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Archivarix
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Difficulty setting
« on: January 20, 2013, 02:07:52 am »

Hello fellow space travelers! I've been reading this forum for a lo-o-ong while, grasping for every bit of news about my most beloved computer game, and finally decided to post my suggestion.

I believe the game should offer a difficulty setting. While grizzled veterans like you and me could use the extra challenge, my daughter - yeah, a new generation of SC2 lovers! - still struggles with melee and planet navigation. The setting would be chosen at the beginning of the game, along with the ship & captain names, and the options offered would be Easy, Normal (default), Difficult, and Hardcore.

Easy:
  * lander sustains half the regular damage from all planetary factors
  * hitting the planet during melee causes half the damage
  * dynamo units generate energy at 150% the regular rate

Difficult:
  * enemy ships (except Sa-Matra pods) hit for random 100-200% of regular damage
  * lander sustains 150% of regular damage from all planetary factors
  * all lifeforms require 200% of stun amount to be incapacitated
  * planetary mineral deposits yield 50% of regular amount
  * debris scavenging yields 10% of regular amount

Hardcore - same as Difficult plus:
  * game saving is only allowed while in planetary orbit
  * hitting the planet destroys the ship, or leaves 1 crew (if Vindicator)
  * no crew hiring is allowed past 1000 unless Shofixti joined the Alliance

I'm sure you could come with other, more sophisticated adjustments, I just give an approximate idea.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 07:34:42 pm by Archivarix » Logged
pelya
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2013, 02:55:52 pm »

I would say that the game is difficult enough on the default settings. I've played SC2 as a kid, and totally used the lander bug, when I've tried to play UQM recently, with lander bug unavailable, I've discovered that the game is a constant grind for minerals, so I got bored rather quickly - I want plot lines and epic battles, not space mining simulator.
So I would rather not touch the game mechanics, but just make landers, ships and fuel in the ship yard cheaper. Especially fuel. Maybe crew a bit cheaper also, but that might beat the Shofixti plot line.
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2013, 04:27:32 pm »

I would say that the game is difficult enough on the default settings. I've played SC2 as a kid, and totally used the lander bug, when I've tried to play UQM recently, with lander bug unavailable, I've discovered that the game is a constant grind for minerals, so I got bored rather quickly - I want plot lines and epic battles, not space mining simulator.
So I would rather not touch the game mechanics, but just make landers, ships and fuel in the ship yard cheaper. Especially fuel. Maybe crew a bit cheaper also, but that might beat the Shofixti plot line.

Epic space battles is hardly present in SC2. Unless you're playing multiplayer, but you're not.

If you want easy money, I can think of two possibilities:
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pelya
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2013, 07:18:58 pm »

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If you want easy money, I can think of two possibilities:
We're talking about adding a difficulty setting to make the game appeal to people who never played it before, there's no way they'll know this tricks.


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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2013, 09:18:36 pm »

I'd say making UQM easier would be a lot like making King's Quest easier. The game might be hard, but making it easier doesn't make a whole lot of sense. This is the type of game that you're pretty much supposed to fail at the first time.

Plus, oftentimes, mining is your only excuse to explore. If you have huge amounts of resources for whatever reason, you'll be flying around doing essentially nothing, and that could get boring really fast.
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Archivarix
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2013, 09:41:13 pm »

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I'd say making UQM easier would be a lot like making King's Quest easier. The game might be hard, but making it easier doesn't make a whole lot of sense. This is the type of game that you're pretty much supposed to fail at the first time.

Fist, do not forget that the number of people willing to fail in an ancient, cartoonish-looking PC game has dropped dramatically since 1992.
Second, many younger kids are willing to delve into the storyline but do not possess the demanded reflexes and keyboard control, and get frustrated fast.
And third, sometimes one desires just to follow through the story - to take a specific snapshot, for example - and doesn't want to bother with fine fingerwork.

These are the reasons I'd like to see the "Easy" mode. As for higher modes, I'll bet my last unit of radioactives that there are plenty on this forum who will gladly pick up the glove, and ask for more.
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onpon4
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2013, 05:26:45 am »

Fist, do not forget that the number of people willing to fail in an ancient, cartoonish-looking PC game has dropped dramatically since 1992.

Fair enough, but the same probably applies to the King's Quest games (much moreso, since they can be incredibly frustrating).

I can appreciate people not appreciating primitive games because they're primitive, but frankly, I don't think making them easier would change that. It could even make the game incredibly boring (which is what I tend to think would happen if you played UQM with the proposed easier difficulty). If someone is not willing to put time into the game because the graphics are primitive, something like the HD mod is what they need. If they're not willing to put the time in because they're impatient, this probably isn't the right game for them. An RPG would make more sense.

Second, many younger kids are willing to delve into the storyline but do not possess the demanded reflexes and keyboard control, and get frustrated fast.

Well, reflexes is not how you play UQM effectively. Though unless you're talking about kids that it's questionable to say UQM is appropriate for (what with all the heavy topics), or they prefer RPGs or strategy games, I tend to think their reflexes would be just fine.

Playing UQM effectively involves avoiding combat, planning your expeditions, and being as diplomatic as possible. It's primarily an adventure game, and even the action sequences are more about choosing the right ship and only fighting when you have an advantage than action. If you treat it like an action game, you will probably be very frustrated or bored.

And third, sometimes one desires just to follow through the story - to take a specific snapshot, for example - and doesn't want to bother with fine fingerwork.

