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Dead Space 2 Difficulty Was ‘Nerfed’

Dead Space 2 Difficulty Was ‘Nerfed’

Did you struggle with Dead Space 2? Are you one of those who gave up halfway through, vowing to return someday, only to have your attention pulled away forever by the deluge of games that hit just before Christmas last year?

Guess what – it was supposed to have been even harder.

“You should have seen some of the levels and puzzles in Dead Space 2,” said Brian Bartram, combat and control designer at Visceral Games. “Some players would love for us to have kept them harder, longer, and more complicated. But when two or three people in a ten person playtesting session just can’t get past it, we have to ‘nerf’ it. But that’s just a playtesting example.

“Games are frequently a type of benevolent struggle between Design and Production. Design wants a giant game with all kinds of cool stuff in it. Production wants a game that will actually ship. When they compromise, things have to be cut away, reduced, and scoped down. But this process should ideally distill a game to its core – the real foundation of a game. For game mechanics, these become the known “pillars” of the game – the three to five mechanics that will be used frequently and which are often mixed together to form the bulk of the game’s experience.”

Obviously this is specific to Dead Space 2 but it’s not hard to imagine other games having their difficulty blunted for the sake of the wider, mainstream audience publishers salivate over. Games like Dark Souls are the exception, not the rule, and perhaps part of the reason Dark Souls was so well received is that it flew in the face of convention by defiantly being bastard tough.

So how about you, do you like your games to be bastard tough? What’s the right level of challenge for you – when you’re failing while making progress or when you don’t fail at all?




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  • MultiZoneMaster

    I like to be able to complete every game I play then move on to the next. But I’m also glad games like Dark Souls exist.