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Difficulty Levels
Poll ended at Tue 02 Aug, 2011 12:24 am
1. Can only set difficulty on game start. Then you are stuck with it. 15%  15%  [ 4 ]
2. You can reduce the difficulty at anytime, never higher. 27%  27%  [ 7 ]
3. Turn up and down difficulty at will, it is your game after all. 27%  27%  [ 7 ]
4. Option: lock difficulty at game start. Otherwise change at will 31%  31%  [ 8 ]
Total votes : 26
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 Post subject: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 8:34 pm 
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Developer
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Hi All,

I was wondering about player feelings about difficulty levels. We now have levels from Easy to Insane (insane being devastatingly difficult). Anyhow. Each difficulty level has different bonuses (harder ones giving you more XP for kills) Note: Insane has no bonuses.

So, here is the question. Currently you can adjust the difficulty on the fly as well as setting it when you start a new galaxy. The upside of this is that if you get in over your head, you can crank down the difficulty to pass whatever the obstacle is. The downside is that if you get in over your head, you can crank down the difficulty to pass whatever the obstacle is. SPAZ is all about running into tough obstacles and then leveling up to overcome them later... A big worry is that people will just crank down the difficulty whenever they hit a challenge, however it is also up to the player's play style. So you can see why it is a bit of a problem... Anyhow here are the options:

1. Can only set difficulty on game start. Then you are stuck with it.
2. You can change difficulty on the fly, but only down, and never back up. <-- Current front runner (also good for achievements)
3. Turn up and down difficulty at will, it is your game after all.

We don't want to rob the player of the sense of accomplishment of overcoming a tough enemy. That is really important to the feel of SPAZ. I will read all comments and discuss this further with Richard. Since a lot of you by now have played the game more than us, your opinions really matter to us :)


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 9:22 pm 
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Dart

Joined: Thu 28 Jul, 2011 3:15 am
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I like #2. If a difficulty really just is too rough for someone its too discouraging to have to go back to gamestart. But if you can just tune down then up it does harm the obstacleness of obstacles. Additionally, if players are using are using difficulty sliders to get past challenges they are in over their head anyway.

Tho I think there's a place for Iron Man/dead is dead mode too.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 10:15 pm 
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Just add a "Iron man" check box or what ever label you pref Blorfy, that locks the difficulty setting so it can't be changed.
Otherwise, allow it to be changed at anytime and give an "Iron man" award in achievements upon game completion for each level of difficulty normal and Up.

imo

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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 10:23 pm 
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Dart

Joined: Fri 22 Jul, 2011 1:26 pm
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I like option number 2, or scarletmadness idea.

EDIT: On second though, scarletmadness idea has one drawback imo. Some players might just check the box so they cant change difficulty just to get the archivement, then find it too hard and have to start all over again. I believe number 2 might be more convenient


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 10:40 pm 
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If you can't beat it with out changing difficulty, then you should not be able to get the achievement.
Give everyone their option to change at any time unless they tick the locked option.
Otherwise, what value has the achievement <.<

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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 10:53 pm 
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Dart

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scarletmadness wrote:
If you can't beat it with out changing difficulty, then you should not be able to get the achievement.
Give everyone their option to change at any time unless they tick the locked option.
Otherwise, what value has the achievement <.<


??? If you start the game in hard, but finish it on easy, you get the easy archivement, not the hard one. There is no need to lock the difficulty as long as you cant just bump it up at the end to get the archievement.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 11:04 pm 
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#3 is a nono. #2 is a maybe. I'd prefer #1. When you set up a game to start with you pick how many systems are there and difficulty. Live with it, or restart. Removal of the first Act once you have completed it will make restarting simpler.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 11:14 pm 
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I think I also need to warn about XP Bonuses/Penalties.

Any change in XP balance may make the game too fast and/or too slow (grindy). I don't think this is a good way to add "difficulty". Making a game more time consuming through requiring more time to get through it is not more fun.

Also be very careful when changing damage and/or damage modifiers in difficulty, as you can get some odd granularity issues on damage vs hitpoints unless your engine uses floating point for damage and hitpoints. And even then, you in theory can get these issues.

But in order to give a full judgement I'd have to try it out and see if game actually feels more difficult, or just more tedious and grindy.

I find that Diablo2 is a good thing to look at when designing increased difficulty.
First run through (Easy) you can get through it without knowing what you are doing.
Second run through (Normal) you need to master the game mechanics, but its still really down to having good gear and a good build and using it right.
Third run through (Hard), you need to master game mechanics pretty well, and you need very good gear and a nearly perfect build, you also need very good control of hotkeys and being able to change your strategy on the fly.

After having played several chars to Hard, Easy actually feels boring now. Even Normal feels a bit tedious, but Hard is fun. This is what you should try to aim for.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 12:11 am 
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Volley
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What TNSe said. I love D2s difficulty progression.

