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Difficulty Level - Where is my Easy Mode!


Qazimod
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7 hours ago, Qazimod said:


It would need to be more than health and EXP; I’d go as far as including damage multipliers (against enemies) and divisors (against yourself). And P4G has toggles for damage given/taken too, hence the comparison. It needn’t be an extreme of enabling god mode and one-shot kills; just something that balances the experience to be more compelling than frustrating. Someone is probably in the middle of posting “The multipliers and divisors exist though - it’s called levelling up and improving gear!” but if it’s about creating an inviting experience then the grind would quickly become offputting.

 

Again, I think that getting an equal experience is more important than god modes and one-shot kills, and if a hypothetical easy mode resulted in less players walking away from the game because they could quickly tune the experience, I don’t see that as a bad thing. I’m not about to claim that it’s what From should be doing with all of their games; I just enjoy the discussion about how to solve the issue of “accessibility”.


I think this kind of assumes that the goal of developing a game is automatically to get as many players through it as possible, which I just don’t think is what FromSoft are aiming for with these games. As someone pointed out earlier, they’ve got higher completion percentages than Assassins Creed, which suggests that even if it’s not what they’re aiming for, they’re doing a better job of getting players through their games than one of the industry’s biggest franchises. Are people asking for those games to be even more accessible? I just don’t agree that the goal should be to ensure that the widest possible number of people arbitrarily look at all the bits of the game. If that’s what the developers choose then it’s fine, but I really don’t get why anyone would want it universally applied to all the games ever made, especially when these games specifically don’t have many cutscenes or much other story content that merits a story mode style playthrough. Without the challenge of working to beat difficult stuff they’d be pretty short games that were extremely light on story. 

 

3 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

 

Having said that I've got nothing against an easy mode for people who say they want it. Why should someone who wouldn't use it and wouldn't be affected by it object? 


Assuming this is being asked genuinely, the answer is still because adding those modes, balancing them and testing them takes resources away from other things. There’s been a huge number of variations on this question over the last few pages and when presented with the reality of applying these resources to different things the response always seems to either be “it wouldn’t be that hard”, or a statement that people just don’t care about the cost of adding an easy mode. I’d rather have the painted world as a fully tested area of the game than a fully tested mode that removes the challenge. 

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I didn’t realise that QA testers were also the game designers.

 

I still don’t get your argument, broker. If they made the game accessible for more people, more people would buy them, they would make more money, which they could use to pay for any additional testing that’s required.

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22 minutes ago, Broker said:

I think this kind of assumes that the goal of developing a game is automatically to get as many players through it as possible, which I just don’t think is what FromSoft are aiming for with these games. As someone pointed out earlier, they’ve got higher completion percentages than Assassins Creed, which suggests that even if it’s not what they’re aiming for, they’re doing a better job of getting players through their games than one of the industry’s biggest franchises. Are people asking for those games to be even more accessible? I just don’t agree that the goal should be to ensure that the widest possible number of people arbitrarily look at all the bits of the game. If that’s what the developers choose then it’s fine, but I really don’t get why anyone would want it universally applied to all the games ever made, especially when these games specifically don’t have many cutscenes or much other story content that merits a story mode style playthrough. Without the challenge of working to beat difficult stuff they’d be pretty short games that were extremely light on story. 

 

Totally - I admire From's dedication to developing a specific type of experience, and it's totally up to them to determine how accessible - or not - they choose to make their games. And I'm sure that removing the challenge too much would result in a walking tour of some fancy locations and impressive characters. I just enjoy speculating on the possibilities, regardless of those possibilities being completely outside of From's interests. I'm generally happy with the games as they are, and I'm not asking for them to reach out to a wider audience. I just like the but what if?!?! conversation. :) And anyway, none of us are designers (well... okay, I'm sure some exist on the forum) and I trust From more than I do my own inane rambling. :P 

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4 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

I'm shit at games but have finished every soulsborne with the exception of Sekiro. I think a lot of the difficulty is an illusion, for example the bosses look huge and terrifying but you only actually get hit and take damage from a small part of them, if you happen to be in the wrong place when it attacks with that part. And pretty much everything is telegraphed to the extent that it becomes a test of memory and responding to the correct warning at the correct time. 

Personally I would never use an easy mode because for me the whole spirit of the game is about being rewarded for tough challenges with more lovely environments, lore and fun skirmishes with non-boss enemies. 

Having said that I've got nothing against an easy mode for people who say they want it. Why should someone who wouldn't use it and wouldn't be affected by it object? 

