Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairness

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maethlin
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Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairness

Post by maethlin » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:33 pm

While I absolutely love this game and feel like I can finish it just fine with the help of the hints forum when I get completely stuck, now that I've hit the ripe old age of 41 and see people up to 70 years old playing the game, it strikes me that, alongside all the glowing reviews as well as nitpicky complaints, there are a set of changes to be recommended not just because of preference, but to actually make the game playable to everyone who truly wants to enjoy it.

That may not be all that clear, so I'll just list the things I'm talking about and it should become clear. Note, I am VERY used to seeing people freak out at any suggestion that makes the game easier, but the things I am talking about aren't about making the game "easier" per-se just for the sake of reducing difficulty, but asking for options that allow people to even play it successfully in the first place. That is to say, people that are not normal baseline 16-50 year olds with decent reflexes that is.

a) I'm surprised to even include this myself, but after reading that arachnophobia thread, it seems this is a much more widespread condition than I thought.... there should definitely be an option to turn spiders into some other creature, assuming it could be done w/relative ease (even if it was a less-than perfect re-skinning w/slightly different sounds).

b) Timed puzzles, I'm not a huge fan of these (don't mind them very much either though) but I'm perfectly able to do them. That said, if I want to fire this game up 20/30 years from now (not as crazy as it sounds) it's very possible that it would be completely impossible for me to do so, particularly for closely timed puzzles. Yes they are very cool/fun/exciting for people who like them exactly as-is, so leave that as default. However, consider putting a difficulty slider on these. I honestly think you could cut down the speed of these puzzles by half and still retain 100% or almost 100% of the enjoyment for a LOT of people, particularly those who are agility-challenged but still want to play a solid puzzler game.

c) Creature slowdown - this is certain to be controversial as people will scream GO PLAY FABLE IF YOU WANT EASY WE ARE HARDCORE OVER HERE but again, I'm not asking for a huge change... I think the difficulty is perfect as-is, and I know there is an "easy" mode which should reduce monster strength. But for older/slower/more-relaxed players, they very well may like monster power exactly as-is, but still find it difficult/impossible/not-fun to test their twitch reflexes so much in fighting creatures. A 25% reduction in speed (maybe not even that much) would keep the game very fun for these people, with hard hitting creatures that are still a blast to battle, but don't require such extreme precision/dexterity to fight.

Again, for me the game is actually perfect as-is (except possibly the timed puzzles, which are still doable but not really all that fun on a subjective basis). But I do think having options to reduce the demand for fast-twitch reflexes would improve the game for a lot of people who want to or need to tweak the speed in order to enjoy the game.

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Mychaelh
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by Mychaelh » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:50 pm

I have no problem with this at all, as long as development time goes in hardcore-stuff first and 'downward difficult options' second.

maethlin
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by maethlin » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:57 pm

Mychaelh wrote:I have no problem with this at all, as long as development time goes in hardcore-stuff first and 'downward difficult options' second.
Yeah, ironically even though I wrote that whole novel of a request, when it comes down to it for selfish reasons I'd much rather see dev time go into neeto expansions and such while keeping the game as-is. However if some of these changes are relatively trivial, it would be a cool addition that could broaden the playerbase.

Myeka
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by Myeka » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:21 pm

This is a very interesting post and i'll try to answer it with my vision of what 'difficulty' is and what are the problems linked to the question: "how to make a game where all players can match their desired difficulty level".

First of all, difficulty is a subjective concept: what someone will describe as easy, some others will describe as hard. So when you're launching a game and face the 'choose difficulty' panel, you just can't know what the designers mean by 'easy' and by 'hard'. You just can guess that 'easy' is for 'casual' gamers (I don't like this term :cry: ) and 'hard' for the hardcore ones.

Second of all, difficulty is skill related. It's easy for a mechanic to fix a car because he has the required skills to do it. This is the same thing in games: you'll find a fight easy because you have the required skills to beat it (dexterity, reflex, precision, etc.) or you'll find the answer to a puzzle because you've good in the required skills too (cunning, measurement, familiarity with similar puzzles, etc.). This becomes really complicated when game mechanics ask the player multiple different kind of skills (like LoG: you need 'swift' and 'cunning' skills) because you can be very good in solving puzzle but very bad in fighting (or the opposite).

Third of all, difficulty is related to learning and experience. A mechanic know how to fix a car because he learned how to do it (in school or by himself). So here comes the learning curve problem. People don't learn at the same speed, and you may want to start a game in easy mode, which is suitable for you at the beginning, but you become bored because you've learned how to move and act way too quickly, so the game becomes too easy for you. This is a very old and serious problem in game design and no one has ever found any solution yet. They have tried the "auto-adjust" difficulty solution, but it doesn't work for a bunch of reason I won't explain here since it's not the point.

All of this to say it's really hard to describe a general game as "easy" or "hard, especially when different kind of skills are required.

So if i'm getting this right, you are proposing to add some new difficulty options, so you would be able to set the difficulty level for each aspect of the game (timed puzzle and fights). I think it's actually a good idea, but you should stick to these settings and no more, because it would become a pain in the ass if a player has to choose between a bunch of difficulty settings before playing the game.


