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Should Dying In A Game Have Bigger Consequences?

You hear it all the time: video game veterans tell you games where a lot harder "back in the day." Like, almost impossible.

And they were. The arcade was a business; they wanted your quarters, so there really wasn't any "beating" a game (although in some cases, it was possible). And that mentality leaked into the home consoles, so you got games like Contra that became downright infamous. And these days, the mainstream requires ease and accessibility, so things have changed.

But the question is, should there be bigger consequences when you die? In the old days, you had a certain number of lives and once they were gone, that was it. Of course, given these huge adventures of today, that mechanic really isn't logical; we absolutely have to resurrect and keep playing...if not, Skyrim would be hellish and impossible. In truth, most games would be unplayable. But sometimes, developers make things a little too easy, in that failure is almost meaningless.

Would we really alienate the causal gamers if the consequences were more dire? Probably. But it would also impart a great feeling of accomplishment and immersion, wouldn't it? Remember that white-knuckle sensation we all got when a game challenged us in every possible way, and death truly meant the end? Remember the sweaty palms and the quickened breathing? Our parents thought we might be having health difficulties. These days, that's kinda rare, as this venue has become more and more about general entertainment and pleasing the masses.

It's not so specified anymore; it's not only about catering to the hardcore and the dedicated. Millions upon millions have to find it accessible and fun and hence, we can't go nuts anymore. It just isn't feasible. That being said, the added immersion taken from a game that demands so much of you, that asks you to take big risks, must still be worth something. Maybe if more people experienced it, they'd be more inclined to try more challenging adventures. ...or maybe they'd just get frustrated and quit. I don't know.

It's an interesting question nonetheless. What do you say?

Tags: video games, gaming industry, gaming culture, game difficulty

12/27/2011 9:04:17 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (76 posts)

bigrailer19
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 9:36:34 PM
Reply

I liked when games were difficult, or more so than they are now. Contra is ridiculous and I downloaded mega man demo awhile ago and completely forgot how hard that was, at least compared to what we have now.

But, if there were bigger consequences for dying the story could take a hit, and the flow and pacing of the game could get frustrating as progression is what keeps gamers involved. I really like the way games are set up now, I don't see a need to punish players for not succeeding. In fact I really really enjoyed how PoP was set up in that you really couldn't die, I always felt involved in the game and the game felt very well paced because I was constantly moving forward. That won't work in all games nor do I suggest it be implemented in every game. I personally just, enjoyed the fluidity.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:10:52 PM

For some reason Mega Man 9 and 10 are ridicously hard. The previous weren't as hard. I can still pass the old ones with ease. It's just these newer ones that are insane. Contra on the other hand, I agree. I was actually playing Super C tonight on my Wii and I was having trouble to say the least.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:36:49 PM

Yea it was mega man 10 I tried and I actually didn't remember the others being that hard, but needless to say it was frustrating!

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johnld
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 2:13:05 AM

i tried that first megaman game that was released on psn, the demo for it. the whole damn time i was thinking it wasnt this hard when i played it before. i may have died more times than i did that demo than i did playing uncharted 2 on crushing. i had all megaman games for the nes but then when i moved i had to leave stuff behind. then my family followed and left all my nes and the games. now i dont know where they are anymore. i had all megamans, marios, metroid, double dragons, bucky o hare, contra and super c, and a bunch more i loved to play.

i dont know about contra, i didnt find them that hard. i can beat both contra and super s with the standard lives they gave me no problem. i think i memorized where i'm supposed to be. like that boss where you had just stand on the eagle or wings of the eagle on the floor and you can beat it easy. just jump over the projectiles and thats it. or that dragon looking boss where you shoot his "arms" then mouth. i just stand where those vertical pipes near his mouth and jump over projectiles again.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 5:03:54 PM

Buckey o hare was a wicked awesome NES game. I loved it.

Also an example of a hard game. I don't think I ever beat it... I kept dying at that high speed level when toads would leap and haul your ship down. It was pretty far into the game too.... wonder if I'd be able to beat it now on a ROM or something....

I loved the ability to switch characters to exploit different strengths.

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ZenChichiri
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 6:13:50 PM

I have a hard on for Megaman games, so the new ones didn't seem as hard for me. I periodically brush up on my Megaman playing ability. I managed to get the trophy for beating Megaman 10 without getting hit. Took me 2 nights of playing, but it was worth it!

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Warrior Poet
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 9:47:22 PM
Reply

By now I'm probably known around here for saying everything is too easy :P Even though I grew up on PS2 and GBA, I just naturally started playing harder games because I was playing classic games. New games are so afraid of the player straying off-course and not following the expected behavior that their behavior is restricted in a way that doesn't make sense. This even comes up in games I love like Zelda (Wait, I can bomb through solid rock and not this old wooden door?). Other times it takes the killing tube approach like FFXIII.

But I think in long adventure games like you're talking about, failure should always be an option. In the newly revealed Zelda timeline, Oricana splits into 3 different scenarios, one of which involves Ganon killing Link. But this doesn't happen in the game; it's impossible for the player to fail.

I think I'll have to invoke Valkyrie Profile (again). Sorry, but there are just sooo many fresh ideas in that game. Even though it's not incredibly hard, it is very possible for you to fail. You train your warriors for Ragnarok, and if they're not strong enough, you LOSE. You don't see the good ending. You don't save Asgard. Nope. Your game is just over.

