Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussion - http://www.mmcafe.com/ Forums


Original message (2011 Views )

sfried
577th Post



user profileedit/delete message

New Red Carpet Member



"Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussion" , posted Sun 17 Oct 13:47post reply

While reading through the reviews of the new Epic Yarn game, I stumbled upcon these comments:

quote:
SuperfluousMoniker: "I don't care how many stars you give it, a game in which you cannot die, a game with no challenge, does not intrigue me. Would you feel good after winning a fight with a paraplegic? That's probably how I would feel after beating this game."

Noodles: "The pleasure center in my brain activates when I overcome a challenge. I stand by my analogy. Fighting someone who can't fight back is no fun.""


So goes the saying that "playing to win" is the only way to have fun. But how does this affect people when you can't lose? The most controversial thing about this new Kirby game is that you can't die but that doesn't necessarily means it lacks challenge.

I've always figured out the mass appeal of Kirby and his games were that, on one hand, yes, they're terribly easy to breeze through. But on the other hand, there was a layer of difficulty that more advanced players could (and often do) tackle to reward and unlock more "meat" to their playtime. Many people might be turned off at the idea that the challenge isn't there from the start, but this prompts me to discuss something I've been wishing more games could offer: tiered difficulty, or should we say transparent depth.

I'm not talking about dynamic difficulty, btw (or am I?). Part of this new Kirby's catch is that the challenge comes in the form of collecting beads, and that every time you get struck by an enemy, you lose a ton of your collectathons Sonic-style. What's interesting is the take on this mechanic via the scoring system: You're rated depending on your collection rate, similar to how shmups use score to gauge your performance. What's interesting is that it's a simple mechanic to follow that novices can catch on very quickly (meaning the less they get hit, the more they get rewarded), and yet they aren't penalized should they play the game without opting for the extra challenge; they still get to the end eventually, but they just don't get the goodies along with it (extra levels, hidden ending?).

Another example would be Space Invaders Extreme and its sequel: The powerup mechanic works nicely here, because it not only encourages you to score four of the same color to aquire a boost in firepower, but by keeping up at it they remain armed for much longer, not only increasing their chances of survival, but also boosting their score as the "unintended" benefit. In other words, the game's dynamic is comprehendable, yet the priorities of which the player should focus on are made clear: survive, upgrade, score more. I feel a lot of shmups sometimes fail at this level *coughTouhoucough* or suffer from what I'd like to call "SNK Elitism": Technical base rules that are sometimes not made clear unless you've read some tourney guide beforehand. Perhaps this is just leftovers from the arcade cabinet "pasted instructions" era, but I feel even that era did usher the focus of giving games "transparent mechanics" (i.e. pick-up-and-play-ness), and in the case of most Masahiro Sakurai/Kirby games, I could see how this dynamic works.

But video game "death" (lives and continues) is also a thing I feel is part of the arcade era that is also being made inert by the advent of game saves. Certainly, death can be counted against the player as a way of depriving bonuses (Super Metroid), but this new title simply just integrates it as a huge hit on score. I feel this is where people will make a huge fuss about, feeling that if a player fails hard, they should really feel the repurcussions of it and should suffer, Hideo Kojima-style! Which makes me wonder if it is merely the lack of penalty people are fretting about, rather than the lack of death? In this case, it seems Epic Yarn's "penalty" for "unskilled" players would be to "deprive" them of the extra levels, in which they would need to have that certain level of finess in order to fully enjoy anyway. In this case, the transparent depth works to both the game and the players benefit: Ignorance is bliss, until they find out that there's much more to uncover.

Yeah, not everyone will agree with my stance, knowing most of MMCafe consists of those people who enjoy the masochism of being punished by a game (there's also that fine line too, a subject we could also discuss here). Too bad not everyone agrees with it, especially if the game makes itself too hard to enjoy (*coughTouhoucough*)






Replies:

jUAN
4548th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: Buttermonster
XBL: Prepaidpenguin
Wii: rofl

Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(1):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Sun 17 Oct 20:12post reply

quote:
While reading through the reviews of the new Epic Yarn game, I stumbled upcon these comments:

SuperfluousMoniker: "I don't care how many stars you give it, a game in which you cannot die, a game with no challenge, does not intrigue me. Would you feel good after winning a fight with a paraplegic? That's probably how I would feel after beating this game."

