Game Difficulty

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Game Difficulty

Postby SmileOnMyFace » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:40 pm

TL;DR - I think the game should get harder the longer you play. I mean really harder, pressing on the player to move forward, or at the very least making it much more challenging to invest your time into playing the make-a-fortress game. Got a few balance tweek ideas too.

Theme wise, I think it is pretty clear that this place, the plains and woods, the "act 1" locations, are not a place you want to remain at for very long. There is of course the obvious incentive to get on with the game and story, but there is no real danger in taking it really REALLY slow. That is kinda ok, i guess, if a player wants to spend months of in-game time at the first hideout, bottle farming or playing t*tris with the furniture, whatever. But it doesn't sit very well with the spirit of the game, with the ever-encroaching danger and the horrors of the player's physical metamorphosis, and inevitable madness that follows.

So I think its time to introduce the kick-in-the-butt element to keep the player on their toes. Enter the Antagonist. Basically, its a really badass creature or character that has clear hostile intentions for the player. Unlike the various dangerous denizens, who are kind of just living their naturally aggressive lives, the Antagonist targets the player specifically, and will not stop until they are dead or gone. And, being intelligent, ill-minded, and hostile, it has its ways to make the player's life miserable (or, well, more miserable).

It will place warning signs if the player dilly-dallies too long, and try to punish him for personal offenses and grudges made against it or other denizens of this land (you killed the pig? ur in trouble mister. real trouble).

It will start with psychological pressure:

- "GET LOST" signs in blood,
- Rotten mushrooms left in the hideout, with a threatening note of some kind,
- Eerie sightings of something watching you at a distance during the night,

Eventually, it will move to do more direct harm:

- Place traps under doors/windows/generator/stove while ure gone,
- Booby trap your furniture and containers,
- Create some kind of ruckus in your hideout during the night, alerting the creatures of the dark (a new kind of trap, maybe? Something that can be avoided, given enough skill and awareness).
- Damage the generator causing it to power fewer lamps/lower their light radius until repaired,
- Sabotage some of the barricades, forcing them to come undone during the night (producing quite a bit of fuss and noise), unless inspected and repaired properly,
- Spill some gasoline inside the hideout, and light the trail during the night, etc.
- Staring into the dark for too long will sometimes result in a lit molotov being thrown in your general direction, onto a barricade or into an open window.

Eventually, it will come to hunt the player in force, making it kind of a boss fight with stakes. If you win, you will delay the abuse for a bit, and get some unique items/materials. If you lose and get knocked out in the encounter, the hideout will sustain some kind of permanent damage, making it much harder to remain there (but never making it impossible):

- Make a few doors/windows permanently unboardable,
- Make an extra hole in the wall,
- Taking out a single light source,
- Create a permanent, indestructible source of that toxic growth on the floor somewhere in the hideout,
- Mark the hideout for frequent attacks by the big jaws (like letting loose 3-5 of them 2 minutes before sunrise),

Generally, the vandalism and abuse will stop or pause for a while when you move to a higher-tier hideout, resuming with greater hate if you decide to move back to a safer area.

The existence of this entity will eventually force the player to make a tough decision - move out and get on with the game, or stay, hunker down and take the fight, risking the relative comfort during nights in exchange for additional gear and time. The fight itself has to be pretty hard - at least the dream "axe vs big jaws" hard, but with a few menacing abilities/contraptions this entity will use against you. If you lose enough of these boss fights in a single hideout, it will eventually turn into swiss cheese with barely any defenses left, essentially forcing you out (unless ur a fan or dying at night).

There could also be some fun in creating punishing encounters for transgressions made against the peaceful denizens of this land, or for violating sacred grounds with your presence.

I know the game is not done yet, and forcing the player to "get a move on" is kind of unproductive for the development and feedback. But the fact is, the repetition and lack of real, unavoidable pressure kind of takes the taste out of this game. And I think this idea of constant, encroaching danger and insecurity is one of the key elements Darkwood should have, be that in its complete state or during beta. I got some other ideas too, but this post is far too long as it is. Lets see what you guys have to say first.

Other Balance Suggestions (WARNING - SPOILERS):
The following is obviously my personal opinion, so it can be pretty damn biased. I suppose the following suggestions can be really punishing for new players, struggling to survive even the first few nights, but so be it.

1. Planks and nails are waay too abundant now that you can buy them in bulk from the "three" at penny prices. You can literally board up every window and door twice over once you survive a few nights, and pick up a few logs and gas cans while exploring. That, by itself, is perfectly ok, but since your barricades are so rarely broken down, the surplus of materials is just ridiculous, even if you rush with workstation upgrades. Oh, and all of your extra stuff gets moved into the next hideout effortlessly, so you really have no reason not to buy out the stock. It feels too easy to keep your fortress at "green" level of danger at all times. So i think it could be a good idea to at least revert the barricade sturdiness back to where it was in a previous update (2-3 hits), and introduce an extra barricade upgrade option for more toughness. An alternative/addition could be to just make creatures feel more offended by blocked doors and windows in general, kindly trying to remove them for you more often, or just damage them, even if unalarmed, for the laughs and scares.

