Jump to content


Photo

Implimenting Difficulty


  • Please log in to reply
29 replies to this topic

#1 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:43 AM

(I'm talking about the difference between easy and hard mode, not progressive difficulty throughout a game)
This time I'm not making a topic because I want to know how people think of my ideas for my game. Instead after playing Kid Icarus for a while and being frustrated with the way they handled difficulty, I wanted to make a topic on ways that I feel are good and bad ways to do difficulty.

Bad ways to handle difficulty:

The worst and cheapest way to make a game harder is by letting the enemies take more hits. It's rather frustrating because it just makes the fights longer and more boring, plus you can never trust an enemy to go down in x number of hits.

The second worst way of doing it is making the player take more damage. All this does is make the game entirely about dodging, which can lead to making many situations feel seamlessly the same, and boring over time. (This coming from the guy who thinks that video games should not expect the player to never get hit).

Good Ways to handle Difficulty:

Increase the number of enemies, if the enemies will go down in a reasonable number of hits, this can actually lead to making the character of player feel all the more epic.

Improve the enemy AI. This can be as simple as increasing the rate that the enemy will choose to attack.

Increase the number of projectiles the enemy will shoot when they decide to fire.

Edited by Saijee, 13 April 2012 - 03:15 PM.

  • 0

#2 JAk HAk

JAk HAk

    sepius fidelis

  • New Member
  • 713 posts
  • Version:GM:HTML5

Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:56 AM

I'm going to respectfully disagree. Sorry in advance for tearing everything apart. Feel free to discuss my arguments as you please.

-"you can never trust an enemy to go down in x number of hits."
Games where you can't tell about how many hits you'll need have been designed poorly. Health bars are probably the easiest way to go, but it's entirely possible to add chunks of armor and shielding that fall off or disintegrate as the HP decreases.

-"games should not expect the player to never get hit"
I'm going to turn this around and say that, if a game has been made so that the player cannot get through without taking damage, then it has been poorly designed. No game should contain a section where it is impossible to pass without taking damage. That way, you're only ever being punished and taking damage if you lack the patience to be careful and/or hone your skills. If a certain enemy has been made "harder" by doling more damage, then that simply means you'll have to be that much more careful or practice to get that much better.

-"Increase the number of enemies"
In the end, this is just more HP. What you're seeing here, though, that you might not see with just one enemy of greater HP, is that progress is being made. That's why doing effects like having armor fall off and having the enemy get crazier or madder or redder are so important. The player needs to know that progress is being made.

Also, in Zelda, after which do you feel more epic? Killing one Dark Knut, or five moblins? Five goombas in Mario, or Bowser in one of his confrontations? Adding more enemies turns them into part of a statistic rather than a worthy contender. You might kill hundreds of goombas and koopa, but only one Bowser is defeated.

-"Improve the enemy AI."
Yes.

-"This can be as simple as increasing the rate that the enemy will choose to attack."
No, that has almost nothing to do with the AI. Rate-of-fire might simply be a different weapon, not advanced intelligence. Like, upgrading from a crossbow to a gatling gun. The advance in the intelligence lies with the level designer, or the enemy unit's commanding officer, not the unit itself.
  • 1

Posted Image


#3 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 13 April 2012 - 05:28 AM

Games where you can't tell about how many hits you'll need have been designed poorly. Health bars are probably the easiest way to go, but it's entirely possible to add chunks of armor and shielding that fall off or disintegrate as the HP decreases.

I think that you should be able to get into a rhythm: If I shoot a space pirate with 2 normal power beams and 1 charge shot, they will die.

if a game has been made so that the player cannot get through without taking damage, then it has been poorly designed. No game should contain a section where it is impossible to pass without taking damage

I never said it was OK to have an undogable attack, those are real dumb. But apart from that, your basically saying that all games should be designed as one-hit-wonders. I'd be pretty frustrated playing Zelda if taking 1 hit meant a game over.

In the end, this is just more HP

No it's different. Having one enemy with extended HP just makes the battle longer. But having more of the same enemy will/can make the situation drastically different. I'll use Zelda as an example too! In Twilight Princess the temple of time midboss is an Iron Nut. At the end of the battle I'm like: "Wow that was a good fight!" In the pit of trials at the bottom is a much more intensified version of that fight. But they didn't just make some super epic Iron Nut, instead they created a situation that has you fight 3 Normal Iron Nuts. When I first Saw this I was like "Oh Crap, there's 3 Iron Nuts!" But it's still a fair fight, because none of them have any unfair advantage you wouldn't have known from the midboss battle form Temple of Time. You are for certain that it will take a reasonable amount of hits to make them go into speed mode, and another fixed amount of damage to kill them from there. Now tell me that your not a lot more epic after slaying 3 Iron Nuts than 1!

All of this, but because there are now 3 of them, things are a lot more exciting than when there was just 1 (It's a completely new battle with a take on the same foe, it's not just more HP).