It is an illusion. Except for sekiro. The latter requires you to git gud.

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1 hour ago, JPL said:

I didn’t realise that QA testers were also the game designers.

 

I still don’t get your argument, broker. If they made the game accessible for more people, more people would buy them, they would make more money, which they could use to pay for any additional testing that’s required.

Nah only a few more people would buy it. It’s a subset of a subset of people. gamers with disabilities that want to play a From software game. You would count them with one hand I bet. And they’d have a lot more testing. I don’t think it would make much business sense. But they should do it as the ethical choice. 

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16 minutes ago, Oz said:

Nah only a few more people would buy it. It’s a subset of a subset of people. gamers with disabilities that want to play a From software game. You would count them with one hand I bet. And they’d have a lot more testing. I don’t think it would make much business sense. But they should do it as the ethical choice. 

Not just disabled gamers though, is it? I know it’s anecdotal, but I know quite a few people who’d love to play their games but are put off by the difficulty.

 

Personally, I’m cool with how the difficulty of their games is pitched, but I’m sure having options would open them up to a big new audience.

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1 hour ago, JPL said:

I didn’t realise that QA testers were also the game designers.

 

I still don’t get your argument, broker. If they made the game accessible for more people, more people would buy them, they would make more money, which they could use to pay for any additional testing that’s required.


I’m pretty sure the QA testers and Designers both get paid in money, which is the resource that most projects are trying to manage most carefully. Hiring a bunch of extra testers takes a lot of the budget up. 
 

I don’t really know if you could prove or disprove the idea that more people would buy the game if it was easier, but you certainly can’t use the money from theoretical purchasers to fund the development of the game you’re imagining they might buy. 

 

1 hour ago, Qazimod said:

And anyway, none of us are designers (well... okay, I'm sure some exist on the forum) and I trust From more than I do my own inane rambling. :P 


I can’t even begin to imagine how implementing and testing difficulty levels works, balancing and implementing one set of mechanics is hard enough. 

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4 minutes ago, JPL said:

Not just disabled gamers though, is it? I know it’s anecdotal, but I know quite a few people who’d love to play their games but are put off by the difficulty.

 

Personally, I’m cool with how the difficulty of their games is pitched, but I’m sure having options would open them up to a big new audience.


Maybe we could just include difficulty as a genre now. I mean, I’d play FIFA if the developers put guns and an exciting sci fi story in it and it wasn’t a football game.

 

It’s nice in the world of games, of the thousands and thousands that there are, that there’s a niche of rock hard games like souls and sekiro for the people that want them and loads of other games for the people that don’t.

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1 minute ago, Broker said:

but you certainly can’t use the money from theoretical purchasers to fund the development of the game you’re imagining they might buy. 

Are you sure? I imagine most big budget games these days are funded with the idea that people will buy it, so they’ll recoup their investment.

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I think maybe they can leave someone else  to make a baby souls game. Lighter tone, cell shaded graphics and rosalinda shows up if you get stuck. 


The games they are making are thematically consistent. Dark tone, gothic art style and hard as balls. It all hangs together.

 

Personally, even if I never see the option, knowing that there is an easy mode would somewhat ruin the experience for me. Part of what I get out of it is knowing that most people would not even get to see these areas I have gotten to. 

I think the argument is better or stronger when talking about gamers with disabilities. I totally appreciate the ethical choice there is to give them an opportunity to get through. 

 

16 minutes ago, JPL said:

Not just disabled gamers though, is it? I know it’s anecdotal, but I know quite a few people who’d love to play their games but are put off by the difficulty.


But if we are just talking about my lazy friend who quit bloodborne after dying a couple of times to the first mob. He does not deserve bloodborne. I like bloodborne way better because I know he could not get to the first boss. 

 

Also someone should make that FIFA game with lasers and I would finally buy a football game. 

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8 minutes ago, JPL said:

Are you sure? I imagine most big budget games these days are funded with the idea that people will buy it, so they’ll recoup their investment.


Yeah I guess you could go to your publisher and ask for more budget to make the game more accessible and cover testing for it. That sounds like a recipe for a ruined, homogeneous game if ever I’ve heard one though. I’d rather From keep doing things their way than ask for more funding from Activision or Bandai. I don’t think their aim is to make the next Call of Duty. 

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2 minutes ago, Oz said:

Personally, even if I never see the option, knowing that there is an easy mode would somewhat ruin the experience for me. Part of what I get out of it is knowing that most people would not even get to see these areas I have gotten to. 

