to the player doesn?t try to shoot at them or something. Then program them to follow the player, and maybe set up a few more pairs up ahead so it looks like whoever is watching you is following you while keeping his/its identity anonymous by hiding behind a veil of darkness or something. Its small, its simple, its subtle, its downright terrifying.

However it is also a suggestion made by a fan, so I don?t blame you if that automatically makes it a bad suggestion in your eyes.
 

drummond13

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Actually, before Devil May Cry did it, Onimusha 2 did it. Seriously, dare to die a whopping two times in that game and it thinks you need training wheels.

Game: "Would you like to switch to Easy mode?"

Me: "Um, no."

Game: ".....are you SURE you don't want to change to Easy mode?"

Me: "................... @#$%. You."

I'm not kidding about this back and forth. It's the first time a game has ever directly insulted me.
 

SideburnsPuppy

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A brief flash game a friend of mine made has difficulty levels which ascend thusly:

Easy - The Kiddy Pool. Doesn't even go up past your knees and is mostly urine.

Medium - The shallow end of the pool. Makes great training for the deep end.

Hard - THE DEEP END!!! This is why lifeguards are needed.

Insane - AN UNSUPERVISED BEACH. BEWARE OF HIGH TIDES, SEAWEED, SHARKS, AND PEDOPHILES.
 

spacecowboy86

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i always finish a game on normal difficulty first, then i might ramp it up on the second playthrough. I'm just like that, i've never used a mid-game difficulty change unless it was to make it harder after beating the story on a sandbox game.
 

WhiteTigerShiro

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My main problem is that every developer has their own idea of "hard". I'll play one game through twice on normal and hard and not notice the difference, then I'll go play another game through twice and barely make it out of the hard mode alive. The latter case is always refreshing. After-all, I picked "Hard" for a reason. The former case though makes me wonder if maybe it's a game that I just happen to be that good at, or if it's a case where the developer missed the point of having a difficulty setting in the first place.

I totally get that they want the game to be beatable, hence why games tend to get easier lately, but difficulty settings kinda eliminate that. You don't have to pander to anyone when you have 3 difficulty settings. "What's that? Hard is too Hard? Then play on normal!" Having an easy "Hard" mode makes me think that they're trying to pander to lesser-skilled players by letting them feel good about beating a game on "Hard", but it kinda defeats the point when it's hard in name only. :/
 

WhiteTigerShiro

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Oh right, and speaking of creative difficulty setting names, how about creative difficulty setting descriptions? One of the things I loved about the first two Myth games (created by Bungie somewhere between Marathon and Halo) were the awesome descriptions for the difficulty settings. It's a trend they continued with the Halo games (or at least in the first Halo), though I'm not sure if they started it before Myth.

Damn, now I wanna install those and play them again. Look what you made me do, Yahtzee!
 

asbrandr

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One of my favorite silly names for a difficulty setting occured in the jrpg for ps1 called Legend of Mana. In it, the option for changing the difficulty mid game came as a sort of query similar to the following:
"Do you want your game to be easy?" yes/no
if no "Do you want your game to be normal?" yes/no
if no "Do you want your game to be hard?" yes/no
if no "Do you want your game to be a nightmare?" yes/no
if no "Do you want a future?" yes/no
here if you select "no" then you get "No Future" mode which is the game's hardest (every enemy encountered is lvl 99 with maximum hp and stats. and it was STILL beatable!! love that game.
 

Jonsbax

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The problem I have with difficulty settings is that too often they don't get hard enough, for example in Kingdom Hearts 2, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resistance: Retribution, just to name a few. I thought that the point of difficulty settings is to make the game satisfying for everybody, but still I've had plenty of games that were ruined because the game is too damn easy even on the hardest difficulty setting. And I don't even consider myself that good a gamer.

I think that development teams should have 2 difficulty testers; someone who's new to gaming in general or at least new to the genre of the game in development, and other one who's some Japanese Devil May Cry and Demon's Souls master. Developers would start by making 2 difficulty settings, the easier being satisfyingly challenging for the casual gamer and the harder being at least fun for the harcore videogame geek. Then they would just fill the gap between these two with as many difficulty settings as they see necessary.
 

Athinira

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the antithesis said:
Appeal to majority.

And I did not say that changing the difficulty adds nothing. I just said that the way most, if not all developers add to the difficulty is by just padding out the same basic gameplay, that doing so is lazy on their part and that tis increase in difficulty is not so much a challenge to the player's skills as a test of their endurance.

You and "a lot of other players" apparently enjoy endurance tests. Good for you.
If you truly think that all games are just endurance tests on "hard" difficulty, then you must not have played very many games, and then i feel sorry for you.

Let me from the top of my head just mention a few games where going from "Easy" to "Hard" isn't just endurance tests.

Batman: Arkham Asylum
Enemies are still taken down just as easily as before, in the sense that they have the same HP in fistfights. Instead the difficulty makes them more intelligent, more aware of you, and it removes the "Warning" sign that flashes over their head in combat mode when they are about to attack, making it harder (but still perfectly possible) to anticipate their attacks. They also attempt to pick up weapons more often in fistfights if i recall correctly.

Any Metal Gear Solid Game
New guards are added, or existing guards change patrol routes, meaning that you can't just repeat tactics you've learned from an earlier difficulty level. Guards still die as easily though. Only the boss fights becomes more about endurance (until you go to the hardest difficulty in some of the games, where the bosses get very low health, but can also take you out in very a few hits).

