: Games Don't Punish Me For Dying, And That's Fine

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Games Don't Punish Me For Dying, And That's Fine

I know video games are easier today. A lot easier.

And I do believe that the "mainstream effect" has resulted in a slew of blockbuster games that don't require much practice to play and complete; hell, you can blaze through most of them without any issue whatsoever. And that's the point, of course. If you want a bigger slice of the consumer pie, you had best cater to the masses...which means dumber, faster, and easier.

I'm aware that a lot of gamers my age are annoyed about this. They just hate that games like Dark Souls are few and far between when they used to be the norm. It drives them nuts that many of the most acclaimed and most popular titles today are indeed very easy, even by 10-year-old standards (forget about the impossible difficult of two and three decades ago). However, while I understand what they're saying, I really don't care that I'm not punished for dying. I don't. I don't know about you but I was not a fan of dying a million times in the "good ol' days," nor was I all that keen on the idea of playing a level over and over and over before I could beat it. I will understand the mentality; the indomitable spirit needed to overcome these trials. I've beaten some very difficult games in my day, after all, so I understand the motivation and I too savored the taste of hard-won victories.

But I'm past that. Let's just say I've grown out of it. Yes, most games just put me a few steps away from where I died, I didn't lose anything in my inventory, there's no in-game metric that took a hit, etc. Whatever. It's still annoying to die and I really try not to die, so it's not like this ease of play has turned me into a free-wheeling, throw-caution-to-the-wind type of player. I never was that way before (couldn't afford to be with most older games) and I'm not now. I just don't see the need to be punished beyond the fact that I have to try again. I'm glad there are games out there for those who wish to test their mettle and skills, I really am. And the success of the Dark Souls franchise proves that there are plenty such players still in existence. But listen: Don't try and tell me those games are "better" just because they're harder.

I'm sick of that elitist garbage. Difficulty and quality are mutually exclusive, my friends, as are specific gameplay mechanics and structures (i.e., saying a linear construct is "inferior" is equally moronic). Video games, like all forms of entertainment, are about fun. If you get off on punishing yourself, that's cool, I've got no issue with that. Did it myself many a time. But don't stand there and proclaim your superiority - or the supposed inferiority of games that don't punish death - simply due to your personal preferences. That's all I'm saying.

3/4/2016 Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (18 posts)

Friday, March 04, 2016 @ 11:00:51 PM

I just don't have fun when a game isn't punishing. I like having to actually think about what I do and pay the consequence of being too hasty or button mashy.

Easy games whether on a console, pc or mobile are just boring to me. They feel borderline insulting, like they don't trust me to do anything without an obnoxious tutorial, or they make the game so easy I might as well just watch a movie.

I don't however think it makes me superior in any way. I just like the challenge the present, and overcoming them feels good. Just like in real life when you can't do something but slowly over time you work and work and you overcome the hurdle it is rewarding.

I do find some games very hard and frustrating, but it is only when I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I think the brilliant thing about the Souls games is that they, even if it is cryptic tell you what to do.

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Friday, March 04, 2016 @ 11:20:03 PM

Tutorials these days are too much man. "Use the left stick to look"

Jigga please!

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Friday, March 04, 2016 @ 11:19:15 PM

I don't think they should be overly punishing, but if I die and just pick up where I left off then where's the incentive to be careful, sneak, aim for the right shots, make the right decisions?

The whole intensity of a live or die game goes out the window if there isn't something to make you want to not die other than your ego.

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Friday, March 04, 2016 @ 11:50:03 PM

With over 40 years of gaming under my belt, I never minding dying a few times here & there.

But I've never had much patience so what I dislike the most is constantly dying on & on & on, only to be sent way back to where I started at the very beginning again over a couple hours ago & losing everything I worked so hard to earn & gain.

I felt like a masochist every time I tried to play Demon Souls & just gave up on it, & it's case became a 5 1/2 X 6 3/4 dust magnet.

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 12:38:09 AM

Definitely agree with the article. There are better ways to give players value now than to set them back every time they die. Used to be there was only one way to get things done, so it kind of made sense to set people back a bit for failure, but now it just stifles experimentation within the game.

Every game should have save-anywhere checkpoints, or follow Chrono Cross's lead and let you run away from any battle, even bosses. Let me experiment and have fun and if I want a bigger challenge, I'll save less often.

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 12:55:24 AM

Current gen only the souls games are like that, also it's isn't like if the fanbase of those games are cocky, it's just that we have more drive to accept challenges and get entertainment doing them, those games are not good just for the difficult per se but because it's part of a design that use it and works great.

