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Difficulty Level - Where is my Easy Mode!


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8 minutes ago, Gabe said:

I mean, you read the thread, right? :P

 

Enough to know that suggesting an assist mode in any of the Soulsbourne games would result in a lot of people being miffed!

 

I suspect some might change their tune in a decade or so when they face their reflexes slowing. For me it's all about being able to modify things so that the games I play are challenging but not impossible. Back in the day I felt no shame in using POKES to change the variables in a game (I'd argue that a lot of old 8 bit games unmodified make the Soulsborne games look like family picnics.)

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8 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

Not sure what I'd do with Soulsbourne games


I think it was said earlier in the thread, but one of the common responses regarding Souls games is “but it already has an easy mode - it’s called levelling up your stats”. A fair point, but one that admits that the Souls series could facilitate a system like you suggest. All of the damage numbers, hit points and damage reduction percentages are already present in the game - maybe they could be invisibly boosted each time you die, or gradually dropped down to the “real” numbers if you haven’t died in a while, or something.

 

Of course, this could result in silly situations where a level 4 character is fighting the final boss, but From could probably come up with a better solution than me :P 

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1 hour ago, Qazimod said:


I think it was said earlier in the thread, but one of the common responses regarding Souls games is “but it already has an easy mode - it’s called levelling up your stats”. A fair point, but one that admits that the Souls series could facilitate a system like you suggest. All of the damage numbers, hit points and damage reduction percentages are already present in the game - maybe they could be invisibly boosted each time you die, or gradually dropped down to the “real” stats” if you haven’t died in a while, or something.

 

Of course, this could result in silly situations where a level 4 character is fighting the final boss, but From could probably come up with a better solution than me :P 

 

The Hades solution is good but far from perfect. I'd love to see the damage variables drop as you do successful runs in Hades, thus seesawing around what works best for individual players. Maybe Soulsbourne games are a special case though where the difficulty is the point. (much like Super Meat Boy.)

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On 30/12/2020 at 01:57, Broker said:

 


It’s not about elitism, it’s about every game not needing to be for every person. The weird need to have every game hold the player’s hand through every action fundamentally changes the design of games. I love the world design of Hollow Knight but I’m not good enough at it to play it, but my first thought isn’t “they should make this easier for me”. A game designed to be completed by every player is a different experience to a game designed to force a player to learn through repetition, and trying to make From’s games more accessible to players who don’t actually want to play them would lead to a game like the one described in the joke posts above, with floating markers to tell you where to go and all those other things.

 

That leads into the main issue, which is that much like the “lazy developers should add this because it would be easy for them” comments you see constantly, there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how games work. There’s no switch you can flick to make a game easier, and even in the barest, simplest version where you have an easy mode on off switch, you’re doubling the amount of testing you need to do. A slider as suggested potentially multiplies the amount of testing by a hundred. Game development isn’t a zero sum exercise, and any extra features, no matter how simple they may appear to people who have never designed a game, has a cost. The hours of testing, the polish, the pay for those people, all of that is coming from somewhere. A slider for damage doesn’t resolve the problem of having to figure out where to go next, which is just as big of an obstacle in these games as the enemies, but is easily resolved with a floating marker, but that’s another cost. If you’re adding those things on the resources to implement them are coming from somewhere, and if the choice is between the developers having the time and money to add more areas, or bosses, or weapons, and adding things that remove the essential point of the experience, then it’s up to the developers to choose what to prioritise. As far as I’m concerned they’ve consistently made the right choice by focusing on expanding the stuff that compliments their core design rather than breaking it so that more people who don’t enjoy their games can look at the environments. Almost every game that comes out will tell you where to go and throw enemies at you that pose no challenge and not expect you to learn anything to progress, and I really don’t see why people expect the one popular developer who isn’t doing that to homogenise their design to make it more like everything else, especially when the core appeal of their games and the thing that built them a fan base is the fact they don’t do that. 

Why shouldn’t every game be for everyone? 
 

Imagine being told you aren’t good enough to read Hardy or watch Coppola. 
 

It’s this viewpoint (which is an undesirable leftover from gamings arcade roots) which holds gaming back from being taken seriously as an art form. 
 

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53 minutes ago, sandman said:

Imagine being told you aren’t good enough to read Hardy or watch Coppola. 

Have you tried Joyce? Now there's a high difficulty level. ;)

 

I know this going back over old ground, but I think it's kind of funny to see assist modes mentioned in regards to Souls, as series which has the ultimate version, i.e. you can literally call for assistance. If anything, assist modes in other games are kind of compromised versions of that. Sekiro is a different matter, of course. I think that should have more options.

