There will be no difficulty slider as long as...

| Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I'm not a very good gamer. There, I said it. I get disoriented easily. I get jumpy, trigger-happy, and my aim goes to shit. Alternatively, I am overly cautious, a sensible habit given my inability to walk into a crowd of enemies and score a dozen headshots in a second. But then if there is a timer of any sort, oh then that's trouble indeed.

I'm the reason games have difficulty sliders.

Why do online games so rarely have difficulty sliders?

There's an obvious case for not having them in PvP: that is, that they make it unbalanced. Skill falls out. That wouldn't be very good at all. It's the same as why no one likes playing against cheaters. Uh... pay no attention to the gear behind the curtain.

But why not raids? If I can't kill Lich King on normal, why not have an option to dial back the growth rate of defile? Lower the health or speed of valkyr? Why not?


Nils said...

If you combine this with less rewards for lower difficulty, it would be a reasonable game.

I wouldn't play it, however, because the resulting MMORPG-world would feel too inconsistent, and generally absurd.

Celendus said...

WoW sort of does; you operate the slider by waiting several months. Only slides one way though.

Tesh said...

Seems to me that difficulty sliders are only important to you as a dev if you want more people to see the content you created. Once that question is answered in the "moar ppl, plz" direction, difficulty sliders make a lot of sense. (And for instanced content, it's even easier; the isolation makes for better tuning and the irrelevance to the world at large means you don't have to care about inconsistencies.)

If, on the other hand, you're making a game world and don't care if everyone sees everything, just make each piece of it the way you want and tell the whiners to suck it up and send in $15.

...I'm not touching PvP, skill and gear. Too big of a tangent. :P

Max said...

Btw pvp skill level disparity is solvable . In fact in instance environment its solved .- Ratings . It is a proven solution which works

Klepsacovic said...

@Nils: what is a reward? Is the gear I get from killing a boss a reward or a necessarily item to be able to kill the next? The fuzziness on this causes all sorts of problems.

@Celendus: The inevitable nerfs are one way to do it, but perhaps aren't very elegant.

You enter the room.
You have been eaten by a Grue.

Easy will ruin the game for a skilled player, but for the total noob, easy is as deadly as hard. In this way a fight can be nearly impossible for everyone, or moderate for everyone. In this way a slider can actually add to the world, sp that on one hand, noobs can see the world, while also ensuring that veteran players can still be challenged. How this is implemented matters.

@Max: Ratings would be nice, but they don't fix the skill-gear conflict, and in the case of WoW can even make it worse, with stronger gear having higher ratings. It goes back to what I asked Nils; is gear a reward or a tool?

Nils said...

A reward needs to be useful to be a reward. There are ways to give rewards that are useful, but not for playing the game. Achievements and titles are examples.
But a powerful reward must empower you to do something you couldn't have done before. This is not some arbitrary link Blizzard created here; it is almost a necessity.

Tesh said...

Oh, don't get me wrong, I think that a difficulty slider/reactive-adaptive difficulty would be a great addition to an MMO. I just doubt that devs want to deal with it... if they even think of it.

Glyph, the Architect said...

There are two reasons it doesn't exist: the social aspect and the replayability.

The "Hey look at all these sweet purples ain't I awesome" factor keeps a lot of people playing. If such a difficulty slider existed, everyone could win and by default all of that gear the boss drops would be entirely meaningless from a trophy perspective. Winning a go kart race has no meaning if the only other racer is an RC car topping out at 5 mph.

If there were a difficulty slider, then everyone would just set it to "Easy" and beat it a few times, then quit playing from boredom. Quit playing = lost subscription money.

Klepsacovic said...

The slider could be set to give weaker purples, with the hardest difficulty setting giving the highest stats and full appearance, while weaker gear would be progressively weaker and pinker.

Shintar said...

I really don't like difficulty sliders in an MMO (and I already don't like the current hard mode system), but I find it hard to explain why. I like challenge, but I don't like having it only for its own sake. It's got to be part of the immersion, as in: the dragon is hard to beat because it's a dragon. Not: the dragon is hard to beat because I set the game to "hard" but I could also make it as unthreatening as a sheep by changing the difficulty.

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