Same with old-school strategy games like Romance Of The Three Kingdoms. If your strategy sucks, your coup can fail, your army can be routed, whatever. You can totally lose even if you play the game. I'm all for storytelling in games - a big fan, really - but when I play games like Uncharted I feel like they're really cool - graphics, music, one-liners, etc. - but I never feel like they're even challenging. Insultingly easy, almost. And I don't consider myself some super-elite gamer. I'm just conditioned for older stuff. And if I do end up getting blindsided by a missile or something, it's just...oh well. Spawn again. Not like Romance or Valkyrie Profile where I've lost some meaningful chunk of time and I have to rethink my whole game plan...not that I've ever lost Valkyrie Profile :P




I am talking about a certain kind of RPG or adventure game, though. The kind where you know what you're working for and how to do it. The kind that require forethought and maybe multiple approaches. Even games like Metroid have the option for failure, when the player simply can't figure out what to do. You really do feel helpless and alone on an alien world, especially when you have no idea what to do. That's one of the things that makes Metroid great.

Then we have platformers, shmups, one-on-one fighters, etc, where failing is another gameplay thing but the gameplay isn't really influenced by the story - besides, those can still be pretty difficult on their own. This is a different story entirely, though. Robotron and Uncharted aren't really comparable in that sense.

Anyway, yes - I think modern games should be harder. Modern casual players can stick with "easy" difficulty settings, if they even play the hardcore games - but the normal should always be an ample challenge. Did anyone else think "hard" in infamous was just embarrassingly easy? The only times I ever died was when a missile came out of nowhere and hit me in the face...

That's another issue, by the way. Random missiles and stuff are so beyond the player's control that the player feels cheated when they die that way - because they are, really. They had no chance to evade. Might work differently for multiplayer, though :)

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Jawknee
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:19:20 PM

At least in Zelda though if you die you have to start with minimal hearts if you just hit continue and no fairies and no potions of you used them. If you chose to quit you lose your progress if you failed to save before hand. I know you can just continue and look for hearts but if you play Hero Mode, you can't find hearts just anywhere so it makes it more challenging. I always save at the start of a dungeon and try to complete it without saving until right before the boss to give my self an extra challenge. Makes it more interesting for me.

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shadowscorpio
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:28:39 PM

@ W.P.

I take it you've indulged in games like Demon's Souls and Dark Souls? These gamse provide quite the challenge, hands down!

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Fane1024
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 5:08:18 AM

I have to disagree. IMO if I die and have to repeat a section of the game more than 3 times, that's a failure of the game design, not me. By that point, I have certainly figured out what it is that I need to do. If I can't just do it, that's bad design.

I don't object to harder modes for those who enjoy frustration, but I don't see any value in repeating the same actions over and over again. The character doesn't die in the story, so he shouldn't die when I play through it.

I would like to see more consequences for failure in games, though. Mission failure should mean mission failure, not another chance to get it right. Death should mean reloading a save, not a painless reset to the last checkpoint. But deaths should be rare and only due to player stupidity, not design rooted in quarter-sucking arcade games.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/28/2011 5:11:00 AM

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SoulController
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 7:51:07 AM

@Fane

That's exactly what Dark/Demon's Souls is. If you do something stupid or aren't careful, more than likely you'll die. So how is that a failure of game design? That same design is exactly why all of us are still gamers right?

While were on the subject, I still don't understand why some folks around here can't swing dark/demons souls. Yea I know everyone has their own taste but it has most of what makes rpgs so great, not to mention its addictive. Yes its necessary at times to use a strategy guide or wiki but so was FFVII if you wanted to find all of the materia & kill certain bosses

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:33:19 PM

Wait, what? If a problem challenges you and you have to try three different approaches, it's a design flaw? I really don't understand. That doesn't make any sense to me. Different players will react to the same situations differently...I might get it right the first try or it'll take me ten, depending on the problem.

It's not frustration I like. No one likes frustration. I like the challenge. Honing my skills...quick pattern recognition, solving complex puzzles, difficult battles, discovering secrets or logically deducing crimes, depending on the game. I really enjoy the more heady gaming. You'd think slaying the biggest dragon or assassinating the Emperor's sun or whatever WOULD be a difficult thing. Plus, the sense of victory is that much stronger.

I agree that poorly-made games that are hard for no reason or the wrong reasons suck. Nothing is worse. But if it's hard for the right reason, the difficulty is what gives you the opportunity to enjoy the game mechanics. Take a strategy RPG for example. You'll never use those obscure spells or conditional weapons if there's never a need. You can't enjoy an SRPG if there's not a ton of thinking and strategy required. Do you understand my point of view here?

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Fane1024
Thursday, December 29, 2011 @ 5:57:25 AM

@Soul

DS is probably the kind of "hard" that I wouldn't mind so much. I tend to be very cautious and methodical and might not die very often.

@WP

You did miss my point. I wasn't talking about trying different strategies. By my third attempt, I will usually have determined the correct strategy. What I hate is repeating exactly the same sequence of actions over and over because the margin of error is intentionally tight in order to "challenge" the player.

You criticised inFAMOUS because you didn't die a bunch of times. I objected because I don't see why anyone would expect--much less want--to die.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 12/29/2011 6:01:14 AM

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Oxvial
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 9:48:56 PM
Reply

Souls franchise has the perfect level of difficult, you die but learn and succeed.

One of the best moments of gaming in my life was when I defeated Tower Knight alone, no guides no multiplayer and was my second boss there c: .

Last edited by Oxvial on 12/27/2011 9:50:18 PM

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PoopsMcGee
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:01:50 PM

Same here for the Tower Knight! It felt real damn good...