 

I have also been thinking recently about what @Unofficial Who was saying though. I wonder how long I'll be able to play some of these genres I've grown up with and still love. After all, reaction times inevitably slow with age. I'm 45 now and feel like I'm starting to notice the difference, but can still muddle through most things. Will we playing fast action games at all when we're older?

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4 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

I know this going back over old ground, but I think it's kind of funny to see assist modes mentioned in regards to Souls, as series which has the ultimate version, i.e. you can literally call for assistance.

I know this is a common rebuke for when talking about difficulty in Souls games, but I don't think it really addresses the point. For starters, you have to hope that somebody is around in the first place for the bit you are at and that's not always a given, plus you have no idea how long they are about for, so it might not even be enough time to help you. Plus you might wish to stay offline in the first place to avoid being invaded (is that still the way it works? I only played Dark Souls.)

 

A bigger thing is how many people will join your game and then be happy to watch you pootle around at your own pace exploring the world and taking it all in, vs them just running off and butchering everything and/or making a beeline straight for the boss?

 

Finally, for people that argue about the game being all finely balanced etc, well that all rather goes out the window when you summon somebody else anyway because it isn't balanced in the slightest for having two people running around, nor is it meant to be played that way for any significant time - but in theory you could for the whole games I guess? Viewed like that, why not add other assists too?

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1 hour ago, sandman said:

Why shouldn’t every game be for everyone? 
 

Imagine being told you aren’t good enough to read Hardy or watch Coppola. 
 

It’s this viewpoint (which is an undesirable leftover from gamings arcade roots) which holds gaming back from being taken seriously as an art form. 
 


I’d argue the exact opposite, that gaming’s desperation to be all things to all people is what stops it being able to produce legitimate art. Just look at the reaction when Death Stranding refused to add the stuff a triple A game is supposed to have, like endless combat and collectibles that “fill” the environment. There’s an inability to create anything unique that creates a unique feeling because it might not sell five million copies by being exactly like Call of Duty or GTA, which is how you end up with every game being functionally the same. Art can be challenging, and yeah there’s a lot of films and books that don’t cater to mainstream audiences which provide unique artistic visions that wouldn’t be possible if they had to conform to accepted norms. It’s really weird that in a world that still has issues with literacy being widespread that’s an example you’ve chosen. I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of books I couldn’t recommend to other people because they’re too dense or too long or too strangely structured. Making them all more like Dan Brown so anyone could read them wouldn’t improve them.

 

I don’t really see the point of engaging with the question of why all games shouldn’t be for all people any further, the post you’ve quoted covers the practical reasons, and it goes a lot further. If things have to be designed for “everyone” then you’re actually designing them for the widest audience. In movies the way they make things acceptable to everyone is by never having any stories that focus on the experiences of women or people who aren’t white, because that’s what they’ve decided is most widely appealing. It’s just a regressive design style that only serves to maintain the status quo.

 

25 minutes ago, Gabe said:

I know this is a common rebuke for when talking about difficulty in Souls games, but I don't think it really addresses the point. For starters, you have to hope that somebody is around in the first place for the bit you are at and that's not always a given, plus you have no idea how long they are about for, so it might not even be enough time to help you. Plus you might wish to stay offline in the first place to avoid being invaded (is that still the way it works? I only played Dark Souls.)

 

A bigger thing is how many people will join your game and then be happy to watch you pootle around at your own pace exploring the world and taking it all in, vs them just running off and butchering everything and/or making a beeline straight for the boss?

 

Finally, for people that argue about the game being all finely balanced etc, well that all rather goes out the window when you summon somebody else anyway because it isn't balanced in the slightest for having two people running around, nor is it meant to be played that way for any significant time - but in theory you could for the whole games I guess? Viewed like that, why not add other assists too?

 

The bosses rebalance their health to account for multiple players, and it’s really easy to go on Reddit and find people to help you with any area, at any level, any time of the day. 
 

As for “why not more assists”, why not 5000 weapons? Why not a map the size of North Africa? Why not a mode where the game plays itself while you watch? Why not a driving section? As always the extremely simple answer is “because the developers and designers decided not to put that in”.

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28 minutes ago, Broker said:

I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of books I couldn’t recommend to other people because they’re too dense or too long or too strangely structured. Making them all more like Dan Brown so anyone could read them wouldn’t improve them.


What?

