to skill level or not to skill level

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by svero, Mar 30, 2005.

  1. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    In my beta thread there are people who think the skill is just right, and people who think its too hard, and people who found it too easy. Obviously you can't make it just right for everyone.

    So now I'm thinking I either want to add skill level selection, or adjust the skill in the game quietly as the player progresses. The two methods are either...

    EASY,MEDIUM,HARD

    where easy is base speed - 25% and hard is base speed +25% and medium is just the tweaked base speed.

    OR... I could do...

    When player dies : speed - 10%
    when player wins level : speed + 10%
    With some buffer so it doesnt change every death/win, and with an upper and lower speed adjustment limit.

    Comments? suggestions? Alternatives?
     
  2. LiquidAsh

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think this kind of depends on the type of game.

    I think dynamic difficulty adjustments, and easy-medium-hard settings are most effective when a game's difficulty is intrinsically connected to the layout or content of a level, or your progression through multiple levels. For example: mario, raiden, advance wars.

    Games like tetris, breakout, and robotron seem to do alright with a start out relatively easy for everyone, and then ramp up to eventually be difficult for everyone philosophy. It sounds like the game you are working on might fit more in this later category. If it does, you could try lowering the initial difficulty, and then adjusting the difficulty curve to possibly ramp up more quickly. This might be as simple as using the time factor you mentioned.

    Another thing you might consider is adding some incentives to achieve more difficult tasks. Something like this could help better players enjoy the game while it is getting harder.

    P.S. My PM for the link is on its way, and I haven't tried your game yet.
     
  3. Nemesis

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think one good approach is to tune the skill levels so it feels right to the corresponding proportion of beta testers. So:

    Easy level: 1/3 of beta testers feel it's right, 1/3 feel easy, 1/3 way too easy
    Normal level: 1/3 feel just right, 1/3 easy, 1/3 hard
    Hard level: 1/3/ feel just right, 1/3 hard, 1/3 way too hard
     
  4. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    I cannot stand skill levels in games. Under great duress I was made to put skill levels in Alien Flux, and it didn't help at all despite the huge amount of work I put in to implement it properly (I was surprised just how much tuning you have to do to implement distinct levels of skil).

    I'm not a big fan of auto-adjusting either. It generally means the player takes longer to learn how to play well in the first place and sort of ruins the experience.

    However I really like the helping hand technique which a few people mentioned in the other thread. Slow the bugs down just before they get to the exit; start supplying the correct colour balls and make the powerup gems more frequent as the bugs near the exit. The helping hand makes you think you saved it by a whisker but still requires you to play properly.

    Cas :)
     
  5. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    There is some of this already in the form of color collusion and slowing down the line near exit and so on.

    - S
     
  6. Raptisoft

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd leave out skill levels, but spend a long time balancing the difficulty. Make lower levels easier, higher levels harder. Look at Zuma, it's more or less a *perfect* difficulty ramp.
     
  7. tolik

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    1,407
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with John here, I'm against skill levels but I would want first 30 minutes of game play to be enjoyable. I guess you could start with less colors at the start on the same speed and then add another color on round 2.

    That way on Round 1 players will get more familiar with dynamics of the game and feel it (and yeah, make that warning sound much earlier since at a first glance I literally thought bugs will go nowhere and just disappear out of the screen and I might just lose score and not a life for that... Oh, isn't that a great idea? :) ).

    On the next round they will be able to focused on game play which will be a bit slower than in round 1 so people will get familiar with a new color.

    On round 3 people will get the same speed as on round 1 but with color added in round 2.

    And it'll be exactly half an hour of game play.


    If we are talking about increase of the difficulty after 1 hour of game play, my guess is following:

    1) Round 1 slower than now.
    2) Round 2 same as now.
    3) Round 3 same speed as Round 1 but with a new color.
    4) Round 4 same as Round 2 with a new color.
     
  8. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    I think zuma is one of the problems. You have a lot of people who've played all the way through zuma and are now experts at this sort of game. So its too easy for them.
     
  9. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    >I agree with John here, I'm against skill levels but I would want first 30
    >minutes of game play to be enjoyable. I guess you could start with less
    >colors at the start on the same speed and then add another color on round
    >2.

    Thats exactly what happens.
     
