Author Topic: Current difficulty balance?  (Read 1220 times)

Offline Pepisolo

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2017, 11:37:41 AM »
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Oddly enough, I've actually been finding that specific probe to be one of the more useful consumables in the game, heh. It helps to a pretty significant degree with the Bastille fight, which is both more annoying than dangerous and apparently pretty likely to show up. I usually get at least one in every run, and I've seen three different ones in a single run at one point, iirc. The beaming probe's ability to fire through the bullet walls without issue speeds the fight along pretty well, which is quite nice.

Interesting, glad to hear that consumable is at least somewhat useful.

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Though with FoF, another thought other than just removing the movement boost is to have the boost not last as long as the invincibility. That way you're not coming back into vulnerability at the same time your movement rate is shifting around.

Yeah, I'll have to check the timing on that. Good call, thanks.

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Will say, re: that TK repulse module, I've played with another mech using it, just now, and what it does is a lot more obvious.

Well, what it's intended to do. What it also does is kill the hell out of you. It's actually pretty nasty to have that module in a room with something like the shred guardians or that buzzsaw thing and get hit, because the bloody thing will very very happily ricochet those giant projectiles around the room at hyper speed and slam them right back into your face.

It took me a couple times to figure out exactly why those shred projectiles were suddenly accelerating and making bloody weird curves. General issue with the module and any projectile that's particularly long lasting and/or bounces, really.

Suggestions for it, if it's possible. Add some kind of graphic effect when it triggers, white-ish circle emanating from your mech or somethin'.* And make any projectiles it effects not hurt you. Either that or force 'em to dissipate when it they hit a wall or whatev'. Right now that module is a bit of a death trap.

Yeah, I'm considering just disabling that module for the time being, I think. Until I can sit down and think of a better implementation. It causes too many screwy things regarding other projectiles.

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E3:... actually actually, has there been much discussion on how all the defensive modules seem to want to kill you? This run is making it more and more obvious I should never pick up a substantially active/reactive defense module again. I get the TK repulse, it bounces things off walls (including me) and tries to kill me. I replace it with the cyrofreeze module, and by the time I'm a room away from the warden it's tried to kill me in like five different rooms, by exploding mines in my face or unleashing debris hell upon a room filled with those oversized blocks. A previous run I actually use the plasma punisher, and while it's much less overtly ~I want you to die~, it still fills like half the screen with incandescent white noise and got me hit more than once because I couldn't see incoming bullets anymore in the mess. It actually reached the point this run, on the floor 5 sac room I've decided spending 9 health to replace the freeze module with a deadeye is worth it, just so my own kit stops trying to do me in. Not so sure how much that's intended, but it doesn't make the items in question particularly appealing. Tradeoffs are one thing, this seems like it might be something else, heh.

I definitely agree with you on the Repulsor Module, I messed the implementation of that one up, I think. The others seem pretty good to me, although I should be able to make the Plasma Punisher shots transparent, so that you can see more easily what's going on when it fires.

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What I can say is, that I LOVE it. Holy shit, this thing is so awesome, I don't care if the balancing is off right now, everything is so much better.

Awesome! Glad to hear that, thanks! It's a shame the balance is a bit off, but we should be able to fix that easy enough.

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Starward Rogue was one of my go-to games for zoning out. Now I can't zone out on normal (because of the difficulty spike), which is kind of disappointing. Difficulty meaning, among other things, lack of damage powerups, relatively high enemy health and the new lopsided damage/healing ratio. So I always have to be on edge and any minor mistake with the magnitude of a pixel is rewarded with a "bzzt" and two health down. Maybe I'll crank the difficulty down next time.

Yeah, that sounds about right. We're going to push the healing pickup amount back up to 2 for Normal mode, and save the attrition challenge for Hard, that should help a lot. Plus, damage buffs are going back up a bit, and enemy HP is being tweaked, so the next build should be a lot better for chilling out with on Normal.

Offline NickAragua

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2017, 02:55:56 PM »
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Starward Rogue was one of my go-to games for zoning out. Now I can't zone out on normal (because of the difficulty spike), which is kind of disappointing. Difficulty meaning, among other things, lack of damage powerups, relatively high enemy health and the new lopsided damage/healing ratio. So I always have to be on edge and any minor mistake with the magnitude of a pixel is rewarded with a "bzzt" and two health down. Maybe I'll crank the difficulty down next time.

