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Should you make games easy or hard?


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#1 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 04:56 PM

I know title sound stupid but listen..

Just for example about WoW because thats a game i think everyone has played even the ones that dont like WoW.

In early versions of WoW it was "harder" because for example pet controlling was a lot more manual.. but now its almost everything automatically done with pet.. it stops attacking for exampe if u do a crowd control ability on a target so pet dont mess that up for you instead of you having to order pet to stop attack just before.

things like this.

And reason they made it easier is because everyone was complaining it was too hard.
but there was still a decent size of players (not majority) that was shrugging and wondering what is so hard, just learn to play instead.
I also thought it was no problem to manually do these stuff.. just most players in all games are bad players...the average players really suck lol.

Should you design tthe combat system so its designed so average players can play almost as good as the "pro" players?
It seems thats what most games are doing... they even made it so hunter in WoW can shoot his bow in melee range lol..

Im asking because im not sure, i always think it should be hard.. but then again I want to be an open minded dev and not do what i prefer but instead do what is best for the game.

The combat system i am making will have some things like this.. im for example thinking if i should have auto attack or not... so you just press attack and then your guy just follow enemy and attacking him without you pressing any buttons.. or if i should make the game harder so you have to do everything yourself.

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#2 EngineProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 295

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 05:15 PM

If you want the average player to like your game, don't make it too hard.
Try to balance the easy and hard parts.

Get some content in your game that is only meant to the pro players. Like when you die you lose Everything what you have! But if you win, you gain everything the other player has. This can really gets frustrated even for pro players. If you don't know how to play you will probably lose.
This is a bit too hard indeed, but it's the point I'm trying to make. You need to game content that an average player just can't do.
And this will bring some limitations to the average player and they will lose some motivation. So then you need other content, more easy and meant for them. Battles to only gain some resources or money, average quests, etc.

Choosing a difficulty of a game can be pretty hard. If you don't know what to pick, pick something where an average player can have fun with. Pro players will stop playing your game if you only have average content because it's just 'too' easy for them. No challenge at all. But you'll have 70% Average players, 5% Pro's and 25% Noobs. So it's kind of easy which difficulty you should pick. Unless you want to aim for the pro's only. Posted Image


~EngineProgrammer

#3 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1582

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:09 PM

easy to learn impossible to master

#4 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6318

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:12 PM

I know title sound stupid but listen..

Just for example about WoW because thats a game i think everyone has played even the ones that dont like WoW.

In early versions of WoW it was "harder" because for example pet controlling was a lot more manual.. but now its almost everything automatically done with pet.. it stops attacking for exampe if u do a crowd control ability on a target so pet dont mess that up for you instead of you having to order pet to stop attack just before.

things like this.

And reason they made it easier is because everyone was complaining it was too hard.
but there was still a decent size of players (not majority) that was shrugging and wondering what is so hard, just learn to play instead.
I also thought it was no problem to manually do these stuff.. just most players in all games are bad players...the average players really suck lol.

Should you design tthe combat system so its designed so average players can play almost as good as the "pro" players?
It seems thats what most games are doing... they even made it so hunter in WoW can shoot his bow in melee range lol..

Im asking because im not sure, i always think it should be hard.. but then again I want to be an open minded dev and not do what i prefer but instead do what is best for the game.

The combat system i am making will have some things like this.. im for example thinking if i should have auto attack or not... so you just press attack and then your guy just follow enemy and attacking him without you pressing any buttons.. or if i should make the game harder so you have to do everything yourself.


There are different ways of making a game hard, WoW as an example is very accessible(i.e, its easy), but it also provides challenges for the players who want them, (Arena matches, heroic mode raids and now in the latest expansion, challenge mode dungeons). The hunter change was not really made to make the game easier but rather to make the game easier to balance(Something Blizzard has struggled with alot and still struggle with), By having a ranged class that cannot work at all at short range you get a serious restriction on how you design PvE encounters (Which makes the game less fun for everyone). and even heavier restrictions on what abilities you can give the other classes in PvP, (Consider the death knights ability to pull enemies to them and then slow their movement and think of how that works against a hunter who can't fire from short range), Making the hunter work exacly like all the other ranged classes simply makes Blizzards job easier. (And since they've failed quite miserably at balancing the game at several points in the past i'd say its a good change)