Left 4 dead (1+2)
Zombies still die as easily as before (except the tank zombie), but you and your squadmates are much less resilient and need to coorperate much better and you can't just play the hero as much as in the easier difficulties.

Tom Clancy's: Rainbow Six: Vegas 1+2
While the difficulty overall in this game is terribly balanced, enemies die just as easily as before. You can just take less damage and need to use cover more intelligently, as well as using your squadmates more intelligently.

Crysis + Warhead
Enemies have the same health and spawns in same numbers. You just take more damage and have to play more carefully.

Any Hitman Game.

There are plenty more out there. Hell there are even games where the "Endurance" model makes sense and actually MAKES the game harder without it's just feeling you like are beating your fists on a wall or wasting time.
 

ChupathingyX

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All of the Dynasty warriors and Samurai warriors games let you change difficulty when playing campaign, atleast in DW4 where you could change mid campaign, but DW5 has much smaller and character focused story modes that have the same difficulty, but you can choose a new one for every character.

Also I ahve a good example of creative difficulty names; Ratchet: Gladiator(or Deadlocked if youre American)

-Couch potato(very easy)
-Contestant(easy)
-Gladiator(normal)
-Hero(hard)
-Exterminator(very hard)

What yahtzee said about platforming games is true, you cant really change the difficulty of those agmes like Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon, but pretty much any game with a health bar or some kind of health system should have difficulty settings. Also one thing that really makes me confused is when a games difficuly makes no difference. Crash tag Team Racing had three different difficulties(normal, faster, insane) and guess what there is no difference. Seriously te game even uses that crappy catch-up system so even if youre playing on normal if you get too far ahead the other racers will catch up o you anyway, how dumb is that?
 

Super Jamz

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It might be because i was a pussy or what have you, but i have to say that his Chzo mythos did scare me quite a bit, despite everyone looking like cardboard cutouts made to move like robots.
 

flosy

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The Matrix path of Neo game had a good system where you had to fight in a re-construction of the pillar lobby scene and had to earn hard mode by wining. Also COD4 did a similar thing; although to less effect because you could peaty much run through until you knew exactly the buttons to press.
Also I disagree that a lot of difficulty levels are a good thing; for example in the Blue Dragon game there was always a feeling of not being good enough if you chose normal rather than hard. Also in the Ninja Gaiden Sigma game (at least for the PS3) there was an option if you died enough that asked if you would like to try the game on an easier difficulty mode. This seems reasonable in theory but Ninja Gaiden is a game build for the challenge and asking the player if they think they would be better suited to playing the game in 'Kid Mode' (Spiderman the game PSX)is A- patronising and B- Irritating because I accidentally pressed it several times in a fit of rage from being killed for the 20th time by the same boss.
On the other hand playing a game such as Oblivion the ability to slide down the difficulty if you get stuck is essential. Not because it fluctuates much in the way of difficulty, but rather because its a game so long and open that you will not always feel like a challenge. For example who hasn't turned the difficulty down the the bottom and massacred a village? Or put their acrobatics up to max, installed the open city's mod and leaped around raining death upon unsuspecting civilians (and adoring fans).
 

MgalekgoloHunter

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It's ironic that I was far more scared playing 6 Days A Sacrifice (particularly the "Let me in!" bit in the corridor) than I ever was playing, say, Bioshock.
 

Mr Orange

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Just wanted to offer up Penumbra: Black Plague as an example of a truly scary game, and one that I think Yahtzee would genuinely enjoy. It is made by an independent company, Frictional Games, and focuses on horror and puzzles. Make no mistake, this is not an action game, as there is no combat, it is a true survival horror game and one that deserves much more recognition.

Thanks
 

FC Groningen

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I doubt Yathzee (or anyone else) will enjoy being bum raped by a game, if the game thinks you're doing too well so far. I know there is room between "normal" and "impossible" but I'm sure that would happen if it was implented in many games. It also sort off feels like you're being punished for doing well. I'm fine with just picking a difficulty at the start of a game.
 

GameGoddess101

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The rest of the article was all right. I only recently got back into games, so games like Devil May Cry and God of War I automatically went for Easy, but it was well... too easy. So I switched. ^_^ At least games haven't gotten like 'Splosion Man and, if you die at a particular section over and over and over again, it prompts you to skip it.

Diablo 2 also has a "difficulty setting" within the difficulty sections. Obviously, there's Normal, Hard, and Nightmare, but you can also change the number of "players" up to anywhere between 1 and 8. The game adjusts accordingly, making it harder and the experience and rewards greater the higher number you select.

But throughout the whole article, one thing really caught my attention. Silent Hill 8!!? Really!?!? REALLY!?!?!
 

Doragon Shinzui

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That's one of the things I liked about TWEWY. At any point, you could switch difficulties in multiple ways, by either making your opponents tougher or yourself weaker, which would net you better abilities or more abilities, respectively. That, combined with the ability to switch to easy after losing a match, made it hard to get stuck. Unless you totally messed up and didn't have anything equipped for a boss match.
 

Giandroid

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The "normal mode" thing is sort of what I do... but I'm not that good at games. My favorite game, however, is still very very hard even on "easy" mode. I suppose that's what's made me afraid of difficulty settings. I can't change it mid-way through, though, but it's an old game... so I forgive it. Besides, like I said, it's hard no matter how you play it.
 

LadyMint

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Automatic scaling difficulty would be an interesting concept in games. I'm thinking of something more than your standard "your on level 15 so the enemies are much tougher than level 1" sort of thing. Something where the game detects that you're breezing through content on level 3 and adjusts itself accordingly. Or makes things a little easier if you seem to be struggling. It would be like having an evil overlord command his troops to be more on guard because of a hero's presence, then command them to relax when it seemed like the hero wasn't much of a threat. If that makes sense.