Noodles: "The pleasure center in my brain activates when I overcome a challenge. I stand by my analogy. Fighting someone who can't fight back is no fun.""

So goes the saying that "playing to win" is the only way to have fun. But how does this affect people when you can't lose? The most controversial thing about this new Kirby game is that you can't die but that doesn't necessarily means it lacks challenge.

I've always figured out the mass appeal of Kirby and his games were that, on one hand, yes, they're terribly easy to breeze through. But on the other hand, there was a layer of difficulty that more advanced players could (and often do) tackle to reward and unlock more "meat" to their playtime. Many people might be turned off at the idea that the challenge isn't there from the start, but this prompts me to discuss something I've been wishing more games could offer: tiered difficulty, or should we say
transparent depth.

I'm not talking about dynamic difficulty, btw (or am I?). Part of this new Kirby's catch is that the

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --






Gojira
2657th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: Gojira_X
XBL: Gojiraaa
Wii: 80085

Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(1):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Sun 17 Oct 22:22post reply

It's tough to say. I think I need to work it out a bit before I can see where I stand.

On one hand, not being able to risk the loss of progress that traditionally comes with dying seems pretty boring. Without penalty, progress isn't really progress, it's just an inevitability. And a real problem there is that the main goal of platformers IS progress. Without making that a challenge, you're just left with the secondary game (in this case, collecting beads). You probably couldn't even call it a platformer then.

On the other hand, when the penalty happens, is it fun? Not really. It's just something we've been conditioned to accept, and sometimes these punishments have gone a little further than they really needed to. A trend towards the elimination of lives and game overs wouldn't be a huge problem. The only real use those things ever had was limited to arcades, to show you when your quarter's up. On a console, the tendency is to continue playing until you're satisfied. Why interrupt that just because someone sucks? Why not just tell them they suck but let them keep playing?

It's not even an unprecedented idea, since most racing and sports games are already like this. No matter how poorly you're doing you still get to finish, and in the end the game will tell you how well you did. There's no dying, but there certainly is a chance for failure, and with that comes the challenge.

Still, yeah, I think I'd have to side with tradition. Any game where progress is the goal should probably contain the consequence of losing progress somehow. Taking half the point of a game away just for player convenience seems like an unnecessary evolution.





shipoopi

Maou
2089th Post



user profileedit/delete message

Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(2):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Mon 18 Oct 07:09:post reply

I think for me the desire for "difficulty" is really dependant on what type of artistic or entertainment goal the game is produced with---this relates to play style to a large degree. Like, games like flOwer came immediately to mind as situations where the threat of death or penalty isn't really necessary or even desirable---the thrill is in "interaction with an environment" as opposed to "avoiding action-based or strategic obstacles." In other words, the point from which a game derrives its "fun" determines the need for difficulty. Genre is a silly contruct in many mediums, but maybe it's helpful here in that genre can sort of determine where the "fun" in a game is supposed to be coming from (exploration, strategic planning, reflexes, puzzle-solving, etc.)

I have Yoshi's Island on the mind right now...this is a lovely, wonderful platformer of my youth that is simultaenously enormously disappointing because of how easy it is---and the whole momentum of the game is overcoming action-base challenges. Yoshi's journey is built around surmounting obstacles and exploration, and when the thrill of danger is gone, the adventure falls a bit flat, especially after one has already been wowed by the setpieces and great bosses the first time. Mario 3 no longer thrills me artistically (because it's engrained in my DNA at this point; I love Mario 3 like I love BREATHING), but the thrill of the climbing sky stage in world 5 or Koopa's airship armada in world 8 entertain me years later.





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Mon 18 Oct 07:13]

KTallguy
1262th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: Hunter-KT
XBL: n/a
Wii: n/a

Red Carpet Executive Member




"Re(3):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Mon 18 Oct 11:08:post reply

What constitutes an acceptable challenge varies wildly from person to person. It really comes down to individual taste: I tend to prefer games where there is a palpable fear of death or failure, and enjoy repeating inputs to get it just right.

