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The Inverse Difficulty Curve Problem

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#1 Moosh


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Posted 09 May 2024 - 12:34 AM

As a preface, I'm viewing this mostly though the lens of a Zelda 1-like. ZC can make pretty much anything, but much of the design we use is inherited from that.


So here's something I think about sometimes. I really like Level 1. I've made a whole lot of them over the years, though few ever got a sequel, or a threequel, or a fourquel. Level 1 is where it's at. And there's a lot of reasons for this, but the one I want to talk about today is the simplicity. Early on in a quest there's few items and many possibilities. This presents many opportunities to create difficultywhich happens to be another thing I'm fond of.


Something I've realized over time is that creating a difficulty curve around a player character who's constantly picking up new items, it's kinda hard. Quite a few quests, my own included, have a tendency towards being harder at the start than at the end. Link's arsenal rapidly outgrows what the game can throw at him. The obvious suspects are the swords and tunics. Exponential gains are utterly cracked and most of us at this point have at least realized that the 1/8th damage divisor on the gold ring is unreasonable, but even the blue ring is a crazy powerup compared to some games. Paired with additional hearts and potions, the gap in survivability between early and late game is pretty massive. Then there's items like the shields that serve to invalidate certain obstacles. Instantly fireball shooters rendered a near nonissue in isolation. The boots negate floor damage. The arrows/wand take the edge off combat by providing a ranged option. The hammer counters shielded enemies.


The boomerang and hookshot invalidate half of the enemies in the game.


Okay, so the video game is a video game and powerful stuff is powerful. The player can increase their survivability over the course of the game by like 40-100 times over. How does one deal with that within the framework ZC provides? The most common thing I see is to pump up the numbers. Make new variants of enemies to offset the values. I'm not personally a fan of this. It works, but it feels like it's invalidating the player's gains artificially to level the playing field. Getting stronger is a natural part of the game so upgrades shouldn't feel like they're just a means of keeping pace. At the least there should be an ebb and flow of increasing values, but generally I think the game feels healthiest when the range in enemy strength between early game and endgame is kept at around the vanilla level. This is why I don't often use the enemy editor to add new enemy levels, preferring to introduce new enemy types instead.


Another solution I see is to build in counters. This enemy type is strong against this item, but weak to this other one. Half of the half of the enemies will just no-sell the boomerang because it's just too powerful. This one fireball? It doesn't care if you have a shield. These spikes are flashing so your boots don't work on them. This also works, but can feel a bit arbitrary. Enemy balance should fit into the logic of the game's setting rather than be governed by the whims of 10 multicolored types of rabbit that are each dealt with with a specific tool. That takes extra effort. It can also be exhausting at times to be constantly expected to use the entire arsenal, though four item buttons eases up on that some.


The third solution that comes to mind is targeting and removing the most egregious elements that contribute to the power creep. So no rings, no potions, no boomerang. This might be the one I align with the most mentally, though I haven't really put it into practice because I'm a horrible creature of habit. It also doesn't really solve the underlying problem I think, just closes the power gap enough that the same old design can become interesting again.


The fourth solution is to become a rich master and pay somebody else to make the quest for you.


Did I have a point with this topic? Heck if I know. I like designing level 1's too much because the stakes and potential are high while the elements to account for are few. I'm not getting anything done. Somebody please solve this cursed problem for me! 



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#2 Mani Kanina

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Posted 09 May 2024 - 04:32 AM

I think the use case of items like Blue ring and Sword isn't so much an *upgrade* to the player as it is a tool to change the flow of the game. Ideally a game that uses those items should scale up later enemies to account for this upgrade. The main purpose isn't really to get ahead of the curve, though you can tweak that into your game flow as well, but rather to make old content easier to deal with. You've already proven mastery over that stuff, so now you get around older areas quicker with less hassle.

