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glhf

Should you make games easy or hard?

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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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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. [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]


~EngineProgrammer

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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349045798' post='4985524']
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.
[/quote]

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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

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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.

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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 [i]time frame[/i].

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 [i]true [/i]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.

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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.

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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349090608' post='4985714']
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.
[/quote]
That's the reason there are cheating bots for many games available, but this is not game design.

[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349090608' post='4985714']
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.
[/quote]
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.

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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 [i]play[/i] ...

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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349090608' post='4985714']
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.
[/quote]

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.

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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1349090958' post='4985716']
[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349090608' post='4985714']
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.
[/quote]
That's the reason there are cheating bots for many games available, but this is not game design.

[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349090608' post='4985714']
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.
[/quote]
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.
[/quote]

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.

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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1349091140' post='4985718']
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 [i]play[/i] ...
[/quote]

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

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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349092035' post='4985723']
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.
[/quote]

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.

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[quote name='Legendre' timestamp='1349094841' post='4985733']
[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349092035' post='4985723']
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.
[/quote]

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.
[/quote]

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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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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[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1349085188' post='4985696']
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 [i]time frame[/i].

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 [i]true [/i]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.
[/quote]

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

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I agree with dwight.

[quote name='abeylin' timestamp='1349102421' post='4985762']
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.
[/quote]

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.

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[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349095431' post='4985735']
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.
[/quote]
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.

[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349092035' post='4985723']
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.
[/quote]
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.

[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349114906' post='4985811']
So, yeah... even for competitive games it might be a good idea to make it simple... I just dunno tbh
[/quote]
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.

[quote name='glhf' timestamp='1349114906' post='4985811']
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
[/quote]
Good idea. Edited by Bluefirehawk

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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

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