I think there are three main points:

First, Mindset. Some people crave satisfaction from preservering over something difficult, while some prefer to experience the game's atmosphere, narrative, characters, and "rollercoaster ride" uninhibited. Those people are quickly discouraged when they lose, and feel repetitive action is a waste of time. For example, I didn't mind that I had to restart Dead Rising twice to get it right, but my brother was quickly frustrated at the repetition based save mechanic.

Secondly, Lifestyle. Some people don't have as much time to devote to entertainment. You may only have an hour to play a night, with which you want to make palpable progress and get some basic satisfaction. But others have 5+ hours a day and want to really feel their heart race as they scale that wall they already fell from 5+ times.

Lastly, the gamer's Generation. This is kind of related to lifestyle, because naturally older people with children will have less time to play. However, the advent of free and accessible flash games on the internet have fragmented the attention spans of children too. The value of playing say, a Nintendo DS game versus an online flash game isn't as obvious. Software has become like fast food: if an experience is too frustrating the player will simply seek out something different. R4 and other devices with hundreds of DS games on them exasperates this problem. I doubt many young children will have the drive or patience to finish a difficult, obtuse game like Metroid or the original Zelda.

What do you guys think?

Edit: Of course Maou's point is spot on, some games aren't supposed to be hard at all; that's the experience the designers want the players to have. As long as some kind of hook is there to bring in and keep the player, the game can be hard, easy, or somewhere in the middle.





Play to win... or to have fun too! :)

[this message was edited by KTallguy on Mon 18 Oct 11:12]

sfried
580th Post



user profileedit/delete message

New Red Carpet Member



"Re(2):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Mon 18 Oct 11:10:post reply

quote:
I think for me the desire for "difficulty" is really dependant on what type of artistic or entertainment goal the game is produced with---this relates to play style to a large degree. Like, games like flOwer came immediately to mind as situations where the threat of death or penalty isn't really necessary or even desirable---the thrill is in "interaction with an environment" as opposed to "avoiding action-based or strategic obstacles." In other words, the point from which a game derrives its "fun" determines the need for difficulty. Genre is a silly contruct in many mediums, but maybe it's helpful here in that genre can sort of determine where the "fun" in a game is supposed to be coming from (exploration, strategic planning, reflexes, puzzle-solving, etc.)
This is a very interesting case. Note, however, that sometimes I would be careful over analyzing some gameplay element as a form of artistic expression more than giving the player the needed exhilaration/tension.
quote:
On the other hand, when the penalty happens, is it fun? Not really. It's just something we've been conditioned to accept, and sometimes these punishments have gone a little further than they really needed to. A trend towards the elimination of lives and game overs wouldn't be a huge problem. The only real use those things ever had was limited to arcades, to show you when your quarter's up. On a console, the tendency is to continue playing until you're satisfied. Why interrupt that just because someone sucks? Why not just tell them they suck but let them keep playing?
I think this is the main point I'm getting at: The concept of "death" in a videogame does not automatically equate to challenge, just as there are many cheap deaths in old 8-bit games (which is more a subject of early game design), yet at the same time a videogame must present its challenge somewhere, and a game without penalty just makes it seem like theirs the inevitable winning condition...

...unless there are actually two or more goals instead of just the one "win". We've arleady seen many games differentiate between the regular "Finished" ending and the "100% Completion" ending. For instance, the Castlevanias or Cave Story does that. Not only does it present you with three endings (one is technically a non-standard Game Over without statement), but the extramediate end is presented as a "bonus". therefore, the concept of "progress" changes depending on the eye of the beholder. People who do know there is more to the game than just getting to the end will see the "normal" endings as halfway progress. Most of these games even coax the novices into aiming for the "complete" ending via teasers at the end of the game (Sonic Adventure 2 comes to mind), and this is actually a fair way to present the player with a way of saying "the game is finished, but not completed".

Yes, overcoming action-based challenges will remain part of a game. But I thinks the easiness isn't from the fact that it was designed easy, but rather from the fact that the player has become adept at a certain kind of gameplay. Chris Kohler touches up on this in the last episode of Retronauts, when he discusses the code which brings them to Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream in Punch Out, and you actually have all the tools needed to defeat him in your arsenal, with the exception of perhaps knowledge and skill, aspects which you learn piecemeal as you progress through the game.





