What Makes Celeste’s Assist Mode Special | Game Maker’s Toolkit

What Makes Celeste’s Assist Mode Special | Game Maker’s Toolkit


There are two things about games that I firmly
believe One. Designers should be able to impose a singular
vision on the player, if they so wish. So, Dark Souls only needs one difficulty mode. Dead Rising can put the entire game on a restrictive
time limit. And weapons can randomly jam in a game I shouldn’t
talk about anymore. Decisions like these might be controversial,
but if they’re an integral part of the experience that the developer is trying to create – then
the player shouldn’t feel like they’re entitled to be able to mess with this stuff
through options, modes, and toggles. Because that would screw with the developer’s
intentions, and could end up ruining the game in the long run. Those decisions were made for a reason, after
all. Okay. Two. Players should be able to play games however
they want. Whether the player has a disability. Or they’re just not very good at the game. Or they want to focus on the story. Or perhaps they find one specific part of
the game unenjoyable, like action segments or timers, and it’s ruining their experience
with the rest of the game. I think they they should be able to skip boss
fights, turn off entire mechanics, and lower the difficulty to whatever level they so desire. I don’t care, it doesn’t affect my enjoyment,
do what you want. And. Yeah. They’re not exactly the most compatible
opinions. And it means I’ve struggled with conversations
like, “Should Dark Souls have an Easy Mode”. I’m in favour of giving people more ways
to play if they need them, but I also worry that these options will lead to confusion
about what is the proper way to play – and inadvertently lead people away from having
the best possible experience, that the designers have tried to put forward. But here’s what I’ve come to realise. And this is something I briefly touched on
in that Dark Souls video, but have come to better understand through games that have
been released in the intervening months. I think it comes down to communication. I don’t care how people play these games
– as long as they understand what they’re playing. Understanding that there is this proper, intended
way to play a game that the designers have carefully created – and other, alternative
modes, if people really want to play that way. Now, throughout my childhood, this came in
the form of cheat codes. If you wanted to just mess around in Duke
Nukem 3D without worrying about dying you’d simply type in dncornholio to turn on invincibility
and give yourself an infinite jet pack. There was no misunderstanding about what was
happening here. This was cheating, and it was definitely not
the right way to play. But as a stupid 8 year old kid, god mode let
me experience loads of first person shooters for myself. Same goes for user made mods, like the one
that removes turn timers from XCOM 2, or the wuss mode mod for horror game SOMA which stops
enemies from being able to see you. It’s up to you if you install these things,
and as they’re third party modifications you’re under no illusions that you’re
messing with the intentions of the dev. But cheat codes don’t seem to exist anymore
and were always hidden away in magazines and schoolyard rumours. And mods are largely exclusive to PC gamers,
and exist outside of the game itself. But in the last few years, we’re seeing
a growing trend of games where this sort of stuff appears inside the games. Developers are introducing things that fundamentally
change the experience and might completely go against the whole point of the game, but
are being very careful to communicate their intentions for who should use these options,
and why. I first saw this crop up in Darkest Dungeon:
a game that is purposefully punishing and sometimes completely unfair. Now this game was released in Early Access,
meaning that people could buy the game on Steam while it was in an unfinished state,
and watch as the developers tweaked the balance and introduced new features. Not every feature was well received, though:
most notably the corpse system where dead enemies stick around for a few turns, or until
you destroy their body. Something that can be pretty frustrating,
when you can’t target an enemy because a corpse is in the way. Now developer Red Hook Studios thought it
was the right move for the game, but some vocal fans disagreed. And in the end, the studio decided to make
corpses optional. In a blog post on the matter, the developers
said: “We have been reluctant to add difficulty
related options until now because focusing on our intended version of the game has been
our number one priority and our experiments and changes during Early Access have all been
in support of iterating on that.” “But it would be foolish for us to not consider
the fact that the Darkest Dungeon community is now big enough to include diverse groups,
some of which would like to play the game differently than we might have envisioned” But what really stuck out to me, is how they
implemented those options. Because to turn off corpses, and make other
gameplay changes like making it so retreating from combat never fails, you have to go into
the options and turn on a specific mode called “Darkest Dungeon Config”. And when opening this menu, you’ll see a
pop up that specifically states “gameplay settings as intended to be played. Turning this OFF allows you to toggle the
gameplay features below”. So by burying these options in a menu, and
explaining to the player that this will change the intended experience – Darkest Dungeon
communicates to the player that this isn’t the game as it’s meant to be played. But ultimately, it’s your call. To me, this feels very different to turning
on a game and having the absolute first thing you see be a bunch of different modes that
can fundamentally change how the game plays. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but
it can be weird. Like, how Fire Emblem Awakening gives you
the option to turn off one of the key aspects of the franchise: permadeath, before you’ve
even started playing. In comparison, here’s how Tom Francis dealt
with permadeath in his game, Heat Signature. So, initially he was reluctant to get rid
of it, saying “I’m not gonna completely remove permadeath, it would be a totally different
game, and one that generates less interesting stories overall.” But then said “maybe that’s not the right
question. It’s not: would the game be better without
permadeath? It’s: can we help the players who hate it?”. And so he made it optional in the game’s
first major update. But, like Darkest Dungeon, he buried it in
the options and explained its purpose with a clear label that reads “we don’t recommend
doing this unless permadeath is really spoiling the game for you – it leads to less interesting
stories and less variety.” Tom says it was important to explain that
this not a normal option, because “I don’t want players to feel like they’re being
asked to design how the game should work.” Oh. I like that. That’s a good way to put it. I should steal that. Another interesting solution came from SOMA
developer Frictional who were inspired by that wuss mode mod, which makes the player
invisible to enemies, and turned it into an official part of the game. The in-game mode has slightly different enemy
