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CrashFu

"Games were so much better / harder when I was a kid"

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I hate it when pretentious retro gamers say that.

Sure, sometimes that's true; Back in the 8-through-64 bit eras there were some real gems that would still stand up today (although a lot of the 3D ones are hard to look at now), and some of them were also pretty challenging.

But people generalize these statements to an extreme, and I just don't think that's fair. For starters, I think these folks have a chronic case of nostalgia goggles, only remembering the very best of the games they played (and remembering them however they want)

Plus, y'know... games you play as a kid seem better and harder BECAUSE YOU WERE A KID THEN, IE your standard of quality was MUCH lower than it is now and you probably weren't that good at video games yet.

In particular I see this sort of thing crop up in regards to point and click adventures. Like, people accused Broken Age of being "way too easy" and that's just preposterous; I only got into point-and-clicks as an adult and I've played a bunch of them, from the lucas-arts classics to modern returns to the genre, and from what I've seen, few really deviate in difficulty in any way. Definitely a case of "you were like 10 years old the last time you tried to play one so you were probably too dumb to figure out the puzzles then"

Anybody agree? Disagree? (and yes I know some games today ARE poorly made or more casual than they should be, but I'm talking about wide-spread generalizations here)

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Well, the big example is NeoGaf getting butthurt about Undertale beating Mario and Zelda games in the Best Game Ever Tournament.

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Games were much harder back in the day... but that didn't make them more fun. It just meant they weren't as accessible.

Now that games are easier, it's a lot easier to get people into them, which is better for everyone, surely? I mean, if you can convince your partner to play Lego whatever with you, isn't that a win for you both?

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Now that games are easier, it's a lot easier to get people into them, which is better for everyone, surely?

It's a good thing, unless you're that type of arrogant nerd who knows what's best for everyone, has a gatekeeper complex, and is uncomfortable with liking anything that feels too "mainstream" out of fear that it might indicate that your tastes are simple and plebeian.

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Also there's an argument that the sort of difficulty in old games isn't REAL difficulty.

Like, imagine that you're learning the Piano.

Every time you made a mistake on the piano, you had to start again from the beginning of the piece. You'd learn REALLY slow that way. That's what a lot of games did.

Now Imagine that you were only allowed to make 5 mistakes, and then the instructor cuts your fingers off.

Nobody would deny that learning the piano would be really hard that way.

But ... learning the piano the usual way is just as difficult, you're learning the exact same set of skills. It's just more forgiving, is all. It might take you lots of practice and many years, but eventually you can get good at the piano.

Same with games. There are plenty of games that exist now whose moment-to-moment gameplay is just as hard or even harder than old style games, but it's just that failure tends to set you back less now. You can keep trying or work around the failures somehow. Like, say, Super Meat boy has some very tricky levels. But you can insta-restart as many times as you like and keep on trying until you get it, and the levels are really short so that you're never put back very far. But passing that challenge of reflexes is still just as hard as it would have been if they'd given you limited lives and made the levels 5 times as long. It's just more reasonable.

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Also there's an argument that the sort of difficulty in old games isn't REAL difficulty.

Like, imagine that you're learning the Piano.

Every time you made a mistake on the piano, you had to start again from the beginning of the piece. You'd learn REALLY slow that way. That's what a lot of games did.

Now Imagine that you were only allowed to make 5 mistakes, and then the instructor cuts your fingers off.

Now imagine that you're learning to play the piano, you are only allowed five mistakes, but every time you go to press the correct note on the keys, you have to win a coin toss or else you're not allowed to press the correct note which fcks up the whole song and makes you start over. It's a new piano roguelike I'm working on. It's REALLY hard, as you can see.

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In general, I agree. Although like someone said before me, there were games that were more difficult but that doesn't always make them better.

I remember as a kid I had a sega genesis and some games were relatively easy, but I had many games that I remember being really hard. A few years ago I downloaded an emulator to try some of these games again and.... they were still hard. Some impossibly hard. But I would largely consider their difficulty due to poor game mechanics. Some were barely playable.

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arcade games had to be hard in order to get ALL YOUR QUARTERS! imagine a kid sitting in your arcade all day on one machine having only paid one quarter. that's no good.

