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Do you think difficulty could be "graded" on your resource consumption/use
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 Post subject: Videogame "difficulty ratings" altering through degree's
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:58 pm 
Keen Fingers

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Good afternoon/evening Fellow siradioites! I apologize this is kinda long

I have been thinking (due to some recent events throughout the industry) about how difficulty and resources have been a hot button issue of late. My musings carried me over to this train of thought. This is brought up from games like Darksouls, Metro 2033/Last Light, Dead Space etc, which use resources as both a currency and a "bottle neck" to portions of their game.

Do you think that instead of a difficulty setting - Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane - that your difficulty could be more of a gradient and allow you to alter some of the following.

Resource drops
Ammo resupply points
Ammo drops from enemies
Health Packs/Potions
Regeneration of Mana/fuel/heat
Destructable equipment/high repair costs

Currently, our system of difficulty is mainly based on "you do X damage" and "enemy has X health/resistance to damage". Difficulty increases the enemy health/resistance as well as its own damage, while keeping yours at a base constant. A pretty good system, which allows for developers to balance (or not) encounters based not only around the difficulty, but your level, equipment and party types.

Using Skyrim, Fall Out, Call of Duty and God of War as my examples here are my proposed idea's to changing this.

Resource Drops - Something that happens frequently in Skyrim, as each enemy you kill will have something on them. Instead of the traditional sense of kill enemy/loot enemy, a new slider/% system could be implemented to allow you to play an easier game by increasing gold or potions on enemies. On the flip side of the coin, you could make it harder by reducing drop rates of these resources giving you a more spartan feel to your game. Turning Skyrim from its lush fantasy adventure into a more bleak, battle riddled narrative as you fight tooth and nail for every advance/upgrade (much like fallout in a way).

Ammo resupply points/drops This one is based primarily around FPS shooters single player campaign, but I think could be expanded for general use. If you are newer to the game or do not yet have the hand eye co-ordination to zip through, a "lower difficulty" would give you more ammo, larger clips, bigger % of ammo resupplied when looting enemies etc. Decreasing this ammo supply could give you a much more frantic/strategic aspect, as you have to make your shots count because all those guys you killed might only have a handfull of extra rounds/clip to the bullets you just used.

Health Packs& Potions/Health, Mana, Energy regeneration This one I see causing a lot of contention simply because "regen health behind wall" has become a very common thing. I see this as being where the real "meat" of your difficulty changes come into play. You want to grind out Skyrim like its a brutal round of Dark Souls, drop your regen down low, and your health potions restore a smaller amount of health. Maybe you just want play the story, bump up the mana regen/health regen and you can Cast Ligthening like the Emperor as you experience the new Dragon Age game.

Destructable equipment/high repair costs Again, an issue which I can easily see being contended, but I feel the OPTION, of having this feature on will give players a real sense of regard for not only their characters life (death = damage to items like an MMO for example) but when you couple it with the other difficulty applying "gradient" you can give yourself a really good, hard challenge.

Hopefully this is interesting to you in the same way it is to me. I like hard games, easy games, and everything in between, but what I like most are options, and I believe there are some good options to at least discuss when it comes to HOW we make our games difficult, and by proxy new ways to enjoy them :)

What do you guys and gals think?

 Post subject: Re: Videogame "difficulty ratings" altering through degree's
PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:35 pm 
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The poll didn't work but I voted yes, this could be really cool especially in some online games like some of the multiplayer mods for GoW3 and the upcoming Fortnight. Plus in multiplayer could be a great way of forcing co-operative team based play with proper assigned roles.

The only thing holding it back is laziness in implementing it, it would involve a lot of work, but if done right could have a huge impact on gaming dynamics.

There are 10 types of people, those that understand binary and those that don't...

 Post subject: Re: Videogame "difficulty ratings" altering through degree's
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 4:16 pm 
Keen Fingers

Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:42 pm
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This was already used in some games. I remember old Heroes of Might and Magic allowed you to start with different amount of resources, including Handicap version, where you had absolutely 0 of everything and had to first get them to even start building/producing anything.
New X-Com also introduced similar options - after you finish the game you can enable options which will cause war weariness (basically less and less funding as the war goes longer) and funding based on the degree of panic in the country.
There are several games where you either have to or can enable option for eating/drinking and repairing equipment (Fallout: New Vegas, some old dungeon crawler games).

Also "Resource Drops" option IMO wouldn't suit single player games. Scarce resources make sense, when everybody has to compete for them. In single player it's mostly human player against everyone, rarely is any fight between NPCs included and even then it's usually either triggered by the player or they are respawning. If you have to fight tooth and nail for every potion, and really watch every single wound you receive, but you always meet shiny, healthy NPCs who have potions but don't need them, it gets frustrating (and crazily difficult eventually). It can work in multiplayer games and I believe this Arma zombie survival mode had something like that.

There's also a hardcore setting in several games, which doesn't allow you to save and reload at whim. X-Com and Fallout:Tactics are good examples. It makes any mistakes made during the game much more deadly.

 Post subject: Re: Videogame "difficulty ratings" altering through degree's
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:34 pm 
Keen Fingers

Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:43 pm
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Both Excellent points.

@Villan - while it could be a bit of the "lazy" I imagine its also the costs involved, and how the feature would be used. The balancing act needed to perform this would be pretty intense from a Dev standpoint, as you want to make sure that even super hard isn't "you lose automatically" hard. I agree though it would be pretty epic.

@Kodiak - you are absolutely right, there are games out there which have these (or similar nature to) idea's and implement them well. The games you mentioned are good examples, especially Fallout, which was one of the games I was looking at when I was thinking about this.

On the "resource drops" I wasn't meaning so much that everyone you meet is "shiny and new" while you are battling against progressively harder and harder enemies with fewer resources in the traditional sense (ie - harder difficulties enemies hit harder/have more health). The point of this would be that enemies have a natural "difficulty" progress that they would on normal. so a grunt is always "X" damage and "Y" health regardless if you are on the first level or the last. More elite/advanced enemies scale upwards of that, but still in accordance to what "normal difficulty" would dictate. The twist is that when you start to limit the amount of gold, to use Skyrim again as an example, mean that even though you are fighting the same guys a "unmodified difficulty" player is, your ability to kit yourself out makes the game naturally harder without punishing you with very powerful enemies.

This can work well in shooters as well, especially games where "elite" and "boss" mobs naturally have more HP than their cannon fodder counterpoints. Making you be more percise with ammo or, like Metro 2033, using ammo as some sort of currency or otherwise "unique" commodity could add a different level/depth to the game --- imo.

 Post subject: Re: Videogame "difficulty ratings" altering through degree's
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:01 am 

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Another good example of how to change difficulty can be found in Ninja Gaiden 3, where enemies of a 'normal' level play have a set of parameters that governs the AI in a specific way to use certain moves ect... whereas higher difficulties cause the enemies to use a different set of rules, ones that increase the AI's responsiveness to repeated attacks and counter appropriately, or even enemies gaining entire new movesets that they didn't previously have. It may not sound as transferable to any other genre, but if you take an FPS, you can have a standard seek and destroy AI on normal, and then a flanking+cover fire AI squad to contend with on higher difficulty.

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