behaviours – they notice you, but they don’t hurt you – and it’s now called Safe Mode. Language is important, after all. More on that in a bit Frictional’s Thomas Grip says he actually
considered releasing this sort of mode at launch, but chose not to, telling PC Gamer,
“we skipped it because we wanted to focus on delivering a certain kind of experience. And we wanted to have a clear message on how
exactly the game was supposed to work.” Specifically, the underwater world of SOMA
needed to feel oppressive and scary, as you sneak past nightmare robot monsters who want
to eat your face for breakfast. But the popularity of wuss mode was proof
that some people really wanted to experience SOMA’s impactful storyline, but just couldn’t
deal with the stressful game mechanics. And this gave Frictional the push to make
the mode official. The interesting part here, though, is the
timing. Safe Mode was added two years after the launch
of the game. Thomas says: “Releasing Safe Mode this late
after release feels better, because we’ve had time to ponder various aspects of the
game’s design to make it clear what kind of experience it is. If we did this at the time, it might have
muddied the waters.” So, releasing options like this as a follow-up,
instead of at launch, can help explain that they’re not supposed to be part of the main
experience. If you don’t want to wait, another option
might be releasing an easy mode as free downloadable content which happened with a game called
BUTCHER. Once again, creating a disconnect from the
main game helps communicate intentions. But the game that really spurred me on to
make this video, due to the care and consideration of its optional mode, was Celeste. This is a brilliant platforming game, full
of charm and character, with top notch controls and great level design. And it’s also hard. Like really hard. And you can make the game even harder with
collectible strawberries, and secret B-side and C-side levels. Challenge is the whole point of the game,
both mechanically and narratively. But if you’re finding the game too tough,
there’s this: assist mode. In here you can completely alter the game,
changing the speed, giving yourself infinite air dashes, making Madeline invincible, and
so on. One of the game’s developers, Matt Thorson
told Waypoint: “From my perspective as the game’s designer,
Assist Mode breaks the game. I spent many hours fine-tuning the difficulty
of Celeste, so it’s easy for me to feel precious about my designs. But ultimately, we want to empower the player
and give them a good experience, and sometimes that means letting go.” Now the mode was inspired by the, uh, conversation
surrounding Cuphead: a brutally tough run’n’gun boss rush game inspired by rock hard Mega
Drive titles from the 90s. And Cuphead does offer help for newer players,
in a Simple Mode, but the execution is pretty poor. It pops up before every fight, right next
to normal mode, and doesn’t really explain what it does. The mode removes entire phases from boss battles,
meaning you don’t get to see all the amazing animations on offer. And beating a boss on simple mode doesn’t
actually count the fight as a win, meaning you can’t fight the final boss and see the
game’s ending if you don’t finish every level on normal mode. It’s not great. And Celeste’s assist mode is different in
just about every way. For one, you can play the entire game in assist
mode if you want. Nothing is kept away. Not even achievements which I’m not entirely
sure about, but hey. Who cares about achievements anymore. Two, it’s up to the player exactly how they
change things. You’re given very granular options. You can slow the game down by 10 percent if
your reaction times aren’t quite what they used to be. Or you can skip entire chapters if they’re
not for you. Three, the name. At one point it was going to be called cheat
mode, but the devs thought that felt judgemental. They’re Canadian. But, I mean, you never know why someone wants
to pick an easier setting, so calling it stupid idiot baby mode or something is a bit of a
dick move. Instead they went with Assist Mode. And, shortly after picking the name, Super
Mario Odyssey came out, which has a mode with the exact same name, and made the Celeste
team feel like they made the right decision. Assist Mode in Mario, by the way, is pretty
awesome, too, because it let my four year old nephew complete Odyssey all by himself. Uh, anyway, back to Celeste. Four. The game’s developers explain the intentions
of assist mode with great care and attention, before they let you turn it on. Here’s what they say: “Assist Mode allows you to modify the game’s
rules to reduce its difficulty. Celeste was designed to be a challenging but
accessible game. We believe that its difficulty is essential
to the experience. We recommend playing without Assist mode your
first time.” “However, we understand that every player
is different. If Celeste is inaccessible to you due to its
difficulty, we hope that Assist Mode will allow you to still enjoy it.” This left me with no confusion about how Celeste
works. Assist Mode is not for me. It might as well not exist, as far as I’m
concerned, and I never used it when I played and finished the game. This isn’t an easy mode, that I might switch
down to if the game’s kicking my butt. It’s an assist mode, that’s just there
for those who really feel they need it. Now some games are, of course, completely
open about letting you change the game in any way you desire. That can be a developer’s vision, too, after
all. But some games are just better served by a
more strict vision for how the game should be experienced. But that doesn’t mean we need to make these
games inaccessible to certain people, or completely rule out the option of letting players customise
or turn off certain aspects of the game. It’s just – to me – all about communication. To make sure you’re not presenting options
that go against your vision, with the exact same weight as the ones you actually want
people to use. But instead, using language, placement, and
timing to make sure everyone understands what these additional modes are all about. You’re giving people options if they need
them, but you’re not asking them to design how the game should work. I just made that up. I’m very clever. So I do believe that game designers have a
duty to protect players from themselves, by not letting them turn off the more prickly
mechanics. But I guess I also believe that if designers
give players good information, like the creators of Celeste and Heat Signature did, then they
should also trust that players will make the right decisions for how they want to play. That’s where I’m at with this debate. Let me know what you think in the comments
below. Hey, cheers for watching. I’m going to do a rapid fire FAQ right now, okay? 1) Will you do another Game Jam this year? Yes! Ours was the biggest jam on itch.io in 2017,
and I can’t wait to do another one. It will probably happen late summer, early
autumn. 2) When is Boss Keys coming back? You should hear about that in May, is my current
plan. 3) When do you stream? I stream every Wednesday at 8PM GMT, here
on YouTube. 4) Do you have a Discord? Yes, but it’s only for Patrons. 5) Do you make games? No, my background is in games journalism. I’d maybe like to make a game one day but
right now I’m super focused on the channel. Okay, thanks! See ya!