But I should note that I'm not talking about a difficulty curve throughout a game. I'm talking about the difference between EASY and HARD mode.

If there is an area where you fight 1 Dinofos in easy mode, you should fight 3 of them in the same area in hard mode.

No, that has almost nothing to do with the AI. Rate-of-fire might simply be a different weapon, not advanced intelligence.

I never said anything about "rate of fire" I said when they choose to attack. It CAN be an "intelligence" factor. This is a very common situation I see in MANY video games:

An enemy will decide to do 1 of 3 things once ever 3 seconds. 1) Attack, 2) Move around, 3) sit still and do nothing. Since attacking is obviously the most "intelligent" choice, making an enemy choose to attack more often is effectively making the AI smarter. Now I'm not saying that this 3-choice thing is the best way to go about making enemies, Personally, I always make sure that my enemies will attack when they have a good chance of hitting the player (It basically boils down to "attack on sight!" ), it makes them feel more life like. Spammy, but fun!

Edited by Saijee, 13 April 2012 - 05:33 AM.

  • 0

#4 chance

chance

    GMC Member

  • Global Moderators
  • 8047 posts
  • Version:GM:Studio

Posted 13 April 2012 - 11:36 AM

Good Ways to handle Difficulty:

Increase the number of enemies, if the enemies will go down in a reasonable number of hits, this can actually lead to making the character of player feel all the more epic.

Improve the enemy AI. This can be as simple as increasing the rate that the enemy will choose to attack.

Increase the number of projectiles the enemy will shoot when they decide to fire.

Those work... but they seem rather unimaginative. I get bored when each level just has more enemies, faster enemies, and better-armed enemies. (Not saying your games do this, Saijee)

Of course, we've all used that approach. But I like it when designers find more interesting ways to add challenges. Like maybe changes to the environment, many different enemies/obstacles altogether, maybe different reward systems than just killing enemies.

I'm not particularly good at this myself. But I admire designers who can do it.
  • 0

#5 Creativita

Creativita

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 172 posts
  • Version:GM:Studio

Posted 13 April 2012 - 02:08 PM

... No game should contain a section where it is impossible to pass without taking damage...


I disagree, to some extent. There are games, such as Missile Command, in which one may pass unharmed and benefit from this as a result. But this only be achieved through concentration and effort, a system which the player may come to recognise.
  • 0
"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read"
- Groucho Marx

#6 masterofhisowndomain

masterofhisowndomain

    The Designer

  • GMC Member
  • 3650 posts
  • Version:GM8.1

Posted 13 April 2012 - 02:55 PM

I'm going to respectfully disagree. Sorry in advance for tearing everything apart. Feel free to discuss my arguments as you please.

The same to you:

Games where you can't tell about how many hits you'll need have been designed poorly.

This is a sweeping statement to make, and hence doesn't cover many situations. For example with highly realistic or atmospheric games, there often should/need not be any indication of how many hits are required - enemies would, in reality, vary in health; applying a graphic is unrealistic; even if it was realistic, letting the player know can ruin the element of fear or surprise.

I'm going to turn this around and say that, if a game has been made so that the player cannot get through without taking damage, then it has been poorly designed. No game should contain a section where it is impossible to pass without taking damage.

Again, very sweeping. From a purely functional perspective, it would be correct to say that there should be never be sections where the player can't avoid damage - but this completely ignores that games are often designed to evoke emotion, and of those the fear of loss can be created by showing the player that they are never invulnerable to the dangers of the world, regardless of their skill.

This can be as simple as increasing the rate that the enemy will choose to attack.
Increase the number of projectiles the enemy will shoot when they decide to fire.

Those two things do not improve the AI. Improving the AI would make it use the existing resources more intelligently - i.e., it fires the same number of bullets, but it does so with improved accuracy.
  • 0

List Of Mods And Add-Ons

(Things you must try, for the games you already have)

 

Insightful links:
Higher Order Fun -- Game Design, Maths.
The Missing Concept -- Career/Hobby?
Neither Career Nor Hobby -- Career/Hobby?
Wario Land 4 Project -- Platformer design.


#7 Adequate

Adequate

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 479 posts

Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:04 PM

IMO the best way to make a game more difficult is introducing new enemies.

Okay I know how to kill a goomba and a koopa an- are those wings?
  • 1
:)

#8 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 13 April 2012 - 03:19 PM

Chance, those "two" things were not ways to improve the AI, they were ways to make the game harder in a fair way. Only the first method was a means of increasing the AI. I also explain how it CAN work as a means of making the AI smarter here:

I never said anything about "rate of fire" I said when they choose to attack. It CAN be an "intelligence" factor. This is a very common situation I see in MANY video games:

An enemy will decide to do 1 of 3 things once ever 3 seconds. 1) Attack, 2) Move around, 3) sit still and do nothing. Since attacking is obviously the most "intelligent" choice, making an enemy choose to attack more often is effectively making the AI smarter. Now I'm not saying that this 3-choice thing is the best way to go about making enemies, Personally, I always make sure that my enemies will attack when they have a good chance of hitting the player (It basically boils down to "attack on sight!" ), it makes them feel more life like. Spammy, but fun!


