Tell Us Dammit

Dammit, we want you to tell us stuff! Are games becoming too easy and guided? When was the last time you played a game that was really difficult?

This isn’t some marketing survey or whatever. It’s an emotional investment in you. Yes, we’re interested in knowing you, Kotaku reader person. You probably know enough about us — more than you even want to, we’re sure. But, hey, we’d like to know about you, too.

I'm currently playing Super Meat Boy, a game with a legendary penchant for punishing the player. Strangely enough, I'm absolutely loving it. Do you guys think that game developers underestimate the player a little - or are they right to try and play into the hands of a broader audience?


    Yes. Very Yes.

    The problem is, developers are trying to ensure that players see the game all the way to the end, but don't quite grasp that they can get bored if it's too easy. Additionally, 80% of people will never see the end of a game, because they will not commit to playing it for such a long time, especially if it is repetitive.

    If the game is easy, yet fun and interesting (SMB, both of the mario and meat kind), then people will tend to attempt to complete it. The final levels in Super Mario Brothers sometimes border on the insanely difficult, yet they are fun because the player feels challenged, not patronised.

    One of the major drawing points for MP games (for me), is that it is almost constantly a challenge, as other players are unpredictable, and more, hard.

    I say return to the days of Hexen and SMB, show us a challenge, and we will purchase more in turn.

      I'm playing enslaved and fable 3 at the moment, they are great fun, but not very hard, Enslaved on normal did have several moments, not including boss fights and fable only really gets hard when you are swarmed by stronger mobs.

      flirting with someone is just as easy as ever. while i'm on the subject of fable i'm quite confused as to why you may only pick 1 interaction and belch when dealing with people from now on.

    Uh, are we forgetting games like Demon's Souls and New Vegas? I know I take for granted being "initiated" in such games, but you were an outsider looking in, these games would seem like rocket science.

    Sure some games are too easy by nature, I haven't died once yet in Fable 3 and if I understand it right, there are no real consequences if you do... but I'm enjoying the game to an insane extent, there are parts where it doesn't even feel like I'm playing a game.

    But also, I think we're beyond the Super Nintendo days where a game would be made ridiculously difficult just to extend its life. Developers now have the power to make a game a cinematic experience, not a purely gameplay one... then in games like Reach or MW2, the brunt of the challenge comes from multiplayer where your hand isn't held figuratively speaking or otherwise... haha.

    So for my yes or no answer, I say no... I think the nature of games is changing, and difficulty isn't a consistent thing any more. Depends totally on the game...

    When I heard about Miyamoto putting that Demo Play feature in New Super Mario Bros Wii, initially I was all like "He's killing video games!". But whatever, if a feature like that makes more people enjoy video games in general then that's fine. If all games were stupid hard like fighting Mike Tyson in Punch-Out, then the video game industry would have died years ago.

    Personally, I hardly finished games when I was a kid. But that was probably due to playing cracked C64 games with no manual to tell me what the hell to do. No such thing as back then!

    Recently, every Professor Layton game makes me feel like a dumbass, unlocking Seth in Streetfighter IV made me want to break a controller and the final battle with Ares in God of War 1 was pretty effing ridiculous.

    Games ARE becoming too easy, simplified, dumbed down and as a result, lacking in content.

    Case in point Star Wars the Force Unleashed 2- you start all-powerful, and end all-powerful. There is no journey, no building up of skills, you're already there. Even on higher difficulty levels, there's really no challenge. At first it's great fun - but it's novelty. Inevitably, when the novelty wears off (and it always will) the game completely suffers as a result.

    If there is no skill curve, there's really no satisfaction.

    Games like Oblivion attempted to keep this alive by scaling up the world with you. But what happened here was the opposite. When you finally became all-powerful, it's a bit underwhelming as you didnt then have the powers and the novelty to crush things with your breath alone. When we get there, we want to be there.

    The last really difficult game I played was recently actually, and it was Demon's Souls. While this game KICKED MY ASS , it felt ridiculously satisfying. For once there was no NORMAL difficulty setting to hide in, there's only one difficulty level. I found myself creeping along hallways, shield raised. I found myself generally freaked out in areas.

    The overall effect of Demon's Souls's unforgiving difficulty is when you completed an area it felt really, really good. It gave me massive incentive to keep going forward.