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1 hour ago, Broker said:


I’d argue the exact opposite, that gaming’s desperation to be all things to all people is what stops it being able to produce legitimate art. Just look at the reaction when Death Stranding refused to add the stuff a triple A game is supposed to have, like endless combat and collectibles that “fill” the environment. There’s an inability to create anything unique that creates a unique feeling because it might not sell five million copies by being exactly like Call of Duty or GTA, which is how you end up with every game being functionally the same. Art can be challenging, and yeah there’s a lot of films and books that don’t cater to mainstream audiences which provide unique artistic visions that wouldn’t be possible if they had to conform to accepted norms. It’s really weird that in a world that still has issues with literacy being widespread that’s an example you’ve chosen. I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of books I couldn’t recommend to other people because they’re too dense or too long or too strangely structured. Making them all more like Dan Brown so anyone could read them wouldn’t improve them.

 

Here's the weird thing. Just quoting this bit I think you're completely right. I loved the way Death Stranding was designed. And it really annoyed a lot of people who were used to a certain vision of open world games. This was a game where combat was pretty much optional and the challenge was about keeping your balance and battling through inclement weather. Forget BT's, rain or a snowstorm in that game can screw you over. So you've convinced me, sometimes art doesn't have to be about compromise at all, and it's all the better for the audience.

 

However something else you've said has raised another point.

 

1 hour ago, Broker said:


I’d argue the exact opposite, that gaming’s desperation to be all things to all people is what stops it being able to produce legitimate art. Just look at the reaction when Death Stranding refused to add the stuff a triple A game is supposed to have, like endless combat and collectibles that “fill” the environment. There’s an inability to create anything unique that creates a unique feeling because it might not sell five million copies by being exactly like Call of Duty or GTA, which is how you end up with every game being functionally the same. Art can be challenging, and yeah there’s a lot of films and books that don’t cater to mainstream audiences which provide unique artistic visions that wouldn’t be possible if they had to conform to accepted norms. It’s really weird that in a world that still has issues with literacy being widespread that’s an example you’ve chosen. I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of books I couldn’t recommend to other people because they’re too dense or too long or too strangely structured. Making them all more like Dan Brown so anyone could read them wouldn’t improve them.

 

Death Stranding again while being a hardcore walking simulator also makes allowances in terms of assist modes. It offers you the option to automatically balance your load. It offers you control options to makes walking as hard or as easy as you want. It has aim assist. It allows you to just hold down a button instead of tapping. It allows you to adjust the balance variable to match your skill.

 

I think this is the issue that a lot of contributors to this thread don't understand yet (but you will eventually. Assist functions aren't about having an I win button, they're about adjusting the game to be enjoyable and challenging according to your ability. The example I used earlier with Control. Five years ago I'm sure I could have played the game well at it's default setting. Definitely ten years ago.

 

I'm 48. I'm lucky enough that I still have my eyesight (with the aid of glasses now.) I still have most of my hearing. I don't want an "I win" button. But the ability to make the now impossible into something fun and challenging? I'm all for that.

 

1 hour ago, Broker said:

As for “why not more assists”, why not 5000 weapons? Why not a map the size of North Africa? Why not a mode where the game plays itself while you watch? Why not a driving section? As always the extremely simple answer is “because the developers and designers decided not to put that in”.

 

I think that's misunderstanding what some people are talking about here. With Control I don't want a Control Kart section. And if I wanted to watch someone play it there's youtube walkthroughs. It's about allowing players access to a game world or a design philosophy. By tweeking the variables I'm now having an experience which is as challenging to me as playing through default would be for most players. 

 

1 hour ago, BadgerFarmer said:

 

I have also been thinking recently about what @Unofficial Who was saying though. I wonder how long I'll be able to play some of these genres I've grown up with and still love. After all, reaction times inevitably slow with age. I'm 45 now and feel like I'm starting to notice the difference, but can still muddle through most things. Will we playing fast action games at all when we're older?

 

49 here and I'm noticing issues where I know what I need to do but my hand eye coordination just can't keep up. I was surprised recently with Assassin's Creed Russia having sections that harkened back to eight bit design with no fiddling with variables allowed. Expect back in the old days I would have used a poke to skip the lever or change some of the variables.

 

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*gestures in direction of Celeste*

 

*pauses for effect*

 

*gestures in direction of Huntdown*

 

"Ladies and Gentleman. This is game design." 

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1 hour ago, Gabe said:

I know this is a common rebuke for when talking about difficulty in Souls games, but I don't think it really addresses the point. For starters, you have to hope that somebody is around in the first place for the bit you are at and that's not always a given, plus you have no idea how long they are about for, so it might not even be enough time to help you. Plus you might wish to stay offline in the first place to avoid being invaded (is that still the way it works? I only played Dark Souls.)

