The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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ninjainspandex
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by ninjainspandex Sat Sep 27, 2014 3:50 pm

I guess games would seem like they are getting easier if your playing them on Easy or Normal mode, but a large percentage of games have Expert and Nightmare modes that make the game significantly more difficult. Games are now designed to be accessible to everyone, so there are difficulty levels for everyone.

Have games gotten less complex? Hell no, they have gotten way more complex. Look at the NES it had only 2 buttons start select and a dpad, now look how many buttons a modern game controller has with most games using every button for something different.

What your noticing is alot less games with cheap deaths and poor controls that artificially make games harder, thats just the evolution of game design.
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by ZeroAX Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:08 pm

ninjainspandex wrote:Have games gotten less complex? Hell no, they have gotten way more complex. Look at the NES it had only 2 buttons start select and a dpad, now look how many buttons a modern game controller has with most games using every button for something different.


I repeat, if you were actually playing PC games (strategy, simulators, RPGs) back in the day, which mind you were much more popular in Europe than consoles (the first mainstream console in Europe was the PS1) games have gotten a lot simpler.
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Sload Soap
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Sload Soap Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:39 pm

ZeroAX wrote:
ninjainspandex wrote:Have games gotten less complex? Hell no, they have gotten way more complex. Look at the NES it had only 2 buttons start select and a dpad, now look how many buttons a modern game controller has with most games using every button for something different.


I repeat, if you were actually playing PC games (strategy, simulators, RPGs) back in the day, which mind you were much more popular in Europe than consoles (the first mainstream console in Europe was the PS1) games have gotten a lot simpler.


Not sure I get this. You're saying that a few genres with reasonably small audiences on a reasonably small platform in a reasonably small market equals all games have become easier? And what does that have to do with price?
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by ZeroAX Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:42 pm

Sload Soap wrote:Not sure I get this. You're saying that a few genres with reasonably small audiences on a reasonably small platform in a reasonably small market equals all games have become easier? And what does that have to do with price?


Computer games weren't a small market audience wise, they were small just money wise (computer games were way cheaper than cartridges, not to mention the crazy piracy rates).

I'm saying that those genres (that were very popular back then, don't know if you grew up in a console "environment") have gotten way easier and less complex.

No I never mentioned price in this.
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Erik_Twice Sat Sep 27, 2014 6:12 pm

ninjainspandex wrote:Games are now designed to be accessible to everyone, so there are difficulty levels for everyone.

I would wager most games made during the last five years do not have difficulty levels or are so poorly done that you would rather not have them. :lol:

Have games gotten less complex? Hell no, they have gotten way more complex.

Kind of. Console games and arcade games started very simple and got more complex over time. But most other games got simpler, just compare Traveller (1977), Vampire: The Masquerade (1991) and Fiasco (2009) or the games of Avalon Hill and SPI to those of Asmodee.

On the digital space, the best examples are flight simulators, wargames and CRPGs which were computer-focused (and hence European-focused compared to console games).

What your noticing is alot less games with cheap deaths and poor controls that artificially make games harder, thats just the evolution of game design.

Nah, I don't think most noteworthy games have cheap deaths or poor controls, even the best designed games of their time like Castlevania, Mega Man 2 or Gradius II are difficult.

After all, it's not like having better controls made Ghouls'n Ghosts much easier than Ghosts'n Goblins :lol:

dsheinem wrote:I think you're overstating the widespread appeal of the tougher games from the 80s/90s and understating the appeal of tough games today.

Could be. But I think it would be very hard to deny that Battletech, Microsoft Flight Simulator or Advanced Squad Leader were incredibly popular thirty years ago and that nothing of comparable complexity today is. (With the exception of WH40K, that is)

dsheinem wrote:If you look at the best selling games of any system/generation you'll mostly see games that are relatively easy OR have a very wide range of difficulties available.

I don't know, I think that if you compare them you can see them getting easier. Metroid, Contra, Punch-Out and Zelda I&II were some of the best selling games of the NES and they are much harder than anything on the Gamecube.

isiolia wrote:It's also, likely, the result of arcade-centric design at the time.

The thing is that even games that had nothing to do with arcades like King's Quest or Wizardry were also very difficult so I don't think it's as much of an influence as it appears to be.

I mean, it's clear that some games were made more difficult for bussiness reasons but that difference still leaves the bar very high.
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by dsheinem Sat Sep 27, 2014 6:26 pm

Erik_Twice wrote:
dsheinem wrote:I think you're overstating the widespread appeal of the tougher games from the 80s/90s and understating the appeal of tough games today.

Could be. But I think it would be very hard to deny that Battletech, Microsoft Flight Simulator or Advanced Squad Leader were incredibly popular thirty years ago and that nothing of comparable complexity today is. (With the exception of WH40K, that is)

dsheinem wrote:If you look at the best selling games of any system/generation you'll mostly see games that are relatively easy OR have a very wide range of difficulties available.

I don't know, I think that if you compare them you can see them getting easier. Metroid, Contra, Punch-Out and Zelda I&II were some of the best selling games of the NES and they are much harder than anything on the Gamecube.