[this message was edited by sfried on Mon 18 Oct 11:24]

sfried
580th Post



user profileedit/delete message

New Red Carpet Member



"Re(4):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Mon 18 Oct 11:17:post reply

quote:
3 main points
You definitely bring an interesting case and I agree on all 3 accounts! Mindset is one of those factors that actually determine whether people or not feel comfortable at taking on certain amounts of difficulty, but I believe that the way the game tackles this issue by how it presents the challenge at hand is important, too. By doing so, the player can narrow down what s/he has been doing wrong all the time, without wondering if the fault came from his/her end or the games.

I'd like to call this aspect Feedback, and I think its one of the key things to creating a game that can pull off crazy obstacles and challenges at the player, rather than merely waiting for them to feel comfortable with/master the controls.





[this message was edited by sfried on Mon 18 Oct 11:23]

Zaphod
1th Post



user profileedit/delete message

New Customer

"Re(5):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Mon 18 Oct 11:24:post reply

As already mentioned a scoring system can be a good way to keep the old danger vibe even with the obsolescence of continues. Bayonetta may be a fine example with tolerant unlimited continues for the sake of seeing what comes next while trying to get nice trophies makes loss frightening again.

But beyond the reward/punishment I like to think that (at least some) games are fun to figure out. Losing, having bad score, can there be a useful discovery tool. Not getting the SSS grade should be a situation begging for: "How does this system work? How can I do it in that level?" not "...I think this game loathes me". Even how an event is triggered in a rpg should be fun to investigate/play.

Failing can sometimes help some casual players from missing interesting gameplay elements by putting them in a situation where they are a pretty good answer.

Anyway as useful as difficulty can or could be, there are still shamefully easy things that prove always fun.

Oh, and I like this place.





[this message was edited by Zaphod on Mon 18 Oct 12:37]

ZamIAm
1784th Post



user profileedit/delete message

Silver Carpet V.I.P- Platinum Executive





"Re(4):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Mon 18 Oct 11:43post reply

quote:
Lastly, the gamer's Generation. This is kind of related to lifestyle, because naturally older people with children will have less time to play. However, the advent of free and accessible flash games on the internet have fragmented the attention spans of children too. The value of playing say, a Nintendo DS game versus an online flash game isn't as obvious. Software has become like fast food: if an experience is too frustrating the player will simply seek out something different. R4 and other devices with hundreds of DS games on them exasperates this problem. I doubt many young children will have the drive or patience to finish a difficult, obtuse game like Metroid or the original Zelda.


I think Generation actually affects Mindset more than Lifestyle. The younger crowd are the ones with more free time, however they seem to lean towards instant gratification. It's a lot of what's fueling the Achievement craze--quick "progress" whether they are truly progressing.

I may post something longer at another point.





karasu99
451th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: robotchris
XBL: robotchris
Wii: n/a

Gold Customer


"Re(3):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Mon 18 Oct 23:17post reply

My biggest challenge here is actually deciding which points to address-- a lot of good ones have been made so far.

I... wow, I could write a huge wall of text here. First off, I should mention in regard to the original quotes by sfried on the new Kirby... if someone is looking for a challenge with a Kirby game, you're looking at the wrong series. When I think of Kirby, I'm thinking of a game in which exploration and fun are the real point. Kirby, even at its hardest, is never all that hard, and that's fine. I love especially the early Kirbys where you search ever nook and cranny for interesting stuff. I think (at least from the videos I've seen for it) that Epic Yarn fits right in with these concepts. It's clearly a game meant to be looked at as much as anything, and given that it's Kirby, really, is someone looking at a Kirby game for hardcore platforming? You're almost guaranteed to be disappointed with that expectation, going all the way back to the NES.

All that said, I think that games don't always have to involve lives, which are at their heart a construct with roots in the desire to give a player a few chances to get to a certain goal (whether that's a high score or the next level or whatever) that ultimately comes from carnivals games, where you get X tries to knock over all of the bottles and win a prize.

For me personally, a lot of different kinds of games appeal to me, with a lot of different difficulty levels and reasons for playing. I certainly enjoy games here the challenge shepherds a player through the process of improvement, until a previously insurmountable goal is eventually in sight through perseverance-- many modern shooters follow this pattern (the Cave ones being a personal favorite), but games like Super Mario Galaxy do as well.

