Jump to content

Difficulty Level - Where is my Easy Mode!


Qazimod
 Share

Recommended Posts

If you add difficulty modes to Souls - or sliders, or profiles - you mess up the following things:

 

- You either break the invasion and summons mechanics or you split the player base into separate pools

 

- You expose all of the games secrets at a much faster clip and a large part of the early success of Souls was due to the shared nature of the experience as the community worked things out. 

 

This was less of an issue in Jedi Fallen Order, because unless you liked ponchos there wasn't a lot of stuff. 

 

The multiplayer and community people are integral to Souls (though not Sekiro, obviously). Thinking about the single player only takes a narrow view. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, kensei said:

If you add difficulty modes to Souls - or sliders, or profiles - you mess up the following things:

 

- You either break the invasion and summons mechanics or you split the player base into separate pools

 

- You expose all of the games secrets at a much faster clip and a large part of the early success of Souls was due to the shared nature of the experience as the community worked things out. 

 

This was less of an issue in Jedi Fallen Order, because unless you liked ponchos there wasn't a lot of stuff. 

 

The multiplayer and community people are integral to Souls (though not Sekiro, obviously). Thinking about the single player only takes a narrow view. 

The multiplayer one is a big issue until you give it a little thought. Splitting the base into two pools (base/modified) is probably fine, and you can retain the messaging system across all groups. Alternatively, allow all players to summon base game players, but not base game players to summon modified. Or.. turn off summons for modified players.  Honestly, I think the players I've heard from would rather that drawback then the current situation. I wouldn't worry about pooling players either, as in the end you might be enabling a bigger playerbase overall.

 

The community discovery thing is.. the pace of how these things play out, it's a couple of days - a week max - until everything's laid bare. That obscure door in the DeS remake lasted a few days until someone sorted it. Not really an issue I'd say.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, Isaac said:

The community discovery argument is a total non starter given that with millions of players and twitch/streaming it's all basically over in about a week.

And if they're that worried about it.. patch the options in after a week or two. At this point, it's better than nothing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What's the issue in being satisfied in completing something difficult? Why do mountain climbers climb mountains or why did people trek to the poles? Why do people chase achievements in games or complete challenges that give certain rewards? Part of the reason is knowing that not everyone can do it. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, squirtle said:

What's the issue in being satisfied in completing something difficult? Why do mountain climbers climb mountains or why did people trek to the poles? Why do people chase achievements in games or complete challenges that give certain rewards? Part of the reason is knowing that not everyone can do it. 

 

 


Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate a challenge - but one I can do. :D

 

My travails in Bloodborne were super enjoyable for the most part - until I hit a brick wall and found myself wasting hours and hours of my life. It’s frustrating not only to fail to make progress in a game but to know that you’ve wasted your free time when you could have been playing something else. 
 

So it’s not simply a case, as had been suggested earlier in the thread, that these games aren’t for me. Bloodborne is tremendously good fun.

 

I would only advocate for the option to tweak certain values - like damage inflicted, damage received, duration of I-frames, and so on. Nothing that would fundamentally change the nature of the game. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

27 minutes ago, squirtle said:

What's the issue in being satisfied in completing something difficult? Why do mountain climbers climb mountains or why did people trek to the poles? Why do people chase achievements in games or complete challenges that give certain rewards? Part of the reason is knowing that not everyone can do it. 

 

 

 

Not everyone can can do the B-sides on Celeste without the accessibility options. That's still true whether the options are there or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, jonny_rat said:

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.


Really interesting articles, thanks :) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, Broker said:


Really interesting articles, thanks :) 

Really enjoying hearing your takes in this thread by the way. The games user research community/industry - such as it is - is not good enough at supporting small or solo devs and it's really useful to hear your thoughts on the process and your experiences.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, squirtle said:

What's the issue in being satisfied in completing something difficult? Why do mountain climbers climb mountains or why did people trek to the poles? Why do people chase achievements in games or complete challenges that give certain rewards? Part of the reason is knowing that not everyone can do it. 

 

 

(He gets so many backs up with this tweet, haha)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, jonny_rat said:

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.

 

A very interesting and thoughtful essay, thank you.

 

Two things I would say:

 

1. There is an implication that "increasing sales" should be a developer's primary goal but I'm not sure it should be.

 

2. Some of this discussion seems to revolve around whether you see games as art to be experienced or a product to be consumed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, ChewMagma said:

 

A very interesting and thoughtful essay, thank you.

 

Two things I would say:

 

1. There is an implication that "increasing sales" should be a developer's primary goal but I'm not sure it should be.

 

2. Some of this discussion seems to revolve around whether you see games as art to be experienced or a product to be consumed.

