Difficulty in Games

The writing bug just isn’t biting me lately, but I sure am making a lot of videos. This one is at least closer to a blog post.

I spend some time talking about game difficulty. What difficulty I like to play on, whether I like to replay on increased difficulties. I also talk about some different kinds of difficulty – a requirement for quick reactions, memorization, strategy, harsh punishments – and which of these I enjoy.

What are your feelings on game difficulty?

4 responses to “Difficulty in Games

  1. It’s interesting to separate out the different kinds of difficulty and what they entail. I don’t think many people consider that when they talk about the difficulty of a game.

    I used to be a total hardcore snob who only played on the highest difficulty, it was a badge of honour. But not anymore. I usually like to go one level higher than normal if possible, rarely do I head straight for the top.

    For action games, like FPS or platformers, I like the difficulty to be based on precision rather than the “surprise, you be dead” kind of memorisation you talked about.

    For puzzle games and adventure games I like them to be requiring observation or lateral thinking rather than dumb luck or systematic combining of items or hunting for pixels.

    For strategy games I like the difficulty to be in the AI, pure and simple. I hate that the most common way that the difficulties scale in games like Civ is through the AI “cheating”, i.e. not playing by the same rules as you. Free tech, vastly increased build speed, and my overwhelming pet peeve: knowledge they shouldn’t have, like where resources are, or how strong your military is (and where it is), or who is building what, etc, before they can possibly have found out via in-game means.
    Dahakha recently posted..Steam Challenge – Atom Zombie Smasher

    • There are a tone of different ways that games can be made more difficult, some much more than others. In FPS for example, a lot of the time easy or normal will include some degree of auto aim (especially on console). When higher difficulties take this away, I think that’s a good way to make things harder. However, sometimes it just means scaling up enemy damage and health. I’m not crazy about that. In WoW, I like when heroic (I guess mythic now?) fights add some extra abilities and complexities, I like it much less when they just add health and damage to the boss so it takes longer to kill.

      Pixel hunting is the worst. I love adventure games but so many have some really dumb puzzles.

  2. grumpymushroom

    I tend to play on normal as well. I have never understood the wish to play the same boss fight (for example) over and over again in order to ‘beat the challenge’. It also explains why I quickly lost interest in raiding in MMOs. It gets old really fast.

    Its especially true when playing an RPG. I tend to play these games for immersion and story. Repeated death takes me out of that immersion and breaks the story. Sometimes if I go back to a game after putting 100’s of hours into it (e.g. Skyrim) and I do know it inside out, I have to put it up a difficulty or two to keep the same level of challenge that normal gave me the first time around.

    It doesn’t help that my emotional state in games directly reflects the length of time my keyboard or mouse lasts without breaking 🙂