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Old 08 November 2019, 01:08   #1
markpjd
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Lightbulb Game difficulty between then and now?

Hi all,

So I fired up a couple of emulators today, namely the C64 and WinUAE. I started playing Treasure Island Dizzy on the C64 and was looking at the differences between that version and the Amiga version.

I realised that you get one life in Treasure Island Dizzy, so you could go an hour into the game, die, and that's the end of it! (no save games in those days!).

Which makes me think. Were games actually a lot harder/challenging than the games of today? I'll be honest, I don't play a lot of modern games these days.

Do you think that games of the past required more brain power and endurance?
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Old 08 November 2019, 01:38   #2
Cherno
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Quite a complex topic. there are different aspects to it.
Games back then were often times a direct conversion or at least inspired by Arcade games, where a game had to be hard so a player would throw his quarters in into the machine many, many times before he could beat it. This spirit held on even when games became more than one-room-per-level affairs and more complex storylines were introduced. Then there's the fact that videogames were commonly developed by one or two persons, maybe a sound guy as well. There was little in the way of game development best practices and developers were often bad business people so they didn't give customer satisfaction too much thought. As teams became larger, budgets rose and publishers became more involved in the design process to make sure their investment would bring back profits (of course, there were, and are, still more than enough bad games released!). Today, games might be just as hard as back then, but failure is not as punishing since you can often respawn right were your character died, you might even have a quicksave feature, or at least one or more save points throughout a level, The popular "Iron Man" game modes with permadeath are normally only selectable once you have beaten the game on normal difficulty to prevent frustrating a new player who may have chosen it by accident. Roguelikes are a different story but I don't like them anyway

Edit: You could also argue that the "trial and error" gameplay (*cough* Rick Dangerous *cough* Leisrue Suit Larry *cough*) is a thing of the past for good reasons.
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Old 08 November 2019, 09:44   #3
Steril707
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Modern games should have a nice difficulty curve.
Means, in the first level you should just get accustomed to the game play. You shouldn't need more than two to three tries to get through the first level.

After that you slowly increase difficulty, until around 2/3s of the game you start to crush the player...
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Old 08 November 2019, 13:45   #4
lordofchaos
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Modern games are definitely easier to finish than the old ones, design and the need for player satisfaction taken a lot more seriously, plus it's a more mature industry with many lessons being adapted and shared.

Reasons for not completing modern games usually = Boredom
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Old 08 November 2019, 15:49   #5
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Modern AAA games surely, but modern indie games can still bite a chunk out of your bum and then offer it back to you as a snack. By design.
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Old 08 November 2019, 15:51   #6
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Depends on the game.
There are modern games that still follow the 'simple to learn but hard to master' arcades rule, but unlike many of past games they now are actually fair, so if you've got patience to learn the mechanics, the levels and/or the enemy patterns as soon as you manage to up your skills they suddenly become easier than everything released back then (Soulsborne series & clones, many indie games such as Spelunky, Celeste, Cuphead, ...).
Those kind of games are unfortunately the minority, though, so I agree that most of modern games are basically just interactive movies, at least when played at normal difficulty and below.
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Old 08 November 2019, 16:14   #7
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Originally Posted by markpjd View Post
Hi all,

So I fired up a couple of emulators today, namely the C64 and WinUAE. I started playing Treasure Island Dizzy on the C64 and was looking at the differences between that version and the Amiga version.

I realised that you get one life in Treasure Island Dizzy, so you could go an hour into the game, die, and that's the end of it! (no save games in those days!).

Which makes me think. Were games actually a lot harder/challenging than the games of today? I'll be honest, I don't play a lot of modern games these days.

Do you think that games of the past required more brain power and endurance?
There are modern retro-looking games or remakes that are infuriatingly difficult, e.g. Jump King. And Tetris/Guitar Hero type games that are Jeff Minter-stressful and unforgiving.

You can also find a challenge in online shooters and Starcraft/Diablo type games that have no real upper limit.

Today, games that hold your hand and/or let you play at your own pace are called 'casual', e.g. Minecraft. You can also play most of them casually, or "go for it".



There are also speedruns, and this is a mode that can be used for any game however basic, because it's like a scoreboard; the game doesn't really matter.


