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Discussion About Casual Gamers and Game Design, Difficulty, Development and Playtesting

Context: I recently have been playing Vindictus with internetrules.

curi:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Vindictus/comments/a08v6u/game_akin_to_vindicus/

do you know any of the games suggested in comments there?

internetrules:

no. one game that i thought was kind of like playing vella specifically, is metal gear rising revengeance

curi:

o ya i think i saw a vid of that game b4. looks like a too-easy single player game meant to make you feel powerful was my impression.

internetrules:

yeah that seems about right, in harder modes i think its alot harder tho

curi:

i’d be surprised if it was actually very hard

i find single player games normally way too easy even if they have 4 difficulty modes and u use hardest

internetrules:

i remember playing it 3 years ago and getting really stuck on some boss fights on the second highest difficulty. i cant really tell exactly how hard it was tho cuz i think i was probably really bad at games back then

curi:

sometimes they are hard if you’re playing on console and the controls suck … if you count that

internetrules:

it also has like 1 move which your are suppose to use like 50% of the time called offensive defence, its kind of like a dodge with maybe a second of invuln.

it was a move pretty ez to use and abuse

curi:

i played assassin’s creed odyssey on my PC with xbox controller – it was totally designed for controller, not keyboard/mouse, and i think that worked better in general. and seriously 2 of the hardest parts of combat were

1) some awful button mappings u can’t change

2) some glitches where ur move doesn’t hit, i think cuz wolves and certain other animals have broken hitboxes

u get 8 abilities but only 4 at a time and there is a swap button. and the swap button is really really hard to hit during combat. it’s dpad down (while also holding left trigger). you have to either stop moving or use your right hand (which is what i usually did)

it’s really disruptive to gameplay to be trying to hit dpad down with ur right hand while running backwards and hoping nothing attacks u cuz u can’t hit dodge button cuz u moved ur right hand

and ur moving ur hand around to different places while trying to still hit the right buttons

it’s like taking ur hand off the keyboard and back on repeatedly and trying never to typo

always put it back in the right place

also dpads on modern controllers have horrible design

so u often hit the wrong direction b/c it’s not 4 separate buttons

so it’s not really suitable for in-combat use b/c of shitty button quality

i think the xbox one is even worse than the switch pro controller one

u try to hit down but u get left or right a fair amount

so then, pretty often, u switch melee weapons when u wanted to swap abilities

so u get fucked over

so yeah THAT was the hard part

also really hard was changing arrow types

that was on dpad left. even further away

and you have to toggle it multiple times

and you have to watch ur arrow thing to see when u toggle to the ones u want

cuz it’s just going thru a list in order

so u have to look away from combat and hit the like worst button on the controller some specific number of times

and if u hit an extra time u get to keep going to cycle back to the one u want

internetrules:

I really like the dpad on the steam controller, it’s basically just 1 sensor that sees where your pressing, and then it can also feel when you push into it

File Transfer: 56487136803__3AA370CD-DC84-4B56-AD8D-F8A0E4F439CF.jpeg

i guess the joystick could be considerd the dpad as well, it depends how you bind it, theres alot of customization for the controller

curi:

no joystick = dstick

dpad specifically means not the stick, the pad, where it’s just 4 directional buttons + diagonals. like original nintendo

except that xbox and switch dpads today are much worse build than original nintendo one

they should just give u 4 small buttons, that is way better

that’s what joycon have

it’s so much better

even if the buttons didn’t suck the assassin’s creed controls would still be terrible tho

b/c seriously how are you supposed to press stuff below ur left thumb during combat? stop using dstick or move right hand? both options suck

it’s so easy to fix

u hold left trigger to bring up the abilities

just let u double tap it to swap abilities

there are lots of other options but yeah the developers are idiots

i literally just didn’t use half my abilities unless it was one of the hardest fights

wasn’t worth the trouble

and the only reason i swapped arrows was for the non-lethal ones. the special arrows for doing dmg were not worth the hassle

and it got super easy after a while on hardest mode

internetrules:

how could they fuck up the controlls that much? dont they have like play testers and stuff?

