25 votes

Should harder games have "Easy modes"?

I presume a lot of you might have noticed the discourse surrounding Sekiro and the notion that games like Sekiro could benefit from having a complementary "easy mode". The discourse is hot, and the takes are flying left and right but I'm curious to what the people of Tildes think about it.

42 comments

  1. [7]
    Papaya
    Link
    When the game uses superficial criteria to make it hard then yes, otherwise no. For example, if a game is hard because enemies have a lot of health, or you lack damage, making you have to grind...

    When the game uses superficial criteria to make it hard then yes, otherwise no.

    For example, if a game is hard because enemies have a lot of health, or you lack damage, making you have to grind either gear, potion or experience, then there is no reason not to make an easy mode for those who don't want to do that and don't find it fun.

    However, games like Sekiro are hard because of the gameplay and gamedesign themselves. They're hard because you need to hone your skills and develop your knowledge of the game. Making them easy would mean either tweaking the gameplay (which would be ludicrous) or tweaking other things like enemy health. But by doing the latter, the player may not have to learn the game mechanics anymore and that kills the whole point.

    Sekiro is such a perfect game as is. You find it hard at first but when you truly get better at it, you can finish the game in under an hour.

    20 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Functional "easy modes" have been a thing in impossibly hard games forever though, they just came through cheats. I expect only a tiny fraction of people who played Contra actually would have seen...

      Functional "easy modes" have been a thing in impossibly hard games forever though, they just came through cheats. I expect only a tiny fraction of people who played Contra actually would have seen the end of it if not for cheat codes. I doubt we'd all know the Konami code or iddqd off the tops of our heads otherwise, and the Game Genie wasn't a product for nothing.

      Some people just want to see all there is to see or skip through something they got stuck on. Even in games without cheats, my nephew would often call my help to get him through some tough parts of Mario games because his little hands weren't coordinated enough, so I was functionally an "assist mode" for him. My mother (who loves all things Zelda) does the same, but less due to lack of coordination and more due to slow reflexes and not fully understanding how certain game mechanics work since she didn't grow up with them.

      I doubt my young self would have been able to complete Warcraft II on my own without knowing the cheats. I just didn't grok RTS games at the time and I didn't have anyone in my social group to teach me. These are all helpful things to help more people enjoy games and get into them. I play on hard or very hard mode in games now, but I never would have gotten into the hobby if I had this cliff of difficulty facing me when I started. If you think it offends your sense of purity, you can just not use them.

      Also, some gamers have disabilities or just don't have a lot of time (I'm thinking like, new mothers). They can't put the focus in to beat games like Dark Souls but I imagine they would at least like to look around and see the world and be able to participate in conversations about it. Part of the reason Portal became such a memeable cultural touchstone was because it was so approachable.

      8 votes
      1. ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        My experience contrasts with yours, it would seem. I can't remember if I'd seen the ending on Contra, specifically, but I remember my friend and I beating Battletoads – including that fucking...

        I expect only a tiny fraction of people who played Contra actually would have seen the end of it if not for cheat codes.

        My experience contrasts with yours, it would seem. I can't remember if I'd seen the ending on Contra, specifically, but I remember my friend and I beating Battletoads – including that fucking level where you had to jump between platforms at high speed, with lava all around. Never cheated: I don't think we knew the cheats for the game were available, or where to get them. The last level, if I recall, was a flying high-tech platform where you had to fight off waves of enemies crawling from beneath its edges. I seem to remember Battletoads being one of the more difficult ones – is my memory failing me?

        Contra wasn't that difficult compared to Battletoads. We played it for fun.

        EDIT: checked Wikipedia. It wasn't lava on that level: it was just full of red. We played a long time ago.

        1 vote
    2. [2]
      Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      As much as I agree with this, and am a huge souls fan, when you think about it, was Sekiro marketed specifically as a "hard" game? What is a gamer who does not like this kind of gaming supposed to...

      As much as I agree with this, and am a huge souls fan, when you think about it, was Sekiro marketed specifically as a "hard" game? What is a gamer who does not like this kind of gaming supposed to do? In many cases there's no easy way to return games you don't like, so what are you supposed to do?

      I suppose the easy answer is "you should do more research before you buy", but when you think about the kind of people who typically review souls games, they are the kind of people who already enjoy these kinds of games or can at least put up with difficult encounters. What's a good resource for them to use to avoid these games?

      6 votes
      1. TheJorro
        Link Parent
        Well, we can always return back to Demons Souls and Dark Souls. They weren't known as being hard games either since they were relatively unknowns at launch, but their gained their popularity in...

        Well, we can always return back to Demons Souls and Dark Souls. They weren't known as being hard games either since they were relatively unknowns at launch, but their gained their popularity in large part because they were so hard.

        So Sekiro is probably well understood by now to be a hard game by virtue of a reputation built by earlier FROM Software titles that didn't have the reputation for being hard. Even now, when you look up a Sekiro review, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find one that doesn't mention the difficulty.

        2 votes
    3. [2]
      Micycle_the_Bichael
      Link Parent
      A great post, I agree with your take. I'm mostly commenting though because I'm curious if you're the same papaya from r/leagueoflegends.

      A great post, I agree with your take. I'm mostly commenting though because I'm curious if you're the same papaya from r/leagueoflegends.

  2. [4]
    asoftbird
    Link
    I haven't played that game yet, but personally l play games on a sorta easy mode for fun, l don't like wasting time re-doing levels 204682 times to get a perfect score(except in Dishonored). So...

    I haven't played that game yet, but personally l play games on a sorta easy mode for fun, l don't like wasting time re-doing levels 204682 times to get a perfect score(except in Dishonored).

    So easy mode, and l usually care more about story than gameplay.