I really think you are playing the "selective titles" game.

A quick look at Steam shows plenty of complex simulation titles, mech titles, RPGs, war strategy games, etc. I don't know how you don't see them, to be honest. Most of those genres have experienced a mini-renaissance of late as well, as have tough genres like rogue likes and shmups. Hell, a VERy recent example would be the game Wasteland 2 - which is currently in the top 5 best-seller list and has been hugely popular for months leading up to release - is already being reviewed as especially difficult.

On the console front, the GCN is pretty notorious for not catering to the same "core" audience that the NES would have back in the day, but if you look at the top PS2 games (the most popular console of its generation) there are plenty of games/series that are arguably as tough to complete in full as any of those NES titles you mentioned: Gran Turismo, Devil May Cry, some of the Guitar Hero games, most of the GTA games, etc.

I just think you are somehow missing all of this. There are scads of successful tough games today, and tons of complex ones that have much more sophisticated systems and offer much steeper challenges than those that you are pointing to. I just don't see how your argument can be supported by anything other than a very narrow view of the current game landscape or a willful ignoring of all the easy games that were wildly popular in the past.
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Erik_Twice Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:16 am

dsheinem wrote:A quick look at Steam shows plenty of complex simulation titles, mech titles, RPGs, war strategy games, etc. I don't know how you don't see them, to be honest. Most of those genres have experienced a mini-renaissance of late as well, as have tough genres like rogue likes and shmups. Hell, a VERy recent example would be the game Wasteland 2 - which is currently in the top 5 best-seller list and has been hugely popular for months leading up to release - is already being reviewed as especially difficult.

Weird, I thought I actually adressed this in my post down to the mention of Wasteland 2 but it seems I deleted it for some reason :?

It's true that there has been a renaissance of sorts and I don't think my analysis is valid past 2008 or so, the rise of platforms like Kickstarter, Steam Greenlight or GMT's P500 system has radically changed the landscape. It's like consolization, ten years ago it was a clear issue but I don't think it is anymore ,Thi4f or not.

In fact, many of the games I mentioned have gone through this very renaissance themselves and while may never become the face of the hobby again, they are stronger than they have been in years. I mean, we have Brian Fargo making Wasteland 2, Jene Jensen making graphical adventures and Ikaruga on Steam. There's even a new Myst-like game in the making, that would have seemed insane just a few years ago.

As far as I see it, these games have gone from the gaming mainstream to irrelevance and ,as these distribution methods arose, to affirming themselves as boutique games.

I don't know, I see it as I see PC gaming. Some years ago PC gaming kind of sucked, now it's amazing.
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Erik_Twice Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:19 am

Ivo wrote:I'm not sure I agree with your example, in Another World in particular the difficulty of the game is a fundamental part of communicating that the protagonist is in a super harsh situation (5 seconds from starting and you are already swimming for your life, leading up into the magnificent final sequence and ending). I think is one of the early good examples of gameplay being a part of the "message" of the game (like what Braid does).

Also I wouldn't say there is that much platforming in it, there is quite a lot of shooting.

Yeah, there's not really a lot of platforming besides jumping over instakill worms :lol:

I don't know, I feel Another World is very contrained by game design ideas of its time. It's a groundbreaking game and modern indie games owe everything to it, but heh, I'm not too fond of it. Perhaps playing it again would change how I view it but I remember it being very frustrating and the controls being awful.
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by dsheinem Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:35 am

Erik_Twice wrote:I don't think my analysis is valid past 2008 or so


I don't think there's a period where it is valid, though. I argued that the same difficulty you are looking for can be found in some of the most popular PS2 franchises, so it isn't merely a PC thing.

What is undeniably true is that a higher percentage of games have scalable difficulty and thus have easier modes than was true for most of the titles from the 1980s and 1990s...but on the other hand they also have much more difficult ways to play as well. I just can't see the claim that "games are easier" and, for example, 1993 vs 2003 holding up against any kind of representative sampling from era to era (whether that be by sales, by critical acclaim, etc.).
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Re: Why are games easier? My take on the subject

by Ivo Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:14 pm

Erik_Twice wrote:Yeah, there's not really a lot of platforming besides jumping over instakill worms :lol:

I don't know, I feel Another World is very contrained by game design ideas of its time. It's a groundbreaking game and modern indie games owe everything to it, but heh, I'm not too fond of it. Perhaps playing it again would change how I view it but I remember it being very frustrating and the controls being awful.


Everything is insta kill in Another World. There are a few more jumps (leaps of faith even) and there is the important one almost at the start.

I think you could do with a replay of one of the remixed versions. If you know what you are doing you can finish the game in 30 to 40 mins with some deaths (20 to 30 if you can ace it, which isn't easy with all the gunfights).

I remember it controlling decently. It is a bit rigid. There are a few frustrating parts which can get very frustrating (that includes some of the gunfights, but not just). I agree the game could be even better with a few tweaks here and there. It is still a masterpiece and amazing for the time (and for the developing team!).
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