My old sparring partner from Develop magazine and elsewhere, Daniel Boutros, has a piece about game difficulty up on Gamasutra (originally in Game Developer) entitled Difficulty is Difficult. Here's an extract:
When your company budgets for tuning of difficulty levels,
the result is extended longevity for the game, and increased enjoyment for
players at all levels. It goes without saying that games should be appropriate
for their target players on all levels, providing challenges for each skillset.
One important thing to remember, which has been creeping into games recently,
is that players aren't often able to determine their own difficulty levels.
They may think their skill level is far above or far below the actuality.
Dan's thoughts on game design have continued to improve with each passing year, and this piece is his best yet, combining interviews with the designers on various well-known game projects with his own perspective.
Well written article by Dan.
It seems like it would benefit game designers quite a lot to take difficulty tweaking more seriously during the development process. What use is great level design in a FPS game if all the AI knows exactly where you are? Proper difficulty could turn good games into something closer to a masterpiece.
P.S., you can link offsite to articles like this more frequently. I won't mind :)
Posted by: dj i/o | September 17, 2008 at 06:36 PM
When your company budgets for tuning of difficulty levels, the result is extended longevity for the game, and increased enjoyment for players at all levels. It goes without saying that games should be appropriate for their target players on all levels, providing challenges for each skillset.
Posted by: James | September 18, 2008 at 09:04 PM
James: I'm sure you intended to do more than just quote from the post... Probably an internet burp - it happens! :)
dj i/o: yes, sorry, I've been really lax about cross-posting recently. In the early days, I used to do it all the time, but it's rather fallen into disrepair recently.
I think my problem is that there are so many content aggregators (Kotaku, Slashdot etc.) out there that I just assume that reposting links is a waste of everyone's time - won't they see such-and-such on the aggregators? So instead I focus on what I do that's unique in the blog community, which is ramble incessantly on random topics no-one else would touch with a bargepole. :D
I wonder how many other players here would appreciate more cross-posting though? It wouldn't be hard to do if I was planning to do it. Possible future poll idea. ;)
I'll think about this, and especially on Wednesday which is "games day" anyway.
Posted by: Chris | September 19, 2008 at 08:51 AM