Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Midas Mint: Diamond Weapon's right. Vampire Buddha, you organized the page somewhat better but you fucked up, cutting a lot of its' content. I came here specifically for Warring Without Weapons and it's not mentioned on the main page.

Diamond Weapon: I would like to point out that making the trope dependent on your opinion as opposed to someone else's does not, in fact, reduce the degree to which it is dependent on opinion.

Vampire Buddha: Right. I just nuked this page for great justice and rebuilt it as something sensible. The reasons were discussed in [1] YKTTW and this forum thread.

Laconic version: Before nukage, this page was an absolute mess. It was just a massive list of people complaining about games being too hard for their poor sensibilities. Now, it's a set of criteria which allow us to determine what's actually Fake Difficulty.

And don't give me any bullshit about how that page once said this trope is totally subjective so we shouldn't have changed it. Subjectivity is, for the most part, a load of dingo's kidneys. Reducing the degree to which a trope is dependant on opinion is a good thing. Full stop.

What about say, One Hit K Os? This doesn't count when say, a player in an MMORPG walks into a level 40 area when they think it's a level 20 area, goes somewhere they shouldn't yet, or doesn't level up enough. I'm referring to say, events in which the players can't defend against.

However, in case we need to refer to the old page at some point, I'll stick it in a set of folders (because it's too big for one).
    open/close all folders 

    Part 1 

    Part 2 

    Part 3 

    Part 4 

    Part 5 

    Part 6 

    Part 7 

*Sits back and awaits fallout* (00:20 GMT, 8/5/2009).

ninjacrat: 'Bout time.

Vampire Buddha: Jordan added Rubber Band A.I. to the list; I've deleted it. Rubber Band AI is about the computer improving in skill when the player is doing particularly well; and, conversely, playing worse when the player is lagging behind. The computer isn't getting any special favours here, it's just changing ability. This happens with human players - don't tell me you've never tried harder to win when you're lagging behind. Now, in some cases Rubberband AI can involve the computer cheating; however, if that happens, it falls under The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. (22:35 GMT, 8/5/2009)

delta534: Thank ysou, I was wondering when the change would happen, since the previous page was complaining about gameplay elements that you do not like

Nautilus PQ: Can someone clarify these examples? I don't know the games and neither makes sense to me:

  • in pokemon mystery dungeon, if the partner dies, you die. you need to spend around 32000P on colour-coded gummis to increase the IQ of your partner. or give them to the hero, giving special abilities to the hero.
  • Weird apocalyptic RTS Krush Kill and Destroy had a clear advantage for one entire race. In single player campaigns this made the levels more challenging, of course. But they were not toned down for multiplayer, making it nigh-impossible for a Great or better player to beat a Good player or casual Great.

Korval: Removing this generic example:

  • Endowing selected enemies with unblockable or unavoidable attacks

That's no different from a Chess Knight's ability to jump over other pieces.

Rothul: What? I think it's very different! It's seems more comparable to a hypothetical computer chess game where the AI's pawns are allowed to attack pieces, but the player's are not.

  • The "Suicidal Strategy" discussion.

J. Random User: How about endless waves of enemies (for example, the Star Forge in Knights of the Old Republic)?

Ununnilium: Depends. For instance, Gauntlet had the monster-generators that would spawn enemies endlessly unless you destroyed them, but that was Real Difficulty.

Morganite: Stage 15 of Syphon Filter is a bit like that. It's the only level in the game (and, as far as I know, the entire series) where dead enemies reappear. Makes the strategies you need to do well in the rest of the game just about useless.

Korval: I've looked through this list, and I can't think of a single game that doesn't do at least one of these. What good is having the category of "Fake Difficulty" if every game has some to some extent?

Seth There are no examples here but is it okay to mention the Psycho Mantis battle in Metal Gear Solid? The battle is made harder by messing with the controller and occasionaly blanking the screen out (With the directors name written on it) Without these distractions it is a pretty easy battle.

Ununnilium: Sounds like it to me. Anyone else who's actually played MGS want to weigh in?

Fly: Nah, I wouldn't call that fake difficulty. After all, the Mantis fight was more of a way for Kojima to show off how fantastic he is at breaking the fourth wall. Fake Difficulty is more about deliberately bad programming or gimmicking to make something hard - Mantis was very much a Puzzle Boss, and the fanbase as a whole loved the idea of fiddling with the controller ports to get him. If we say Mantis was an example of Fake Difficulty, we could argue that every boss with a non-standard method of defeating them is also Fake Difficulty, and we know that's not true. (Although it's entirely possible I'm just biased, because Mantis was my favourite character in that game.)