curi:

in short, play testing in the industry is a really bad job where you waste your time

and its mostly used to fix some of the worst bugs

and to try to make up for hiring bad programmers

they basically don’t trust play testers with design decisions or balance

and the higher level ppl in charge of that stuff are idiots in most companies / for most games

like way way way worse than jeff kaplan

who really isn’t that good at balance stuff (actually he’s not in charge of it, but there is someone who is)

there are some special end game bosses

a cyclops and a minotaur

but u can kill them by staying away and shooting arrows

super ez and stupid

and u can basically spam short dodges with no stamina limit and be invincible over 80% of the time

and if any of the dodges happen to actually dodge an attack, u get several seconds of slow motion to counter attack in

during which i think you’re invincible too

internetrules:

how are the people in charge of playtesting idiots?

curi:

the balance and design ppl are bad at games

they are casual newbies who probably don’t see the problem with standing still to swap abilities during combat

cuz they are playing on normal and take no dmg anyway

they are like “well i was just using 4 abilities, that is plenty for me, but if ur an advanced player u can swap, so that seems fine”

they don’t realize shit like u have to either repeat ur heal in both sets of 4 (losign a slot) or else u have to be able to switch back really fast

cuz ur heal is fuckign important

it heals u like 60% in a game where a lot of stuff will hit u for 30% of ur life

internetrules:

and do most of the people playing the game not notice cuz they are casual as well?

curi:

and as far as playtesting basically the programmers do this:

they write a stupid bug

they don’t notice or test what they wrote themselves

some playtester has to try their code and see it doesn’t work

then they write a quick thoughtless fix and don’t check if it works

and send it back to the playtesters

and sometimes they will keep failing to fix something a dozen times

and make the playtesters check if their fix worked every time

and never check it themselves or figure out wtf they are doing

they just keep trying something and hope it works, and let playtester check it

and sometimes they forget to change anything at all and playtesters still test it again

that happens too

or they spend all day on reddit

but want to pretend to work

so they mark it as they tried to fix it instead of telling their boss they didn’t get to it this week and being asked to come in on saturday

so then the playtester has to test it again cuz the lazy guy lied

or they do shit like

there are 10 bugs

they go thru and fix some

then mark them all done

cuz like, they tried, and they wanna be done now

so some get playtested again with no fix

ppl are like that

the playtesters are low paid and are not valued

no1 cares about wasting their time

no1 thinks they have brains

everyone is like “well they are getting paid to play video games, so lucky”

but they are just repeating boring crap a lot cuz they have bad tools to go straight to the right part to test it

so it takes way too long

and then there are the intermittent issues

where no one knows exactly how to make the bug happen

so sometimes they just have to play for hours, cuz sometimes you get it after 10min and sometimes 6 hours and sometimes 3 days.

the rarer the bug, the worse it is, the harder to fix

so now imagine the process i was talking about where they keep not fixing it and being lazy and shit

or putting in some code they HOPE will work but didn’t test, and let playtester test it

but with a bug that has a 10% chance to show up per hour you play

so you could play all day, not see it, and have to do it again tomorrow cuz it could easily not be fixed

and you end up having to test and report that bug 10 times before it gets fixed

so you spend 2 weeks on it

that one stupid bug

except it’s not 2 weeks in a row, it’s spread out over time more b/c you keep having to wait for the fixes

programmers often need a few days per fix, even tho they only spend 30min on it, b/c they have other things to do too

so everyone is always task switching. the programmers have 50 bugs to fix and the playtesters have 50 bugs to test

so ppl keep switching what they are working on and forgetting things

which makes everything take MORE total time cuz it’s less effective/effficient, and it spreads things out over time more

