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Implementing Difficulty Levels
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ZaphodBeeblebrox





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PostPosted: Thu, 10. May 18, 08:26    Post subject: Implementing Difficulty Levels Reply with quote Print

There is a tendency when implementing difficulty levels to focus mainly on the combat side of things. Simply throwing more and bigger ships at the player.

Even in combat there are a number of factors that could be changed to make it more difficult.

AI ships could have slightly better shielding, higher boost speeds, higher maximum velocity, better battle tactics and manoeuvres.

Weapons for the AI could be tweaked for greater bullet energy, area of effect, velocity and rate of fire.

However shouldn't the rest of of the simulation be included.

Factions: randomise your standing with each faction. Make it possible to have a range of values, such that some can be negative. With increasing difficult shift that range lower. Also make it harder to gain reputation but easier to lose it.

Tie the costs of buying from factions to your reputation. So it's harder to earn money on higher difficulty levels, buying ships is more expensive.
Wherever there are costs in the system link them to reputation and difficulty.

Also since we need crew for are ships, this part should also be affected. Obviously members of factions with whom you have a poor reputation are less likely to join the player
faction. They will also want more money. What happens if your reputation with a faction takes a nosedive, are any of your existing crew likely to mutiny and fly off with your
goods? Will they abandon ship and leave you in the lurch?

[edit]
Just found this....

"A player must always feel like the failure of a challenge is entirely his own responsibility, and not a fault of a poorly designed product."


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Falcrack





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PostPosted: Fri, 11. May 18, 00:34    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Players could get a "player tax", reducing the amount of money they get in every transaction. This should in theory just affect the player, making the game more difficult from an economic standpoint.

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Snafu_X3





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PostPosted: Fri, 11. May 18, 03:35    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Falcrack wrote:
Players could get a "player tax", reducing the amount of money they get in every transaction. This should in theory just affect the player, making the game more difficult from an economic standpoint.


Nope. However, other (existing) mechanics could be used more effectively: market economy is a typical example. If a buyer is oversupplied with wares (too frequently, to avoid incoming ships) the price drops; if a seller is caught short of their desirable resorces (hence salable product) the price rises

This (as with most other vanilla X-game mechanics) affects NPCs too, so their trade ships will change their routing depending upon supply/demand within range. There will obviously have to be some sort of balancing to avoid player trade being continually gazumped by NPCs, but I don't see that as much of a problem if it's thought thru properly..


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LittleBird





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PostPosted: Fri, 11. May 18, 08:29    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Falcrack wrote:
Players could get a "player tax", reducing the amount of money they get in every transaction

Increasing difficulty via credits does not work.
You extend waiting time. That is all.

You need something that increases diffculty if credit count rises.
Preferably something you can not compensate with money alone.


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Fleabum





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PostPosted: Fri, 11. May 18, 12:49    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

LittleBird wrote:
Preferably something you can not compensate with money alone.


When you get to a certain level, factions can and do declare war on you and your assets. Especially if you have setup stations in their sectors or attacked their assets.

Add this to missions maybe, you killed the son of a notorious pirate admiral, and he brings his entire pirate fleet down upon your empire. One example of possible ways of using ingame resources to make your game more difficult.

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Killjaeden





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PostPosted: Fri, 11. May 18, 14:53    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

LittleBird wrote:
Falcrack wrote:
Players could get a "player tax", reducing the amount of money they get in every transaction

Increasing difficulty via credits does not work.
You extend waiting time. That is all.

I disagree that it does not work. Compare X3:Reunion with TC or AP. The mission payouts in TC and AP got ridonkulus to the point where at some point you can buy a destroyer after doing 2 missions.
Reducing income slows down player progression, so he has to do more and be more efficient to maximize income. And while doing more he can fail more often (a lost ship is much more significant when you need to work for 4h to get the cost back, vs. if you just need to work for 30min).

You can't stop a snowballing player without at some point going "ey how about i take away your stuff because i can?". So delaying the rise to the top is a valid strategy for difficulty level in a sandbox game. A flat out transaction tax like falcrack suggested is... lame though. I rather have running costs that rise with difficulty level.


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Ketraar
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PostPosted: Fri, 11. May 18, 15:15    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

KJ, but in the end its what LittleBird said, you increased waiting. So you are saying the same. Yes missions should be balanced, dont think anyone would argue against, but that is not akin to "increased difficulty". In your example what really would need to be adjusted is the mission difficulty itself and less the payout.

Personally I find that the X games require more opportunities to fail, losing assets and a general feel of "danger". But losing rep, access, assets still needs to be in a way that it does not become tedious, say you have 50 CAGs and just lost 10 is very annoying, not because of the loss itself but the tediousness of setting them up again.

As another example, I used to play a lot of FPS back when you had to collect medkids and you would die (and often be set back a lot) if you weren't carefull with your health as medkids were sparse. Once FPSs introduced the auto-healing they ruined most of them for me, but it turn gained popularity.

So this "increased difficulty" is a real tricky thing to pull off.

MFG

Ketraar

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Fedora01





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PostPosted: Sun, 13. May 18, 14:55    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

This is just one thought, but there could be an option to increase overall aggression with the Xenon. Not only in how often they attack but also how quickly they spread/improve their economy. Kinda like the OCV from LU, but with a focus on economy instead of OP ships.


