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April 16th, 2010, 14:49
Originally Posted by Foss View Post
But isen't it possible for developers to do that even now. I mean, you could assume that Normal difficulty is what they have envisioned for their game. And if you want to play closest to the developers vision you would play on normal mode.
I don't see that the ability to increase or decrease the difficulty by individual players would have to hinder that.
Exactly what I'm saying.
Originally Posted by Tragos View Post
You say that the majority of players do not like to set difficulty levels themselves but play with predefined ones ? i just don't think so .
Have in mind that a large number of players are 15 year old CoD fans.
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
No, that's not what I'm saying.

I'm saying I prefer games to be as close to the artistic vision of the developers as possible.
Yes, you said that, and then you said it's ok if Blizzard made a game specifically designed to appeal to mainstream (that is as far away from their own liking / "artistic vision"), which doesn't make sense to me.
I really don't think you understand, and it has nothing implicitly to do with challenge.

It has to do with "purity" for lack of a better word.
Tragos likes when a game lets you customize the difficulty on your own. Changing the difficulty level has nothing to do with challenge?

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April 16th, 2010, 15:19
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
No, that's not what I'm saying.
I think there should be one difficulty level - the correct one.

Anything else will require metagaming, and it will compromise the vision (if there is one, beyond simply making money).
OK consider this: You've got a game were there is a fight with a monster that the developer has 'envisioned' to be hard enough to take you half an hour, about four or five reloads and a dozen or so curses towards him and him family to beat it. Now say that I'm pretty bad at it but I am heavily invested, as you said, so I persist. Eventually it takes me two hours, twenty reloads and two broken keyboards to beat it - 3 times more than the dev intended - the intended pacing is ruined and therefore the vision is compromised…

Allowing me to reduce difficulty at that point is as I see it the best way to maintain that vision. To generalize: games are by definition an interactive medium, and as such, for a creator's vision to be successfully communicated, it is essential to take the particularities of his potential audience into account, more so than in any other non-interactive medium (otherwise the result will be what the art connoisseurs very colorfully refer to as 'masturbation')

Of course one could argue that if I'm so bad at it I should simply stop playing… but why? does that game has something to offer that I shouldn't (or wouldn't be able) to receive unless I was skilled enough to play through it? There might be such games - Wizardry 4 comes to mind, which I have not played, among other reasons because it was obviously a game intended exclusively for the series' most dedicated fans and noone else was going to 'get it' even if they somehow cheated their way through.

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April 16th, 2010, 16:37
Originally Posted by Malk View Post
Yes, you said that, and then you said it's ok if Blizzard made a game specifically designed to appeal to mainstream (that is as far away from their own liking / "artistic vision"), which doesn't make sense to me.
No that's not what I said. I said I suspect their vision IS to appeal to the mainstream, but not because of the money - but because they simply like the idea of pleasing as many people as possible. So, if this is true - then their artistic vision requires them to balance it for as many people as possible.

At least, that's how I saw the old Blizzard. Not sure about today.

Tragos likes when a game lets you customize the difficulty on your own. Changing the difficulty level has nothing to do with challenge?
Ehm, I have nothing to do with what Tragos likes.

I'm saying having one difficulty level doesn't necessarily mean having a challenging game. It simply means the game is "pure" in terms of difficulty, because there's nothing to disturb the balance or experience in that way.

It could still be as easy or as hard as the vision requires.
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April 16th, 2010, 16:41
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
OK consider this: You've got a game were there is a fight with a monster that the developer has 'envisioned' to be hard enough to take you half an hour, about four or five reloads and a dozen or so curses towards him and him family to beat it. Now say that I'm pretty bad at it but I am heavily invested, as you said, so I persist. Eventually it takes me two hours, twenty reloads and two broken keyboards to beat it - 3 times more than the dev intended - the intended pacing is ruined and therefore the vision is compromised…

Allowing me to reduce difficulty at that point is as I see it the best way to maintain that vision. To generalize: games are by definition an interactive medium, and as such, for a creator's vision to be successfully communicated, it is essential to take the particularities of his potential audience into account, more so than in any other non-interactive medium (otherwise the result will be what the art connoisseurs very colorfully refer to as 'masturbation')

Of course one could argue that if I'm so bad at it I should simply stop playing… but why? does that game has something to offer that I shouldn't (or wouldn't be able) to receive unless I was skilled enough to play through it? There might be such games - Wizardry 4 comes to mind, which I have not played, among other reasons because it was obviously a game intended exclusively for the series' most dedicated fans and noone else was going to 'get it' even if they somehow cheated their way through.
Yeah, you got my point with that last paragraph.