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 5:31:32 AM

You know, I find it kinda funny, that this article is about the ease of games, and the lack of consequence from dying/failing, and yet, specifically mentions Dark Souls as an alternative...

I mean, Souls games are right up there with the rest of modern games, in having zero consequence for dying. Okay, so, you died, and now you have to start that particular area over again, and you lost your bank of XP/money. Big deal. For one, all of the souls/blood/etc. can easily be regained with a couple minutes of grinding through easy-mode chump enemies. And if you were walking around with a fat stack, then you really didn't have any intention of spending it, anyway, did you? And two: That area that you have to do all over again? It hasn't changed. Not one bit. All of the enemies, traps, items, everything, all in the exact same spots. Even the bosses in the games are boiled down to telegraphs and patterns. And if you smash your head against a brick wall for long enough, eventually, one of them will break down. (Basically, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and nothing changes, you're either going to learn how to overcome it, or you are incapable of learning.) So, in reality, even in the reigning king title of 'Hard Games' there is no consequence for dying.

I've said it ever since Demon's Souls, and I'll vehemently stand by it: The Souls games are not 'difficult' games. However, that does not mean that they aren't good games, by any means. I'm just sick and tired of people telling me how hard they are. Fun fact: Miyazaki, nor FromSoft, themselves, have never said anything about the Souls' games difficulty. All of the 'Hard Hype' was started by the masses of people who picked up Demon's Souls, expecting it to be a typical action-RPG, and instead got more on the action part than they bargained for, thus feeling that the game was more difficult than something like Kingdom Hearts. I don't even think Atlus ever tried to sell Demon's Souls on the "Difficult=Fun" angle. Bamco sure as Hell has, though...

/rant over

As for my own stance on games being easier: I'll be honest, I don't mind an easy game, as long as it's solid gameplay, has a good story, and at least lets me feel like I'm putting forth some amount of effort to play it. That said, I have noticed a very large shift in my own gaming habits, over the past number of years.

From NES days, all the way through the first year of owning a PS3, I stuck to single player titles. I didn't dare touch multiplayer, outside of split-screen with a friend sitting next to me. However, near the end of the PS2, moving into the PS3 era, I began to find myself unsatisfied with games, as a whole. I was burning through new games within a few days, with only a few exceptions, such as Monster Hunter (Unite) and the occasional JRPG like FF12 or Rogue Galaxy. To be honest, many, many games left me feeling rather sore about shelling out the $50-60, for less than a week before the game had nothing left to offer.

Then, a friend suggested I try something new, and pick up an online game. Enter, MAG. MAG was not my first experience with an FPS. Not by a long shot. However, aside from playing Unreal Tournament or AVP2 on a friend's PC every so often, I had never ventured into a competitive, online game, before MAG. And, that's when everything shifted, for me. I started having fun again, looking forward to coming home from work, to sit down and play a game, rather than just watching the same old stupid TV show re-runs. And, it wasn't until just a few years ago, that I actually realized what had happened.

After a few years of jumping from MAG to Bad Company 2, to BF3, then branching out to other games with a competitive portion, such as the afore-mentioned Souls titles, I came to realize that my game library had gotten rather one-sided, toward online games. Sure, I played all the fancy single player experiences, but unless they were games that I really, really liked, such as NeiR or Disgaea, I didn't buy them until they hit the bargain bin at Walmart, or I settled to rent them instead. I decided not to spend needless amounts of money on something that I was going to finish in a few days, then never touch again. I mean, even though I have maybe 500 hours spent, in total, for all the Souls games, combined, maybe 40 of those hours were spent on single player, running through the story with a new build, to get to the weapons/level I wanted, before jumping into PvP, and leaving Gwyn to sit at his little campfire forever.

The thing is, competition challenges me, where most single player experiences don't anymore. I get an actual, tangible sense of accomplishment, from winning a match against another, living player. It's not a matter of showing dominance, or stretching out that e-peen. It's the fact that I actually have to think, act, and react accordingly, or I do lose. And while, even online, there is no consequence for failing, apart from pride lost, there is a sense of fulfillment, that simply isn't there in the story mode, these days.

And, unfortunately, with all this "Accessibility" getting tossed around, that same sense of fulfillment is probably not long for the online world, either...