Phartman: Well, the Colonel drops quite a few hints as to what you should do, and if you bug him enough times, he'll flat-out tell you to switch the contollers. I don't think it counts as Fake Difficulty if clues are provided. If they don't, it probably fits better under Guide Dang It!.

Mr noob What about Gran Turismo 4 in the rally mode where if you hit or get hit by the AI car (except in the rear) you have to wait 5 seconds to accelerate again, but the AI car gets no penalties for collisions?

Kendra Kirai: I think there's a trope here that needs to be addressed...lets do that now.

Amethyst I was thinking, one form of Fake Difficulty that isn't mentioned is when the game limits the number of saves a person can have. Or when they require the hero to have a certain item (ie: the Save Tokens from Breath of Fire 5) in order to save their game. Granted, most games like to limit where and how often a player can save so they don't make the game too easy, but some games are downright sadistic about this. Another form of save-related Fake Difficulty is when the player isn't allowed to save their game between major plot events. (The Suikoden series of games in particular likes to schedule easily loseable one on one duels right after major battles, without allowing the player to record their save in between. I guarantee nothing will raise your ire faster than having a half-hour's effort strategizing and fighting a major battle all shot to hell because you guessed wrong JUST ONCE during a virtual game of "paper, rock scissors". Argh.)

Ununnilium: Ugh, yes. See also the typewriter ribbons in Resident Evil.
Ununnilium: I'd say the Kingdom Hearts II example is Real Difficulty, personally.

Fly: I think you're right. Sorry I added it; I was feeling bitter at the time. Still can't put a dent in Xigbar, but in the light of day I see you're right. I'll get rid of it for you.

Tabby: I dunno. I'd call the Mulan example fake difficulty, at least, because it's just so damn arbitrary.

Sameth: I wanted to weigh in and say that UI problems might not necessarily belong in this category. IMO fake difficulty is intentional, while (most) UI problems aren't - they are the result of lazy programming, design oversights, or technical limitations of the system. Years of playing adventure games has led me to the conclusion that true "fake difficulty" is the result of a lazy game designer. Generally speaking, it happens when a designer equates time to solve a puzzle with difficulty. If a puzzle takes 20 minutes to solve on your own and 2 minutes to solve with a walkthrough, it's probably "real hard." If it takes 20 minutes to solve on your own and 20 minutes to solve with a walkthrough, it's "fake hard." The game designers simply put in an intentionally tedious task to extend the length of the game artificially.

Examples of this might be "trial and error" puzzles (traditional adventure games are riddled with them) where all you have to do is attempt the puzzle several times and memorize a pattern, fetch quests that require little else but time to run around talking to NP Cs, and boss battles that can only be overcome by spending some amount of time either leveling or farming for the right item (for example the Yunalesca battle in FFX, which more or less requires that one of your characters have Holy or is otherwise impossible).

And of course changing the UI to inflate difficulty is a sin worthy of the seventh level of hell.

Red Shoe: It used to be more common back in the old days, but there are indeed cases where designers deliberately chose a bad UI paradigm or simply turned the sensitivity way down on the controls just to make the game harder.
Fake Difficulty is substantially less common now in most of its forms (Camera-related Fake Difficulty abounds in most non-first person 3d games, though this is at least in part a limitation of the genre), and is probably one of the major reasons old games were Nintendo Hard.

Tanto: Why was this deleted?

Ununnilium: No idea. I have no problem with it, personally.

Phartman: The trope is still fairly common, it's just not prevalent. I'd replace substantially with slightly and throw it back in.

Shire Nomad: Moving this to Rubber Band A.I.:
  • The Need for Speed Underground series had an annoying feature known as "Catch-up": your opponents would drive faster the more ahead you were of them, and slower the more behind you were. Forget the traditional strategy of games like Gran Turismo, where you can focus on pulling a comfortable advantage over your opponents allowing you to make a couple of mistakes without screwing up your race: in Need For Speed Underground, you had to be extremely careful during the entire race, because your only chance to build up an advantage was to have the CPU crash against the incoming traffic.

