Difficulty: Not Every Game is for Everybody

Difficulty: Not Every Game is for Everybody



  1. Dushanan says:

    I bought the game, so I should be able to play it since I actually PAID for it, stop being entitled you children >:(

    • Aeiou says:

      I agree, nerds who want things like a challenge and a learning curve are ruining gaming.

      Frankly i can’t handle it when the game doesn’t have a press x to win prompt in my face at every possible interaction.

      I also feel dark souls would benefit from some sort of killstreak type mechanic, go through 10 enemies without dying and you get to drop a nuke on the boss.

  2. AdamTM says:

    I like how theres only two extremes without nuance:

    -either you are an entitled elitist
    or
    -a kasual (with a k) that loves CoD

    Way to frame the discussion everyone.

  3. Dirk says:

    I had a falling out with an entire community about difficulty in video games, oddly enough.

    The argument was over Dwarf Fortress, which has difficulty as a large part of its appeal to newcomers and experienced players alike, which doesn’t even have a win state apart from boredom or death. The argument was over whether it should have an easy mode, a much, much easier learning curve, and basically be more accessible.

    I argued that the difficulty is a key part in enjoying the game, that the infamous difficulty curve and the satisfaction from overcoming it is a large part of the early-game enjoyment, and that the ASCII graphics are vital to the enjoyment that comes from imagining what exactly is going on in the game. I pointed to the countless famous DF forts on the internet like Boatmurdered or Headshoots or Syrupleaf of Matul Remrit, that all relied on artists using their imagination to turn scraps of ASCII-style graphical information into pieces of art, that relied on the game’s difficulty to drive the stories, and that relied on the freedom given by the simplistic graphics to introduce complex mechanics easily. Then I pointed to the lack of famous LPs of Towns or Gnomoria or any simplistic DF-likes.

    They rebutted with the statement that they were busy people with limited hours of free time in a given day, and if they wanted to play and learn and master DF within their schedules, they absolutely should. I told them that maybe DF wasn’t the game for them, and that they should play other games that fit into their schedules instead.

    Big mistake, because they were friends with two or three forum mods who came together and banned me for “flaming”. Oh well.

    Every video game is not and should not be accessible or appealing to everyone.

    • Tce says:

      I find DF to be a big mess. I played it with a graphics pack and it was pretty fun, but the UI is so user unfriendly that once I lost I just didn’t feel like restarting it again. Recently I heard about Gnomoria, which has amazingly easy to use interface and makes it clear without any tutorials how to play and how everything is done. It looks nice and is slowly growing to be as complicated as DF.

      Now I don’t know whether you’ll be against an easy UI or not, but remember that it doesn’t reduce the difficulty of the game, it just makes the game easier to control although still being just as complicated. ASCII graphics are just a personal preference, I’d rather see what’s going on rather than have to spend days with those terrible controls that DF provides to check out what each letter and symbol mean. Some people might prefer to use their imagination for that stuff, I don’t. Even though I enjoyed DF, it’s probably not for me, so I’ll be waiting until Gnomoria becomes as good as DF.

      • Dirk says:

        That’s alright if DF is not for you, or you’re betting on Gnomoria or Towns to become complicated as time goes on, or you’re simply hoping that it’ll provide a little healthy competition. Different strokes for different folks and all those bullshit aphorisms.
        I know that I hope that Gnomoria or Towns does push Toady to reform the UI a bit, but
        I do understand that it is his baby of a project, that he’s doing it out of genuine love for what he does, and that I sure as hell can’t understand how the fuck minecarts work.

        However, problems arise when one absolutely demands that a game be changed to accommodate your tastes, hating the game because it’s simply -not for you-. If you can’t fit it into your schedule or you don’t understand it or you don’t like the ASCII. Sometimes games do have a meaningful difficulty curve, and do take actual effort and time to learn and master. Games that have a high skill floor and a high learning curve, but an astronomical skill ceiling.

        And that’s okay! A lot of people, including me, find the main appeal of video games to be the learning and mastery of skills, of critical thinking, of quick reactions, of spending dozens of hours figuring out how the game works, and of doing all that in settings you enjoy in the comfort of your home.

