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The Liberation of Hyrule: Lite Mode


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#1 James24

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 01:57 AM

Since making my first Liberation of Hyrule game, the concept of a Lite Mode has always intrigued me and I had always wanted to make one.  Of course, I would never personally enjoy it but I know that a lot of players want it.  There were many reasons why I never went through with it, but the main one was that I simply felt that it was impossible to do in a short space of time.  I still believe that to be the case now, but if it were possible to do in a short space of time (were talking in a day or so here) then it would be something I would seriously consider implementing.

 

So I ask any experienced quest makers out there, do they know of any silver bullet that would fix the difficulty translation problem?  Try to point out examples in your own quest(s) where you have successfully translated the difficulty.

 

Lets also take a look at a few examples of how difficult this problem is to solve.  Have a look at this video of the iconic 10 blue darknut fight from LoH:IU:

https://youtu.be/KTQsy5B9z4M

 

How would I go about nerfing this so that the spirit and vision of the game is captured but just that the difficulty is reduced to a level that makes a typical player feeling very challenged but also feeling that the experience is fun and enjoyable?  Perhaps I can follow Nightmare's approach and simply cut the number of enemies that must be fought.  But then how would I know what the magic number is?  7?  6? 2? 1?  It would be impossible for me to tell how many to put in that would make it a fun experience for a typical player to enjoy.  I'm completely tone deaf to any difficulty other than my own.  Perhaps its 0 and they just want to take the key and not fight at all?

 

Perhaps I can do what Evan20000 did in Isle of Rebirth and simply halve all damage done.  Only problem would be that Evan's approach has been proven not to work with the many criticisms about Isle of Rebirth being that the difficulty was not translated properly.  And there's also my original LoH which had a gold ring that reduced damage to 1/16 of what the player normally takes.  Didn't work either.  Maybe the answer is in reducing damage but how would I tell what the magic ratio is?  How would I know the extent to which I should reduce damage so that a typical player would find the game fun and enjoyable to play?  Remember I'm completely tone deaf to any difficulty other than insane.

 

Assuming that you can find an approach that works for that fight then how about this one?

https://youtu.be/PuOHnTMLzIY

 

This fight only involves one enemy so reducing the number of enemies is not going to work.  Also, reducing the amount of damage done won't work because once Link gets hit, he loses the ability to shoot sword beams which more or less makes the fight impossible.  Perhaps reduce the speed of the Death Knight?  But by how much?  How would I determine what the magic number is?  Remember that when I'm testing the fight with the new speed, I can't tell whether or not a typical player would find that speed to be a fun and enjoyable experience.

 

I'm highly sceptical that a silver bullet exists that would solve these problems in a short space of time, but I might be wrong on this.  And if I am wrong on this and there is a clear approach that would work then I'd be all for implementing The Liberation of Hyrule: Lite Mode.


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#2 Dimi

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 03:04 AM

You need to contemplate where the difficulty in these challenges lie, and then cut back on that aspect. For example, the difficulty in the darknut room is that it's easy to get overwhelmed as you're outnumbered, you have to keep track of several moving parts, and that your own movement is, well, abysmal. You are at a disadvantage, and you will lose a battle of attrition. Okay, so that's the difficulty in that room. You need to make it easier in that regard, but not too easy so as to lose the feeling the room's meant to give off.

In this specific case, you'd want to reduce the enemies. This reduces the number of moving parts and reduces the length of time you have to play skillfully, while still keeping the player overwhelmed and still requiring them to put in effort to play skillfully. I'd say the magic number would be about 6-7.

In the case of something like Liberation of Hyrule, a quest where each room is constructed by hand to be challenging, the best way to fix difficulty is to go through each room manually and adjust what needs to be made easier. A catch-all solution doesn't work for the type of quest LoH is. You need to put in effort; but on the plus side the base design is already there. You know what makes each room difficult, you already have the room in place, you just have to account for that.

Here's another example; the ladder room. This room is difficult because you have to use the conveyors to outspeed an enemy that's extremely dangerous and can wreck you with little effort. However, this room adds an additional challenge: you have to keep track of the timer too so you know when to switch. I'd argue that the timer is extraneous and not necessary to the base challenge, and thus can be removed. In addition, reducing the speed and damage of the death knight so as to still be threatening and match/outspeed you, but so that you aren't going to get absolutely punished if you mess up and you can still recover.

