Are you good at your own game?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by GM029, Dec 9, 2019.

  1. GM029

    GM029 Member

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    I have to admit I'm having trouble play testing my own game (an arcade space shooter) because I keep dying before I can see the entirety of the content I've created so far. I have to artificially advance myself in the game by seeding a certain amount of kills in the code. I want to make sure I playtest it with the intended difficulty curve but I guess it's a little too difficult for me :).

    How are you at your own game?
     
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  2. nacho_chicken

    nacho_chicken Member

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    Most solo developers are above average at their own games, if only because they know all the ins and outs of the mechanics. New players will struggle a lot at the beginning learning the mechanics. There's a lot of methods I've seen on balancing a game, but one point among them is common: Don't balance a game based on your skills. Generally, having a game be too difficult for the developer to complete would be far too difficult for the average player. I would recommend toning it down a bit.
     
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  3. Khao

    Khao Member

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    This one hundred thousand times.

    Your game is a lot harder than you think. No matter what project you're working on, this is always a fact. New players are not going to know everything about your game like you do.

    I actually ended up toning down the AI difficulty options in my current game because of this. I used to have "Hard," "Normal" and "Easy" difficulty settings. They were all simple enough to defeat when I tested the game. But when someone else would try it, even the Easy setting was giving them a real challenge!

    What I did was to slightly tone down the difficulty of all settings but the hardest one, rename them to "Very Hard," "Hard" and "Normal", and create additional, even easier "Easy" and "Very Easy" settings. Most players would just set normal bots, which felt a lot more fair, and if that was still too hard, they had lower options to pick.

    This won't even work for every game though, for a single player adventure, it might be better to decrease the difficulty entirely, or to make sure to have a decent amount of QoL features to make the experience less frustrating. Either way, unless you're working on an established genre and doing things by the book, you need to always have in your mind that new players will most certainly have a much more difficult time playing the game than you do.
     
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  4. GM029

    GM029 Member

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    Really good points!

    I am actually thinking of implementing difficulty levels and making the game in its current state the hardest level.
     
  5. Kezarus

    Kezarus Member

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    I have to admit that I can't even play my 1st game, Overkill, anymore. It's a top down shooter and it's too difficult. Even my brother, the one that calibrated the thing, can't advance that far in it. The game was made in 2006, and we were young at the time.

    In Endless RPG, a turn based combat, I can progress with no difficulty at all. My brother have more than 200h in it and can spot a bug a mile away.

    Coming up next, it will be a shmup. I hope it doesn't get as hard as Overkill. =]
     
  6. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    One reason most people recommend making the game as hard as possible during development and then artificially make it easier is that... it's much easier to artificially make something easier. Things like more money for upgrades and taking more hits before dying makes the game easier, but don't have too noticeable side effects on overall balance. But if you reduce variables away from the player's favor, suddenly things get a lot iffier. One of my biggest pet peeves is attacks that can kill you in one hit: they reduce the amount of learning-enemy-attack-patterns you can do per time unit severely because they send you all the way back to the last checkpoint (or save) instead of letting you continue the battle [with reduced health], and usually come without sufficient warning [if they weren't instant-kills on a lower difficulty]. Many games also have overall balance so shaky that you can't even tell which attacks are instakills or not when they do this.

    That's not really an answer to your question, though :p I'm usually above average in most of the games I make, since they often have weird mechanics or reward level memorization (major example is Shattered Whirr being a brutally difficult shmup, but if you can keep a combo going through an entire level you'll get like a dozen extra lives so it doesn't matter how badly you play in boss battles) but my ego took a pretty big hit after basically everyone beat my Ghostris high score in this GMC Jam... x3
     
  7. Cofefe

    Cofefe Member

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    I'm really good at my own games, I always know exactly where and when to jump, which weapons work best against which enemies, and I know how I designed the level so I don't have to figure out any of the puzzles or platforming challenges at all, I already know it.

    But then I give the game to somebody else, and its kind of hilarious to see them struggle with it, because they can't figure it out. And we laugh it out, and then I get serious and I realize, OK, I've failed to communicate this information effectively to the player, or I need to add some more hints so its more obvious to people who aren't me what you need to do to win. Preferably in ways that aren't just a giant word blob on the screen telling the player everything about the new weapon they just got. :confused:
     
  8. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

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    The "teaching without tutorials" school of game design is all about this kind of thing... the main idea is that it needs to be obvious what you need to progress, so even if you don't know you can do it, you will be forced to in order to continue playing. Some different examples:

    • One of Baba Is You's first levels locks you in a room without exits, but also the words WALL IS STOP. Sooner or later you'll figure out you can break that rule up to make the walls stop being solid, even if you just try randomly combining everything you've got access to with each other hoping something progresses the game. (Just for the record, that was a legitimate strategy I used more than once in that game)
    • Practically every metroidvania ever (including Hollow Knight) has the room containing the double-jump powerup start off with you taking a plunge that's deeper than you can jump up again. You can't go back unless you figure out how to do a double jump. Metroidvania games also are fond of similar-style challenges for new weapons (gotta use the new weapon to break a previously indestructible thing that now blocks the way out... and then you figure you should backtrack to all of those things you saw before) and other abilities. Basically, if the player obtains a new ability, and you don't verify they know how to use it, you can't be sure they even KNOW they've got it!
    • Half-Life 2 has a section where you use the gravity gun (which you've just obtained) to pull out sawblades stuck in a wall, and right after you pull out the last one, a zombie is scripted to show up right in front of you. If you switch weapons while holding the sawblade (which probably is your instinctive reaction), the blade is discharged first, cutting the zombie up before you can even get your gun out. Why TELL the player "hey, you can use physics to kill enemies now!" if you can SHOW it to them? Supposedly most players even thought they figured it out intentionally according to test player feedback.
     
  9. CloseRange

    CloseRange Member

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    I will say any time I practice making multiplayer games I have this one friend I use to test it when it's at a playable stage.... He. Always. Beats. Me.... first try
    Anyway the games don't need to be easier. You can make the game as hard as you want. Do you know the game "Getting Over It"? Yeah not an easy game by any means...
    The thing your game does need is a learning curve and a high skill ceiling.
    A learning curve will stop them from getting frustrated before they know what the heck they are supposed to do and a high skill ceiling will stop them from getting bored out of their mind once they do know all the mechanics.

    -RPGs use leveling as their learning curve (providing 1 new mechanic or 'spell' every few levels) but use gear as their main form of skill ceiling. That's why I'm not a fan of some RPG games like WoW because once you are max level the thing seperating you from a high teir player is how much they grinded...
    -MOBAs like League of Legends will have a small artificial learning curve (aka a tutorial) at the begging but then have a natural learning curve that is just playing each champion and learning the items and spells as you play more and more. It has a high skill ceiling by making champions that have many mechanics and take a lot of time to master.
    -RTS games and strategy games have a learning curve that involves tutorials vs bots and ai and a skill ceiling of strategy. The better you learn to manager your recources and knowing when to attack when to buy that upgrade and what works best and when
    -Some games like FPS's are special because they don't need a learning curve, most people playing shooting games already know the mechanics... However if they introduce new mechanics, such as spells and abilities they will either make those more noticeable on the ui, have a dialog popup, message, or a mini tutorial when you first start the game.
    -Even Game Maker itself has a learning curve of watch videos to learn how to code, and a skill ceiling of use what you know to make whatever the heck you can imagine. That's why I love programming, the skill ceiling is very high.
     

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