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Do Developers Have a Set Difficulty Level in Mind?

December 12, 2016 Written by Keri Honea

difficulty setting diablo 3

One commenter in a review a couple of months back said that they won’t change the difficulty levelĀ of a game from the default setting, because that’s how the developer intends players to play the game right out of the gate. Other comments popped up in response, suggesting that the default isn’t always what the developer wants, that sometimes it is the harder setting. Others pointed out that sometimes there’s not a default, and other times, a game doesn’t have a setting that most people consider to be the default: Normal.

Watching this debate made me think of something one of my grad school professors said about authors, that what they mean in a book or poem doesn’t matter, because they are dead to you. Obviously he didn’t literally mean that the authors are always dead, but that you don’t know them, they aren’t part of you, so what does it matter what they intend? Does the same theory apply to developers of games as well? Does it matter which difficulty level they intended gamers to play on? Then again, do they even have that intention when they develop games in the first place?

I asked a few developers about their thoughts on the matter, specifically asking them if they develop games with a set difficulty level in mind over the course of development. Here is what they had to say.

Does this change your perspective on the difficulty choices at all? I’m personally going to keep with my professor’s advice on books and apply it to games.

That said, do you have a difficulty preference when playing?