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SoulController
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 7:53:08 AM

I screamed like a girl the first time I beat tower knight. Lol so satisfying

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Underdog15
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 1:39:57 PM

I beat him first try. But I was a magic user. Once I beat all his support, I was able to use cover up high to hide, then pop up and fire some magic his way. Other bosses that get on you quickly without a ton of cover were much tougher for me as a magic user.

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Oxvial
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 3:02:22 PM

Yes being a magic user made the match with Tower Knight different, I was full melee and when I won it was so epic that I couldn't help but put the controller down and make a dance...I'm sure I looked stupid xD

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Temjin001
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 9:53:12 PM
Reply

Yeah, back then was all about playing for points. People would brag about hi-scores. In fact, it doesn't feel all that different from guys who brag about trophies and acheivements.

I see games back then as much more simple. Popular entertaining themes overlayed simple games of timing or chance, often times exciting by way of competitive play. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Double Dragon, Contra and more could be likened to many of the kind of movies like Predator, and Speilberg stuff etc. I think death just meant game over and time to put in more coins because a player failed to overcome obstacles. Obstacles that with greater attention to precision could be overcome, in turn, netting that higher score.
These days in more experience forward games, it seems obstacles are there more to stimulate a response from the user, and not so much to obtain competitive gain. That is, games of this nature need to have handholding and carefully tuned difficulty so a player whose engaging the game for more generalized entertainment purposes doesn't feel too frustrated by failure.

eh, anyway, I'll stop here. I have to constrain my mind or I could think about this all night.

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Rogueagent01
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 10:02:39 PM
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I agree and disagree completely. The hardcore can be catered to at the same time as the casual. Its just that the developers don't program the games properly. When I first read about the "Hardcore" mode in fallout New Vegas I was smiling from ear to ear, then I played it and found that Bethesda's idea of hardcore was a joke.

I believe it is very simple to make a game accessible to both types of gamers. A game like Sacred 2 is an example of catering to both. On the lower difficulty levels the game is accessible to every level of gamer, but when you get up to Platinum and Niob level only hardcore RPG'ers stand a chance at completeing the game. Unreal games are another franchise that caters to both, on the higher difficulties you have to have a complete understanding of your surroundings and have lightning fast reflexes otherwise game over.

If developers would just take their time when putting these games together they could easily make almost every game out there fun for all types of players. Yet in todays day and age we "have" to cater to those who have little skill in gaming, thus dumbing down games in general for the rest of us, in which we hardcore players have become the minority.

I want Fallouts and Elder Scrolls to have a option for a one death type of play. That would be the only way I would play, every single decision you made would be a nail-biter and almost literally scare the crap out of you. Heavy Rain took this approach if you made poor decisions your game was OVER in just a few hours and it was great. Demon's Souls was another die enough and you'll regret it because the game the bosses difficulty increased slightly each time you died, again great job!

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firesoul453
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 10:10:24 PM
Reply

Ya I've noticed that.


But thing is, people rather a games be too easy than too hard

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Amnesiac
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 10:30:12 PM
Reply

Sure- I agree with all of you. I've always wanted games I play to change with the difficulty setting. So if I were to play a game on hard as opposed to say beginner I should get a different storyline or a harder game that has been built from the ground up around the desired difficulty-unlike the way it is now:
{ easy }you take less damage/ things die easy
{medium} you take more damage/things a tad harder to kill
{hard} you take the most damage/things are harder to kill.
How fun it would be to play a game but are given 3 different stories that are all intertwined because of the difficulty setting?

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FM23
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 10:43:05 PM

Impossible. Too many resources needed to pull that off...plus I dont wanna miss out on story pieces

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FM23
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 10:39:28 PM
Reply

Personally...I use to hate arcade games due to the limited lives, but those games have nothing similiar to todays modern design. Today we have experiences, not simple win or lose type games minus multiplayer. With that said, Demons/Dark Souls embodies the death with consequence principle, but I dont need every game to play like this. If so, I wouldn't even care to play games anymore. Not enough time in the day to dedicate to trial and error gameplay. Im young...I aint trying to be in the house all day playing the same level over and over....lol I did beat both Demon Souls and Dark Souls, but both came during times where I was either unemployed or had no other games to play. Games are enjoyable and I'd rather keep it that way. Most games are challenging enough to be rewarding except Assissin Creed....easist game ever made.

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Fane1024
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 5:17:05 AM

...except the fight against the 12 (?) templars. That was ridiculous, especially considering the rest of the game.

p.s. The ease is one of the reasons I rate the AC games so highly.

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:37:45 PM

It's not like games back then weren't "experiences." Everything's an experience. Being difficult for all the right reasons can be really enjoyable, anyway. If you took the time and effort to beat Dark Souls you must have liked it, right?

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SmokeyPSD
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:03:53 PM
Reply

This is something which I think really is a let down of modern gaming. I would go even further and say it's rare that you feel a real consequence of your actions in a game at all too.

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:41:01 PM

I agree completely here. Games with great stories nowadays tend to take control away from the player because they're afraid of them going off course. I LOVE stories in games, so I'm not completely against this sometimes necessary evil. I just wish there was a better way. I just wish there was some option for failure, or at least something for the player to do that changed the game. Playing campaigns in random shooters make me feel like the same thing would've happened whether I was playing or not. Not the same in R-Type.