Yeah, that sounds about right. We're going to push the healing pickup amount back up to 2 for Normal mode, and save the attrition challenge for Hard, that should help a lot. Plus, damage buffs are going back up a bit, and enemy HP is being tweaked, so the next build should be a lot better for chilling out with on Normal.

Glad to hear it. I'll revisit it next time I see a patch.

Offline Misery

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2017, 12:01:37 AM »
We SERIOUSLY should think of just adding another difficulty level here.

The reason:  Putting the health pickups back up to 2 is going to wreck what difficulty is there;  the attrition is the entirity of what keeps it this way.  Every single game in the genre that actually has challenge to it does this.  Isaac doesnt, which is a huge part of why it's too easy.

However, with Normal likely becoming another "dont have to try", which is what would happen (no need to avoid damage when it's that easy to heal), that means the only other option is Hard for those actually looking for something more interesting, and that's a big jump up.   Hard mode is intended for those that have completely mastered normal mode.... when normal mode is putting up a fight. Which would effectively mean that, with the change, Hard mode would be for those that have mastered a totally non-existent difficulty that comes between normal and hard.  And no, I'm not re-balancing Hard mode.  The ONLY way to do that is to completely restructure.... everything.  ALL of the patterns.  All of them.  It's not stats that drives that mode.

Also, one other major reason:  Switching something like that core mechanic between difficulty modes is a very bad design choice, and usually seen as artificial difficulty.  Enemy stats are one thing, but changing the nature of a basic pickup is bad.  In other words, as far as I"m concerned, this one's a definite no-no here.  The player is taught from the beginning that a health pickup heals for a specific amount.  Just deciding "sorry, nope, it does this now" when going up a notch is not a good move.   Remember how enemy damage was multiplying on higher difficulties, and how much of a mess THAT was?  It's a similar thing here.

And one way or another, this game was never supposed to be a zone-out sort of thing to begin with.  That's been a huge reason for all of these changes to begin with.  Something like Isaac is alot better for that.    The only reason this game was like that is because it was broken.  We need to not forget this when making changes here.

This all makes me think of 20XX actually.   Where the default mode, in which everything does 1 damage and healing is equal to that, is considered simply too easy.  Much too easy.   But make ONE change... double the damage enemies deal (effectively creating the attrition effect, because healing no longer keeps up if you're tanking too much) and the game's challenge rises dramatically.   And that's the ONLY change you need to make.  No other difficulty options even need to be set to produce that effect.

That's how strong of an effect this sort of thing has on any game in this genre.  It doesnt matter how dangerous enemies or bosses are:  If it's too easy to heal, the player doesnt have much effort needed.   Which also means that everything in the game seems less important/meaningful.  Been trying to avoid this since the start.

If you must put the HP things up again, do it only on easy and below. 


Now, none of this is to say that we cant tweak Normal mode AT ALL.   But this is absolutely the wrong way to do it.

And like I'd said elsewhere:  We shouldnt make huge changes until the rooms are dealt with.  I guarantee you, the room issue is a huge cause of the difficulty being warped on normal.  Fix that, and rooms are less congested and it's not as ridiculous for the player (whereas hard mode wont get hit as much by that, because enemies will pump out lots of crap anyway).  I seriously cant emphasize enough how important this room thing is for the game's balance and such. 
« Last Edit: January 08, 2017, 12:14:53 AM by Misery »

Offline Logorouge

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2017, 12:43:40 AM »
We SERIOUSLY should think of just adding another difficulty level here.

The reason:  Putting the health pickups back up to 2 is going to wreck what difficulty is there [...]
I see your point, but I don't think you need to add another difficulty level and I also don't think health pickups need to go back to 2.

Here's why: Easy and Very Easy levels already exist. The same zone-out (or just less unforgiving) gameplay that many seek out will still be there, especially with the incoming damage boosts, rooms and HP tweaks. The big task would be to convince players that playing on Easy and Very Easy doesn't make you any less of a gamer.

Offline Frumple

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2017, 08:55:03 AM »
... I'unno, I'd love a difficulty option that was just hard with normal's bullet speed, heh. Think someone mentioned one of the incrediblities does something like that, but those things aren't guaranteed and takes junking up a shop besides. I probably should poke around and see how feasible it is to mod mechs to start with it, I suppose.