Personally I don't see that later challenges in a game should just deal higher numbers, though with the way how games usually goes that part is often also a given. Rather later enemies should have harder patterns or similar in order to challenge your mastery more. In the context of a Z1-like, that might not necessarily just be more new enemies, but also tougher enemy formations that are harder to deal with.

A lot of quests don't really do it well (including many of my own), but like, consider a room with four darknutz, then consider one with four darknutz and a bubble. The bubble don't deal damage to you but it makes the rest of the fight much harder if it hits you; so you probably want to fight on the opposite side of the room.

I'm not sure if I was going anywhere else with this though, but making a compelling difficulty curve can be hard. Even many commercial games by big studios mess this shit up. Plus, a curve should probably never be an even smooth line going up either, peaks can help set the mood.

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#3 Alucard648



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Posted 09 May 2024 - 06:09 AM

Imagine the same 4 Darknuts and bubble, but also in a room full of instant death pits (sideview area). And no-death run is unlock condition for best ending.

#4 Demonlink


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Posted 09 May 2024 - 06:37 AM

I came up with an idea to tweak the blue and red rings, but never actually tested it to see how it would impact gameplay. Once you got either one, its effect would activate depending on Link's remaining health; under 50% for blue and under 30% for red. If Link's health is above that, the effects would wear off until said values.

I think this was a neat idea to not overpower the player too much, as well as turning these items more like tools then as upgrades. The only thing to balance this would be how enemy damage is handled.

#5 Jambu



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Posted 09 May 2024 - 06:46 AM

I just modify every enemy so that they are a pain in the butt. Digdoggers tribble now... XD

Kids these days, they grow up so fast.

Edited by Jambu, 09 May 2024 - 06:47 AM.

#6 Matthew


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Posted 09 May 2024 - 11:37 AM

Balancing difficulty is certainly a hard problem to solve… I’ve opted to flat-out remove the rings from my project; you already get more offensive power via items and defensive power via hearts, so rings are overkill.

I’ve started using newbie boss for everything - even standard enemies. This helps provide foes with more creative behaviors that continue to challenge players as the game goes on. It’s a nice bonus that there are so many attacks to chose from, especially compared to the base engine. No more need to have the high-level octorocks spit fire, for instance (unless you’re into that).

My last attempted solution is to rethink defensive upgrades- Instead of the ring, I have an item that passively charges a shield that blocks one damage instance entirely before going on cooldown. Players can use this more strategically than the blue ring, which just lets you faceroll past a certain point.

ZC combat itself is also kind of limited. I’m of the view that slash is brokenly OP and that link lacks mobility options that would otherwise make combat cooler (roll, dash, etc).

Oh- and it doesn’t help that link can slash AND move 8-ways, if you have that enabled, which in-engine enemies are absolutely trivialized by.

#7 Nightmare


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Posted 09 May 2024 - 12:21 PM

Solving difficulty, an age old problem.

Which quests solved this? Armageddon Quest supposedly did, but I'm no expert.

Another quest that did, was Zelda NES Remastered (ZNR), and I can explain how it accomplished this feat mostly mires in NES technology:

Rings and swords tech to change the game flow as noted earlier. So to compensate, ZNR had balance redesigns in 3, 5, 7, and 10. Every time you got a new item, the enemyflow changed (since the 5th you couldn't use new items, and this stayed true in the public release). Also, new balance changes were added, like old bosses regenerating, boomerangs being blocked late, and new Darknuts variants shooting swords. Was this popular? Debatedly no, but if you're looking one way to solve and balance the game, ZNR did it and did it well, and within familiar grounds.

As for Moosh's Level 1 argument, I think New Quest had the most "attitude" and came out swinging, while ZNR well presented itself as an advanced, long challenge as a taste of things to come.

Are there better and new ways to solve things now? Yes, and even Nintendo rebuked the 5th Contest in general with that. Styles evolve. What worked in ZNR's era might not work now.