 

But if we are just talking about my lazy friend who quit bloodborne after dying a couple of times to the first mob. He does not deserve bloodborne. I like bloodborne way better because I know he could not get to the first boss. 

 

 

This is some sort of joke I assume?

 

Why on earth would someone enjoy a game more because they know and enjoy the fact that other people can't play it?

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I never said anything about making a baby souls game or FIFA with lasers or the next Call of Duty, I was merely saying it’d be good for more people to experience their games, but it’s turned into that elitist nonsense.

 

I’ll leave it there, as it’s a discussion that doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere.

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I’d be interested to hear what people do want. People want the game to be more accessible to more people, but they don’t want floating markers, they don’t want it to be a big blockbuster, they don’t want it to be more like Assassin’s Creed, they don’t want baby souls.
 

Some people want a very simple option like a god mode, some people want multiple fully balanced difficulty modes, some people want a set of sliders that allow then to control almost every aspect of the game. Some people think that whatever they add would be cheap, some people think it would pay for itself, some people don’t care about the cost. 

 

It’s almost like whatever fundamental massive changes you made to the entire design ethos of the series would have a massive impact on the games and be incredibly complex. From are lucky that every armchair designer in the world has a big list of nebulous things they should do with no ideas how to actually implement them. 

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10 minutes ago, Clipper said:

This is some sort of joke I assume?

 

Why on earth would someone enjoy a game more because they know and enjoy the fact that other people can't play it?

If we are talking about a disability I definitely don’t enjoy that. I want everyone to be able to play it. But if we are talking about a perfectly abled player who wants to see all of the game but make none of the effort. I feel better knowing they are locked out. I don’t think this is a very incendiary comment. Why do people enjoy doing anything that’s difficult? Partly because it is difficult and not everyone can do it. Just human nature no? 

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3 minutes ago, Oz said:

If we are talking about a disability I definitely don’t enjoy that. I want everyone to be able to play it. But if we are talking about a perfectly abled player who wants to see all of the game but make none of the effort. I feel better knowing they are locked out. I don’t think this is a very incendiary comment. Why do people enjoy doing anything that’s difficult? Partly because it is difficult and not everyone can do it. Just human nature no? 

ok...

 

That is certainly an outlook to have.

 

I hope you enjoy your hard games and the fact that some people don't play those games.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Clipper said:

ok...

 

That is certainly an outlook to have.

 

I hope you enjoy your hard games and the fact that some people don't play those games.

 

 

I enjoy easy games too. I am just saying part of what I like about From is that the games are hard and lazy people don’t play them. 

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4 minutes ago, Cappuccino Kid said:

I feel like a previously unknown venn diagram of Souls-players and Tory-voters has suddenly been revealed.

I have never voted Tory but re-reading my posts I have to admit you have a point. 

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Even if you enjoy the fact that some players don't get to see the game you do, surely you'd still get that curious thrill from knowing they couldn't manage it on "Normal" difficulty?

 

24 minutes ago, Broker said:

I’d be interested to hear what people do want. People want the game to be more accessible to more people, but they don’t want floating markers, they don’t want it to be a big blockbuster, they don’t want it to be more like Assassin’s Creed, they don’t want baby souls.
 

Some people want a very simple option like a god mode, some people want multiple fully balanced difficulty modes, some people want a set of sliders that allow then to control almost every aspect of the game. Some people think that whatever they add would be cheap, some people think it would pay for itself, some people don’t care about the cost. 

 

It’s almost like whatever fundamental massive changes you made to the entire design ethos of the series would have a massive impact on the games and be incredibly complex. From are lucky that every armchair designer in the world has a big list of nebulous things they should do with no ideas how to actually implement them. 

 

This is about the nebulous topic of an easier difficulty setting, and discussing what form that could take is interesting, no? Even so, I can 100% guarantee than From test many different options before deciding on how much damage each enemy does, how often they attack, how aggressively they exploit player errors and so on. I also imagine different builds are tested and found to be too easy or hard for some players. I highly doubt the level of difficulty is some purely artistic decision made without any feedback from testing and trial and error.

 

Which brings me to my last point, which is that I feel the argument that the games are somehow precisely designed to provide a certain amount of challenge to be nonsense, or if they are they're a failure. Some people will find them harder than others, and an easier option would allow some people to experience the same level of challenge the "normal" setting does for others. There could even be a Hard option for people who find the normal option too easy.

 

Ultimately, whatever form this theoretical easy mode may take, it wouldn't affect the experience of the regular mode whatsoever. Those who derive pleasure knowing that someone else can't manage to do what they can can still have that.

