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RaychelSnr's Blog
Difficulty Levels...a new way forward? Stuck
Posted on January 13, 2010 at 02:22 PM.
I've always thought there had to be a better way to do difficulty levels.

Let's face it, it seems as if many sports games over the past decade have been even more shady than Wall Street Bankers when it comes to disclosing exactly how their difficulty levels work. Granted, many teams have gotten better over the past few years, but there is still a bit of a mystery as to exactly how All-Madden differs from All-Pro or Amateur is different from Veteran.

I think it's time every sports game adopts an open, honest, and customizable set of difficulty sliders which control every aspect of the game on the field from the AI down to the minuscule interactions you see. Some games are doing this in some forms already, some aren't. I'm calling for a bit of a universal approach here with a bit more power behind them all.

In an ideal world, you should be able to see exactly how the difficulty levels work and you could then adjust them. I have no problem if the highest difficulty level involves a tougher AI along with a bit of a speed bonus for the computer, but why not give us the option to fully customize the game's difficulty to fit us and to see what tougher difficulty levels entail?

While I do know many games are doing this, at least partially, I really want them all to take difficulty levels in a new direction. I could see a day where instead of difficulty levels, there are difficulty presets where you can set a game to perform in a certain manner. And of course, how cool would it be to be able to share your difficulty pre-sets in an online type of exchange, eliminating the need to share slider settings through a third party?

How do you feel about difficulty levels? Do games do a good enough job in your mind and am I just being nitpicky or am I onto something here? Sound off!
# 1 RaychelSnr @ Jan 13
I think a difficulty presets concept is tailor made for what you are walking about wsu.

You could have an authentic - Difficult preset and a Offense Heavy - Difficult presets among many other things you could imagine, all of which would be customizable. I think the possibilities would really be endless.
# 2 luv_mist @ Jan 13
I really would love for the detail of everything to be disclosed in regards to the difficulty setting. That way, I can adjust the A.I. to the proper level of competition. For a few years the defensive computer in the 2K series would catch the human player on the fast break which was impossible to adjust. If we could get slider settings with understandings to the game and their impact, it could open up so much more. Give us percentages so we can open up the game.

One small problem is the possibility of them shipping out subpar half-done games. We can only hope that they eventually open up doorways and horizons for us.
# 3 Mofficial @ Jan 13
For those that have heard of Demon's Souls and may have played it, I simply think that that's how many games should be. It just is what it is. As wsu_gb23 said, there just needs to be an "authentic" or "true-to-life" difficulty. I completely agree with your ideas in that you should be able to fully customize settings. I also think that MANUALS should play a very big role in how you play the game. I'm realizing that the manual that comes with games aren't nearly as thick as they used to be or should be. It should tell you how everything you can do, works. Everything.

However, back to the Demon's Souls thing, Gamespot made a good point in that many were realizing, "OMG! I'm actually SUPPOSED to die in this thing!" The computer should be trying its very best to beat you. Of course, you level up in Demon's Souls making the beginner levels a ton easier when you go back to them, however I don't think it should be any different in Madden. The weaker teams should be, well, weaker! Of course there are other variables, but for the most part you should definitely feel and recognize the disparity between skill levels in all aspects. And then you have stronger teams that become more focus and hungrier as you get deeper in the playoffs. I believe that that is all you need in terms of difficulty in Madden.

As a last thought, I've always believed All-Madden should be that "Authentic" difficulty setting, where you MUST know football and your personnel and stick skills in order to win. The others should be settings that build up, with rookie being arcady and playful. Pro should get you to work on your football knowledge and stick skill and All-Pro should really challenge your stick skill if you still do not know the laws that govern football in and out. All-Madden should make you think and take in to consideration all of your options.
# 4 geezmeister @ Jan 14
I completely agree. on most sports games i play it feels as if the computer does cheap things to keep the game close instead of feeling like i truly had good competition. I know that's a very vague statement but thats how it feels a lot of the time
# 5 eeyor @ Jan 14
nhl2k10 did this very well by not having any AI bonus exept for slider changes in favor of the cpu if you bump up the diffuculty.
Also in my opinion difficulty should have nothing to do with your play style. It should in the best case only improve the AI's gameplay on an overal level. Bonuses in this scenario should not be there. But I think this is not gonna to happen until the new console generation arises.
# 6 LucianoJJ @ Jan 16
One of the previous versions of FIFA on PC had a pop-up that would advise you when you needed to move up or down difficulty-wise. As much as I didn't like the Tron design, the opening to Madden 09, and its custom difficulty setting based on your performance in the mini-games was a good idea. The developers should list guidelines for difficulty. For some of us, sim-style results are what we want.
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