#8 kurt91


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Posted 18 May 2024 - 12:36 AM

I think part of it is that ZC provides upgrades beyond what we normally get. For example, in ZC you can get the Blue, Red, and Gold Rings. In Z1, if I'm not mistaken, you could only get Blue and Red. Gold was pretty much implemented since there were also a few cracked-out enemies that were excessive compared to Z1. When you look at the later official Zelda games, you don't usually get as many upgrades.


Link's Awakening only gave you a permanent defense upgrade in DX and the remake, and even then you had to sacrifice the equivalent offensive upgrade. You could double-stack it with the Guardian Acorn, but that was only temporary. (There's an idea, make one of the Rings a temporary upgrade that enemies can drop on occasion) Ocarina of Time had the defense upgrade available prior to Ganon's Tower, the final dungeon in the game. You had a Blue and Red Tunic, but they were for breathing underwater or surviving intense heat. (So, make the Blue and Red Rings only defend against specific damage types? Melee and Magic, perhaps? You'd need to add a flag to each enemy for this to work, but it'd be an interesting result)


So, you can limit the existing tools at your disposal. How about making multiple shields? Instead of a normal shield and a Magic Shield upgrade, how about if the Magic Shield ONLY blocked magical attacks, and was implemented GB style so you had to actively pull it up? A screen with multiple types of attackers would need the player to determine which ones they can personally deal with more easily, and equip the shield that blocks the attack types they personally have a harder time dealing with. Pair that with a set of Rings that only work on specific attacks or require magic to work (meaning they just convert HP damage into MP damage), and you have tools to make enemies easier to fight, but you still have to pay attention.


Personally, I'm a fan of how Neutopia handled it's Boomerang equivalent, the Fire Rod. In that game, the weapon's capability depended on your current HP. When you first got it early in the game, it acted like a Boomerang, except it dealt damage in most cases instead of just stunned. However, if you tried using it when low on HP, the range dropped and it just fired forward instead of forward and returning. As you continued progressing in the game and your Max HP increased, it would get more powerful. It would switch to summoning pillars of fire ahead of you, and by endgame, it would have a range that could reach across the entire screen. However, if you took damage, your weapon would get weaker and revert down until you were able to heal yourself.


It's been quite a while since I had worked on my quest, but what I did was I made sure every single enemy was mechanically unique, or at the very least had graphics that didn't match up with traditional Zelda enemies, so you had to actually figure out how to deal damage. Instead of Darknuts, I went the opposite direction and had what was essentially a stone Mettaur. It was guarded against absolutely everything in every direction except for the face, and so you needed to get up close to it while it was approaching you to deal damage. It would encourage having to make quick hit-and-run style attacks so that if you couldn't kill it immediately, you were ready to back off and get back out of range before lining up another attack.


I also had made a boss that was a giant slime, that as you dealt damage, would split into smaller and smaller slimes. You had to weave around the battlefield and focus on one part at a time, methodically killing one group before moving on to another so it kept the population manageable. Even with defense and strong attack power, being careless would lead to flooding the screen with enemies and just getting smacked around and damn near stun-locked if you didn't take care of how you were fighting.

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#9 Chris


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Posted 29 May 2024 - 08:41 AM

Maybe I overlooked it, but did noone of you suggest to simply not add any more hearts? You could, instead of hearts, reward the player with some currency that allows to buy utility items, maybe of a kind that is unlocked permanently, but you can only take one at a time. For example:
- if not needed for progress regulary the feather as a tool to dodge, maybe directly with the boots that damage on impact. Was that even a ZC item?
- the bait. If I remember it correctly, you could make it so that enemies have a chance to rather move towards the bait without directly sticking to it, right?
- remote controlled bombs to have an easier time attacking some very mobile enemies while running from them.
- the ladder, especially if there are multiple areas with many single holes in the ground. Should be easy to do, only the visuals may be an issue. Or a fake ladder that simply makes certain kind of ground walkable. I assume the item against ground damage would work as well for that.
- you can only take the bumerang or the arrow, with arrows being quite limited and the bumerang having far shorter range. the bumerang deals damage but cannot stun.
- a new item like an ice wand that stuns/freezes but the stun lasts longer and ends if you damage the enemy, making it a tool to break up enemy groups to take care of a single enemy. Wouldn't be surprised if something like that is already implented, but didn't touch ZC for quite some time.