In general i'm in favor of multiple difficulty settings, one size doesn't fit all, design the game to be challenging but not frustratingly hard for the average player then tune things down for the easy mode and tune things up for a hard mode. (Diablo's way is a bad way to do it since there really are only 2 difficulty settings, normal and hardcore (and the only difference between them is the penalty you get for failing, the actual difficulty is identical) (I wouldn't consider the normal, nightmare, hell, inferno thingy to be different difficulties but rather a way to stretch the content, (We didn't feel like making an ActV,VI,VII and VIII so you just have to play through the same content again but with higher level enemies(But since you're also higher level its not really that much harder))

Edited by SimonForsman, 30 September 2012 - 06:19 PM.

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The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#5 Tobl   Members   -  Reputation: 364

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:26 PM

Hello,

As EngineProgrammer already said, picking a difficulty for your game is a very difficult task. It depends highly on what type of game you're developing and what your intended target group is; so much that I'd even feel uneasy giving an answer as general as EP's last paragraph.

What on the other hand can nearly always be applied is, that you have to consider how the difficulty is achieved. Let's take take the wow-pets example: Telling them to stop before certain actions, even though this stop is absolutely always advisable in those situations, is nothing but robot-work. If you don't tell them to stop, it's most likely not a poor battle strategy, but only a lack of focus that's being punished. This kind of "difficulty" doesn't present the player any challenge aside from pattern-memorization, it's robot-work and should therefore be done by the robot (->computer).
Difficulty, however, that is achieved by presenting the player a challenge, either mental or in eye–hand coordination, is fully legitimate and will reward the player with a feeling of accomplishment when overcome. Keep in mind, of course, that this reward takes only place if the challenge is overcome, that's where the difficulty in choosing a difficulty lies.

What would that mean for your example of auto attack? Well, if there's only one kind of attack and the result of a battle can be predicted with a 95% chance of success simply by evaluating the stats at the beginning of the battle, pressing the attack-button over and over again would definitely count as robot-work and should therefore be avoided.
If your fighting-system on the other hand is more sophisticated and rewards the player that carefully chooses the best attack for the situation out of a range of possibilities or perfectly times his counterattack, the control should stay with the player of course.
Well, contrary to what I said in the beginning, that has turned out to be pretty precise, but it's a quite precise case and it's still yours to decide after all.

Hope you this was helpful for you,

bw,
Tobl

Edited by Tobl, 30 September 2012 - 06:28 PM.

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#6 Postie   Members   -  Reputation: 1120

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:37 PM

Why not have multiple difficulty levels so the player can decide how much of challenge they feel like?

Also, don't confuse busywork with difficulty. It's not "difficult" to walk 10km, but if the goal is to do something important 10km away, you're better off travelling by car.
Currently working on an open world survival RPG - For info check out my Development blog: ByteWrangler

#7 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:06 PM

There's a difference between difficulty as a measure of skill, and a game that winds up being harder to play because of a poorly designed interface. I'm a little shaky on my knowledge of Warcraft, but the examples you listed don't seem to be about difficulty, but rather streamlining the game - I don't think they have anything to do with skill at all.

Having to manually tell a friendly AI not to actively hamper the player's strategy is a bad design choice when it's a fairly integral part of that player's experience, and is mostly automated to begin with. You're forcing them to micromanage things that have nothing to do with skill or performance, especially when other players don't have to deal with it.

It also doesn't sound like it was the "unskilled" players complaining about difficulty, but rather anyone else trying to play alongside them. You might have to examine whether you've failed as a designer when one specific group of your players are stigmatized as disruptive. (Through no fault of their own but an overly complicated interface.) And is it really fair for that designer to shrug and say "just play better" when it's the people playing properly that pay for those mistakes? They'll complain (or quit,) when it happens, robbing your playerbase of your more experienced users.

Also, from the way they described it, allowing the hunter class to use bows up close was to fix an oversight on the economy: You had players that could technically (but rarely,) use melee weapons adding unnecessary competition against players that require them as an essential part of their gear, leading to dissent. Reducing friction among your players by eliminating an archaically obsolete design choice isn't 'dumbing it down.'

