Jun 30 2014

Why All Games Should Have An Easy Mode

Published by at 10:00 am under Editorials,Video Games

500px-Vita-Chamber

The makers of Bioshock knew they had something genius on their hands, but they wanted a way to ensure everyone knew it. The only way everyone would truly know it is if they got to the “twist” about 2/3 into the game. They talked amongst each other and came up with a plan. A way that everyone could play through the game, no matter how good or how bad they were at FPS’s. That invention was the Vita-Chamber. A way in which you could die in a game, but come back at same point, endlessly if need be. I realize there were probably games and game companies that may have done this before Bioshock, but Bioshock was the first game I remember pretty much insisting I beat the whole game (whilst giving me the tools to do so). To me, I really believe every game should have a vita-chamber option. Though I understand that wont happen (for many reasons), for now I will turn this article into why I think every game should have an easy mode.

IfvideoGamesHadSuperEasyMode3550x307

That is pushing it a little, but if I can finally kill the dog, I am in.

I can tell you, as an avid gamer, there are few things worse than hitting a wall in a game. That single moment you just cannot seem to get past. It may be too hard. You may have missed a tutorial for something you need to specifically do in this area. Or, God forbid, you could be a shitty gamer. Take no shame in that. We are all that at one time or another. The thing is, if you have thrown down sixty bucks (or various lower prices for used wares), you are not paying to play two hours into the game. You are buying that game on the assumption that you should be able to experience that game in full. Would you buy a book if the book could randomly lock you out of the last two chapters if you didn’t read the first ten fast enough or concise enough? Of course you wouldn’t, so why put up with that in any other medium?

I know this article will go up hardcore gamer’s asses, but I want you all to know, I respect you. I respect what you do. You are the types of masochists who want to play through Dark Souls with one hand tied behind and blindfolded. You want a challenge SO extreme, that when you are done with it, you know by default you are one of the toughest, best, most hardcore gamers in the world. You not only want games to have a tough mode, you want them to have a “You Have No F*cking Chance” mode. I also know you will play that mode for 300 hours if that is what it takes for you to beat it. I respect that. I don’t understand it, and I don’t do it myself, but I understand it. I think ALL games should have options for you, too. That is my whole point here, just scale your games in different modes for all types of gamers. I respect hardcore gamers, but hardcore gamers need to respect people like me who want to experience a whole game without wanting to rip out my hair.

Dark-Souls-1-Dragon

I would love to see this entire game? Yet I am not allowed to because…um, I suck? That’s not cool.

Seriously, what about the rest of us gamers who want to play to have fun and lose ourselves in a medium that takes us outside the looping blah of our daily lives and lets us live vicariously in someone’s else’s? We should be shut out of sections of games and finishing games because we are not hardcore gamers? I was a hardcore gamer in my N.E.S days because I had no choice. I bought a game I knew I would have that game for months (no used games to buy back then, kids.), so playing it that way, repetitiously, until I mastered it was a huge part of how I gamed. I said it before and will say it again, I beat Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. You have to be of an adult age and grew up in that era to know just how hardcore that is. Thing is, that was me earning my stripes. I did that for years. I don’t want to have to do that anymore. I buy a game now, I want to see the entirety of that game. I don’t mind if there is a tough boss or tough section here or there (even on easy mode) but my point is, let me enjoy the game the way I want. At least give me the option. I do not have the patience for a game like Dark Souls. I respect what it does and would LOVE to see that game from start to end, but nope. How about throwing a Vita-chamber-esque option in? I know purists will spit at the thought, but what the jackass companies don’t realize is that by doing that, they sell more copies.

supes

Okay, not THAT easy.

I know certain companies (Team Ninja) are known for re-releasing games with lighter difficulty options, but even that is kind of an insult. Here, a new version just for you. Wait, why the shit didn’t you just put an easy mode in the original? I also know Bayonetta is an example that gets people all riled up. It had an automatic mode which pretty much played itself. Thing is, who the shit cares if someone wants to play it that way? Why condemn people who want to do that? I would NEVER play on an automatic mode (as I would get bored), but if anything, I applaud game companies giving options for gamers to experience their entire game the way they want to.

Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto Five finally came up with what I consider to be the greatest “everyone can make it to the ending” option I have ever seen in a game. It is subtle as Hell, and you have to suck considerably for the option to present itself. But in either of those games, if the game itself started noticing you were dying a lot on one mission, they would offer you to skip that section of the mission. This may seem small and insignificant, but it is not. There were moments in old GTA games where MANY gamers just stopped playing (hint, radio controlled vehicle missions) when suddenly, you had to know an all new game mechanic and had to INSTANTLY be good at it. By the 100th time you played it, all love for that game is lost. Of course, Rockstar are geniuses, and figured this out, so in their two best games of all time, you could finish them, no matter what. The stats show that these are the two Rockstar games that have actually been “completed” by more gamers than all their last volumes of this series. What does that tell you?

GTA-5-Screenshot-4

” Wow, man. Thanks for noticing. No one said shit about that “skip section” feature and we were quite proud of it.”

The second funny thing about that is that the one time the option came up for me in GTA 5 (when you had to get and lose a five start wanted level in final stretch of game), I didn’t use it. I was so pumped up by the fact it was there, I kept playing to show the game I didn’t need it, and what do you know, I did it on my own. BUT, the game presented me the option, and that is amazing.

So I implore all future game developers, put an easy mode in all your games (put a hardcore mode, too, for all those purists). Ultimately, ensure we can play the game we want to. Also, ensure we can see all of the work and all the thought you and all the writers and artists and coders put into your video games. If I purchase your game, that is in hopes to get to experience all of it. If adding an easy mode (or life chamber, or clone drop, or whatever you choose to call it) would ensure that, why not do it? We are not all hardcore gamers. Some of us just need to escape our lives sometimes. Death to the rage quit. Up with Easy mode!

stress

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18 responses so far

  • cypher20

    Yes, yes, yes, and let me think . . . YES. I completely agree. I respect hardcore gamers and that they game in a different way then I do. That’s fine, we’re all individuals. That said, I see no reason to not have an easy mode in games and let people experience the whole game sans frustration. There are a lot of ways you can do this, another way is to take the route Supergiant does with Bastion and Transistor. In both those games you gain options that will make the game harder. You can make bad guys tougher, debuff your character, have enemies spawn more, etc etc and it is great. You can turn on as few or many as you want and put the challenge right where you want it to be.

    However it is done, I think it is a good goal. Now ultimately, the only downside is when devs just tweak the numbers and call it “hard mode” or “easy mode”. So yes, to do this right you need to make some more changes other then “bad guys now become bullet sponges, replace player’s LMG with a BB gun”, but I think it is well worth it and can lead to increased sales.

    I can only speak for myself but I’d love to play Dark Souls, it’s just that all I hear is how hard it is so I refuse to buy it, even though it was only $5 on Steam recently.

    • Remy Carreiro

      That is the rub. Devs want to change their modes by adding more enemies or making enemies bullet sponges, when far more delicate tweaks could be done to truly test hardcore gamer’s mettle.

      • Vonter

        I believe the issue is more of the game having a good difficulty curve, like the Arkham games, getting the difficulty gradual and being intuitive with teching you everything you need. Otherwise the game gets overwhelming (*insert you strategy game here*) or a picnic (Twilight Princess).

        • Remy Carreiro

          First two Arkham games are great examples of that. Good call.

  • Nick

    I don’t think adding an easy mode to Dark Souls would have increased the sales. It was a game that was marketed as this hardcore experience and without that reputation spreading as it did, it would have been just another adventure game. It sold because of that reputation.

    On the other hand I totally agree – any game that encourages completion should have some method of allowing the worst of us to finish!

  • http://merelyadequate.net Mike aka MonolithTMA

    I like easy mode in most games, but the problem with easy mode in Dark Souls or the other Souls games is that people would use it to twink out their players and grief new players in PVP. Of course, they could make an easy mode that would have ways to prevent twinking, and they tried that with Dark Souls IIs Soul Memory feature, which prevents you from completing the game, twinking out your character, and griefing new players, because once you have a certain level of soul memory, you can’t PVP, or even co-op, with players with a lower soul memory.

    Dark Souls II also introduced a repairable ring which allows you to die without losing your souls, or your human form, and there are three of them per play-through. Another feature that makes Dark Souls II potentially easier is that any regular enemies you kill 15 times in a row will not respawn. It makes running to die in a boss fight much easier.

  • Godling

    Just give me ‘manual saving/loading’ vs ‘check-point saving/loading’ and you have your ‘easy mode’. For me, even the Vita-Chamber in Bioshock was to much, as I continued to manually load a saved game whenever I would die. Personally, I won’t even buy games anymore that only have check-point style saving.

