News | Forum | People | FAQ | Links | Search | Register | Log in
Difficulty Tuning In Single-Player Games
This is sort of a big catch-all thread. Questions for discussion:

1. As a level designer specifically for Quake (or any game that allows for three or so player-selectable and mapper-tunable skill settings,) how do you go about the task of tuning the three settings? Should the settings emulate the challenge of the original game levels? Do you use your own skill level as a guide? Do you implement the "hard" skill first, then scale back? If scaling back, how do you decide what enemies/items to remove?

2. As a level designer in a game where there are NOT multiple "skill levels" to choose from, what techniques are available to the designer to make the level fun for a range of player skill levels?

3. As a game designer, how do you design game systems that enable the game to be fun for people of varying skill levels? Is it possible for a game to be fun even though it's too easy? Is it possible to for a game to be fun even though it's too hard? Are game systems that adapt to the player's current performace too deceitful to be used? Or, if the player knows about them, can it still be fun?

(my responses inside)
First | Previous | Next | Last
So, there's a game called "flOw" that's supposed to be designed based on this guy's thesis on game difficulty and fun.

But what's interesting is this page where he talks about how to implement difficulty:

Summary: he rejects both static difficulty tuning (quake's skill settings) and adaptive difficulty (sin episodes) and suggests creating systems where player choices affect the level of difficulty.

This is pretty much what I was suggesting earlier in the thread, where the player has choices that determine exactly what obstacles they have to face, and has multipule approaches available to each obstacle. 
Almost everything on that site is dead, thanks no doubt to the fact that /. just posted a direct link to download flOwoOWowowow.

It makes sense though. Tuning static levels is half guesswork, as anyone who's had to flag entities in a quake map would know. Adaptive difficulty almost seems like the designers don't trust that they've made a game that can actually be finished unless there's software in place to catch cases where the player winds up SOL. 
Me and my friend played this today - we had a lengthy discussion about it, which I will try to convey if I have time.
Short version: chen's 'subliminal dynamic skill adjustemnt' doesn't seem to solve a problem as much as create one. The game is certainly addictive, or at any rate attractive, to play. But that is not at all related to the skill adjustment. I remain unconvinced. And that graph comparing challenge to ability is a little too James Edmund Pritchard for my liking. 
If the game's too easy for you you get bored, and if it's too hard for you you throw the controller at the wall and hopefully go outside. Someone just graphed it as a function of one thing over the other, which you can theoretically do with just about anything.

Below is a graph of what has been called "fatassedness" by world renowned diet doctor and professor and doctor Mikhailnikov Cznelzignyschkzovkyia, graphed as a function of metabolic rate against how much shit you eat:

According to this graph, it can be seen that eating too much for your metabolic process to handle leads to a rise in body weight, or "fatassedness", while the opposite leads to a corresponding drop in such. Proper amount of food consumption for one's metabolism leads to a perfect wavy red line within a transparent oval, within which you are always hot and sexy. Only choices on the part of the eater can maintain position within the ovoid of sexiness.

Of Course His Most Famous Chart 
was the one in which self esteem tied to metabolism equals a deep dismal feeling of unworthiness that eventually
works its way out by either a warm 357 Magmum and thousands of skull fragments on the wall, or a lane jump in front of a freight truck. 
And One More Thing 
doesn't the name Flow on that graph look like the logo for a feminine hygiene product?

That Nails It! 
I was wondering why I was getting a creepy feeling with this game. It's the ol' fear of vagina issue. 
Oh My God 
that's what my fake graph should have been about. Aunt Flow. 
so i actually played through the game (at least I think i did ... i beat the entire blue level sequence, and then did the entire orange level sequence, and then at the end of that there was nowhere to go.)

I think it's a fun game with some interesting design touches (like seeing the next level's bad guys as a blurry, faded image in the background -- this is especially cool when you first see a really huge manta-ray type creature, and builds anticipation.)

But, I don't see much here that seems to be related to the guy's thesis. The only thing I can connect to his thesis is the red/blue gateways to the next/previous levels, which are available at any time. And since fighting guys makes you stronger, skipping guys means that you can get to the end sooner, but with a weaker creature. Just like any RPG (though RPGs are less skill-based.)

Problem: looking for the red/blue portal things is ITSELF boring, since it involves waiting for a sonar ping thing, then travelling in that direction, then waiting for another one, etc. So you can't really skip boredom entirely, even though that's what the system was designed for. 
Another Bump 
For 2019. 
First | Previous | Next | Last
You must be logged in to post in this thread.
Website copyright © 2002-2024 John Fitzgibbons. All posts are copyright their respective authors.