so if you spend 2 weeks on a bug, it could be over a period of 3 months

or more

you see hints about how this works with OW

where a bug is put on PTR

and ppl notice it day 1

and wonder how the playtesters missed it

and half they time they DIDNT

they reported it

it just takes months to fix

which is why blizz then releases the PTR to live with the bug still in if it isn’t a MAJOR bug

and then fixes it in the next patch a month after the first PTR goes live, 2 months after the playerbase saw the bug, 3 months after internal testers already reported it

oh and the worst part

ppl re-break things

or break other things that aren’t what they were trying to change

so you get some bug fixed, finally, and then later someone is changing something else and his code effects it and it breaks again

b/c the programmers don’t even know what the code they just wrote will do TO THE WHOLE GAME – it could fuck up some random thing somewhere b/c the code isn’t very well isolated/separated – then basically they are constantly making playtesters replay the whole game to see if anything broke

and the playtesters are bored as fuck and not paying attention and just go through the motions and test specific things on a list they are told to test + play thru the main story and see if something breaks like a quest won’t complete or they get stuck somehow

or some other obvious big issue

ppl are bad at things. it’s not just video game dev. it’s basically almost everyone is bad at almost everything, that’s how the world works. this is not really some horror story compared to other industries. my sister works in fashion and like talks with factories in china and tries to get clothes produced. i don’t really know anything about it but i can just predict, on general principles, that there are huge, ridiculous inefficiencies there too

and ppl being bad at stuff is is why assassin’s creed is super trivally easy on normal mode and easy on nightmare.

internetrules:

and so most programmers are bad, and cause a ton of bugs? how much of a demand is there for actually good programmers? do people realize most programmers are bad?

curi:

they tried to make diablo 3 hard on max difficulty btw

that was interesting

they promised it’d be super hard

they said they playtested it, did their best to make it as hard as they could beat

then doubled the hp and dmg of the enemies

so it’d be harder than their own skill level

and on launch it was actually hard. i liked it. fun game. i didn’t think it was as hard as it was supposed to be, but i liked it.

the playerbase complaiend so much that 10 nerf patches later the game was boring and easy

50% of players think they should be playing the hardest stuff that blizz said was for the top 2% of players

and they try it, die, and then complain

cuz they want to think they are good

so blizz has to make the hardest mode easy so everyone can think they are good

assassin’s creed is the same issue

if the hardest mode was hard, lots of ppl would play it, die, and feel bad and get mad

so you can’t put in a hard mode. it cannot exist.

the game company cannot admit there is anyone better than the guy who sucks but beats “hard” mod

there are far more arrogant ppl than skilled ppl to sell to

and so most programmers are bad, and cause a ton of bugs? how much of a demand is there for actually good programmers? do people realize most programmers are bad?

yeah this is well known, it’s why google is paying $300k/year USD or more to thousands of programmers

b/c there are not enuf good programmers and u have to pay a ton to get some

it’s competitive to get them

but the game dev industry decided instead of trying to pay salaries to compete with google, mostly they will just underpay ppl who want to make games

so they get a lot of ppl fresh out of college and they have high turnover, ppl give up and leave

internetrules:

i was talking to a guy in general chat in OW [Overwatch] who was bronze and always blamed his team and matchmaking for him losing, i guess thats the kind of guy who would complain at not being able to finish the hardest difficulty

curi:

him and another half of hte population

it’s so many ppl

in general games are actually easy software to make

and are mostly copying the same crap as the last game

so it’s well known how to do it

they aren’t designing any new code that wasn’t in some other game

and they buy the physics engine and the 3d graphics code and shit

they don’t even write that

they just use unity or havoc or whatever

internetrules:

and then you have traditions in making games, which means the game wont be super terrible, and it will actually be marketable?

curi:

and then they have software devs who can’t even write decent pathfinding

pathfinding with A* is trivial enough to be like a homework assignment for a college freshman.