These are examples for items that add mobility/range or take mobility away from the enemy. Some others could be:
- A potion that fills a single heart but needs to be charged with like 3 charges, maybe by dealing damage, and has a cast time that is interrupted
when taking damage.
- A similar chargeable item with a single charge that freezes the screen for a moment to reposition
yourself from a dangerous situation. And one that simply deals area damage for an offensive option.

You beat the first two dungeons or only the first and find the "heart pieces" available by then to get your first two "hearts" to unlock your first movement item.

(gonna end this post to start another in fear of my phone messing around once more. also, I feel like an idiot writing this since most of you should have so much more enough experience with ZC that I can't believe anything I say is new to you)
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#10 Chris


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Posted 29 May 2024 - 02:02 PM

You have like one new area open up the moment you get your first movement item, another once you get your first ranged item. Each area holds a big dungeon with three entrances pretty close to each other.

You can traverse the movement area with each movement item, but it holds areas/secrets exclusive to each item and each entrance can only be passed with a single movement item. Part of the dungeon area is also shared but with different paths based on your movement item. That way you are forced to go through the same area with different items, needing different strategies for the same enemies. No difficulty curve since you don't really get any more health, defense or power.

In the dungeon you get "chargeable" dungeon items. For example you get the wand in the dungeon prior to the movement area without a ranged effect. The movement dungeon has a three colored light theme, instead of an item you "unlock" that area of an dungeon, which allows your wand to be used ranged in there.

In other words the wand is the dungeon item for all three movement dungeons. To add a bit spice to it, since the dungeon is actually one big dungeon that just restricts the other paths, it shares the same enemies and the three wand upgrades have different effects based on the part of the dungeon you are in. The wand cannot be used outside of the dungeon. After you beat the first movement dungeon, you get a heart to get your first ranged item. At the entrance of each dungeon is also a one-way portal to get you faster back to the place to switch items. Which item you unlock cannot be choosen btw.

With the ranged item, you unlock another area. It does include secrets for each movement and ranged item, but never a combination of both. So you don't need a certain combination - to limit backtracking.

The first ranged dungeon holds a movement item and while you cannot hold both, it has multiple spots to switch between them. You cannot leave the dungeon with the new movement item, but after beating it, you get an item to upgrade your base to switch it there. Back in your base, you then can switch to your new movement item and also unlock a new ranged item.

To get to the movement area, you also need the wand, which you need to switch with the ranged item, so you cannot go to the movement area with any of the ranged items. In the ranged area, there is another dungeon with three entrances that all require one of the ranged items and the last movement item. Furthermore two dungeons with two entrances to have each combination once.

Sry for the messy description, just making this all up. With the setup described above I could imagine stuff like this:

Dungeon 1: Wand (no Magic)
Dungeon 2: Bombs
Dungeon 3a/b/c: Wand with Magic (only temporary)
Dungeon 4: New movement item
Dungeon 5a/b: new item limited to the dungeon
Dungeon 6a/b: Ranged Item 3 gets temporary Magic
Dungeon 7a/b/c: new item limited to the dungeon.

Movement Item 1: Dungeon 3a, 4, 5a, 6a
Movement Item 2: Dungeon 3b, 4, 5b, 6b
Movement Item 3: Dungeon 3c, 7a/b/c
Ranged Item 1: Dungeon 4, 7a
Ranged Item 2: Dungeon 5a/b, 7b
Ranged Item 3: Dungeon 6a/b, 7c

I assume this should be solveable with having all three ranged weapons unlocked at once for more freedom, you are gatekeeped after all, but my brain is not very capable.