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RodentofDoom





Joined: 27 Feb 2016



PostPosted: Mon, 14. May 18, 19:34    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Killjaeden wrote:
LittleBird wrote:
Falcrack wrote:
Players could get a "player tax", reducing the amount of money they get in every transaction

Increasing difficulty via credits does not work.
You extend waiting time. That is all.

I disagree that it does not work. Compare X3:Reunion with TC or AP. The mission payouts in TC and AP got ridonkulus to the point where at some point you can buy a destroyer after doing 2 missions.
Reducing income slows down player progression, so he has to do more and be more efficient to maximize income. And while doing more he can fail more often (a lost ship is much more significant when you need to work for 4h to get the cost back, vs. if you just need to work for 30min).

You can't stop a snowballing player without at some point going "ey how about i take away your stuff because i can?". So delaying the rise to the top is a valid strategy for difficulty level in a sandbox game. A flat out transaction tax like falcrack suggested is... lame though. I rather have running costs that rise with difficulty level.


That just increases player resentment and imo would just represent a very very very poor design choice if implemented.

I've lost 5 stations because xyz faction blew them up?
- That's fine, i can deal with that (eventually)

I've lost 5 stations because I was doing well, and they are now just 'gone' with no explanation?
- F*** that sh**

[edit]
In XR combat difficulty was increased by
a- increasing spawn size
b- increasing spawn count
c- adding capital ships to spawn templates

and it worked, at higher difficulty levels combat did become more risky, but still remained survivable if you were a good enough pilot.

How to adjust the scale of an economy though .. that's not really quite so simple, especially if you want to attempt to retain the feeling of there being a living supply/demand based economy.



#possible example#
A factory run uses [x] amount of resource [a,b,c] to produce [y] amount of product [d] over a period of [z] time

the [#] values can all be scaled seperately for both the ai and the player to represent a difficulty curve.

The AI can be set to use fewer resources to produce more products in less time, where the player can be set to use more resources to produce fewer products over a longer time.

The AI now has a manufacturing advantage over the player, which will translate into a trading advantage too (the AI will have larger margins for operation and will be better able to absorb short term loss making trades/industry). It would also recover more quickly from catastrophic failure.

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TrashAngelMP





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PostPosted: Sat, 19. May 18, 16:20    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

May I add my two cents? Difficulty setting in X:R was awful system. It was either game with more enemies (which is always good and fun) but enemies become bullet sponges (which is awful) or little to no enemies (which is bad) which die just by flying close to you (which is bad). Previous X installations without any difficulty settings were far more enjoyable.
System where my choice is bad or worse isn't good system or fun system.

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adeine





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PostPosted: Sat, 19. May 18, 21:51    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I honestly think the best thing to do is just implement "difficulty settings" via game starts, like X3 did. No change whatsoever to the game or universe itself.

The reason being that as soon as you touch gameplay, you need to balance everything such that it does not break/stop being enjoyable around all these different settings. For instance, say you make enemy AI/aiming better when you up the difficulty: Suddenly, AI vs AI engagements do not play out the same with potentially disastrous effects in Egosoft's stalemate-by-design. The same is true if you make Xenon more powerful, make wares more expensive (or breaks entirely if you arbitrarily make a human player pay more; what happens to their traders? etc.). You're inevitably going to end up with side effects on the game universe.

Getting things right for one set of variables is going to be hard enough, so at least at launch I'd rather they spent more time balancing the game around a 'standard' difficulty and add challenging game starts for those who want them.

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LittleBird





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PostPosted: Sat, 19. May 18, 23:44    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

adeine wrote:
I honestly think the best thing to do is just implement "difficulty settings" via game starts, like X3 did. No change whatsoever to the game or universe itself.

In exception of the pirate start they do not a big difference. And the pirate start difficulty lies in your bad reputation only.
But after earning enough credits the game start becomes completely irrelevant.
So I think different game starts are not satisfacting.


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TrashAngelMP





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PostPosted: Sun, 20. May 18, 01:01    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

[quote="LittleBird"]
adeine wrote:
So I think different game starts are not satisfacting.

Self imposed challenges is the answer.

If you look at gaming industry as a whole, not just space sims, then you will see that most "hard but fair" games don't have any difficulty sliders. Developers of said games provide players with good amount of tools they can use to overcome game challenges and players themselves can pick whatever tools they feel suit them most, of course some of the tools can be considered "meta" (i.e. "easy" difficulty) but nobody stopping player from using "meme" tools. And this is what makes great games truly great. Not imposing arbitrary restrictions on a player but giving him a choice to solve game problem the way he want to solve it.

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vadiolive





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PostPosted: Sun, 20. May 18, 01:27    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

its Relay more in IA dynamics with you

WTF?

I mean in high level difficultys
if you trade much or do missions to faction A but faction B its enemy A you gradual lose reputation in B its avoid you become high reputation with all factions

i guess its give idea

Another thing based tax and pirates/xenon AIM you cargoships and ask ransoms/protection fee

As i said difficulty settings need be ralying in IA
Example
Easy : IA have 50% chance make mistake 40% small profit 5% make good choice 4% excpecional choice 1% pristine deal/idea

I believe in X4 everything depend on IA(or universe dynamics)(MD scripts) and Perfomace (XR as trouble to deal with so many object S/M ships , mass traffic and after with why perfomace drop every game after 5-6 day played)

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