Is difficulty still a thing?

MrKiwi

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Basically what I'm wondering is "Difficulty is still a thing in modern games?"

As I see it, modern games (At least the BIG ones) try to bring a better "experience" to the player, not saying difficulty is not a factor here, but, there's mayor focus on things such as realistic graphics or physics, more interactive/inmersive mechanics (like VR or Voice Chats) or (Those which I think are the worse) the "automated assistances" (Autosave, autoheal, autoaim, you get it). And again, not saying its wrong, but being honest, most games these days are NOT difficult or atleast not as difficult than before.

Lets be honest, frustrating moments in gaming are the most memorable, and those moments are the ones that truly bind you to the game. I recall forget saving while playing Tomb Raider II, missing one single jump and restart at previous stage. When I played the first series reboot (Legend, Anniversary, Underworld), I can't say I had such a hard time, yet I liked the "experience" but I really missed the challenge.
Some games use the poor excuse of "Insane mode" or "Hardcore" or "1 life" or whatever, but it makes no real difference rather than what you do or not based on your game knowledge. Obviously it has an impact on difficulty but it will not change the regular game.

So I want to know your opinions, "Is difficulty important in games?", "Are modern games franchises/developers neglecting it?" and "What do you think should be the "right" difficulty level?"
 

MushroomCake28

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Depends on what game. So games are made for hardcore gamers, and others for casual, some for in-between. The truth is that game makers are company are looking to make some money. It would be illogical to make a game only a small percentage of people can complete. You want to target a large audience. That's why today's game are more focused on the experience than the difficulty.
 

JtheDuelist

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To add on to MushroomCake28's statement, old school games were made to be difficult because they wanted you to keep putting in quaters to the arcade machine. Because you don't have to do that anymore, difficulty has more become an optional thing.
 

Philosophus Vagus

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It appears to be somewhat controversial oddly enough. Look up Kotaku, Polygon or others professional review of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for instance. Multiple critics lambasted that game singularly on the criticism that it was too difficult and needed an easy mode. Yet Fromsoft is popular for being difficult (which is odd considering pretty much any platformer from the mid 90s you pick up will be much more difficult then any soulsborne title) and they do have a pretty tight fanbase who are attracted to the game for just this very reason.

The critics seem to be stuck on the idea that the playerbase gets hung up on the "rights to gloat' that they're so brilliant and beat the game, while I'd counter it's more that the games are crafted around precision and that the combat is in many ways all there is to the game, the challenge and memorizing of enemy patterns and the ability to recognize when to time your actions to exploit their weaknesses a sort of puzzle, the solving of which is the main appeal to the games and that taking that out and allowing you to just run through killing everything would leave you...without much of a game. I mean, people speedrun these games in less than an hour, sparse cutscenes and all, figuring our how to get through the levels without dying and what build works for you is pretty much all the games have to offer.

The overarching debate would be whether or not games should be tailored to a specific audience or required to be developed to cater to the largest audience possible. I prefer the former simply because I find games designed to appeal to the broadest possible audience unappealing and have seen some of my favorite franchises fall out of my favor because they pursued this goal to the point where the games lost what appealed to me in the first place and I'm constantly seeing games that appear mechanically more and more similar to each other with merely the setting/art being of any real variance. On the other hand, fiscally speaking the latter has traditionally racked in more cash at the end of the day. Whether that will continue to be the case or not remains to be seen and plenty of indie niches in recent times have seen an uptick in purchases from disillusioned gamers who feel similarly to the current mainstream trends. I think this choice should be left up to the developer to decide for themselves, rather than arbitrated by customers and critics, whose choice is then whether or not said game appeals to them or whether to take their money elsewhere.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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Difficulty is a thing, it sure is.

The market/industry is huge though so you can surely see a lot more games that cater to casual gamers and/or graphics-loving gamers because a lot of devs are trying to get more customers into their games, which is hard to do if the game is difficult to play.

Then there's games of FromSoftware which are known and actually have a following due to the fact that they are difficult and requires actual skill to finish.