I can see potential for it to be exploited, of course, but I think I would like that sort of system rather than jumping out of the game to change the setting.
 

Psytrese

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I think if "Actual Scary Game" is ever made, it should be similar to Clock Tower. Where you're a ridiculously ineffectual little girl with no combat abilities whatsoever; and the game is played more of a mindfuck than an all out action kill everything game. Hiding instead of shooting.

It really wasn't the most fun game to play, but the ideas are there, they could just be a little better implemented.

And anyways, on the subject of Difficulty Levels....I played through Alan Wake on Nightmare and it wasn't much harder. The enemies take a more shots to kill, but really this just means that you're never going to have enough ammo to kill them, so you spend more of your time dodging enemies than fighting.

Shame.
 

jamescorck

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On Fun Space Game: The Game -> So Yahtzee's method of videogame design depends on what is he playing now? Maybe he will come back to it now that he reviewed Mario Galaxy 2.
 

FC Groningen

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LadyMint said:
Automatic scaling difficulty would be an interesting concept in games. I'm thinking of something more than your standard "your on level 15 so the enemies are much tougher than level 1" sort of thing. Something where the game detects that you're breezing through content on level 3 and adjusts itself accordingly. Or makes things a little easier if you seem to be struggling. It would be like having an evil overlord command his troops to be more on guard because of a hero's presence, then command them to relax when it seemed like the hero wasn't much of a threat. If that makes sense.

I can see potential for it to be exploited, of course, but I think I would like that sort of system rather than jumping out of the game to change the setting.
Sounds similar to Oblivion where it was pointless to level because all (potential) enemies leveled with you.
 

TiefBlau

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It used to be that I always played on easy because I didn't want the story of games to be inhibited by their difficulty.

Now that I'm less of a pussy, I play games on normal, because I would assume that game developers made the game with this intended experience in mind, and any fake difficulty [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FakeDifficulty] gimmicks or simply difficulty to the point at which it obstructs coherent experience would only serve to dilute the game.
 

Arcane Azmadi

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I think the game which made the best ever use of difficulty levels was The World Ends With You which, interestingly, Yahtzee did in fact review when it came out. After reading this column I went back to watch his review again and I was a little surprised to find that he never mentioned the difficulty system, but on reflection that aspect of gameplay was far too technical and therefore boring to mention in his comedy reviews where he'd rather find something to bash.

The reason TWEWY's difficulty system was so amazingly clever was that it was fundamentally integrated into the gameplay itself. Once you unlocked the different difficulty levels you could change difficulty at any time outside of battle, which affected what items enemies dropped as well as how much EXP you got- a lot of rare and useful items could only be acquired by killing enemies on Hard or Ultimate, while sometimes you actually had to kill enemies on Easy for a certain drop and your in-game beastiary tracked not only what enemies dropped what items at what difficulty levels, but also their percentage chances of doing so. You could also manually handicap yourself by temporarily reducing your level down as low as 1 in order to boost these drop rates and earn even more EXP. And of course, if the game was just getting too friggin' hard (and believe me, with its duel-character-split-screen combat system the game could be really hard) you could just set it back to Easy and put your level back up to maximum again. You could even choose to retry a battle on Easy if you died or, if that offended your ego too much, simply step back to the adventure screen without penalty (apart from annoying your allies for fleeing). It was quite a remarkable system, quite unlike any other game I've ever heard of.

Doragon Shinzui said:
That's one of the things I liked about TWEWY. At any point, you could switch difficulties in multiple ways, by either making your opponents tougher or yourself weaker, which would net you better abilities or more abilities, respectively. That, combined with the ability to switch to easy after losing a match, made it hard to get stuck. Unless you totally messed up and didn't have anything equipped for a boss match.
Ah, ninja'd.

Quillpaw said:
I know Yahtzee wasn't a fan of it (or really any JRPG, for that matter), but I think The World Ends With You did a good job with its difficulty thing.
Not only could you switch mid-game...or indeed, any time you wanted, you could also alter your level. Changing your difficulty (You start on Normal, gain Easy later, Hard after beating the story and you could buy Ultimate) changed enemy health and how much damage you recieved, and what kind of items they dropped. Lowering your level made them drop more and made you recieve more damage while dealing less, while upping your level did the opposite.
You could do this whenever you wanted, and it is in fact encouraged in game so that you can get different pins and items. Also, if you were a pussy and kept losing to a boss, you could replay the fight on Easy mode.

Unless your were fighting that elephant, because you HAD to beat it on Hard for it to count. Fucking purple elephant.
Twice even!
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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ArmorArmadillo said:
Um...it isn't harder to fight enemies when they have more hp, do more damage, and you have less resources? Hell, it almost has the effect of scaling the AI, since guards rushing you head on makes a lot more sense when they're tougher, can take more hits, and do more damage.
Not really, since the same tactics will work time and time again regardless of how many bullets you have or how much health they have.
 

Alexeduardo

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Yahtzee, don´t be an idiot. There are few things as geniunely terrifying as well-made deep-space travel.
 