Multiplayer's different, actually. I don't like modern shooters mostly because of the floaty controls and lame level design, and I don't like online games much, but a LAN party with 32 people playing Star Wars Battlefront...so awesome. One of my favorite gaming experiences for sure. In multiplayer with even teams, one player can affect the outcome of the whole match. Multiplayer is superior in that sense, even though I generally dislike online gaming.

And, yes. Well-done difficulty settings rock.

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Mog
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:08:02 PM
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If larger consequences were made for death, then the game would become too much about trying to stay alive or accomplishing the mission which would suck the fun out of it. You wouldn't dare take risks or try something new.
If people think a game is too easy then increase the difficulty.
If your still whining about it being too easy then play ninja gaiden sigma on the hardest difficulty.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:27:30 PM

Why would I want to play Ninja Gaiden if I want something like Uncharted to have greater consequences for failure? Besides, this isn't really about how many times you die just because a game is set to a harder setting. I got that with God of War III on Chaos mode. Just dying a ton of times gets old. This is about greater consequences for dying like GAME OVER or set backs like losing progress.

Last edited by Jawknee on 12/27/2011 11:31:36 PM

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Mog
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:57:07 PM

Ok fine, I take back what I said about difficulty levels.

In response to your last sentence read the first paragraph of my original comment.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:13:35 PM
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I like the consequence of dying in old Final Fantasy's. Especially in dungeons that had few save points. Made the game more interesting when grinding.

Last edited by Jawknee on 12/27/2011 11:14:07 PM

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:42:35 PM

Yeah. The main challenge then becomes resource management. I had to rely on buffs and MP because I was stuck in some dungeons with only 10 potions in FFV. Coming out alive and beating the boss felt great, though.

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iwillbetheone
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:15:02 PM
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Part of the reason the classic games were more difficult was that there wasn't any concept of save-games. People had to complete the games in one sitting. Now, whenever you die, you can always start from the previous checkpoint, which makes the games look easy, and dying look inconsequential. On of my favorite games of all time is an 8-bit game called Dead Fox. It had a password system, and if you unlock certain passwords, you could start playing from certain stages. It was a very difficult game, with the password system making up for the difficulty, in that you could restart from a near enough stage after losing all your lives. Thinking about today's games, we get so much more convenience than passwords, so isn't it more appropriate that the games be a little more challenging to justify these conveniences?

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:44:18 PM

Functionally, passwords are no different than a digital save. They're just quicker. But yes, game should be harder.

Play Gradius III on some emulator and save every 10 seconds. That makes it a LOT easier ;P But the gameplay was a lot more difficult then, too.

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Excelsior1
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:31:48 PM
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Yes, I do think there is something to be said about all the hand holding that is going on in games today. Add that to the length issues of a lot games these days and its a problem. I can't even begin to list the number of games I have beaten this gen in just a few dedicated sessions. If I don't feel challenged in a game I find myself disconnecting from the experience.

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bigrailer19
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 @ 11:40:51 PM

Being challenged is one thing, while having more consequences is another. If I want to die a lot I'll play GoW3 on the hardest setting. But then there's actual consequences from dying, like game overs or reduced health, or whatever would be implemented.

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SmokeyPSD
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 12:33:06 AM

There's difficulty then there's SOMETHING happening due to death. It's simplistic to think it's just a matter of lives or a matter of how hard a game is causing you to respawn. Death should be meaningful at this stage of gamings life cycle.

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Excelsior1
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 3:51:24 AM

Well, in that case I don't see a solution to the the consequences aspects because of the way games are designed today. You can just reload from your last save point and try again. I found myself doing that in Skyrim if events did not unfold to my liking.

In Heavy Rain you would lose a character if they died but I found a way around that by just quiting the game before allowing it to save. Dark Souls and Demon Souls have some stiff penalties for dying.

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:46:53 PM

I like Fire Emblem where your characters die permanently if they fall in battle. Nope, no Pheonix Downs here! Spend another hour fighting the same battle, or go on without the princess? Your choice. Plus the game itself is awesome.

I feel like it doesn't matter if I die in modern games. I mean, you can go and die after a checkpoint before a boss just to get your resources refilled. Call of Duty - out of ammo? That's okay. Jump off a cliff and you're refilled. It makes no sense from a design standpoint.

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Fane1024
Thursday, December 29, 2011 @ 6:12:00 AM

WP, I totally agree with that. I don't think we're very far apart at all.

After re-reading it, I probably agree with more of your original post than not.

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JLB1
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 12:33:25 AM
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The makers of the games should definitely give us the option, of course. Games like Fallout: New Vegas added a Hardcore mode for people who found 'Very Hard' a little too easy for their liking. Though, the need to implement these things shouldn't be a necessity.

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Amnesiac
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 1:37:46 AM
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okay, then how about achievements then? And not some bogus "you just pressed start earn a trophy" kind of way either. That is so lame when all you have accomplished is the required method of playing the game. Achievements and trophies should have been about something more than bragging rights: Try not to get killed more than 10 times --boom--trophy. Then these trophies would act as monetary credits on the PS store ( $1,$5,$10, play GOW3 on extreme mode collect everything unlock all trophies $25 credit ps store) because its hard as hell!
That way everything that makes up the gaming experience would be more meaningful and challenging with an actual value at the end as the reward.


Last edited by Amnesiac on 12/28/2011 1:45:19 AM

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Beamboom
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 3:43:48 AM

Actually that's one of the things IGN suggested in a "wishlist" article they wrote for the next gen consoles: That trophies work as some kind of currency to buy smaller downloads like avatars, weapons, outfits etc.
I think that is an excellent idea.

