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Gunstar Green
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Gunstar Green Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:40 pm

Something I don't think that's been touched on yet, though it was mentioned in another thread regarding the game's sales.

Would Cuphead have sold as many copies as it has if not for all of the Twitch streams and Youtube rage videos? It's not exactly unique in this sense either. There is an emerging market for these "rage games." Some games have become viral sensations because of their difficulty and because people enjoy watching others lose their cool over them.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by MrPopo Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:23 am

Exhuminator wrote:In addition I think games should be inclusive concerning visual and audible cues that compensate impaired gamers. I'm talking about deaf or color blind gamers, having interfaces which accommodate those folks. Either directly or via menu options. Configurable controls are a no-brainer too.

I've been made more aware of the color blindness issue through following the CRPG Addict, who is color blind. He regularly laments that particular games are far more difficult because he cannot differentiate something helpful from something harmful because the only indication is color.

Would Cuphead have sold as many copies as it has if not for all of the Twitch streams and Youtube rage videos?

In terms of the spirit of your question I think it would have still done extremely well because of its unique aesthetic and the technical marvel behind it. Were the sales affected because of Twitch streams? Of course, but I don't think they propped up the game in any way.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Segata Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:06 am

Just let developers make the games they want to make.Not everything is going to appeal to everyone. It's impossible. The game is selling really well so it doesn't seem too many people are upset it has an old-school challenge. With some things because of my underactive thyroid, I may react slower. The signal from my brain to my hands may have a delay. Other things it's faster than normal like for catching things and swinging a bat in baseball. Fast quick reactions in a game I can struggle with because of it. I can still greatly enjoy them even if it makes it harder for me. Other times sure it may put me off, there are so many games out there any way to choose from. That said I don't want a developer to compromise their vision for such a small percentage like me.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by marurun Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:00 am

I do still think it's hilarious that we're talking about difficulty options as somehow compromising developer vision. In the grand scheme of all the various things that compromise developer vision, difficulty options is probably not anywhere near the top of the list. In most cases, it's probably they just don't want to spend the money to do the redesigning and associated testing (because nobody wants a shitty easy or hard mode - Working Designs fans know all about what happens when you mess with difficulty without a plan). I feel like games are such a bundle of compromises already.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Exhuminator Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:06 am

marurun wrote:I do still think it's hilarious that we're talking about difficulty options as somehow compromising developer vision.

I don't know who the "we're" are in your statement there. I've shown examples demonstrating why mandating a developer must use difficulty options could legitimately compromise their original vision. I don't think anyone here has said if a developer chooses to offer difficulty options that equates automatically to a conceptual compromise.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by marurun Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:55 am

Exhuminator wrote:I've shown examples demonstrating why mandating a developer must use difficulty options could legitimately compromise their original vision.


And I'm not entirely sure why the idea of mandating difficulty options keeps coming up. Several of us are arguing that they do less harm than good, but nobody, as far as I've read, has been arguing developers should be required, or mandated, to do it. Maybe some outside the forums are, but internally to the forums that argument is a straw man.

Now, as to discussing difficulty at large; another thing that's missing here is a discussion of what an easy mode actually is. It's possible that we have very different ideas of what that means and that that is also causing unnecessary friction. Just as there are many different ways to create difficulty, there are many ways to easy difficulty, and in fact, many ways to teach skills. Sometimes the difficulty isn't in the end goal of skill achievement so much as how the game expects you to acquire those skills. And this thread probably isn't the best place to go into that, so I think I'll start a new thread so we can have more meaningful discussion of the nuances of difficulty in game design.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Exhuminator Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:00 am

The point I was making, is that sometimes uncompromising difficulty is a central aspect of a developer's fundamental vision for their game design. In that regard, implementing difficulty options can indeed take away from the developer's original vision.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by yaktaur Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:24 am

I'm a little hard of hearing so I generally turn subtitles on when playing games (if possible) and was playing Fallout 4 with subtitles and had plenty of times where the subtitles stopped working (A Bathesda game being buggy??? What!?) and I was fine but I did think that if my hearing was worse then I'd just be out of luck in knowing what the video game was trying to tell me.

I feel some empathy with people who are disabled and therefore are just unable to play cuphead. I feel two opinions:

1) People with disabilities are strong enough to not be heartbroken if they can't play one game, it's when it's endemic that it becomes a problem.

2) It shouldn't kill a dev to just be kind and help people who want to play their game play their game. If you're a player of a game and it rubs you the wrong way because somebody's getting to the end of it easier than you because you're playing it at the REAL difficulty, you should examine why you care about how other people are playing the game. And if you're a game developer you should examine why you only want to make it so that the Lucky Few get to play your game.

In the end, the problem with labelling something as abelist is the same as labelling something as racist: It's a hard term to hear and people react defensively to it. It's better to say that things are abelist actions (or racist actions) instead of dumping it on a human because it shuts down conversation.
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Exhuminator Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:32 am

If being "ableist" is a real thing, then so is being "skillist".
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Re: Are Cuphead and other difficult games ableist?

by Gunstar Green Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:37 am

I hate to keep going back to the Souls well but since it's the poster child for modern difficult games it's hard not to.

When Hidetaka Miyazaki set out designing Demon's Souls and its successors he had a very specific difficulty in mind. In his words he makes his games to be difficult but not unreasonable. He balances things to try and deliver what he feels will give the player a strong a sense of accomplishment. Ultimately there wasn't any compromise to make, he tailored the experience he wanted people to have. An easier version was never even a consideration.

When someone says a game should or must have an easy mode it's just as silly to me as someone saying a game should or must not have an easy mode. Now I'm sure I've made criticisms about X game being too hard or X game being too easy, but that all boils down to subjective personal taste and my own abilities (and probably more accurately patience) regarding certain genres. I guess the main thing I don't understand about this debate is what people are ultimately arguing for. At the end of it all the developer still sets the barrier of victory and there are plenty of games with "easy" difficulty settings that I haven't been able to beat.

Now on the other hand when there was that uproar about Miyazaki considering an easy mode for Dark Souls 3, that was stupid. Even if it did turn out to be a mis-translation in which he was trying to find a way for more players to make it through the game without compromising on difficulty (not exactly something new to the series, Dark Souls 1 has the Drake Sword secret that can speed low-skill players through the early game and of course like any RPG there's grinding but that horrid mechanic can be saved for a broader discussion on difficulty) it was still ridiculous for people to get angry about it because he still would have been designing the experience the way he wanted it to be and not "compromising," just doing things differently. There's a big difference between "we had to do this because a publisher was holding a gun to our head," and "we wanted to do this to make our game more inclusive."

It's not like developers of hard games set out to exclude people after all, but many also don't want to dangle the carrot of an easier setting in front of their players when they have a very specific level of proficiency in mind to evoke triumph (and maybe even intentional frustration ala Cuphead and other "rage games"). Games are meant to be fun, and for some people getting beaten into the dirt without any temptation to tone down the experience is what's fun to them. Getting destroyed and mocked in online multi-player games isn't fun to me, so I don't play them. I find the experience stressful and abhorrent most of the time but I understand what others get out of it, and most of the time what they get out of it is that dreaded "e-peen" that kept being brought up (even the Souls games have this with invasions but they're optional).

I feel like this discussion is going around in circles at this point so that's the last thing I have to say.

TL;DR: easy modes are fine, hard modes are fine, no modes are fine, online multiplayer PvP is fine. Just stick to the games you enjoy and everything will be fine.
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