Saturday, 25 February 2017

5 Ways to Make a Dark Souls Easy Mode

Prepare To Die A Little Less Edition?
Many people have suggested that you just couldn't make an easy mode for Dark Souls. They are of course incorrect, making an easy mode is actually really easy, and to prove this I've made a list of ideas.

As a disclaimer, I'm going to add the point that many of those do also make, which is that these changes may change the nature of the game, or alter the experience of the game. That's pretty much the point though, since there's already a fundamental difference in experience that different players have when playing the same game. Everyone has their own personal skill levels and tolerance for difficulty, challenge, patience and frustration. We all have different rates with which we can learn, with which we can adapt and with which we can persevere.

I may grow frustrated after failing to complete a section of a game or a boss after a few attempts, for you it may take dozens. I may decide that a game isn't worth my time after only a handful of setbacks, for you each setback may provide the impetus to soldier on. Even with a game where the levels are straightforward, obvious and have a slow and gradual difficulty curve there will be people who get bored or frustrated and quit before they ever get near the finish. Of course you cannot cater for everyone all of the time, but difficulty modes are a design choice to allow for greater accessibility that are usually worth the effort it takes to create them.

Not only does a developer want to challenge the player, but they also want the player to overcome those challenges. They want the player to experience as much of the game as possible because they spent so much time creating it. Also from a financial standpoint, the more that enjoy your games will hopefully translate into more people buying those games (and future games).

1. Keep your Souls after death

An easy way to make an easy mode would be to change one of the mechanics. Currently, you lose your souls upon death, and have to /return to the spot where you died to collect them. A simple change would be to have you keep those accumulated souls. That way, you might die, but you'll have a resource to upgrade or level up before repeating the encounter that killed you. It removes some of the punishment, and should help players push forward and take more risks knowing that death won't be so bad.

2. More NPC phantoms

Dark Souls is very inconsistent with it's NPC helpers. Sometimes they're overpowered, sometimes there are multiple ones, sometimes there are none. Sometimes they're right next to the boss area, sometimes they're slightly hidden. When the game is new and popular, other players are very helpful, but for those playing offline or when the game is no longer popular, NPC phantoms are all the help you'll get. So perhaps a bit more consistency here would be a good solution for bosses and areas where players get stuck.

3. A few Health changes

A bit of extra health can go a long way. Perhaps it might just be enough for you to be able to take an extra hit before you die, meaning you have enough opportunity to retaliate or run away. You could easily change the level up mechanics to give the player more health every level (and a bigger chunk extra if they choose to spend their Souls on Health alone).

4. Resistances

One of the more challenging parts of Dark Souls for me are those instances where you get poisoned, cursed or some other status effect ruins your day. There are already items, armours and stats in the game to assist against these, but they're often in hard to reach areas, or expensive to buy. The players that most need these aids will have the hardest time getting them. So perhaps changes in item location or making them more easily available from early vendors would help.

5. A few more bonfires

Another inconsistent thing throughout the Dark Souls series is the placement of bonfires. The distance between them, or between them and the bosses is varied, and sometimes they can even be hidden away where new and inexperienced players would never look. A few more safe havens in otherwise difficult areas would help provide a break when things are otherwise looking bleak.

So there you have it, five easy ways to make the game easier, without doing much to affect the game in any significant way. There are probably dozens more ways you could change the difficulty, and you could even change things in a more difficult way for experienced players (New Game Plus modes sometimes do this, in limited ways at least).

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