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video games does anyone else dislike difficulty selection screens?

joined dec 4, 2022

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joined dec 4, 2022

i hate when games make you pick the difficulty, which is why game like Dark Souls rule. I think difficulty selection screens took something away from games because it makes you wonder if you're really playing the game the way it was intended to be played.

I also wrote a blog post about it:

https://blog.basementcommunity.com/difficulty-in-video-games/

This month I started playing God of War (2018), and I began the game on the "hard" difficulty. After getting through the first 5-or-so hours, I realized this difficulty was sucking the fun out of the game. Not because it was so difficult, but because all the enemies had large health bars and because of that, required too much time to get through a fight. So I ended up switching to the "normal" difficulty, and it's been more enjoyable.

I also realize some people really like to just play games for the story, so feel free to tell me i'm wrong!

posted 2/4/2024, 6:22 am

joined jan 1, 2024

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joined jan 1, 2024

quoting orchids:

I think difficulty selection screens took something away from games because it makes you wonder if you're really playing the game the way it was intended to be played.

If the developers added it, there is a chance the developers tested it, which means they consciously gave you that option. You are most likely playing the game as intended in that scenario no matter your choice. Unless you exploit some glitch that is somehow tied to difficulty, of course, then you're not. Your issue is finding what the 'default' should be, in which case just use Normal. It's most likely what the others were built around in post.

edited 2/5/2024, 12:58 pm

joined aug 16, 2023

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non serviam

joined aug 16, 2023

quoting orchids:

i hate when games make you pick the difficulty, which is why game like Dark Souls rule. I think difficulty selection screens took something away from games because it makes you wonder if you're really playing the game the way it was intended to be played.

[snip]

I also realize some people really like to just play games for the story, so feel free to tell me i'm wrong!

I disagree, but I also think that "difficulty" is too broad a category and generally belongs under the accessibility menu. This is something Final Fantasy XVI got mostly right. Instead of a single setting, you had a set of six in-game accessories that you could equip to make certain aspects of combat easier, like a ring that would prompt you to dodge. You could only equip three at a time, and each one you equipped used a slot that you could use for a different accessory, but you were allowed to decide for yourself.

Control was another title that got this right. Instead of a single difficulty setting you had a bunch of different sliders affecting your character's power and that of the enemies.

The 2018 God of War was one of the games I played for the story, and I turned the difficulty all the way down. Likewise every Devil May Cry title. If I want a grueling experience, I'll fire up Dark Souls or run a dungeon in FFXIV as a healer with newbies who don't know what the hell they're doing. Sometimes I just want a casual power fantasy, dammit.

PS for FFXIV: if you're playing the Dead Ends dungeon and you still don't know not to stand in AOE markers, I am going to judge you. Harshly. And so will my cats.

PS for Dark Souls and friends: One setting I'd like to see added is a "one hit kill" mode where you can kill any enemy, even bosses, with one hit. The catch is that if you take a hit, you die. Likewise, a per-character permadeath switch.

posted 2/5/2024, 2:44 pm

joined dec 4, 2022

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joined dec 4, 2022

quoting the-syreth-clan:

If the developers added it, there is a chance the developers tested it, which means they consciously gave you that option. You are most likely playing the game as intended in that scenario no matter your choice. Unless you exploit some glitch that is somehow tied to difficulty, of course, then you're not. Your issue is finding what the 'default' should be, in which case just use Normal. It's most likely what the others were built around in post.

i mean that screenshot from Halo 1 should prove that some developers want you to play on hard mode. Judging from the "this is the way Halo is meant to be played" subtext.

quoting starbreaker:

Control was another title that got this right. Instead of a single difficulty setting you had a bunch of different sliders affecting your character's power and that of the enemies

that's funny I literally just read another blog where someone was talking about that new game Palworld because it had different sliders:

https://blog.geoffgirardin.com/on-palworld-and-difficulty-sliders/

before your post and that blog, I never heard of that idea. But that and the equipped item thing are neat ideas for sure. I still think though if I was working hard on developing a game, I'd want people to play it either in "story/easy mode" or the difficulty I intended, rather than give a wild amount of customization

posted 2/6/2024, 1:22 am

joined jan 1, 2024

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joined jan 1, 2024

quoting orchids:

i mean that screenshot from Halo 1 should prove that some developers want you to play on hard mode. Judging from the "this is the way Halo is meant to be played" subtext.