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Excelsior1
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 6:23:27 AM

I saw that article as well on IGN. I don't ever see it happening but wish lists are always nice. Like I said before there are some good things going on over at IGN. That's a good idea for an article...a wishlist for what gamers would like to see next gen. I know what is near the top of my wishlist. Bigger levels and maps. More player freedom in games. Better download speeds. No more mandatory HD installs. Hardware based anialiasing, and ofcourse face melting graphics.

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:48:35 PM

I feel like the new Achievements are kind of stupid. I know there are a lot who will disagree, but hear me out.

Do some obscure and difficult thing and get a sticker for it. Well, that's cool. But the focus should be on genuine difficulty, not necessarily obscurity. If you really do overcome a great challenge, you'll feel great about it whether you get a virtual sticker or not. I don't need a sticker - the game itself is what we enjoy, right?

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Underdog15
Saturday, December 31, 2011 @ 6:11:17 PM

@WP
True, but I also enjoy my friends seeing that I've accomplished things they couldn't.

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johnld
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 2:03:41 AM
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if a treyarch call of duty had a limited amount of lives to beat the game veteran mode will be unbeatable. you know, with treyarch's super accurate ai, retarded ally ai, and infinite enemy spawns.

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___________
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 3:59:31 AM
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no, that would be too frustrating!
nothing more infuriating then dying and having to repeat half the freaking level!
games should go back to the good old ways how you could save anywhere you wanted and if you die reload exactly where you saved.
then bring back instant deaths.
like PoP, the originals if you were hit by a trap you would die.
now if your hit by a trap you loose 1% of your health!
difficulty and dying "punishments" have nothing to do with each other!
actually they do, and its called cheap lazy development!
i HATE it when developers just pull cheap tricks to make a game harder.
like giving enemies more health, or increasing enemy count, or giving them unfair advantages.
MK for instance, has always been infamous of automatically blocking attacks and that drove me up the wall!
just because a game is hard does not mean it has to be punishing.

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Rogueagent01
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 4:34:53 AM
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Again Sacred 2 did it right! There is a trophy for reaching the Niob difficulty, BUT there is no trophy for beating it on Niob. That difficulty setting is there for the hardcore RPG player, only someone who fully understands how to set up a character will be able to beat it. It is a difficulty setting made for those of us that are gaming masochists.

If the developers set it up properly you don't have to play it on that level. This is not about making more casual gamers frustrated, it's about giving those of us that want an incredibly satisfying experience for achieving what many consider impossible or downright frustrating the chance to do it. I don't understand how anyone could see anything wrong with this, the more options the better. If you want to have fun there should be a setting for that, where as if you want a realistic experience it should also be there i.e. in Fallouts or Elder Scrolls there should be a hardcore setting that prevents you from saving and forces you to restart from the beginning if you die. The only thing is, it should be optional and have no trophy tie-ins either so that it really is up to you if you want to try it.

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jdt1981
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 4:46:08 AM
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I remember TRYING to play Contra and not getting very far when I was a kid. I also remember beating games like Super Mario Bros. and Sonic The Hedgehog 2 where you had a certain amount of lives and if you burned through them you had to start over at the beginning of the game. Now that I'm older I don't have the time and patience for games like that anymore.

I think there needs to be a balance. Games shouldn't be too hard like some of the ones in the past like Contra and they shouldn't be too easy like games like Fable 2 and 3 where you never die you just get knocked down and then you get back up in the exact same spot like nothing happened.

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 10:50:43 PM

Hey, SMB isn't that bad. Except 8-3 :P The Game Boy Color version has a per-level save, though. Check that out. But Contra really is tough.

Slogging through an entire game or super long level that you can already beat shouldn't be part of the difficulty, though. I agree there. That bothered me in Metroid Prime.

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SvenMD
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 7:37:46 AM
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This is a tough question. Games like Contra or Mario had no saves - you had only the lives you started with, and once they were gone you were back to square one - that's a crappy consequence. But then again, Contra can be beaten in less than an hour, and Mario can technically be done in 5 minutes ;) (Not by me of course). So it's not that bad to have to start all over.

Then you got games with saves. The FF series had consequences because grinding through a dungeon for two hours could end up with a death and you're back to your last save point. The only "consequence" is that you have to redo EVERYTHING you just did a 2nd time. So the only consequence is wasted time. FFXIII is complete crap in that there is NO penalty for death whatsoever. Dead Space 2 on HardCore mode essentially does the same thing - giving the player only 3 saves the whole game - that was intense - creates a new dynamic for strategy of where to save, and also absolute fear of death (which is great in that game)

Borderlands had an interesting consequence with dying that took a percentage of your money to bring you back to life - so it didn't waste your time, but took away in-game currency.

Of course Heavy Rain and Mass Effect have severe consequences with the player truly dying and not coming back for the rest of the game - I think those are awesome consequences because it doesn't slow the game down, or have you repeat things, but the outcome is final.


All in all, I think the main thing games have done today is take out the "wasted time" aspect of death. The only consequence of death in most games is going back to a previous save (or autosave) - so it just keeps the adventure moving forward more, instead of doing the same thing over and over again. Is it the right way to do things? I don't know - but it does make it easier to get through this insane backlog of games that I have right now. :) Because to be honest, I used to have 12 hours a day to play games, and now I'm lucky to get 2 hours, so I do want the most bang for the buck in that time. It's definitely a change in my gaming habits, but I'm mostly glad for the numerous autosaves in games these days.