Personally, Im more of a fan of games on the normal-medium difficulty, but I am also liking to play the harder games right now. My progress with them is super slow, but thay feeling of actually learning how to beat new enemies in them is superb.
 

Lornsteyn

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I like difficult games, but what exactly does difficult mean nowadays, many people start crying if there isnt a tutorial.
Honestly many of the new games nowadays are just too easy, to much handholding features which ruin the experience and make them boring or annoying.
I always could vomit if you start a new game and 1000 popups show up, how you control this and that.
Developers should go back to manuals (always loved to read them) and not throw unskippable tutorials in their games.
I you have to tell a player how to open the menu, this world is really doomed.
Anyone who creates a hard game without handholding nonsense gets my applause.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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I you have to tell a player how to open the menu,
Sadly, a lot of people, especially those just starting on gaming doesn't know basic game controls.. and a lot of people dont read manuals too.. heck they dont even read EULAs etc slammed into your face when installing games..

TBH though, devs at least need to make the tutorials skippable..
 

MrKiwi

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I'm glad so many answered! :kaopride:

@MushroomCake28 I see your point, and sadly thats why they are called gaming industries, but yeah, as a developer you aim to get known by a large amount of players, so sacrifices are needed.

@JtheDuelist I never thought things like that, but makes sense, thanks for your opinion ;)

@Philosophus Vagus Guess you're right, can't say every games has the same development needs (Maybe I should have specified a game genre for this topic). Nowadays its pretty common to see games made upon "patches" or "updates", so instead of making a "full" game, you make a base game which you update in base of community opinions, like that you keep them attached to it. So not every game evolves the same way.

@Engr. Adiktuzmiko I don't read EULA's... :kaoswt: When speaking about difficult games Dark Souls surely appears (Never played any of the titles tho) but yeah, maybe thats an extreme side of what a difficult game might be.

@Lornsteyn . . . In the demo of a project I'm working on literally says: "Press X to open menu" I'm sorry. :kaosigh: Difficult could be considered (at least in my opinion, nothing official...): The enviromental design (Obstacles, enemies, bosses) that encourages the player to submerge into the game's facilities (Controls, skills, AI's) to enrich the ingame experience. So based on this, many recent games don't create this inmersion feeling, cause they don't supose much of a challenge for the player, in consecuence those games are not as memorable as harder ones.
 

Windows i7

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Difficulty is largely subjective. What one person finds difficult, another may find easy and vice versa. Its also a good idea to remember that if a game is too hard, there will be players who will never be able to get good enough to beat it due to multiple factors (disabilities being one). This is largely why difficulty level settings exist.

Developers should go back to manuals (always loved to read them)
Gran Turismo 1 and 2 on PS1 have amazing manuals that even explain the physics of racing. I actually bought those games for the manuals. Good manuals (or even physical maps in the case of Red Dead Redemption 2) are always nice.
 

gstv87

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many people start crying if there isnt a tutorial.
*I* myself have short of cried, with a tutorial existing, that nobody seems to bother completing.
people who just booted up the game for the first time ten minutes ago, they go into the matchmaking menu, with clear labels for selecting the difficulty level, they bypass the closed-course tutorial, they bypass the easy mode matchmaking, and they go straight into competitive, to the hardest level.
out of spawn, head-first against the closest enemy, bam, grenade to the face.
"omg! how did I just died so easy! this game sucks! you people suck! you can't even win this!" (disconnected)

you can't "easy mode" stupidity.
 

Wavelength

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"Difficult" is great, but "Punishing" isn't usually as good. "Frustrating" is even worse - frustrating moments don't bind the player to the game; they drive the player away from the game.

You want to create challenging but fair obstacles for your player, that push them to their limits but make them feel like they can do it if they only perform just a bit better... and never waste their time along the way.

It was okay to send the player back to the beginning of 8-bit Super Mario Bros. on the NES if they ran out of lives, because the game was just a few hours long and warp pipes could be used to get you back to a late stage quickly. It would be insane to send the player back to the beginning of the 50-hour Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii if they ran out of lives. Therefore, the designers opted for a strategy where each individual sub-goal may be very difficult, but you're never really at risk of losing more than a few minutes' worth of progress.

