Kaisentlaia

A dynamic difficulty level

20 posts in this topic

I think I just had the best idea ever.

Premise
I think that TLD's biggest problem at the moment (in the sandbox at least, we can't speak about story mode) is that all difficulty levels get easier as the time goes by. It's missing a rollercoaster: overcoming the initial difficulties is hard, exciting, scary. You begin and you don't know where you are, you're cold, you're hungry, you have no shelter. Then you find a base camp, weather gets milder because you're better clothed, wolves get less dangerous because you're well armed, getting food gets easier because you have the tools to hunt and so on. If you can survive the first days, the game will keep getting easier, and thus not challenging anymore. Boring.

We want custom difficulties, we asked for a decaying world, weather that gets worse, resources that get harder to get, reduced loot and so on. Sliders and custom settings to adjust every single detail aren't going to solve the problem, even with custom difficulties the game will keep getting easier after a while.

And then I realized... we already have a decaying world. We already have an experience that gets harder and harder as the time goes by. The only problem is that those are divided, one sandbox each. There's no rollercoaster: you start, you overcome the initial difficulty or you die, and if you survive you get bored. So my conclusion is:

TL;DR
It would be awesome to have a difficulty mode that combines all four existing difficulties levels, timed. The sandbox begins in pilgrim, every certain amount of days (let's say 50?) it switches to the next difficulty so first voyageur, then stalker and finally interloper.

This would make for the perfect rollercoaster, imo. The player will be able to get comfortable and appreciate his success surviving, but then everything will get hard again, challenging and satisfying when you manage to survive another time.

I'm sure I'd love it way more than a custom difficulty, and I guess it would be easier to implement than complex new mechanics and be more in line with the dev's goal of a tailored experience. What do you guys think about it?

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Doesn't really work as the main difference between modes is loot and there isn't really any way to handle that fairly as it's QUITE possible to loot all 6 maps in 150 days, or even 50 or probably even 30 days or less if you went really fast on a difficulty like Pilgrim. On top of this most the difficulty of Interloper is the fact that the early game is hard when you don't have anything, not that the mid/late game is hard (it isn't on any mode).

Having 150 days to collect stuff on Pilgrim/Voyageur/Stalker to prepare then go into Interloper wouldn't even be CLOSE to the same experience; it would be a complete shadow of it; about 5-10x easier. So not much point to it and it would be a nightmare to implement

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Posted (edited)

I agree.

In that the adjustment of difficulty over a span of time is needed. I've heard rumors of season change... This could be a way to implement it.  I take what you mean as the animals become more aggressive and RNG turns out more empty shelves as well as a ramp up in how often things break.  It should be implemented such that you get the option to increase difficulty as you go but never back it down. Something to give it a fresh feel as you play.

 What would add to this is the ability for players to create maps.  Since most of the game currently is stocked assets it would be possible to have one or even several of the current maps open up to a custom area. To ensure TLD stays a fresh game.  Open up some colthing models with a scaled number of points so they follow current sets as well as character/npc mesh models.  This particular game model was proven to give a game emense staying power see Skyrim, Portal 2, and G-MOD.  All three of these games are still relevant and user created content still marches through Steam Workshop.

 

I really hope Hinderland can get behind this to some degree.

Edited by Rolandtigerfish
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Troxism explained one of the reasons because this could not work.

When a mode is too easy just switch to the next one, if you're unconfortable with the one that comes next and you would like to stay, let's say, in stalker then think about what could be done to improve that mode.

Interloper is at the moment the hardest mode, it surelly becomes easier with time but you can still die pretty fast and as always if you want a challenge just challenge yourself. Take a trip without perfect planning and see what happens :) This games isn't "perfect", imho they're doing a wonderfull job at making it interesting for long time, especially in interloper. But it has his limits.

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@Troxism I agree that beginning on pilgrim and ending up in interloper would make interloper easier (I'd personally prefer to begin in voyager or stalker to be honest), but mind that what I'm suggesting here is a new difficulty mode keeping the four that are already there, not replacing them. People happy with one of those would be able to keep playing that way, but people wanting a more challenging mid to late game would have a way to experience that as well.

I think implementation wouldn't be particularly hard, the only big problem could be loot and as @Rolandtigerfish said it could be enough to change the RNG so when the game gets harder, you find less stuff (and weather gets harsher, more wolves and more dangerous and so on). You're quite right about the timing tho... now that I think about it it would be better to increase difficulty every 10 days or so.