But I like that Mario games have for a while thrown away the idea that you get thrown back to the beginning of the game (that is to say level 1) if you lose all your lives-- I even wonder why we worry about lives in Mario games at all, when the challenge of the game is such that you're not going to get past level X if you're not skilled enough to do so, no matter how many lives you have. In the first Super Mario Bros, you could complete the game in a sitting, so beginning from level 1 and completing the game in an evening was not impossible, so starting the player over made some sense-- in this respect, SMB1 was a lot like a shooter. But these days, both saving progress and returning the player to the beginning of a level (or a checkpoint even) makes sense give the scale of the game. Plus, starting with Super Mario World, exploration suddenly became a part of Mario games, so there was now a reason to want to replay a level within the framework of the rest of the game.

Wait, what was the point I was trying to make?

Well, I guess part of it is that I often wonder why we get caught up as game players with constructs like lives. We're no longer playing games in arcades (for the most part, and let's for the moment forget the nostalgia we feel for this loss), so why do we cling to so many of the trappings of arcade games, or even early console games? Granted, we do so because many of these things work, and in a lot of ways, some conventions are the things that make games what they are, but let's face it: we (meaning the video game industry) can do whatever we want in games, so why don't we more often*?

*okay, I know a lot of the reason has to do with money, especially if we're specifically talking about giants like Nintendo-- who in particular will almost always serve up exactly what we're expecting, maybe with a twist or two. But what about indie game development? Why are there so many platformers and arena shooters made by indie game devs**?

**this isn't to say there isn't innovation at all, but I'm always wondering why there isn't EVEN MORE.





Nobinobita
829th Post



user profileedit/delete message

Red Carpet Regular Member+



"Re(1):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Tue 19 Oct 16:57post reply

Great points all around! (hooray!)

quote:

SuperfluousMoniker: "I don't care how many stars you give it, a game in which you cannot die, a game with no challenge, does not intrigue me. Would you feel good after winning a fight with a paraplegic? That's probably how I would feel after beating this game."



I just wanted to comment on this sentiment. How is Kirby's Yarn any different from XYZ shooter, where you can recover your life by hiding for a few seconds, and even if you die, you just respawn where you were maybe 10 to 30 seconds ago? (I'm looking at you Call of Duty: Modern Warfare)

I think it all has to do with expectations.

Kirby is cute and fluffy and accessible, so it's easier to feel coddled with those visuals. Beyond that, Kirby is a 2d platformer, which is perhaps the most traditional of all game formats. It's the kind of game we most associate with classic gaming elements such as lives, and it's also the kind of game we tend to expect a greater challenge from.

FPS games don't really get as much flack because people are conditioned to expect much less innovation from them. They've evolved so gradually that it's hard to pinpoint exactly when gamers got exonerated from the threat of death.






www.art-eater.com

sfried
581th Post



user profileedit/delete message

New Red Carpet Member



"Re(4):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Tue 19 Oct 17:26:post reply

I've just played a bit more Epic Yarn, and the game actually has quite a bit of challenge! It wasn't the fear of death that was part of the tension, but the fear of getting hit.

The game does a good job of assuming you're playing for score almost immediately. While the Sonic-style collection-spilling give you leeway, it does notably deduct from your overall score, especially when you have already exceeded the requirements for a Gold medal. The game keeps tabs on your excess beads, or "Streaks", for each level, and I believe there's a nice bit of leading you into a sort of self-imposed challenge after they display your high score (there's always label it as "New" if it's the highest so far), which is what I wanted to get to in a moment.

The game does a very good job of enticing players to go for Gold Medals and collect everything, since this not only unlocks extra goodies like the soundtrack from the music test but also extra levels. Now these levels are perhaps where the game really shines. One of them is a nice autoscrolling level that involves the UFO/Saucer form. Every time you "abduct" 3 or more enemies (you can only "abduct" things below you), you can discharge one screen-clearing attack. Now the catch is, being an autoscrolling level, the amount of enemies they dish at you is actually carefully controlled, therefore if you discharge at the wrong moment, you could be caught without an attack to a)clear yourself of certain obstacles, and thus get hit/lose gems b)trigger enemies/objects to drop their gems/beads for a higher score. In a way, it feels very much like Ikaruga's risk/reward scenario where you could clear the screen with your charge attack, but it might leave you with a harder chance to chain/score if done incorrectly. One "boss", in particular, requires you to use falling spiked-seeds as "ammunition" for your discharge (kinda like Whispy Woods). The trouble is that you must manuver yourself above the particulate matter before it disipates on the ground. I found myself being reminded of certain sections of Cotton (the SUCCESS game, not the fabric). It's kind of easy to get hit and spill a crapton of beads during these segments, and anytime I do, I almost immediately restart the level as if it were some sort of shmup.





