The developer talks balancing difficulty and giving players choice over checkpoints
One of the development goals of Driven Out was to produce a balanced difficulty throughout the game. During this process I realised that there is no correct difficulty level that every game should strive for. Difficulty, just as story, graphics and gameplay, is one of the parts that gives a game its unique identity.
Difficulty is in some games a core part of the experience. It can be used to make the player feel certain emotions. For instance, an enemy will not give the player a sense of dread if they can defeat it every single time.
And while the draw of some games is to create a power fantasy, other games want you to feel weak, cornered and outnumbered. Defeating an enemy that a few tries ago seemed utterly impossible is a rewarding gaming experience. However, it is difficult to balance this challenge, so it remains fun and does not become too frustrating.
In Driven Out the player will most certainly die a lot but he or she hopefully remain having fun.
One of the ways to keep it exciting is through enemy variation. As long as the player keep dying from the hands of different foes the game will continue to feel rewarding. Die to live a different day and die a different way. However, this can also be a double-edged sword since the player constantly needs to learn the movesets of new enemies.
I tried to counteract this by having a clear buildup of the attacks so that the player, for his or her sake, should know which attack will come from the buildup even on the first try.
The checkpoint system
Secondly, I created a Checkpoint system that is fully customisable. The player can choose to place the checkpoint anywhere. Since the player have a limited number of checkpoints it forces the player to think strategically. If the checkpoints are placed cleverly a death will not mean a big sacrifice.
Thirdly, there is no load times after dying and no in-game load times so the player can quickly jump back into the action. To die again and try again and grow from the experience.
Is the challenge fair? Too hard or fun hard? You be the judge.
Driven Out launches on 18th October for PlayStation 4.