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 Post subject: Combat difficulty - change proposal
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 5:25 pm 
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I've written this up after reading this:
viewtopic.php?f=30&t=14604
however I'm posting it as a new topic because that thread seems more geared towards advice to the original poster, and I want to focus on my idea here instead.

I wonder if all those people who find the combat "easy" don't happen to (unknowingly) have such graphical filters set up that they artificially slow the game for them. That makes combat much easier. (see viewtopic.php?f=30&t=13829). If you play, as a fighter, on the lowest possible graphical settings, and find combat against Uhura, the Terrorsaururs, Rakeesh or Khaleem easy, without lowering the difficulty - my hat's off to you!

While I love this game and in principle the combat system as well, I think an overhaul would be a great idea as far as the way difficulty is set up. Here's what I have in mind:

It should be possible to control difficulty with a slider that affects the maximum framerate of combat.
Currently the game speed slider controls the speed at which things happen out of combat, but once the combat screen takes over, the speed is back up to the max. I propose that either the speed slider also control combat speed, or a third one is added that specifically affects combat.

Let's think about this.

Currently the difficulty slider affects HP and what the enemies do - how often they act and if they do their more fancy/damaging attacks. This makes combat at lower difficulty levels easier, but just because the opponents spend large amounts of time just standing there like morons letting you hit them, and not doing much themselves. And what they do do, isn't very varied. So yes, with the slider down, it's sort of easy, but it's the wrong kind of easy, so to speak.

Also, it's monotonous on the hero's part, too. The tactically correct thing to do is to just pick the move that you know will work best against your given opponent and all/most of his attacks, and stick with it. There is little incentive to play with varied/special moves, because that requires that you recognize which exact attack is being used against you and what special move you can respond with. I know all the fighter's techniques in the game, the special moves, and how all the enemies behave. In principle, I also know what moves can be matched to what attacks of theirs. It's just that (if I play this game without upping the graphics to the point where it slows the game) it all happens too fast. There just isn't the time for those decisions.

Now ideally, with my idea implemented, the player would be able to control difficulty differently. You would have two independent ways to make the game easier: dumb down the enemies (current difficulty slider), or slow down the action (my proposed combat speed slider). Or any combination of those that suits you.

And if you chose the latter while keeping the enemy difficulty at maximum, you could get a fight in which your opponent reveals their full repertoire of moves, but which you can recognize and counter in real time, and actually try to apply a variety of strategies yourself. That would so rock.

In fact, if combat speed could be controlled, you guys could/should even increase the maximum difficulty of enemies. Not the HP, which would make these fight last longer and that's not necessary, but the technical stuff: the frequency with which enemies perform actions and the likelyhood of using their special moves, and their likelyhood of correctly blocking your moves and counterattacking. Make them smarter and more aggressive. It'd still be beatable, though, because you'd be able to respond to all those things. Which is more fun as far as I'm concerened:
being able to win because the opponent just stood there doing nothing 60% of the time = boring
being able to win through technique and correctly matched responses = fun

This change would not take anything away from those who like the game as it is now, since you could keep things exactly the same for yourself if you just don't touch this hypothetical combat-speed slider and leave it up to the max. But I think it'd be great if we had the choice to face enemies not dumbed down in their repertoire of moves and their aggressiveness (or even with that kind of difficultly increased) but with the action slowed down to the point where we can counter them with a variety of our own techniques.

OK, so that's my proposal and my thoughts for why I think it's good. I'm pretty sure I could have done that more concisely, but I guess I'm not the best writer out there. :) Sorry.


Edit: fixed links

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Last edited by Markus Ramikin on Thu May 10, 2012 8:20 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Combat difficulty - change proposal
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 9:39 pm 
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If you can get battle mode unlocked (the combat-specific debug mode), you can set the combat speed manually. I don't really feel like making combat speed adjustable for a bunch of reasons:

- It would make things uglier. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but the animations were kinda meant for the current speed...in order to make it look fluid at lower speeds, we'd need more animation frames.
- It would make things more boring. Or rather, it would draw out fights a bit too much. Nobody likes spending 10 minutes tickling a scorpion to death with a dagger.
- It would make things too easy. I realize that's the point of this post, but after getting to a certain point, the succes rate of your sidesteps/blocks goes up to 100%. If every enemy move is also telegraphed a mile away, it basically kills the challenge.

