For quite some time Iíve had some rather unusual thoughts about the structure of gameplay difficulty, and Iím glad that I have some incentive to fully explore and distill these concepts into a cogent argument.
Consider this common scenario from the average gamerís life. Your favorite developer announces a new title at a conference, be it E3, GDC, TGS, or Leipzig. You have never been so excited! You wait for a year or two, keeping up with all of the news and previews, eagerly awaiting your chance to play it. Early reviews say that it is really good, but has some issues with the difficulty curve. You think to yourself ďBah! Iíve been playing games for years, Iím sure it will be fine.Ē
The release date is finally here; you walk into your local game shop and plop down the $50 or $60. You take it home, carefully peal back the cellophane, take a quick sniff and pop the disc into your system. You get everything ready, get yourself a nice coffee, take the phone off the hook, lock your door, turn down the lights, and settle in for a night of relaxation. Controller in hand, you are ready.
Two hours in, and the pacing is fine. You wonder what those reviewers were whining
about. You havenít had any trouble. Maybe they just sucked. You get to your first boss fight and you start having some trouble. You get killed. You think itís no big deal; you reload a save and try again. Youíre slaughtered. A little annoyed you rethink your battle plan, go grab a few more healing items and tackle it again. Nope. Bitch-slapped by some psychic alien you start shouting in frustration. Again you try, and again you fail. Ultimately, you give up and head to the forums to rip your favorite devís latest IP a new one.
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