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Tuesday, January 26, 2010
 
Jeff Vogel: Bushwhacking Players Is A Bad Idea
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 7 comments

On his blog, The Bottom Feeder, Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel recently focused his thoughts on uneven game difficulty. The veteran indie RPG developer discussed his conclusion that sprinkling challenging monsters across the game, monsters which often are too difficult for players to defeat when they first encounter them, can be a bad idea for game development.

The basic idea behind this was that it gave the player a challenge. A place to stretch his or her abilities. Something to come back and try later to test your strength and see how much power you have gained. Sure, it'll slaughter you the first couple of times you run across it, but it will give you the motivation to work harder and prevail! It's a hardcore gamer way of thinking. This sort of thing is something I think is neat and has a place, if you're very, very careful about it.

But in Avernum 6, I went way, WAY too far with this. There were way too many encounters that were rough and meant to be returned to later. I actually had one bandit dungeon where the boss was super-tough. "Ah," I thought, in a moment of exhaustion and idiocy. "This will be cool. The player will kill the early bandits, get some lewt, and then see that the final boss is an entirely different sort of character and back off and come back later."

I just patched Avernum 6 and removed a bunch of those dumb encounters, but the structure of the game means there are a few that have to stay. That really aggravates me. But, at last, after fifteen years, I think I have finally learned the main lesson:

Difficulty In a Game Should Have a Curve With As Few Bumps As Possible
Read the rest of his post at the link below.

The Bottom Feeder: Why Bushwhacking Your Players Is A Bad Idea
Spiderweb Software


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Archives  News  Jeff Vogel: Bushwhacking Players Is A Bad Idea