100 thoughts on “What Makes Celeste’s Assist Mode Special | Game Maker’s Toolkit

  • Okay, but realtalk you should try assist mode. Like, don't play the actual game that way (I mean, not judging those who do, it's just not my jam), but just for messing around, after the shit the game puts you through being able to invincibly dash all over the goddamn place is surprisingly enjoyable.

  • 8 minutes in, and Celeste (title game) is verbally mentioned for the first time.

    …and I still enjoyed the lead-up immensely!

  • There's one bad thing in the assist mode of Celeste : it allows the player to collect golden berries with it and to save the speedrun times. :/

  • What I don't get is how the developer's intention is in any way relevant? Why does it matter at all? Why would anyone care in their Single Player Game what the devs do and don't want? It's not possible anyway, because every player is different and experiences a game differently. Enjoys things a different way. In literature, this is called Death of the Author. Aka once it's out there an author has no say whatsoever in how the audience receives their work, what they take from it, how they engage with it – and that is as it should be. I say treat games the same way because there is no "universal experience" of a game anyway to the whole "dev intention" point is moot. Barring people from engaging with a game on their own terms is just egotistic gatekeeping. Let players choose .

  • what's the problem with dark souls? it would be great to have an assist mode for different people, would hide it in a 'disabled assist' mode so regular casuals don't abuse it, but add it anyway(highlighting enemies, making parry time longer, making enemies attacks slower and so on, there are people who have disabilities and we get it, but sure not openly cheats like making yourself immortal or infinite spells – that would remove an HUGE element of the gameplay).
    Normie casuals have 2 great easy mods already:
    game wiki and character builders – just what a casul needs and if some segments are still too hard there is an option to skip it entirely in the game, it's called summoning/coop(sunbros will always help the casual)

    also 'assist mode' for disabled people has to go with settings for better players like options to remove 47/thief's special vision and ironmodes like in xenonauts(no ability to save).
    To this day there is only one game that did let me tweak everything about it – project zomboid. Yoi can make your challenge easier, harder or just completely different by changing all the rules of the world you create.

    ps shoutout to Microsoft for making a special controller for disabled people so they can enjoy more games

  • Darksouls Good players go naked pary speedroll Newbies go Fat armor 100%block shield easy mode and only get killed by oneshot traps XD thtas the perfect system for me

  • I prefer that developers offer the least difficulty options as possible. Sometimes a person thinks they can't win the game because they lack confidence, but if you force them to overcome it they gain confidence and they won't think like that anymore. So by locking difficulty options from players you are, in fact, helping the most exactly those people that you think would be benefited by easier options. But Darkest Dungeon difficulty is ridiculous, I have to say.

