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dfTruF

in-game dynamic difficulty

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Hi, I wonder why there is so small group of single player games where player can choose difficulty level in game playing (not at the beginning). For example in Angband (rogue like rpg game), player choose difficulty by going deeper or up from specific dungeon level. This is free choice. If player feel comfortable with foes/tasks difficulty and has proper knowledge and experience in playing with more advanced levels, then he or she can go forward (make progress in game experience). If for example player is damaged and must go to easier level (for health regeneration) then there is free way for it and there are new random tasks in easier level/place. I call this in-game dynamic difficulty free choice. Does anyone know any single player games with such kind of dynamic difficulty? Regards, + + Andrew

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If that counts as a dynamic difficulty system then many games have it.

For example most any game with power-ups. players have the free choice to collect them which can change the difficulty. Diablo and other Rouge like games have different weapons and items that can change difficulty even within player experience point and leveling systems.

Heck even within games that allow players to choose difficulty levels like God of War. Players still have the choice to spend red orbs on upgradeing thier weapons and attacks which can change difficulty.

However usualy when one talks about dynamic difficulty systems they are refering to things like the Director AI in Left 4 Dead...Is this sort of thing what you ment to discuss?

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One of the early Doom/Unreal-type FPS games had a starting gate with three doors leading out. One was a simple walk across a bridge, and another was a difficult jump across a pit. The doors led to easy and harder levels.

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Quote:
Original post by MSW
...
However usualy when one talks about dynamic difficulty systems they are refering to things like the Director AI in Left 4 Dead...Is this sort of thing what you ment to discuss?


No,... dynamic difficulty like in Angband is good example (in my opinion) for such phenomenon, and I think this is positive feature of the game when connected with anti save-cheating philosophy. Player must be more careful and sensitive to any in-game informations about difficult levels.


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I don't see how that is dynamic. The player is choosing how difficult they want the game to be based on how deep they venture into the dungeon. If they want an easy game they stay near the surface.

I haven't played rogue-like games for many years, but surely if your character is levelling up and getting more powerful, the game just gets easier and easier if you stay on the same dungeon level.

A dynamic difficulty system (in my eyes) would look at how powerful the player was and challenge them accordingly. If they are starting to chop down monsters with one hit, the system would introduce harder monsters. If the player was struggling to survive, it would lower the difficulty or give them breathers between encounters so they can recover health.

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I do think the angband example is a good one, at least of what the OP is interested in. Few games let you stay where it is easy and play for a long time still accomplishing useful things (or let you go to an easier section you've already been). I think of things like Starfox, where you can accomplish special maneuvers to unlock significantly harder paths through the game, or stay on the set path to make it very easy. (I don't know how many times I played through that game trying to see every path). Many rpgs do have a lot of non-linearity, where you can go to really easy areas or really hard areas, that counts I think. At some point though, you outlevel the easier area and have to move on, but I think that happens in the angband example too. In dragon quest you could stay in one spot and fight easy monsters for ages until you feel you are ready to cross the bridge.

In games with a slow motion feature (fear, max payne), you can make the game easy by utilizing this power, but it is also quite possible to beat without using that power at all. You can try "hard" mode by abstaining from using slow motion, and if it gets too hard you can always hit the key again.

In games like Deus Ex that support a multitude of approaches, you can often attempt to use harder or easier solutions to problems. For example, it's usually less trouble if you try to be a bit sneaky, but if you want more of a challenge you can do a full frontal assault. And if that doesn't work, maybe snipe everyone from afar. One path is sure to be doable for the player.

The ai director in left for dead doesn't count, because it's not something the player can control. It just tries to keep things interesting and roughly at the level that was chosen before play begins.

I think most games actually have some amount of in-game difficulty adjustment. Left 4 dead does have strategies you can employ, like placing gas cans, which can prepare you better for the assault and make it easier. Only very linear games without multiple paths, like beat-em ups or some fps, do not have any.

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Original post by saluk64007
Only very linear games without multiple paths, like beat-em ups or some fps, do not have any.


Beat-em-ups often featured weapons the player could pick up as do most FPS. Shoot-em-ups have power-ups like spread shots and whatnot. And dont forget those screen clearing superbombs players can stockpile and use stratigicly. Being linear does not, and never has, excluded a game from haveing some degree of freeform dynamic difficulty.

The laserdisc game Dragons Lair was non-linear. But once players learned and could execute all the movement patterns for each room, the game could be beaten easily...The developers other game Space Ace had multiple paths that could be triggered by the player, yet the gameplay was the same. Learn the moves, execute them correctly, and you beat the game. It even had player chosen difficulty setting that opened more paths in the higher settings.

Really, you are going to have to look at some of the earliest video games to find those that do not have this freeform dynamic difficulty you speak of...Asteroids, Space Invaders, Frogger and the like.




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I would like to see more casual-friendly games that allow players to simply pause the game and choose a different difficulty while in the game. I don't really understand the point of trying to lock players into a decision early. If you give them a difficulty setting in the beginning, it is already up to the player what path they want. Some players want to just beat the game and see the ending, while others are playing specifically for the challenge. The former would likely love to be able to change it on the fly, so that they can have some challenge, but if it gets too much they can lower it. The latter would likely always choose the hardest difficulty for the achievement in it. Why do some developers feel that *they* need to decide the challenge for the player. I think with the trend towards letting players play how they want we will begin seeing things like this. I heard the news stories about Nintendo adding features that will allow players to see the computer play through the portion of the game where they are stuck, and that almost sounds more radical than giving players the option to change difficulty from the pause menu. Heck, 10+ years ago, it was almost unheard of to be able to change the button configuration from the pause screen instead of the options at the start, but now it is common place.

Plus, if players really are hard-up to get through a segment that they feel are too hard, they are likely to just go download a trainer. Having options like this are less likely to spread malware through these types of programs.

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Quote:
Original post by dfTruF
I call this in-game dynamic difficulty free choice.
What you're really talking about is allowing the player to progress through a linear set of levels (or difficulties) at whatever pace they want. This isn't "dynamic", since it's more decision-based.

Dynamic difficulty usually refers to a software component which is programmed to monitor the player's skill level and adjust their game experience accordingly (first seen in Max Payne 2, I believe). There are good and bad things about this approach though.
Quote:
Does anyone know any single player games with such kind of dynamic difficulty?
So you're asking if there are any other games which allow you to go back and forth between levels? Only rogue-like RPGs come to mind, since the whole premise of those games is to go deeper and deeper in a sequential vertical dungeon. Most single-player games (RPGs excepted) are based on skill to the point where the player is expected to be able to overcome the challenges in the next level. In other words, completing one level is qualification enough to play the next.

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Quote:
Original post by Bravepower
...
What you're really talking about is allowing the player to progress through a linear set of levels (or difficulties) at whatever pace they want. This isn't "dynamic", since it's more decision-based.
...



Then this feature should be called "decision-based in-game difficulty"?
I wonder how professional game creators call it. I like this feature, because player can do more experimental gaming, which means more fun, more choices in the path, gentle learning curve, enhanced feeling of freedom.



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