An auto attack isn't a matter of difficulty either, but just making the game less annoying than having to click a target every single second. It also streamlines your compensation and networking routines, because as long as that player is in "auto attack," you can generally assume they'll be attacking again once they're able to. It also standardizes attack times, so players with different latency all perform at their proper averages without losing time here and there.

Proper game design not only makes your game accessible for people to enjoy, but done properly can help you as well. And it is never 1-dimensional either: Always consider whether something you're putting in can have other, unintended effects, and don't assume that your rationalization for one decision is the same reason the designer put it in for.

#8 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:31 PM

micro management is a talent.
just take rts games like starcraft for example or age of empires that I'm more familiar with.

You can do sooo much with micro management of your units.. but its very hard to do this what you call "easy robot work".
It's not easy manually selecting different units one a time making them move opposite directions.

if a enemy unit start attacking one of your units then you start micro by kiting him with that unit while you shoot with the others.

micro management that you call "easy robot work" is definitly a skill.
Anything that makes you have to click something... adding to more thigns you must do causing more pressure and stress... adds to skill needed to play.

If micro management was so bad..
then why doesnt rts games like the ones i mentioned make units automatically start kiting if they get attacked and do everything automatically so rts players dont have to micro manage their units anymore...

also its robot work to have to constantly keep pressing to produce units and ordering your gatherers to keep gatherering.
startcraft should just do it like League of legends where a wave of npc units keep coming out of your base constantly and attacking by themselves.. you cant control them because thats robot work "too easy for a players to bother with".

#9 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 31920

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 09:41 PM

If micro management was so bad..
then why doesnt rts games like the ones i mentioned make units automatically start kiting if they get attacked and do everything automatically so rts players dont have to micro manage their units anymore...

Because that's what those particular games are all about. Starcraft is about dynamically selecting a strategy and manually executing it via lots of busy work. To make the game "easy to learn but impossible to master" they've made the unit AI deliberately dumb, so that beginners can easily pick it up and play, but also so that a "masterful" player can improve the outcomes of battles by manually overriding the AI -- e.g. pulling back wounded units, kiting slow units, targetting enemies in optimal order, etc -- and certain abilities have no AI at all, e.g. force-fielding a ramp requires a perfectly timed and placed click. These are just little "mini-games" that you can master -- e.g. banelings rolling at your marines, then it's time to play the "loose formation" mini-game.

They've also used multi-tasking of "stupid robot work" to differentiate between beginners and masters -- e.g. remembering to select your barracks continually and keep your queues full of marines, or remembering to select your queen every 45s to inject your hatchery with larvae -- these things are just extremely simple "mini-games" that they're forcing you to play at the same time.

They could've provided AI or buttons for most of these things -- a button to keep building marines until you say to stop, a button for queens to auto-inject, a "spread out" button to minimize baneling splash -- and other games do provide these kinds of features -- but then the game would've been 100% focussed on strategy, instead of being a combination of strategy and unit control skills.
Starcraft is all about these mini-games -- many brood war fans have even complained about the "dumbing down" of SC2 by allowing the user to select more than 12 units at once... They've deliberately struck a balance between AI control and manual control to make the game easy to pick up, but impossible to become a true master of. Even when watching guys that get paid $300,000/year to play the game professionally, they still make mistakes in micro, macro and overall strategy.

This isn't the right design choice for every game. Some games would be more fun with better default AI, and not every game needs to provide as many opportunities to differentiate skill levels as an "e-sport grade" RTS like starcraft has to.
e.g. a lot of people enjoy a nice casual game of chess, but it's a small minority of those people that also enjoy intense speed chess, or the competetive chess tournament scene. Most people would probably think that chess would be ruined by introducing combat mini-games where pawns with "good micro" can start beating queens...