 

A bigger thing is how many people will join your game and then be happy to watch you pootle around at your own pace exploring the world and taking it all in, vs them just running off and butchering everything and/or making a beeline straight for the boss?

 

Finally, for people that argue about the game being all finely balanced etc, well that all rather goes out the window when you summon somebody else anyway because it isn't balanced in the slightest for having two people running around, nor is it meant to be played that way for any significant time - but in theory you could for the whole games I guess? Viewed like that, why not add other assists too?

To add to this (I totally agree) a few more points about summoning not nearly fulfilling the concept of an assist mode:

 

It's limited by in-game resources. 

 

It isn't offered up front. It isn't even offered when needed for the initial bosses in most of the games. Really an assist mode needs to be there from the start of play.

 

It's locked behind in game lore and opaque mechanics, more so in some games than others.

 

Bosses are rebalanced with more players, sometimes with disastrous consequences. Some become even more challenging.

 

Multiplayer should never be the only answer. it's also not great to only give access to assist features to those with a viable internet connection.

 

 

Bit disappointed that this thread has returned to developer 'vision', etc. We're looking at how providing these options are viable, and possibly at whether they should be offered as an industry standard as is starting (finally) to happen with accessibility settings in AAA games. All of this can happen without affecting developer intent or vision.

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1 hour ago, Unofficial Who said:

I'm 48. I'm lucky enough that I still have my eyesight (with the aid of glasses now.) I still have most of my hearing. I don't want an "I win" button. But the ability to make the now impossible into something fun and challenging? I'm all for that.

 

49 here and I'm noticing issues where I know what I need to do but my hand eye coordination just can't keep up. I was surprised recently with Assassin's Creed Russia having sections that harkened back to eight bit design with no fiddling with variables allowed. Expect back in the old days I would have used a poke to skip the lever or change some of the variables.

 

I know it was a long post, @Unofficial Who, but I didn't think it was long enough for you to age a year!

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Not sure if it’s been posted already, but I thought this was a great article rounding up last year’s best games for accessibility:

 

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2021-01-19-players-without-sight-can-platinum-the-last-of-us-part-2-a-look-back-at-accessibility-in-2020?page=comments

 

You can get the platinum on The Last of Us 2 even if you’re sightless! It sounds like the kind of thing that a few years ago would be chucked into a review as a dis, but it’s genuinely heartwarming to read now. TLoU2 was exactly the right difficulty for me, so it’s great to hear that the difficulty can be customised to the extent that it’s perfect for everyone, not just able-bodied people who are after a challenge. 

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I'm all for assist modes generally. It works especially well in Celeste because I think it fits with the game's themes. But I can't quite get my head round it when it comes to Soulsborne games (not including Sekiro). I mean, they're games that demand effort in various ways beyond skill level, and pretty much every option they offer is intertwined with the game experience. So if even asking for assistance takes a bit of work, that's consistent with what they're about.

 

I'm not particularly good at them. But a big part of why they work is that you can find lots of little tricks and strategies to tip the odds in your favour. Iif you've got what it takes, you can run in there naked and hack everything to pieces, but most ask for help sometimes or muddle through some other way. Using a magic build, for example, is often easier. And yes, it may take some research to find that out, but that's very much in the spirit of the game. They're made from the ground up to be beaten collaboratively, whether with someone else playing with you or by sharing tips and secrets.

 

OK, it's not perfect and it's still not going to be enough for some. But there are plenty of 'organic' assists built into these games. Part of their appeal is how integrated those aspects are.

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I think for this debate we can remove the soulsborne games for simple commercial reasons and cultural reasons. If From Software put in assists the amount of new players attracted to the games would be far less than the number of current fans who would buy the next game day one.

 

Let's go back to the James Joyce example.

 

You can read Ulysses in easy mode!

 

Let's just run through the modes with the book.

 

Hard mode. You read through the book and grapple with the plot and themes. You time your run tearing out each page at one per minute. You get someone to give you a pop quiz at the end of each chapter. Fail and the book is burned in front of you, you have to start totally afresh. At the end you get something out of it. Satisfaction? Possibly.

 

Easy mode. You read the words one after the other until you reach the end and "finish." Maybe you get something out of this. Quite possibly you've cheated yourself. Especially if you've read an abridged version.