But it helps if you don't think in rigid terms trying to make what I'm saying impossible.

It's not about fights taking an exact amount of time - but more about the overall challenge level of the game.

If the game requires a certain pacing - which I don't really think is needed in so rigid terms, then they need to have tools available if they want to please those without "skill".

But again, you need to stop playing if the game isn't "for you" - and that's what I think is exactly the right approach from the point of view of the developers. FAR too much effort is spent trying to make everyone happy - and that's EXACTLY the problem.

Though, once again, it's not going to happen - because they WANT to please people so they can maximise profit.
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April 16th, 2010, 16:47
Originally Posted by Foss View Post
But isen't it possible for developers to do that even now. I mean, you could assume that Normal difficulty is what they have envisioned for their game. And if you want to play closest to the developers vision you would play on normal mode.
I don't see that the ability to increase or decrease the difficulty by individual players would have to hinder that.
Potentially, but the wording is messed up - because "normal" is obviously meant for the casual gamer these days.

Beyond that, they need to design games so they can apply difficulty levels that are not expensive to implement. So that's PART of why games are so simplified and streamlined today, because they're working according to design blueprints they know will work.

They simply adjust hitpoints and stuff like that - because they know their audience expects multiple difficulty levels.

So, in fact, it has a big impact on the overall design approach - and it's my claim that it hurts gameplay on levels most people aren't even aware of.

But, if they managed to have the 100% "pure" experience on "normal" - then yes, it would be ok. But that's not what normal is.
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April 16th, 2010, 17:25
There is something I don't understand in what you're saying.

I wouldn't want to make a strawman here, but it seems that you are concerned about difficulty for difficulty's sake alone, while (at least I) approach it as a 'means' towards whatever goal the game has… I can completely agree with you where the games where the goal is the difficulty are concerned (as in Wiz4) but I don't agree that that's the only case (in the article that this thread is about the writer doesn't seem to think so: I understand that he considers pacing to be a more critical aspect of his work - and that's perfectly valid for me)

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April 16th, 2010, 17:33
Yesterday I remembered a game using different AI on different difficulty levels : Star Wars BattleFront I.

The more difficult, the better the troops (don't know whether both sides, but enemies anyway) hit, are able to aim, and use different kinds of weapons. In short, they act more aggressive.

You can actually see that. The "streams" of the "bullets" going through the air can be noticed, and one is actually able to see them hitting/not hitting (stray shots).

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April 16th, 2010, 17:35
Originally Posted by holeraw View Post
There is something I don't understand in what you're saying.

I wouldn't want to make a strawman here, but it seems that you are concerned about difficulty for difficulty's sake alone, while (at least I) approach it as a 'means' towards whatever goal the game has… I can completely agree with you where the games where the goal is the difficulty are concerned (as in Wiz4) but I don't agree that that's the only case (in the article that this thread is about the writer doesn't seem to think so: I understand that he considers pacing to be a more critical aspect of his work - and that's perfectly valid for me)
No, my concern is how developers today are very focused on optimising their designs to match the perceived expectations of their audience.

They know that people want the freedom to choose how difficult a game should be, so they need to design their games so they can implement multiple levels of difficulty without it being too expensive or time consuming. Like Oblivion, where everything scales and the "difficulty" is completely superficial and rigidly simple.

So, they end up simplifying mechanics and gameplay to an extent - and the players end up having to "guess" which experience they should have when playing.

"Do I need easy or normal? Hmmmm."

"I'll try normal and set it to easy at first obstacle."

They don't really make the investment to overcome the challenge if they know they can just reduce difficulty.

Like, in Demon's Souls, if you had the option to circumvent the harsh death penalty, most people would do so - because no one likes to run through the level again.

People think that kind of freedom is what makes for the best experience, and I don't.

