Of all the attributes that shape a game’s personality, difficulty is surely one of the most important. Difficulty not only structures the player’s in-game experience, it also defines important pieces of the game’s larger conceptual framing. How do the game’s designers understand their players? How does the player community understand itself in relation to this shared experience? From Plants vs. Zombies to Dark Souls, great games have answered these questions in vastly different ways, telling us much about the psychology of game design along the way. Join us for a close look at these fascinating issues as we tour the landscape of challenge, achievement, and game difficulty.
- Factorio has Chris reaching for his graph paper.
- Hearthstone has Derek reaching for the Advil. Brian Kibler has a good analysis of the current state of Hearthstone’s metagame.
- George Fan’s talk on tutorial design in Plants vs. Zombies is a masterclass in encouraging player engagement.
- Chris Dahlen has an terrific essay on Dark Souls’ elegant use of challenge: “Difficulty isn’t the club the designers bash you with, but the palette with which they paint the experience.”
Image credit: From Software and Bandai Namco