As a different example, I used to play a lot of counter-strike -- I had pretty good skills in map control and predicting the behaviour of other players, which meant that I could often "get the drop on" other players so I would be in an advantageous position when the firefight began... however, my aiming skills weren't the best. If your opponent has better skill at getting headshots (or has an aimbot), then strategy doesn't matter; you shoot them in the back 4 times when your MP5, and they 180 noscope you in the head and win the fight despite playing recklessly... That game is all about the "micro" of aiming skills, and strategy only comes into effect when both teams are equal in aiming skills.
Compare this with the original Rainbow 6 game, where every player had auto-aim enabled -- your crosshair would automatically move to the forehead of any enemy on-screen! This had the effect of making the "micro" of aiming irrelevant, and making the skill test all about strategy, positioning, and the timing of your plans. If both teams were of equal skill, then perhaps their reaction speeds would then come into effect to differentiate the two.

You can think of these games as simply being sorting algorithms of players -- CS sorts first by reflexes, and then by positioning, R6 sorts first by positioning, then by reflexes.
Two different rule sets, two different prioritisation of skill sets in the sorting of winners vs losers. People who don't care about honing their reflexes or practising the skill of using a mouse to click on small targets, but do enjoy the strategy of firefights, will probably have more fun with the latter game. People who do enjoy clicking on small things quicker than other people, will probably have more fun with the former game.


So back to the original question, are you designing an e-sport (like Starcraft), or a casual hobby (like WoW)?

Edited by Hodgman, 30 September 2012 - 10:05 PM.


#10 Yogen   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 10:58 PM

I assume you're working on a MMO game, I'd say make the game accessible, but hard to master.
As suggested previously, I think a high risk/high gain pvp system can be pretty good, that way you can keep hardcore MMOers (just made that up) interested, but don't forget to make the rest of the game enjoyable for the casual players.
Adding hard areas/quests/dungeons with great rewards when beating a boss/completion is a good idea, people will level up to clear those areas and get the precious loot and then search for more.

Auto attack works, but can get boring at times. If you can make a good "skill" based manual fight control, it'd be great, many new MMOs are trying that and it sure is fun, the only "downside" is there's not really a big open world, just cities to trade, get training, join parties, etc., and stages for the quests/missions/pvp.


If you don't want to read everything: make the game easy to aproach, but rewarding for the most skillful players.

ps: glhf, on the Starcraft reference, from what I understood, you basically want the game to play itself? I mean, if you don't have to control your units anymore, then you're not really playing. If you mean only the SCV's and production of units, it'd make the game so much easier

Edited by Yogen, 30 September 2012 - 11:01 PM.


#11 Iron Chef Carnage   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1840

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 02:04 AM

Repetition is a factor. If it's something that any competent player has to do a hundred times in a fight, it makes sense to automate it. Does it make the game easier? I suppose it would be easier for people who start after the automation is in place, but for the guys who already have the muscle memory to hit the key, all it does is save them a keystrok and some repetitive stress.

#12 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8001

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 03:53 AM

Just want to add my 2 cents about the difference between accessibility and difficulty.

The core of a game is the decision making. A game consists of a lot of decisions, making a game simpler often means to reduce the number of decisions you need to make in the same time frame.

So, when talking about accessibility you want to ease the handling and transparency of decision making, while to make your game easier you need to take decisions away. But be careful to not missunderstand the meaning of decision and variance. Choosing between an ice-spell and a fire-spell is only a true decision, when they have really different effects, i.e. ice will freeze an opponent and fire will apply a dot, but if they do only slightly different damage, then this is not really a game relevant decision.

The problem is, that making a game more accessible broaden the player base, while changing the difficulty shifts the player base. Really difficult games often have a much lower player base than really easy games (casual).

WoW, like many other games, try to make a lot of money, this motivation is often the fountation stone to optimize accessibility and difficulty. Easy games in the meaning of lesser decisions, attract often the larger player bases, therefore WoW is shifting the difficulty to attract more player.

#13 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:23 AM

One thing I just thought about my last reply..

Shouln't it be pretty easy for someone to create a bot that does certain things for you..

like you can tell the bot to keep production of these units going..
then you don't have to do that multitasking anymore.. the bot keeps up production of units while you are out microing your units.
Gives a huge advantage.

you can make the bot automatically kite when getting attacked... now the bot is giving you another huge advantage.

Making the bot play the game for you is a lot harder though.
So you would still have to make the strategical decisions.. but that's 100000 times easier than what someone without this bot needs to do.

