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  1. 1. What difficulty settings do you enjoy the most in this kind of rpg's?

    • Easy - I'm here for the story
      11
    • Normal difficulty - Enjoying the story and the game without having to worry too much about getting stuck somewhere
      58
    • Hardest "fair" difficulty - I enjoy "realism": no unfair penalties or bonuses to any characters, my human char is as strong as a similar human enemy char, and yet I enjoy difficulty, lot's of enemies, very difficult boss battles etc...
      93
    • Punishingly hard (ultimate hard) - My characters have penalties and enemies similar to my char are actually stronger than mine. I love pain
      10
  2. 2. For those playing in "hard" difficulty, do you play ironman mode?

    • I don't play in hard difficulties
      27
    • No, not for me
      42
    • I don't have time for this
      16
    • Not on first playthrough, but eventually one day yes
      66
    • As soon as I get a grab of the game mechanics, story, main obstacles etc
      15
    • On first playthrough
      6


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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?

Edited by Macrae
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Its funny, I like action games, I really do. But I do not understand the love of Demon/Dark Souls. Its a game built on having foreknowledge of every fight, so you die every few minutes to give you the foreknowledge to go a bit further and die again. Just do not see the appeal.

 

Then again I've never understood the appeal of the "die and your one save is wiped" gameplay either (typical ironman).

No problem with their inclusion provided I'm not required to play it.

 

That said, "fair but unforgiving" is a reasonable approach to a harder difficulty level, I think. Something where if you understand the abilities/skills and use good tactics and resource management then you're able to win, but if you're not really getting the most out of abilities/skills or use poor tactics/situational awareness that the game is able to exploit the inherent weaknesses in your game play and lead to examples where the goblins mobbed your wizard and chunked him.

 

EDIT - I typically play on normal though, rarely explore the harder options unless normal is too easy. In some cases normals been too hard and I've went down to easy, but that's pretty rare and is usually more a sign I don't understand the system and will bump it back up when I have experience.

Edited by Amentep
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I generally like hard but not so hard that I have to get gamey to beat everything.  I always want to take everything on straight up.

 

For example I always played the hardest level on most Bioware Games because they were hard enough to get me to think but I never did the super hard mode on Icewind Dale where each Goblin has the Hit Points of a Balrog.  If I don't have to worry about dying it takes the tension out and I just don't respect an encounter until it has shown it can kill me a few times.  But, on the other hand, I want to be able to beat it when I figure out how it works.

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A higher difficulty setting must also be more rewarding (xp bonus, special item rewards, recognition badges etc) to the player using it 

 

I disagree. Greater scarcity, whether in loot, XP, or trading prices, is an excellent component of harder difficulty. Playing a game at a harder difficulty should be its own reward. If it's only enjoyable because it gives you shinier shinies, it's not very well done.

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Easy(ish).

I do want the game to keep me on my toes, but I don't like repeating long battles.

Generally speaking, I'd prefer not to die or reload once, kind of a soft pampered ironman mode.

 

By what I've heard so far, with PoE I'll take the lowest difficulty available.

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I pretty much always play on normal, unless it's hilariously easy (I'm looking at you, The Witcher 1). While I do enjoy being challenged and whatnot, I'm simply not good enough at vidya games to consistently handle higher difficulties. I just tend to get annoyed instead of getting motivated to play even more and enjoy the oh-so-wonderful achievement of overcoming an especially difficult boss fight or whatever. Well, such is the life of a dirty casual.

 

Ironman is out of the question too, I reaaally like to have multiple saves just in case I screw up or the game screws up. And, yes, whenever I feel like save-scumming. It happens every once in a while when I get annoyed. Shameful, I know.

Edited by ArtB
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To answer the question... I don't know how hard PoE is going to be at normal difficulty. I usually end up around one notch harder than normal these days, but back in IE game days I played at normal (i.e. standard D&D rules with friendly fire). 