Shiralee: Swapped Total War for a more sensible RTS suggestion, if a bit pulled-out-the-ass. (It was the only one I could think of offhand) How does a suicidal AI attacking you and failing miserably create difficulty? This is a one in a hundred shot, that one of his opponents will become too powerful as a result. But normally they hold a pretty stable back&forth competition as you build up your infrastructure. And if they ARE getting too far ahead you can throw almost everything you have against them, forcing them to retreat and wrecking their provinces along the way. (A good mid-game strategy for Germany (or similarly surrounded nations), ally with the EE nations then make a mad charge with almost the full army in a circle around Europe, leaving just enough to discourage Hungary and Poland from stepping in. Whatever territories aren't destroyed outright will get tons of bonus buildings ripped to pieces.) You should always head west, as enemies to the east are usually less numerous and more spaced out.

goodtimesfreegrog: Would the randomly appearing demons in God Hand count as fake difficulty? In a game that's already Nintendo Hard, it's almost impossible to prepare yourself for a demon encounter since they appear so randomly, and some of them are even tougher than the actual bosses in the game!

Mark Z: Deleted this:
  • This troper would argue that a Warlock's standard Fear and DoT combo is another prime example of "Fake Difficulty," no matter how much 'locks may deny it.
...because an unfair advantage in PvP combat isn't "difficulty" at all from the Warlock's perspective. And because it's whining.

Kjorteo: The way I always saw it was that real difficulty came from legitimate level design and clever AI, and the primary source of fake difficulty was lazy stat-tweaking—ie, rather than making this encounter more interesting, let's just change it so this enemy now has twice the health, does four times the damage, and now there are six of them. I wanted to add that into the list of types of fake difficulty at the top, but I don't think I could just slip that in at the end and have it flow well with the rest, and I'm not quite bold enough to hack up the rest of the article to make room for it. If someone does make that distinction, though, there are tons of examples I could name, including doubling how much Collision Damage every random enemy gave you from the Japanese to US versions of the NES Castlevania games. Of course, the biggest offender has to be any fighting game with an SNK Boss or blatant handicap matches. Mission Mode in Guilty Gear and any sort of story or campaign mode (Weapon Master, etc.) in any Soul Series game are particularly bad—fight this guy in a normal fight except you start at half health and your opponent deals double damage, only takes damage from the the tenth hit and beyond in 10+ hit combos, and regenerates, etc.

Korval: Stat tweaking isn't fake difficulty either. After all, you could say that the regular stats of a monster are fake difficult compared to a monster with half the stats. Or a quarter of the stats. And changing the circumstance of the match is also fair game. It's like terrain in a strategy game; it isn't fake difficulty when your enemy lures you into a valley with Siege Tanks lining the walls on high terrain.

Da Wrecka: My kingdom for a preview button!
Khemaut: Would Vampire Rain count? Two hit kills, first one knocks you down and you can't recover before the second, and insanely fast enemies that tae more than a full clip to kill...
L Guardinal: Deleted the Silent Hill 3 example, because the 'instant death traps' mentioned were all really, really obvious to avoid in game. Not getting hit by the subway? While the door off camera may be a Guide Dang It!, I certainly wouldn't call it fake difficulty. The haunted house example, with the spiked roof that the camera pans up to and is so very, very obviously going to fall? Of course you need to bend down to survive it. Now, the deadly red gas could be an example of this trope, but I never had a problem with it, so someone else should add that if desired.
Sotanaht: Removed the opinion that the NWN 2 expansion was vastly better because of the modifications related to the fake difficulty. I also think that that example should be removed entirely, considering that the problems mentioned really don't contribute much difficulty if you pay attention two of the most important elements of DND cRPGs (pre-combat buffing and equipment management), also, RTWP works pretty well in most DND games, so its not an incompatibility with the gameplay systems.

Metaphysician: I second the motion; RTWP works just fine in Baldurs Gate I and II, Planescape Torment, and Knights of the Old Republic, just off the top of my head.

Rogue 7: Am I the only one who can't manage the control scheme on Tales of Phantasia for the GBA? And if so, some help, please?

I am wondering of the examples on "Ultimate Difficulty" for Phantasy Star should really count, since the examples refer to a difficulty level of which the point is to be as difficult as possible.

