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Old 6th October 2014, 06:31 AM   #3
DJTiKi
The Pokémon Idealist
 
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Join Date: Jul 2014
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DJTiKi
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The Yeah's And Naw's of Diffuculty
When we talk about or experience how someone can make a game hard, they tend to deviate to easier options, sometimes even ignoring what makes a game harder. So how does one deviate from the norm of creating difficult hacks while at the same time, making something infamous, in its structure.

"But DJTiKi, I already know how to make my game extremely hard!"

Let me give a quote form DoesntKnowHowToPlay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoesntKnowHowToPlay View Post
I see a lot of talk about how to make hacks "difficult". The typical solutions are to:

-Give trainers teams full of legendaries
-Make the level curve absurdly steep
-Inflate the base stats of everything
-Give the AI illegal moves and custom attacks with absurd BP
-Make every dungeon a flash maze where you can't use flash
This pretty much sums up the mass consensus of making a Pokémon hack hard. Not saying everyone follows this sort of format, but it is a mass majority. And that is pretty sad.

There is a level of fairness the game must include to not make the player feel cheated in all the wrong ways (not like there was a right way to make the player feel cheated in the first place). So how do you fix this? Well, let's break down bad examples and give good examples. Again, you will find the problems and I'll tell you how to fix them. More or less, this is just an assessment of common knowledge and what I've been telling you, thus far.

Spoiler:
Changing Diglett's Cave
● Positioned right after you the first badge.
● Made larger with about 10 more rooms.
● Added more trainers
● The encounters are still Digletts
● Given a 100% Encouter Rate
● Some rooms will require Flash.
● You have to battle Groudon by the end


SOUNDS AWESOME RIGHT?! Well, if it's like I'm making these too easy now....

So let's break down what is wrong with it. For one, traversing through this cave will be a literal pain in the ass. If you remember from "Wild Encounters", I talked about how even 40% is a pretty big number, as most routes only have about 7-10% rates, yet they can still be annoying. To be blunt, 100% chance for wild encounters means that EVERY LAST STEP YOU TAKE RESULTS IN A WILD BATTLE! Not taking into account Repels of course n_n. So let's tone down the encounter rate a bit, does 8% sound okay?

Spoiler:
Changing Diglett's Cave
● Positioned right after you the first badge.
● Made larger with about 10 more rooms.
● Added more trainers
● The encounters are still Digletts
Given a 8% Encouter Rate
● Some rooms will require Flash.
● You have to battle Groudon by the end


Another thing that is stressful is the inclusion of Flash rooms. The thing is after the first badge, the player will not have access to Flash, if you plan to not change HM limits. Is it really necessary to have Flash rooms, unless you come back later? No. So let's remove that.

Spoiler:
Changing Diglett's Cave
● Positioned right after you the first badge.
● Made larger with about 10 more rooms.
● Added more trainers
● The encounters are still Digletts
● Given a 8% Encouter Rate
● You have to battle Groudon by the end


Speaking of fairness, you never want to overload the player with a bombardment of trainers and maps after the first gym. These types of things need to ease itself in the game, rather than it being abrupt. Trainers is not bad, but make sure to not add so much. But, toning down the excess maps will be a welcomed change and saves ROM space too. 10 to 4 rooms?

Spoiler:
Changing Diglett's Cave
● Positioned right after you the first badge.
● Made larger with about 4 more rooms.
● Added more trainers
● The encounters are still Digletts
● Given a 8% Encouter Rate
● You have to battle Groudon by the end


Groudon was almost too easy. I could've made it bold, italized with big flashing lights and it still wouldn't have been as obvious as "Remove me". Yeah, if this is after the first badge, we don't want a legendary confrontation, it could very well spell disaster in game design.

Spoiler:
Changing Diglett's Cave
● Positioned right after you the first badge.
● Made larger with about 4 more rooms.
● Added more trainers
● The encounters are still Digletts
● Given a 8% Encouter Rate


Well, that looks a lot better, now does it :)?

Let's move on the subject of what you could do to make it better.

It will not kill anyone if you made actual tweaks to the engine to improve trainer AI and not sugar coat it with things such as Legendary teams and absurd levels. Right now, with all the resources and finding on Pokemon ROM's, it is almost inexcusable to just take the easy way out.

