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Erik_Twice
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Difficulty as part of the experience.

by Erik_Twice Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:03 am

I think that difficulty is often ignored as a vital part of the experience of playing a game and often reduced to "how skilled is the player" instead of being used as a vital part of the game.

For example, in X-COM you control a small squad of soldiers against alien forces. They could be anywhere, covered by the war fog and single shots provide fatal. In your average turn-based game walking is not dangerous but here, crossing the line of sight of a sniper proves fatal.

Given how fast your soldiers can die, the grim music kicks in and all those clichés about aliens are made serious. There's no pause between missions like in Warcraft, they can strike London or Tokio anytime and if you are not prepared to tackle the challenge it will have an effect on you.

Were Soldiers harder to kill the game would have been much worse because you would not need to watch flanks and advance slowly towards your goal.

It can be said that the difficulty forces you to be more creative with your strategy. The game provides a lot of options to overcome this difficulty (Blowing up everything so they can't hide, going slowly, using meatshoilds, etc) and that makes the game a lot of fun.

If the game lacked such options the difficulty would turn into frustation. I think that's why invisble blocks are "fake difficulty", they do not provide any options or choices, just trial and error and that's why they are not fun.


Difficulty also changes how you act towards the game. The dificulty in Guitar Hero makes you feel like a rock star, you can make cool poses and you don't need to get in the zone to win.

On the other hand the brutal difficulty of Beatmania IIDX forces you instantly on the zone and makes you feel like Beethoven having a bad day and making the Piano pay for it. It is a different aproach.

I think this is a very intersting topic to discuss. What do you think? Ever felt the difficulty in a game was part of what made it so interesting?
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yomomma1
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by yomomma1 Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:07 am

Yea, but if difficulty is because of Game glitches, errors or bad controls. It isn't a good part of the experience.
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noiseredux
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by noiseredux Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:07 am

it's funny -- this is almost the opposite of kingmohd's "experience" thread.
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lisalover1
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by lisalover1 Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:20 am

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D.D.D.
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by D.D.D. Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:47 am

yomomma1 wrote:Yea, but if difficulty is because of Game glitches, errors or bad controls. It isn't a good part of the experience.


This reminds me of why the rosy-tinted glasses on NES games (or earlier) shatter when playing a lot of them again. :(
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ZeroAX
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by ZeroAX Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:09 am

yomomma1 wrote:Yea, but if difficulty is because of Game glitches, errors or bad controls. It isn't a good part of the experience.


you forgot bad level design.
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RyaNtheSlayA
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by RyaNtheSlayA Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:52 am

I very much enjoy more difficult games. I think a lot of people however, prefer to relax and have an easier time with games. I tend to love RTS games in particular that can hand my ass to me if I'm not perfect in doing everything.
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Gamerforlife
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by Gamerforlife Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:45 pm

I'm a big believer in scaling difficulty. Increase the challenge as the player gets more comfortable with the game and learns new skills. The Red Star does this very well. I also like optional challenges that are woven into the fabric of the game's world. To truly be tested in a Final Fantasy game, you have to go off the beaten path and do some optional quests or bosses that require more skill, strategy and preparation. Everyone else can just play through the main story and have fun without pushing themselves too hard

I think it's good for a game to be challenging, but it's not a requirement for the game to be fun. Also, I'm wary of game's that bill themselves as "hardcore". The problem when developers set out to make a game "hard" is that they often forget to make the game "fun". Also, 9 times out of 10 when a developer tries to make a game hard they resort to age old cheap, unfair bullshit that we've seen in a thousand games before. Just another me too developer using the same old playbook

I want to see developers come up with creative ways to challenge players. That's a rare thing these days. I complain about this a lot, but most devlopers just copy their peers rather than be innovative or try and copy the so called "classics" without trying to improve on them in any way

I dislike difficulty settings in some games, because often it's like the game completely changes on a different difficulty setting which leaves me wondering, which one of these is the REAL game. Optional challenges put into the game for those who seek them are better in my eyes as a way for more hardcore players to challenge themselves. Make everything part of the game's world rather than make us have to go outside of the game itself to mess around with "difficulty settings". That's evolved game design in my opinion
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ZeroAX
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by ZeroAX Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:47 pm

Gamerforlife wrote:I think it's good for a game to be challenging, but it's not a requirement for the game to be fun. Also, I'm wary of game's that bill themselves as "hardcore". The problem when developers set out to make a game "hard" is that they often forget to make the game "fun". Also, 9 times out of 10 when a developer tries to make a game hard they resort to age old cheap, unfair bullshit that we've seen in a thousand games before. Just another me too developer using the same old playbook



Megaman 2 and 9 were perfect examples of games being hard AND fun. Other games in the series, not so much.
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noiseredux
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Re: Difficulty as part of the experience.

by noiseredux Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:48 pm

I always leave difficulty settings set to the default.
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