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jonathanrhunter

Gaming Difficulty/AI/Realism

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First we had three lives and a game over screen...Then, there were power bars and health packs...and then invincibility stars... and then replenishing health... and then save check points... and then pick your own difficulty... and then save slots... and then enter your own cheat-codes here, etc... Which I presume this was mainly in part to the shift from coin-op to home consoles. Coin-ops needed to make money (pay for lives/health) and home consoles wanted to make customers feel happy (health packs, save points)...

Has gaming difficulty really changed? I mean, every games difficulty progression is pretty much using the same variables; lower the players health, increase the enemies health and damage, increase the amount of enemies. But shouldn't difficulty be tied more closely to AI? I don't necessarily want 10 uber enemies heading towards me with super health and cranking out tons of damage, why can't we make smarter AI that challenges how we think and play, instead of challenging us with how much we can bob and weave enemy fire? I see games tend to favor the latter because it's easy.

Also, there was a brief time when I thought location damage was going to get progressively better to the point where it changed the gameplay... Not simply torso shots and head shots. Take Call of Duty for example, how much different of a game would it be if the realism was cranked up? Frag grenades can cause blood loss over time, getting shot in the leg means your player moves slower, a shot in the arm means you can't bring your gun to eyes to line up the sights as fast, heck you don't even see guns jam any more. I guess all I'm saying is that combat in games should be a little more unpredictable then aim down sights, fire, repeat.

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One argument against too much realism is that it might get in the way of fun.
If things happen to the player that make them perform worse without him/her understands why, it is likely to cause frustration.
If you overload the UI with too much information about why, they might get information overload, get frustrated and enjoy it less too.

The different ways health works is an abstraction, its not realistic, but it models the concept "good enough", the focus is on killing anyhow, not dying. (or something)

The same goes for enemies really, if their behaviour is too complex, they might look erratic and "random", and not really increase the enjoyment.
You're definitely right that its because its "easier", but its not just little easier. And its not 100% sure that "more is better".

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I strongly disagree.

As a player I'm constantly amused why those designers insist of having such high difficulty levels. I mean can't they put like 10 levels, the lowest one saying "I'm a patheting noob, have mercy on me" so maybe finally I could play these games too :) I'm constantly losing on easy setting, no matter the game... To me it feels like these games were designed for kids and teenagers, they can spend 5 hours trying to jump over some crater, why not. But for adults it is unacceptable. I play games after work, I want ot relax and have fun. No, I don't enjoy trying to overcome the same obstacle over and over again. Yes, I enjoyed it as a kid, no doubt. But I don't anymore. The truth is brutal, but my skills as a gamer and attention span (not to mention free time) has greatly deteriorated compared to my youth days skills. I'm unable to play games I used to play (except strategies, but I guess it does not count since these use mostly brain which don't deteriorate over time). Nowadays I expect the game to sqeeze the best of the best fun in the shortest amount of time and give it to me. If a game fails to do it I don't play it.

Again, that's now. When I was a teenager I had completely different views :)

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Also, there was a brief time when I thought location damage was going to get progressively better to the point where it changed the gameplay... Not simply torso shots and head shots. Take Call of Duty for example, how much different of a game would it be if the realism was cranked up? Frag grenades can cause blood loss over time, getting shot in the leg means your player moves slower,
ActionQuake2 had both of these. Actually, getting hit by anything would normally cause bleeding; bleeding was much faster if the hit was on stomach or chest than if it was on an extremity. Hits on kevlar would allow a tiny sliver of damage to get through, but not trigger bleeding. Bandaging would stop bleeding and also restore normal runspeed after leg damage. It was an excellent game and I wonder why these compelling mechanics - which did change the way the game played - haven't caught on elsewhere. Note that AQ2 is a significantly less realistic game than COD, overall.

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Realism can get in the way of fun. If a game forces you through 40+ hours of a campaign, you don't want to be spending that time in a trench, bleeding out and with both arms broken.

Players are more reckless in war games because they don't have the training of real soldiers, nor do they have accurate input form the game -- they view is obstructed and limited by mouse movement and resolution/screen width, their audio can be restrained by crappy audio card or lack of headphones. And yes, it is frustrating to keep dying on the same spot over and over again. It is even more enraging if the game politelly asks you should it lower the difficulty to baby's first diaper change, only because you died trice.

Combat games are about action, and players want to focus on that -- survival and action games have divided, and it is true that the former gets a lot less love, simply because it is a lot harder. Games tend to be more straight-forward and fun driven nowadays -- teenagers have the time to challenge a game and compete against a machine, but your average joe worker has an hour or two at best to chill and relax. He wants to be a hero who at least in the digital realm can kick ass.

As to the suggested idea of changing the smarts in AI with difficulty, it would be a lot more work than changing a few variables. Also, when a player changes difficulty, it would be immersion breaking and inconsistent, IMO. You play on hard, enemies hide behind cover, throw grenades the old Worms 1 style and flank you on every occasion -- is too hard. You switch to easy, and enemies shoot themselves and forget to throw live grenades. I just can't see it (both design and gameplay wise).

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