RPGWatch Forums
Page 1 of 2 1 2

RPGWatch Forums (http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/index.php)
-   News Comments (http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=10)
-   -   The Escapist - Hard Times (http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4472)

Dhruin May 8th, 2008 01:24

The Escapist - Hard Times
 
Kieron Gillen writes a piece for The Escapist called Hard Times, which looks at the progression of games from mostly unbeatable in the old days (getting harder and harder until it became impossible to continue) to today's cakewalks:
Quote:

The results of the entryist movement have been mixed. Compare what happens when you say "Knights of the Old Republic," which practically beat itself, and "Deus Ex: Invisible War," which was nigh impossible, in a room full of gamers. Fine-tuning difficulty remains problematic for developers. While it may have been satisfactory for System Shock 2 to sell 250,000 units in 1999, sales numbers like that in today's development environment would be disastrous. So while Bioshock plays similarly to SS2, it's far more forgiving if you're not an experienced first-person gamer. Ken Levine was famously quoted as telling the team he wanted his grandmother to be able to complete it on "Easy."
Which is all well and good, but there's a problem with entryism: No one appreciates the top end, since everyone follows the path of least resistance. If "Grandma Mode" is available, hardcore gamers are more likely to waltz through the game than attempt a harder difficulty. There's no point to putting yourself through a tougher experience if the end result is the same. Fundamentally, the entryist movement has failed - the bottom level has been lowered, but the top level, the level at which games were originally designed to be played, has been weakened in turn. In short, Mass Effect is not Planescape: Torment.
I'm not sure I agree with all the examples but it's an interesting piece.
More information.

woges May 8th, 2008 01:24

Not many rooms like the Banyan Tree any more.

zakhal May 8th, 2008 01:34

I played system shock 2 through last summer on hardest level and I thought it was easy. Too easy even. Some of the old games are truly hard but not all.

Thaurin May 8th, 2008 08:31

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dhruin (Post 78914)
I'm not sure I agree with all the examples but it's an interesting piece.[/URL]

I don't agree with the examples, either. Nor do I agree with his conclusion that there is no point to the game if there is no difference in end result on harder difficulty modes. It's like people want bragging rights. "I beat this game!" Well, "I beat this game on hard!" is about the same thing. Besides, plenty of games nowadays unlock something special, like a new mode or extended cut-scenes, when finished on the hardest difficulty.

Games used to be mostly frustrating. You had lives, not saves. You had to repeat sections over and over again to get past a part, and then when you did, you died again and had to start over. This was all fine when I was younger and there didn't exist any other type of game with the quicksaves and the easy modes, but nowadays I wonder if gaming really is just about challenge.

These are different times, but has "entryism"… failed? Hmpf, sounds a bit pretentious.

SnallTrippin May 8th, 2008 08:45

I ALWAYS play on the hardest/near the hardest level. (Try Oblivion with the difficulty jacked..you won't get out of the first dungeon..vorpal rats).

KazikluBey May 8th, 2008 10:24

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thaurin (Post 78942)
Nor do I agree with his conclusion that there is no point to the game if there is no difference in end result on harder difficulty modes.

His conclusion isn't that there's no point to the game, but to the higher difficulty modes.

Maylander May 8th, 2008 10:28

I agree with the author - as long as there is an easy path available, I will most likely choose it. That is one reason why I keep returning to Gothic 1/2 - it's hard, unforgiving, and you simply can't remove the high difficulty by clicking a button. It forces me to play well, and to make the right decisions, or I'll be reloading for ages.

Of course, as the author stated, this turns many players away from the game, leading to lower sales.

I personally prefer that approach though, because while I do love challenges, I'm not a fan of creating my own challenges just for the sake of it. Walking on my own two feet certainly is easy, and completely without challenge, but that doesn't mean I'll start walking on my hands just to push myself to the limit.

