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Serious Sam 4 The place to talk about Croteam's next title: Serious Sam 4! What do you know? What do you hope to see in the next Sam game?

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Old 09-13-2015, 10:57 PM   #1   Add To Ignore List  
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Default So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Strawman example: should they make it completely numerical or should levels be designed with first with easy difficulty and then adding things to accommodate more enemies and other stuff for higher difficulties?
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Old 09-14-2015, 04:10 AM   #2   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

I like the old way best: Enemies do more damage and they/their projectiles move faster, while there are also more enemies on higher difficulties or they're replaced with tougher variants. That keeps you on your toes, while with Sam3's method, if you're playing the game again after finishing it on one difficulty you still know exactly what you can expect. That takes a lot of the challenge out.
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Old 09-14-2015, 05:30 AM   #3   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Damage amount difference should be reduced as it is a bit too numerical (number of mistakes you can make rather than number of opportunities for mistakes).

I think more enemies is probably the best option. Especially if the amount of different enemies at a time is different. Or number of directions where they attack from varies.

(For an example, 3 kleers attacking at the front on easy and normal while on harder it's 2 attacking from the front and 1 from the back).

Sometimes replacing enemy with tougher variant may also not be the best option. I think gnaars and beheaded soldiers in Serious Sam 1 were underused in serious difficulty where instead it should have been better if they had fought alongside stronger enemies. You know, for target prioritization purposes.

In level designs, some other differences could also be made. For an example:

1. Some gimmick rooms have different layouts.
2. In some kind of arenas, there is all the ammo lying in one place in easier difficulties. However, in harder difficulties, it's scattered across the room so you have to move around to not run out of ammo.
3. In harder difficulties, there may be extra rooms you have to go into or maybe extra attack waves.
4. Different amount of phases for bosses.
5. Some more complex enemy attack behaviour. Rather than just some enemies having faster movement, what about things like lava golems' projectiles fragment after hitting the surface when playing on harder difficulties?
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:46 AM   #4   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

You should keep in mind that what you're suggesting may set the bar a bit too high. Croteam initially programmed easy and serious difficulty to give you 200% max ammo, but when they realized they didn't have the gameplay to back it up (the amount of enemies is exactly the same on all difficulties, the only difference is damage you receive) they removed it from serious mode, while easy mode only got a 150% increase. I'd be happy enough to have more monsters on higher difficulties, as long as it's not only an increase in damage you receive.

As for the tougher enemies, that's not exactly my point. In my map pack, I always try to have little guys fighting alongside the big ones. Sometimes I replace a Pumpkin with a Werebull, or a minor Biomech with a major Biomech. But there are always smaller guys around, so I think it's very doable. I've also added an extra wave of monsters on serious mode or co-op on occasion.

I agree that the damage disparity is too high, it should be a bit more uniform. A Kleer does 60 damage on serious mode in Serious Sam HD, that's just too much considering you sometimes fight 30 of them at once. Kamikazes also run insanely fast compared to the easier difficulties. But I think there should be damage differences between difficulties, though not too much. As for your list, I agree on all counts. The question is if Croteam has the time to add stuff like that.

I still play Quake I regularly, and even nightmare difficulty poses no challenge anymore, so I started experimenting with QuakeC to make it better. I made certain enemies fire at your position on lower difficulties, while they fire in a predicting pattern on higher difficulties (Ogres, Enforcers). I've also programmed a function where I add more enemies on higher difficulties. The game feels much more fit for the mouselook generation now.
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:26 AM   #5   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Although how many of my 5 points strengthen the 3 pillars of Serious Sam gameplay mechanics. That means higher difficulties require greater knowing how these mechanics work.
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Old 09-14-2015, 04:38 PM   #6   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Well, serious difficulty has always been rather unforgiving. I definitely think that the increase in difficulty should be through:
- More enemies
- Stronger enemies
- More challenging combinations of enemies

As the enemy count grows and the enemies are strengthened, your basic skills with weapons and your use of them has to improve - you have the same amount of ammo for more/stronger enemies, so you have to use weaker weapons for weaker enemies and improve your accuracy with all weapons.
A more challenging combination of enemies means that you're forced to move more and use more complex patterns of movement, while still managing the increasing challenge of weapon choice, accuracy and ammo. And you're forced to prioritize between enemies more aggressively than you would be with a more uniform set of foes.