[this message was edited by sfried on Tue 19 Oct 19:44]

Amakusa
864th Post



user profileedit/delete message

Red Carpet Regular Member++



"Re(5):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Wed 20 Oct 16:02post reply

quote:
I've just played a bit more Epic Yarn, and the game actually has quite a bit of challenge! It wasn't the fear of death that was part of the tension, but the fear of getting hit.



This is pretty much the only reason I play shmups anymore, especially after unlocking 'unlimited credits'. If you give a compelling incentive to not get hit, you automatically challenged the player to not get hit, but it's also up to the player whether they want to step up to that or take on a mild inconvenience on their way to the end.





I found Kagami's sword in a junk yard.
I will rule the world and find that truly good cup of coffee.
"Dink-a-dink-a-dink-a-do."

Spoon
2033th Post



user profileedit/delete message

Platinum Carpet V.I.P- Board Master





"Re(2):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Thu 21 Oct 05:16post reply

quote:

How is Kirby's Yarn any different from XYZ shooter, where you can recover your life by hiding for a few seconds, and even if you die, you just respawn where you were maybe 10 to 30 seconds ago? (I'm looking at you Call of Duty: Modern Warfare)



Separating the respawn thing from the regenerating life thing is important, because they really are two importantly different things.

In older FPS games which were full of health pickups and the like, there was this idea of surviving through the level. Health was limited, you were bound to get hurt, and you had to be careful of limiting the damage you took and you might even start to become mindful of not picking up health pickups (because they might heal like 25 health while you've only taken 10 damage, so wait until you've taken at least 25 damage to pick them up!).

With regenerating health, the emphasis is taken from surviving the level to surviving the moment/encounter.

Think about what the difference is in Resident Evils: in RE2, the zombies will be back every time you re-enter the scene, it doesn't pay to shoot or fight every zombie you meet. The game isn't so generous with ammo/health drops that you can afford to do so. In RE4 and beyond, monsters that reset with each re-entry of the zone are rare. Whenever you enter a place with enemies to fight, your first option is to kill everything. Sure ammo drops and the like are also much more common which helps reinforce this, but there's a conscious shift towards surviving this zone rather than surviving this game. That's not to say that I didn't hoard ammo and items like a pack rat in RE4 and 5, but I felt much more comfortable with using my toys than I ever did in any previous RE.

Regenerating health helps deal with stalemate zones where nobody wants to cross for fear of taking damage. It's particularly relevant to cover based games because you can hop from one zone of safety to the next and know that as long as you can hold each zone of safety, you can steadily progress towards the enemy. You don't have to deal with being lame ducked of not having enough health in total to cross X different open areas. That it enables and encourages different approaches to fights I think makes it ok. It makes damage situations differentiated between instances that you can shrug off and ones which are genuinely life-threatening (as weird and as punny as that sounds).

I really dislike the first Gears of War for a variety of reasons, but Horde mode in Gears 2 manages to take so many things I loathe about Gears and makes it an intense and enjoyable experience. If your team fails, the entire level is restarted. All of what the game aims to achieve in its combat and feel happens in Horde mode. I normally hate how even basic grunts take a ton of bullets to kill in Gears 1, but in Horde mode they take even more to kill... but it's fine! The dynamics of positional fortification and control, cover hopping, the scramble of dealing with enemies that have broken through... all of it comes together in that mode, and without regenerating health, I think it would be a much more stunted and frustrating experience.

