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Game Difficulty As a Virtue

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-hail-battletoads dept.

Games 204

The Wii and various mobile gaming platforms have done wonders for the trend toward casual or "easy" games. But the success of a few recent titles, despite their difficulty, has caused some to wonder whether the pendulum has swung too far; whether a little frustration can be seen as a good thing. Quoting: "The evidence is subtle but compelling. For one example, look to major consumer website GameSpot's Game of the Year for 2009: Atlus' PS3 RPG Demon's Souls, which received widespread critical acclaim – none of which failed to include a mention of the game's steep challenge. GameSpot called it 'ruthlessly, unforgivingly difficult.' Demon's Souls was a sleeper hit, an anomaly in the era of accessibility. One would think the deck was stacked against a game that demanded such vicious persistence, such precise attention – and yet a surge of praise from critics and developers alike praised the game for reintroducing the experience of meaningful challenge, of a game that demanded something from its players rather than looked for ways to hand them things. It wasn't just Demon's Souls that recently flipped the proverbial bird to the 'gaming for everyone' trend. In many ways, the independent development scene can be viewed on the macro level as a harbinger of trends to come, and over the past year and into 2010, many indies have decided to be brutal to their players."

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Virtual virtues (0, Offtopic)

You'reJustSlashFlock (1708024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019594)

Don't get enough money to hire two hookers at the same time.

I returned Return to Zork in one day (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019612)

Emeril Lagasse suffers from the same problem as the article writer. They both think that one ingredient is the key to a winning formula. BAM! Just add some EVOO or in this case turn the difficulty all the way up.

The secret, which isn't a secret at all, is that balanced gameplay is the true Sangreal of gaming. Pitting a newbie against a grizzled Korean veteran in Starcraft isn't going to give anyone a challenge or make them feel like they want to come back to the game again. It's only when the players are evenly matched or only slightly mismatched that gameplay becomes exciting. It is the thrill of being able to beat a game but with enough challenge that victory isn't guaranteed.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

rmushkatblat (1690080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019640)

I assume you are only speaking in terms of non-casual gaming, correct? There are plenty of entertaining casual games which aren't particularly difficult, and there are some which are insanely hard.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (-1, Offtopic)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019736)

Emeril Lagasse suffers from the same problem as the article writer. They both think that one ingredient is the key to a winning formula. BAM! Just add some EVOO or in this case turn the difficulty all the way up.

Congratulation! You've lived up to your nick Yet Again! As any Food Network junkie could have told you, Emeril isn't particularly attached to EVOO -- in fact, he never uses the term -- preferring to spice anything and everything he makes with a seasoning blend he calls "essence," even if it doesn't seem appropriate. Rachael Ray is, among other things, the Queen of EVOO and the inventor of the term. (For those of you who don't watch Thirty Minute Meals, the term stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.)

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019910)

Congratulation! You've lived up to your nick Yet Again!

Isn't that kinda his point?

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019850)

I still remember my first hard pc game. It was so hard I couldn't even run it. I was so frustrated I made special mount for small electric engine (3v), connected it to 12v, and scratched off all the silver stuff from top of the CD. This was the most fulfilling game experience I've ever had in my life, I can't even remember the game's name.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019896)

It's not the ONLY road to success. But it's part of the secret blend of herbs and spices.

It's not about cranking the difficulty up until it becomes impossible. Impossible enough even a bot can't succeed anymore [youtube.com] . That's not enjoyable.

It's about finding that sweet spot where it is doable but a challenge. This is, of course, something different for everyone. Hell, there's a good reason why difficulty levels are so popular in games. Let's stay with Guitar Hero since it's been the example in the video. Would it be fun to play that game if all you have to do is hit a note throughout the entire song? Probably not even for a beginner. Take games like Burnout. Would it be enjoyable if the winning time is set to a level where you could basically stop to take a piss during the game? Would any game be enjoyable if it had an "I win" button? Maybe for a moment, but certainly not for long.

It's boring to win constantly without even having to try. Why bother playing?

Likewise, it's frustrating if a game is so friggin' hard that it simply is not fun anymore either. Constant failure is like constant success: Unsatisfying.

People like a challenge in their game, at least if the game itself is the gratification. Of course people like easy money, but only because the money is just the means to the end. And some people enjoy cheating in multiplayer games, but the gratification seems to be seeing the other person get frustrated (at least that's my assumption, maybe a cheater could shed some light on this one). But when you play against the computer, why bother playing when you have already won?

The challenge is the key. It has to be a challenge, but it has to be doable.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020104)

It has to be a challenge, but it has to be doable.

In that sense, a good game is like a good woman. Oh, but this is a gaming thread on slashdot so no one here knows what I am talking about.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020928)

Would any game be enjoyable if it had an "I win" button?

Blackjack at the casino?

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021112)

It's not the ONLY road to success. But it's part of the secret blend of herbs and spices.

It's not about cranking the difficulty up until it becomes impossible. Impossible enough even a bot can't succeed anymore [youtube.com] . That's not enjoyable.

What do you mean: "even a bot can't succeed anymore"? There are plenty of games where even the smartest AI can't compete with a human: strategy games. And those are games that have always been about challenge. Has Civ ever been fun at the easiest level, waltzing over stone-age AI civilizations? The fun has always been to crush them at Emperor level. The harder it is, the more satisfying the victory.

Of course victory still needs to be possible. Playing a game that can't be won soon loses its appeal.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

Fire_Storm82 (948735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019898)

The secret, which isn't a secret at all, is that balanced gameplay is the true Sangreal of gaming. Pitting a newbie against a grizzled Korean veteran in Starcraft isn't going to give anyone a challenge or make them feel like they want to come back to the game again. It's only when the players are evenly matched or only slightly mismatched that gameplay becomes exciting.

Thats exactly whats wrong with a lot games today. games that a made so that even if you are grizzly korean with a lot of skill and experience, you're still on the same level casual player that doesnt care. by heavily crippling the players or making thier actual actions or less relevant, but they are both crippled equally, so its fun?

Harder games make you improve, understand the game better, actually overcome obstacles. Remember that boss or level you thought you'd never ever beat, but finally got it, and now it seems easy?