That said, I vote for option 1. Completely locked into whatever difficulty you choose. However, it wouldn't hurt to have a checkbox to be able to change difficulty later. This should come at some cost, though.

edit: I see there's a new option, voted for #4. yay polls


Last edited by FDru on Mon 01 Aug, 2011 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 12:21 am 
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Looks like the tide is swinging towards locked. At least I advise the option. Regardless, if it changes or is not locked at game creation. I don't believe it should count towards a achievement regardless.

Edit, I added a poll. Please vote ^.^

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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 12:55 am 
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Joined: Thu 28 Jul, 2011 11:51 pm
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Irrespective of difficulty levels locks, my big thing is to have something cool for doing it on a hard level. Not necessarily something ultrapowerful or anything, but cool. Maybe a difference in the ending, maybe a cool toy/new ship type/different mothership model or whatever for a new game plus, maybe unlock extra tech levels, who knows what. An, well, 'insane' difficulty level that exists just to be hard won't get played much. One that can deliver something cool to the person who manages it? Hell yes.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 2:15 am 
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Joined: Thu 12 May, 2011 11:25 am
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Whilst I agree with other that Diablo 2 had an awesome way of handling difficulty levels, the thing is that i wouldn't actually describe them as difficulty levels, they are literally extensions of the game, if you haven't played a character from normal on through nightmare and hell, you haven't actually played the entire game, as there vast amounts of items and monsters that only exist in nightmare\hell, along with the resistance changes.

That said I voted for 3, for a number of reasons, mainly that I don't see why the devs should have to care about someone's lack of willpower. If you want to be locked into a difficulty then just don't change the difficulty.

as an aside, regardless of which option is used eventually, i think you need to explain fully at the time of choosing what the differences between the difficulties are. not so much for people who have already played it but for those playing it for the first time, because i don't know about anyone else but my first reaction is to play games on hard, and it's always good to know what that actually means.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 4:48 am 
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Terraziel wrote:
That said I voted for 3, for a number of reasons, mainly that I don't see why the devs should have to care about someone's lack of willpower. If you want to be locked into a difficulty then just don't change the difficulty.


I agree completely. I've never understood why people care what difficulty someone else plays or what achievements they get in a *single player* game. It doesn't affect you, why should someone have to restart a game if they hit a section that is harder than their liking? Especially in this game where some missions are so much harder than the rest of the game.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 5:40 am 
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CEO wrote:
Terraziel wrote:
That said I voted for 3, for a number of reasons, mainly that I don't see why the devs should have to care about someone's lack of willpower. If you want to be locked into a difficulty then just don't change the difficulty.


I agree completely. I've never understood why people care what difficulty someone else plays or what achievements they get in a *single player* game. It doesn't affect you, why should someone have to restart a game if they hit a section that is harder than their liking? Especially in this game where some missions are so much harder than the rest of the game.


But it does affect you. Say you finish the game in insane, and you get the archievement "you finished the game in insane mode". The archievement means squat if all you have to do is get to right before the end in easy and then switch difficulty. It's like if you could just go and buy a 100% valid gold medal. For people who doesnt really care about archievements it doesnt matter and I'm sure it sounds stupid, but archievements are supposed to represent, well, archievements within the game. Of course giving people an alternative to lower the difficulty instead of having to restart all over is ok, but getting the same archievements than someone who gets thru in a harder mode, just no.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 7:07 am 
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Given this line of discussion is why I suggested the option to lock it at game start.
If you want the option to change it at will, don't lock it.

As Leam puts it, even if you can change the difficulty at any time. It SHOULD NOT award you the Achievement for finishing the game on a specific difficulty.
If nothing else, it should only give you the Achievement for what ever the LOWEST difficulty level you used during the game play regardless of what difficulty you finished on. I suspect this is why Blorfy has the option on the table, that once you reduce the difficulty you can not increase it above that new setting for the rest of the game. A simple way to ensure that when you finish the game, it accurately accounts for the difficulty you finished the game at. Depending on how he wants to implement it in the game at actual code level, it's likely the easiest way to go about it.

Achievements are just that in a single word. If you take short cuts to get to it, you did not achieve anything.

So, I put forth, the option to lock as the best solution to every ones desires. Regardless of the lock, you should get the achievement at what ever the lowest difficulty level you played the game at when you finish. Locking it just allows people to not give into temptation as easily and stick to their goals.

Take Dungeons of Dredmor for example. It has an option to turn permadeath off. I can see why they gave the option. As their primary goal was to make the genre more accessible to people who have no imagination or can't deal with the steep learning curve and technical aspects of classic rogue likes. I myself have NEVER turned it off, and never will. It's a rogue like after all, it's SUPPOSED to be impossible. That's the fun of it. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 7:24 am 
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Voted for option 4. Scarletmadness summed it up pretty nicely, so I'm not going into the details.

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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 7:04 pm 
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The people that want a challenge will never reduce the difficulty themselves. Or they will lock it.

