Sequencing and timing the appearance of enemies might actually be the easiest way to tune the difficulty of each level. Here's what I'm talking about.
This is part of the sequence of trucks entering level four, "War is Heck." You'll get seven trucks, then a break, then seven more. There's some variety, but they average entering every 6.5 seconds. The other details we can adjust about this enemy are:
Now, you don't want to overthink these choices, but as a designer, I believe it's important to have just enough adjustable factors like these to ensure the game is fun. It should start easy, then increase the challenge to guide the player into one of the varieties of higher level play. There is some fun in just blowing things up. But the real delight is exploring deeper options. Imaging the satisfaction, after discovering your starting tactic of indiscriminately bombing the enemy doesn't win anymore, but then finding you can aim for tiny weak spots and get an instant kill. You find yourself saying, "Hey, I'm actually pretty good at this." What a feeling! Clearly, designing a game that guides you to that experience repeatedly through 20 levels, and an extended Endless mode, requires some careful tuning.
So I've established starting values like I showed above for the Technical Truck, Level 1. But throughout development and beta testing we'll be adjusting those. Is a particular level a bit to hard for the average player? The easiest solution is to increase the time between those enemies hitting the field. Does the pace of the level seem unsatisfying? We can always throw in one or two of the higher-level versions of an enemy type, that shoots faster and hits harder. Or is the whole game just soul-crushingly difficult? Since I'm bringing you Firecracker Fight, the thrill and terror of tossing lit firecrackers, not Cuphead, I can always dial back damage and fire rate game-wide too.
So the game is going to be fun by design! Want to play? Subscribe to the email list, where you’ll get our Weekly Roundup, and early warning when the game is live on the App Store and Google Play!
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