There are games where it makes sense for the stakes to be higher (especially ones where losing progress won't force you to repeat the same experience). Slay the Spire is a good example. You essentially lose your save file if you drop a battle, but since the cards you'll get (and the enemies you'll face) on your next adventure will be so very different, your path back to the late-game is a fun and interesting one. One Way Heroics works because the play experience is quick, and even in a loss the player feels like they're accomplishing something (unlocking new classes and powers for future adventures).

As a rule to guide good game design - make challenges difficult but fair, and never waste the player's time.
 

Rukiri

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Dragonball HS will not be easy but very difficult, you will need to know the battle system inside out and figure out some strats.
Because you can guard, quick dodge, deflect, reflect, and the AI will try to attack you if you just mash melee because I'm not designing a simple abs but a very in depth one that requires skill.
 

HentaiPie

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I saw a video the other day that explained difficulty, and why it's starting to become obsolete and it made a lot of sense. Difficulty was always a easy (which was overly easy), Medium, Hard (medium with added steps) and extreme (practically impossible). Though the names changed this stayed the fact for most things. Companies would spend time to tweak the AI and gameplay for each one, but none would focus on one gamemode that would be ideal to play. Everyone assumed medium was it, but as always, it's just a tweaked version of the rest. If you sit there and make a game specifically in one game mode, that game is made completely for that. You don't have the (man this is easy) or the (Who would even like to play this) type settings. Because of this, the fact that it's easier, and quicker to make it in one setting most people tend to lean with the games that have only one setting, thus making it so more and more people are adopting to the non multi-difficulties in games.
 

Astel

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I will say that I don't like difficult games...
Cuphead? Dropped
Hollow Knight? Dropped
Dark Souls, Sekiro, whatever? I don't even try.

My reflexes are not what they used to be, my fingers are slower and I usually mess around when multiple buttons have to be pressed at the same time. Maybe I could beat them, if I had more time and I could cope with frustration better, but at my +40 years, life is too short to waste trying to beat a hard game.
So, it's easy mode for me, or watch/read online guides, outright cheat, or simply drop the game.
I also don't like the whole "git gud" elitist mentality.
 

Jhale M.

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I think a game should either be engineered around its difficulty as part of the experience. If variable difficulty is an important part of the experience, it should be more variable than just mode selects. But since it is an advanced feature, it shouldn't be immediately obvious that you can change the difficulty. I also think Easy difficulty in the past could sometimes be too difficult. Giving the player the option to choose whether or not to be practically invincible or the opposite I think is the most satisfying. A lot of people would just use cheats on hard games in the past anyway.

One general problem with difficulty however, is how abstract it has been. If you don't know what is coming, picking one difficulty mode or another is a huge risk. Most people don't like to start events over just to try the lower or higher difficulty. Every change in difficulty could be too drastic or too subtle. The only clear improvements we can give the players against or for difficulty is their personal stats.
 

isoovak

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yea just like flappy bird, it's easy to navigate but very hard to perfect.
 

rue669

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I don't particularly like difficult games and if there is an easy mode available, you can bet I'm going to select it. I work too hard at my own game and at my irl job to get bogged down by difficulty in games.

Now, having said that--I did pick up Code Vein, which I hear is an "easy" dark souls to see if I would like the genre. I've never played a "dark souls" game and even though I loved Dead Cells (which people think is dark souls), I found Dead Cells not as difficult once you start upgrading your character.

Having said all that, Code Vein is pretty good. It's intense. And the enemies hit hard! You simply just can't waltz in and kill every thing. You gotta take your time.

Sometimes it's frustrating, but mostly I'm enjoying it (though the story seems to be lacking right now....)
 

Eric_SD-RPG-Studio

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I think it really depends of the type of games. Personally I wouldn't want to play a difficult story-driven game or try to solve a puzzle game with the random encounter keeps popping up a difficult monster.
 

RetailDrone7576

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Astel Said:.[/QUOTE said:
I also don't like the whole "git gud" elitist mentality
This. so much this. most people who use that term simply dont want to admit that the game was poorly designed.
 

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