Support Items:
- The chargeable Items mentioned above. Can be hold all the time but use the same resource/charge. Kinda like the three goddess powers with magic, but far weaker and the ways to gain magic is more controlled.
- Three missable "stone hearts". These can regenerate and block certain attacks. Since later bosses and monsters should have some dangerous attacks, instead of only higher damage these attacks destroy a stone heart first. So instead of more health you can block the dangerous attacks a number of times.
- After a Stone Heart breaks, you get a penality for some time, less damage? Or dependent on the enemy?

Examples for the movement items:
- First the good old feather, but a magical hammer that also adds a Hammer to your items. If possible with a jump down attack that works like a Hammer attack that disables the ability to jump for a short amount of time. Or you have a limit of three hammer attacks before you need to recharge Stamina first. Cannot swim.
- This could allow the first dungeon Item to be Magic Hammer that is magical upgraded to allow you to Jump after beating the boss (instead of a heart).
- Second the rushing move from Banana Kingdom, also a shield. You have up to three rushes before you need to recharge stamina first. Either you can rush with that to certain combos like with the Hookshot (I think Moosh did that already in Banana Kingdom?) or you can use the Shield as a Hookshot. If the first works, the attack could be a fast candle that looks like an rush image, it does not use Stamina. Cannot Swim.
- Your Magic Hammer can as a magic item be transformed to a Magic Shield at the right shrines. After obtainig the shield, it first is a pure shield, the dungeon has some unique mechanics and ememies that use reflectable attacks with the enemies only being vulnerable to your not yet unlocked flame and reflected magic. After beating the boss, the rush and flame is unlocked. Or the flame can reflect the attacks if timed right.
- For Stamina, the charged sword (I can't believe I don't remember how the whirlwind attack was named) could cost Stamina as well, with up to three stages. To include Stamina from the start.
- The last item allows to swim, but can also be used to dive while on land (costs 2 Stamina instead of the usual 1). I think that makes it unneeded to force it into the movement area as well. The last weapon is a wand and the idea with the three times unlocking the Wand's magic is moved to the water dungeon with the three entrances for each ranged weapon. The three bosses could hold the Stone Hearts and while the Wand is not unlocked, it can still throw shadow beams, they can only stun though and cost 1 Stamina. The Wand does more damage than the sword but can only stab.

Examples for the ranged weapons:
- The 2nd dungeon holds bombs and the bumerang. The Bumerang has a shorter range, pierces, ignores shields and you can throw more than one. Maybe some kind of Magic Ring that allows to throw a sphere that returns into the ring? It can neither stun nor push enemies back and is stronger against armored enemies the sword deals less to.
- the third dungeon holds the magic shield and you can only get into the movement area with Hammer or Shield and the Bumerang. You can leave the dungeon with the Shield, no Portal back and the area has another small dungeon needing the shield where you can find the 2nd broken ranged weapon. It is repaired at the shrine where you switch weapons.
- the second weapon is a holy bow. It can be charged for 1 Stamina to add Stun to an arrow, but will not deal more damage when charged. arrows deal twice the damage of the sword.
- the arrows, like the bumerang, are magical. You cannot find arrows, instead there are some spots that allow charging your arrow.
- changing the plan, the ranged weapons have a light theme and the movement items a dark theme. In the first dungeon you find the bombs and unlock the bumerang after beating the boss, this magically drains the dungeon, you are teleported out and the doors are shut. In the second you find the hammer and unlock it after beating the boss, same things happens.
- After obtaining the bow, you can use it to revisit the first and second dungeon. The keys are completely reset and new paths open with the hammer (now able to jump) and shield.
- For the first dungeon, the light dungeon, you are warned that you should not use the bow to fight as you need it to solve puzzles and you cannot recharge it inside until you reactivate the dungeon's power. You will need the shield from the start to make you aware that the hammer is the wrong choice here (there are many hookshot spots you couldn't do much about during the first visit.
- After reactivating the dungeon, you have unlimited arrow ammo in there that you also need to fight some new enemies and the boss with the bow.
- The other dungeon only needs a single arrow to open the doory you are told that you only need your hammer in there and cannuse your arrows as you want. Though when they are gone, they are gone. And they will be a big help against the boss.
- While you also need to reactivate the dungeon, you won't get any benefits this time.
- The first dungeon holds the broken third ranged item, the 2nd the third movement item. After bringing them back, they are repaired and useable.
- The dark wand allows to explore many new areas, not too much but everywhere you go you will find something for each ranged weapon to be used with. And a dungeon for each ranged weapon. The things you can find include that you can carry more arrows, more rupees (I assume making them the source for the support items makes the most sense with this quest idea having no real need for money) and the water dungeons hold the stone hearts.
- in the movement area you can now enter the last dungeon there, with the shield and, I think there are better options but my only idea for the last "ranged" weapon, remote bombs. With the magical theme, they do more damage than the normal bombs but cannot destroy walls. You need to put down three bombs before you can detonate them and there is a delay before you can put down another, but they don't hurt you, so you can just place them all the time during fights (they don't need ammo) and detonate them without risk.