and then you get game releases like Pillars of Eternity that can’t fucking do it

and the enemies can barely move

and i’m not joking

guy glitched an end boss on a pillar and shot it to death

just a pillar. no walls on either side

but it couldn’t move directly forward and got stuck

meanwhile in my own game some enemies got stuck trying to go up a narrow path and none of htem would go a small distance around where there was plenty of open space

so they are all just running into each other at a tiny chokepoint instead of going around

and i just mass aoe spell them

and then think to myself

this is stupid, i could have written better AI than this when i was in high school

cuz i guess unity didn’t come with pathfinding included

so they never got it to work decently?

and so some of the fights that are supposed to be hard are actually a joke

internetrules:

i remember you talking about a game where the max party size is 6, and a guy beat the game with just 1 person on hardest difficulty, do you know what game that was?

curi:

the balance scaling in that game was awful too

on max difficulty it starts out hard at the beginning, esp while ur learning

and stuff has a ton of hp, dies slow

but at later levels everything was dying so fast i couldn’t really even play with my spells – like low level vindictus today with all ur gear on – that i didn’t finish the game

there are mods for the game made by players. it’s somewhat moddable. so i looked into it and no1 ever made a “give enemies 5x the hp mod”. everyone is so bad they didn’t care? idk

the sequel had a mod to give more enemy hp

but it was only like 50% more hp or something, you couldn’t just type in a number

soloing a 6man party RPG is a LOT of games

that’s common

internetrules:

oh

curi:

the only thing making it less common is that a lot more party RPGs, especially recent ones, are 4 characters max instead of 6

just like by default you can solo party RPG games more than 50% of the time

on hardest mode

it tends to just work

in majority of games

also in a ton of games it gets EASIER once you level up some

and the start is actually the hardest part when u do that

internetrules:

i remember you talking about how people who like the game the most, have the easiest time, cuz they do side quests, then main story gets easier cuz higher level

curi:

usually the AI is super bad so u can lure enemies 1 at a time

or peak a corner, shoot htem, hide, repeat

stuff like that

also required bosses are usually not super hard b/c they don’t want ppl to get stuck

yes!

the GOOD players tend to play more, do more stuff = get more powerful items, more levels, etc = have easier time while being more skilled

sux

internetrules:

im pretty sure that was a problem a ton of people were complaining about with the first southpark game

which if even the casuals complain about it, then its prob waaaay to easy

curi:

that game had shitty combat

the point was the south park stuff

jokes, dialog, etc

combat was mario rpg style which is boring

but ya i did max difficulty and beat it in one day np and if i had done more sidequests it’d just have been easier

but i enjoyed the game

cuz i didn’t have the mindset of it being about combat or skill

i just saw it as kinda like watching south park tv show…

what happened with diablo 3 is instructive

the general complaining resulted in everything being easier

but it’s not just that

also specifically everything that killed ppl got complaints

whatever ppl were dying to, they called unfair

internetrules:

i remember when i was playing that game that it was kinda hard cuz the mouse i was using while playing it, had its like rightclick button really fucked up or something, so i couldnt use it to like take less damage when people attacked me or something

curi:

so all the hardest things got super extra nerfed so they would be “fair” meaning ppl don’t die to it much

so every difficulty spike got removed from the game

so there was nothing scary in the game anymore

nothing where ur like “oh shit, i gotta be careful with that”

they removed everything that requires changing ur strategy, being defensive, playing safe, etc

like damage reflect is a good example

it was one of the random modifiers that elites could have

they’d roll a few random things

internetrules:

did older games do a better job at difficulty? alot of people talk about how old games were really hard. like Xcom and old school plat formers

curi:

and damage reflect was one of the most deadly

it’d turn on and off

and if u attack during reflect u take like 10% of the dmg u dealt

which is a ton, enemies have more hp than players

so ppl were constantly killing themselves

b/c they didn’t check mods b4 attacking, or didn’t pay attention to if reflect was active