Yeah, and it kind of pisses me off; why would you ever name it 'hard' if it's functionally normal and then clarify it in post like that? Just call it 'normal' you dingus. My post should still be applicable to most cases, I think... or I hope, rather.

edited 2/6/2024, 7:49 am

joined jan 27, 2023

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joined jan 27, 2023

I actually like multiple difficulty options, because I like more difficult games than the average consumer. Especially in stuff like Divinity or Baldur's Gate. On easier difficulties, you don't really need to strategize your moves at all. Just do whatever, and you'll probably come out on top.

At the same time though, plenty of people played those games for the story, and weren't really into tactical combat. It seems dumb to deny me my tactical combat game because other people only care about the story, and it seems similarly dumb to deny them their story just because I like strategy games.

quoting the-syreth-clan:

Yeah, and it kind of pisses me off; why would you ever name it 'hard' if it's functionally normal and then clarify it in post like that? Just call it 'normal' you dingus. My post should still be applicable to most cases, I think... or I hope, rather.

I made a similar mistake with my game, but in reverse. I built the full game, testing everything myself, and when I got feedback from playtesters, they said it was too hard. So I made a new difficulty with half as many bullets, called it Easy Mode, and called the original Normal Mode.

When it finally released, a bunch of people went, "well, I'm not gonna play on easy mode," played Normal Mode, and complained that it was too hard.

posted 2/7/2024, 7:23 pm

joined jan 1, 2024

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joined jan 1, 2024

quoting stonehead:

half as many bullets, called it Easy Mode (...) a bunch of people went, "well, I'm not gonna play on easy mode,"

I hate that my muse somehow managed to precognize that it was a danmaku just from these two lines. But yeah, never underestimate just how much worse your playerbase is going to be at your game. When it comes to my platfomer, I suffered plenty seeing people wildly flailing away at foxes and getting punished for it until they just go from fight- to flight-response. But it's one of the things I've become bullish about now. Can't coddle the players out of bad habits.

My game has no difficulty options (yet) but it is designed so that useful 'cheats' are to be discovered first, while fanciful ones are reserved for later stages. Depending on how the stages and the enemies end up though, I am not shying away from doing something like Shippu Senki Force Gear 2 where easier difficulties have extra platforms over insta-kill gaps and other high-risk things you can't mitigate easily.

edited 2/7/2024, 8:32 pm

joined jan 27, 2023

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joined jan 27, 2023

quoting the-syreth-clan:

I hate that my muse somehow managed to precognize that it was a danmaku just from these two lines. But yeah, never underestimate just how much worse your playerbase is going to be at your game. When it comes to my platfomer, I suffered plenty seeing people wildly flailing away at foxes and getting punished for it until they just go from fight- to flight-response. But it's one of the things I've become bullish about now. Can't coddle the players out of bad habits.

My game has no difficulty options (yet) but it is designed so that useful 'cheats' are to be discovered first, while fanciful ones are reserved for later stages. Depending on how the stages and the enemies end up though, I am not shying away from doing something like Shippu Senki Force Gear 2 where easier difficulties have extra platforms over insta-kill gaps and other high-risk things you can't mitigate easily.

My Touhou weebdom is a very poorly kept secret. The music is very good, and it's one of a small handful of games I've actually drawn fanart of. Although funny enough, I actually played Bullet Heaven on Kongregate before I played Touhou. I got into Touhou from other danmakus, not the other way around.

Maybe it's out of place for me to give advice as I only made a few hundred dollars. If you're working on your own game though, what advice I would give is to make something polished instead of something big. If you have 20 hours to spend drawing characters, don't make 4 decent looking sprites, make 1 good looking sprite. Same thing should apply to music, level design, everything. In 2024, no one is buying indie games based on how long they are, instead it's based on how exciting and polished the trailer and store page are.

I assume that like me, you're more interested in just having fun making a game than growing any sort of audience, but still. It's easier to be proud of something that looks really nice than something that takes 30 hours to beat.

posted 2/10/2024, 6:39 am

joined jan 1, 2024

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joined jan 1, 2024

quoting stonehead:

If you're working on your own game though, what advice I would give is to make something polished instead of something big.

Yeah, scope creep is a scary thing so I am keeping mine in check. If there is an advice I can give in return though, it's not to fall into tech debt like I did. My project was in total development hell until last year October or so when I decided to just cut the cord and made a fresh project file. Now that version has gone farther than the two years of me fixing bugs after every new addition in the patchwork of seven versions before it.

“If we complete it by fixing what we have now, it will take two years, if we start again from scratch, it can be done in a half year.” ~ Satoru Iwata, on Earthbound's development hell

edited 2/10/2024, 7:35 pm

video games does anyone else dislike difficulty selection screens?