In that last dungeon, you will fight the bosses you fought before again, but with a different setup, a boss you priviously fought with hammer and bumerang will show up twice in the dungeon, changing your weapons once to arrow and shield and once to bombs and wand. The final boss will be a a stronger version of the first two bosses (he switches between them) and as he changes pattern, your weapons are also changed. It will regulary change your shadow weapons but the light weapons change based on your arrows:
- You start with arrows and arrows are needed to get him vulnerable so you can attack with your sword.
- When you run out of arrows (you have 10 after getting changed to bow and need to hit 6 eyes or so, they will be saved if possible) you change to bumerang first and are flooded with little enemies that you need to kill with the bumerang, after that you simply need to place the bombs at the right places while dodging attacks during the delay to then switch back to bow.
- The Wand can also be used to attack the eyes but cannot damage the boss while vulnerable. The hammer deals more damage than the sword when you have it.

Hmm, I think I have gone quite off-topic...
Hopefully it is somewhat useful nontheless...
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#11 P-Tux7



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Posted 02 June 2024 - 07:44 PM

I think a good scripted way to solve it with rings is:

Blue Ring:
-50% chance to take 50% damage


Red Ring

-50% chance to take 50% damage

-25% chance to take 25% damage


Gold Ring

-50% chance to take 50% damage

-25% chance to take 25% damage

-12.5% chance to take 12.5% damage


And so on


The good thing about this is that not only does it make it so that any hit could potentially be at full damage, but it also makes it so that the more rings you get, the higher of a chance you have to get at least some damage reduction. Getting the red ring makes you feel appreciably more powerful than when you had no ring without trivializing dodging entirely.


I also like the idea of using wealth rings instead of wallets so that, if you already have full money, then you can immediately buy what the wealth medal would allow you to buy without having to grind. It also makes existing purchases cheaper.


I'm not sure if the same principle would work for swords. While getting a damage decrease is a nice bonus when it happens to you and it's not necessarily a bad thing if you get a bunch of "no reduction" rolls in a row, it could make combat feel very luck of the draw if you keep giving enemies more HP but it's still possible to only do 1 HP of damage for several hits in a row.

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#12 Haylee


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Posted 09 June 2024 - 03:56 AM

Back in the day, I would simply balance around getting the blue ring and scale damage accordingly. This of course came with the MASSIVE flaws of A) It's optional and frankly pretty well hidden too, and B) if you miss it, the quest got simply way too difficult otherwise.


After that, my next couple quests opted against rings entirely because they were either too short to really warrant it, or part of the appeal was how FEW mistakes you can actually make in the case of my old kaizo quest.


