Dynamic Difficulty

After playing some God Hand it got me thinking about the dynamic difficulty system and about how it could be a cool system more games could use.

For those who have not played God Hand basically what happens is: start at lv1 enemies are simple, do well lv2 enemies are more aggressive and likely to gang up on you, lv3 enemies block and evade much more, lv die(4) enemies counter and use new attacks.

What are peoples thoughts on dynamic difficulty? feel free to post other examples of games which do something similar

Can be done good or bad there are problems with it such as some people may think they are being punished for doing well, while its also possible to *cheat* the game by failing multiple times and lowering the difficulty.

It can be difficult to judge how much to up or lower the difficulty as well as set parameters and of course if its all dynamic people cant replay the game on a different difficulty level unless they go for dynamic within preset difficulties ofc but thats just adding more work.

Mortal Kombat 9 has dynamic difficulty on the challenges its how I cleared the final one basically you go in and lose 20 times on purpose then next time go in spam stupidly heavy damage combo with Kratos and win because the A.I would not block it then unless you foolishly used it while you were being defeated, trying to defeat the comp legit in this and a few other challenges was just ridiculous really the only reliable way was to abuse certain moves, game systems and of course comp A.I.

Maximum Bert:
Can be done good or bad there are problems with it such as some people may think they are being punished for doing well, while its also possible to *cheat* the game by failing multiple times and lowering the difficulty.

I think you miss the point of dynamic difficultly, in the sense that it is supposed to allow novice players to progress if they are failing and to provide advanced players with bigger rewards i.e. a higher score. God Hand's dynamic difficultly systems works because players want a high score and thus want the difficulty to raise.

OT: Remember, the difficulty doesn't have to work like God Hand's in order to be classed as 'dynamic'. Take fallout 3 for example, there the enemies level up alongside the player with the world split into 'easy', 'hard' and all-shades-in-between sections. If the player goes to a 'hard' section at level 5 they might encounter a super mutant, whereas if the player is level 15 they are more likely to encounter a deathclaw.

I like Left 4 Dead's form of it.

Breezing through chapters will make subsequent areas much more likely to have Tanks/Witches, hordes come at a higher frequency and resources being absent or very scarce.

Doing poorly will result in almost no Tanks/Witches and the AI director chucking health-kits in first aid cabinets rather than pills/nothing and being fairly hesitant to throw hordes at you.

I don't think you see it in versus mode (because the match has the be equal to both the infected and survivor players), but it's very noticeable in single player/cooperative. Especially when every single chapter has three witches when you're stomping, and has none when everyone else dies.

Rank, which is the name of Dynamic Difficulty based on skill is quite common in Japanese arcade games especially Shmups. Often it's hidden from the player who is unaware it exists if they don't study the game or browse forums and FAQs.

How the Japanese tend to handle rank as a means of making the game harder for players who are playing well, not as a means of making the play easier for bad players.

A common trick in some shmups is by speeding up the game or increading the number of bullets onscreens as rank goes up. Often rank in shmups is a hidden counter that goes up by scoring well or not dieing, using bombs. Or going down when by dying or using a continue.

Manipulating rank is a technique most shmup players do when aiming for a 1 credit clear or scoreplaying while maintaing the difficulty at a decent level and one big reason why noobs have such a difficult time playing arcade games since Rank and other complex mechanics are hidden giving the impression that it's just another cheap money robbing arcade game. Opinions among shmup players are divided over weither Rank is a good thing. Me I like it as it add yet another level of complexity to the game even if some STGs like Battle Garrega has a Rank system that is counter intuitive to survival / scoreplay.

Often it's easy to find out what rank a CAVE shmup has, as practice mode allows you to toggle the individual parameters of Rank. For example Akia Katana you can toggle if you've died or continued. I believe if you don't lose a life before stage 3 the rank goes up. Rank is also the difficulty arcade operators can set the game at. If you've ever played a CAVE shmup or MAME you will notice that you can change the difficulty from 1 easy to 9 or 10 very hard, that is the rank counter.

Lord Penney:

Maximum Bert:
Can be done good or bad there are problems with it such as some people may think they are being punished for doing well, while its also possible to *cheat* the game by failing multiple times and lowering the difficulty.

I think you miss the point of dynamic difficultly, in the sense that it is supposed to allow novice players to progress if they are failing and to provide advanced players with bigger rewards i.e. a higher score. God Hand's dynamic difficultly systems works because players want a high score and thus want the difficulty to raise.

