View Full Version : Difficulty levels, as unlockable goodies?
08-18-2006, 05:05 PM
<update> PLEASE READ: My original post was misleading. I'm not talking about unlocking a hard/insane difficulty level so that hard-core players can go back and replay the whole game. Sorry for the confusion! I'm talking about dynamic difficulty adjustment--after you spend your 25 tokens, the game gets harder immediately! </update>
I think my game's core gameplay mechanic is pretty fun! But just in case it isn't, I want to have tokens that the player collects in the world and then spends on unlockable goodies. (I call this the "World of Warcraft" school of game design, but I digress... :))
Thus far, my list of goodies is really short: just a few upgrades and a few bonus mini-games. I need more goodies. So, how about having the difficulty levels as unlockable goodies? Players start at level 1 and "upgrade" to higher levels whenever they want.
My theory is that you can get players to desire anything, ANYTHING, just by drawing a pretty icon for it and slapping a price tag on it.
p.s. Feel free to insult my crappy programmer concept art.
08-18-2006, 05:27 PM
Heck, you could unlock video modes as the player progresses. Sound bitrates, input methods, Start Menu icons... ;)
Seriously, though, I think unlocking only the most advanced difficulties would be worthwhile. Even so, you're just artificially extending the scope of the game - and players haven't been terribly responsive to such behavior in the past. I wouldn't do it...
08-18-2006, 05:46 PM
I'm in favor of unlocking like crazy. BUT, you should have the three basic difficulties from the get-go, for the reason difficulties exist: different skill levels, different interests (I am no slouch, but I play a lot of stuff on easy just because I feel like relaxing and not working too hard), etc. Then they can unlock Nightmare and Insanity and Why Why Why difficulty as bonuses if they find them interesting. I think if you only allow Easy at first, you can drive away some of your potentially best customers/fans/evangelists before they see something they can get excited about.
I wouldn't add any Cakewalk type difficulties as unlockables, because that's silly - if they need something like that, then they need it from the get-go. But you could add 'interesting' super easy difficulties, like in my Pumpkin Pop (yes, it's a match-3!), I have Chill Out mode, where there are no rules - you just have a chainsaw and can freely slaughter pumpkins as long as you like. Watching the splatters is relaxing.
08-18-2006, 06:32 PM
I'm planning to have a forth, hardest, "nasty" difficulty level available as an unlockable. The main reason it will be unlockable is because it breaks the game's progression - it will introduce enemies from near the end of the game right from the beginning, for example. Basically a "remix version" for people who have already completed the game, because it's easy to change a few parameters and recycle all the levels that way, so why not?
08-22-2006, 12:25 AM
All games should have different difficulty settings to start with, like an 'easy', 'normal' and 'hard'. They should be noticably different as well, not just a slight difference like "you have 5% more health" or "enemies can take an additional shot to the chest". But unlocking a 'very hard' and then 'hardest' should be something to play for so they can try their skills against the hardest difficulty and feel like they own the game.
But if you're just searching for any unlockable feature you can slap together, why not some game art, sound files and bios, depending on the sort of game it is?
08-22-2006, 01:37 AM
I think unlocking things is a little old school but... I do remember playing a LOT of Geoff Crammonds GP series... after winning the Championship on difficulty X it'd say something along the lines of
"Congratulations, but you should really try it on the next difficulty level" which allowed you to step up a 'gear' into a more challenging environment, I loved it. But what I loved most of all, was the core game. It was fun to play and that really is what you should spend all of your time refining...
I dont think you'll get more sales from unlockables... you might do better to release a great vanilla game then produce sequels.
Dont forget - It's also a very nice feeling to know you've completed a game. Presenting the player with "Oh look! You didnt finish everything, here is a secret mode which requires you to play the whole thing again" is akin to the dead person getting up time and time again in a horror film.
When replaying a game you've completed, it's probably nicer to compete against other people so maybe spend all your 'goodie' time working on a very simple online leaderboard and stat uploading system.
All off the top of my head of course.
08-23-2006, 10:37 AM
From a business perspective, allowing people to replay the game in an unlocked difficulty mode is pointless - they only pay you once anyway!
If you have a game which warrants a lot of replaying - casual games often do, and so can racing games - then unlockable later difficulties are good. I like the idea of introducing later enemies in earlier levels in the "Nasty!" game mode - that would make the game more bizarre.
Rather than unlocking new game modes, how about rewarding the player for finding "secrets" (for instance, complete a level without harming any enemies and you get a bonus feature or item)?
08-23-2006, 12:12 PM
Bonus features though... arent they a little naff when its all said and done? We're talking about casual games and I dont think the audience will be that interested in going over it again and again to find some basic goodies. Maybe I'm wrong. I can see people replaying great games (Tetris) but not to just reach a token element. They have to want to play the core gameplay...
"I think my game's core gameplay mechanic is pretty fun! But just in case it isn't, I want to have tokens that the player collects in the world and then spends on unlockable goodies."
...As I mentioned earlier, maybe you'd want to make sure the core gameplay is fun, otherwise you think making people play a boring game for longer will solve it? ;)
08-27-2006, 11:14 AM
I've not read the original post, so I don't know what type of game this is, so I'll go with the basics.
Easy Mode - (Replaying Level; Unlimited Ammunition.)
Hard Mode - Unlocked when player has completed the game in Easy Mode. (Replaying Level; Unlimited Ammunition and Health Points.)
Insane Mode - Unlocked when player has competed the game in Hard Mode.
Spend tokens in the Shop to unlock various levels and characters. The harder the level the more tokens the user has to spend. (Though I wouldn't be too kean on this idea.) Spend tokens in the Shop for upgrades.
Complete game on all difficulties to unlock bonus characters and the secret level.
(Support for widescreen users.) You've be amazed at how many games don't support widescreen resolutions. Need for Speed Most Wanted doesn't support widescreen resolutions. My cars look like they need a diet.
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