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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Change of Plans: K/D in Single Player

Ugh. Here we are again. I played too much and don't have the time or energy to make a full post. So tonight's quick post is about Kill/Death ratios in single player games.

Back in June I talked about K/D's in multiplayer at length, but I'll make this quick, because it's so needless. I first ran across K/D during a game in the original Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and I've seen it in every shooter game since. What irks me about this so much is that, unlike multiplayer, single player has no difficulty setting. The difficulty determines itself based on the skill level of the players in game and the maps played. The skill level represented by multiplayer K/D is dependant on game type and perception, but single player is neither. And here's why.

If you play single player games in today's world, you have achievements, trophies, whatever, and in order to get them, certain conditions must be met. These conditions sometimes take so much skill and luck that even the most godlike multiplayer player might not be able to achieve them on the first runthrough, or the second or the third. Someitmes these depend so much on luck that players restart a level over again and again after each death to get what they want.

There is also the option to raise difficulty, as I mentioned. And again, even the most godlike multiplayer player may not have the skill level required to make it through an entire game without a death or two. Sure, you could certainly say that he restarts after every death or restarts from a save point, but, regardless, he dies and eventually the game will record a death he decided he didn't want to worry over. This does not even take into account the cheapness some games exhibit in their enemy AI construction and ability array. Death after death piles up at no fault of the players. The situation he finds himself in is simply unwinnable, and until he decides to move on, his anger only increases with the number of his failures.

Some might call the above a moot point on the principle that K/D defines skill in all video game circles, or that you've mastered a genre to such a point that even the hardest difficulties are easy. Even with this, the whole idea of Single Player K/D's is ridiculous. They are easily shrugged off on the excuse of AI or repetition of a single event or as simply unneeded.

I feel I've made myself unclear here, at least in my own head. Single player kill to death ratio has no purpose because the human element of the equation is removed. You outsmarted a computer. Good for you. No get online and show that you can do the same to thinking, cunning humans.

So there.

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