  • I think Minecraft, with it's commands to disable losing your inventory on death and block damage by hostile mobs (Like creepers), works similarly to cheat codes. You have to go find them, and need to manually enable the use of commands through them. Not exactly in-game communication, but still has these options as obvious "not intended" features

  • I like playing games, but i'm not good at them. For me it takes time & practise to be remotely okay at anything. Assist mode made me feel like so much less of a loser 🙂 i'm glad the way Celeste worded it.

  • I hate car racing segments/games and it always kept me away from playing Mafia. So I don't play it. Period. Problem solved. 🙂

  • que mania que tiene la gente que habla de celeste en poner titulo y descripcion en español y que el video este en ingles, tanto les cuesta poner el titulo en ingles?, y no digan lo de los subtitulos porque a cualquier video que ponga esa opcion puede ponersele subtitulos, como por ejemplo, yo puedo subir un video hablando sobre tacos y ponerle subtitulos en japones, ruso, aleman, chino y en alienigeno y no por eso voy a poner el titulo en 4 idiomas distinos, es algo que me molesta mucho :/

  • "But cheat codes don't seem to exist anymore"
    Ironically, Celeste has a cheat code to unlock all levels and all sides just as you start a new file

  • If you really feel like Darkest Dungeon is too difficult for you even on easy mode and corpses turned off you can always go to the game files and just give your heros more dmg or health really easily or change the price of upgrades. Everything can be easily changed. Homever I do not recommenend that at all. It really spoil the experience. (I messed with it for a while.)

  • Gods will be watching has the same kind of move, it was the first one I played that had it. In GWBW loss and difficulty is litterally part of the game, however they still incorporated a mode with no such thing as a death or a loss.

    Pretty good game by the way !

  • What's even better about Celeste's assist mode, which I feel that you didn't quite say explicitly, is that all assist mode options can be customized literally any time you can pause.
    Let's say you just got 80% of the way to the next checkpoint, the level has been kicking your butt into next week, and now you're just now getting past that one thing that you kept stumbling on… only to die to the first new obstacle past that point – maybe having not seen it coming, maybe out of sheer anxiety that 'this is the farthest I've gotten holy crap,' or something else entirely. Regardless, you're pissed – the end was in sight, and (whether it truly was BS or not) you feel really bad. Cheated, disheartened, frustrated, in the end, whichever it is doesn't matter – because you can take that death, say, "You know what mister video game, I think I disagree with you." You can turn assist mode to bypass the part that kept killing you before, then turn it off right before your last death, having a better idea/calmer head to deal with what comes next. Almost like a combination of save states and the rules of segmented-speedrunning.

  • I played 90% of Celeste without Assist mode, but there were some parts I tried 50,000 times and was never getting closer, I was getting frustrated and angry and wanted to quit and never play again. Assist mode helped me in those moments, I could flick it on, adjust the difficulty in the slightest way to get past that one speedbump, then flick it off again. A lot of the time I knew what i had to do, and if I tried it another 50,000 times I could do it. But it was making the game unenjoyable and the option to move past it really helped me enjoy it. To the point I recommended the game to my friend who loved the idea of the game, but has trouble with stuff like Celeste and Super Meat Boy.

    Accessibility is important, I remember being a little kid and my parents would play Diablo II, me, wanting to play myself to feel included, would never handle it at my age with how hard the game was, so my dad gave me a god mode cheat, and I could feel included. It means a lot to someone when they can enjoy the game just as much as someone else, even if they're not as skilled.

  • Very nice topic ! According to me, when a game is too difficult, i just don't play it anymore, or i do some break. But it doesn't mean that the game is bad or something. I need time to finish it and this is at the end, my own way to play the game. You just have to make the game interesting enough for the player to come back. The assist mode or god mode should be available after you beat the game for example, or at some point of the progression. Your reward should be a new way to play the game.

  • Celeste's recent release of Chapter 9 is a massive step up in difficulty from the rest of the base story. It's harder than most B-sides, with some rooms approaching difficulty levels usually reserved for C-side rooms. Which rooms are that hard seem almost random. And for some reason, they left out the fact that you're blocked off half-way through the DLC unless you've beaten 7 of the B-sides (have 15 crystal hearts). I managed to beat the main game of Celeste, but I had to turn on Assist Mode before I even got to that halfway point, after over 1000 deaths and struggling for over an hour on two seprate screens. There's nothing wrong with me on a physical level, I've beaten Super Hexagon on the hardestestest difficulty before as a reference, but I just couldn't muster the level of perfection that was expected of me in the Farewell DLC. So I turned to Assist Mode, and so I still got to experience the ending of the game.