I think it's fair to say that we are all thinking of different games reflecting our posts. This should be an interesting and useful topic, looking forward to it.

Edited by Saijee, 13 April 2012 - 03:20 PM.

  • 0

#9 JAk HAk

JAk HAk

    sepius fidelis

  • New Member
  • 713 posts
  • Version:GM:HTML5

Posted 13 April 2012 - 07:03 PM

Apologies for the long post, but I wanted to make sure I covered all the things said to me. Thanks for this discussion, guys! :medieval:

I think that you should be able to get into a rhythm: If I shoot a space pirate with 2 normal power beams and 1 charge shot, they will die.

Rhythm can be good, but I don't think it should be there to stay. Perhaps you handle a certain wave or cluster of enemies with a certain rhythm, but then the next group with a new rhythm.

I never said it was OK to have an undogable attack, those are real dumb. But apart from that, your basically saying that all games should be designed as one-hit-wonders. I'd be pretty frustrated playing Zelda if taking 1 hit meant a game over.

No where did I say all games should be anything. In this part, I was trying to defend games having fewer hitpoints as valid ways of increasing challenge. However, that doesn't mean a game should be that hard. Even using the right methods, it's possible to do things wrong (similar to having too much of a good thing, like dying from drinking too much water).

No it's different. Having one enemy with extended HP just makes the battle longer. But having more of the same enemy will/can make the situation drastically different.

Fair enough. I'll grant that adding enemies can lead to different gameplay (even though, for me in the example given, I just fought the Knuts one at a time, so it wasn't significantly different), but it's not necessarily more concentrated of a challenge just by adding more enemies. For example, in Assassin's Creed, you can easily enough fight through ten or twenty men because they all only attack you one at a time. Or if a horde of zombies in some game have you cornered, but you can just shoot them down as they come, then it's mostly a task of endurance. So I'll agree with your point assuming that adding more enemies equates to more of you being threatened, not just a certain part of you being threatened more. Like, now your front and back are threatened, instead of your front twice. Does that make sense?

Since attacking is obviously the most "intelligent" choice [...] Personally, I always make sure that my enemies will attack when they have a good chance of hitting the player

Three things here: Firstly, you need to choose between "attacking is the most intelligent choice" and "attacking when they have a chance of success is the most intelligent choice." I think you'll agree with me that it's the latter, but that means simply attacking it not obviously the more intelligent choice.

Secondly, let's assume that the enemy in question always has a good chance of success, so it's always a good idea for it to be attacking. Now let's assume it's been given a poor old shooter to use, so it spends a lot of down-time in-between its attacks. If it's truly better to be attacking, then the smartest thing would be to constantly be attacking, with no let-up. It would be "smarter" to get a gun with a higher rate of fire so that its attacking would be nigh on constant. That's what I meant about rate-of-fire.

Thirdly, this depends entirely on how and when the enemy is opening itself up to be attacked. If it's someone in an FPS who has to expose himself to fire at you, then it's not helping his cause to always be out in the open. Ideally, he's out sporadically, and only long enough to line up a shot and fire. Then there are enemies who are invulnerable while attacking, only opening up when they let up for a breather. It makes sense for that enemy to be attacking as much as it can.


I'm going to respectfully disagree. Sorry in advance for tearing everything apart. Feel free to discuss my arguments as you please.

The same to you:

Thank you.

Games where you can't tell about how many hits you'll need have been designed poorly.

This is a sweeping statement to make, and hence doesn't cover many situations. For example with highly realistic or atmospheric games, there often should/need not be any indication of how many hits are required - enemies would, in reality, vary in health; applying a graphic is unrealistic; even if it was realistic, letting the player know can ruin the element of fear or surprise.

In a "realistic" game, the concept of health and hit-points is mostly bizarre. I think, if a game like Uncharted was actually trying to be real, then shots to the chest would incapacitate enemies, and shots to limbs would render those body parts useless and cause the enemy to be in pain and shock. No, the video-game notion of health can't realistically be applied to situations like that.
However, I'll maintain that, if I can't knock down an enemy in two to four shots, it should at least look like my attacks are getting through to him. And there should be some sort of logical following, such as enemy B being X percent the size and armor amount of enemy A means enemy B should take about X percent as much to kill as enemy A. It's when there's no sort of visual indication or internal logic that the player no longer understands what he's doing or feels like what he's doing has an effect.

But maybe some of these things are done intentionally. Maybe it is, as you say, for the element of fear or surprise, or other atmospheric condition. That's fine and dandy, but then this is no longer a discussion about implementing difficulty.

[...] but this completely ignores that games are often designed to evoke emotion, and of those the fear of loss can be created by showing the player that they are never invulnerable to the dangers of the world, regardless of their skill.

