Creating difficulty in a choice based game


#1

I’m making a non-cog but still choice/story based game with a primary objective but a lot of secondary objectives that have big effects on the outcome of the game.

EDIT:

Main plot: Your twin brother is trying to get his life in order all in one quick go. Due to circumstance, many opportunities to improve his life from couch-crasher to self-sustained human all fall on one night- his anniversary, when he wanted to propose to his girlfriend on the one-night cruise he was taking with her family. He enlists you as an impersonator to help him juggle all of his tasks for the evening. The biggest one of all is convincing his girlfriend and her parents that he’s husband material.

But circumstances get even more complicated when you find out that your brother’s girlfriend is the daughter of your boss and your boss’s plus one is your scheming coworker- who plans to spend the entire night convincing her that you’re no longer fit for employment.

Main objective: Pretend to be your brother to help him complete all his tasks for the night. Your goals are to convince his girlfriend that you (he) are husband material and impress her family, who have never met him before.

Side objectives: Ruin your coworker’s image, convince your boss that you’re much more competent (while pretending to be your brother), and/or find a new job so you can tell them both to suck an egg

Gameplay: There are 6 hours on the boat before the main event, when your brother wanted to propose (and you two would switch places). In these 6 hours, npcs interact with each other and things change on the boat, but with each playthrough you get to choose how you spend each hour. Points will be given to certain outcomes based on where you spend your time and how well you spend it.

My deliberation: I want to make the main objective achievable even if you’re pursuing a side objective, but maybe with mixed degrees of success (like you can either REALLY succeed with your brother’s girlfriend and his family, or kind of do okay but be really great at a side objective). I’m trying to decide how difficult I want to make this.

Like, should I make it so that you have to choose a perfect sequence of events and have great conversations in each one? Or should I make it easier to succeed for the sake of maybe making the game easier to explore different options of? (If I program it so that you have to spend each hour in an exact way for every route, people might not deviate to see what else is happening on the boat)


#2

To include anyone in this conversation non-cog simply means unknown. So the setting and main plot is currently unknown.

This type of story sounds like the planning stage is extremely important.

I recommend making sure harder difficulties are unavailable to new players to ensure they start the game at an easier level.

The main sorry has to be consistent. It can’t be to fluid, only appearing that way. First write a template if your dialogue to player options ratio. The more you write (one page, or a continued narrative is good) the better you will be able at including areas for the player to choose (make changes) and you will see you average length of your descriptions (shorthand player Option) between a PO. Using this you can make the text a lot smoother leading to easier storytelling.

E.g. 60 words between each PO average. Since I don’t know the story, story parameters, and small aids are useful. Pls include more details and directions you would like to go in with your story.

I apologise for the wait. I was speaking with Philip, from: Choice Of Games. They made that game you like. And A game I like. Still, I aim to reply to any of your points, above is my initial ideas.


#3

You’re right, it would be a lot easier to give an answer if I were clearer about the game itself. I’m on mobile right now but I’ll write up a full description when I get home.


#4

The way you define “difficulty” will greatly influence your process.
Difficult or easy how exactly?
If you can answer that, you’ll know what to do.


#5

Difficult as in difficult to get the desired result or easy as in easy to get the desired result. That’s generally what difficulty in a game is judged by.


#6

Main plot: Your twin brother is trying to get his life in order all in one quick go. Due to circumstance, many opportunities to improve his life from couch-crasher to self-sustained human all fall on one night- his anniversary, when he wanted to propose to his girlfriend on the one-night cruise he was taking with her family. He enlists you as an impersonator to help him juggle all of his tasks for the evening. The biggest one of all is convincing his girlfriend and her parents that he’s husband material.

But circumstances get even more complicated when you find out that your brother’s girlfriend is the daughter of your boss and your boss’s plus one is your scheming coworker- who plans to spend the entire night convincing her that you’re no longer fit for employment.

Main objective: Pretend to be your brother to help him complete all his tasks for the night. Your goals are to convince his girlfriend that you (he) are husband material and impress her family, who have never met him before.

Side objectives: Ruin your coworker’s image, convince your boss that you’re much more competent (while pretending to be your brother), and/or find a new job so you can tell them both to suck an egg

Gameplay: There are 6 hours on the boat before the main event, when your brother wanted to propose (and you two would switch places). In these 6 hours, npcs interact with each other and things change on the boat, but with each playthrough you get to choose how you spend each hour. Points will be given to certain outcomes based on where you spend your time and how well you spend it.

My deliberation: I want to make the main objective achievable even if you’re pursuing a side objective, but maybe with mixed degrees of success (like you can either REALLY succeed with your brother’s girlfriend and his family, or kind of do okay but be really great at a side objective). I’m trying to decide how difficult I want to make this.

Like, should I make it so that you have to choose a perfect sequence of events and have great conversations in each one? Or should I make it easier to succeed for the sake of maybe making the game easier to explore different options of? (If I program it so that you have to spend each hour in an exact way for every route, people might not deviate to see what else is happening on the boat)


#7

You’re not defining “difficulty” here, you’re just using it in a sentence or two.
This will not help you.
There is a significant difference between using and defining.


#8

Hmm… nice short-story you have there! I wonder will we be able to…
Ah, right. Difficulty!