I did re-read it myself the other day, and agree that the focus on sales is a bit strong. Please give me the benefit of the doubt here though in that I was more interested in using these blogs as a way of drumming up freelance work at the time :)

 

And there's a whole separate piece in the games as art/media topic. In short, I think that intentional access (and even clarity) barriers in games are an edge case, and don't easily compare with similar barriers in other (non interactive) media.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, jonny_rat said:

Really enjoying hearing your takes in this thread by the way. The games user research community/industry - such as it is - is not good enough at supporting small or solo devs and it's really useful to hear your thoughts on the process and your experiences.


I’ll be thinking about the easier options to implement, because even when you’re just prototyping there’s a need to gather feedback from as wide of a variety of sources as possible and it’s more interesting to read and engage with feedback from people whose experiences aren’t as widely seen. I’m also trying to work out how to offer text size options and colour blind features easily in UE4, I might put together a base project that has a menu with those things already set up just to prevent repetition of work. 
 

I’m certainly way more interested in trying to make the stuff I’m designing as accessible as possible thanks to your contributions here and excellent written piece :) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, Ninja Doctor said:

I’m a fan of easy modes. I’ve not got the time to develop mastery of hard games. Most of the time I just want to potter through the story mode and have a little fun. 

 

Yep I'm same I just want to enjoy a story I will usually play on normal difficulty unless I get to a difficulty spike. If after two or three attempts I can't get pass I will drop the game down to easy to carry on playing. I just don't have the time to keep banging my head against a boss battle.

 

My only annoyance is that if the entry barrier is set high then that will almost rule me out of even starting the game thus I've not played any of the souls games.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this where we clean our gaming souls? Despite gaming since about 1981 I’m still rubbish at games and I have no problems using an easy mode to get my cheap thrills. I even used the suit of shame in Mario 3D World. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep thinking about how if the original Demon's Souls had an easy mode that required some tuning or designing around, or maybe was just a straight split in the player base, then there would be no controversy at all after the first game had come out. Or no controversy full stop since it was a surprise hit and nobody knew what to expect going in.

 

Like how there was outrage before Bayonetta came out about it having the auto mode where you can just walk your way through the entire game and how this was a disgrace and ruined the game, and then it actually meant fuck all and Bayonetta is considered one of the finest action games ever made. Or the fuss about Story Mode in whichever Mass Effect that was added in, and again, it amounted to nothing and a few people played the game that way and it was fine. Or how ever Halo game still has an Easy and Normal difficulty and every Doom game has "Don't Hurt Me" which most of the series' fans will never touch.

 

The only reason this is a controversy with FROM's games is because it hasn't been there before. The "game breaking" changes it would be designed for and around - even the scorched earth solution of splitting the player base doesn't seem like such a huge deal since the hardcore fans will still all be playing at the default difficulty anyway.

 

I think Dark Souls (1) did a pretty decent job of providing control over difficulty through the character classes and starting objects and summons anyway, it's just none of this is signposted to new players. I also think there's some major exaggerations about how simultaneously robust and fragile the design of Dark Souls is - I've only ever played the first Dark Souls, and it is a meticulously constructed and balanced game. But if you take out that third skeleton here, and that other dog there, the game wouldn't fall apart any more than Doom falls apart by adding or removing an extra imp on a ledge, or an extra shotgun guy or two in the secret compartment that opens when the light goes out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please fuck off. I’ve discussed this in a variety of ways and changes my stance on a lot of things, and thought a lot about people’s points. Targeting individual people and belittling them and their viewpoints does nothing to convince anyone of anything other than that you’re an arsehole. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will it "fall apart"? No, the underlying mechanics are fun. But I think you are really underselling the importance of the meticulous balancing.

 

One of the patches made Capra easier. It did this by moving the dogs back a little in the room so they wouldn't rush you that fast. That's how sensitive the game is to enemy placement and balancing. 

 

If you've not experienced the panic of holding a shitload of souls with really low health, or indeed the crushing despair of losing them, you've not really experienced the game.

 

It is what it is and it is what From wanted to be. It has unfortunately got caught up with a lot of nonsense about git gud and people feeling morally superior that they can complete a videogame. That all needs ignored. But I am happy teams are making what they want to make and not making for the market by committee. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All of the recent Doom / Wolfenstein games are infinitely more enjoyable on the easiest mode.

 

I don't want to be taking cover, I want to be Schwarzenegger in commando.

 

I tried Wolfenstein in medium difficulty and fucking hated it!