Difficult to master video games make you learn a skill. Making it more difficult makes you have to improve more to master it, thats where the real fun comes in. Getting so close, almost being able to beat that guy not knowing how the next battles gonna go makes is what makes it thrilling.

Easy games just don't challenge you, don't really engage you. Theres no reward or payoff if you don't overcome anything.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020306)

Can you point at example games?

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

bronney (638318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019944)

I cut the bonding plant instead of rooting it and wondered why I couldn't go into the comedy club and had to play the whole thing again hehehe. Quite challenging.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (3, Interesting)

bertok (226922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020014)

Emeril Lagasse suffers from the same problem as the article writer. They both think that one ingredient is the key to a winning formula. BAM! Just add some EVOO or in this case turn the difficulty all the way up.

The secret, which isn't a secret at all, is that balanced gameplay is the true Sangreal of gaming. Pitting a newbie against a grizzled Korean veteran in Starcraft isn't going to give anyone a challenge or make them feel like they want to come back to the game again. It's only when the players are evenly matched or only slightly mismatched that gameplay becomes exciting. It is the thrill of being able to beat a game but with enough challenge that victory isn't guaranteed.

I totally agree. One of the brilliant things about Supreme Commander is that it matches you against players of equal skill. When I played RTS games before, games were always one of two types: I rolled over the enemy effortlessly, which is boring, or I got crushed like a bug, which is just as boring, and frustrating too. In SC, once it learns your rank, every game is a constant uphill struggle against an opponent you can almost but not quite defeat. It's brutal, but that's what makes it a fun challenge!

Meanwhile, games like Valve's TF2, L4D, and L4D2, which are highly dependent on not just your own player skill, but the skill of your teammates has zero in the way of skill level based match ups. There's nothing worse than a game with some 13 year old idiot in it. There's always that one prepubescent who got the game 10 minutes ago, but thinks he can do whatever the fuck he wants, including run the wrong way, ignore his team, etc...

I like to think of this analogy: imagine how stupid it would be if the world championship game of, say, football, had one team member replaced by a fucktard who just does "whatever he feels like", because, you know, "it's just a game", and there would be absolutely nothing the other players could do about it. Does that sound like a good game to you?

Unfortunately, this is the state of almost all team PC and Console gaming right now. Players with literally 10 years of experience play side-by-side with mouthbreathers who struggle to tie their own shoelaces in the morning, and have difficulty in grasping advanced concepts like "pressing a button fires the weapon". It's common to see 50:1 point ratios on TF2 servers between players, which is just insane, if you stop and think about it.

Many people would argue that this is what clans are for, but clan games are usually very small, are played only on a subset of the maps, and are few and far between. There's just no opportunity to play, say, a 32-player game for 4 or 5 hours straight with clan-level players only.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020044)

Bingo! Your first paragraph is exactly correct. Whether a game is difficult or easy is independent of whether it's good or not. There are plenty of great games that are easy (e.g. Super Mario Galaxy or Katamari Damacy) and great games that are hard (e.g. Ikaruga or the Megaman franchise), as well as bad games that are easy and bad games that are hard (I'm sure we all have our own examples of those latter two). There are also those that try to walk the fine line in between (e.g. Braid), which are designed to be just right, but may just be a bit too easy or too hard for some people.

Regardless, I do welcome difficult games. Looking through my favorite games list (yes, I maintain one...don't you?), quite a few of them are "easy" titles. Quite a few are also difficult or complicated titles as well. As much as I love my Wii and the types of games it attracts, I also like the variety offered by a more challenging game at times. Neither one is inherently better than the other, and I enjoy playing both. That the developers may be paying more attention to the one end of the spectrum that they had been moving away from is pleasing news.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020208)

I did not think that certain levels in Super Mario Galaxy were particularly easy, to be honest.

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020460)

Emeril Lagasse suffers from the same problem as the article writer. They both think that one ingredient is the key to a winning formula. BAM! Just add some EVOO or in this case turn the difficulty all the way up.

The secret, which isn't a secret at all, is that balanced gameplay is the true Sangreal of gaming. Pitting a newbie against a grizzled Korean veteran in Starcraft isn't going to give anyone a challenge or make them feel like they want to come back to the game again. It's only when the players are evenly matched or only slightly mismatched that gameplay becomes exciting. It is the thrill of being able to beat a game but with enough challenge that victory isn't guaranteed.

gameplay is everything. The UFO/XCOM Enemy unknown is a good example of how you can have a really great & addictive game with a high difficulty level (even in Novice the game was tough for the average player)

Re:I returned Return to Zork in one day (1)

goozer321 (1737540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021062)

Most games arre bought by 16s, and most 16s cheat. Developers respond to this by making games that still play well under cheats. Hence games become increasingly difficult.

needs to be entertainment. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019616)

doesnt matter if a game is easy or hard. it needs to be accessible with a good UI and entertaining with a good story.
everything else is irrelevant. trainers are easily available as are cheat codes for those who want them.

Re:needs to be entertainment. (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019748)

Cheat codes are becoming rarer these days. Especially when on consoles at least devs can sell you an unlock for $5. (Burnout Paradise for example.)

Re:needs to be entertainment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019792)

um.. for some of us, fun = challenge..I know, I know, but as you can tell, I grew up in the 80s. we 80s children like our games to be hard.

Middle ground (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019650)

It's like just about everything else in life...there is a nice middle ground between difficulty and accessibility. there is no point in playing a game that doesn't challenge at all, whether that challenge is a single player game, or a social experience; likewise there is no point in playing a game that is so difficult (I'm thinking of the lost levels on Super Mario All Stars) that it loses all entertainment value and becomes an exercise in frustration.

a little bit of frustration isn't a bad thing, so long as it is used as a gameplay mechanic, rather than the point of the game.

Re:Middle ground (2, Insightful)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020504)

Sure, a middle ground with the option to go go left for harder or right for easier. I don't usually get much fun out of games without difficulty settings. As a kid there were games I was never going to complete. Now I'm in my forties there are probably fewer games like that but it still irks if I spend forty quid on a game and can't get out of the first few levels. Honestly I don't want to be challenged so much as I want to be entertained. And it helps if I feel like a mighty god. My job challenges me already and improving my hi-score at work has more material benefit. Games, for me, are to unwind. YMMV.