So, as what @Carlos.R said (heeey, where you’ve been, bruh. You’re gone for a long time :frowning_face:), your definition of difficulty is too general. In fact, basically, that’s what difficulty means.

When it comes to choice-based games, difficulty comes to managing risk and morality… I guess :thinking:
I mean, it’s stuff like “will I sacrifice this to be able to do this? Will I ignore this for this one?”; something like that.

Confused? Yep, me too.
Perhaps “difficulty of achieving desired result” is not the correct term. In your game, I think there shouldn’t be “the best and true result”, rather “multiple satisfying results and some bad ones”.
That being said, make your game somewhat short but allows multiple replayability via multiple endings. This will be my suggestion.

I assume you’re making a VN game, am I right?


#9

I personally enjoy similar stories where the “perfect success” is hard to find (at first). That may sound vague, but making a few ending scenarios adds to the replay ability for beginners.

Also for the side plot. That side plot is a good idea, I think this could be a good addition to the risk and options; your character can be bad by trying to damage your co workers career, they can also be good for avoiding lieing or taking advantage in those situations.

Also adding a dilemma. The character can earn achievements and his stats display how bad or good he has been. And whether he is helping his brother or helping himself (this finall stat is revealed once the game is finished).

And for a final variable in the side plot, since your boss is there he invited the board (if he has one) and is deciding to make one employee new manager over a huge amount of the company. So your character has to decide;

how much time will he spend trying to improve his reputation?

Will he focus on protecting it?

We he focus on damaging his co workers?

Or will he be self sacrificing and try to help his brother. If he focuses on this, perhaps that could be the perfect good ending. Even leading to him gaining the promotion anyway.

The alternate bad perfect ending is harder to estimate, because it depends on how bad your character can be, and on his goals.

E.g. of a bad or good scenario. The co worker can’t speak to the boss, (he’s in a meeting) so asks you (thinks your the other brother) to tell him the good they did, which will boost the other persons chances of earning a promotionew. Now you have the choice of telling the boss and being honest, or lieing and claiming you did the good deed.

They can build up to different choices. Easier difficulties could have a larger number of choices to choose from, and the harder the difficulty the less choices you will have, so expwrience is needed to complete the most beneficial of goals. Is any of that of any use? Thanks for reading. :slight_smile:


#10

My solution would be: don’t require a perfect sequence of events for the good outcome, but maybe reward the player who does get everything right with an extra snippet of text, a nod to their efforts. Graduated success along multiple vectors is a good way of handling this: various outcomes for various goals. That way the player can feel their time was well spent even if they didn’t get it all right, and give them something to aim for on replaying.


#11

I don’t think there should be explicitly good and bad endings and that the player should define for themselves what is good and bad. The main goal seems stupid. If our brother is such a mediocre person that the girlfriend doesn’t already know she wants to marry him, the marriage is going to suck when she finds out brother is actually more sucky than he first seems and everyone is going to be stuck in a sham marriage with obligation holding them together. (Look at Cryaotic’s let’s play of Catherine that had a similar theme. He said if the character doesn’t know if they want to get married, then they shouldn’t get married.)

A good way of creating “dificulty” is by having hard moral choices that can’t logically be all done at once. The bad part is that not everyone has the same morals and not everyone’s going to care. The Walking Dead is good at this.

You could create a hard mode where you have to have an exact sequence to win and easier mode that has a more variable way to win. What goals can be combined? While snoozing brother’s girlfriend’s parents, maybe I do a good enough job and they think it would be bad to fire their son in law?


#12

Good and bad are parameters for choice. Unclarified choices “if you want to do it its good” don’t appeal to most people. Also it’s an easy way for players to choose the direction they play in. And when reflecting, making new game. They can follow a different course. :smiley:

Your Pretense of future events come from a pessimistic idea of the story. The story parameters don’t include a “sham” marriage. Overly open “good bad” viewpoints lead to over criticism of choices already made. As you showed above.


#13

I have yet to implement it, but I have been thinking for some time about introducing an Easy Mode in Nuclear Powered Toaster, which would consist of showing the positive/negative stat shift for each potential choice before you select it. For those who want to enjoy the story without worrying about wrong choices screwing up their build. I had also pondered a Hard Mode where the modifier for checks was higher, but I cannot see many people wanting that so will probably scrap it.


#14

I understand your criticisms of the main plot, and those are ideas that I’m going to try addressing in the story itself (he is, after all, cleaning his life up significantly by the time that the game takes place). But it is intended to be written as a comedy, and incompetent boyfriend/husband is a pretty prevalent trope in that genre to be fair.

I don’t mean to imply that any choice is necessarily good or bad, but rather whether the result ends up going in line with what the player and characters want could make it be seen as good or bad. I’ll note that on the original post when I get home.


#15

I don’t think I’m necessarily a fan of the idea of premade “good and bad” endings in a moral sense for this game, because I think that’s heavier subject-wise than I want to take it. There’s definitely going to be some parts that are dictated by player morals (like choosing to focus on your own needs vs your brother’s) but I don’t want to over-punish someone for choosing that route. I.e. Your brother will be upset with you but the entire epilogue is not going to be about your tense home life in an effort to guilt trip you