In building Hercules, one frequent problem that came up was with balancing the game to a degree where absolutely everyone could play it without snapping their devices in frustration. There would commonly be situations where one set of individuals (generally the true testers) were able to fly through the entire game with nary a complaint in regards to difficulty. In contrast, there was always this other group of people who always had problems, ranging from supposedly impossible jumps to apparently unkillable enemies. So what do we do in this situation?
Since this is about difficulty and not bugs, the first thing to look for would be confirmation that other testers were indeed having similar issues. However in a number of situations, those having extreme difficulty were limited to the more casual testers,while the hardened testers had no problems whatsoever.
The simplest solutions for this was to ensure that the different difficulty levels catered to these different classes of players. As a result, there is a rather huge difference in difficulty between “Soldier”, “Captain” and “Demigod” difficulties. The first caters to the truly casual who want to play through without sweat, while latter caters to those who want to die quickly (or who are simply better than I am). “Captain” – in my case – is the happy medium, as well as the game default.
Another thing previously misunderstood was the fact that certain weapons were designed to be ineffective against certain opponents. Case in point, the snake was previously very strong against any weapon other than piercing types (such as the the bow). This was designed to be easy to spot visually in five stages:
- Zero Damage: Enemy neither bleeds nor staggers.
- Minimal Damage: Enemy staggers but does not bleed.
- Medium Damage: Enemy staggers and bleeds a little.
- Heavy Damage: Enemy staggers and bleeds.
- Max Damage: Enemy staggers and bleeds. Impact shockwave is seen.
Again, confusion reigned on the part of some testers who attempted to slay enemies using the very weapons that were not designed to kill them.
Eventually, this was minimized by increasing the effectiveness of previously ineffective weapons against enemies. In other words, weapons that previously did zero (or close to zero) damage against certain opponents now do at least a minimal amount damage. The quickest way to learn what weapon is the most effective against enemies is to simply try them out! Note that this does not apply to bosses. They may still be totally immune to certain weapons.
At the end of the day, I think Hercules fares pretty well in catering to those at different ends of the difficulty spectrum. Taking into account the generally more casual nature of the gamers on this platform, I have no doubt that some will have to put a bit more effort into getting into the swing of things than others. However, it will hopefully be a fun experience rather than a frustrating or boring one.