    In games like the three Mass Effect games l do crank it up a bit since those games are taking cover simulators, which is a little more fun when enemies don't die in 2 seconds.

    It depends on the game and my mood but l tend to prefer easier because having to repeat a level makes me lose interest really quick.

    If there's no (real) difficulty setting like in multiplayer games or Dwarf Fortress l just roll with it, because everyone dies in multiplayer anyway and for the latter game, losing actually is pretty fun.

    19 votes
    1. [2]
      yellow
      Link Parent
      Dwarf Fortress does give a lot of world generator settings and you get to pick your building site. You can certainly increase the amount metals in the world and pick a space with shallow metals...

      Dwarf Fortress does give a lot of world generator settings and you get to pick your building site. You can certainly increase the amount metals in the world and pick a space with shallow metals and flux for an easier time. You could also crank up the amount of aquifers and pick some evil glacier to doom yourself in the first year.

      3 votes
      1. asoftbird
        Link Parent
        I usually play with a decent site but near complete disregard for what lives near me, so now I have a near undefended 100 dwarrow fort next to three goblin dark pits. Fun abound. I don't want to...

        I usually play with a decent site but near complete disregard for what lives near me, so now I have a near undefended 100 dwarrow fort next to three goblin dark pits. Fun abound. I don't want to play too easy :p

        2 votes
    2. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      I think the combat in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 was actually balanced with hard mode in mind. Most of the power/ability interactions and combo effects don't have much utility in the normal...

      I think the combat in Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 was actually balanced with hard mode in mind. Most of the power/ability interactions and combo effects don't have much utility in the normal or easy modes, where almost nobody has shields or armor to worry about and almost everyone dies from a first hit before you even get a chance to do combo explosions on them.

      The combat is actually really fun on Insanity mode, where strategic decisions about who to bring with you and when to apply abilities become mandatory. But the enemies do tend to get a little bullet-spongey at that point and some play styles, like being a stealthed shotgun ninja, become less tenable.

      That said, if you just care about the story and find combat to be a slog the easy mode can be a blessing. In Mass Effect 1 particularly, combat was just so bad it was barely worth the time to deal with it.

      1 vote
  3. [8]
    ThatFanficGuy
    (edited )
    Link
    I don't think players would benefit from easy mode in games that aren't designed to be easy. I'm going to severely simplify when I say that there are two kinds of players: ones that enjoy the...

    I don't think players would benefit from easy mode in games that aren't designed to be easy.

    I'm going to severely simplify when I say that there are two kinds of players: ones that enjoy the victory, and ones that enjoy the challenge. It's more complex than that – for example, not every challenge is appropriate for every player, nevermind the fact that it's a spectrum of preference, not a binary assignment – but let's leave it at that for a moment.

    Those who enjoy the victory – that is, people who enjoy prevailing, and doing the right thing, and being strong and cunning and clever etc. – already play the games on easier modes, because that's what makes it easy to feel superior. Those who enjoy the challenge – those who derive deep pleasure from mastering a difficult craft – won't even look in the direction of an easy mode, for obvious reasons.

    There's nothing bad about playing of easy mode if that's what you're into. It's a matter of what we want from our escapism. I'm on the "feeling superior" side, and I don't know the psychology behind doing things like completing Dark Souls, but from where I stand, it seems to me that the games they play get the wrong reputation.

    Dark Souls and the games of the loosely-defined series are popular because they're unforgiving and require dedication and long hours of preparation, not despite it. People get excited about it because it's so goddamn difficult: they appreciate the opportunity to overcome such a powerful beast, and the respect the challenge it brings. If I understand correctly, the players that enjoy Dark Souls-esque games not merely want that quality: they need it to feel better, just like someone like me – who cheats in single-player games – needs that feeling of superiority and command when I play my games.

    If the game's too difficult for you, you either sink more time in getting better at it or do something else. The choice is clear, as with any other activity. I feel like the issue around this is about how, in people's minds, games are supposed to be fun and exciting, and when they aren't, dissappointment ensues because the expectations are being so strongly subverted. The truth is: games bear no obligation to you as a player, much like any work of art. There's no universal law that maintains that games ought to befit everybody – not that that would be possible. If the author feels like making something that challenges the player, so they should make – and if you as a player don't like it, you don't play it.

    This, of course, goes only to games that are meaningfully difficult – that is, the difficulty doesn't come from random number generators, but from a reasonable, extractable progression of skill which can be attended to and mastered. This is how real-life mastering of a skill works, and this is how most of the difficult-by-design games do. Getting Over It is meaningfully difficult, because the difficulty in embedded with the level layout and the simple, straighforward (though not always obvious) mechanics behind the main character's traversal. The game even rewards progression with an insightful commentary from Bennett Foddy. If you wanted to make the same game difficult without meaning, you could have the layout be randomly generated; depending on how you organize it, it could be exciting, challenging, frustrating, or even impossible to play through.

    All of which contrasts interestingly with my own desire to make difficult games – ones that derive their difficulty either from a skill and some knowledge of the mechanics, or the insight into the stretegic development. I like the idea of those types of games, but I don't have it in me to commit to one if it doesn't pose an interesting challenge, in a way that has the potential to develop flow state. I can code or write for hours and not even notice the time passing, and I can play some games in the same fashion. I'm not as engaged in, say, cooking, or drawing, or working in the field – and neither am I in most other kinds of games.

    Go figure.

    Basically: don't make tough games easy, because players play tough games because they're tough. If you want to play one, pucker up and kiss that shiny screen – or do something more fitting your preferences. If you still want to play the difficult game but can't quite bring yourself to it, I don't have an answer to you, but I understand your feelings.