The ammo and health pickup can be based on a "just enough" philosophy in serious difficulty, and with the decreased number and strength of enemies on lower difficulties (possibly with slightly reduced damage as well), it should automatically make the balance for those lower difficulties decent for less skilled players.

As Discy said, right now there's hardly any room for error on serious difficulty. In my opinion, there should always be room for error.

While coop has and inevitably always will be easier, a similar approach could be used - more enemies, stronger enemies, different combinations. Also, spawn multipliers seemed to work fairly decent in Insamnity, so perhaps that should be an option. Multipliers should be rounded down to nearest integer (e.g. a spawner which spawns one enemy, should still spawn one enemy with a spawn multiplier of 1.5, while a spawner which normally spawns 2, should spawn 3 with a spawn multiplier of 1.5).

For coop, it would also be nice to have enemies that are capable of targeting multiple players at the same time. That way, you don't necessarily have to increase the number of enemies nearly as much. Combined with the health increase we normally see on enemies in coop, you'd be able to keep the challenge level nearly as high in coop as in SP.

But then, none of the above is terribly different from the way it's always been done in SS games. It's more a matter of tuning it more towards more/stronger enemies and less towards higher damage. Or in other words, increase the challenge, don't decrease the number of mistakes we're allowed to make.
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:15 AM   #7   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the amount of enemies exactly the same on all difficulties? That's quite different from previous Sam games.
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:47 AM   #8   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

To Discy: The amount of enemies in Serious Sam 3 differs slightly. But only very slightly. In some levels, the amount of enemies is almost the same.

Anyway,

How to make non-numerical difficulty so as little as possible extra development time is used?

Probably like this?

1. Make basic level layout and have an idea what you should get and when.
2. Start adding enemies. First add easy difficulty enemies, then normal, then hard and finally serious. Although how to add co-op enemies?
3. Add extra rooms or objectives in the same manner.
4. Then add pickups, taking serious difficulty + "just enough" philosophy into account. This means that that should adjust to easier difficulties.

I'm sure that there are few tricks and things that can be added to level editor to make counters count the right amount of enemies to open doors/start the next wave easier.
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Old 09-15-2015, 09:42 AM   #9   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

I love the SS1 style of differences between the difficulties with different enemy counts and enemy types, there are even some slight differences in the levels themselves (for example the crusher room in Sierra de Chiapas has some safe alcoves on the sides with the buttons on tourist and easy). I also like how difficulty is handled in Killing Floor 2, it would be great if SS4 difficulty is the love child of those 2.
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Old 09-15-2015, 03:00 PM   #10   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Quote:
In some kind of arenas, there is all the ammo lying in one place in easier difficulties. However, in harder difficulties, it's scattered across the room so you have to move around to not run out of ammo.
For me it's quite the opposite, it's hard to hold one place but easier to move around and pick ammo as you got.

AN option "Double in serious mode" must be back. ALso I liked the trick with removing some of Serious Bombs on higher difficulties in SSHD. This way you need to take dozens of enemies on your bare chest.
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Old 09-15-2015, 06:28 PM   #11   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

I never used the Serious Bomb during my Serious playthrough. It feels cheap, and you don't get the monster score in the classics.
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Old 09-19-2015, 02:27 PM   #12   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

It's not like Serious Bomb was the most balanced power-up in existence, but other bonuses allowed to change total power level of battles easily. Just because Serious Damage exists you can spawn three times more enemies for serious carnage, or place it strategicaly for player to use at right time.
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Old 09-19-2015, 03:00 PM   #13   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