 

Josh has said he's balancing it at Hard, and then tuning encounters down for Normal and Easy, and up for Heart of Fury. If so, I'll start out at that difficulty and adjust it if necessary.

 

I'll go with Trial of Iron once I've figured out how not to die a lot, because otherwise I have a tendency to ruin games for myself with savegame abuse.

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Its funny, I like action games, I really do. But I do not understand the love of Demon/Dark Souls. Its a game built on having foreknowledge of every fight, so you die every few minutes to give you the foreknowledge to go a bit further and die again. Just do not see the appeal.

 

This is not really true of the games - at least, not in my experience. When I first went through Dark Souls, (without having ever played Demon's Souls), the biggest challenge were the controls, not really the enemies/bosses. I beat, I think, after the few three or so when I was finally got a decent grasp of the game, roughly 4/5 bosses on my first try. Dark Souls (on NG - that is, before beating the game at all) is really actually decently lenient...there's just a really steep initial learning curve. Once you understand your own character, and how bosses *tend* to move, (all the "giant" bosses are pretty predictable after one or two, if you care to notice - only the smaller, faster ones really leave any surprises), it's generally pretty easy.

 

It's NG+(+++++) where you have to perfectly choreograph your character, and perfectly learn the moveset of each boss - 'cos each boss (and regular enemy) has twice as much (or more) health as they did in NG, do much more damage...and yet your character can get hardly any better compared to how they were in the middle to the end of NG - only the first few are comparable to NG difficulty. Then again, I enjoyed doing this, too, except for a very few that were blatantly unfair - e.g. the Capra Demon with the stupid dogs that had extremely random behavior and movesets that killed me probably 50 times in a row on NG++++++...or the Four Kings, where, unless you're wielding an ultra greatsword or something, you simply cannot do enough damage to outpace their spawn rate, and you die in a battle of attrition against 4 of them at once while they only have like 1/3rd-1/4th combined health left - stuff like that is not fun. But for the others, there's something neat about being able to know a boss so perfectly you can deal with literally anything and everything they throw at you, and then exploit those attacks to defeat them.

 

On-topic: I like my games decently hard. However, if there is a set of difficulty rules where the game is "fair", (e.g. Core Difficulty for the IE games), then I tend to use that.

Edited by Bartimaeus
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Hi all...

 

What are your preferences?

 

Easy mode is very much my preference, especially for the first playthrough of an RPG. To the point I get very anxious at playing a game that doesn't have such a mode. 

 

When I play rather expansive games I like being able to do whatever character builds, equipment, or party configurations that seem the most fun or interesting at the time, and I really don't want to give a crap about combat balance when I do it. At the end of the day I'm here to be engaged in the world and characters, and if I keep dying during an ambush or a boss fight that drags me right out of it and I get annoyed. I respect games like Dark Souls and they certainly have a place in the gaming sphere, but their kind of punishing difficulty is not optimal for everything, or even most games. And to be honest, even after a decade and a half of crpgs and srpgs, I'm just not all that good at them.

 

I do actually like the idea of an "Ironman" mode for RPGs however, especially those with a wide breadth of choice for the player character, as it permanently prevents you from save-scumming to see different outcomes to your decisions. Whatever you pick, that's what you have to live with. I'm something of a scummer myself, especially during first playthroughs where I want to be Mr. Perfect Paladin Who Makes Everyone Everywhere Happy. Having such a strict save system would definitely change the way I approach the game, and I think that might well be for the better. Though if that is implemented, it should be a separate toggle like in X-com, meaning you can choose Normal-Ironmode, Classic-Ironmode, Easy-Ironmode... whatever fits people's skill level.

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Easy, all the way. Not necessarily "for the story" but more that Im not interested in game mechanics designed to make my life miserable.

Which mechanics are designed to make your life splendid, exactly? I was under the impression that Easy is just a lesser dose of the same mechanics.

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Which mechanics are designed to make your life splendid, exactly? I was under the impression that Easy is just a lesser dose of the same mechanics.

