What it Does
|SiN Episodes' Dynamic Difficulty system in a nutshell.
The Dynamic Difficulty system is one of the most interesting and complex aspects of the first SiN Episodes installment, Emergence. It constantly analyzes the player's performance and their actions, and adapts itself to their particular playing style. The system was designed to make sure that any player, no matter how good or bad they are at playing first-person shooters, will have a challenge custom built for them.
This challenge updates continuously, so as new players get better the game will start to throw more challenges at them. If a seasoned vet comes back and plays the game a second time and starts blowing through the enemies, they'll be in for some real surprises the second go around. The goal is that no one will find the game a walk in the park, but likewise no one should ever get stuck, unable to finish.
One of the strengths of the system is being able to make decisions fairly specific to player actions. Instead of just adjusting health, damage, or ammo amounts (like many games do), the dynamic adjustments can focus on whether you're accurate with your weapons, how you shoot, if you are cautious and avoid death and damage, or whether you take as much as you dish out. Ritual is trying to build a system that will prevent players from finding loopholes that encourage abuse.
In Ritual's own playtests, a player went through a section of the game and noticed the enemies were wearing helmets and fighting with secondary pistol fire. After dying, they reloaded from their last saved game and noticed that this time the number of enemies had changed, they were now using shotguns, and weren't wearing as many helmets. In both cases the challenge level was about the same, but the experience was quite a bit different. The system is truly dynamic, though many of the changes are subtle enough that only multiple play-throughs will show how things have changed.
How it Works
|Your human enemies will start wearing helmets as your headshot ratio increases.
The Dynamic Difficulty system basically works in cycles. The game watches how you are doing in combat, keeps statistics on everything you do, and attempts to change the game to reflect your play style. There are multiple advisors watching specific play parameters, and making recommendations on how to change the game. Each advisor can recommend a variety of changes to make the game easier or harder if need be. The decision maker picks a few of these and then monitors to see if the changes have an effect.
For example, if the system noticed that you were constantly low and health, and it decided to make the enemies drop more health packs, it will see if your average health improved. If it did, it will give itself a little bonus for the successful decision, increasing the chance of this decision being made again under similar circumstances. Conversely, if your health hasn't improved, it will try something else in order to help you, since the previous suggestion obviously didn't work out. Because the dynamic difficulty is constantly monitoring itself, if decisions aren't keeping the challenge level where we want it, the game will attempt to make different decisions.
As with everything in Ritual's episodic content, the team will continue to build and improve on this system. The goal is to challenge every level of gamer, and to ensure everyone can actually complete the game.With short development cycles, the team cannot afford to do months of playtesting and balancing, so they opted to create a more powerful dynamic system that should provide every gamer with a truly unique experience.