I too enjoy a challenge in a game. (1, Troll)

Pallazzio (974406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019660)

I haven't played Demon's Souls (hell I haven't even heard of it), but I've been noticing lately that every time I get a new game that I'm excited about playing, it's over in about two days.

Re:I too enjoy a challenge in a game. (4, Funny)

Dr. Hellno (1159307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020490)

In Demon's Souls, if you react a split second too late to the enemy hiding behind that dark corner, you die. In Demon's Souls, when you die, you not only lose a lot of ground, but the game actually makes itself harder. In Demon's Souls, you cannot revert to an earlier save, or even pause.
It's a lot of fun though! Really!

I don't find 'difficulty' useful in itself (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019664)

There are certainly hard games I've enjoyed, but difficulty isn't really a single-axis thing, so I don't find it that useful to talk about in the abstract, and I certainly don't see any benefit to games that are "hard" just for the sake of it. A game might be hard because it has complex puzzles, or because it requires highly honed twitch skills, or because it requires non-obvious inferences, or because it requires acute observation, or any number of other things. Sometimes those are useful, sometimes not.

Plus, it's not even really something to set in opposition to casual games. It's really hard to get the kinds of low times on Minesweeper that aficionados get, and there are pretty hardcore communities based around such things.

I do agree that not every game has to be for a mass market. But surely, if you're given the luxury of designing a game that doesn't have to appeal to everyone, there are more interesting niches?

Re:I don't find 'difficulty' useful in itself (2, Insightful)

Noodlenoggin (1295699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019856)

A game might be hard because it has complex puzzles, or because it requires highly honed twitch skills, or because it requires non-obvious inferences, or because it requires acute observation, or any number of other things. Sometimes those are useful, sometimes not.

I totally agree with this. I've played PC FPS's for years and I don't consider them hard by any means, but the same game on a console with a gamepad makes them impossible. I wouldn't consider them 'fun' on the console just because the difficulty for me personally is way up there.

On Guitar Hero III and casual vs. hardcore gaming (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020178)

A game might be hard because [list of reasons] [...] Plus, it's not even really something to set in opposition to casual games.

I think Guitar Hero III is an excellent example of this.

If you play at the easier levels, you can have some casual fun with friends (if you have two controllers or can put up with using a wiimote.)

On the higher difficulty levels, you can get some real finger-twitching challenges, topping out at Through the Fire and Flames. I've tried hard, I've only completed it once on Expert. Raining Blood is pretty tough too.

Plus, if you play in battle mode, you get to exercise your brain---the lefty switch and the amp overload (makes all the dots blink) requires you to pay attention, remember lots of data, and think fast.

As a poster above you said: games being difficult is really about being an appropriate challenge. For games of opposition, that means playing against a roughly even opponent. For single-player GH3, you can choose between a wide range of songs, each at four different difficulty levels. I guesstimate that most people can find a suitable difficulty level, where they make progress but not blazingly fast.

Now, the game is buggy, the menu layout is crap, the QA team has done a shoddy job, it ought to have better lag handling and ...; the game design is 9/10, implementation 4/10.

But Guitar Hero really hits both the casual gamers and the twitch lovers, and it hits twitch lovers at various skill levels. Heck, you can even play casually with your friends and you still play at expert.

Having fun (5, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019678)

The point of a game is to have fun. Period.

Some players find difficulty fun, and some players find that frustrating instead. Telling people that they must play on higher difficulties to have fun is like proclaiming that football is more fun than baseball or tennis.

The problem really are those few players who seem to find fun in telling others that they're doing it wrong. People should worry about themselves, not what others are doing.

People want accomplishment (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019682)

People like to win, of course. But if that win is easy to achive, the achivement feels hollow. Anyone could have done it. People also enjoy the feeling of being "special". And I don't mean in the PC sense. They want to have the feeling they did something not everyone could do.

Get the amulet of yendor! (3, Funny)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019816)

Yes, the nerdy grail of gaming, escaping the dungeon with the amulet of Yendor. Without the help of a search engine.
That is no hollow achievement, a total waste of perfectly good time, granted. But boom, dead from food poisoning after getting the amulet. Fifteen years later and I'm still bitter.

Storm

Re:People want accomplishment (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019996)

People like to win, of course. But if that win is easy to achive, the achivement feels hollow. Anyone could have done it.

Seems to me that developers can often hide how easy a win is, making an easy win feel like an accomplishment. Peggle, like many puzzle style games, doesn't require much skill. A lot of it comes down to knowing the ins and the outs of the game, and chance. After you learn how to play it, you'll make a play that happens to come out well by chance. It's easy to feel like you played that well and have an enjoyable sense of achievement, when really you got lucky... although I guess another way of looking at it is not that your skill is making the ball go exactly where you want it, the skill is playing the odds.

Well, after all... (2, Informative)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020094)

"To vanquish without peril is to triumph without glory."
— Pierre Corneille, Le Cid

Re:People want accomplishment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020282)

Something given has no value.

Maybe the definition of "game" is too narrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019684)

Much as comics do not tell a story in the same way a movie or book does, gaming is also storytelling in a relatively new medium.

Nothing dictates that there is one true way to tell a story. Some games are a walk in a beautiful park while picking up and eating sweets on the way, while others are a gymnastic hurdle to perfect or a triathlon to endure. It is all up to the story, the preference of the gamer - much like books span the breadth and width of infinite capabilities.

Thus I find it disingenuous to try to bundle "games" as a coherent subject and comment on their evolution. You may as well lament the book market.

King's Bounty (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019686)

Similar to HOMM, but more of an RPG/adventure. It has difficulty levels ranging from easy to impossible - but many unfamiliar with the genre will find "Normal" to be challenging.

I went with easy and challenged myself to lose as few units as possible. A very enjoyable game.

Right now I'm playing through Torchlight on the hardest difficulty. Good thing there's no death penalty if you respawn in town. ;) I kill enemies in about 4 hits, but they do the same.