        My biggest fear about the gaming industry right now is that eventually the imperative to have the skill floors be as low as possible to attract as much of an audience (and as much money) as they can, to the detriment of the game mechanics and to the skill ceiling.

        And a little part of me, the bit that’s all paranoid, wonders that since high skill ceilings mean taking a lot of time to master the game (and a lot of necessary interesting replayability), developers and publishers spend less time and effort on single player games, or purposely limiting the skill ceiling in order to ship out another cookie cutter more-of-the-same game the next year in order to feed off people’s interest in the game.

  4. Rastafarian Navy says:

    This is probably the worst GYP post to date. Good job.

    I think you need to reexamine what a “game” is. And for goodness-sake, you narrate like your house is on fire and you need to finish your video before you burn to death.

    • Stealthwang says:

      What is a game? a miserable little pile of secrets.

      What definition of a game supposes that multiple difficulty settings do not alter the experience of the work? I can’t possibly see how you can define an interactive experience where multiple difficulties are inconsequential to the behaviour and experience of the player.

      Difficult games would not “feel” the same at all if they had an easy mode. Maybe you need to reexamine what a “game” is. It isn’t a storytelling device.

      • Rastafarian Navy says:

        I think I misunderstood the video, actually, if I’m reading your reply correctly. Because I agree with you. Pardon my stupidity.

  5. Tce says:

    I believe games shouldn’t have stories, that’s the whole reason there are people who ask for shit like this and there are games that cater to everyone who doesn’t know how to think for themselves. A game like Portal had so much potential to be a challenging game, but it never took off just because the devs were too scared that not everyone would be able to see the whole story of the game. If there was no story, they wouldn’t need to hold back, because there’s no reason for a dumb player to keep playing, a real gamer plays for the gameplay, not for the story and if the gameplay isn’t good enough to stand without a story, then those games shouldn’t exist or should be named “Interactive movies” or something, because otherwise people confuse games with story mediums.

    • serpen1 says:

      “I disagree with having this, therefore all REAL (Insert hobby/sport/political party) won’t like this either.” No.
      Trying to put limits on such a wide open media is bad. There’s enough devs out there to make something for everyone.

  6. evilagram says:

    The video was a pretty shallow summary, dude.

    Rather the point should probably be something along the lines of challenge, even high or low challenge being a part of the game playing process. Playing games is an activity that consists of pushing your limits and learning more about the game. It forces players to find the correct solution to problems or one of many correct solutions and finding solutions is literally how games are played. the higher the difficulty, the stricter and more rigorous the solution must be. This is why competitive games go under such massive community scrutiny because the difficulty is defined by their competitors who will always be trying their best. Challenge can’t be compromised in games like this for a lot of the same reason you can’t have worthwhile simple english Wikipedia pages on quantum mechanics. If you have a complex game but have one weapon that does more damage than any other with no significant drawbacks, you’ve seriously compromised the game’s potential for exploration and interpretation of its mechanics. if you make too easy of a cover shooter, no one is gonna bother cover shooting. I had this problem with the original thief, guards moved slow and you could hop to accelerate and escape them easily, so I’d hop around every level ignoring the stealth element of a stealth game. Dishonored was so easily broken that absolutely every power and gun used by itself broke the game.

    In order for games to be interesting, they need interesting choices, choices that have trade offs and are not so straightforward that the player chooses the same one every time Without difficulty, games collapse from a massive set of branching game states into a very simple set of obvious choices. Games need to force players to deliberate for choices to matter at all and without choice, without meaningful interactivity, games are nothing.

  7. evilagram says:

    Also, don’t just trot out dark souls when you need an example of a difficult game. There are a lot of other hard games, like devil may cry, god hand, vanquish, Mario bros lost levels, castlevania 3, quake, ikaruga, and f-zero GX. Difficulty is a diverse topic and people are tired of hearing about dark souls, which is challenging, but not really as mindbendingly hard as anyone makes it out to be, unless you create crazy challenge runs for yourself

  8. Stealthwang says:

    Good video. Sums up my feelings nicely.