Ninjacrat: Pulling:
  • The final boss of Metal Gear Solid 3
    • Is a Timed Mission.
    • Can become invincible at will, which happens for most of the battle. Pretty much the only way to tell if he is not is by shooting at him.
    • Can disable your own weapons, pretty much at will.
    • In Subsistence has a Completely Different Camera from the rest of the game.
    • With a fake ending halfway through.
    • And he has electric attacks that not only damage your health severely, but also discharge your weapons. At you.
      • The only way to avoid these is with either a Chaff Grenade or by throwing out a Russian Glowcap, which not only wear off quickly, but don't even work correctly most of the time.
      • Which cause you burns, which you have to pause the game and spend time crawling through menus 3-4 deep to cure, with very limited cure supplies, and if you don't cure, your health will not recharge fully.
A) The troper seems to be amalgamating multiple battles (against multiple characters!) into one.
B) They don't have a significant degree of dificulty (fake or otherwise).
C) Hell, that ain't the final boss!

"Super R-Type, a SNES port of R-Type II, is a checkpoint-based shooter; that is, every time you die, you respawn at a previous point in the stage instead of continuing on with the stage. This troper has no problems with checkpoint-based shooters, but there is one serious problem with Super R-Type: there are no checkpoints; die at any point in a stage and you are booted back to the very beginning." — wait, wut? Super R-Type is a checkpoint-based shooter with no checkpoints? That's not Fake Difficulty, that's just Nonsense. Better explanation please? - The Jerf
  • Okay, maybe "checkpoint-based" is the wrong term; it's a "revival start" (as Gradius V calls it) shooter. - gs68

Ninjacrat: Pulling this from the description of Final Fantasy Tactics A2:
  • And don't expect the enemies to follow the law under any circumstances. Of course, I have yet to encounter an enemy with Raise/Arise or something similar, so you at least have the consolation that you get to revive your own units while they don't... as long as you play nice. Of course, that doesn't mean your own units can't fuck up your law-abiding selves...
    • This editor almost tore his hair out when he first ran into the "No Missing" law, as he would always kill all but one unit and then miss on the very next attack. And don't even get him started on when he realized that enemies straight up don't have to follow the law. Jeez.
beause the laws are a massive one-sided advantage to the player. Either you follow then and receve balance-shattering benefits, or you ignore them and play on the same terms as the AI.

Frozen Wolf 150: Added a correction to the example for Shining Force II but didn't remove the factual error itself, since my comment would have looked unwarranted otherwise. The factual error in question is quoted below:
** What's more, that detail can make the game Unwinnable, since it's possible to throw the sword in question away and never be able to get it back.

Metaphysician: Is 'treasure chests sometimes being empty' really Fake Difficult? I've seen it in a lot of RPGs, and its usually, at worst, a minor distraction.

Rothul: Minor distraction yes, but still fakely difficult, especially if it causes one to fight through waves of enemies that one would otherwise not for a reward that just ain't there.

Rutee: I find it hilarious that this page's fake difficulty focus has shifted to what amounts to Gameplay derived challenges.

You know that means you have to take, among other things, IWBTG off, right?

And really guys? You're going to put feely-based copy protection on there? As a thief, I say "The stuff doesn't make the game hard, it's just there to make sure you bought it"

Digitalpotato: What about the One-Hit KO? And when there's no amount of protection against it; such as being knocked into a pitfall (one hit KO) in platformers by an enemy, or when enemies do one-hit K Os that either hit beyond the Health Cap (Such as attacks that hit you for thousands when your health is capped at 999) or just "no save - take this haha". Although this wouldn't apply in games where you go somewhere you shouldn't or didn't level up; you can tackle those by simply leveling up and getting your characters stronger.

Where does The Maze go?
XenonZaleo: I don't believe that Character Select Forcing should really be on here, at least under its current definition. Games where different characters have different advantages and disadvantages aren't fake, as they're generally clearly spelled out for you in the beginning. Fire beats Grass, Rock beats Fire. I could see a situation where the game arbitrarily switches out your leveled characters for thier unleveled brethren could be seen as fake difficulty. But in a game where you control which characters are used, the fact that some are much better than others is simply another strategy level decision, not something fake.

Exact solutions for this are unclear. It could either be removed from this page, or the Character Select Forcing page perhaps needs some cleaning up. As it is though, placing it here just seems like whining because you can't use your favorite 'mon to sweep everything in the game.