That brings me to another point: punishing. Players hate losing progress, and there is nothing worse than getting through a slog of a gauntlet only to die near the end and have to do it all over again. On top of that, enemies that can instakill a player and take away all their progress on that room can be frustrating. These are things you also want to keep in mind. They can be solved naturally by using shortcuts and by lowering deadly aspects of enemies that can kill the player *too* easily. Alternatively, I think Liberation of Hyrule is the type of game that might *benefit* from a lives system. If you die, you restart the room and lose a life. If you run out of lives, you are sent back to the dungeon entrance. Returning to the entrance would also restore your lives. This is a good way to allow the player to screw up and learn from their mistakes if they're a bit down a path. This of course isn't an excuse to not put shortcutting in, but it would definitely help for an Easy mode experience.


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#3 Mani Kanina

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 03:34 AM

How would I go about nerfing this so that the spirit and vision of the game is captured but just that the difficulty is reduced to a level that makes a typical player feeling very challenged but also feeling that the experience is fun and enjoyable?  Perhaps I can follow Nightmare's approach and simply cut the number of enemies that must be fought.  But then how would I know what the magic number is?  7?  6? 2? 1?  It would be impossible for me to tell how many to put in that would make it a fun experience for a typical player to enjoy.  I'm completely tone deaf to any difficulty other than my own.  Perhaps its 0 and they just want to take the key and not fight at all?

This is the entire crux of your problem: You have to be willing to accept that people will experience your work in a different light than what was your vision. There is no "magic bullet", cause the amount of tastes in difficulties out there are extremely wide. Of course, you can target the widest scope possible, but it's usually not what creative vision dictates, after all, that's not what you did.

Instead, the second best thing to do is to not phrase it or think of it as difficulty modifiers, but rather, accessibility options. After all, the point is to make the work accessible to more people (and if you don't care about that, why bother?), meaning people the current premise of the product don't work out for. What form this take will wildly vary from game to game though, so it's good to look into some examples out there that exist. IIRC I have urged you to look into some of these before, but here are some good research cases if you're serious about the topic:

1. Celeste's Assist Mode. This is probably one of the most relevant examples since it's a rather difficult game.
2. Breath of the Wild's Hero mode. I think the difficulty balance in BotW is awkward at best, but this exists for people who want to make the game harder.
3. Metroid Prime trilogy's first two games. Prime 1&2 both have a navigational hint system you can turn on and off as well as combat damage modifiers, each of these things tackles a different core aspect of the gameplay in the titles.
4. The existence of cheatengine as well as a huge variety of easy mode mods also suggests that there are people who look for different things in games.


Now, that being said, I think another thing you should probably ask yourself is if it's even worth making something like this for this quest. Like, don't get me wrong, but the impression I have gotten is that the only appeal of Liberation of Hyrule is the difficulty. So I'm very hesitant to the idea that anyone would even care if there was an easier version of the quest. Contrast to something like Isle or Rebirth, which does have combat difficulty modifiers, in that quest the combat is only one part of it, it also features a narrative as well as some dungeons that have puzzles and other aspects to them aside from combat. Those are the sort of things people would want to experience even if they might not care for the tuning of the difficulty. Likewise, the same holds true in games like Celeste, which has very beautiful aesthetics, music, and a pretty engaging narrative. Furthermore, that games accessibility mode is very extensive in how it lets you tweak it, so people can much better attune the platforming difficulty to their reaction time.

But I don't think it's too unfair to say that anything aside from constructing difficult challenges was very secondary when it comes to TLoH. I don't think you're gonna make this quest less niche by making it easier, precisely because the challenge was not only the core appeal, but practically the entire appeal. You can try if you want, of course, but I would personally just consider setting out and making a new quest instead, whatever that quest may be. But if you really want to do this and just want some ideas here are some examples of things you could do, pick one or as many as you want:

1. Include more health upgrades.
2. Make a script that resets the players health back to max once they enter a new screen.
3. More continue points/shortcuts to cut down on having to do old challenges again.
4. Continue from the screen you died on. (But not when saving, etc).
5. More weapon damage upgrades/upgrades sooner to make combat last less time.
6. An item that toggles invulnerability so you can skip rooms you struggle with.
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#4 Moosh

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 07:27 AM

How about a cheat item that gives players a checkpoint/savestate? The way I see it working is:

  • You have one use of the item per dungeon that you can refresh by using it in the starting room.
  • Using it in another room creates a portal in the starting room, linking to that room from the point in the room you entered.
  • The checkpoint portal remembers what HP/counters/bubble states you had when you used it to place the warp. This should avoid most of the more scummy strategy potential. You can't use it to give yourself more resources than what you were able to get to a room with.