 

I'd add that I love the Souls games exactly as they are and wouldn't personally switch them to Easy, given the choice, but I don't see how its existence would trouble me.

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33 minutes ago, Clipper said:

ok...

 

That is certainly an outlook to have.

 

I hope you enjoy your hard games and the fact that some people don't play those games.

 

 


I don’t really play any other hard games other than the souls series, and I mostly summoned and ground out levels to make things easier for myself for quite a long time, as well as grabbing some badly balanced weapons to make things easier. Outside of from games I mostly tend towards things that don’t require any complex reactions and can be beaten through perseverance rather than skill.

 

I do genuinely admire people who persevere at really hard games though. I like watching pro counter strike, enjoy kaizo Mario streams etc. I find it amazing that people persevere with those challenges and love watching people who’ve spent ludicrous amounts of time practicing play at such a high level of skill, but I hate actually playing tough levels in Mario Maker or trying to play CSGO. I honestly kind of enjoy the experience of trying out games, deciding they’re too hard for me and then watching someone else play them.

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To be clear , games are competitive in lots of cases and  that is totally fine obviously - I get that.

 

It is fine to take the piss out of your friends if you beat them at a game , a bit of fun banter. Similarly leaderboard score oneupmanship is fine too. It is fine to enjoy hard games and enjoy that difficulty.

 

I just think the whole idea of enjoying the fact that people cannot enjoy a game you do purely because it is too hard for them is a bit odd. To think that a game having an easier mode affects your enjoyment just seems weird.

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Whilst I know that I’ll be told I’m a failure for not having the self control to avoid it (which is apparently a totally normal thing to say about games), I generally tend towards easy modes and find a lot of games aren’t satisfying or interesting because there’s no challenge. I often tell myself that I’ll play again on a harder mode but never do. From’s games not having that option meant that I played them at a harder level than I would have if given a choice and they became my favourite games of the last five years, largely because they’re so satisfying to overcome. I find that a lot of games feel like bullshit on hard and I find myself wondering if it was intended to be played on an easier setting and they’ve just bumped up numbers. Knowing that there’s only one option that’s been designed and tuned to be exactly that challenging makes the experience more enjoyable for me. I don’t really care what other people are playing or how they’re playing it, but I’d definitely enjoy the games less if I was given an option to avoid the challenge because I probably would and then they’d feel just as dull as every other third person action game. 

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5 minutes ago, Broker said:

Whilst I know that I’ll be told I’m a failure for not having the self control to avoid it (which is apparently a totally normal thing to say about games), I generally tend towards easy modes and find a lot of games aren’t satisfying or interesting because there’s no challenge. I often tell myself that I’ll play again on a harder mode but never do. From’s games not having that option meant that I played them at a harder level than I would have if given a choice and they became my favourite games of the last five years, largely because they’re so satisfying to overcome. I find that a lot of games feel like bullshit on hard and I find myself wondering if it was intended to be played on an easier setting and they’ve just bumped up numbers. Knowing that there’s only one option that’s been designed and tuned to be exactly that challenging makes the experience more enjoyable for me. I don’t really care what other people are playing or how they’re playing it, but I’d definitely enjoy the games less if I was given an option to avoid the challenge because I probably would and then they’d feel just as dull as every other third person action game. 

 

I can understand this, but ultimately while I wouldn't say you're a "failure" for lacking that self control, it's still a decision you're making out of choice despite knowing you'll end up with a weaker experience. I have the opposite problem, in that I'll often persevere with normal modes even if I know deep down I'll probably enjoy a game more if I turn it down. However, there will also be people who find a Normal mode so hard that they feel they have no option but to stop playing or turn it down to easy, and I think it's better that they have that option in spite of a few people picking it without needing to.

 

I'd contrast this thread with the Celeste one, where people are often advised to make use of the accessibility options if it comes down to a choice between that or just quitting. It's best to persevere without them, but I can't think of any games other than From's where people feel that others shouldn't be able to enjoy them at all.

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1 hour ago, Oz said:

...even if I never see the option, knowing that there is an easy mode would somewhat ruin the experience for me. Part of what I get out of it is knowing that most people would not even get to see these areas I have gotten to...


But if we are just talking about my lazy friend who quit bloodborne after dying a couple of times to the first mob. He does not deserve bloodborne. I like bloodborne way better because I know he could not get to the first boss. 