I mentioned before that there are some ways to make very easy money. One thing I forgot to mention:

(click to show/hide)

If you've played the game before and just want to "follow through the story", these tricks mitigate it substantially. It's been a long time since I've done this, but I think you can just do one mining run after Sol and then you can do this (though it's more efficient to get the speed limit breaker and big gulp first).

Or, if you're really impatient, you can make a save and edit it so that you have over 90000 RU. I've done this a couple of times.
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pelya
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2013, 03:24:57 pm »

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This is the worst advice you can give to the newbie player. Melnorme credits are much more valuable than RUbles, because you need them to upgrade your ship. And don't tell me about rainbow worlds - I've found only two of them when I was a kid, used to upgrade ship of course.
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2013, 04:05:21 pm »

This is the worst advice you can give to the newbie player. Melnorme credits are much more valuable than RUbles, because you need them to upgrade your ship. And don't tell me about rainbow worlds - I've found only two of them when I was a kid, used to upgrade ship of course.

That's why that advice isn't for newbies. It's for experienced players that want to get through faster.

Newbies should mine for RUs. It's really not that hard, and you might find important things while you do.
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Archivarix
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2013, 06:50:33 pm »

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If they're not willing to put the time in because they're impatient, this probably isn't the right game for them. An RPG would make more sense.

I got your point. UQM is supposed to be the game for Selected Few who have reasonably good keyboard control, patience to grind, and some insider knowledge. All others, get off my lawn!

Most SC2 players are old-school grognards and forget that kids play PC games differently. My 11 year old is reasonably skilled in consoles and likes SC2 story so far, but still cannot figure which planets are worth looting and which have to be avoided due to potential lander losses. My choice is either to rob her of fun by helping, teach her to scum-save, or see her howl in frustration and eventually give up on a great game, never to return.

Also, battle-tested veterans like you could appreciate an extra challenge coming from harder settings. In fact, I would appreciate a "Real" mode, where - in addition to some other numeric tweaks - manual save is not allowed at all, game is autosaved in background after every takeoff or dialog, and failure means restarting the game.
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2013, 07:53:41 pm »

I got your point. UQM is supposed to be the game for Selected Few who have reasonably good keyboard control, patience to grind, and some insider knowledge. All others, get off my lawn!

It's not exactly grinding. Grinding would be waiting in a sphere of influence to fight ships to build up RU. When you mine, you're finding new planets, and occasionally you might find something important to the story while doing so. Sure, it can get boring, but at least you have something to do; how would it be any better if you had to do the exact same thing (searching random stars) while finding nothing? I think that would be a lot more boring than finding minerals that you need.

Most SC2 players are old-school grognards and forget that kids play PC games differently. My 11 year old is reasonably skilled in consoles and likes SC2 story so far, but still cannot figure which planets are worth looting and which have to be avoided due to potential lander losses. My choice is either to rob her of fun by helping, teach her to scum-save, or see her howl in frustration and eventually give up on a great game, never to return.

13 or so was about the age that I first played UQM (and it shows in my posts on the old SCDB). That's not the same as an 11 year old today, but this was 2007, when mainstream gamers were getting into the seventh generation of video game consoles. I liked it because I like adventure games. It was fun to go around and discover the universe. Interestingly, UQM is also the only adventure game that I have ever played without looking at a walkthrough (though I didn't win the first time), and that's probably because the game never bores you, never leaves you with a complete dead-end; if you don't see anything else to do, there's mining new stars to build up your ship and fleet and hopefully find something new. Honestly, if there wasn't a huge need for mining, I think I would have been bored by the lack of quests when I didn't know exactly what to do.

Of course, not every person is going to have the same experience. Some people don't want to explore, and that's fine. But trying to make a game that doesn't appeal to them appeal to them is silly, in my opinion, at least in this case.

Also, battle-tested veterans like you could appreciate an extra challenge coming from harder settings. In fact, I would appreciate a "Real" mode, where - in addition to some other numeric tweaks - manual save is not allowed at all, game is autosaved in background after every takeoff or dialog, and failure means restarting the game.

Well, I'm not exactly a battle-tested veteran. In any case, I think I already got the biggest challenge possible by beating the game without visiting the starbase. A far more interesting challenge is multiplayer melee matches, which are very fun and exciting, and pretty easy thanks to the netgame option.
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2013, 09:20:41 pm »

I do see mining as grinding. However, I do not see insider knowledge as a requirement - paying attention is a perfectly adequate substitute.
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Steve-O
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 05:06:10 am »

I do see mining as grinding. However, I do not see insider knowledge as a requirement - paying attention is a perfectly adequate substitute.

I concur.  The last game I played I managed to make a reasonable living off mining without even paying attention to the whole "colour of the planet is a tip about what's on it" business that Hayes tells you about.  Had I been bothered to pay attention, I imagine it would've been much faster.

Although I can also see the position that mining is not "pure" grinding if you're making an effort to explore at the same time.  Follow your plot threads and mine along the way; it's not quite the same thing as mindlessly grinding out RUs from combat.
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Re: Difficulty setting
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2013, 03:07:38 pm »

I actually love mining, it's fun to scour systems and be rewarded with resources. Besides, you can usually do it alongside adventuring and exploring, you don't need to set aside a lot of time for this.

I do think that difficulty settings are a good idea. I think in many new games that it's almost impossible to fail the game, at least on lower difficulty settings. In a sense it's nicer to have free money and lots of tips come from an in-game source rather than force new players to read a walkthrough. For instance, I think it would be nice to have a resource in the game that informs you of locations of star systems that were given to you in conversations, of important hints etc.

And as a veteran player I'd enjoy both an easy mode that would let me rush through the game just to experience the story again, as well as a higher difficulty setting that would let me experience the game in a new way.
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