  • Good video but man… Eight minutes introducing the subject is just too much. We are here for Celeste and you spent more than half of the video talking about some other games. I have to dislike this time.

  • i dont think games should have a difficulty setting if there game is focused on difficulty, being stuck on Ornstein and Smough and having a "skip boss battle" dangling over my head would've made the game 10x less popular than it is.

  • Yeah, I hate it when games force you to choose difficulties (you don't even any reference on the base difficulty) from the get-go. And most tell you that NOT choosing difficult would rob you off of the full-game experience and endings!

    I wish more devs would let players get a taste of their game on the first segment and maybe when the player hit their first death or lose or dead end, the subtly suggests there are options or whatnot. Also, I hate those assist options with quirky names and don't have secondary explanation on what that option does.

  • I don't think people should worry so much about "ruining the game". if i want to play on stupid easy mode and just blast through the game, how am i ruining it for myself? the player understands what they are giving up, and of course there always going to be a demonic choir of people who want to have the "full experience" of the game. developers absolutely should include accessibility and assist modes, and if you don't want to use them then literally no one is forcing you to. i don't understand why people get so upset about it

  • I literally just beat Celeste and I didn't even see Assist Mode as an option! And, to be honest, there are a few times I would have liked it, especially when it comes to game speed. I've realized that I am, in fact, getting older and aging legitimately affects you. My reaction speed is slower so there were times, especially near the end, where you had to string a series of jumps across areas you couldn't see before starting and there were times where I would pause the game mid jump to try to get my bearings. Or there were moments where I knew exactly what I needed to do but couldn't react fast enough to manage it, and there are few feelings more frustrating then that.

    Knowing that there are these options, I might be tempted to go back and actually try to get some of the extras.

    Oh, and one legit criticism against the game: the boss fight with dark Madeline is literally about ten times too long. I mean that thing just kept going and going and going…

  • I got Celeste free from epic first time starting it up it worked. went back to recently. when i launched it. the screen went black like it was loading and then went right back to my desktop. i have looked up everything i could find to figure it out, i couldnt figured it out for the life of. could anyone help me figure this out. please

  • the thing i love about it , there was a screen in chapter 9 i just couldnt get past , was the one where you need to hyper through a blue block , land in a gap of 2 blue walls , quickly grab a double dash , dash through a pink block , grab onto it by turning around ( and if you are inside it during a cycle swap it messes the whole timing up ) and so on , i just cant do it , i tried so often , so i just skipped that one screen , and what do you know , i beat the following 4-6 screens in less time than i wasted on that one screen , i dont mind normal difficulty , but having to time a kinda difficult speedtech , with some blocks and then if you miss a cycle you are dead , thats not my definition of difficult , thats just annoying trial and error and then at the end , the one block you have to grab the right wall after going through the wall , its just so stupidly hard , and if you are too low , you die from spikes , just nope

  • For a long period of my life I've played though the Campaigns of the Call Of Duty games on the easiest difficulty, Recruit. It wasn't because I was bad at the game, but because I just found it more fun to mindlessly sprint from one battle to another and focus on the story of the Campaign. When in multiplayer I could hold my own against stronger bots and actual players and I enjoyed that challenge, but that doesn't mean I'm always looking for it. Easy Modes and Hard Modes are great for people who really want to focus on a specific aspect of the game, while Normal Mode is the Perfect Balance as the developers saw it.

    At least that's how I see it.

  • Difficulty modes should exist in most games, but not games like Soma and Dark Souls.
    Soma's narrative doesn't work without the stress accompanying it, Dark Souls as a experience would be dull if it wasn't for the oppressive difficulty, the experience would be unfulfilled.
    When you buy these games specifically you are signing up for what they are obviously made for, horror and difficulty that will test you, that is a key component of the experience, disabling it would alter the game to an extent where it would be impossible to talk about the experience with anyone who didn't play it in a easier mode. I don't get why people would play Dark Souls and ask for a easy mode when the game is built around being a challenge.
    Celeste having a "easy" mode is all good because the game is more about being a uplifting story and a fun platformer (what is fun to you depends on your preferences), this goes for most games, Dead Rising isn't inherently about the timer being there, neither is XCom, but Dark Souls and Soma are examples where i think that choosing a easier difficulty just defeats the point of the game and just turns them into 60€ sight seeing simulators (not that there is anything wrong with walking sims, but that these would just not be interesting ones) and takes away what makes them great and takes you away from being able to have a conversation about the games with anyone (the social component is quite important nowadays so i think it's important to remember that)

  • I dont understand why people like challenging games, for me real life is the challenge, and when i play a game i either wan't to experience an amazing story, or completly steamroll over enemies feeling invincible. Even if i defeat really hard boss encounters i dont feel accomplished or anything im more like, well that was a waste of 3 hours. 3 hours i spent on the same boss where i could have instead experienced a nice story.