Same thing as above.
  • 0

Posted Image


#10 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:26 AM

Allow me to explain what kind of circumstances I'm talking about.

The key one is that: I'm talking about the difference between easy and hard mode. Not the difference between the difficult of one enemy to another, or difficult that gets progressively harder as the game progresses.

Rhythm can be good, but I don't think it should be there to stay. Perhaps you handle a certain wave or cluster of enemies with a certain rhythm, but then the next group with a new rhythm.

Here is what I'm saying, using Zelda as an example again. You should be able to trust that all Wolfos will die in the same number of hits. And all Stalfos should also die in the same number of hits. This doesn't mean that all Wolfos and Stalfos should die in the same number of hits. Just as a class of enemies you should be able to expect that the same ways you beat 1 wolfos will always work on it.

No where did I say all games should be anything. In this part, I was trying to defend games having fewer hitpoints as valid ways of increasing challenge. However, that doesn't mean a game should be that hard. Even using the right methods, it's possible to do things wrong (similar to having too much of a good thing, like dying from drinking too much water).

Only if the game is an actual one-hit-wonder, games where you have no health bar, is it ok to expect the players to never get hit. But if you give the player the ability to take multiple hits than you should not expect them to dodge EVERYTHING.

Three things here: Firstly, you need to choose between "attacking is the most intelligent choice" and "attacking when they have a chance of success is the most intelligent choice." I think you'll agree with me that it's the latter, but that means simply attacking it not obviously the more intelligent choice.
Second
Third

First: It's safe to say that many enemies that do not damage on contact are harmless when they are not attacking. I'm refering to the tendency for a lot of game designers to give some enemies the decision to idley sit there and do nothing. Sitting there ususally has no advantages for the enemy, it's literally just a grace period meant to make it easier to hit the enemy. Let's take the inverse (You've made an enemy as hard as it should be, so how do you dumb it down for the lower difficulties?). In this case, the hardest difficulty setting would have the enemy never take these grace periods and always aggressively striking. Normal mode would make the dumb mistake of having grace periods, and easy mode would just be to make the enemy decide to have longer or more frequent grace periods than Normal mode.

Second: Your talking about a FPS I'm assuming, I'm going more along the lines of an action/adventure or Mertroidvania type game. It's not always going to have a good chance of hitting you for example, if it's weakpoint is its back, and you are behind it. If it attacked then, it would just make itself more open of a target, the smarter thing to do here would be to turn around and face you.

Third: Not exactly, even in an FPS, if it's just one guy, than yea a head on attack is just putting him in danger, but it is a means of making you waist your ammo, and does offer the chance of doing some damage to you. But now let's go to hard mode, just make it to where there are 3 enemies, now even as they throw themselves at you, they aren't just an open target, they are an open target who is being covered by 2 other guys. And if they are all attacking you at the same time, your going to have quite some trouble.
  • 0

#11 Yal

Yal

    Not Tsuka

  • Global Moderators
  • 10433 posts
  • Version:GM:Studio

Posted 16 April 2012 - 08:29 AM

The main reason 3 enemies are more difficult than a super-enemy is that when you have multiple enemies, they can surround you and attack you when you're busy. Some games don't realize that and build enemies that charge into the player mindlessly, which means that the player can kill them off quite easily by making them form a line or queue and then just go backwards and attack them simultaneously.

So to make a game harder by adding more enemies, it's important that they have high mobility to start with. For instance, Zelda (OoT) enemies typically act like they z-target you and strafe around you, and when you lower your guard they do a jumping slash at you, when you try to stab them they jump to the side. The main reason most OoT multibattles were quite easy was that the enemies didn't do stuff differently when they were behind you, they didn't try to attack you from behind as soon as they could.


Making enemies having more HPs won't make the game harder, it'll just make the enemies take more time to kill, making the game more repetitive and making the time between two pieces of progress longer. I would say it's a really bad way of doing the game. Giving the enemies more ATK or more fierce and aggressive tactics would be better, then. Some games added special upgrades to enemies in Hard Mode, for instance Zelda 1's hard mode had the Stalfos fire swords at you (dealing 4 hearts of damage, too!) which made the easiest enemy in the whole game getting a force to be reckoned with. SMB1's hard mode gave all Goombas shells, meaning that killing them the old way could get you into a dangerous situation with shells bouncing around, plus enemies would move faster.

Projectile attacks are generally more dangerous than melee attacks, so one good way of making the game harder could be to e.g. give all plain cannon fodder boglins crossbows. And so on. All non-humanoid enemies can be justified fireball spitters, all robots should have a charge-laser turret somewhere and send off discharges, and so on.
  • 0

- The above is my personal opinion and in no way representative of Yoyogames or the GMC, except when explicitly stated -

 

Open this spoiler for my games:

Spoiler

Some useful game engines: (all completely free to use, even commercially, as long as you replace all included graphics / music first).
SisterEngine RPG Engine - - YaruFPS 3D Collision Engine -- YaruPlatEngine Platform Engine

New user? Can't draw but want to look unique? You can request a new avatar in this thread!