------

Another way to look at it is PC games have had quicksave/anywhere save/load for the longest time, and yet FPS games still managed to be interesting experiences. We could abuse the system as much as we wanted to, and I'd often save a helluva lot, but anybody that has ever been really sucked into a single player experience on one of those games will attest to how long they went without saving, and how infuriated they were when they died and realized how far back ago they had saved. Being able to save anywhere has the disadvantage of giving the players a powerful security blanket, but that also frees players to experiment. I really enjoyed being able to try a dozen or more different ways around a given situation in Thief or in Far Cry, and without the ability to save anywhere, I'd approach things in a more conservative and cookie-cutter way. It's nice that you don't always succeed, because that encourages you to try to do things differently. At the same time, you are nigh-infinitely empowered to try again and again from nearly any point you wish.

------

Let's go to something else entirely:
Romancing SaGa.

There is no concept of "MP" in the game. "HP" is rather more like shields or armor than in other games. There are the more persistent stats of LP, weapon durability, and in Minstrel Song, field skills. But in a given monster encounter, if you are going to win it without too much trouble, you just roll right along: HP is always refilled to full after a fight, and your action points always start at whatever set value they start at.

You can also quicksave anywhere in Minstrel Song.

-----

Checkpointing plays into the question of what it is that the player is supposed to be trying to survive, and how they should be trying to survive it. If you had a game where in a given level health never gets restored and death means a trip back to the start, then the game is testing a different kind of mastery and set of tactics from having regenerating health coupled with checkpoints before the start of every fight.

This is getting really long, so I think I'll stop here.

Actually, I'll leave one other thought:
Defense of the Ancients doesn't have an HP/LP system, (it just uses HP), but how healing is handled in the game is very important and very interesting. The significance of having even a constant 2HP/s regeneration (even when characters start with a max HP in the hundreds!) is of tremendous tactical importance! Maybe somebody else who plays who cares to would elaborate more on this.





Tai-Pan
489th Post



user profileedit/delete message

Gold Customer


"Re(3):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Thu 21 Oct 06:18post reply

Very Very nice Spoon.





"Those who follow the path of a warrior must be ready to die in order to stand for one's convictions live for one's convictions die for one's convictions"

karasu99
452th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: robotchris
XBL: robotchris
Wii: n/a

Gold Customer


"Re(4):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Thu 21 Oct 06:29post reply

quote:
Very Very nice Spoon.



Yes, this thread is a really interesting read!





badoor
151th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: BadoorSNK
XBL: BadoorSNK
Wii: n/a

Regular Customer

"Re(5):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Thu 21 Oct 10:12post reply

quote:
Very Very nice Spoon.

Yes, this thread is a really interesting read!

Agreed.





sfried
582th Post



user profileedit/delete message

New Red Carpet Member



"Re(3):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Thu 21 Oct 15:37post reply

quote:
Spoon's long discussion about health and recovery
It's nice to see this thread yield some interesting discussion about the dynamics of health and the downsides or benefits of each system. It reminds me of that whole interview with those producers of Starcraft II mentioning about "hard counters" with leaving more clearcut decisions between a win or lose condition, trying to alleviate the problem with players usings just vast numbers to their advantage instead of tactics.

Moving back to Epic Yarn, though, I feel it realy does a good job of giving intermediate players a stepladder to more advanced gameplay tactics. As I mentioned earlier, there's a gem counter which is used as the basis of your score. Similar to Yoshi's Island, there are some items which play a part of a roulette game at the end that could potentially boost your score. Now what's neat is that in the case of some of the bonus stages (particularly the auto scrolling ones), gems become rather scarce and you're forced to rely on every trick in the book to maximize your score (there are some enemies which you can hit together to acquire a few beads worth). This is where the risk/reward part comes into play, since there are also the Treasure items (which are actually also counted toward your score separately) that you have to collect, and it is not uncommon for these auto scrolling segments to split into two halves with an upper and lower portion. On one hand, the roulette parts can help boost your score at the end because of the scarcity of gems, but the other hand you need to collectables as part of your end tally. The real gist is making the player prioritize one feasable goal (get all treasure and then worry about gems later), and work on improving their techniques with their character. What's really nice is that all the techniques are already something you have learned from previous levels, which sorta ties to the whole Punch Out discussion I mentioned earlier.

I could also go into more detail about how the other levels also remind me of Yoshi's Island, but I don't want to deviate too much from the discussions made. I know karasu and Spoon already made far better examples and points about risk reward.





Nobinobita
831th Post



user profileedit/delete message

Red Carpet Regular Member+



"Re(3):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Sat 23 Oct 12:24post reply

Spooooooon!!!