  • I agree but some games are all about rising to the challlenge they are about entering a flow state and feeling amazing by mastering the mechanics.
    Think Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, Sekiro, Titanfall 2.
    And fighting games are suffering as a whole from dumbing down mechanics to make all players feel good rather than the players that put in the time because they genuinely enjoy mastering a system. Look at Mortal Kombat 11.
    All I can say is not all games will benefit from an easy mode or assist mode. Making Dark Souls easier fundamentally removes the point of the game. Without challenge there is no thematic tension that draws you in to relate you your player character. And no sense of satisfaction if you beat a boss on easy that others beat the standard way.

  • sv_cheat 1
    impulse 101

    I miss games having "cheats", above all I want to have fun and escape for some time. e.g. I'd IDFA and not IDKFA, and have a great time maze solving.

  • I keep coming back to this video and honestly I think it's some of your best work. To my mind it perfectly captures the conflict between two tricky extremes and comes to a solution that works perfectly.

  • I beat celeste today!! And you're absolutely right, the difficulty is important to it. I really wasn't sure I'd be able to reach the summit, but recognizing that the difficulty was integral to the experience helped me steel my resolve as i died 2000 times, and it made the final ascent much more satisfying than it would've been if it was easier.
    I probably would've tried assist mode if i hadn't watched this video, and there was an extra layer of pride in knowing that I could really do it without the help i thought i needed.

  • i thought you were a game dev drop-out, not judging through considering the awful state of the industry and the required technology to appease the "CONSUMERS"

  • I would argue Cuphead's simple difficulty is a way to familiarize one with the actual regular mode boss fight by making it slightly easier and more feasible to finish for less experienced players, but I do agree that Studio MDHR (Cuphead devs) should be more open about communication of the difficulties. (Cuphead spoilers ahead I guess) King Dice's fight doesn't even have a simple mode difficulty because his fight is made up of mini-boss fights until the end where the player fights King Dice himself–at least imo.

    But great video! I now learnt that there are numerous ways to tackle the issue of difficulty and accessibility.

  • The question to be asked is how much of the experience is focused on the difficulty. Would Dark Souls still be Dark Souls with an easy mode? Well, no. And neither would Celeste. Difficulty is a core part of both of these games. In Dark Souls, it is a preset expectation from previous titles in the franchise, so difficulty is what the series is known for. With the themes covered in Celeste, the game's setting and storytelling are told through the use of the game's difficulty, so it wouldn't be the same game if it were effortless.
    However, if you were to look at something like Cuphead, a game known first for its hard-drawn artstyle, it is safe for difficulty to take a back seat. Cuphead would still be an original and memorable game with a more accessible difficulty level.

  • There is an easy mode in every souls game. There are some OP builds that you can use to beat the games easily and I think that its also a great way to handle difficulty (although its unintentional on fromsoft's part)

  • 3DS RPG Bravely Default also has a config menu allowing you to customize game rules, such as enemy level/stats (aka easy/normal/hard) and the random encounter rate (off/low/normal/high). Yes, in an RPG with a stat-progression grind you can choose to disable your single biggest source of EXP, and the game will let you do it at any time (outside of combat, anyway) with nothing more than a quick message that "this may make it more difficult to gain levels".

  • Completed all of Celeste (including C sides) without assist mode but this new dlc chapter is looking impossible without it. Stuck somewhere halfway with no real sign of progress, but really don’t want to cave in to assist mode..

  • I'm a person that plays games for stories, characters, and art not so much for game play so i don't mind playing on easy mode. Ironically.

  • My biggest grip with Red Hook adding corpses when they did was the corpse system wasn't implemented for the players as well. So for example if you're running a 4th row arbalest and any of your front row heros dies and IS REMOVED then is fucks over your arbalest where as the enemy mobs wouldn't be, they stay where they are. Yes, yes, focus back mobs down first and git gud but the example is to layout how corpses being one-sided is unfair to the player without reason.

  • This video made me really happy. I like to play all of my games on easy so I can finish them faster. Most of them are single player story games, so there's no regret when playing them like this. It's also great in the fact that I can turn up the difficulty if I want a challenge, or extent the value of the game by making the learning curve more steep. The main goal should always have transparent difficulty options, and this video perfectly describes this statement. Thank you for this video.

  • wow I never noticed those settings in Darkest Dungeon. I was pretty annoyed by corpses when I started and I might've used those settings to turn it off, BUT… somehow learning about this now, half way through my play through, I don't see myself using it. I can see now that corpses are part of the game experience. I'm kinda glad I never knew about those settings.