I don't think it's a good area of focus, and I think developers should concern themselves ONLY with the "pure" experience.

If a game should have a harsh death penalty, then make it harsh. Don't let the players choose - because the players aren't artists. They're players.

I want the art to go first, not the business.

If a game is good, players will adapt.

Just like an "art" film can be uncomfortable or challenging to the viewer - but that's what it requires for the vision to be intact.

I don't like to think of games as a business, even though that's what it has become.
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April 16th, 2010, 17:57
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Don't let the players choose - because the players aren't artists. They're players.
With that I'll agree 100%.

Ultimately every design decision should be taken for a reason by the person who "knows" - even these art films are so uncomfortable and challenging because if you lack the ability to understand them their meaning will be lost with you or misunderstood.

I'll just point out that although the designers should not let the players get design decisions they should still take the 'particularities' of the ones they choose as their audience into account.




Also… I can't resist:
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Like Oblivion, where everything scales and the "difficulty" is completely superficial and rigidly simple.
Man… don't bring Oblivion into this… This aspect of Oblivion is absolutely bloody terrible, it doesn't even worth to be mentioned as an example of an exception.

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April 16th, 2010, 18:03
I'll just point out that although the designers should not let the players get design decisions they should still take the 'particularities' of the ones they choose as their audience into account.
Exactly, but really - you CAN'T please everyone. That's the key issue I'm seeing with games today.

Games are lessened because of this, and the concept of primitive difficulty levels is but one aspect of the problem as a whole.

Also… I can't resist:

Man… don't bring Oblivion into this… This aspect of Oblivion is absolutely bloody terrible, it doesn't even worth to be mentioned as an example of an exception.
Hehe, that's why I knew it would work
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April 16th, 2010, 23:02
I think Mr. Chapman has a clue.
I think DArtagan will have a long time to wait for games to be produced for sale that maybe only a small portion of the people buying it will ever be able to play or finish.
Maybe if they sold it as a challenge product? Buy this game and see if you live long enough to finish it, literally!
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April 17th, 2010, 06:49
Originally Posted by Greymane View Post
I think Mr. Chapman has a clue.
I think DArtagan will have a long time to wait for games to be produced for sale that maybe only a small portion of the people buying it will ever be able to play or finish.
Maybe if they sold it as a challenge product? Buy this game and see if you live long enough to finish it, literally!
Funny how everyone thinks the pure experience has to be a very difficult one.

I wonder why that is?
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April 22nd, 2010, 14:54
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
But, if they managed to have the 100% "pure" experience on "normal" - then yes, it would be ok. But that's not what normal is.
And how do you know that? I figure 99% of games have one difficulty (not necessarily normal) which is 100% pure. Maybe the devs should let their players know which one that is, but I always kinda assumed that it's normal.
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
No that's not what I said. I said I suspect their vision IS to appeal to the mainstream, but not because of the money - but because they simply like the idea of pleasing as many people as possible. So, if this is true - then their artistic vision requires them to balance it for as many people as possible.
I guess the artistic vision of most developers is to give players selectable difficulty levels, not because their game would sell better, but because it would be a better game if they did. At least that's what I'd do.
Ehm, I have nothing to do with what Tragos likes.

I'm saying having one difficulty level doesn't necessarily mean having a challenging game. It simply means the game is "pure" in terms of difficulty, because there's nothing to disturb the balance or experience in that way.
Yeah, that's what you're saying, and that's got nothing to do with my conversation with Tragos. He said he likes customizable difficulty, I said I don't, but I do get his point of view. Then you came in and said that I don't get his point of view, and that the stuff we talked about has nothing to do with challenge. So, finally, I explained why it does have to do with challenge. Maybe you think it doesn't, but the fact is we talked about challenge (that is, difficulty).
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
They don't really make the investment to overcome the challenge if they know they can just reduce difficulty.

Like, in Demon's Souls, if you had the option to circumvent the harsh death penalty, most people would do so - because no one likes to run through the level again.
And that's the player's problem, not the developer's. I know gamers are not strong-willed enough (which is why communism failed), but they still should be given the right to choose (if the game has one difficulty which is 100% right to the artistic vision).

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