1 hour ago, Broker said:

I’d be interested to hear what people do want. People want the game to be more accessible to more people, but they don’t want floating markers, they don’t want it to be a big blockbuster, they don’t want it to be more like Assassin’s Creed, they don’t want baby souls.


Oz - assuming this isn’t a joke post - the sentiment of superiority and elitism you’re describing horrible! But you keep protecting that gate from the unwashed hordes outside who are too lazy to even git gud.

 

Brooker - my husband recently played through Jedi Fallen Order (which is massively influenced by FROM games) on the ‘story mode’ difficulty while I played on the equivalent of hard. The game is very transparent in telling the player how the setting affects game play - enemy aggression is increased, damage inflicted by enemies is increased and the parry timing window is narrowed. That’s pretty much it, but it was enough to let him play through at the pace he wanted while I played at a much higher challenge level. So as you can imagine, this meant that for me fights lasted longer and I died more frequently. 
 

Something like that for FROM games would be fine I think, and wouldn’t entail too much follow-up testing, since all the mechanics are unchanged - although I’d be very curious to hear from people actually making games whether this assumption is accurate or not. The aggression level might do, but I’d say it’s a secondary concern to damage dealt. 

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2 hours ago, Broker said:

I’d be interested to hear what people do want. People want the game to be more accessible to more people, but they don’t want floating markers, they don’t want it to be a big blockbuster, they don’t want it to be more like Assassin’s Creed, they don’t want baby souls.

 

The issue for me with Souls' games is not one of difficulty but of time. I'm a competent enough gamer to get through a Souls' game, given enough time. I don't want the games to be made easier or dumbed down in any way because that would mean they lose part of their USP. 

 

The level design of the Souls' games are wonderful and part of the delight of the games is in working out where to go, locating and opening up the inevitable shortcuts and improving your tactical awareness. However, there are an awful lot of people who love all of this but have limited gaming time. A mixture of work, family and life meant Dark Souls 1-3 passed me by; I didn't have the free time to commit to any of the games in the sustained way I would need to, to get through the game and enjoy it in the way I wanted to. As anecdotal as my problem with the games were then, I know a lot of people who had similar issues to contend with. If you've only got 30-60 minutes free for a gaming session, having to spend 10-15 minutes to make it to a boss can put you off. 

 

My solution would be to either have a bonfire available directly outside a boss (I know this is the case with some bosses). This would be the only way of having an 'easy' option in game and would be an opt-in from the start. Or alternatively, anyone who chooses the 'easy' mode has the ability to place a bonfire anywhere in a level, but only once. This wouldn't diminish the perceived difficulty of the game; it's just another concession to accessibility in the manner of summoning, certain starting classes etc. 

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13 hours ago, Broker said:

I’d be interested to hear what people do want. People want the game to be more accessible to more people, but they don’t want floating markers, they don’t want it to be a big blockbuster, they don’t want it to be more like Assassin’s Creed, they don’t want baby souls.
 

Some people want a very simple option like a god mode, some people want multiple fully balanced difficulty modes, some people want a set of sliders that allow then to control almost every aspect of the game. Some people think that whatever they add would be cheap, some people think it would pay for itself, some people don’t care about the cost. 

 

It’s almost like whatever fundamental massive changes you made to the entire design ethos of the series would have a massive impact on the games and be incredibly complex. From are lucky that every armchair designer in the world has a big list of nebulous things they should do with no ideas how to actually implement them. 

Sorry to do it this way, but I resolved not to post too much in this thread before it's split (as I think is on the cards). I wrote the following about exactly what I'd like to see FROM do with their games (this was about Sekiro specifically). Call me an armchair designer if you like but this is from hundreds of hours of playtests and interviews with players, and from hearing the first hand experiences of the team who actually ran the playtests (not QA) for Sekiro: FROM apparently treated them first with suspicion when Activision first provided their services, and then later, like wizards.

 

https://medium.com/@garethlloyd/sekiro-difficulty-accessibility-an-exhausting-but-useful-debate-6dfbfe7b4cf2

 

What it comes down to is well crafted options and tweaks. It isn't a nebulous list: you get those when your mechanisms of community feedback are poorly run surveys and, well, a wishlist of features that you pulled from a forum or steam discussion page. The user/player research led method is about working with the developer to pull out feedback that they can base useful changes in, that are in line with the game that they're trying to make (any researcher who tells you to put in floating markers is overstepping their role). It's trickier for solo or small devs, but there are individual consultants out there who can help if the agencies or dedicated staff are too expensive, or there's even growing DIY resources. And usually these things aren't extra work: they're designed to cut down on guesswork and therefore iterations.

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