Games Geek / Technical

If Games Had Super Easy Mode

In the Game Balance Concepts course, someone posted a link to this video which explores what games would look like if they included a super easy mode.

In terms of game balance, sometimes different challenge modes are offered to ensure that as many people can enjoy the game as possible. Typically, Easy mode is available for more casual players, while harder modes offer something for experts. You don’t want to frustrate the player, but you also don’t want to bore them.

At what point does a game become ruined by offering less challenges, fewer obstacles, or more power-ups? Does offering a different challenge mode require the same amount of work as an entirely different game, or are a few tweaks often enough?

4 replies on “If Games Had Super Easy Mode”

It depends why you’re playing the game. For the twitch challenge? For the pathfinding/maze challenge? For the puzzle-solving challenge? For the storyline? For the social connection to other players?

You can make one aspect of the game very un-challenging as long as the primary reward is still there. No one (sane) plays WarioWare alone, they play it socially, so it’s OK that the mini-games are (in most cases) dead simple.

What I’ve found often works is an “extra cool” reward for doing it the hard way. World of Goo has its “OCD” goals, where you not only win the level but do it extra fast or save even more gooballs than required, etc. Original War (now there is a game I miss) was setup such that at the end of each mission you got various medals for extra-completion, losing no character units, or *never re-loading the level part way through*. So if you make it hard on yourself, you get an extra medal. The medal doesn’t mean anything in the slightest for the game itself, but I found myself never using the save/load function anyway because it was there.

That lets people make the game harder on themselves if they want to at their own pace and time, without interrupting the game flow. I didn’t have to step out of game-space and change a config.

I remember Lemmings also had a minimum number of lemmings you needed to save, but saving all of them was always a self-imposed goal if you cared for it. Similarly, Donkey Kong Country allows you to find more than 100% of the levels, and Super Mario 64 allowed you to finish the game before you found all 120 stars.

World of Goo and Original War offered specific rewards and achievements for doing more than necessary. I’m playing Advance Wars: Dual Strike these days, and depending on how well you did on a mission, you’re graded. Getting any grade means you finished the mission, but earning an A is definitely better than getting a C, even though the story doesn’t change and the missions are the same.

A super-easy mode might not have the same primary appeal as the “normal” or more challenging modes (as-designed, at least), but I feel like situations like this lead to the genesis of alternate/metagames — speedrunning is coming to mind as an example. Removing some of the challenges inherent in the standard difficulty can allow the game to open up to different types of challenges, player-generated or otherwise.

I always wished to discover an unbeatable unit in Starcraft (yes, even 100 Hydralisks CAN be defeated though it’s hard). Yet, I am sure the reason I kept playing was because this unit did not exist and the game was well balanced. Super Easy Mode kills the replay value if that is the only mode. In Devil May Cry if you beat Dante Must Die mode then you get Super Dante, who is pretty much untouchable. Until the point of getting Super Dante mode you are excited about its possibilities. Yet once you get it the game becomes ho-hum as you destroy the same game in minutes that took weeks in DMD mode.

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