#12 JAk HAk

JAk HAk

    sepius fidelis

  • New Member
  • 713 posts
  • Version:GM:HTML5

Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:22 PM

Making enemies having more HPs won't make the game harder, it'll just make the enemies take more time to kill, making the game more repetitive and making the time between two pieces of progress longer.

I'm curious if this means you believe the contrapositive as well. That is: "Making enemies have less HP won't make the game easier." Only if you agree with this statement can you be right about your first statement.

I happen to disagree, but I think you're still saying something worthwhile. I think giving an enemy more hit points opens up more time for it to attack you. Suppose an enemy with 3 HP generally lands one hit on you. It would follow that the same enemy with 6 HP generally lands two hits on you. That means, in order to get by unscathed, you have to try twice as hard to best him. Is this the same thing as doubling the number of encounters between safe zones? Pretty much, yes. But it's still harder.

On the other hand, I don't think that giving more of a challenge is synonymous with giving a better challenge. I think simply multiplying the number of hit points or encounters is effective at giving more challenge, but stops providing a better challenge at some point and provides a worse challenge. Yet, I think this applies to things like making the AI more intelligent too. For example, I want my chess AI to seem competent, but I don't want it to always perform the best possible move and thus never be defeated. That kind of AI is easily more challenging, but it's not a better challenge.

Which is why getting challenge right is a matter of fine-tuning. You don't want it too much, and you don't want it too little. The effect might not be parabolic, but there is a peak or a plateau of sorts. Throwing in more enemies or more HP can be a valid means of achieving difficulty, but there becomes a point where the difficulty overrides the fun and variation factors.
  • 0

Posted Image


#13 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 16 April 2012 - 07:35 PM

On the note of getting *good difficulty*

I think the best way to go about this is to go from top to bottom. As in the hardest difficulty should be made first. And the lower difficuties should be made with nerfed/dumbed down enemies.

By doing this, you can make sure that you have not made your game annoyingly difficult.

About your example with double health foes. This can only work when there is a clear graphical indication that this version of the enemy is better than the previous. Like in Paper Mario there were normal Koopa did 1 damage and had 2 HP, later in the game you find an enemy that is functionally the same called "Dark Koopa" it does 4 damage and has 8 HP. But you don't feel like the game is cheating you for 2 reasons. 1) X2 stats is a reasonable buff for grunt enemies. 2) It was clear that this game identified this as a different enemy, so having different stats if fair.

So yes, boosting health *can* be a fair way to increase difficulty, but this can go down wrong in so many ways. My primary example is Kid Icarus:

If your playing on difficulty 5, a normal grunt can be defeated in about 3 Seconds (130 HP).

But fighting on difficulty 9, that same grunt can take 20 seconds to kill (3000 HP).

Encounters are no longer fun, they are just boring and annoying.

Edited by Saijee, 16 April 2012 - 07:36 PM.

  • 0

#14 xhawkeyex

xhawkeyex

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 318 posts
  • Version:GM:Studio

Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:03 PM

I'd say that an easy way to increase the difficulty in a game is to add a "Director." The director takes several possible variables (health, damage, range, speed, spawn rate, spawn positions, and any other variables) and it changes them according to the player's actions in a game. Then on harder difficulties, make the director more strict and/or make the consequences worse. Then in order to make sure that the player doesn't keep following the director's pattern, add a "mood" to the director that changes the variables according to the mood and mixed with the player's actions.
  • 0

Like this post? Go ahead and hit the oiwl.png for me please.

When life gives you lemons, you eat those lemons.

Then you wonder why you didn't make lemonade.


#15 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 17 April 2012 - 05:06 AM

I have no idea what your talking about.
  • 0

#16 Spyro Conspiracy Theorist

Spyro Conspiracy Theorist

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 54 posts
  • Version:GM8

Posted 17 April 2012 - 05:37 AM

I don't think increasing enemy health is a good way to go, even if you do have a graphical indicator. Ideally, the amount of health originally is designed with pacing and item usage (if ammo/weapons are expendable), not just difficulty. If you are just thinking about the effect it will have on difficulty, you're risking serious harm to your game. There are countless examples of lazy design when it comes to this. The first that comes to mind is in the Dead Space games, there are a set of enemies that are basically the same as all the earlier enemies, except covered in black tar. They're harder, which makes them a little bit scarier, but because they have more health their limbs don't come off as easily, which completely eliminates my favorite part of the game! So in addition to having smaller unforeseen side effects (such as making the player work harder to not lose health), it can completely corrupt the fun of core gameplay mechanics.