PokeMog

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Oh man, I really hope this A Scary Game: The Game will be like the Chzo Mithos series. This needs to be done.
 

orangeapples

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I always play games on the hardest difficulty first. Then I'll replay on the lowest difficulty. It is fun to watch as the enemies just fall to the ground because of your presence.

that and all the good unlockables are always easiest on the hardest difficulty. Typically all they want is, "beat the game on [Death] difficulty." everything else is always "beat the game on [easy] and get all 500 flags, find every hidden treasure, find all character data and have 100% completion" "beat the game on medium, find every hidden treasure, find all character data and have 80% completion" "beat the game on hard and have 70% completion."
 

Grand_Marquis

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Hey Yahtzee -
One very important aspect of a good horror game - or horror anything really - is the visuals. How they are created, implemented, and presented will speak heavily to the atmosphere that the game generates. It's not quite as important as the story, but it's a close second. One thing this means is that you're taking on a very art-heavy project this time around. Even if you have faith in your artistic abilities (or the artistic abilities of a single person, if you've already factored in shipping that role to someone else), the volume of visual content requirements is - without question - going to far outstrip anything you've created in the past.

So if you get to a place in the game's creation where you're actually adding some art (that's a ways off, I sure), and you find that you need help, let me know. I'd be happy to contribute to your project! I'm very good at adhering to other styles and I always wanted to try my hand at texturing a horror game :D
 

Bunni

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That reminds me of the very first mission (not including the field tactics) of No One Lives Forever.
Bruno: "Would you like me to call out the targets for you?"
Cate: "That would be lovely."
"No thank you, I can handle this on my own."
"Where's the challenge in that? I just hope there's enough to keep me busy."

Too bad it was just that one mission, which may have been for the better because it'd just seem awkward if every assignment had some guy offering to help you out.
 

Jezta

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I think that more games should implement the Elder Scrolls concept of difficulty settings in that they can be changed on the fly. I can't tell you how much I was ready to hang myself with my Xbox cord when I played Bloodmoon back in the day. That end bit with the maze had me going crazy. I remember pausing the game as a werewolf was mid-swipe think 'this is where I die...again' and for some reason I decided to mess with the menu and I found the difficulty toggle. I switched it down to easy and unpaused and I survived the blow that would've killed me not ten seconds ago. I don't like how most games have you locked into a set difficulty for the duration of your playtime. If its too hard or too easy than you have to restart, which causes a great deal of annoyance, especially if the game has a lengthy unskippable intro.
 

ArmorArmadillo

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008Zulu said:
ArmorArmadillo said:
Um...it isn't harder to fight enemies when they have more hp, do more damage, and you have less resources? Hell, it almost has the effect of scaling the AI, since guards rushing you head on makes a lot more sense when they're tougher, can take more hits, and do more damage.
Not really, since the same tactics will work time and time again regardless of how many bullets you have or how much health they have.
Well, that isn't strictly true. If your tactic is running head on and pouring fire, it won't work if you have few bullets and the enemy is tankish. If your tactic is careful and well thought out, then it'll work, but only because you were using tactics sufficient to beat very hard enemies.

If the game was using scaling AI, then wouldn't the tactics that beat Very Hard AI beat easier AIs too?
 

Jedted

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My favorite clever difficulty naming is in Wanted: Weapons of Fate. It goes from Pussy, to Assassin, and finally The Killer.

If you rearange the names it becomes "The Killer Pussy Assassin", which can be interpreted as either a killer cat who assassinates people or a killer who assassinates cats(depends on whether you like cats or not). :)
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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ArmorArmadillo said:
Well, that isn't strictly true. If your tactic is running head on and pouring fire, it won't work if you have few bullets and the enemy is tankish. If your tactic is careful and well thought out, then it'll work, but only because you were using tactics sufficient to beat very hard enemies.

If the game was using scaling AI, then wouldn't the tactics that beat Very Hard AI beat easier AIs too?
Tactics against smart enemies would most definately work against the dumber ones, but in truth such tactics wouldn't be needed.

Say for example you are fighting a boss equiped with a rocket launcher. At the easiest setting throwing a smoke/chaff grenade to blind the missles detection systems allowing you to move about for a better vantage point while he looks around in confusion. On the hardest setting once you throw your grenade he instead disables the targetting sensors and then spams the area with rockets in the hope that the splash damage or a stray will hit you.

It would make for a more challenging fight than adding 1000hp to the bosses health meter.
 

Eponet

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They're hobby projects, there's no way that you're a whore. Just a slut.
 

Boba Frag

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To quote a well known and respected member of the Galactic Imperial Fleet...

"She lied to us!!!"

She in this case being the harlot Yahtzee...

Shame, I was looking forward to seeing Fun Space Game: The Game come to life and scream expletives as I smacked into asteroids repeatedly...

I'm sure I'll be able to forgive you eventually, Yahtzee :p

I'm ashamed to say I switched the difficulty on Dragon Age down more than once just to get passed the more infuriating quests...

The game allows you to do any quest in whatever order, but kicks the ever loving shit out of you if you choose poorly....
 

Tyrant T100

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Difficulty is something most recent games can never get right.
I generally try to play on Hard but this becomes an issue when the difficulty curve goes crazy near the end and it becomes near impossible, which just leads to frustration rather than a challenge. Uncharted 2 was a big offender once it got into the Monastery section.

The best difficulty modes in my opinions are the games which had pre-set levels but depending on how you played the game would alter it accordingly, therefore if the game had a stupid difficulty curve after a few failures it would remove an enemy for example.
 

ArmorArmadillo

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008Zulu said:
ArmorArmadillo said:
Well, that isn't strictly true. If your tactic is running head on and pouring fire, it won't work if you have few bullets and the enemy is tankish. If your tactic is careful and well thought out, then it'll work, but only because you were using tactics sufficient to beat very hard enemies.