So, I guess, tl;dr:
Games being easy isn't a bad thing, as long as they're still an enjoyable experience from either the story standpoint, or the gameplay/mechanics standpoint. However, games being easier does, in fact, mean that I don't spend full price on them anymore, except in special, specific cases (Only 2016 game I plan on getting at $60 is Star Ocean 5...).

Also, I really wish people would stop pointing at Souls, as an example of a 'difficult game.'

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 6:12:51 AM

" waves hands in air "

Preach brother, preach!

That was a well thought out post. I am VERY similar to you with how you view multiplayer. I still enjoy a lot of single player games but heavily lean towards multiplayer for both enjoyment and difficulty.


To the article,

I have no problem so long as there is a balance of casual games along side more in depth games. Too many of either one leads me to a burnout mentality really fast and then i find myself not wanting to game at all.

Simple games like inFamous i really enjoyed, whereas i found no enjoyment from Uncharted as it was far to simplistic. More in depth games like Dust514 or currently Payday 1 & 2 i love, but i don't enjoy the Souls games as much as i would've when i was younger. With age i have come to realize what i like in games and that has led to me buying very few games that i regret buying.

I also haven't encountered that many elitists about difficulty either, more just players that want more challenges and less hand holding.

Last edited by Rogueagent01 on 3/5/2016 6:16:12 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 10:26:10 AM

"Okay, so, you died, and now you have to start that particular area over again, and you lost your bank of XP/money."

Care to mention another game where this - or something worse - happens when you die?

And this isn't even all that happens. In Demon's Souls, death meant wandering around as basically a ghost or undead version of yourself with half your health, which you had to survive with until you could retrieve your body.

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 3:33:31 PM

You missed the point, entirely, Ben. If losing a bunch of XP, in a game where XP is literally infinitely obtainable, is punishment, then I'd hate so see the reaction to older games that sent you back to the title screen upon game-over...

Simply put, if you're walking around, in a Souls game, with a huge bank of souls, say an arbitrary number like 200k, then you either had no intention of spending those souls, or it was maybe just enough for your next level, which, at that amount, you'd already be high enough level, where one more isn't going to make any sort of real difference. And, I still don't see the loss of health for being in 'dead form' as a detriment. I see it as the norm for the game. If the player didn't learn to not get hit, especially against enemies/rooms that were exactly the same every time, then that was on them for being unable/unwilling to learn and adapt, and not the game being too punishing.

Besides, if you're really having trouble with an area, you can just go back to an earlier place and grind up to a higher level, and come back later. Sure, it takes more time, but it is an option presented to every player. If they chose not to take it, then, again, that's on them for trying to rush, and not the game being harder.

In my NES days, I played a butt-load of Megaman. Now, sure, if you died in Megaman, and got a game-over, you didn't really lose any progress. But, one, after one death of your allotted 3 or 4 per try, you still lost all of the special weapon meter that you had used. And, two, there was no way to grind and get stronger, stat-wise. What you had was what you had. Only way you could tip the scales was to maybe go beat a different level, and get a new weapon that maybe made it easier to kill an enemy above you, or something of the like.

Or, maybe we'll go something a little more recent, and even stick with FromSoftware titles: Armored Core. From AC1, all the way through Last Raven (9 titles, if you exclude spin-offs like Ninebreaker and Formula Front) there was a finite amount of money that you could earn, until you finished the game, and unlocked all the missions for Free Play. After every mission, you would earn an amount of credit, with a cost deducted for the amount of ammo you used and the amount of damage you took. If you failed a mission, or performed particularly badly, you ended up actually losing money. It was, in fact, possible to go into debt, in those games. And, if you don't have the money, you don't get to buy the newer, better parts. So, in short, if you played badly enough, you could make it to the later portion of the game, and be completely screwed, because your build wasn't able to finish the missions you were given, and you didn't have enough to buy a better loadout. Barring backtracking via loading your save file again (which was a mixed bag, if you ended up saving before you realized that you were heading into dire financial straits), your only options were to either keep trying, and get better at that mission with what you had, or just give up, and start all over again.

I still stand by my stance that the Souls games are only 'difficult' because the player makes it so, by either not utilizing all the options they have, refusing to learn, or simply by a self-imposed 'challenge run.' The games, out of the packaging, are not designed to be difficult, and they are not difficult, if you take the time to comprehend them.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 4:29:37 PM

Dude, stop blathering. I didn't miss the point; YOU missed the point. Whether or not you think something is hard, or your explanation as to why it's actually not hard and everyone else is just wrong, is all irrelevant.

