What to do when your game is too easy and too hard

by Matt Hackett, 2010 Aug 29

We've been preparing to release version 1.0 of our game Onslaught! and part of that process has included looking wherever we can for feedback on how to improve the game.

Onslaught! preview screenshot

Luckily for us, Onslaught! has been talked about a little bit on the 'net (especially on /r/WebGames; thanks Reddit!) so we've been able to dig through some players' comments. And we've noticed two recurring themes:

It's too easy

It's too hard

So, it's too easy AND too hard?

If the feedback was consistently that Onslaught! was too easy, here are some easy tweaks we could have made to help make the game more difficult:

Likewise, we could have reversed any of those rules to make the game easier. But what is a game designer supposed to do with conflicting requirements?

The difficulty curve

Onslaught! dragon boss

The current version of Onslaught! has a very simple algorithm for increasing difficulty. There are seven waves, the final wave consisting primarily of the dragon boss. After defeating this wave, the player is thrown back to the beginning of the loop with the number of enemies increased steadily by 50% of the first wave (so it would go: 10 bats, 15 bats, 20 bats, 25 bats, etc.).

According to Google Analytics, Onslaught!'s 10,000+ players have played the game for an average of 32 seconds each. We mentioned previously how we had failed to make a 30 second game, and for the final release of Onslaught! we decided it would be good to expand on that idea.

What we were wanting instead of a steady climb in difficulty like this was an easy beginning with a sharp increase in difficulty. So after the first couple of wave cycles, the game should rapidly increase in difficulty, providing a challenge for hardcore gamers.

The below graph shows the previous difficulty curve (v0.2, in blue), and the difficulty curve we are shooting for in v1.0 (in red):

Onslaught! difficulty curve

What we're going to do and why

This is going to be a difficult (but fun!) problem to solve. Here's what we have in mind:

We've got these improvements and many others in mind as well! Our hope is that these gameplay tweaks and content additions will make the game more enjoyable for both casual and hardcore players alike. What do you think? Is Onslaught! currently too easy or too hard?

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