Difficulty Options

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Harry Sunderland
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Difficulty Options

Post by Harry Sunderland » Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:15 pm

Matt,

Upon reflection, there have been several parts of the game in the alphas that you have been told are too difficult. I just had the idea, perhaps you could keep these difficult sections in your back pocket, and once a single run-through has been completed, give the player the option to turn on a "Hard" mode, where the original, difficult encounters are retained.

I realize that NN isn't really designed to be "that kind of game" (i.e. you are more focused on story-telling, narrative and mood than you are on creating a reflex-challenge), but it might be kind of fun to replay the game searching for other branches to have the option to have some spicier encounters.

Of course, I have no idea how implementable this suggestion is, and I'm almost certain you won't have the time, budget, (or even will :lol: )to do this. But I thought it might be fun to throw out the suggestion.

On a similar note, maybe you could remove some of the monsters for an "easy" mode that might appeal to casual gamers. This might be particularly helpful if you plan on porting the game to mobile in the long-run. For example, my wife is not a gamer at all, but she loves your game. However, she is relying on me to play the game so she can experience it.

Maybe there are more people out there like her, who love Edward Gorey, horror, etc, but suck at gaming. I know to folks like us, NN does not seem like a challenging game, but I promise you would be amazed how very basic gaming is to people who haven't been doing it for 20+ years like us insane people :).

Grabthehoopka
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Re: Difficulty Options

Post by Grabthehoopka » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:12 pm

Sort of like the alternate I Am Error sequence in Retro/Grade? I think this is a great idea, but we can only hope that he can put this in a reasonable part of his "if there's time" pile.

On the other hand, I was watching a playthrough of the Nightmare Ned game for PC, which is, despite being for kids, a glorious work of art. It's generally lighthearted with some surprisingly disturbing imagery, and draws more than a few similarities with Neverending Nightmares:

Please excuse the Let'splayer. Anyways, this was reminding me quite a lot of Neverending Nightmares, not only for the sweet Edward Gorey reference at the end of the above video, but also, being for kids, accessibility was the highest priority. So, the emphasis is less on the "gamey" aspects and more on exploring the world and solving really simple puzzles, to the extent that you literally can't be killed, you're just either subjected to some morbidly amusing animation or turned into something or other, which is often necessary to beat the level.

Anyways, where I was going with all this is that since you're going for a more streamlined, spookhouse sort of experience, that maybe if you ever wanted to make an easy-easy mode, for people who think it's too challenging or for irresponsible parents who want their children to play, you could make a mode where you can't be killed? How you would do it without making any new assets I don't know. Maybe when the player dies, you spawn them just off-screen to the right, so instead of cutting away, the camera just sort of pans to the right, and, I don't know, maybe you can trigger the panting animation so it feels like something of consequence happened? Only if dying would not result in the story branching off, of course. But if you're going full casual, of course, then you could make two tiny little art assets in the form of a note pinned to the inside of the door, cryptically warning them that there will be a consequence for dying in the following section. More work, I know, but I know that you don't ever want to have a tutorial box pop up, so it has to exist in-universe.

Or something. I don't know, I'm not a game design.

P.S. - Bonus points for anyone who actually remembers this show! Disney seems intent on burying it and denying its existence, so we gotta keep circulating the tapes, so to speak.

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matt
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Re: Difficulty Options

Post by matt » Wed Jun 04, 2014 6:38 pm

Hmmm.... In my opinion, we are making "easy mode" with dynamic difficulty adjustments. I think I'm going to upload a video outlining how that's going to work on Friday along with some other improvements to expect in the 0.4 build.

As far as going back to the "tougher" versions of enemies, I'm not sure they were tougher in a good way. I think I've improved the behaviors and made them fairer to the player. I hope this will address all these issues and be the best of both worlds, but I guess post-release, I could see about making difficulty modes and whatnot. I'm hoping I won't have to though. I feel like difficulty modes is sort of a game-y thing, which we are trying to avoid, but I guess selecting it once at the beginning, wouldn't really be "in your face" or anything.

Well, let's see how things shape up without difficulty modes, and then we'll worry about it. Right now, I'm not sure how I'd make them more difficult in a way that I would feel would be fair to the player.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Harry Sunderland
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Re: Difficulty Options

Post by Harry Sunderland » Wed Jun 04, 2014 8:02 pm

Fair enough. I can totally see your point. I forgot that most of the "difficulty" corrections really are more about game balance than challenge.

Dynamic difficulty sounds awesome! I just hope the game never tells me it's becoming easier for me. That always makes me feel sad. ;)

ranger_lennier
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Re: Difficulty Options

Post by ranger_lennier » Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:31 am

I'm the type who refuses to take the invincible leaf handouts the new Mario games give when you die several times, haha. So if there was a toggle, I'd probably switch off the dynamic difficulty adjustment. I didn't really find many enemy encounters in earlier builds unfair. Even if I died a couple of times learning the enemy behavior, it's not like it set me that far back. I did have trouble with the glass breaking puzzle, but Matt's already talked about ways to make that section more clear.

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matt
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Re: Difficulty Options

Post by matt » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:36 pm

I didn't take the golden leaf too often, but sometimes I got really frustrated after failing 20 times or something and used it. Sometimes it didn't even help that much in particularly challenging levels.

The dynamic difficulty adjustment kicks in after you die something like 5 times, so I am giving people ample time to figure it out. As far as the glass puzzle, maybe I've forgotten what I've changed, but I thought the main change I did was the dynamic hint after you fail 5 times. Maybe I upped the candle radius too or something. I honestly don't remember.

Anyway, tomorrow, I'll upload a developer diary outlining the dynamic difficulty adjustment things I put in.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

ranger_lennier
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Re: Difficulty Options

Post by ranger_lennier » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:40 am

matt wrote:I didn't take the golden leaf too often, but sometimes I got really frustrated after failing 20 times or something and used it. Sometimes it didn't even help that much in particularly challenging levels.
Yeah, it still doesn't protect you from falling, which is the hardest part in many of the levels. For that you'd need something like the P-wing from Super Mario Bros. 3 so you could fly indefinitely. That was a pretty cheap item. Many stages you could just soar right over with it.
matt wrote:The dynamic difficulty adjustment kicks in after you die something like 5 times, so I am giving people ample time to figure it out. As far as the glass puzzle, maybe I've forgotten what I've changed, but I thought the main change I did was the dynamic hint after you fail 5 times. Maybe I upped the candle radius too or something. I honestly don't remember.
You did mention the hint. We also talked about making it more visually obvious that the glass is there and an interactive part of the environment.

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matt
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Re: Difficulty Options

Post by matt » Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:02 pm

I remember now. We made the candle radius bigger and added some blood by default to draw your eye to it. Hopefully that works, but if people are still stuck, we have the footprints clue.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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