    It is a shame this kind of game is few and far between. Demon's Soul's does NOT hold your hand - a rarity in games these days.

      While I enjoyed Demons Souls It felt a bit too harsh sometimes.
      The general difficulty level was cool but some sort of checkpoint before the bosses would have been nice.
      You spend like a hour working your way through the level, amassing a large pile of crucial souls then are forced to choose between cashing in and spending another hour doing it all over again to get back to the boss room, or try to fight the boss, get inevitably slaughtered and loose it all, then still have to spend another hour getting back there. Ended up grinding and thus got bored.
      Just putting the gate stone before the boss instead of after would work.
      Hell, its pretty much the same thing dead rising did and everyone hated that...

      So basically:
      Challenge = Good.
      Cheap level design to extend gameplay = Bad.

    Demon's Souls was pretty damn hard.

    Often games can feel a bit too "easy" if you play them on the default difficulty. But most games these days also have variable difficulty settings than you can use to make it a bit tougher if you like.

    I'm currently re-playing God of War III on Hard difficulty, and I'm finding it... hard :P

    Dunno about you guys but recently i've been very disappointed with the titles being released. Examples include Medal of Honor ... singleplayer was far from expectations.... Fallout New Vegas... more bugs in that game than a Starship Troopers movie... and Force Unleashed 2.... you call THAT a story??

    I dunno maybe i'm just ranting.. but I feel that companies raise our expectations too high with their flashy advertising and promises of grandiose but at the end of the day.... it's just turd polishing... If they spent less money spinning and selling and use more of that to develop the game I think I'd feel a lot more satisfied as an end user. I understand there's deadlines / budgets etc. but I'm feel really cheated lately when I gotta fork out $70+ for titles which are just [email protected]

    What do you guys think?

    Less 'trailers and commentaries' and more time developing the damn thing?

      You can roll a turd in glitter, but at the end of the day it's still a turd.

      Hehheh. Turd polishing

    Depends on my mood, sometimes I need to have my hand held. Other times I want the challenge

    4 Heroes of Light is murdering my patience.
    I am loving hating it.
    I have so many times trekked off into the wild only to realise I didn't grab the right person/item before I left town.

    You don't need to grind cos you just spent an hour walking to a dead end!

    On the whole, yeah some games are a bit too easy.

    However I've found some sections of castelvania quite difficult and that's only on the hardest difficulty available when you start (still one harder setting that is locked).

    COD world at war on the hardest setting had some really hard parts. Modern warfare 1 had me throwing the controller a couple of times while trying to get that mile high club achievement.

    Halo reach campaign, solo on legendary was challenging in parts. Not overly difficult but not easy.

    There are still enough challenging games every now and then to keep me happy so I'don't mind a few easier ones like read dead, fable 3 etc. where I get to relax a bit and just enjoy the game... which I guess I could do by using the easier difficulty levels but I always want the achievements for finishing games on the hardest setting :)

      The ferris wheel bit in COD4 made me rage a few times.

    The only game(s) I find are too easy are ones that don't give you any sort of consequence for playing badly. Fable 2 and 3 are far too easy, mainly for the fact that there is absolutely no penalty for dying. You don't even start at a checkpoint, you just revive and get a scar or a sword chip, which is nothing you can't fix up. Hell, in Fable 2 I was deliberately killing myself over and over, just so I could get a cool scar across my face, and the only way for me to do so was to strip naked, let and enemy violate me until my health was so low, save, and reload after every death till I got the scar I wanted.

    What's wrong with difficulty selections? Easy mode for casual players, and hard modes for experienced ones. Devil May Cry had this down, with Easy Automatic, all the way up to Dante Must Die.

    Just bring back the Difficulty levels, people.

      And yes, my character in Fable had a beard, plus a Hammer.

    A factor for me is time. If a game is so difficult that I have to repeat sections over and over again, I get frustrated, because I want to finish the game and move onto the next one. I have more games to play and less time with which to play them, which just increases the issue.

      Time, I totally agree.

      I play a lot of games on easy because of it.
      If I really liked it I play it on harder difficulty later.

