The Escapist - Hard Times
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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.
Last edited by DArtagnan; May 8th, 2008 at