83

There are probably exceptions to this, but as a thinking-aid, I theorise that failure severity, decision rate and responsibility should correlate. When one increases, players expect (and tolerate) higher levels of the other two. Some examples (high to low intensity): Super Meat Boy and N have high severity (much of the environment kills you on contact, ...


40

In addition to the excellent existing answers, there are a couple of other ways this type mechanic can boost retention. One is by helping to keep a cohort of players on par with one another. When attempts/rewards are limited only by your play time, then players with a lot of time to invest in the game can very quickly race ahead, and players with more ...


36

That's the trade-off to this kind of game play design, the player is expected to die many times to learn mechanics and Boss abilities. To make those deaths palatable to the player I have a few ideas: 1) nothing can be random, everything must have a pattern that can be learned. There is nothing more unfair than dying to an attack you've never seen before ...


28

As someone already posted, nature gives hints: Bright colors, look at poisonous snakes and frogs The lair of the monster, if you run into a troll encampment on the forest, you will find the remains of other adventurers, pools of blood, none piles, etc. the more powerful the monster, the more hints you can give. You can also use environment in a way in ...


28

I think not knowing the monsters strength immediately is a great idea. New areas would be much more threatening and the player can't just overpower his or hers character and run away from everything that's bigger than him or her. Of course the player needs some hints: Bright colors are generally a sign of danger e.g. poisonous mushrooms or frogs Dangerous ...


22

In addition to Patrick's answer: Time it takes to retry needs to be short, borderline instantaneous. Take Super Meat Boy as an example. Compare with Teslagrad's 4 second death animation. Time it takes to regain your progress should also be relatively quick. This goes along with Patrick's comments regarding checkpoints. Taslagrad is pretty good here, as you ...


19

It certainly depends on the type of game, and as always, there are no foolproof ways to increase difficulty, but in my experience, I have found that making difficult games/levels is much, much more difficult than making easy games/levels. Some reasons that come to mind are: It is very easy to cross the line between difficult and plain impossible. I really ...


19

It improves player retention. When you expect the player to take a lot of attempts to overcome a challenge, and you only give them a limited number of attempts per real-world timespan, then players will take a long real-world timespan to complete this bit of content. When you have a game with a monthly subscription model, or which you monetize by regular ...


17

Some ideas: You could make something like a small crystal (like in Sims) or such (a bar, name of the mob) which would appear above all monsters with different colors for example: gray - insane pink - extremely hard red - hard yellow - a bit hard green - normal blue - a bit easy light blue - easy white - extremely easy This is not really a sure method ...


13

Playtest, playtest, playtest. Get testers from your target demographic, let them play the game, and see which parts of the game are so difficult they are frustrating and which parts are so easy they are boring. Get new testers from time to time which are not yet familiar with your game ("kleenex testers") so they tell you the difficulty from the ...


12

Another aspect that hasn't been mentioned yet is basically a variation on "security through obscurity". In this case, it's difficulty through obscurity. The content is hard because you can't practice it. If you could grind it as much as you wanted, you'd have more chances to learn the mechanics and figure out how everything works. Because it's limited, ...


10

Consider the player's options / resources & look for ways to limit them. Here's a technique taken from Jesse Schell's Art of Game Design (which he in turn credits to game designer Rob Daviau): List out all of the assumptions you're making & consider ways to invalidate them. Here are some examples based on what you've described (or left out) about ...


10

One major strategy that helps is something we call level design metrics. Here you work out what kinds of level design arrangements are navigable, by testing them out in isolation. We'll often build a "gym" level, with things like passages of varying widths, corners of varying sharpness, pits of varying lengths, etc. We can try each setup on its own, or in ...


10

Basically, unlike in most parts of many games where the goal is at least partly to teach you how to understand the game mechanics, the primary goal of limited tries is to cause emotional reactions. Roguelikes actually often have some kind of daily or weekly leaderboard challenge, where there's a special dungeon and you only get one attempt to beat it for ...


9

There are multiple factors to consider (as always). As you posted a link to your game, I also want to talk about the specific implications for your special case. 1. Player responsibility This was already explained quite nicely by @Anko. If the player feels like he is actually responsible for his failure and has a chance to improve via the knowledge he gained ...


9

Your assumption that question difficulty is subjective and is itself a hard question is absolutely correct! From a professional assessment standpoint it's a known issue, and while there are techniques to assist, it is best considered "an ongoing process" that requires testing and adjustment - like trying to figure out what just the right amount of salt to ...


9

The best thing you can do when dealing with situations like these is to study other games that share mechanics and systems with what you intend. Given your description, the two off the top of my head that I think you should most look at are Metal Slug and Contra. Both involve gun usage as their primary mechanic in a sidescrolling platformer environment, ...


8

While you might not have explicit levels, you can probably come up with labels that give a warning. This could be done manually when the creature is created or automatically by calculating the sum of HP, attack bonuses or however else you gauge difficulty. For example, if the monster is targeted and it's name appears in the UI, it would be pretty obvious ...


8

A very important aspect of a game is what Warren Robinett called "controlled randomness". If you don't want a level to have a particular fixed solution, ensure that the level of difficulty will not be unreasonably affected by the random number generator. The game should be designed so that a someone who plays perfectly would have a 100% chance of ...


8

There is never just one way to do things in game development. But the usual unspoken consensus between developer and player is that "medium" represents the way the game is meant to be played. So you usually develop the game to be balanced on medium difficulty. However, there is a general problem with difficulties: Players don't know how good they are at ...


7

The balance I don't think there are shortcuts to balancing the game, it takes time and experimentation to find the best settings. You can increase the level of difficulty differently depending on how good the player is. The game will correct the difficulty to match the player skill. For example, the more lives he has the faster it gets harder. But I don't ...


7

Trainyard had a mechanic where if you allowed all three primary colours to mix (eg. a secondary plus the other primary, or two dissimilar secondaries), you'd get a murky brown colour which was effectively dead weight. You couldn't get rid of it once you'd made one, so you had to plan your moves carefully to ensure the wrong colours never came in contact. A ...


6

There's lots of options, two with your current setup: Make enemies harder Spawn more enemies (either more often or multiple at a time) Then more with additional features: Enemies start dealing different types of damage, and the player must defend differently against each. For example, ranged attacks, magic, etc. Enemies start defending themselves against ...


6

How should I balance buffs? This can be a tricky area, as realistically, there are a lot of ways you can temporarily buff a players ability. There are some key points I can make, here, though: If a particular buff is considered to powerful, you may consider increasing the cost, instead of lowering the strength. If the buff costs too much, players will ...


6

Another reason not yet listed is to increase communication. With limited attempts, what you do outside of the attempts gains value. Sharing info online, talking with guildmates, watching runs on youtube--none of those are single-person tasks. (Even youtube requires a youtuber, unless you're only watching your own replays). In other words, time-gating it, in ...


5

Don't use a random pattern, people would like to use their muscle memory to play a song the same every time. I suggest you define the pattern for the entire song, and give each position a difficulty rating. The most difficult version of the song would include all the difficulties, say 1-5. Where as the medium version of the song would contain all the ...


5

Well, it all depends on what kind of enemies you are trying to make stronger. If you are making variants of enemies that are stronger (Like an elite or champion enemy that is based off of another weaker enemy), you could always add deadlier appearances. Lets say you have a slime. The ultra version of it could have red eyes and have spikes sticking out of ...


4

This goes into the concept of character development and design which can go very deeply. There are many ways to alter the hostility of an enemy, it is all relative to the resources you have at your disposal to make it happen. Here are some ideas that will help you: Choice of color: This can affect how a player perceived an enemy and in which order do the ...


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