 

Easiest mode, double shotties stalking Nazi compounds and blowing everyone away? Perfect!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, kensei said:

Will it "fall apart"? No, the underlying mechanics are fun. But I think you are really underselling the importance of the meticulous balancing.

 

One of the patches made Capra easier. It did this by moving the dogs back a little in the room so they wouldn't rush you that fast. That's how sensitive the game is to enemy placement and balancing. 

 

If you've not experienced the panic of holding a shitload of souls with really low health, or indeed the crushing despair of losing them, you've not really experienced the game.

 

It is what it is and it is what From wanted to be. It has unfortunately got caught up with a lot of nonsense about git gud and people feeling morally superior that they can complete a videogame. That all needs ignored. But I am happy teams are making what they want to make and not making for the market by committee. 

 

I don't buy that the Soulsborne games are unique in this regard than having more or less enemies in, say, Quake 1 or Ikaruga or any other game with meticulous enemy placement.

 

If someone is worse at the game, they'll still experience the same tension on easy as a better player playing on hard, but at a more manageable level. Like how games have always been made. 

 

This is all theoretical to be honest, I'm not especially fussed if From put an easy mode in Elden Ring. I just think people are overly precious about the Soulsborne games.

 

EDIT: now I think about it I'm not sure if Ikaruga does change the enemy placement on different difficulties. But Radiant Silvergun is a good example of a shmup that does while still being incredibly intricate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Camel said:

Guys, we already did 'Broker doesn't want less able people to enjoy his favourite game' here:

 

 

Discussion is proceeding in a civil manner, so this kind of comment is unproductive to put it mildly. Give it a rest please.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, kensei said:

.

If you've not experienced the panic of holding a shitload of souls with really low health, or indeed the crushing despair of losing them, you've not really experienced the game.

And yet again, here is the point of adding accessibility and difficulty customisations and tweaks. Allowing a greater range of people to experience that panic (see interviews with FROM staff around the time of Sekiro's release) while keeping the base experience intact for those who want to play it that way.

 

 'you've not really experienced the game if you play it this way' is also something people say about Halo at the sub-heroic difficulties (heroic is even labelled Halo as it was meant to be played in later games, as in the intended difficulty set by the devs) - the existence of higher and lower settings doesn't change or contaminate that intended experience, and even if it did, there would be straightforward ways to mitigate it. Basically, if there's a will there's a way, and if there isn't a will, then fair enough. But let's not pretend that there are barriers to actually making these changes, or legitimate reasons not to other than 'we don't want to.'

 

Edit: actually there is one legit barrier, and that's lack of experience/knowledge in how to implement these features. If you don't have anyone internal pushing these features they get left out, and given that it sounds like FROM treated Activision's playtesting lab like alchemists the first time they worked with them, this could be the case rather than lack of will.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, matt0 said:

If someone is worse at the game, they'll still experience the same tension on easy as a better player playing on hard, but at a more manageable level. Like how games have always been made. 


Quite - people get this misconception about a “watered-down” experience because they base their opinion entirely around their own history with a game. It’s like the YouTube comment cliché of “lol you took as long on that stage as I did playing on hard mode” ...doesn’t that mean that things are balanced for players of different skill levels?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 03/01/2021 at 12:02, Popo said:


Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate a challenge - but one I can do. :D

 

My travails in Bloodborne were super enjoyable for the most part - until I hit a brick wall and found myself wasting hours and hours of my life. It’s frustrating not only to fail to make progress in a game but to know that you’ve wasted your free time when you could have been playing something else. 
 

So it’s not simply a case, as had been suggested earlier in the thread, that these games aren’t for me. Bloodborne is tremendously good fun.

 

I would only advocate for the option to tweak certain values - like damage inflicted, damage received, duration of I-frames, and so on. Nothing that would fundamentally change the nature of the game. 

There’s also an argument that you have paid for the whole game and should have an option to skip parts that you are stuck on. Although not a comparison to bloodborne, Mario 3D world had this (could enable invincibility if you got died a certain amount of times) and it enabled my daughter to “complete” her first ever game.

I would love to see the rest of Bloodborne and Dark Sould but there are sections that I’ve hit a wall on and don’t want to waste any more of my limited gaming time on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
14 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

I guess what I'm saying is I love assist modes, they offer more granularity than the old Easy/Medium/Hard options. Not sure what I'd do with Soulsbourne games, there's such a community around the difficulty and so much gatekeeping that I'm pretty sure any requests for assist modes would just enrage the superfans.

I mean, you read the thread, right? :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.