For instance, we can talk about a difficulty hack that I am sure you know of. Drayano's hacks. Bringing up popular hacks again, it is almost undeniable that these hack's AI is second to none. It calls for competitive knowledge and advanced know how on the Pokemon series.

It's not like these hacks had unrealistic teams, it is just that it was well made. You can't throw random crap on a game and call it "difficult" because "Punishing games don't sell".

Now you may be wondering, "What about level curves?". Well, there is a bit more to level curves than you think.

Difficulty Curves For The Soul

So we finally reached Difficulty Curves and its about time. When we play games, more often than not that term is tossed around like some grand parade. "Difficulty Curve" this and "Level Curve" that. What exactly is it?

Is it when the game works on their hips and body? Well that's stupid, so no. Difficulty Curve is, what do you know, the progression of difficulty over time. No duh, right? So everything that hinders progress in the game, be it a few too many trainers on a route, the AI, the design of maps, can all be grouped into one single mass of difficulty.

It's like a Napoleon flavored ice cream sandwich, you didn't know that it's the same thing as Strawberry, Vanilla, and Chocolate ice cream combined with some chocolate on top. But the end result, it is. You may think that Trainer AI, Pokemon Data and Map Design were all separate entities, but in all, it all results in the same thing: A delicious ice cream sandwich of difficulty because that is what it all amounts to in the first place. Did that make sense?

So let's look at a very basic chart made by me and it pretty much represents difficulty in most video game scenarios at its simplistic.



See how the line is consistent and always shifting upwards? Put this in a gaming situation. This represents the idea that most games get progressively and equally harder at a consistent rate, always spiraling upwards. Still not clear to you? Okay, let's look at another graph constructed by Gamasutra, which is much better and has a clearer viewpoint on Diffuculty Curves.



Well, now it is much simpler following now. So the chart follows as so:
● Frustrating
● Hardcore Fun
● Challenging Fun
● Balanced Fun
● Casual Fun
● Mindless Fun
● Boring

Easy to define and easy to understand, so let's break down those terms.

Frustrating and Boring are the two key points we do not want to see in the hack. Frustrating is infuriating as the level curve becomes too steep to overcome and makes the player feel cheated. While as Boring serves no challenge to the player and is a cakewalk. While not bad, it makes the player feel dissatisfied with their efforts. So we want to stay away from those. I've already discussed fixing a Frustrating game in its simplest state in the previous section, so I will not repeat myself.

What we want to achieve is the middle grounds between Balanced Fun and Frustrating, not technically the lower half as we are making a Pokemon game and no one likes easy Pokemon games anymore (just look at XY's Exp. All). To achieve this is simply improving on making the game difficult (again, it's in the previous sections).

Look at the better graph again. If we were to let's say, draw a line through it, particularly a consistent diagonal line, where does it fall. For the sake of you not wasting any brain power, I'll draw it for you.



See how it starts off balanced, but as the game goes on, it scales into higher difficulty scales? But the thing is, it never ascends into "Frustrating" nor "Boring". That is a sign, that you made a pretty good game. Realistically, your line may start off at Challenging Fun and ascend from there, if it doesn't reach Frustrating levels, give yourself a thumbs up :).

A frustrating game of Pokemon is having the game prepare you for Level 50 trainers in the Elite Four, but when you get there, everyone is 90's and above. That is painful to say the least. Masking a game's difficulty with artificial things like Illegal things and steep level curves will never catch the eye of anyone.

Lastly, in the spoiler, I have defined each and every pinpoint of the graph

Spoiler:
Frustrating- The game throws challenges towards your way, that is too steep to overcome. These are the moments were the player will quit in rage, stay away from these.
Hardcore Fun- The game calls for an audience who knows the mechanics like the back of their hand, you must be very experienced to take these challenges.
Challenging Fun- You know the mehanics well enough to overcome some tricker puzzles, like Boss Battles. It calls for a more advanced skill base.
Balanced Fun- Self-explantory. Not too hard, not too easy.
Casual Fun- You can just play these in quick sessions and get quick fulfillment from them.
Mindless Fun- The mechanics are stupudly easier to remember and going through the game is fun. There are alot of challenges but not at all are they hard. You just enjoy it because you feel like a God.
Boring- The game is slow, pacing is slow, and all in all, not very satisfying to overcome. Avoid these.


So that is basically it for Difficulty.

Updates to come :)
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