Game Mechanics Game difficulty

mar_cuz

Member
Hi all,

How do you handle game difficulty as in easy, medium and hard levels? I'm making a sports game and was thinking I could have easy, medium and hard versions of opponent objects and load them accordingly.

Then I thought I could have variables that relate to the difficulty. So for example, with opponent kicking power I could do if global.easy = true {kickpower = 4} etc.

Probably not the best way to go about. How would you/do you handle game difficulty settings?
 
Off the top of my head...

Code:
globalvar difficulty,difficulty_names,
;
difficulty = 0; // easy

// name difficulties

i = 0;
difficulty_names = i;
difficulty_names[i++] = "easy"
difficulty_names[i++] = "mediem"
difficulty_names[i++] = "hard"
difficulty_names[i++] = "nightmare"

//
// AI objects

kickpower = 1;
run_speed = 1 + difficulty;
kick_am = min( 3 , 1 + difficulty);
stamina = 1;

// fine tweak

if(difficulty == 0)
{
kickpower = 1
}
if(difficulty == 1)
{
kickpower = 1.5
stamina = 2
}
if(difficulty == 2)
{
kickpower = 4
stamina = 6
}
if(difficulty == 3)
{
kickpower = 6
stamina = 8
}
 

acidemic

Member
You can also introduce the randomness level of enemy behaviour so on "EASY" level of difficulty there would be a higher chance that CPU AI would kick a ball in a random direction. I introduced this kind of "stupidness" factor into my "Shift'Em Mania" game which represents a chance that CPU makes a random move instead of a smart one. So in my game at "CPU Easy" level Stupidness factor is 90% and at "CPU Extreme" level Stupidness factor is 0%. "CPU Normal" and "CPU Hard" are somewhere in the middle.
 
Last edited:

RangerX

Member
What I like about difficulty levels is when the AI is actually more optionated and intelligent depending the difficulty setting. Its to me the best approach for the most type of games (although not the easest to pull off -- the main reason why you don't see it much and that most games are just increasing a bunch of variables here and there and call it a harder mode).
Let's say you design a mob and it's having abilities or moves. Some moves can only be done on certain difficulty levels.
 

11clock

Member
The best difficulty modes are ones that actually change how you play the game, not just make you play more carefully. Examples are different AI behaviors, more difficult enemy positions, and so on.
 

mar_cuz

Member
Thanks for the input guys. There are a few great ideas here. I think I will be blending some together. I don't want it to be like, on hard the cpu is faster, has higher stamina and more kick power and accuracy. I'm leaning more towards have certain decisions and chances increased the higher the difficulty.
 

NeoShade

Member
The best difficulty modes are ones that actually change how you play the game, not just make you play more carefully. Examples are different AI behaviors, more difficult enemy positions, and so on.
I'm not entirely sure I agree with this. Sure, that make for more interesting variations on your game, but to me, difficulty levels are about learning to play the game. If you have to completely change your play style when you tackle a new difficulty level, that's not really happening, is it?
 

Yal

🍋 *lemon noises*
GMC Elder
I would make the game really hard to begin with, then label that the hard mode and make the other difficulty settings easier (increase rate of health pickups, make enemies react slower, etc). It's generally easier to artificially make something easier than it is to make something harder (just increasing the HP and ATK of everything won't make it harder, just take more time).

Dark Souls II actually had an interesting hard mode:
  • Enemies have more HP and hit harder (in this case this is necessary because you start the game with all the gear you had when you beat it the first time instead of at Lv.1)
  • Enemies move faster
  • Enemies have a greater aggro range
  • Enemies have more stamina, so they can attack more and have to wait less between attacks
  • Some areas have new enemies at strategic points
  • Some enemies have been upgraded to red phantom versions of themselves. Unlike normal enemies, phantoms are completely silent, and some of these are placed so that they can easily sneak up on you.
  • Some bosses now have mooks to support them.
 

acidemic

Member
Also for the Easy levels you can give player more Powerups, Health, etc. As one of the previous commenters said, make game as hard as possible and then introduce Easy & Medium levels. Please don't forget that for you as the game creator the level of difficulty will be felt differently from what player feels. Something that you consider easy might be quite hard and not obvious for the gamer.
 

mar_cuz

Member
I would make the game really hard to begin with, then label that the hard mode and make the other difficulty settings easier (increase rate of health pickups, make enemies react slower, etc). It's generally easier to artificially make something easier than it is to make something harder (just increasing the HP and ATK of everything won't make it harder, just take more time).

Dark Souls II actually had an interesting hard mode:
  • Enemies have more HP and hit harder (in this case this is necessary because you start the game with all the gear you had when you beat it the first time instead of at Lv.1)
  • Enemies move faster
  • Enemies have a greater aggro range
  • Enemies have more stamina, so they can attack more and have to wait less between attacks
  • Some areas have new enemies at strategic points
  • Some enemies have been upgraded to red phantom versions of themselves. Unlike normal enemies, phantoms are completely silent, and some of these are placed so that they can easily sneak up on you.
  • Some bosses now have mooks to support them.
Also for the Easy levels you can give player more Powerups, Health, etc. As one of the previous commenters said, make game as hard as possible and then introduce Easy & Medium levels. Please don't forget that for you as the game creator the level of difficulty will be felt differently from what player feels. Something that you consider easy might be quite hard and not obvious for the gamer.
These are both great ideas. Make it hard then work backwards. With my game being a sports game the difficulty levels are important so thanks for the input.
 

NeoShade

Member
I haven't played Dark Souls II, but I like the idea of increasing the speed of enemies and shortening the time between their attacks. These are two areas that wouldn't simply make the game more grindy (like increased HP does) and actually requires the player to be better at the game, focusing on their reaction time. Imagine playing Super Mario Bros, but every koopa and goomba moved at twice the normal speed while Mario remained unchanged. There's no disputing that the game would be more difficult (at least for casual players).
 

Yal

🍋 *lemon noises*
GMC Elder
Imagine playing Super Mario Bros, but every koopa and goomba moved at twice the normal speed while Mario remained unchanged. There's no disputing that the game would be more difficult (at least for casual players).
That's actually what the game does in New Game Plus :p
(NG+ = if you start the game over after beating it - the SNES version indicates this by adding a star to the level names): enemies move faster, Goombas are replaced with Buzzy Beetles (immune to fireballs), and some recycled levels use their hard version for both encounters.
 
That's actually what the game does in New Game Plus :p
(NG+ = if you start the game over after beating it - the SNES version indicates this by adding a star to the level names): enemies move faster, Goombas are replaced with Buzzy Beetles (immune to fireballs), and some recycled levels use their hard version for both encounters.
You know, as often and as much as I've played that game (I'm a snes Era gamer), I never noticed the added speed. all I every really noticed was the obvious graphical changes.
 

Yal

🍋 *lemon noises*
GMC Elder
I guess you also noticed world *1-1 is exactly the same as world 1-1 but with some stuff replaced and then went "screw it, I've already beat it once, I wanna move on to The Lost Levels now" and then didn't get to see most of the changes? :p

Lost Levels is so brutal I've not even beat it yet, btw... I think I'm stuck in the wind-and-aerial-blooper level in one of the letter worlds. World B-2, I think.
Interesting note about The Lost Levels, btw: it's a SNES remake of the NES port of the Super Mario Bros VS arcade game. The reason the game is so dang hard is because it was an arcade game originally :p
 

hogwater

Member
In general I am not a fan of difficulty levels. I would prefer that the creator make a definitive statement with a game, whatever that statement may be.
 
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