A new concept I've been wanting to try lately has actually been balancing around not getting a defense upgrade at all. This has the potential to go fairly poorly, but hear me out. Instead, I have opted for each of the 3 "rings" to give separate bonuses aside from defense. Only the Blue Ring would give double defense, but the other 2 would instead give the Heart Ring (Heart Regeneration) effect and the Peril Ring (Low Heart Defense) effect respectively alongside some other bonuses to balance things out a bit. All 3 are optional, and you can only choose one at a time. It's definitely a little more nuanced than just "not balancing around getting them at all," though, since now they're on the beaten path and no longer hidden, but the point is I've been trying to balance around picking any of them instead of just picking a specific one.


Balancing around Swords in particular I think comes a bit easier, since most quests just linearly design their stuff around expecting players to find stronger swords already. I think this is really only an issue with older quests on the database, but there are definitely ways this can be tackled. For starters, not every quest needs 4 sword levels, and I think rigidly locking yourself into that way of thinking can actually make quest design a lot less tight. There's a nice dopamine rush of doing insane damage for a while, but that novelty wears off when either the enemies start scaling to such comical levels that it's like the upgrade never actually mattered, or don't scale fast enough! In a much shorter quest, having only one sword upgrade, or if you're feeling spicy, maybe a second near the end is significantly easier to balance around, especially if you make the first sword upgrade actually required for progression. If you would like to use a lot of those significantly stronger enemies that outscale the level 2 sword, however, my big recommendation would be to scale those enemies down rather than scaling your damage up.


All in all, I think my solution to difficulty scaling simply boils down to "Not every base engine upgrade needs to be used (Like the Fire Boomerang!)." Properly balancing item distribution in a way that's may be easier said than done, but there's definitely ways to do it and being able to freely edit the stats and properties of enemies in 2.50 onwards really does make that significantly more plausible.

#13 coolgamer012345



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Posted 10 June 2024 - 06:31 PM

I think a good scripted way to solve it with rings is:

Blue Ring:
-50% chance to take 50% damage


Red Ring

-50% chance to take 50% damage

-25% chance to take 25% damage


Gold Ring

-50% chance to take 50% damage

-25% chance to take 25% damage

-12.5% chance to take 12.5% damage


And so on


The good thing about this is that not only does it make it so that any hit could potentially be at full damage, but it also makes it so that the more rings you get, the higher of a chance you have to get at least some damage reduction. Getting the red ring makes you feel appreciably more powerful than when you had no ring without trivializing dodging entirely.


I also like the idea of using wealth rings instead of wallets so that, if you already have full money, then you can immediately buy what the wealth medal would allow you to buy without having to grind. It also makes existing purchases cheaper.


I'm not sure if the same principle would work for swords. While getting a damage decrease is a nice bonus when it happens to you and it's not necessarily a bad thing if you get a bunch of "no reduction" rolls in a row, it could make combat feel very luck of the draw if you keep giving enemies more HP but it's still possible to only do 1 HP of damage for several hits in a row.

This is a pretty cool way to go about the damage reduction.


I think the best way to handle difficulty is to increase the mechanical difficulty. As in, introducing new mechanics you need to handle (e.g. damage types affecting enemies differently) and new combat features (much harder to implement without scripting but things like enemies moving differently or in smarter ways). This in tandem with damage/defense upgrades that scale with enemy damage/health makes it so that getting upgrades feels good (makes enemies you have already faced trivial while harder enemies being on your level now) while still increasing the difficulty bc of having to gain more technical mastery over the combat for future encounters. Really, I hope that enemy scripting becomes trivial such that new movement patterns are straightforward to implement but we'll see. This is also hard to do well given how much stuff has already been tried but mixing up the types of enemies you face in different environments on screen could also be an option (and might be more viable with the current the combo editor which makes all sorts of cool stuff possible/easy now).


obv what I just said here applies to more traditional quests rather than ones super puzzle heavy or somesuch.

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