    11 votes
    1. [7]
      Cookies
      Link Parent
      I largely agree with your comment, especially the sentiment that a game bears "no obligation to you as a player". But I have one question for you: if a game like Sekiro or Dark Souls would add an...

      I largely agree with your comment, especially the sentiment that a game bears "no obligation to you as a player". But I have one question for you: if a game like Sekiro or Dark Souls would add an optional easy mode, would that detract from the game as a whole? Let's say you would pick either "Easy mode" or "Normal mode" right when you create your save file, and could not change your mind later in the game.

      Also, what if such a feature was included from the game's release, versus it being added later in a patch, perhaps in response to public pressure? Would that make a difference?

      3 votes
      1. [6]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        I think it would. Consider the case of Finnegans Wake. It's widely regarded as one of the most difficult English-language works of literature. Suppose James Joyce, after working at it for 17...

        I think it would.

        Consider the case of Finnegans Wake. It's widely regarded as one of the most difficult English-language works of literature. Suppose James Joyce, after working at it for 17 years, saw some of the negative reviews from his peers and the general audience alike and thought "That's not right! I worked so long on this piece. I want to be liked! I'm going to release an explanation!" – would you say that betrayed the initial notion that, people seem to agree on, was to convey the experience of a dream? Would its convoluted and elusive nature being clarified make the work less for it?

        Truth has many forms. Despite our wanting to believe so, "truth" is a subjective, very human phenomenon. Any truth spoken is limited by what we know and what we're able to see which never spans everything there is. Humanity keeps developing, growing emotionally, and our collective – vague yet all-encompassing – definition of the truth is developing with us, so we seek to express it, much like we as individuals seek to express our new-found epiphanies to those around us. Art is one of the expressions of the truth, rather like science, except art deals with the inner world and science – in its broader definitions – with the outer.

        When we lie, we betray ourselves – and, intangibly, we betray everyone a little, because we skew the collective notion of the truth to a place less authentic, less expressive of what we've achieved culturally and socially. This can set us back – us as humanity, and us as a more secluded group of people. Consider how women are getting empowered in the West, yet still oppressed in Africa. The problem with that is lying to ourselves works, in that we can deceive ourselves about something long enough to let it guide us. People of the US, in particular, have been deceived into thinking that the world is a dangerous, scary place that only seeks to intimidate, harm, and kill those who stray from The Path – and it's been going on for long enough that a lot of very human beings, people with histories, desires, and fears not unlike yourself, came to believe it.

        There's a truth in me that I find very difficult to express in its nature – but it speaks to me, and it tugs on my strings when I do something untrue-to-myself. I can't tell you what that truth is, but I sense very keenly that it's there, and it guides me to create nothing but the best thing I can create, every day. If I come up with something, and it's subpar, I smell the bullshit, and I can't but discard it. It's who I am – and I think it's who a lot of game developers, directors, writers, painters, dancers, chefs, engineers, and many, many others are, as well. Most of us are driven by this desire to do what seems right to us. It's not always clear, and it certainly gives no clues, and it can't pull you by your belt if you've been deceived into some tedious bullshit – but it's there. For those who create, it's an intimately-meaningful expression of who they are, of what's right, of what has any meaning about this world at all.

        When you create a profoundly difficult game, your goal is not to entertain everyone. You'd set out on a path to make something utterly challenging, tiresome, maybe sometimes frustrating, but ultimately a worthy sacrifice for the emotions it gives you. You committed to a vision of something not everyone – maybe not a lot of people – will be good at, let alone succeed. It's a vision that requires focus, loyalty, and a certain amount of bravery, so as to not lie to yourself about making a change that seems appealing to the masses but strays the rest of the work from its intended path.

        A lot of crap to answer a simple question, right? Think about this: how much respect would you have for the person who works to please everyone? When you come to a performance because of a promise of something challenging – and, when you arrive you see the option to just get what you were ready to work for, you'd be disappointed. You were excited about the prospect of being given a difficult problem to solve – and now you can get away with not being challenged at all. It may sound appealing from the outside, but imagine being in the shoes of the person attending. Imagine the test being something that's difficult, something you're good at because you practiced for a long time to achieve proficiency. Imagine being ready to receive one more test, the opportunity to exercise your skill muscles, to prove to yourself how good you are – and then being robbed of it by being offered an easy way out. When something is easy – even if you don't have to make it so – it loses its appeal.

        Not all easy things are bad. In fact, being able to relax after a hard day's work is necessary, nevermind pleasant. Having a game that offers a selection of difficulties is not a sell-out because making it difficult was never the intent. Just because I can play Mass Effect on a lower difficulty doesn't mean BioWare sold out, or cheapened out, or became complacent – they never had the intent to keep me challenged.

        It's when FromSoftware bends to the public outcry – one not based in reason but born out of being excluded from a cultural phenomenon – that they become less for it as developers. That's what David Thiel got wrong when he said that "[having an easy mode] would do absolutely nothing to challenge the integrity of that original balancing", because it's not about gameplay balance, or the amount of players able to enjoy the game, or the anxiety of missing out: it's about artistic integrity. It's about being true to yourself, and carrying that truth so that others may see, so that you know whom to look for when you seek meaningful, deeply-satisfying challenge – not a horde of damage sponges, but an obstacle that takes effort, not merely the ATF it takes to power pressing your index finger down, to overcome.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          unknown user
          Link Parent
          I would disagree with you on this point, I think. Is there any difference to your experience between a game with no difficulty settings and a game with difficulty settings that you don't use? I...

          When something is easy – even if you don't have to make it so – it loses its appeal.

          I would disagree with you on this point, I think. Is there any difference to your experience between a game with no difficulty settings and a game with difficulty settings that you don't use? I certainly don't think so, and frankly I don't understand how anyone can claim otherwise.