    …and on that note, just wanted to add that ‘The Edge of Tomorrow’ is possibly the best film ever, about the horrors of check-point saving. Imagine if the main character had manual saving/loading? He woulda pwnd the aliens so hard… maybe in the sequel. :)

    • Remy Carreiro

      Hahahahahaha. I hope you are putting that Edge of Tomorrow theory onto paper somewhere. That made me laugh out loud, literally.

  • Frothy_Ham

    For most games, especially story-based games, I agree with you. Even games like Devil May Cry or Ninja Gaiden would benefit from this as so much of it comes down to reflexes and some of the time, pure luck, which not everyone has. Heck, a few months ago I would have agreed with you about Dark Souls….as I too was too scared to try and play it.

    However, I think that creating an easy mode for Dark Souls would basically break the entire purpose of the game, ruining the vision the game’s creators set out to build. See, what I discovered is that Dark Souls really isn’t that hard, this coming from someone who is admittedly “bad” at video games. Sure you will die a lot, hitting brick wall after wall of areas and bosses that just seem to over the top hard to surmount…but what the game is really trying to teach you is to just slooooooooowww doooooowwwwn, and think about what you are doing.

    So little of the game is really dependent on fast reflexes, or cheap deaths due to cheating AI. Every time you die in the game, you can be assured that it was your fault. Once the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, and you unlock the tricks to beating that boss that you once thought impossible to defeat…it’s one of the best feelings you will ever feel in a video game. I’ve beaten DKS 1 and 2 now, and they have become my favorite series of games ever, and part of that enjoyment is the process of learning, and genuinely getting better.

    This truly is the entire point of the game, that you are doomed to die over and over. There IS a very rich story line in the games, but it’s hidden under layers of item descriptions and rare dialogue, and you end up having to fill in a lot of the blanks yourself, and as much as I love the games I don’t think there is enough there if you had a “super easy story mode” that let you just plow through the game.

    You know, sure…I bet they could sell more copies of the game if they put in an easy mode…but I think it speaks to their integrity that they didn’t. This is the vision that they set out to create, this is what they want people to experience…and it’s not going to be for everyone, and that’s okay.

    • Remy Carreiro

      I have been told that by many people about Dark Souls, so I can respect it. To lose that would be to lose what makes that game that game. I do understand that, I am just sad I don’t get to ever experience it as a result.

      • Zachariah Jeremiah George

        Play it? It will take a while, but if you want to play it, why not?

  • John W

    It’s as if you’ve read my mind.

  • Ryan Ingram

    I’m with you completely on Dark Souls. It was a game I so wanted to play through just to see all of the cool bosses and settings; however I didn’t have th patience to die endlessly and have my character weakened. I dug the Vita-Chamber, but wouldn’t have minded if they turned the option off in Bioshock or at least penalized you to a degree.
    I am cool with easy mode, but ya know…I still want some punishment.

    However, I do agree with you to 99%

  • Bizarro

    Im 34 years old, a father of a girl who’s 3 1/2 years old, i run frecuently, work like 11hs (travelling to the place included) and ive barely manage to squeeze like 7hs of sleep, so i have 1/2 day on Saturday and all Sunday to play/be a husband and so on. So, YES, make an Easy option on ALL games! I want to play and enjoy the little time i have to spend on games. I like to play games, i don’t have the time to spare by learning how to beat it the hard way.

    Best Regards from Argentina

    • twinspectre

      but strangely you found the time to visit this website
      if you don’t have time to play then Gaming is not for You
      because i know you have time to watch soccer or some movies
      i want old skool gameplay (no Handholding , no RegenHealth , no Dumbed Down gameplay for the casuals , no Waypoints , Challenging games , no Checkpoints every 5 sec , Linear games , Cinematic Experience and other modern gaming BS)

      • Bizarro

        Please take the time on how much it takes to load a PS3 game and then how many times you can read this internet article. Im not stating that “old school games” should disappear, but that they should have an easy mode as Remy stated. We can both have what we want and spend the free time doing what we like, one option doesn’t invalidate the other.

        Best Regards from Argentina

  • Zachariah Jeremiah George

    God people are so whiny.

    • Bizarro

      Well, God people are so whiny because look how we turned out!

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