 

On easy you can carry more camping equipment, which means more resting without going back to buy more. But that seems like something that can easily be moded out, or just set to infinity via console commands.

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Exactly. If the rest limitation's purpose is apparently to make life miserable, then raising the limit simply makes life less miserable. It's like someone punching you a little more softly in the face, instead of as hard as they could.

 

I've seen the same sentiment expressed by multiple people multiple times now, as if the mechanics are objectively malignant in nature. So, I'm wondering what does a mechanic that's designed to make your life the-opposite-of-miserable look like? Do you get "attacked" by a group of enemies who all heal you and start stabbing themselves? Because, I gotta be honest... that might make the game "easier," but it would make my life miserable, personally. Here I am trying to play a game that actually gives me challenges to overcome, and I can't, because it does it for me, or negates the challenges, etc.

 

So, fundamentally, what makes a mechanic, functionally negative instead of positive?

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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For most games, I can't be arsed to think hard enough to play at a level above normal. There simply isn't enough reward for optimization, because generally upped difficulty consists of things like ballooning HP and armor and double damage, and I don't find that interesting.

 

I am intrigued by the approach PoE is going to take, though, by adding in or subtracting foes depending on the changing difficulty settings. That sounds interesting enough to be worth an early go at playing on hard.

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Wow. It's actually really interesting to see what people enjoy, that people actually enjoy playing the game in a different manner that you do.

 

 

A higher difficulty setting must also be more rewarding (xp bonus, special item rewards, recognition badges etc) to the player using it 

 

I disagree. Greater scarcity, whether in loot, XP, or trading prices, is an excellent component of harder difficulty. Playing a game at a harder difficulty should be its own reward. If it's only enjoyable because it gives you shinier shinies, it's not very well done.

 

 

I think on this point there can be different approaches. I personally think that it all depends on what you put in and take out of the difficulty level. But for example I don't see a problem of having a little extra XP for people playing in ironman hard mode, knowing that they can die at any moment. But indeed it would make no sense to give less xp if the overall difficulty of the enemies stays the same. But for item drop, trading prices etc, I agree that a higher difficulty should always bring less of these..

One thing I really enjoyed (regarding game difficulty and rewards) was for example the approach Kojima took on the metal gear series. If you finish the game in certain difficulty settings and in certain conditions hard to achieve you get after completion, first, a badge that gives you the right to brag and makes you feel you've actually achieved something, and second, it would give you a special, borderline cheating (infinite ammo bandana, cloaking device), but very cool items that are logical with the in-game lore. I actually really enjoyed these and really felt the game was rewarding me for the skill and effort I displayed with a fun thing.

But then of course for an rpg like PoE it's different since it's not an pure action game. So for example you could imagine having an extra "special" character/race/class that you could play on second playthrough only if you beat the game in a certain way..

I personally think the best way to improve difficulty for a game like PoE is simply adding more enemies and reducing the supplies/potions etc you can carry. In that case increasing xp reward would make no sense, unless it's ironman..

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Oh, if the difficulty can be adjusted at will during the game, I'll start with normal. I'm mostly worried of sudden spikes, like a demigod endboss I can't beat with the party that had no problems until the last huge no turning back after this moment pit. Final Fantasy VII syndrome.

 

And I want the difficulty to spike!

Much better than for every drunken kobold to give god/weakling level of resistance, depending on selected difficulty.

Edited by Jarmo
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I always start my games on the setting above normal.  Ironman modes can be fun sometimes, but they limit experimentation too much for me.  I like to take on overwhelming odds from time to time, and I'd rather not ruin my entire playthrough if things don't work out. 

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Back in the day it was normal (medium), 'cause I wanted to play the game as it was meant to be played. Rarely hard, for the lols.

 

Now it's something between easy (casual) and normal gameplay. It ain't easy sparing some time for gaming nowadays. You know, work, family, all that jazz... that's why I like to make my gameplay reasonably smooth, and let the story flow. Reloading and/or extremely long preparations are beyond my interest.

 

Am no masochist.

It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air...