I think instead of something cheap like the Serious Bomb, the game needs more AOE (Area of Effect) weapons that are good at taking out groups of enemies at once. It is indeed a very interesting oversight of the Sam games, that while the series is about taking out a lot of enemies, there are only a few weapons that are capable of doing that effectively (cannon is obviously one, but the flamethrower and the C4 also comes to mind, the Devastator is also, but not quite; interestingly, the Rocket/Grenade launcher is mostly good taking out single targets). Most weapons are only good 1v1, a mechanic that would only fit well in games where you fight only a few enemies at once.
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Old 09-19-2015, 03:10 PM   #14   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

The rocket launcher is mostly nerfed in Serious Sam 3 in the sense that splash damage doesn't really deal much damage at all and rockets are incredibly slow.

The rocket launcher is also ineffective against Khnums as it's the only weapon that damages them that makes them prance around like a ballerina. It's also not effective against Technopolips as they also hover around like ballerinas and you have to be able to predict your rockets ten seconds ahead. Also, it's terrible with Witch-Brides as they finish an attack before the rocket reaches them, unless they're pretty close. The rocket launcher is actually pretty shitty if you consider it.

Make sure that is fixed in Sam4, Solais.
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Old 09-19-2015, 03:24 PM   #15   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Multi-chaptered nature of Serious Sam allows possibilities more weapons in-game and thus more options for level designers.
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Old 09-19-2015, 03:27 PM   #16   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Weird, I found the rocket launcher to be the second best weapon for Bitch-Brides after the Cannon. I havent had the issue where a rocket wont reach them before they deal damage, even at longer ranges.
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Old 09-19-2015, 05:58 PM   #17   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

On serious mode it's really important to get out of her seizure procedure before any other enemies get into your face (i.e. kleers, scrapjacks, big arachnoids). This isn't really possible with the rocket launcher, so when I fight a Witch-Bride, I always select either the cannon or devastator. Hell, even the minigun is a more viable options for me than the rocket launcher.
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Old 09-19-2015, 06:08 PM   #18   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

that could be the reason, I haven't played SS2 and SS3 on higher difficulty than Normal yet, as I don't see the point since they don't have more enemies like SS1 does...
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Old 09-19-2015, 06:16 PM   #19   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Well you know that age old saying: Once you go serious, going back is deleterious.
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Old 09-19-2015, 06:51 PM   #20   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

I wonder if these were time constraints that really didn't allow to make enemy count more varied in Serious Sam 3?
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Old 09-19-2015, 07:36 PM   #21   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

As far as I know (and don't take this as the word of a CT employee, because I was told this back then when I was just a tester in SS3 beta), the enemies weren't that varied in later difficulties because of performance reasons. I recall a quote that said "even the current enemy count is on the edge of making the game run too slow".
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Old 09-19-2015, 07:54 PM   #22   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

But one thing that should be noted that the fight sizes that varied the greatest in Serious Sam 1 were small ambushes. Larger fights usually had a few extra enemies such as reptiloids while fighting 30 or so ground troops at the same time.
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Old 09-20-2015, 04:29 AM   #23   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solais View Post
As far as I know (and don't take this as the word of a CT employee, because I was told this back then when I was just a tester in SS3 beta), the enemies weren't that varied in later difficulties because of performance reasons. I recall a quote that said "even the current enemy count is on the edge of making the game run too slow".
So what does enemy variety have to do with enemy count, then?
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Old 09-20-2015, 05:57 AM   #24   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Artman said "didn't allow to make enemy count more varied in Serious Sam 3" meaning "varied enemy count on different difficulties". At least, that's how I understood it.
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Old 09-20-2015, 07:36 AM   #25   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

But I think he meant that in the last level the enemy variety is really low.
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Old 09-20-2015, 08:48 AM   #26   Add To Ignore List  
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Default Re: So how do you think Croteam should handle difficulty levels in SS4?

Well, what I meant that the number enemies per level between difficulties should have been higher in Serious Sam 3 as the engine could have handled it well.
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