or didn’t attack a little then heal then a little more

they just do burst dmg carelessly

so they had to nerf the fuck out of that so it wouldn’t be dangerous anymore

a lot of older games were harder but also ppl were worse at games then

some old games used difficulty to make up for shortness

they could fit way less art on a disk, had worse programming tools, worse computers, etc, so games then were often way shorter and smaller

so they’d make it hard so u don’t finish too fast

or so u spend more quarters in arcade

but also the gamer audience in the past was early adopters

ppl who care about computers and stuff

nerds

so the avg player was a lot better, more patient, etc

now it’s more mainstream and the random idiots have a lot more money than the tech ppl

b/c there are way more of them

and if you think shit like diablo 3 or assassin’s creed is bad

it has NOTHING on farmville and candy crush

which are what girls play

who could not play assassin’s creed on easy

who would be hard stuck bronze in OW

and those games are HUGE and bring in a ton of money

it’s also what older ppl play

like my parents could not play diablo 3 no matter how ez it is

but they could candy crush

so the REAL mainstream is shit like candy crush

assassins’ creed is just mainstream OF GAMERS

who are 95% male

and 90% under 40

(i made up the stats but u get the idea)

and who have played games for hundreds of hours before

the mainstream of society is 52% women, a lot of old ppl and a lot of little kids who suck at games b/c they get 1 hour of screen time per week (and esp the little girls are commonly AWFUL cuz they get NO HELP to stop sucking, whereas the little boys will get help from their friends or even parents or other resources to learn to play) … and so on … and they make candy crush and farmville ppl rich and would have a hard time playing any game you or I would even consider

mobile gaming is huge b/c ppl have 5 or 10 minutes to waste here or there, it’s not really even similar to what you think gaming is, or even what xbox players think gaming is.

internetrules:

it seems like turn based games could work as mobile

as like actual hard games that you could play

curi:

ppl are impatient and don’t want to strategize, which they find even harder than hitting buttons in real time games

strategy THINKING would be the WORST thing u could put in a game if u want it to be mainstream

that’s probably why the ipad boardgame-like turn based battle games i liked (like battle of the bulge) went out of business

internetrules:

how about for a game that skilled players like in a mobile form?

curi:

there are niche games – ones aimed at smaller groups – but even those are generally too easy for me b/c i’m too much of an outlier

like with boardgames, i’m a really strong chess player so i tend to be way too good at boardgames compared to other ppl

cuz skill carries over

and it’s similar with lots of turn based strategy stuff

and the AIs to play with are always so shitty

even tho the knowledge of how to make much much better AIs exists. it’s available. but game companies basically never seem to do it

is it ok with you if i post this conversation online?

i’ll put your name as internetrulez? how should i spell it?

internetrules:

anything is fine for my name

execpt [my real name]

curi:

ok but tell me spelling

internetrules:

internetrules no caps

curi:

k

i got in a big argument the other day with a guy who didn’t understand not capitalizing all internet names >>

he was like u always capitalize proper nouns

like the iPhone????????

internetrules:

i remember that in discord

curi:

ya


Elliot Temple on November 25, 2018

Comments (4)

> ppl are impatient and don’t want to strategize, which they find even harder than hitting buttons in real time games

>

> strategy THINKING would be the WORST thing u could put in a game if u want it to be mainstream

>

> that’s probably why the ipad boardgame-like turn based battle games i liked (like battle of the bulge) went out of business

Does anyone know of a good single-player strategy game?


anonymous at 7:02 AM on December 3, 2018 | #11442 | reply | quote

Specifically, I want one that starts out relatively easy and builds up. I've always sucked at chess.


anonymous at 7:11 AM on December 3, 2018 | #11443 | reply | quote

#11443

Hoplite is awesome. I play it a few times a day on my iPhone. The more I play it the more I love it.


GISTE at 7:58 AM on December 3, 2018 | #11444 | reply | quote

#11443

Hoplite has a tutorial that teaches the basics in steps.


Anonymous at 8:00 AM on December 3, 2018 | #11445 | reply | quote

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)