I think a good way to make enemies more difficult would be to give them different elements of ai that are triggered based on the difficulty level.
For example, let's say at "easy," the enemy only has 1 state: walk back and forth, collision killing the player. At "medium," it still walks back and forth, but it now jumps up and down, meaning the player has to work more to avoid collision. At "hard," the enemy throws hammers at the player in large arcs that are kind of tricky to predict, making him work much, much harder to avoid collisions. It's a lot of work, if you make the elements fundamental things like in this example, but it can be a lot simpler. If you look at AI state machines, they can have a ton of different states, and throwing in another simple one can increase the difficulty in a very interesting way that doesn't necessarily affect the core gameplay, but merely forces the player to work a little harder, or maybe even just give them one more thing to worry about.

And if you take that idea of just giving them more things to worry about, you can apply it in all sorts of different ways. Maybe give them a different status bar, or make a rising water level instead of a static one, or have blocks disappear. A great example of a level that's basically the same, but has different levels of difficulty would be the dungeons in the original Super Mario Bros. I mean, world 1's is basically "easy mode," 3's "medium," 6's "hard" (and I've never got past that, 'cause that game's really hard!). They're all really interesting, though.


Making enemies having more HPs won't make the game harder, it'll just make the enemies take more time to kill, making the game more repetitive and making the time between two pieces of progress longer.


I'm curious if this means you believe the contrapositive as well. That is: "Making enemies have less HP won't make the game easier." Only if you agree with this statement can you be right about your first statement.


I'd say it does. The idea of "harder" here is presenting a challenge to the player, which the player must overcome through either physical or mental dexterity. Obviously the player isn't thinking more, because there's nothing new to think about, and there aren't any new motions to learn either, you just have to do it again and again. At least, I think that's how Yal meant it. It's a little counter-intuitive, I admit, but I think it makes sense when broken down like this.

think the best way to go about this is to go from top to bottom. As in the hardest difficulty should be made first. And the lower difficuties should be made with nerfed/dumbed down enemies.

By doing this, you can make sure that you have not made your game annoyingly difficult.

Doesn't this just provide the exact same problem inversed; risking making it to easy? I don't think it really matters which way you go, as long as you test both levels of difficulty thoroughly enough to make sure that they actually work.
  • 0

#17 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 17 April 2012 - 05:55 AM

I don't think increasing enemy health is a good way to go, even if you do have a graphical indicator. Ideally, the amount of health originally is designed with pacing and item usage (if ammo/weapons are expendable), not just difficulty. If you are just thinking about the effect it will have on difficulty, you're risking serious harm to your game. There are countless examples of lazy design when it comes to this. The first that comes to mind is in the Dead Space games, there are a set of enemies that are basically the same as all the earlier enemies, except covered in black tar. They're harder, which makes them a little bit scarier, but because they have more health their limbs don't come off as easily, which completely eliminates my favorite part of the game! So in addition to having smaller unforeseen side effects (such as making the player work harder to not lose health), it can completely corrupt the fun of core gameplay mechanics.

This is more or less what I've been trying to say the entire time.

Doesn't this just provide the exact same problem inversed; risking making it to easy? I don't think it really matters which way you go, as long as you test both levels of difficulty thoroughly enough to make sure that they actually work.

No, it doesn't. If your making the game your going to be good at it, so just make the hardest difficulty as hard as you the creator can play the game. It's not likely that a bunch of players will call the game easy if you do this. If you work form easy to hard, a game can be annoyingly difficult. But if you do it from hard to easy it cannot be annoyingly easy. If the player thinks that the game is too easy than it's their fault for not choosing a higher difficulty.

Bullet Life was made from hard to easy. I was trying to make Easy mode so easy that "The game would beat itself" but apparently some people thought even the easiest difficulty was intense. *Shrug*
  • 0

#18 Yal

Yal

    Not Tsuka

  • Global Moderators
  • 10433 posts
  • Version:GM:Studio

Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:01 PM

I'm curious if this means you believe the contrapositive as well. That is: "Making enemies have less HP won't make the game easier." Only if you agree with this statement can you be right about your first statement.

You're making a logic error here, since the absence of "hard" is not the same thing as the presence of "easy".

Increasing enemy HP will make the time required to kill an enemy increase, which also increases the time it can hurt you, but if the enemy isn't trying any harder than usually to hit the player, it'll be possible to avoid a 10000HP Super Hard enemy with the same ease as a 5000HP Hard enemy.

On the other hand, lowering enemy HP makes the time needed to kill the enemy smaller, but still the enemy will be equally dangerous to the player as long as it's not damaged by him. It's as hard to hit a Super Easy 1HP enemy that it is to hit a Normal 3HP enemy, and as long as you won't hit it it can hit you.



This actually boils down to a question about the definition of what easyness is. The entire Hp-up business seems to be based on this false assumption:

game_difficulty = amount_of_progress/amount_of_time

So apparently, the longer the time it takes to do some progress, the harder the game is. We could thus pep up the difficulty by giving every single destructible obstacle (enemy, roadblock, locked door) take a longer time to remove. We could also, apparently, make the game harder by making a non-skippable 5 minute cutscene pop up each time the player walks a few steps.