          5 votes
          1. ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            Then you'd missed the rest of the comment I made.

            and frankly I don't understand how anyone can claim otherwise

            Then you'd missed the rest of the comment I made.

            5 votes
        2. FZeroRacer
          Link Parent
          I disagree strongly with most of your claims. 'Difficulty' is such a large and utterly arbitrary mechanism of judging a game that I don't think your claim holds water. For example, I Wanna Be The...

          I disagree strongly with most of your claims.

          'Difficulty' is such a large and utterly arbitrary mechanism of judging a game that I don't think your claim holds water. For example, I Wanna Be The Guy, I Wanna Be The Boshy, Kaizo Mario hacks etc are all profoundly difficult but not in the same way as many other games. I don't think it's particularly bold to make a Kaizo rom hack, and the reward you personally feel from completing a game is entirely up to your own preferences. I don't find the Souls games particularly hard for example compared to the average games I play, and for me I believe the Souls games would benefit from having additional levels of difficulty so that they can appeal to players like me as well.

          We talk about this idea that including easy modes means a game MUST become easier, but we don't bother to argue in the opposite direction either: That the inclusion of additional modes means a game can also become more difficult depending on a player's preference.

          Games like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta both demand far more out of a player than any of the single Souls games, yet they include difficulty options catering to everyone without reducing the overall experience. So why is it when the discussion comes back around to the Souls games, it's always about this fear of 'ruining the integrity of the game'?

          And more importantly, the Souls games have always had ways of cheesing the game, the most prominent being the ability to summon phantoms to stomp bosses into oblivion. Which is as much of a 'difficulty option' as any other game. It's always the Souls games where this argument becomes one of elitism and snobbery, because it's always conveniently ignored that there are far more difficult games than the Souls series out there that include easier and harder modes.

          4 votes
        3. [2]
          PahoojyMan
          Link Parent
          How do you feel about subtitles? Surely they flout the artist's vision. They spoil every individual scene by giving away dialogue before it can be delivered, and distract the viewer from...

          How do you feel about subtitles?

          Surely they flout the artist's vision. They spoil every individual scene by giving away dialogue before it can be delivered, and distract the viewer from painstakingly crafted cinematography. Yet they are still provided for accessibility.

          2 votes
          1. ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            You may be snarking here, but – pretty much. Which is why I love what Timur Bekmambetov did to his subtitles. In an untranslated Russian-language film released internationally, he's woven the text...

            You may be snarking here, but – pretty much.

            Which is why I love what Timur Bekmambetov did to his subtitles. In an untranslated Russian-language film released internationally, he's woven the text translation into the scenery in a way that adds to the artistry, rather than take away from it by requiring you to lower your gaze every three seconds someone talks.

            He did the same thing while translating his Hollywood project into Russian: not just by adding the voice-over, but by translating all the important text in the frame masterfully. In the beginning of the film, when Wesley smashes his shitty coworker with a keyboard, the keys fly out and spell "F U C K Y O U", with the U spelled via a tooth flying out of the coworker's mouth. In the Russian version, the letters spell out an informal Russian-language rendition of the same phrase. You may not appreciate the quality of the piece outside of Russia, but it's gold standard of subtitling as far as I'm concerned.

            1 vote
  4. [8]
    FZeroRacer
    Link
    Short answer: Yes. I have never seen a game ruined by including an easy mode. Long answer: This is something I've thought about quite a bit. I used to be on the side of 'Developers should not...

    Short answer: Yes. I have never seen a game ruined by including an easy mode.

    Long answer: This is something I've thought about quite a bit. I used to be on the side of 'Developers should not compromise their vision', but increasingly my opinion has shifted. I love absurdly difficult games. I don't mean games like Sekiro however, I mean stupidly difficult games. I've played I Wanna Be The Guy and I Wanna Be The Boshy, I've dabbled a bit in Kaizo romhacks and I've always started games on the hardest difficulty possibly because apparently I hate myself.

    However, I legitimately cannot think of a game that was ruined by having lower difficulty. I love character action games like Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, both games which will absolutely wreck players and demand mechanical mastery at higher difficulties. They both have easy modes and yet not at all to the detriment of the game. God Hand is a profoundly difficult game, yet is not at all by the fact that it has these options. I haven't gotten around to playing Celeste, but I've heard about its assist mode which does not devalue the game or the challenge at all. Yet this discussion is always anchored around Dark Souls and it's lack of difficulty options, versus other (far more) difficult games which do have them.

    To me, this has always smacked of elitism. The idea that there's a proper way to play a game and that if someone doesn't play the game the same way you do, that it means their experience is somehow inferior or more shallow. Part of the reason why I've changed views on this is because of the speedrunning community, where difficulty options end up expanding the overall replayability and potential of a game. Tricks might open up that are only available in Easy vs Normal vs Hard, which can cause significant route divergences. And I don't think anyone would argue that a speedrunner is somehow worse because they're competing for the best time in the Any% Easy Mode category vs Any% Hard.

    There's this fear of adding additional options or what not would somehow ruin the experience, and this discussion always comes up around Dark Souls because it's viewed as a badge of Gamer Honor to have beaten the game. Even though those additional options have always existed: Summons have been a massive crutch in the Souls games and I could make the argument that anyone using them is playing an 'inferior game'. If someone has fun mobbing a boss or using co-op to break the game though, why should I let it bother me? It's the same for additional difficulty or tuning options.

    7 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      You know what? This is exactly the reason why this argument irritates me so much. The existence of an easy mode does not some how devalue the other difficulty modes. It's just like those crazy...

      To me, this has always smacked of elitism. The idea that there's a proper way to play a game and that if someone doesn't play the game the same way you do, that it means their experience is somehow inferior or more shallow.