  10. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    6
    Like.. how do i balance the difficulty perfectly for someone who's finished zuma and someone who's never played it? I can't. It will be too easy for one and too hard for the other. There is no such thing as perfect balance for all players. A 60 yr old woman plays slower than a 20 yr old guy. How can I balance it perfectly for them?

    If you agree with that basic premise then why would you be against skill levels or auto adjusting the speed a bit?
     
  11. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    2,176
    Likes Received:
    0
    What do you people have against skill levels? I think they're vitally important, myself.

    [edit] - for the reasons svero just stated, basically.
     
  12. tolik

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    1,407
    Likes Received:
    0
    Same as in Luxor. Until level 7-1 it was easy and enjoyable (except annoying "replay" part) but later it INSTANTLY became hard (because they haven't decreased speed while introducing new color) and same-and-same levels were so annoying that I've got pissed off.

    I had the same problem in Zuma - I've got to that last color and couldn't stand the speed.

    I think pro players will find challenging levels at the end of the game and even if the start of the game is easy, they will find it enjoyable. Challenges should appear later in the game.
     
  13. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    Steve - if I'd bought Zuma or Luxor there's not a chance in hell I'd buy Bug Bomper though I reckon it's better than both of them. So don't worry about those people.

    <edit> I think skill levels are an excuse for not making a game intrinsically fun no matter how "hard" it is perceived to be.

    Cas :)
     
    #13 princec, Mar 30, 2005
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2005
  14. etali

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2005
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think settings of easy / medium / hard would be best.

    If a user detects that the game is running in adaptive difficulty in my experience they feel cheated. That might not be the same for more casual gamers though.
     
  15. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    2,176
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, how do you reconcile that with the vastly differing skill levels of your users? A skilled player will not enjoy playing something so easy they don't even have to try. A beginner player will not enjoy being endlessly slaughtered. Unless you're suggesting making games that you can't really win or lose, but are just good fun anyway.

    Then there is the matter of how much of the game should a player be able to see, even if they're not very good (they paid for the whole game, after all) vs the need to reward people for skillful play.

    I like the idea of adaptive skill, but I agree it shouldn't be too heavy-handed to avoid that cheated feeling. Just enough to stop someone from losing all their lives at the same spot, ideally.
     
  16. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    What I'm getting as it that rather than punishing ineptness one should concentrate on rewarding skill.

    Cas :)
     
  17. bantamcitygames

    Administrator Original Member Indie Author Greenlit

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,737
    Likes Received:
    79
    I'm not against skill levels per say, but as a player I always choose Normal, or Medium no matter how hard or easy the game is, just because I always have this perception that medium is how the game was intended to be played and those other difficulties were just added later. I do think it would be interesting to do the automatic skill tuning. This way the player wont even know you are helping them, but they are still able to solve the levels with time. I think this would give the correct perception to the player.
     
  18. Hamumu

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Messages:
    557
    Likes Received:
    0
    Of course add skill levels! If nothing else, you have the fact that princec says they're a bad idea to go on!
     
  19. Ryan Clark

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Messages:
    656
    Likes Received:
    0
    Personally, skill levels always make me cringe. I think it's because I know I'll get clobbered if I try "Hard" and I'd feel like a wimp if I tried "Easy", so I usually pick "Normal"... but then I feel like a wimp anyway because I didn't pick "Hard" :)

    I don't see what's wrong with dynamically changing the difficulty. Zuma must do this, as I don't recall it having any skill level settings.

    People like to think that they're barely making it out alive, and that their skill somehow saved them in the nick of time. So, if it were me, I'd increase the occurrence of the "helping hand" methods (slowing the line down as death nears, giving favourable colours) and I'd also adjust the speed settings based on the user's success/failure.

    Why not increase the difficulty by 2% on every win (up to some maxiumum), and decrease it by 5% on the first death, 10% on the second death in a row, and so on. This will trick users who have died into thinking that they've somehow improved, and have defeated the level through an increase in skill.

    If you can balance this such that users are often playing with 1 or 0 lives remaining, it would be quite exciting for them.
     
  20. princec

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,873
    Likes Received:
    0
    S'rite. You can't go far wrong doing the exact opposite of what I say.
    ...then again, I think the game is totally excellent and will sell well. Which might be its death knell.

    Cas :)
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer