Rampant Games - Favourite Abusively Difficult Games
It's unusually quiet so I thought we'd turn off the main road and beat a path to Rampant Coyote's new post, titled Favourite Abusively Difficult Games. While not restricted to RPGs, it's a fun topic:
After our discussion yesterday, numerous (but not all) folk suggested that people who preferred more challenging "do it yourself"-ness in games were in the minority. I admitted that I, too, get frustrated in games, and while I usually do not want to be led by the nose, I often find myself saying, "Okay, I give, what am I supposed to do now?" For me - figuring it out for myself and conquering the tough challenges on my own is a big part of the fun. But there's a fine line between "fun" and "frustration" when it comes to difficulty or confusion level, often related to the quality of the game.
This got me thinking about really hard games. I'm talking the practically abusive games that we love. The ones where you think the designer(s) had some kind of passive-aggressive hatred of players, and wanted to punish them. The kinds of games that seemed to want to bend you over, spank you with a pledge paddle, and make you say, "Thank you sir! May I have another?" [...]
The Bard's Tale
Okay, I'd forgotten about how horribly difficult this one was just to get started on. If you decided to create your own party - one without the bard's starting gear of a magic horn (am I remembering this correctly? Help me out here, guys... it's been a while), you ended up facing some kind of Darwinian "survival of the fittest" thing where the survivors of a dozen failed attempts to get through the first two hours of the game would end up getting together into some kind of "super-party" which actually had a prayer of making it through fifth level or something. Again, the details are sketchy, and I don't remember how easy it was to save or load games. But I imagine the overpowered default starting party came about as a result of playtesting, when the QA guys screamed bloody murder about how they would NEVER see the end of the game.