Heroes Dev Log #3: Granular Success System

Heroes Dev Log #3: Granular Success System

September 20, 2023

Hey all!

This week was a bit slower as I was out of town for the past week. I didn't work a ton, but I did use the opportunity of being around new people to do a lot of play testing. And I learned a ton watching a lot of new people interact with the game!

One thing that was clear, and that alpha testers have been noticing too, is that the binary failure or success felt like it would block your progress and wasn't as fun. There was too much "This action fails because your skill wasn't high enough." And when that happened multiple times in a row it became frustrating.

So in between play sessions I quickly coded up a version that has more granular success, so you can have a catastrophic outcome, a somewhat bad, a somewhat great outcome an amazing outcome etc...

So far this seems to be working a lot better and keeps the story moving. I'm excited to keep testing this and see how it feels.

It also became clear to me how important the way that quests get introduced and form a overlapping set of loops of varying lengths is. Right now the pattern the AI generally follows is it will introduce a quest, the player will work on it till they complete it, then they'll have no quest for a little while, and then later they'll get a new quest and the cycle will repeat.

The problem with this is that it can leave you without knowing what to do next for quite a while, and there also isn't an overarching arc connecting the quests. In contrast in a game like Skyrim or Starfield after the first hour you pretty much never have less than 3-5 open quests. As you explore you are constantly finding more quests, opening new loops even while you close others. And many of those loops connect together in an overarching narrative that guides your experience on a really fun journey.

We need to teach the AI how to do the same kind of thing so that you can have freedom to do what you want, but be guided towards epic meaning on the quests that you do, always having a fun next thing.

– Nick

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