OT: Remember, the difficulty doesn't have to work like God Hand's in order to be classed as 'dynamic'. Take fallout 3 for example, there the enemies level up alongside the player with the world split into 'easy', 'hard' and all-shades-in-between sections. If the player goes to a 'hard' section at level 5 they might encounter a super mutant, whereas if the player is level 15 they are more likely to encounter a deathclaw.

No I know how it works or is supposed to anyway which is it reacts to how well you are doing or not as the case may be as in it adapts rather than being on a set level like hard, medium or easy. My point still stands it can be done well or poorly and not everyone likes the game to get easier if they fail or harder if they succeed making the game seem like its babying them in one case and punishing them in another.

Its not inherently a bad thing as it can work but its not always a good thing either wheres the sense of overcoming a challenge if the game just makes it easier for you or vice versa whats the point in trying to overcome a ridiculous difficulty spike if you can make it easier on yourself by failing and artificially lowering the difficulty first.

It suits some games if implemented well but not all.

Isn't dynamic difficulty basically what the director does in the left4dead games? I'm pretty sure it checks how good or bad you are doing and ramps the difficulty up or down to keep the player engaged but not bored/frustrated.

Here's the best system ever for difficulty.

Escape>Options>Gameplay Settings>Difficulty>Easy, Normal, Hard, Additional optional settings

Just a crazy thought, but what if you could adjust the difficulty to your own comfort and skill through the basic settings that every competent developer uses?

I wish you could turn it off sometimes. Grinding shouldn't be the main point of games, but sometimes it's fun to fight the same level 3 baddie again and again for an hour and experience the joy of being overleveled...

I think Max Payne used dynamic difficulty. Dying too much? They throw more painkillers with you, make enemies easier, give them shittier weapons, etc etc.

There are a few inherent flaws:

1) Difficulty preference isn't just about people having different levels of skill. Some people want to breeze through, some people want to be reloading their last save more often than they reload their weapon. Dynamic difficulty has no way of accounting for this. It gets worse because people with a preference for high difficulty are often better players, leading to systems that actively punish good play and encourage sandbagging.

2) Different parts of a game often require different skills. For example, if I'm a fan of driving games but I'm playing a shooter, I might scream into a military base in a jeep and drift around like a madman, killing half the bad guys and making that part much easier for me. The next level, I die horribly because there's not a vehicle in sight and the game has assumed I'm Rambo when my actual shooting skills are average at best. Or I could snipe my way through three levels and die horribly when sniping is no longer an option.

Isn't this already applied into games, in atleast some capacity? in RPG's mostly, we have enemies that scale so that they're perfectly fit for you, some that are of much higher level, thus much stronger, some that remain easy 1 hit kills, and stuff between, such as slightly stronger yet doable, or a tad bit easier than standard enemies.

I prefer difficulty levels. Or even better: multiple difficulty settings for different elements of the game, like puzzles vs action sequences.

If I get cuddled for playing badly, I won't learn to be good at the game and I want to learn. I don't like to be punished for playing well either.

Isn't this just horde mode? Beat a wave, the next wave is harder...
Might just edit to avoid low post content. I guess doing badly at horde doesn't make enemies easier.

Done well and being used properly dynamic difficulty is a great thing, but when it's done badly or being manipulated to metagame it's just kind of a bad feature. At least in my opinion.

i like how in path of neo, you vs waves of bad guys at the start of the game
the further you go the more difficult the option you can choose.

Sounds too much like level scaling from Oblivion which sucked hard. I think if someone overcomes something difficult it's good to let them feel like a badass for a while rather than punishing them with even harder difficulty right away.

Little analogy: ELO in PvP games. If you keep winning matches, your ELO rises, and you'll be put up against more experienced/skilled players. If you keep losing matches, your ELO drops, and you'll be put up against less experienced/skilled players. Eventually (theoretically) you'll be put up against just the right sort of players to give you a good challenge.

Single player and PvE games are bound to be a different beast (you don't have the ethics of smurfing to consider when you're up against an AI for one thing), but I thought it was worth throwing that out there.

I agree with people pointing out that it causes problems and is hard to account for, obviously not all games should or could use it. Level scaling is one way of applying it and then you have the wrong ways to implement it such as rubber-banding. I guess it is just one of those things that sounds good on paper but is bad in practice.

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked