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GDotD - CONTEXT & DIFFICULTY

Something that seems to come up over and over these days is how difficulty in games is decreasing, causing seasoned gamers to look elsewhere and involving more casual players. To an extent this is somewhat true, but I believe it is important to have games

Context & Difficulty

Something that seems to come up over and over these days is how difficulty in games is decreasing, causing seasoned gamers to look elsewhere and involving more casual players. To an extent this is somewhat true, but I believe it is important to have games that entertain both casual and core players.
 

This requires us as designers to look deeper into how we create mechanics and display information to players. One big issue that keeps players from getting into complex games like RPGs is the amount of information they have to sift through.Put this on top of the mechanics we usually involve in the game and now the player is trying hard but is hitting a steep barrier (learning curve).

Some useful tips:

Make information reactive. Tell a player what does what. This doesn’t mean tell them how to play the game this means that if the INT stat increases damage on fireball spells but decreases melee attack speed the player should know. Don’t try to hide anything that is important information, make sure you detail information on the mechanics so you can provide that for the player later on.

Take steps. Don’t throw players into all of the mechanics at once. Sometimes leading them into them one by one is easier for the player and allows them to get adjusted to the games environment.

Allow different difficulty settings to provide more help or less help. For example, perhaps “quest trails” or markers should be available on lower difficulty settings. But if a player wants a challenge and knows that reading journal entries is also a way to discover where to go they can turn off the trails and markers.

Remove things that homogenize the game. Fast travel, simplified stats, lowering numbers, increasing enemy HP. These kinds of things are lame “solutions” to the issue. They not only make the game have less depth but they will turn away players. Even casual players will get bored of the game faster, maybe not as fast as core gamers but faster than a game with depth.

Hopefully this is helpful! Do you have any examples of games that do some of these things? Examples of games that don’t do these things? Share your experiences.

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