So if someone thinks older games are harder, that's true for some of them, mostly arcade action. The games haven't changed, only you and any peripherals. So check first that you have quick reflexes still, and that you have nothing that impairs you such as a weird or wonky joystick, screen or interface with input lag, or a screen with blurry motion. Emulation adds input lag.
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Old 08 November 2019, 18:53   #8
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I think a lot of modern games are designed more around casino/gambling style games where there is a seemingly larger reward for winning, and relatively small penalty for losing.
The win/lose ratio is then adjusted so that dopamine hit you get while winning has the maximum effect and keeps you coming back for more. This is why you see lot of "unlocks", and tier-grouped rewards in gameplay these days.
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Old 08 November 2019, 19:47   #9
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Quick saves have made modern games so much easier
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Old 08 November 2019, 21:25   #10
markpjd
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Edit: You could also argue that the "trial and error" gameplay (*cough* Rick Dangerous *cough* Leisrue Suit Larry *cough*) is a thing of the past for good reasons.
Yes, I have noticed this in quite a few games. There are cases in some games where you would not know that a gap or monster was going to be there, unless you had a crystal ball. However, upon replaying it, you then know the next time how to deal with that situation. I guess this kind of helps your memory
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Old 08 November 2019, 21:45   #11
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Originally Posted by th4t1guy View Post
I think a lot of modern games are designed more around casino/gambling style games where there is a seemingly larger reward for winning, and relatively small penalty for losing.
The win/lose ratio is then adjusted so that dopamine hit you get while winning has the maximum effect and keeps you coming back for more. This is why you see lot of "unlocks", and tier-grouped rewards in gameplay these days.
Very true. Which probably made a whole load of marketing people working for these companies to think.......

*Ah*... *I know*....

PAY-PER-WIN!

but I guess that's a whole other subject in its own right!
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Old 19 November 2019, 08:57   #12
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I think older games were more punishing, but not all.

Mercenary, death was an inconvenience but it didn't end your game AND you had save states.

Captive and other dungeon crawlers were save state heaven also.

So given most modern games have an aspect of adventure and story, even though they may use the mechanics of a first person shooter, still require the player to recover from a mistake to take in the full adventure.

So maybe we unfairly judge modern titles because we think all shooters should be arcade hard? (Bioshock springs to mind. A game I gladly played on EASY just so that I could enjoy the full story (the whole trilogy)).

This is NOT what I was expecting myself to write when I started this lol. All fresh thoughts on the topic.

But what is true is, there are not many modern games with the "3 strikes and you're out" mentality.

However....returning to some of the Spectrum Games at the moment, and actually, some are EASIER than I remember them to be.
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Old 19 November 2019, 12:17   #13
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Do you think that games of the past required more brain power and endurance?
No, not really. There are definitely more "stupid" games today; AAA titles with microtransactions, mobile games, the usual suspects.

But there are also vastly more games being released. In the Amiga days the amount of games that you could want to play were limited, it was very easy to keep track of it all even across different platforms. It fit on a Santa wishlist. Today? I have trouble wading through all the new games irrelevant to me just to find the ones that actually hold my interest. It's insanity.
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Old 19 November 2019, 14:57   #14
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I don't think I ever completed a spectrum game (head over heels, batman, heavy on the magick, come on...impossibru). I completed a handful of Amiga games (but only with trainers), and I complete _every_ single PC/Console game I buy. I've definitely not got better at games since getter older so....
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Old 19 November 2019, 18:29   #15
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Rubbish joysticks made old games much harder.
I'm going to look into buying an adaptor for the Bug joystick to work on my Playstation.
I can then use it as a handicap for my mate the next time we play Fifa. LOL
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Old 19 November 2019, 23:43   #16
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No, not really. There are definitely more "stupid" games today
Just Cause is probably the best example! I can't believe my kids play that garbage. Effectively you can't die. You can carry a warehouse full of munitions. You can have a ground attack fighter delivered in a box and take off in around 20 metres. You have a self-furling parachute, a grapnel that hits and sticks to anything, and a permanent batsuit that lets you glide around the world.

There should be a LICENSE to play games! If you can't finish Zork I you can't have one! Bah!
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Old 20 November 2019, 10:54   #17
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Just Cause is a nice sandbox game that allows you to go full postal. I'd rather play that than any of the recent Battlefield games.
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Old 20 November 2019, 13:50   #18
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Just Cause is quite fun, especially if you try to get all steam achievements.

One thing that always made me think is why it was hard for example in Turrican to offer save at the end of each level. Why is it hard to save 5-6 numbers (lives, diamonds, 3 customs + level number)

This would make game far better and easier to finish.

Some games like SuperFrog offered something similar with codes, but they made mini game to get codes. Still better then no option at all, specially for some long games, like Lionheart.
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Old 20 November 2019, 15:58   #19
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It's that "arcade at home" thing that many console games also had. You had continues replacing the input of more coins, not save functions. Or in the case of Turrican, just a trunk load of lives to pickup everywhere.

I can respect the style of game, but modern me just can't play such games hour after hour anymore... I need to be able to quit and continue another time. Thank god emulators have save state functions
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Old 20 November 2019, 20:32   #20
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I'd say most e-sport titles wipes the floor with older games on those aspects
Team play, strategies, reflexes, spatial ability etc

Trial and error + rote memorization isn't really more brain power.

That being said, on average if you include pay to play mobile games.. then yes

*EDIT*
However the pay off for mastering an older game often felt more rewarding than today's games in general. Seeing the battle ship in R-type the first time was amazing.
The best equivalent today would be Artorias in Dark souls, or first quad kill online.

I just don't have the patience.. and the more games I play, the worse it gets :/

Last edited by spiff; 20 November 2019 at 20:41.
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