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Av Avt

How do you deal with a level that's too hard in your game?

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Last month I released my first puzzle game, and due to oversight on my part there's a level that's too hard in it. Before I only did arcade and didn't encounter this kind of issue.

 

It was a logical puzzle game and most of the puzzle were generated randomly, and since I was too confident in my algorithm at the time, I didn't play all of the levels before releasing (it's really bad practice I know T_T). The problem is there's now a ridiculously hard level at the beginning of the hard pack. The kind that require you to completely master the logic of the game to get 3 stars (stars are given based on your performance, like many other mobile games these days).

 

What I got from the analytical tool shows about 50% of the users who reached that level gave up on the game there, so it seems even getting 1 star is too hard for the general players. Most of the ones who passed only play some more levels before giving up as well. Maybe burnout?

 

I tried the level out myself. It took me 2 hours to figure out how to solve it.

 

What do I do now?

 

Would switching the level toward the end of the game a good idea? This game is already live, so changing the level's position might be bad.

Or should I put a disclaimer at the beginning of the level to give the player a general idea of what's going on? Maybe a huge "CONGRATULATION!" at the end to turn the experience into an encouraging one?

Edited by AVAVT

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Hey thanks for your replies!

 

Where do you think would be a good place to put that "We moved the level to another place because it was too hard" notice? In the patch note (do people read patch notes?), or right before the new level?

 

The current position of the level is in the later part of the game, and the game is generally switching to hard mode from there. Most players would be 5 or 6 hours into the game. That's why I filtered out other possible reasons like annoying music or strong coloring, and guessed that the player maybe burnt out after thinking too much.

Edited by AVAVT

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Hmm, maybe take a leaf from Portal's book. Have two variants of the same level, a nerfed easier one and the crazy hard version. Stick the hard one at the end, make an achievement for it. For any existing players who've already finished it give them the achievement too.

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Hello, it's me again.

 

So I took your advices and moved the level to another place, and replaced it with another level. The update went live last week.

 

It worked okay I guess, but what came next surprised me: the people who perfected the original level started mailing me saying it was a bad idea for an update. They were expecting harder levels, not relocation (the patch was mostly UI & game flow change aside from the relocation). They told me the game started to feel bland after that stage, and they missed the hours spent laboring for the solution. I had a "Zen mode" where levels are generated endlessly, but they said it's no good too because the generated levels are "not hard enough". They're a bunch of hardcore players I suppose.

 

But after thinking for sometime, I concluded that they are the one giving me the most revenue (my game is ad-supported). So I'm working on a new patch that focus specifically on difficult levels. I got some of the guys in that mailing list to test the new levels for me and the feedback was quite possitive.

 

Just want to share the result with you guys. This is the first game I make personally from the ground up, and the fact that someone I don't know are craving for more brought me endless joy ^^

Edited by AVAVT

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Wow, that's awesome! I'm happy for you!

 

It's important to realize that these hardcore players are only one part of your fanbase. If you only focus on these players, you will drive yourself more and more into a corner where only those players want to play your game.

 

The most important thing to focus on is the core vision you have had when building your game. Because it is what you built around this vision that attracts all your fans, including those hardcore players. If you go after the money, you lose sight of that vision. If you lose sight of your vision, you lose fans. Always at the core of every decision should be that vision, never the money.

 

With that then, when you receive feedback from your players, focus on if and how you can use that feedback to build on your core vision. So make sure your game is not becoming too hardcore now, and make sure that you make all your loyal fans happy. Never ignore all of your fans for one small part of your fans. After all, focusing on making gamers happy is what is bringing you joy and success right now. Don't change that plan to going after money, when that original plan is working so well right now. :)

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This may be going too far, but why not create a curation system behind the level creation. Since you already have the tech to randomly create levels, you could have the players (or an automated system) determine how hard the levels are. To do this you'd have a level area designated where your biggest fans would help determine which levels make it into what "packs" - the end result would be players could play for free, infinitely, and in turn would help create the data to assign the best levels into accurate level packs, where fans could purchase them to ensure they get awesome levels at the difficulty they prefer. Pretty brilliant if you have a good population and popular product!

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