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Game Balancing Woes: Have you experienced this?

04-16-2014, 11:59 PM
#1
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Singapore
Posts: 222
Game Balancing Woes: Have you experienced this?

Here's the scenario:

I made a puzzle game, with all planned mechanics in, then I went on to perform level design. As I designed, I kept the difficulty of the game to something challenging even for myself.

The problem comes when I let others around me to play test it, these playtesters ranged from non-gamers to casual gamers to avid gamers to game developers. I noticed them having problems even with the earlier levels of the game, eg, those levels were designed to be solvable with minimal moves of 1 or 2 as a form of tutorial stages (without text prompts)

This happened with the last game I designed as well, it was a collection of reflex based minigames. When I first let others play it, I realized they hardly could get anywhere near the kind of scores I was able to achieve easily in each of those minigames.

The puzzle game, as well as each of the minigames, were designed to be single-mechanic games that should not be hard to understand. I was relatively surprised each time seeing them play. I would go back and tweak timings and stuffs for the minigames until things felt right. This process is very painful for my current puzzle game, which has 240 stages planned, 180 already designed and 60 of those had already gone through one round of redesign (lowered difficulty).

At this point I still feel like I SHOULD lower the difficulty even more by better level designs (which means I have to go through most of the 180 levels again)... I'm kind of lost at this point. I'm only telling myself to finish up entering the data for the 180 levels and put out a testflight build for more people to playtest before deciding on level redesigns.

I do not know if there is a term for what I am experiencing, but i'm telling my friends that i am having "Game Balancing Blindness", either that or my initial batch of playtesters is not the right target audience (maybe they just don't like puzzle games?), which, makes me sad too because I made it single mechanic so that it could target a wider audience.

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Rotapix | 7 Pips | Run White Mouse Run |
Singularity - Modern Lights Out(NEW)
04-17-2014, 01:11 AM
#2
I experienced something similar and, because I wanted to target a wide audience, I made our game easier and the tutorial more in-depth. Once I balanced those two our game was easy for casual players to pick up.

It depends on your target audience but if you are going for a larger group, you will probably need to make your game easier. Also it is very common for a designer to make their game way too hard because they have been playing it too long and don't understand how it is for a new player.

04-17-2014, 01:40 AM
#3
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Singapore
Posts: 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by RaindropGames View Post
Also it is very common for a designer to make their game way too hard because they have been playing it too long and don't understand how it is for a new player.
I understood that and was actively trying to avoid that. I came from a background of enjoying playing and designing games with too many parameters and formulae (read: rpgs), but now I have an immense appreciation for games that are designed to be "simple and fun" or "elegant with simplicity".

Hopefully I can further hone my game design skills with more games I make.

And hopefully I can get the testflight build up this weekend and get more people's feedback on the game, maybe then I can have a better direction for my puzzle game.

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Rotapix | 7 Pips | Run White Mouse Run |
Singularity - Modern Lights Out(NEW)
04-17-2014, 03:02 AM
#4
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,002
If you think it needs to be easier it nearly always does.

You can always add a hardcore mode.

Please follow me on twitter @JamesDestined I post lots of development from both my game creation and professional development.
Time to measure - Brain challenge https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/time...820864672?mt=8
The light box, can you solve it (free) (on google play too)
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-...6300?ls=1&mt=8
04-17-2014, 03:33 AM
#5
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Singapore
Posts: 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by Destined View Post
If you think it needs to be easier it nearly always does.

You can always add a hardcore mode.
oh hey, I just saw your game The Light Box and my puzzle game is pretty similar in mechanic! Except mines in 2D (I can't do 3D if my life depend on it). Its about switching on and off adjacent tiles til you switch them all off.

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Rotapix | 7 Pips | Run White Mouse Run |
Singularity - Modern Lights Out(NEW)
04-17-2014, 05:35 AM
#6
Joined: Aug 2013
Posts: 1,002
Quote:
Originally Posted by unexpect3rd View Post
oh hey, I just saw your game The Light Box and my puzzle game is pretty similar in mechanic! Except mines in 2D (I can't do 3D if my life depend on it). Its about switching on and off adjacent tiles til you switch them all off.
Mine is probably too hard but I made it because I liked the 2D versions of the game and had never seen a 3D one.

I am surprised with how much people struggle with both my puzzle games (the light box was my effort an easier puzzle game).

Please follow me on twitter @JamesDestined I post lots of development from both my game creation and professional development.
Time to measure - Brain challenge https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/time...820864672?mt=8
The light box, can you solve it (free) (on google play too)
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-...6300?ls=1&mt=8
04-17-2014, 08:06 AM
#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Destined View Post
If you think it needs to be easier it nearly always does. .
Even if you don't!

I went through something very similar with Pickpawcket. I had our 'thrown distraction' (read: wind up squirrels) as the first tool I gave to players. Then watched as they struggled with aiming and moving. Or accidentally throwing them instead of moving.

Ended up having to resort the levels and now this is the last tool we give players because swiping is harder than tapping apparently. Never saw that coming until we did it, then it became obvious.

Tho, difficulty is always a mixed bag. If you look at Pickpawcket reviews, it ranged from 'way too easy' to 'way too hard'.

Looking for a writer? PM me

Game Designer of:
Family Feud 2 My First Huge Apple Feature!
Pickpawcket
And a bunch of other games you've never heard of!
04-18-2014, 05:21 AM
#8
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Singapore
Posts: 222
And then there is the problem of identifying whether its a poorly designed mechanic or is it really a level difficulty issue. This will differentiate between poor level designs or simply poor game design.

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Rotapix | 7 Pips | Run White Mouse Run |
Singularity - Modern Lights Out(NEW)
04-18-2014, 08:26 AM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by unexpect3rd View Post
And then there is the problem of identifying whether its a poorly designed mechanic or is it really a level difficulty issue. This will differentiate between poor level designs or simply poor game design.
There's that too. Being both level and game design for that project I had no one to blame but myself

Looking for a writer? PM me

Game Designer of:
Family Feud 2 My First Huge Apple Feature!
Pickpawcket
And a bunch of other games you've never heard of!
04-18-2014, 10:40 AM
#10
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: Singapore
Posts: 222
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackharon View Post
There's that too. Being both level and game design for that project I had no one to blame but myself
Thats one reason i like working on a project alone, for now. If my game fails, it is definitely my own fault, easier for me to accept, learn and move on

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Rotapix | 7 Pips | Run White Mouse Run |
Singularity - Modern Lights Out(NEW)