What’s the Difficulty, Kenneth?

Last night I was looking to kill a few hours and so went into my Steam games list looking for something light to pass the time. I really didn’t want to get into anything serious so I pulled up Majesty 2. Majesty 2 calls itself a “fantasy kingdom sim” but it really is more of an RTS. You build guild halls (and other buildings) to encourage adventurers to move to your kingdom then set quests for them to perform. It’s kind of the reverse of your normal fantasy game in that you’re the one assigning the quests instead of the one doing them.

Yeah, that isn’t looking so good

At any rate, I drifted through a couple of missions then suddenly the difficulty spiked. The enemy wizard was dropping fire spells on my village which burned down my market. Then a werewolf wandered into the town and killed almost all of the adventurers who had come there. Without a market I had no income with which to entice more adventurers to come to town and with no adventurers there was no one to protect they peasants so they couldn’t rebuild anything. I was getting more and more frustrated, more-so when I remembered that I had started playing a “light” game to relax in the first place.

So I decided to just crank the difficulty down to minimum (since I was just playing as a distraction anyway) only to find that the game no difficulty setting. And then I got really frustrated.

Why do games continue to do this? People play games for many reasons. Some are looking to challenge themselves. Others just want to relax. (I’ll let you guess which category I fall into.) But games seem to be determined that you have to prove your worth to them before you can enjoy yourself. I’ve heard this described as “you have to earn the right to have fun”.

But why? I can enjoy music without understanding the intricacies of melody or harmony. I can enjoy a movie without knowing anything about cinematography or directing. Why should I have to prove my skill at directing a bunch of easily distracted AI characters before I can enjoy the game I’m playing?

As I’ve said before, I play games so I can experience the story from the inside as opposed to being a passive observer on the outside. That’s it. I don’t care about my position on a leaderboard or what my gamerscore or achivements list looks like. I just want to enjoy the story from the inside.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it before. “Learn 2 play noob!” or “Just go watch the ending on YouTube if you can’t handle it!”. Well, I ask why anyone cares how I want to play my game. If I want to be able to set the game to the “Just Let Me Win” level because it’s Sunday night and I’m on my third beer and I just want to relax for a bit, why not? How does that dimish anyone else’s enjoyment of the game?

And for the record I did finish the level, on my third try. So I did finish the level, I just wasn’t very relaxed when I did.

But what do I know; I’m just a Paleogamer.

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