Re:King's Bounty (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020018)

Same do I. I've enjoyed HOMM 5 on the hardest level until the moment I couldn't make it anymore (end of Queens campaign, yeah, I suck). Lowered the difficulty to hard and I keep going at the moment (with some minor setbacks, but hey, who needs towns anyway? ;) ). I've also played Half-Life 2 on Hard and found it fun. It's the first thing I do if I get a new game, I raise the difficulty (though, 'The Fall' really sends me to the brink of despair).

Fake Difficulty (4, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019694)

Difficulty is different than fake difficulty. I actually hated the xbox360 because all the games were fucking easy. Or they had fake difficulty. And fake difficulty fucking sucks.

What I mean is when they use things like... Computers get psychic powers. Or they can 'cheat'. Like bots in a shooter that know where you are at all times. Or bots that have guns that deal double damage. It is a bit hard to define... but generally speaking, any time the game becomes more about w/e coded in cheats the computer gets than about the goals set out in the game then fake difficulty has been taken too far.

AI can game break in the opposite direction as well. For example... max handicap disadvantage in smash bros melee vs a computer. You are no longer having a match. You are playing a game of fucking with the ai so it falls in a pit (yoshi sucks at this). In many cases, especially games that shoot for some degree of realism this sucks balls. In shooter, base infiltration games higher difficulty should not be merely adjusting their hp level. It should be tightening up their AI, their aim, their placements, hell number of troops and their weaponry. Otherwise the game plays like crap. (Nearly all games do it the crap way)

Re:Fake Difficulty (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019734)

Even this isn't always true though. Serious Sam FE/SE adjusted difficulty by playing with damage, hitpoints, pickups, and I think even the number of enemies that spawn but at the same time the difficulty is still "real" on most levels below the insanity ones.

Re:Fake Difficulty (3, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020036)

Warcraft3 AI only was charged like 1 gold per unit or something so you couldn't starve the AI.

Starcraft always knew all your units and built counter units.

Starcraft2 they say is supposed to have really keen ai that even needs to learn through fog of war, but we'll see.

Re:Fake Difficulty (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020462)

And I'd suggest that makes wc3 a shittier game. Starcraft while being psychic didn't overly abuse it... Also, Starcraft AI was pretty brutally good compared to most games. I mean hell... look at mobs in WoW, they don't even have AI per say more of a roll the dice for which spell otherwise attack. The feeling of competition is comparatively strong in SC/SC2. You feel like you are playing against the computer as an opponent. In Warcraft3 it feels a bit more like you are playing against your arbitrary limitations. But it isn't a HORRIBLE example.

Some of the shooter games on xbox at insane difficulty or w/e. It reduces the game to luck in some levels. This combined with near instant respawns and uber health regen makes the game fairly pointless. You run to cover and you either die or don't. If you die w/e you'll be up in two seconds, just keep holding down the forwards button maybe you'll make it next time.

Or it is a memorization game: if i wait 3 seconds before running here they'll have their backs turned. That isn't skill or even luck at that point. You've just died and re spawned a bunch so you know when to go like some kind of psychic. Trial and error != fun.

Re:Fake Difficulty (1)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021024)

Or it is a memorization game: if i wait 3 seconds before running here they'll have their backs turned. That isn't skill or even luck at that point. You've just died and re spawned a bunch so you know when to go like some kind of psychic. Trial and error != fun.

That's where I think you're wrong. You should be able to observe your opponents and predict what they will do based on that observation. If you die a bunch, then you are obviously having trouble with a part of the game, and need all the help you can get to beat it.

Systems need some tactical depth (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020332)

That's why I love Nethack. The permadeath gives you plenty of difficulty, but the challenge doesn't feel "false" because there's so much tactical depth. Yeah, sure, there are plenty of monsters that are pretty brutal ("go team ant!"), but if that stupid orc has a wand of death, you *get* that wand of death if you manage to kill him without him killing you first and he doesn't have infinite uses of it. And there are usually a dozen ways you could have survived that last death. Contrast this with, say, Angband (or many MUDs, for that matter), where the trend in many variants has been that "we want a harder monster, so let's give it 50% more HP and make it resist *everything*!" But the only way you could have avoided dying was having more heal potions handy or retreating.

I used to be an immortal on a MUD, actually. Nobody knew how to write a mobprog except for random drops, or so it seemed at times, so almost everyone who made hard mobs just set them to aggro and cranked up their HP and armor so that you had to heal via potions for 3 hours while they dropped 1% at a time. I made the first actual mob that used intelligent spell selection to target player racial weaknesses and which used debuffs in a reasonably tactical manner, forced the player to solo it, kept the HP, armor and damage reasonable, gave it a limited number of low HP cohorts that allowed for a flanking bonus, and limited the player's ability to gulp potions so you couldn't just set an autoquaff trigger and watch TV while waiting for it to die.

People had a lot more fun inventing clever tactics to use against it and watching their use of mana for healing vs. damage over a relatively short (~5 minute) fight, vs. other critters where the main challenge was making sure you had enough potions in your bag before attacking and chatting or something while you waited for it to die.

Re:Systems need some tactical depth (2, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020518)

Yeah, nethack is a game of knowledge. While one of my peeves with games is when you die until you figure out w/e they needed you to do as difficulty... Nethack is sort of designed with that in mind from the beginning as it is a knowledge based game rather than one of skill. Like... something a stats major would do well in.

As a side note wow also hasn't figured it out. Mobs from level 1~80 (excluding bosses) have these strats for each time it can attack:
- If humanoid and hp under 20% flee randomly for 7 seconds
- If - Target highest aggro player (each attack or heal builds agro)
- If in range hit it else run to it
- When picking attack roll die, 1~3 regular hit, 5~6 use a special if available

That is literally it. Bosses are generally scripted to do different things at different percents. They have more of a metroid boss feel though so its ok..... (you kind of solve the boss with a strategy... metroid bosses you learn the boss and work against it). But a tinnnnny bit of intelligence would be nice, mobs would probably need more tools available to them though. I mean... a lvl10 human charging a lvl 80 orc in full epic gear is pretty retarded.