If we leave the obvious annoyance out of the discussion, it's quite clear that this game will actually be a lot easier than before, since time spent in cutscenes is time you can't die on or even take damage on. (This is the main reason arcade games has no cutscenes).





I very much agree with SYCOT (is that abbreviation cool with you?) on this, while it technically increases the time-per-progress difficulty rate it decreases the pacing (progress-per-time) rate and the ammo conservation (have-big-numbers) rate, which makes the game less fun. Proper fun, in the end, matters more than proper difficulty.
  • 0

- The above is my personal opinion and in no way representative of Yoyogames or the GMC, except when explicitly stated -

 

Open this spoiler for my games:

Spoiler

Some useful game engines: (all completely free to use, even commercially, as long as you replace all included graphics / music first).
SisterEngine RPG Engine - - YaruFPS 3D Collision Engine -- YaruPlatEngine Platform Engine

New user? Can't draw but want to look unique? You can request a new avatar in this thread!


#19 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 17 April 2012 - 04:10 PM

A game can be real challenging and still not make you rage quit.

If the game is making you rage quit it's usually because it's not your fault, rather the devices used to make the difficulty higher were stupid.

Armored Core is a good example of a challenging game that is not frustrating. The game revolved around designing a robot that was fit for specific purposes. I have gotten so many game overs on this game, but in the end, even if I had gotten 10 game overs on the same level, I was never frustrated. I just felt "I'm not doing something right here, maybe I should try using this instead of that."

It should be noted that in this game encounters between enemies were always brief. You could kill a grunt in a second, and you could kill an armored grunt in 3. You could kill a boss in 15.
  • 0

#20 JAk HAk

JAk HAk

    sepius fidelis

  • New Member
  • 713 posts
  • Version:GM:HTML5

Posted 17 April 2012 - 06:14 PM

Increasing enemy HP will make the time required to kill an enemy increase, which also increases the time it can hurt you, but if the enemy isn't trying any harder than usually to hit the player, it'll be possible to avoid a 10000HP Super Hard enemy with the same ease as a 5000HP Hard enemy.

Here, you're making the assumption that it's no big deal to avoid taking damage. I've been assuming that the enemy is more difficult than that, or that the average player isn't an expert at the game. I've been assuming that the player is probably going to take damage in the base encounter, so an enhanced encounter increases that probability.

I'm not advocating longevity of its own accord, I'm advocating amount of challenge between safe zones or checkpoints. Consider, for example, how much harder Super Mario 3 would have been if there were no checkpoints, or if the levels were twice as long. It wouldn't merely be watching a cutscene to fill time or droning on in some battle, it would be increasing the opportunity for you to die because there are twice as many pits and obstacles between safety. In the same way, on a smaller scale, changing the HP on an enemy can increase the opportunity for you to take damage. It might not, depending on the enemy and the player's technique, but there are definitely places where it can.
  • 0

Posted Image


#21 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:09 PM

Increasing enemy HP will make the time required to kill an enemy increase, which also increases the time it can hurt you, but if the enemy isn't trying any harder than usually to hit the player, it'll be possible to avoid a 10000HP Super Hard enemy with the same ease as a 5000HP Hard enemy.

Here, you're making the assumption that it's no big deal to avoid taking damage. I've been assuming that the enemy is more difficult than that, or that the average player isn't an expert at the game. I've been assuming that the player is probably going to take damage in the base encounter, so an enhanced encounter increases that probability.

I'm not advocating longevity of its own accord, I'm advocating amount of challenge between safe zones or checkpoints. Consider, for example, how much harder Super Mario 3 would have been if there were no checkpoints, or if the levels were twice as long. It wouldn't merely be watching a cutscene to fill time or droning on in some battle, it would be increasing the opportunity for you to die because there are twice as many pits and obstacles between safety. In the same way, on a smaller scale, changing the HP on an enemy can increase the opportunity for you to take damage. It might not, depending on the enemy and the player's technique, but there are definitely places where it can.

Again I'd like to use Kid Icarus as an example. The enemies can be pretty difficult to overcome without taking a lot of damage. That is in the case that you are trying to kill them as fast as possible. But because the enemies have so much more HP and do so much more damage, I find myself just running away and shooting lasers most of the time. This let's me avoid taking much damage while defeating the enemy. But it's a slow and repetitive process. In other words, it's long and boring.

And Implying that you are trying to create a fun game, this just doesn't cut it.
  • 0

#22 JAk HAk

JAk HAk

    sepius fidelis

  • New Member
  • 713 posts
  • Version:GM:HTML5

Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:40 PM

But because the enemies have so much more HP and do so much more damage, I find myself just running away and shooting lasers most of the time. This let's me avoid taking much damage while defeating the enemy. But it's a slow and repetitive process. In other words, it's long and boring.