I asked you to name a game that takes more away from you, or punishes you more than the Demon's Souls and Dark Souls games. And I'm obviously talking about big-budget, standard-issue titles in this scenario. I also never said the games in question were unfairly punishing, nor did I say they were harder than older games (of course, they're not).

You can try to convince everyone that in "reality," the Dark Souls games aren't hard because of this reason and that reason. The bottom line is they are, most people I know don't like them because they're far more punishing than most games, and that's just the simple fact of the matter. Telling someone they need to practice or "adapt" is precisely why you've missed the point: That is NOT entertainment for everyone. That's a chore for many, if not most.

And yes, that translates to "hard" despite your rationale. It has nothing to do with "comprehending" what's in the package and it's insulting to imply that those who don't like such games just can't "understand" them. That's crap. This isn't rocket science, my friend. It doesn't require much in the way of comprehension; it requires a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error, and yeah, you are indeed punished when you die. They take things away and they put you a long ways back; my point is that few, if any, major titles do this and that point stands. Obviously.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 3/5/2016 4:31:20 PM

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 7:55:26 PM

Saying the Souls games aren't difficult is just being silly. They're hard, punishing even, at times. The difference between them and the cheap shit 'hardcore' gamers tout as examples of 'real' games is that the Souls games are fair. You rarely feel like you've suffered a cheap death.

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Sunday, March 06, 2016 @ 11:33:29 AM

I agree with Gripheenix, the souls games are not that hard. Especially if you played a lot of the harder NES and SNES games.

I don't see why you had to get aggressive with him Ben, he isn't blathering he is giving examples to support his claim which is what rational people do.

While the souls games do take more away from you than most modern games I don't think that should be an indication of it being difficult. Every game has slid way towards being insultingly easy.

If the souls games were released during the PS1 or PS2 era it would fit in a lot better. For example, a lot of old JRPGs dungeons had really spread out save points, if you died you lost everything, Star Ocean 3 had pretty terrible spread out save points, so did Xenosaga.

In Tenchu 1, 2 and 3 if you died you had to start the whole mission over again there were no check points.

Your point is valid Ben that souls games punish you more than any mainstream title does, that is a fact. However Gripheenix point of people thinking it is too hard because they don't comprehend the systems is also valid.

I got my girlfriend who isn't a gamer by any means to beat the asylum demon in about 2 tries only because the first time she messed up the plunge attack. I told her exactly how the stamina bar worked, why you shouldn't button mash, and gave her some other tips and she was fine.

The game requires patience more than trial and error. Most people if not all people who I hear complain about souls difficulty button mash, because they panic.


I agree with both of you and think that it is true that souls games are the hardest "mainstream" games on the market, but I also agree with Gripheenix that they really aren't hard in general and most people who find them hard just don't have patience to learn the gameplay systems.

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 9:21:12 AM

In the digital era we live in, I say: good riddance! When I was a kid (Im 40+) I was lucky to play one or two games in a single month. Now with the avaibility of thousands of games at a button click on multiple devices, we want a quick experience or a rich and robust game. Thats why In mot a fan anymore of games that you constantly die and some of them even take things already won from you. I am choosing to skip those now since I dont have the time with my life with kids to play those kind of punishing games.

Last edited by TheOldOne on 3/5/2016 9:21:53 AM

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 11:52:53 AM

I didn't mind dying in Resi Evil 4 because there was about 30 ways you could die in that game. The death scenes were brutal.

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Saturday, March 05, 2016 @ 2:29:07 PM

Game variety. That's all I ask of the industry and it does deliver.

It caters to all sorts of tastes. You find challenge although thats subjective to each individual, variety of genres, linear or open, story driven complex or basic, long and short, foreign or domestic, etc., etc.

Glad its that way and hope it never changes.

Its entertainment! And the more that can enjoy it the better for the industry. More players, more developers, more variety.

Keep playing!

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Banky A
Sunday, March 06, 2016 @ 6:31:25 AM

Just let me skip the damn cinematics, dialogue, backtracking, sequences leading up to the section I want to keep restart.

Goddamn that's all I ask, and you can make a game as ridiculous as you want.

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Sunday, March 06, 2016 @ 10:41:00 PM

A easy way to end all the arguing is to actually include a excellent options menu where you can change the difficulty to however you want.

For example I liked how Boktai gave you the option to have puzzles easy and action hard or vice versa. Bravely default allows you to turn off random encounters. Current gen fire emblem allows you to turn off perma death and even change difficulty mid game. You can make it where in xcom you only have 1 save that will autosave.

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