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 Post subject: Re: Combat difficulty - change proposal
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 10:52 pm 
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Erpy wrote:
If you can get battle mode unlocked (the combat-specific debug mode), you can set the combat speed manually.

Hm, thanks for the suggestion, but the point of my proposal is making it legitimately available for normal playthroughs and to first-time players. (And I'm certainly not chasing that stupid pizza ;) ).

Quote:
- It would make things uglier. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but the animations were kinda meant for the current speed...in order to make it look fluid at lower speeds, we'd need more animation frames.

Doesn't that make the normal non-combat gameplay uglier when you slow it down, too? And yet that option exists.

Quote:
- It would make things more boring. Or rather, it would draw out fights a bit too much. Nobody likes spending 10 minutes tickling a scorpion to death with a dagger.

That's a rather strange argument to make. I mean, whoever feels that way might choose to keep the combat speed slider up, right? For everyone else, 10 minutes spent actually winning the fight might be better than 10+ minutes spent reloading the save and retrying the fight because you couldn't win it. (And if you do win no problem at a higher speed, you won't choose to lower it).

Although in a way I do see what you're saying. That's why I suggested increasing the active-ness of the opponents (in the maximum difficulty setting) but not their HP. That way the difficulty would lie in how the opponent is defending against most of your blows and attacking often, rather than in that you need to hit them many times. So you're winning without much trouble, you can still win fast.

Quote:
- It would make things too easy. I realize that's the point of this post, but after getting to a certain point, the succes rate of your sidesteps/blocks goes up to 100%. If every enemy move is also telegraphed a mile away, it basically kills the challenge.

I'd like to make some points in response to this.
- Again, that's the point of a slider: choice. So those who prefer it more difficult can push it up. The purpose of it would be to let everyone set the game as winnable-but-challenging for oneself. Just what, I imagine, the current "game skill" slider is intended for.
- Comparing with the ridiculously easy preceding or following game in the series, this one really -is- significantly more difficult. Maybe you've been fiddling with it so long that by now you're too expert at it to appreciate that fact? But it isn't supposed to be Super Street Fighter II Turbo Hyper Fighting. It's a QFG game.
- Last but not least, as I said before, it's kinda fake ease, if the reasons I win are A. my character has beefed up in-game skills and B. the opponent just stood there not defending themselves for a large portion of the fight letting me inflict the same 7 9 7 combo, over and over. I think the game would benefit if this slider was implemented while at the same time increasing the AI of opponents on the higher difficulty settings, so they block/avoid more attacks and attack more often. Note that it would make the game -more- difficult at maximum speed and maximum enemy skill settings. There'd just be more choice.

EDIT: some typoes.

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Last edited by Markus Ramikin on Wed May 19, 2010 12:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Combat difficulty - change proposal
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:13 pm 
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Also: note that the thread I linked to at the top, the "combat is way too hard", has people admit they fiddled with graphical settings to adjust how fast combat is happening. Clearly, there is room for such a thing to be a legitimate in-game option.

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 Post subject: Re: Combat difficulty - change proposal
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 2:17 am 
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The problem is not that it's hard, but that it's hard for starting characters. Because the monsters don't get better as time passes, you eventually reach a point in which they become too easy you can win without troubles even after maxing the difficulty slider (except against some enemies).

I guess the problem is that it's too harsh an introduction of the combat system for new players that wander the desert before meeting Uhura, and for people used to the way the system worked in the original QFG2. Things have improved since the first release, though, and now you do more damage on the easiest difficulty level.

If I were to design this game, I would have fun in giving players a "rough introduction" to the life in the desert, because it makes improving skills more satisfactory, but I wouldn't happily kill them, either. Actually, characters can always escape from combat by pressing the Escape Key, but unfortunately you as a player don't learn about it until you meet Uhura or read the manual. In an alternate world, the hero would escape automatically before getting slaughtered in his first fight, and a window would pop up talking about the advantages of learning more about fighting in this setting, alongside with the option of running away by pressing Esc.

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 Post subject: Re: Combat difficulty - change proposal
PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2010 4:05 am 
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That's an interesting idea, actually, with the automatic escape on the first time you're about to die, followed by useful information. I like it.

Though if you meant it in opposition to my idea, I don't think they're mutually exclusive. My point, after all, isn't as simple as that "the game is too hard", either.

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