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Sol
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 7:45:23 AM
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The earlier games, were all about having the arcade experience at home. To be honest though, who really wants that. Granted you could spend hours playing Super Mario Bros and other titles, dying, losing all your continues, having to start from scratch, really would piss you off. At least the home experience allows you to save and continue without losing your progress and having to watch the story over again and such...

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Beamboom
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 8:48:47 AM
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The old arcade way of dying? Fixed amount of life, start all over when you die? Forget that. Current games are way too big for that.

But some games are way too easy. If a game has too little consequence of dying you notice it when you play. You don't really care if you die or not, or even die on purpose just to refill the HP bar or get rid of some spell effect or something. Sadly, may games are like that.



Last edited by Beamboom on 12/28/2011 9:27:57 AM

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Bjorn77
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 9:26:03 AM
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They could make the "hard" gameplay more challenging. "Hard" should mean "Hard" ... But I am anxious to go in that discussion.

Last time I said "Infamous 2" was easy peasy, even on "hard" it was like stealing candy from a baby. But people told me "I did not get the game", I was: "an idiot who should stop playing games because some games are meant to be played and they are not to be challenging."

In my opinion games are so dumbed down.. I always start at "Hard". In my youth I wouldn't even dare to start at "Hard"

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Amnesiac
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 9:30:27 AM
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Dont forget the unforgiving NES CASTLEVANIA. I've always wondered if the programmers really hated the idea of little kids trying to beat their game. Why else make it so dammed difficult? The whole game is relentless from start to finish.
For me dying mid-level and starting over at the beginning is just an immense bout of trial and error anyway. Sure we can all do that, y'know play that one boss a hundred times and beat it or try to solve that "step on the wrong switch" deadly puzzle all day but I already know I can do it its only a matter of want to or have patience for. Give me the ability to save anywhere and I'm happy. Nothings worse than spending the entire day advancing, collecting rare items and skills only to be blindsided by a Malboro who uses Bad breath to slaughter your entire party.
That and automatic save points, they suck too.


Last edited by Amnesiac on 12/28/2011 9:38:05 AM

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 11:14:54 AM
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I'm not really that certain things have changed as much as you think. The article mentions arcade games and their very limited lives. There was a reason for that as the article states - business. Limited lives in hard games drove additional quarters in the slot. But when you buy a game for use at home, you've paid for the game and the console, so you've already paid all the quarters you need to to gain the ability to continue the game without putting another quarter in the slot. So just changing from the arcade itself to a home console, the nature of the game, and the consequences of character death are very different.

Looking at other games, RPGs for example. You save frequently and if you die, you see game over and have to restart from the last save. That's as it always has been. In the 'old days' people would complain because save points were too infrequent. That meant that character death was inconvenient and annoying. So more save points get added making it easier and less annoying. We pay for the game, so why should we have to accept 'annoying'?

In shooters and some other games dying has taken on the characteristics of a tactic. People deathport to jump across the map quickly. Or in a shooter someone makes a suicidal run into an enemy camp just to see what's there because they know that when they die, they will respawn and be able to talk to their team about what they saw. But these are both issues of game mechanics, and can be changed by the developer.

Perhaps it's not the consequences of dying, but the frequency? I mean, in White Knight Chronicles 2 - for example, there are difficult quests that give you 90 minutes and an unlimited number of deaths to accomplish the goal. But there are new quests that limit the number of deaths - say to 5 along with a time limit. So now you have to play more carefully, plan ahead, and work as a team to avoid someone falling, and yet still complete fast enough to be awarded the appropriate rewards. More casual gamers hate these quests because of the hard cap on the number of deaths and respawns of players.

Then again, by capping the number of deaths, you inherently increase the consequences of each time a character dies. Like beamboom says dying should not be another way to clear status effects or refill your HP or magic. Perhaps the way to end that though is to respawn a player at 25% of health with all the status effects that were in place when they died? I think that is an issue more of game play mechanics than it is a general trend about the consequence of death in a video game.

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DrRockso87
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 11:43:58 AM
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I think retro-gamers need to shut up already with the "games are too easy" argument. Yeah, yeah, we know, games were so much more difficult back in "the good ol days" (mostly because games lasted an average of 10+ hours consisting of cheap deaths due to awful controls whereas the actual game's length was 30 minutes but whatever).

Games are evolving. Do I think that some games are too easy nowadays? Yes. I do. Uncharted is an example. Ever tried to die while platforming in Uncharted? Nearly impossible due to the scripted platforming.

However, I DON'T think games need to emulate the horrendous difficultly of older games. Anyone remember 'Super Ghouls n Ghosts'? I played that recently and not only is the difficulty full of cheap deaths but if you lose all your lives, you have to start ALL the way from the friggin' BEGINNING of the game!! Were they joking? 'Castlevania III' has another insane challenge where you have to complete the final level without dying and then defeat Dracula in his three forms. Jesus!

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Highlander
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 11:55:58 AM

Dying in Uncharted platforming sections? Easy, jump in the wrong direction...

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Jawknee
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 1:35:01 PM

You need to chill out.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 5:09:58 PM

That's a bit extreme of a reaction to "retro gamers" if you ask me.

With gaming being so much more mainstream now, you need to have, at the VERY least, an option that allows for easy progression. Otherwise you'd just frustrate new gamers and it'd remain a niche hobby... which would limit production and advancement.

So yes... games should be a little easier to complete. But for us "retro" gamers, I also believe games should still be extremely difficult to "master". I think for the most part, games continue to do that, so I'm not complaining.