If the game was using scaling AI, then wouldn't the tactics that beat Very Hard AI beat easier AIs too?
Tactics against smart enemies would most definately work against the dumber ones, but in truth such tactics wouldn't be needed.

Say for example you are fighting a boss equiped with a rocket launcher. At the easiest setting throwing a smoke/chaff grenade to blind the missles detection systems allowing you to move about for a better vantage point while he looks around in confusion. On the hardest setting once you throw your grenade he instead disables the targetting sensors and then spams the area with rockets in the hope that the splash damage or a stray will hit you.

It would make for a more challenging fight than adding 1000hp to the bosses health meter.
Makes sense, although that sounds more like giving the boss immunity to a certain type of stun/disabling attack than improving AI (which is kind of an ubiquitous term)
 

Ravenseeker

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bioshock 2 and red faction guerrilla were the only games that let you (and forced me) to change your difficulty level and keep going.

On the topic of interesting names for difficulty levels; the saboteur had a difficulty setting of "feckin' hard"
 

300lb. Samoan

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Yahtzee Croshaw said:
In Alan Wake,for example, it was foolish of me to automatically pick "Normal" out of "Normal," "Hard" and "Nightmare," because this is doing the Burger King "Medium," "Large" and "King Size" thing where the real medium is obviously the one in the middle.
I don't think that is foolish, I believe that's the developer tacitly acknowledging that the experience is more valuable than the mechanical challenge of the game. I think the same goes for Burger King's shifted naming scheme - a medium coke is a generous portion for an 'average' 2,000-calorie-per-day human. A large is suitable for an over-sized appetite and a king-size bucket is just about right for a 300 pound Samoan who consumes more than 5,000 calories over the course of 16 hours. In other words, normal-excessive-ridiculous. Since you spend many many hours playing games, excessive or even ridiculous difficulty is what would offer you a comfortably engaging playing experience. But as a reviewer you should probably evaluate the game as it is intended to be presented, a.k.a. normal. I know I've played games before where the normal difficulty was designed perfectly but harder difficulties were terribly unbalanced and only enjoyable for self-loathing masochists - I wish I could remember what game that was, I'd recommend it to you!
 

008Zulu_v1legacy

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Makes sense, although that sounds more like giving the boss immunity to a certain type of stun/disabling attack than improving AI (which is kind of an ubiquitous term)[/quote]

Yeah, it can be hard to define the difference between AI and limiting the attack chain.

In games I have found altering the difficulty doesn't alter the tactics of the AI, unless it is a specifically scripted event during the fight, and harder usually means a longer/drawnout fight which is ultimately boring. Looking directly at Dawn of War 2 there. Oblivion's AI was meant to be the be-all-end-all, kudos on screwing that up Bethesda.

Yeah, I'm really jaded. There is no AI, only scripted enemies.
 

Alpha1Niner

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I like that idea of switching the difficulty midway in the game. I don't think I've played a game that did that on it's own.
 

internetzealot1

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Cousin_IT said:
Far from only giving the player the choice to change difficultly once, I think every game should come with the difficulty slider Bethseda put in their games. If you want to coast through a section, slide it down to easy but get less xp as a result. If you want to make a fight challanging, push it up to hard & get bonus xp if you pull it off.
The problem with that system is that players can set the difficulty to its lowest, hit enemies till they are near-death, and then change the difficulty to maximum in order to get more XP for a kill that they don't deserve. Whenever I'm trying to level in Bethesda's games, I have to push that fact to the back of my mind in order to keep myself from exploiting and ruining the game.
 

SteakHeart

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MrNickster said:
The only game I can think of off the top of my head that lets you switch difficulties without starting a new game is Red Steel 2. I didn't use it though-I like to play a game all the way through on the same difficulty (I'm weird).
I did. Freaking Payne...

OT: It's not a bad idea. Although, it might get a little annoying for the game to keep asking you 'would you like to play on Hard?' just because you want to have fun killing.
 

darkknight9

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Another classic one from the golden age: Hexen's highest difficulty level was "Black Plague Possesses Thee"
 

AllOrZer0

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Jul 16, 2010
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First post here, but I've been reading and watching for quite a while. It's ironic you'd mention scalable difficulty here and nobody would think to bring up Disgaea. Yes, understandably, it's a bit of a grindfest, but giving the player not only the ability to scale dynamically during progress, but rewarding you for raising it is something I've loved about the series since its first iteration.

As I went through the first game, any time I realized I was out gunning the AI, I'd ramp up the difficulty to encourage a little more critical thinking during my play. Post-game, I refused to take on any of the extra challenges until I had successfully maxed the difficulty cap, and loved every second of the battles I had up until I cleared the final challenge.
 

ChupathingyX

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Jun 8, 2010
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One really strange kind of "difficulty" adjustment I know of, although I dont know what kind of category it would afll in but Crash bandicoot even though it was an action-platformer that used a checkpoint box system. If you kept on dying continuously the location of the checkpoint would change, usually it would swap places with a box that was more closer to you to make it easier, this is one of the only examples I can think of when a platformer has kind of a difficulty change.
 