 

Assist mode. You have the option to read with larger print. Maybe even a print style more suited for those with dyslexia. Or you get an audio version. You read at your own pace. The book comes with footnotes and you allow yourself breaks to check a dictionary for words you might not understand.

 

The choice should be up to the player. I think someone nailed it earlier when they said that there was a hangover from the arcade that hangs like a millstone around the neck of gaming. Let me use a non Soulsbourne example. The Outer Wilds, possibly the best game I've ever played was almost ruined for me because of the 22 minute time limit. Because if I had left playing it another year or two there's no way I'd be able to do a successful run in 22 minutes. 25 maybe. Maybe even 30.  It's an amazing game but if there's ever a modern game that cries out for assist modes it's The Outer Wilds.

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18 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

I think for this debate we can remove the soulsborne games for simple commercial reasons and cultural reasons. If From Software put in assists the amount of new players attracted to the games would be far less than the number of current fans who would buy the next game day one.

 

I mean.. I disagree on almost every point there, but the reason the the SB games tend to feature heavily in these discussions is that there are always large numbers of people who are attracted to them but can't progress through them, whether due to difficulty/approachability issues or basic accessibility needs. It's fighting against the tide to try to remove them from the discussion.

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6 hours ago, jonny_rat said:

Bit disappointed that this thread has returned to developer 'vision', etc. We're looking at how providing these options are viable, and possibly at whether they should be offered as an industry standard as is starting (finally) to happen with accessibility settings in AAA games. All of this can happen without affecting developer intent or vision.

I genuinely want games to be as accessible as possible. But it's hard. It's really hard. I'm a solo game developer. I've been trying to kick a game out of the door for months. A big sticking point is the front end. I want to make the controls as customisable as possible but that's a ball-ache. It's enough of a pain in the arse to implement the controls screen, but then that has to actually filter through the game, so that whatever key a player presses is used instead of the one you wanted at every level. That's easy for gameplay usually, but then you have to update the tutorial and any text throughout the game so it references the modified controls, instead of the ones you designed. Then you need to make that work for every language you support. And for different formats you need to be using different glyphs for all the buttons (Xbox buttons or Playstation ones etc.)

 

This is just the simple example of control configuration as an accessibility measure. Others are much more complex.

 

This does affect developer intent and vision. It's an absolute arse-load of extra work. If you're running to a strict budget it will really impact what you can do. I'm not running to a strict budget, so I just keep on delaying the release date.

 

Basically there are reasons this isn't done as standard, and it's almost always because whilst looking really simple, it's actually a lot of work. And work equates to time, which equates to money. So it doesn't happen because the people who balance the books do the maths and figure the gain doesn't outweigh the cost (whether that's in a huge corporation or as a solo developer).

 

 

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1 hour ago, Unofficial Who said:

Let's go back to the James Joyce example.

 

You can read Ulysses in easy mode!

 

Let's just run through the modes with the book.

 

Hard mode. You read through the book and grapple with the plot and themes. You time your run tearing out each page at one per minute. You get someone to give you a pop quiz at the end of each chapter. Fail and the book is burned in front of you, you have to start totally afresh. At the end you get something out of it. Satisfaction? Possibly.

 

Easy mode. You read the words one after the other until you reach the end and "finish." Maybe you get something out of this. Quite possibly you've cheated yourself. Especially if you've read an abridged version.

 

Assist mode. You have the option to read with larger print. Maybe even a print style more suited for those with dyslexia. Or you get an audio version. You read at your own pace. The book comes with footnotes and you allow yourself breaks to check a dictionary for words you might not understand.

 

The choice should be up to the player. I think someone nailed it earlier when they said that there was a hangover from the arcade that hangs like a millstone around the neck of gaming. Let me use a non Soulsbourne example. The Outer Wilds, possibly the best game I've ever played was almost ruined for me because of the 22 minute time limit. Because if I had left playing it another year or two there's no way I'd be able to do a successful run in 22 minutes. 25 maybe. Maybe even 30.  It's an amazing game but if there's ever a modern game that cries out for assist modes it's The Outer Wilds.

I feel like the comparison is already stretching to breaking point, but what if 'assist mode' in this instance actually means all the words being changed into easier to understand words, the sentences being rewritten according to nice standard grammar rules, the themes being explained clearly, and so on? Because otherwise you read a few pages and wouldn't understand much of it and just give up? But then if you do that you've lost the unique form that made the book what it is in the first place.