That was awesome.

Among many other gems, you raise a great point about PC games always letting you save and restart anywhere anytime, yet that never undermined the overall impact of many great titles. I'm surprised that I've never heard that brought up before in game difficulty discussions.






www.art-eater.com

Loona
349th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: IkariLoona
XBL: n/a
Wii: n/a

Bronze Customer


"Re(4):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Tue 26 Oct 01:33post reply

I'm not sure if the Kirby mentioned in the thread is by Sakurai, but I figure this might help illustrate the kind of thinking behind it.
I love that Nintendo bothers to make and publish these conversations on the processes behind some of their games.


When I 1st came across this thread I recalled that the very 1st game where Wario was playable on the Gameboy didn't allow him to die or something (he was, after all, the final boss in Super Mario Land 2, the big bad guy thing had to carry over into a playable experience somehow).
I actually got to play that game, but it was so long ago I don't remember the details - I do recall, however, that at the end you'd get a castle for your troubles, and the better you did during the game the better it ended up looking, so some scoring system, not actual progress throughout it, was the game's "carrot".

I prefer it that way - If I'm paying for a game, I want to see all of if without being too hampered by the designer's experiments with creative sadism. And a way to review all the cutscenes later anytime I want also helps, if applicable - I often play for the plot.





"Beat the machine that works in your head!" - Guano Apes "Open Your Eyes"

karasu99
459th Post



user profileedit/delete message

PSN: robotchris
XBL: robotchris
Wii: n/a

Gold Customer


"Re(5):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Tue 26 Oct 05:19post reply

quote:

When I 1st came across this thread I recalled that the very 1st game where Wario was playable on the Gameboy didn't allow him to die or something (he was, after all, the final boss in Super Mario Land 2, the big bad guy thing had to carry over into a playable experience somehow).
I actually got to play that game, but it was so long ago I don't remember the details - I do recall, however, that at the end you'd get a castle for your troubles, and the better you did during the game the better it ended up looking, so some scoring system, not actual progress throughout it, was the game's "carrot".

I prefer it that way - If I'm paying for a game, I want to see all of if without being too hampered by the designer's experiments with creative sadism. And a way to review all the cutscenes later anytime I want also helps, if applicable - I often play for the plot.



The Wario you're mentioning is I think the one for Gameboy Advance-- I think. I'm almost positive that the first Wario game had lives just like a Mario game. Someone tell me if I'm remembering this wrong. But, using whatever game that was as an example, I think it was an interesting experiment with progression and limits to it as far as platformers go.

A lot of indie platformers have played with similar ideas in recent years, usually by making the game's level progression pretty brutal-- short but crazily hard levels, with infinite lives-- whereas usually the issue in that Wario game when you died is you lost your powerup, preventing you from progressing further due to a door or passageway through which you can only pass if you have that certain powerup. Super Meat Boy comes to mind, with its frustrating puzzle-like levels. Karoshi is one that springs to mind. It's worth a look-- not only are the levels often pretty tough play-wise, the designer has also played with some of the stodgy conventions of the platformer genre in sometimes extremely weird ways.

Looks like I'll be getting Epic Yarn soon-- it looks just gorgeous!





sfried
585th Post



user profileedit/delete message

New Red Carpet Member



"Re(5):Kirby and difficulty levels: A discussi" , posted Tue 26 Oct 14:42post reply

quote:
I'm not sure if the Kirby mentioned in the thread is by Sakurai, but I figure this might help illustrate the kind of thinking behind it.
I love that Nintendo bothers to make and publish these conversations on the processes behind some of their games.
Sakurai has a very interesting development philosophy, however the game in question was not developed by him nor his team but rather Good-Feel, the same developers in charge of making Wario Land: Shake It!/The Shake Dimension. For their junior outing, it seems to be their solid hit so far (As I recall, Wario Land didn't fare so well).

One of the intersting things is, despite not being developed by Sakurai, it still has that same kind feel and approach to it as if it was made by him or his development team. I'm not sure if it can be attributed to the fact they used an inexperienced playtester for determining which parts were fun or not, but the game does have that cycling of elements in it so I guess it might be different means to achieving the same desired results in ensuring the "carrot" (game incentive) looked "tasty" (appealing to the novice as well as the average player).