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  1. Good points. Player exploitation is definitely a design challenge.   I used the term "dynamic difficulty", but the game doesn't actually adjust the content to suit the player. In theory the self-adjusting challenge is just an emergent property of the game since the player will have to grow to progress in the game and growth leads to challenges.   Compare it to a dungeon crawling game where you can skip levels if you want. Some preparations and collecting of equipment might be necessary, but it's not what the game is about and items quickly lose their value from one level to the next. Defeat in this game does not mean that you have to start over, you just get kicked back to an earlier level and you can quickly work your way down again and fill up your inventory.   Skilled players can start playing and delve down maybe 10 levels right away, pick up a few items and then start fighting their way through challenges that are better suited to their skill. If they don't and choose to stay at the easier levels, the game won't reward them for grinding. But if they enjoy it, Fine. I don't think that it's inherently bad that players miss content to pursue personal goals, but if there are broken paths to achieve the intended goals, then that's a big problem. I don't want cars in my dungeon.   Does that clarify it a bit?   If this concept requires lots of balancing and tweaks to work without creating accidental zombie-killing cars I think it's doomed to be broken in some way. Hopefully it's possible to really simplify it and give the player a clean challenge curve that follows the population. Are you able to point out any specific pitfalls that you can see in this design?
  2. It looks like a lot of games get easier as the player gets more powerful and the solution is often to just throw bigger threats at them. What if getting more powerful made the game harder in itself?   Imagine a game where you lead a group of people struggling to survive. The people in this group are portrayed in a way that lets you get attached to them as individuals and not just for their usefulness. Those emergent character stories and relationships would be a key feature the game and ensures that the player really cares about keeping those people alive.   At first the group is small and flexible, and unless you take big risks you are unlikely to lose anyone. But as the group grows it consumes more resources, attracts more trouble and you have to send your people out on dangerous missions where some are bound to die if you want to maintain morale and the survival of the group as a whole.   Even though it might be easier to play with fewer people in the group, the player is given incentives to add more, whether it's through scoring or objectives. Maybe victory can only be reached by finishing a project that requires the labour of a large group for an extended period of time. There will also be a lot of opportunities to show compassion and take in refugees and the like, so unless the player is willing to risk the stability of their group they will have to turn down and doom those people.    The expectation is that the population of a group will plateau or oscillate at a level that provides a fun challenge for the player. If they change the difficulty setting, progress to a harder area or as they get better at the game, the population will adjust to match.   Since there is no doomsday clock, the player can progress at their own pace and play with a difficulty level that suits them. They can hopefully also avoid the scenarios where the start of the game is really hard and after getting through that, defeat is either inevitable or the player has become so powerful that it's now too easy to win. If the start of the game is too slow and easy, just pick up a few strays and start expanding right away.   What do you think about the concept? Do you see any challenges or pitfalls when implementing something like it?   I can imagine that it would be important to discourage the player from grinding with a smaller group by making the resources they can get then insignificant in comparison to the accomplishments of a larger group. A handful of people who sneak into an enemy encampment can only escape with what they can carry, while a larger group can take over the whole thing.   Mount & Blade is a good example of a game that has similar elements. When you're starting out you move really fast and can escape most armies, but as your army grows you also move slower and those other armies are now a threat. If you enjoy cruising around with a small group of elite soldiers you can do that, but you can also expand and start taking over castles. I don't remember how the difficulty changes as you grow so the comparison might not hold up.
  3. I think it's important that a crafting system is entertaining and interesting after you add a skip or fast forward button for every part of the process. I'm not that fond of minigames, but they have potential to enhance the experience. The crafting process should be unique. If the effectiveness of gear is determined heavily by stats, playstyle and situations it would create diversity and people would have to find out for themselves what is best for them. There is no ultimate recipe. Only customized gear is valuable and only for some individuals. One way to achieve this diversity is by having a webbed or branching skill system. For example when the effectiveness of a certain weapon may be decided by the players combined skills in steel weapons, blade weapons, one handed fighting, short weapons, Kukri swords, fire-enchanted weapons and so on. In addition to all the other stats and skills that might be relevant. It doesn't have to be that complex, but you get the idea. (I can't imagine all the work required to balance such a system though.) Many different crafting skills should also play together as a whole and create diversity. One recipe may give a completely different result when followed by different people with different skillsets. Someone may have great experience in using some materials and other players may have specialized themselves in a few crafting techniques. An economy like this would encourage people with different skills to collaborate for the greatest results. This is not exactly crafting, but I think it's a good example. One mage is skilled at controlling many projectiles simultaneous, but only if the projectiles are small. Another mage may conjure huge projectiles, but can only effectively control one at a time. A spell for throwing two large fireballs is useless for both mages since the first guy can't maintain the size of the balls and wastes potential by only throwing two. The other guy spends all his energy on focusing on the two balls simultaneous and in the end both mages only cast two weak fireballs or the spell might even backfire. It should be possible for gear to evolve with the character. Upgrades and tinkering keeps the favorite gear valuable and makes crafting worthwhile. I also like the idea of measured experience for each individual item. (Almost like when you've had a car for a long time and you've developed an intuition for it and just know and feel how it acts in every situation.) If you get more and more skilled with the gear you use the most it will give you a good incentive to keep using and investing in it even if it's not top tier for your level. At least the system shouldn't encourage players pick up every piece of armor and weaponry they find, Although loot could be useful for material or maybe it could be customized to fit the players need. I like the idea of having to customize armor for it to fit at all. Maybe reduced effectiveness for gear that isn't tailored. The whole experience of crafting, from gathering resources to using the gear should create a relationship with the player. When you give a name to a unit in a strategy game you give it an identity. With identity comes a history. A collection of memories from exciting battles and epic victories. The unit suddenly has a personality and the player is emotionally invested in it. We should give a face to the crafted gear to create a similar effect. Aesthetics is important. Maybe have a function were weapons evolves as they are used. Kill one hundred vampires and your blade gets a bonus against them. Just my little rambling.