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arcade games had to be hard in order to get ALL YOUR QUARTERS! imagine a kid sitting in your arcade all day on one machine having only paid one quarter. that's no good.

This is true. You know what annoys me, though? People in game dev who genuinely think that quarter-fishing principle of arcade game design is the same thing as the freemium model, therefore the freemium model is awesome if you think about it.

I have seen this sentiment espoused by more than one game dev. My teeth clench every time.

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arcade games had to be hard in order to get ALL YOUR QUARTERS! imagine a kid sitting in your arcade all day on one machine having only paid one quarter. that's no good.

And as early console games were very much inspired by arcade games, the difficulty carried through even though much of the reason for it was lost.

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arcade games had to be hard in order to get ALL YOUR QUARTERS! imagine a kid sitting in your arcade all day on one machine having only paid one quarter. that's no good.

And as early console games were very much inspired by arcade games, the difficulty carried through even though much of the reason for it was lost.

True. Remember how on a lot of the console games, if you ran out of lives, you still got the CONTINUE? screen with the countdown?

At an arcade you'd put a quarter in there, but on a console "insert coin" was just replaced with "press start". xD

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arcade games had to be hard in order to get ALL YOUR QUARTERS! imagine a kid sitting in your arcade all day on one machine having only paid one quarter. that's no good.

This is true. You know what annoys me, though? People in game dev who genuinely think that quarter-fishing principle of arcade game design is the same thing as the freemium model, therefore the freemium model is awesome if you think about it.

I have seen this sentiment espoused by more than one game dev. My teeth clench every time.

Ehhh, I'm not sure I agree that the quarter-fishing principle is inherently a bad thing because its so closely tied to the "one more go" factor

Like sure, a game can be stupid hard. But no one is gonna play a stupid hard game thats bad or no fun to play over and over. Even if arcade games are a blatant cash grab, you have to provide SOME value to the player to motivate then to keep going, and you definitely have to have the player's best interest in mind to achieve that

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arcade games had to be hard in order to get ALL YOUR QUARTERS! imagine a kid sitting in your arcade all day on one machine having only paid one quarter. that's no good.

This is true. You know what annoys me, though? People in game dev who genuinely think that quarter-fishing principle of arcade game design is the same thing as the freemium model, therefore the freemium model is awesome if you think about it.

I have seen this sentiment espoused by more than one game dev. My teeth clench every time.

Ehhh, I'm not sure I agree that the quarter-fishing principle is inherently a bad thing because its so closely tied to the "one more go" factor

Like sure, a game can be stupid hard. But no one is gonna play a stupid hard game thats bad or no fun to play over and over. Even if arcade games are a blatant cash grab, you have to provide SOME value to the player to motivate then to keep going, and you definitely have to have the player's best interest in mind to achieve that

I actually don't have a problem with the arcade game one-more-go model (which one might reason is just a descendant of carnival games, such as throwing a ball at a target to win a stuffed tiger, etc, which use the very same model). What I have a problem with is the belief that the arcade game model is categorically equivalent to freemium, which is a model I do have a problem with.

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Ah, some good points brought up about the transition from arcades..

I think a lot of it was also that back then, most gamers didn't have like 100 different unplayed games in their backlog at any given time; you (or your parents) would probably only get a new game a couple times a year, so it had to LAST. Most games couldn't just be made with literally months worth of content on the budget / time restraints / data-size restraints involved, though, so to compensate the developers just made it take as long as possible to accomplish very little in them? Very similar to how subscription-based MMOs were designed to keep people subscribed for a long time (unfortunately designs that needlessly carried over to modern freemium MMOs, the same way Arcade game quarter-eating design carried over to consoles)

I've also wondered if back then, developers might have had some sort of contracts going with publishers of strategy guides? There were so many games where you would probably never figure out what you were supposed to do or where you were supposed to go or a particular boss' secret weakness that you couldn't possibly defeat them without and have no way to guess, unless you bought the big expensive strategy guide. Like, could you imagine playing Zelda 1 for the first time without ANY hints or clues? That game tells you almost nothing by itself. (as much as I loved it when I was like 8 or whatever, I never got anywhere in it. Just wandered around at random and maybe stumbled into one or two accessible dungeons)

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