@togg when a mode gets too easy I switch to the next one already :D I went through the usual pilgrim-voyageur-stalker and now I'm having fun on interloper and playing challenges to relax. Interloper is really hard and I love it (still trying to survive more than a few days), but I think that a variable difficulty over time could add replayability since right now most of my runs except interloper ended because of boredom.

If there was a mode making the game harder over time, I wouldn't have the time to get bored! And when that got too easy and boring I'd still have the possibility to start a new interloper run and get my ass whooped again. ;)

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On 30.12.2016 at 9:06 PM, Kaisentlaia said:

I think I just had the best idea ever.

I had to read your post twice and I'm still unsure whether I understand it correctly - do you mean to add another "difficulty" level, or replace the existing levels with just a single level to combine them all? Also, the higher difficulty levels are partly defined by the scarcity of loot. How would that be implemented if one starts with Pilgrim loot?

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I would make a new difficulty level called custom. Sliders or similar to indicate more/less easier/harder etc. then a button at the bottom for each "default" level.... default pilgrim, default stalker, interloper... which sets all the sliders to a default level that somehow corresponds to the premises of each of those levels for what you can change.

meaning say a slider for loot, food resources (plants, etc), wood resources, fish/deer, wolves, bears, blizzards, temps, etc.

maybe I want to play interloper weather but not interloper type wolves/bears, maybe I want more wolves/bears and respawn faster but they are tougher, maybe I want interloper with more wolves but less nasty weather....

what each person likes/dislikes in each difficulty level is up to them as a personal choice. I, for one, can't stand constantly being freezing to death and blizzards every other day however I would prefer more wildlife to interact with and fishing to be less bountiful. I could tweak the game to my taste. Maybe someone else wants bears to respawn sooner than every 50 days and harsher weather with even less resources.

then the weather can get scarcer and animals and resources too as time goes on in the game but it is relative to your game and yours alone.

were I a dev, and asked how I would implement it, that's where I would head, by possibly picking several things that could be tweaked and creating the variables etc to allow for it to be done. In theory, and it is only theory, those things might be in place already based on having different levels currently, the math might need some love and error handling but it should be possible. 

 

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@Hotzn I mean an additional difficulty level: Pilgrim, Voyageur, Stalker, Interloper and then an added Dynamic (or whatever it would be called) which combines all the previous four. Sorry if that wasn't clear, English isn't my native language and I do struggle sometimes to express myself. :)

I agree that for people used to play stalker/interloper beginning with pilgrim loot and then scaling down would already be too much, I know it would be for me. Maybe this additional dynamic difficulty mode could have a choice of the starting difficulty level, to allow players to begin in voyageur or stalker if they'd like.

@AZHockeyNut, many people have suggested a customizable difficulty level over the years, and while I'd appreciate it as well (I'd love harsher weather and wildlife scarcity) the devs have stated many times that they want to deliver a tailored experience and sliders/customization would go against that, that's why the game has different difficulty settings (or "experience mode" as they call it) and no possible customizations. 

I thought about combining all the existing difficulties because that would be a way to get a more varied experience in a single sandbox (and varied over time, which I think is better than a static difficulty mode) but at the same time it would be in line with the devs' goals about delivering experiences.

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On 30.12.2016 at 9:06 PM, Kaisentlaia said:

I think I just had the best idea ever.

Premise
I think that TLD's biggest problem at the moment (in the sandbox at least, we can't speak about story mode) is that all difficulty levels get easier as the time goes by. It's missing a rollercoaster: overcoming the initial difficulties is hard, exciting, scary. You begin and you don't know where you are, you're cold, you're hungry, you have no shelter. Then you find a base camp, weather gets milder because you're better clothed, wolves get less dangerous because you're well armed, getting food gets easier because you have the tools to hunt and so on. If you can survive the first days, the game will keep getting easier, and thus not challenging anymore. Boring.

We want custom difficulties, we asked for a decaying world, weather that gets worse, resources that get harder to get, reduced loot and so on. Sliders and custom settings to adjust every single detail aren't going to solve the problem, even with custom difficulties the game will keep getting easier after a while.

And then I realized... we already have a decaying world. We already have an experience that gets harder and harder as the time goes by. The only problem is that those are divided, one sandbox each. There's no rollercoaster: you start, you overcome the initial difficulty or you die, and if you survive you get bored. So my conclusion is:

TL;DR
It would be awesome to have a difficulty mode that combines all four existing difficulties levels, timed. The sandbox begins in pilgrim, every certain amount of days (let's say 50?) it switches to the next difficulty so first voyageur, then stalker and finally interloper.

This would make for the perfect rollercoaster, imo. The player will be able to get comfortable and appreciate his success surviving, but then everything will get hard again, challenging and satisfying when you manage to survive another time.

I'm sure I'd love it way more than a custom difficulty, and I guess it would be easier to implement than complex new mechanics and be more in line with the dev's goal of a tailored experience. What do you guys think about it?

I am still waiting for the Massive Blizzard like in the whiteout challenge. Why not make this challenge a part of the game, Random event which will make you stay in a base for 10 or 20 days. So you need to stock up on supplies and try to hold on as much as you can. In the meantime you can craft and repair your tools and so on...

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1 minute ago, vancopower said:

I am still waiting for the Massive Blizzard like in the whiteout challenge.

Me too. Stockpiling all that stuff and then not being able to see that horrible blizzard was a bummer! Random events would be great but I reckon they'd be a bit complicated to implement. I think I read about longer blizzards in interloper and I can't wait to see one... if I'll ever be able to survive more than a few days.

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5 hours ago, Kaisentlaia said:

@Hotzn I mean an additional difficulty level: Pilgrim, Voyageur, Stalker, Interloper and then an added Dynamic (or whatever it would be called) which combines all the previous four. Sorry if that wasn't clear, English isn't my native language and I do struggle sometimes to express myself. :)

I'd just call it realistic difficulty. It'd follow a nice arc:

  • Pilgrim: Event just happened, supplies are plentiful and animals still have their fear of humans
  • Voyager: There's still loot but it is diminishing with no one replacing it. The event has made hibernating bears awakening. The harsh weather is making the animals less shy of people and hunger is making you seem appetizing...
  • Stalker: The weather is closing in. Some supplies remain but decay and other survivors have depleted what is available. Desperation means that any prey, including the two legged kind, is now on the menu.
  • Interloper: The animals that remain are wary and starving. What supplies remained have long since been depleted. You are truly an interloper now in a hostile world.
4 hours ago, vancopower said:

I am still waiting for the Massive Blizzard like in the whiteout challenge. Why not make this challenge a part of the game, Random event which will make you stay in a base for 10 or 20 days. So you need to stock up on supplies and try to hold on as much as you can. In the meantime you can craft and repair your tools and so on...

Regrettably, how cabin fever and food storage are currently implemented would preclude this from being viable in a regular sandbox. Unless you spent the entire blizzard in a cave or snow shelter.

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14 hours ago, AZHockeyNut said:

I would make a new difficulty level called custom. Sliders or similar to indicate more/less easier/harder etc. then a button at the bottom for each "default" level.... default pilgrim, default stalker, interloper... which sets all the sliders to a default level that somehow corresponds to the premises of each of those levels for what you can change.

meaning say a slider for loot, food resources (plants, etc), wood resources, fish/deer, wolves, bears, blizzards, temps, etc.

maybe I want to play interloper weather but not interloper type wolves/bears, maybe I want more wolves/bears and respawn faster but they are tougher, maybe I want interloper with more wolves but less nasty weather....

what each person likes/dislikes in each difficulty level is up to them as a personal choice. I, for one, can't stand constantly being freezing to death and blizzards every other day however I would prefer more wildlife to interact with and fishing to be less bountiful. I could tweak the game to my taste. Maybe someone else wants bears to respawn sooner than every 50 days and harsher weather with even less resources.

then the weather can get scarcer and animals and resources too as time goes on in the game but it is relative to your game and yours alone.

were I a dev, and asked how I would implement it, that's where I would head, by possibly picking several things that could be tweaked and creating the variables etc to allow for it to be done. In theory, and it is only theory, those things might be in place already based on having different levels currently, the math might need some love and error handling but it should be possible. 

 

It was already discussed multiple times. It will never happen.

 

 

12 hours ago, vancopower said:

I am still waiting for the Massive Blizzard like in the whiteout challenge. Why not make this challenge a part of the game, Random event which will make you stay in a base for 10 or 20 days. So you need to stock up on supplies and try to hold on as much as you can. In the meantime you can craft and repair your tools and so on...

I'm also waiting for something like that! I think some more long term whather that last a few days could be interesting to have and see coming. Like you have to spot the signs etc The real problem is that we don't have anything to do inside. So at the moment it seems that this is not the right game for it, but maybe they will come up with something.

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Posted (edited)

@Kaisentlaia

Doesn't matter. Even starting on Stalker would trivialise the experience. Even if you had only '5 days' of Stalker loot, you could easily get every tool and all the best clothing in that time if you know where to go, and that would make Interloper a complete joke (esp since you could get items otherwise not available on Interloper, and yes you can keep clothing going basically forever still so all that nice clothing would be around for 100s of days even if you couldn't get any more.

Just as a simple example:

Max 'reasonable (ie not all the most heavy stuff but more focused on efficiency)' clothing setup on Stalker and below:

13.25kg weight, +33C temp bonus, +11.5C windchill

Interloper?

14.25kg weight, +23.5C temp bonus, +10C windchill

 

Edit: Just for posterity: before this clothing update, these were the values on Interloper. Nice fat gain in weight and nerf in windchill for whatever reason (and the setup now requires more cloth to maintain then this one did).

8.65kg weight, +23C temp bonus, +16C windchill

And by the way even getting that much on Interloper isn't for sure as you don't always get 2x Wool Socks/Thermal Underwear in my experience even looting a lot.

Note that in the Stalker setup, most of the outer layer (except jacket and hat) is crafted clothes, so you aren't really going to be spending way more cloth repairing then you do on Interloper (only outer layer clothes degrade particularly fast as they are affected by weather conditions and animal attacks).

And if you think +10C doesn't matter on Interloper, keep in mind that on day 50+, even during the warmest parts of the day it's not uncommon to have -11 to -15C feels like temp with Interloper clothing. +10C to that would trivialise it completely as you could just walk around for hours at a time without having to warm up instead of constantly worrying about condition loss from freezing.

Interloper with all the loot in the game is extremely easy (half the point of Interloper is many items aren't available) and this is exactly what it would be. This is just the tip of the iceburg for the problems; this isn't the only issue.

If what you want is 'scaling difficulty', well that exists already (world decay is a thing although below Interloper it doesn't really have any effect till day 100+ and only really is noticeable at day 200). If the issue is that it doesn't do enough, then that should be addressed, not trying to mix and match modes in a super awkward way. I agree that currently scaling difficulty is off; it just gets stupidly cold on Interloper very quickly but on other modes it basically doesn't even matter because your clothes are so good on those modes and the temperature reduction is less that you don't actually feel the difference (being at +1C feels like instead of +10C doesn't really matter). And it doesn't help that the reduction in firewood/animal spawns/weather getting worse doesn't actually seem to happen (it's very subtle and basically ends up not mattering, although you do get way more blizzards later on in Interloper, it still doesn't really change much).

But the thing is instead of trying to change other systems (ie do a bunch of work to make a whole new mode with completely new mechanics; keep in mind loot is likely set on game generation so to change loot after the game has started would probably take a ridiculous amount of work for devs), there is already an existing system that could be modified to accomplish the exact same goal with far less developer effort.

Edited by Troxism
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@Troxism, thanks for the insight on interloper dynamics. I admit I didn't play much in interloper and I wrongly assumed that the weather was the main difference, followed by the amount of loot and absence of certain items (and tougher wolves). After your explanation I realize that a difficulty change from stalker to interloper in the same sandbox would essentially be just stalker with harsher weather and worse predators.

4 hours ago, Troxism said:

I agree that currently scaling difficulty is off; it just gets stupidly cold on Interloper very quickly but on other modes it basically doesn't even matter because your clothes are so good on those modes and the temperature reduction is less that you don't actually feel the difference (being at +1C feels like instead of +10C doesn't really matter). And it doesn't help that the reduction in firewood/animal spawns/weather getting worse doesn't actually seem to happen (it's very subtle and basically ends up not mattering, although you do get way more blizzards later on in Interloper, it still doesn't really change much).

I think you hit the spot. That's exactly what this post is all about. Boredom gets me way before the worsening conditions do, and when I manage to last longer I don't even notice the change.

4 hours ago, Troxism said:

But the thing is instead of trying to change other systems (ie do a bunch of work to make a whole new mode with completely new mechanics; keep in mind loot is likely set on game generation so to change loot after the game has started would probably take a ridiculous amount of work for devs), there is already an existing system that could be modified to accomplish the exact same goal with far less developer effort.

This would be my wildest dream, every sandbox (no matter which difficulty level, aside maybe from pilgrim) having a noticeable increase of difficulty as the time goes by. But since the mechanics are already in place, why didn't they implement it yet? If I had to take a wild guess, I'd say that's because the devs want to avoid players complaining about the game getting too hard, and while I'd like for TLD to get as challenging as possible I realize that it should appeal to the widest possible audience. The more it sells, the more the devs will be able to continue working on it (which is what we all want).

I think scarcity over time (a time way, way shorter than now) would make for a very interesting game, but not a game everyone would like to play. I experienced it recently on FM: when the update rolled out I started a voyager run there to get the lay of the land and after a few tries I managed to survive about 16 days, and let me tell you, those were some amazing 16 days. I had just a few clothing items, only crafted tools and a hacksaw, I struggled all the time to keep warm, I had just a box of matches and on top of that all the wolves around the old spencer's homestead disappeared after a while, leaving me with no food. I keep thinking that less wolves make for an even harder game than having them all over the place: I left FM starving, freezing and in bad condition and managed to reach ML just in time, where the game became suddenly boring because of all the loot and mild weather. But before leaving it was almost like playing interloper with less wolves, and I loved it. I guess not everyone would tho.

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Well the easiest (and best) change they could make to late game Interloper is massively raise the animal re spawn times (and also lower the fishing/snaring caps drastically accordingly). Can do similar for other modes at 200+ (obviously it would scale over time up to this point but I'm talking about the maximum cap).

Imagine if at day 50+ on Interloper bears took 100-150 days to respawn each, Wolves 30 days, Deer 50 days, and if it took 30 days to 'restock' the fish after you fished for a few days (and same with rabbit snaring). Suddenly you would be forced to constantly move around and utilize ALL possible food sources in each area before being forced to move on. Would turn the late game into a nomad style game where you move between different maps constantly and can't just sit in a shelter most of the time.

But oh wait all that would do is just encourage abusing starvation even more then the game already does. So you know, would have to fix that first before bothering with something like this or it would defeat the whole point. That single 'mechanic' has so many ripple effects on the rest of the game it's ridiculous.

If that was done would even actually make some sense to either slightly (like 1 degree) buff the crafted jackets, or lower the Interloper max temp penalty by like 2C, as you would be forced to move around so much more temperature would still be a massive problem even with this 'buff'. Would help make interloper difficulty a bit less about only temperature and a bit more about other aspects. And then maybe halve condition regain too to compensate.

But at this point I'm just dreaming/bucket listing as I don't expect any of this to ever happen. And the problem with bucket lists; just presenting ideas without explaining the 'why should it be like this', which is the only part that really matters. Ideas are easy, ones that make sense/actually work are much harder, hence the 'why' being the most important part.

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I understand that what I suggested has been said before and that the devs say it will never happen. Does not make it wrong to ask and bring it up. Like any other business, HL can adapt for the customer base and would be foolish not to or arrogant no to if the customer base wanted something en mass. The decision makers want it their way now and that may well be the way it ends up, however, if they consistently see a large number of posts about the same thing, perhaps they will take heed. Who knows.

What I do know is that the game is Awesome. My preference would be to tailor my own game and not to have it tailored for me by so called difficulty levels. The more experienced you are the more you play the game the more your tastes change. If you are the dev or the tester in the game all day every day you become numb to it and you forget why you played in the first place. you forget about the noobs. It is very common in software, I see it all the time with the projects I am involved in. Although not the in the same customer space, I can tell you that it happens, you get blinded by what you think and what you think people want. .

 

ok down off my box now....back to falling down a mountain with a ton of stuff in my pack

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26 minutes ago, AZHockeyNut said:

ok down off my box now....back to falling down a mountain with a ton of stuff in my pack

A successful trip up Timberwolf Mountain? ;)

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43 minutes ago, cekivi said:

A successful trip up Timberwolf Mountain? ;)

yes .... UP.... not .... DOWN... LOL.... = New Game...

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