Why have many difficulties

I alwaysconsidered different difficulties in games a given. There’s nothing wrong with that, I (for one) may use lesser difficulty levels to understand how a game work or to learn the general aspect of a level (I mostly do the later on bullet hell games). But this is how the player sees the matter.

For my february #OneGameAMonth entry I’m developing, once again, a shooter. Though I’m doing it from scratch, many concepts are being used from my previous shmup. One of those is dividing a level in waves. Since I want the game to be proceduraly generated (based on those), I ranked them from easy to hard.

While I wondered about how to make new waves a question began to bug be:

  • What makes each wave difficulty different?

At first, I thought it was only about how many enemies/bullets are on the screen at the same time. That isn’t a wrong metric, but the game gets kind plain that way… Following that idea, I would start with some easy waves to warm up the player, then throw some normal waves and later drop some hard ones. No problems with that, but… what if I gave meaning to each wave?

The easy wave indeed shouldn’t be dangerous. But if it’s reason is to give the player power-ups I find only natural to probably put it after a boss battle or a hard wave. Not only to ease the game pace, but to try and help the player to move on if he get’s hit on a previous wave. This (for me) new concept makes the “normal” from the normal wave more clear. Now I don’t think about it being of “mean difficulty” but rather about it not having any major danger and, at the same time, not buffing the player too much.

Enough chat. Back to work. This should help me… I hope. XD

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