An immediate thought, mind you. Why not just have a custom difficulty option, that lets the player tweak things like bullet patterns and speed, damage, pickup heal, etc. as they please? Then instead of trying to predict what will give most players their ideal run, you can give them sliders and let them figure it out for themselves :P

E: A second/additional thought would be some wording change, too. Instead of very easy and easy, you could have something like relaxing and "less difficult", respectively, or somethin' along those lines. When it comes to getting folks to be less adverse to lower difficulties, framing things so some of the sting/stigma isn't there/as obvious/using normal descriptors can help.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2017, 09:09:10 AM by Frumple »

Offline Logorouge

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2017, 11:06:14 AM »
... I'unno, I'd love a difficulty option that was just hard with normal's bullet speed, heh. Think someone mentioned one of the incrediblities does something like that, but those things aren't guaranteed and takes junking up a shop besides. I probably should poke around and see how feasible it is to mod mechs to start with it, I suppose.
The incredibility "The One" does slow down bullets while you move. If you want to try it from the start on your favorite mech, just add the following to the mech's settings (ideally near his other systems to keep things organized): <system type="TheOneSystem" offset="0,0" />

An immediate thought, mind you. Why not just have a custom difficulty option, that lets the player tweak things like bullet patterns and speed, damage, pickup heal, etc. as they please? Then instead of trying to predict what will give most players their ideal run, you can give them sliders and let them figure it out for themselves :P
Sounds like purgatory for the devs in charge of balancing things. :P

Offline Frumple

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2017, 11:59:36 AM »
Ah, was talking about creator instead of the one, heh. One might work, too, though. Can't recall if the slowdown's actually that strong or not.

Though re: balance, you'd still do... more or less what you're doing, a challenging "normal" (your baseline parameters... maybe even a bit over the default if you're looking to psychology people into being okay with less challenge), a notably moreso hard, etc., etc. You wouldn't really worry much about folks that want to be somewhere in between, or playing misery with no health pickups and doubled bullet speed or somethin', but they'd still be able to make 'emselves happy. Less need to aim for a general case that fits everyone, you can just get most and let the sliders handle everyone else. Would also allow for much more nuanced progression into harder difficulties and whatnot, too, which would probably be nice.

... it would also make balance testing a lot easier, since folks could just change params and see if it's better. Maybe a 5% drop in bullet speed is all current normal needs, or somethin' along those lines.

E: Also it'd make something like a graduating difficulty... easier? Which'd be neat. Longer the win streak, harder it becomes, until you lose and then it resets. You'd do it manually if all there was was a custom diff option, but it'd be a lot more accessible than having to mod stuff. I think it'd add to the game, is all I'm sayin'.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2017, 12:04:53 PM by Frumple »

Offline Logorouge

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2017, 12:11:32 PM »
Ah, was talking about creator instead of the one, heh. One might work, too, though. Can't recall if the slowdown's actually that strong or not.
I think it's half speed while moving, normal speed when immobile. The Creator on the other hand, will basically make enemies spawning go crazy. I wouldn't recommend it unless you want to see how long you can survive.

Offline TheVampire100

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2017, 12:11:50 PM »
I don't remember on which Mech I had this but there was this Perk that destroys missile barricades with normal shots. Wonderful idea, really.
But I got this on level 4. This thing is op as hell and I think you should move this to later levels.

Online Cinth

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2017, 04:56:08 PM »
An immediate thought, mind you. Why not just have a custom difficulty option, that lets the player tweak things like bullet patterns and speed, damage, pickup heal, etc. as they please? Then instead of trying to predict what will give most players their ideal run, you can give them sliders and let them figure it out for themselves :P

That functionality has been included in the game since, well, forever.  It's in the Configuration folder and it's open to modification by anyone.  Infinite customization at your fingertips ;)
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Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Frumple

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2017, 05:21:03 PM »
Heh. If I could mod the difficulty settings to have in-game parameter adjustment, I would have done it and just stuck it in the mod subforum or handed it over for main game implementation. I'm impressively terrible at coding, unfortunately :-\ also I don't even know if the menu bits are in there, or how to set it up to adjust on the fly-ish, or how to figure out how to without getting very very literal headaches

Online Cinth

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2017, 05:25:45 PM »
That was a bit tongue in cheek from me.  There isn't anything in game but you can modify the file contents out of game.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Misery

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2017, 05:36:18 PM »
... I'unno, I'd love a difficulty option that was just hard with normal's bullet speed, heh. Think someone mentioned one of the incrediblities does something like that, but those things aren't guaranteed and takes junking up a shop besides. I probably should poke around and see how feasible it is to mod mechs to start with it, I suppose.