Prime Junta May 8th, 2008 10:30

I don't agree with him either. It's just that many, not all, games have only been properly balanced for one difficulty level — "Normal." Balancing the harder or easier levels takes more work, but it's certainly not unworkable. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for example played great at "Realistic" level — that's what I used, and it was challenging without being unreasonably hard.

I also doubt that most hardcore gamers play games at "Easy." In my book, playing a game at "Easy" pretty much disqualifies you from hardcore status.

drum May 8th, 2008 11:10

I usually choose "Easy" if available. Especially when I play modern shooters, like Bioshock, Gears of War or Condemned. I'm not a big fan of shooter gameplay itself, and great hits of the past like Doom and Quake do not appeal to me - but their modern successors do. I just tune the less-wanted elements down.

When the game is hard and there's no way to tune difficulty down, it's really disappointing for me. I played GTA4 last weekend, reached about 40% completion and it became too hard for me: I failed a mission 3 times, took another one, failed twice, and after that…after that I went to the shop and got Kings Bounty(by the way, it's very good, hope they translate it soon so everyone can appreciate). That one is hard too, but that can hardly be annoying in a turnbased game.

Well maybe I'm not a hardcore gamer after all, I play games for fun, not for the challenge. While it is disappointing when there's no challenge at all in the game, being not able to complete the first level (that's common situation in console sidescrollers for me) is much more of a disappointment.

JDR13 May 8th, 2008 11:18

The problem isn't with the games but with the gamers themselves. If a player doesn't have the self control to not play the game on easy, thus usually cheating himself, then it's not the developers fault.

DArtagnan May 8th, 2008 11:20

It's a misleading mistake to bring up easy mode in Bioshock, because Bioshock normal mode could have been beaten by a grandma just as easily. They had Vita chambers that ensured victory for pretty much everyone.

Essentially, the problem today isn't easy mode. It's that default mode (normal, medium, etc.) has become very forgiving, especially in the last few years. The reason this mode being easy is a problem, is because there is an unwritten rule stating that this mode is how the game was meant to be played, which is why it's the default mode. Not that it HAS to be the case, but I think that's the widespread perception and it's also the most logical assumption.

However, it's only a problem if you - as a gamer - want to feel challenged. For most casual players, I'm sure having no frustration during the game will be preferable. I personally don't feel frustrated unless the challenge is due to a design flaw, as in stupid things like no save option during a large uninterrupted section of trial and error. GTA4 comes immediately to mind as having a VERY frustrating lack of checkpoints throughout.

I suppose that's as individual as anything else, but I'm not completely convinced that players of Bioshock would have been less happy without Vita chambers. Some, maybe, but others would perhaps appreciate a true sense of danger - myself included.

Really, I've never been an advocate of even having difficulty modes. I largely prefer one vision from the designers, as I believe that makes for the best experience - both from their viewpoint, being able to focus on other things than catering to various people - and from my own perspective of wanting exactly what they intended when they designed the thing. Some games deal with difficulty in better ways, though, and something like Thief would be a good example. The game mechanics remain unchanged, the objectives are changed instead.

But in the end, I think having fewer options in relation to gameplay removes the rather out-of-place meta-game of trying to tailor the experience to your own needs, which is never really possible until you already know the exact challenge - which would require a playthrough. That's ultimately a very silly way of asking the players what they want, when they can't know the answer.

No, be secure as a designer and give me the experience you intended all along. If you must put in options, at least have them deal with things that don't directly interfere with game balance - because it forces us to make choices without sufficient information and results in a less pure experience.

I'm not sure what happened to make people give up in frustration the instant something bad happens, and maybe it was always so. I've been frustrated myself, many times, but in the majority of cases the end result was a sense of satisfaction from having overcome the challenges. Unless, of course, the frustration comes from what I mentioned above - silly design decisions. But in such cases, I will already have bought the game and they have their money - just as long as they don't challenge you too much in a demo. Don't fret so much about pleasing everyone as it can never happen. Games don't have to be Bruckheimer snacks, and making players think can actually help enhance their experience - just take a sensible approach.