  • I was completely stuck on celeste’s final stage (specifically flag 7, I believe). Assist mode helped me pass a stage that proved impossible for me after ~150 tries over a week, and I finally got closure for the story

  • I have been able to complete Vvvvvv…thanks to integrated assist modes. The speed of the game was way too high for me who didn't finish the first level of R-Type after countless attempts !
    I began Celeste without assist modes, so maybe I am just not good at games with a too strong emphasis on frame perfect moves 😉

  • I have absolutely nothing against an easy or cheat mode. Especially if it's kinda "hidden". But difficulty settings are bad and should not exist. How often have I sat on the difficulty selecting screen and didnz know what the fuck to do is astonishing.

  • I am torn about this, on the one hand people shouldn't be excluded from playing a game, on the other hand adding these assist options for everyone to turn on doesn't feel right either. I think there just isn't a perfect solution for this issue. I am someone who most of the time tries to play games on the hardest difficulty setting that I am able to deal with, most times the highest one. Because of this assist modes like the one of celeste feel like cheating.

    In the end, as you said, this is only important for achievements. Achievements would allow you to show that you have finished a game on a hard difficulty , I still enjoy that. I don't know, I can't come to a definite conclusion.

  • I completely agree with both points at the beginning and how you expanded on them. For example: there's a whole section of stardew valley I cannot play. I cannot play the fishing mini-game. I was in a pretty bad car accident alittle over a year ago (ya I'm late to playing it but turns out being laid out on medical leave will give you time to play games you never got around to) and have lost some of the functionality of my hands and wrists. I will never be able to play that mini game. Never. Full stop. Yet some thing in the game depend on it, and it ended up being one of the reasons I stopped playing all together. Meanwhile I'm far from the only one who has this problem (the rapid clicking or holding down the click button for extended periods is just not compatible with most wrist issues) and the developer has stuck to his guns and refused to modify it, even for disabled players.

  • Honestly I think that if you are an able bodied person you should not get an easy mode unless the developer says so. Video games are art and we don't ask artists to make their abstract art pieces "a little more comprehensible" "Hey artist! I didn't know what the point of this artwork was, can you tell me it's meaning?" that's what it sounds like to me. I believe that 100% of difficulty settings should be aimed at disability accessibility. Developers should do anything they can to try and make their game only restrictive to your skill, not your physical limitations. Dark souls shouldn't have an easy mode, it should have an accessibility mode. Same goes for every game. The exception to this is maybe the developer wants there to be an easy mode in which case they are the artist so who am I to say otherwise.

  • One game that does this quite well IMO is Mibnecraft. You can always change the gamerules through a simple command, but everyone knows that thats not what Mojang intended

  • "Hey, who cares about achievements anymore." He said, as I was listening to Game Maker's Toolkit while trying to get the "WOW" achievement for Celeste. Sigh.

  • The only game I ever done with easy mode was Kingdom Hearts DDD on 3DS, and you know what? I think I'm pretty legitimate, at the time i was around 10 year old and I bought the game because of the Mickey, Donald and Goofy stuff, but in reality the game had a super complex scenario that involved finishing the previous KH, + the game was pretty easy but asked you to farm like hell or you'll get stuck with two useless companions, and finally it had crazy difficulty spikes, like really fucking tough bosses, and the kid I was just wanted to enjoy the little bit of scenario he could understand and not have to grind or learn to be a super saiyan of combat to progress, so yeah, only game completed in easy mode, no guilt

  • It depends on the game and how it effects the feeling of reward. It can also matter whether it is single player or involves multi player. Look at something like World of Warcraft, for example. The original idea is that raids were very difficult content, and that only those who were able to defeat the bosses had access to epic gear (better stats, looks cool, but the purple text is important as we will see). At this point in the game, even stepping into a raid and seeing what it had to offer was a momentous occasion… before you did anything it felt rewarding and that you had accomplished something.

    As the game progressed, it went through various changes, all of which had an impact on the feeling of reward. During the second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, they made raiding more accessible by decreasing raid size (making it easier to organize) and creating two difficulties. It was a trade off. Some of the positives meant there was a clear path to progress to the point of raiding, there were no attunements to step into the raid, and more people were raiding than ever before. Also, with the reduced size your personal performance mattered more. The downside of this was it felt less epic with fewer people (like elite forces instead of an army), you wouldn't want to carry any "dead weight" so guilds became more particular about the gear of people they wanted to take along, it felt much less rewarding to see the boss fights since there was an easier version, and last it destroyed the status symbol of epic (purple) gear. Around this time, the phrase "welfare epics" came into prominence to describe this phenomena.

    The very next expansion, toward the end, they decided EVERYONE should be able to see and complete the raid content, and added the LFR system. This meant that you could actually queue for even easier versions of raids, making three total difficulty tiers of the same content. All of the raiding guilds that formed on my server in the last expansion crumbled. I will never forget what someone told me when I asked them if they wanted to raid with my group: "why would I do that, when LFR gives me purples?" Also, the linear nature of gearing meant you had to go through the content many times to get geared enough to do it "for real." The nature of a queue and the lack of communication meant the difficulty had to be very low, and the fact that you first had to do the really easy version of it further killed the fun of being able to see the content.