      You know what? This is exactly the reason why this argument irritates me so much. The existence of an easy mode does not some how devalue the other difficulty modes. It's just like those crazy arguments on how gay marriage was supposed to make straight marriage somehow less valuable. How about the opposite argument: If I were to make an easy game and make an optional hard mode, would it devalue the work I put into the original easy mode?

      I also think the argument itself is flawed. Difficulty is relative and depends on multiple factors. Most of the time, adjusting the difficulty of a game requires reworking the mechanics of gameplay. Some games make such drastic changes that they are effectively different games - see Minecraft or SimCity for an example. Difficulty modes allow a developer to create different experiences with the same assets, so you're actually getting a better value if there is an easy mode than if there were not.

      4 votes
    2. [6]
      ThreeMachines
      Link Parent
      I’ve had a game ruined (for me) by making it easier. I started playing World of Warcraft late in the Burning Crusade expansion, for one reason: end-game raiding. Forty (ish) people, each with a...

      I’ve had a game ruined (for me) by making it easier.

      I started playing World of Warcraft late in the Burning Crusade expansion, for one reason: end-game raiding. Forty (ish) people, each with a part to play and a responsibility, working together in an elaborate choreography to take down an enormous and challenging foe. The progression was serious and merit-based; if you weren’t fundamentally good at the game, if you didn't know your class mechanics and your role in the fight and what was going on around you, you wouldn't last long in any decent raid guild. You couldn't get to later raids without the gear from earlier raids. You had to be top-tier to play new content. It was the absolute coolest thing and I wanted in.

      It also meant that a vanishingly small percentage of the player base ever experienced end-game raiding, because most players weren't good enough, and/or weren't sufficiently interested to spend their game time getting their character optimized for raiding.

      Starting with the next expansion (Wrath of the Lich King), Blizzard made two major changes to raiding to make it more accessible. One, they made all raids playable with 10 or 25 players, instead of 40. (Which I wasn't too torn up about; 40 people was just too many people to organize. Although I still did 25-mans, because I liked the scale.) Two, they designed and tuned the raids to be generally easier, and added optional "hard modes" for guilds who were up for the challenge.

      Unfortunately, this involved reducing the complexity of the fights. Plenty of raid wipes happened because people just didn't have strong enough gear, but beyond a certain point, wipes happened because people did the wrong thing – stood in the wrong place, chose the wrong target, got the wrong timing on a key ability, didn't watch aggro, and so on. An astonishing number of people just never figure out to not stand in the fire. The only way to accommodate those players was to make the fights less complicated (or to make the punishment for failure minor, which let you ignore the complexity, which meant it wasn't there).

      The complexity of the fights, and the necessity of mastering that complexity to progress, was what I played for. When the mechanics degenerated to "it's straightforward, but if you make it more complicated you get an achievement", I stopped caring. Sometimes I miss it, but the game I was playing doesn't really exist anymore.

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        FZeroRacer
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Two things. First, you're arguing about something completely different. I said games have not been ruined by including an easy mode. You are arguing that a game was ruined by making it easier....

        Two things. First, you're arguing about something completely different. I said games have not been ruined by including an easy mode. You are arguing that a game was ruined by making it easier. Those are two very distinct arguments.

        Second, mechanically speaking MMO fights have become more complex over time. Not less. This statement is true for both WoW, XIV and generally across the board. What was difficult about WoW at the time (and yes, I did do some raiding in both BC and WotLK) was actually coordinating and bringing people for the fights. The fights themselves were mechanically simple especially if you compare some of the raid fights in WotLK to Primals from XIV or bosses from the modern raid tier in WoW. They did make the baseline fights easier, but compensated by making the high end options much more difficult. In that sense, you're essentially arguing that the developers should've kept the skill level of all raid fights at your exact skill level.

        If you compare the most mechanically challenging fights of each expansion for WoW, I could guarantee you that trend would hold true. Because it's been true across all MMOs. Especially as things like DPS meters and ways of measuring rotational skill have become more common place.

        3 votes
        1. [4]
          ThreeMachines
          Link Parent
          I’m not making any statements about overall trends of MMO complexity; I’ve never even played another MMO. I’m saying that, personally, WOTLK Naxx was a huge letdown after having seen fights like...

          I’m not making any statements about overall trends of MMO complexity; I’ve never even played another MMO. I’m saying that, personally, WOTLK Naxx was a huge letdown after having seen fights like Lady Vashj, and it felt to me like the letdown was attributable to adding an easy mode. (It’s also possible that I’m totally wrong and those fights would have been uninteresting even if Blizzard hadn’t tried to open up raiding. Who knows?)

          It’s true that I’m considering “making the game easier by default and adding a hard mode that’s as hard as the game used to be” equivalent to “adding an easy mode”. I don’t think I see the distinction you do. It used to have one difficulty; now it has two.

          (Edit: I did really like the Thaddius fight in Naxx.)

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            FZeroRacer
            Link Parent
            Lady Vashj is a sort of odd fight to bring up, considering it's a fight with only one noteworthy gimmick while everything else is fairly typical MMO boss design. The bosses in ICC are generally...

            Lady Vashj is a sort of odd fight to bring up, considering it's a fight with only one noteworthy gimmick while everything else is fairly typical MMO boss design. The bosses in ICC are generally just as complex if not more so.

            It sounds like to me you're making an argument more from nostalgia because I don't think your argument that 'bosses have become less complex over time due to adding more difficulty options' holds water.

            2 votes
            1. [2]
              ThreeMachines
              Link Parent
              I think it's weird that you thought I was making an argument at all, much less a general case argument about long-term boss design trends.

              I think it's weird that you thought I was making an argument at all, much less a general case argument about long-term boss design trends.