That doesn't sound fun at all, and sounds like poor design to me. I think patience is something a lot of games should teach their players, but not to the point of boring the player. Yikes!
  • 0

Posted Image


#23 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:03 AM

That doesn't sound fun at all, and sounds like poor design to me

That is exactly the point I have been trying to make this entire time: Trying to make the game more difficult by giving the enemies more health is not fun at all and makes for poor design.
  • 0

#24 JAk HAk

JAk HAk

    sepius fidelis

  • New Member
  • 713 posts
  • Version:GM:HTML5

Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:26 AM

That doesn't sound fun at all, and sounds like poor design to me

That is exactly the point I have been trying to make this entire time: Trying to make the game more difficult by giving the enemies more health is not fun at all and makes for poor design.

The difference between us is that you're making a blanket statement, saying that it can never be fun. I think there are times when it is still fun, but that this case you've presented is not one of them.
  • 0

Posted Image


#25 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 18 April 2012 - 01:24 AM

I think it can be OK to make your enemies have some more HP throughout the course of the game, but HP should not be affected between Easy to Hard mode.
  • 0

#26 Yal

Yal

    Not Tsuka

  • Global Moderators
  • 10433 posts
  • Version:GM:Studio

Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:35 AM

I think there are times when it is still fun, but that this case you've presented is not one of them.

Try to prove your statement by offering a proper example of this, as Saijee has done.
  • 0

- The above is my personal opinion and in no way representative of Yoyogames or the GMC, except when explicitly stated -

 

Open this spoiler for my games:

Spoiler

Some useful game engines: (all completely free to use, even commercially, as long as you replace all included graphics / music first).
SisterEngine RPG Engine - - YaruFPS 3D Collision Engine -- YaruPlatEngine Platform Engine

New user? Can't draw but want to look unique? You can request a new avatar in this thread!


#27 Spyro Conspiracy Theorist

Spyro Conspiracy Theorist

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 54 posts
  • Version:GM8

Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:01 PM

What about Dead Space? While I think they completely failed at the increasing health for increasing difficulty method throughout the game, the main difference between the easy, medium, and hard modes is that the enemies take more shots to go down, and there it actually is pretty awesome. Rather than basically just decreasing the effectiveness of your weapons, it makes you have to cut off more limbs! Easy is two limbs, medium 3, etc. So it takes one of the best mechanics of the game, and makes it more important, which also serves to increase the difficulty. Even though all they've technically done is increase the amount of bullets you have to spend on each enemy, they do it in such a way that compliments the strongsuits of the game.
  • 0

#28 JAk HAk

JAk HAk

    sepius fidelis

  • New Member
  • 713 posts
  • Version:GM:HTML5

Posted 18 April 2012 - 06:35 PM

I think there are times when it is still fun, but that this case you've presented is not one of them.

Try to prove your statement by offering a proper example of this, as Saijee has done.

Others may disagree, but I think the final boss in IJI is made harder and still just as fun if you supercharge him. In any of the Ratchet and Clank games, hard modes mean the enemies have more HP, and I always prefer playing them that way. I'll watch my little brother play on easy and cringe and how little work he has to do to plow through enemies, wondering just how it could still be a satisfying experience. But that's the thing: people are satisfied by different amounts and different kinds of difficulties; so, because I don't like FPS's, I played ME3 on narrative mode and pretty much just walked through all of the battles. Yet, in Ratchet and Clank, I enjoy having to be careful with my ammo and make sure that more of it hits my target, and make sure that I get hit less between checkpoints. People just like different kinds of challenges.
  • 1

Posted Image


#29 Saijee

Saijee

    GMC Member

  • GMC Member
  • 2443 posts
  • Version:Unknown

Posted 19 April 2012 - 01:49 AM

Not sure where your going with this, I just like to kill enemies. If at first I don't know how to kill an enemy because I'm doing it the wrong way that's ok, when the next time I encounter I can find a quicker way to kill him. You should be able to kill the same enemy quicker the better you get. And increasing the max HP just messes up this ideal completely.

Another reason why it was so bad in Kid Icarus, is that as you progress through the game, you earn more and more powerful weapons. But because the enemies would increase their max HP at a faster rate that you would increase your attack power you never felt like you were getting stronger. You actually felt that you were getting weaker.

I guess you could say that there is a certain sense of empowerment I get right after taking down an enemy in record time.

Edited by Saijee, 19 April 2012 - 01:50 AM.

  • 0

#30 chance

chance

    GMC Member

  • Global Moderators
  • 8047 posts
  • Version:GM:Studio

Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:48 AM

I'll watch my little brother play on easy and cringe and how little work he has to do to plow through enemies, wondering just how it could still be a satisfying experience. But that's the thing: people are satisfied by different amounts and different kinds of difficulties...

Certainly true. I tend to play shooter games like your little brother: easy mode. That's because the game aspects I like most are the initial explorations, i.e., just finding all the features, or solving any puzzle aspects. So I don't want to be too distracted by killing enemies.

Only if the game looks interesting, has good graphics and sound, etc. will I re-play it in a harder mode. Like you said, people find satisfaction in different ways.
  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users