An immediate thought, mind you. Why not just have a custom difficulty option, that lets the player tweak things like bullet patterns and speed, damage, pickup heal, etc. as they please? Then instead of trying to predict what will give most players their ideal run, you can give them sliders and let them figure it out for themselves :P

E: A second/additional thought would be some wording change, too. Instead of very easy and easy, you could have something like relaxing and "less difficult", respectively, or somethin' along those lines. When it comes to getting folks to be less adverse to lower difficulties, framing things so some of the sting/stigma isn't there/as obvious/using normal descriptors can help.

One thing that would be a huge help as difficulty goes:   If you're running into any enemies/bosses that just seem way overboard (in terms of patterns/behavior, not health and stats) list them here on the forums.  One big thing relating to difficulty is finding baddies that might be a bit overboard.

Now, granted, some are certainly meant to be easier or harder than others.  Bosses for instance, Sunder is the hardest, and Battleswarm the easiest... that's pretty much where they should be.  But if someone is getting wrecked over and over by, say, Crystal Mother, that's not right.   That sort of thing.

Same for individual enemies.  Generally, probably about the toughest things you should be running into early in the game is stuff like Sideshots... they shouldnt really be getting any harder than those that early. 

But yeah, any info at all on what anyone thinks of specific enemies would help a ton.  I'm *not* good at catching problems with these.  I'm usually the SOURCE of the problems instead, heh.   The bosses for the most part seem fine to me, but it's the little guys that are so much harder to gauge.  There's probably some that are a bit much, particularly for the early floors.

Offline Frumple

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #28 on: January 08, 2017, 07:11:51 PM »
Ehehe. Sunder definitely isn't the hardest normal boss t'me, for what it's worth. First phase you just skootch around a little in more or less the same spot and the second about all it takes is moving in a square pattern around the room. It'll slide you through the openings without much trouble. It's no wallmaster (definitely the easiest normal boss, as literally all you have to do is move up and down a little -- I wouldn't be surprised if you could perfect it on normal with no perks or weapon changes without moving on the horizontal at all once you're in weapon range) or battleswarm, but most of the other bosses are significantly harder, heh.

Though so far as other stuff goes, you might not be amiss if you gave the vipers something like a lower initial aggro range. Those guys can get pretty out of hand if they keep firing long enough, and when they start shooting from a screen or three away and you can't get at them very quickly it can end up with you not being able to do much but missile or tank your way through the pretty solid bullet wall covering the screen. Dunno what it is about 'em but sometimes their patterns end up turning into like a nest or somethin', and there's not too many things you can do about it when it does.

Diffusion, I think it is (the one that puts out the formations of tiny guard flea shield looking things) can do something similar, particularly in concert with other ships. I've had times where the only way to get a firing angle on one of those things was to walk into shots, because the corridor or whatever they were on the other side of was just filled wall to wall with bullets. And wasn't really letting up.

Pretty definitely stuff I'm forgetting, too. Though that said, at least on normal the early floors generally aren't that bad, at least to me. It's in the 5+ range that you start occasionally running into things that are just kinda' silly.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2017, 07:13:47 PM by Frumple »

Offline Misery

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Re: Current difficulty balance?
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2017, 02:19:10 AM »
Just as a note, there's a couple of things coming up that might smooth out the difficulty a bit.

1.  New types of health drops.  The orange ones are the most common and heal for 1 point, but there are other types now too, one which heals for 2, and one which heals for 4.   Needless to say, these dont appear nearly as often.   But they show up often enough to help (and can appear in the store, too).  These are also just satisfying to find, and they go along with other types of pickups (EXP, missiles) that have multiples.  Just be sure not to waste them, like grabbing a 4-HP one when you're only 1 HP down.  That's just silly.

2.  Slightly higher chance for health drops to appear.  Not a huge change, more of a subtle thing, but it's there.

3.  I'm changing a few enemies around here.  Again not huge changes, but some things that might be sticking around too long will get nerfed, and a couple of patterns might change.  Some of the most complained about enemies have been hit with the HP nerf bat (Flak Cannons, Rusted Lumiflares) as well as some others that werent mentioned.  No changes for bosses here (and this is unlikely to happen, for now).    Right now, the changes you'll see first are the HP changes.  I havent made pattern alterations yet.


These are things that we can patch in pretty much right away (far as I know, they're done already). 

Now, I was hoping to have a blob of room changes for you today, but it took AGES to get this to work on my evil laptop.  So I'll have to do that first blob tomorrow instead.   ...Seriously, it took forever.  Very frustrating.  Got a good test run in though (mostly for enemy HP changes).   But yeah, there's a list of a number of really nasty rooms, so some of the worst should be knocked out quickly.