Let's Have A Conversation About Dynamic Difficulty

So what does everyone think of the dynamic difficulty system? I like the concept but in practice it has some issues. For example, one of the things I think is happening is certain outposts that are brutal are being beat with relatively few deaths because the types of players that play brutal tend to be more experienced and skilled. So the system drops that outpost down to dangerous. But for the average player that plays in dangerous, the outpost is a bit much. I've come across a few of those in dangerous that clearly have no business being there.

The flip side of the coin is that if one player dies a whole lot on say a normal map that should be on normal, that can bump it up to dangerous where it really doesn't belong either. The dangerous difficulty itself is in a really weird spot right now because of all this. Maps that really shouldn't be dangerous due to the trap density and maps that are absurdly easy.

I would say the good news is that normal difficulty itself seems to be pretty sorted out now. I don't spend a lot of time in normal maps but I'll occasionally slum it and see what things are like there. I've also been trying to create more normal difficulty maps so I'm getting a pretty good gauge of where things are at there. Generally speaking if you want your map to stay in normal difficulty range then new players should be able to beat your map with about a 1 kill per raid or less average. I think the dynamic difficulty is doing a good job of weeding out outposts that don't belong in normal.


  • eyedeeoneohtee
    eyedeeoneohtee Member Posts: 34

    Two thoughts.

    Firstly the difficulty thresholds are too low. It's pushing normal outposts into dangerous and dangerous outposts into brutal, which results in raiders ignoring both normal and brutal expeditions and just speedrunning dangerous expeditions because it gives the most rewards for the least effort.

    Secondly it should be based on median kills rather than average kills. You're going to have raiders who die five times to the same impaler and you're going to have raiders who can navigate a five skull outpost without dying once, but those are both exceptions and the game shouldn't be balanced around either of them.

  • Dreamnomad
    Dreamnomad Member Posts: 3,562

    I think something along these lines should be done. At the very least, I think outliers should be taken with a grain of salt. I have a normal outpost that the vast majority can defeat deathless but then there are a handful of players that die 6-7 times in it. I'll watch those replays and just be confounded. Fortunately, even with those deaths the average is below 1 so it stays in normal difficulty where it belongs. But the idea that one player can go and blow themselves up 30 times intentionally to increase the difficulty bothers me.

    But how should the game address brutal levels that aren't difficult enough for the type of player that plays in brutal, but too much for the dangerous difficulty? I don't know that going by the median is going to fix that particular problem. I kind of feel like there should be a trap/guard threshold that no matter what will always be considered brutal. Maybe a total of 80 traps + guards? That seems reasonable to me. I know there are like farm levels that would get hit by that limit and farm levels don't belong in brutal. Perhaps if there is an exclusion factor like impalers don't count against that limit? That seems fair.

  • MythicMikeneto
    MythicMikeneto Member Posts: 69

    Even with my current... challenges... with the dynamic difficulty system, I think its largely working.

    Yes. it is hard AF to build a sustainable normal outpost, but builds that are too hard for newer players are ending up in dangerous or higher (as it should be).

    I still think the perception that builds are in the wrong category comes from a builders innate desire to get kills and prey on newer players for easy kills. We just cant do that any more because it was stopping player base growth.

    The fact that higher level player can and oftem do 0 death an outpost should negin to be viewed ad a boon to lower to outpost ranking. Sure the replay isnt worth the time it takes to load, but maybe thenext one where you get kills will be.

    The other compounding factor is lack of raids for higher difficulties. Normals getting 10 times as many raids as brutal and 5 times as many as dangerous doesnt feel good to anybody; specifically when nobody wants to build basically harmless outposts for newer player friendly content.

    We really need a fouth upper tier or the hardest 'brutal' content; or a lower tier for newer player content (Same difference.)

  • Dreamnomad
    Dreamnomad Member Posts: 3,562

    You hit the nail on the head. It's good that normals are finally a place for new players to learn the ropes. It's not about how efficiently you can build your kill areas anymore. Now it really is a matter of "how can I make a fun outpost for new players that doesn't get too many kills but still makes for fun replays to watch?". Which is good and all. But there really is a huge gap in replays for dangerous and brutal difficulties. So how do we get more people playing those difficulties? I've seen plenty of people playing normals that have plenty of skills and resources to move onto the next difficulty. Clearly the reason they are still messing around in normals is that they feel that is the best reward for their time. It's time to make dangerous and brutal in particular more rewarding. I think bumping up the expedition points for brutals to 300 would be a good start.

  • MythicMikeneto
    MythicMikeneto Member Posts: 69
    edited November 2023

    As much as I want to say it is the most rewaeding for their time, I think it actually comes down to this:

    Dying is generally not fun.

    Builders in dagerous and brutal build with the intention of killing the raider as much as possible through min maxed efficiency; Then they complain when they dont get kills because 'raider to good'.

    Raiders know they can run normals and not die. 100% win.

    I am 600+ hours in and I refuse to run brutals. I am confident in my skill to run most dangerous builds and 'win' within 2 bird boxes. More than that and I am usually out.

    This is a common feeling/way to play amongst raiders (evident from replays).

    This means builders will always be dissatisfied when their goal is 'as many kills as possible' but a large portion of raiders wont raid content that they dont feel confident they can 'win' withing a certain amount of deaths.

    It is the choice of a raider how much 'difficulty' they subject themselves to. I would think most raiders are able to accurately self assess their own skill, and choose not to take on more than is feasible for them to complete. Players who feel they can win quickly agains brutals play brutals. That number of pllayers is too small for the number of builds that are in the brutal pool, equaling virtually no raids.

    What 'reward' is their for a raider to throw their body at a 'death machine'? Warm fuzzies that they are stroking the ego of a builder, encouraging them to continue to make really hard content the raider doesnt enjoy, filling thier pockets with some synth, and boosting their master rank?

    I'll jump to the retort of, 'That satisfaction of beating the challenge': Naw. I have no guarantee I can or will beat it. Consiser the potential of an infinite amount of deaths and not succeeed versus punching below my weight class to guarantee near immediate success.

    The math seems pretty straight forward on that. Why would I bother?

    IMO, If builders started building with a limited target number of kills in mind, raiders 'might' be encouraged to put thier big boy pants on and try a challenge or two.

    Post edited by MythicMikeneto on
  • eyedeeoneohtee
    eyedeeoneohtee Member Posts: 34

    I do try to build outposts for new players, but I've seen enough replays to know that people complaining about difficulty are not the new players who forgot to craft any grenades before entering the outpost, they're the would-be speedrunners who bring nautilus, arc barrier and spike drive into an outpost intended for new players and then run into the death piston that never kills any of the new players. If that's who we're supposed to be building normals for then I'm just going to stop building normals.