Let me adjust difficulty during play!

One thing I didn’t men­tion a cou­ple weeks ago when talk­ing about what game design­ers can do bet­ter with dif­fi­cul­ty is: let the play­er adjust his game dif­fi­cul­ty after he plays. Why should we pre­sume as game design­ers that our def­i­n­i­tion of “medi­um” or “nor­mal” is the same one that the play­er is ready for. Even the short clips of descrip­tions (“you play lots of shoot­ers”) don’t add up to the expe­ri­ence the play­er will have. Maybe your play­er wants to start off on easy, and then turn up the knob as he gets used to things. Or maybe he sets for “hard” and then real­izes he wants to step down. Maybe the bal­ance of one of your lev­els, or one of your boss fights, is a lit­tle dubi­ous. Or maybe the play­er just wants to mess around for an hour.

The play­er has paid you mon­ey to play the game. Let him pick what dif­fi­cul­ty he wants, when he wants. If this is so hard to alter dynam­i­cal­ly, let him restart at the last check­point with the set­tings he or she wants.

A lot of design deci­sions from the orig­i­nal God of War have sur­vived. The “You Have Died” screen is one. Anoth­er is the fact that you can’t change the dif­fi­cul­ty post-start, except by means of the most insult­ing means pos­si­ble. Why?

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