              1. FZeroRacer
                Link Parent
                Your original post was making a remark that WoW was ruined for you because it became easier (less complex) over time. You directly claimed and said It's fine if you prefer bosses in one expansion...

                Your original post was making a remark that WoW was ruined for you because it became easier (less complex) over time. You directly claimed and said

                Two, they designed and tuned the raids to be generally easier, and added optional "hard modes" for guilds who were up for the challenge.
                Unfortunately, this involved reducing the complexity of the fights.

                It's fine if you prefer bosses in one expansion vs the other, but you claimed that they made the game easier and less complex over time which I then rebutted. If your claim wasn't about long term boss design trends in WoW, then why did you make it about long term boss design trends in WoW? And yes I understand this is about opinions and all that, but I'm naturally going to rebuke a claim that I don't think holds up to scrutiny.

                1 vote
  5. aymm
    Link
    If it's optional? Absolutely! It helps more people enjoying the game who might not otherwise, and doesn't take away anything from anyone else. Obviously, if the only selling point of the game is...

    If it's optional? Absolutely! It helps more people enjoying the game who might not otherwise, and doesn't take away anything from anyone else. Obviously, if the only selling point of the game is "being hard" you're into trouble.

    I also understand, that adding an easy mode eats up resources and development time, so it's not an automatic "add it" for every game. But it should be considered by the studio if the effort is worth it

    4 votes
  6. ThreeMachines
    Link
    Do people have a right to be able to finish the games they buy? If so, what does it mean to “finish” a game? Are we okay with achievements that are locked to super-high difficulties? What about...

    Do people have a right to be able to finish the games they buy? If so, what does it mean to “finish” a game? Are we okay with achievements that are locked to super-high difficulties? What about secret endings locked the same way? What about games where replaying on escalating difficulties is the game progression?

    Personally: I play games on easy. (Sometimes on normal if the game tells me I can change the difficulty at any time.) There are a lot of game mechanics that I don’t particularly enjoy. There are a lot of games that I don’t buy, because I know that they’re designed for me to engage with them in ways that I’ll struggle with, and I won’t enjoy that struggle. It’s fine. Not everything needs to be tailored to my needs and desires.

    4 votes
  7. cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    I tend to enjoy harder games and even play most not-hard-by-defualt games (especially tactical RPGs) on the hardest modes available (e.g.'Path of the Damned' mode in Pillar of Eternity). So I am...

    I tend to enjoy harder games and even play most not-hard-by-defualt games (especially tactical RPGs) on the hardest modes available (e.g.'Path of the Damned' mode in Pillar of Eternity). So I am actually looking forward to Sekiro and suspect I will enjoy it, even as difficult as it is supposed to be, since I also enjoyed Bloodborne and Dark Souls.

    However, sometimes I am just not in the mood for the frustration that high difficulty brings, and simply want to experience the content and/or story of a game as quickly and painlessly as possible. And I think devs specifically choosing not to provide an easy-mode option for the people that want/need it, and people defending that choice, is a bit pretentious TBH. But thankfully, pretty much every single player game has an easy-mode option (even ones where the devs opted not to include one)... it's called Cheat Engine. ;)

    I don't use Cheat Engine often but I am glad it exists and that I know how to use it. The last game I used it on was Stardew Valley and I don't think I would have gotten nearly the same enjoyment out of it had I not. since it's full of so many pointless time-sinks, busy work and randomly appearing limited resources. Using cheat engine I managed to burn through most of the content the game had to offer in about 10 hours without having to spend endless hours tediously doing upkeep on my farm or constantly having to go back home to sleep after only a few minutes of activities or exploring.

    2 votes
  8. yellow
    Link
    I think that it is solely up to the makers of the game. Adding easier modes do detract from the accomplishment of beating the game. Yes, you can just say what mode you beat it on, but it is...

    I think that it is solely up to the makers of the game. Adding easier modes do detract from the accomplishment of beating the game. Yes, you can just say what mode you beat it on, but it is unnatural to refer to/think of the boss of a game being different in different modes. But of course, adding difficulties allow people to tune the game how they like.

    However, some of the most common ways of changing difficulty are rather poor. As others have mentioned, changing enemy health/player damage can really mess up the game. I would say that better ways to handle difficulty would be adding/removing enemies, tightening time limits, changing AI, and changing the number of lives. Basically, asking the player to be more perfect, rather than just stretching the length of the game to increase their chance of a mistake.

    Many sandbox games have the benefit of swapping out difficulty for a variety of settings. Dwarf Fortress, Kerbal Space Program, and others allow you choose many parts of the game. DF mostly lets you change world generation. In some ways, settings just change it without any clear difficulty change, but increasing metal frequency certainly makes for an easier game. KSP lets you decide exactly how retrying something works, how much you get paid, and even how far you can communicate.

    Some people in the thread have talked about what happens if someone buys a game harder than they realized. I would rather say "do your research" than "there should an easy mode", but I feel like people are going off some assumption that every game you buy must be beat. It is perfectly fine to not complete a game, and one of my favorite game experiences was beating Cave Story about 5 years after I started playing it(full disclosure, it is a free game).

    Cave Story also has what I consider to the be the best form of "adjustable difficulty," choices. I only had a handful of issues getting to the option of the worst ending. You want some challenge and your end credits? there you go, take your ride and leave. I kept going and with some serious struggling and many deaths, I got the medium ending. Undead Core killed, The Doctor was defeated, pretty satisfying. Then comes the pursuit of the best ending. Playing through the game a few more times to follow the right path, restarting again to try different tips for weapons. On and off over the years, getting frustrated, and finally killing Ballos. After more experience playing games in general, more practice, and the right tips, it didn't even seem all that hard. Choices mean that each part of the game is standardized. If someone got past something, they are capable of it, period. Of course, I've heard that the Cave Story versions sold on consoles now have a difficulty option, so yeah.

