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When did gamers become so soft?
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  1. #1
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    longy999 is offline
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    When did gamers become so soft?

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    An interest article I found over on IGN.com which asks the question 'have modern games robbed us of our thirst for challenge?'

    After recently playing on the Sega MegaDrive collection and a bunch of SNES emulated games it has made me think that we do get it much easier now with modern games (with the exception of Dark Souls of course). I sat and played a couple of classics such as Ghouls N Ghosts and Strider and had completely forgotten how damn hard games used to be compared to the mollycoddling ease of the modern games we have now.

    Anyways, read the article and let us know what you think, do we have it too easy nowadays?

    If there's a single defining characteristic of Dark Souls, it's that it's bastard tough. You'll struggle to find a review of the game that doesn't contain the words "difficult", "hard", or "crikey". And despite handing players their arses on a platter - or perhaps because of it - it's burned up the charts to become a minor hit.

    It's not as though we weren't given any warning. We already had our tortured memories of its 2009 predecessor Demon's Souls. And then there was From Software's openly sadistic glee whenever the developer spoke about its ambitions for the sequel. Both conspired to form a noxious, forbidding cloud of dread around the new release: it was the smell of fear.

    All of which begs the question: since when did the did a game's difficulty become a point of interest? Is it the case that modern games have become too easy? Or maybe, just maybe, we've all grown too soft...?

    Currently, there's probably a handful of games with a reputation for supreme toughness. The Ninja Gaiden revival is one of them. Devil May Cry is another, especially the third instalment. But we're far removed from the 8-Bit NES era, where games like Ghosts n Goblins, Mega Man and R-Type were routinely unforgiving. Instead, modern games prefer to hold players by the hand, leading them from set-piece to set-piece, checkpoint to checkpoint.

    A good example is Uncharted 2, part of a brilliantly polished series and riotous fun from beginning to end. But the game is orchestrated like one big action sequence, and Nathan Drake's path through it is never entirely within your control.

    Let's look at it on a micro-level, when Drake is climbing walls. You press the action button and he jumps and holds on to something; push the thumbstick in a particular direction and he will reach out for a predetermined handhold. Drake doesn't have the option to move anywhere else but the path that's been mapped out. There's no precision or fine-tuning here, no easing yourself to the edge of a precipice to maximise the range of your leap.

    Contrast that with the original version of Tomb Raider, which is the most obvious inspiration for Uncharted. Lara Croft's freedom of movement was much greater, and consequently the chances of her coming to harm were greater too. Between then and now, the granularity of the player's control has been devolved, and we spend more time prompting the action instead of being the catalyst for it.

    Another example is the quick time event, or the QTE. This device has crept into game design as a way of implementing action sequences that either couldn't be performed or would be too difficult to execute within the game's standard control scheme. Recent titles that relied heavily on the technique were God of War III and Heavy Rain.

    From a player's perspective it has an unusual effect, momentarily plucking them from their accustomed space into something entirely new. But if you don't react promptly and hit the right sequence of buttons, your progression is temporarily stalled. QTEs certainly have their fans, but it's also arguable that they're a product of developer hubris. The intention is to amp up the visual spectacle, rather than deliver any tangible benefit to the quality of the gameplay.

    With that in mind, we can better understand the real reason why modern games have become easier. It's because developers want you to experience the whole game, from beginning to end. They've spent millions of dollars, resources and man-hours in producing a title. They want it to be a hit. They don't want you to stop playing it after the first stage.

    The rationale is that the difficulty level needs to be a gentle incline to provide enough challenge to keep you engaged, but not too much that it forces you stop. But somewhere along the way, games design started to err on the side of caution, and now modern games are the digital equivalent of an amusement ride.

    Which brings us back to Dark Souls. Playing it has been agonising in places, waging a grim war of attrition against the many traps and pitfalls that lie in wait. It would be easy to just shrug your shoulders and walk away from the game; life's too short, and there's another instalment of Call of Duty just around the corner.

    Then again... A sense of morbid curiosity urges you to untangle its secrets and mysteries, to develop a winning strategy. Already, the interwebs are filled with the chatter of players exchanging advice on how to proceed. Some of it is pure, useless speculation, but it shows how engaged we are with the unusual challenge it presents.

    Will Dark Souls inspire more games to be similarly difficult? Probably not. For one thing, if a game's extreme difficulty moves from being a novelty to being a standard, it stops being unique - it becomes a chore, and players would lose interest. For another, it'd be commercial suicide. Generations of players raised on lesser fare don't have the attention span or the temperament to be punished for their lack of robustness.

    But the positive effect that Dark Souls will have is this: people find inspiration and innovation at the fringes of gaming culture, not at its heart. Developers will have taken note of the innovative online mode, where you can cross over into other "realms" to assist (or attack) other players, and vice-versa. Co-op play is imbued with a whole new dimension of human generosity - or spite.

    There's also the way in which the game chooses to divulge information, to disorient its players, and to maintain the element of spine-tingling surprise, all whilst maintaining a consistent mode of play. This is supremely harsh, but it's also fair, and any failures are entirely of your own making. In the years to come, we might see a few titles that offer this same flash of compelling excitement - albeit perhaps without the same penalties for failure.
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  2. #2
    Renegade is offline
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    Re: When did gamers become so soft?

    Not just the retro games, try the kiddy platform games, they are hard as hell lol (Wall E) for one :P
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  3. #3
    Emerald Lance

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    Re: When did gamers become so soft?

    Part of it was the technological limitations of games at the time: we didn't have tutorial levels and hint bubbles for every core concept all over the place ("Press forward to walk." Really? Because I was wondering what that forward button was for...), namely because they took up space and games back then needed all the space they could salvage. What we did have, however, was demos! We were able to watch pre-recorded footage of somebody playing the game, and it sort of set a standard for us to work towards, sometimes even showing us things about the game we didn't even know (the Super Metroid demo showing off the Crystal Flash comes to mind).

    Ugh! When I say "demo" I feel like I have to clarify that I mean the footage that plays when you let a game sit at the title screen for too long, not the modern meaning of the word that refers to trial versions of a game. That's how you know you've been playing games for a long time, when you remember demos as being gameplay video. Why are downloadable demos called "demos" anyways? Why not just call them "trial games" in every situation? Then it's be easier to distinguish between a trial game and an actual title screen demo! XD
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  4. #4

    pureIso is offline
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    Re: When did gamers become so soft?

    It's simply. It's all about making money. If games get too diffcult people would lose intereste after "Game Over" few times. This game over theory kills the fun for some people. People these days don't have the time to master a gamer. Back then there weren't too many games so developers had to find a way to keep people constantly playing their game/s.
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  5. #5

    Re: When did gamers become so soft?

    You want an annoying modern game that is hard, and at same time so frustrating you want to snap it in half, try Brink. That game even on easy settings is freaking impossible.

    This was an interesting article. Like right now playing RAGE on nightmare, it's way to easy. I thought it would have been much harder than it really is.



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