Re:Fake Difficulty (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020354)

The AI in AI War is pretty much cheating (its units act like yours but it has no resources or unit caps to worry about) but then again using your brains to surgically exploit its weaknesses and beat a threat that could crush you if it ever took you seriously is kinda the point of the game. Make the AI really angry and you'll have an army that you couldn't even remotely obtain yourself annihilating your systems in no time.

Complicated = Interesting = Popular. Usually (1)

Asadullah Ahmad (1608869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019708)

In my personal experience, anything which is complicated and difficult to comprehend in the beginning, is most thrilling and exciting.

But on the other hand, a large proportion of people will love simple and dumb stuff. And its such a shame that millions of years of evolution has still not decreased percentage of the latter bunch.

Re:Complicated = Interesting = Popular. Usually (1)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020428)

So it's a bad thing that people enjoy Blumps? And Peggle? These 'dumb' games? Get down off your high-horse. Mindless games are sometimes the best kind of games. One of the reasons being people like you don't appear half as often in multiplayer.

Re:Complicated = Interesting = Popular. Usually (1)

Asadullah Ahmad (1608869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020458)

Oh darn. I was afraid this might happen.

Only if there were emoticons so I could strictly point out which half was a joke. Sorry if I offended anyone, but that was not meant as such

Difficulty(&sometimes bugs!)gives a game chara (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019710)

Developers have to strike a balance between what makes you go "f- this game" and "YES! I CAN'T BELIEVE I FINALLY DID IT!".

Another problem they face is the fickleness of the community. For example, the Ninja Gaiden games on the NES would not fly in today's gaming community, except among a small, masochistic market segment.

Re:Difficulty(&sometimes bugs!)gives a game ch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019948)

bitch you will take that fucking bird to the head and you will like it

you will also like that it keeps respawning every time you run left, then right

you want to make that jump? you're the ninja, YOU make the jump, bird or no bird!

Re:Difficulty(&sometimes bugs!)gives a game ch (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019990)

There's a trope for that.

It's called Nintendo Hard [tvtropes.org] .

Re:Difficulty(&sometimes bugs!)gives a game ch (1)

mogness (1697042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020138)

omg Ninja Gaiden.... i hated that game.

Re:Difficulty(&sometimes bugs!)gives a game ch (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020772)

or example, the Ninja Gaiden games on the NES would not fly in today's gaming community, except among a small, masochistic market segment.

I hear that the newer versions of NG (XBox et all) are insanely difficult, just as the original.

Difficulty (3, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019718)

I consider a game to be a failure if I can play through the whole thing the first time through without dying. Final Fantasy VII was this way - I only died and reloaded when taking on the optional challenges like Wrong Number or Ruby.

A problem I've noted more recently is uneven difficulty levels in a game - they're easy hard at the beginning and then trivial by the end (Dragon Age, Mass Effect 1) or games that appear easy in the first couple levels or your first time through so you kick up the difficulty level to give yourself more of a challenge, and they become ridiculous (Halo 3 Legendary Mode).

Some games also conflate higher difficulty settings with "being higher level", and make the game impossible if you think "Difficult" could possibly be played by an experienced player with a 1st level character. Dark Alliance 2 was this way. Sacred 2 and Diablo 2 were as well, but at least they made you beat the game once before you could turn on Nightmare difficulty. While you could still be underleveled for it, at least you couldn't stumble into it with a 1st level character, like you could in DA2. Even still, I hate game mechanics that have a "you must be this tall to play" mechanic in place, like in Diablo 2.

Re:Difficulty (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020426)

I dislike when games notch up only one factor with difficulty.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: CoP being a notorious guilty: enemy accuracy. I can still step into anomalies (they hurt more but still one medikit later I'm as good as new, and medikits are as dirt cheap as on "beginner"), I can shoot mutants just the same as before, I have 1 minute instead of 5 to hide from blowout what means I can't cross the whole map and finish the current mission at my leisure, but must run to one of few nearby hideouts within range. Artifacts are as common, as powerful and as expensive as usually. You get the same falling damage and radiation does the same zilch damage as usually. But enemies start getting uncanny headshots and you fall after 2 headshots from mostly any weapon, including automatic. Which means battles against humans ridiculously hard. But they are rare, few inbetween and easily avoidable, except maybe one. Some can be done with sniper gun which puts you safely away from danger. Some can be ended in one precise shot from rocket launcher. ...and so on.

They could have at least made bandits hostile by default on higher difficulties. You see a group of stalkers fight a group of bandits, and you loot the corpses of both sides while the last of each side finish each other up.

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020834)

...Some random loser on Slashdot considers one of the most heralded video games of all time to be a 'failure', because he claims that he only 'reloaded' (wtf?) twice.

Anything else you'd like to share, Mr. game expert?

Re:Wow... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020926)

>>...Some random loser on Slashdot considers one of the most heralded video games of all time to be a 'failure', because he claims that he only 'reloaded' (wtf?) twice.

Says the Anonymous Coward?

FFVII was indeed a shitty game, in very large part because it was so easy (as well as the annoying linearity of the game). As I said, the only two combats I died were to Wrong Nnumber and Ruby Knight, or whatever the giant robot thing was. I didn't even spend much time leveling my party - I think I finished it somewhere at 30 or 40 hours. Uninstalled it, deleted my save files, and happily went back to better games. If a game can't provide even a basic enough challenge to lose once, then it doesn't interest me.

My wife beat FFVII the smart way - she downloaded all the FMVs and was done with in within an hour.

I'm not singling it out, though. Mass Effect 1 was trivially easy by the end of it, and Dragon Age as well. Why does it matter? Well, I got so annoyed at how easy it was by the end, I have no interest in buying any of the DLCs for it. (Sorry, Bioware.) And I did like all of these three games' stories, so it's not like I was prejudiced against them or anything. I just start rolling my eyes when it becomes apparent the game has a very low expectation of the intelligence or skill of its players. I'm much more of a Braid or Ikaruga person.

I'm playing through ME2 right now on Veteran difficulty, and it's about right on that setting. Every so often I get a combat where I actually have to think a bit about how I'm going to beat it, without the combat being overly ridiculous or impossible, and that's exactly what I want out of a game.

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31021262)

If Dragon Age was "trivially easy" to you, you need to play the unpatched version of Normal difficulty. Or just set difficulty to Hard.