 

The Outer Wilds example is a perfect one for me. I didn't like the 22 minute loop either. After a while it annoyed me having to repeat things from scratch again on death, missing out on a particular point and having to wait for it come round again, or getting stuck in space with time left and having to wait for it to end. So I gave up. But I also understand that it's absolutely integral to the game. It couldn't work without it. I appreciate that it's a clever game, but it wasn't one for me. Sometimes the thing that gets in the way for me or you is precisely the thing that makes it so good for others. And that's OK.

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I think the point about diminishing reflexes and hand-eye co-ordination is a good one.

 

Like @Unofficial Who I am getting on a bit now (48) and whilst I used to live for the twitch mechanics of the 80s arcade (and I was definitely no slouch back then) my reflexes have definitely dulled over the intervening years.

 

I love the Souls games for the purity of their vision (Bloodborne especially) and I still find them accessible now but I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep up in 10/15/20 years time? Maybe we just have to accept it as a part of the aging process, our relationship with games will change as we age and not every game is designed with us in mind?

 

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spacer.png

 

For some games content exists to test mastery.

I couldn't unlock the most advanced Super Monkey Ball extra stages, though that doesn't bother me. Those stages are designed to challenge players far more able than me. It's still my favorite game.

 

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What I find interesting and maybe the people already equipped could tell me.

 

I don't want a complete lack of peril in games but frankly if something, especially a cheaty boss, murders me more than a couple of times in a row I start to lose interest. If I want something like that I'm going back to the Master System.

 

But I wonder how much of that is, on the SMS I'm back there in 5 seconds.  In modern games it could be a minute or two loading every time I get murdered immediately by something.

 

So I'm going to be interested to see how annoyed I am by deaths when we're (hopefully) back to being in the action 5 seconds later.

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2 hours ago, MarkN said:

I genuinely want games to be as accessible as possible. But it's hard. It's really hard. I'm a solo game developer. I've been trying to kick a game out of the door for months. A big sticking point is the front end. I want to make the controls as customisable as possible but that's a ball-ache. It's enough of a pain in the arse to implement the controls screen, but then that has to actually filter through the game, so that whatever key a player presses is used instead of the one you wanted at every level. That's easy for gameplay usually, but then you have to update the tutorial and any text throughout the game so it references the modified controls, instead of the ones you designed. Then you need to make that work for every language you support. And for different formats you need to be using different glyphs for all the buttons (Xbox buttons or Playstation ones etc.)

 

This is just the simple example of control configuration as an accessibility measure. Others are much more complex.

 

This does affect developer intent and vision. It's an absolute arse-load of extra work. If you're running to a strict budget it will really impact what you can do. I'm not running to a strict budget, so I just keep on delaying the release date.

 

Basically there are reasons this isn't done as standard, and it's almost always because whilst looking really simple, it's actually a lot of work. And work equates to time, which equates to money. So it doesn't happen because the people who balance the books do the maths and figure the gain doesn't outweigh the cost (whether that's in a huge corporation or as a solo developer).

 

 

I will totally accept that there's a cut off point of how easy this is for solo devs to implement, but not for AA/AAA! Unless you're getting close to launch day and you make an about-face and decide to add them at the last second that is (in the control configuration example given, an AAA team designing with accessibility in mind from day 1 would have tutorial glyphs etc determined dynamically).

 

And I absolutely don't think it's common for there to be a conscious process of not adding accessibility features. In my experience, when they haven't been added it's because they haven't been considered or they aren't known about, which is completely fair enough in the case of an indie dev, but not so much when it comes to bigger teams.

 

I spotted that Ian Hamilton had tweeted about an interview covering this exact topic earlier:

 

I thought what was interesting there was that there was a definite sense of YMMV, in for that have he was able to identify the quick and easy stuff to add. Obviously if you're in a situation where those changes are going to generate many hours of extra work (eg manually changing tutorial text) then it's different.

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12 hours ago, matt0 said:

*gestures in direction of Celeste*

 

*pauses for effect*

 

*gestures in direction of Huntdown*

 

"Ladies and Gentleman. This is game design." 

 

I thought Celeste was a game that out stayed its welcome in a number of axis. I know that fits with the themes of the game, but it was a few levels too long and it had boss sections where I literally said "What, more? Fuck off" out loud. I enjoyed the prototype hidden on it more. 

 

But I got through the main quest. At no point did I ever consider using the assist features. The game makes very clear the default difficulty is intended, design difficulty. People go wild over the story, but it's slight and the focus is on the platforming. What's the point in tuning it down? You are destroying the intended experience. Why would I use it to skip a bit? The next section is harder. 

