I think I wrote about this a couple of times with other game releases before, but at some point in game development everything (should) click and come together… for Heroes of Loot 2, that time is today!
Since version 0.9.0 was live in Early Access on Steam I’ve been getting all the feedback on various stuff related to the balance of the game: Difficulty in mini-bosses in early stages or later stages, the amount of monsters per room, the weapon upgrades for every experience level of each character, the size of levels, even the size of the full game.
Balancing a game is really a tedious process at some times. Possibly there are easier methods to do it, but I do the balancing the same way I do all my game development: iteration. I play through my game a couple of times a day, I change things here and there, and do a new session. When it comes to balancing a procedurally-generated game that progress both the player’s skill and the monster’s you encounter, it means that a small change of just a single value can change the way the game plays from start to finish.
Especially since the game is fairly random, it sometimes takes a few game sessions to check if things are really solid. I do base a lot of this on my own gaming skills, if I can get “near” the end of the game, then I believe the balance is correct. There will be some gamers that feel the game is way too easy because they are much better than I am. And there will be players that think the game is too difficult. The art of balancing is to make it feel fair in any case, and have the player feel satisfied even tho it seems difficult or easy. With the randomness it also means they might have an even better challenge in their next session.
Right now I feel like I found the sweet spot for the game balance, and I’m really pleased with it. One big change was shortening the game from 100 levels to 50 levels. I checked with the current players to see what their ideas were on this and luckily they agreed with me that 50 levels would be a much better challenge.
The 100 level mark was a great idea on paper, but it just proved a tedious chore to get that far, and it also made the game much harder to balance and still be interesting every step of the way. I will be adding an “Endless” mode to the game which unlocks when you actually complete the 50 levels, so those that want to play endlessly will be able to do so!
Right now there are two things left to do: some interface issues for the Mobile version, with dialog buttons being a bit uncomfortably out of reach on tablets, and then wrapping up work on the local co-op mode which is already in the game but I need to check if all the event triggers work correctly (so that not all health and experience goes to player 1 instead of player 2)
I’ll be picking a release date soon, which will be in June! so ..yay! we made it.