I can't believe you favorably mention Mass Effect 2. Unless you totally suck at shooters, it's *much* easier than DAO.

Demon's Souls is a bad example (3, Insightful)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019722)

It started off as a cult game that looked really promising in it's original Asian release, then someone in the western gaming community got a hold of it and it became a real bandwagon game, being name-dropped everywhere. With a huge following of people that have probably hardly played it, claiming that they love difficult games, because that's what everyone else is doing. Also see : God Hand. Actually, Demon's Souls owes more than a bit to the Gothic games, for which it plays basically like a linear version of, except with bosses.

Strictly speaking Demon's Souls isn't a hard game, as once you get into the hang of it you'll find that most deaths come from lack of carelessness. You can't simply rush head-long into everything and know that the game won't hurt you for it, like most games. It's just a very punishing one; when you do make a mistake it really does kick you in the nuts. And someone in the design team has confused flawed design with difficulty. No pausing? No ability to save, even to a single constantly overwritten slot, just in case? There is difficult, there is masochistic, and then there is just plain bad game design. I don't regard having to find a safe spot before being able to take a leak or answer the phone to be 'hardcore', just stupid.

Speaking of God Hand, it is a much better example of proper difficulty. In Demon's Souls, if you tip-toe around, you'll go okay most of the time, and most lessons you learn once and you're okay from then on. God Hand kicks your ass early on, and you wonder how it got released in such an unworkable state (also, if you're an IGN reviewer, you'll likely go off and start writing at this point), but if you pay attention to the combat system and start out on an easy level, you'll become comfortable with the combat system, and then eventually you'll start tearing up the place, ready to advance in difficulty, and things that once seemed impossible will now merely present a fun challenge instead of sending you back, tail between your legs. Urban Reign did the same thing. They are great games.

Re:Demon's Souls is a bad example (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019984)

This has always been my problem with some Atlus games. Never ending one way doors? Monsters that can instant KO your entire party? A game isn't fun if it doesn't beat me every once in a while. but it's not fun reloading all the time either. Designed to frustrate.

Re:Demon's Souls is a bad example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020054)

Strictly speaking Demon's Souls isn't a hard game, as once you get into the hang of it you'll find that most deaths come from lack of carelessness.

Yeah, I know I really have a problem with that lack of carelessness.

Re:Demon's Souls is a bad example (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020116)

Oops. I'm not even sure why I wrote 'lack of' in the first place. Lack of carefulness? That doesn't even sound right. Sigh.

Re:Demon's Souls is a bad example (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020732)

As someone who's currently playing and enjoying said cult game, I have to disagree here. Main point being the autosave feature. This is one of the things that really makes the game, since every single choice you make will have an irreversible consequence. In Demon's Souls, if you kill that NPC, he really is dead, there's no rewind button. This makes every choice you face a hard one. This isn't a design flaw, it's part of the game mechanic and, for lack of a better word, feel of the game. Constant saving and gaming using multiple save slots is something western players have gotten so used to, they've forgotten there's an alternative.

Re:Demon's Souls is a bad example (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021078)

I never wanted constant saving, or multiple slots. Just a simple option for "save and quit" that actually saves the current level, not simply the soul and player level, and boss deaths, and then delete that save upon resuming. How hard is that. The current setup is simply bad design for the sake of trying too hard to be hardcore. Losing current level progress because the real world interrupts the game just isn't good design.

IWannaBeTheGuy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019738)

anyone played it ? that is fun. and hard.
seriously.
hardest game ever

I'm in the half of the game. 1091 deaths...

http://kayin.pyoko.org/iwbtg/
try it, and die. many many times.

Re:IWannaBeTheGuy (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019752)

Lol...if you like that one, take a look at Syobon Action. There's a hilarious youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLrWwmnt2po [youtube.com]

Re:IWannaBeTheGuy (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021160)

I got annoyed at the first boss because I didn't manage to get past the third part and every death meant I had to repeat the first and second parts which were pure puzzle parts that are trivial once you know how to beat them. Hard is fine, wasting my time with piss-easy stuff before the parts that actually challenge me is not.

You gotta be kidding. (4, Insightful)

Balinares (316703) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019772)

> The Wii and various mobile gaming platforms have done wonders
> for the trend toward casual or "easy" games.

Yeah. Care to cite specific examples? Because this, here, until proved otherwise, sounds like gamer nerd handwringing over their hobby's new mass popularity, no more.

Have you played the new Super Mario game? Care to name some other Mario games that are harder? Take your time, I'll wait. Heck, has there ever been a Mario game where failing one time too many on a single level, no matter how many lives you have, means you can't reach 100% completion unless you trash your save game and start over from scratch?

Hell, have you played the Wii poster child, Mario Kart? How are those mirror cups going? Unlocked the Rainbow Road expert staff ghost yet? Beaten it?

Just because it's easy to get into for newbies does NOT make it unchallenging. Seriously, guys, this is the same line of thinking that gives us people who seem to think that user friendly and powerful GUIs are mutually exclusive. It's a real design challenge to reconcile both, I know. This makes it all the more important to recognize and laud those attempts that succeed.

Re:You gotta be kidding. (1)

tcdk (173945) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019820)

I agree - I still have a few stars to collect in Super Mario Galaxy. I just don't have the time to reach the perfection it take complete those levels. They are hard!

Re:You gotta be kidding. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020072)

There's approximately one difficult level in the entire game (the one where you collect the purple coins off the 8-bit Luigi planet), and once you beat it the first time, it becomes trivial after that. Of course, I may be a biased source...I've gone through and cleared the entire game, as both Mario and Luigi, twice now.

Re:You gotta be kidding. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019852)

Not only that; the submission seems to ignore the wonders that flashagmes, Peggle, Solitaire, etc. have done for the trend toward casual or "easy" games.

Re:You gotta be kidding. (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019966)

Fire Emblem:Radiant Dawn. I've put over a hundred hours into that, and still some levels on hard will take a dozen restarts to beat. And the AI doesn't cheat; when you lose, it's because you screwed up.

There's a lot of punishing games for the Wii (just like all the other consoles) -- and they don't have to be "hardcore" to be difficult. Go watch a youtube video of "We Cheer 2".