    The other big issues with choosing a difficulty at the start of a game, is that you get to decide how hard the game will be, when you might know as little about as anyone. Kid Icarus: Uprising has a pretty interesting method of difficulty selection. Each time you play a level, you choose the intensity(1.0 to 9.0), which changes the amount of enemies(and health I think). It works well because you can decide to adjust it whenever and even go back to earlier levels and increase the intensity without making a new save. Choices also work well for this, because you don't have to pick the difficulty until you get to the point where it is made and may even be able to go back and change your min when things get too hard.

    2 votes
  9. [2]
    jtemo
    Link
    I've always really enjoyed the Game Maker's Toolkit take on difficulty in games. I'm one of those people that feel a game should always encourage you to play it as the developer intended. The true...

    I've always really enjoyed the Game Maker's Toolkit take on difficulty in games. I'm one of those people that feel a game should always encourage you to play it as the developer intended. The true vision of the game can be muddied by the decisions the player makes to modify that experience. Were Dark Souls to just have an 'easy mode', many of the mechanics and design decisions of the game could be missed by a single decision you made before you even start.

    That said, players should be able to play however they want. Some people aren't as skilled at games. Some people have disabilities. You shouldn't be denied an experience because you're physically incapable when the experience could have very well been designed with you in mind.

    Assist modes, however...

    Ooh baby, every game should have an assist mode. It's such a neat way to mechanically communicate that the options turned on there serve to make the game easier and more accessible, while making it clear that turning them on goes against the way the game was intended to be played. The assists can be pure cheats for all I care, like how Celeste lets you enable unlimited air-dashes, slow the game speed down, etc. Instead of making easy and hard seem like equal paths, or just giving 'difficulty toggles', an assist mode gives you the game as it was intended by default, with options to tone it down if you need it. You can challenge yourself, but it's okay if it gets hard because you can just turn on an assist. Want the pure unrestricted challenge as it was meant to be played? Don't touch that menu. Want to just experience it for the lore? Turn on invincibility, or one-hit kills.

    The key, as Mark explains exceptionally well in the linked video, is communication. An easy vs. hard decision implies two equally thought out paths, two similar experiences but with various adjustments to, well, make it easier. This creates two paths that the developer has to now create, with less clarity on which is the 'intended' path in the first place.

    I liken it to, well, climbing a mountain. Easy vs. hard is being given the choice of taking a staircase vs. scaling the cliff-side solo. Once you commit to the stairs, odds are you're not switching over, if you even have the option to. Not only that, but somebody had to go out of their way to make sure those stairs were there and go all the way up the mountain. Assist mode is scaling the cliff-side with option of a climbing guide. You're taking the same path, and you're still shown the clear challenges of climbing that cliff solo, but you can call for help if any of the cliffs are particularly troubling. You could even have the guide carry you all the way up!. The intended path is clear because it's the only way up, but now everybody can try it! Not only that, but it's that much more well-carved-out because it's such a focused path.

    So yes, I do oppose intentionally harder games having an 'easy mode'. But that doesn't mean there aren't other options to accommodate everybody.

    2 votes
    1. Crespyl
      Link Parent
      I like the shift of framing you're describing with "easy mode" vs "assist mode". My go-to example of a game that suffers for having an "easy mode" is Metro 2033, and its sequels as well to some...

      I like the shift of framing you're describing with "easy mode" vs "assist mode". My go-to example of a game that suffers for having an "easy mode" is Metro 2033, and its sequels as well to some extent.

      The game was very clearly balanced around the harder "ranger" difficulty modes, and the lower difficulty settings actually change the experience dramatically. To make the game "easier", it gives the player more HP and causes bullet strikes to do less damage. The way this is applied, however, causes not just the player but most other enemies to become bullet sponges. The player will die less often, certainly, but the game becomes more boring and frustrating, degenerating into pouring bullets (now more readily available) into enemies that now feel less like dangerous but fragile living creatures and more like generic videogame pawns.

      By playing Metro 2033 on easy mode, you end up playing a broken version of the game, that fails to deliver on the atmosphere and gameplay themes its systems were designed around. I've personally spoken to several people who decided they just didn't like the game after playing the easy difficulty, and much later went back and found the "ranger" settings more to their liking.

      Arguably, this is just a badly implemented mode, and I wouldn't really disagree; but I think setting out from the beginning with the framing of building an "assist mode" instead perhaps makes it easier to see and implement a less compromising approach.

      2 votes
  10. Ellimist
    Link
    I'd have to agree with Papaya.......when the difficulty is a product of game design, when the game designed to be difficult, I think it should remain so. I play games to relax, to veg out, to get...

    I'd have to agree with Papaya.......when the difficulty is a product of game design, when the game designed to be difficult, I think it should remain so. I play games to relax, to veg out, to get transported to a different world for awhile. I don't play them because they're hard or I want a challenge. My job is hard enough. It's why I've never played any of the Dark Souls games, don't Mythic raid in WoW or ever beat a Halo game on Legendary difficulty. I'm playing the game to enjoy it, not get frustrated through numerous death and restarts. I played Mass Effect and Dragon Age on the easiest difficulty because the story is what I wanted. Same for the Halo games and WoW.

    That being said, I don't begrudge those who play games for their difficulty either. It's their preference. That's what they like to do.

    Now, a game that's artificially difficult? That can frustrate me. Destiny 1 and 2, for example, had a lot of difficulty that was artificial. Enemies that were bullet sponges, even when the player was as powerful as the game would allow. Raid mechanics that required near perfect precision that you would only find with a dedicated raid team, and incredibly difficult for a PUG.

