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How to make a hard platformer

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by jamesbowers, May 25, 2019.

  1. jamesbowers


    Feb 18, 2019
    I am creating an action platformer, but it’s extremely easy. Mario easy. I want to increase the difficulty, but I’m not sure how. Fake difficulty doesn’t count (few checkpoints, lives, bad physics).


    Jun 1, 2017
    Jump on a moving thing. If you miss, death. Too easy? Make thing move faster.
  3. JoeStrout


    Jan 14, 2011
    Also, add more enemies, firing more projectiles at you, all moving faster.

    And for the record, I object to the characterization of Mario as easy. Mario's easy to get started, and maybe easy to finish if you put enough time into it and don't care how well you do it, but to achieve (say) my own level of Mario awesomeness is a difficult achievement indeed.
  4. Murgilod


    Nov 12, 2013
    Play a platformer, find the easy parts, don't put those in your game.
    deliquescator likes this.
  5. APSchmidt


    Aug 8, 2016
  6. kdgalla


    Mar 15, 2013
    Add a lot of special moves, like double-jump, glide, and dash. Design each movement type to be different enough that you can't just substitute one for the other. Then the player will always have lots of choices and it won't be easy to choose what the right thing to do is at any given time.

    Also: Take a lesson from old NES games: take simple elements and combine them together to make them more complex. For example, you have a bat enemy that starts at the ceiling, sweeps down to the players location and then back up to ceiling. Also you have an enemy that jumps up and shoots a projectile. These enemies are super easy to deal with, but what if you have two bats and four shooters in the same room? Suddenly it gets pretty crazy.

    If you make your elements simple, then you can come-up with all different sorts of combinations. Take a look at the original Metroid for great examples of this. Every individual aspect of the game is dead simple, but a clever combination of three elements starts to become a real challenge.
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  7. AkiraWong89


    Oct 30, 2015
    Consider landing on ground is a rest point.
    Make the gap between rest points longer to increase difficulty.
    Example: A really big gap air jump / Some technical climbing and dashing.
    An example on Rockman X series when you are jumping wall to go to the top.
    Both walls got some spikes, so you need to jump between walls at right condition.
    The rest point for this process is on the beginning and on the top.
    Because you can not stop at middle or you will fall down back to beginning.
    Hope my message could inspired you something.
  8. angrypenguin


    Dec 29, 2011
    Before you do random hard stuff, think carefully about what type of difficulty you want.

    Is it timing that should be tricky? Is it that players need to be really accurrate? Is it that there are right and wrong choices to make? Is it that there are lots of moves to learn that apply in different situations?

    I would suggest picking one or two things that you want players to get good at over the course of the game, then think up a bunch of things that play with that concept in a way which allows you to make it more difficult as the game progresses.

    As a simple example, if I wanted it to be about timing then at the start of the game I could have slowly moving platforms, and towards the end I could have complex sets of fast moving platforms. Along the way I could add things which can knock you off platforms, which you need to dodge.

    If I then wanted to add, say, some light puzzle mechanics I could give the player the ability to speed up or slow down a platform. Then they need both the timing skills and to make decisions about which platform to speed up or slow down.
    Lime_x likes this.
  9. APSchmidt


    Aug 8, 2016
    The op never came back; I doubt he is that interested in what we have to say...
    Antypodish and angrypenguin like this.
  10. halley


    Aug 26, 2013
    The old Atari 2600 Space Invaders sucked in comparison to the arcade version, but it had a huge weird number of levels. I think 127 levels. Lower levels were simple, higher levels combined things to make them hard. I was a weird kid and learning binary at the time. It became clear to me that it was a simple mapping.

    I forget now what they all were but here's an example:

    * 0 simplest possible behavior
    * 1 add one novel tweak (ufos)
    * 2 add a different novel tweak (bombers)
    * 3=2+1 combine the two tweaks
    * 4 add a whole new tweak (speed x2)
    * 5=4+1 combine newest and first tweak
    * 6=4+2
    * 7=4+2+1
    * 8 another challenge
    * 16 another speed boost
    * 127=64+32+16+8+4+2+1 ultimate hell level

    And so on. And then I started seeing the same structure in other games. Sometimes laid out in straight obvious bit mask combinations, and sometimes hand-picked, but always exploring richer and richer combinations of simple parts.

    One tweak can be a new enemy. Or water. Or laser traps. Or ice physics. Or another new enemy. Or time constraints and forced progression. Or underground. Or UFOs which have special prizes. Or darkness. Or chibi. And so on.
  11. Lime_x


    May 1, 2009
    To be fair, it has only been a week since he/she started the post and even if there hasn’t been any response yet he/she might still have read the replies.
    However I for one am very glad to have seen these responses. They are very insightful and give new interesting perspectives. :)
    Antypodish likes this.
  12. Not_Sure


    Dec 13, 2011
    There's two paths to difficulty when it comes to action games, as I see it.

    1) Twitch based mechanics that require constant pursuit and adjustment of your tactics and approach.

    2) Anticipation mechanics where you have to plan out your approach.

    Games like Doom and Quake have you in constant decsion.

    Games like Dark Souls reward patience and hold you to your decisions.

    In terms of platformers go, Mario is adaptation, Mega Man is anticipation.

    In Mario if you miss calculate a jump you can scramble and recover. Puts you in a great panic mode that results in many "skin of your teeth" moments.

    In Mega Man it pays to sit back and learn patterns then make a plan of attack.

    Mario can shift his jump mid air. Mega Man can not.

    Mega Man has instant run speeds, Mario speeds up and slows down.

    Then there's the mastery of memorisation like Super Meat Boy, which is trash IMO.