Re:You gotta be kidding. (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020234)

Also, the unlocked rainbow levels are insane.

Re:You gotta be kidding. (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020786)

Yes I've played it. It isn't hard.
As a single player game. It is easy.
Its the first time I sat down and beat a mario game in a couple of days of casual playing.
What is hard is when you add 3 people... some of whom may not know what they're doing. Suddenly it is difficult because people are interfering with jumps, etc
Without doing any life tricks I finished the game with dozens of lives without trouble.

I really don't get how this is supposed to be some kind of benchmark for difficult mario games.

Re:You gotta be kidding. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31021182)

There's no way you got every star coin, including world 9, in a couple days. That's 'beating the game'.

Chromium B.S.U. is supposed to be hard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31019774)

From the FAQ:

Q: I keep getting killed. Why is is so difficult?
A: Quitcher whinin', you ninny! It's supposed to be hard! Seriously, the game is intended to be a 15 minute adrenaline rush/mental cleanser. Frequent doses of explosions (even your own) can be very therapeutic.

http://chromium-bsu.sourceforge.net/faq.htm

Re:Chromium B.S.U. is supposed to be hard! (0, Troll)

Mprx (82435) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020222)

It's not all that difficult, and it's not fast paced. This game is a slow battle of attrition. Can you collect enough shields/extra lives to make up for the unavoidable damage you'll gradually accumulate? What's more, it runs at 50fps, which guarantees jerky scrolling on any common monitor. This is a very bad game.

For a Free shooting game that's actually fun, try rRootage:
http://rrootage.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Men In Black Playstation... The Horror... (3, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019788)

When I was a lead tester at Accolade/Infogrames/Atari (same company, two different owners, multiple identity crises), I was responsible for Men In Black (Playstation). Sony had a submission requirement where they wanted a videotaped play through. Normally, it took me eight hours to get through the whole game. The developers made a change for one level just before the final level that made finishing the game impossible. I told them to change it, they told me to screw off.

I spent eight hours playing that damn level before I could advance to the final level and sent Sony two videotapes with 16 hours of video. My request to duplicate the last videotape and send it to the developers was denied. No one cares about the pains that a video game tester must suffer.

Re:Men In Black Playstation... The Horror... (0, Troll)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020374)

"Normally, it took me eight hours to get through the whole game."

Precisely what's wrong with today's games industry.

Re:Men In Black Playstation... The Horror... (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020472)

Keep in mind that a video game tester will know every aspect of the game after four months and can play through the entire game rather quickly. The MiB title probably had 20 hours of game time for a "normal" player for the first time. When we had Neverwinter Night in test, we never did test the entire game. A complete play through that included all the side quests took up to 500 hours. Bioware had one programmer who tested the entire game in two weeks.

Overall, the single player mode for most games are getting too short. Thirty hours of game play for a $30 game was the norm ten years ago. These days you get 20 hours or less for a $60 game.

Re:Men In Black Playstation... The Horror... (1, Insightful)

am 2k (217885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020778)

Overall, the single player mode for most games are getting too short. Thirty hours of game play for a $30 game was the norm ten years ago. These days you get 20 hours or less for a $60 game.

Well, that's why I buy games only after they've been out for about a year. That way I get 20h of gameplay for $20 instead. I don't see the point why I absolutely have to play a game right when it first ships.

Games should not feel like work (-1, Flamebait)

Castaa (458419) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019794)

Games of extreme challenge are either the result of rushed production with little real testing and correction of game balance. Or designers making the games to be a struggle in the misconceived idea that people will play it more because of all the retrying and struggle.

Games are an escape from your job, and not a job.

Re:Games should not feel like work (2, Insightful)

Rennt (582550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020190)

Or designers making the games to be a struggle in the misconceived idea that people will play it more because of all the retrying and struggle.

Sometimes they are dead right. Nethack, Dwarf Fortress, Mega Man, I Wanna be that Guy etc are all games of this type.

Re:Games should not feel like work (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021204)

Sometimes pushing yourself to the limit and trying to figure out just how the fuck you're supposed to beat that is a part of the game's fun. Some multiplayer games feel like stupid repetition unless you deal with someone of an appropriately high skill. E.g. RTSes aren't really much fun if all you do is amass a gigantic army and then attack move over anything of a different color, they are much more fun when you have to balance your constraints like resources and leaving yourself open in the hope that your opponent cannot capitalize on it fast enough.

Difficulty, what? (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 4 years ago | (#31019838)

From gamespot:

...
Demon's Souls is an extraordinary blend of the old and the new, and the result is so distinctive that it's hard to even find games to compare it to. Yes, it's a hard game. It is ruthlessly, unforgivingly difficult. But it is also amazingly compelling and rewarding, because the tools you need to survive are built into the very fabric of the experience. Demon's Souls is innovative, immersive, and immensely entertaining--and the best game of 2009.

I wouldn't exactly call that 'compelling evidence that hard=good'.
It's almost like they're saying it's good despite being hard, because of all other interesting things in the game.

Either way, gamespot picking Demon's Souls as game of the year doesn't mean squat. Sure, difficulty is important for any game, but it's not the all-important defining characteristic that determines overall success.

Case in point: Dragon Age Origins (2, Informative)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020004)

I'd have to agree that in many ways games today are easier than in the past, however I too have noticed a swing back towards difficulty in a few titles. Most recently in Dragon Age Origins. Even played on the easy setting, it can be brutally difficult in some parts, the spikes are enormous. I prefer to play my RPG's in real-time, provided the game has such a mode, and while the easy setting in DAO is supposed to allow real-time battles, it is not strictly true. In many cases it still takes a huge amount of micro-management, pausing and tactics to succeed in certain battles, and party selection can be a critical point. If you have somehow chosen the wrong party members, spells or equipment, you will be utterly crushed without mercy. Re-loading saves and re-grouping and re-arming your party are common, even on easy difficulty.

To be honest, the game would be more enjoyable if the difficulty spikes on easy mode were not so severe; several reviewers have also pointed this out. I cannot see playing through this game on the most difficult setting, it would not be enjoyable to me. I'm not saying it should be a walk in the park, a good challenge is welcome, but being brutally beaten time-after-time and re-loading saves again and again is not a good gameplay experience. Adaptive AI is the way to go here, where the game will recognize you have been killed for the 10th time in a row in the last 60 seconds and ease up the difficulty a bit.