      Totally agree with this. As I get older I have less time to play and more games to play, so I'd much rather a short but well crafted game rather than a long strung-out shoot-a-thon'(or whatever is appropriate there based on genre :P). I think the multiple difficulties model is damn good for gaming, have a difficulty setting where you can see the game's total storyline without too many deaths/respawns and harder settings for the more hardcore. Nothing wrong with opening it up to a wider audience, everyone has different lives to work with here!

      Oh and on the "Are games becoming too easy and guided?" Question. Absolutely not. At least not the 'becoming' part at least. Many older games tended only to have 1 path to follow, yep you didn't need to be guided because YOU COULDN'T GO THE WRONG WAY! With new tech more and more games have more open worlds, even ones that are still technically linear, so some sort of active guiding is more necessary than it was. The question "Are games too easy and guided?" May be one worth discussing, but with the 'becoming' in there the answer is just straight out "No." Honestly I'd actually say generally they're becoming less guided and more open, slowly but surely.

      It's time for me too, but in a slightly different way. Hard games are great if you can quickly get to the bit that's challenging you.

      Like in platformers such as VVVVV and Super Meatboy, where it's just a few seconds and you'll be attempting to do it again. There's no wasted time so to speak, it's all spent trying to beat that damn section!

      But on the flipside if the hard challenging bit is preceded by a large amount of time/content that you have no problem with, then you're left feeling like the game is wasting your time. This can be brought about by bad checkpoints/respawns, overly long boss fights, cutscenes etc. Spending so much time redoing things just to attempt the challenging part just leads to frustration, and is no fun at all.

        That's exactly how I feel. Pretty much everything you just posted is on the money.

    Games have become easier because they have changed so much from those many many years ago.

    Alot of the early games were an extension of the Video Game Arcade, where there was no such things of check points, you couldn't save, etc.

    The game was designed to make you pump in 20c every 5 mins because you had limited lives and got owned hard.

    How, mid-mission checkpoints, anytime saving is making it easier to complete games. If you take away these things then you have a game from the past.

    Imagine one of the Call Of Duty games where the game was stuck of Veteran, if you die you start at the beginning again or the level you are on, you can't save, no checkpoints and finally you only get 3 lives (and if you really want to force the game, throw in a time limit for every mission). There will be a good chuck of people who wouldn't get past the opening mission ever!

    That being said, there are still challenging games out there, New Vegas, Borderlands (or anything with a level system) can be tough if you go up again something that is 50x stronger than you.

    Am hearing that Vanquish is also a balls to the wall tough game on God Hard, still waiting for Zavvi to send me my copy though.

      Yay spelling!
      * How, mid-mission = Now, mid-mission
      * good chuck of people = good chunk of people

    Rather than talking about games being "easy" now, you just have to look back at why games used to be "hard". Because of limited technology, ideas that hadn't been imagined yet, etc... They were hard because they didn't know anything else. That was how you made games.

    And times have changed, and most game designers have thankfully realised that becoming so angry and frustrated you want to throw your controller against the wall isn't really the best way to move units, so they've used their superior technology and years of creative lessons learnt to make games more enjoyable.

    tldr you don't have to be a masochist to enjoy video games anymore.

      but masochism is an inherent part of who I am..

    I am a believer in I don't care the difficulty as long as the game is fun. Super Meat Boy is hard as hell but it is the short natured, one more go that accompanies its difficulty that makes it enjoyable. Developers have a difficult balancing act and I don't think it is just as easy as saying make games hard. Harder is only better if it makes the game more enjoyable.

    I vastly prefer the way games are now to what they were when I was a kid (I'm 32 for perspective).

    The main reason games were harder back then was because they cost money, you put 40 cents in the machine and you played it as long as you could, then plonked in another 40 cents. I have memories of a mate and I spending $20 to complete Double Dragon one summer afternoon.

    When they got ported over to home computers often no one bothered to ease up the difficulty curve. When games allowed infinite continues it was a big thing and for most games seeing it to the end required cheat codes.

    I like the fact games are experiences now rather than just patterns to be identified and overcome.

    Majoras mask. There I said it. The last, most satisfying and difficult game I have ever played.
    Since then every game has been too easy...
    I agree on the Devil May Cry concept, easy for the new players and DMD/advanced for the veterans. Just have a system for both gamers rather than dumbing down the whole game.

    RE 5 on the Ps3 Co-op hardest diffuculty.

