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Thread: Video Game Difficulty

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    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    Default Video Game Difficulty

    I think it's a well established notion that games today are much less difficult than they were in the past. There are some exceptions like Demon Souls, but in general most popular games require fewer attempts to reach a goal than they did in the past.

    For younger gamers this is especially true for control purposes alone, since games today offer a lot smoother interface and younger gamers may not be used to the punishing controls of some older games. Even for a child of the 8 and 16 bit eras like myself, I still find newer games requiring less attempts to get through and are in general only a mild challenge. Don't get me wrong, I prefer it this way since I'm more interested in the experience than the challenge. If I wanted a challenge I'd just do more work.

    Why do you think this is? Why are games easier than they used to be? Is there a greater focus on the overall experience now that so many additional tools are at developers' disposal?

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    Famine Wolf Cid's Knight Sephex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Del Murder View Post
    If I wanted a challenge I'd just do more work.
    This is more or less how I feel. As an adult, I don't have much time as I used to, so I am not really interested in games that have me die a billion times. I do like a good challenge, but I want to be pushed and pulled a bit, not shoved completely down to the ground a spat on.

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    Shlup's Retired Pimp Raistlin's Avatar
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    I think part of the reason is that the older games had nothing to give you except a challenge. There were no fancy graphics, no movie-like cutscenes, and no realistic mechanics. The only thing those games had to offer was gameplay, and one of the only things available in the gameplay department was to make it challenging. I am sometimes amazed at the patience I had as an 8-year-old to play some of those older games. We put up with some absurd levels of difficulty made even more impossible by frequently awful controls, because that is what games were back then. Sometimes I do miss that sort of challenge, but I recognize that I probably wouldn't have the patience to retry the same level 500 times in a row like I used to.

    Nowadays, developers have so many options, and they emphasize different things, such as graphics. And they're trying constantly to appeal to new gamers, which involves making things easier (or at least having the option to make things easier), instead of more challenging.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Del Murder View Post
    Why do you think this is? Why are games easier than they used to be? Is there a greater focus on the overall experience now that so many additional tools are at developers' disposal?
    The death of arcades is one reason, and just changes in game design and design philosophy in general is another. Most games when we were kids either were Arcade games and therefore designed to suck up your weekly allowance by getting you to keep inserting quarters, or they were designed at a time when that kind of design ideology was still quite prominent and limited lives with high difficulty was just what you did when making a game. If they didn't, there was no replay value at all and you'd be done in even less time than games last now. That and many games were simply unfair either by accident or design. A lot of the stuff that was hard when we were kids was hard in the most ball bustingly unfair way imaginable, either with controls that were as much a battle as enemies, or whatever else.

    These days there's more of a focus on removing unfair difficulty because that's almost never fun, but actually frustrating. Combine that with the fact that major developers are trying to hit wider audiences by virtue of the fact that they need to sell in the millions to turn a profit much of the time, and the average gamer doesn't want a hard game, and you end up with the perfect set of incentives to drive difficulty down.

    Not many games can afford to be challenging these days which is a bit of a shame. I like just playing through for the experience as much as the next person but sometimes I want to play a hard game. Finding good ones is a lot harder than it used to be sometimes.

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    i depends
    i loved demon's souls
    but i also love quick time events secretly even if i'll publicly claim they are bs gameplay mechanics

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    My question: What constitutes "difficulty" in a video game?

    Nearly every instance I see of "difficulty" being described these days can be boiled down to essentially: Speed. How fast your reactions are, and how quickly you can button mash, and that's about it.

    Personally, I blame the interenet for at least some of this. Since strategy sharing has become so awesome, fewer and fewer things are being made difficult in terms of strategy or puzzles, because most developers think that everyone will just google the solutions rather than work them out, but does that really only leave us with pure reaction tests as the only form of difficulty left in gaming?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raistlin View Post
    I think part of the reason is that the older games had nothing to give you except a challenge. There were no fancy graphics, no movie-like cutscenes, and no realistic mechanics. The only thing those games had to offer was gameplay, and one of the only things available in the gameplay department was to make it challenging.
    There is this game I found online in which you play as a robot which can jump and also grapple. The robot travels fast, so you that's something to adjust to immediately. Then there's grappling. Some levels are simple, but others involves moving platforms and spinning grapple points on which the robot whirls in an orbit. Later levels have platforms which drop onto you or close in on you in a corner and crush you and then there are walls/ceilings/floors that destroy the robot on contact.
    This game is extremely simplistic graphically, running on a 2D screen and comprised of blocks. The colors are constantly shifting, so it's probably unwise for an epileptic to play if their trigger is flashing lights.
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    People don't have time to try sections again and again. We all like challenges but I don't think game designers have found that balance.

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    she'll steal your heart Hollycat's Avatar
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    There are plenty of games with a challenge still. Go play Secret agent clank and try to beat clunk on challenge mode. It takes 3 hours, but most people wont last ten minutes.

    Some of the final levels in RC games are tough even on regular difficulty.
    Oblivion on max diff
    Call of duty MW2 on max diff
    I'll think of some others.
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    Put the bloody gubs in the crev. Free Edgar 2014 Steve's Avatar
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    Veteran difficulty in Modern Warfare games is not that hard. The hardest sections of the game are when the game forces you to assault quickly and blow through enemy forces. However considering there are a finite number of enemies spawned in each area of an Modern Warfare title there is for much of the game the option of hanging back and taking them down methodically from longer range with the use of cover.

    The final level of Modern Warfare 1 when you're in the nuclear missile silo is perhaps the hardest non-easter egg mission you get in the first 2 games. On veteran the silo can take around 9:45 to reach the final chamber and is a genuine race to see if you'll make it on time.

    I personally found the veteran difficulty in Black Ops to be far harder since Treyarch are known for leaving areas of the game with infinite spawning enemies. Levels like the ones in Vietnam where you're running across the battlefield at Khe San and you have 3 seconds between squads of AK-47 toting North Vietnamese forces attacking you is far harder since there is no simple "wait them out" option even though there is no time limit to completing the mission.

    Hardest game I ever played was Alundra not because the gameplay was immensely difficult simply I couldn't bloody figure out where the hell I was supposed to go half the time.

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    she'll steal your heart Hollycat's Avatar
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    I was talking the mission where you can't leave the house or they blow it up.
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    What mission HC? Give me the level name.

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    I don't know the name. It is during the story. The second time you get shot in the head.
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    Oh so the mission where Ghost dies? Aside from running through a mine field in a fire fight whilst under artillery fire that level is bloody easy.

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    Call of Duty is always easy on any difficulty because alternatively tapping L and R really fast automatically takes care of any situation

    Vivi got at the essence of it - older games were designed to get you to keep putting quarters in a machine, a design philosophy so axiomatic that it curiously infected console exclusive titles.

    Gaming is directed to a different audience today. The player doesn't have hours every day to devote to memorizing gameplay and level segments.

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