Don't get me wrong, this is one of the finest RPG's in quite a long while, and it has a depth and character development that is very enjoyable. This depth and feeling of character development was missing from recent games like Fallout 3 and Bioshock. While these games have some characteristics of RPG's, they are missing a large chunk of what makes a true RPG, and that's what DAO delivers, despite the difficulty.

Re:Case in point: Dragon Age Origins (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020158)

What are you talking about?

Lots of people are soloing the fricking game in all difficulties!

Have you ever played a computer rpg before?

Re:Case in point: Dragon Age Origins (0, Troll)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020660)

Hiding behind AC are you?

I was probably playing RPG's before you were a stain in your father's pants. If you understood anything about proper RPG's you would know that you cannot compare one player's game experience with another. Every player makes different choices throughout the game, no 2 games will ever be alike. Unless you cheat by using a walkthrough or hacks.

PC Gamer UK mentioned the difficulty very specifically, as have several other reviews.

Re:Case in point: Dragon Age Origins (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021228)

I hate adaptive AIs, when I run against something over and over that means I want to develop the skills to beat it instead of it giving in because it doesn't want me to struggle.

NETHACK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31020016)

Sorry. That's all I wanted to say.

No, wait, one more thing.

The new version of the amazing Dwarf fortress is about to be released.

Now you can keep talking about those other inferior games.

In World of Warcraft (1)

Exitar (809068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020156)

latest expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, the endgame has been made substantially easier than before.
But has been added the possibility for players to unlock "hard modes" that present in many cases a much greater difficulty.

You know what?
People complain that the game is too easy (even if they never tried the hard modes).
Or that hard modes are too hard.
Or that hard modes are too easy because top world players (not them, someone else!) were able to beat hard modes in few days.

Re:In World of Warcraft (2, Insightful)

Wildclaw (15718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021290)

People complain that the game is too easy (even if they never tried the hard modes).

The problem with World of Warcraft is that the last expansion truly made the game too easy in several ways.

Outside of dungeons, mobs have simply become ants. Annoying but 100% non-lethal. You almost have to disconnect while fighting multiple mobs to even have a chance of dying. In normal dungeons as well as heroics to some degree, the preferred strategy has become to basically collect as many mobs as the tank (and healer) can handle, have him keep them occupied (which is very simple nowadays) while the rest of the party uses multi target effect to kill them all at once. You have mages who have leveled all the way to level 80 and don't even know how to use the Sheep spell in dungeons, not to mention more advanced skills such as counter spell.

For leveling characters, they have made leveling easier, not only by reducing experience needed (which is a good thing to reduce boring grind) but also by improving gear rewards and reducing effort needed to clear a dungeon while simultaneously nerfing any challenging mobs outside of dungeons so that a monkey could level a character to level 80 using only his tail. This wouldn't be so bad except if you could only challenge yourself by fighting more difficult mobs. But the experience as well as level system in WoW highly encourages people to fight mobs that are at most the same level as yourself, or preferably one or two levels below if they want to level quickly.

Right now I am not subscribed, but depending on what I hear about it, I may join a month once WoW:Cataclysm comes out to see if it is fixed. But I don't have high hopes. The Blizzard WoW team has lost touch with reality when it comes to providing difficulty in many aspects of the game.

Casual != Easy (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020260)

Many casual games are an endless highscore hunt that has you struggling until you die, I wouldn't call that easy. Casual gamers develop extreme proficiency at their games like Tetris or Bejeweled. It's the hardcore games that are easy, they are more designed around the spectacle and story now and that's stuff that you can't make the player replay so having him die often and replay scenes over and over again is seen as a bad thing. I don't know about you but to me a game where even a minimally skilled person can make progress past the next checkpoint and thus beat the game slowly but surely without any practicing is an easy game.

Translation please... (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020366)

Demon's Souls was a sleeper hit

Would I be right in thinking this translates as "Me and my friends liked it, but it didn't sell very well"?

Re:Translation please... (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021054)

No it means nobody was (over)hyping it, it got good reviews and sold more than was expected for such a game.

The Perfect Quote on the topic... (1)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020382)

From the movie Avalon... this is delivered to the protagonist by one of the shady Game Masters who control the virtual reality game :

Which is the greater challenge ?
Which is the better game?
Which would you choose, given the choice?

The sort of game that you think you can win, but cannot,
or, alternatively, one that seems to be impossible, but isn’t?

Maintaining a precise, delicate balance somewhere in between, throughout every level of the game – That’s what keeps it going.

And it is all up to us.

I play easy and hard games (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020536)

I'm not sure I understand what the big deal is with worrying about some "pendulum". Sometimes I have time; sometimes I don't. (Given hard means it requires more time.) I just like games. It's not an either or proposition.

There is nothing to worry about here. The casual game market was just an expansion to reach a previously ignored segment of players: the very old, the very young, and the very busy. Your hard games aren't going away any time soon and neither will your easy games. Stop fretting over it.

Re:I play easy and hard games (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31021132)

The problem is that the game industry is to an extent making the same mistake as the film industry: Catering to too wide a demographic with the same product. If you make a 3D romantic comedy in space surrounding a mysterious murder during a high speed car chase and cast everyone as a teenager, you will indeed have squeezed most genres into the film, and it'll probably be watchable for people who like those genres, but it will never surpass watchable. You'll maximize the revenue, but pay a hefty price in quality.

Same thing goes for making a game that attempts to cater to both the casual and normal gamer groups.

IWBTG anyone? (1)

happygrue (1462757) | more than 4 years ago | (#31020762)

This story reminds me of a hilariously hard little gem of a game: I Wanna Be The Guy. [pyoko.org] It's the kind of game that makes me laugh out loud when I realize yet ANOTHER way I can die on a particular level. Try it out a bit, and have a good laugh if you haven't already.

A rock falls from the ceiling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31021252)

Congratulations, you have reached level 10... a huge rock falls from the ceiling. You die...
Would you like to see the last messages before your death?

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