And then for those who want to be punished (and I completely understand why, but I wouldn't want it in every game) there are titles like Demon Souls.

It's an interesting topic worth discussing beyond "Retro gamers need to shut up", however. There are excellent points from both extreme sides of the debate, and the conclusion SHOULD be somewhere in the middle. And since compromise is RARELY directly in the middle, that means there's enough gray area that it deserves intelligent thought.

It's unfortunate your initial reaction is "retro gamers need to shut up". That's a bit silly.

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 11:02:17 PM

Take a chill pill, man. This is a site of retro gamers and we're probably going to have a retro mindset. Besides, if you enjoy modern games, there's nothing to be mad about ;)

First off, games don't evolve. They're designed, created, by human beings. Sorry, that's just a peeve of mine :P

Great controls are the result of great programming, not age. Early games like Pong had awesome controls custom-made for the gameplay. I play modern games for the music, graphics, art, etc, but very rarely get the gameplay experience I want. There are exceptions, of course. BlazBlue, Valkyria Chronicles. I realize that different people want different things, though.

I play both retro and modern games. It's not frustration we like. It's the intelligent sort of challenge that's missing. "Puzzles" in most games now consist of stepping on a switch. Or smashing something. There's very little in the way of exploration because exploring would take away from those awesome set-pieces or the super-structured narrative. So it's a double-edged sword.

I really like Uncharted for the dialogue, set-pieces, etc...but the scripted platforming bothered me to no end. If all I have to do is push "left" with no regard for distance or timing or skill, it's not any fun. Climbing mountains is a big deal, a difficult thing, and that opportunity for interesting gameplay is wasted. I mean, it's cool to watch, and it does work, but it's no harder than walking around. It strips control away from the player. A game like Super Mario World is difficult but it controls like a dream.

Anyway let's just play the games we like and enjoy them, hm?

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Russell Burrows
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 11:54:25 AM
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So nobody played Command and Conquer Covert Ops?

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 11:02:34 PM

Haha. Good point. There are always exceptions, and they are occasionally awesome.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 1:35:09 PM
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Oh for sure. It used to be a major accomplishment for a kid in his local neighborhood to actually BEAT a game! Most of the time, if I rented a game, I didn't even consider the possibility of beating it in a couple days. No... you had to become an EXPERT at a particular game to even have a chance.

Heck, there was a time when if a friend told you they beat a game, your immediate reaction is to NOT believe him! Because it's tough! And if he can prove it to you? Well, then he got mad respect.

Game over was game over, bud! That's it! No more!

Nowadays, for me, it depends on the purpose of a game. If the narrative is the ultimate goal, then no... I don't think it should have consequences. However, I do think there should be greater rewards for beating tougher difficulties. (Extra scenes, different dialogue, better equipment, etc.) Uncharted is a good example. Someone should be able to play it on Easy and have no issues getting through the story if they aren't good at video games, typically. Gotta have the industry grow! But... I wouldn't mind more rewards for my committment to beating Crushing mode beyond a trophy.

Some games, however, like Dark Souls or Demon Souls... they need to be that difficult. And the fans appreciate it.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 12/28/2011 1:36:37 PM

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Axe99
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 4:14:53 PM
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I think there's a few things going on here, and it makes it hard to have a conversation about it, because we're trying to talk about a bunch of things at once:

1) Sorry to disagree with Ben, but games aren't actually necessarily getting easier, but we're getting better at gaming (anyone who's been gaming since 'the good old' days will have practiced enough to improve). For example, if I pull out my PSOne Capcom Generations collection, or when I give Sonic Wings on the PSN a run (PSOne horizontal shmup), the games are far _easier_, moment-to-moment, than many modern gameplay elements. Sure, there's always Contra, but Contra wasn't the only game released prior to the release of the PS2. Have a crack at the Sega Megadrive collection and there are very few truly _hard_ games. Yes, there are some hard games, but there are some hard games these days as well, particularly if you crank up the difficulty settings (Dead Space 2 on hardcore anyone?) I played in the arcades in the 1980s, and many of the games of today, even on normal, are harder than the arcade games back then in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay.

2) There's hard moment-to-moment gameplay, and then there's punishing. In my experience with Demon's Souls, while some of the gameplay moments were hard, most were actually not difficult but surprising, so if you didn't adapt quickly you were heavily punished (had to build up souls and repeat a significant section of the game again). Contra is both, Uncharted on Crushing or CoD on Veteran is hard, but not punishing (difficult moment-to-moment gameplay, plenty of checkpoints), Operation Flashpoint:Dragon Rising on Hardcore on Mission three is hard as you like and brutal! But we need to get it clear whether we're talking about punishment (penalty for dying) or difficulty of moment-to-moment gameplay (how easy it is to die), as most discussions mix the two up and it makes it much harder to work out what's going on.

3) Whatever happens, I think it's important that most games have a range of difficulty/punishment settings to suit all people. It's easy for us to get all high-and-mighty about games being too easy, but if we've practiced something for one or two decades, then we should be pretty good at them, and we should need to play on hard/hardcore to get a challenge. Spare a thought for people that haven't played before, or who might not have the time to sink into the hobby, to get into it. While I think you always need your Ninja Gaiden's and Souls' games to appeal to the 'overcome punishment for sense of achievement' crowd, there's no fundamental reason interactive entertainment should be hard or punishing or easy and forgiving. Diversity and options so that everyone has fun has to be the best way forward.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 5:18:08 PM

Just want to say that first, I appreciate 2 and 3 and really like the thought put into that. I pretty much agree with both.