MazzaTheFirst

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Jul 1, 2009
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I kinda feel bad now. In my Doom 2 campaign I haven't really balanced it for different difficulty levels. You alter what levels a certain monster will appear in. (So a Imp might spawn on Easy or a Baron of Hell on Hard.) I sort of just balanced it around Ultra-Violence and my goal was to just make a difficult campaign. Guess when I finish all my levels there will be a hell of a lot of play testing and balancing.
 

didom

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May 30, 2010
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I think the game that have solved the difficulty problems is Godhand ( im almost sure that few have heard of it because its kinda old and not very popular ). Not everyone will agree with me but i find the difficulty settings in Godhand to be quite unique . In the begining of the game you can pick easy , medium and hard . During the game u have something ill call dificulty meter . It has lvl 1 then level 2 then level 3 then level die , and die is F*CKIN HARD. On easy the difficulty meter will go to level 2 and not further. On normal it will go all the way to die and on hard it will remain only on die . When you beat your enemies and avoid hits , taunt them and doing well overall than the meter will go up the enemies will get tougher and fight harder . When you get beaten up much or die the meter will go down making the enemies easier . There is also a special move which lowers the meter all the way to lvl 1 (you cant use it on hard). Also the enemies that you deafeat on die will give you more money in the end of the stage than the enemies you defeat on the other lower difficulties and in the end of each stage there is a big reward if you havent died through the whole stage , and for me its satisfying to beat a stage with all the enemies on level die without dying , kinda makes me feel like a god and almost makes me have an orgasm.

I find this way of solving the difficulty settings quite nice and interesting and i think it can be used in other games aswell. I never have seen such thing in other games ive played.
 

Something Amyss

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Dec 3, 2008
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ldwater said:
The only problem I have with difficulty settigs on some games is that they don't seem to scale with friendly AI.

Some sports games (NFL / NBA) the computer will become unstopable but your own computer controlled friendlies are still moronic. Same goes with some shooters and upping the difficulty means that the enemy becomes inhumanly accurate and aware while your own squad mates seem to remain the same.

I did like the difficuly settings of 'Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising' - instead of making the AI harder / better / more accurate etc it simply removed more and more of the HUD (and reducing save points) meaning that the player had to be more aware of the surroundings etc.

Shame the AI on that game was already pants on head retarded :(
I count on my allies being "pants on head retarded" and run from there. Not saying I like it, but it's one of those blind spots. Everything from sports to action to puzzles, I even get blindsided when the AI is worth a damn.

On the flip side, it pisses me off when the enemy AI can headshot me through cover from 100 yards away with a handgun. Making the AI Godly instead of smarter is annoying.

Adaptive difficulty is great.
 

CATS FTW

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Mar 21, 2010
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Your horror game sounds a bit like the fantastic penumbra, and penumbra black plague.
 

TheBaron87

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Jul 12, 2010
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I think a better solution than allowing only one difficulty change would be to give any rewards for completion (achievements, leaderboards, unlocks) only for the lowest difficulty used through the run. Even if you only turned the game down to easy for one little scene, you get none of the rewards for a "normal" completion unless you start over, and force the player to save before they can resume playing after a difficulty change, so they can't turn down the dial, "preview" the next couple rooms, then reload their save with no consequences. I think that would be an effective enough deterrent to keep people on their chosen path without restricting those that would rather just see the game.
 

TennysonXII

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Nov 8, 2008
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Y'know, Yahtzee is one of the few people I would trust to make an actually scary game. Kudos to you, ya limey.
 

YunikoYokai5

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Jun 16, 2010
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I know Dragon Age: Origins lets you change the difficulty setting at any time, letting you make bosses/enemies harder/easier and then letting you switch back or leave it to change it later. For example, many people can play the game on the the hardest setting without much difficulty, yet when they fight the High Dragon (optional boss) they are either destroyed or just barely beat it. I know a lot of people who toned down the difficulty for that fight and then cranked it back up afterwards.
 

PurplePlatypus

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Jul 8, 2010
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Changing the game difficulty only once after starting the game is a nice idea but it only works if the game has a good difficulty curve. There are some that start out way easy and then get incredibly difficult by the end and even a few games where I remember the beginning being kind of hard to get past but it being alright after that.

The problem is you don?t know where the game is going to go or how you?re going to cope later on so having only one chance, after the initial option, comes with extra frustrating baggage.
 
Jul 9, 2010
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The "creative name for difficulty settings" is fun. I also remember when playing Quake that whenever you tried to quit it would call you a weakling pansy *****, which was fun.
I had been wondering how you found Alan Wake so easy, my policy is to pick the middle one each time.
Pity about Fun Space Game but Actual Scary Game might prove interesting, and scary presumably..
 

ValentineBlacker

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Aug 30, 2009
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My two favorite naming schemes for difficulty levels are MGS and Bayonetta.
In No More Heroes I always get confused if 'mild' is supposed to be harder or easier than 'sweet', because 'mild' is commonly known as the easiest difficulty of salsa.

And... ok, you can yell at me, but Super Princess Peach actually got a little difficult, at least in the 'bonus' content at the very end. Of course, the first 90% of the game is easy as a cake, and Peach doesn't die, she gets sad and has to start over.
 

Spectre39

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Oct 6, 2008
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So I'm currently playing Ninja Gaiden II for the first time. I played the first one a few years ago, so I thought I knew what I was doing. When I start up the game, it asks me to choose between the path of the acolyte, and the path of the warrior. I thought it would be an insult to Ryu Hyabusa to lower himself to the level of an acolyte. He's a ninja, dammit! Not some pussy samurai!

Well, I think I spoke too soon. This game is kicking my ass. I've made it through to chapter 4 so far, but I'm typically broke from buying so much healing grain. I've thought about going back through on acolyte. However, I've decided to soldier on and go as far as I can. If it was way too difficult I wouldn't have made it passed the first level, now would I?
 