    1 vote
  11. Apos
    Link
    I think it makes sense to think of difficulty modes in relation to their target audience. If you make a game harder through grinding, then people that like grinding will like it. People that are...

    I think it makes sense to think of difficulty modes in relation to their target audience.

    If you make a game harder through grinding, then people that like grinding will like it. People that are looking for a "harder" game experience might not.

    I think making good difficulty modes requires redesigning games in a lot of cases.

    For example, if you want to make an easier mode in the game Celeste, you might need to create levels that don't use as many mechanics. Or perhaps let the game automatically execute actions for the player seamlessly.

    In an FPS game, perhaps aim assist.

    Maybe another problem is when a player can pick a mode before the game starts and has no idea which one is the most fitting.

    1 vote
  12. Gorf
    Link
    I've largely given up playing a lot of games because I so rarely want to do a grinder anymore. The most fun i've ever had in games is when I can cheat and basically get a God Mode. I just want to...

    I've largely given up playing a lot of games because I so rarely want to do a grinder anymore. The most fun i've ever had in games is when I can cheat and basically get a God Mode. I just want to play through the game. I don't even care if I lose the option to be glorified on some leaderboard.

    1 vote
  13. eladnarra
    Link
    This is interesting, I thought: Sekiro PC mod adds ‘easy mode,’ more graphical options. I wonder if the purists who are so against easy modes would be fine with a mod existing? I like the...

    This is interesting, I thought: Sekiro PC mod adds ‘easy mode,’ more graphical options. I wonder if the purists who are so against easy modes would be fine with a mod existing?

    I like the existence of easy or assist modes. I think when people talk about "challenge" as an integral part of a particular game, they ignore that people have different levels of skills, experience, and ability. Is the core experience of "challenge" in these games dying a whole lot and learning how to beat bosses through pattern recognition and well-timed dodges and hits? I'd likely die on medium/easy mode as much as a better player would on hard mode in that type of game, so an easy mode would maintain that aspect of challenge for me.

    The same is true for certain disabilities. If someone physically can't hit a button fast enough on a harder mode, slowing certain timings in an easy mode simply puts them on a similar playing field. They're still being challenged, and it is actually possible for them to play.

    1 vote
  14. hamstergeddon
    Link
    There seems to be a trend of making games that are built around the idea of recreating the difficulty of retro gaming (specifically 8/16bit eras). Games like that, which are intended to recapture...

    There seems to be a trend of making games that are built around the idea of recreating the difficulty of retro gaming (specifically 8/16bit eras). Games like that, which are intended to recapture a less casual gaming experience should probably not have easy modes. But I do appreciate a difficulty scales in games where the difficulty isn't part of the game's design.

  15. [2]
    45930
    Link
    I think "should" is a tough word to use here because it doesn't say whether you mean for monetary gain, or player enjoyment, or pop culture status or anything else. I tried to play dark souls 2...

    I think "should" is a tough word to use here because it doesn't say whether you mean for monetary gain, or player enjoyment, or pop culture status or anything else.

    I tried to play dark souls 2 and for a couple hours I couldn't progress, so I quit. A year later I came back to it and played co-op mode and enjoyed it. That game has some lore to it, but there's basically no dialogue or story. The game is hard, and it's rewarding to beat. It would not be worth playing if it were easy because then it would just be a game with a bad story.

    Compare that to the witcher 3, which I like to play on easy. In that game, the combat is not as rewarding as in dark souls. The game isn't fun because of the good combat system. It's fun because of the story. So in that game, I like easy mode. It plays to the strength of the game.

    In either case, I'm looking to maximize my enjoyment of the game. Enjoyment of a dark souls style game is much more niche than a really great story driven game. It's not for everyone. If they dumbed down the game, it wouldn't be fun for anyone. The player camaraderie is real in dark souls because everyone struggles. The fun memes are YOU DIED and messages telling players to roll off a cliff in game. The losing is what makes it fun. For the witcher the fun memes are gwent, triss vs yen, calling roach. What people like about the game is the casual parts.

    Long story short, no, Sekiro should not have an easy mode.

    1. unknown user
      Link Parent
      Nobody's saying that there shouldn't be a hard mode! People are saying that there should be an optional easy mode so that people who find the hard mode needlessly frustrating, or who find games...

      If they dumbed down the game, it wouldn't be fun for anyone.

      Nobody's saying that there shouldn't be a hard mode! People are saying that there should be an optional easy mode so that people who find the hard mode needlessly frustrating, or who find games harder because of a disability, can still enjoy the game.

      2 votes
  16. stromm
    Link
    Definitely. My son (he's 29 now) was so excited about how good Just Cause 3 that he bought it for me on the xBox. SWEET! I started playing it and was having a lot of fun. Then I ran into two...

    Definitely. My son (he's 29 now) was so excited about how good Just Cause 3 that he bought it for me on the xBox. SWEET!

    I started playing it and was having a lot of fun. Then I ran into two limitations I can't get past. 1. The Wing suit challenges. 2. Target practice to unlock rifles and sniper rifles. WTF...

    I quit playing the game after about 10 hours of trying to get past those challenges.

  17. vord
    Link
    Game developers should just do whatever they want. I'm not much of a capitalist, but in this particular case, the statement "Let the market decide" makes a hell of a lot of sense. Games as a whole...

    Game developers should just do whatever they want. I'm not much of a capitalist, but in this particular case, the statement "Let the market decide" makes a hell of a lot of sense. Games as a whole are not a critical part of society's functioning, let alone any one game. If there's a market for a hard game that has no easy mode great. If there's a bigger market for a different hard game that has an easy mode, that's great too, but it doesn't have any bearing on the hard game with no easy mode.