Pardon the terrible pun! I am officially announcing the coming of my CHI Note: Incremental Design of difficulty in games. The paper discusses the design of games, particularly calibrating difficulty. Difficulty of a game is particularly important to player experience, however one setting does not accommodate all users. Games may attempt to accommodate users by allowing the selection of difficulty levels, story modes, or game play types. Researchers and Game designers attempt to solve this problem with the implementation of dynamic difficulty adjustments (DDA). Research is ongoing. To inform research and game design we test the fundamental game design decisions that affect difficulty. We tested scroll speed, target size, jump task complexity, and perspective. Our results demonstrate both the expected: faster speeds, and smaller target size are more difficult, and the unexpected: double jump complexity was more difficult than triple jump complexity, and perspective scrolling along the x-axis, y-axis, and z-axis significantly affects difficulty.
“Designing difficulty levels in platform games is a challenge for game designers. It is particularly important because design decisions that affect difficulty also directly affect player experience. Consequently, design strategies for balancing difficulty in games is widely discussed by both academics and game designers. In the presented study, we investigate how manipulation of the following design decisions commonly found in platformers: Scroll Speed, Target Size, Jump Task Complexity, and Perspective moderates difficulty in a platformer. Results for scroll speed, and target indicate (intuitively) that errors increase as speed increases and platform size decreases. However, results for jump task complexity demonstrates a decoupling of errors from task complexity. Specifically, while double-jump tasks are harder than single-jump tasks, triple- jump tasks appear to be at most as difficult as the double-jump condition. Additionally, the study demonstrates how changes in perspective from horizontal or x-axis scrolling greatly affects the errors made by players in gameplay. The results of this study are applicable both to automatic level generation and dynamic difficulty adjustment in platform games.”
Wehbe, R. R., Mekler, E., Schakermann, M., Lank, E., & Nacke, L. E., Incremental design of difficulty in games. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Denver, CO, USA. 2017.