This wouldn't make every challenge in the quest easier but it would make gauntlets easier, which are IMO the most discouraging kinds of challenges. Even in the case of that darknut room you gave as an example it eases on the runback, which can really add up for a hard room like that. Anyways, even if this idea doesn't fly, I figured I'd put it forward. Checkpointing of some kind is one of the fastest ways to make the quest easier in my opinion. And you did stress that time is of the essence. 

 

I don't think nerfs to rooms are all that necessary, assuming you still want the game to maintain its spirit of difficulty. But if you're going to nerf anything I'd look at the first few dungeons more than later ones. Investment in a quest is somewhat of a snowballing effect. If players can get past the first few levels, that's when the sunk cost fallacy starts to set in.  :superevil: I'd also say this is a common issue in challenge quests, also quests that use the Zelda 1 mechanics in general: the inverse difficulty curve. Because there's fewer options for the player at the start of the quest, that part tends to be perceived as the hardest. It might not actually be the hardest, but as players go through the first few dungeons they say "Oh wow, this is hard," and then that feeling gradually tapers off. This happened somewhat in my 6th quest contest entry, before (possibly even after) I applied nerfs.

 

Lastly, I'd say I think you may be overestimating the demand for an easy mode of LoH. I know I'm hardly chomping at the bit to try the quest again, much less on an easier difficulty which may feel somewhat patronizing. You definitely have the right idea in looking for a fast solution, just know that no solution anyone puts forward here will be both fast and all encompassing. What I'd aim for is "good enough."


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#5 DarkFlame Sheep

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 06:45 PM

After all, I believe rebuilding LoH series games is much more difficult than making new things. So I suggest making a new hard~very hard quest like Mike's Fun House besides LoH series is good rather than making LoH:LM.


Edited by Stray Sheep, 01 April 2020 - 08:12 PM.

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#6 James24

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 08:47 PM

Happy April Fools day folks.  Hope you enjoyed this one! :)


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#7 DarkFlame Sheep

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 10:05 PM

James24 blamed Evan2000 and dashed off from this topic soon, but I believe Dimi, Mani Kanina, Moosh, they suggested seriously. He keeps to blame against Evan20000 in any topic he started.  

 


Edited by Stray Sheep, 02 April 2020 - 12:05 AM.


#8 Aevin

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 12:01 AM

I don't get it ... is the joke that you made a thoughtful post that considers perspectives and gameplay preferences that aren't your own? ;)

 

Seriously though, I never expected this was anything but a joke, for some of the reasons others touched on. Your quest's identity is largely based around very high difficulty. An easy mode for this specific quest isn't anything a lot of people are wanting. I do think the question of how to implement difficulty levels in a way that satisfies players of all difficulties is an interesting one, though. To make a challenge quest more accessible, I think something like Moosh's idea could work. In fact, he implements something like that in his 6th quest entry, with the easier modes causing kill all enemy doors stay open forever once you defeat the enemies once. That's similar to the idea of a checkpoint in the middle of tougher enemy gauntlets, and it works pretty well.

 

I do understand that catering to players who prefer gentler difficulty isn't your personal priority with this quest, though.


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#9 DarkFlame Sheep

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 12:19 AM

James24 blames Evan20000 in most of the topic he started, I completely realize he starts most topic to blame Evan. He cleared Isle of Rebirth on hero mode, but Evan added easy and very easy mode for IoR, I believe it grated so strongly on his nerves.


Edited by Stray Sheep, 02 April 2020 - 01:04 AM.

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#10 Evan20000

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 02:12 AM

James24 blamed Evan2000 and dashed off from this topic soon, but I believe Dimi, Mani Kanina, Moosh, they suggested seriously. He keeps to blame against Evan20000 in any topic he started.  

 

I did what now?
CE8Bp.gif


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#11 Moosh

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 02:19 AM

Happy April Fools day folks.  Hope you enjoyed this one! :)

James, you mad lad. You got me. Well played. :P


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#12 James24

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 06:41 AM

The joke was whether or not anyone would actually believe I would make The Liberation of Hyrule: Lite Mode Aevin, given my well known views about accommodation of a non-paying fanbase.

 

I shall tell you the story of the person widely regarded as the greatest game developer of all time.  This read will be well worth your time because it should be history that all budding game developers should know - much like all Christians should know the bible.  His name is Shigeru Miyamoto and was the brains behind Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 2 (the Japanese version) and Super Mario Brothers 3.  These games propelled video games onto the world stage and stole the hearts of an entire generation of players.  What was interesting about Mr. Miyamoto was that he loved brutally hard games.  He was quoted as saying, I work my best and I'm at my most creative when I make challenging levels.