OceanRunner

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Mar 18, 2009
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Fallout 3 had an interesting system. You could adjust the difficulty through the pause menu to one of 5 settings (V.Easy/Easy/Normal/Hard/V.Hard) and on the harder settings enemies award more EXP, creating a sort of risk vs reward system.
 
May 25, 2010
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OceanRunner said:
Fallout 3 had an interesting system. You could adjust the difficulty through the pause menu to one of 5 settings (V.Easy/Easy/Normal/Hard/V.Hard) and on the harder settings enemies award more EXP, creating a sort of risk vs reward system.
Or you know, totally breaking the game... Very Hard enemies when you can easily heal, and switch it down in more perilous areas. It's practically begging to be exploited.
 

AeroBlade

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Jul 15, 2010
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I believe that one of the Lego Star Wars games actually gaged how many times you died and adjusted the difficulty level from that. You could also manually change it any time in-game, and also choose to turn the difficulty gauge thing off. Every game should have something like that.
 

HoverWhale

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Apr 10, 2009
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Actually, Mario Golf on the N64 did do something like that. You could use two of the C buttons to either compliment or insult the other player(s), and that would make them easier or harder to play against respectively. It would be good to see it used in a proper game though.
 

Harkonnen64

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Jul 14, 2010
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sketchesofpayne said:
I forget which game it was, but it had separate difficulty sliders for "action" and "puzzles." Something I wish more games had.

There was another one that had separate sliders for "items" and "enemies" so you could adjust how many health kits and ammo you got versus how tough the enemies were.
I think it was Silent Hill 2.
 

Dhatz

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Aug 18, 2009
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could run around asking what happened, but istead I answer: the way games are made and understood on other than player side are gone too far from where it all needs to be.
 

Wutaiflea

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Mar 17, 2009
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Personally, I love difficulty settings. I would never have been able to get through Saint's Row 2 without it's retard mode- I'm just not great at that kind of game.

That said, I don't think I've ever switched difficulty mode at a mid-point in any game where its been an option (except maybe Tekken when I was about 10) so personally, I don't see the point of it. Maybe this is just something that applies to Yahtzee's profession, as I can be an utter gaming wuss when it comes to some genres, and you'd think if anyone'd chicken out of Hard halfway through, it'd be me.

As for the concept of the game picking your mode based on your performance, in my opinion, that's an idea that can truly go and fuck itself.
Just because I have the capacity to 98% or better playing Hard on Rockband does not mean that I should be forced to sing Number of the Beast on Expert as our Saturday Night/Sunday Morning piss-up finale when I'm fucking 12 pints down.
 

OANST

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Aug 10, 2009
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Hey, Croshaw. We don't want to play your games any more than we want to read your books. All we want is for you to dance and make stupid faces for us. You know, like you made a career out of doing.
 

Slangeveld

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Jun 1, 2010
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If the current one is normal, I would very much like a Brutal for Assassins Creed 2 ... 0_o

Nice article.
 

jtiberiusk

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Sep 15, 2008
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Hey Yahtzee,

You've made more than one comment that you would like to see a non-serious FPS where the protagonist essentially picks up a gun and shoots. Well then I would recommend any of the Timesplitters game. In case you haven't played them already, the Timesplitters franchise consists of three games which essentially clone the gameplay mechanics of Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64 and allow you to play as one of over 100 entertaining esoteric characters with fully customizable weapons and maps. Best of all, you need no mates, for you can place bots in the game to fight alongside or against you.

It's definitely not a perfect game. Neither the gameplay or the story is very in-depth, but it is exactly what you are looking for, a non-serious 90's shooter.

So I suggest you check it out and humbly request that you review it.
 

godofallu

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Jun 8, 2010
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This is so true. I am currently replaying a game I had beaten numerous times in the past on "Normal".

I picked normal because I am playing it on a different and fairly new to me platform and didn't know if I was good enough with the controller to go straight to hard.

Now I feel like I need to go back in time 20 hours to swap to hard. So dumb.
 
Jun 23, 2008
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I'd like to hope Mr. Croshaw reads this far in the commentary; I hadn't had a chance to read this article until now. Here goes:

Personally, I sorely miss the selective difficulty that was commonplace in simulators prior to the whole FPS genre of games. *Red Baron* for example, had easy, normal and hard, but those were preset configurations of their "realism settings" page that would allow you to toggle things like flight engine complexity, frequency of gun jams, skill of opponents, mid-air collisions and so on.

In the FPS genre, this form of configurable difficulty would translate fairly easily, such as ramping up the AI of the monsters, the accuracy of snipers, toughness of heavies and bosses, the blue sense of guards (to discern your sneaking missteps from other background noise), length of time-limit countdowns and so on.

I also fantasize about the same thing applying to RTSes in which not only can the AI be customized (preferably with personality variances) but common cheating devices (bumper crops in unit manufacturing, resource bonuses, build speed adjustments, damage handicaps and peeks into the fog of war) could be individually turned on or off.

That said, many of these things could easily be adjusted on the fly, so there's no reason why not.

Around the time of Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, there seemed to be a convention for FPS difficulty that I liked. It worked as follows:

EASY didn't require tactical savvy. One could run and gun freely and (mostly) live. Mockery of the player by the game is optional.

NORMAL required tactical savvy. One needed to use cover, exploit terrain and so on.

HARD required taking advantage of in-game bonuses such as shortcuts and secret caches of weapons (usually to get newer weapons sooner, and to replenish health and armor) to get through.

VERY HARD required speed run tactics. There isn't enough ammo to take down all the bad guys, ergo one has to find ways to evade or circumvent some of them.