To sum up, i agree with you about the difficulty settings, especially for the "timed puzzles" one which can be an issue for some people who found the solution but are unable to perform it. But I think it's a mistake to wanna make a game suitable for all in term of difficulty. The game is what the designers want it to be, and they're also making a game to please a specific kind of people (in this case, the old school dungeon crawling lovers). I think the solution is in the level design, maybe it would be nice to make levels with specifics contents (like one more focused on battle, another one on puzzles, and another one on timed puzzles, etc.) so everyone could enjoy the game by playing on levels that match their tastes.

When the level editor comes up, It would be a good idea to have the possibility of "tagging" a level (or group of levels), I have to think about it ... :)

Note : I wrote this post following the flow of my thoughts, that's why it is so ... messy :) I'll make a more organized post about this in the future.
Last edited by Myeka on Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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stubbie
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by stubbie » Sat Apr 14, 2012 1:39 pm

A good topic.
Basically the OP is just suggesting that the devs give us gamers more options to suit a broader range of players. Not a bad idea.

Just let me add that my only problem with the game is my inability to use WASD/QE keys properly when the combat is realtime and the enemies move so fast. Timed quests can also cause me grief.
It is probably not an issue for a lot of gamers who regularly play FPS's (which I don't) and perhaps I am having a problem with it because I am getting old, but never the less it is a real problem for me. I would welcome some way to either slow down the enemies slightly or suggest some other way to move around in the game.
And please don't tell me that I can use the games mouse set up to move and strafe as well as right clicking to attack and cast spells...that just ain't gonna happen. In fact can anyone actually use the mouse like that?

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Halk
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by Halk » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:01 pm

I've said quite a few times in many threads that the UI should not be the opponent. It should be the player making choices, deciding things under pressure, choosing what to do. It shouldn't be a fight against the UI. So in some ways I agree. I'll look at the three things specifically though! :)

a) I'n just as surprised. However you need not fret as while I don't know that the devs will change it themselves, it will be one of the very first things that is modified by end users. Personally I found the spiders from both EoTB and DM to be worse than these.

b) There's two things here.. there is another thread talking about the way this particular game does not buffer movement commands, unlike most others in the genre. I believe if it buffered the next move while you were moving then timed puzzles (and gameplay in general) would be considerably improved and the fight against the UI would be helped. As for the timed puzzles, I'm on the fence there. The puzzle isn't a puzzle if you can blunder through it by accident. I'm ill at the moment and off my work and I struggle to do what I normally would do, but I can still manage the timed puzzles if I focus for a short period. I think perhaps the buffer issue might solve them.. or at least mitigate them. However I'd like the devs to be more specific with the difficulty levels. Perhaps a slowdown setting which would slow down timed events and monsters by a small amount.

c) I'm noticing that my old DM skills are coming back quite fast. I did initially think I wasn't up to the challenge any more, but I'm finding it's like riding a bike. However I think it'd be wise for the devs to have some kind of slowdown option, so that everybody could enjoy the game. Even those of us with age related problems in our wrists etc.

There is one piece of third party software I saw mentioned somewhere that allows you to speed up and slow down a game. I saw it mentioned and didn't take note of the name of it. Perhaps you might try and find that?

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Dandy
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by Dandy » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:40 pm

It wasn't the spiders themselves that I found to be a problem, it was more the poison damage. Boredom quickly set in.
I really dislike timed puzzles which in a sense are not puzzles. You know exactly how to solve it but can't due to being uncomfortable with the controls.
I would definitely have preferred the game to run slower, more like the original Dungeon master. The speed in which LOG ran, did not feel right to me.
Dungeon Legend about the Master of Grimrock

Whisper
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by Whisper » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:55 pm

stubbie wrote:A good topic.
Basically the OP is just suggesting that the devs give us gamers more options to suit a broader range of players. Not a bad idea.
Myself, I wouldnt mind extra-Hard difficulty.


2 OP: why do you think this game was created by small team of developers, from their own funds?
Also, while you are this - also ask for quest compass that shows secrets.

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Jack Dandy
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by Jack Dandy » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:55 pm

The point is:
I don't expect, and neither do I wish for the developers to waste time on getting everybody and their grandmother to be able to play this.
At the end of the day, this kind of game is basically an action-RPG, and it should remain as such. A great balance between player skill, they way he plans the party's stats, and some healthy brainwork.

If some people are having trouble with the game, they should either get better, switch to easy mode, or simply find another game to play. Plenty of them out there, fitting all sorts of skill levels.

I think the dev's design choices were perfect for this game, and I see no reason on wasting time to "fix" it (dumbing it down) while there are other, far more important additions that could make the game even better.

Feel free to call me mean or intolerant or whatever.

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Dandy
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Re: Options for Frustration Reduction and Age/Ability Fairne

Post by Dandy » Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:06 pm

Jack Dandy wrote:
Feel free to call me mean or intolerant or whatever.
I choose to call you a cute little fishy. :)
Dungeon Legend about the Master of Grimrock

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