tomshackell

Difficulty Levels

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My question relates to difficulty levels, and particularly how they relate to quicksave/respawn. In some sense respawn is a bit like multiplayer quicksave, so I treat them interchangeably here.

 

The essence of my question is this:

 

Assuming that quicksave/respawn will be present in Ground Branch, will the difficulty settings be sufficiently flexible that the game is still reasonable to play without quicksave?

 

The rest of this post details: why I ask such a question, why this question is an issue, and what possible answers are there to this question. In some sense I'm also looking at statements along the lines of:

 

Why does having quicksave or not matter? Why not just include it and let the people who want to prove their l33t ninja skills play without it, if that's what they want to do?

So ... Yes, I get the impression that many people assume that playing without quicksave/respawn is something you do to prove your uber l337 ninja skills :ph34r: However I would like to pitch that playing without quicksave/respawn is a playstyle choice and it should be independent of difficulty. This is to say that I ideally I should be able to play either with or without quicksaves, and independently choose a difficulty level that is either easy, normal or challenging to play.

 

Why do I suggest this? Well because I like to play without quicksave because it creates a different playstyle. However, just because I'd like to play without saves it doesn't mean I want the game to be bull-bustingly hard ;) I'd still like to stand a good chance of completing the mission if I play well, and overall playing without saves shouldn't necessarily be any harder than playing with them.

 

Playing without quicksave is an interestingly playstyle because you have to be more cautious, thoughtful and play in a more realistic way. Whereas if you've got quicksave then you're more inclined to rely on pure luck, after all if the luck doesn't go your way you can reload and try again.

 

No quicksave also makes for interesting compromises. If you've got quicksave then you're generally inclined to reload a mission whenever you lose someone. If you don't have quicksave you're generally less inclined to do this. This is an interesting choice now: you've finally completed a hard mission, but you lost your favourite guy. Do you replay or do you accept the outcome?

 

The problem is that although ideally quicksave should be independent of difficulty, in truth it isn't. Playing the exact same mission without saves is definitely harder than doing it with. However it's all about difficulty settings and what the game was designed for.

 

RavenShield doesn't have quicksave, and although the game is challenging you definitely can complete it. Because quicksave wasn't an option, the difficulty balancing and play testing in the game was made so that it would be playable without quicksave.

 

OGR, in contrast, does have quicksave and trying to play the game without quicksave is seriously hard (bordering on impossible in fact). This is because the game was designed and balanced assuming that quicksave was an option.

 

Now, as I see it, Ground Branch could take one of three approaches here:

  1. the RvS approach: you can't quicksave and the game will be balanced so that it is quite playable without quicksave.
     
  2. the OGR approach: you can quicksave and the game will be balanced so that it is quite playable with quicksave (but almost impossible without it).
     
  3. a different approach: here the idea is you have some difficulty levels designed for play without saves and some designed for play with saves. So if you want to play without saves and for it to still be easy you can choose a level that does that. Or if you want to play with saves and for it to be really challenging then you choose that too. And everything in between.

The last approach is clearly the "best of both", BUT it requires a difficulty scale with a very large range and for all of those different difficulties to be play tested either with and without quicksave. Clearly it is by far the hardest option to implement.

 

So, my questions are:

  • Which of these approaches do people think should be taken?
  • (to the devs) Which approach do you have in mind at the moment?

Cheers :)

 

Tom

Edited by tomshackell

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zoog   

What I would like is independent difficulty settings (ala recruit, veteran, elite) and R6 style missions where the mission is based on no-quick saves. BUT do add a quick save option (player can decide how he wants to play while not making it way too hard for the people who like no quick saves).

 

- Recruit: reasonable playable without quick saves

- Veteran: playable without quick saves but you have to be very cautious and experienced Tac/FPS player

- Elite: real hard game mode which IS playable without the quick saves but will be VERY challenging

 

The player can decide to either use it or not. But the gameplay is based on no quick saving. This way you don't have to play test every possibility, it's up to the player to make it lots of easier. Maybe even make an option at the beginning with

 

1) select difficulty

2) select style (with or without quick saves which will last the complete campaign)

 

The decision in 2) won't effect the difficulty settings, the player will just have or have not the option of quick saves while playing.

 

My $0.02

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What I would like is independent difficulty settings (ala recruit, veteran, elite) and R6 style missions where the mission is based on no-quick saves. BUT do add a quick save option (player can decide how he wants to play while not making it way too hard for the people who like no quick saves).

