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Should you make games easy or hard?


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#21 abeylin   Members   -  Reputation: 218

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 08:40 AM

The secret to wow was the reward mechanism.
I played it since vanilla, and I have no clue what it means when people say it was hard.
You kill a mob, you get gold or item you can sell for gold.
You go to pvp (like AV), even if you lose, you still get points that eventually will give you gear.

I think that's the magic formula - make everything rewarding.
The trick is in scaling rewards. Reward for killing a boar should a lot lower than for going into a raid with 25 people and killing a boss.
That's where things get tricky - should there be all or nothing reward? (like vanilla where an item drops and you either get it or you don't). Or should everyone get points (like now) that can be used to buy a reward.

I like easy games, that's why I was glued to WoW until recently.
On other hand there are hard games, which revolve around skill, and PvP comes to mind. Think about PvP oriented games. How close to they come in comparison to easy games like WoW, or Farmsville? or Angry Birds? No where close.

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#22 bwight   Members   -  Reputation: 165

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 10:55 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.


You hit the money on this one.

I disagree with people who say something like a hunter/ranger standing outside melee range isn't a skill. Trust me I've seen people play who cannot stay far enough away form their target to do damage. What if their pet dies? Now they need to snare the target and strafe + run away while attacking. WoW could have easily made it where spells do more damage the further away you are. Part of the problem WoW has with balancing is that balanced in PvP does not mean balanced in PvE they do the best job they can but its not easy.

Secondly I also disagree with backing the bet off when something is crowd controlled. Crowd control in WoW is a joke, nobody uses CC its used more in PvP than PvE. It takes a very good group to communicate which mobs will be CC'ed and which one will be killed first. It takes awareness to not used AoE attacks close to the CC'ed mobs. If CC'ed was required in wow for dungeons and raids a lot of people wouldn't be able to do it. Most people just go in an AoE kill everything in instances. The game turns into who can do more damage ( IE who has better gear ) and not who plays better.

All the changes WoW has made are business decisions to make more money. The game is easy and made easier by the day because more people will play it. The amount of hardcore gamers who enjoy a more difficult game is very small in comparison to the general public. I was never happy with the Hardcore vs Non-Hardcore raids, completing a hardcore raid doesn't give me any more sense of achievement. Having the hardcore + non-hardcore + 10 man + 25 man raids is simply wow going cheap on content, 4 raids same bosses same environment is boring.

This isn't necessarily a rant on all the things I don't like about WoW. I enjoyed playing WoW for a long time and I would still be playing WoW today if I had the time to do raiding but I don't have the time right now. I guess my point is that I think there is a niche market for a harder MMO than WoW. You'll never get to the size of WoW by making a hard game. If your focus is getting subscriptions then hard games don't work. If you just want to make a niche game you could probably succeed with a harder game.

Edited by bwight, 01 October 2012 - 12:19 PM.


#23 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:08 PM

I agree with dwight.

On other hand there are hard games, which revolve around skill, and PvP comes to mind. Think about PvP oriented games. How close to they come in comparison to easy games like WoW, or Farmsville? or Angry Birds? No where close.


Actually, take TF2 for example.. that's also a super easy game to play and it's 100% PvP.. I would say it's even a hundred times easier than even WoW is lol.
And it's a really big population in that game too consisting of players that are very competitive claiming that game takes a lot of skill to play ... lawl.

So, yeah... even for competitive games it might be a good idea to make it simple... I just dunno tbh

I'm just gonna fiddle around with my combat system and mechanics after I finally get my prototype to that stage.. and see what direction I'll go.

#24 Bluefirehawk   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1232

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:36 PM

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.

Nothing is unhackable, take the screen brightness for example: I can change brightness and contrast on my monitor itself, there is nothing onlive can do about that setting.

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.

The player is going to play the game, how he/she wants to play it. There is nothing you can do about it, you can only make it harder for him/her. No matter what you do, you can't stop the gamer listening to a justin beiber song while playing a scary game like Amnesia or Slender. So don't spend time forcing the player to not break your game design, you waste your time.

So, yeah... even for competitive games it might be a good idea to make it simple... I just dunno tbh

You write about it like you could think "Make it hard" and a hard game comes out. There are always reasons why a game is hard or easy and there are certain ways to make both fun.
I saw many posts with the slogan "easy to learn, hard to master". This sentence does only scratch the surface of what complexity hides behind it. If you want it hard to master, you should put more thought into WHAT exactly should the player LIKE to master. While I agree that this is the easiest way, it may not always be the best way, take "Super Meat Boy" for example, one hard game and very frustrating, but also very rewarding.
HOW to make it rewarding for the player? That is the interesting question.
E: there are also some successful hard games, Resident Evil was always more on the punishing side.

I'm just gonna fiddle around with my combat system and mechanics after I finally get my prototype to that stage.. and see what direction I'll go

Good idea.

Edited by Bluefirehawk, 01 October 2012 - 12:42 PM.