 

I can see the point in story based games - I knocked down the difficulty of one boss fight in Jedi Fallen order because it was a spike and I just wanted through the story. And I can see systems if the game is designed like something like Dishonoured, do what you want and the systems are woven in. 

 

But there's something for a take it or leave it challenge. Seeing whether you can do it is the point and the motivation. It's okay if you can't - like someone else earlier, I definitely hit a wall on Super Monkey Ball. But there's no appeal to me of an assist to do it. It's just not the same. 

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4 hours ago, Giles said:

spacer.png

 

For some games content exists to test mastery.

I couldn't unlock the most advanced Super Monkey Ball extra stages, though that doesn't bother me. Those stages are designed to challenge players far more able than me. It's still my favorite game.

 

 

This is a good example on one hand, people playing The Chessmaster know that they're going in to play chess.

 

However it's a poor example in that it gives you more than one difficulty level. The Chessmaster doesn't glower at you shouting "git gud" before throwing the pieces in your face.

 

Quote

There are 16 different difficulty levels that includes 2 beginner levels, 13 standard levels (ranging from an average of 5 seconds to 4.5 minutes per shot depending on level), and a infinite level that will keep thinking of a shot until a perfect shot can be made or it is forced to move. There is also a teaching mode that shows the player all the possible moves with the selected piece. Two players can play each other with two controllers and there is also an option of letting the Chessmaster play itself.

 You raise an interesting point about games of skill and I think a lot of the complaints in this thread are about games with very strong narrative elements. I don't get frustrated that I'll never be a master at Crazy Taxi or Super Monkey Ball. I am somewhat sad that the bar for me to get involved in the Dark Souls universe is maybe too high for me.

 

5 hours ago, BadgerFarmer said:

I feel like the comparison is already stretching to breaking point, but what if 'assist mode' in this instance actually means all the words being changed into easier to understand words, the sentences being rewritten according to nice standard grammar rules, the themes being explained clearly, and so on? Because otherwise you read a few pages and wouldn't understand much of it and just give up? But then if you do that you've lost the unique form that made the book what it is in the first place.

 

The Outer Wilds example is a perfect one for me. I didn't like the 22 minute loop either. After a while it annoyed me having to repeat things from scratch again on death, missing out on a particular point and having to wait for it come round again, or getting stuck in space with time left and having to wait for it to end. So I gave up. But I also understand that it's absolutely integral to the game. It couldn't work without it. I appreciate that it's a clever game, but it wasn't one for me. Sometimes the thing that gets in the way for me or you is precisely the thing that makes it so good for others. And that's OK.

 

I think The Out Wilds was polished to near perfection. However by the end it was obvious it was designed for those who had playtested it to death. I think a few minutes grace (or more forgiving design in one of the last planets you need to navigate it) would have made the difference in accessibility.

 

47 minutes ago, kensei said:

 

I thought Celeste was a game that out stayed its welcome in a number of axis. I know that fits with the themes of the game, but it was a few levels too long and it had boss sections where I literally said "What, more? Fuck off" out loud. I enjoyed the prototype hidden on it more. 

 

But I got through the main quest. At no point did I ever consider using the assist features. The game makes very clear the default difficulty is intended, design difficulty. People go wild over the story, but it's slight and the focus is on the platforming. What's the point in tuning it down? You are destroying the intended experience. Why would I use it to skip a bit? The next section is harder. 

 

 

I guess using my example of VVVVVV again, what would have been a steep but doable challenge in my 30's is now impossible. By tuning the speed of the game I was able to bring it down from impossible to being a steep (but doable) challenge. Some of this is trusting players. I could have turned the speed down on VVVVVV to 10% of running speed and made it easy but at that point I'd be cheating myself.

 

4 hours ago, Dudley said:

But I wonder how much of that is, on the SMS I'm back there in 5 seconds.  In modern games it could be a minute or two loading every time I get murdered immediately by something.

 

So I'm going to be interested to see how annoyed I am by deaths when we're (hopefully) back to being in the action 5 seconds later.

 

This was my experience with Assassin's Creed:Russia. This particular challenge required me to sneak past four guards using a smoke grenade to make it to a waiting truck in 55 seconds. It had been playtested to death so there was no tolerance for failure. I would fail early and then have to wait loading wise LONGER THAN THE BIT I'D JUST PLAYED. This is the worst and after playing Super Meat Boy where death results in an instant restart it's not something I'm tolerant of. After two hours of this I would have loved to have skipped forward or to have fiddled with the variables to make it easier but there were no options to do so and so it ended up being a hard gateway in the game I couldn't pass. 