This is my position also.

 

I like the idea of having the difficulty levels balanced for no-quick save, but there is still the issue of how balanced they are if you play with quicksave. For example if we look at your three difficulty levels when we play them with quicksave, is it a case of:

  • Recruit - absolute and total walk in the park.
  • Veteran - really very easy.
  • Elite - the 'easy' level of difficulty on a normal game.

How much easier does having quicksave make it? If the answer is "a bit" then that's fine, but if the answer is "a lot" then the difficulty levels suitable for playing it without quicksave aren't going to be usable when playing with.

 

It's not easy to answer this question but we can sort of answer the reverse question. If you take a game designed to be played with quicksave and play it without, how hard is it? Speaking from my experience of playing recruit difficulty on OGR (without quicksave), the answer is: really very hard ;)

Edited by tomshackell

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zoog   
How much easier does having quicksave make it?

VERY EASY. Quick saves make it extremely easy, especially when you have unlimited saves and can do it anywhere you want. But you could make a different system like:

 

Recruit: 15 or unlimited quick saves per mission

Veteran: 8 quick saves per mission

Elite: 4 quick saves per mission

 

(of course the amount has to be tweaked)

 

This way you need to be cautious with saving but the player is in charge of when and where to save. It's like the first Resident Evil for PS1 where you had ink ribbons to save your progress. You always tried to go a little bit further before saving, it really made you think about it.

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Colin   

This is my choice.

No saves at all except on completion of mission.

 

When I go into a mission I set aside 2 hours to do it, get the briefing sorted, choose my team mates and carry on.

 

If I play the way I should I will not die.

 

Haveing said this the game should appeal to other types of player, and saves could be an option, to restrict this it would be wrong, you should really have the chioce.

 

I would happy though if no saves were present during missions except at the end.

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This is my choice. No saves at all except on completion of mission.

Personally speaking I'm also quite happy with the "pause-save" that's been suggested in other threads. Whereby you can save mid mission, but when you do it exits the game. Then when you load the mission again the save game is deleted. This is thus not really a save at all, just a way to pause your game for long periods of time :)

 

Haveing said this the game should appeal to other types of player, and saves could be an option, to restrict this it would be wrong, you should really have the chioce.

Mmm agreed. Though my question was more "who is the game balanced for?". Is it balanced to be a reasonable difficulty for people playing without quicksave? Or is it balanced assuming you will quicksave? Or should it have difficulty levels to cover both sets of players (even though this is probably a lot more work)?

 

I don't think quicksave can be considered indepently of the difficulty levels, deciding to add it (or not) definitely has consequences for how the game should be balanced :-)

Edited by tomshackell

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OGR has quicksaves!!!

 

I thought it was a bit to bloody hard when i tried playing the game. I kind of presumed that a tactical game wouldn't rely on them.

 

Anyway, I hate quicksaves, completely goes against the whole idea of facing up to the consequences of your actions.

 

Also would take the randomness factor out of the situation.

 

So yer please balance the game based around not playing with quicksaves, although adding it in as an option for those that want/require it is fine in my opinion.

 

Best Regards

 

Relinquish

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At the risk of sounding arrogant, I've been playing tac shooters realistically for many years now, and if there's a tac game I can't play through without quicksaves it's my opinion that the game's enemy A.I. capabities (accuracy, detection, etc) are not realistic. I should not need to rely on quicksave/ trial and error tactics, and real tactics should not be reduced to gamer tactics, i.e. figuring out and exploiting the games limitaions and A.I. quirks.

 

I'm not sure what I think is the best approach to difficulty levels. I don't care too much for the way actual a.i. skills are increased/reduced in R6. I prefer the GR method of having fewer enemies for easier difficulty settings. But there should be consistant opfor behavior and skill, one that is realistic (human like) regardless of difficulty.

 

Lastly, please, pleeeeez don't make the campaign start out easier and increased difficulty with each mission. After one training mission I'd prefer to "get it on" right from the get go.

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Predator   

i hope that you cannot save it during a mission, but you can save it in between missions.

 

personally i also hope you dont need to complete the objectives to progress, just like real life, even if you fail the mission objectives you just have to get on with the next one.

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for me i want to be able to save when i want. i might be playing at 10.00 at night and only want to play for 10-15 minutes. and then theres taking time away from the game to do other things as well whatever time it is.

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I don't think it's a good idea to exclude quicksaves but if I understood correctly I think Tom was asking for gameplay (difficulty) not to be designed around the concept of players using quicksaves to get through the game. I think the original post makes a lot of sense.