Some people will "think" they want a challenge, until they get halfway through the game and get stuck. They'll be happy the option to reduce is there.

Guys like me (Casual) will never move it off of Easy, or maybe Medium for a 2nd playthrough.

And yes, achievements should be awarded for the easiest level chosen, even if for 1 second. (I think I warned you guys about achievements, a long time ago. Right? :) )


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 8:24 pm 
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scarletmadness wrote:
Given this line of discussion is why I suggested the option to lock it at game start.
If you want the option to change it at will, don't lock it.


I guess i didnt understand what "lock it at game start" meant. I took that to mean that when you choose a difficulty and start the game, the difficulty automatically gets locked. This could be VERY frustrating if you start on, say medium, get to a level 10 hours in that you just can't beat, and have to restart the entire game rather than just decreasing to easy for a mission.

Then again, i'm a bit older than most gamers probably (over 30) and can honestly say i've never once checked what "achievements" i've gotten on my steam games and definitely couldnt care less what others have. That said, potentially reducing accessability to provide an artificial achievement seems like a unwise business decision. I can't tell you how many games i've stopped playing when i hit an area that was more difficult than fun (and probably didn't buy the sequels) and there were no "easy" options or cheats available.

If you can cater to both then that would be great: ie allow an achievement if someone doesnt touch the difficulty levels again, once set, while ONLY losing an achievement if you decide you have to go down a diffculty level to continue to have fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 8:32 pm 
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@CEO

Than you wont care about the achievement and will opt to NOT lock it at game start. You'll have the option to change it any time.
It should maybe default to unlocked I suppose, as that's as close as I can come to figuring what your issue is with it ?

Also, I can assure you that the Minmax guys and myself are all 30+ ^.^

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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 8:51 pm 
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Dart

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I'm for option 4. It caters to everyones play style and leaves options for folks. However I do support the idea that if you change to a lower difficulty, then it locks you out of ever being able to achieve ANY achievements that require a higher difficulty.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 10:33 pm 
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I vote either 3 or 4, since game difficulty can change over time, being able to turn it down if someone gets in over their head is nice. Likewise if someone realizes three hours into the game that they'd like to go a bit harder, that'd be nice too (especially for first playthroughs, where knowing where you stand precisely is just implausible).

I do agree that any achievements related to difficulty should only apply for the lowest at any given time. Though perhaps instead of an optional lock simply have a pop-up warning that it will use the lowest for achievements?


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 11:49 pm 
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Wow, thanks for all the well thought out answers and ideas. This is definitley what I was after.

So this is what I plan to do now is: When you start the game, there is a slider that defaults to normal. Each difficulty option on the slider has a description of the bonuses for that level. Once the level is selected, it can only even be turned down through the options screen in game. So on the options screen, instead of a slider, we will just have a button to lower difficulty one notch. This button can be pressed multiple times. Each time the button is pressed, there is a warning telling the player that there is no going back and that their acheivements will default to the lowest difficulty level.

That seems really fair, and is a good balance between accessibility and maintaining the spirit of the game.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Tue 02 Aug, 2011 3:14 am 
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Blorfy wrote:
Wow, thanks for all the well thought out answers and ideas. This is definitley what I was after.

So this is what I plan to do now is: When you start the game, there is a slider that defaults to normal. Each difficulty option on the slider has a description of the bonuses for that level. Once the level is selected, it can only even be turned down through the options screen in game. So on the options screen, instead of a slider, we will just have a button to lower difficulty one notch. This button can be pressed multiple times. Each time the button is pressed, there is a warning telling the player that there is no going back and that their acheivements will default to the lowest difficulty level.

That seems really fair, and is a good balance between accessibility and maintaining the spirit of the game.


Sounds good. If it doesnt clutter too much, maybe you could add in the difficulty description a "difficulty can be lowered at any time during the game in the options screen, but not raised" or similar explanation, so everyone knows before they check the options.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Tue 02 Aug, 2011 4:29 am 
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scarletmadness wrote:
@CEO

Than you wont care about the achievement and will opt to NOT lock it at game start. You'll have the option to change it any time.
It should maybe default to unlocked I suppose, as that's as close as I can come to figuring what your issue is with it ?

Also, I can assure you that the Minmax guys and myself are all 30+ ^.^


Again, wasnt arguing with you, just pointing out that I didnt understand option 4 as you meant it. And yes, the default should be unlocked, or someone could waste a lot of time on a playthrough than ends up being to hard for them when they hit chap 3 or 4.


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 Post subject: Re: Quick question about difficulty levels.
PostPosted: Tue 02 Aug, 2011 5:49 am 
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@Blofy
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@CEO
Ya, Not saying you were arguing, Just having a discussion. I did not get why you had an issue with the lock concept, if you could just not lock it.
Seems Blorfy is going with the one way only adjustment approach tho. hehe

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