GDC session highlight: Making a game fun for all kinds of players

There were so many awesome sessions going on at the GDC, it was hard to choose which ones to go to! Luckily, attendees get access to the recordings after the event, so we’re looking forward to watching the sessions we didn’t attend in person.

When beginning to write this post, I noticed that GDC team have made some of this year’s sessions available to watch for free on YouTube already. As they continue to add to the playlist, I will post the more relevant talks here with my comments.

  Just how hard would you like your game to be?

Just how hard would you like your game to be?

One of the sessions GDC already published makes great points about building games that can be fun to play for a wide range of users. We wanted to link this video here for you and share our thoughts on how this relates to what we’re doing here with Spy DNA.

The two main takeaways from this talk for me are:

  • Ability to remap controls is not just nice; for some users, it’s critical to be able to play at all.

    Spy DNA is primarily targeting the PC market, and we’re planning to allow the player to use either mouse and keyboard, or the game controller to play. To make our game playable for people who can’t use the standard key mappings, we will include the ability for the users to remap their controls to suit their needs.
  • From “almost impossible to lose” to “almost impossible to win” is a sliding scale of difficulty, and many players would enjoy choices beyond just “easy” and “hard.”

    We are giving this one a lot of thought.  We want to avoid the temptation to take the easy way out and just make a the enemies stronger or more numerous.  Instead we are putting our effort into the most realistic version of the game.  This will be the hardest setting.  For players that do not enjoy the harshness of realistic combat, we will have a variety of options to make the game easier.  Examples would be accelerated healing for the PCs, starting with more skill points, or a reduction in the enemy's ability to land the most damaging shots. 

    We understand we are building a hard-core combat system that will be more challenging than most strategy games. However, once someone buys our game, it’s theirs to play, the way they want to.  So if limiting the enemy to low-power weapons is something you want to do, that will be your option.   

    This means that in Spy DNA, on one end of the continuum, there will be a full “ironman” mode, where you don’t get to reload, and only very few (if any) checkpoints. On the other end, there will be a super-easy mode, for people who either don’t have the ability to master the harder difficulty levels, or don’t play the game for the challenge.

    We don’t want to limit the difficulty settings to just Hard, Medium, and Easy. Instead, we’re aiming to offer our players many more points on the continuum to choose from, both to make Spy DNA appealing to players of all levels, and to provide a gradual difficulty increase for better replay value.

Anyways, that’s what we thought when we listened to this talk. Even if you don’t watch the whole video (or any of it), I hope we got the two main takeaways across. Use the comments below share your opinions.