    Not that hard a game, and you can get through it with the AI, but those god damn QTEs on bosses are annoying as shit in multiplayer.

    The ogre is a good example, he picks up a boulder to throw at you, and you need to shoot it to break it so you don't die.

    Single players, the AI shoots it, as do you, and it breaks no worries, and you continue on your merry way.

    Multiplayer however, both of you gunning at this thing and it NEVER FUCKING BREAKS! we died like 50times to this A-hole before we gave up and did him on single player to get past him.

    Very unforgiving multi-player experience.

    I think it can be summed up as others have said with a learning curve. I take Trials HD to be a perfect example of this...

    It starts off creating an ease of accessibility with simple controls and intuitive track design. It then gets insanely hard but with time, I improved and was rewarded with new found skills.

    There was a track that initially i could not even get past. I either would time out with the 30 time limit or 500 fault limit for the track. I can not do it in 1.12 with 0 faults!!!

      *I can NOW do it in 1.12 with zero faults.. (typo)

      My point being that this was a much more rewarding experience because it started easy, got gradually harder but always seemed somewhat accessible. If I just try one more time I will get it.

      The start should be easy adn fun, and as you progress, it should get gradually harder.

      I do feel like some games either dont penalise death enough (so there is little risk involved) or simply make recovering from injury etc just too easy. Take a look at the hardcore mode in New Vegas where even health packs etc actually take time to kick in, so you can't just keep fighting and taking them... much more immersive and enjoyable.

    I find current games are guilty of a little too much hand holding. I remember the good ol days of playing might and magic and wandering around for hours trying to find people to complete quests and stuff! That's half the fun of the games! Exploring! These days when I play games I don't really feel compelled to explore so much because everything is shoved in your face. Arrows always pointing towards your goal and stuff. Makes me feel like I'm being naughty when I go off the beaten track. Some games are still pretty decent though. I recall spending days exploring little far out bits in Gothic 2 just because I could! It's great fun to explore. See a great high mountain top and wonder if you can get up there! I would spend ages looking in to things like that. These days it's almost as if they don't want you to explore until you've finished the game or something. I mean, guide arrows and stuff can be handy, but I'd prefer not to feel rushed to complete something.

    I think it is very genre specific. Platformers Get dull if there is no learning curve for example.
    Shooters people go to multiplayer for the harder challenge.
    In most cases thou I think there should be a difficulty setting. The more choice you give a player to play the way they want, it should usually turn out better. Unless it is a part of the game design, as with demon souls and meat boy.

    The last game that was brutally hard for me was ARMA II. Most FPS games rely on numbers of bad guys, or modifying damage to make it difficult. Throw more lead at the player and it gets harder right?

    ARMA II going for the cliche crowd who prefer simulations and planning in missions meant you jumped every time you saw an enemy. Even if you had the best ambush spot, becasue you never really knew what was 'over that hill' or behind that house. More than once I ordered my fire team to open fire on an enemy squad/team, wipe them out and then get swamped as the rest of the enemy platoon comes in from their respective patrol routes. Not being able to memorise memory behavious patterns etc is whats needed more in games I feel. Granted the game had its fair share of bugs and issues but was still worth it in my opinion.

      I know about the flashpoint vs arma thingy but Operation Flashpoint dragon rising was the same for me. I actually enjoyed how hard it was. The difficulty was not changed as far as the AI goes, just the amount of HUD and assists you received would gradually be taken away. On hardcore, there was not even a cross hair!!!

        Never played Dragon Rising, but you had crosshairs? You were lucky. :P

    Gaming for me is a guilty pleasure. I work a full time job and a small child wanting my attention, most of the time life just gets in the way of playing games.

    Put simply, I don't have time to spend hours upon hours, mastering skills, and aimlessly searching vast wastelands. I want my games to move continuously, somewhat like a movie I control or interact with.

    The important thing is for developers to make games challenging for hard-core games while still making it accessible to everyone else.

    I usually play on "normal", and am happy with that.

    maybe people are just getting too good..because I feel like every games I play are so frikkin hard.
    I never complete a single game on normal mode. Especially platformers? Oh snaps!

    The only games I have ever completed are RPGs, and that's only because you can grind for power.

      Out of curiosity what are some games you've played but not finished?

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