 

GR without quicksaves is possible of course. But a realistic experience it is not. Sure it's a test of one's gamer skill (yawn), and knowledge of that particular game's quirks, but the a.i. accuracy and awareness is superhuman. And clearing a building? Forget it! Use frags.

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for me i want to be able to save when i want. i might be playing at 10.00 at night and only want to play for 10-15 minutes. and then theres taking time away from the game to do other things as well whatever time it is.

As doubletap says, I'm not against including quicksave, my post is really just about difficulty levels and how the game should be balanced, especially whether it should be balanced assuming quicksave or not :)

 

Again I guess the "pause-save" I described earlier (where you save-and-exit and then load-and-delete) would allow you to play for short periods of time, yet still effectively play without quicksave :)

 

And clearing a building? Forget it! Use frags.

Yeah this was common, including using the grenade launcher indoors if you didn't have any thrown frags ...

Edited by tomshackell

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So ... Yes, I get the impression that many people assume that playing without quicksave/respawn is something you do to prove your uber l337 ninja skills :ph34r: However I would like to pitch that playing without quicksave/respawn is a playstyle choice and it should be independent of difficulty. This is to say that I ideally I should be able to play either with or without quicksaves, and independently choose a difficulty level that is either easy, normal or challenging to play.

 

Cheers :)

 

Tom

 

Agreed. There should be a save function. I should be able to save (in principle) as many games during a mission as I like. If I want to save every 15 seconds then let me. Quicksaves would be nice, but not crucial. Personally, I'm stupid and I never remember to save when I ought to and end up relying on checkpoints or starting all over again :wall: People who want to play through a whole mission without saves should of course be allowed to do so, so if there are checkpoints there should be an option to automatically restart from the beginning if you die, rather than from the latest checkpoint. If it's needed, there should also be a difficulty setting that blocks all saves altogether so the no-saves gamers aren't tempted.

 

Generally, I prefer difficulty settings to be a list of options rather than a number of difficulty levels: Like the old flightsims where you could adjust invincibility, ammo capacity, enemy quality, enemy quantity, realistic flight model e.c.t. individually. So you could set up the game so it was a difficult as possible, except you had unlimited ammo. Like how you can adjust the number of enemies, their skills, morale and which weapons they have in SWAT4 (custom mission setup).

 

Respectfully

 

krise madsen

Edited by krise madsen

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People who want to play through a whole mission without saves should of course be allowed to do so

Naturally, but the crucial question (from my point of view) is is the game's difficulty level going to be balanced for people playing with saves, or without saves, or both? Personally I don't think a feature like quicksave can be separated from questions of gameplay balance and difficulty :)

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Naturally, but the crucial question (from my point of view) is is the game's difficulty level going to be balanced for people playing with saves, or without saves, or both? Personally I don't think a feature like quicksave can be separated from questions of gameplay balance and difficulty :)

 

Agreed, but if players are allowed to customize their difficulty level then this shouldn't be a problem. You can determine the number of enemies, their quality, what weapons they have (like no snipers, no machineguns, no grenades e.c.t.) and the amount of ammo. There is no reason why there shouldn't be a number of default difficulty settings where you could adjust individual parameters. That way, you can tone down the difficulty a bit to make it possible to get through the mission without saving, or pump up the AI to the max and use lots of saves. Or you can try the same mission either crammed with idiot bots or a small number of killer elite enemies.

 

Respectfully

 

krise madsen

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Colin   

If the game is designed for the hardcore guy and the new fps guy, then saves should work for beginer, save when you want.

 

The hard core no saves except mission end.

 

Alot of this really depends on the AI and and Im absolutley sure the AI will not be super human or have amazing aim at 500m.

 

I dont think we will be saying swear words he shot me from miles away with a pistol god dam it, and stuff like that.

 

May be if the training section is good and long enough , you may be able to not have to use saves ??.

The better you are trained the more chance you have of surviving a mission, just a thought.

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Agreed, krise and Colin. If you can customize the difficulty settings entirely yourself, there shouldn't be a problem.

 

Like Colin said, the most important thing is that the AI be realistic no matter the settings. The difficulty should come from number, quality/quantity of equipment and support, state of alert/communication, etc, not miles away with a pistol shots.

 

Although Colin, I'm curious about what exactly you mean by training removing the need for saves? Is this about the player simply being good enough to go without saves after completing more thorough training, or a game mechanic?