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I'll start on 'normal' - if it's too easy I can increase it as necessary.

'normal' was fine in BG - I'm guessing this'll be similarly guaged

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Its funny, I like action games, I really do. But I do not understand the love of Demon/Dark Souls. Its a game built on having foreknowledge of every fight, so you die every few minutes to give you the foreknowledge to go a bit further and die again. Just do not see the appeal.

 

This is not really true of the games - at least, not in my experience. When I first went through Dark Souls, (without having ever played Demon's Souls), the biggest challenge were the controls, not really the enemies/bosses. I beat, I think, after the few three or so when I was finally got a decent grasp of the game, roughly 4/5 bosses on my first try. Dark Souls (on NG - that is, before beating the game at all) is really actually decently lenient...there's just a really steep initial learning curve. Once you understand your own character, and how bosses *tend* to move, (all the "giant" bosses are pretty predictable after one or two, if you care to notice - only the smaller, faster ones really leave any surprises), it's generally pretty easy.

 

Well my experience may very well be tainted by never really understanding the character(s) I tried in either game or the systems involved. Ultimately I gave up on both games. Really don't see the appeal as, for me, progression just seemed to be remembering where everything was so you could live through it the next time after you'd gotten killed this time.

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I seem to recall IRONMAN mode being asked for a lot when most new games get announced. I imagine its the virtual equivalent of walking the tightrope without a net - it tests one's skill with the game. Man vs virtual nature, or something.

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On easy you can carry more camping equipment, which means more resting without going back to buy more. But that seems like something that can easily be moded out, or just set to infinity via console commands.

Are console commands confirmed to be in (link)? Ill abuse the hell out of that if so. :thumbsup:

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Easy, all the way. Not necessarily "for the story" but more that Im not interested in game mechanics designed to make my life miserable.

I'm guessing that's probably because it is so common that mechanics in games usually are not all that great. Seems to me that "easy" more and more simply means that the enemies are dumb enough or have so little health that they allow the mechanics to not be a huge hindrance. Or, that increasing the difficulty just means you have to use more potions or spam super-abilities.

 

The original Demon('s) Souls was a very good example of how it's possible to get around that. Lots of people are talking about how it's fair but difficult - but that was because the fighting mechanics always allowed you to move as if you were in control, in spite of not simplifying everything to a counter/attack minigame. And since all creatures and even the bosses obeyed the same rules as you (no homing attacks or unblockable crazyness, no missed hit-boxes or unfair slashes through walls. etc. unlike in Dark Souls), the feeling you had pretty much always was that there was a way to win, but that you didn't play towards that when you lost (and they managed to maintain that for all the classes, which was a real achievement). So you would happily go back and try again if you were defeated..

 

Know a guy who normally dislike games because they don't seem very fun, and he doesn't have the "training" those of us who have played practically every game released have. But he liked playing Demon Souls, even though he didn't get past the second stone for a very long time.

 

But he still played that game, and that was because the difficulty didn't come from contrivances and bad controls, or from (to non-gamers) unintuitive mechanics that had to be learned outside of the game. But instead from challenging you in a way that made sense internally in the game while not being completely boring.

 

..And I think that is true for pretty much all games - if an rpg forces you to rest every ten meters (nwn), or just use more health-potions when the critters are more difficult to defeat, and so on. Or you figure out that it's really about clicking more, and spamming more functons, or micromanaging on a very low level with less room for mistakes when the difficulty ramps up. Then it's not fun to a very large amount of people.

 

Saw the same thing with Broken Age. There are a few people who insist that the game is only less difficult because it removed the contrived verb-based interface. That the difficulty alone came from figuring out which verb to use, or which pixel to click, and so on. But here as well: if you don't make a game challenging without relying on contrivance, and also don't add any challenges outside that, the game just isn't fun. And obviously the game becomes very easy to get through when you remove those contrivances.

 

But it's of course not impossible to design challenges that don't rely on contrivance. ..Maybe that's really the biggest difference between a good and a bad video-game?

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