So it probably is a good idea to automate everything in the game that wouldnt be too hard to create a bot to do for you.

And nope, im not making a mmo.. just a multiplayer.
And I want it to be competitive.

#14 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8001

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:29 AM

like you can tell the bot to keep production of these units going..
then you don't have to do that multitasking anymore.. the bot keeps up production of units while you are out microing your units.
Gives a huge advantage.

That's the reason there are cheating bots for many games available, but this is not game design.

So you would still have to make the strategical decisions.. but that's 100000 times easier than what someone without this bot needs to do.

That is what I mean to take away decision to make a game easier. In this case you don't need the decision any longer and you just need to play a fix animation to polish a simple game mechanism. Bots in this situation are only necessary if you want to cheat.

#15 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8001

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:32 AM

You can even go so far to remove all decision but one, like win, and watch the game play itself....wait... well, already existing, it's called dvd-player and they call the button play ...

#16 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6318

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:38 AM

So it probably is a good idea to automate everything in the game that wouldnt be too hard to create a bot to do for you.

And nope, im not making a mmo.. just a multiplayer.
And I want it to be competitive.


That can be a good idea, you probably have to give the player more high level strategic options if you do though to avoid making things too easy (and thus boring) (Compare the total war series to starcraft, the TW games have very little micromanagement but things like altitude, flanking, cover, exhaustion and morale plays a much larger role). Writing a good AI for the macro gameplay is far more difficult than writing one for the micro level though.
I don't suffer from insanity, I'm enjoying every minute of it.
The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

#17 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:47 AM


like you can tell the bot to keep production of these units going..
then you don't have to do that multitasking anymore.. the bot keeps up production of units while you are out microing your units.
Gives a huge advantage.

That's the reason there are cheating bots for many games available, but this is not game design.

So you would still have to make the strategical decisions.. but that's 100000 times easier than what someone without this bot needs to do.

That is what I mean to take away decision to make a game easier. In this case you don't need the decision any longer and you just need to play a fix animation to polish a simple game mechanism. Bots in this situation are only necessary if you want to cheat.


It is good game design to remove incentive to cheat in games.
Why do you think its so rare to see a game that makes pitch dark nights a big part of the game..
Because light hack is probably the easiest cheat available to create.

Dayz made darkness a dominant part of the game but they they are just modders who made that and there's lots of cheating going on in dayz.
Just google for aimbots and light hacks and you'll find one to download in a few seconds.

Also, all AA mmorpg games have gone great lengths with removing incentive to play.. starting with WoW.
Before I looked into game development I was always annoyed why all games have to use that same friggin combat system and mechanics.. so sick and tired of it.. auto aim and all that smashing buttons as they come out of global cooldown yawwwn.
But it's because of removing incentive to cheat.

#18 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 06:19 AM

You can even go so far to remove all decision but one, like win, and watch the game play itself....wait... well, already existing, it's called dvd-player and they call the button play ...


Sometimes, when I hit the play button on a DVD player, I lose. :(

#19 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 06:34 AM

Why do you think its so rare to see a game that makes pitch dark nights a big part of the game..
Because light hack is probably the easiest cheat available to create.

Dayz made darkness a dominant part of the game but they they are just modders who made that and there's lots of cheating going on in dayz.
Just google for aimbots and light hacks and you'll find one to download in a few seconds.


There are ways to make "true", unhackable darkness. However, there are programming related reasons why they don't implement it.

Knowing a bit about the programming can help in the game's design. If you know unhackable darkness is viable in your game, you can incorporate it into your design.

#20 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 06:43 AM


Why do you think its so rare to see a game that makes pitch dark nights a big part of the game..
Because light hack is probably the easiest cheat available to create.

Dayz made darkness a dominant part of the game but they they are just modders who made that and there's lots of cheating going on in dayz.
Just google for aimbots and light hacks and you'll find one to download in a few seconds.


There are ways to make "true", unhackable darkness. However, there are programming related reasons why they don't implement it.

Knowing a bit about the programming can help in the game's design. If you know unhackable darkness is viable in your game, you can incorporate it into your design.


Well, yeah.. There are ways you could make it unhackable like for example using onlive but it has way too much drawbacks so its not really possible in practise.




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