    So what are some of the lessons? First, if your game is about playing with others and you automate the process, there is no need for socialization. Your reputation as a player (in performance and conduct) doesn't matter as much. Second, there seems to be inherent reward to experiencing difficult content. Perhaps new content could be created to challenge people at different levels of skill without destroying this… or, maybe you shouldn't be able to see and kill every boss unless you are doing it at a certain difficulty level, since that in and of itself is a reward. Third, the color of the text of the gear actually seemed to matter, and has an interesting psychological effect: it was a status symbol. If you introduce different tiers of difficulty, perhaps you could create more qualities (colors) of gear so that you could always tell what difficulty of content someone had completed. Maybe you could add additional rewards to those who are able to complete the most difficult content.

    Ironically enough, the original raids did not require much skill… it just took a lot of grinding and organizational skill instead of execution and mastery of your class. The way your players think about the difficulty of content can almost matter more, just as the arbitrary status symbol of any aspect of the game can matter more than how much more powerful it makes you. Lastly, I think there is clearly a balance to all of this. Make things too hard to do and hardly any of your players gets to enjoy it; make it too accessible and it destroys the feeling of reward from completing it.

  • I play games like Celeste because they are a challenge. It would feel wrong to me if I used assist mode even for one section.

  • I never knew what assist mode did and I'm playing chapter 9 right now which is very hard so it made me wonder. I think this is an awesome mode, I didn't know you can change different settings within assist, I thought it was just toggle on or off and you get an extra spot to jump on or something. But now I can replay the entire game in a very slow more with infinite stanima and dashes, I think it'd be fun just to experience the game that way because I've already beaten it once.

    awesome video I just subscribed. I just typed them what is assist mode for Celeste and your video popped up, amazing stuff.

  • I always disable timers in XCOM 2, not because of the difficulty but simply because it's terrible game design that prevents you from exploring interesting systems in the game.

  • Please explain to me why I'm invincible in Diablo 3? I have it in hard mode playing through the story. I let all the enemies attack me as I went afk and still didn't die. I enjoyed this episode GMT!

  • Accesibility is important and its nice for many games, but i dont think every game has to have an assist mode. Not every game should be accesible to everyone, just as there are movies not intended for children, or genres wich bore some people.

  • I'm someone who typically play on easy mode, or hacks the game to make it easier (usually infinite lives, although I am currently playing Hollow Knight with an invulnerable mod on)
    This isn't because I'm bad at games or anything. In fact, I played Dream Drop Distance, on its hardest mode once or twice

    I play games that way, because I have disabilities that can make games, a nightmare to play
    However, I also want the game, to be at least a "little" difficult for me
    When I played Celeste, I did play with Assist Mode on. However, I rarely had invincibility on
    This is because, I wanted it to be easier for me to play, but I didn't want it to be… Too easy?

  • I dont say that Celeste assist mode is cheating but you just cant say i completed Celeste when you used invincibility and infinite dash

  • this is how multiple difficulty settings should be handled as well. I hate having to look at difficulty settings and wonder "ok but how difficult did they intend it to be," just do what halo 3 did and say which difficulty setting the game was meant to be played at, it's not hard

  • i'm completely fine with easy modes in games but in recent years,people are demanding assist modes in games that's whole premise is around being hard.Even though celeste's amazing presentation of the assist mode is great,the whole arch of the story is a girl struggling to deal with anxiety,depression,constant panic attacks and the difficulty reflects that.I know i didn't need to give you an essay about a Canadian girl collecting strawberries but i needed to say this.

  • I think it depends on the particular game on whether or not you should include features like this. Dark Souls type games not having difficulty levels is good because, beyond getting players the intended experience, it also creates some cachet in beating the game, and a strong feeling of accomplishment to those who do – they couldn't lower the difficulty level, so they had to get good to progress. This prevents players from circumventing challenges, which a lot of people will do, and prevents them from robbing themselves of that experience. It also creates the situation where some people literally can't beat the game – and that can be part of the appeal of the title, that it is literally impossible for some people to beat, so beating it means something.

    The thing is, not every game should be like that. But I think it's valuable for some games to just draw a line in the sand.

    One thing worth noting about Dark Souls is that it is non-linear; you can go a different direction if you're stuck. This can be a valuable means of making high difficulty into less of an insurmountable challenge.

  • I absolutely DESPISE games that call their easy modes "baby mode" or "wuss mode" or whatever, it makes me feel like a dumb bitch for not being a video game god and wanting to just play a game without feeling so much stress

  • I feel like assist modes are fine if a dev wants to put them in but if they don't that's okay I don't like hard games so I just don't play them

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