That's where I come out, anyway.

Alrik Fassbauer May 8th, 2008 13:31

I don't know how hard the "middle" or "medium§" difficulty is. I honestly don't. Because I didn't design the game.

Z was almost unbeatable. Today, I couldn't (tried once), but back then, i could, somehow. Still don't remember how.

I usually play at the "middle" or "medium" difficulty. I want some kind of challenge, but I also would like to "enjoy" the game.

My very personal, Golden Rule is this: If a game appears to rather be work than [/i] play[/i], then it isn't a game for me anymore.

I personally also believe that one of the many problems here lies with the developers and their seemingly great, great difficulties to anticipate the player's behaviour.

An additional point is, that they do know the game far, much better, than *any* customer (read: gamer) ever could … Because they designed it. So, they are used to the in-game difficulty …
Like in Z.

Maylander May 8th, 2008 14:52

Man, Z was hard! I completed it once or twice, but towards the end it got very tough. I've also tried again in later years, but I simply didn't have the patience to complete it. Z requires loads of reloading, especially when the enemy starts pumping out snipers and what not.

One thing I really liked about Z was the fact that difficulty often came from a good AI, and not just an redicilous amount of dumb enemies.

doctor_kaz May 8th, 2008 15:35

Did this guy actually mean to say that Invisible War was a hard game?

I hope that this trend towards lowest common denominator gaming ends someday.

zakhal May 8th, 2008 15:39

The older you grow - the easier the games become. Then you can say "When I was young..".

doctor_kaz May 8th, 2008 15:50

Shouldn't games get harder since your reflexes and hand-eye coordination slow down and because you don't have as much spare time to play them? I feel like I suck at games compared to what I used to be able to do.

zakhal May 8th, 2008 15:57

I feel quite the opposite (especially in fps games) and i have gamed som 22 years now. Perhaps Im not old enough. The first games on c64 - it was rare for anyone to ever play them through. Even when I did do it few times my friends did not believe me.

Alrik Fassbauer May 8th, 2008 16:33

Quote:

Originally Posted by Maylander (Post 78990)
Man, Z was hard! I completed it once or twice, but towards the end it got very tough. I've also tried again in later years, but I simply didn't have the patience to complete it. Z requires loads of reloading, especially when the enemy starts pumping out snipers and what not.

One thing I really liked about Z was the fact that difficulty often came from a good AI, and not just an redicilous amount of dumb enemies.

Yes, it WAS that hard. And I managed it, somehow.

If you still have it … I have some "new levels" that came by a gaming mag's CD-ROM, then. Contact me if you want to have them e-mailed. They are in principle savegames but with different settings, maybe even made by the Bitmap Brothers themselves.


Quote:

Originally Posted by doctor_kaz (Post 79001)
I feel like I suck at games compared to what I used to be able to do.

I sometimes feel similar.

Stanza May 8th, 2008 21:09

Quote:

Originally Posted by doctor_kaz (Post 78998)
Did this guy actually mean to say that Invisible War was a hard game?

Kieron has mentioned elsewhere that it was messed up.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kieron aka Brem
Editor misunderstood something I wrote and, edited it to that, which I must have missed it when they re-showed it to me. What I said originally was that the whole Entryism thing can work or not - KOTOR was a console-friendly version of a Bioware RPG which people generally liked. DXIW was a console-friendly version of an Immersive Sim which people generally didn't.

I'll see if I can get it changed.


Stingray May 9th, 2008 17:20

Quote:

Originally Posted by doctor_kaz (Post 78998)
Did this guy actually mean to say that Invisible War was a hard game?

Seriously - what is he talking about? Invisible War was another easy game, no harder than Bioshock from what I recall.


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 14:45.
Page 1 of 2 1 2

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright by RPGWatch