IMPOSSIBLE (INSANE, NIGHTMARE, etc.) was not adequately playtested, and was not guaranteed by the developing team to even be possible. This is for someone who wanted to break the game, or break their own sanity.

It'd be cool if we returned to using a convention like this when it came to defining our difficulty levels.
 

griffinmills

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Apr 7, 2008
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The real interesting part to me was that a long rant about difficulty with some not-so-blatant bragging about gaming skills with an emphasis on how most folks could probably "do it" if they "stuck with it" is then followed up with talk about FSG:The Hiatus wherein you basically say the same thing. That Yahtzee could do it if he wanted but don't feel like "sticking with it."

"It's just a hobby project." Sounds like my exact take on video gaming. It's just something I do for fun. I never really thought about difficulties in depth until that Ninja Gaiden remake hit and tried to use "it's really hard!" as a selling point. At that time I realized that I didn't have to automatically throw games in on "hard" difficulty and, in fact, went the opposite and started always beginning them on the easiest setting available. And I love it!

I cut my teeth on 2600 and "Nintendo hard" games so fuck just about any attempt these days at calling something "hard." It's really rare that there is any actual gameplay difference in a harder difficulty setting anyway. Notable exception(s)? Rock Band style games where you have more to do and more ways to do it. If anything, harder difficulty usually remove the options of doing longer and more intricate game play options. Most shooters you find yourself unable to use any of the weaker weapons because the enemies wont die or most "like God of War BUT" games you can't use any of the longer combos or wind up attacks because you will be interrupted, etc. A lot of games confuse "hard" with "boring" IMO and just jack around the hit point and damage modifiers making things take longer.

Great topic though, going to cut myself off here since I'm just ranting on a comment board!
 

Furt

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Aug 12, 2010
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I really disagree with Yahtzee on being able to change difficulty settings midway. I find that difficulty settings are more for a feeling of accomplishment, rather than to make the game harder. Like, try saying to yourself, "I just beat game X on insane difficulty!" Then try saying, "I just beat game X on insane difficulty! Except for the last room on the second chapter, and the mini boss on the 6th chapter, and the final boss!" In my opinion it just makes it feel much less rewarding that pretty much anyone could beat the game just by switching around with the difficulty switch a few times.
 

Spelonker

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Nov 15, 2009
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God Hand had a cool way of determining the difficulty. When you start a new game you get the "Easy - Medium - Hard" choice (and depending on which you pick, Gene will either call you a wimp or tell you you're a bad ass). But then, in game, you have this little level metre with a picture of a skull in it. It goes "Lvl 1 - Lvl 2 - Lvl 3 - Lvl DIE" and changes corresponding to how much ass you kick in game. And beating an enemy at higher levels equals more cash at the end of the chapter. It also dictates how much damage enemies do, what attacks they'll be able to use against you, how many will attack at once, and if they attack you from off screen or not. Taking a few smacks yourself will lower the level if it doesn't kill you first.

But if you're always feeling you can Grovel at their feet to put it back to Lvl, at which point everyone laughs at you and you hear the crowd boo. Fair enough seeing how you're a gigantic pussy.
 

Drexlor

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Feb 23, 2010
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I miss creative difficulty names. I also like being able to change the difficulty on the fly.
 

tahrey

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Sep 18, 2009
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If it hasn't been suggested in the last few pages, and Yahtzee would be up for collaborating with a load of internet wierdos (and maybe having to change the title of Actually Scary Game), it would be right interesting to see what treatment he'd make of SCP Foundation: The Game.

It's probably quite weaksauce horror compared to what kind of primal fear stuff he's thinking of, but it gave this self confessed horror-pussy serious mindfuckage being alone in a quiet, dark house after several evenings of noodling through their articles. There are be several very rich veins of creep-out waiting to be mined within said archive, even if sturgeon's law is ruthlessly applied. The one concerning a device that lets you pass through a mirror into some parallel, post-space-apocalypse/holy war/kafka-meets-giger cataclysm earth (with the destination changing based on the holder's karma) would alone make for a considerable and complex subgame.

Also mining the annals of gurochan's /f/ board could bring serious results. I know that on the "artistic thread" there at the moment there's some seriously fucked up shit, including a picture whose thumbnail alone chills me slightly, because I've seen the full size one before and ... well, the artist must have some kind of direct line to the brain's terror centres because they created a still image, from oil paints and animal hair brush, that damn near made me crap myself. The Alt and F4 keys of the keyboard I was using probably still bear the scars of me panic-quitting the browser with unreasonable force when my mouse hand froze. Closest thing yet experienced to the "basilisk" image... all that from an arrangement of pixels... crikey. It's embarrassing is what it is. Imagine the power to spread said terror and subsequent embarrassment on a global scale.

Also, even though the quality of FSG would probably be excellent, the world can probably wait longer for a highly polished Asteroids clone than for something offering true ball-shrinking scares, taking silent hill and eversion into an ex-nazi science camp experimentation room and blending their freak-DNA in some kind of occult ritual and adding plenty of other ingredients for spice.
 

NG14916

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Oct 29, 2010
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The World Ends With You allowed you to change the difficulty at any time between easy, normal, hard and ultimate. It also allowed you to adjust your level downward. Playing at lower levels and higher difficulties just got you better items.
 

TheUnbeholden

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Dec 13, 2007
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Apparently Amnesia The Dark Descent has user friendly map creator and all the other stuff necessary to make a mod for it, its attracting alot of attention from modders.