  9. Johanz says:

    I was hoping for a bit more in-depth video. I think pretty much everyone who loves Dark Souls gets it why it is difficult and what that makes them feel about the game, even if they can’t put it into words. I would have loved to see some sort of analysis and research behind the difficulty in more, for a lack of a better term, “casual” games. Like in Halo, if you die several times in the same section, the enemy size count gets reduced and some other action games you health gets buffed behind the scenes or enemies just miss a tad more when you are in that near-death state. I think Uncharted does this to a degree but it is hard to analyze when it is very subtle and worked into the game design without feeling intrusive or that it is there.

    But it angers me so much, why do games have to condensend me when I’m not good enough? If I choose hard it’s because I want a hard game. If I choose normal I want normal difficulty and if I can’t possibly handle it I’ll bump it down to easy if it exists. This need to praise the player, help the player and just rub out all notions of overcoming challanges or pulling your weight just gets lost more and more. Especially noticable is it in this generations answer to arcade games, the F2P games. Arcade games were hard to they could take more money out of you but modern F2P, especially facebook ones and such, are designed so you don’t loose or feel like you can loose since that would make the player feel bad and stop playing, and you can’t nickle and dime a player that is lost.

    And it just feels like this will spiral down until challenge is diluted into an urecognizable mess of smoke and mirrors, just an illusion to give you the sense of challenge when in fact there is none, or never was any in the first place. (Even some modern games do this)

    And that will be the death of games for me. I enjoy games for the challenge part of it, thus I like it when games really and it to me and tell me to suck it up, learn the game or do something else. I want to overcome the game not have it adjust after my skill. Automatic difficulty is the future some say, it is the death of all challenge based games I’d say.

  10. Broketruck says:

    The way I like to look at is, if you can read doesn’t mean you or I am going to really understand what the book really means or what it was supposed to mean. Like I’m not one to really enjoy Charles Dickens novels or understand what they are about the same way most people won’t want to “trudge” through a very difficult game(like Dark Souls) to get to even more difficulty and things they won’t understand.

    It’s also similar to how the lord of the rings movies are as if you read the original books, The Hobbit and know a bit of the lore behind it some scenes in those movies take on new and deeper meanings. Like during the first movie why Galadriel gives Gimli three strands of her hair and why this changes how Legolas sees him. That detail and reference isn’t for everyone as most people won’t “trudge” through all of Tolkien’s books but it was never ment to be for the masses in the first place.

  11. Dickbox720 says:

    This truly is a tricky subject, and I can argue both ways

    on one hand, adding additional difficulty levels gives the game a much larger audience. This will, in turn, alienate the original target audience (Elder Scrolls anyone) as developers usually now include content that caters to these ‘casual gamers’ so to speak.

    On the other hand, games like Deus Ex and Fallout 1+2 have difficulty levels that are easily altered, and still manage to provide a cohesive and fufeiling expe

  12. Dickbox720 says:

    This truly is a tricky subject, and I can argue both ways

    on one hand, adding additional difficulty levels gives the game a much larger audience. This will, in turn, alienate the original target audience (Elder Scrolls anyone) as developers usually now include content that caters to these ‘casual gamers’ so to speak.

    On the other hand, games like Deus Ex and Fallout 1+2 have difficulty levels that are easily altered, and still manage to provide a cohesive and fulfilling experience to anyone who plays.

    I think it all comes down to the developer/publisher

    if they want to add additional difficulty options yet remain true to their loyal fanbase, well then fantastic

    if their addition of difficulty is merely a cover of ‘wanting the Call of Duty audience, then adding difficulty levels will ring in the destruction of the franchise.

  13. Gnalvl says:

    The biggest problem with multiple difficulty levels is the tendency to half-ass them. Simply designing the game for a lukewarm difficulty level and then adding HP to the enemies on higher levels does not constitute legimate difficulty. If the enemy is too dumb to dodge my attacks, outmanuever me, or assault effectively, then the game won’t be truely challenging or engaging even if it takes 1000 bullets to kill something.

    Seriously, in this day and age, how can crap like this be released as the “hard” difficulty of a high profile game?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcWGdop9BH4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56NpDmH6zn0

    Adding more HP to these guys won’t change the fact that all they do is stand there and die.

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