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Colin   

Remove the save thing.

 

Well mmm its like this if you are well trained, the game has good briefings and good training within it like say, Amercas army I guess thats got what some consider to be a pain in the butt, but I think its a lot of fun, it makes you work to full fill your roll, it has weapons trg, recon trg, all sorts, it even has a manual which I read before I started, yes sad I know, but gave me an edge.

 

So if indeed the game is norg and they provide the correct training and you do the training until you feel good enough to take on a mission, then the save point becomes less of a concern.

 

But if you are in for an hour and like you said have to do something, then may be a progress save is good.

 

I think really that is the only type of save that I would like to see.

 

Oops forgot and the end of mission progress save.

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The quicksave can be more than just a way to get through a mission. Sometimes I spend a lot of time setting up an engagment that last only seconds. So I often quicksave prior to excecuting an assault, in case for any reason I want to try a different approach, or even enjoy the same experience a second time, before continuing with the rest of the mission.

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i gota agree with Doubletap on this. That is either hardcode the quick save as available or make it an option to turn on or off. Modders seem to acomplish this in OGR no problem as they often remove the saves BUT in regards to a MOD then I dont have an opinion really. Ill play along with what they give me.

Edited by whatwehad

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The way i want to play is that each engagement i take part in is unique. The guards, or even objective will not always be in the same place, so when i set up an engagement i know i only have one attempt to get it right. If you play though the game using quicksaves, i think you lose that feature from the gameplay.

 

In terms of balancing difficulty, i dont think it is a good idea to adjust the enemies AI capabilities. I think they should be made as NORG as possible, whether on the easiest difficulty or on hardest. I think the difficulty should be altered by the number of enemy you have to face, by the objectives you have to complete, and by the players capabilities, eg taking more damage, a more informative HUD, eg, eg.

 

Maybe a beginners mode which has:-

  • few enemies
  • more forgiving damage model
  • more "infromative" HUD

A easy mode:-

  • Standard gameplay + fewer enemies
  • Balanced so a less experienced player has a decent success rate.

A normal mode:-

  • Standard gameplay
  • Balanced so an experienced player has a decent success rate

A Challenger mode:-

  • Standard gamplay + more enemies.
  • Balanced so even an experienced player struggles to complete missions without a bit of luck. A poor success rate.

In terms of what i mean by a decent success rate, i mean that if the player is playing at the level that best suits there ability, and they play well for their ability they will most likely complete the mission, if they play badly for their experience, making silly mistakes, they will likely fail due to it.

 

If players want AI with rediculously good accuracy, and stuf like that, i think it should only be available in a custom game mode. I think the campaign should pride itself on being as NORG as possible.

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Agreed, but if players are allowed to customize their difficulty level then this shouldn't be a problem. You can determine the number of enemies, their quality, what weapons they have (like no snipers, no machineguns, no grenades e.c.t.) and the amount of ammo. There is no reason why there shouldn't be a number of default difficulty settings where you could adjust individual parameters.

I really like customisable difficulty, and I think you're right that it can be a big help. However, one thing to note is that you can always make a mission harder by adding more enemies, but you can't necessarily make it easier just by removing some. Sometimes the difficulty comes from something other than the enemies. (Perhaps this is a good argument for balancing for no-saves and then let the custom difficulty let people have more of a challenge when playing with saves?)

 

For example, many RavenShield missions are hard not because there are lots of enemies, but because you've got to rescue hostages and if you don't do it right this one guy will shoot the hostage. Thus one enemy ruins your mission, so having less enemies may not always help so much.

 

Another factor is the mission having implicit or explicit time constraints: time constraints are particularly hard on someone who plays without saves because you have to play that much slower without saves.

 

So I think if the game is going to playable with or without saves then it needs to balanced and tested so that this is possible. I like the idea of customisable difficulty, but the question still comes up: will the game be basically balanced for playing with saves, or not, or both? In one case the customisable difficulty allows the player to take a game designed for saves and try to play it without, in the other case vice versa .. :)

 

Cheers

 

Tom

Edited by tomshackell

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Colin   

I dont think the game will have quick saves, if you do your homework and the training section and briefs are good, you wont need it.

 

This game will be different in many respects the QSO I think wont fit with NORG.

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NYR_32   
I dont think the game will have quick saves, if you do your homework and the training section and briefs are good, you wont need it.

Isn't doesn't always work that way, for every player. Not everyone out there, including myself (in SP), likes having to play the same thing over and over and over and over and over again from the start.

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