2. Traps are too good and too few. The whole double-edged-sword trap idea is so damn good, but hard to capitalize on since it just feel too wasteful to invest scrap into traps instead of ax repairs. Maybe there can be a (supposedly existing, but nobody has seen him) character that entertains trap-making as a daily routine, and generously replaces the traps all over the land for everyone to enjoy. Or maybe Wolf has a new hobby.

3. I have been playing the game for a while now, and the thorough knowledge of the game and "things that come at night" has kind of dulled the fear factor for most encounters. Once you survive a particular encounter, it looses it scariness the next time it occurs. Im pretty sure that while the Shadows event is active, you will no longer encounter any creatures (i.e. they will no longer spawn), or they will somehow try to avoid the player, i dunno. Every time it happens, in any of the hideouts, all I had to do is just follow the one light bulb that remains lit. Thats pretty much it, and after a while it gets boring and predictable. Since you are quite sure you wont be attacked, it takes away the thrill of impending danger. One way to play it would be to increase the danger of events with every hideout, upping the difficulty of each particular event. A few examples are:

- Big dogs eventually gain the ability to destroy/bypass barricades at some point during the dog event, especially if you are completely boarded up (or some kind of canine monstrosity spawns and does it for them). Or they simply start to howl out of desperation and some chompers come around to see whats all the fuss is about.

- Shadows grow bolder during the lightout event. At stage 2, you will need to look at them directly to be safe, not just stand near a light source. At stage 3, a shadow "creature" will appear and try approach the light source you stand near and disable it for a few seconds, unless you dispell it with any weapon or an extra light source.

- The banshee event is good, i like it, since its about the only event that creates some real sense of danger - you either kill the thing and fight the chompers that nip at your barricades, or try to hide from its presence, which is kind of fun in itself. The one thing i would add is an AI mechanic for the banshee - it will eventually make its way to the generator and disable it for a long period of time (maybe it does that already? i dunno, never seen it do so) if the player does not taunt it to follow him, so that you cannot just hide away and let it pass, but still have to make a choice - kill it, or run around peek-a-booing it.

- I really want you guys to consider adding a new monster, or a variety of a monster if you please. The savages, being the only creatures that retain their intelligence to some degree, really do not use it so well. Even cavemen used fire. So, why not make a savage that makes use of it too? Im not necessarily talking about molotov-chucking guerrillas, but the stone throwers could start throwing something fiery, whatever it could be, just enough to create a small source of flames. They could also be throwing bottles they so conveniently carry around - empty ones will turn into glass traps, and those with booze into traps with a moderately large "gas" stain in the middle. Im sure you can see chain of events it could bring. Also, the savages are kind of greedy with their rocks and stuff, so why not make them start throwing things into open windows? Just for the hell of it.
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Re: Game Difficulty

Postby Shrooms » Sat Sep 19, 2015 8:07 pm

I feel like that whole "Antagonist" thing should only appear if you take a harder difficulty, because I can tell you if that happened to me on my first playthrough I would've quit playing. I had no idea what to do the whole time, and I think I ended up spending around 18 days in the first biome. Not to say there shouldn't be some driving factor, but I didn't really know what I was doing and that would've been really frustrating. Perhaps you could talk to NPCs about the attacks and you can cobble their advice together to understand what to do?

I agree with most of your extra suggestions though, except for maybe the banshee one. I've even suggested some of those already, so you might want to check out that post: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=745
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Re: Game Difficulty

Postby Silent Night » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:04 pm

no, the way your describing the antagonist is just way to hard, the game is already hard enough especially the old woods, and the thing that just makes him impossible is the "Generally, the vandalism and abuse will stop or pause for a while when you move to a higher-tier hideout, resuming with greater hate if you decide to move back to a safer area. " im sorry, but im against the idea of the antagonist
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Re: Game Difficulty

Postby Silent Night » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:43 am

Now that i live in the old woods and i have a mu h better view on the games difficulty i say yes the antagonist should be a thing but he should only be a thing on harder difficulties and the higher tier the hideout your in the less his abuse, for example in the dry meadow you should feel the most of his rage, a much less affect in Silent Forest, and he should leave you completely alone in higher tier hideouts like the old woods, unless you commit serious offenses like murdering unprovoked in the village or killing the SOW
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Re: Game Difficulty

Postby Silent Night » Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:46 am

He should also completely ignore your presence on the begginging of the game until you do something wrong in the game to piss him off, and i mean a wrong that can affect the village
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