Hello Julian & other team.
I would like to share an Idea that can improve game replayability, provide us (game fans) more fun and broke game development routine. There are three topics to be discussed:
- Save/Load exploit as game mechanics
- Rich mechanics on high difficulty levels
- Balance as difficulty level
Usually difficulty levels differs in strait way, monsters are nor tough and resources are more rare. I propose to differentiate difficulty levels by different/orthogonal approach.
Save/Load exploit as game mechanics
First I would like to talk about game difficulty and save load mechanics. Ironman mode usually comes as different difficulty dimension. Some people, including me, never use this option. I do not think ironman is a good option to be integral part of game difficulty, especially for games like XCOM, where mechanics is not 100% transparent.
On the other hand I think save/load mechanics must be limited to avoid exploit, and planning of where and when game should be saved must be a part of game strategy on non basic levels. It makes game exploration more attractive if you can undo some action and see what can happen if you behave in a different way without repeating whole the way. otherwise exploration is a tricky way and games looses this dimension in my eyes. For example such problem appeared in Darkest Dungeon. A single mistake ruins whole the game and I just feared to improvise. This exploit is good for the basic level where game mechanics is learned, but on high difficulty it should be limited. For example two saves per game month or 3 saves per 10 battle turns
As far in forest the more tough are partisans or give us more rich mechanics on high difficulty levels
It would be nice for game to force player to challenge high difficulty levels by making game mechanics more common. Just more epics on high difficulty levels. Youy skip the rest of chapter you you understand what it is about. Otherwise "stay and listen" (C) D.Cain. Let me explain it on example.
Let say that game could provide to player an access to epic weapons as psionic or high-tech via some events. Player has to fulfill some strategy to make those events happen.
On base difficulty level those abilities are redundant/Not vital and thus those events are very rare. Not vital I mean that game is easy without them and player can skip this mechanics to reveal the main plot, (yet some scenes could be missed). In other words plots that allows epic weapons are just for fun and to expose this mechanics. Even more, on this difficulty both development ways ( to find psionics or find high-tech weapons) could be even forbidden to happen in a single walkthrough. Anyway p[layer should be so bored when he achieves them both so he should finish the game as fast as it happens.
On middle level those strategies are vital, and player have to seek an access at least to one of them. So access to them is less depends on random. I mean that player should not waste his attention to make those event to happen. The game should be balanced such way that player should rush for game end once any of the epic abilities are reached. There could be no time to explore another way.
On high level player must have them both (psionic and high-tech) and thus have to fulfill both strategies. Even more, once both abilities are reached, player can find that there is a synergy and epic weapons are multiply power of the team instead of simple sum.
And for the impossible levels the following dimension should be used
Balance as difficulty tool.
Game should be balanced - is today dogma. That is a good rule. Especially in the multiplayer. In single player this rule is a good one, but in a game where player straggle with unknown, I think it should be broken on extreme difficulty levels.Why? Because victory strategy should be determined in the game and not the outside. On this difficulty level player should decide by himself in every walkthrough who is the most dangerous enemy and what is the most powerful soldier class instead to get from the forum that each squad must have a medic and canoneer.
Yet, there could be some preset balances. For example one for melee units and other for ranged. Additionally they could be hidden until game with this balance is won. User can have option to select"
- already "opened" balance,
- any of hidden
- just random and look for clues to find out what is the current balance