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#25 Rakilonn   Members   -  Reputation: 421

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 12:56 PM

The "easy to learn hard to master" doesn't fit for every game. For me it depends on the game and the audience you want.

For example, if you want to do a shoot'em up, it should be hard, if not really hard like a dondonpachi.
Another example, if you want to do an adventure/action game, it can be easy (Zelda) or hard (Dark souls) and both choices are perfectly fine depending on the audience you want.

(Of course on the business side, it's another matter)

Edited by Rakilonn, 01 October 2012 - 12:58 PM.


#26 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1481

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 06:24 PM

Any aspect that takes rhythm, timing, reaction speed, pattern recognition, recall physical memory, or requires physical accuracy (there are probably more that I'm overlooking) should all be almost impossible to master in a design (depending on how many of these are a part of your design). However the learning process to achieve the mechanic should be (IKEA/LEGO instructions) simple and comfortable to learn as well as build confidence in a player and their skill as they learn to use the mechanic.

Create complexity by combining a variety of mechanics. I reuse old mechanics as the primary game structure (what's needed to win) and new mechanics as secondary(macro, advanced, creative, player specific gameplay style, etc) design. A hard game is found in the complexity of its mechanics or how each of the many different mechanics work together. Challenging players to understand the puzzle of which mechanic is applicable and important to the challenge they are faced with is the key.

Positive reinforcement is important aspect to making a game easy to learn. Its a confidence builder. If the win condition isn't clear then no matter what reward you use it won't be worth playing towards (aka its not fun). If the game is easy to learn then the win condition is clear (though good game's will make you question why you are achieving it).

@Bluefirehawk Its not a slogan, its a way to look at your design to ensure it's worth a player's time. "Super Meat Boy" is hard because the designer used a wide variety of the above challenges (at the start of my post) within the limits of the very easy to learn control structure of so many other 2D scrolling games.

#27 VladTC   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:44 AM

Just as some people said, it really depends on what audience you want to appeal to. If you want a casual audience that play the game now and then as is, then make it easy or semi-easy. If you want to appeal to hardcore gamers, then make it hard. A good example is Dark Souls. The game is really hard and unforgiving, and people love it ! of course, people that love it are into that kind of stuff, whereas casual gamers would not touch such game.

It also depends on what game you are making exactly. Imagine if Angry Birds was being released with super hardcore people in mind. Yeah. I don't think that a game with such simple gameplay and mechanics could be hard in any way. And NO, do not tell me you could make the levels bigger and more stuff to brake "to try to make it harder", because then it just becomes tedious and frustrating.

You really have to just think if your game is complex and going into the hardcore way, or if its simplistic and will appeal to casual people.

#28 glhf   Banned   -  Reputation: -585

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 11:01 AM

Just as some people said, it really depends on what audience you want to appeal to. If you want a casual audience that play the game now and then as is, then make it easy or semi-easy. If you want to appeal to hardcore gamers, then make it hard. A good example is Dark Souls. The game is really hard and unforgiving, and people love it ! of course, people that love it are into that kind of stuff, whereas casual gamers would not touch such game.

It also depends on what game you are making exactly. Imagine if Angry Birds was being released with super hardcore people in mind. Yeah. I don't think that a game with such simple gameplay and mechanics could be hard in any way. And NO, do not tell me you could make the levels bigger and more stuff to brake "to try to make it harder", because then it just becomes tedious and frustrating.

You really have to just think if your game is complex and going into the hardcore way, or if its simplistic and will appeal to casual people.


I didnt think dark souls was hard.
I found it really boring..

Basically just dodge when enemy does something.. need quick reflexes which is the "hard" part.. but thats all there was to it.
Too linear game and not interesting enough..

But I understand your point and agree.

#29 VladTC   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 11:55 AM


Just as some people said, it really depends on what audience you want to appeal to. If you want a casual audience that play the game now and then as is, then make it easy or semi-easy. If you want to appeal to hardcore gamers, then make it hard. A good example is Dark Souls. The game is really hard and unforgiving, and people love it ! of course, people that love it are into that kind of stuff, whereas casual gamers would not touch such game.

It also depends on what game you are making exactly. Imagine if Angry Birds was being released with super hardcore people in mind. Yeah. I don't think that a game with such simple gameplay and mechanics could be hard in any way. And NO, do not tell me you could make the levels bigger and more stuff to brake "to try to make it harder", because then it just becomes tedious and frustrating.

You really have to just think if your game is complex and going into the hardcore way, or if its simplistic and will appeal to casual people.


I didnt think dark souls was hard.
I found it really boring..

Basically just dodge when enemy does something.. need quick reflexes which is the "hard" part.. but thats all there was to it.
Too linear game and not interesting enough..

But I understand your point and agree.


it was actually an open world game and got quite hard later on. Maybe you didn't play it enough, or maybe you're just that good ? :P but yeah sorry, lets not deviate from the topic




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