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  1. Hi all, I sincerely believe one of the most important and critical points of game design is the difficulty setting. Unfortunately today many games have simply lowered the bar so much that you literally have no fun playing them and you just experience them without having any feeling of achievement. On the other hand one of the reason the market is going that way is that people actually approve of this by purchasing these games. But it is pretty obvious that what really gives a feeling of achievement is when the difficulty is such that you can only achieve victory, not thanks to the "skill points" that you have grinded for hours (in which case anyone can do) but rather thanks to the actual skills that you have learned and that differentiates you, a veteran, from someone using the same characters but without the experience necessary to use them effectively. A higher difficulty setting must also be more rewarding (xp bonus, special item rewards, recognition badges etc) to the player using it but it must also be a commitment and must therefore contain some elements that prevent the player from switching back to an easier difficulty when faced with a challenge too hard. This takes away all the point of having a higher difficulty. One last thing I would like to talk about here is that there is also an element of "immersion" brought by the difficulty level: if you have unrealistic things that can happen just because you've upped the difficulty level it prevents you from feeling involved in the game. Hard doesn't necessarily mean unfair, but rather unforgiving. So the little goblin is still a one hit kill and can't really hurt you, but if you let your mage get hit by it or get surrounded by them then you're going to get punished more hardly for it. Great examples of perfect applications of difficulty level design would include: - demon/dark souls series for fair yet unforgiving difficulty (you die, your fault, and yet game can be beaten by lvl 1 char by very skilled players) - diablo 2 for the difficulty escalation (always challenging, even more after completion) - metal gear series for difficulty selection options (moves from "enjoyable but easy" to "very realistic and very hard" in european extreme) Personally that's what I enjoy: realistic and difficult, fair but unforgiving, and ironman (when I have the time) What are your preferences?
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