Changing difficulty mid-campaign

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Scatha
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Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by Scatha » March 11th, 2011, 12:48 pm

regarding: http://forums.wesnoth.org/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=15602

So I recently had pretty much this same idea. Before posting a new thread, though, I ran a search, and discovered this. From this thread it looks like there is a moderate amount of support, and some objections, but no resolution. I believe I have something to add.

Firstly a comment on how to set up a user interface. I'd suggest that at the beginning of each scenario, rather than forcing you to choose a difficulty level (as was originally suggested, and rightly criticised), there should be a 'change difficulty' button at one point as an alternative to the 'continue' button you'd normally press to launch into the mission. The 'back to start of level' loading option might have to be altered slightly to allow for this, too. But the principal idea is not to force this option on users: make continuing at the current difficulty the default unless they explicitly go looking to change it.

That said, I think there are several different situations in which this would see use. Of course some players would prefer not to use it, and may believe it would be better if everyone agreed. But this doesn't stop the game keeping the auto-save at the start of each turn feature, and making it very easy to rewind a turn or two. The reason is that some people enjoy playing the game this way.

Ways I think it would be used:

- Reducing the difficulty of a campaign. Perhaps the most important. After investing a lot of time in a campaign, someone finds they're totally stuck on a level. Perhaps they go onto the forums and ask for advice, and are told "Oh, you need a better recall list". But they don't *want* to go back and play the whole thing again, they want to continue, with *their* heroes, and take this thing to the end. Reducing the difficulty is a perfect answer, one that keeps them enjoying the game rather than turning from it in frustration.

- Increasing the difficulty of a campaign. Perhaps after a sticky start, a few levels in you find that you're steamrolling the opponents and not losing any units. Again, you may not want to abandon your trained team, but you'd like an extra challenge now. Pushing the difficulty up a notch is perfect.

(I'd note that because of the way your recall list matters, the two cases above both also give more of an interpolation of possible difficulty levels, and might be perfect for someone for whom normal was too easy but hard was too hard)

- Decreasing the difficulty for a particularly hated scenario in an otherwise loved campaign. Just to get it past quickly and without much thought. Of course you may say that people are going against the campaign designer's wishes, but (a) I'm sure a fair number of people will only play at static difficulties (to give themselves a higher level of satisfaction), and (b) players can work out what they enjoy! If they want to breeze past a mission that was meant to wear them down, let them!

- Increasing the difficulty for a particularly loved scenario in a campaign which you can't manage at the higher difficulty entirely. It lets you spend more time and have more challenge on the level you most enjoy playing. What's not to like?

---

I understand that in the current set-up there's no technical reason why different difficulty levels of campaigns need bear any relationship to each other, which might make this proposal just impossible/meaningless. However, do any of the mainline campaigns use this? My impression is certainly that it would work for all of the ones I've played on more than one difficulty level.
Last edited by Gambit on March 11th, 2011, 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Split from a several year old thread.

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beetlenaut
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Re: Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by beetlenaut » March 11th, 2011, 6:50 pm

Scatha wrote:But they don't *want* to go back and play the whole thing again, they want to continue, with *their* heroes, and take this thing to the end. Reducing the difficulty is a perfect answer, one that keeps them enjoying the game rather than turning from it in frustration.
I think we lose a lot of new players for this reason, and this would be a good fix. The implementation described sounds good.
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Dixie
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Re: Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by Dixie » March 11th, 2011, 7:57 pm

Scatha wrote: I understand that in the current set-up there's no technical reason why different difficulty levels of campaigns need bear any relationship to each other, which might make this proposal just impossible/meaningless. However, do any of the mainline campaigns use this? My impression is certainly that it would work for all of the ones I've played on more than one difficulty level.
While the idea would be good in general, I've had an idea for a campaign that I may or may not create that does jsut this: complety different 2-4 first scenarios on varying difficulty levels, with different heroes, recruit lists and slightly different storyline. The nice thing being that it'd all get tied up together eventually, but still, such a feature would screw up my idea...

But meh, I think you should do it anyway, and I might do my campaign anyway, it isn't such a big deal... Or maybe we could add a key in WML in the [scenario] tag to enable/disable this feature.
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beetlenaut
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Re: Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by beetlenaut » March 11th, 2011, 8:27 pm

Dixie wrote:such a feature would screw up my idea...
You could just put a note at the beginning of that campaign (the way UtBS does) that tells you not to change the difficulty, or the story won't make sense. Actually, if the scenarios had a different progression, changing the difficulty would probably have no effect: If you could only have reached scenario 03c by playing in hard, switching to easy wouldn't automatically take you to 03a.
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GagarinGambit
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Re: Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by GagarinGambit » March 13th, 2011, 1:54 am

Being able to change the difficulty halfway through a campaign is a very good suggestion, it would significantly increase the campaign fun for many people.

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Scatha
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Re: Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by Scatha » March 14th, 2011, 12:27 pm

So, is this enough support that I should submit a feature request? (as well as the people commenting in support, there's some inference from the fact that the thread has been read 120+ times and nobody has posted any objections)

The interface issues aren't completely addressed here: I outline an approach which seems reasonable in being accessible but still non-obtrusive, but there are some corner cases which probably need to be worked out. However, I'm not sure whether it's actually helpful to try further to work out the details at this point; rather this might be down to whoever was able to implement this (in the sense that it seems sensible to leave them freedom to do whatever is most natural, not in the sense that I want to leave additional work to them).

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Re: Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by beetlenaut » March 14th, 2011, 3:39 pm

Scatha wrote:So, is this enough support that I should submit a feature request?
Yes.
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Scatha
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Re: Changing difficulty mid-campaign

Post by Scatha » March 14th, 2011, 4:39 pm

OK, feature request submitted.

I had some slightly more complete thoughts on the best user interface (after looking at the current game interface for beginning scenarios). I included these in the feature request, and reproduce the relevant part for discussion here:
The most natural place to have this button may be on the objective screen given as a splash screen at the start of turn 1; clicking the button would bring up a prompt with the different options of difficulty, while clicking anywhere else on the screen would retain the current behaviour of letting you start your first turn. This has the advantage that you automatically get the option to change the difficulty if you use the 'Back to turn 1' option because things have gone badly for you. There is a slight inefficiency in that the scenario has already loaded, and will need to reload if the difficulty is changed, but this is not a big deal. It would be necessary to include this option only at the start of a scenario (and only on campaigns), not if the objectives change in the middle of a scenario giving you another splash screen.

This is not the only place this option could go. It might go on the last screen before the mission is loaded. However in that case the "back to turn 1" option would need to be changed to allow the changing of difficulty (as this is likely to be one of the most common places for the feature to be used). Putting it on the objective splash screen is therefore likely to have the least impact on users who are not looking to use the feature.

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