How difficult should it be?

I’ve read some Dark Souls reviews lately, with great interest. In case you didn’t know, Dark Souls is a game which isn’t exactly like most games in the industry today. Because while most games today are designed to be easy and casual, and more or less solely based on instant gratification, Dark Souls is the total opposite. It’s difficult. Extremely difficult.

I hardly think I will play Dark Souls, just as I haven’t played its predecessor Demon’s souls. I think I will just become frustrated rather than amused by the tough challenge. But despite that I’m glad it was made and I hope it will become a real success – just to prove that there’s a market for a variety of games in the gaming industry. It doesn’t have to be about instant gratification, it’s not the ultimate key to success.

But with games like Dark Souls you immediately start ask yourself how hard a game should be. Hattrick is a casual game, and its difficulty level is far from Dark Souls. But we sometimes get to hear that we should make Hattrick easier (pretty much along the line with instant gratification), and more or less every time we add or change something in the game we get to hear that it’s getting more and more complex.

So, is Hattrick more complex today compared to what it was back in 97? Probably. Is Hattrick a better game now compared to back then? Definitely.

And while one can naturally say that each addition or change we’ve done from the start in 97 have made the game more complex, it’s not a black or white world. Sure, there is more to think about and take into consideration in today’s Hattrick than it was back then. But on the other hand, the level of information about how the game works is much higher now and in many other ways it’s easier for new users to get the hang of the game today.

I like games that are easy to play, but still provide a challenge. A real challenge, which is not solely related to the amount of time you spend. I have the same philosophy for Hattrick. I want it to be easy to play and understand the game (and I’ve nothing against making things even easier), but I want it to leave a question in the head of the manager when he shuts his computer down. Should I play this player or that one, should I play this or that formation, should I buy this player on the transfer and for what cost? Something to think about on the bus, in the shower or while watching telly.

Because of this it’s important for me that there are choices to make, as otherwise there are no questions for the manager to think about. But instead of just adding new choices we should strive to minimize the number of options where you in reality only have one option (one option is so superior compared to the alternatives that it becomes the only option), and add a real question/choice instead.

With loyalty we do just that (among other things), we add a question to the game: Do you want to sell this youth player and cash in right away, or do you want to keep him knowing that he’ll always perform a little bit more?

Loyalty in itself is not designed to make Hattrick easier to play. It’s one more thing to think about after all. But from my point of view it makes Hattrick more interesting to play, more realistic – and more challenging. Because when all comes around I’m confident we all want to be challenged.