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On 30/12/2020 at 18:48, Broker said:


Is that a problem though? I really enjoyed I’m Thinking of Ending Things. I haven’t recommended it to anyone because I know most people wouldn’t enjoy it, but I don’t see that as a problem that needs fixing by making it more like a Marvel movie or something. It’s just a really weird movie aimed at what I assume is a very small audience. That isn’t and inherent problem with it and I don’t think it would be improved by making it as easy to watch and digest as possible, you’d remove the essential nature that makes it what it is. I really don’t see the problem with creative people making things that not absolutely everyone will like.

But last time I checked I could get to the end of any film I chose to watch. I might not get the same out of it as Mark Kermode but my eyes will still have the skills to get me to the end 

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Yeah a section that short I'd probably persist at it pretty much forever if I fail and I'm moving again in under a second.  If it's a minutes loading I'm cheesing it or quitting within 2 tries, and actually why I'm kinda ok with it on stuff like Mario Bros.

 

And actually I don't know AC:R of course but games now that have unskippable 10 seconds dying sequences,  Dark Souls will do for an example here.  Yes I know "YOU DIED", let me fix that!  If it's longer than Mario Bros you fucked up.

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9 hours ago, kensei said:

 

I thought Celeste was a game that out stayed its welcome in a number of axis. I know that fits with the themes of the game, but it was a few levels too long and it had boss sections where I literally said "What, more? Fuck off" out loud. I enjoyed the prototype hidden on it more. 

 

But I got through the main quest. At no point did I ever consider using the assist features. The game makes very clear the default difficulty is intended, design difficulty. People go wild over the story, but it's slight and the focus is on the platforming. What's the point in tuning it down? You are destroying the intended experience. Why would I use it to skip a bit? The next section is harder. 

 

I can see the point in story based games - I knocked down the difficulty of one boss fight in Jedi Fallen order because it was a spike and I just wanted through the story. And I can see systems if the game is designed like something like Dishonoured, do what you want and the systems are woven in. 

 

But there's something for a take it or leave it challenge. Seeing whether you can do it is the point and the motivation. It's okay if you can't - like someone else earlier, I definitely hit a wall on Super Monkey Ball. But there's no appeal to me of an assist to do it. It's just not the same. 

 

Your post is basically: "I didn't want this, therefore what's the point?"

 

You say loads of people love the story in Celeste, but you didn't, therefore, what's the point in letting you skip ahead? But you were fine dropping the difficulty in Jedi Fallen order because you wanted to get through the story, even though there's no real difference between offering that option in Celeste or Fallen Order. You personally just liked the story more in one game than another.

 

I played Fallen Order at one level above the default difficulty the whole way through. It was a "fixed challenge". I spent 3 hours on the final boss across two play sessions and went as far as making notes about the attack sequences and the best way to avoid them. I finally won with a desperate light saber throw when me and the boss were both on a sliver of health. Any other move and I'm pretty sure I would have died. It was the most purely Star Wars moment I've ever got out of a video game and a personal gaming achievement for me.

 

That moment isn't changed for me in any way by you dropping the difficulty on your run through. It's as irrelevant to me as the accessibility options in Celeste were to you, or a hypothetical easy mode in Dark Souls would be to that series hardcore fans.

 

I'm on my second play through of Celeste now, both assist free. The first I got to the credits and called it a day. The second I've managed to get through 4 of the b-sides and now I'm working my way through the core. The effect of assist options and whether other people use them or not is again, completely irrelevant to the challenge I've set myself of beating the game on the default settings.

 

The brilliance of Celeste and Huntdown is the way they scale up and down to accommodate players. Celeste gives players fine granular detail over the game to tweak the difficulty down as they see fit and then a whole load of post game content and optional collectables and merciless post game content for players who want a tougher challenge. Huntdown is simpler - you get 4 traditional difficulty levels and a bunch of optional challenges like finding secrets, killing every enemy and getting through the level without dying. Huntdown on any given difficulty level is a fixed challenge. Players have the freedom to organically make any given level harder for themselves by aiming for the optional challenges. Both games are absolutely merciless depending on what settings you chose to play them and if you chose to stick with those settings and don't change them then they're a fixed challenge. Alternatively, if you know you couldn't hack it but you want to see the later levels on the hardest difficulty you're welcome to gawp at how extreme it gets - you have all these options. They don't effect anyone else's experience.

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It's as if different games serve different purposes, where some benefit from allowing the player to skip/power through tough bits while in others that would destroy the point of playing it at all.

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