For number 1, I also agree. I myself am a better gamer as well. And my experience in gaming makes it easy for me to select the toughest difficulty on a new game and fare relatively well. My friends who are relatively new to gaming would not be able to do that.

On the other hand, I have gone back to some games and noticed I still find them extremely difficult. Last year I played Snake Rattle and Roll again.... and I didn't get as far as I used to be able to get before game over. I'm not as precise and quick in Mega Man games anymore either. Even in FFVII, I can't hit Tifa's "Yeah" on all her slots anymore. Back in the day, I could hit them all every single time without fail. Seriously... not a single miss! Now, it's basically luck... and out of the seven slots... I might hit 3 yeahs.

So for the first one, I think it's a mix. Games aren't necessarilly less difficult, but they are probably less punishing. (Game over is last checkpoint... not... you know.... game over.) and the types of games and their controls are different as well. (Wow... lots of contributing factors, eh?)

I guess I just think it's a mixture of the two. lol. It's not as simple as saying "games are tougher or more punishing". But it's definitely different.

The one thing I do know for sure, however, is that if I want to beat a campaign now... I will complete it. It was not always the case back in the day.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 12/28/2011 5:18:41 PM

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ZenChichiri
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 6:33:13 PM

Man Snake Rattle 'N Roll! I never thought I would hear those words spoken again. That game is damn hard. I think I got past level 9, just past the ice level, and I can't get any further. I have to try a ROM with that game. It's one of those games I promised myself I would come back to one day. Thanks for the reminder!

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sha4dowknight05
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 6:03:02 PM
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It shouldn't be any different then it is now.

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Twistedfloyd
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 6:28:29 PM
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I kinda wish all games had lives or loved in Heavy Rain how it was designed so that it wasn't too difficult you were dead and didn't come back.

In a lot of games I know that if I died, knowing there isn't really a huge consequence sort of takes the umph out of it sometimes depending on how into the game I am.

So I like being able to come back, yet I like challenges, just not as extreme as back in the day.

I like how in MGS you have to kill each boss by fighting them all the way through. No checkpoints or anything like that. So that knowing if you died, you would have to start the boss fight over was extra incentive to succeed at all costs the first time through.

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ZenChichiri
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 6:46:48 PM
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The thing about having punishment for dying is that it creates tension. We go into a fight thinking "If I die, I have to go back to my save point, and I REALLY don't want that", and that makes us feel more in tune with what the character on screen is going through. It invokes an emotional response and we focus really hard and try our best in that particular fight. If I have a lot of checkpoints I might just run in and try a bunch of foolish crazy things first to see if they work and not try to play the game through eyes of the character I'm playing. It detaches me from the game.

It's been mentioned already, but in Uncharted for example, the platforming is so easy and scripted that I don't really feel like I'm climbing. It's so easy and linear that there is no tension. Even if I die, I will start no more than 10 - 20 seconds back. I'm 100 hundred feet in the air, and I have no fear of dying. Shadow of the Colossus had it right when it came to climbing though.

I don't think consequences should be grand, but just enough where it gives us this tension. People say that the consequences in the Souls games were high, but in actuality I think it's perfect, as you can retrieve your souls after you die. By that point you should have had enough practice in that level to get you back to where your souls lie, so if you die again on the way to get your Souls it really is your fault.

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 @ 6:53:53 PM
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Hell, some days I feel Like Morris the cat, having died at least 9 lives during just one sitting, LOL

BTW, Gamasuta has an interesting article on a list of game dying....

Dealing With Death: Streamlining The Player Experience

One of the most jarring aspects of playing a game is the reload sequence. Through its nature, this form of entertainment requires a certain level of investment from its consumers -- more specifically, that they actively take part and immerse themselves in the world set before them. When it reaches its peak, this creates a feeling of "flow", of continuity. It's what makes us lose track of time and become oblivious to our surroundings when playing. However, this flow can be broken when users are faced with a reload or a "Game Over" screen that only serves to add insult to injury.

The full story continued here....

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/6580/dealing_with_death_streamlining_.php

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Raze22
Friday, December 30, 2011 @ 10:25:19 PM
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Like I always say, "easy, normal, hard." It is the LEAST game developers can do and it won't alienate anyone.

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Gravelight
Saturday, December 31, 2011 @ 4:57:47 AM
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No, being able to re-spawn or start at the last checkpoint is cool. GOD I remember when I played Resident Evil for PSOne without a memory card for a whole year. I promised myself then, never again will I be without means of continuing, lol. No, they are games; and being able to keep a truckin' keeps us from falling too deep in the emersion. I can see people now playing a game for so long they forget it's a game and when they die all the frustration, the tears, the anger, and any motivation they had is spat out in a gibberish slang giving people depression, anxiety, not able to sleep, the feeling of deep failure. Heck some people might even quit playing games period just because they lost all they had accumulated within the past 40 hours. A waste of time, sleep, dignity, and knowledge.

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SS4
Monday, January 02, 2012 @ 9:38:17 AM
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Games nowadays are way too easy. Now its not wheter or not you can or cannot beat the game like in the NES era but how long does a game takes to COMPLETE. Yeah, i didnt COMPLETE lots of game on my atari or intellevison 2 or NES lol.

Now on the SNES and GENESIS i could complete most game but with some challenge.

Today games hold you by the hand almost.

I was reminded how game should be when i played Monster Hunter TRI on the wii though :P

Kept dieing til i remember you need to use skill in games lol

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