 

One of his finest works was Super Mario Brothers 2 (the Japanese version) and is absolutely brutal - right up there with Insanity Unchained.  I love it.  When it was released in Japan, it sold more than 2.5 million copies - a smash hit success.  Nintendo of America then planned on releasing it in the US the following year.  When it arrived in America, a man named Howard Phillips, a Nintendo tester, took a look at it and the game was rejected because it was "the most punishing game I have ever played".  Mr. Miyamoto was not pleased when he heard the news - how could a smash hit game in Japan not be accepted in the US?  But he was Nintendo employee and was bound to follow the directives of his bosses who ordered him to tone down the difficulty.

 

After a few months, a painful and awful truth dawned on Mr. Miyamoto, no matter how hard he tried, he simply couldn't tone down his game without it becoming artificial, unbalanced and downright awful to play.  So Nintendo of American had to look for another solution and they found it in a game called Doki Doki Panik.  Another smash hit success in Japan but the game was much easier.  The characters weren't Mario, so Nintendo had to do a little bit of work changing the characters graphics and repackaging the game.  But after a while, Doki Doki Panik became the official Super Mario Brothers 2 game in the US.

 

Doki Doki Panik sold very nicely in the US and fans craved a sequel.  So Nintendo and Mr. Miyamoto started work on Super Mario Brothers 3 having learnt the lessons of Super Mario Brothers 2 and its extremely controversial difficulty.  From the outset a key goal of the game was to be hard enough that the game was challenging to veteran players but easy enough to allow first time players a very relaxed experienced.  And Super Mario Brothers 3 certainly achieved that goal.  Carefully embedded in the game are mechanics designed to facilitate this - the P-wing item, the cloud item, challenging levels have a bypass and access to the whistle so players can warp if they are stuck on a particular world except the last. 

 

But most importantly of all, Mr. Miyamoto had access to a large focus group of paid testers who would offer him almost immediate feedback about how his would be target audience felt about the difficulty balance of a particular level.  He could then adjust it and send it back to them and they would again tell him their opinion.  They would repeat this cycle until both Mr. Miyamoto and his testers were comfortable with the level.  To get an extra layer of assurance, a fresh group of testers who were completely new would then test the level and only if it passed this group would the level be accepted. This focus group of paid testers was chosen from players who best represented the playerbase Nintendo was aiming to achieve sales with.

 

Today, Super Mario Brothers 3 is still regarded as a legendary game and achieved worldwide sales of 30 million.  

 

So what are the takehome lesson from this history lesson?

1) Thorough playtesting is essential in the game's development phase to achieve difficulty balanced suited to a particular audience.

2) Payments to both the playtesters and developers are essential during the game's development.  It is highly unlikely Mr. Miyamoto would have listened to his bosses if he was not being paid a large salary from Nintendo and would have made another Super Mario Brothers 2 despite all the criticism.  It is also highly unlikely the playtesters would have stuck around if they weren't being paid.

3) A large and paying fanbase must ultimately bear the costs of the game's development.  Nintendo would not have paid Mr. Miyamoto or the playtesters if they knew they couldn't recover their costs from the fanbase who was going to buy the game at the end of the day.

 

Sadly, any unpaid quest maker on Zelda Classic lacks access to these kinds of resources due to the non-paying nature of the game and therefore is unable to replicate this kind of accommodation feat.  We should accept this as a limitation of Zelda Classic and the Zelda Classic fanbase should simply accept that they must play on whatever difficulty suits the quest maker - or not play at all.



#13 Dimi

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 07:12 AM

Oh, the joke was that you wasted people's time by tricking them into thinking an actual discussion was going on when you had no plans of listening. Well played.

 


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#14 Magi_Hero

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 08:16 AM

I'm sad that people didn't find the underlying joke.

 

I guess we can use this next year. :)



#15 DarkFlame Sheep

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 06:28 PM

James, after all do you want to say most of ZC quest makers make quests for money even in this topic? If Evan, Aevin, Russ, Moosh, they makes quests for money, I believe their original characters and worlds aren't good for obtaining money. Most people don't know Hito, Sasic, Emily well... Evan made Umbral Clould, but it doesn't seem to interest many people less than Isle of Rebirth, I guess because UC isn't a Zelda quest.


Edited by Stray Sheep, 02 April 2020 - 06:36 PM.



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